Tech’s new football coach has been working his plan to become a head coach his entire life. Now, he’s bringing that focus and passion to the Golden Eagles.
by Buddy Pearson
Marcus Satterfield has had a game plan for his life since he was a little boy. When asked in school what he wanted to be when he grew up, he responded “a football coach.”
Satterfield didn’t have to go too far to find a coaching role model. He had one at home in his father, Bill, who was the head football coach at Greenback High School in East Tennessee.
“I was always the manager or the ball boy,” Satterfield recalled. “I knew pretty early in life I wasn’t going to make a career of playing football, but coaching was something that was in my blood.”
Satterfield tagged along with his dad, learning about the game until he was old enough to put on the pads. He spent four years playing for the Greenback Cherokees under his father’s guidance. It was a helpful and fulfilling experience.
“He wasn’t a coach who was overbearing or any harder on me,” Satterfield explained. “He definitely wasn’t easy on me, but we didn’t take it home. He was not the overbearing type. It wasn’t a burden to play for him. It was a pleasure.”
After high school, Satterfield had the pleasure of playing on the collegiate level at East Tennessee State University where he lettered three years. Once Satterfield got a taste of college football, he began designing a path for his future career.
“At the time, I thought I wanted to be a high school coach,” Satterfield recalled. “But when I got to college, I decided college football was the greatest game ever, and I got the bug to coach it.”
As a player at ETSU, Satterfield would approach opposing coaches and inquire about a job. He lobbied such notable mentors as Butch Davis, who was at Miami, and Jackie Sherrill, who was at Mississippi State. Satterfield began his coaching career as a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. Even though it didn’t pay anything, he knew this would be the first step in climbing the coaching ladder. Fortunately, so did his dad.
“My dad saved my career,” admitted Satterfield. “I could have coached with my dad or at some small schools. He knew if I wanted to get where I ultimately wanted to get, I needed to start at Chattanooga, an FCS Division I school.
“He and my mom basically paid me — paid my salary, paid my food, paid my rent so I could pursue my dream. I will never forget that,” continued Satterfield. “It was huge for them to be able to sacrifice for a year or year and a half until I could start getting paid.”
Satterfield moved up the coaching ranks before being promoted to assistant coach for wide receivers. He then left UTC and moved to Knoxville where he served on the staff of Phillip Fulmer at the University of Tennessee. From there he bounced over to Richmond and then Western Carolina before landing at the University of Tennessee, Martin. With the Skyhawks, Satterfield was the passing game coordinator before moving up to associate head coach.
Satterfield then returned to Chattanooga where he was the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. After four years with the Mocs, Satterfield headed to Philadelphia to become the offensive coordinator at Temple.
“Everything I’ve done in my coaching career in college has been building toward being a head coach,” Satterfield explained. “Understanding that you have to work for free and be a GA, be an assistant coach and a position coach and, hopefully, one day be a coordinator. Being a coordinator puts you in a position to have ownership and have control of 30-40 guys on one side of the ball and have some success at that.”
Satterfield had a lot of success at Temple, helping turn the Owls into a Top 25 program for the first time in 36 years. As a member of the staff, the Owls won a conference divisional championship, posted a 10-win season and made a bowl appearance.
For all his efforts, he was named the Tennessee Tech head football coach in December 2015. His game plan had worked, and his dream of becoming a head football coach had come to fruition.
“It’s unbelievable. This is the best college town in the country,” Satterfield exclaimed. “This is a dream come true.”
Satterfield put a fresh game plan into action with the Golden Eagles. His 2016 Golden Eagle squad posted a 5-6 overall record, including a third-place finish in the OVC with a 5-3 mark, which is Tech’s best finish since 2011.
“We are slowly but surely defeating the inferiority complex that’s been built up in this area when it comes to sports and college football,” Satterfield said. “We are breaking that down one day at a time. Hopefully, with some success on the field this is going to be a college football program everyone knows about and one of the best in the country. In time, I think we will be.”
Satterfield has wasted little time in expressing his enthusiasm for being a head coach and expectations for the Golden Eagles. He uses the word “championship” in conversation. He sits and cheers with his players at TTU sporting events. Academics and community service are priorities. The energy and passion he exudes have captured the intrigue of the campus.
“The only way anything works is if you have energy and passion and love for whatever you are doing. If ever there is a day when I come into work and I’m miserable, then I need to get out of it,” said Satterfield. “If your kids can see how much love and passion and energy you have, they are going to have the same thing. The community is going to have the same thing, and the students are going to have the same thing.”
Satterfield believes in the power of positive thinking, which is why he continues to use the word “championship” in conversations. He believes Tennessee Tech will not only compete for conference championships, but national championships as well.
“If we don’t talk about championships, we are never going to get there,” explained Satterfield. “You never want to get caught where you are in a position to win one and you aren’t ready.”
Just as Satterfield followed his game plan to be ready when the time came to be a head coach, he believes his game plan will have Tennessee Tech ready to take the next step in becoming a winning program.
“The more you talk about it, the more it will happen,” said Satterfield. “I’ve talked about being a head coach all my life and it happened. It will happen here, too.”