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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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Watkins, Stevens lead Penn State over No. 4 Maryland

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Watkins, Stevens lead Penn State over No. 4 Maryland

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Penn State became the fifth unranked team to beat a top-5 program in this upset-filled college basketball season, getting 15 points and 11 rebounds from Mike Watkins in a 76-69 win over No. 4 Maryland on Tuesday night.

Lamar Stevens added 15 points and 10 rebounds, Myreon Jones and Izaiah Brockington each scored 14 points, and Myles Dread had 12 points for the Nittany Lions (8-2, 1-1 Big Ten), who led for all but 1:54.

Jalen Smith had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Terrapins (10-1, 1-1), who were trying for their first 11-0 start since 1996.

Eric Ayala scored 15, Anthony Cowan Jr. had 14, Aaron Wiggins had 13 and Serrel Smith added 12 for the Terps, who trailed 40-30 at halftime.

Penn State's win was followed minutes later by another unranked team knocking off an unbeaten opponent -- Texas Tech over No. 1 Louisville at Madison Square Garden.

The Nittany Lions led by as many as 10 with 15:19 to play, but the Terps used an 11-3 run capped by a 3-pointer from Cowan to cut the deficit to 52-50 with 10:57 left.

They wouldn't get any closer, and Penn State won its first game against a top-5 team since Feb. 17, 2016, when the Nittany Lions knocked off then-No. 4 Iowa.

Penn State leaned on its defense to build its first-half lead.

The Nittany Lions forced 12 turnovers in the first 10 minutes and used most of them to fuel an 18-5 run. Dread capped the sequence with a 3-pointer that made it 27-15.

Maryland slowed the pace with a pair of jumpers before Cowan hit a 3 that cut Penn State's lead to five. The Nittany Lions closed the half with a 13-8 run, capped by a buzzer-beating 3 from Jones.

THE TAKEAWAY

Maryland: The Terps fell behind early for a second straight game, but it didn't work out as well against a bigger, more skilled opponent. Maryland also spotted Illinois a big lead on Saturday before rallying.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions have beaten top teams at home in the Patrick Chambers era, but those wins have usually come late in the season.

UP NEXT

Maryland visits No. 22 Seton Hall on Dec. 19

Penn State hosts Alabama on Saturday.

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Bowl season: Penn State, UVA get New Year's Six, the Hokies bowl shuffle and Navy's tough draw

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Bowl season: Penn State, UVA get New Year's Six, the Hokies bowl shuffle and Navy's tough draw

The regular season is over, the conference championships decided and the playoff bracket is set. Yes, it's bowl season. Bowl bids were handed out on Sunday and Penn State, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Navy all found out their postseason fates.

Here's where each team is headed this bowl season:

Penn State vs. Memphis, Cotton Bowl Classic on Saturday, Dec. 28

Ohio State is headed to the College Football Playoff and the Big Ten's Rose Bowl bid is going to Wisconsin. Penn State, however, managed to squeak into the New Year's Six as the No. 10 team in the nation. They will take on Group of 5 representative Memphis who won the AAC.

Virginia vs. Florida, Orange Bowl on Monday, Dec. 30

The Cavaliers are headed to the Orange Bowl for the first time in school history. More on this game here.

Virginia Tech vs. Kentucky, Belk Bowl on Tuesday, Dec. 31

The Belk Bowl always seemed like the likely destination for Virginia Tech, but their opponent was a bit of a mystery. If you were following along on Twitter before things were made official, the Hokies were supposed to play Mississippi State, then it was Tennessee, then Kentucky, then Tennesse again and then back to Kentucky.

Now it's official and we know for sure it will be Virginia Tech vs. Kentucky.

The issue was reportedly Tennessee changing its bowl preference at the last minute.


Navy vs. Kansas State, Liberty Bowl on Tuesday, Dec. 31

Kansas State is the only team in the nation with a win over a College Football Playoff team. They defeated Oklahoma 48-41 in October.

Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo had the quote of the day about his team's matchup.

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