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North Carolina hires Arizona State's West

Posted February 9, 2013
Updated February 14, 2013

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— North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora has hired Ron West as the Tar Heels’ co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. West, who coached previously with Fedora at Baylor and defensive coaches Vic Koenning and Dan Disch at Illinois, comes to Chapel Hill after a year at Arizona State where he served as the Sun Devils’ co-defensive coordinator.

“Ron is familiar with our staff and he brings a great deal of success and experience from his previous coaching stops,” said Fedora. “He’s an excellent teacher of defensive fundamentals who gets the most out of his players. His knowledge of the ACC and ability to recruit in this area of the country will help our program.”

Fedora also named Randy Jordan as the special teams coordinator and changed responsibilities among Carolina’s defensive assistants.

Koenning, who also worked with West at Clemson (2005-08), will continue in his role as UNC’s associate head coach for defense, but will now coach the safeties. Dan Disch continues as the defensive coordinator and will coach cornerbacks. Keith Gilmore was hired last week as the defensive line coach. All four defensive coaches have worked together at some point in their careers.

A 1979 Clemson graduate, West was an assistant coach for 10 seasons (1999-2008) with the Tigers where he worked with Koenning from 2005-08. Clemson won 76 games and played in nine bowl games during his tenure.

In 2012, Arizona State finished third in the country in pass defense, allowing just 167.9 yards per game, 10th in pass efficiency defense (105.5 rating) and was 27th overall in total defense (350.7 ypg). The Sun Devils led the nation in tackles for losses, ranked second in sacks and fourth in passes intercepted. Before West’s arrival in Tempe, Arizona State was 91st in total defense, 59th in sacks and 57th in tackle for loss.

West helped develop linebacker Brandon Magee into a first-team All-Pac-12 performer. Magee led the team with 113 tackles, including 12.5 tackles for losses and 6.5 sacks.

West has more than 30 years of collegiate coaching experience, including 17 on defense and nine as a coordinator. He also has coached 16 years on the offensive side of the ball. West was the outside linebackers coach at Illinois from 2010-11. West spent the 2009 season as the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Tulsa.

West implemented the Devil position at ASU, which is modeled after the Bandit, a linebacker role that he had great success with in both the Big 10 and the ACC at Illinois and Clemson, respectively. His defenses at both universities recorded top-10 national finishes in total defense and enabled numerous players to garner both All-America and All-Conference accolades, as well as find success in the professional ranks.

In 2011, the Fighting Illini finished seventh in the nation in total defense with West's linebackers helping to lead the charge, allowing just 286.15 total yards per game and holding its opponents to just 4.42 yards per play. Illinois was also third in passing yards allowed per game at 162.31 ypg and finished 26th in rushing yards allowed per game with 123.85 ypg.

Illinois Bandit Michael Buchanan had a breakout 2011 season, registering 64 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks en route to second-team All-Big Ten honors. He ranked fifth in the Big Ten in sacks and eighth in TFLs.

In 2010, West guided Fighting Illini linebacker Nate Bussey to a seventh-round NFL draft selection and All-Big Ten honorable mention recognition after totaling 83 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and an interception returned for a touchdown. Buchanan also posted a strong season in 2010 with 40 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.

While on the defensive coaching staff at Clemson, where West coached the outside linebackers for five seasons, his defenses ranked in the top 25 in total defense three times. The 2004 defense ranked in the top-25 in all four major categories, including a top-10 finish in scoring defense and total defense, and his 2005 Tigers' defense finished among the top 25 in six defensive categories. Clemson's defense also placed 18th in total defense and 13th in scoring defense in 2008.

In 2006, West coached one of the greatest players in Clemson history, the late Gaines Adams, who excelled in the Bandit system and became the No. 4 overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft. Adams was named to all five All-America teams in 2006 and was recognized as one of seven unanimous first-team All-Americans that year. He started all 12 games that season, recording an ACC-best 12.5 sacks, causing two fumbles and recovering three. He finished his career with 28 total sacks to tie the school record set in 1984-87.

West began his stint on the Tigers' coaching staff as offensive line coach in 1999, and coached the offensive line for five seasons and spent the final five on the defensive side of the ball.

West helped Clemson to a number of big victories during his tenure, including a 63-17 win over South Carolina in Columbus, S.C., in 2003, marking one of the biggest defeats in legendary coach Lou Holtz's career. West's offensive line helped pave the way in that game as the Tigers scored the most points by either team in the 100-plus years of the cross-state series. Other notable wins include a 26-10 win over No. 3 Florida State and a 27-14 win over No. 7 Tennessee in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl in 2003, as well as a 24-17 overtime win at No. 10 Miami in 2004.

Before arriving at Clemson, West spent two years on Tommy Bowden's coaching staff at Tulane University (1997-98), where he coached the offensive line. His influence as line coach in '97 saw the Green Wave total nearly 4,700 yards and a school record 375 points. A year later, Tulane posted a 12-0 record as the offensive line helped pave the way for an offense to average over 300 passing yards and 200 rushing yards.

West began his coaching career as a graduate assistant coach at West Alabama in 1979. He was at East Carolina in the spring of 1980 and became the offensive line coach at North Texas for the 1980 season. In 1981, West joined the Texas Tech coaching staff as the offensive line coach and coached special teams. He served in that capacity for four years before moving to defense in 1985 as the assistant linebackers coach.

His next stop was at Louisiana-Lafayette where he spent seven seasons (1986-92) as defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach. His defenses were ranked among the nation's top-20 in total defense three times. West joined the Baylor coaching staff for four seasons (1993-96) as offensive line coach and served as the running game coordinator in his final year.

A 1979 graduate of Clemson, West was a reserve offensive lineman in 1977 and 1978 for the Clemson Tigers. He started two games as a senior and helped his team post an 11-1 record and earn a No. 6 national ranking in the final Associated Press poll. His playing career began at Marion Institute, where he earned junior college All-America accolades before transferring to Clemson.

West and his wife Becky have two adult children, Brad and Lori.

7 Comments

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  • ugottabkiddinme Feb 10, 6:38 p.m.

    anything HAS to be an improvement to that defense...that's what held this team back last year, yet they still would have made the ACC championship game if it wasn't for prior knuckleheads ..GO HEELS!!

  • Ken D. Feb 10, 1:13 p.m.

    He has moved around a lot either not that good or he just likes to change jobs. They need... View More

    — Posted by iron fist

    There is more continuity here. Before he returned to Clemson when Tommy Bowden was hired, he had been on Bowden's staff at Tulane. While at Illinois, he worked under then defensive coordinator Vic Koenning, who joined the UNC staff when the Illini coach was fired. He (Koenning) was invited to retain the DC position at Illinois under its new coach, but declined to join Fedora at UNC.

    This guy isn't a job hopper. He seems to have loyalty to the head coaches and coordinators he has worked with, and they in turn seem to want to bring him along when they go someplace new. That's a good sign.

  • BeastOnTheHill Feb 10, 9:24 a.m.

    Exactly what we need is to fix that awful defense.
    You go Larry!

  • Ken D. Feb 10, 9:01 a.m.

    He was at Clemson for ten years. As with most assistants, when their head coach is fired or takes a better job, the assistants have to find a new home. I think that's the case here with Clemson, Illinois and Tulsa. He's a Clemson grad, so his roots are in the ACC.

  • iron fist Feb 9, 8:22 p.m.

    He has moved around a lot either not that good or he just likes to change jobs. They need someone who will commit to the team and stick around for a few years

  • kornfan2448 Feb 9, 6:21 p.m.

    Looks like a pretty good resume to me. Good to see the additions to the defensive coaching staff since they seemed to struggle last year. Should be another good year!

  • Tar Heels Victory-Show No Mercer Feb 9, 5:54 p.m.

    Fedora is putting together a defensive staff for next Season. It will be fun on the HILL next year!

    GO HEELS!!

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