As soon as Louisiana-Lafayette football coach Mark Hudspeth heard word of Matt Wallerstedt’s Sept. 18 resignation of his position as Texas Tech’s defensive coordinator, he put in a call.
“The day it happened,” Hudspeth said. “I reached out to him right away and said, ‘Listen, we’d like to bring you in. Would you be interested?’ So we hammered out some details, got him on a flight and got him here. It’s already proven to be quite helpful.”
Wallerstedt starting working with the Cajuns last week as a defensive consultant and helped the staff prepare for Georgia State, but Hudspeth didn’t officially announced the hiring until Wednesday evening, after a Sports Illustrated report surfaced indicating Wallerstedt had joined the Cajuns staff.
As a consultant, Wallerstedt will not have a hands-on coaching role with the players, but instead will be an added voice and a pair of eyes in the defensive coaches’ meeting room.
“He can’t coach the players and be involved, but he can be involved all week leading up to the game with film evaluation and breaking down opponents while we’re in other meetings,” Hudspeth said.
Wallerstedt served as Hudspeth’s defensive coordinator at North Alabama in 2003, when North Alabama nearly made the national championship game and limited opponents to 14.1 points per game.
“While we were together there at North Alabama, we were 13-1 and were No. 1 in the conference in defense,” Hudspeth said.
Wallerstedt abruptly resigned from his post at Texas Tech three games into this season. His defense was allowing 36.7 points per game, but his resignation was not related to the team’s struggles defensively.
The Red Raiders issued a statement after Wallerstedt’s resignation, saying it was for “personal reasons.”
“I have submitted my resignation to (Texas Tech coach Kliff) Kingsbury effective immediately because I want the best for the Red Raider program, and this will allow them to go in a different direction on defense,” Wallerstedt said in the statement.
An ESPN report surfaced shortly after Wallerstedt’s resignation indicating that Wallerstedt had been forced out at Texas Tech because he was “suspected of being under the influence of an unknown substance while on campus.”
Wallerstedt has since disputed that report. Hudspeth looked into it but found it baseless, and he trusts Wallerstedt’s character.
“I know what kind of people he is,” Hudspeth said. “All those reports, if you dig into it — which I did — that was all obviously not true. You can’t go based on rumors and things like that. I personally know Matt, because I worked with him. … That’s why I’m overly confident he can come in and help our football team.”
Wallerstedt’s employment did not need to be approved by the state because he is not considered a full-time employee. Hudspeth said he will be essentially be employed as a contractor for the final eight weeks of the season.
The Cajuns have struggled defensively this season, allowing 35 points and 458 yards per game. Those struggles combined with the mid-season timing of the move prompted a reporter to ask Hudspeth if defensive coordinator James Willis should be looking over his shoulder.
“No he shouldn’t,” Hudspeth said. “And that’s the first thing I told James. I’m not bringing anybody in right now to try and take your job. This is his defense.”
Willis turned down an offer to join Florida State’s staff this offseason to remain with the Cajuns. The Cajuns assistant coaches are all on year-to-year contracts.
“The opportunity presented itself, and it was just too good of an opportunity to pass up,” Hudspeth said. “James is all for it. Any time you can get more experience in your room, definitely it helps.”