TAMPA – The University of South Florida has hired 28-year coaching veteran Chris Cosh to serve as defensive coordinator, head coach Skip Holtz announced on Wednesday. Cosh comes to Tampa after serving as Kansas State’s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for the past three seasons. In total, Cosh has served as a defensive coordinator for 15 of his 28 seasons, including stops at Kansas State, Maryland, South Carolina, Michigan St. and Illinois.
Skip Holtz has announced the hiring of defensive coordinator Chris Cosh from Kansas State.
“I’m excited that Chris has agreed to be the defensive coordinator here,” Holtz said. “We’re very familiar with each other, having coached together for five years at South Carolina. I’ve got great respect for him as a teacher and communicator. He’s had a lot of success building some of the top programs in the country and I’m looking forward to working with him again here at USF.”
Cosh, who was in his second tour of duty at Kansas State, helped rebuild the Wildcats under Bill Snyder, culminating in a Cotton Bowl appearances after the 2011 season. The Wildcats improved drastically in 2011, cutting almost 100 yards per game off their rushing defense to rank 37th nationally. K-State gave up less than 400 yards per game and under 28 points despite playing in a league that had six of the nation’s top 13 offenses. Cosh’s defense produced three All-Big 12 performers last year, including linebacker Arthur Brown. In 2010, Cosh helped direct a Wildcat defense that saw a true freshman earn All-Big 12 honors for the first time on a Snyder-coached team when safety Ty Zimmerman had a breakout rookie season. Zimmerman was named to numerous Freshman All-America teams and received votes for the Big 12 Freshman of the Year award after recording 74 tackles, three interceptions, three pass breakups and two fumble recoveries.
In 2009 under Cosh, K-State's defense made tremendous strides from 2008 as K-State improved from 117th nationally in total defense in 2008 to No. 39 in 2009. The 2009 Wildcat defense yielded just 105.4 yards per game on the ground, which ranked 16th nationally, and surrendered 339.9 total yards per contest. Led by All-Big 12 selections Tysyn Hartman and Jeffrey Fitzgerald, the Wildcats finished in the top half of the Big 12 rankings in rushing defense, total defense and turnover margin.
As defensive coordinator at Maryland, the Terrapins (7-5) ended the 2008 regular season 35th nationally in scoring defense (21.4 ppg) and were led by All-ACC performers Alex Wujciak at linebacker and Jeremy Navarre on the defensive line.
In 2007, the Terrapin defense was highlighted by first-team All-ACC performers Erin Henderson and Dre Moore. Henderson led the league in tackles from his weakside linebacker spot, while Moore, a defensive tackle, went on to become a fourth-round draft choice of Tampa Bay in the 2008 NFL Draft.. Cosh's defense ended the year at No. 24 nationally in scoring defense (21.5 ppg) and No. 33 in pass defense (210.69 ypg). The group posted eight more sacks and five more interceptions than the previous year.
In 2006, Cosh was responsible for a unit that contributed to the school's first nine-win season in three years, and finished the year with a 24-7 victory over Purdue in the Champs Sports Bowl. The Terps defense held the opposition to an average of 21.8 points per game. Under Cosh's leadership, the defense marked breakout performances by cornerback Josh Wilson and Henderson, who each earned All-ACC honors. Wilson went on to become a second-round choice of the Seattle Seahawks in the 2007 NFL Draft, while DL Conrad Boston (Minnesota Vikings) and LB David Holloway (Arizona Cardinals) signed free-agent contracts.
Prior to his stint at Maryland, Cosh spent the 2004-05 seasons under Snyder as linebackers coach at Kansas State. The Wildcat defense ranked 30th nationally in 2005 allowing an average of 128.9 rushing yards per game. Junior linebacker Brandon Archer was an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection in 2005, an accolade which came a year after Cosh helped coach the newcomer to second-team honors in his first year as a starter.
In the five years prior to his first stop in Manhattan, Cosh served under Lou Holtz as linebackers coach (1999-2002) and defensive coordinator (2003) at South Carolina. In his tenure at USC, he helped produce some of the Southeastern Conference's top linebackers with Kalimba Edwards (two-time first team all-league, Butkus and Lombardi Awards finalist in 2001) among them. His resume as a position coach also includes tutoring New York Jets first-round pick and Pro Bowler John Abraham (1999) and freshman All-American Lance Laury (2002). During his time in Columbia, S.C., the Gamecocks won back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history.
In addition to serving under coaching legends Snyder and Holtz, Cosh was the defensive coordinator at Michigan State under former Miami Dolphins and current Alabama head coach Nick Saban. In his lone season (1998) in East Lansing, Mich., the Spartans upset No. 1 Ohio State and knocked off Notre Dame. Cosh's unit helped spark those wins with the 10th-ranked pass defense in the nation.
During his first tour of duty at Maryland in 1997, Cosh coached the linebackers while also heading up the team's recruiting efforts. In that one year with the Terps, linebackers Eric Barton and Kendal Ogle finished second and third in the ACC in tackles.
The greatest testament to his skill as a coach of linebackers may have come at Illinois (defensive coordinator from 1992-96) when he led Dana Howard (1994) and Kevin Hardy (1995) to consecutive Butkus Awards. Howard posted a Big Ten record in tackles in 1994. He also oversaw a defense which saw DE Simeon Rice earn consensus All-America honors before being drafted by the Arizona Cardinals. Fellow LB John Holecek also went on to a career in the NFL.
A former linebacker who earned his bachelor's degree in physical education from Virginia Tech in 1983, Cosh got his start coaching in Blacksburg, Va., where he was a student assistant during the 1983 season. He then made five different stops (Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Southeast Missouri State, UNLV and two tours at Minnesota) before settling in at Illinois. In all but one of those full-time jobs, he worked either as defensive coordinator or linebackers coach.
Cosh and his wife, Mary, have two sons, J.J., who played football at the United States Naval Academy, and Billy, a quarterback at James Madison.
THE COSH FILE
Experience: 28 seasons
Date of Birth: May 12, 1959
Hometown: Washington, D.C.
Children: J.J., Billy
Virginia Tech (1983), B.A. Physical Education
Virginia Tech, Linebacker (1977-81)
1984 ________________ Minnesota, graduate assistant coach
1985-88 ____________ Wisconsin-Oshkosh, defensive coord.
1989_________________ SE Missouri State, defensive coord.
1990_________________________ UNLV, assistant coach (LB)
1991____________________ Minnesota, assistant coach (DL)
1992-94______________________ Illinois, assistant coach (LB)
1995-96____________________ Illinois, defensive coord. (LB)
1997______________ Maryland, assist. coach/rec. coord. (LB)
1998___________________ Michigan State, defensive coord.
1999-2002_______________ South Carolina, assist. coach (LB)
2003________________ South Carolina, defensive coord. (LB)
2004-05________________ Kansas State, assistant coach (LB)
2006-08_________________ Maryland, defensive coord. (LB)
2009-11_______________ Kansas State, defensive coord. (LB)
1983 Peach Bowl
1992 Holiday Bowl
1994 Liberty Bowl
2001 Outback Bowl
2002 Outback Bowl
2006 Champs Sports Bowl
2007 Emerald Bowl
2010 Pinstripe Bowl
2012 Cotton Bowl
Courtesy of the University of South Florida's Sports Information Department