When the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Director of Athletics Rick Hart began the search for the Mocs’ new head football coach, he had a list of qualities he was looking for in potential candidates. He had a plan and an idea from the beginning of the process and looked all over the college football landscape for the right person for the job.
First and foremost, Hart was looking for someone who could set an example for the student-athletes in the Mocs football program. He wanted a leader and a teacher who could fulfill the mission of Chattanooga Athletics, "To guide, encourage and support Student-Athletes in their quest for comprehensive excellence - academically, athletically and socially - and above all else, to prepare Student-Athletes for productive and meaningful lives."
Second, Hart was looking for someone who could unite and ignite the fan base of Chattanooga. He wanted a coach with a proven track record for winning and one that could bring the passion and excitement needed to sell the program to students, alumni and the Chattanooga community.
Today, Hart introduces the perfect fit for Chattanooga Football in coaching veteran and UTC alum Russ Huesman. Huesman has over 25 years of college coaching experience, having spent the last five years as the defensive coordinator at the University of Richmond. He takes over as the 22nd head coach in Chattanooga history after helping to guide the Spiders to the 2008 FCS National Title on Dec. 19, 2008.
"We are very excited to announce Russ Huesman as the new head coach of the Chattanooga Mocs football program," stated Hart. "He exemplifies everything we were looking for in a head coach and will bring years of knowledge, experience and energy to this position. Being an alum, Coach Huesman will provide a unique spark this program needs, both on and off the field. He possesses all of the tools required to get our program moving in the right direction."
Huesman‘s success as a coach was on display for all of Chattanooga and college football to see in last week’s FCS title game against Montana. The Spider’s defense held the Grizzlies to just 39 yards rushing and seven points in a 24-7 win for Richmond. It was the first national title in the Spider’s history.
Richmond’s defense has been ranked in the top-15 in the NCAA for each of the past three seasons under Huesman’s guidance. He spent the previous six years (1998-03) at Memphis, holding various positions on the Tiger’s sidelines. As the recruiting coordinator, Huesman’s 2002 class was ranked in the top-50 in the nation, the first class in Tiger history to earn a top-50 ranking.
Prior to his time at Memphis, Huesman spent 14 seasons (1984-97) at William & Mary. During his tenure with the Tribe, Huesman coached current NFL star Darren Sharper, who led a defense ranked second in the nation, allowing just 231.8 yards per game in 1996.
"It is an honor and a privilege to be named the head football coach at my alma mater, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga," stated Huesman. "This is a goal I have been working towards my entire career. It could not have happened at a better place and I will do everything I can to make Chattanooga a successful college football team. I can not wait to get started on building the Mocs into a winning program that all of Chattanooga can be proud of."
Huesman’s ability to ignite and unite the fan base of Chattanooga is evident in his passion for his alma mater. He is a 1983 graduate of UTC, having been a four-year starter at defensive back from 1978-81. He also played centerfield for the Mocs baseball team in his freshman and junior years.
Having graduated from UTC, Huesman brings a unique insight and experience to the position. His direct knowledge and relationships with former players and alumni will allow him to bring back the passion and interest in UTC football.
Russ Huesman - Chattanooga Mocs Head Football Coach Biography
Russ Huesman was named the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football program’s 22nd head coach on Dec. 22, 2008. Huesman, a 1983 graduate of UTC and a former defensive back for Chattanooga, brings over 25 years of coaching experience to the Mocs football program.
Huesman spent the previous five seasons as the defensive coordinator at the University of Richmond, helping guide the Spiders to the 2008 Football Championship Subdivision National Title. The Spiders were known for their "Stonewall Defense," a phrase that was coined by Bruce Dowd of the College Sporting News. Richmond’s defense was ranked in the top-15 in the nation in each of the last three seasons under Huesman’s guidance.
Huesman’s ‘Stonewall Defense’ was most impressive in the 2008 national title game played in Chattanooga. His Spiders held the No. 4 Montana Grizzlies scoreless for three quarters, and just seven points total, in a 24-7 win.
In 2008, Richmond’s defense ranked in the top-10 in the FCS and was No. 1 in the Colonial Athletic Association in total defense (268.8 yards/game) and scoring defense (15.6 ppg). The Spiders also held 12 different opponents to less than 100 yards rushing and less than 20 points. Richmond’s 29 interceptions in 2008 smashed the school’s previous single-season record of 20 set back in 1973.
The last four seasons have seen Huesman produce a total of 19 defensive all-conference players, including NFL prospect Lawrence Sidbury, Jr. (DL) who was a two-time first team All-CAA pick in 2007 and 2008.
In 2007, the Spiders ranked second in the CAA and 15th nationally in sacks per game (2.6), while ranking third in the league and 31st in the NCAA in turnover margin per game (+0.6) in 2007.
In 2006, Huesman led an experienced group that allowed just 268.7 yards per game to rank 11th in the nation and second in the conference. Against the pass, the Spiders were the Atlantic-10’s most dominant team, yielding an average of 152.8 yards and intercepting a league-best 12 passes. Richmond’s front seven ranked fourth in the conference and 21st in the nation against the run, limiting the opposition to just over 115 yards per game on the ground. The Richmond defense allowed the fourth-fewest points in the conference and 22nd fewest in the country (18.1).
Huesman spent six years at the University of Memphis (1998-2003) where he held several positions, serving as the recruiting coordinator and offensive line coach, before leaving for Richmond. He also coached the outside linebackers, tight ends and running backs. As recruiting coordinator, Huesman brought in a top-50 recruiting class, ranked No. 1 in Conference USA, in 2002. It was the first recruiting class ranked in the top-50 at Memphis in school history.
Huesman also coached for 14 years at William & Mary and was the Tribe’s defensive coordinator for the 1996-97 seasons. During his tenure with the Tribe, Huesman coached current NFL star Darren Sharper, who led a defense ranked second in the nation, allowing just 231.8 yards per game in 1996. That defensive squad also led the Yankee Conference in total defense and helped power the Indians to their first conference title since 1970. In 1997, the Tribe defense was third overall in the Atlantic 10 and led the league in pass efficiency defense.
In addition to coordinating the Tribes’ defense, Huesman, also coached the William & Mary secondary, a job he took over in 1991. In eight seasons under his direction, the College of William & Mary developed one of the most effective backfields in the nation.
During his time at William & Mary, Huesman also coached Steve Christie, a 15-year NFL place kicker with Tampa Bay, Buffalo, San Diego and the New York Giants. His coaching family tree also includes Alan Williams, the defensive backs coach for the Indianapolis Colts, and Sean McDermott, the secondary coach with the Philadelphia Eagles. Both Williams and McDermott played for Huesman at William & Mary.
A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Huesman played prep football at perennial power Moeller High School, where he lettered for four years under head coach Gerry Faust. He helped Moeller’s team compile a record of 43-0-1 and win a pair of Ohio state championships.
An all-city selection in football as a senior, Huesman signed a football scholarship with Chattanooga, where he started all four years as a defensive back (1978-81) and was a two-sport athlete. He played under the late Joe Morrison for two years and competed his final two seasons under Bill Oliver. Huesman also patrolled centerfield on the baseball diamond for the Mocs during his freshman and junior seasons.
During his playing career at UTC, the Mocs posted a 31-11-2 mark and were Southern Conference co-Champions in his freshman and sophomore seasons.
Huesman was on the Mocs sidelines for the 1982 seasons as a student coach, earning his degree in business education in 1983. He followed that up with a move to the University of South Carolina as a graduate assistant under Morrison.
Huesman and his wife Amy have two daughters, Natalie (12) and Emily (9) and two sons, Jacob (15) and Levi (5).
Richmond - Assistant Coach - 2004-08
Memphis - Assistant Coach - 1998-03
William & Mary - Assistant Coach - 1984-97
South Carolina - Graduate Assistant Coach - 1983-84
Chattanooga - Student Assistant Coach - 1982
Full Name: Russell Frederick Huesman
Born: Jan. 28, 1960
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
Children: Jacob (15), Natalie (12), Emily (9), Levi (5)
Education: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga - B.S. in Business Education (1983)
What They Are Saying About Russ Huesman
"I have known Russ for 20 years going back to our William & Mary days. He is a very good coach and a very good friend. He has played a huge role in all of our success at Richmond and he is going to make a great head coach at Chattanooga. I am very happy for him and Amy and his entire family. You guys are getting a great person as well as an excellent coach. He will bring a wealth of knowledge and confidence to your program. When you are an alumnus of a school, you have a vested interested in how the school does in all aspects. He, like myself, will want what is best for not only the football program, but the entire University."
Head Football Coach - University of Richmond
2008 FCS National Champions
"You guys have just hired one of the best coaches I have ever worked with. He is also one of the best people you could meet. Chattanooga is very luck to have Russ Huesman as the head coach of its football team. Russ was my right-hand guy as we built Richmond from a team that was struggling into a national championship team. He was involved with every defensive recruit and very instrumental in developing that defense. He is one of the very, very best coaches I have ever worked with and he has a great family. He is the best."
Head Coach - Bowling Green State University
Former head coach - University of Richmond (2004-07)
"When you talk about Russ Huesman and his family, first of all, he is a first class individual. He cares about the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga tremendously. He will be an excellent representative both on the field and in the community. He brings first class characteristics off the field and a winning attitude and personality to the campus and the football program that will be infectious from day one. I felt that same energy when I first started playing for him back at William & Mary year ago."
Secondary Coach - Philadelphia Eagles
Safety for William & Mary (1993-97)