- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 2, 2008

BLACKSBURG, Va. — For 21 seasons, Virginia Tech has benefited from the wisdom and toughness not just of coach Frank Beamer but also of defensive coordinator Bud Foster.

Foster is the fiery architect of one of college football’s best defenses on an annual basis. This season is typical for the quick-witted coach. The Hokies, who play Kansas tomorrow night in the Orange Bowl in Miami, are second in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 15.46 points a game, and fifth out of 119 Football Bowl Subdivision programs with 293 yards allowed a game.

“I am probably not as hard-headed as I used to be,” said Foster, whose unit features second-team All-American cornerback Brandon Flowers and third-team All-American linebacker Xavier Adibi. “We used to blitz all the time and use a lot of man-pressure blitzing where offenses did not keep as many blockers in. We still pressure a lot, but it’s more zone blitz. We want to pressure without as much risk and not give up the big play.”

Foster may tweak strategy in his third decade with the Hokies. One thing that has not changed, however, is his location.

The 48-year-old career assistant was the 2006 winner of the Frank Broyles Award, given to the nation’s top assistant coach. He enjoys living in southwestern Virginia and constructing top-notch defenses for the Hokies, who are ranked third in the Bowl Championship Series.

However, as much as he enjoys being at Virginia Tech, he would rather be elsewhere.

“I tried to get into a couple head coaching jobs, but it just didn’t work out,” said Foster, who recently was mentioned for the West Virginia opening. “I threw my name in at Georgia Tech and Arkansas.”

It is an annual rite of application for Foster, who is actually finishing his 29th season together with Beamer after playing for him as a safety and linebacker at Murray State and coaching under him there before they moved to Virginia Tech.

“Probably the closest job was the Virginia job a few years ago,” said Foster, a finalist for the Cavaliers’ opening before Al Groh took over in 2001. “I still remember [then athletic director] Terry Holland saying, ‘You know Bud, we would have a hard time hiring a Hokie.’ I said, ‘Coach, I am a Hokie by association. I didn’t go to school here.’ That is probably the closest one I had recently.”

But he remains a hot commodity. Foster met with South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier earlier this month and was offered a job, a move that likely would have made him the nation’s highest-paid defensive coordinator.

After meeting with Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver and Beamer, Foster decided to stick around after getting a reported raise to $350,000 a year, which could reach $400,000 with incentives.

“We’re happy Bud is staying,” Beamer said.

Beamer earns some $2 million a season, and most coaches in charge of big-time programs earn well over $1 million. Foster would not mind reaching that economic stratosphere.

“I think it’s fair to get paid your fair market value,” Foster said. “I feel in today’s day and age the head coaches are getting paid. And the assistants’ salaries are better than they have ever been, but there is still a big discrepancy between the head coaches and the assistants. …

“You better get it now because it may not be there down the road. I am not getting any younger. I don’t want to be an old, crusty ball coach coaching. I don’t want to be cussing and dragging my [butt] out of bed and all that. I want to throw a line out in the water when I get a little older.”

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