Winning on the field, off the field and having a first-class football program from top to bottom is the goal of any university at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics. That is exactly what Middle Tennessee has as a result of the leadership of head coach Rick Stockstill.
In his 13th season at the helm of the Blue Raiders, Stockstill is the sixth-longest tenured coach in the country and third-longest in MT history. With his long tenure have come numerous achievements and accolades, including:
Stockstill and the Blue Raiders advanced to their third bowl game in as many seasons in 2017 when they went to Montgomery, Alabama and took down Arkansas State for the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl championship, the first time in program history they played in bowl games in three successive seasons. It was also the seventh bowl game for MT under Stockstill’s guidance and second win, joining the 2009 New Orleans Bowl title.
The bowl game victory came after a tough season in which the Raiders were hampered with numerous injuries, including to quarterback Brent Stockstill and wide receiver Richie James. But, Coach Stockstill and his blue-clad men weren’t strangers to pulling a feat while injured. In 2016, the Blue Raiders earned an 8-5 record, their third in five seasons, and berth in the Hawaii Bowl even after the team lost a handful of receivers before the season and Brent Stockstill midway through. They still placed five players on the C-USA First Team and Ty Lee on several Freshman All-American lists.
The first of the three-year bowl streak came in 2015, when MT held a 7-6 record and Popeyes Bahamas Bowl berth. The Blue Raiders had to show a tremendous amount of grit to become bowl eligible, winning all four games in November.
Prior to the three years finishing in bowl games, Stockstill led Middle Tennessee to three straight second-place finishes in Conference USA’s East Division from 2012-14, including a berth in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl in 2013 against Navy.
Some regard the 2012 season as his best coaching job after leading the Blue Raiders to the nation’s biggest win improvement from the previous year. They won just two games in 2011, but Stockstill turned the 2012 MT squad around, finishing with an 8-4 record that included an FBS school record five road wins. They also received votes in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll three straight weeks, another school record, and upset ACC Coastal Division Champion Georgia Tech. Along the way, he produced a Freshman All-American, eight all-conference players and a national offensive player of the week.
The two-win 2011 campaign was preceded by two straight seasons with bowl appearances, the first time MT had ever accomplished that feat. Before falling to Miami (OH) in the 2010 GoDaddy.com Bowl, Stockstill and the Blue Raiders experienced maybe the best season in school history at the Division I-A level in 2009. They won a school FBS-record 10 games and finished ranked 33rd nationally in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, and Stockstill was named Sun Belt Co-Coach of the Year prior to beating Southern Miss 42-32 in the New Orleans Bowl, MT’s first bowl victory at the FBS level. A total of 11 players earned all-conference honors that year, including Co-Defensive Player of the Year Chris McCoy and quarterback Dwight Dasher, who earned New Orleans Bowl MVP honors and became just the fourth player in NCAA history to pass for more than 2,500 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season.
The 10-win season in 2009 matched the win total for MT in the two years prior, Stockstill’s second and third campaigns as head man of the Raiders. Those followed a big first year for Stockstill, when in 2006 he took his first Middle Tennessee squad to the Motor City Bowl, its first FBS bowl appearance, after being named Co-Sun Belt champions with a 6-1 league record. He was named Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year.
Stockstill’s teams have amassed the top four tackles for loss and quarterback sack totals in school history, and he has produced the conference’s top touchdown scorer twice. Individual players have 109 all-conference honors, two conference player of the year awards, four different national player of the week awards and a league freshman of the year.
Throughout his 13-season tenure, Stockstill has also shown a commitment to academics. The Blue Raiders have gone from an APR score of 892 to a very impressive 992, the biggest increase of any program in the country.
Prior to being named the head man at Middle Tennessee, Stockstil spent 24 years as an assistant coach, where he had the advantage of working alongside some of the greatest minds in college football history, including legendary coaches Lou Holtz, Steve Spurrier, Danny Ford, Tommy Bowden, Ken Hatfield, Larry Little and Tommy West.
He made his way to Murfreesboro after spending the previous two years at South Carolina, where joined the Gamecock staff in December 2003 and immediately made an impact in recruiting. Stockstill coached the Gamecock tight ends and served as recruiting coordinator in 2005. He was the wide receivers coach in 2004.
In addition to his on-field coaching at Carolina, Stockstill coordinated the signing of a top-20 recruiting class for the Gamecocks in his first season and was recognized as one of the top 25 recruiters in the nation by Rivals.com.
Before joining Holtz’s staff at South Carolina, Stockstill was the offensive coordinator at East Carolina in 2003.
From 1989 to 2002, he was on the coaching staff at Clemson, where he helped lead the Tigers to some of their most proficient offensive performances in school history. He served in a variety of capacities during his tenure, working as recruiting coordinator, wide receivers coach, co-offensive coordinator, passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Stockstill played an integral role in Clemson’s offense, which set more than 100 school records from 1998 to 2002.
Stockstill also has coaching experience at the University of Central Florida (1985-88) and at Bethune-Cookman College (1983-84).
Born Dec. 23, 1957 in Sidney, Ohio, Stockstill grew up in Georgetown, Kentucky, and then moved to Fernandina Beach, Florida, where he was inducted into the Fernandina Beach Hall of Fame in 2006. He was a three-year letterman at Florida State as a quarterback, where he was team captain and earned Honorable Mention All-American honors in 1981 under Coach Bobby Bowden. During his career at FSU, the Seminoles had two top-10 final Associated Press rankings and had wins over powers Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Ohio State and Nebraska. Stockstill, who received his bachelor’s degree from FSU in 1982, made three bowl trips with the Seminoles.
Stockstill and his wife, the former Sara Fleischman, have a son, Brent, and a daughter, Emily.