Mike Cox is in his fourth year as linebackers coach at Michigan State. The 41-year-old Cox has 19 years of coaching experience under his belt, including the last 17 seasons as an assistant under head coach John L. Smith. In March 2006, he assumed the additional duties of recruiting coordinator.
Under his instruction, David Herron Jr. has developed into one of the Big Ten's top inside linebackers. Over the last two seasons, Herron has recorded 160 combined tackles, including 12 for losses. In 2005, he ranked second on the team in both tackles (65) and production points (137).
In 2004, Michigan State's starting inside linebackers Ronald Stanley and Herron combined to produce 220 tackles. Stanley paced the Spartans in tackles (125 total) and production points (192) and ranked second in tackles for losses (9 for 33 yards). In his first year as a starter, Herron finished third on the team in tackles for losses (8 for 31 yards) and fourth overall in tackles (95).
In 2003, Cox coached the Spartans' top defensive playmaker, in Mike Labinjo, who recorded 94 tackles. Labinjo led the team in interceptions (3 for 19 yards) and ranked second in tackles for losses (11.5 for 66 yards). He earned a spot as a free agent on the Philadelphia Eagles' roster in 2004 and played against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX.
While at Louisville, the Cardinals won back-to-back Conference USA titles in 2000-01, averaged eight wins per season and earned five-straight bowl invitations. Cox also helped produce three All-Conference USA selections, in Rod Day (second team, 2002), Rashad Harris (second team, 2000) and Bud Herring (second team, 1998).
In 2002, Louisville ranked among the NCAA leaders in rushing defense (No. 17 at 113.0 yards per game) and total defense (No. 22 at 319.9 ypg.).
In 2001, the Cardinals finished No. 10 nationally in scoring defense, permitting 17.8 points per game.
In 2000, Louisville forced an NCAA-best 37 turnovers and ranked among the national leaders in rushing defense (No. 4) and total defense (No. 15).
During his tenure at Utah State (1995-97), he tutored two first-team All-Big West linebackers, in David Gill (1995-96) and Tony D'Amato (1997). In 1995, Gill broke NFL great (Houston Oilers) Al Smith's USU single-season record for tackles with 168.
Utah State won consecutive Big West Conference championships in 1996-97. In 1997, the Aggies ranked No. 25 in the NCAA in rushing defense, allowing 115.6 yards per game.
In 1995, Utah State finished among the league leaders in every defensive category - second in total defense, second in passing defense and third in rushing defense.
Cox helped Idaho to a combined record of 73-26 (.733) from 1987-94, including four Big Sky Conference championships and five Top 10 finishes. During his eight-year stint at Idaho, he worked primarily with the linebackers and defensive line. In 1994, the Vandals led the Big Sky in rushing defense, allowing only 65.3 yards per game.
Cox, a four-year letterman at Idaho from 1983-86, was a three-year starter at linebacker, playing for both Dennis Erickson and Keith Gilbertson. He still ranks among the Vandals' all-time leaders with 252 career tackles.
The Coeur d' Alene, Idaho, native earned a bachelor's degree in general studies from Idaho in 1989.
Married to the former Jill Crapo, Cox and his wife are the parents of three children: Zac, Jake and Addison.
THE COX FILE
YEARS AT MICHIGAN STATE: Fourth. Joined staff on Dec. 28, 2002, from Louisville.
PREVIOUS COACHING EXPERIENCE: College -- Linebackers and defensive line coach at Idaho (1987-94); linebackers coach at Utah State (1995-97); linebackers coach at Louisville (1998-2002).
EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in general studies from Idaho in 1989.
PLAYING EXPERIENCE: College -- Four-year letterman and three-year starter as a linebacker at Idaho (1983-86).
POSTSEASON EXPERIENCE: Player - 1985 NCAA I-AA playoffs, 1986 NCAA I-AA playoffs. Coach - 1987 NCAA I-AA playoffs, 1988 NCAA I-AA playoffs,1989 NCAA I-AA playoffs, 1990 NCAA I-AA playoffs, 1992 NCAA I-AA playoffs, 1993 NCAA I-AA playoffs, 1994 NCAA I-AA playoffs, 1997 Humanitarian Bowl, 1998 Motor City Bowl, 1999 Humanitarian Bowl, 2000 Liberty Bowl, 2001 Liberty Bowl, 2002 GMAC Bowl, 2003 Alamo Bowl.