Steve Caldwell is entering his fourth season as associate head coach and defensive line coach at Boise State, having joined the Bronco staff with head coach Bryan Harsin in 2014.
Caldwell has more than 30 years of coaching experience, leading teams to two national championships – including the 1998 Division I-A National Championship with Tennessee – and 19 bowl games.
Caldwell oversaw one of the most dominant defensive lines in the country in 2015, as his front four was the Mountain West standard and ranked fifth in FBS in rushing defense, allowing just 108.2 rushing yards per game. The stubbornness against the run helped the Bronco defensive unit rank second in the conference and 18th in the country in scoring defense with 20.2 points allowed per game.
Among the numerous standouts in the trenches was junior Kamalei Correa, who racked up a team-best 11.0 sacks and 7.0 tackles-for-loss, and was selected by the Baltimore Ravens with the 11th pick of the second round (42nd overall) in the 2016 National Football League Draft. Correa finished his collegiate career with a flourish, being named Defensive MVP of the Poinsettia Bowl victory over Northern Illinois after recording 2.0 sacks and 2.5 tackles-for-loss.
Under Caldwell’s guidance, despite losing all four starters from the 2015 season, Boise State still produced a pair of first-team All-Mountain West honorees in 2016, defensive end Sam McCaskill and nose tackle David Moa. McCaskill led the Broncos with 14.0 tackles-for-loss, while Moa paced the Broncos with 8.5 sacks – the most by a Bronco interior lineman since Andrew Browning also had 8.5 in 2006.
In his debut season at Boise State, Caldwell inherited a deep, if unproven, defensive line group. Boise State lost three starters from the previous season, and still concluded the 2014 season ranked seventh nationally in both sacks (3.36 per game) and tackles-for-loss (7.8 per game).
Despite facing two rushing offenses that concluded the season inside the nation’s top six, Boise State allowed less than 150 yards rushing per game (142.6), holding seven opponents to fewer than 100 yards on the ground.
In all, 10 different defensive linemen combined for 36 of the team’s 47 sacks. Correa, a sophomore in 2014, ranked in the top 20 nationally in each statistical category, finishing 13th in sacks (0.86 per game) and 18th in TFLs (1.4 per game) en route to first-team All-Mountain West honors.
Boise State concluded Caldwell’s first season at 12-2 overall, including victories in both the 2014 Sports Authority Mountain West Football Championship and the 2014 VIZIO Fiesta Bowl.
Caldwell joined forces with Harsin in 2013 at Arkansas State, his alma mater, where he also coached the defensive line. The Red Wolves captured a share of the Sun Belt Conference Championship in 2013, and also won the 2013 GoDaddy Bowl. Under Caldwell’s tutelage, Ryan Carrethers garnered first-team All-Sun Belt Conference honors, and was ultimately selected by the San Diego Chargers in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Prior to rejoining Arkansas State in 2013, Caldwell had spent his previous three seasons at Arkansas (2010-12), where he coached defensive ends. During his time there, the Razorbacks posted back-to-back 10-win seasons (2010-11) and played in the Sugar Bowl, the team's first Bowl Championship Series appearance.
Arkansas averaged 2.85 sacks and 7.31 TFLs in 2010, ranking ninth nationally in each statistical category. The Razorbacks ranked 36th-or-better nationally in sacks in each of Caldwell's three seasons.
Caldwell spent the 1995-2008 seasons coaching defensive ends at Tennessee. Over 14 seasons, the Volunteers won the 1998 National Championship, made 13 bowl appearances and finished 10 seasons ranked in the top 25.
Tennessee ranked in the top four amongst Southeastern Conference schools in total defense 10 times, and led the league in rushing defense three times. In 2008, the Vols ranked third nationally in total defense (263.5), and in 2005 the team's rushing defense ranked second nationally (82.5).
Before moving to Tennessee, Caldwell was the co-defensive coordinator at Nevada in 1994, where he helped lead the Wolf Pack to a 9-2 record and the 1994 Big West Conference Championship.
Caldwell began his coaching career at A-State following his playing career (1974-77). A three-year letterwinner at defensive end and linebacker, he was a graduate assistant from 1978-80.
He moved on to Northwest Mississippi Community College, where he coached offensive line from 1981-84. The school won the NJCAA National Championship in 1982.
He rejoined Arkansas State in 1985 as linebackers coach, and was with the Red Wolves through 1989. The school won back-to-back league championships (1985-86), and made three-straight trips to the NCAA Division I-AA Playoffs from 1985-87.
He worked as a graduate assistant at Tennessee in 1990, before moving on to Pacific from 1991-93. He was the linebackers coach in 1991, and added co-defensive coordinator responsibilities in 1992 and 1993.
Caldwell, originally from Thayer, Mo., earned his bachelor's degree in health, physical education and recreation from Arkansas State in 1977, and a master's degree in the same field from A-State in 1978.
He and his wife Leisa have a daughter Lauren and son-in-law Josh, sons Lendl and Landon (died at age 20) and granddaughters Cayman and Reese.
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