Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech athletics
It was a cool crisp February afternoon in the beautiful little mountain town known as Blacksburg.
I was on my way to class and, as happened fairly regularly, I found myself caught up in that nostalgic feeling that only occurs when you are somewhere you truly love. I was walking down Washington Street, marveling at all the beautiful Hokie Stone that adorns most of the buildings here.
That’s when I passed the Hahn-Hurst Basketball Practice Facility and saw a parking attendant manning the lot between it and Cassell Coliseum. He was preparing for the night’s basketball game.
I thought to myself, “I wonder if the attendants have ever given a head coach a hard time about parking” and I laughed at the thought of Justin Fuente or Mike Young being given a parking ticket. That’s when it hit me — that amazing feeling I get when walking around the university that I was raised to love is the same feeling our head basketball coach gets when he walks across campus.
Young was born and raised in Radford. That’s a mere 14 miles from Blacksburg. Growing up in the New River Valley and attending and playing basketball at Emory and Henry College (farther South West Virginia than Blacksburg) as a coach and as a basketball fan, it would have been impossible for him to not notice and admire the accomplishments of the land grant university just up the road.
The Next Hokie Coaching Legend?
It does not take much digging to begin to see the similarities between the careers of Young and legendary Virginia Tech head football coach Frank Beamer.
Both Young and Beamer are good salt-of-the-earth, easy-to-talk-to type of guys. They both are raised in the southwest region of Virginia. Because of that, they both hailed Virginia Tech as their dream coaching jobs. Both men have showed great loyalty to whichever university is currently employing them.
Here for the Long Haul
Beamer coached the Virginia Tech football team for 29 seasons. Young is fresh off a 30-year stint as a Wofford coach. Young spent more than a decade as an assistant and 17 seasons as head coach.
There will be no Buzz Williams — one foot constantly out the door — with Coach Young. Young will either retire or be fired from Virginia Tech; you heard it here first.
From the beginning, everyone knew that Williams was a temporary solution. He saw an opportunity to show big-money schools how he could build a program from the ground up. Boy, did he do it.
The basketball program was abysmal before Williams took over and he brought the Hokies to national relevance. But, that relevance came with the fear every offseason that he was going to jump ship before his rebuild was over. With Coach Young, those days are gone.
Virginia Tech has really found a top-notch coach that loves this university every bit as much as even the biggest Hokie fan.
It’s too early to say that Coach Young will be to Virginia Tech what Coach Beamer was and still is. But, he certainly is off to a good start.