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Troy Calhoun addresses Air Force coaching situation, announces Steve Russ as solo defensive coordinator

January 21, 2014 Updated: January 21, 2014 at 8:59 pm
photo - Troy Calhoun.
Troy Calhoun. 

Troy Calhoun holds no ill will toward two coaches who recently left his program at Air Force and hopes to quickly fill both spots.

He also said Steve Russ will take over as defensive coordinator for the 2014 season.

The Falcons' coaching situation dominated most of the early conversation Tuesday, as Calhoun talked with reporters for the first time in nearly two months while he drove between recruiting stops in an unspecified location in the Eastern time zone.

Q & A with Air Force coach Troy Calhoun.

Air Force has seen plenty of turmoil in recent days, with former defensive coordinator Charlton Warren leaving for a job in the defensive secondary at Nebraska and Brian Knorr bolting for Indiana just weeks after returning to the Falcons.

"We're excited for both guys," Calhoun said. "You look at it, they're pretty significant raises for both Charlton and especially for Brian - I think Brian is going to make $200,000 a year more. And for both they are multiyear contracts, which provides a little something family-wise, which helps them also. And it gives them a chance to go coach in the Big Ten, too."

Russ was the defensive co-coordinator last year.

"That's going to be his role this season," Calhoun said. "He'll do that solo."

Russ is a 1995 Air Force graduate who earned a pair of Super Bowl rings while playing with the Denver Broncos. He has coached at Ohio (outside linebackers, special teams coordinator) under Knorr, Syracuse (linebackers, defensive coordinator) and Wake Forest (tight ends, fullbacks, linebackers, secondary).

He returned to Air Force in 2012 as an assistant head coach/co-defensive coordinator. He coached the secondary in 2012 and inside linebackers this past season.

Calhoun did not specify how coaching positions might shuffle. The assumption is that two hires will be made for position coaches - one for inside linebackers to free up Russ, the other at defensive secondary.

"We're well into it," Calhoun said. "We've always got a few guys on line who are possibilities. I think you always have to no matter what position it may be. We'll definitely do it before signing day, which is in two weeks, or we may even do something sooner, too."

Though he would not discuss any specific job candidates, Calhoun said former Air Force players would be considered. As would others.

"The candidate pool is wide open," he said.

Calhoun disputed a social media post from one of his players that Knorr was introduced to the team as defensive coordinator. He said Knorr's role was never determined before he left for a position in the home state of his wife.

"No, that never happened," Calhoun said. "We were kind of sorting through those roles once he got here while we put our full staff together."

Fans were asked prior to the interview to provide questions for Calhoun. Several asked how the coach plans to shore up a defense that was among the worst in college football during the Falcons' recent 2-10 season.

Calhoun offered little in the way of specifics.

"They're tremendous young men," he said. "We'll have some alterations approach-wise, which is what we do every single year. There will be some things we do this spring."

Spring practice will begin in the final week of February.

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