Defiance announced on Wednesday that it had hired Brian Sheehan as the 31st head coach in the history of its football program. The hire ended a national search that landed the Yellow Jackets an architect of one of the top-rated offenses in the region over the past four seasons.
"I am thrilled that Coach Sheehan will be leading our football program," said DC president Mark Gordon. "Brian brings significant experience and knowledge, much enthusiasm and dedication, and a commitment to creating a truly superb Defiance football program that will spur our student-athletes to excel in the classroom, on the football field and in life."
Sheehan comes to Defiance after spending the past five seasons as the offensive coordinator at Thomas More, where he helped lead the Saints to President's Athletic Conference championships and a spot in the NCAA Division III playoffs in each of the past four years.
"When we began the national search in November for our new head football coach, we were seeking someone who would bring both discipline and vision to the football program," stated Defiance College athletic director Jenni Morrison. "We were looking for a coach who would mentor these young men, help them grow on and off the field and prepare them for life after college. I believe that Brian will do all of that and more."
Morrison went on to express excitement for the level of success that Sheehan has experienced by adding, "Brian comes to Defiance from a strong football program at Thomas More. I have the expectation that he will carry his successes with him to DC and continue his winning ways with the Purple and Gold."
Sheehan's high-scoring option offenses at Thomas More helped the Saints set four single-season team offensive records during the 2009 and 2010 campaigns, while storming through each regular season with an unblemished record. The Saints scored 33.8 points per game in 2011, behind 199.7 rushing yards per outing and averaged 32.7 points per game over Sheehan's final three seasons with the team.
During that time, Sheehan helped Thomas More to a 31-4 overall record that included a 19-1 league mark and a pair of NCAA Division III playoff victories. In all, Sheehan helped the Saints to a 43-13 record over five seasons, four of the program's six NCAA playoff bids, four PAC crowns and three straight final regular season rankings inside the top 20 in the nation.
Sheehan's contributions to the TMC program went far beyond running the offense, as he created the Thomas More Leadership Workshop to promote team unity and individual development within the Saints' football program, led an overhaul of the recruiting and communication database and coordinated the program's Relay for Life team for the American Cancer Society.
Despite the success with his position at Thomas More, Sheehan saw the head coaching opportunity at Defiance College as one that could not be passed up. "With the recent addition of four new sports, plus the nearing completion of the multi-million dollar George M. Smart Athletic Center, this is certainly an exciting time for Defiance College athletics," said Sheehan. "I am grateful to President Gordon and Athletic Director Morrison for the opportunity to become a part of it."
Prior to Sheehan's arrival at DC, assistant coach and defensive coordinator, Nate Jensen, served as the interim head coach for the final five games of 2011, leading the Yellow Jackets to a 3-2 clip during that span.
Gordon expressed his gratitude to Jensen for his efforts saying, "I want to thank Nate Jensen for the excellent job that he did stepping in as the interim head coach during the middle of the season."
The transition to the Sheehan era is expected to be a smooth one for the Purple and Gold, as a powerful rushing attack has long been a staple of success on the gridiron at Defiance College. The Jackets have averaged over 190 rushing yards per game twice in the past five seasons, rolling up nearly 165 yards per contest on the ground over the past four years.
Along with looking to further enhance an offense that is already geared for his style of attack, Sheehan will inherit a defensive unit set to return nine starters as he looks to move forward with a program that has finished among the top three teams in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference in five of the past seven years.
Morrison views Sheehan as a natural fit as the head coach to elevate the DC football program. "Brian really impressed us with the research that he had done on the college, the staff and the program here at Defiance. He is a very intelligent man and I have no doubt that he will bring our football program to a higher level."
Prior to his five-year stint guiding the offense from the sidelines at Thomas More, Sheehan served on staff at Hobart College as the wide receivers and strength coach. During his two years at Hobart, Sheehan implemented a new year-round strength and conditioning program and saw the Statesmen post a 17-4 record en route to a pair of trips to the NCAA Playoffs.
Sheehan also served on staff at Heidelberg from 2003-2005, where he started his coaching career as the offensive coordinator for the junior varsity program and completed a master's degree in education.
The Cleveland native earned undergraduate degrees in psychology and business management in 2003 from Marietta, while serving as a three-year starter at the tight end position with the Pioneers. Sheehan started on offense and defense and was a team captain for the squad during his senior season.
Along with his experiences on the football field, Sheehan has contributed to X&O Labs Coaching Research and Manual of Football Drills and Skills, which were published in 2011 and has lectured at multiple football coaching clinics in the past several years.
Sheehan will begin his post as head coach on Jan. 2 and plans to waste no time implementing his system at Defiance College both on and off the field. "Our vision for the DC football program is to create a positive and encouraging environment, where each man can build a balanced life of excellence and have the opportunity to become a champion. We will get started immediately."