LAFAYETTE — Louisiana-Lafayette officially completed its football coaching staff Monday by hiring Charlie Harbison as co-defensive coordinator and outside linebackers coach.
With the move, the Ragin’ Cajuns capped an offseason that resulted in a revamped defensive staff. Harbison joins co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Melvin Smith, inside linebackers coach Mike Lucas and defensive line coach Levorn Harbin — all hired this offseason.
“I’m blessed to be here,” Harbison said in a news release. “I love what coach (Mark) Hudspeth is doing here at Louisiana. He has built something special, and I’m blessed to be a part of it.”
Harbison is widely respected in coaching circles and has spent the past two decades coaching in the SEC and ACC — most recently as Auburn’s co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach.
He coached with Smith on two staffs, at Auburn the past two seasons and at Mississippi State in 2007-08, and is looking forward to working with him again while the two share coordinator duties.
“Coach Smith and I are like brothers,” Harbison said. “We’re fortunate to have each other as friends, and I want to do everything to help him and Coach Hudspeth to be the best that we can be. I want to come in, do my work and make sure the kids are coached well under my watch.”
With Harbison officially in the fold, the Cajuns’ defensive staff now boasts more than eight decades of collegiate coaching experience, which should come in handy while the Cajuns implement elements of a new defensive scheme this offseason.
“We’re extremely excited to have someone of Coach Harbison’s experience joining our staff,” said coach Mark Hudspeth. “He and Melvin Smith ... share a lot of the same philosophies. His experience as a defensive coordinator will definitely be a huge plus as we put this new package together.
“This is going to be a great fit and they’ll do a phenomenal job of working with the players, both on and off the field. You can tell that our players know why these coaches have been so successful at every stop.”
Neither Smith nor Harbison were retained by Auburn, which has let new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp assemble his own defensive staff.
Smith assumed the Cajuns’ defensive coordinator position when James Willis left to join the New Orleans Saints staff last month. He will share that position with Harbison.
“You want to have the best people available, period, doing it,” Smith said. “I couldn’t think of anybody better for the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns right now than Charlie Harbison. He’s a player’s coach. He’s an outstanding human being and a great tactician.”
Harbison also is a top recruiter, named one of Rivals.com’s top 25 recruiters in the nation in 2010.
With Harbison on the staff, three quarters of the Cajuns’ defensive coaches were with Auburn the past two seasons, including Auburn’s 2013 BCS championship team. Harbin was a video analyst for the Tigers the past two seasons.
Harbison also had coaching stints with Alabama (1998-00 and 2003-06), LSU (2001-02) and Clemson (1995-97, 2009-12).