Months after coming to an agreement to simply walk away from Texas Tech, for whatever reason, Matt Wallerstedt is getting back in the game. The former Texas Tech defensive coordinator will be named the new defensive coordinator for the Charlotte 49ers, a program entering just its third season of football in 2015 and preparing to move up to the FBS and join Conference USA.
Sports Illustrated was the first to report the news of Charlotte hiring Wallerstedt, which reunites Wallerstedt with his former roommate at Kansas State, Brad Lambert. Lambert is the head coach of the 49ers. The Charlotte Observer notes Wallerstedt will replace Bruce Tall. Tall’s defense allowed 31.6 points per game and 479.3 yards per game in 2014, although the program did start from scratch so the numbers should not be expected to be too glowing.
Wallerstedt was removed from his post in Lubbock in September, and a verbal back-and-forth between he and some coaches continued into November before the former assistant coach and school agreed to move on from the ugliness. Wallerstedt picked up a gig with Louisiana-Lafayette and ended the year as a linebackers coach for the Ragin’ Cajuns. Now he is getting a chance to show what he can do as a defensive coordinator once more, and he should be given plenty of time to work with Charlotte being such a new program.
Charlotte joins Conference USA in 2015 after playing two seasons at the FCS level.
They are calling it a natural rivalry, even though the two programs have yet to play a single game. Appalachian State and Charlotte will play two games in 2018 and 2019 in a home-and-home agreement announced Monday. Charlotte will play host in 2018 and Appalachian State will host the game in 2019.
“It’s a game that should be played,” Charlotte head coach Brad Lambert said in a statement Monday, according to The Charlotte Observer. “We’re excited about the opportunity to play a great program from right here in our region. This will be fun for our fans and I’m sure they will be excited as well.”
“The proximity of our campuses, the similarity of our schools and the familiarity our student-athletes have with each other from the high school level make it a natural rivalry,” said Appalachian State coach Scott Satterfield.
The two campuses are just about two hours apart, but both programs are moving up in the world of college football the next couple of years. Appalachian State will leave the FCS to compete at the FBS level starting this fall. The Mountaineers will join the Sun Belt Conference. Charlotte is on a fast track to FBS competition after completing the first football season in program history just last fall. The 49ers will move up to the FBS level in 2015 and join Conference USA.
With a handful of regional college rivalries becoming a thing of the past thanks to realignment (Oklahoma-Nebraska, West Virginia-Pittsburgh, BYU-Utah etc.) it is good to see new rivalries develop. It may take some time before Charlotte-Appalachian State rivals the intensity fo a Duke-UNC match-up in the state, but here’s hoping this series can extend beyond the initial two-game set in place now.
Helmet sticker to Charlotte Observer.