Photo by Tyler Lamb / Sports Editor
Middle Tennessee’s search for a new defensive coordinator is over, as head coach Rick Stockstill announced the hiring of Scott Shafer this afternoon.
Though he spent the 2016 season out of football, Shafer is most notable for the work he did with the Syracuse Orange defense. The university hired him in 2009 following a season that saw the Orange trot out one of the worst defensive units in the country, ranking 101st in total and scoring defense. Upon his arrival, he paid immediate dividends by turning the team into the seventh-ranked team in total defense and 17th in scoring defense in 2010.
After his work with the defense, the university decided to give him a shot as a head coach in 2013. Shafer lasted three seasons at the helm, compiling a 14-23 record that included a win over the University of Texas in the 2013 Texas Bowl. When he was looking for coaching opportunities, Shafer noted that coach Stockstill’s reputation was a major draw.
“I couldn’t find anyone in the industry who had a bad thing to say about coach Stockstill,” Shafer said in an interview with MT Athletics. “The guy is highly respected in the business.”
Shafer replaces Tyrone Nix, who spent the last five seasons as the defensive coordinator for the Blue Raiders. MTSU struggled defensively in 2016, a year in which they posted the 90th-ranked defense in the country. Many fans believed it was time for a change and on December 28th, the Blue Raiders announced that Nix was relieved of his duties.
Coach Stockstill wants to bring a more aggressive attitude defense and for Shafer, it’s the same mentality he had at Syracuse.
“Kids like to play in an aggressive system and it’s all I know, it’s what I’ve enjoyed coaching for years,” Shafer said. “I’m anxious to get back on and put that aggressive, attack 4-3 defense on the field.”
Originally from Painesville, Ohio, Shafer played quarterback for the University of Ohio and finished his playing time at Baldwin-Wallace. He and his wife Missy have a son named Wolfgang, who is set to graduate from Ithaca College where he also played quarterback. Their daughter Elsa is currently a freshman at the University of Maryland.