Cassity, who has 28 years of total coaching experience, comes to Louisville after serving the last three seasons with the Fighting Illini. He tutored the safeties last year after spending the two previous campaigns coaching the cornerbacks-producing a second-round NFL draft choice in Eugene Wilson in 2002.
Cassity returns both his starting safeties in Brent Johnson and Kerry Rhodes, and the squad will also benefit from the return of Jon Gannon, who sat out last season with an injury. "I'm excited to be going to the University of Louisville because of the reputation its football team has and the job that Bobby Petrino has done in his first season," Cassity said. " It's an honor to be heading back to the state of Kentucky and working with the great staff at Louisville."
An experienced defensive mind, Cassity has spent his entire career on the defensive side of the football. He turned around a struggling Illinois defense into one of the top units in the Big Ten. Before Cassity's arrival, Illinois ranked 11th in the Big Ten versus the run and allowed 232.5 yards per game on the ground. In 2001, Cassity's troops ranked fourth in the Big Ten in rush defense and allowed 147.0 yards per game, an improvement of 85.5 yards a contest.
"We're very fortunate to hire an experienced defensive coach like Mike," said head coach Bobby Petrino. "Mike has 28 seasons under his belt on the defensive side of the football, and he's one of the top recruiters in the country. He's an excellent addition to our staff."
Cassity came to Illinois from Oklahoma State where he served as defensive coordinator for the Cowboys for two seasons. Cassity's defense held opponents to only 126.0 rushing yards per game in 2000, and he guided a defense that was ranked ninth in total defense in 1999. Cassity has over 13 years experience coaching in top-rated conferences like the Big Ten, SEC, Big 12 and ACC.
Prior to a two-year stint at OSU, Cassity served two seasons as the assistant head coach, defensive coordinator and secondary at Baylor. He coached the secondary at Wisconsin in 1995-96, leading the Badgers to a Copper Bowl title in 1996. He has been a defensive coordinator at Cincinnati (1994), Georgia Tech (1992-93), East Carolina (1990-91), Northeast Louisiana (1989) and Western Kentucky (1983-88), worked with the secondary at Morehead State (1982), Kentucky (1979-81), Paducah Tilghman High School in Paducah, Ky., (1976-78) and as a student coach at Kentucky (1975).
As a two-sport athlete at Kentucky, Cassity lettered three times. In football, he played safety and won the prestigious Kiwanis 110% Award. As member of the Wildcat wrestling team, he was an SEC runner-up at 190 pounds. He graduated in 1976 with a degree in physical education.
A native of Fort Campbell, Ky., Cassity is married to the former Colleen Hartman. The family has four children: Brooke, Hunter, Skyler and Braden.
Petrino also announced that Tony Levine has resumed his role as the director of football operations.
THE CASSITY FILE
Date of Birth: Aug. 22, 1953 Education: B.S. in physical education; Kentucky (1976) Playing Experience: Kentucky (1971-76)