Justin Fuente has been let go as head coach of the Virginia Tech Hokies football team. While this happened days ago, it’s still a large enough event where it has to be said before we can move forward. He was our first relationship after Frank Beamer. Coach Beamer, or Frank as he often allows people to call him, is a different kind of guy. He is lovable, kind, thoughtful, playful, and funny. As a coach, he was also tough, organized, and detail orientated. He remembers players who played for Tech years ago and still enjoys learning about the new players today. There were a number of years with Coach Beamer that we look back on with a smile. 10 win seasons, beating Miami when they were MIAMI, winning Big East Conference and ACC Coastal Championships. There were also the early and later years that were lacking wins or even solid recruiting. At the end of his tenure, when the end was becoming obvious to all, we began coveting qualities that he didn’t have at the time. High level recruiting of Virginia, depth within the program, and the excitement that we were so used to having on every Saturday. This is what led us to covet Justin Fuente. He was an X’s and O’s coach who seemed to develop quarterback talent and who’s cool demeanor was something that seemed like a breath of fresh air.
We were coming off of a long-term relationship and we wanted something new. Ask anyone who has gotten out of a marriage or other long-term arraignment and they will tell you they have almost certainly done the same. We were not wrong to want something new. It’s perfectly normal to desire what you did not have when finding a new partner. But now we have moved on from our most recent squeeze and it’s time to do something healthy and something that will make us happy in the long run. It’s time to find our new coach.
When looking for our new guy, we need to keep some things in mind to make sure that we make the right decision. While there are a number of qualities we would like our new coach to have, there are 3 important ones that are specific to the job here in Blacksburg. This isn’t to say that other colleges shouldn’t or don’t want these qualities, but they are the most important for Virginia Tech and need to be prioritized over all else. We need a great CEO, we need someone who is comfortable with the administration, the press, and the public at-large, and we need a father figure.
The first quality is that of a great CEO. This is something that many of the Type-A personality coaches that are out there have a difficult time with. The head coach of the Hokies has to be able to delegate their time to many different things. This means that doing something like coaching the offense or defense is absolutely out of the question. Being a great coach does not in anyway mean being a great coordinator as well. In fact, being a great coordinator might mean that when things get tough, they want to go back to what they know and micromanage that side of the ball. This cannot happen. The job of the head coach, especially at a major program like Tech, is to hire great VP’s and allow those people to do their best work without having someone looking over their shoulder, but with someone as a partner in crime to get things done. There has to be a trust factor with the head coach and the people who run the program that they have hired. But, the head coach also must have the ability to look at the situation they are in honestly and help or fire coaches as necessary. They cannot be dispassionate, in fact they must have a higher level of passion for the school, the staff, and the players of almost anyone else. Being able to have that passion, yet remove people when necessary is the hallmark of a great CEO.
The second quality is having someone who is comfortable with the administration, the press, and the public at-large. This is a more intangible quality. There are some things that you can see in someone who has this quality though. They will move through the boosters without issue. They will crack jokes and smile without force or farce. They will speak as candidly as possible with the press and ingratiate themselves with them, without being phony. They will speak with fans who are children and adults with excitement and do so often without having to be reminded of how important it is to do so. If there was one of these qualities that was the most “Beamer” this would be the one.
The final quality of a great head football coach at Virginia Tech is to be a father figure. This ties into day-to-day activities and recruiting. This person must be able to speak to the players and their families as an extension of what they have or would like to have as a father and leader at home. They need to go to high school football games and practices. They need to learn about the individuals and their situations. They need to be a disciplinarian when they are on campus, while giving them constant love and guidance when needed. They cannot just let a player go who is having a hard time. They need to give that person extra time out of their own life to do what they can to give the player the best chance for success. And when players make mistakes, they must be firm, but also continue to care for them, even when playing is not in their immediate future.
This is what we ask and demand of our next head football coach here at Virginia Tech. A truly special individual who we will give the keys to our program and look forward to them doing the right things the right way. If this describes you, Whit Babcock’s phone is available and I’m sure he’s looking forward to taking your call.