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Chuck Landon: Holliday hits jackpot with new coordinator

Jan. 10, 2013 @ 12:31 AM

There aren't many defensive coordinators Doc Holliday is more familiar with than Chuck Heater.

That's a prime reason Marshall's head football coach has hired Heater as the Thundering Herd's new defensive coordinator, according to informed sources.

Holliday and Heater coached together on the defensive side of the ball at the University of Florida for three seasons (2005-07).

In fact, they coached the Gators to a national championship together in 2006.

So, is it any wonder Holliday didn't hesitate to pull the trigger on hiring Heater? The truth is Doc never dreamed Heater would be available.

Why would anybody expect a guy to be looking for work who had 36 years of college coaching experience and three national championship rings on his resume?

That's the unusual dilemma Heater was in after serving the last two seasons as Temple's defensive coordinator.

It all began in December when Temple head coach Steve Addazio was hired as Boston College's new coach. Addazio decided not to take Heater with him to BC.

So, Heater applied for the Owls' head coaching vacancy. He was interviewed, but wasn't in the final two. Then, new Temple head coach Matt Rhule didn't offer Heater a spot on his staff.

That made Heater a free agent.

But not for long.

Holliday saw to that.

Why, Heater is even a West Virginia native. He was born in Weston and, then, grew up in Tiffin, Ohio, where he became a standout running back, accepting a scholarship to Michigan.

That's where his association with some of the who's who of the coaching world began.

At Michigan, he was a star running back under coach Bo Schembechler. Then, Heater coached on Earle Bruce's staffs at Ohio State and Colorado State, with Lou Holtz at Notre Dame and on Urban Meyer's staff at Florida.

Add Heater's qualifications together and it isn't difficult to answer the most compelling question about finding a successor to former MU defensive coordinator Chris Rippon.

Could Marshall have done better?

I don't think so.

Now, it's a matter of Holliday filling a couple of other holes in his staff. One problem is Heater never has coached a defensive position other than in the secondary. But the Herd already has a cornerbacks coach in Lytrel Pollard and a safeties coach in Todd Hartley.

What Marshall doesn't have is a linebacker coach now that Rippon is gone. One solution would be to shift Pollard to linebackers since he once coached that position at Southern Miss.

Or it could open the door for Holliday to hire his old friend Steve Dunlap, a former linebacker coach who has been fired at WVU.

If that happened, it would force Holliday to tweak his offensive assistants. For example, if offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Bill Legg would replace Tony Petersen as quarterbacks coach, Hartley could be moved to tight ends.

Or if running backs coach JaJuan Seider would become the new quarterback coach, Hartley could move to running backs.

There's also another solution for quarterbacks coach.

Rickey Bustle, former offensive coordinator and quarterback coach at Virginia Tech and South Carolina, has contacted Marshall about the position, according to sources. Bustle was at Southern Miss last season.

But, right now, that's window dressing.

The defensive coordinator vacancy was the crux of the matter for Marshall's football program.

Chuck Heater was a great hire.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Disoatch. Contact him at 304-526-2827 or clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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