Virginia Tech's Bud Foster interested in Memphis football opening

Defensive coordinator Bud Foster has guided the Hokies to the top 10 in total defense and scoring defense for five straight seasons.
Defensive coordinator Bud Foster has guided the Hokies to the top 10 in total defense and scoring defense for five straight seasons. (Steve Helber/associated Press)
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By Mark Viera
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 12, 2009

BLACKSBURG, VA. -- Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster said he would be interested in the head coaching opening at Memphis, but he has not been contacted by anyone from the university and his name has not surfaced in published reports about possible candidates.

"That might be a job I might be interested in," Foster said Tuesday night when asked for his take on the opening, adding later, "I think there's a lot of things that are attractive about it."

Asked what would be attractive about the program, Foster said: "It's a Conference USA job. You look at teams like Cincinnati, you look at teams like Pittsburgh, you look at teams like Louisville -- those three have recently had success that are in urban kind of settings. Memphis is in that same kind of setting and in a pretty decent area from a recruiting standpoint, when you start looking at the athletes they have in that area."

Foster has a connection to the Tigers' program. Foster and Memphis's director of football operations, John Flowers, both attended Nokomis High School in Illinois and have known each other for years, growing up in a small town near the geographic center of Illinois.

Flowers is in his 25th season as a member of Memphis's coaching staff, serving as the director of football operations for five head coaches. He said neither the athletic director nor the university's search committee has ever asked him for his input on any coaching searches in the past.

"If they want to ask for an endorsement, I can certainly endorse Bud Foster," Flowers said Wednesday in a telephone interview. "He's a friend and a great coach."

Flowers added, "As far as him coming here, I have not talked to Bud."

Foster has not been mentioned among possible replacements for Tommy West, who was fired Monday after nine seasons as the Tigers' coach. West will be Memphis's coach for the remaining three games this season.

The Memphis Commercial Appeal published a list Tuesday of possible candidates for the job that included Oklahoma State co-offensive coordinator Gunter Brewer, Louisiana Tech Coach Derek Dooley, Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, Louisiana State running backs coach Larry Porter and Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong.

Athletic Director R.C. Johnson told reporters that Memphis wanted to hire "the best available coach as quick as possible." He said Memphis's next coach must be successful in recruiting and that previous head coaching experience was preferred but not necessary.

Foster, considered one of the nation's top defensive coordinators, has been in the mix for openings in the past but has never been a head coach. He has been selective about job openings in previous years, saying that he would prefer to leave for a program from a Bowl Championship Series conference.

Foster interviewed at Clemson and Virginia when those jobs were last open. He has said that he tried unsuccessfully to get the jobs at North Carolina State and Illinois when Tom O'Brien and Ron Zook landed those jobs.

Foster has been at Virginia Tech for the past 23 seasons, 15 as the Hokies' defensive coordinator. He has routinely crafted defenses that rank among the nation's best.

In each of the past five seasons, Virginia Tech has ranked in the top 10 in both total defense and scoring defense. The Hokies led the nation in total defense in 2005 and in 2006.

But this year's defense has not always resembled those units of years past. With some youth in key spots, the Hokies have struggled to stop the run and have routinely been gashed by big plays. Virginia Tech ranks 23rd in total defense (312.3 yards per game) and 21st in scoring defense (17.4 points per game).

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