HUNTINGTON — Marshall’s 2019 coaching staff is starting to come into a clearer picture under head coach Doc Holliday.
Sources close to the athletic department say Holliday has added three coaches — Brad Lambert, Chip West and Brad Bielaniec — to fill vacancies left by recent departures following the 2018 season.
The most notable addition to the staff is Lambert, the former Charlotte head coach who is currently joining the staff as a volunteer assistant, but is expected to be Marshall’s next defensive coordinator.
Marshall University has not yet posted its open defensive coordinator position, which was vacated when former defensive coordinator Adam Fuller left to take the same position at the University of Memphis.
Sources say that once the procedural obligations within the university are completed, it is expected that Lambert will go from being a volunteer assistant to the Thundering Herd’s new defensive coordinator. The job is expected to be posted within the next week and Lambert is expected to be officially named as defensive coordinator within the next three to four weeks once the hiring process has run its course.
The addition of Lambert gives Marshall an assistant on staff with head coaching experience.
Lambert comes to Huntington from Charlotte where he led the football program from its birth in 2011 until the end of the 2018 season.
Charlotte was among the better league surprises in 2018, finishing 5-7 overall and 4-4 in Conference USA, which included a 27-24 win on the road at then-defending Conference USA champion Florida Atlantic to knock the Owls out of postseason contention. Of Charlotte’s losses, there were one-score defeats to East Division champion Middle Tennessee, FIU and a tough 14-3 loss at SEC foe Tennessee.
Lambert, who is making his second stint with the Herd, visited Huntington following Marshall’s win in the Gasparilla Bowl. The move for Holliday makes sense because of the strong relationship they have built as head coaches in Conference USA and their similar beliefs in style, with defense predicating success.
Lambert previously coached at Marshall from 1990-95 on the staff of former head coach Jim Donnan, whom he followed to Georgia upon Donnan’s hiring on Christmas Day 2005. During his previous time with the Herd, Marshall made four trips to the NCAA Division I-AA National Championship Game, securing the program’s first championship in 1992.
Lambert is not the only former Charlotte coach from the 2018 season joining the Marshall staff for 2019. West, Lambert’s former co-defensive coordinator with the 49ers, is expected to coach safeties. That also means that Lambert will likely coach the linebackers, which was Fuller’s department before his exit.
Following his hiring by Lambert in spring 2018, West helped direct a Charlotte defense that finished No. 9 in the Football Bowl Subdivision in rushing defense (105.7 yards per game), which placed the 49ers right behind Marshall in that category. The total defense actually finished better than Marshall’s in yards per game, allowing just 337.3 yards per game, which was No. 22 in the FBS.
Marshall players returned to school over the weekend to start classes for the spring semester, as well as start off-season workouts. As the players arrived back in town, there was a new strength and conditioning coach present — one that many of them have worked with in the past.
Bielaniec, who served as an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Appalachian State in 2018, has been hired to replace Luke Day, who left the Herd after three years for a position at the University of Colorado. Bielaniec makes a return to Huntington after serving as an assistant on Day’s staff with the Herd in 2017. According to sources, the hires of West and Bielaniec are completed, pending background checks and finalized paperwork.