Ferris State University Athletics Director Perk Weisenburger announced today that Jeff
Pierce will not be retained as head football coach, ending a 17-year run leading the
Bulldog football program.
"After evaluating our program over the past two seasons, it became apparent that it is time for a change," Weisenburger said. "In order to promote the future success of our football program, new leadership is needed. Therefore, as of Dec. 1, Jeff Pierce will no longer serve as head football coach at Ferris State University and a search for his successor will begin immediately.
"Regretfully, and with the utmost respect for the time and effort Jeff has devoted to our program, this action is needed at this point in time. Our efforts remain focused on building the Bulldogs into a championship contending football program. We appreciate the service, commitment and dedication that Jeff, his family and his coaching staffs have provided to Ferris over the years," he added.
Pierce established firm roots with the Bulldogs after graduating from Sault Ste. Marie (Mich.) High School in 1974. He was a Bulldog defensive back from 1974-77 and started his collegiate coaching career as a graduate assistant at Ferris in 1983 under Nick Coso. He later coached the linebackers under Dan Underwood and continued on with Keith Otterbein's staff in 1986 before being promoted to defensive coordinator in 1988.
Pierce took over the Bulldog program in 1995 after the departure of Otterbein. The Bulldogs haven't reached the playoffs since 1996 and claimed the last of three league titles won or shared under Pierce's direction in 1999. FSU's six wins this season represented their most victories since 2008 and came on the heels of back-to-back losing seasons in 2009 and 2010. Ferris won only one game in 2009 (1-10) and followed it up with a 5-6 mark in 2010 (lost final five games) along with a 6-5 record in 2011 (lost four of last six games).
Additionally, Ferris also has struggled against various Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) division rivals. The Bulldogs haven't beat archrival Grand Valley State since 1999 and this year's setback at Michigan Tech was Ferris' ninth consecutive loss to the Huskies. Ferris has finished among the top three teams in the conference only once in the last 10 years and is 23-41 versus in-state league teams on the field in the last 10 seasons, including a combined 3-16 versus two of the division's premier programs in GVSU and Saginaw Valley State* (includes two games that were later changed to forfeit wins for the Bulldogs).
Pierce served for 12 years as a Bulldog assistant coach, including the final seven as defensive coordinator, before being tabbed as the school's 12th head coach and he guided the Bulldogs to NCAA Division II Playoff appearances in each of his first two campaigns while finishing with a 102-85 (.545) overall record. He made the most of his initial head coaching opportunity during his first season in 1995 when he led the Bulldogs at that time to an unprecedented fourth consecutive GLIAC title with a second-straight undefeated regular-season and a school-best semifinal appearance in the NCAA-II Playoffs while earning GLIAC Coach of the Year honors.
A national search for a successor will begin immediately, according to Weisenburger. Assistant Coach Chris Boden will serve as the interim head coach until a successor is named.