The Coaching Search Continues

John L. Smith's search for a secondary coach will continue after the newly hired Tim Hundley has decided to return to his old position as defensive coordinator at the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP).

John L. Smith's search for a secondary coach will continue after the newly hired Tim Hundley has decided to return to his old position as defensive coordinator at the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP).

"I'm going to stay (at UTEP)," Hundley said. "I had told (John L. Smith) that I was going to go to Michigan State, and John L. is a great guy to work for. But I've got a great guy (in UTEP head coach Mike Price) to work for. I don't have to move. I'm thankful for the staff that Mike Price has put together, and I'm close to my family here."

Hundley, helped the Miners to an 8-4 record last season, including seven consecutive wins during one stretch, and a trip to the Houston Bowl versus Colorado. He was announced as Michigan State's secondary coach Friday (March 4), but was encouraged by Price to reconsider. After four days of uncertainty, the issue appeared settled Tuesday, when Hundley said "it was time to probably move on and make a little more money."

"We gave Tim time to really think about it," Price said. "He's had a lot on his mind lately with extended family health problems. His father passed away, and it's been a difficult time for him the last couple of weeks. I guess he felt for the players and realized they've had six defensive coordinators in seven years, and those kinds of things touched him. In life, we just change our mind."

"John L. is a good friend of his and is very understanding," Price said. "But (Hundley) is passing up a lot of money to stay here. And like we'd said earlier, we couldn't afford to get in a bidding war with a Big 10 school."

Under Hundley and Price, who was in his first season as UTEP head coach, the Miners ranked among the Western Athletic Conference leaders in sacks (first with 42 for 256 yards), pass efficiency defense (second with a 108.7 rating), scoring defense (second at 25.1 points per game), rushing defense (third at 154.2 yards per game) and total defense (third at 361.3 yards per game.).

The Miner defense gave up an average of 38.3 points in 2003. Under Hundley last year, it gave up an average of 25.1 points a game.

The Miners also finished No. 22 in the NCAA in pass efficiency defense.

With Hundley staying put in West Texas, John L. Smith now must go back into his resume file to find another secondary coach to replace the departed Paul Haynes, a Columbus, Ohio native who left last month to become secondary coach for Jim Tressell at Ohio State.

Along with Haynes, Smith has had to replace two other assistants who departed to join other Big Ten staffs after last season's 5-7 finish. The first, Running Backs coach Reggie Mitchell, was replaced by Ben Sirmans, formerly of Kent State, after Mitchell left to join Ron Zook's staff at Illinois. The second to leave was Defensive Line coach Steve Stripling who moved on to join Lloyd Carr's Michigan staff in Ann Arbor. Stripling was replaced by Lucious Selmon, a 27-year veteran NFL and college assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Oklahoma Sooners.

Darren Hunt and Matthew Aguilar of the El Paso Times contributed to this report.


Spartan Nation Top Stories