Birds' new football coach is defensive minded

ISU introduces Spack

By WEEK Sports

July 15, 2010 Updated Jul 13, 2010 at 2:27 PM CDT

NORMAL, Ill. – Former Purdue defensive coordinator Brock Spack was introduced Wednesday as the 20th head football coach in Illinois State history. Spack replaces Denver Johnson, who resigned after the 2008 season finale.

“Brock Spack brings an intensity to Redbird football that matches the commitment that Illinois State University has made to achieving excellence, both on-and-off the field of play,” said Zenger. “When we began this search process, we established a list of seven criteria that we were looking for in a head coach, and Coach Spack exceeded each of those expectations. I expect his blue-collar, no-nonsense approach to football to set the tone for our program for years to come.

“Coach Spack is well known throughout the nation for being a relentless recruiter and a tough-minded coach who establishes great relationships with his players. He is one of the most respected football coaches in the Big Ten, not only for his defensive expertise and recruiting ability, but also for his loyalty to the institutions for which he has worked. Coach Spack is unique, in that he’s a defensive coach that wants to run a wide-open offense, which is exactly what we were looking to bring to Illinois State.”

Spack is looking forward to heading the Illinois State football program.

“I’m very excited to be named the head football coach at Illinois State,” said Spack. “The University and the Redbird football program are a great fit for me and my family. I grew up in Illinois and played high school football in Rockford, so to come back home and be named the head football coach at Illinois State is a great thrill for me.

“I’m also excited to be back coaching in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. I was with Eastern Illinois (1987-90 as an assistant coach) when it was part of the then-Gateway Football Conference, and it was a very tough league then. I know the league has gotten even better with the addition of North Dakota State and South Dakota State this past season. Coaching in the Valley Football Conference is going to be a great challenge, and I’m excited for the opportunity to coach Illinois State in this tough league.”

Spack has numerous ties to the Central Illinois area, as he played high school football at Rockford East High School in Rockford, Ill., from 1976-79. Both his high school head coach and defensive coordinator played football at Illinois State and were early mentors for Spack to begin his football coaching career.

“Craig Stalcup (Spack’s high school football coach and a former Illinois State football player) was a huge reason why I got into coaching,” said Spack. “We had a lot of Illinois State guys on our football staff in high school, so it’s a great thrill for me, nearly 30 years after I graduated high school, to now be the head football coach of the school where some of my high school coaches played at.”

Spack was the defensive coordinator for the Boilermakers for the last 12 seasons (1997-2008) under former head coach Joe Tiller, who retired after the 2008 season. He worked with the Purdue linebackers from 1997 to 2005, and again in 2008, when he was named as the one of the nation’s top linebacker coaches by Dennis Dodd of in June 2008.

The Boilermakers were 87-62 overall (53-43 Big Ten Conference) during Spack’s 12-year tenure as an assistant coach under Tiller at Purdue. Spack coached in 10 bowl games as an assistant at Purdue, including the 2001 Rose Bowl, which came on the heels of an 8-4 season overall in 1999 and a first-place tie (6-2 record) in the Big Ten Conference. He also played in the 1980 Liberty Bowl with Purdue and was a graduate assistant coach during the Boilermaker’s 1984 Peach Bowl game.

From 2000 to 2004, the Purdue defense became one of the stingiest units in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers were tops in total defense in 2002 (317.2 yards per game) – the first time they had been No. 1 since 1967 – after ranking third in 2000 and 2001. They were third in 2003, as well, and ranked 13th nationally.

Under Spack, Purdue scored 22 defensive touchdowns (10 via fumble, 11 on interceptions and one combination). The Boilermakers accumulated 322 takeaways in 12 seasons, for an average of 26.8 takeaways per season and a plus-31 turnover margin. In 2001, Purdue tied for second nationally with 36 takeaways and 18 fumble recoveries.

Seven members of Purdue’s 2003 defense were selected in the 2004 NFL Draft: Gilbert Gardner (LB), Landon Johnson (LB), Niko Koutouvides (LB), Shaun Phillips (LB), Jacques Reeves (CB), Stuart Schweigert (DB) and Craig Terrill (DT). All told, 27 Purdue defensive players went on to the NFL during Spack's tenure.

As defensive coordinator at Wyoming in 1995 and 1996, Spack recharged the defense, which improved from fifth to second in total defense in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). The Cowboys topped the WAC in sacks during his two years, including a school-record 46 in 1996.

Spack was Purdue's inside linebackers coach from 1991 to 1994 and was a graduate assistant coach for the Boilermakers in 1984 and 1985. He served under former Purdue head coach Joe Tiller, who was defensive coordinator from 1983 to 1986. Spack coached All-Big Ten linebacker Jim Schwantz, a 1996 NFL Pro Bowl selection and a key member of the Dallas Cowboys' Super Bowl XXX Championship team.

From 1987 to 1990, Spack was an assistant coach at Eastern Illinois (linebackers/defensive line/recruiting coordinator) and in 1986, was at Wabash College (defensive line/strength coach).

Spack graduated from Purdue in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in social studies. He earned a master’s degree in physical education from Eastern Illinois in 1990. Spack played linebacker for the Boilermakers from 1980-83, earning first-team All-Big Ten and honorable mention All-America honors as a sophomore. He was a three-year starter and currently ranks fifth on the Boilermakers' career tackles list with 384.

A native of Rockford, Ill., Spack (born Jan. 5, 1962) and his wife, Aimee, have two children, Alicia and Brent. Alicia is a senior softball player at Purdue.

Courtesy Illinois State Sports Information

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