On Aug. 1, in what initially appeared to be a typical press conference held for the football team, Bud Foster announced his retirement after the upcoming season after 33 years with the university.
"Virginia Tech has been home for 33 years, and I'm grateful to continue doing what I love for one more season," Foster said. "I'll always be indebted to coach Beamer for bringing me to Blacksburg back in 1987.”
Foster, whose inspired brand of Lunch Pail defense has been a staple at Virginia Tech since he began his tenure as defensive coordinator in 1995, has given the school a certain amount of respect on the national level that doesn’t often come to schools who aren’t consistently in the race for a national championship. Having the longest continually tenured assistant coach in college football will do that for a school’s reputation though.
"There's only one Bud Foster," said head coach Justin Fuente. "When Whit [Babcock] 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.”
There’s only one Bud Foster indeed.
I find it hard to believe there will ever be a coach quite like Foster, whose dedication to the development of young men and the improvement of the school’s football program can be matched only by the legendary Frank Beamer himself.
To say that you’ve seen a team coached by Foster in person is perhaps one of the great accomplishments you can have as a Hokie. There’s no greater example in my mind of what a Hokie can and should aspire to be: a leader that others can look up to, a goal-setter who knows exactly how to achieve what they set out to accomplish and a person who sees the best in people and works to develop that value to its highest potential.
“He's enjoyed an outstanding career, embracing Tech's values and spirit of Ut Prosim,” said director of athletics Whit Babcock on Foster’s legacy.
Looking at just the on-field production from his teams, Foster will be leaving Virginia Tech’s defense as the leading FBS school in sacks (856.0), sack yardage (-5,839 yards), interceptions (380) and third-down percentage (31.5%). Tech’s scoring defense is also third in the country at 18.1 ppg behind just Alabama (16.3 ppg) and Ohio State (17.0 ppg). Foster will also be leaving having had 45 of his defensive pupils drafted in the NFL, 11 of which were first-round selections.
All of this supports Foster’s legacy as a legendary coach, but it was his off-field personality and demeanor as well as his love for the community that he called home that will forever solidify him as a Hokie in the truest sense of the word.
While Foster will still be part of the team in some capacity after this season, him stepping down signals the official end of an era for Virginia Tech. It’s now up to Fuente to usher in a new era for this school as they’ll be looking for their next defensive coordinator after the season.
Still, to say we saw the end of Foster’s illustrious time as a coach is something to cherish, and as Foster said to the media on the day he announced his retirement: the ride is not over yet.