Bud Foster Should Know the Name Merv Johnson

Wednesday Mark Viera of the Washington Post reported Bud Foster's annuity if he stays at Virginia Tech for the next five season will be worth about $1 million. That's good incentive to stay around and continue to build on the tradition he and Frank Beamer have start in Blacksburg, but what could the deal potentially cost Foster?

The answer could be sitting in the football offices of the University of Oklahoma.

Merv Johnson is the director of football operations and OU and has been since 1998. He also serves as the Sooners' color commentator on radio broadcasts. As an assistant coach on offense he was a part of national championships with Frank Broyles at Arkansas, Dan Devine at Notre Dame and Barry Switzer at Okahoma. Johnson spent 20 years as an assistant at OU and became one of the more well-respected assistants in coaching circles.

However, Johnson never got the chance to be a head coach and he's said in the past one of his main regrets is never taking a smaller program. Johnson kept waiting around for heavyweight jobs where he could succeed more easily. He interviewed for the head coaching job at his alma mater, Mizzou, when he was in his early and late 40s. For whatever reason, he never took over the Tiger program.

Johnson's last shot to become a head coach came when Barry Switzer resigned at Oklahoma in 1989. Switzer recommended Johnson and offensive coordinator Gary Gibbs as his possible successors. The job went to Gibbs and Johnson never got another chance to become a head coach.

If Foster collects his annuity from Tech he'll be 55 years old, well past his prime when it comes to being a viable candidate for a top head coaching job. While his deal with the Hokies looks and smells like a head-coach-in-waiting job, there's not telling where he, Frank Beamer or Hokie program will be five years from now. If Foster waits five years and for whatever reason doesn't become Virginia Tech's next head coach, his dream of getting his own program may never be reached.

Obviously there are a lot of differences between Foster and Johnson. Johnson stuck around hoping to take over a program that saw it's head coach resign and its team placed on probation. That likely isn't about to happen at Tech. But with all the uncertainty in college football and the uncertainty when it comes to coaching jobs, Foster is definitely taking a gamble by staying with Tech.

I hope he ends up cashing in both literally and figuratively. For his sake and that of the Hokies.

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