HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Southern Miss football coach Larry Fedora announced Tuesday afternoon the hiring of Dan Disch as defensive coordinator as well as safeties coach. In addition, linebacker coach David Duggan has added the title of co-defensive coordinator and running backs coach Pat Washington will add the role of special teams coordinator.
The hiring is pending approval by the IHL Board of Supervisors.
“We basically will go from a basic 4-3 to a 4-2-5 defense that will be multiple and something that we will still be able to bring a lot of heat without everyone knowing where we are coming from, which will be very good against the type of offenses we face in this conference,” Fedora said. “Dan also is known for having the ability of getting everything out of his players and having them play extremely hard for him dating back to his high school coaching days, and that has followed him during his career. He has had some great linebackers at Illinois, which is something that they had not had in many years.
“I am just excited about the attitude that he brings to the defense.”
Disch, a native of Jacksonville, Fla., comes to Southern Miss after spending the last six seasons at Illinois, in which he served as the secondary coach (2004), special teams coordinator/outside linebackers (2005-06), co-defensive coordinator/outside linebackers (2007-09) and inside linebackers coach (2010). He served under Ron Zook for the last seven seasons, including one year at Florida (2004). Fedora also was a member of that Gator staff in 2004.
“Obviously, I am extremely excited, as is my family, about the opportunity of leading the defense at Southern Miss,” Disch said. “Southern Miss has a great tradition of playing defense and they play in an offensive league. I am looking forward to the challenge ahead. I had the opportunity to work with Coach Fedora at Florida and have followed his career since our season there together and am looking forward to working with him again.”
Disch’s linebackers were a strong point of the Illini defense in 2010, as Martez Wilson collected 112 tackles, ranking tied for fourth in the Big Ten. Wilson also ranked among Big Ten leaders in tackles for loss. In 2009, one of Disch’s linebackers again led the team in tackles and ranked among the Big Ten leaders as Ian Thomas racked up 95 stops.
In 2008, for the third-straight season, Illinois’ middle linebacker led the Big Ten in tackles and was a first-team All-Big Ten selection. After J Leman in 2006 and 2007, Brit Miller averaged 11.0 tackles per game. The Illini also led the Big Ten in tackles for loss and sacks, in which Miller was also the team leader.
Disch’s 2007 Fighting Illini defense was one of the best in the Big Ten, led by consensus All-American and first-team All-Big Ten selection, Leman. The heart of the Illini defense, Leman finished sixth on the Illinois career tackles list and ranked fifth in all-time tackles for loss.
In 2006, Disch’s linebacking corps helped the Illini make a large improvement in total and rushing defense. The team bettered their numbers from the 2005 season by over 160 total yards, led mostly in part by the emergence of middle linebacker Leman. He earned first-team All-Big Ten honors as well as honorable mention Sports Illustrated All-America honors. He led the Big Ten with 12.7 tackles per game and ranked 10th in the nation in TFL per game.
As the special teams coach for the Illini in 2005, Disch tutored All-Big Ten and All-American punter Steve Weatherford, who with a 42.6 average, became the school’s all-time leader in punting average. Just one year later, more special teams records were broken under Disch’s watch as running back Pierre Thomas set a new mark for kickoff return yards in a career. He averaged 31.9 yards per return in 2006 and ranks third on the school’s all-time return average list with a 25.3 mark.
In 2004 at Florida, Disch rebuilt a secondary that lost all four starters from the previous year, yet his new group still recorded 16 interceptions. The production came from a group that entered the season with just four career picks. Safety Jarvis Herring ranked third in the SEC in interceptions per game, while corner Dee Webb was fourth in passes defended.
Prior to entering the collegiate ranks, Disch spent 22 years coaching high school football in the Jacksonville, Fla., area, including 16 seasons as the head coach of Ed White High School, where he posted a record of 122-55 to become the school’s all-time winningest coach. While under Disch’s lead, Ed White made 11 playoff appearances, won seven district and six conference championships, and reached the state quarterfinals four times. Ed White also was ranked in the Top-10 of the state’s final football poll eight times. Additionally, five of Disch’s high school assistant coaches went on to land head coaching jobs.
Disch is a 1981 graduate of Florida State University. He was born in Jacksonville, Fla., and is married to the former Janet Johnson. The couple has three daughters: Chandler, Erica and Virginia.
Duggan, who is in his fourth season with the Golden Eagle staff, will add the title of co-defensive coordinator for the Golden Eagles to go along with coaching the linebackers. Washington, who joined the staff in 2009, will begin his third season overseeing all of Southern Miss’ special teams.
“David Duggan is a heck of a football coach and has a tremendous amount of experience with schemes and in working with kids and is a proven winner,” Fedora added. “This is a move up for him to have more of a say so on the defense. He did a tremendous job for us on special teams the last couple of years and he won’t be able to do that and take on this new job as co-defensive coordinator.
“Pat Washington has proved with the responsibilities that he has had that he has done a great job and I am looking forward to what he will be bringing to the role as well.”
2010 University of Illinois (linebackers)
2007-09 University of Illinois (co-defensive coordinator, outside linebackers)
2005-06 University of Illinois (special teams, outside linebackers)
2004 University of Florida (secondary)
1988-2003 Ed White High School (head coach)
1986-87 Terry Parker High School (assistant coach)
1981-84 Forrest High School (assistant coach)
Hometown: Jacksonville, Fla.
Birthdate: January 6, 1959
Family: Wife, Janet; Daughters, Chandler, Erica, Virginia
Education: B.S., Education/Psychology — Florida State, 1981
Bowl Games: Texas Bowl, 2010; Rose Bowl, 2008; Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl, 2004