The Return of Charley Wiles
The "Lesser Known" Legend
We all know Frank Beamer and Bud Foster. The legendary duo that helped transform Virginia Tech football into the powerhouse program that it is today, especially on the defensive side of the ball. But there is one name that those familiar with the program will recognize, but those who do not follow as closely might not know.
If you want to talk about how great the Lunch Pail Defense was during Bud Foster’s historic tenure, you better also talk about Charley Wiles. Other than Foster, Wiles was one of the longest tenured and most respected pieces of the defensive coaching puzzle.
Wiles and Foster both have the Murray State connection which was essential to forming a legendary coaching duo for the LPD. While Foster was getting started at Tech, Wiles was the co-defensive coordinator at Murray State in 1995, where he helped lead the team to an undefeated season and a berth in the Division I-AA playoffs. Wiles joined the Virginia Tech football coaching staff full-time as the defensive line coach in 1996, also known as the same year Foster was promoted to sole defensive coordinator.
While Foster was transforming the secondary into DBU, Wiles was quietly molding the defensive line into one of the most ferocious units on the Tech defense. Wiles coached the defensive line as part of Foster's record-breaking LPD for 24 years. The statistics that Wiles produced on defense during that time are eye-popping and speak for themselves:
- 856 sacks – the most of any team in the country dating back to 1996
- 31.5% third down opponent conversion rate – the lowest of any team in the country since 1996
- The defensive line’s constant pressure lead to 380 interceptions – the most of any team during Wiles’ tenure
- 120.9 rush yards allowed per game – the 7th best figure in the country since 1996
- Only Alabama and Ohio state have better scoring defenses since Wiles began at Tech. Tech allowed only 18.1 points per game during his time
Let us not forget about the players themselves he has coached. During his tenure, Wiles coached some of the best collegiate defensive players in the country. He coached five All-Americans in Cornell Brown (who would later win a Super Bowl with the Ravens), Corey Moore, John Engelberger, Darryl Tapp, and David Pugh, as well as helping 26 defensive linemen earn all-conference honors.
Take it from Luther Maddy, a standout defensive tackle who played under Wiles for fives years at Tech: “Coach Wiles was instrumental in the growth I made not only on the field, but also in life. I’m glad he was able to be my coach and I love that we still have a relationship even after I graduated.”
After the 2019 Belk Bowl Foster gifted Wiles a lunch pail, joining Darryl Tapp as the only person to receive that honor from Foster.
After 24 years at the helm of the Tech defensive line, Wiles’ time with the Hokies abruptly ended after the 2019 season to the surprise of many Hokie faithful. Wiles found a new job as the defensive line coach at NC State, who just so happen to be coming into Lane Stadium to begin the 2020 season this Saturday. I am sure it will be an emotional homecoming for Wiles, who committed almost a quarter of a century to Virginia Tech. It’s a shame no fans will be in attendance on Saturday to thank him for all that he did for the Hokie football program, as he is a living Hokie legend that far too few knew.