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Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente knows where he’ll be during bowl season. Not only did Fuente learn that the Hokies will play Oklahoma State in the Camping World Bowl on Dec. 28, he also has decided he won’t be leaving for another school.
On the Camping World Bowl coaches’ conference call, Fuente addressed head on rumors that other programs, such as Florida State, were interested in hiring him. Long story short, Fuente isn’t interested.
“Yeah, well for me, it’s been easy. I’ve declined to talk to everybody that’s come along,” Fuente said. “So, it’s a pretty easy answer for me. I haven’t been interested in going down that road.”
Fuente went on to say that he’s “incredibly happy at Virginia Tech.”
“In general terms, I don’t feel like I should ever make long-standing, definitive comments,” Fuente said. “I think everybody knows I’m incredibly happy at Virginia Tech. I think I’ve proved it in my short time here. I would never speculate on any other jobs, other than to say we’ve been approached and I’ve declined to talk to anybody. So it’s pretty much been nipped in the bud right from the start.”
Fuente’s comments should alleviate concerns that he is leaving any time soon. The 41-year-old head coach is in the middle of his second season with the Hokies, and is signed through the 2023 season. By the end of Fuente’s contract, which was extended after the 2016 season, he is slated to make $4 million. After December 15, 2017, Fuente’s buyout will decrease from $6 million to $5 million.
Fuente’s early success at Virginia Tech has landed him on the short list for multiple coaching jobs, but Fuente has declined each time. Sources have told TechSideline.com that Fuente declined an interview with LSU after the 2016 season, and Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel reported on Dec. 1 that Florida State was interested in interviewing Fuente as well. The Seminoles are still looking for a new head coach after Jimbo Fisher left for a 10-year, $75 million contract with Texas A&M.
With the coaching rumors behind him, Fuente is focusing on getting his team prepared for their bowl game vs. Oklahoma State. The showdown should be an intriguing matchup of contrasting styles. Oklahoma State is third in FBS in scoring offense, while Virginia Tech is fifth in FBS in scoring defense.
“They are kind of incredibly explosive there offensively,” Fuente said. “They really, really push the pace. So, it’s going to be a great challenge for us as a team. I think it’ll be an intriguing and interesting matchup.”
In terms of preparation, Fuente is still setting Virginia Tech’s bowl schedule. Not only must Fuente balance bowl preparation with rest for injured players, Fuente must also set aside time for his coaching staff to hit the recruiting trail. Under new NCAA recruiting rules, Class of 2018 recruits can sign a National Letter of Intent during a 72-hour window, from Dec. 20 to Dec. 22. With the recruiting schedule moved up several weeks, Fuente and his staff are focusing on finishing the recruiting season strong.
However, the new singing period throws a wrench into things.
“Certainly. As if we don’t have enough going on,” Fuente said. “It’ll be interesting. I feel good about, and I’m sure a lot of people do quite honestly, about where they’re at, where we’re at, in terms of handling that day. It’s just another day of trying to figure out how it’s going to look and what we’re going to do on Signing Day, and how we’re going to find a way to practice.”