Art Kaufman is in his first season as the defensive coordinator at Cal in 2014. Kaufman took over the position in January after having developed some of the top defenses in the country at multiple stops over his 32-year collegiate career. He is in his 13th campaign as a defensive coordinator at the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision level, having previously served in the role at Cincinnati, North Carolina, Mississippi and Texas Tech. Kaufman was nominated for the prestigious Broyles Award given annually to college football’s top assistant coach both at North Carolina in 2011 and Texas Tech in 2012.
“Art has a lot of experience and has already had a real settling influence on our program,” head coach Sonny Dykes said. “His experience has made everybody comfortable. He is a great communicator who has a detailed and organized plan on teaching and implementing a defense and a clear vision of what he wants. I was really pleased with the product I saw in the spring and am excited to see our defense continue to get better and better throughout the year. I feel confident that Art Kaufman is the right coach to lead our defense.”
“I’m thrilled to have joined the Cal football coaching staff and believe that my coaching experience will help our defense improve quickly,” Kaufman said. “I’m looking forward to building a strong defense that will make significant contributions to our success as a football team. Sonny Dykes is in the initial stages of building a tremendous football program at Cal, and it’s great to be part of that process early on.”
Kaufman was the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Cincinnati in 2013 when the Bearcats finished 9-4 overall and played in the Belk Bowl. Kaufman’s defense was one of the best in the country a year ago, ranking in the top 10 nationally in both rushing defense (6th, 104.5 ypg) and total defense (9th, 315.6 ypg). Cincinnati was also among the top 30 in 10 of the 11 primary defensive categories tracked in the national stats, including 14th in scoring defense (21.0 ppg), third-down conversion percentage defense (33.1%) and first downs defense (230); 23rd in sacks (2.69 spg) and red-zone defense (76.5%); 25th in team passing efficiency defense (116.75); 26th in tackles for loss (6.80 tflpg); and 29th in passing yards allowed (211.2 ypg).
At Cincinnati he coached first-team All-American Athletic Conference defensive lineman Jordan Stepp in the inaugural season of the league while three Bearcats – defensive lineman Silverberry Mouhon, linebacker Greg Blair and cornerback Deven Drane – were second-team selections on the defensive side of the ball. Blair led the squad with 106 tackles, while Mouhon (9.5 spg) and Stepp (6.0 spg) were first and second on the club in sacks.
The performance of Kaufman’s defense last season came on the heels of a 2012 campaign in which he led a complete overhaul of the Texas Tech defense. Inheriting a 2011 unit that ranked 114th nationally in total defense (485.58 ypg), the Red Raiders improved to 38th (367.31 ypg) while ranking second in the Big 12 Conference. Texas Tech was keyed by a pass defense that led the league and ranked 15th in the country (192.00 ypg). The Red Raiders finished 8-5 overall and were victorious at the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
Texas Tech defensive lineman Kerry Hyder along with defensive backs Cody Davis and D.J. Johnson were named second-team All-Big 12 in 2012 while Davis was also a first-team Capital One Academic All-America® selection and one of 15 finalists for the prestigious William B. Campbell Trophy also known as the “Academic Heisman”. Davis led the team in tackles (101) and interceptions (3), including one that he returned 88 yards for a touchdown, while adding seven pass breakups and 3.5 tackles for loss. Johnson was second on the squad with 90 stops while Hyder finished third with 56 tackles, a team-leading 14.0 tackles for loss and a team co-leading 6.0 sacks. He tallied 10.5 TFL’s during Big 12 play to rank third in the league.
Kaufman joined the Red Raiders from North Carolina, where he was the defensive coordinator for the Tar Heels in 2011 and the linebackers coach for three campaigns from 2009-11. Kaufman helped guide the 2011 Tar Heels to a No. 27 ranking in rush defense (123.92 ypg), a No. 48 national ranking in total defense (365.23 ypg) and an appearance against Missouri in the Independence Bowl.
Carolina developed several outstanding linebackers under Kaufman’s guidance, including current NFL players Zach Brown (Tennessee), Bruce Carter (Dallas) and Kevin Reddick (New Orleans).
Brown posted strong numbers in his final season in 2011 to earn first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors when he paced the Tar Heels with 105 tackles and co-led the squad with three interceptions and three pass breakups, while adding 13.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. Defensive tackle Quinton Coples also picked up first-team All-ACC honors for the second consecutive season and was selected by the New York Jets in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft with the 16th selection overall.
Reddick (74) and Brown (72) were North Carolina’s top two tacklers in 2010, with Brown adding three interceptions that he ran back for 113 yards. Despite injuries to Carter and linebacker Quan Sturdivant, a sixth-round 2011 NFL Draft pick of the Arizona Cardinals, the Tar Heels finished fourth in the ACC and 30th in the country in total defense (338.54 ypg) led by a rushing defense that was also fourth in the league and 22nd nationally (125.62 ypg).
Carolina’s linebackers helped lead a unit that finished first in the ACC and sixth in the nation in total defense (269.62 ypg) on the team’s way to an 8-5 record and a spot in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in 2009. The Tar Heels were 10th in the country against the run (95.62 ypg) and finished 13th in scoring defense (17.08 ppg), ranking first and second in the conference. Carolina was the only team in the country to finish among the top 15 in total defense, rushing defense, third-down efficiency (3rd, 29.4%), tackles for loss (6th, 8.08 tflpg), pass defense (14th, 174.0 ypg) and pass efficiency defense (14th, 105.32). Sturdivant earned first-team All-ACC honors after leading the Tar Heels with 79 stops, while Carter was a second-team all-conference pick.
Prior to his three-year run at North Carolina, Kaufman spent one season coaching the defensive line and special teams at Southern Miss (2008), three coaching linebackers at Middle Tennessee (2005-07), two as the defensive line coach at East Carolina (2003-04), and two as the defensive coordinator/linebackers coach at Arkansas Tech (2001-02).
During his lone season at Southern Miss, the Golden Eagles posted a 7-6 record and won their last five games, including a New Orleans Bowl victory. Kaufman’s 2006 team at Middle Tennessee won a co-Sun Belt title and was the school’s first bowl squad in 45 seasons, with the Blue Raiders' defense ranking third in the nation in tackles for loss (8.08 tflpg) and 20th in sacks (2.77 spg). His first team at Arkansas Tech was 8-2.
Kaufman coached 10 of the previous 13 seasons over two stints at Mississippi, starting in 1988 with a four-year run working with the defensive ends and linebackers before returning to Ole Miss for six campaigns from 1995-2000 as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.
During his first stint at Ole Miss, Kaufman helped guide the Rebels to back-to-back bowl appearances during the 1989 (Liberty Bowl) and 1990 (Gator Bowl) seasons for the first time since 1970 and 1971. In his second tour of duty, the Rebels played in four straight bowls (1997-2000); with his 1999 squad ranking fourth nationally in rushing defense (76.9 ypg).
In between his two stints at Mississippi he spent three seasons as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Louisiana Tech (1992-94). His 1992 team ranked fourth nationally in total defense (256.5 ypg).
Kaufman also coached five seasons at Northwestern State (1983-87), working with the outside linebackers for the first four campaigns before being promoted to defensive coordinator/linebackers coach for his fifth and final season.
Kaufman broke into the coaching business as a graduate assistant at Delta State in 1982 after receiving his bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas at Monticello in 1980. He was a four-year starting linebacker during his collegiate playing days with the Boll Weevils.
A native of Dermott, Ark., Kaufman has three daughters: Tara, Taylor and Madison.
The Kaufman File
Collegiate Coaching History
Bowl History (13 Games)
*Season in which bowl game was played