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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