Lustig sees ‘Perfect Fit’ in taking over as Boro Head Coach

Categories:  Sports    Year In Review 2016: Sports
Tuesday, January 12th, 2016 at 10:14 AM
Lustig sees ‘Perfect Fit’ in taking over as Boro Head Coach by Mike Fenner
Justin Lustig is the new head coach for the Edinboro Fighting Scots football program.

Edinboro University Director of Athletics Bruce Baumgartner introduced 37-year-old Justin Lustig as the Fighting Scots’ next head football coach at the Frank G. Pogue Student Center on campus Monday. Lustig becomes the 14th football coach in program history at Edinboro after spending the last five years at the Division One level as an assistant coach at Ball State.

"We are very pleased that Justin has agreed to take over as head coach of the Edinboro football program," Baumgartner said. "We were elated with the pool of candidates, and this was not an easy decision given the quality of the candidates. We believe that in Justin Lustig we have a coach who is a rising star in the profession. I would like to thank the members of the committee who put in countless hours at a very busy time of year to make sure this search culminated with an outstanding candidate."

Lustig hails from Erie, where he played high school football at Cathedral Prep. Lustig graduated from Prep in 1996 before earning a bachelor’s degree in English and History in 2000 while playing both cornerback and safety as a four-year starter and captain at Bucknell University in the Patriot League. Additionally, Lustig’s father got his coaching start at nearby General McLane high school.

Coming to Edinboro as, most recently, the Ball State Special Teams Coordinator/Running backs coach as well as the assistant head coach for the Cardinals in the Mid-American Conference (MAC), Lustig made stops along the way at Christopher Newport in two separate stints, Villanova, Eastern Illinois and Louisana-Lafayette.

“I couldn’t be more excited to be back home, I think first and foremost, to be back here in northwestern Pennsylvania,” Lustig said in his introductory press conference. “We’ve lived all over the place; we lived in Louisiana, Virginia, Indiana, Illinois, and one thing that I’ve always bragged about is where I’m from and where I grew up. I take a lot of pride in the tradition of athletics here and the toughness of the people here.”

Last season, Ball State's special teams units finished among the top four in the MAC in every statistical category. The Cardinals ranked 12th in Division I at 25.5 yards per return on kickoffs, and the kickoff return defense ended 2015 13th nationally (18.03 yards per return). Lustig also coached running back Darian Green, who paced the conference in all-purpose yardage. 

 “The football program, in my opinion, is the front porch of the university. A lot of times, it’s the one that’s on the news and unfortunately if guys are getting in trouble, that’s on the news. That’s important to me that we all understand that in our program.”

Baumgartner said he was very pleased with the outcome.

“A couple months ago, we decided to go in a new direction with our football program. We did a national search. We had over 125 applicants, we 'Skyped' with 12 people, we had on-campus interviews of seven. The committee, I believe, did an excellent job of sorting through all the information and data. Edinboro University is committed to having a great athletic department. We want to get our football program back into winning ways.”

It has not yet been determined whether any members of the previous coaching staff will be retained under Lustig’s direction.

“We’ve got to work through all that in the next couple of weeks. Certainly, I’m excited to sit down with the current staff and talk with them about their previous experience and some of their strengths and weaknesses.”

Lustig believes taking an interest in the student athletes athletically, academically and socially are the three things that can make the Scots’ football program healthier when it comes to better relationships and the overall development of the program.

“The first thing that I want to mention is this program, under my leadership, will be about the kids, first and foremost. It’s going to be about them and obviously it’s going to be about competing and making them better athletically as best that we can. It’s also going to be about worrying about their academic careers and taking an interest in that.”

The belief in recruiting being the lifeblood of the program is something Lustig pointed to, but not just for looking into future prospects. The recruitment of his current players to start things off, and secondly the campus as well as Edinboro community buying in, Lustig says, is what can ensure everyone being on board with Boro football.

“To feel a part of it, our program is going to be transparent. I want people around as much as possible. I want them at practices, if they want to sit in meetings, if they want to come to weight sessions, I want as many people around as possible.”

Showing up to class on time, sitting in the first three rows of classes, as well as many other symbols of commitment to excellence are the ways in which a culture is built in the football program, said Lustig.

“It’s a matter of how we operate every day. I think the kids are going to have to understand right away that they’re going to get evaluated not only on their athletic ability, but also on what they’re doing academically, what they’re doing socially; that’s how I’m going to evaluate them.”

Edinboro is coming off its fourth straight losing season after a 0-11 year in 2015. The 2016 Fighting Scots football schedule has not been released.

Lustig and his wife, Beth Ann, a former women’s soccer player for the Fighting Scots, have two sons, Henry and Samuel. 

Mike Fenner is a senior staff writer for The Spectator and general manager of WFSE Radio.

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