College Football

NCAA Football: Mora Names Lou Spanos Defensive Coordinator

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STORRS, Conn. – Lou Spanos, who served as UConn’s defensive coordinator from 2019-21 and assumed the role of interim head coach for the final 10 games of the 2021 season, has been named defensive coordinator, as announced by head coach Jim Mora on Wednesday.

Spanos served as Mora’s defensive coordinator at UCLA from 2012-13 and has 27-years of coaching experience in the NFL and college.

“Lou possesses an outstanding football mind, and he was a terrific defensive coordinator on my staff for two years at UCLA,” Mora said.  “The job Lou did for UConn football in 2021 was admirable and it’s clear that he has a passion for this team and a great relationship with our student-athletes.  I’m looking forward to getting back to work with Lou.”

Spanos spent the 2018 season on staff for the Alabama Crimson Tide as an analyst after serving as the linebackers coach for the Tennessee Titans from 2014-18.  During his time with the Titans, Spanos oversaw a linebacker unit that posted the second-highest number of sacks in the NFL over the 2016 and 2017 seasons and a Titan linebacker led the squad in tackles in each of his seasons in Nashville.

During Spanos’ final year on head coach Mike Mularkey’s staff, the Titans posted their second-straight winning season and defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card Round of the 2017 playoffs.

“I’m grateful to Coach Mora for this opportunity and I’m looking forward to getting back to work with our student-athletes and a great group of coaches.” Spanos said.  “UConn is a special place, and my family and I could not be happier.”

Outside linebacker Brian Orakpo earned a spot in the Pro Bowl following the 2016 season and he also earned the honor following the 2010 season during Spanos’ stint as the linebackers coach with the Washington Redskins.  Outside linebacker Derrick Morgan had one of the finest seasons of his career while working with Spanos in 2016 as the nine-year NFL veteran posted a team-high 56 quarterback pressures and career-high 9.0 sacks in 2016. The 9.0 sacks tied him for ninth highest in the AFC.

Prior to his time with the Titans, Spanos was the defensive coordinator on head coach Jim Mora’s staff at UCLA during the 2012 and 2013 seasons.  In 2013, the Bruins allowed 23.2 points per game while UCLA totaled 79 sacks and 58 forced turnovers over Spanos’ two seasons.  Linebacker Eric Kendricks led the Pac-12 Conference and ranked 11th in the nation in tackle average (10.64 per game) in 2013 and his total of 150 tackles was the most by a Bruin since 1978.  Additionally, Myles Jack, who now plays for the Jacksonville Jaguars, was honored as a Freshman All-American and as the Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year following the 2013 season.

The Bruins finished the 2013 season ranked 17th nationally and defeated Virginia Tech, 42-12, in the Sun Bowl on New Year’s Eve.

In 2012, Spanos’ first Bruin defense ranked among the nation’s best in sacks and was headlined by All-America linebacker Anthony Barr (13.5 sacks / 21.5 tackles for loss) and defensive end Datone Jones (6.5 sacks / 19.0 tackles for loss). Jones went on to be selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. The team finished the season eighth in the nation in sacks, while Barr also ranked eighth in the country in sack average and second in total sacks.

The 2012 squad finished 9-5 overall and won the Pac-12 South Division.  The Bruins dropped a 27-24 decision to No. 8 Stanford in the league championship game and competed in the Holiday Bowl.

In the 2010-11 seasons, Spanos served as the linebackers coach of the Washington Redskins. London Fletcher, who played in the 2011 Pro Bowl, led the NFL in tackles with 166 in 2011 and was added to the 2012 Pro Bowl. The previous 15 seasons, Spanos was a defensive assistant with the Steelers. While in Pittsburgh, he worked closely with the linebackers and the secondary.

Spanos was one of only three assistants on staff to be with the team for its Super Bowl XXX (lost to Dallas), Super Bowl XL (win over Seattle) and Super Bowl XLIII (win over Arizona) appearances. During his 15 seasons working with the Steelers, the defense ranked among the top 10 in the NFL 13 times, including four No. 1 rankings.

Pittsburgh managed to win at least 10 games in 10 of those seasons. Spanos coached nine different Steeler linebackers who combined for 19 Pro Bowl appearances – Kevin Greene (2), Greg Lloyd (2), Chad Brown (1), Levon Kirkland (2), Jason Gildon (3), Kendrell Bell (1), Joey Porter (3), James Farrior (2) and James Harrison (3). Additionally, Harrison earned the Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2008, while Bell was the Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2001. Spanos originally joined the Steelers in 1994 as an intern in the scouting department before being promoted to a defensive assistant after one season.

A 1994 graduate of Tulsa, Spanos was a four-year letterman at center. The 1989 and 1991 Golden Hurricane squads played in bowl games. In 1991, Tulsa beat San Diego State in the Freedom Bowl to finish 10-2 on the year and was ranked 21st on the final Associated Press poll. After his playing career ended (1989-92), Spanos remained at Tulsa as a student assistant working with the linebackers.

Spanos and his wife, Timme, have two sons, Zachary and Caleb and one daughter, Gabriella.

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