When Scott Satterfield signed a two-year contract extension on Sept. 21, 2018 to remain the head coach at Appalachian State through the 2023 season, there was no doubt he would leave Boone, N.C., before the end of his deal.
Coming off back-to-back shares of the Sun Belt Conference championship, Satterfield’s name was already becoming a hot commodity on the coaching market. He’s also a well-known name in the Orange County community. Born in Hillsborough, Satterfield played quarterback for Orange High School from 1989-1991.
“It’s a dream come true to be here, it really is,” Satterfield said at the 2019 ACC Kickoff Wednesday. “Having grown up right there in Durham, then going to Orange, right here in ACC country with Carolina, Duke, State, Wake, all these teams... It’s just a dream come true.”
The same man who still looks back at his roots had become synonymous with the Appalachian State program for many years. He arrived in the fall of 1991 to play quarterback, eventually leading the Mountaineers to an undefeated regular season as a senior in 1995. He returned to the school in 1998 as a wide receivers coach and eventually worked his way up to offensive coordinator in 2012. More importantly, he resided as the head coach over the program’s transition to a full fledged Division 1 program beginning in the 2014 season.
By the time the 2018 season had come around, not only was Satterfield on the heels of a 9-4 campaign, but he had won three consecutive bowl games for a fledgling Division 1 program.
The somewhat quiet buzz that surrounded his name had intensified to a fever pitch by the time snow started to fall again in Boone in November 2018. By Nov. 30 — a Friday — it was a foregone conclusion that Satterfield’s days at his alma mater were numbered, with Louisville knocking on his door and Georgia Tech soon to enter the chase for his services.
On the eve of Appalachian State’s matchup with Louisiana-Lafayette in the inaugural Sun Belt Conference championship game, Satterfield had to remind reporters that his focus would be on the game the next day. After that, he would turn his attention to his future.
Two nights after defeating Louisiana-Lafayette, 30-19, for the Mountaineers’ 10th win of the season, Satterfield was on his way back to Boone to inform his players he was leaving for the ACC. The next day, a Tuesday, Satterfield boarded a jet back to Louisville to make it in time for his introductory press conference as the Cardinals’ new head coach, after deciding to leave a place he had called home for more than half his life, 24 years to be exact.
“I think once I got into coaching, I think you always have visions of being at a place with the highest level where you have an opportunity to compete for national championships.” Satterfield said at ACC Kickoff Wednesday. “I think that certainly was a goal of mine.”
Satterfield certainly will be coaching at a much higher stage, at a program that went winless in the ACC in 2018 and has not posted a winning record in conference play since 2016, the year that quarterback Lamar Jackson took home the Heisman Trophy.
Yes, Satterfield has an impressive resume. He led an Appalachian State program that upon joining the Division 1 ranks quickly dominated its new conference with at least a share of the conference championship in three consecutive seasons. He owns a 47-16 record at the Division 1 level, including a 3-0 mark in bowl games.
But now he will be under a much larger microscope, asked to recruit with the likes of Clemson and Florida State to compete in an Atlantic Division that saw its champion reach the College Football Playoff in all five seasons since its inception.
For Satterfield to experience success, Louisville athletic director Vince Tyra will need to show patience with a coach he praised in the introductory press conference.
“When I was calling him,” Tyra said in a statement to the Louisville Courier Journal on Dec. 4, “he was as anxious to hear my voice as I was. And that sounds a little corny…. But in all seriousness, it’s exciting when you feel like you have that fit.”
Not only is Satterfield inheriting a program whose only two wins came against Indiana State and Western Kentucky, but he did so while falling behind in the recruiting period for the 2019 season. Yet with less time than most other head coaches, he still managed to sign 11 recruits with at least a three-star ranking for the upcoming campaign, including ESPN 300 defensive end Ja’Darien Boykin.
For the 2020 season, Satterfield has already landed 20 recruits including ESPN 300 quarterback Chubba Purdy, who hails all the way from Queen Creek, Arizona.
With Satterfield leading the way, the Cardinals are headed in the right direction. Now, it might just be a matter of time before the former Orange High School standout starts delivering on his goal of championships.