Jan. 27, 2014
By Steve Lewis
The new recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach for UConn has coached in the college football, the National Football League, the Arena Football League and the United Football League. He has also been a coach on two Rose Bowl-winning staff and mentored defensive wrecking-machine Elvis Dumervil.
Obviously, Wolthausen brings with him a lifetime of football experience in various locations and leagues. Throughout his wildly impressive coaching career, Wolthausen has coached in 21 postseasons during his 34-year career. Most notably, his six seasons in USC from 1987 to 1992 as the defensive line coach resulted in three-consecutive Rose Bowl appearances, two of which were victories over Michigan State and Michigan.
When talking about what he takes away from those several BCS Bowl Games, Wolthausen believed it to be a good indicator of coaching techniques that work -- though it isn’t a full-proof system.
“I think what it does for you is that it gives you a blueprint, not identically you’ve got to do things exactly like this, but a blueprint as to what works,” said Wolthausen. “I’ve been fortunate to be around good people and good players, a lot of them different -- but you take what you can and you do what’s best for all of them.”
Wolthausen joins the Husky staff after spending 2013 at Florida International as the special teams coach and 2012 at Purdue working on the defensive line. Before his one-year stays at those two schools, he coached the defensive line for the Las Vegas Locomotives in the UFL for three seasons, helping the team to win the first two UFL championships.
The new recruiting coordinator spent his first and only season in the NFL in 2007 as the defensive line coach for Atlanta Falcons before moving back into the college game. Prior to his NFL work, Wolthausen had various defensive coaching jobs at Louisville for four seasons, which allowed him the opportunity to coach and mentor Dumervil, who now plays for the Baltimore Ravens. With Wolthausen’s coaching, Dumervil was a unanimous All-American in 2005, as well as winning a serious amount of hardware with the Bronco Nagurski Trophy, the Ted Hendricks Award and Big East Player of the Year.
After seeing the success Dumervil has had in the pros, it seems that Wolthausen has the ability to make good players into great players, but the coach proceeds with caution.
“You can’t do a lot of those things without the right type of player. You got to have the right mindset, the right feeling, the right fire, and I think they have that here at UConn,” said the long-time coach. “I’m a fundamental guy and have certain ways of doing things. It’s about teaching, that’s what we do. There’s nothing magical here, it’s not like I’ve got this drill that will make you a great player. It’s just about consistency and doing things the right way over a period of time."
His opportunity at UConn, however, is largely due to the one season he spent at Eastern Michigan in 2002 before going to Louisville. Wolthausen met Diaco that year, which would open up the opportunity for him to come to UConn 12 years later. Though the duo only spent one season together, Wolthausen and Diaco clicked from the start.
“I think there’s always that situation when you meet somebody and there’s immediate attraction. When your thoughts are kind of the same, ideas are the same, you may be from different generations but you still end up saying, ‘yeah, I was thinking the same thing’,” said Wolthausen about his relationship with Diaco.
Wolthausen’s coaching career started in 1980, and for the 22 years before coaching at Eastern Michigan, the new Husky recruiting coordinator bounced around from Arizona, USC, Oklahoma, and Arizona State, which allowed him to coach in another Rose Bowl game as a Sun Devil.
He even coached in the AFL for one year on the Arizona Rattlers’ staff. He’s been everywhere. The former Rose-Bowl winning coach will enter his first season as a recruiting coordinator, but his experience with recruiting is vast and he already has a plan in place for UConn football.
“Every member of the staff is going to have a section of the state and we’re going to do a great job in Connecticut. Everyone is going to have what we call a ‘home base’, this is my area and I’ll know everything about it,” said Wolthausen. “There are different factors to be measured as to where you should go, but we’ll be well-rounded and they’ll all be good players.”
UConn was a good fit for Wolthausen due not only to the many relatives he has in Massachusetts or the fact that his brother was born in Bolton, Conn., but also the football set-up at UConn and his co-workers.
“The bottom line is, look around, we’ve got a great set-up here. It was the people though, from the head coach, which is why I’m here. This place has the chance to be one of those places you’d like to be at for a long time,” said Wolthausen.
Wolthausen has a wife, Michel, a son, Noah, and a daughter, Quinnlin, all of whom the coach loves spending time with when he has the chance. However, the hardest question to answer for Wolthausen was about what he does in his leisure time.
“People have asked me that in the past, it’s really embarrassing, but I don’t really have any hobbies. When we’re settled, I don’t mind working in the yard, but I don’t golf, I don’t fish, I try to work out a little but that’s it.”