#5. Bud Foster
There’s not much you can say about Bud Foster that hasn’t already been said.
We ran the numbers a year ago and decided (we’re biased) that Bud is the best
in the business when it comes to coordinating college defenses. At the time
of that linked article (February 2009), Foster’s defenses had finished in the
top ten in total defense five straight years (2004-2008).
In 2009, the Hokies faced a big rebuilding job and some injury problems, and
they recovered from a slow start to surge to 12th in the nation by season’s end.
That broke the string of top-ten finishes, but it was still a remarkable job of
coordinating, considering that Foster’s best defensive tackle (John Graves)
played on a bum ankle for the second half of the season, his best corner
(Stephan Virgil) had a bad knee, and he replaced his backer mid-season (bumping
Jake Johnson in favor of Lyndell Gibson). It helped that Foster had uber-whip
Cody Grimm to help out.
The last six years of top-notch defenses are a fantastic turnaround from
2003, the low-water mark in Bud Foster’s coaching career at Virginia Tech. The
Hokies finished 51st in total defense that season, but the defense was worse
than that by season’s end, giving up an average of 459.6 yards and 35 points
over the last five games. Those averages, if projected out over the whole
season, would have put the Hokies 108th in total defense and 103rd in scoring
defense in 2003.
Foster’s players, most notably his defensive backs, were out of control, and
his scheme had some weaknesses that particular teams, most notably Pittsburgh,
With the help of his head coach, Foster cleaned up the discipline problems,
tweaked the scheme, and directed defenses that finished #4, #1, #1, #4, and #7
Foster admittedly has the advantage of working for a head coach whose entire
football philosophy is advantageous to the defense. Frank Beamer plays
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