Hill adds three former Minnesota coaches to SIU football

By Luke Nozicka, @LukeNozicka

SIU football coach Nick Hill said Friday he has added three former Minnesota coaches to his first staff. 

Minnesota’s acting offensive line coach Trevor Olson will serve as SIU’s offensive line coach; Minnesota’s offensive quality control assistant Nate Griffin will coach tight ends and fullbacks; and Southeast Missouri’s cornerbacks coach Melvin Rice will serve as SIU’s cornerbacks coach. 

All three worked for or played for Jerry Kill, who coached Hill from 2004 to 2007.

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Olson — who was in his third year as a graduate assistant — was promoted to acting offensive line coach at Minnesota after the Nov. 29 firing of former offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover. Limegrover was one of at least four people who interviewed for SIU’s head coaching position. 

Olson, a Richfield, Minn., native, played offensive tackle at Northern Illinois, which ranked 11th nationally in total offense and rushing offense in 2011 — the year Olson graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history. He played under Limegrover and Kill, who served on SIU’s head coach search advisory committee. 

“He started an NCAA-record 54 games during his career, which included four bowl games,” according to his Minnesota online biography. “He was a consensus All-Mid-American Conference selection each of his last two seasons. Olson earned national recognition on the preseason watch lists for the Outland Trophy and Rotary Lombardi Award. He was named a fourth-team All-American by Phil Steele in 2011.”

After FootballScoop, a website that uses anonymous sources, reported Olson was heading to Southern Illinois, Golden Gophers backup center Matt Leidner tweeted: “Well deserved for a great guy.”

Nate Griffin, who has served the last four seasons as an offensive quality control coach for Minnesota, will also join the Saluki football program. At Minnesota, he was “in charge of opponent scouting, self scouting and the day-to-day operations on the offensive side of the ball,” according to his Gophers biography.

Griffin, who graduated from the University of Idaho after playing there from 2000 to 2003, was a graduate assistant at Northern Illinois under coach Kill from 2008 to 2009.

“Nate and I have close ties,” Kill said in a Minnesota press release after he hired Griffin. “He’s a football guy. He understands the game.”

Before that, Griffin was a defensive line coach at Truman State University in 2010. He assisted the recruiting coordinator and oversaw video operations at Northern Colorado from 2006 to 2007. 

In addition to Olsen and Griffin, Melvin Rice — who was hired to the Gophers staff in 2011 — joined the Saluki family. 

Rice, who coached and played for Kill at Northern Illinois, served “as Minnesota’s defensive quality control assistant where he [was] in charge of opponent scouting, self scouting and the day-to-day operations on the defensive side of the ball,” according to his online biography. 

At NIU, Rice coached the defensive backs as a graduate assistant in 2010 — the year the Huskies went 11-3. Rice, who played for the Green Bay Blizzard in the Indoor Football League in 2010, coached at Chicago’s Morgan Park High School in 2009.

Sean Carley contributed reporting. 

Luke Nozicka can be reached at 618-536-3325, [email protected] or on Twitter @lukenozicka.

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