Torbush named to lead new ETSU football program
Veteran head coach Carl Torbush will prepare the new ETSU football team for kickoff in 2015.
Torbush named to lead new ETSU football program
Friday, June 21, 2013

Former UNC head coach tasked with preparing Buccaneers for 2015 kickoff

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (June 21, 2013) – East Tennessee State University Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Dr. Richard Sander announced Friday that veteran college football coach Carl Torbush has been named to lead the Buccaneers’ new football program.

Torbush, whose career includes head coaching stops at North Carolina and Louisiana Tech, has built a strong reputation as an outstanding defensive strategist after having served as a defensive coordinator at six FBS programs, including Alabama, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Kansas, Texas A&M and UNC.

Sander said the Buccaneers needed the right person to start building the program’s foundation and prepare for the start of competitive play. The Bucs fielded a football team for over 80 seasons before disbanding the program in 2003, but it was announced earlier this year that football would return to campus by the fall of 2015.

“As we started to develop a profile for the person to lead this team, it became apparent that due to the complexities of starting a football program we needed someone with an array of experience and talent,” Sander said. “The more we identified these characteristics and qualities, it was clear that Carl Torbush met the criteria to not only lead, but to also build this program.”

Torbush said the opportunity to become head coach at ETSU and help launch the program again was something he could not pass up.

“I am honored, excited and humbled to be named head football coach at East Tennessee State University,” Torbush said. “The opportunity and privilege to lead such a tradition-rich ETSU football program into a new beginning is a responsibility that I cherish and look forward to. I would like to thank President Dr. Brian Noland, Athletic Director Dr. Richard Sander, and Coach Phillip Fulmer for having the confidence in me to lead East Tennessee State University into this new era of football.

“I enjoyed the search process and the opportunity to meet so many people that are passionate for ETSU football. The excitement, affection and love for East Tennessee State and Buccaneer football from former players, alumni, students, faculty, staff, community and fans is truly heartwarming. I look forward to being part of the ETSU family.”

Noland said he believes the search process produced the right result.

“ETSU is committed to establishing a football program that achieves at the highest levels, both on the field and in the classroom,” Noland said. “To achieve that success, we had to choose exactly the right person to be our head football coach. Carl Torbush is that man. Coach Torbush has a history of success, a passion for excellence, and the energy to build Buccaneer football into a point of pride for our university.

“I commend Dr. Sander and Coach Fulmer for leading a search that delivered the right man to lead East Tennessee State University back onto the football field.”

The most notable coaching stop on Torbush's resume was at North Carolina, where he served as defensive coordinator from 1988-97 before being promoted to head coach for three seasons (1998-2000).

While at North Carolina, Torbush's defenses led the ACC in 1995, 1996 and 1997 and he was named National Defensive Coordinator of the Year in 1996. As head coach of the Tar Heels, Torbush guided UNC to a pair of bowl wins, capturing the 1997 Gator Bowl and the 1998 Las Vegas Bowl. In total, Torbush has been a part of 11 teams that have made bowl appearances.

A 1974 graduate of Carson-Newman College, Torbush spent the 2012 season as linebackers coach at Liberty University under the direction of head coach Turner Gill. In 2010, Torbush also worked under Gill as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Kansas.

Prior to joining Gill at Kansas, Torbush spent six out of the previous nine seasons as a FBS defensive coordinator at Mississippi State (2009), Texas A&M (2003-05) and Alabama (2001-02). During each stop, Torbush had direct oversight of each program's linebacking corps.

During his time at Alabama, Torbush helped guide the Crimson Tide to a No. 3 final national ranking in total defense during 2002 and he was named SEC Assistant Coach of the Year in 2002.

Sandwiched between his three FBS defensive coordinator stops, Torbush returned to his alma mater and served as assistant head coach and linebackers coach at Carson-Newman for three seasons (2006-08). During that three-year span, Carson-Newman posted a 25-8 record, spotlighted by a 10-1 record in 2007.

Prior to his days at North Carolina, Torbush served one season as head coach at Louisiana Tech (1987).

Torbush got his coaching start at Carter High School in Knoxville, in 1974 before joining Baylor's staff as a graduate assistant in 1975.

Torbush received his first full-time coaching position in 1976 at Southeastern Louisiana, where he spent four years as a linebackers and defensive ends coach (1976-79). He also served as the head baseball coach at the school from 1976 to 1979. While at Southeastern Louisiana, his team’s won a Gulf South Conference Championship and he was named the league’s coach of the year in 1978.

Following a three-year stint at Louisiana Tech (1980-82), Torbush was named the defensive coordinator at Mississippi for four seasons (1983-86). During his final year, the Rebels led the SEC in total defense.

During his playing days at Carson-Newman, Torbush was a letterwinner in both football and baseball, earning NAIA All-American first team honors in both sports. The success of his collegiate playing days has earned him a spot in both the Carson-Newman and Knoxville Sports Halls of Fame.

Prior to starting his football coaching career, Torbush played one year of minor league baseball in the Kansas City Royals organization (1975).

Torbush, a native of East Spencer, N.C., earned his bachelor's degree in physical education from Carson-Newman in 1974. He would go on to earn a master's degree from Baylor in physical education in 1976. He and his wife, Janet, have one son, Trey.


 What others are saying about Coach Carl Torbush:


“I believe Carl Torbush is the right coach at the right time to bring ETSU football back. I also believe he will be competing for Southern Conference championships very soon. Carl brings a wealth of experience and unlimited energy to the challenges ahead. He has had success at all levels of football, and he understands recruiting student-athletes that make their academics important. He will be a great mentor as these young men grow from adolescence into manhood. Carl knows how to build character and leadership on his team and staff, and he knows how to communicate with the administration and faculty. He will work at making football relevant and important to the ETSU family.”  


Phillip Fulmer

University of Tennessee Head Football Coach (1992-2008)

College Football Hall of Fame Member



“The biggest thing about Coach Torbush was he set standards, and he preached accountability all the time. He expected us to do things the right way, to work hard, and to be a student first and an athlete second. During the 1990s, our defenses at UNC were some of the best in the nation. Those numbers didn’t lie. He set goals for us and as a unit we fulfilled them. What fans can expect is a coach that is always prepared. He will set a plan and get it done. I was honored to play under him, and he was a big part of why I was able to go do what I did in the NFL. He believed in us as players and as people. I’m really happy for him to get this opportunity at East Tennessee State.”


Dre’ Bly

Former North Carolina All-American (1996-98)

11-year NFL veteran, All-Pro Cornerback and Super Bowl XXXIV champion



“Coach Torbush is one of the most well-respected coaches in all of college football.  He has been very successful and has coached at all levels of the game.  He has deep roots in the East Tennessee region, and I wish him and his staff the best of luck as they re-start our football program.”


Mike Smith

Current Atlanta Falcons Head Coach, 2008 NFL Coach of the Year

Former ETSU linebacker (1978-81), ETSU Hall of Fame member


“I have known Carl Torbush since our days together going to college at Carson-Newman. He was a tremendous athlete and a great student, and he always treated everybody the same – like they were the most important person in the world. He always has time for people, whether they are the president of the university or a janitor. They don’t come any better. While he’s a great football coach, he’s an even better person. He’s a class act in every aspect of his life. He will make the people of East Tennessee State proud, not just because of his football knowledge, but how he will represent the people of East Tennessee.”

Sylvia Hatchell                                                                                                                                  

University of North Carolina Women’s Basketball Head Coach


“The best way to describe Coach Torbush accepting this new opportunity to build a program at East Tennessee State is that – for the university – it’s an absolute home run. He is without question one of the finest coaches in the country. I have watched him since he began his career. He brings expertise and knowledge to any program, but even more important, he’s the type of person that if I had son, I’d want him to play for Coach Torbush.”

Grant Teaff
Executive Director, American Football Coaches Association