Harry Hiestand is fatherly on and off the field

Coach values, gets family time

Tennessee offensive line coach Harry Hiestand talks to the team during a spring practice. Hiestand came to Tennessee after five seasons with the Chicago Bears.

Photo by Elizabeth Oliver/UTSports.com

Tennessee offensive line coach Harry Hiestand talks to the team during a spring practice. Hiestand came to Tennessee after five seasons with the Chicago Bears.

Age: 51

Position(s) Coaching: Offensive line.

Hired: January, 2010.

As a Coach: 2005-09 - Chicago Bears (offensive line); 2000-04 - Illinois (assistant head coach/offensive line); 1997-99- Illinois (offensive line); 1994-96 - Missouri (offensive line); 1989-93 - Cincinnati (offensive coordinator/offensive line); 1988-89 - Toledo (offensive line); 1987-88 - Southern California (graduate assistant); 1986-87 - Pennsylvania (tight ends); 1983-85 - East Stroudsburg (offensive line); 1981-82 - East Stroudsburg (student assistant).

As a Player: Started his career as an offensive lineman at Springfield College before transferring to East Stroudsburg. His career was cut short by injuries. He graduated with a degree in health and physical education from East Stroudsburg in 1983.

Personal: Married with four children.

Harry Hiestand found himself in a unique position this past off-season.

He actually had a second chance to spend more time with his children - a rarity for a football coach.

Hiestand's first two children, two sons who are in college, saw first-hand the demands placed on their father in professional football. Hiestand didn't want his two youngest, a 9-year-old son and a 7-year-old daughter, to experience the same.

"I have a first-grader, which is insane, huh?" the 51-year-old said.

Even more insane were the constraints of the NFL, which was business first and family when rarely possible.

It really didn't need to be said, but it was well known: An NFL training facility is not the place for wives and kids.

"The environment is just not like that," Hiestand said.

That's not the case at the University of Tennessee, where Hiestand's children are welcome as are all assistant coaches'.

"That's tremendous," Hiestand said of the visits from his kids. "You don't have to not have a life (to be a successful coach)."

The time with his kids will grow shorter for Hiestand, who spent the past five seasons with the Chicago Bears.

But Hiestand doesn't see anything wrong with his children dropping by for a few minutes during the season. That would have never flown in the no-sleep, no-fun NFL, where everyone tries to outwork one another.

"That's what our sport has become in some environments because that's what the head coach is about," Hiestand said.

Hiestand was promised more family interaction when he interviewed with first-year UT head coach Derek Dooley, who also is seen chasing his children in the Neyland-Thompson Athletic Complex from time to time.

"Derek lives it," Hiestand said. "He told me that families are welcome. That's exactly the way it is. When my wife got to town, the first person there (was Dooley). As soon as she walked in the door, he walked right up to her and welcomed her and let her know she was important.

"He knew her name. I was about to introduce them, then boom. She was hooked."

The family-first philosophy is reminiscent of former coach Phillip Fulmer. UT administrators hope Dooley and staff can replicate Fulmer's longevity at UT, especially after former coach Lane Kiffin bolted in January after one season.

"Every program can use it," Hiestand said. "This one is in a position that it needs it more than normal."

A quick glance at Hiestand's resume and it's easy to envision him being around Knoxville for a while.

Staying Power

Once Hiestand established himself as a competent coach, he has shown a willingness to hold onto a job he's comfortable with, which is often a rarity among coaches.

He spent five seasons at Cincinnati (1989-93), eight seasons at Illinois (1997-2004) and five seasons with the Bears (2005-09).

"I think what Coach (Dooley) is looking for I've got a chance to give him," Hiestand said. "He wants consistency. He wants guys that have a passion for what they do.

"He wants guys who care about their players on and off the field; that get involved in their lives and are mentors for them and aren't just looking for the next best things for themselves. And in my background, I haven't moved around a lot."

That consistency in his career is evident on the practice field, where Hiestand has repeatedly garnered the undying trust of his players.

Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Tony Pashos still remembers the bond he and Hiestand formed at Illinois.

"That's huge, huge," Pashos said. "For every athlete, your coach is huge. The more you trust him, the better off that relationship will be. He's definitely a guy that coaches like a father. You know that he's doing it for nothing more than he wants you to succeed."

Sometimes that "want to succeed" means being tough. Hiestand may be fatherly on the field, but he's not soft.

"He'll drill it in you," said former NFL offensive lineman Reuben Brown, who played for Hiestand in Chicago. "He's a tough dude now. He's not a walk in the park."

Yet Hiestand also is flexible.

Brown remembers the first time Hiestand addressed his players in Chicago. Perhaps a little too intense for an off-season workout, Brown and several players went to Hiestand and reminded him they were professionals that didn't need the same barking a college player might.

Brown said Hiestand adjusted, but that fervor should pay dividends as Hiestand faces his next challenge.

Tough Job

UT has zero returning starters on the offensive line. That's right, zero.

"It's obvious," Hiestand said of the task at hand. "You don't have to have much background to realize it.

"You generally have some experienced players mixed in with some inexperienced players. We have inexperienced players mixed in with more inexperienced players. It is a challenge but that's what we're faced with. It's a challenge but what isn't?"

Even though Hiestand may not say it, he has to be realistic. He isn't going to turn out five All-Americans this season so he's determined to mold what he has through hard work.

"I'm here to help them be the best they can be and I'm going to challenge them everyday to do that," he said. "If they jump in with both feet, they're going to be fine in time."

The mantra alone is simple: Be the best you can be.

"It's easy to say but it's tough to do everyday," he said.

Brown believes Hiestand can handle the challenge. Brown said Hiestand is one of the top two coaches he's ever worked with. And Brown thinks his ol' coach will be even better in college than he was in the NFL.

"He really shines in college football," Brown said. "I think he's an excellent professional coach, but the only problem is Harry cares a lot. He cares a ton. In the pros, that's a business. In college, you build bonds. Harry is very good at that."

Pashos agreed.

"I owe him a lot," he said. "He's definitely been a guy that has helped mold me and make me who I am today. He's been there for me after I left the University of Illinois.

"He's been there as a good friend of my family. He's a genuine guy. I don't think you could find another guy in the business that has more passion to get the job done and be successful."

Back to the Future

Hiestand also is faced with a challenge off the field. After his stint in the NFL, it may take some time to shake the rust off his recruiting ability. Hiestand isn't worried. He has experience to fall back on.

"I did it for 20 years," Hiestand said. "Recruiting is relationships. It's basic communications skills."

Hiestand said wooing high school prospects is similar to wooing free agents in the NFL. Moreover, his NFL history should help him recruit prospects determined to play professionally.

"It makes you feel more comfortable thinking he's been through all the levels," said highly touted 2012 prospect D.J. Humphries of Mallard Creek High School in Charlotte, N.C.

Hiestand doesn't mind leaning on that NFL experience to sign prospects, just as long as he - and his family - don't have to go back to that world again.

"A lot of people stay in (the NFL because) it's good for your retirement," Hiestand said, referring to the NFL's strong pension plan. "There are benefits that way. But when this opportunity became available and I sat down and talked to Derek, I wanted to be part of it.

"I stopped thinking about just being in the NFL."

So did his family.

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Comments » 35

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

Thank you. Welcome to the Big Orange!

DownTheField writes:

Good stuff.

letthebigdoghunt writes:

It's good to learn about our coach's and their lives. Makes them real and gives some insight into what CDD is building.

letthebigdoghunt writes:

Oop!s GBO

Huttdawg100 writes:

I'm more excited about Hiestand than any of our new coaches. I expect one of the SEC's top offensive lines by year 3. Stone and Jawaun James are going to blossom under coaching of Hiestand.

RoadTrip writes:

Another top coach that wants to be on Rocky Top for the long haul. Love it!

Good times ahead for Vol fans. GBO!

tnsportsman writes:

CDD has put together a heck of a Staff! Glad these guys are on Rocky Top!

GO VOLS, WE ARE UT!

FEARinSEC writes:

Is every damm article going to state that "after Lane Kiffin bolted......."??? We know that, please stop throwing it in every article!!!

Good for the coaching staff being family oriented! That's how it should be!

Go Vols!!!

OrangePsyched writes:

Hiestand is a huge get by CDD. First he knows how to be genuine when the need arises. Not to say that he is not always genuine, but he goes the little extra the extend the characteristic at the right moments. Hiestand is well loved and respected by his explayers that will be a recruiting source for him. The NFL experience will be invaluable. We have and elite staff here now and in a couple yrs prepare to see more trolls and Fulmer fanatics criticizing the program will make it come true. Nothing will stop us now the momentum has become. Let the Orange say so and the rest of you go to your belove site if you're still allowed and think about what's coming. A DAY OF RECKONING!
GBO!

VolinCalif writes:

I was impressed with the staff that was put together last year. I thought it was about as good as it could get. That staff did produce well all things considered. But DD has out done anything I could ever hope for. The character of this staff is unreal and they are as good or better than anyone coaching at their position anywhere in football. Can't see anything but great player development ahead. Watch out SEC UT is back. Go Vols

AllUTAllTheTime writes:

Great article. I wish I could play for this guy. I see KNS as usual could not resist making reference to that idiot (can't even type his name lol) that was here last year. KNS why must you mention last year's coach and him leaving in every football piece you write. We know he was here and we know he left after one season so please stop the insanity and change the record.

nocleats writes:

"I'm here to help them be the best they can be and I'm going to challenge them everyday to do that," he said. "If they jump in with both feet, they're going to be fine in time."
the Key Words here are "in time"

beartn#223846 writes:

<< was impressed with the staff that was put together last year. I thought it was about as good as it could get. That staff did produce well all things considered. >>

Last year was a great staff. However, the most interesting stat to me was that Chavis's last defense was statistically better than Monte's D. For whatever reason, fans always seemed to dump on Chavis. In both losing season, his D was in the top 5 statistically, even though they were on the field the whole time because of the terrible offense.

I do like that Dooley is trying to build the program the right way. Like most of you, I am also impressed by the staff he put together in a short amount of time. I have low expectations this year, but I think we will improve rapidly with Dooley.

Psychovol writes:

in response to nocleats:

"I'm here to help them be the best they can be and I'm going to challenge them everyday to do that," he said. "If they jump in with both feet, they're going to be fine in time."
the Key Words here are "in time"

Hopefully in time means by the off week before Bama. Addtionally one or two upsets before then would be a nice bonus like Oregon, and LSU or UGA.

dvhill100 writes:

Keep the articles coming KNS. Good stuff.

CroKev writes:

I hope Kerbyson et al. are reading this...

newvolfan writes:

Video of states #7 prospect Brendon Downs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gw4Xzq...

always_vol (Inactive) writes:

The NFL basically sucks and I'm not much of a fan of it. They have such a hugely inflated opinion of the 'work' they do playing a sport.

I'm not much, either, for how much we pay to bankroll the NFL. Yes, we. Every time you buy anything Nike, a beer, whatever, you are paying the NFL's bankroll.

I was a fan until, oh, the mid-90's.

The game itself is great, but the people in it largely suck. Look at how many of those guys get into trouble.

So, I'll stick with college, where at least SOME attempt at a human element is maintained.

always_vol (Inactive) writes:

CDD may not win a game, but the guy does come off as having his head out of his butt as far as 'real life' goes.

If he can put a team on the field that competes hard, I can respect that.

Know who he reminds me of?? Kirk Frerentz (iowa) and the kid at Wisconsin. They both win a lot of games with less talent, PLUS send players to the pros. Both of them give SEC teams fits.

oskie_score writes:

Solid.

RoadTrip writes:

in response to beartn#223846:

<< was impressed with the staff that was put together last year. I thought it was about as good as it could get. That staff did produce well all things considered. >>

Last year was a great staff. However, the most interesting stat to me was that Chavis's last defense was statistically better than Monte's D. For whatever reason, fans always seemed to dump on Chavis. In both losing season, his D was in the top 5 statistically, even though they were on the field the whole time because of the terrible offense.

I do like that Dooley is trying to build the program the right way. Like most of you, I am also impressed by the staff he put together in a short amount of time. I have low expectations this year, but I think we will improve rapidly with Dooley.

Agree statistically on the Chavis comments. However, that is where statistics don't give the full story. Big plays on third down cost us repeatedly. Some of it was the product of his ill conceived Mustang package.

Monte was able to shore up the weaknesses of the D's personnel with different schemes. We lost some quality LBs throughout the season, so moving Berry to a rover helped cover that weakness. They also had the DT's pushing hard straight up the gaps to help free up the smallish LBs we had in the middle.

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

I don't remember a season where the expectations were anywhere near as low as they are this year. My first year at UT was 2001, and the expectations were low, yet we came very close to playing for the NC. The low expectations this year are justified, but I would not be shocked to see the Vols exceed those expectations.

voloffaith writes:

in response to RichRollin:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

His name is Chavis! He is not the name of the dictator in south america. Don't like him say so ,but the not-so-cute misspell is disrespect.

On topic,the line will get it "in time." That means they are a work in progress. Dedication to details will pay off as it did with our patchwork line last year. Hopefully as good as or better results realistically speaking.

gohawks1 writes:

Liking this staff more and more. Good article.

always_vol (Inactive) writes:

in response to voloffaith:

His name is Chavis! He is not the name of the dictator in south america. Don't like him say so ,but the not-so-cute misspell is disrespect.

On topic,the line will get it "in time." That means they are a work in progress. Dedication to details will pay off as it did with our patchwork line last year. Hopefully as good as or better results realistically speaking.

no, it really was chavez. that is why he never like to recruit, as he devotd part year to football and part to being a political agitator.

brokebackvol writes:

Eh, bought into that whole "family" & "used to be NFL" stuff with Monte Kiffin. Monte could have left that money he got in his bonus for a scholarship if he wasn't a phony like his son, Lame. So excuse me if I'm reluctant to drink the koolade on this guy, too. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Ayres_Hall writes:

You thought last year's staff was great because you were told that and you believed that even before they were hired. Not so with Coach Dooley. He has said very little about this staff but I believe the results will be as good or better than last year. Oregeron is a drunk and old Man Kiffin is a relic. We kept the brains of the offense and added a wiz kid on defense. Our Coordinators are two of the best. We'll be fine.

OrangeBeer writes:

in response to always_vol:

The NFL basically sucks and I'm not much of a fan of it. They have such a hugely inflated opinion of the 'work' they do playing a sport.

I'm not much, either, for how much we pay to bankroll the NFL. Yes, we. Every time you buy anything Nike, a beer, whatever, you are paying the NFL's bankroll.

I was a fan until, oh, the mid-90's.

The game itself is great, but the people in it largely suck. Look at how many of those guys get into trouble.

So, I'll stick with college, where at least SOME attempt at a human element is maintained.

If you are a fan of football, why wouldnt you enjoy watching the folks who are best in the world at it. Who cares who is behind the scenes, or what a guy does in his free time. On the feild, it is the best product there is. Its football, not an after school special. Since you stopped watching in the mid 90's, I would bet you were a 49's fan since they have sucked ever since then.

volsnationalchamps writes:

Great article, love learning more about our new coaches. Great that the family feeling is back in program. Fulmer did that in his days as coach and I think Dooley shares a lot of the values we are used to here. Good things are coming back to UT. To good a program to keep down long.

Mobbdeep4life writes:

Hiestand has an excellent track record of getting O-linemen to the NFL. The younger players and incoming freshmen will hopefully develop under his tutelage.
On another note does anyone know if Fulton has enrolled yet?

BradleyJKinkaid writes:

EXCELLENT ARTICLE! I love these staff articles.
As both sides of the line are pivotal, so are the coaches. I'm excited about both of those guys.

I also like the coordinators we have now.
The coordinators and line coaches that we have I believe give us a very strong foundation to build upon. Our main obstacle is going to be sustaining longevity with them. If we can do that, the future is bright.

However, good coaches can be sought and found to fill holes when they occur, but stability with excellent personell in place creates momentum.

Momentum is what we lost and didn't sustain from the '90s. We need that sense back in big orange football and I think it's coming in time.

BradleyJKinkaid writes:

in response to Ayres_Hall:

You thought last year's staff was great because you were told that and you believed that even before they were hired. Not so with Coach Dooley. He has said very little about this staff but I believe the results will be as good or better than last year. Oregeron is a drunk and old Man Kiffin is a relic. We kept the brains of the offense and added a wiz kid on defense. Our Coordinators are two of the best. We'll be fine.

Good comments. I agree on every point.

I bought in last year as much or more than anybody, and part of the problem many are having this time around is that our fan base has been acculturated to hearing what they wanted to hear.

Give Monte his due BUT he looks bad now for leaving the NFL and for his part in the whole contract issue. I know business is business, but he didn't like being in K-town from the get-go along with the rest of them.

BradleyJKinkaid writes:

in response to RichRollin:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Dude, why the sore spot. I'm not taking up for vols4 but I'd like to apologize for whatever somebody did to hurt you feelings so much.

Groundedvol writes:

On a different note Malik Jackson DE from USC coming to the Big Orange. Thanks Lane.

always_vol (Inactive) writes:

in response to OrangeBeer:

If you are a fan of football, why wouldnt you enjoy watching the folks who are best in the world at it. Who cares who is behind the scenes, or what a guy does in his free time. On the feild, it is the best product there is. Its football, not an after school special. Since you stopped watching in the mid 90's, I would bet you were a 49's fan since they have sucked ever since then.

Falcons, actually. And, it's really not up to you to make those assumptions about me, maybe worry more about yourself and your opinions.

Believe it or not, there are quite a few fans who ONLY watch college sports anymore. The sequence is this: college football, college basketball, and major league baseball.

Watching the NFL and NBA now?? Like watching tattooed robots. In a lot of ways, the sports seem closer to WWF than they do the sports they once where.

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