Slippery Rock names Lutz head football coach


Dec 18, 2015

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University President Cheryl Norton and athletic director Paul Lueken announced Dec. 18 that longtime SRU defensive coordinator Shawn Lutz has been named the head coach of the storied Slippery Rock football program.

Lutz has already begun leading the coaching staff into the recruiting season and will officially take over as head coach of the program on Jan. 16, one day after the retirement of former head coach George Mihalik becomes official.

"We're very pleased to announce that Shawn has accepted the head coaching position," said Lueken. "He has been a loyal and dedicated member of the Slippery Rock coaching staff for nearly 20 years and understands the culture and tradition of the program. His hire, along with retaining our entire 2015 staff, should show perspective student-athletes that we are committed to continuing The Rock football culture that has made our program one of the best in the nation."

Lutz has served as the associate head coach at Slippery Rock for the past four seasons and has been the defensive coordinator for the last eight seasons. All told, he has been a member of The Rock coaching staff for 20 seasons dating back to 1996 when he joined the staff as a graduate assistant.

"I want to thank President Cheryl Norton, athletic director Paul Lueken and the administration for putting their trust in me to lead this outstanding program," said Lutz. "I also want to thank George Mihalik for everything he did over the last 28 years as head coach to build this program the right way. I especially want to thank the Mihalik family for their friendship over the last 20 years. I also need to thank my wife Julie and our three sons, Logan, Gavin and Easton, for their constant support.

"We will continue to reach towards the same goals for the program, where our student-athletes' top priority will be to earn a Slippery Rock degree while playing championship caliber football. Our seniors that graduate this year will walk across the stage with a degree in one hand and three championship rings on the other. That will still be our message to all Rock football players, that we want you to earn your degree and help us win championships while you're here.

"I am honored to be named the head coach at our great University. Our staff is already out recruiting the next class to join The Rock football family."

Lutz has been an integral part of Slippery Rock climbing to the top of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference in recent years, as he has guided the defense of the three-time defending PSAC Western Division champions. The Rock have won four of the last five PSAC West titles, have claimed back-to-back overall PSAC titles and have made three straight trips to the NCAA Division II playoffs, including a trip to the quarterfinals this fall. Slippery Rock is one of only six programs in Division II to appear in the last three playoff tournaments.

Slippery Rock's defense has annually ranked among the best in the PSAC under Lutz and that was true again in 2015. The Rock defense shattered multiple school records on the way to the NCAA quarterfinals, including putting up the best rushing numbers in program history. The Rock defense, led by the defensive line (also coached by Lutz), allowed just 2.2 rushing yards per carry and 71.7 rushing yards per game on the season. Those numbers gave Slippery Rock the second best rushing defense in the country. The Rock also led the nation in takeaways with 47, finished first in the nation in fumble recoveries with 23 and finished third in the country in interceptions with 24.

In addition to those numbers, The Rock defense led the country in scoring with eight touchdowns, ranked sixth in tackles for loss with an average of 9.4 per game and ranked seventh in sacks with an average of 3.43 sacks per game. Slippery Rock also shattered program records for most passes defended (112), fumbles recovered (23), fumbles forced (19), tackles for loss (132) and interceptions returned for touchdowns (4).

Lutz has coached one of the best starts to any individual career in NCAA history in redshirt sophomore defensive end Marcus Martin from West Mifflin, who has recorded 31.5 sacks in just two years and is the only active player at any level of NCAA football to average more than one sack per game. Martin, who averages an incredible 1.21 sacks per game, was named the PSAC West and Super Region One Defensive Player of the Year in 2015. He is on a pace that could see him shatter the all-time NCAA sack record.

The success of the defense in 2015 was no surprise after what the 2014 unit was able to accomplish. Despite losing eight starters after the 2013 season, including all the linemen and linebackers, The Rock's defense helped lead the way to a PSAC Championship and a NCAA Tournament berth in 2014. SRU's defense ranked eighth in the nation in rushing yards per game allowed (92.3), 20th in passes intercepted (16) and 22nd in third down conversion defense (31.8 percent).

The 2013 Rock defense ranked fourth nationally among NCAA Division II teams in pass defense efficiency (97.46), fifth in third-down conversion (.265) and 25th in rushing defense (121.8 yards per game). SRU ranked second among the PSAC teams in rushing defense. Those efforts resulted in seven Rock defenders earning All-PSAC Western Division honors, five garnering All-Region honors and senior linebacker Quindell Dean, now an assistant coach on Lutz' staff, being named to All-America honors.

In 2012, The Rock ranked 10th nationally in third-down conversion and 25th in pass defense efficiency. SRU was third in the PSAC in interceptions (16) and fifth in rushing defense (138.7 yards per game).

The 2011 Rock defense led the PSAC in both total defense (261.2 yards per game) and rush defense (80 yards per game), tied for second in interceptions with 20 and ranked third in scoring defense (16.5 points per game). Behind the efforts of all-star performers Brandon Watters, Jake Wickline and Zach Sheridan, The Rock defense ranked third nationally in rushing defense, fourth in total defense, sixth in scoring defense and ninth in pass efficiency defense (98.23).

In 2010, The Rock's defense ranked second in the PSAC and 17th nationally in pass defense. Lutz's defense also produced two All-Region selections, (Sheridan and Robert Doiley) and two All-PSAC choices (Doiley and Andre Freeman).

Lutz served 10 seasons as defensive line coach and seven seasons as recruiting coordinator before assuming the reigns of the defense in 2006. He added the title of associate head coach in 2012 as Slippery Rock began a long-term plan to transition him into the head coaching role.

Under Lutz's leadership, The Rock defensive line has carved out an impressive niche. He has coached nine linemen that earned All-America citations and 24 All-PSAC honorees. Lutz-coached defensive linemen have led the PSAC in quarterback sacks five of the last eight seasons and currently hold or share eight school records.

Lutz tutored the tight ends and tackles in 1998 and served as graduate assistant in 1996 and 1997, working with the offensive linemen.

As a player, Lutz was a three-year letterman as a tight end at West Virginia University. He was a member of two bowl teams. One of those teams finished the regular season unbeaten, won the Big East Conference championship, played in the Sugar Bowl and had a No. 6 final national ranking.

Lutz received his bachelor's degree in secondary education/social studies from WVU in 1996 and received his master's degree in sport management from SRU in 2003.

A native of Massillon, Ohio, Lutz and his wife, Julie, are the parents of three sons, Logan, Gavin and Easton. The Lutz's reside in Grove City.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jon Holtz | 724.738.4925 |