Herd hires Heater to run the defense

Published 1:54 am Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Courtesy Marshall University


HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Thundering Herd head coach Doc Holliday announced Monday that Chuck Heater, Temple’s defensive coordinator for the past two seasons, has accepted the same position at Marshall.

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Heater also will coach the secondary, Holliday said.

“Chuck is one of the most respected coaches in the nation and will bring with him a proven track record of success,” Holliday said. “He has helped win three national titles and I’m tremendously excited for him to join our staff.”

Heater, a 37-year veteran in the college coaching ranks, also served as the co-defensive coordinator at Florida in 2010 and assistant defensive coordinator in 2008 and 2009. He helped win two national titles during his six-year stint in Gainesville (where he coached alongside Holliday from 2005-07) and another in 1988 while serving as the secondary coach at Notre Dame.

“He’s one of the best teachers. I used to just sit in his meetings and watch him coach,” said Urban Meyer, who mentored Heater at Florida and is now the head coach at Ohio State. “Coach Heater has a tendency of making some players out of non-players.”

In 2012, Heater’s unit produced the BIG EAST’s Rookie of the Year in Owls linebacker Tyler Matakevich, who became the first freshman in school history to record at least 100 tackles (101). The Owls also ranked third in the league in sacks with 2.27 per contest.

Led by three-time first team All-Mid-American Conference defensive end Adrian Robinson as well as All-MAC honorees DE Morkeith Brown, S Kevin Kroboth, and LB Tahir Whitehead, the Owls’ defense dominated the MAC in 2011, leading all teams in five categories while ranking No. 3 nationally in scoring defense behind national champion Alabama and LSU. The Owls recorded two shutouts.

Linebacker Tahir Whitehead was drafted in the fifth round by Detroit Lions in 2012, one of a school record three draftees and a school-record class of 11 NFL signees. From the defense, DE Morkeith Brown (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), LB Stephen Johnson (New Orleans Saints), and DE Adrian Robinson (Pittsburgh Steelers) signed rookie free agent contracts.

“It is a great day for me personally to get reunited with Coach Holliday,” said Heater. “I consider Doc one of the truly outstanding coaches in this profession and am excited to re-connect with my West Virginia roots. I look forward to my contribution in returning Marshall to football greatness.”

Heater’s coaching stops have come at Florida, Colorado, Colorado State, Northern Arizona, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Temple, Toledo, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin. The defensive coordinator at Florida in 2010, he has coached in 25 bowl games, including eight on New Year’s Day, and the 2007 and 2009 BCS National Championship Games, where Florida captured two national titles, and the 1988 national championship with Notre Dame.

He has twice been nominated for the Frank Broyles Award (2006, 2011) as the nation’s top assistant coach.

Heater, 60, has been associated with six National Coaches of the Year in his playing and coaching career (Barry Alvarez, Earle Bruce, Lou Holtz, Meyer, Bill McCartney and Bo Schembechler) while mentoring 20 NFL Draft selections and 24 NFL players as well as numerous all-conference picks, including Jim Thorpe Award winner Chris Hudson (Colorado).

Under his guidance, the Gators recorded 116 interceptions, the most in the SEC and the second-best total in the nation during that time frame. In 2010, Heater led the Gator secondary to a No. 3 ranking in SEC pass defense and SEC pass defense efficiency, while ranking second in the conference with 17 interceptions. Safety Ahmad Black was named a second team All-American in 2010.

In 2009, Heater helped guide a Florida secondary that ranked first in the SEC, the first time since 1988, and second in the nation in pass defense, allowing just 152.8 yards per game. Four opponents failed to crack the 100-yard mark in passing offense against the Gators and six completed fewer than 50 percent of their pass attempts. Heater helped turn around a defensive secondary that was one of the nation’s worst in 2007 to rank among the best in 2008.

The UF pass efficiency defense ranked third in the nation in 2008 (up from 71st in 2007) and the pass defense improved to rank 20th in the nation in 2008 (up from 98th in 2007). Sophomore Ahmad Black was named second-team All-SEC by the coaches and honorable mention All-American honors from Sports Illustrated. Black was a second-team All-Sophomore selection by College Football News, while sophomore Major Wright earned honorable mention recognition for the All-Sophomore team. Will Hill was selected to the SEC All-Freshman team and was named a second-team All-Freshman performer by College Football News. Black tied for the national lead with seven interceptions in 2008, totaling 191 interception return yards, the second-most in the country, and two touchdowns.

Heater served as the recruiting coordinator for the 2006 and 2007 Florida classes that each ranked among the top two nationally, including No. 1 by several services. The 2008 class was ranked in the top five by several services.

The Gator secondary led the SEC in interceptions in 2005 and 2006 with 16 in 2005 (tied with Georgia) and 21 in 2006. UF’s 2006 total tied for the fourth-highest in school history. Florida’s 2006 pass defense efficiency (98.3) ranked fourth nationally and second in the SEC. UF surrendered only 10 passing touchdowns in 2006 (tied for eighth nationally). The unit also ranked second in scoring defense in the league and sixth nationally (13.5).

Heater guided All-SEC first-team selection Ryan Smith, whose total of eight interceptions led the league and was seventh nationally in 2006. The total was also the second-highest by a Gator in school history. He tutored the 2005 cornerbacks at Florida that were part of a secondary that allowed just 52.3 percent of passes to be complete – the 16th-best percentage nationally. A member of the UF secondary had a sack in five of the 12 games on the year. He coached All-SEC performer Dee Webb in 2005 (First Team by AP and Second Team by coaches), who led the SEC in pass deflections and team MVP Vernell Brown who ranked second in the SEC in interceptions.

Heater worked alongside former Florida coach Urban Meyer at four different Division I programs. In 1986, Heater coached the secondary at Ohio State when Meyer was a graduate assistant. They coached together again at Colorado State from 1991-92, where Heater was the defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach and Meyer as the receivers coach. Heater was also a member of the Utah coaching staff in 2004.

During the 2004 campaign, Heater served as the cornerbacks coach and recruiting coordinator at Utah as the Utes completed a perfect 12-0 season.

He spent five years at Washington as either the cornerbacks or running backs coach from 1999-2003 and also served as the Huskies’ recruiting coordinator. Heater was credited with helping the school sign three recruiting classes rated in the Top 15. Three of his recruiting classes produced a Freshman All-American. In 2002, he switched from the corners to the running backs. He also oversaw the Huskies’ punt and kick return teams.

During his first season at Notre Dame, Heater was a member of the coaching staff that led the Irish to a 12-0 record and the 1988 national championship.

He also served as the secondary coach at Notre Dame (1988-90), Ohio State (1985-87) and Wisconsin (1982-84). Heater coached the running backs from 1977-78 and the secondary at Toledo from 1979-81. He began his collegiate coaching career in 1976 at Northern Arizona, coaching running backs.

Born in Weston, W.Va., and raised in Tiffin, Ohio, Heater received his bachelor’s degree in education from Michigan in 1975. A three-year letter winner at running back, Heater earned second-team All-Big Ten honors as a junior and was named honorable mention as a senior. Finishing his playing career as UM’s fifth-leading rusher all-time with 1,981 yards on 406 carries (a 4.9-yard per carry average), he received the school’s Fielding Yost Award in 1975 for the most outstanding academic and athletic performance by a senior.

During his tenure at Michigan, the Wolverines went 41-3-1 and won outright or shared the Big Ten title every season.

Heater was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the 10th round with the 241st overall selection in the 1975 NFL Draft.

Heater is married to the former Deborah Dariano. The couple has three children: Emily, Andy, and Adam, and a granddaughter, Grace. Emily is married to former Herd assistant coach Sean Cronin. Andy was a defensive tackle at Washington in 2005 and is now an Airborne Army Ranger, while Adam played tight end at UCLA.