Bud Foster stays on at Virginia Tech: Is that what’s best for business?

bud fosterBud Foster wanted the head job at Virginia Tech. He made that clear to athletics director Whit Babcock, who made something else just as clear to Foster: thanks, but no thanks.

“I was disappointed that I didn’t really get an opportunity, and I expressed that to him, that I didn’t get a chance to really state my case, so to speak,” Foster said, addressing the news that Justin Fuente had been hired as the new head football coach at Tech, where Foster has served as an assistant since 1987, and defensive coordinator since 1995.

Interesting, then, that Foster would agree to stay on for a new boss. It’s not like Foster, 56, would lack for opportunities elsewhere, maybe not as a Power 5 head coach, but a guy with a track record of Foster would have no problem finding work as a defensive coordinator.

Imagine yourself being a head coach, say, in the SEC, where everybody but Vanderbilt thinks themselves a national-title contender, and you see Bud Foster is a free agent. Foster could potentially command Will Muschamp-type money, in the neighborhood of $1.6 million a year, if the right situation were to come along, and it just might, with Alabama perhaps in line to lose defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, with Georgia getting rid of Mark Richt and thus in search of a new staff and new direction.

So it could be that while Foster got a raw deal from Tech, he also gave himself a raw deal, settling for what will have to be at best an awkward situation by staying on.

And that awkwardness will cut both ways. Put yourself in Fuente’s shoes. You’re coming in as the new man on campus, all of 39 years old, don’t even know where the bathroom is, and a guy who has been on location since you were 10 is one of your employees.

What’s more, it doesn’t sound like you had much choice in the matter.

“I made it very clear if we feel strongly enough about you being the head coach, you can pick your guys,” Babcock said he advised Fuente. “But then I did say, If it’s not Bud, you better have a darn good one you bring in here.”

OK, then. So Fuente is getting a bit of a raw deal, too. He’s basically being brought in as a de facto offensive coordinator, which, sure, he’s well-qualified at that role, not only from his track record at Memphis, which he turned around in his four years on the job, but dating back to his work at TCU, where he coached Andy Dalton into a top-flight quarterback, but still.

The guy across the hall running the defense made it clear that he wanted your job, and no matter how much he smiled for the cameras at your introductory press conference, he thinks he got a raw deal, and you have to imagine that he’s hanging around for a year out of a sense of obligation to Beamer, and then he’s moving on.

He basically said as much Monday.

“I still think I can bring a lot of value to the program, or any program,” Foster said, before adding that he loves Hokie Nation for making him “feel part of a bigger family.”

So he’s staying on, for now, and that’s what’s best for Virginia Tech football, for now, at least in the estimation of Whit Babcock.

The move could also end up blowing up in everybody’s faces before the year is out.

– Column by Chris Graham

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