LEXINGTON, Ky. – Mike Cassity, former University of Kentucky player and coach, has returned to his Bluegrass roots as the defensive backs coach for the Wildcat football team, head coach Joker Phillips has announced.
Cassity has 37 seasons of coaching experience, including 22 as a defensive coordinator at the NCAA Division I level. He already has knowledge of the current Kentucky defensive scheme, having coached with Wildcat defensive coordinator Rick Minter on two occasions. He also is a good fit with the UK staff, having been associated with five of the Wildcat coaches during his career. He has coached more than 30 players who have gone to the National Football League.
“We are happy to have Mike back with the Big Blue Nation,” Phillips said. “Mike’s skills in coaching and recruiting made him a very attractive candidate. He has the ability to teach fundamentals well and have his players play at a high level. He is an outstanding recruiter, especially in Ohio and Florida.”
Cassity began his coaching career at UK as a student coach in 1975 while completing his degree. He was an assistant at Tilghman High School in Paducah, Ky., from 1976-78 before returning to UK. He was a part-time assistant coach in 1979, working with the defensive backs, and was a full-time assistant as the DBs coach in 1980-81.
From there, the trail wound through Morehead State (1982), Western Kentucky (1983-88), Northeast Louisiana (1989), East Carolina (1990-91), Georgia Tech (1992-93), Cincinnati (1994), Wisconsin (1995-96), Baylor (1997-98), Oklahoma State (1999-2000), Illinois (2001-03), Louisville (2004-07) and Marshall (2009-11).
Cassity was the defensive coordinator during his term at Louisville. Inheriting a unit that was 93rd in the nation in total defense and 72nd in scoring defense in 2003, the team improved to 15th in total defense and 24th in scoring defense in Cassity’s first season in 2004. His teams finished in the top 40 nationally in total defense from 2004-06.
Cassity helped the Cardinals win the 2004 Conference USA championship and the 2006 Big East title and advance to three bowl games, highlighted by a victory in the 2007 Orange Bowl. In the Orange Bowl campaign, Louisville finished second in the nation in quarterback sacks and 17th nationally in scoring defense.
Cassity was named the 2007 Big East Recruiter of the Year by SI.com/Rivals.com and was chosen one of the nation’s top-25 recruiters by Rivals.com in 2005.
Cassity also was defensive coordinator at Illinois, the 2001 Big Ten champion and participant in the 2002 Sugar Bowl, and at Baylor, Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, East Carolina, Northeast Louisiana and Western Kentucky.
During the 1991 season at East Carolina, the Pirates posted an 11-1 record, capped by a victory in the Peach Bowl. The ECU coaches were selected as the National Coaching Staff of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association.
Cassity returns to UK from Marshall University, where he coached the defensive backs in the 2009-11 seasons. He helped Marshall win a pair of bowl games following the ’09 and ’11 seasons.
All totaled, 10 of Cassity’s collegiate teams have advanced to postseason play. His teams have a 6-2 record in bowl games and he also participated in the Division I-AA playoffs in 1987 and 1988 at WKU.
“Being a homegrown Kentucky coach, and having experience playing and coaching at UK, it is an honor to come home and be a part of Coach Phillips’ staff,” Cassity said.
Cassity has been directly associated with five coaches on the UK staff, including Phillips, who was a freshman on the ’81 Wildcat squad when Cassity was an assistant coach.
“Even as a freshman, it was apparent that he is a tremendous competitor and how very personable he is,” Cassity said of Phillips. “Those traits have continued throughout his career.”
Cassity’s ties with other UK staff members include:
• Rick Minter: Cassity was defensive coordinator when Minter was head coach at Cincinnati in 1994; coached with Minter at Marshall in 2009
• Greg Nord: Nord was a UK player in 1974-75 when Cassity was a player (’74) and student coach (’75); they coached together at UK in 1979-81, at East Carolina in 1990-91, at Georgia Tech in 1992-93 and at Louisville from 2004-07
• Chuck Smith: a UK player in 1979-80 when Cassity was a coach
• Mike Summers: coached together at UK in 1980-81, Oklahoma State in 2000, and Louisville from 2004-06
A native of Ft. Campbell, Ky., Cassity is a graduate of Ft. Campbell High School. He was a two-sport athlete at Kentucky in football and wrestling. In football, he played from 1971-74, starting his final two seasons at safety. He received the Kiwanis Club 110 Percenter Award for his effort and dedication. On the mat, he placed third at the 1974 Southeastern Conference meet at 190 pounds. He completed his degree in physical education in 1976.