Elmassian (pronounced el-MAY-shun) comes to the Boilermakers from Marshall, where he coached the outside linebackers and coordinated the defensive kicking game during the 2002 season. The Thundering Herd ranked 31st in the nation in total defense, allowing 334.0 yards per game. They finished with an 11-2 overall record following their 38-15 victory over Louisville in the GMAC Bowl.
Elmassian has 20 years coaching experience at the NCAA Division I level. He previously worked at West Virginia (defensive coordinator) in 2001; LSU (defensive coordinator) in 2000; Wisconsin (defensive backs) from 1997 to 1999; Boston College (defensive coordinator) in 1996; Washington (defensive backs) in 1995; Virginia Tech (defensive coordinator) in 1993 and 1994; Syracuse (defensive backs) in 1991 and 1992; Virginia (inside linebackers) from 1987 to 1990; Virginia Tech (defensive backs) in 1985 and 1986; Minnesota (defensive backs) in 1984; and East Carolina (defensive backs) in 1983.
"I really admire what coach Tiller has done at Purdue and am eager to be a part of it," Elmassian said. "It is obvious that there is a lot of talent in the program, and the kids play hard. There is nothing better than Big Ten football. It is exciting to be back in the conference."
Elmassian has coached 17 all-conference performers and been a part of 14 bowl teams.
"Phil brings a wealth of experience to Purdue," Tiller said. "He has all the qualities we were looking for, including a familiarity with the Big Ten. He also has great enthusiasm, which will rub off on our staff as well as the players he is coaching."
During Elmassian's stint at Wisconsin, the Badgers led the nation in scoring defense in 1998 (11.9 points per game) and ranked fifth in 1999 (12.8). They were No. 1 in the Big Ten in scoring defense, total defense (298.1 - 15th nationally) and passing defense (97.9 - fifth nationally) in 1999. Wisconsin became the first Big Ten school to win back-to-back Rose Bowls in 1998 and 1999, defeating the high-powered offenses of UCLA and Stanford. All four of the Badgers' defensive backs earned first team, second team or honorable mention all-conference honors in 1999. Cornerback Jamar Fletcher led the nation in interceptions in 1998 with seven and went on to be named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, earn consensus All-America honors and win the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's outstanding defensive back in 2000.
In 2001, West Virginia topped the nation in passing defense at 136.7 yards per game.
Purdue returns nine starters on defense, including three of four defensive backs, this coming fall.
"Nothing replaces experience, and you're talking nine starters back from a defense that was very good last season," Elmassian said. "Coming off the win over Washington in the Sun Bowl, I can sense there is a lot of excitement around the program."
Elmassian began his coaching career at William & Mary in 1974 and 1975, coaching the quarterbacks and running backs. He then moved on to Richmond in the same capacity from 1976 to 1978 before going to Ferrum Junior College as defensive coordinator from 1979 to 1982.
A native of Cambridge, Mass., Elmassian played quarterback at Ferrum before transferring to William & Mary, where he was a defensive back under Lou Holtz. Elmassian (born April 28, 1951) earned a B.A. degree from William & Mary in 1974. He and his wife, Mary Claire, have three children: Claire, Dylan and Olivia.