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Football: UL promotes Smith to DC, hires defensive line coach Harbin

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, February 19, 2015


He hasn’t worked as a defensive coordinator since 1991.

But the boatload of experience Melvin Smith has made him the man UL head coach Mark Hudspeth chose to tap as the Ragin’ Cajuns’ new offensive coordinator.

“He’s been with some really successful coordinators and part of a lot of outstanding programs,” Hudspeth, speaking by phone Thursday, said of Smith, a longtime SEC assistant coach who most recently was cornerbacks coach at Auburn.

“He’s just way overdue to get this opportunity, and I think he’s gonna do a great job — and he’s got a lot of experience in that room also to help him.”

UL on Thursday announced — as expected, and as first reported Tuesday — both the promotion of Smith and the hiring of Levorn Harbin as defensive line coach.

Smith, recently let go after two years at Auburn, was hired by UL last month as secondary coach/co-defensive coordinator.

He now succeeds James Willis, who after two seasons as defensive coordinator left the Ragin’ Cajuns last week to join the New Orleans Saints’ staff with the title of defensive assistant/linebackers.

Harbin most recently worked as a defensive line analyst at Auburn, and was defensive line coach/special teams coach/recruiting coordinator at NCAA Division II Tuskegee, where he was an assistant for seven seasons from 2006-12.

The Golden Tigers went 12-0 during one of those seasons, 2007.

Harbin, an offensive lineman on North Alabama’s 1995 Division II national-championship team, also worked previously as an assistant coach at Georgia Southern (defensive ends/special teams, 2002-03) and Valdosta State (defensive line on a 12-1 team in 2001).

He replaces Tim Edwards, who was let go by UL after four seasons.

Yet another hire the Cajuns are expected to make is that of Charlie Harbison, who was let go as safeties coach and co-defensive coordinator at Auburn last month.

Harbison previously was Mississippi State’s defensive coordinator (2007-08), Clemson’s co-defensive coordinator) 2009-12), and was an assistant at Alabama and LSU.

He’s in line to become UL’s co-defensive coordinator and to coach outside linebackers, but it’s expected to be a few weeks before his hiring is finalized.

UL’s other new assistant on a totally overhauled defensive staff is ex-Southeastern Louisiana head coach Mike Lucas, Northwestern State’s defensive coordinator last season and now the Cajuns’ inside linebackers coach.

Smith also worked at Mississippi State (1995-2001 and 2006-12), Ole Miss (1992-94) and Alabama (2002) in addition to Texas A&M (2003-05) before it joined the SEC.

His last time working as a defensive coordinator, however, came at current NCAA Division II-member Delta State in ’91.

Smith initially was hired by UL to replace secondary coach Tim Rebowe, now Nicholls State’s head coach. In addition to new duties as defensive coordinator, he’ll still coach Cajun defensive backs as originally planned.

“I’m extremely excited with the development of our defensive staff,” Hudspeth said in a statement.

“Our defensive staff right now has as much experience as most schools in the FBS. All of them have been successful and are going to be great coaches and mentors to our young men.”


New UL defensive line coach

Born: Butler, Ala.


1994: Morris Brown College

1995-97: Offensive lineman at North Alabama


1998: North Alabama, student assistant

1999-2000: Auburn, administrative assistant

2001: Valdosta State assistant, defensive line

2002-03: Georgia Southern assistant, defensive ends/special teams

2004: Atlanta Falcons, pro scouting assistant

2006-2012: Tuskegee assistant, defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator

2013-14: Auburn, defensive line analyst