HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Chuck Heater's resume, which includes three national championships, pretty much speaks for itself, but his former bosses and colleagues are augmenting that with a few choice compliments.Perhaps Urban Meyer, who employed Heater and Marshall head coach Doc Holliday at Florida, throws out one of the best kudos."He's one of the best teachers. I used to just sit in his meetings and watch him coach," said Meyer, now coach at Ohio State. "Coach Heater has a tendency of making some players out of non-players."His 37 years of teaching carried a lot of weight with Holliday, who bemoaned his team's lack of defense in a 5-7 campaign. The fourth-year head coach formally announced Heater as the Thundering Herd's new defensive coordinator on Monday.
Heater comes from Temple, where he coordinated the Owls' defense the last two years. He has coached at 10 other schools, has been part of 25 bowl games and three national championships: 1988 season at Notre Dame, where the Fighting Irish beat West Virginia in a 1-vs.-3 game, and the BCS title games following the 2006 and 2008 seasons.He also was nominated for the Frank Broyles Award, given to the top assistant coach in the nation, in 2006 and 2011.His many stops brought him to crack this self-deprecating joke: "That means I'm old and can't keep a job. That combination gets you a long resume."But he has a track record of player development. He has mentored 20 NFL draft selections and 24 NFL players, a Jim Thorpe Award winner (Chris Hudson, Colorado) and numerous all-conference selections. He has coached under six national coaches of the year (Meyer, Barry Alvarez, Earle Bruce, Lou Holtz, Bill McCartney and Bo Schembechler).Heater, a second-team All-Big Ten running back at Michigan, returns to his West Virginia roots, having been born in Weston. He moved from Weston to Tiffin, Ohio, when he was about 1, but spent several summers with family in the Weston-Buckhannon area.He became available when Temple head coach Steve Addazio moved to Boston College and hired another defensive coordinator, former Connecticut assistant Don Brown.Holliday, who worked with Heater on Meyer's Florida staff from 2005-07, found that experience hard to pass up."Chuck is one of the most respected coaches in the nation and will bring with him a proven track record of success," Holliday said. "He has helped win three national titles and I'm tremendously excited for him to join our staff."Heater has a history with Meyer dating back to 1986, when Heater was a running backs coach and Meyer was a graduate assistant at Ohio State. They coached together at Colorado State in 1991-92, and Heater joined Meyer's Utah staff in 2004.The Utes were 12-0 that season, pounding Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl."That was the best team I've coached," Heater said. "I've had better players, but that was the best team, a tremendous team that could play with anybody in the country."
When Meyer went to Florida, Heater went with him for six seasons. Holliday also was on the staff for the first three of those years, with the Gators winning two national titles.Moving to Temple in 2011, Heater cultivated the Mid-American Conference's best defense in many categories, helping the Owls to a 9-4 record. He had a first-team all-conference player in defensive end Adrian Robinson, as well as fifth-round NFL draft pick Tahir Whitehead.In 2012, the Owls struggled in its new place in the Big East, falling to 4-7. Heater's unit still produced the league's rookie of the year in linebacker Tyler Matakevich, and ranked third in the league with 2.27 sacks per game.At Marshall, Heater will tutor the secondary, a position he has worked with much of his coaching career. He also has worked with inside linebackers and running backs, as well as serving in a number of special-team roles."I knew about Doc. He recruits good players," Heater said of his decision to come to MU. "I felt like when I evaluated it, he has good players. I don't know what happened [last year]. If we can coach them and motivate them and get them in the right direction, we'll have a chance."Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsmock@ wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.