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Illinois names Tony Petersen offensive coordinator

Bielema makes his first hire.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 08 North Carolina at ECU Photo by Greg Thompson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Bret Bielema has made his first staff hire.

Tony Petersen will be Illinois’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Petersen has coached for more than 30 years, serving as an OC in the Big Ten, MAC, Conference USA, American and Sun Belt. He was previously the OC at Appalachian State, which had the 26th-best total offense and 7th-best rushing offense in 2020.

“After competing against Tony and his offensive style and game plan I have had tremendous respect for him as a coach,” Bielema said in a statement Monday night. “Throughout his career he has blended the roster and skill sets of the players to maximize the results. Here at Illinois, we will build an offensive identity that will provide balance, use tempo, and play with a physicality that will make Illini Nation smile. No matter from playing on the road in a hostile environment or here at Memorial Stadium, we will execute and maximize our players’ talents to build a sustained winning culture.”

The 54-year-old is certainly a football lifer. Prior to his time with the Mountaineers, Petersen worked a ton of jobs, including as a Missouri offense analyst (2019), East Carolina OC (2016-18) and Minnesota co-offensive coordinator (2000-06). He was a quarterback for two seasons at Marshall in the late ‘80s, a place he later was assistant head coach from 2010-12.

As a player at Marshall, Petersen led the Thundering Herd to their first 10-win season in school history while throwing for nearly 5,000 yards and 35 touchdowns. He was named Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Year in 1987 and was also recognized as the Southern Conference Athlete of the Year in 1988 for his performance on the baseball diamond. He set over a dozen Southern Conference single-season and career records in passing and total offense in his time there.