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Malzahn lures Bisaccia from NFL

AUBURN - Rich Bisaccia, one of the NFL's top special teams coaches, has joined Auburn's staff as special teams and running backs coach.

Auburn assistant head coach Rich Bisaccia

First-year Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said Bisaccia, who has spent the last 11 seasons in the NFL, will also assume the title of assistant head coach.

“Rich is widely regarded as the one of the top special teams coaches in all of football and has coached several elite running backs, so we’re thrilled to have him join our staff,” Malzahn said. “Rich’s resume speaks for itself. He has been a part of some outstanding teams, including a Super Bowl Champion in Tampa Bay. He has coached several running backs and special teams players that were among the very best in the game at both the collegiate and professional level."

Bisaccia spent the previous two years coaching special teams for the San Diego Chargers after nine years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was promoted to assistant head coach—special teams after the 2011 season.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for me to return to the college game at a program like Auburn,” Bisaccia said. “I have an incredible amount of respect for Auburn and Coach Malzahn. I met Gus in the spring of 2010 and have followed his cutting edge offense and what he’s accomplished as a coach since he started coaching in college. He’s a man of character and I had previously worked with Ellis Johnson and Charlie Harbison, so I knew the type of staff that Gus was putting together. I’m excited and ready to help Auburn return to a championship caliber team.”

Before coaching in the NFL, Bisaccia spent the first 19 years of his career at the collegiate level at Ole Miss (1999-2001), Clemson (1994-98), South Carolina (1988-93) and Wayne State (1983-87).

In his first season at San Diego, kicker Nick Novak, brought in to replace an injured Nate Kaeding, made 27 of 34 field goals and set two team records under Bisaccia’s watch, while Mike Scifres averaged a then-career high 47.5 yards per punt.

The kickoff coverage unit took a leap forward, improving from 26th to 11th in the NFL. The Chargers also improved its punt coverage, allowing opponents 5.7 yards less per return and improving Scifres’ net average by nearly 9 yards. The Chargers also had a team-record 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, executed two successful onside kicks and a fake punt in 2011.

In 2012, Novak connected on 25 of 27 field goals, the only misses coming from beyond 50 yards, while Scifres improved his average to a career-best and team-record 48.3 yards per punt. Michael Spurlock averaged 17.1 yards per punt return and had a punt and kickoff return for touchdowns, while the kickoff coverage unit was third in the NFL in opponents’ average field position.

From 2002-10, Bisaccia coached special teams in Tampa Bay. In his first season, the Buccaneers won Super Bowl XXXVII, under head coach Jon Gruden. Bisaccia added the title of associate head coach for the 2008-10 seasons. Bisaccia also coached running backs in 2008 for Tampa Bay, including former Auburn great Carnell Williams.

Bisaccia’s special teamers in Tampa Bay earned three Pro Bowl selections, 13 NFC Player of the Week awards and four NFC Player of the Month awards. The Buccaneers scored four touchdowns on kickoff returns, four on punt returns, and blocked 10 field goals, five punts and three PATs.

In 2009, the Buccaneers led the NFL with six blocked kicks. They also led the league in kickoff return average and ranked second in opponent kickoff return average.

During his three years at Ole Miss, Bisaccia coached one of the most prolific offensive players in school history in running back Deuce McAllister, who was selected in the first round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints. McAllister finished his Ole Miss career with 18 school records, including most yards gained rushing with 3,060.

Bisaccia coached three All-SEC performers at Ole Miss, with McAllister earning all-conference accolades in 1999 and 2000. McAllister was also selected to the All-SEC team as either an all-purpose player or a punt returner during his final two seasons. In 1999, both McAllister and running back Joe Gunn earned first team All-SEC recognition.

Under Bisaccia's guidance, Ole Miss was strong in special teams play. Place-kicker Les Binkley set a school single-season scoring record for a kicker and garnered All-SEC accolades in 1999. During the 2001 season, Jason Armstead finished second in the SEC and ninth in the nation in kick returns as the Rebels led the conference and were 12th in the nation in kickoff returns.

Bisaccia spent five years as the running backs coach, special teams coordinator and recruiting coordinator at Clemson. During his stint with the Tigers, Bisaccia coached three-time All-Atlantic Coast Conference running back Raymond Priester, who set 18 school rushing records. The Tigers' special teams set a school record for blocked kicks in 1997 and was the only school in the nation to have four players ranked in four special teams categories in 1995.

In 1988, Bisaccia took a graduate assistant position with South Carolina and coached tight ends and receivers. He also served as a volunteer assistant coach for defensive ends. He took over as an assistant coach in 1992 and was responsible for running backs and special teams. Under Bisaccia, the Gamecocks led the SEC in kickoff returns in 1992 and set a school record for blocked kicks. South Carolina also had a pair of All-SEC running backs in Brandon Bennett and Rob DeBoer.

A former defensive back at Yankton College in South Dakota, the native of Yonkers, N.Y. began his coaching career at Wayne State (Neb.) College in 1983. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education degree with a minor in Health Education from Wayne State.

Bisaccia and wife, Jeanne, have three daughters, Michele, Elizabeth and Madeline, and a son, Richie.

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