Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams/Defensive Line
Mike Elston combines BCS playing experience with a winning coaching background. Elston, in his third season at UC, will coach the defensive line in 2009 after spending the past two seasons as tight ends coach.
Elston also serves as special teams coordinator and was promoted to assistant head coach following UC's BIG EAST Championship campaign in 2008. He was also UC's recruiting coordinator from 2007-08.
He has established UC's special teams unit as one of the best in the country. The Bearcats, behind two-time Associated Press all-America punter Kevin Huber, have led the nation in net punting in each of the past two seasons. UC is only the fourth team in NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision history to acomplish that task.
Huber, a consensus All-American in 2007, and kick returner Mardy Gilyard have helped UC win back-to-back BIG EAST Special Teams Player of the Year Awards. Huber earned the honor in 2007 and Gilyard took the award in 2008.
Elston helped UC sign a 22-member class only 65 days after Brian Kelly accepted the UC job in 2007 and was instrumental in coordinating a 24-member class in 2008, and a 28-member recruiting class in 2009.
In his three seasons with Central Michigan, Elston played many roles with the Chippewas, working his way up to special teams coordinator and linebackers coach in year three. In 2006, he instructed two all-Mid-American Conference linebackers, including the top tackler in the league. His work with special teams sparked a drastic improvement in the punting unit, which finished 19th nationally in net punting.
Elston spent the 2005 season as the co-defensive coordinator, developing a unit that led the MAC in rushing defense (113.7 ypg allowed). He worked directly with defensive end Daniel Bazuin, who led the country in tackles for loss (26.5) and tied a MAC record with 16 sacks. The success against the run came just two years after CMU ranked last in the MAC in rushing defense.
Prior to arriving in Mount Pleasant, Elston served a three-year stint at Eastern Michigan. He was the defensive ends coach for the Eagles in 2001 and then served as the defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator in 2002 and 2003. EMU was the most improved defense in Division I-A in both scoring and total yards in 2003.
Elston grew up in St. Marys, Ohio, where he garnered all-state honors in football, basketball, and track at Memorial High School. He went on to attend Michigan, where he was a three-year football letterwinner (1994-96). Elston remained in Ann Arbor for four years after his playing days were over, working as an assistant to the football camp director and then a graduate assistant. He was a member of the national championship program in 1997 that finished a perfect 12-0 season with a 21-16 win over Washington State in the Rose Bowl.