LEXINGTON, Ky. – One of the most respected defensive minds in football, Rick Minter has joined the Kentucky football staff as co-defensive coordinator, Coach Joker Phillips has announced.
“Rick is a tough, hard-nosed defensive coordinator who has put together outstanding defenses at numerous schools,” Phillips said. “When I worked with him at Cincinnati, Rick had great knowledge of both sides of the ball. He does a great job of communicating with players and putting them in position to make plays.”
The head coach with the most wins in Cincinnati football history and a highly effective defensive coordinator at Notre Dame, South Carolina, Ball State and Marshall, Minter comes to UK from Indiana State, where he spent one season as the linebackers coach. The Sycamores, who had a 2-54 record the five previous years before his arrival, improved to a 6-5 mark in 2010, as the ISU defensive unit led the conference in interceptions and ranked second in total takeaways.
Minter spent the 2008-09 seasons as the defensive coordinator at Marshall. The Thundering Herd defense doubled its turnover rate in Minter’s first season, taking the ball away 14 times after gathering only seven turnovers the year before. He was the interim head coach for his last game at Marshall, guiding the Thundering Herd to a 21-17 win over Ohio in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
Prior to leading the Marshall defensive unit, Minter spent the 2005-07 seasons as the defensive coordinator for Notre Dame, a position he also held during the 1992-93 seasons. During his time as defensive coordinator at Notre Dame, Minter helped lead the Irish to a 43-17-1 record with four prestigious bowl games, including two Cotton Bowl berths in the ’92-93 seasons and appearances in the Fiesta and Sugar Bowls during his latter term. In 2005, he coached a unit that produced 24 turnovers while contributing to Notre Dame's plus-10 turnover margin. The Irish defense limited opponents to only a 35 percent success rate on third downs while Notre Dame foes scored touchdowns on only 56 percent of red zone opportunities.
Minter made major improvements in the South Carolina defense in 2004 under legendary head coach Lou Holtz. The Gamecocks ranked 20th nationally in total defense and 15th nationally in pass defense. Among his pupils was freshman free safety Ko Simpson, who earned second-team All-America honors and ranked third nationally in interceptions.
As head coach at Cincinnati from 1994-2003, Minter won more games than any coach in UC history. He led the Bearcats to four postseason bowl games and was co-champion of Conference USA in 2002. His 1997 team finished 8-4 after a Humanitarian Bowl victory over Utah State, marking the first bowl appearance for Cincinnati in 47 seasons. Minter's Bearcats went to three straight bowls in 2000-02. He was named C-USA Coach of the Year in 2001 by CollegeFootballNews.com.
In 2000, kicker Jonathan Ruffin became the program's first consensus All-America selection, as Ruffin led the nation in field goals and won the Lou Groza Award as the top kicker in the country. During Minter's 10 seasons in C-USA, the Bearcats produced 26 first-team all-league selections.
While at UC, Minter coached the top two offensive passers in school history and improved the program’s graduation rates.
It was at Cincinnati that Minter and Phillips became well-acquainted. In 1997, Phillips coached wide receivers and in 1998 he coached defensive backs for Minter. Minter had several notable coaches on his Bearcat staff, including Phillips; current New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, who served as Cincinnati defensive coordinator; current Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, who was UC’s special-teams coach; current Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who was a defensive backs coach at UC; and Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher, who was an offensive coordinator at UC.
During his first stint at Notre Dame from 1992-93, working under Holtz, Minter earned a national reputation of being one of the top defensive minds in college football. The 1993 Irish defense held nine of its 12 opponents to less than 100 yards rushing en route to an 11-1 season and runner-up finish in the national championship race. Notre Dame finished that season with the nation's fourth-best rushing defense, with three of Minter's defenders earning first-team All-America honors.
The 1992 Notre Dame defense allowed an average of just 91 yards rushing and 277 total yards over the last nine games of the season as the Irish posted a 10-1-1 mark, won the Cotton Bowl and were ranked fourth in the final polls. That season also saw the Notre Dame defense finish ninth nationally in rushing defense, with cornerback Tom Carter earning All-America honors. During his first two seasons at Notre Dame, Minter coached 21 defensive players who went on to play in the NFL.
Prior to joining the Notre Dame staff, Minter served as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at Ball State for seven seasons, annually developing units that were ranked among the national leaders. The 1991 Ball State squad was ranked ninth in the country in scoring defense, 11th in total defense and 16th in passing defense. A year earlier, in 1990, the Cardinals were second in the nation in total defense, third in pass and scoring defense, and 10th in rush defense.
Ball State combined for a 28-15-2 mark over his final four seasons in Muncie, Ind., from 1988-91, including a Mid-American Conference title and California Raisin Bowl appearance in 1989. During Minter's seven seasons, Ball State produced nine All-MAC players on defense, including three-time MAC Defensive Player of the Year (1987-89) Gary Garnica.
Minter also has collegiate coaching experience at New Mexico State, North Carolina State, Louisiana Tech and Arkansas, where he was a graduate assistant under Holtz in 1978.
“I’m ecstatic about coaching at the University of Kentucky and returning to the Southeastern Conference,” Minter said. “It’s a privilege to work with Joker Phillips and I appreciate the opportunity to join the team and work with the existing defensive staff and players.”
Born in Nash, Texas, Minter is a graduate of Texas High School in Texarkana, Texas. He was a three-year starter at defensive end at Henderson State, where he earned both his bachelor's (1977) and master's degrees (1978) in education. Minter is the father of two sons, Josh and Jesse.
WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT RICK MINTER
“Rick Minter is a great football coach. He is a tireless worker who cares and is passionate about football and his players. He is someone that you want to have your son play for. He is tough and demanding, but fair. He loves everything about football, is a great coach and an even better person.” – Rex Ryan, head coach of the New York Jets, who was hired by Minter at Cincinnati
"Rick is one of the brightest defensive minds in all of football, including the pros. He is thorough and detail-oriented in every part of the job, including making sure his players both enjoy the responsibility of playing at a major college and understand the work needed to achieve at a high level. He relates very well to his players and other coaches. He is tough-minded and his defense will reflect that with their smart, physical play." – John Harbaugh, head coach of the Baltimore Ravens, who was hired by Minter at Cincinnati
“Rick is an excellent coach who has competed against the best. He has a good football mind, is a good teacher and a hard worker. He’s also a fun guy to be around. He’s going to have a positive effect on Kentucky.” – ESPN analyst/former coach Lou Holtz, who hired Minter at Arkansas, Notre Dame and South Carolina
THE MINTER FILE
Year School/Team Assignment
1977 Henderson State Graduate Assistant/Linebackers
1978 Arkansas Graduate Assistant/Linebackers/DBs
1979 Louisiana Tech Defensive Ends
1980-82 North Carolina State Outside Linebackers
1984 New Mexico State Linebackers
1985-91 Ball State Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator
1992-93 Notre Dame Defensive Coordinator/Inside Linebackers
1994-2003 Cincinnati Head Coach
2004 South Carolina Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
2005-07 Notre Dame Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
2008-09 Marshall Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
2010 Indiana State Linebackers