Justin Fuente Quashes Coaching Rumors, Readies for "Incredibly Explosive" Oklahoma State

The head Hokie says he isn't going anywhere, turning his full attention to the Camping World Bowl.

[Mark Umansky]

The Hokies have an enticing bowl destination set, with an opponent they haven't played in decades, but the main question on the minds of Tech fans everywhere is: will Justin Fuente be around to coach the game?

It would seem the head Hokie is answering that with a definitive, 'Yes,' making his feelings about rumors linking him to other jobs crystal clear during a call with reporters following his team's selection to the Camping World Bowl.

"I've declined to talk to everybody that's come along," Fuente said. "I haven't been interested in going down that road. In general terms, I don't feel like I should ever make longstanding, definitive comments, but I'm incredibly happy at Virginia Tech...I have been approached, but I've declined to talk to everybody, so it's been nipped in the bud right at the start."

Consider that a very large bucket of cold water thrown on any suggestion that Fuente could bolt Blacksburg for Tallahassee, or any other spot on the increasingly turbulent coaching carousel.

So with those rumors dispatched, Fuente can turn his full attention to the impending matchup with the Oklahoma State Cowboys, a team that the Hokies haven't faced off against since 1972, but a program that Fuente himself is quite familiar with after growing up in the Sooner State.

"They are incredibly explosive offensively, they can score and really, really push the pace," Fuente said. "It's a great challenge for us as a team, it's an intriguing and interesting matchup."

Fuente is particularly familiar with Pokes coach Mike Gundy, a man he calls "a legend in Oklahoma," due to his long history playing and coaching in Stillwater. Gundy even remembers recruiting Fuente out of high school back in the mid-1990s, before the former QB spurned him for the Sooners.

"He was a good player and when he came out, there weren't too many throwing QBs," Gundy said. "After my brother (Cale), he was kind of the next guy who showed up in the state who was really a thrower. But we really wanted him."

Fuente confesses that his affinity for throwing the ball was what drew him to Norman over Stillwater — Howard Schnellenberger had just taken over at Oklahoma with a pledge to run the first modern passing offense in school history, a scheme that Fuente admits "didn't work out" in the coach's lone season at the school. But he remembers vividly how starstruck he was by Gundy during his recruitment process, making the bowl matchup all the more surreal.

"When I got to high school and got a chance to meet him and talk to him a little bit, I was in awe because I'd seen him and his brother play on television so many times," Fuente said.

Though the pair hasn't kept in touch much since, the Hokies do have a few assistants who likely remember Gundy well — OC Brad Cornelsen was a graduate assistant and quality control coach with the Pokes for a few years in the early 2000s, while offensive line coach Vance Vice played defensive tackle and tight end at Oklahoma State as Gundy was quarterbacking the Cowboys.

"We were pretty big buddies in college, we lived across the hall from each other," Gundy said. "He was a real tough guy back in the day."

In that regard, Vice hasn't changed much, given the persona he's crafted at Virginia Tech. Nor has he changed his hairstyle much since his days back in Stillwater, Gundy said, putting to bed any suggestion that somehow his affinity for the mullet rubbed off on Vice in their days sharing a dorm.

"Vance has had that same haircut for 30 years," Gundy said. "I'm not sure he'd model it after me, but he's had that same cut for a long, long time."

So while Gundy will be glad to see some "friendly faces" on the opposite sideline in Orlando in Cornelsen and Vice, he's a bit less thrilled to see Bud Foster and his 12th-ranked defense, quite possibly the toughest group his Pokes have faced all season.

"I have a ton of respect for him," Gundy said. "We will obviously have our hands full on offense."

By the same token, the Cowboys and their second-ranked offense will certainly be the most prolific bunch that the Hokies have seen all year, particularly in the passing game, so Fuente will have his hands full as well.

"We're excited to get down there and play," Fuente said.

Comments

How crazy is all of the connections to these two programs??

There are wolves and there are sheep, I am the sheep dog

"I've declined to talk to everybody that's come along," Fuente said. "I haven't been interested in going down that road. In general terms, I don't feel like I should ever make longstanding, definitive comments, but I'm incredibly happy at Virginia Tech...I have been approached, but I've declined to talk to everybody, so it's been nipped in the bud right at the start."

Next season can we skip the 'Fuente to a blue blood' talk?

The Orange and Maroon you see, that's fighting on to victory.

His statement is in the past tense.

That statement was about as definitive as you could hope for. What is he going to say "I intend to spend the next 30 years at VT"?

My interpretation is he's in for the long haul unless something about his situation changes. He can't know the future, maybe VT does something to sour his opinion (case in point FSU). But short of that, everything he has done has shown that he's committed and we should stop with this needy girlfriend bs that happens every time a high profile job opens up.

Exactly how I interpreted the statement as well.

"What kind of person would throw away a perfectly good dog?"

He can't know the future...

But we invent the future....so he could always ask

If you don't want to recruit clowns, don't run a clown show.

"I want to punch people from UVA right in the neck." - Colin Cowherd

Not since the unveiling of the new university logo, we don't.

Ah....I stand corrected....

If you don't want to recruit clowns, don't run a clown show.

"I want to punch people from UVA right in the neck." - Colin Cowherd

yeah, we uh, "claim our role" now

What does that even mean???

If you don't want to recruit clowns, don't run a clown show.

"I want to punch people from UVA right in the neck." - Colin Cowherd

That is the future we invented.

If that damn logo makes him leave...

"I think at a certain point you’ve got to kind of shut your mouth and understand where you are."
-Corey Marshall

This might be the dorkiest thing I've ever written, but I think it's actually present perfect progressive tense.

Can't believe I Googled this

The doll's trying to kill me and the toaster's been laughing at me.

Just present perfect, not progressive.

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

We don't love dem Hoos.

"I am incredibly happy at Virginia Tech". As in present tense. And not likely to change in the near term future....

FAM!!

I don't know what a Hokie is, but God is one of them!

"I have been approached, but I've declined to talk to everybody" is probably the best answer to a question about a potential coaching move I've ever heard.

The doll's trying to kill me and the toaster's been laughing at me.

I'm sure there was a slight wink to Whit too, haha. Somewhere in the tone of, I'm good now, but I do have options.

"People called and I told them 'GFYS'"

offensive line coach Vance Vice played defensive tackle and tight end at Oklahoma State as Gundy was quarterbacking the Cowboys.

Our OL coach never played OL? Is this common?

Twitter me

Dunno if he was DL then maybe he knows what to look for.

I don't know how common it is, but I did run across this story from the NFL.

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

We don't love dem Hoos.

With all that experience at TE I'm surprised he isn't our QB coach!

Chem PhD '16

Shane never played RB, and neither did Zohn. Maybe not the best examples, given our running game performance over their tenures, but it's certainly not unheard of. I'd say that playing TE and DL gave him a solid understanding of OL play and a good coach should be able to coach pretty much any position on the field.

“You got one guy going boom, one guy going whack, and one guy not getting in the endzone.”
― John Madden (describing VT's offense?)

I agree its not unheard of, but for the example you share:

Pain is Temporary
Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever
Let's Go Hokies!!

Shane never played RB,

Shane never played shit.

Where is Lawson?!

Excuse me? He was starting long snapper for at least two seasons maybe three.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

And thats my point. RB coach?

Where is Lawson?!

But that's not what you said.

Hasn't played shit

He played as a starter for years.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

And thats my point. RB coach?

Where is Lawson?!

Drinking now!

Where is Lawson?!

I have often wondered about this. If you have never played how do you answer certain questions. For example, if a running back is having a hard time hitting the holes how do you advice him? Other than repeating the same old mantras or beating his face in with a boxing glove on a stick I think you're out of options.

There are plenty of examples of coaches who A never played at a high level coaching at a high level or B coaches who played one position coaching another or multiple others.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

There are always examples. What happens when you look at the averages. I may do some research on this. There will always be exceptional coaches that can coach any position but I'm willing to bet on average a position coach performs better having played that position. Bud Foster was the LB coach and then became the DC and still coaches LBs. Foster played LB in college. Brent Venables played LB and coaches Clemson's LBs as well being a DC. Kirby Smart played DB and coached DBs before becoming a DC then HC. Nick Saban played DB before coaching DB's then becoming a DC and then HC. Urban Meyer is an exception. He played DB and only coached DB's for one year before becoming an offensive coach. Jimbo Fisher played QB before coaching QBs, then becoming an OC and then a HC.

And last year something like a quarter to half of NFL coaches hadn't played a down of an NFL game, several had never even played college football. Scott Frost coaches LB's at Nothern Iowa, Matt Campbell was a DL coached OL, Saban coached LB's prior to being a DB coach and NFL DC.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

My question is really at the skill position level. Head coaches and coordinators really require the ability to understand strategy, which one can typically learn without playing the sport or without playing at the highest level (I think this holds true for almost all sports). Position coaches typically teach technique. It's hard to teach technique without playing the sport/position. You don't need to play at the same level, but you need to understand how the body's movements affect results. This is much more difficult to understand without playing the sport.

This translates to other sports too - I think most of us who are familiar with golf could recommend what club/shot a golfer should hit based on that player's strengths and the course. I think you need to have a much deeper knowledge of the sport and the human body to teach technique for a given shot (when do you open your hips, how far back do you take your club, etc).

I'm not saying it's impossible, but I think it's rare to find someone who can teach technique without having played the position.

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Frank Beamer started as a DL Assistant at the Citadel (after being a GA at Maryland).

Urban Meyer is one of the brightest offensive minds in the last 30 years. He played DB.

Urban Meyer is one of the brightest offensive minds in the last 30 years. He played DB.

His stuff works.

Where is Lawson?!

Another factor is that the schools most likely to want Fuente just loocied up coaches for the next 3-5 years. The top 10 I feared when he was hired:
1. Oklahoma
2. aTm
3. LSU
4. UF
5. FSU
6. Texas
7. Okie ST
8. Auburn
9. Tennessee
10. Nebraska

Feels like we should be good for a while simply on the competition side.

LSU came calling last year. FSU came calling this year. Both schools were waving stacks of cash and he refused to give either the time of day. Also heard that Nebraska reached out as a backup, and he didn't hear them out.

But of course we'll still see the same people on here thinking we're just this stepping stone and he's gone at the first opportunity he gets.

"Some days you’re a horse and some days you’re a horse’s ass. I’ve been a horse’s ass for a little while." - Roy Halladay

Add Tennessee.

Agreed. And as much as we think devaluing our brand only makes a statement about us it doesn't. We are inadvertently also saying Fuente took the first thing that was better than Memphis because he had no "better" options. Is that true? Probably not. Fuente wasn't being forced out at Memphis so he could have stayed and won more games until another option came along. Overall I have very few criticisms of Fuente and I feel like I understand him very well. We are about the same age and from what I can tell behave similarly in professional matters. For example, I don't find that Fuente "coach speaks" a whole lot. If he doesn't want to tell you something he doesn't. After GT he didn't make any excuses, he "took the blame". That is unusual and many people, especially in my area of work, think that is a strategy for failure. But it hasn't been for me and it won't be for him. I understand why he is not taking calls and that also speaks to his integrity. There's no need to talk about something that isn't going to happen. Also, in terms of staying somewhere, fit matters. Over the years I have stayed put even when the money is better somewhere else because of things like fit, opportunity, situation, etc. Automatically assuming Fuente is out the door for more money and/or an Oklahoma school over simplifies how Fuente thinks. From what I can tell from watching him and listening to him over two years, he's a smart guy with a lot of integrity and options if he wants them. That means he doesn't take jobs for superfluous reasons, including this one. Will he be at VT forever? Probably not. The #1 thing I could see influencing that decision would be a new AD. The #2 would be stalling out and not making the CFP in the next 2-5 years. Outside of that I think he's going to be here for a while.

Also if we are so worried about him leaving because of money we can always go here (I did earlier this year). I would recommend not getting in a chicken and egg conundrum over giving vs. Fuente staying. Getting to 25K will help with any coach but maybe especially so with Fuente.

Ah, so College State was unable to lure him. Good news for the good guys

Not too excited about this match-up especially with how horrible our O is. I am guessing our D will hold strong for a half, maybe 3 quarters but will eventually get gassed and we will get torched in the 4th at a pace our O cannot possibly keep up with. 9-4 is still respectable though with all we lost on O last year. Er I mean great news about the coach, that is where this thread is supposed to go right?

I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction:
“I served in the United States Navy"

KCCO

I not worried about Fuente leaving, Im worried about how hard we're gonna punch OK State in the mouth

Keep calm, Gobble on

Can the offense find their mouth to punch them.

Don't read this the wrong way- I'm glad other schools have reached out to him. It means everyone else sees the magic he's in the process of working here.

But....

Warning- Filter lost.

"Look at this... This is just spectacular.... These people are losing their minds"

FREE THE "STICK IT IN" CHANT!!!