A former collegiate head coach, Lyle Setencich brings a wealth of experience and defensive savvy to the Texas Tech program in his fifth season. His efforts as defensive coordinator earned him the All-American Football Foundation's Mike Campbell Top Assistant Award last year.
Facing somewhat of an uphill battle during his first season in 2003 while installing his version of the Texas Tech SWARM defense, the unit has made tremendous strides under his leadership and the direction of his staff.
Setencich's inaugural season wasn't without its growing pains. The group ranked last nationally at one point in total defense, but has bounced back in each successive season. The 2004 defense improved to a top 50 ranking and the 2005 unit was among the top 30, as was last season's group.
Last season's defense produced some of the best numbers in the Mike Leach era including holding opponents to 151.1 rush yards per game, the lowest since 1999. Additionally, the pass defense has flourished since Setencich's arrival, consistently ranking among the top 20 in the country the last two seasons and leading the Big 12 Conference. Texas Tech's total defense in 2006 was the best since the 2000 season.
Taking over the linebacker coaching duties in 2003, Setencich's troops have been among the most productive in school history. Departed senior Brock Stratton began his career in 2003 and blossomed immediately. The All-Big 12 Conference performer led the team with 95 tackles as a freshman and closed his career last season with a team-leading 88.
Current Baltimore Raven linebacker Mike Smith completed the final two seasons of his Tech career under Setencich, gaining valuble learning experience and emerging each year as one of the conference's dominant players at the position.
Former Red Raiders John Saldi and Sylvester Brinkley also were among some of the top players at the position since 2003.
Other players excelling in his defensive package include 2005 Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year Dwayne Slay. The All-American exploded onto the scene in his senior season, after playing backup the previous season while learning the defense. The junior college transfer set a Big 12 Conference record with eight forced fumbles, each coming on bone-jarring hits from his safety position.
Following a year away from football, Setencich joined the Red Raider coaching staff in 2003, reuniting with Leach. The two previously worked together in 1987 at Cal Poly SLO when Leach, a young offensive-minded coach-to-be, asked Setencich for a chance to coach.
The 1969 Fresno State graduate began his collegiate coaching career in 1979 at the defensive coordinator at Boise State. He held the position for two years and helped lead the team to the NCAA Division I-AA National Championship in 1980. He assumed head coaching duties in 1981 and held the position until 1986. During his tenure, the Broncos posted a 24-20 record.
Setenich moved on as head coach at Cal Poly SLO from 1987-93, where he led the program to a 41-29-2 mark in seven seasons. In 1990 Cal Poly advanced to the second round of the Division II Playoffs and led the nation in scoring defense, holding opponents to 11.3 points per game. In 1988, the rush defense turned in the nation's best season, stifling the opposition to the tune of 56.4 yards per game. Individually, Doug O'Neill led the nation in 1991 with a 45.1 punting average.
After coordinating the defense at Pacific in 1994, where he helped lead the program to a 17-year best 6-5 record, Setencich joined the Arizona State coaching staff as linebackers coach during the 1995-96 seasons.
His influence was felt in dramatic fashion in 1996, when the Sun Devils were ranked first in the Pac-10 in total defense (304.7), compared to last in total defense (426.6) the previous season. The Sun Devils advanced to the Rose Bowl in his second season.
Among his pupils at ASU were future NFL players Pat Tillman and Adam Archuleta.
His final stop prior to coming to Texas Tech was with the University of California for five seasons. Setencich began as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach and added associate head coach to his title for the 1999-01 seasons.
Setencich's resurrection of the Cal defense was nothing short of extraordinary. The Bear defense ranked 10th in the Pac-10 in defense the year prior to his arrival, and quickly jumped to eighth in his first season, third in 1998, and led the conference in 1999. The 2000 unit led the Pac-10 with 44 sacks and ranked third in total defense. Among Setencich's understudies is current New Orleans Saints linebacker Scott Fujita.
Setencich was a two-year letterman at Fresno State from 1966-68 and graduated with a degree in biological sciences. He spent one year in the Army Medical Corps before beginning his coaching career in the high school ranks at Mt. Diablo High School in Concord, Calif., Albany (Calif.) High School and San Ramon (Calif.) High School.
He and his wife, Kathy, have a son, Peter.