Dan Disch has resigned from Illinois to become Defensive Coordinator at Southern Mississippi. He was linebacker coach with the Illini from 2005 to 2010 and Co-Defensive Coordinator with Curt Mallory from 2007-2009. He has mixed feelings about leaving the University of Illinois.
"It's bittersweet. Me and my family have been in Champaign 6 years, and we love it there. Everyone has been great."
Ultimately, his decision boiled down to a need for career advancement.
"I coached with Larry Fedora at Florida, and he is a great guy. And I had a chance to be defensive coordinator. The stars are aligned. It was an opportunity I couldn't pass up.
"When I was hired at Illinois, Coach Zook said he didn't want any assistants who didn't want to be head coaches. He was a defensive coordinator before becoming head coach, and those are my aspirations also."
After the tumultuous 2009 season, Vic Koenning was hired to replace Disch and Mallory as defensive coordinators. Many coaches in Disch's position might have left rather than accept what appeared to be a demotion, but was Disch was loyal and stayed. He doesn't regret it.
"It could have been a difficult situation, but Coach Koenning was great about it. He involved me in all the decisions and treated everyone in the room equally. He made it easy for me."
During his time at Illinois, he developed a number of linebackers including All-American J Leman and All-Big 10 selections Brit Miller and Martez Wilson. And the 2007 Illini team went to the Rose Bowl.
Disch was a long-time high school coach in Jacksonville, Florida, before joining Ron Zook on the staff of the University of Florida in 2004. He followed Zook to Champaign after one season as secondary coach there.
He spent 16 of his 22 years as head coach at Ed White High School in Jacksonville. He became the winningest coach in school history, posting a 122-55 record. Before that, he was an assistant coach at Terry Parker High School and Forrest High School, also in Jacksonville. He was a 1981 graduate of Florida State University.
Illinois will now begin a nationwide search for his replacement.