HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - At this point of his football coaching career, Chuck Heater wants to work with people he knows and win games. As Marshall's new defensive coordinator, he has the first part sealed, reuniting with his friend, Thundering Herd Head Coach Doc Holliday.
And he feels he can help with the second part, too, rebuilding a struggling defense so the Herd can vault back into the postseason.
"I enjoy being able to get good players to play well," Heater said. "And that's the assumption I have here."
Heater has known for a while how Holliday can reel in top talent. The two were on the same University of Florida coaching staff from 2005-07 and Heater watched Holliday recruit players like Janoris Jenkins and Major Wright to join the Gators' defensive backfield.
"I got better when I had Janoris Jenkins and Major Wright in the secondary," he said.
Heater thinks there's some talented personnel on Marshall's defense, too. Linebacker D.J. Hunter was named a Sporting News Freshman All-American, and the Herd returns two more players - defensive end Alex Bazzie and defensive lineman Brandon Sparrow, who earned honorable mention on the All-Conference USA team. That's pretty good for a Marshall defense that allowed 43.08 points per game in 2012. Only Colorado gave up more points per game in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
That led to former defensive coordinator Chris Rippon's resignation following the Herd's 65-59 double-overtime loss at East Carolina in Marshall's season finale. That was the fifth time in 2012 a Marshall opponent scored 50 points.
Heater comes to Huntington after two years as Temple's defensive coordinator. In 2011, the Owls were third in the FBS, allowing just 13.92 points per game. In 2012, the Owls gave up 31.18 points per game after jumping from the Mid-American Conference to the Big East and losing four key defenders to graduation.
Linebacker Tahir Whitehead was a fifth-round draft pick of the Detroit Lions and defensive ends Morkeith Brown and Adrian Robinson and linebacker Stephen Johnson all signed NFL rookie free-agent contracts.
Heater, 60, was born in Weston and grew up in Tiffin, Ohio, becoming a star running back for the University of Michigan. His coaching stops included stints at Ohio State, Notre Dame, Colorado State, Colorado, Washington, Utah and Florida. He owns national championship rings as a member of the 1988 Notre Dame staff and the 2007 and 2009 Florida staffs.