LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops officially named assistant coach Matt House defensive coordinator on Monday. He will also continue to serve as the inside linebackers coach.
“I’m very excited to name Matt our defensive coordinator,” Stoops said. “He brings a wealth of experience and great passion for the game. In just one year, Matt has made a very good impression as the special teams coordinator and as a defensive coach. As the special teams coordinator, I’ve seen Matt’s leadership in front of the entire team.”
This is House’s third stint as a defensive coordinator. Prior to coming to Kentucky as the inside linebackers and special teams coordinator, he spent two seasons as the defensive coordinator at Pittsburgh and one at Florida International.
“I appreciate the opportunity coach Stoops is giving me,” House said. “I’m excited to continue building the vision he has for the program and I’m excited to continue to grow and improve as a defensive unit.”
Stoops indicated that his plan is to hire a special teams coordinator/outside linebackers coach to fill the vacancy on the staff.
In 2016, House helped lead the Cats to wins in seven of their last 10 regular-season games, including a road victory over No. 11 Louisville that returned the Governor’s Cup to Lexington. That win catapulted Kentucky into the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida, the Cats’ first bowl appearance in six years.
House’s inside linebackers – both of whom were first-year starters – contributed significantly to UK’s success. Sophomore Jordan Jones led the team in tackles (109) and tackles for loss (15.5) while earning second-team All-Southeastern Conference honors. He also became an adept blitzer with four quarterback sacks and a team-high nine QB hurries. Junior Courtney Love was third on the team in tackles with 76 and his season was highlighted by the fumble recovery that set up the game-winning drive at Louisville.
Eighteen letter winners and nine of UK’s top 12 tacklers return on defense from 2016’s squad, including Jones, All-SEC safety Mike Edwards, Love, sack leader and linebacker Josh Allen and defensive end Denzil Ware.
Kentucky’s special teams turned in a solid performance. UK got its first punt return for a touchdown in six years while not allowing the opponents to return a punt or kickoff for a TD. UK’s field-goal unit provided game-winning field goals in the closing seconds of victories vs. Mississippi State and Louisville.
In his lone season with FIU, as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, House helped guide the Panthers to five wins despite injuries at key positions and limited four opponents to 14 points or less. FIU ended the season ranked 16th nationally in redzone defense, 45th nationally in fumbles recovered, 44th nationally in defensive touchdowns and 33rd in fourth-down conversion percentage defense. He also helped coach the kickoff return, kickoff coverage and punt units on special teams.
Under House’s guidance, senior defensive end Michael Wakefield tied the school record for tackles for loss and sacks in a game, earning Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week honors. After the season, five defensive players earned all-conference honors, while four signed NFL free-agent contracts.
House spent three years at Pitt before heading to FIU, coaching the secondary his first season in 2012 before being promoted to defensive coordinator/linebackers coach for two seasons. During those two years, House helped guide the Panthers to the 2013 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl and the 2015 Armed Forces Bowl. Under House, Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald was drafted 13th overall by the Rams in the 2014 NFL Draft and eventually was selected for the Pro Bowl.
In 2013, House helped Pitt rank 34th nationally in total defense, allowing 367.5 yards of total offense per game. House’s defense really performed well in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl that season, limiting Mid-American Conference Champion Bowling Green, who was averaging 472 yards and 35 points per game, to just 27 points and 289 yards in the Panthers’ 30-27 victory.
As the Pitt secondary coach in 2012, House’s unit helped the Panthers rank 20th nationally in pass defense, 21st nationally in pass efficiency defense and 26th nationally in interceptions. At various times at Pitt, he worked with the kickoff, kickoff return and punt return teams.
Before his recent collegiate success, House spent four seasons in the NFL. He served as a defensive quality control coach and assistant linebackers coach for the St. Louis Rams from 2009 to 2011 after a stop with the Carolina Panthers in 2008 as a special teams assistant and strength and conditioning assistant. While with Carolina, the Panthers went 12-4 and claimed the NFC South Division title and the franchise’s fourth-ever playoff berth.
House started his coaching career in 2001 as a graduate assistant at Michigan State, where he helped guide the Spartans to the 2001 Silicon Valley Classic. He assisted with the team’s secondary and special teams. Following his time with MSU, House spent two seasons as a defensive assistant at North Carolina, helping the Tar Heels to the 2004 Continental Tire Bowl. In 2005, House was the defensive line coach at Gardner-Webb.
In 2006 and 2007, House was defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator under Turner Gill at the University of Buffalo, leading the Bulls to a share of the MAC East Division title his final season. While at Buffalo, House helped develop All-MAC safety Davonte Shannon, who finished as the Bulls’ all-time leading tackler and signed an NFL free agent deal.
House, a native of Harrison, Mich., earned his bachelor’s degree from Michigan State in 2000. He and his wife, Jessi, have a daughter, Avery, and three sons, Jackson, Jacob and Trent.