NEW ORLEANS — Bud Foster discovered long ago that the grass isn’t greener outside of Blacksburg, Va.

Foster, the longtime Virginia Tech defensive coordinator, has played second fiddle to Hokies coach Frank Beamer for 33 years.

The duo met at Murray State in 1979, when Foster was a junior linebacker and Beamer was in his first season as defensive coordinator. Two years later, Beamer became head coach and had Foster join as a graduate assistant and then a full-time staffer.

The two never separated, making the move from Murray State to Virginia Tech in 1987 and holding fast ever since — Frank and Bud, the steady faces of Hokie football.

Foster has had plenty of opportunities to leave. With his brilliant football mind, Foster has received head coaching offers and turned them all down.

It’s just not worth it. The grass is plenty green.

“I think I work for the best college football coach in America,” Foster said Friday. “And I say that in a lot of different ways.

“The only thing that coach has not done is won a national championship. I don’t know if that necessarily defines you as a coach or as a person.”

There’s something special about Foster and Beamer’s dedication. Virginia Tech redshirt sophomore linebacker Jack Tyler called it “a unique camaraderie.”

Foster says Beamer and the administration have made it easy to stay. And staying in Blacksburg has always been a priority.

“I’m a family guy, and I didn’t want to be a nomad in this business,” Foster said.

Across the way in the Sugar Bowl matchup, it’s the polar opposite. Michigan coach Brady Hoke has an entire coaching staff of fresh faces.

Hoke has always claimed Michigan as his destination job, but Foster doesn’t expect Hoke’s coaching staff to fluctuate much, either.

“I think they’re in a great place (at Michigan),” Foster said. “I don’t know Brady … but from what I understand he’s a very similar guy to Coach Beamer — a good guy to work for. All those things fall into place as far as being in a place for a long time.”

The Wolverines’ adjustment period with the new coaching staff didn’t take long. Though the roster is essentially the same as last season’s 7-5 team, Michigan surged to a 10-2 record and a Sugar Bowl berth under the direction of Hoke and coordinators Greg Mattison and Al Borges.

Though the team has grown, the coaches might be the ones who have grown the most, having assembled just 11 short months ago.

“It’s amazing,” said fifth-year senior captain David Molk. “When we first got here it was a jumbled mess of (preparing) for spring ball.”

Somehow, in less than a year, Michigan’s new staff has avoided the expected transitional growing pains.

“This coaching staff could easily be compared to a coaching staff that’s been together for 30-plus years,” Molk said.

How so?

“Just the congruency of a fixed goal, something that they all stress together as a unit. Sometimes when coaches are together for a really long time they all think alike. Well, these guys do.”

It’s the common mindset — and the wins — that could keep this staff together for the long haul.

But Foster sees coaching legacies like Beamer’s as a dying breed. The expectation around college football is for instant success at the highest level — as proven by former-Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez’s dismissal after three dismal seasons.

After six seasons in Blacksburg, Beamer’s record was 24-40-2.

“I don’t know if what we’ve done at Virginia Tech can be duplicated again, to be honest with you,” Foster said.

“I don’t know if the Joe Paternos and Frank Beamers are going to be able to (survive) down the road.”

Foster plans to witness the entirety of the Beamer coaching dynasty, and he’ll watch from the sidelines — playing second fiddle like he has since 1979.

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