CALIFORNIA (April 19) – A veteran head coach at the NCAA Division I level, Walt Harris was introduced as the offensive coordinator for the California University of Pennsylvania football team at a news conference on Monday morning.
Harris will work with a Vulcan program that has captured five-consecutive Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) West titles and appeared in three-straight NCAA National Semifinals.
Harris most recently served as the assistant head coach and passing game coordinator at Akron last season. He previously served as the head coach at the University of Pacific from 1989-91, the University of Pittsburgh from 1997-04 and Stanford University from 2005-06.
“It’s an honor to be here at Cal U and a great opportunity for me because I like to work with young people,” said Harris. “I’ve been very impressed with what Head Coach John Luckhardt
and President Dr. Angelo Armenti, Jr. , have done in rebuilding this football program and our goal is to continue to get better.”
Over the course of 20-plus seasons as a NCAA Division I college coach, Harris has worked with several of the game’s most prominent college football players. While with the Panthers, he guided Pitt to its first-ever BCS bowl game and coached Biletnikoff Award winners Antonio Bryant and Larry Fitzgerald.
He later coached NFL quarterback Trent Edwards and Doak Walker Award winner Toby Gearhart during his time with the Cardinals.
“It is with great enthusiasm and a great deal of pride that we are announcing that Walt has officially joined us as offensive coordinator. His detailed background identifies his expertise and he has done it all as a coach,” said Luckhardt, who is the winningest coach in Cal U football history. “He turned the Pitt program from what was a nightmare into a very competitive and very successful program.”
In 13 seasons as a head coach at Division I, he compiled a 69-85 record with six bowl game appearances, highlighted by the 2005 Fiesta Bowl. Harris additionally had stops as an assistant at California, Air Force, Michigan State, Illinois, Tennessee and Ohio State.
While with the Buckeyes in 1995 and 1996, Harris was the quarterbacks coach while serving on the staff of head coach John Cooper. Also on the Ohio State staff was Mike T. Jacobs
, who served as the offensive coordinator last season with the Vulcans. In their first season working together, Jacobs and Harris worked with an offensive unit that featured NFL draftees Terry Glenn, Rickey Dudley, Eddie George and Bobby Hoying. The following year, Ohio State won its first Rose Bowl since 1974, finished second in the polls and featured the No. 1 overall pick in the 1997 NFL Draft in offensive tackle Orlando Pace.
Following his success working with the Ohio State offense, Harris was hired as the head coach at Pittsburgh prior to the 1997 season. In his first year with the Panthers, he was selected the Big East Coach of the Year after guiding the program to its first bowl game victory in seven seasons.
Harris ended his tenure at Pitt by guiding the team to five-straight bowl games, including the 2005 Fiesta Bowl after winning a share of the Big East title.
Following his stint with the Panthers, he went back to his native West Coast by accepting the head-coaching position at Stanford. In 2005, Harris led the Cardinals to within a win of appearing in their first bowl game in four years after being picked to finish near the bottom of the Pac-10.
Harris began his coaching career on the sidelines in 1970 as the head coach at his prep alma mater in San Francisco for one season. He quickly moved into the collegiate ranks and spent 18 seasons as assistant before serving as head coach of his alma mater Pacific.
In addition to his highly profiled college career, Harris also worked in the NFL as the quarterbacks coach with the New York Jets under head coaches Bruce Coslet (1992-93) and Pete Carroll (1994). While with the Jets, he helped Boomer Esiason revitalize her career and earn a spot in the 1993 Pro Bowl.
He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in History and Physical Education from Pacific in 1968 and earned his master’s degree in Physical Education from the Stockton school a year later. As a defensive back for Pacific from 1966-67, he played for former NFL head coach Buddy Ryan.
Harris resides in the Pittsburgh area and is the father of three children.