Cyclones Hire New Defensive Coordinator - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cyclones Hire New Defensive Coordinator

Wally Burnham, the assistant head coach at South Florida whose Bull defense ranked 10th nationally last season, has joined the Iowa State football coaching staff as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. ISU head coach Paul Rhoads made the announcement Tuesday.

Burnham brings 40 years of experience to Ames, including a decade as a linebacker coach under Bobby Bowden at Florida State. The native of Pell City, Ala. coached nine years at South Florida, the last eight campaigns as defensive coordinator. Burnham's South Florida defenses have ranked among the top 30 nationally in six of the last seven years. The Bulls ranked 10th nationally in total defense (287.6 yards per game) and run defense (95.2 yards per game) last season. The No. 10 national total defense ranking was the highest in school history.

"We are truly getting one of the nation's premier defensive minds in Wally Burnham," Rhoads said. "He has four decades of experience as a coordinator, including successful stops at Florida State and South Carolina.  He has sent a long list of former players to the National Football League. Wally knows the Florida high schools like no other man. This guy played for and coached with Bobby Bowden and played for Bear Bryant. His achievements speak for themselves."

The stellar efforts of the 2008 South Florida defense followed in the footsteps of the 2007 Bull defenders. Led by All-Americans Mike Jenkins, George Selvie and All-Big East performers Ben Moffitt and Trae Williams, the defense led the country in fumbles recovered (19), tied for the lead in turnovers forced and was third in tackles for loss (113). Overall, the Bulls were 28th nationally in total defense and were especially stout in the running game, only allowing eight rushing TDs all season.

"The number one reason I am coming to Iowa State is Paul Rhoads," Burnham said. "Paul is great teacher and motivator. I am looking forward to building up the Iowa State football program.  It is a great opportunity for me."

Burnham was South Florida's sole defensive coordinator in 2007 and 2008 and co-defensive coordinator the previous five seasons.

Since 2000, the USF defense has improved from 32nd among all I-AA programs nationally to 38th among I-A schools in 2001 and all the way to 17th in Division I-A in 2002, 2003 and once again in 2005. Also in 2002, the Bulls ranked No. 1 in the nation in turnover margin thanks in large part to a ball-hawking defense that was also ranked seventh nationally against the run.

Burnham played a large role in the development of USF linebacker Kawika Mitchell, who became the school's all-time leader in tackles and the highest-ever drafted Bull when the Kansas City Chiefs took him in the second round in 2003. Maurice Jones, another Burnham pupil, signed a free agent contract with the Green Bay Packers. USF linebacker Stephen Nicholas was named to the All-Big East first-team all-conference squad in 2006. He was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons.

Developing NFL linebackers is nothing new for Burnham, who coached nine linebackers at Florida State who were drafted into the NFL and a 10th player who signed as a free agent. Among his standout linebackers at FSU were Derrick Brooks, Marvin Jones, Paul McGowan, Jesse Solomon and Garth Jax. Jones and McGowan each won the Butkus Award, and Jones added the Lombardi Award.

Prior to joining USF, Burnham was the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at South Carolina between 1994-98. Upon arriving at South Carolina, literally just days after Florida State's 1993 National Championship win, Burnham instituted a new 4-3 scheme for the Gamecocks, and he quickly molded what became to be considered the most improved defense in the SEC. The defense ranked as high as 22nd in the nation under Burnham, and it was a crucial factor in South Carolina's win over West Virginia in the 1996 Carquest Bowl.

Prior to coaching at South Carolina, Burnham was a nine-year assistant (1985-93) to Bobby Bowden at Florida State, where he was on the 1993 National Championship staff.

At Florida State, Burnham coaches linebackers in a program that won nine straight bowl games during his tenure. FSU also finished among the nation's top four teams in eight of his nine seasons, including the 1993 National Championship.

A 1963 graduate of Samford (secondary education), Burnham began playing collegiately for Bear Bryant at Alabama during the 1960 and 1961 seasons. He transferred to Samford, where he was a Little All-America linebacker in his senior season. Burnham played for Bowden one year at Samford. Burnham also has a master's degree in athletic administration from West Alabama.

He began coaching at the high school level in 1967, before first joining the college ranks at North Alabama in 1971, where he remained the offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator through 1976, before moving to East Tennessee State as defensive coordinator for two seasons (1977-78).

In 1979, Burnham was defensive coordinator at Richmond, and he then moved on to Memphis State as linebackers coach in 1980. In 1981-82, Burnham was defensive coordinator at Lamar, and he then made the jump to the USFL, where he was the linebackers coach for the Arizona Wranglers, who reached the 1984 USFL Championship Game. Burnham joined Bowden at Florida State after two seasons (1983-84) with the Wranglers.

Burnham and his wife, Barbara, have three children, Patrick, Allison and Shane. Shane was a four-year letter winner, and three-year starting linebacker at South Carolina from 1994-97.




NCAA Ranking of South Florida Defenses Under Wally Burnham

2002    17th
2003    17th
2004    77th
2005    17th
2006    25th
2007    28th
2008    10th

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