UCF closes in on final coaching staff
UCF football entered unfamiliar territory, going winless this year for the first time since George O’Leary’s first season as head coach in 2004. Naturally, the next move was to shake things up and start a recipe for success with a brand new face coming out of the tunnel.
UCF head coach Scott Frost answered that call to action Dec. 1, and since then has added some familiarity to his coaching staff as he tries to rebound quickly from the 2015 disaster season.
Frost announced Wednesday, Jan. 6, that new coaches have been added to the Knights’ coaching staff. It was reported earlier and is now confirmed that Erik Chinander will be the Knights new defensive coordinator.
“Erik is one of the smartest football coaches I have been around,” Frost said. “I really feel like I got as good a guy from Oregon’s staff as I possibly could have.”
The other coaches and staff members that were hired are Greg Austin as the offensive line coach, Mario Verduzco as the quarterbacks coach, and Ryan Held and Troy Walters as assistant coaches. The Knights also added Marcus Castro-Walker as their director of player development.
Other coaches and support staff members include Travis Fisher, Sean Beckton, Gerrod Lambrecht, Megan Taylor, Ryan Callaghan, Dustin Haines, Josh Linam and Kevin Smith.
Erik Chinander is an Iowa native and played college football at the University of Iowa, where he was an offensive lineman. Frost served as a defensive assistant coach with Chinander in 2007 at the University of Northern Iowa, where the two were roommates.
“I have worked with [Frost], but more than that, we have been as close of friends as you could have for 10-plus years,” Chinander said. “He’s a great leader, somebody that the kids connect with, but they also feel comfortable growing under him, and I think he has got a great vision for UCF.”
Chinander later joined the Ducks as an intern in 2010, where he spent three seasons as an intern and graduate assistant.
He left Oregon in 2013 to serve as Chip Kelly’s assistant defensive line coach for the Philadelphia Eagles.
That season, the Eagles were 10th in the league in rush defense. Chinander spent the last two seasons coaching Oregon’s outside linebackers. Chinander could likely try to install a 3-4 defense for the Knights.
“I already have a pretty tight bond with some of these guys. That’s not why I hired them, I hired them because they are great football coaches,” Frost said. “I have been around enough places in football that I have been able to keep track of the guys I thought were exceptional, and luckily I have been able to get a lot of those exceptional people in here.”
It was announced Tuesday that former NFL linebacker Barrett Ruud will also be joining the Knights staff as a quality control administrator.
Like Frost, Ruud attended the University of Nebraska where he set the school’s all-time record for most recorded tackles.
He was drafted in the second round of the 2005 NFL draft and played eight years in the NFL, including six with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Much like Chinander, Greg Austin also joined the Oregon staff as an intern in 2010, and followed much of the same path that he did when he moved on to the Eagles with Chinander and Kelly in 2013.
Austin, however, did coach on the other side of the ball, and with the Eagles was the assistant offensive line coach.
“Greg Austin was vital for me to have, a guy that knew our offense from an offensive line perspective so that I would not have to teach it,” Frost said. “He knows it as well as any offensive line coach that I could have found.”
In his college days, he played football at the University of Nebraska as an offensive guard. After he completed his bachelor’s degree, Austin earned a master’s in both sports management and business management right here at UCF.
Frost was given a contract of $1.7 million per year for a span of five years, with $2.3 million to hire his new staff in the past and coming weeks, said Andy Seeley, assistant director of athletics.
“I have taken my time a little because I want to make sure I get the right guys in here. I think the players deserve to have the right people coaching them,” Frost said. “I have gotten a lot of the people I wanted to come in here and coach at UCF and everybody has been really excited about it.”
According to a statement made by Athletics Director Danny White in an article on FootballScoop.com, Frost, with his contract combined with an option for a two-year extension, turned down a higher annual salary because he wanted a higher pool for his assistant coaches.
Matthew Saunders is a digital producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @ClassicSmit or email him at MatthewS@CentralFloridaFuture.com