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Football: Mike Lucas joins Ragin’ Cajuns staff

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, January 6, 2015



Bragging about the Louisiana and east Texas recruiting ties of a coach who’s been in the business for about three-and-a-half decades, UL head coach Mark Hudspeth announced on Tuesday the hiring of ex-Southeastern Louisiana head coach Mike Lucas as a Ragin’ Cajuns assistant coach.

Lucas coached Southeastern from 2007-11, and after a 6-5 season in 2009 the Louisiana Sports Writers Association named him All-Louisiana Coach of the Year.

He spent the two seasons prior to that as the Lions’ defensive coordinator.

“The guy is so connected it’s amazing,” Hudspeth said.

“So I think he’s gonna be a great recruiter, and he’s gonna bring a lot of assistance to James (Willis, UL’s defensive coordinator) in the meeting room.

“I just think he’s gonna be a great fit,” Hudspeth added. “It’s not like I’m just hiring a position coach. This is a guy with extensive coordinating experience.”

Hudspeth, whose Cajuns are coming off four straight 9-4 seasons and four straight New Orleans Bowl wins, has been working to fill three recent defensive assistant vacancies.

One is now claimed by Lucas, who was defensive coordinator and linebackers coach last season at Southland Conference-member Northwestern State and coached the defensive line at FCS Indiana State in 2013.

Hudspeth hopes to make the other two hires sometime in the next two weeks or so.

Hudspeth said Lucas could coach the secondary or outside linebackers at UL, but he’ll hold off before deciding.

“He’s obviously now got a seat at the table,” Hudspeth said, “but (I’m) just waiting until the rest of the staff shakes down.”

In his only season at Northwestern State, Lucas guided a defensive unit that ranked fifth nationally among FCS programs in takeaways with 36.

Among the players on Lucas’ defense there was cornerback Imoan Claiborne, who has been invited to play in this month’s Senior Bowl.

He also was defensive coordinator from 1987-2001 at Sam Houston State, where he also was assistant head coach starting in 1991.

Previous assistant coaching stops for Lucas came at his alma mater, Liberty, where he coached the secondary in 1980, the defensive line in 1981 and linebackers from 1982-83, along with UTEP (receivers coach in 1984) and Eastern New Mexico (defensive coordinator from 1985-86).

While he was at Southeastern, the Lions improved their record each season from 2006-09.

But Lucas was fired after SLU went 3-8 in 2011 and 19-37 in five seasons overall as head coach (19-40 including the three games as interim head coach at the end of the 2006 season).

At Pemberton (N.J.) High, Lucas lettered in football, baseball and wrestling.

He and wife Wendy have two sons, Tyler, a quarterback at Cornell before graduating in 2009, and Torin, a catcher on the Southeastern Louisiana baseball team before graduating in 2012.

Lucas’ hiring is subject to approval from the University of Louisiana Board of Supervisors.

His arrival leaves Hudspeth with two hires to make after secondary coach Tim Rebowe was named head coach Nicholls State, interim outside linebackers coach Matt Wallerstedt opted against staying at UL and defensive line coach Tim Edwards reportedly was fired.

UL announced last Sunday that Edwards, who according to SI.com was “let go,” and Wallerstedt would not return in 2015.

According to SI.com, Wallertstedt will be named defensive coordinator at UNC-Charlotte sometime this week. He’ll be reunited there with head coach Brad Lambert, an ex-teammate at Kansas State.

After leaving his defensive coordinator’s post at Texas Tech early last season, Wallerstedt was named defensive consultant at UL. He previously served as defensive coordinator under Hudspeth at North Alabama.

When Cajuns outside linebackers coach David Saunders disassociated from the program last November, for “personal reasons” according to UL, Wallerstedt assumed his duties.

The Cajuns tried to get Wallerstedt to stay at UL, but he instead sought greener pastures.

Charlotte resurrected its long-dormant football program in 2013 as an FCS independent in 2013. The 49ers begin FBS play in Conference USA next season, but aren’t bowl-eligible until 2016.

Rebowe — widely regarded as one of the top recruiters in Louisiana, and especially the New Orleans area — was named head coach of the Colonels shortly after they concluded their 2014 season.

Hudspeth said Sunday night that strong recruiting ability is the top attribute he’s seeking in his new assistants.

Lucas brings that, he believes.

“He knows this state (Louisiana) inside and out; knows Texas, and that’s a state we recruit,” Hudspeth said Tuesday. “So, that was a critical part of his hire — not only being an experienced defensive coordinator.”


High school: Pemberton (N.J.) High.

College: Liberty


Liberty, 1980-83: secondary, defensive line, linebackers

UTEP, 1984: wide receivers

Eastern New Mexico, 1985-86: defensive coordinator

Sam Houston State, 1987-2001: defensive coordinator from 1990-2004

Southeastern Louisiana, 2005-06: defensive coordinator*

Southeastern Louisiana, 2007-11: head coach (19-37)

Indiana State, 2013: defensive line

Northwestern State, 2014: defensive coordinator

* interim head coach for last three games of the season