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Disch turns down USF to remain with Illini

2/25/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Illinois co-defensive coordinator Dan Disch won't be leaving after all. 

Disch turned down an offer today to become South Florida's defensive coordinator and will remain with the Fighting Illini and head coach Ron Zook, who he has worked for coached since 2004.

"I'm very happy that coach Disch has decided to stay here," Zook said in a prepared statement. "He's been with us from the beginning and has been a huge part of the success we've been able to build here. This was a good opportunity for him, but he felt loyal to this university, this program and the players."

Team spokesperson Cassie Arner told the Chicago Sun-Times, "When somebody offers you a coordinator position, you have to listen. But this shows how loyal Dan is to the program."

Disch's decision comes as a bit of a surprise for three reasons.

  • South Florida would have made him the sole defensive coordinator, a title he currently shares with Curt Mallory at Illinois.

  • Zook heavily pursued Penn State defensive line coach Larry Johnson for Illinois' defensive coordinator vacancy last month, indicating a possible demotion for Disch.  

  • Disch is a Jacksonville, Fla., native and a Florida State alum who was a successful high school coach in the state for 22 seasons before joining Zook at Florida in 2004.

Despite these factors, Disch decided to stay with Illinois and continue to recruit the state of Florida alongside Zook. He will once again oversee a defense that loses standouts in Vontae Davis and Brit Miller but returns several talented young players like Martez Wilson and Cory Liuget.