In his first six years on the Bison sideline, Joe Susan has certainly impacted the culture of the Bucknell program. He has his favorite sayings like "The Ball is the Program", which focuses on limiting and creating turnovers, and certain philosophies like the Thought Box, which symbolizes leaving all off-field distractions away from the field during practices and games. Additionally, Susan strives to recruit strong citizens to Bucknell and mold them into even better people by the time they graduate.
With his efficient coaching style and zest for recruiting, it didn’t take long for Susan to make an impact at Bucknell. In just his second season at the helm of the Bison, Susan led Bucknell to a five-win improvement, equaling the program record. He has now overseen three above-.500 records in the last five years, including the program’s best showing in nearly two decades in 2014 when he led the Bison to an 8-3 record and a second-place finish in the Patriot League.
Bucknell in 2014 reached the eight-win plateau for just the fifth time in program history and it was in contention for an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament heading into the season finale vs. Colgate. Susan became Bucknell’s first Patriot League Coach of the Year since Tom Gadd in 1997. Susan was also a finalist for the Eddie Robinson FCS Coach of the Year Award.
Susan ranks eighth in Bucknell history with 28 victories and is tied for sixth in program history in games coached (66). He is 38-38 in his career as a head coach, including a 10-0 mark at Davidson.
In 2016, Bucknell is expected to return 18 players who were regular starters last year.
A veteran of nearly 40 years in the college coaching profession, Susan was named the Bob Odell Head Football Coach at Bucknell University on Jan. 27, 2010.
Susan, 60, is Bucknell’s 26th head coach since the program’s inception in 1883, and he took over a program that currently ranks 19th all-time in Division I FCS victories with nearly 594.
Susan, a 1978 graduate of the University of Delaware, served near-decade-long stints at Bucknell (1981-1990), Princeton (1991-1999) and Rutgers (2001-2009) before becoming the Bison head coach. He has had tenures at both the FBS (Rutgers, Memphis) and FCS (Bucknell, Princeton, Davidson) levels.
A native of South River, New Jersey, Susan - who was inducted into his high school's Hall of Fame in 2014 - returned to Bucknell from Rutgers, where he spent the previous nine years as an assistant coach on Greg Schiano's staff. Schiano, a three-time letterwinner at Bucknell who was recruited by Susan, played for the Bison teams Susan coached and served as co-captain as a senior in 1987.
"I am thrilled for our student-athletes and football program to be able to welcome Joe Susan and his family back to Bucknell," said Bison director of athletics and recreation John Hardt at the time of Susan’s hiring. "His 30-plus years of successful experience in college football have prepared him exceptionally well to lead our program and reestablish the winning traditions of Bison Football. Through his student-focused approach, Joe has demonstrated an ability to recruit and mentor top-notch student-athletes at all levels of college football. Coach Susan has a passion for the sport of football and devotion for the young men he coaches on a daily basis. I know he is eager to get to work, and everyone associated with Bison Athletics is looking forward to welcoming him back to campus."
At Rutgers, Susan spent three years as the offensive line coach before adding tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator to his duties in 2003. As recruiting coordinator, he was integral in securing several highly touted and nationally ranked recruiting classes, including the 2009 group, which was ranked in the top 25 nationally by ESPN.com. His main recruiting areas were Central New Jersey, Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Florida, Delaware and Canada, although he directed Rutgers’ national efforts.
Prior to Susan’s arrival at Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights had not posted a record above .500 for nearly a decade and had qualified for one bowl game in 131 years of football. In 2009, Rutgers played in its fifth consecutive bowl game and finished 9-4.
Susan directed a deep corps of tight ends during his tenure at Rutgers that included former three-time All-Big East selection Clark Harris, a 2007 seventh-round draft choice of the Green Bay Packers.
Prior to his time at Rutgers, Susan got his first chance as a head coach when spent one year as the frontman at Davidson in 2000. He led the Wildcats to a 10-0 record, the only unbeaten team in school history, and a single-season record for wins. Susan was named the Coach of the Year by the Division I-AA Independents Sports Information Directors Association. Additionally, he received a Presidential Citation from the University of Delaware for outstanding achievement.
At Princeton, Susan served as both the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach for nearly a decade. In addition to recruiting duties at the Ivy League institution, he organized and implemented year-round strength and conditioning programs, developed and coordinated the spring football clinic and coordinated travel plans for away games.
Susan’s initial tour of duty at Bucknell began in June 1981. From 1981 through 1988 he was in charge of the offensive line and served as strength coach for the Bison under head coaches Bob Curtis and George Landis. When Lou Maranzana was hired as head coach prior to the 1989 campaign, Susan was promoted to assistant head coach while still keeping his duties with the offensive line.
Susan’s first foray into the coaching profession came at his alma mater where he was a graduate assistant on two separate occasions, separated by a one-year volunteer stint at Gettysburg.
Susan enjoyed an outstanding playing career at Delaware (1973-76), as his teams compiled a 36-12-1 record in his tenure there. The 1976 Newark Touchdown Club Offensive Lineman of the Year, Susan helped the Blue Hens to two Lambert Cups (1974, 1976) and the NCAA Division II national championship game.
In addition to a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from Delaware, Susan earned his master’s in physical education with an emphasis in exercise physiology from his alma mater in 1982.
Off the field, Susan is a member of the American Football Coaches Association, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, the University of Delaware Alumni Association and the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.
Susan and his wife, Cindy, have three adult children: 32-year-old son Matthew, 30-year-old daughter Jessica and 28-year-old daughter Julia.
Central New Jersey, Southern New Jersey, Delaware