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Middle Tennessee fires head coach Rick Stockstill after 18 seasons

Stockstill was hired in December 2005 and spent nearly two full decades in Murfreesboro, TN.

Middle Tennessee v Miami Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

Rick Stockstill spent nearly two decades manning the sidelines in Murfreesboro, TN. The head coach’s 18-year tenure with Middle Tennessee officially concluded Monday as the program relieved him of his duties.

“This is one of the most difficult days in my tenure, but one I feel is necessary in our aspiration to compete and win championships,” athletic director Chris Massaro said in a statement. “I appreciate everything Rick, his wife Sara, and their family have done the last 18 years for MTSU Athletics, our football program, and, more importantly, our student-athletes. Because of his leadership, our student-athletes have performed at a high level in the classroom, have dedicated time and energy to supporting our community and have given us countless hours of dedication to being successful on the football field. I want to thank Coach Stockstill for his professionalism, character and dedication, and wish him well in his future endeavors.”

Stockstill was hired in December 2005, several weeks before the iconic BCS National Championship Game between Texas and USC at the Rose Bowl. Prior to his firing, he was the fourth-longest tenured FBS head coach behind Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz, Utah’s Kyle Whittingham, and Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy. In 18 seasons at the helm, Stockstill became the program’s winningest head coach with a 113-111 record.

Before Stockstill was hired, Middle Tennessee never played in a bowl game. He made participating in the postseason a staple in Murfreesboro, qualifying for 10 bowls over his tenure, including six in his final nine seasons. Stockstill registered Middle Tennessee’s first bowl win in 2009, defeating Southern Miss in the New Orleans to capture the Blue Raiders’ first and only 10-win season as FBS members. He won three additional bowl games — 2017 Camellia Bowl, 2021 Bahamas Bowl, and 2022 Hawaii Bowl.

Stockstill oversaw the team’s transition from the Sun Belt to Conference USA in 2012. He coached the Blue Raiders to the 2018 CUSA Championship Game, falling to UAB in 27-25 fashion. His lone conference title was captured in 2006, his second season at the helm, where Middle Tennessee won the Sun Belt with a 6-1 league and 7-6 overall record.

The longtime coach’s firing comes after a 4-8 season, his third losing campaign in a five-year stretch. Stockstill’s final game concluded Saturday in a 23-20 loss to FBS newcomer Sam Houston, as his team lost on a missed field goal at the buzzer.

Stockstill is one of just two Middle Tennessee coaches since the Blue Raiders joined the FBS in 1999. The first coaching search in 18 years will begin immediately.