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On Monday, Football Scoop reported that Vanderbilt plans to talk with Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster after Saturday’s ACC Championship Game. Hokie fans have heard this tune before, as Foster is perennially in the conversation as a prime candidate for a BCS conference head coaching position. Is there any reason to think the rumors will materialize into a contract this time around? Here are just a few of the reasons why VSL Nation should be psyched about the prospect of that happening.
First of all, Foster is a brilliant defensive mind and is universally regarded as a phenomenal coach. The proof is in the pudding. Here’s how his teams have ranked nationally in total defense the past several years:
2009 – #12 (#2 ACC)
2008 – #6 (#1 ACC)
2007 – #4 (#1 ACC)
2006 – #1 (#1 ACC)
2005 – #1 (#1 ACC)
2004 – #4 (#2 ACC)
Yes, it’s the ACC, but those numbers are eye-popping. Foster is a Broyles Award winner and has coached a team into the national championship game. His bona fides are not in question.
Foster also has the plus-factor of recruiting connections in Virginia and the surrounding states of Maryland and North Carolina. These are areas that send kids to the SEC but are by no means the primary recruiting battlegrounds for our conference opponents. That could translate into opportunities to entice some talented players who otherwise would be bound for ACC schools.
Of course, I recognize that this may be a stretch. There has been speculation that Foster has a “coach-in-waiting” deal at VaTech, making him the heir-apparent should Frank Beamer retire in the next five years or so. But based on what Bud himself has said, as much as he loves his situation in Blacksburg, being a head coach is something he’s always wanted. He already knows every detail of how he would do it, right down to his academic policy and the assistants who he would hire (safe money is on his offensive coordinator being a sicko). Apparently he just hasn’t been willing to self-promote to get there.
If Foster is going to become a head coach, now is probably about the time. His agent told the Washington Post in November 2007 that Bud was about a year or two away from being a head coach somewhere. He says he’s wanted to wait for the right opportunity, not just any opportunity.
Maybe Vanderbilt isn’t it. After all, we do have the unfortunate reputation of being a “coach killer” school. But as we have stated numerous times in this space, that label need not be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Moreover, when you look at a guy who has seriously considered non-BCS conference jobs like Southern Miss and Northern Illinois, it makes you wonder: Why not Vandy?
Would the academic standards disrupt his ability to recruit the kind of talent and speed (particularly on the defensive side) that have made Foster-coached teams successful? Maybe. But it sounds like Bud would embrace a commitment to strong academics and building success through great coaching more than relying on lights-out recruiting. As successful as the Hokies have been this decade, they’ve done it mostly with recruiting classes ranked in the 20s, 30s and 40s. Only one class in the past ten years has cracked the top 15 (according to Rivals), and none have been top 10. Compare that to the Hokies’ final AP rankings throughout the decade, and it appears that Foster is part of a staff that knows what it’s doing. And again, the possibility of stealing some 4-stars out of the coastal regions is one not to be dismissed.
I personally think the Vanderbilt job would be perfect for a guy like Bud Foster. It’s the SEC, the top flight of the coaching profession. He’s by all accounts a great guy who is young enough (51) and energetic in spades. Nash Vegas is an easy place to fall in love with and, like Blacksburg, it’s relatively close to his roots in Kentucky.
Word on the street has it that the administration is willing to shell out the cash this time around. At the moment, I can’t think of a better person to spend it on.