2016 Purdue Football Coaching Search: Bud Foster
Candidate Tier #2
Category: Old Farts
Who Is He?
Bud Foster, put-upon Defense Coordinator at Virginia Tech. Architect of some of Frank Beamer’s best defenses, presumed head coach in waiting until he wasn’t. Hokie fan favorite to point to when Beamer started to suck.
Why would he be successful at Purdue?
Most everyone talking about who should replace Hazell has focused on the offensive side of the football. And with good reason; the best Purdue teams were Tiller’s “Basketball on Grass” and it seems logical to pivot back to what worked. But a dominating defensive scheme can work too, and few DCs have as solid of a reputation as Bud Foster.
Foster is best known for his 1999 squad, which played a big role in getting the Hokies to the National Championship game (though I seem to remember someone by the name of “Vick” helping out with that.) He was honored as the nation’s top DC following that season.
In 2006 he won the Broyles Award, given out to the nation’s top assistant. Despite not having head coaching experience, he was long considered to be Frank Beamer’s successor. Also, Virginia Tech and Purdue are basically carbon-copies of each other, so culture wise he’d probably be a good fit.
Why could he flop at Purdue?
There’s an argument to be made that Foster’s best days are behind him. He’s 57, and has spent 29 years at Virginia Tech. He’s been the DC there since 1995, and turned down a number of opportunities to strike out on his own and be a HC to stay with Foster and put in the time to be the presumed next HC at VaTech. VT had other plans, and it took an extraordinary effort on behalf of Justin Fuente and VT’s AD to get him to stay on board.
At this point in his career, with no head coaching experience, and nearly 30 years of his life devoted to one institution, and one way of running things, it may be a hard transition to move to a new place. Additionally, his defenses lately haven’t been the greatest (2013 excepted.) His heyday was really 2005-2007, and he’s only been moderately successful since then (still better than Purdue though.) Also, it’s very hard to build a good defense from scratch in college football. You need great recruiting, patience, and a great scheme. And a little bit of luck. That’s a lot of work to build for a payoff that might not come.
Would he come to Purdue?
Nah. He’s entrenched at Virginia Tech. He’ll probably retire there, at this point in his career, three decades in, it’s hard to imagine that he’d leave and start anew. A good coach, and a good loyal man, but this won’t happen.