Phil Elmassian
Phil Elmassian

Assistant Head Coach/Secondary

Alma Mater:
William & Mary, 1974

Phil Elmassian, who has served as the defensive coordinator at five NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools, enters his second season as the defensive coordinator for the Illinois State football program. Elmassian (pronounced ell-MAY-shun) boasts a 36-year coaching career, which includes eight seasons as a defensive coordinator.

Elmassian not only oversees the entire Redbird defense but also mentors the ISU defensive backs. In his first season at ISU, Elmassian revamped a Redbird defense that recorded just three interceptions and ranked 115th out of 118 teams in the country in turnover margin and turned them into a unit that forced 19 takeaways on the season.

The Redbirds recorded 14 interceptions, the most for ISU since picking off 17 passes during its playoff run in 2006, and recovered five fumbles on the year to post a turnover margin (.55) that ranked 24th in the country.

Elmassian's players in the Redbird secondary accounted for 12 of the team's 14 interceptions, led by E.J. Jones' six picks. Chris Garrett was close behind with four interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns, and safeties Kelvyn Hemphill and Jermaine Malcolm collected the other two.

Five Redbird defenders earned All-MVFC plaudits in 2009, led by Hemphill and Eric Brunner as second-team selections. In addition, freshmen Mike Zimmer and Austin Davis were named to the league's All-Newcomer team under Elmassian's watch.

In his career, he has coached 22 players who received all-conference honors and two All-Americans. Elmassian has coached in a bowl game in 17 of the last 25 seasons and coached 16 players with NFL experience.

Elmassian came to Illinois State following one season as the co-defensive coordinator at Louisiana-Monroe. Just prior to his stint coaching the Warhawk defense, Elmassian spent four seasons at Nebraska as the secondary coach on former head coach Bill Callahan's staff.

The veteran coach has been a part of championships in four conferences and has served as the defensive coordinator at five NCAA Division I FBS schools: Louisiana-Monroe, LSU, Virginia Tech, Boston College and West Virginia.

Elmassian previously worked with Spack while coaching the Purdue defensive backs during the 2003 season. Spack was the defensive coordinator for Purdue from 1997-2008. The Boilermakers ranked second in the Big Ten, and 19th in the nation, in pass efficiency defense in 2003, and also ranked 13th nationally in total defense (302.5 yards per game).

Prior to Purdue, Elmassian coached for one season at Marshall (2002), which came after one-year stints as the defensive coordinator for West Virginia (2001) and LSU (2000). Before taking over the defense at LSU, he served as defensive backs coach at Wisconsin (1997-99). Elmassian was also a secondary coach at Washington (1995), Syracuse (1991-92), Virginia Tech (1985-86), Minnesota (1984) and East Carolina (1983).

Elmassian began his coaching career at William & Mary (1974-75), before moving on to Richmond, where he coached from 1976-78. Elmassian coached the quarterbacks and running backs at both schools, before switching to defense at Ferrum College, where he was defensive coordinator from 1979-82. He also coached the inside linebackers at Virginia from 1987-90.

His five league titles have come at schools in four conferences, and include Marshall's Mid-American Conference Championship in 2002; Washington's Pac-10 Championship in 1995; and Virginia's Atlantic Coast Conference Championship in 1989. He also helped lead Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl and Big Ten Championships in 1998 and 1999, as the Badger defense led the nation in scoring defense in 1998 and ranked fifth in 1999.

Elmassian played at Ferrum (Va.) College as a quarterback, then transferred to William & Mary (Va.), where he played defensive back under College Football Hall of Fame head coach Lou Holtz. He earned a bachelor's degree in physical education from William & Mary in 1974.

Elmassian and his wife, Mary, have three children: Claire, Dylan and Olivia.


2009 - Illinois State, Defensive Coordinator
2008 Louisiana-Monroe, Co-Defensive Coordinator
2004-07 Nebraska, Cornerbacks Coach
2003 Purdue, Secondary Coach
2002 Marshall, Outside Linebacker Coach
2001 West Virginia, Defensive Coordinator
2000 Louisiana State, Defensive Coordinator
1997-99 Wisconsin, Secondary Coach
1995-96 Boston College, Defensive Coordinator
1993-94 Virginia Tech, Defensive Coordinator
1991-92 Syracuse, Secondary Coach
1987-90 Virginia, Secondary Coach
1985-86 Virginia Tech, Secondary Coach
1984 Minnesota, Secondary Coach
1983 East Carolina, Secondary Coach
1979-82 Ferrum College, Defensive Coordinator
1976-78 Richmond, Quarterbacks/Running backs Coach
1974-75 Williams & Mary, Quarterbacks/Running backs Coach