And when Dave Kotulski announced that he was going to be headed to Stanford, head coach Andy Coen announced that he would be searching for new candidates "immediately".
Fortunately for all Lehigh fans, the best possible solution was reached in terms of replacing Kotulski - involving promotion of two existing coaches to co-defensive coordinators - and the return of a familiar face.
Defensive line coach Donnie Roberts and defensive backs coach Gerard Wilcher will be co-defensive coordinators, according to Coen:
“We’ve seen our defense develop schematically over the last four seasons,” said Coen, who enters his seventh season. “Our staff does a great job putting kids in the right position. We’ve developed a multiplicity to our defense that I didn’t want to lose. Donnie and Gerard, from working with Dave had a lot of input in getting our scheme to where it is today.
Coen continued, "It was hard to distinguish just one of those guys. I wanted to be able to reward both those guys for doing a great job over the last six years we’ve been here. They work very well together on a day-to-day basis and I’m sure they will here. That’s why I made them co-coordinators.”
Wilcher and Roberts, who have been a part of the Lehigh staff for the last six years, provides great continuity for this defense. Between them, they have coached four all-Americans (Jarard Cribbs, Brian Jackson, B.J. Benning, Kyle Adams) and have been integral, along with coach Kotulski, in creating Lehigh's daunting defensive scheme that has helped the Mountain Hawks to back-to-back Patriot League championships.
Fortunately for Lehigh, too, a former coach that was on the staff a couple of years ago to pursue other opportunities outside of coaching was just waiting to jump right back into the fray: former outside linebackers coach Matt Sanders.
“When I made the decision to restructure the staff, Matt was one of the first people that came to mind,” Coen explained. “He did an outstanding job at Lehigh and proved to be a real good fit during his two years here. He really embraced our guys as student-athletes and helped them develop. Matt has a tremendous amount of energy; he has a very good football mind and is truly passionate about the game of football. I am happy to have him back on the staff.”
As linebackers coach he was a critical person in the development of yet another Lehigh all-American, Matt Cohen.
The reality is, when you've been a successful coach at the Patriot League level, you're going to see some of your staff leave for better opportunities, and it's always a challenge to keep things stable. With Coen's choices here, it doesn't look like this staff will miss a beat - and have a continuity that is rare when there are assistant coaching changes.