Football team adds two to coaching staff
Feb. 3, 2014
Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun announced the addition of two assistant coaches to the football coaching staff. Ron Vanderlinden and Tim Cross have both joined the staff. Their coaching assignments and titles are to be determined.
Vanderlinden comes to the Academy after 13 years at Penn State where he coached linebackers. Cross comes to Air Force after spending the last three years at Texas where he coached strength and conditioning. Prior to his stint at Texas, Cross served as the associate head coach and defensive line coach at Minnesota.
As the most recent linebackers coach for the Nittany Lions, Vanderlinden oversaw the school's traditional "Linebacker U." He had helped develop a linebacker unit that included All-American 2005 Butkus and 2005/2006 Bednarik award winner Paul Posluszny, a consensus All-American and 2006 All-American and 2007 Bednarik Award winner Dan Connor. He also coached Michael Mauti to first-team all Big Ten and first-team All-American honors in 2012. In addition, he had nine former players on NFL rosters in 2013.
In 1997, he was hired as the head coach of the Maryland Terrapins, a team without a bowl game and only one winning season since 1990. In both the 1999 and 2000 seasons, Maryland narrowly missed achieving a winning season and bowl game bid by losing their finale and ended both years with a 5-6 record. Vanderlinden recorded a 15-29 record.
Maryland improved significantly during Vanderlinden's tenure, winning more games in 1999 than the previous two years combined. His staff also recruited players who would be instrumental in the team's meteoric rise in 2001 to an ACC championship, a Bowl Championship Series game, and a top-10 final ranking. Some of these players included linebacker E.J. Henderson, quarterback Shaun Hill, and wide receiver Guilian Gary. Also during Vanderlinden's tenure, running back Lamont Jordan set the school record for single-game rushing with 306 yards.
Vanderlinden's 36-year coaching career began in 1978, as a graduate assistant at Bowling Green, where he also earned a master's degree in 1979. He also coached as a graduate assistant at Michigan. His first full-time coaching position was with Ball State in 1982. From 1983 to 1991, he was a defensive assistant at Colorado under head coach Bill McCartney. During that timeframe, Colorado won the 1990 National Championship. From 1992 to 1996, Vanderlinden served as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at Northwestern. There he played a part in the reversal of fortunes of a struggling football program into a two-time Big Ten champion. Northwestern led the nation in scoring defense in 1995 and played in the its first Rose Bowl since 1936.
Vanderlinden is a 1978 graduate of Albion College where he played football as a four-year starting center. He was named all-conference honors two years and was part of the 1976 team that achieved a perfect 9-0 record. Both the 1976 and 1977 teams have since been inducted into the Albion College Hall of Fame.
Originally from Livonia, Mich., Vanderlinden played on two state championship teams at Divine Child High School in Dearborn, Mich., where he first interacted with McCartney, who was his high school head coach. Vanderlinden and his wife, Lisa, have two children, Chelsea and Reid.
Cross has Colorado ties and comes to the Academy after spending three years at Texas where he coached strength and conditioning. Prior to Texas, Cross served as the associate head coach and defensive line coach at Minnesota.
While at Minnesota he helped the Gophers to a +.92 turnover margin which ranked second in the Big Ten and No. 16 in the nation in 2008. His defensive line recorded 20.5 sacks and 44 tackles for loss in that same year which each ranked in the top three in the conference and in the top 25 nationally.
He coached defensive end D.L. Wilhite to Big Ten All-Freshman honors from The Sporting News in 2009 and saw his defensive line rack up 32 tackles for loss in 2009. He also coached defensive end Willie VanDeSteeg to first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2008. VanDeSteeg became the first Gopher defender to be named First-Team All-Big Ten since 2004.
Prior to his stint at Minnesota, he coached the defensive line at Syracuse from 2005-06 where he helped the Orange lead the Big East and finish seventh in the nation in turnover margin at +.92. His front line at Syracuse averaged 2.8 sacks per game which was among the nation's top 20. A big reason for the Orange's success in getting to opposing quarterbacks was Cross' work with 2006 Big East sack leader Jameel McClain. Cross also coached NFL Draft selections James Wyche and Ryan LaCasse while at Syracuse.
Cross first began working at Texas prior to going to Syracuse, serving as assistant strength coach for the Longhorns from 2001-04. Cross assisted in the development and implementation of the strength and speed programs for the UT football squad. He was responsible for creating training programs for a Doak Walker, a Butkus and a Nagurski Trophy winner. Cross also played a key role in the development of numerous All-Americans and All-Big 12 performers, and his teams won at least nine games each season he coached with the Longhorns.
Cross began his coaching career in Colorado at Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver, serving as head coach from 1997-2000. He also spent one season as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at TJHS. Cross led the school to four straight league title and a 42-game conference winning streak. While at TJHS, he mentored 14 high school All-Americans, 20 all-state selections and 31 first team all-conference players. Cross coached two consecutive Gold Helmet Award winners, a honor bestowed to high school football all-state honorees who are successful on and off the field. He also coached two future NFL first-round draft picks during his time at TJHS in Daniel Graham (New England Patriots) and Andre Woolfolk (Tennessee Titans).
A native of Clarksville, Tenn., Cross attended Gateway High School in Aurora, Colo., and is a 1990 graduate of Northern Colorado where he was a four-year letterman in football and earned all-North Central Conference honors as a linebacker. Cross and his wife, Natalie, has a son, Keion and two daughters, Mariah and Tiana.