Wittenberg stayed in house and named linebackers coach Sean Ross the new defensive coordinator, head coach Joe Fincham announced Tuesday.
“I’m very excited,” Ross said. “It’s a great opportunity. I’m fortunate to be at a great school with a great program and working for a great coach.”
Ross, 31, joined the program in 2007 and led a group of linebackers that became the league’s best. In 2009, all three of Wittenberg’s starting linebackers — Brad McKinley, Kyle Lohrman and Zach Hurtt — made the All-North Coast Athletic Conference first team, and the Tigers led the nation in defense.
“He’s been in the program, and he understands our schemes,” Fincham said. “He understands our school in terms of recruiting. It was not a hard decision to make. We’ve been fortunate in that with the exception of maybe one time in 17 years, we’ve been able to promote from within at that position.”
Ross, a native of Bentleyville, Pa., was a four-year letterwinner, two-year all-conference selection and three-year starting linebacker at Waynesburg College (Pa.). He was named team defensive MVP as a senior in 2003.
Ross started his coaching career at Waynesburg in 2004 and then spent two seasons as a coach at Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pa.
“Sean is a good leader,” Fincham said. “His guys play hard for him. They respect his work ethic. Everyone has their own style. I don’t think from a schematic standpoint you’ll see dramatic differences in us defensively, but I’m sure Sean’s style and personality will come through in how we play.”
Ross replaces Andy Waddle, who was hired as the head coach at Marietta College in December after seven seasons as Wittenberg’s defensive coordinator.
“I think I’ve grown a lot in my six years on the field and off,” Ross said. “Each year, I’ve gotten better as a coach. I’ve really prepared myself the last couple seasons, and I’m ready to take on this role. I learned a lot from Andy. He’s a great guy to work with, and I wish him the best of luck at Marietta.”
Wittenberg also added Jake Bowman to the staff as secondary coach. Bowman played linebacker for the Tigers from 2003-06 and coached the tight ends for a season after he graduated. He spent two seasons at North Carolina Wesleyan as a wide receivers coach and spent the last three seasons at Randolph Macon coaching the secondary.