Rich Ellerson, who led Cal Poly to the Football Championship Subdivision football playoffs this season and is considered one of the top coaches in the country at running the triple-option offense, has been picked to rebuild the Army football program.
Ellerson, 60-41 in his career as a head coach and 56-34 at Cal Poly, takes over for Stan Brock, who was fired on Dec. 12, days after the Black Knights lost to Navy 34-0.
"I will never receive, nor have I ever received a finer compliment professionally or personally than to be entrusted with the Army football program at this point in its history," Ellerson said.
Army went 3-9 in 2008 for the third straight season. Brock was 6-18 in two seasons as head coach.
"One of our primary goals of the search was to find someone capable of turning around our program immediately and we are confident Rich is the perfect individual to accomplish that," Army athletic director Kevin Anderson said in a school-issued news release.
Ellerson's offensive philosophy of running the triple option is appealing to Army, which uses the option as a base offense. He also has family ties to West Point.
"I know that the offense that we run was the hook that got me into the middle of this search," Ellerson said in a school-issued news release. "The reason the offense is so successful and the reason it's so appropriate at Army is that it carries over to every phase of the game and carries over into recruiting. We're going to find some novel solutions to problems in order to give our cadet-athletes the best possible opportunity to be successful on Saturday."
Under Ellerson, Cal Poly finished first in the FCS in total offense (487.45) and scoring offense
(44.36 points per game). He will be formally introduced on Dec. 30.
"Rich has the experience we need," said Army superintendent Lt. Gen. Franklin L. Hagenbeck in a news release. "An award and title winning head coach who runs the option, Rich also has extensive ties to West Point and the Army. Not only are his father and two brothers members of the Long Gray Line and career Army officers, but his brother John was the captain of the 1962 team that went 6-4."
Ellerson, who turns 55 on Jan. 1, has also been defensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Arizona and head coach at Southern Utah during his career.
He worked with former Army coach Jim Young at Arizona, where Ellerson was an assistant. Young, who ran a successful option attack at Army, had retired from the Black Knights after the 1990 season and assumed a volunteer role on the Arizona coaching staff.
Ellerson also assisted Army coach Bob Sutton when he installed his "Desert Swarm" defense at West Point, which helped carry the Black Knights to a 10-2 record and a berth in the Independence Bowl in 1996.
Cal Poly made it to the FCS playoffs twice under Ellerson and was ranked as high as No. 3 this season.
He As a college player, he was a center and linebacker at Hawaii in the 1970s.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.