CHARLOTTE — Around lunchtime Thursday, southern crooner Chris Stapleton’s “Starting Over” played over the speakers in the lobby at the Charlotte Westin. An hour later, Brent Pry took the stage at the hotel at ACC Media Days for the first time as Virginia Tech’s new head coach. Talk about perfect symmetry.

The Hokies are starting over under Pry, who replaces the departed Justin Fuente. When Pry was hired, he wasn’t the most fashionable name on search committee lists or a name trending in the plethora of “top potential hire” pieces that hit the internet every year around Black Friday. Hiring Brent Pry wasn’t going to get a program the attention and press that, say, Miami got when it hired Mario Cristobal.

None of that mattered to Virginia Tech. What the Hokies wanted was the right fit, from a both a schematic and cultural standpoint. It wasn’t like Justin Fuente’s 6-year tenure was an abject failure. Fuente went 43-31 in Blacksburg and took the Hokies to four bowl games. It’s just that Fuente, a former quarterback with a mind for modern offense, never felt like a real fit in Blacksburg, where living legend Frank Beamer built a program capable of competing for a national championship on the back of lunch pail work-ethic, elite special teams, attention to detail, and aggressive defense.

Fuente, an offensive coach with a Big 12 background and no ties to Virginia Tech, won the ACC Coastal in his first season with a roster full of Beamer players used to the Hokies hard-nosed identity. But Fuente couldn’t keep that mentality around while revolutionizing the offense, and often seemed miscast to lead the Virginia Tech program as a result.

Athletic director Whit Babcock understood all of that, having been around for the end of the Beamer regime, and so when he went looking for a new head coach, he didn’t care about star power or landing a household name. He wanted the right cultural fit. Babcock knew it could work — after all, he bucked convention in favor of cultural fit when he hired Mike Young, an older, reserved head coach known more for his schematic prowess than his recruiting chops or personality, to run the Hokies’ hoops program. Young, who grew up near Blacksburg, has been an ever better fit than the flashier Buzz Williams, and he’s guided the Hokies to 2 consecutive NCAA Tournament bids, winning the ACC Tournament championship this past March. Sometimes, as Young demonstrates, it’s about fit and culture more than grabbing a headline.

You could sense the fit with Pry on Thursday in Charlotte.

A longtime defensive coordinator with ties to Blacksburg, where he was an assistant under Beamer, Pry bided his time, spending 30 years in the coaching ranks, and not always in places it was easy to win. For example, Pry led 2 top 25 defenses at Vanderbilt — yes, Vanderbilt — helping James Franklin win 18 games in 2 seasons in Nashville. That’s a win total the Commodores sometimes don’t reach in 5 seasons, let alone 2. Pry then followed Franklin to Penn State, where the Nittany Lions have gone 67-34 under Franklin since 2014.

Like Beamer, Pry is a worker bee, the kind of guy who gets up at 4:30 in the morning to plan out practices to the last detail. He understands at Virginia Tech, that kind of blue collar work ethic is not just necessary to win, it is critical to tie the team to a football-mad community that sees the Hokies as an extension of their own identity.

“Wining here requires a different mentality,” Pry said Thursday. “Obviously, you can compete for any championship here. History shows that. But to win here, you better be tough. You better be a family. You better be excited to work for the privilege of playing in one of the most unbelievable environments in all of football, college or pro. You better have attention to detail. This is what builds a winner here.”

Pry’s choices of who he brought with him to ACC Media Days show how serious he is about toughness and family.

Pry brought Kaleb Smith, a former walk-on turned team captain, a nod to how work ethic defines winning at Virginia Tech. He brought Dax Hollifield, his star linebacker, and all the mammoth defender from nearby Shelby, North Carolina could talk about was the way Pry had injected the program with a much-needed dose of energy.

“(Pry) worked for a while with (legendary Virginia Tech defensive coordinator) Bud Foster, so he knew what it took to have success in Blacksburg and Virginia Tech,” Hollifield said. “It was really exciting to get that back. Everything he stands for I have learned from him over the past 7 months stands true to that. He is an excellent man. He treats people right. He demands excellence. He demands accountability. It’s going to be an exciting season with him. I feel like the program is headed in a direction we haven’t seen in a while and I can’t wait to be a part of his legacy.”

Pry also brought an offensive lineman, All-ACC tackle Silas Dzansi, to ACC Media Days, a choice not seen too often, but one that is certainly a nod to the way Frank Beamer’s Virginia Tech teams won so many football games by controlling the trenches. Dzansi echoed many of Hollified’s sentiments.

“It is a different energy,” Dzansi told me. “We’ve always been a brotherhood, and that won’t ever change. But Coach Pry and his staff, Coach Deej (strength and conditioning coach Dwight Galt IV), they have a set of demands and one is be accountable to one another. That has helped us mesh. We’re going to be together as a team earlier than usual and keep working through fall camp.”

Pry doesn’t just fit in culturally because he has a background in defense and a lunch-pail work ethic that conjure up fond Beamer memories. He’s a goof like Beamer (beloved as a jokester for, among other things, terrible dance moves that made players laugh). Pry showed up to Media Days wearing a tailor-made maroon and orange, Hokie bird lined suit.

His players didn’t get the memo, and dressed in conservative suits befitting a Virginia Tech college formal. When they saw their coach enter the lobby in his bird suit, all three burst into laughter.

“You can’t be an assistant for 30 years if you don’t make players laugh,” Pry said.

He made them laugh again when, at the podium, he stopped to tell the players “Guys, we just got better,” referencing a player who committed to Virginia Tech during the press conference.

Blending fun with a defense and effort-first mentality?

That sounds like Virginia Tech football. That identity was why Pry was so attracted to the job.

“I feel like being the head coach here is my calling,” Pry said. “What is it about Virginia Tech? It’s a special place. It’s not for everybody, but it was definitely for me. It was for these guys. It’s a genuine place. Didn’t have to pretend to be somebody wasn’t. We’re going to do a great job of recruiting young men and families that identify with Virginia Tech and what’s unique to us. We’ve got a great degree. We’ve got a great relationship with our community. We’ve got an unbelievable game day environment. We’re a blue-collar outfit. What you see is what you get. We’re relationship-based. Those are things that checked every box for me.”

They checked every box for Whit Babcock and the Virginia Tech administration, too.

If you’re going to be starting over, as Stapleton sings, you might as well remember where you came from. Under Brent Pry, Virginia Tech hopes to do just that.