by Chuck Pool (firstname.lastname@example.org) -
Rice head football coach Mike Bloomgren officially announced the hiring of former North Carolina Central University head coach Jerry Mack to join his first staff as offensive coordinator and former Michigan defensive backs coach Brian Smith to serve as defensive coordinator for the Owls.
In four seasons at NCCU, Mack led the Eagles to at least a share of three consecutive MEAC championships and a berth in the 2016 Celebration Bowl, which pits the champions of the MEAC and SWAC each December. He compiled 31-15 record in four seasons as one of the youngest head coaches at the FBS/FCS level. He was named the 2016 HBCU Football Coach of the Year by Black College Sports Page and The Pigskin Club in Washington, D.C. after NCCU smashed its school record for offense on its way to the Celebration Bowl.
Mack came to NCCU after three years of coaching wide receivers at South Alabama (2012-13) and Memphis (2011). As the offensive coordinator at Arkansas Pine Bluff in 2010, he engineered an offensive turnaround that saw the Golden Lions improve from 101st to 30th nationally in total offense, shattering 10 school records in the process. He served as the passing game coordinator at Central Arkansas for two seasons (2008-09), helping lead the Bears to their first Southland Conference title in 2008 with an offensive attack that finished 10th in the FCS.
During his stints at Pine Bluff and Central Arkansas, Mack also took part in the NFL's coaching development internship program, working with the Buffalo Bills (2008) and New York Jets (2009-10)
Mack started his coaching career as an offensive graduate assistant at Delta State University in 2004-05 while also earning his master's degree in physical education. Before moving to Central Arkansas, he coached wide receivers and tight ends coach at Jackson State for two years (2006-07).
Mack began his collegiate playing career at Jackson State before transferring after one season (1999) to Arkansas State University. He lettered three years at Arkansas State (2001-03) before earning his bachelor's degree in management information systems in 2003.
Smith has coached Michigan's corners for the past two seasons, coming to Ann Arbor after one year as the assistant linebacker coach for the Philadelphia Eagles.
In his first year with Wolverines, Smith coached Delano Hill and Dymonte Thomas to career-best seasons which culminated in All-Big Ten honors for both players
Despite losing 10 starters from the nation's top defense, the Wolverines concluded the regular season ranked third nationally in total defense, while the Wolverine defensive backs led the country in pass defense, surrendering just 142.7 yards per game.
In 2016, the Michigan secondary was part of an elite defensive unit which led or ranked second in the NCAA in seven defensive categories, including pass defense, pass efficiency defense, first and third down conversions allowed and scoring defense. Michigan's defensive backs defended 68 passes, with 13 interception, three which were returned for touchdowns.
Prior to joining the Eagles in 2015, Smith spent eight seasons with the New York Jets (2007-14). He worked with the defensive secondary for the Jets during the 2013-14 seasons, mentoring first-round pick Dee Milliner, who earned NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month honors in December. Smith started his tenure with the Jets as a quality control/offensive coach in 2007 and held various coaching positions with the franchise.
Smith began his coaching career at his alma mater, the University of Massachusetts, coaching the outside linebackers in 2004 and switched over to the offensive side of the ball in 2005, mentoring the wide receivers including future New York Giants All-Pro and Pro Bowl receiver Victor Cruz.
Smith was a four-year letterman and three-year starter in the secondary for the Minutemen and was a member of the program's 1998 NCAA Division I-AA national championship team. Smith registered 306 stops, 23 tackles for loss, 23 pass breakups and eight interceptions during his career. He earned All-Atlantic 10, All-New England and All-ECAC honors as a senior in 2000.
Smith graduated with a bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Massachusetts in 2001. A native of Wilmington, Delaware, Smith was a three-time Atlantic 10 and CoSIDA Academic All-District selection and was twice named to the Division I-AA Athletic Directors Academic All-Star team