Eastern Kentucky University will introduce new head football coach Mark Elder at a press conference on Thursday. Elder has served as the tight ends coach and special teams coordinator at the University of Tennessee since 2013.
The press conference will begin at 2 p.m. and will be held at O’Donnell Auditorium inside the Whitlock Building on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University. Media members and fans are invited to attend.
“I couldn’t be more excited to welcome Mark and his family to EKU,” Director of Athletics Steve Lochmueller said. “Eastern Kentucky University football has a national championship tradition and I am confident Mark Elder is the coach that will bring excitement back to Colonel football and make EKU a factor again on the national stage.”
“I’m excited, blessed and honored for the opportunity to lead one of the most tradition rich programs in college football,” Elder said. “It didn’t take me long to realize that this is a special place. Lindsey and I look forward to becoming a part of the Richmond community.”
Elder is the 14th head coach in program history.
“It is humbling to have the opportunity to lead the same program that legendary coach Roy Kidd built into a national powerhouse,” said Elder. “It’s important to me that we maintain the standards, both on and off the field, that coach Kidd established during his Hall of Fame career.”
Over his past 11 seasons as an assistant coach, Elder has helped his teams reach nine bowl games and win four conference championships. In 2014 he was ranked as one of the top-50 recruiters in the nation. This season he was recognized as one of the top-25 recruiters in college football.
“We had a group of outstanding candidates to lead Colonel football,” said Lochmueller. “Eastern Kentucky University football carries a lot of weight throughout the coaching world. This is a place where people want to be.”
As a member of Butch Jones’ inaugural staff, the Cincinnati native helped lead the revitalization of Volunteer football over the past three seasons. He helped UT to an 8-4 record this season and a second place finish in the Southeastern Conference East Division with a 5-3 mark. It is Tennessee’s first winning record in SEC play since 2007. The Volunteers are slated to play Northwestern in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day.
In just their second season in Knoxville, Elder helped Jones and the Vols to a 7-6 mark in 2014 and a 45-28 victory over Iowa in the TaxSlayer Bowl. It was Tennessee’s first winning record in five seasons and first bowl win since the end of the 2007 campaign.
“Eastern Kentucky has not only hired an outstanding football coach, but an even better person, teacher, mentor and motivator in Mark Elder,” said Jones. “I would like to congratulate and also thank Mark for nine great years. I am very excited for the opportunity he, his wife Lindsey and son Owen are about to take on and I wish them all the best at Eastern Kentucky.”
Elder helped the University of Michigan reach bowl games as a defensive graduate assistant in 2005 and 2006. He then joined Jones’ first staff at Central Michigan University. Elder coached the Chippewa linebackers for three seasons (2007-09). During that time, CMU qualified for three bowl appearances and won two Mid-American Conference Championships.
When Jones made the jump to the University of Cincinnati before the 2010 season, Elder joined the Bearcat staff as the tight ends coach. He also coached running backs, safeties and special teams at various times. The duo found similar success at UC, winning two Big East Conference Championships and getting Cincinnati into two bowl games in three seasons.
“One of the things that I really like about Mark is he’s a very well-rounded coach,” Lochmueller said. “He has coached on the defensive side, the offensive side and on special teams. He has a strong background of success coaching each phase of the game. He also has coached at a variety of different levels of college football, all the way from Division II to the top of the mountain in college football – the SEC.”
This season, Elder’s guidance helped Tennessee lead the nation in kickoff returns (33.41 ypr) and rank second in punt returns (18.26 ypr). The Volunteers had the second best kickoff return defense in the SEC and 15th-best in the nation (18.23 ypg).