CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WDBJ) -- In a season where the focus has been placed time and again on football, Tuesday's Belk Bowl finally offered Bud Foster a chance to reflect.
"This is the last time I'm gonna' be in this environment," he said after the game. "I mean, I'll be on the field hopefully at some point in time, but it will be in a different mindset. I'm hanging up my whistle, so to speak."
It wasn't the storybook ending to Foster's career many Tech fans dreamed up when the defensive coordinator announced his retirement before this season.
After losing to Virginia, the Hokies fell to Kentucky in the Belk Bowl, with Foster's defense allowing the Wildcats to march 85 yards before scoring the game-winning touchdown with just 15 seconds left--a gut-wrenching ending to a career so full of success.
"It just kind of hit me," said linebacker Rayshard Ashby. "Still not fully hitting me, but it hit me the most probably today after the game and I'm sure it'll hit me more as time goes by."
Even before being named defensive coordinator, Foster has coached Virginia Tech's linebackers since 1987.
"He's like a father-figure to me," said sophomore linebacker Dax Hollifield. "He's the reason I came here. He's a legend. I say this all the time, he's the best defensive coordinator to ever coach college football. But I think he's even better at getting the most out of his players and just teaching them how to be men. And so, that's really what I have the most respect for him."
Foster will still play a role at Tech as more of a program ambassador, and on his way out Tuesday, he had one more message for the fans who've been along for the ride since the very beginning.
"We had a fanbase that was as energetic and enthusiastic and cared as much as anybody in the country, and that has not wavered," Foster said. "I can't thank them enough for all their love and generosity and support. I know sometimes they liked to throw me under the bus, but for the most part, we've put a product out there on the field that, I hope, made them very, very proud and created a brand that was really special. I hope we made them proud when it was all said and done."
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