Director of Athletics Mark LaBarbera has announced that Landon Fox has been hired as the 18th head coach of the Valparaiso University football program.
Fox will be formally introduced at a welcome reception on Tuesday, March 5 at 1 p.m. in the Athletics-Recreation Center media room.
Fox is no stranger to success in the Pioneer Football League, as he has spent the last 11 years as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at the University of Dayton under head coach Rick Chamberlin. During that time, the Flyers compiled an 86-38 record, won three PFL championships and participated in the 2015 FCS playoffs while making defense a hallmark of the program.
“We are excited to welcome Landon Fox to the Valpo Athletics family,” LaBarbera said. “We have made significant progress toward our goal of earning another PFL championship. Coach Fox has a proven track record of success and knows what it takes to win in the Pioneer Football League. Everyone I spoke with regarding his candidacy talked of his character and passion for influencing young men to succeed on the field, in the classroom and in life. I look forward to partnering with him. I am anxious to see what the players who make up Valpo football achieve under his leadership.”
During Fox’s time as defensive coordinator, Dayton held opponents to an average of 19 points per game. The defensive backfield produced one All-American, four Academic All-Americans, two PFL Special Teams Players of the Year and three corners invited to NFL Rookie Minicamp. He helped the team finish with 10 winning seasons in his 11 years on staff.
“There are a lot of similarities between Valparaiso University and the University of Dayton that will help ease my adjustment to Valpo,” Fox said. “They’re very much alike in terms of the mission of the universities as both prioritize service and leadership. That’s important because that’s what we’re going to teach our football team. We view football as a class for our players, and it’s going to be one of their favorite classes. I look forward to teaching the game of football and helping our student-athletes develop as young men.”
Dayton’s defense frequently ranked among the national leaders in a variety of statistical categories during Fox’s tenure. That trend began immediately in 2008, when the Flyers ranked second nationally in rushing defense, fifth in scoring defense and sixth in total defense during his first season. In 2009, the team led the nation in pass efficiency defense and was second in pass defense, third in total defense and fifth in scoring defense. The 2010 team was second in rushing defense, second in sacks and eighth in turnover margin, while the 2011 edition ranked third in sacks and eighth in rushing defense.
“From my time at Dayton, I learned the importance of targeting the right player in the Pioneer Football League and how to achieve that goal,” Fox said. “We will be seeking scholarship-level players who choose Valpo because of the academic programs. We will target student-athletes who put value in academics. We expect academic success, athletic competition and social life to all be important to our players.”
Accruing Top 10 national rankings in defensive statistical categories remained the norm for Fox’s defense in 2013, when the team ranked fourth in fourth-down defense. In 2014, Dayton was ninth nationally in third-down defense and 10th in pass efficiency defense before the 2015 squad ranked second in passes intercepted, fifth in blocked kicks and 10th in turnovers gained. The Flyers led the nation in passes intercepted in 2016 while also ranking fifth in blocked kicks, sixth in turnovers gained, eighth in pass-efficiency defense and 10th in both red-zone defense and fourth-down defense.
After again ranking in the Top 5 nationally in blocked kicks in 2017, Dayton boasted the second-best scoring defense in the PFL in 2018.
“At Dayton, we placed an emphasis on player development, and that’s something we’re going to carry over to Valparaiso,” Fox said. “We want to put our players in the best position possible to develop over the course of their careers at Valpo. Execution is key. You’re going to get 70, 80 or 90 snaps per game, and you’ve got to be able to execute at a high rate for a long period of time.”
Prior to joining the Flyers staff, Fox served as the linebackers coach and special teams coordinator at Wayne State University in Detroit from 2005-2007. His special teams unit ranked fourth nationally in Division II in kickoff returns in 2008.
Fox’s resume also includes stints as a defensive graduate assistant at Ball State University (2004), Dayton (2002-2003) and Lakeland College (2001). He began his coaching career as an assistant varsity coach at Preble Shawnee High School in Camden, Ohio during the 2000 season.
Fox credits Rick Chamberlin (Dayton), Mike Kelly (Dayton), Brady Hoke (Ball State) and Paul Winters (Wayne State) as head coaches who have been instrumental in providing guidance during his career as an assistant.
During his playing days, Fox was a team captain and all-conference performer at Defiance College in Defiance, Ohio from 1995-1999. He graduated from Defiance with a degree in physical education and health in May 2000 before earning his master’s degree in education from Lakeland in May 2002. Fox and his wife Rhonda have a daughter, Riley, and a son, Logan.
The program’s progress under former head coach Dave Cecchini helped Fox see the potential of football at Valpo.
“As a coach in the league, I kept my eyes open and my ears to the ground,” Fox said. “I could tell football was a priority at Valpo and I liked what they were accomplishing. They have put money into the program by upgrading the weight room and the locker room. In turn, that allowed them to get better on the field. There’s no magical formula to winning a championship, but first and foremost we have to be as good as we can possibly be every day. This program is going to be built on the players, and I’m excited about the relationships that I have the opportunity to build with Valpo players of the past, present and future.”
What They’re Saying About Coach Fox
Dayton Head Football Coach Rick Chamberlin: “Valparaiso University is getting a fine football coach in Landon Fox. Landon has been an integral part of our success here at the University of Dayton. He is a great leader of young men. He not only is a good judge of talent, but also of the kind of student-athlete every team needs to be successful. I’m sure he will be the same kind of coach at Valparaiso.”
Pittsburgh Steelers Running Backs Coach Eddie Faulkner: “Valpo is getting something special with Landon Fox. He is very knowledgeable about the game, a tireless recruiter and a very connected and well-respected coach. He sets a high standard for his players and demands their best. Good things are ahead for Valpo football.”
Dayton Assistant Vice President for Athletics & College Football Hall of Fame Inductee Mike Kelly: “Landon has and is prepared for this wonderful opportunity. He is all about TEAM – his staff TEAM, the football TEAM, the athletic department TEAM, the University TEAM and the community TEAM. He is an outstanding teacher that will motivate everyone around him. The student-athletes will love and respect Coach Fox.”
Wayne State University Head Football Coach Paul Winters: “Landon Fox will make Valparaiso football followers very proud. Landon is strong-willed, intelligent and has endless energy. He is a great young coach and I am sure that he will have a tough, disciplined football team.”