Jan. 25, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A 29-year coaching veteran, Harry Hiestand has joined the University of Notre Dame football coaching staff as offensive line coach and run game coordinator today after directing the offensive lines at schools in the Southeastern Conference, Big Ten Conference, Big 12 Conference and National Football League for the past 18 seasons.
“I’ve spent most of my coaching career in the Midwest and I’m happy to be back in the area,” Hiestand said. “I’ve always had great respect for Notre Dame and what it stands for. As you look at the college football landscape, Notre Dame is truly a unique place and I’m happy to be part of it. I’m excited about working with Coach Kelly and our offensive linemen this year.”
Hiestand coached at Tennessee the last two years (2010-11) after working with the offensive line of the NFL Chicago Bears from 2005-09. He coached the offensive line at Illinois from 1997-2004 and at Missouri from 1994-96.
“Harry is one of the best offensive line coaches in college football, and we are fortunate to have him on our staff,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said. “When I was searching to fill this position, I asked some of the most respected offensive line coaches in football whom they would recommend and Harry’s name was routinely mentioned as one of the best. His history of developing NFL-caliber offensive linemen speaks for itself, and I know our linemen will learn a lot from him.”
At Tennessee, Hiestand faced the daunting task of assembling an offensive line with an inexperienced group of players. In his first season in 2010, only one player in his group had any starting experience and that amounted to only three career starts. The Volunteers started three true freshmen on the 2010 offensive line and still helped running back Tauren Poole tie for the SEC lead with six 100-yard rushing games. Poole recorded just the 16th 1,000-yard rushing season in Tennessee history with 1,034 yards.
Freshman James Stone started eight games at center in 2010 and was named a Freshman All-American by both Sporting News and the Football Writers Association of America. Freshman Ja’Wuan James started every game in 2010 at right tackle and was named to the all-SEC freshman team by the SEC coaches. Freshman Zach Fulton started five games at guard for the Vols, and sophomore Dallas Thomas started all 13 games at left tackle.
Tennessee was one of only seven schools in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision that did not start a senior on the offensive line in any game in 2011. The Volunteers allowed only 18 sacks in the talented SEC–and only Alabama among conference schools allowed fewer sacks in 2011 than Tennessee.
Freshman Marcus Jackson started the last five games of the 2011 season and was named to Phil Steele’s Freshman All-America first team. The rest of Hiestand’s offensive line consisted of three sophomores who started 12 games, one sophomore who opened seven games and a junior who started 12 games.
Prior to his arrival in Knoxville, Hiestand spent five seasons coaching the offensive line of the Chicago Bears. The Bears were division champions in 2005 and 2006, advancing to Super Bowl XLI following the 2006 season.
Hiestand’s offensive line helped Bears running backs eclipse 1,200 rushing yards three times in five seasons. Thomas Jones gained 1,335 rushing yards in 2005 and 1,210 yards in 2006, while Matt Forte totaled 1,238 yards on the ground in 2008. Jones and Forte joined an exclusive list of Bears running backs to ever gain at least 1,200 rushing yards in a season: Neal Anderson, Walter Payton and Gale Sayers.
Two of Hiestand’s players made the Pro Bowl while in Chicago. Center Olin Kreutz was selected in 2005 and 2006–and guard Ruben Brown earned the honor following the 2006 campaign. Kreutz was named first-team All-Pro in 2006 and became the first Bears offensive lineman to receive that honor in 17 years. In 2008, the Bears offense allowed only 29 sacks in 557 pass attempts, and Hiestand’s group permitted only 25 sacks in 539 pass attempts in 2006. The 2006 total was the fewest allowed by a Bears team in five seasons.
Hiestand worked with the offensive line at Illinois from 1997-2004 and held the title of assistant head coach for the final five seasons in Champaign. During his tenure at Illinois, Hiestand tutored 12 all-Big Ten selections on the offensive line, and every senior starting offensive lineman in his first seven years with the Illini signed with an NFL team. Hiestand had six offensive linemen drafted during his eight seasons at Illinois. Offensive tackle Marques Sullivan was named a third-team All-American by the Football Writers Association of America in 2000–and center Luke Butkus was selected to the Associated Press All-America third team in 2001.
The Illini averaged 146.7 rushing yards per game with Hiestand as offensive line coach. Illinois averaged 173.5 rushing yards per game in 1999, 164.0 rushing yards in 2002 and 162.7 yards on the ground in 2000. Three of the seven best seasons for total offense and scoring occurred with Hiestand on the offensive staff at Illinois–and four of the top-10 seasons for fewest sacks allowed happened on Hiestand’s watch.
The Illini had a player rush for at least 100 yards in 34 games between 1997-2004, many by running backs Robert Holcombe and Antoineo Harris. Holcombe gained 1,253 rushing yards in 1997 that stood as the fourth-highest single-season total in school history. Harris gained a then-school record 1,330 yards on the ground in 2002.
Hiestand coached the offensive line at Missouri from 1994-96 and in his final season with the Tigers helped them average 250.7 rushing yards per game, the ninth-best rushing average in the NCAA in 1996. In his three seasons at Missouri, he helped the Tigers average 184.1 rushing yards per game, and four of his offensive linemen received all-Big 12 honors in 1996 (the first year of that conference’s existence.)
Running back Brock Olivo benefited from the blocking of Hiestand’s group as he set a then-school record of 3,026 career rushing yards as Missouri’s lead running back from 1994-97. In 1995, the Tigers offensive line helped Olivo rush for 222 yards against NE Louisiana and 201 yards vs. Iowa State, then the third and fourth-best single-game totals in school history.
From 1989-93 Hiestand coached the offensive line at Cincinnati. In 1992 he added the title of run-game coordinator and he added the duties of offensive coordinator in 1993.
Hiestand’s first coaching job at the FBS level occurred at Toledo where he worked with the tight ends from 1988-89. He worked with the offensive line as a graduate assistant at USC in 1987, after coaching the tight ends at Penn in 1986.
His first assistant coach role came at Hiestand’s alma mater, East Stroudsburg. Hiestand was offensive line coach from 1984-85 and assistant offensive line coach in 1983 at the NCAA Division II school after serving as a student assistant in 1982.
Hiestand began his college career as an offensive lineman at Springfield College (Mass.) before transferring to East Stroudsburg where injuries ended his playing career. He graduated from East Stroudsburg in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education.
Born Nov. 19, 1958, in Malvern, Pa., Hiestand and his wife Terri have four children–Michael, Matthew, Mark and Sarah.
THE HIESTAND FILE
Age on Jan. 25 53Hometown Malvern, Pa.High School Radnor (Pa.) High SchoolCollege East Stroudsburg (Pa.) (Health and Physical Education, 1983)Wife TerriChildren Sons: Michael, Matthew and Mark; Daughter: Sarah
1982 East Stroudsburg (Pa.) Student Assistant1983 East Stroudsburg (Pa.) Assistant Offensive Line1984-85 East Stroudsburg (Pa.) Offensive Line1986 Pennsylvania Tight Ends1987 USC Graduate Assistant1988 Toledo Tight Ends1989-91 Cincinnati Offensive Line1992 Cincinnati Offensive Line/Run Game Coordinator1993 Cincinnati Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line1994-96 Missouri Offensive Line1997-99 Illinois Offensive Line2000-04 Illinois Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line2005-09 Chicago Bears Offensive Line2010-11 Tennessee Offensive Line2012 Notre Dame Offensive Line/Run Game Coordinator