Burnham leaving Bulls for Iowa State
"Wally did a great job for us, we will sorely miss him and his wife Barbara," coach Jim Leavitt said in a statement. "I am absolutely proud of everything he has done here and the success he has brought to USF. We wish him luck at Iowa State and I know that he will always be successful because of his tremendous character."
Leavitt now must find two new coordinators, after the demotion and subsequent departure of offensive coordinator Greg Gregory, who took the same job last week at South Alabama. Spring football starts in less than three weeks on March 9.
Burnham's defenses have ranked in the top 30 nationally in six of the last seven seasons, including a No. 10 ranking in 2008.
Well-liked and well-respected by players, the 67-year-old Burnham has the longest tenure of USF's assistants, going back to the 2000 season, when the Bulls were still in Division I-AA. He became co-defensive coordinator in 2001, then took over as sole coordinator for the past three seasons. Burnham, who played for Bear Bryant at Alabama, has been coaching football since 1967 and at the college level since 1971, save two seasons in the USFL and a year out of coaching before he came to USF.
Burnham has a long history with linebackers, going back to Marvin Jones and Derrick Brooks in his days at Florida State. Linebacker has been a position of strength for the Bulls, from Kawika Mitchell to Stephen Nicholas to Ben Moffitt to Tyrone McKenzie, who participates this week at the NFL combine.
The move comes less than two weeks after National Signing Day, when Burnham helped the Bulls collect their highest ranked recruiting class ever, with several impact newcomers expected to help the defense this fall.
Burnham was USF's highest-paid assistant in 2008, earning $220,000, but he's believed to be making more at Iowa State, which has a first-year head coach in former Pittsburgh and Auburn defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads. The Cyclones' coordinator last year, Wayne Bolt, made $250,000, and Rhoads has a pool of $1.5 million to spend on nine assistants.
Burnham's son, Shane, currently a defensive assistant at Elon, is expected to join his father on Iowa State's staff, coaching the defensive tackles.
Leavitt is expected to go outside USF's current staff to hire Burnham's replacement, as none of the current defensive assistants has significant experience as a coordinator.
A couple of Wally links:
-- The Submarine: A look inside USF's 2007 defensive staff, which had a combined 116 years of college coaching experience.
-- Firing back: Burnham trades jabs with N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien, who questioned why USF was a frequent destination of coaches seeking help on stopping the spread offense last summer.
-- Father and sons: On Burnham's bond with his sons Shane and Pat, with all three coming together in USF's 2007 opener against Elon.