Photo Credit: Jake Roth
There's no doubt that Bud Foster was arguably the greatest defensive coordinator in the history of college sports. Foster's career of innovating on the defensive end alongside Frank Beamer helped take Virginia Tech from a mid-tier FBS program to being among the powerhouses of college football and a well-known and respected Power 5 program.
Many national analysts believe that Foster should eventually become the first coordinator to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Though he can't be inducted yet due to current eligibility rules, there is an honor that he should receive this year.
Bud Foster should headline the 2020 Virginia Tech Football Sports Hall of Fame class.
Yes, this may seem quite soon after his coaching career ended, but is there anyone that doesn't think Foster is the most deserving person associated with Virginia Tech who is eligibile for the VT Sports Hall of Fame.
Of course, a celebration of the 2020 class at a football game probably should be pushed to 2021 and celebrated with that class (which should include Tyrod Taylor, who will be first eligible at that time given the 10-year waiting period for athletes that is based on academic year, classifying his final season as 2010-11 and not just 2010). Now imagine that celebration and scene in 2021 with Foster and Taylor being honored together.
Now you all probably know about the numerous reasons why Foster absolutely should be in the VT Sports Hall of Fame, but let's run through it one more time.
First, it starts with the fact that during his time as defensive coordinator, Virginia Tech won 4 ACC Championships, 3 Big East Championships, and an additional 3 ACC Coastal Championships under 2 different head coaches. Additionally, Tech won 10+ games in 14 seasons while also going to a bowl game in every single season he was Tech's defensive coordinator from 1995 through 2019.
Foster's defenses, as we all know, were dominant throughout his tenure with the stats backing them up.
Foster's defenses were ranked 13 times in the top 10 nationally in scoring defense while being ranked 11 times in the top 10 nationally for total yards allowed per game. Within the Big East and ACC, Tech was the defensive power leading the conference 9 times in scoring defense including for six-straight seasons (2004-2009) while ranking first six times in total yards allowed per game.
Then comes the tons of star players he developed at the collegiate level, many of whom became stars in the NFL including guys like Kam Chancellor, DeAngelo Hall, Tremaine Edmunds, Brandon Flowers, Darryl Tapp, and numerous others. To date, Foster has had seven players on defense who he was the coordinator for inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame with plenty more to come.
However, it goes beyond that to his lunch pail defense building a culture and football identity of toughness and hard work that built Virginia Tech into a national power. Foster was as valuable in building sustaining the success of the Hokies as Frank Beamer or Michael Vick. There's a reason why Foster became the first person who didn't attend Virginia Tech to receive his name on a banner above the North End Zone of Lane Stadium.
That culture has also rubbed off Hokie Nation with fans embracing that lunch pail mentality in a way that helped make Lane Stadium one of the most feared places to play in college football. While the lunch pail may be used less often, the hard work, blue collar mentality is engrained in the core of Virginia Tech football and is a major part of the appeal of the program, an identity set in stone by Foster.
Off the field, Foster valued the Southwest Virginia community immensely and is continuing now to help many kids go to college through the Lunch Pail Defense Foundation that has rewarded 38 scholarships since 2009. Not only has Foster earned his spot easily for his work on the field, but his work off of it is continuing to leave a lasting legacy on Southwest Virginia that will change lives both in SWVA and around the world.
It's rare to see a coach stay at the same school for a decade, let alone 33 years especially when that coach isn't a head coach, but Bud Foster was built from a different breed building VT into a power alongside Frank Beamer, and then smooth the transition to the Justin Fuente era with a strong defense early in Fuente's tenure and one left behind that has the makings of being another elite VT defense.
Given all this, Bud Foster should be the first person named to this year's Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame class. Anything less than immediate induction would be a wrong done to a man who spent 33 years building Virginia Tech into a respected brand and national power with a blue collar, lunch pail mentality that is engrained both into the football program and Hokie Nation forever.