News Conference Highlights
SELINSGROVE—Longtime Susquehanna University head football coach Steve Briggs has decided to move on to a new role at the university after 25 seasons at the helm of the Crusaders. Briggs, 53, Susquehanna's winningest coach, guided the program to its only appearance in a Division III semifinal game.
With the program full of promise, Briggs said he is ready to leverage his relationships and his love of Susquehanna to serve the university in other ways. He was tapped for and has accepted a university relations role at Susquehanna as it prepares for a comprehensive capital campaign.
"In his new role as an advancement officer in the division of university relations, Steve will continue to do familiar work: developing trust and confidence in Susquehanna," Vice President Ron Cohen said. "The university anticipates a comprehensive capital campaign in the near future and we're fortunate to have this extraordinary and timely opportunity for Steve to engage his broad network of Susquehanna alumni and families in ways that can be beneficial for our future."
"This decision is somewhat bittersweet for me," Briggs said, who has also served as an assistant athletic director for Susquehanna since 2003. "But the time is right. The program is poised for success and at this time in my life, I'm ready for a different kind of life and a new challenge. Coaching is an all-consuming profession and I've loved it, but I have not had a fall off since 1973. I've missed a lot of key moments in my family's life and it's time to make up for that lost time."
Briggs, who arrived at Susquehanna in 1988 as an assistant, said he is grateful for the opportunity to have coached the Crusaders.
I've been privileged to work with a great group of young men over the past 27 years. I've had an opportunity to coach them in a sport I love and to teach them life lessons along the way. I've had a great run and coaching the Crusaders has been the greatest honor of my life."
Susquehanna University President L. Jay Lemons said he is proud of Briggs' accomplishments and the program he has shaped.
"As the Crusaders winningest coach, Steve stands at the head of a long line of highly regarded Crusader coaches, including his immediate predecessors William 'Rocky' Rees and Bill Moll, and football coaching legends Jim Hazlett, Jim Garrett and Amos Alonzo Stagg Jr. and Sr.
"I'm also proud of Steve as a person and the role he has played as an outstanding educator and coach. He has been a positive leader on our campus. I'm very happy that we will continue to have the benefit of Steve's service to the institution and the many relationships he has forged since 1988."
Athletic Director Pam Samuelson spoke of the many lives Briggs has impacted over the course of his career.
"Steve's legacy as the Crusaders head coach goes well beyond the many wins and multiple championships that he won. A true teacher/coach, Steve has positively impacted the development of on the order of 1,000 young men through his work with them, both on and off the field. We look forward to working with Steve in his new role. I'm certain we'll be tapping into his expertise and long history with the program as we make the transition to a new head coach."
Former player and current Susquehanna Trustee Marty Pinter remembers Briggs as a good coach who gave his players every opportunity to be the best they could be.
"He was great at getting the best out of you. He was like a father to me and helped shape the man I am today."
That ability to build relationships is sure to make him a success in his new role, Pinter added.
"This is a great opportunity for him, a natural transition. Coaching is about building relationships and creating teams."
Briggs leaves the program with young talent that holds a lot of promise, Samuelson said. He compiled a record of 127-126 during his head-coaching career at Susquehanna. In 2009, he led the Crusaders to the Liberty League title. Briggs and his staff earned the league's Coaching Staff of the Year award in 2009 and, that same year, the Liberty Mutual Group named Briggs one of five NCAA Division III finalists for its national Coach of the Year award.
Briggs has coached 253 games, more than any coach in Susquehanna's long football tradition that dates back to 1892. He guided his 1991 team to the Division III South Region championship and the program's only berth in the national semifinals. In 1992, his team went 9-1, coming up just four points short of a perfect season and another NCAA playoff berth.
A native of Massachusetts, Briggs arrived at Susquehanna in 1988 to serve as chief defensive assistant coach for Rees. He was in that role for two years before assuming the head coaching position in 1990. Prior to his tenure at Susquehanna, he had served as an assistant coach at Lehigh University, the University of Richmond and Bowdoin and Springfield colleges.
Briggs has coached an impressive list of 73 first-team all-conference players since 1990 in the Centennial Conference, Liberty League and Mid-Atlantic Conference. Five of those players were named conference players of the year. He has also coached seven All-Americans and four Academic All-Americans, a testament to his recruitment and coaching skills.
Offensive Coordinator Nate Milne, who joined the Crusaders staff in 2008, will serve as interim head coach until a new coach is named, Samuelson said, adding that a national search will begin immediately. Milne was named First-Team All-Liberty League as a senior at Hobart College. Defensive backs coach Alan Zemaitis, a former Penn State All-American who went on to play for the National Football League's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will become acting defensive coordinator. Zemaitis joined the Crusaders coaching staff in 2012. Scott Knapp, who joined the Crusader staff in 2008, will serve as interim offensive coordinator.