Carl Torbush is no longer a one-man football program at East Tennessee State.
The new head coach has named his first two assistants this week, including Teddy Gaines of Kingsport on Wednesday. The former University of Tennessee defensive back joins Billy Taylor, who officially came on board Monday as defensive coordinator.
The two have deep local ties —Taylor is a Morristown native who played and coached at ETSU — and will give the Bucs a tangible presence in the region as they work toward fielding their first team in 2015.
“They’re two great hires for ETSU,” Torbush said Wednesday. “I know both guys well. I know what makes them tick, their morals and values. They will represent ETSU in a first-class manner, and they’re both excellent young coaches.”
Gaines, 33, will work with defensive backs and special teams. He comes to ETSU after a brief stop at Tusculum College, where he was preparing for his first fall practice on Frankie DeBusk’s staff before Torbush came calling.
“I’m glad to be home,” said Gaines. “It wasn’t a hard decision at all, except for putting Tusculum in a bind on such short notice. But coach DeBusk was very understanding and made it easy under the circumstances.”
The timing, of course, wasn’t good for Taylor either. He was just weeks away from entering his sixth season as Watson Brown’s defensive coordinator at Tennessee Tech.
Torbush, who was hired to build a new program at ETSU on June 21, is sensitive to the issue of raiding another coach’s staff just before camps open around the country.
“It’s not a good time, but that’s just the way things have happened,” he said. “If you ask me as a college head coach if I like it, absolutely not. But it’s the nature of the beast, and I think most guys understand.”
Torbush won’t be hiring any more assistants until the season is over, closer to the first of the year.
The new ETSU staff is certainly starting on a defensive note, befitting the reputation Torbush has built on that side of the ball during his 37-year coaching career. He says he didn’t specifically set out with that in mind.
“In a perfect world, I probably would have hired an offensive and defensive coordinator to start,” said Torbush. “Because of the lateness of me being hired here, and the lateness of me hiring assistants, the most important factor is that these guys are good fits at ETSU.
“I hope we can now move in the direction of offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. I want them to be very much in sync on our philosophies as we go forward.”
Torbush has at least set the table to begin recruiting in earnest.
In Gaines, a Dobyns-Bennett product, he has not only a local connection but also one with ties to Tennessee’s national championship team of 1998. He played in the NFL with the 49ers and Bears before seeing some action in NFL Europe and the CFL.
Gaines began his coaching career at Chattanooga and also worked at Brevard College (for former ETSU coach Paul Hamilton) and Maryville College.
He says his primary focus now is to find talent to fuel a fledgling FCS program.
“I’m going to dive in head first on recruiting,” said Gaines. “Two years are going to go by before you know it, and we need to get some quality guys in here, get a quality team together. Hopefully we’ll compete for a championship before too long.”
Said Torbush, “Teddy will do a tremendous job working with our secondary and special teams, and he will be a huge part of our recruiting efforts both inside Tennessee and in the surrounding states. We believe he’ll be a huge asset to our program.”
Gaines was once recruited by Torbush when the coach was at North Carolina, but he followed his heart to Knoxville. He was a freshman, playing mostly on special teams, when the undefeated Vols claimed the first BCS title.
Phillip Fulmer, who coached that team, has been serving as a consultant to ETSU as it embarks on this new football adventure.
“This is definitely a great opportunity for me, to learn from coach Torbush and coach Taylor while building this thing from scratch,” said Gaines. “And coach Fulmer being involved here, I can’t say enough good things about him. At UT, he taught us about work ethic and that when you put in the work, good things happen. I learned that you treat people how you want to be treated; I’ve carried that with me.”