Ron Prince to coach Lions' tight ends

The Detroit Lions have made another hire, and this one was both anticipated and still unexpected.


Well, the team is bringing Ron Prince, the former Kansas State head coach, in as the team’s assistant head coach. That is the expected part, as John Wooten from the Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation said Prince would likely be part of the staff from the outset.

Here’s the unexpected part: Prince also will coach the tight ends. And that’s the intrigue with this hire. Prince has never been a tight ends coach in his life. He’s coached offensive line for years. He’s been an offensive coordinator at Virginia from 2003-06 -- including Matt Schaub’s senior season -- and was the Rutgers offensive coordinator last season.

His only NFL experience is as an assistant offensive line coach for two seasons under new head coach Jim Caldwell in 2010 and 2011 and then with Jacksonville in 2012.

Prince played his college ball as an offensive tackle at Dodge City Community College in 1988 and 1989 and then for two seasons at Appalachian State.

The 44-year-old then worked his way up the difficult way. He had stints as an offensive line coach at Alabama A&M, South Carolina State, James Madison and Cornell before landing as Virginia’s offensive line coach under Al Groh in 2001.

Two seasons later, he was the offensive coordinator and then eventually the head coach at Kansas State from 2006-08, where he went 17-20 and was the middleman between Bill Snyder eras at the school.

When Prince was fired by Kansas State, he ended up in a lawsuit with the school over his termination fee and whether or not there was a secret agreement between him and the school. The case, which was eventually settled for $1.65 million in May 2011, was written about by the National Sports Law Institute at Marquette. As part of the settlement, Prince was cleared of any wrongdoing in the case.

The other interesting football part about this hire is that Prince has been an offensive line coach for so long. Perhaps -- and this might be reading too much into it -- Caldwell saw the blocking struggles of the team’s current tight ends (specifically Joseph Fauria) and figured this might be the best way to turn him into a complete tight end.

Or, I’m reading way too much into that.

Coaching Staff to this point:

Head coach -- Jim Caldwell

Asssistant head coach -- Ron Prince

Offensive coordinator -- TBD

Defensive coordinator -- Teryl Austin

Quarterbacks -- TBD

Running backs -- Curtis Modkins

Wide receivers -- TBD

Tight ends -- Ron Prince

Offensive line -- Jeremiah Washburn (asst. Bobby Johnson)

TBD -- Terry Heffernan

Defensive line -- Kris Kocurek (asst. Jim Washburn)

Linebackers -- Bill Sheridan

Secondary -- TBD

Special teams -- John Bonamego (asst. Evan Rothstein)