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Memphis narrows candidates; is Foster among them?

Memphis Athletic Director R.C. Johnson said he has narrowed his list of choices for the football coaching vacancy to six to 10 candidates but would not name any of those on that list.

In a telephone interview Monday afternoon, Johnson said he was aware of Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster and his reputation as one of the nation’s top defensive coaches. Johnson declined to say whether Foster had applied for the opening or whether he was on the list of candidates.

While Foster has expressed interest in the opening, he said Saturday that he had not been contacted by Memphis. It remains unknown whether Foster is a candidate.

On Monday, Johnson said that he only recently started to reach out to the candidates or their agents. Because many candidates are college or professional coaches, Johnson said, he would likely start to conduct telephone interviews or leave Memphis to make visits to meet with them personally.

Robert Lattinville, Foster’s agent, did not immediately return a telephone message on Tuesday.

Johnson, who said the university was not using an outside firm for the search, estimated that he had received about 80 to 100 applicants (both realistic and unrealistic) for the job since Tommy West was fired last week.

“Being an athletic director at a division I school with a football or basketball opening, you become popular,” Johnson said. “A lot of people have a candidate for me.”

Foster has been considered for head coaching openings in the past. 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 before 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.

By Mark Viera  |  November 17, 2009; 1:30 PM ET
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