Virginia Tech fall practice Aug. 3

Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente, left, talks with defensive coordinator Bud Foster at practice on Aug. 3, 2019.

BLACKSBURG—Virginia Tech spent big money to extend defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s contract in 2014. Now, with Foster announcing the 2019 football season will be his last, the question looming over the Hokies is will the program pay top dollar for Foster’s successor?

“I have no idea what it takes to pay,” athletic director Whit Babcock said earlier this month when Tech announced Foster’s decision to retire after this year, his 33rd with the Hokies. “We believe in Virginia Tech. We’re going to compete and go get it. Time will tell on that. There’s no decision even remotely close on that.”

Last season, nine of the top 10 highest-paid assistants in college football were defensive coordinators, with LSU’s Dave Aranda ($2.5 million) and Clemson’s Brent Venables ($2.2 million) leading the way, according to the USA Today coaches salary database.

Foster, comparatively, was a steal at just $975,000.

Foster makes more than any other coach on staff at Virginia Tech except head football coach Justin Fuente ($3.5 million) and head men’s basketball coach Mike Young ($2 million).

He was the third highest-paid assistant in the ACC, behind Venables and Florida State defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett ($1,005,000).

Overall, the Hokies paid Fuente’s assistants $3,685,000 last season, according to the USA Today database. That ranked Tech fifth in the ACC, behind Clemson, Florida State, Louisville and North Carolina State, among schools that reported their payroll. (Six ACC schools did not report.)

The salaries for ACC defensive coordinators in the database ranged from Venables’ multimillion dollar pact to the $325,000 North Carolina paid John Papuchis.

Tech had an heir apparent in place a year ago, when the program announced that Galen Scott—who came to Blacksburg with Fuente in 2016—had been named co-defensive coordinator. It was the first time since 1995 that the Hokies had co-coordinators.

That was the first season Foster held the title, and he shared it with Rod Sharpless. The next year, Foster held the job alone, and he’s stayed in the position for 26 years.

Scott’s time as a co- coordinator was decidedly shorter. Four months after his promotion and six months shy of the start of the season, Scott resigned after an extramarital affair he was involved in became public.

Scott reportedly coached high school football last season.

In January, Old Dominion gave Scott the chance to get back in coaching, hiring him to coach its secondary. Two months later, before ever coaching for the Monarchs, Scott took a job as the linebackers coach at North Texas.

Though Scott is a longtime friend of Fuente’s—the two were roommates while on staff at Illinois State—it’s unlikely he would be a candidate to return to Tech, despite the obvious connection. Scott was Fuente’s defensive coordinator in 2015, their last season in Memphis before coming to Blacksburg.

Fuente’s defensive coordinator his first three seasons at Memphis, Barry Odom, is the head coach at Missouri. He signed a two-year contract extension after leading the Tigers to an 8-5 mark last season.

Defensive line coach Charley Wiles has been on staff for 24 seasons and cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell was a defensive coordinator at East Carolina from 2010-12, if Tech is looking to promote from within.

The timing of Foster’s announcement avoided the distraction questions about being in the final year of his contract and gives Fuente and Babcock a head start on finding his eventual replacement.

How will Fuente handle that search?

“I’m not sure, is the answer to that,” the fourth-year Hokies coach said. “I don’t know. Certainly I’ll put plenty of thought into what we need and what we’re looking for. I don’t think it’s going to be a distraction for me as we go through the season. In fact, I know it won’t. But I guess in short, I haven’t gotten that far yet.”

The main thing he’ll need to know: How much money is Tech willing to spend to replace a man Babcock called “the greatest defensive coordinator ever?”

“We’ll talk about that and figure it out as he goes,” Babcock said. “And Justin will get us the best defensive coordinator we can have.”

{span style=”text-decoration: underline;”}Transfer quarterback’s waiver not granted{/span}

Oregon transfer quarterback Braxton Burmeister had his application for an NCAA waiver to play this football season for Virginia Tech denied, Hokies coach Justin Fuente said Friday. Burmeister is working with the Tech compliance department to appeal the decision.

The Hokies return Ryan Willis at quarterback after Willis started 10 games last season. They also have sophomore Hendon Hooker, redshirt freshman Quincy Patterson and freshman Knox Kadum.

Fuente said there is no update on Coastal Carolina transfer offensive lineman Brock Hoffman. Hoffman’s initial waiver request was denied, but he has appealed based on a family medical hardship.

His mother, Stephanie, underwent brain surgery to remove a non-cancerous tumor in 2017, just weeks after Hoffman enrolled early at Coastal in Conway, S.C.

Hoffman said she still struggles from that surgery, dealing with partial facial paralysis and damage to her hearing and eyesight. Tech’s Blacksburg campus sits about an hour closer to the family’s Statesville, N.C., home.

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