Feb. 17, 2011
LOUISVILLE, Ky -
Shawn Watson, one of the brightest offensive minds in college football, has been hired as an assistant coach at the University of Louisville and will coach the quarterbacks.
Watson joins the Louisville staff after spending five years at Nebraska, including four as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Watson owns an impressive resume as a Big 12 coordinator and has 29 years of college coaching experience, including three years as a head coach at Southern Illinois from 1994-96.
"I'm excited to join the staff at the University of Louisville, " said Watson. "I knew Charlie Strong and the entire staff were quality coaches and great character guys. I feel Charlie is building something special at the University of Louisville and it's a very exciting time to be a part of that staff. I'm looking forward to getting started and getting to know the players."
A native of Carbondale, Ill., Watson directed an offense in 2010 that ranked ninth in the country in rushing offense at 247.6 yards per game, including four games where Nebraska ran for more than 300 yards in a game. The Huskers also ranked 39th in scoring offense at 30.9 points per game and 44th in total offense, averaging 398.1 yards a contest and leading Nebraska to a 10-4 overall record.
Under Watson's guidance in 2009, Nebraska averaged 147.1 rushing yards per game averaged 175.7 yards through the air. Zac Lee, who was in his first season as a starter, completed nearly 60 percent of his passes. Watson's balanced attack a year earlier averaged 169.8 yards per game on the ground and 281.0 yards in the air, as the Huskers' 450.8 yards of total offense per game ranked 12th nationally.
With Watson at the helm of the offense, senior quarterback Joe Ganz set single-season school records for total yards with 3,826, and passing yards with 3,568 in 2008. He threw for 25 touchdowns while completing 67.9 percent of his passes, finishing his career with more than 20 NU records.
Watson was promoted to offensive coordinator prior to the 2007 season, when the Huskers threw for a school-record 3,886 yards, including the top three passing days in school history. The Nebraska offense ranked ninth nationally at 468.2 yards per game, NU's best average since 1997. A pair of Watson's quarterbacks helped Nebraska rank seventh nationally in passing with a school-record 323.8 yards per game.
In his first season with the Huskers, Watson tutored the tight ends and served as the school's recruiting coordinator. Among his proteges that first season at NU was Matt Herian, who finished his career with a Husker tight end record for receptions (65) and reception yardage (1,243).
Watson joined the Nebraska staff after serving seven seasons at Colorado from 1999-2005 under Gary Barnett, including the last six as offensive coordinator. Watson coached on the staff of four teams that won the Big 12 North Division, including a conference title in 2001.
Prior to coaching at Colorado, Watson coached at Northwestern in 1997-1998, serving as quarterbacks coach for the Wildcats. Watson earned his spot at Northwestern following a three-year stint as the head coach at Southern Illinois, Watson's alma mater.
Watson earned his first head coaching job at SIU after an impressive seven-year run as an assistant coach at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. While at Miami, Watson tutored the tight ends for three years, wide receivers for two years and served as quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator in his final two seasons.
Watson's first full-time assistant coaching job came on Mike White's Illinois staff. Watson first served as a graduate assistant in 1983 and 1984, then worked with the offensive tackles and tight ends in 1985, before serving as the Illini's wide receivers coach in 1986. Watson was a part of two bowl teams at Illinois, including the 1983 Rose Bowl team.
Watson began his collegiate playing career at Illinois in 1978, but transferred to Southern Illinois at Carbondale in 1979 and played two seasons with the Salukis as a safety. He earned a bachelor's degree from SIU in 1982, then served for one season as a graduate assistant with the Salukis in 1982.
Watson and his wife, Anita, have a daughter, Amber, and two sons, Aaron and Adam. Amber and her husband, Marcus, have two children, Caden and Maggie.
The Watson File
Date and Place of Birth: Born: Sept. 21, 1959, in Carbondale, Ill.
Family: Wife, Anita; Children, Amber, Aaron and Adam
Education: Southern Illinois Carbondale, Bachelor's, health education, 1982; High School: Carterville (Ill.) High School
Playing Experience: 1978, Illinois; 1979-80, Southern Illinois
Coaching Experience: 1982, Southern Illinois (graduate assistant coach); 1983-84, Illinois (graduate assistant coach); 1985, Illinois (assistant coach/tight ends and offensive tackles); 1986, Illinois (assistant coach/wide receivers); 1987-89, Miami (Ohio) University (assistant coach/tight ends); 1990-93, Miami (assistant coach/quarterbacks, recruiting coordinator); 1994-96, Southern Illinois (head coach); 1997-98, Northwestern (assistant coach/quarterbacks); 1999, Colorado (assistant coach/quarterbacks); 2000-2005, Colorado (assistant coach/offensive coordinator, quarterbacks); 2006, Nebraska (assistant coach/tight ends, recruiting coordinator); 2007-present, Nebraska (assistant coach/offensive coordinator, quarterbacks)