Virginia Tech announced today that long-time defensive coordinator Bud Foster will retire after the 2019 season. Foster and head coach Justin Fuente informed the Virginia Tech players at a team meeting just prior to the Hokies’ annual Football Media Day.
“Virginia Tech has been home for 33 years and I’m grateful to continue doing what I love for one more season,” Foster said in a hokiesports.com press release. “I’ll always be indebted to Coach Beamer for bringing me to Blacksburg back in 1987. Coach Fuente has been phenomenal to work with and I can’t thank him enough for the way he has embraced our defensive philosophy and the many traditions of Virginia Tech football. It’s been a great ride and it’s not over yet. I’ve been blessed to work with so many outstanding individuals and have enjoyed the privilege of coaching some of the best players to ever wear a Hokies’ uniform.
“I appreciate Whit and Coach Fuente putting their faith in me the past few years,” Foster added. “Whit has been a class act all the way around and I have no doubt that Coach Fuente is the right guy to continue leading this program. I’m energized about where the Hokies are headed under his direction and I’m grateful for our friendship. I’ve poured my heart and soul into this program for over three decades and that’s not going to change this year. I’m excited about this season and I can’t wait to get on the practice field Friday.”
Foster played linebacker at Murray State for defensive coordinator Frank Beamer during the 1979 and 1980 seasons, Beamer’s first two years at the school. When Beamer was named head coach for the 1981 season, he hired Foster as a graduate assistant, later promoting Foster to a full time assistant position coaching linebackers from 1983-86. When Beamer was hired by Virginia Tech for the 1987 season, he took Foster with him as a linebackers coach. Foster was elevated to co-defensive coordinator with Rod Sharpless in 1995, and Foster took over the DC position completely when Sharpless left after the 1995 season for Rutgers.
When Frank Beamer retired after the 2015 season, Bud Foster was a candidate for the Virginia Tech head coaching job, but Virginia Tech Director of Athletics Whit Babcock chose to hire Justin Fuente out of Memphis. In an unusual turn of events, Foster stayed on as defensive coordinator.
“There’s only one Bud Foster,” Fuente said. “When Whit and I first discussed the head coaching job at Virginia Tech in 2015, one of the many appealing aspects of the opportunity was that it could potentially come with the best defensive coordinator in the country. I’m personally grateful for how Bud accepted me and the fact that I’ll be able to work with him for a fourth season. When you think of the individuals who truly helped put Virginia Tech on the national map, it unquestionably starts with Frank Beamer and includes a multitude of sensational players starting with Bruce Smith and Michael Vick. But you can’t go any further in that conversation without discussing Bud Foster and the Lunch Pail Defense. What a great friend, an outstanding man and unbelievable football coach.”
“Bud has served as an integral piece of the fabric of Virginia Tech football for 33 seasons,” Babcock said. “All Hokies appreciate Bud’s many longstanding contributions to our University and the many individuals he has positively impacted over the years. Coach Fuente and I both recognize and respect that this was Bud’s decision to make and no one else’s. He’s enjoyed an outstanding career, embracing Tech’s values and spirit of Ut Prosim. We are looking forward to a memorable 2019 and will always be proud to call Bud Foster one of our own at Virginia Tech.”
During Virginia Tech’s Media Day, Foster briefly addressed the media, beginning at the 40-second mark of the video:
“In the end, this thing’s about our players and this football team, and that’s where my focus is going to be,” Foster said of the upcoming season. Of his decision to retire, he said, “It was my decision, and I can’t think Justin enough for allowing me the opportunity to continue on and be a part of this program, and I can’t think Whit enough for his support, and him allowing me to do this my way. In this business, you don’t get that opportunity very often. You don’t get a chance to go our on your terms. I’ve been very blessed to have this opportunity.
“I want to thank Coach Beamer for giving me an opportunity to do some really special things, and for giving me an opportunity to experience the dream of a lifetime. I’m not sick, I’m not burned out, nobody’s forcing me out. It’s just going to be time, when it’s all said and done.”
Virginia Tech did not address the plan for replacing Foster at this time.
From Bud Foster’s profile on hokiesports.com:
- The architect of Tech’s famed Lunch Pail Defense, Foster is the longest continually tenured FBS assistant coach at the same school with those 33 years of service, a mark that is seven seasons longer than the next two individuals on that list.
- Won the 2006 Broyles Award, given annually to the top assistant coach in the country, and was a finalist on three other occasions (1999, 2001, 2005).
- Named the Division I-A Defensive Coordinator of the Year by American Football Coach magazine after helping the Hokies to the 1999 national championship game on the strength of a defense that led the nation in scoring defense at 10.5 ppg.
- His defenses have led the nation in a major defensive statistical category nine times and have placed in the top five 44 different times.
- Dating back to the start of the 2000 season, only Alabama (27) has pitched more shutouts than Tech (22).
- Virginia Tech has finished in the top five in scoring defense on seven different occasions under Foster. In addition to ranking fourth in 2017, Tech led the nation in both 1999 and 2006, while ranking second in 2001, 2004 and 2005. The Hokies registered six straight top 10 finishes in scoring defense from 2004-09.
- The Hokies led the nation in total defense in both 2005 and 2006, while ranking second in 2001.
- His 2006 defense was arguably one of Virginia Tech’s finest as the Hokies led the nation in scoring defense (11.0 ppg), total defense (219.5 ypg) and pass defense (128.2 ypg).
- Since Foster took over sole reins as Tech’s defensive coordinator in 1996, the Hokies lead all FBS programs in sacks (856.0), sack yardage (-5,839), interceptions (380) and third-down percentage (31.2).
- Over that same span, only Alabama (16.3 ppg) and Ohio State (17.0 ppg) have been better in scoring defense than Virginia Tech (18.1). Tech, Ohio State and Florida State are the only three programs during that time frame to own over 800.0 sacks and over 350 INTs.
- Since the start of the 1996 season the Hokies are tied for second with Ohio State with 47 INT return TDs. Only Florida (50) owns more over that period.
- Thanks to his opportunistic defenses, Virginia Tech owns an unbelievable +127 turnover differential (615 takes/492 gives) dating back to 1996, while 53 different defensive players have scored a total of 81 touchdowns.