Less than two weeks before the start of spring practice, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football coach Russ Huesman is looking for a new defensive coordinator.
After a little more than two months on the job, Mike Elko resigned from UTC last week to accept the defensive coordinator position at Bowling Green under coach Dave Clawson, Elko's and Huesman's old boss at Richmond. Elko also coached with Clawson at Fordham University before joining him at Richmond.
Elko will take over for Joe Trainer, who left Bowling Green to become the head coach at Rhode Island. Huesman, who hired Elko away from Hofstra on Jan. 4, said he was surprised by the move.
"I knew the defensive coordinator at Bowling Green left for Rhode Island, so I knew the job was open, but it is surprising in a couple of ways," Huesman said Monday from Richmond, where he spent the weekend with his family. "It's surprising that Dave Clawson would contact him, and it's a little surprising that Mike left."
Staff turnover was one of the obstacles faced by Huesman's predecessor, Rodney Allison, who had more than two dozen assistants during his six seasons with the Mocs. Huesman said he has a couple of candidates for the job in mind and he expects to have someone in place by the end of the week.
"You want continuity. You want people that want to be here," Huesman said.
The coaching-change Web site FootballScoop.com has reported that Assumption College head coach Adam Fuller has accepted the job, but Huesman said nothing is official. Fuller coached linebackers at Richmond for three seasons when Huesman was the Spiders' defensive coordinator.
While the timing is far from ideal, Huesman said the loss of Elko won't limit what the defense does in spring practice, which starts March 19.
"It won't affect the spring. It won't affect what we'll do defensively," he said. "We'll move on, and I feel good about what we're going to do on defense.
"I just hate it for our kids. They got to know Mike, they liked him, were excited about working with him. They just want to know that somebody coaching them believes in them."
Elko's replacement will be the Mocs' fifth defensive coordinator in the past 14 months. Billy Taylor left for Tennessee Tech last January, and his successor, secondary coach David Bibee, took a job at Middle Tennessee State soon after. Allison then hired Dick Hopkins, who oversaw the defense last season.
Huesman accepted the job on Dec. 21 and hired Elko two weeks later.