The Charlotte 49ers won't play football until 2013. They won't even begin construction on a stadium until April. But they finally have a name, someone to be recognized as the face of the program. Director of Athletics Judy Rose and Chancellor Philip Dubois announced Tuesday that Brad Lambert would be the guy to lead the 49ers out of the tunnel in 2013 when they Niners face off with Campbell in their inaugural game.
"I have absolutely no doubt that we got the right fit for Charlotte," Rose said. "I know after spending as much time with Brad as I have, that he's a builder. He makes players better -- and I see him doing the same thing in building our program at Charlotte."
In his time at Wake Forest, Lambert coached the likes of All-ACC and All-Americans Alphonso Smith and Aaron Curry, who won the Butkus Award in 2008. Lambert also helped the Marshall Thundering Herd to a national championship in 1992 as well as four national championship game appearances in his six years with the school.
"The biggest thing for me was once I got involved in the process, I saw the vision, commitment and excitement that there is here for football," Lambert said. "They have great plans in place and it lines up with the vision I have."
Lambert's 49ers won't officially hit the field until 2013, but the 46-year-old said making a mark on the Charlotte community will be key in his first months on the job.
"I think that's job number one," Lambert said. "That's what you do coming in-when you start a new program, you have to go out and do your part. You have to get everybody on board and let them know about you and about us."
Lambert also coached special teams at the University of Georgia, where the Bulldogs won four consecutive bowl during his tenure there. Among players Lambert coached were All-Pro defensive back Champ Bailey as well as Pittsburgh Steeler great Hines Ward.
Rose said Lambert's base-salary would be $250,000 per year with a chance to renegotiate in the spring of 2013, just a few months before Charlotte's tilt with Campbell. The 49ers had originally budgeted only $175,000 per year but increased the salary during the coaching search to make the job more attractive.
Lambert is seen as the 'nice guy' in the college football community. He's the type that will get in a someone's face for making a mistake in practice but then walk away with his arm around the player.
On the field, Lambert expects his team to be tough and play with intensity, as long as it's within the rules.
"We're going to knock people down, help pick them up, then knock them down again," Lambert said of his team's on-field philosophy. "Character, integrity, toughness. That's how we did it under coach (Jim) Grobe and that's how we'll do it here."
Lambert also announced at the conference that former West Virginia offensive coordinator and longtime friend Jeff Mullen would join the 49ers in the same capacity.
Mullen noted that he wanted to implement a spread offense at Charlotte, similar to the one he ran in Morgantown with star quarterback Pat White.
Charlotte's program isn't even close to being complete, but the 49ers have gotten just that much closer to 2013.
"Football is really important to this university and that's exciting for me and my family," Lambert said. "I am humbled as well that we've been entrusted to lead this team."