Jan. 5, 2012
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss football coach Ellis Johnson announced Thursday the first part of his football staff with the hiring of assistant head coach and running backs coach Steve Buckley, offensive coordinator Rickey Bustle and defensive coordinator Tommy West.
Buckley, a Natchez, Miss., native, comes to Southern Miss after working the last five years as the head football coach at Petal High School, where he led his team to the Mississippi Class 6A State Championship game last month. During the last three seasons at Petal, Buckley's team averaged 232.5 rushing yards per contest.
During his tenure at Petal, the Panthers reached the playoffs four times and were region champions twice.
The 1985 Southern Miss graduate began his coaching career as an assistant at Petal High School, before becoming a graduate assistant at his alma mater for the 1987 and 1988 campaigns, before being elevated to full-time status for the 1989 and 1990 seasons. Buckley then went on to work four seasons at LSU (1991-94), before taking over at George County High School in Lucedale, Miss. During his time there, Buckley was named the District Coach of the Year and was a South State finalist.
He then returned to Southern Miss for another stint as an assistant coach from 1997-99.
Buckley, 48, is married to the former Kristi Fairley and the couple has two children, son Steven Slade and daughter Katherine Annaleigh.
Bustle joins the Golden Eagle staff following a year as quarterbacks coach for Tulane in 2011.
Bustle, 58, has been a part of nine bowl teams during his collegiate coaching career and brings 32 years of Division I experience to Hattiesburg. Bustle went to Tulane from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, where he spent nine seasons as the head coach from 2002-10. During his tenure with the Ragin' Cajuns, he led the team to its first Sun Belt Conference title in 2005 and UL was bowl eligible four times (2005, 2006, 2008, 2009) during his tenure.
Under Bustle, the Cajuns won six games in four of his final six seasons, a stretch not equaled at UL since 1986-89.
He is credited with 51 All-Sun Belt selections and 19 Ragin' Cajuns were either drafted or signed free agent contracts. In addition, 11 players were invited to play in postseason all-star bowl games, with a handful of those players earning multiple invitations.
Prior to UL, Bustle served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Virginia Tech for seven seasons. With the Hokies, Bustle developed some of the finest quarterbacks the college football world has seen in recent years, including former 49er Jim Druckenmiller and the former No. 1 overall pick in 2001, Michael Vick. In fact, Bustle coached the top three quarterbacks on Tech's career list for touchdown passes and guided players who have accounted for eight of the Hokies' Top 10 all-time single season offensive totals and seven of Tech's Top 10 all-time single season passing totals.
The 1999 Hokies averaged a national-best 41.4 points per game, as Tech played in the national championship game. In Bustle's first seven seasons as offensive coordinator, the Hokies fielded seven of the eight highest-scoring teams in school history.
The team posted a 67-17 record and won three Big East Conference championships. VT went to a bowl game every year he served as offensive coordinator, winning the 1993 Independence Bowl, 1995 Sugar Bowl, 1998 Music City Bowl and 2001 Gator Bowl. Bustle spent all but one season at VT from 1987-2001, leaving the Hokies in 1994 for a one-year stint as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at South Carolina. While at USC, Bustle helped the Gamecocks post a 7-5 record and a Carquest Bowl championship.
From 1987-92, he was the quarterbacks and receivers coach at Va. Tech before moving to offensive coordinator and QB's coach in 1993.
His coaching stops include a three-year stint at Louisiana-Monroe from 1984-86, where he coached the running backs for two seasons before becoming the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach as well as with East Carolina as a wide receivers and secondary coach (1980-82) and with the United States Football League's Arizona Wranglers as a running backs coach (1983). He broke into the full time coaching ranks as the defensive coordinator at Gardner-Webb in 1979.
The Summerville, S.C., native, is a 1976 graduate of Clemson, where he received a bachelor's degree in parks and recreation administration. He was a four-year letterwinner as a wide receiver for the Tigers.
Bustle's wife, Lynn, of Charleston, S.C., received her PhD. in curriculum and instruction from Virginia Tech in Dec. 1997. They have a son, Brad, who was a two-time All-Sun Belt offensive lineman at UL and signed professionally with Hartford of the United Football League, was a member of the Virginia Tech football staff as a graduate assistant coach for the defense in 2011.
West, who has 31 years of collegiate coaching experience, including stints as a head coach at three different schools, joins the Golden Eagles after spending the 2011 campaign at UAB as the school's defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. Prior to his assignment at UAB, he served as the head coach at the University of Memphis (2001-09), where he guided the Tigers to five bowl appearances and a 49-61 record in nine seasons.
While leading the Memphis program, West guided the Tigers to some of their best seasons in program history. He helped snap a 32-year U of M bowl drought in 2003 when he led his squad to a 9-4 record, including a victory over North Texas in the New Orleans Bowl. The last time that the Tigers had been extended a bowl invitation was during the 1971 season when Memphis defeated San Jose State in the Pasadena Bowl.
The bowl victory in 2003 propelled Memphis into the spotlight and was the first year of three-season stretch when the Tigers registered 24 victories. Also in 2003, West became just the fourth coach in school history to claim nine wins in a single season. He was named the Coach of the Year by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association.
West and his Tigers opened the 2004 campaign with a 5-1 record, marking the best start for a Memphis squad since 1967. During that time, West led the Tigers into the national spotlight as Memphis defeated Ole Miss for the second-straight season and was listed No. 25 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. It was the first time ever that the Tigers were ranked by the national entity.
Prior to becoming the Tigers' head coach, West spent the 2000 season as Memphis' defensive coordinator. The Tigers finished the season ranked No. 1 in the nation in rushing defense (72.7 yards allowed per game) and were fifth in total defense (275.3 yards yielded per contest).
West also spent five seasons (1993-98) as the head coach at Clemson. He coached the Tigers to a win in the Peach Bowl a month after being hired and was a part of four bowl teams during his time at Clemson.
West's first head coaching job came at UT-Chattanooga. He guided the Mocs' program for one season before accepting the head coaching position at Clemson.
West began his coaching career in 1979 when he served as an assistant on the staff at Ole Miss. He then spent two seasons at Appalachian State, elevated to offensive coordinator in 1981.
From 1982-89, West served as an assistant coach at Clemson and was responsible for the outside linebackers. He was part of a coaching staff that led the Tigers to a 69-20-4 record and six Associated Press Top 20 rankings between 1982-89. During that time, Clemson played in five bowl games, winning four, and claimed four ACC Championships.
West left Clemson for his alma mater Tennessee in 1990 and spent one season as the Volunteers' running backs coach. West then traveled to the University of South Carolina, where he was the defensive coordinator in 1991 and 1992. He left the Gamecocks' staff to become the head coach at UT-Chattanooga.
A former multi-sport standout at Gainesville (Ga.) High School, West earned his bachelor's degree from Tennessee in 1976. He was a three-year letterman on the Volunteer football team and twice lettered on the baseball squad. He was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1976.
West, 57, is married to the former Lindsay Watkins of Forest City, N.C. The couple has one son, Turner.
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