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2019 will be Bud Foster's last season at Virginia Tech and the Lunch Pail Defense will never be the same

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2019 will be Bud Foster's last season at Virginia Tech and the Lunch Pail Defense will never be the same

It is the end of an era in Blacksburg as the 2019 season will be Bud Foster’s last. The school made the announcement on Thursday saying the long-time defensive coordinator will retire from coaching following the season.

Foster is as synonymous with Virginia Tech football as the long-time head coach Frank Beamer who Foster served under from 1987 to 2015.

Foster expressed his gratitude to Virginia Tech in a statement released by the school:

Virginia Tech has been home for 33 years and I'm grateful to continue doing what I love for one more season. 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. 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.

Under Beamer and Foster, Virginia Tech rose from obscurity to a football power. The team won at least 10 games for eight consecutive seasons from 2004 to 2011 and currently owns the longest active bowl streak in the FBS with 26.

The Hokies built their foundation on “Beamer Ball,” meaning great special teams and defense. The Lunch Pail Defense was a major part of that and credit belongs to Foster who became the defensive coordinator at Virginia Tech in 1996. Since then, he has established himself as one of the top defensive coordinators in the game.

"Bud's contributions to this university and community have been monumental!" Beamer said. "I want to personally thank him for his decades of dedication and commitment. I encourage the Hokie Nation to show up 'loud & proud' this fall to cheer on Coach Fuente and the team, and, to send Coach Foster out the Virginia Tech way!"

When Beamer announced he was retiring in 2015, many wondered if Foster would be his replacement. As names of potential candidates became public, it soon became clear that athletic director Whit Babcock was looking in a different direction. Though he would not be taking over as head coach, Foster elected to remain with the team and serve as defensive coordinator under Justin Fuente.

"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.”

With Foster stepping aside, one of the all-time great defensive coordinators will be leaving the game. Whether he will ultimately be recognized for his achievements is uncertain. In the statement, Virginia Tech says that 45 of Foster’s players have been drafted by the NFL including four players taken in the first round.

Despite his contributions to the game, however, the College Football Hall of Fame seems like a long-shot as an assistant coach has never been inducted.

If anyone was going to buck that trend, it would be Foster.

After the season, Foster will remain with Virginia Tech and serve as an ambassador to the program working directly under Babcock.

"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."

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Patrick Mahomes celebrates Mac McClung picking his alma mater Texas Tech

Patrick Mahomes celebrates Mac McClung picking his alma mater Texas Tech

Wednesday was a good day for Red Raider fans when Mac McClung announced his transfer commitment to Texas Tech

Even former alum and Super Bowl MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes - who also was openly recruiting the star on Twitter - was excited about the big get. 

He was joined by fellow Texas Tech alum Jarrett Culver in sharing his excitement of getting the 6-foot-2 guard. Culver's style and skill set are very similar to McClung's. Under head coach Chris Beard, he helped transform the combo guard into a first-round NBA prospect.

Other professional athletes including Trae Young gave McClung their congratulations. 

As a late entry into the transfer portal, McClung was one of the biggest available players this offseason. While he is required to sit a season due to NCAA transfer rules, there is some buzz that he may get a waiver to compete next season in Lubbock. 

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Ever Wonder: How Midnight Madness got its start at the University of Maryland

Ever Wonder: How Midnight Madness got its start at the University of Maryland

For most college basketball programs across the country, Midnight Madness has become a major tradition. The late-night spectacle filled with basketball and showmanship signifies the start of a new season. 

But, how did Midnight Madness come to be? It turns out its humble beginnings took place at the University of Maryland.

In 1971, legendary head coach Lefty Driesell had been at the helm of the Terps basketball squad for two seasons. Helping the program reach a new prestige in his first couple of years, Driesell wanted to take Maryland to the next level and show the rest of college basketball they were legit contenders.

His idea: have his team be the first ones to practice on the season by participating in an event at midnight on the earliest possible date. This way, in Driesell's eyes, the Terps would the first team on the court at the beginning and the last one on it at the end when they held the National Championship trophy.

“This was Lefty’s way of saying, ‘Hey world, Maryland is here now. We got a great team and I’m going to be the first team in America to practice,'" Tom McMillen, who was a member of the 1971 team, said.

Besides sending a message to other programs, Driesell also used Midnight Madness as a way to drum up school spirit. If Maryland was going to become one of the top schools in the nation and a respected team, they needed fans to get involved and stay committed.

“Getting the campus to rally behind the basketball team," Tony Massenburg, who played under Driesell in 1985, said. “You don’t need a reason to get a bunch of college students to stay up until midnight."

The first Midnight Madness took place on October 15, 1971, at 12:03 a.m. Unlike a majority of the nights in modern times, the Maryland team wasn't in a gym, but rather out at Byrd Stadium running a mile. Still, the event got the attention of locals and a national audience. 

“It really set off a firestorm across the country," McMillen said.

In the third installment of Midnight Madness, Driesell had Maryland participate in a scrimmage open to the public, more in line with what is seen across the country now. It was that event that turned Midnight Madness into the popular spectacle it is today.

“The third year we ended up having a scrimmage. That’s really what launched midnight madness," McMillen said.

What began as Driesell's idea has transformed into a common night shared among campuses across the country. Every year Midnight Madness gets bigger, with scrimmages only being part of the action. Wild introductions, skits and more theatrics have turned the first practice of the season into much more than that.

Maryland still participates and even paid homage to the original Midnight Madness in 2018. In honor of the program's 100th season and Driesell's introduction into the Basketball Hall of Fame, the Midnight Mile made its return. 

While the night continues to grow in size, the original meaning still holds true. Driesell held Midnight Madness as a way to showcase Maryland and prove it was the best place to be. Coaches across the country are doing the same, trying to show that their campus is the place to be.

“What it’s become is a recruiting tool," Massenburg said. "It’s the means to sort of showcase your program.”

What began in College Park has turned into one of college basketball's best traditions. Despite Driesell being the creator, the start of Midnight Madness is sometimes relatively unknown by the public. If the head coach had known how big it would become back in 1971, that may have been different. 

“I tell Lefty my only regret is that you didn’t copyright Midnight Madness because it was a very valuable asset and literally just an idea he came up with just to be first," McMillen said. 

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