Terry Joseph file
Position Coaching: Defensive backs/Recruiting coordinator
Hired: Jan. 17, 2010
As a Coach: 2007-09 - Louisiana Tech; 2006 - LSU; 2002-05 - Destrehan High School (La.); 1999-2002 - Archbishop Shaw High School (La.)
As a Player: 1993-1995 - Baseball at Northwestern State. Was named the 1995 Southland Conference Baseball Player of the Year and went on to four minor league playing seasons in the Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres organizations. Earned his bachelor's degree in 1996.
Personal: Was a two-time GTE Academic All-American in baseball at Northwestern State. His cousin Vance Joseph is the secondary coach for the San Francisco 49ers.
Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess // Buy this photo
Terry Joseph Jr.'s oldest daughter is celebrating her birthday this weekend. A few weeks later, she will turn 7.
Taylor Joseph is old enough not to be confused by that.
This is the last weekend before her father immerses himself in a profession that doesn't always have time for birthdays. Terry Joseph is the recruiting coordinator and defensive backfield coach for first-year Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley.
"We always move it to the last weekend before training camp," said the 36-year-old Joseph, who also was an assistant coach under Dooley at Louisiana Tech. "We call it a 'training camp birthday.'
"Dad's always been coaching, so she understands that. Actually, it gives her a chance to have her birthday before school starts, so she's pretty excited about that."
Her 5-year-old sister, Lynleigh, also knows about football-arranged birthdays. She was born May 26, which puts her birthday in the midst of spring recruiting.
"She gets to celebrate her birthday in early June when daddy is off the road," Joseph said with a laugh.
By juggling the dates, there are no halfhearted birthday parties in Joseph's family. He can join his wife, Amanda, and the girls without the distraction of a job that can be all-consuming if you don't plan ahead.
Back on the job, there are plenty of photographic reminders in Joseph's office of what's back home. His daughters' smiles are the brightest attractions in a busy room.
Family and work: Terry learned about the importance of both while he and his brother were growing up on the outskirts of New Orleans in Marrero, La. His mother worked as a nurse's assistant, and his father worked at a shipyard only five miles from their home. Both have worked at their jobs long enough to have advanced to supervisory roles, but Terry remembers the harder times.
"All growing up, they were doing back-breaking work," Terry said. "I remember that no matter what, my dad was going to be up at 4 o'clock and he was going to be out the door at 5 o'clock. But he never complained.
"As Mom and Dad stressed academics to me, I got a sense of why they stressed them, because they didn't want me to have to support my family the same way."
Years later, Joseph is reminded of his parents' priorities whenever he returns to the house in which he grew up. As a high school and college athlete, he won numerous awards. And after he graduated from Northwestern State University, he played for four years in the Chicago Cubs organization. But his parents were prouder of his other accomplishments.
"My college degree is hanging on the wall, right next to my academic All-American plaque," Joseph said. "It meant a lot to them for me to achieve that. And my little brother (Derrick) graduated from Tulane.
"It says a lot about the groundwork my parents laid for us."
Terry planned on putting his degree to work after his athletic ability carried him through his 30s.
"I knew baseball was going to be my ticket," he said.
He excelled as a hitter and center fielder while starting every game at Northwestern State. The Chicago Cubs drafted him in the 13th round.
"My plan leaving Northwestern State was I was going to make it to the big leagues, play 10 or 15 years, and use my business degree to manage my money."
He planned on everything but the slider.
"I had some good years, made it up to Double-A (in Jackson), but I couldn't hit the slider. I kind of saw the writing on the wall that I needed to do something else.
"I was very realistic with myself. Here I was, a 5-9, 180-pound outfielder who bats right. They're almost a dime a dozen in minor league baseball. ... I felt it was time to move on to another phase in my life."
The move took him back home and back to football.
"Just try coaching," said Hank Tierney, the longtime head coach at high school powerhouse Archbishop Shaw. "I think you will be good at it."
Tierney based that on his remembrance of Joseph as a high school wide receiver and defensive back.
"He played football like a coach," said Tierney, who now coaches high school football in Ponchatoula, La. "He had an ability to analyze situations because he had such a great understanding of the game. I knew he would be a good coach."
Joseph had something else going for him: his last name.
He came from a family of football players, all of whom played for Tierney. His younger brother, Derrick, later played wide receiver at Tulane. His first cousins, Mickey (Nebraska) and Vance (Colorado), also played college football. Derrick, Mickey and Vance were option quarterbacks for Tierney, who, during the course of a phone interview, figured up that he won close to 100 games with the three Josephs at quarterback.
Despite the strong football ties in his family, Terry viewed the coaching job as temporary, rather than the first step in a career. But coaching caught him by surprise.
"Football is about studying film to try to find an edge that will make your team better," Joseph said. "That's the part that really hooked me."
His father wasn't surprised. He remembered all the Friday nights he and Terry attended high school football games together, before his son started playing.
"He would sit there with a piece of paper, writing all these numbers down," Terry Joseph Sr. said. "He could often tell you what the next play was going to be."
After a late entry into the profession, Terry Jr. moved up quickly, leaving his old high school for a job at Destrehan, then landing a position on Les Miles' LSU staff as a graduate assistant for a year before joining Dooley at Louisiana Tech.
"(Dooley) interviewed me at the coaching convention in San Antonio," Joseph said. "He did not ask me the first question about football for the first 45 minutes. He wanted to know what kind of person I was, what I believed in.
"At the end of the day, he offered me the job. I accepted two seconds later."
Three years later, Joseph was just as eager to follow Dooley to UT. Back in South Louisiana, his advancement wasn't lost on his former coach.
"I tell people all the time that I see Terry as a coordinator, then a head coach," Tierney said. "He's going places."
The further he goes, the better his parents can feel about the countless hours they invested in the future of their two sons, both of whom attended private schools from childhood through high school. The parents took on extra shifts at work whenever possible, and Terry's dad even did a landscaping business on the side in whatever spare time he had. The grandparents did their share as well, looking after Terry and Derrick when needed.
"When you look back at it now, it gives you chill bumps," Terry's father said. "But we made it through."
John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or email@example.com.