Mallory, Ekeler officially named defensive co-coordinators

A press release on Monday afternoon made it official. New Mexico defensive coordinator Doug Mallory and Nebraska linebackers coach Mike Ekeler will be Indiana’s co-defensive coordinators.

Though it was reported earlier that Purdue linebackers coach Mark Hagen will coach Indiana’s defensive line and special teams, he was not part of the release.

The release says Mallory will coach the safeties and Ekeler will coach the linebackers.

The rest of the release follows.

DOUG MALLORY, MIKE EKELER NAMED INDIANA CO-DEFENSIVE COORDINATORS

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana Head Football Coach Kevin Wilson announced Monday that Doug Mallory and Mike Ekeler (ECK-ler) will join the Hoosier staff as co-defensive coordinators. Mallory will coach the safeties and Ekeler will coach the linebackers.

Mallory, who has served as an IU defensive backs/special teams coach (1994-96) and graduate assistant (1988), has 23 years of collegiate coaching experience with stops at Army, Western Kentucky, Indiana, Maryland, Oklahoma State, LSU and New Mexico. Ekeler has coached the Nebraska linebackers since 2008 with prior stints at Oklahoma and LSU.

“I am excited to have Doug, Mike and their families join the IU football family,” Wilson said. “They are both great additions to our program, university and the Bloomington community. Both men bring unparalleled character, energy, experience, enthusiasm and winning attitudes. This is a great start to the foundation we are building here. It is a great day to be a Hoosier!”

Mallory has coached in seven bowl games, including victories in the 2007 Sugar Bowl and the 2008 BCS National Championship Game. He spent the past two seasons as defensive coordinator at New Mexico after four seasons at LSU.

“We are excited to come back to Bloomington to be a part of the Indiana football program and get the opportunity to work with Coach Wilson,” Mallory said. “The program is in great shape and is not far from being in a position to compete for the Big Ten title. We are anxious to get started and to get the program back to where it is competing for Big Ten championships.”

Ekeler joined the Nebraska staff after spending the previous four seasons working alongside current Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini at LSU and Oklahoma. He also worked with Mallory at LSU from 2005-07, and Wilson at Oklahoma in 2003 and 2004.

“I could not be more excited to come to Indiana,” Ekeler said. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with Coach Wilson at Oklahoma, and I think the world of him as a coach and a person. Coach Mallory is a great friend and coach. We are ready to build something really special.”

Mallory’s name is not unfamiliar to Hoosier fans. Doug’s father, Bill, is the winningest coach in Indiana football history. From 1984-96, Mallory led the Hoosiers to six of the program’s nine bowl appearances.

In addition to his father, Mallory’s brothers, Curt and Mike, are both football coaches – Curt serves as the defensive coordinator at Akron, while Mike is the special teams coach for the New Orleans Saints. Curt was an IU secondary coach (2002-04) and graduate assistant (1993-94), while Mike was also an IU graduate assistant (1986-87).

Mallory coached the LSU secondary from 2005-07 before being elevated to co-defensive coordinator in 2008. The Tigers had a No. 3 national rating in pass efficiency defense every year from 2005-07. Safety Craig Steltz and cornerback Chevis Jackson were both selected in the 2008 NFL Draft, with Jackson going in the third round to Atlanta and Steltz in the fifth round to Chicago. Mallory also saw free safety LaRon Landry selected with the sixth overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins, as he became the highest drafted defensive back in school history.

He came to LSU from Oklahoma State, where he spent four years as the secondary coach. Prior to his four-year stint with the Cowboys, Mallory served in the same capacity at Maryland from 1997-00. He arrived in College Park, Md., after he served as the defensive backs and special teams coach for the Hoosiers.

Mallory also coached at Western Kentucky, as the defensive coordinator in 1992 and 1993. He spent the 1990-91 seasons with Western Kentucky as the secondary, special teams and inside linebackers coach. In 1989, Mallory served a one-year stint at Army, coaching the offensive line for the 6-5 Black Knights. He got his start in coaching in 1988, serving as a Hoosier graduate assistant.

As a player, Mallory was a four-year letterwinner at Michigan from 1984-87, participating in four bowl games with the Wolverines (Holiday, Fiesta, Rose, Hall of Fame). For his career, he recorded 182 tackles and six interceptions.

A native of Bowling Green, Ohio, Mallory graduated from Michigan in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in sports management and communications. Doug and his wife, Lisa, have three girls, Emily (17), Allison (14) and Sarah (11).

Ekeler’s linebackers have played a big part in the Nebraska defense ranking in the top 10 nationally in pass efficiency (fifth), passing (seventh), scoring (eighth) and total defense (10th) this season. The Cornhuskers won the Big 12 North Division, are 10-3 overall and will face Washington in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl on Dec. 30.

Middle linebacker Lavonte David is seventh in the country with 145 tackles, five shy of the school record, and 12th in the nation with 78 solo stops. He was the Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year, runner-up for Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, an All-Big 12 selection, a first team CBSSports.com and Rivals.com All-America honoree, and a second team Associated Press and SI.com All-America member.

Ekeler’s linebacking corps earned numerous honors in 2009, including second-team All-Big 12 accolades for Phillip Dillard and All-Big 12 freshman team honors for both Will Compton and Sean Fisher. The linebacker unit played a key role in Nebraska leading the nation in scoring defense and pass efficiency defense.

He joined the Nebraska staff after he spent the 2005 and 2006 seasons as a graduate assistant coach at LSU, working with the Tiger defense. He then served as an intern for the LSU football team in 2007, as he helped the Tigers win the SEC and national titles.

In 2006, the LSU defense surrendered just 242.8 yards per game, the fewest by a Tiger defense since 1976. LSU led the SEC in six defensive categories and ranked in the top five nationally in four major categories. LSU finished in the top 10 nationally in 2005 in all four major defensive categories and allowed less than 270 total yards per contest.

Ekeler spent the 2003 and 2004 seasons as a defensive graduate assistant at Oklahoma on Head Coach Bob Stoops’ staff. In both of his seasons at OU, the Sooners participated in the national championship game and the Sooners posted a combined record of 24-3.

He got his start in coaching as a volunteer assistant at Omaha (Neb.) Skutt High School from 1999-01. The following season, Ekeler was an assistant coach at Manhattan (Kan.) High School, before moving into the college game. Prior to his stint in the high school ranks, Ekeler spent seven years in private business, owning a sales company based in Omaha.

Ekeler earned a reputation as a hard-nosed, fiery competitor during his playing days at Kansas State from 1991-94. A four-year letterman, Ekeler was a linebacker and special teams standout for Head Coach Bill Snyder’s teams, including the 1993 Copper Bowl and 1994 Aloha Bowl squads.

He graduated from Kansas State in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in social science. Ekeler and his wife, Barbie, have four children, J.J. (10), Cameryn (9), Abigail (7) and Bella (3).

14 comments

  1. Adam Rittenberg, blogging on ESPN News said, “but I’ve never been a fan of co-coordinators. It didn’t serve Indiana well the past few seasons…….. He went on to say, “Illinois also encountered problems with Dan Disch and Mallory’s brother, Curt..” before Zook brought in a single coordinator.

    Also of interest is that apparently Mallory left LSU as a result of Miles’ resturcturing of the defensive staff after Miles came under fire for the co-coordinators arrangement that saw the decline in LSU’s defense and a 7-5 record.

    First blip on the radar under Wilson. I’d hate to see the kind of coaching talent and experience that Mallory and Ekeler bring get negated by a faulty job-sharing arrangement. Time will tell.

  2. I wonder if there was a contract issue with Mallory not being able to leave NM unless it was for a lateral job or better. Its possible he couldn’t leave if he was just offered the secondary position. Though normally assistants are on single year contracts and whether his fault or not NM sucked on Def so I’m not sure why they’d want him to stay.

    It appears they are friends so maybe the co-coordinators will work as long as one is in charge of calling plays, etc. I’d assume and hope thats Ekeler.

    Regardless, good luck to them both, they’ll need it

  3. I like the mix of fresh blood and IU blood that is starting to come together on the staff. Honestly, I had been waiting to hear about the defensive side almost since Coach Wilson was announced. Not in love with the whole “co” thing as, to agree with another poster, when two people are in charge, no one is in charge. But Coach Wilson doesn’t come off as being naive, so I’m sure he knows what he is doing far better than the rest of us do.

  4. podunk, one bad season and he was gone…what I was saying earlier today. I will take 7 and 5 at IU any day…

    The hiring is a blip on your radar but I am fine with all of this. Wilson might give one or the other a little more responsibility, we will see.

  5. Yes, it appears Ekeler and Mallory are good friends, as you would expect, so that may make the job-sharing easier. Of course, their titles could simply be for compensation purposes. I wonder if budget/salary limitations prevented Wilson from bringing it the one big name, experienced defensive coordinator. A good one of those does not come cheap.

  6. J Pat, honestly, I’m more concerned about the co-coordinator structure than I am about Mallory’s history.

    Miles dumps both his defensive co-coordinators and gets some guy from Tenn. I guess he did not believe either Mallory or the other guy was ready to step up to be the one defensive coordinator. Sounds like Miles knows how to survive. And as is typical, the boss throws the alumni hounds some bones by scapegoating two coaches when the team has one below average season. Talk about high expectations! Just like IL did after the 2009 season. Maybe if Lynch had done the same after 2009, he’d still be IU’s head coach and IU would be going to a bowl this year? Lynch was a nice guy and obviously loyal, but maybe not real shrewd.

    Seems like the co-coordinator arrangment is risky. Besides Ohio State, I wonder where it has worked well over the long term? I also wonder if there is any correlation between money and the likelihood of one coordinator?

  7. When will the posters who don’t like the Co-defensive coordinators actually talk about the apparent successful arrangements, like Ohio State! Adam R has never coached at all, what does he know about the internal dynamics of coaching staffs. LSU won the National Championship with the Co arrangement, and then did not like it when they went 7-5. So much for a serious discussion of the concept. Coach Wilson is responsible for everything to do with IU Football now. So you don’t think that he is on top of hiring his staff? The key questions are: 1) is the coach good, 2) can I rely on and trust him, 3) does he share my vision and work ethic?

  8. BeatPurdue is right. Co D coordinators is not unusual and works or fails % lines along side the single designation. In fact it is growing in establishing its use.
    Pelini was co_D with the Sooners(Wilson saw it successfully work first hand)
    Charlie Strong was co-D with the Gators, as Meyer used co-D’s every season at Florida.
    Kentucky will use co-D’s for 2011
    Wisconsin may use co-D’s for 2011
    Miss. State will use it for 2011
    Buckeyes use it
    Rutgers uses it
    Army uses it
    Tulsa uses it effectively.

  9. Clarion,

    Pelini was only in Oklahoma for one year, the defense was just as good before his arrival and after his departure. Might have something to do with Brent Venables, Pelini’s co-coordinator who is now the soul coordinator and is OU’s assistant head coach.

    Of the ones you listed, here is how they rank.

    OSU – 2010 D Rank – 2nd
    Florida – 2010 D Rank – 9th
    Army – 2010 Rank 27th
    Rutgers – 2010 Rank – 63rd
    Tulsa – you said that they use co-coordinators effectivly, their 2010 D rank was 107th!!! IU was 89th. I don’t consider the 107th ranked, out of 120 schools as “effective”.

    OSU and Florida constantly get the top ranked athletes in America. Rutgers and Tulsa are in the lower half of the NCAA.

    Army has had success, and of the ones you listed is the only one that really surprises me. OSU and Florida would be top 10-15 defense if they had single, co- or even three coordinators on D.

  10. Thanks to Clarion and Mike for some good information, from opposite sides of the argument. As far as I am concerned, Coach Wilson gets to do it his way. It is his opportunity to become a great head coach, and I am sure that he knows this! Why a good defensive player would think of going to MI over IU is a mystery to me. At the end of the bowl game either the head coach or the defensive coordinator will be fired, and possibly both. With only 30 days until signing to get the mess straightened out, that is real uncertainty. You look at the recent hires, at FL, at Pittsburgh, at Maryland (Leach?), it looks like IU has the best one!

  11. Experience of Tulsa shows the essence of the co-D works effectively. After all their mission is to keep the opponent from scoring more than their offense. Their 2010 record is 9-3, mission accomplished.
    Even with Bo at OU 1 year only proves it certainly was not a negative and if Miles had not come calling that co-D year would have been multiple.
    The Bucks and Gators are successful using the double designates and stay committed to that theme of action. The point is successful Coaches running programs using the right chemistry believe in it, proves its legitimacy.
    There are many more that I did not list who have successfully established shared D coordinator responsibilities, like Mike Stoops at Arizona.
    Much like hiring coordinators from successful programs to be HC’s, the trend to establish the use of co-coordinators is just not a recent arrival it has been here alive and real for some time.
    There was a time 15-20 years ago the spread offense was considered not viable in the “rough and tumble” of the B10, enter Joe Tiller. It may be the co-coordinator wave has developed as a weapon of strategy against that offense. Do not know that for a fact yet but actions create re-actions in everything, but particularly sports
    .

  12. Clarion,

    Tulsa’s defense is a failure. They have the 5th ranked offense. Giving up 40 points per game against a schedule that doesn’t have a single ranked team on it, that is failure. To suggest otherwise is just plan idiotic.

    I have never said it can’t work, I just don’t like it, my personal preference is to have one man in charge. I don’t care if it has success here, I still won’t like it. Personal preference, and always will be that way.

  13. Great information and sound posts. I feel a little better about co-coordinators, but just a little.

    BeatPurdue, I love ya man, but the last sentence of your last post was classic Kool-aid drinking. This is Wilson’s first head coaching job. I really like him, but let’s not put him in the Hall-of-fame just yet.

    As for “why a good defensive player would rather play for MI than IU,” well if you’ve ever been to a Michigan home game, especially when they play Ohio State, the answer is obvious. Tradition does have a huge impact and a young football stud’s ego is easily stroked by being recruited to one of the most successful football programs of all time. Heisman glory, national championships, playing in front of 100,000 fans and a rich NFL contract are a little easier to envision with Michigan than with IU. Kind of like when Crean said, “because its Indiana”, but in reverse.

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