Longtime Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster, who has coached with the Hokies for 32 seasons, will retire after the 2019 season, the school announced Thursday.
Foster, the architect of Virginia Tech's Lunch Pail defense, is the longest continually tenured FBS assistant coach at the same school. He was hired by former Hokies coach Frank Beamer as inside linebackers coach in 1987 and was elevated to co-defensive coordinator in 1995. He assumed control of the defense the next season and has held that role ever since.
"I'm not sick. I'm not burned out. It's just time," Foster, 60, said during a news conference in Blacksburg, Virginia. "This is never an easy decision. It's my decision. In this profession, you don't get this opportunity often. You don't get a chance to go out on your terms."
Current Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente persuaded Foster to remain on staff after Beamer retired in 2015. Foster has been Tech's associate head coach, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach the past three seasons.
The school said Foster would continue to work as an ambassador for the athletic department once he retires from coaching.
Foster was a linebacker at Murray State when Beamer was the defensive coordinator there in 1979-80. Beamer was named the Racers' coach in 1981 and hired Foster as a graduate assistant. He was promoted to linebackers coach in 1983 and joined Beamer's staff at Virginia Tech four years later.
"I've said it many times: We had the best in the country with Bud as the defensive coordinator," Beamer told ESPN. "He played at Murray State when I was the defensive coordinator. He was an outside linebacker, and he played not because of raw speed, but because he had a great understanding of football and it made sense to him. He was in the right place at the right time, and that carried right over into him becoming a great defensive coordinator."
Under Foster's direction, the Hokies finished in the top five in the FBS in scoring defense in seven seasons. Tech ranked No. 1 in scoring defense in 1999, when it went 11-1 and lost to Florida State 46-29 in the BCS National Championship Game at the Sugar Bowl. The Hokies were also No. 1 in scoring defense in 2006 and second in 2001, 2004 and 2005.
Virginia Tech's 2006 defense was No. 1 in scoring defense (11 PPG), total defense (219.5 YPG) and pass defense (128.2 YPG).
Foster had a few opportunities to become a head coach but never left Virginia Tech.
"I appreciated him, and I tried to pay him well," Beamer said. "For a while, I was involved with the defense, but then I decided the best thing I could do is get out of there and let Bud do it. He knew exactly what he was doing, and he was in charge of it on Saturdays. He had a better grasp of it than me, and I tried to leave him alone."
Foster won the Broyles Award as the sport's top assistant coach in 2006 and was a finalist three other times. Since he took control of the Tech defense in 1996, 45 of his players have been selected in the NFL draft, including 11 in the first or second rounds.
"There's only one Bud Foster," Fuente said. "When [Tech athletic director 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. 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."