The old adage says that you never want to be the guy that follows The Guy, but Justin Fuente didn’t have much of a choice. The Virginia Tech football coach had the unenviable task of replacing Frank Beamer, who went 238-121 in 29 seasons with the Hokies.
Fuente, 40, became the head coach last November after four seasons at Memphis. But he hasn’t tried to fill Beamer’s shoes; instead, he’s trying to emulate them.
“I look at it really two ways,” Fuente said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “One, we should embrace what Coach Beamer did here, and we should celebrate it. We should kind of welcome that with open arms and understand there was a really high standard set here and we need to do everything we can to live up to those standards on a daily basis – and it wasn’t just winning and losing. It was how we handled people, how we treat people, how we graduate our kids and do well in the classroom. We need to strive to live up to their standards. Following a guy like Coach Beamer has made it easier.”
Beamer, who turns 70 on Oct. 18, had 13 double-digit win seasons, including eight straight from 2004-11. But what he did off the field made him a legend in Blacksburg.
“His national reputation of being a great human being that does things the right way and treats people the right way is exactly who he is, and he has really helped us in this transition in terms of being very, very supportive of things that we’re doing,” Fuente said. “We’ve tried to go out of our way to let him know that we would love to have him around as much as he feels comfortable being around, and he’s kind of gone out of his way to make sure that we don’t feel like he’s looking over our shoulders. So I just can’t say enough about him and the way that he’s been through this transition. (He’s been) incredibly supportive of us and has certainly helped it. I don’t think it’s been like that in the past in some other scenarios, and as we go through the next 15 or 20 years, I’m not sure that some of the other similar scenarios across the country will quite be as smooth.”
No. 25 Virginia Tech (3-1) plays at No. 17 North Carolina (4-1) this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET.