The coaching staff behind Butler football’s unexpected resurgence

Coach Mike Uremovich is on the brink of leading Butler football to postseason play for the first time since the 2013 season. Photo courtesy of Butler Athletics.


At the end of the 2021 season, excitement around the Butler football program was sparse. The team was coming off of a 3-8 season, winning only one Pioneer Football League game. The Bulldogs then let go of previous head coach Jeff Voris and brought in a new coaching staff led by head coach Mike Uremovich, as well as other new faces on the coaching staff. 

Uremovich’s most recent coaching experience was as assistant head coach/offensive coordinator at Temple. He was a part of the Owl’s coaching staff from the 2019 season until this past season. Uremovich — the previous head coach at the University of St. Francis — was excited to get another opportunity to be a head coach. 

“I think I was excited to be a head coach. I enjoyed being the head coach at St. Francis,” Uremovich said. “I was excited about the opportunity at Butler to run a program again, pick a staff and a bunch of guys and try and turn the program around.” 

Uremovich’s impact has already been on display. The Bulldogs are off to a 6-2 start, thanks to the change in leadership and rejuvenated play from redshirt junior quarterback Bret Bushka. Bushka credited the change to simplicity. 

“I think he’s just made it very simple for us,” Bushka said. “The only thing he cares about is touchdowns and turnovers. And just that simplicity of it makes everyone make sure that we’re all on the same page.” 

The change that Bushka noted has certainly been evident. At this point in the season, Bushka has already surpassed his rushing carries total from a year ago, while rushing and passing for more touchdowns as well. 

Uremovich’s impact has been felt throughout the coaching staff, in addition to the roster. Coach Joe Cheshire spoke on what it has been like to be around Uremovich on a day-to-day basis. 

“It’s been great so far with him,” Cheshire said. “ It’s been a big learning experience, just the way he runs a program. It’s been awesome to be a part of it and see how he structured everything from practice to recruiting.”

Cheshire has been through a lot at Butler. He joined the Bulldog program in 2004, and has seen the highs and lows of Butler football. He was an assistant coach in 2013, when Butler finished 9-4 with a share of the PFL league title. He was also coach in 2020, when Butler didn’t win a single game. Part of the reason that Cheshire remained on the staff was so that he could be “a part of the turnaround” of the Butler football program. 

Another change that the Bulldogs made was hiring defensive coordinator Jeff Knowles. Knowles and Uremovich have known each other since fifth grade and previously coached together at several different stops. Both coaches share similar lines of thinking when it comes to running a program, and Knowles sang the praises of Uremovich for what he has done at Butler. 

“I do think he’s learned, obviously, a few things over the years, but I think he’s done a great job at establishing the culture we want,” Knowles said. 

Knowles has also established a new culture of the defensive side of the ball. Redshirt junior defensive back Trey Mason found the transition between coordinators easy and believes that the defense is in the process of making adjustments. 

“I think anytime you have a new coach it’s an adjustment, but I felt like the defense has handled it really well,” Mason said. “So I think each week we’re getting better at adjusting to what our coach wants.” 

The adjustments have paid dividends for the Butler defense. In 2021, the Bulldogs surrendered 403 yards per game and just under 35 points per game. This season, Butler has given up 384 yards per game and just above 20 points per game. Mason also thinks that the adjustment has positively impacted his individual game. 

“This playbook is something that I’ve played for the past few years when I was in high school,” Mason said. “So in terms of picking up what has been asked of me specifically, it’s been a pretty seamless adjustment.”

Uremovich has also given new life to the fans at Butler. Butler football games this season have consistently had good attendance and fans are excited to watch the Bulldogs play. For the homecoming game against Marist, the attendance was slightly over 4,700 people in a stadium that seats just over 5,600 people. The popular Twitter account, Big Game Boomer, listed Butler as the best gameday atmosphere in the state of Indiana. Butler football has been put back on the map thanks to the turnaround of the program from Uremovich. 

The new coaching staff has also made an effort to increase student involvement within the program. On Oct. 6, the student section went to football practice and interacted and engaged with the team. Dawg Pound also had the opportunity to meet with some of the team and coaching staff. Uremovich acknowledged the importance of the team’s bond with their student peers.

“I think it’s really important because at the end of the day, our players are students … it’s important that they get around the other students as much as they can,” Uremovich said.

Currently sitting at second in the PFL standings, Uremovich and the Bulldogs will continue to build on their newfound success and chase the league title. Butler’s next matchup will be against San Diego in California on Nov. 5 at 4 p.m. EST.  

Managing Editor Kobe Mosley and Sports Co-Editor Matthew Crane contributed to this story.


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