Harbison New DC, Campbell Added to Staff

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State University head football coach Sylvester Croom announced Friday the alteration of his defensive staff, including naming a new defensive coordinator and adding a linebackers coach. Approval by the Board of Trustees, Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning is required.

Croom has promoted safeties coach Charlie Harbison to defensive coordinator and added former University of Arkansas staff member Louis Campbell as linebacker coach. The MSU head coach also confirmed that another university had been granted permission to speak with Bulldog offensive coordinator Woody McCorvey about that school's head coaching position.

"In choosing Charlie Harbison to be our defensive coordinator, I wanted to maintain the continuity of play by our defense, particularly from this past year," Croom said. "Any of our defensive coaches - David Turner, Melvin Smith or Charlie - would have been a good choice for defensive coordinator. In fact, I would have no problem recommending any of the three for a defensive coordinator position.

"Charlie did an outstanding job this season with our safeties, particularly Derek Pegues and Keith Fitzhugh," Croom said. "Charlie has experience in both pass coverage and run fits, and he was a key part of our defense down the stretch. He has vast knowledge of our whole defense, and is an excellent teacher."

Croom initially hired Harbison in January 2007, bringing not only an experienced assistant coach to the Bulldog sidelines, but a decorated college recruiter who was a veteran instructor in the Southeastern Conference.

In just his first season in Starkville, Harbison helped the MSU pass defense rank fourth in the SEC, allowing just 182.2 yards per game, sixth in pass efficiency defense (114.8). The Bulldogs improved their interception total from 12 to 18 in just one season. The 18 pass thefts tie for the fourth most in school history.

Harbison, 48, came to MSU following four years in his second tour of duty on the staff at the University of Alabama. He coached the Crimson Tide wide receivers during his most recent stint. Harbison helped UA to a 26-24 overall record during that stretch, including berths in the 2004 Music City, '06 Cotton Bowl and '07 Independence Bowl.

During that four-year stretch, Harbison helped receivers D. J. Hall, Antonio Carter, and Triandos Luke rank among the school's all-time top 10 pass-catchers. Two of Hall's single-season receiving totals were among the eight best ever at the school.

Harbison coached the Crimson Tide defensive backs in his initial stay in Tuscaloosa from 1998-2000. He helped UA to a 20-16 mark and appearances in the 1998 Music City and 2000 Orange Bowls during those three years. He was a part of the 1999 Alabama team that won the Southeastern Conference Western Division title, defeated Florida in the SEC Championship Game, and dropped a one-point decision to Michigan in the Orange Bowl.

Two of his pupils, Fernando Bryant in 1999 and Tony Dixon in 2001 were taken in the first and second rounds of the National Football League draft.

Sandwiched between those two Alabama assignments, Harbison coached the defensive backfield at LSU in 2001 and '02. He was a member of the Tiger coaching staff that directed the 2001 LSU team to an SEC Championship Game win over Tennessee. During his two years, LSU finished 18-8 overall and played in the 2002 Sugar and 2003 Cotton Bowls. Corey Webster, who played under Harbison his first two years in Baton Rouge, finished his career second on the school's all-time pass interception list.

Prior to his first stint at Alabama, Harbison served as the defensive backs coach at Clemson from 1995-97. The Atlantic Coast Conference Tigers posted a 22-14 mark during those three years, ending those seasons in the Gator and back-to-back Peach Bowls.

He also coached the secondary at UTEP (1994) and served twice at his alma mater, Gardner-Webb, coaching wide receivers (1992-93) and defensive backs (1984-85).

In addition to his collegiate coaching experience, Harbison worked in both the Arena Football League and the World League of American Football. His professional football coaching resume includes serving as defensive coordinator for the Charlotte Rage (1993).

A native of Shelby, N.C., Harbison graduated from Gardner-Webb College in 1995. A two-sport star in football and track on the college level, he was a free-agent signee of the Buffalo Bills following his senior season.

He and his late wife Gloria, who passed away in early 2003 after battling cancer, have four children - Charlie, Stedman, Masai and Msiba; daughter-in-law Caroline and grandsons, Masai II and Amari.

Campbell comes to Starkville with extensive ties to Croom and two members of the Bulldog coaching staff, and after 18 years of football service to Arkansas.

"I am excited to have a coach and person the quality of Louis Campbell join our staff," Croom said. "He has vast defensive experience, is an excellent recruiter and teacher, and will fit well with the chemistry on our staff."

A native of Hamburg, Ark., Campbell worked in Fayetteville, Ark., from 1990-2007. He served in various capacities with the Razorbacks, working as the school's secondary coach, director of football operations, or assistant athletic director for internal football operations during that time.

He served eight seasons as a Razorback assistant coach under Jack Crowe, Joe Kines and Danny Ford, adding the title of assistant head coach under Ford prior to the 1996 season. Campbell switched to director of football operations prior to the 1998 season.

Campbell returned to the practice and game field in 2006, coaching Arkansas' secondary. He helped UA win the SEC's Western Division title, play in the SEC Championship Game, and earn a spot in the Capital One Bowl. Arkansas finished 10-4 and ranked No. 15 in the nation that year.

Prior to that season, his last assignment on the field came at the end of the 1999 regular season. Then-Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt asked Campbell to coach the secondary against Texas in the Cotton Bowl. In that game, he helped direct an Arkansas defensive unit that held the Longhorns to negative rushing yards (-27) for the first time in that program's history as the UA posted a 27-6 victory.

During that long stretch in Fayetteville, Campbell worked with current Bulldog assistant coaches Rockey Felker (1993-96) and J.B. Grimes (1990-92) on Razorback coaching staffs.

Campbell, a 1973 Arkansas graduate, began his coaching career that year with a four-season stint at Alabama under head coach Paul 'Bear' Bryant. It was in Tuscaloosa, Ala., that Campbell first developed a relationship with Sylvester Croom. The MSU head coach played his junior and senior seasons (1973 and '74) and served as a graduate assistant (1976) on Crimson Tide staffs that included Campbell.

A three-year term as defensive backs coach at Southern Methodist University (1977-79) immediately preceded a five-year run back at Alabama. He was reunited with Croom upon his return and the two worked together all five years. State running back coach Rockey Felker also served on the UA staff those final two years (1983-84).

Campbell helped the Crimson Tide to eight bowl games in nine years during those two tours of duty at Alabama. The 1973 squad finished 11-1 and earned a No. 1 final ranking from United Press International.

In 1985, Campbell began a four-year stint as defensive coordinator and defensive secondary coach at Oklahoma State. He helped the Cowboys to three bowl appearances during those four seasons in Stillwater, Okla.

Prior to launching his extensive tenure in Fayetteville, Campbell worked one year as a defensive assistant with the National Football League's Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1989). Croom was the running back coach for the Bucs on that '89 Buc staff.

Campbell has accompanied teams to 20 bowl games in his 31 years as a collegiate coach and football administrator.

A three-year letterman as a defensive back at Arkansas, his 12 career interceptions are still tied for third all-time at the school, and his three pass thefts against Tennessee in the 1971 Liberty Bowl are a Razorback bowl record. He earned his undergraduate degree in education at UA in 1973.

Campbell, 57, is married to the former Ila Murphy. The couple has a daughter, Caroline, and two sons, Shepard and Steadman. Caroline is a college senior, while Shepard coaches defensive backs at Tennessee-Martin and Steadman coaches the secondary at North Alabama.

Gene's Page Top Stories