Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley moved two steps closer to completing his football staff Saturday with the additions of assistant coach Harry Hiestand and football head strength coach Bennie Wylie.
Hiestand (pronounced HE-stand) comes to the Vols after five seasons as offensive line coach with the Chicago Bears, where he helped the NFL franchise to its first Super Bowl appearance in 21 years. Before that, Hiestand coached 17 seasons at four different major college schools, the longest tenure being eight seasons as offensive line coach and assistant head coach at Illinois.
“It’s an exciting opportunity,” Hiestand said. “Being around campus and being around Coach Dooley and the staff that’s there, you can tell it’s a place committed to doing the right thing, winning football games and having quality people. I’m excited to be a part of what Coach Dooley’s putting together there.”
The 51-year-old has been coaching offensive linemen and tight ends since 1982, when he began as a student assistant at his alma mater of East Stroudsburg University. In Chicago, Hiestand molded units that were known for their durability and their prowess at protecting the quarterback. The NFC-champion Bears of 2006 attempted 539 passes while allowing just 25 sacks, and the 2008 squad attempted 557 passes and absorbed just 29 sacks.
During his Illinois days, Hiestand coached 12 All-Big Ten Conference selections on the offensive line. Every starting offensive lineman in Hiestand’s first seven years with the Illini signed an NFL contract. He served as Ron Turner’s assistant head coach from 2000-04.
Hiestand joined Illinois in 1997 after spending three seasons at Missouri. Prior to his stint as offensive line coach with the Tigers, he coached the same position at Cincinnati for five seasons (1989-93) and also was run-game coordinator in 1992 and offensive coordinator in 1993. Hiestand coached tight ends and assisted with the offensive line at Toledo in 1988, was a graduate assistant at Southern California in 1987, and tight ends and assistant offensive line coach at Pennsylvania in 1986.
He became a full-time assistant coach at East Stroudsburg in 1983, staying four years at the Division II school. That was after injuries ended his playing days, which had begun at Springfield College in Massachusetts before he transferred. Hiestand earned his bachelor’s degree in health and physical education from East Stroudsburg in 1983.
“I’ve been fortunate to be around quality people in my coaching career,” Hiestand said. “I’m hoping some of the things I’ve been able to experience first as a college coach and then in the NFL have made me a better coach.
“But most importantly, I always want to be around quality people. I’ve been lucky in my career to do that, and I am very impressed with Coach Dooley and the direction he’s going to take this program and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
The Malvern, Pa., native and his wife, Terri, have three sons, Michael (20), Matthew (18) and Mark (9), and one daughter, Sarah (7).
Wylie, 33, takes over at UT as football head strength coach after five seasons at Texas Tech, where for the last three years he was the athletics department’s head strength and conditioning coach.
“It’s just a great opportunity to be here with Coach Dooley and be on the front end of this movement,” Wylie said. “I’m ready to get this program back on top of the SEC and I’m just really excited about the kids we have here. We have great talent, and I’m just really excited to work with those guys just as soon as I get here.”
The Mexia, Texas, native established himself as one of the top strength coaches in the country during his Lubbock tenure. Wylie’s five seasons helped the Red Raiders produce a 46-18 overall record in football that was third-best in the Big 12 Conference.
Included was perhaps the most memorable season in Tech history, the 11-2 campaign of 2008. His training methods and dedication to the student-athlete garnered national attention not only for the school and the program, but for himself.
Prior to his appointment at Texas Tech, Wylie was an assistant strength and conditioning coach with the Dallas Cowboys for four seasons, helping implement rehabilitation for injured players. In addition to working with the Cowboys, Wylie also spent the 2002 spring season heading the strength and conditioning program for the Dallas Desperados arena football team, a property of the Dallas Cowboys.
Wylie and his wife, Jennifer, are the parents of twin boys, Braden and Caden, age 3.