On the defensive
Cincinnati hires Ohio State coordinator Dantonio to replace Minter
Posted: Tuesday December 23, 2003 3:55PM; Updated: Tuesday December 23, 2003 5:38PM
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Mark Dantonio was hired as Cincinnati's football coach Tuesday after helping Ohio State build one of the nation's top defenses.
Dantonio, the Buckeyes' defensive coordinator, replaces Rick Minter.
Minter was fired Dec. 1 after a decade on the job. He was dismissed three days after the Bearcats (5-7) ended their season with a 43-40 loss to Louisville. He finished with a 53-63-1 record over 10 seasons and had the most wins and losses in school history.
There was more pressure on Minter to produce a consistent winner when Cincinnati accepted an invitation last month to leave Conference USA for the higher-profile Big East.
"I saw this as a great opportunity, because it's a program that's going into the Big East," Dantonio said at a news conference
Athletic director Bob Goin said Dantonio has great character and integrity.
"He's one who knows how to win. He's worked with winners, and he's been under pressure at the highest level," he said.
Dantonio won't have to wait long to face his former school and longtime friend and boss, Jim Tressel. The Bearcats open the 2004 season at Ohio State on Sept. 4.
The Buckeyes spent most of the past season as the No. 1 defense against the run in all of Division I-A. Tressel said Dantonio will coach the Ohio State defense when the team plays Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2.
"We hate to lose him, but I'm extremely proud he has achieved this position and wish him the very best," Tressel said.
Ohio State, keyed by its defense, won the 2002 national championship, beating top-ranked Miami 31-24 in the Fiesta Bowl.
Dantonio, a native of Zanesville, won three letters as a defensive back at South Carolina (1976-78) and graduated in 1979 with a degree in education.
He served as a graduate assistant at Ohio University, Purdue and Ohio State before working as an assistant at Akron, Youngstown State, Kansas and Michigan State.
During his two years at Ohio State in 1983 and 1984, he worked on the same staff with Tressel, then the quarterbacks coach under Earle Bruce. After Tressel became the head coach at Youngstown State, he brought in Dantonio.
Dantonio spent four years at Kansas and six at Michigan State, finishing as the Spartans' defensive backs coach and associate head coach.
In his first year at Ohio State, the 2001 Buckeyes ranked first in the Big Ten in passing defense and second in scoring defense. In 2002, the defense finished second nationally in scoring defense (13.1 points per game) and third nationally in rushing defense (77.7 ypg).
In 2003, Ohio State is allowing an average of 16.8 points and 290.1 yards per game. The Buckeyes are one of the nation's top defenses against the run, yielding just 60.5 yards per game.
Minter took Cincinnati to bowl games four of the past six seasons but had come under increasing criticism for failing to create a larger fan base and national profile.
After a 3-0 start this year, the Bearcats lost seven of their final nine games for their first losing season in four years. Attendance also dwindled, with only 11,993 fans -- slightly more than one-third of the stadium's capacity -- showing up in inclement weather for the season finale.
Minter said at the time of his firing that he was leaving Cincinnati's football program in better shape than he found it.
"The guy who comes in next is going to find it a more desirable job than I found it," he said.
The Bearcats do have talent returning. Two juniors -- defensive end Trent Cole and offensive lineman Kyle Takavitz -- were selected to the All-Conference USA first team. Two other returning players were selected to the second team: junior defensive end Andre Frazier and cornerback Daven Holly. Junior middle linebacker Jamar Enzor was listed on the third team.
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