Mark Criner, who coached the Blue Raider secondary in 2004, was elevated to defensive coordinator in February 2005 by Head Coach Andy McCollum. The former University of Cincinnati assistant is in his second year with the Blue Raiders.
"Moving Mark to defensive coordinator was an easy decision," McCollum said. "Mark has a great coaching background and is extremely knowledgeable in the game of football. He is a great teacher and has an unbelievable attitude and enthusiasm. This will be a great fit for Middle Tennessee and this program."
Criner spent two seasons at Cincinnati under Rick Minter. He coached the Bearcat linebackers in 2002 and 2003 and was the team's co-defensive coordinator during the 2003 campaign.
In 2003, the Bearcats ranked 27th nationally in total defense after giving up just 333.0 yards a game and were 28th in pass efficiency defense. Cincinnati ranked 21st in total defense in 2002 and finished 17th in pass efficiency defense.
In taking over the Blue Raider secondary in 2004, Criner inherited a unit that mainly played three freshmen and two newcomers. The group showed a lot of improvement and accounted for four of the team's seven interceptions.
A 12-year coaching veteran, Criner learned the finer points of coaching from his father, Jim, who had head coaching tenures at Boise State and Iowa State along with a stint in NFL Europe.
A 1990 graduate of Boise State with a degree in physical education, Criner played one year at Iowa State (1986) and four at Boise State (1987-90).
Criner began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Utah State, working with the secondary in 1991 and the defensive line in 1992. He also worked with special teams both years.
He moved to Portland State in 1993, starting a seven-year coaching stint. He started as secondary coach and special teams coordinator and was promoted to defensive coordinator in 1997.
While at Portland State, Criner worked with three linebackers - Sammy Burroughs, Rick Cruz and Jeff Bockert - who went on to sign NFL contracts.
Criner left Portland State in 2000 to serve as defensive coordinator with the Las Vegas Outlaws of the XFL, a position he held until the league folded after one season. In 2001, the Outlaws ranked first in the league in scoring defense and No. 1 in total defense. Criner also headed up the defensive draft for the Outlaws during his brief stay.
Criner and his wife, Angie, have two children, daughter Madison (9) and son, Calin (6), and twins Jackson and Brooklyn (1).