After a wild 24-hour roller coaster ride that triggered every emotion imaginable for Hokie Nation, the news broke this morning that Justin Fuente is opting to remain as the Virginia Tech head football coach.
This one felt different and many believed everything was in line for Fuente to take over a Baylor job that made sense for him in so many ways.
Sports Illustrated Hokies Maven spoke to a source close to Fuente and the Hokies' football program this morning shortly after the news broke. Fuente rarely shows his cards, never too high or too low, so it was a unique glimpse into the mind of the Hokies' coach.
Here is what we know from the Virginia Tech football source about the decision:
Fuente is known for loyalty and character and family. He treats his players quite literally —like his sons—often hosting events at his home where the team is directly involved in family gatherings. Fuente has three young daughters who are loving their childhood in Blacksburg so him and his wife were anxious about uprooting them for a sudden move to Texas. Maybe "This is Home" is more than just a catchy tag line after all.
LOYALTY TO COACHING STAFF
Having the Virginia Tech revamped, upgraded coaching staff finalized and in place was certainly a consideration, too. That was a meticulous process getting all the pieces together and it all fell into place right before the Baylor position opened. As a former assistant himself, Fuente has a deep appreciation to the loyalty his staff as shown him. We don't know if Fuente would have brought—or attempted to bring the entire staff with him to Baylor—but he never even forced them to make that call. They have families too, and this was a big factor in play.
BAYLOR WAS ATTRACTIVE & HAD MORE RESOURCES, BUT FUENTE OPTED TO FINISH WHAT HE'S WORKED TO BUILD
A number of other schools have reached out to speak with Fuente over the years and he’s turned the vast majority down. The source was adamant he hasn't even listened or flirted with any of the previous interested schools, so Fuente interviewing in for the Baylor job was new territory with good reason. This is a school only hours away from where Fuente and several members of the current Virginia Tech staff were born and raised, so Baylor had obvious appeal. We don't know if there was a firm offer in place, but the source noted that Baylor (a private institution with Texas-sized resources), has an overall budget for staff, support staff facilities and the program as a whole that Virginia Tech likely couldn't compete with. This was significant to Fuente, and something that drew appeal. The teams in Texas aren't shy about spending the big bucks when it comes to football, but in the end, it wasn't enough for Fuente to leave a Hokies' program he's worked so hard to build.
THE 2020 VIRGINIA TECH ROSTER
The current Baylor roster is solid, loaded with talent, but the Virginia Tech roster is pretty impressive, too. Fuente has worked incredibly hard to build the Hokies' program and while it may not be on the national college football radar yet, the 2020 Hokies have a chance to be special and Fuente knows that.