UNC hires Bateman as co-defensive coordinator; was involved in ‘WakeyLeaks’ scandal

UNC’s Mack Brown: ‘The reason I’m going back is players and ex-players’

UNC Tar Heels coach Mack Brown talks about why he decided to keep Tommy Thigpen on staff. Brown was hired to coach UNC's football team last week.
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UNC Tar Heels coach Mack Brown talks about why he decided to keep Tommy Thigpen on staff. Brown was hired to coach UNC's football team last week.

North Carolina football coach Mack Brown has found his second co-defensive coordinator.

Jay Bateman, who has served as the defensive coordinator at Army for the past five years, has been hired to coach the defense, the school announced Sunday. He will be the co-defensive coordinator along with Tommy Thigpen, who was retained last week.

Bateman is considered one of the top assistant coaches in college football, nominated twice for the prestigious Broyles Award, given annually to the nation’s top assistant coach.

“He is a great teacher of the game, a brilliant defensive play caller, and an excellent recruiter with many ties to North Carolina and this region, including strong relationships with North Carolina high school coaches,” Brown said in a statement released by the school.

Bateman was also suspended and fined $25,000 for his involvement in a 2016 scandal where a former Wake Forest employee handed confidential game-plan information to some of its opponents.

Army was one of those opponents.

Bateman becomes the fifth assistant hired to Brown’s staff. Brown was named UNC’s new football coach two weeks ago, a few days after former coach Larry Fedora was fired.

Brown has also brought in Tim Brewster (assistant head coach and tight ends), Tim Cross (defensive line), and Dre Bly (cornerbacks) while retaining Thigpen.

When asked last Tuesday what he was looking for in a defensive coordinator, Brown said, “...defense we really struggled last year in Chapel Hill, so we’re going to have to get people who can line up and figure a way to out-coach people, and teach to be fundamentally sound.”

UNC’s defense gave up 34.5 points per game in 2018, which was ranked 107th out of 130 FBS teams.

‘WakeyLeaks’ involvement

Bateman was suspended for two weeks and fined in February 2017 for accepting leaked information from former Wake Forest assistant and radio analyst Tommy Elrod, in what was later dubbed “WakeyLeaks.”

Elrod had leaked confidential and proprietary game plan information on multiple occasions to different Wake Forest opponents.

An internal investigation by Army West Point found that Bateman and a former assistant accepted “non-public information” and tried to cover it up, according to an ESPN article in 2017.

Army head coach Jeff Monken defended Bateman in March 2017, saying there was “no malicious intent to cheat or cheat the system...,” according to the Middletown Record.

An accomplished defensive coordinator

Bateman is currently one of five finalists for the Broyles Award. He is joined by Clemson offensive coordinator Jeff Scott, Alabama offensive coordinator Michael Locksley, Mississippi State defensive coodinator Bob Shoop and Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chip Long.

Bateman was also a candidate for the award in 2016.

No. 23 Army (10-2), which beat Navy 17-10 on Saturday, ranks ninth in the country in total defense per the game, allowing 293.5 yards per game.

In 2017, Bateman led an Army defense that finished third in the nation in red-zone defense and 14th in passing defense.

Bateman’s coaching career began at Hampden-Sydney College in 1997. He then went to Siena College 1999, and became the head coach there one year later.

He spent four seasons as Siena’s head coach before heading to Richmond for a year as an assistant coach. He went to Lehigh University as the defensive line coach in 2005, Elon in 2006 as the defensive coordinator, Ball State in 2011 as its defensive coordinator, and then Army in 2013.

While at Elon in 2009, the Phoenix had the fourth-best defense in the country.

Jonathan M. Alexander has been covering the North Carolina Tar Heels since May 2018. He previously covered Duke basketball and recruiting in the ACC. He is an alumnus of N.C. Central University.