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I like the hire today of Jon Tenuta as Virginia Tech’s senior defensive analyst.
In fact, the more I think about it, the more I really like it.
It fills a need Justin Fuente has had on the defensive side of the ball, and Tenuta has all the skills and experience necessary. Fuente has hired quite a few young, up and coming former players to defensive coaching positions, but they were missing that old soul, Charley Wiles-type of coach who had been doing it for a long time and always had a hidden trick up his sleeve.
Tenuta is that and more. He’s 63, been coaching for over 40 years, and has held positions at enough schools you could put them all together and have a super conference. He played at Virginia, but he’s held every defensive coaching position there is, been at places like Ohio State, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Notre Dame, and was even the interim head coach at Georgia Tech.
He’s been there and done that.
He looks like he has the potential to add the same sort of flavor to the mix that Jerry Kill did during his time as a consultant to the Hokies. He also has a special factor going for him that really makes me bullish on this hire, and has nothing to do with his experience.
It's that he already knows this team, as his son, Luke, is a rising redshirt junior who has started the last two years at right tackle for the Hokies.
Coaching a team or managing an organization where you child is involved, I’ve found, tends to add an interesting wrinkle to the job. You don’t want father managing son, because that’s a no-win situation where favoritism is suspected even when you tell the son “good morning.”
But in an arms-length situation like this, it’s a bonus. Tenuta has probably already watched every Virginia Tech game of the last two years because of Luke. Probably more than once, in fact, because that’s what Dads do. He is coming into this situation from Cincinnati probably already knowing as much about how the Hokies play as he did with the Bearcats.
Then there’s the Jerry Kill-type element Tenuta might bring. I had always heard that while Kill brought different coaching perspectives to the staff that were helpful, the players loved him because he was a teacher, made them better, and stood up for them when they were being overlooked by other coaches. Tenuta is supposedly the same kind of coach, and with a son in the locker room, he may get to hear about the perception of what’s being positively received and what’s not being heard quicker than the average assistant.
Finally, there is the matter of Tenuta’s focus. I’m a workaholic, and it would appear Tenuta is too; but on the rare project I’ve worked on where my child was involved, those things I read 2 and 3 times to make sure they were correct got dialed up to a few times more. Jon will watch as much film as possible all on his own. But I’m willing to bet if you check on his house late at night, you’re going to see him watching even more film.
Why? Because it’s Luke’s team too. The better the team, the more fun it will be for Luke, so Dads watch more film to make that happen. Having a child in an organization, I've found, turns a job into a passion. I can’t explain why; I can only tell you as a Dad, that’s how it is.
All of this sounds great in February, and you never are going to know if it will work until that first game is played in September. But it sure seems like the Hokies added a grizzled, experienced assistant they needed that has seen how it’s done in over a dozen places, and also happens to have a personal motivation to make the Hokies the best they can possibly be. If you want your son to be noticed on a national scene, after all, 9-2 teams draw more eyes on TV than 5-6 teams.
It complements the hiring of the young assistants who were former players, ruffles no feathers, and appears to have little to no downside.
Like I said, I like the hire.
I like it a lot.