June 14, 2010
This is the first in a series of stories about UC's assistant football coaches. Today: Defensive line coach Steve Stripling.
By Bo Jessee/UCATS.net
Stripling Spring Practice Interview | Getting To Know Coach Stripling
When Steve Stripling joined head coach Butch Jones at the University of Cincinnati, he brought 30 years of coaching experience and a proven track record of success as a position coach.
Stripling joined the staff after serving as the interim head coach of Central Michigan in the school's 44-41 double-overtime victory over Troy in the 2010 GMAC Bowl.
Prior to joining the Central Michigan coaching staff in 2009, Stripling worked as the defensive line coach at Michigan from 2005-07.
During his tenure at Michigan, Stripling coached 2006 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and Lineman of the Year, Lamar Woodley, who now plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Stripling's work as the defensive line coach helped Michigan lead the nation in run defense in 2006, allowing just 43.3 yards per game on the ground.
"First of all, when you meet Steve Stripling, his personality demands respect," Jones said. "But when our players look and see all the great players he's coached and the players that he's been able to put in the National Football League, I think that's instant credibility."
Stripling's credibility as a defensive line coach is going to come in handy next season as he takes over a unit that is very young - although not exactly inexperienced. There are no seniors on the defensive line, but the defense returns three sophomores and a junior that saw extensive playing time last season.
"Any time there is a new coach there will be a change in terminology and a change in techniques," Stripling said. "Not only are they grasping the change in the defense, they are grasping the change in techniques and terminology, so it's a challenge, especially with younger players. But the older players will adapt a lot quicker."
Stripling said the key to installing a new defense is to develop a package that the young players are able to handle.
"In today's college football, the offenses are very intricate and on defense you have to be very multiple to face those offenses, so I think a young man's ability to grasp things is very important," Stripling said.
Because of the presence of Stripling, Jones said, he thinks the Bearcats' youth on the defensive line may be an advantage in the long run.
"That's an area he takes great pride in, molding and developing defensive linemen," Jones said. "So to have a young defensive line to work with is very exciting for the fact that he can mentor them and bring them along."
In addition to being the defensive line coach, Stripling will serve as assistant head coach. A major part of his responsibility is overseeing academics for the football team.
Last season, the UC football team ranked first in graduation success rate among teams in the BCS top 10. Cincinnati posted a 75 percent NCAA graduation rate last season (second-ranked Florida graduated 69 percent).
Stripling said he will continue to place a strong emphasis on academics and seeks to maintain the success the team enjoyed last year.
"As in all academics, it's a day to day battle out there," Stripling said. "Class attendance, utilization of tutors and academic resources here are all something we are pushing."
According to Stripling, academic success translates to the football field. He said the staff will look to recruit players who have also excelled in the classroom.
"It's competitive in the classroom at a university just like it's competitive on the field, and you want to have a young man that can compete in both arenas," Stripling said. "It shows the character of a young man. If he's a self-motivated academic student he's probably going to be a pretty good football player."