A 20-plus year coaching veteran, Brad Lambert was hired on March 1, 2011 as the Charlotte 49ers first head football coach and charged with building a program that would debut in the 2013 inaugural season.
Led by Lambert, the 49ers, with two classes of recruits in house, exploded into Jerry Richardson Stadium for the 49ers historic inaugural game, Aug. 31, 2013. They won that game, over visiting Campbell, 52-7, as linebacker Mark Hogan returned an interception for a touchdown on just the second play from scrimmage to the delight of the standing-room only, capacity crowd. The 49ers, playing at the FCS level, would go on to claim an FCS road win over Presbyterian, an FCS top 25 win over Gardner-Webb and a record-setting 61-17 victory over Morehead State in the season finale. Officially, Charlotte finished the first season with a 5-6 mark against a schedule that included four FCS top 25 schools.
Lambert, a 10-year assistant at Wake Forest, who has also had successful stints at Georgia and Marshall, was announced by university Chancellor Dr. Philip Dubois and 49ers Director of Athletics Judy Rose in a press conference in the university's Barnhardt Student Activity Center, Mar. 1, 2011. Since then he has helped complete a stadium, hired a staff, recruited now three standout classes and assembled legions of fans for 49ers football.
"Brad is, first and foremost, a man of integrity," Dubois said, upon the hiring. "Not counting his playing days, he has more than 23 years of experience at the coaching level in four excellent Division I programs. He has experienced post-season and bowl success. He knows what success looks like. He also understands the importance of patience and resilience required to build a new program."
"I have absolutely no doubt that we got the right fit for Charlotte," Rose added. "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. He's obviously a relationship person, which I value very strongly. Look at the people that he has coached that have made special plans and flown in to be here today to help celebrate with Brad and his family. To me that speaks volumes."
Over his 23-year career leading to his position with the 49ers, Lambert has won an NCAA National Championship and an Atlantic Coast Conference title, been to eight bowl games and four NCAA National Championship games and enjoyed a winning pct. of over 62 percent.
"The biggest thing for me was once I got involved in the process, I saw the vision and commitment and the excitement that there is here for football. They have great plans in place and it lines up with the vision I have. Football is really important to this university and that's exciting for me and my family. I am humbled as well that we've been entrusted to lead this team," Lambert said. "I would like to thank Chancellor Dubois and Judy Rose for the opportunity."
Lambert served as Defensive Coordinator for the Demon Deacons his last three years, there. He served as Linebackers Coach and Special Teams Coach at Wake Forest from 2001-2009. He served as secondary, linebackers, special teams and defensive ends coach while at Georgia and a secondary and defensive ends coach at Marshall.
In his 10 years under Jim Grobe at Wake Forest, he was an integral part of the Deacons most successful football era. He was the Linebackers Coach on Wake Forest's 2006 ACC Champion team and was a part of four Bowl Game appearances, including three straight from 2006-2008. In 2008, he coached Butkus Award winner Aaron Curry, as the Deacons advanced to their third straight bowl game: the 2008 EagleBank Bowl.
"Character, integrity, toughness. That's how we did it under coach Grobe and that's how we will do it here. We're going to be a tough football team that's really disciplined," Lambert added.
The Deacons had five winning seasons during Lambert's tenure, including the 11-3 ACC Championship team and Orange Bowl team in 2006 and the 9-4 squad that advanced to the 2007 Meineke Car Care Bowl. In 2008, Lambert's first as Defensive Coordinator, the Deacons went 8-5 to cap a three-year run in which Wake Forest put together an overall 28-12 record and a 15-9 mark in the ACC while earning bids to the three straight bowl games. Over the course of his 10-year run at Wake Forest, Lambert helped the Deacons to a 61-60 record.
"He has a balance in what his expectations are," Rose added. "He wants to put a talented team on the field and he expects to graduate his players -- he expects excellence both on the field and in the classroom. He has those qualities we are looking for: patience, vision, a great work ethic. In addition, he knows this area extremely well and has recruited this region of the country heavily during his career."
Prior to joining Wake Forest's staff, Lambert coached for 11 years with Jim Donnan at both Marshall (1990-95) and Georgia (1996-2000). Donnan had given Lambert his start as a Graduate Assistant at the University of Oklahoma.
"I've been fortunate to have been around outstanding coaches who have had a huge impact on my career. I owe a lot to them and wouldn't be where I am without their support and the opportunities they gave me," Lambert added.
At Georgia, Lambert helped the Bulldogs to a 40-19 record that included four straight bowl wins: 1997 Outback Bowl, 1998 Peach Bowl, 1999 Outback Bowl and 2000 Oahu Bowl. At Marshall, he was a part of the Thundering Herd's 1992 NCAA Division I-AA National Championship. In fact, as an assistant coach at Marshall, Lambert helped the Herd to the national title game in four of his six years and to a semifinal appearance in a fifth.
During his coaching career, Lambert has overseen the development of players such as Curry, Will Witherspoon, Stanley Arnoux and Alphonso Smith. He also coached both Champ Bailey and Hines Ward while serving as Special Teams Coordinator at Georgia.
A 1987 graduate of Kansas State, Lambert was a four-year letterwinner who earned second-team all-Big Eight honors as a Defensive Back in 1984. He was an Academic all-Big Eight choice from 1984-86.
Lambert and his wife, Angie, have three children: a daughter, Lucy, and sons Layne and Beau.