Friday, February 13, 2009

Football hires new defensive coach

Issue date: 2/13/09

By Anthony Fenech
Staff Reporter

With more than 30 years of football experience, Steve Stripling has joined the Central Michigan University football staff as an associate head coach.

Stripling, 55, most recently served as the defensive line coach under former Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr from 2005-07. Before arriving in Ann Arbor, he also made Big Ten stops at Indiana, Michigan State and Minnesota.

"When you look at his experience, credibility and the great players he's coached throughout the years, there's so many things he brings to the table," said head coach Butch Jones.

Jones said Stripling will work directly with the defensive line, a position he has coached for more than 20 years. He replaces Mike Kowalkowski, who was fired after the season ended. Kowalkowski was responsible for the safeties and special teams.

"I'm very excited about being here," Stripling said. "I've been at some very successful places so I'm just hoping to come and contribute my experience to the team."

Stripling said he has only watched the Chippewas play only a few times on television, but he has followed Jones' career and knows what is expected of the team.

"We're looking for championships here," he said. "A lot of places you go to, you're fighting to be competitive, but we're fighting for championships."

This is the first time the two coaches have worked together. They met years ago through mutual friends, most notably through former CMU head coach Mike Debord, who coached with Stripling while at Michigan.

With the Wolverines, Stripling helped mentor Super Bowl champion linebacker and defensive end, LaMarr Woodley. In his time with Woodley, the All-American won numerous awards, including the Rotary Lombardi Award in 2006, given annually to the nation's top offensive or defensive lineman.

Looking forward to next year's defensive line core, Stripling believes it is a huge advantage to have two starters returning in seniors Larry Knight and Frank Zombo.

"I really feel good about the defensive line," he said. "We're very fortunate because anytime you have that kind of experience, it's a great thing."

In addition to his coaching resume, Stripling has played instrumental roles in recruiting, serving in a recruiting role at three stops in his career.

Jones says the staff will rely on some of Stripling's ties in both Michigan and Indiana, as well as assigning him a specific recruiting area.

"We'll involve him heavily in recruiting," Jones said. "He's a great judge of character and he's got a tremendous eye for talent as well."

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