BERKELEY – Cal head football coach Sonny Dykes announced Tuesday that Greg Burns has agreed to join the Golden Bears’ coaching staff as the team’s defensive backs coach. The 17-year veteran coach has been a member of 10 bowl game staffs, including four BCS bowls during his time at USC, and was part of the Trojans’ coaching staff for their back-to-back Associated Press national championship teams in 2003 and 2004. Burns has spent eight of the last 12 seasons working in the Pac-12 with four campaigns each at USC and Arizona State.
“We are thrilled to have Greg join our staff,” Dykes said. “He brings to Cal a tremendous amount of coaching experience at the highest levels of college football. He also has a great familiarity with the Pac-12 and the type of players the league attracts. Greg is a talented recruiter with strong connections in areas where teams in our conference focus their recruiting efforts.”
“I’m excited to be on the coaching staff at Cal and returning to the Pac-12,” Burns said. “I had a great experience in the league previously and feel like my skill sets both in recruiting and on-field coaching work well in this conference. I have always admired the tradition and excellence of Cal football, and I am looking forward to being part of a staff that has us heading in the right direction to be able to add to the program’s storied tradition.”
In addition to his Pac-12 experience, Burns has other collegiate stops at Idaho, Louisville, Kansas State, Purdue and Massachusetts, where he most recently spent the 2013 season as the defensive backs coach for a unit that ranked No. 42 nationally in passing yards allowed (217.8 ypg).
Burns was at Purdue in 2012 when three of the Boilermakers' five players named to Big Ten All-Conference teams came from his secondary in safety Ricardo Allen, and cornerbacks Landon Feichter and Josh Johnson. Purdue ranked No. 43 nationally in pass efficiency defense (124.59).
Burns joined the Purdue staff after spending the previous four seasons (2008-11) as the cornerbacks coach at Arizona State. The Sun Devils led the Pac-10 and finished among the nation's top units in 2009 in total defense (No. 13 NCAA, 297.58 ypg), rushing defense (No. 19 NCAA, 108.58 ypg) and passing defense (No. 26 NCAA, 189.00 ypg). Arizona State also led the conference in rushing defense and was No. 16 nationally (119.67 ypg) the following season in 2010, while also ranking second in the league and among the nation’s top units in tackles for loss (No. 8 NCAA, 7.42 tflpg), pass efficiency defense (No. 20 NCAA, 108.58) and scoring defense (No. 26 NCAA, 21.08 ppg). Omar Bolden was a first-team All-Pac-10 selection in 2010 and selected in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos.
Prior to his four campaigns at ASU, Burns spent the 2007 season as secondary coach at Kansas State.
Burns’ lone season in the NFL came with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the team’s defensive backs coach in 2006, where he coached cornerback Ronde Barber in his second and final All-Pro season.
His two national championships in 2003 and 2004 came during a tremendous run as the secondary coach at USC under Pete Carroll for four seasons from 2002-05, with the Trojans also winners of the BCS National Championship Game in 2004.
During his time at USC, Burns developed a reputation as one of the brightest young secondary coaches in the country and mentored a number of standout performers, including All-American safeties Troy Polamalu (2002) and Darnell Bing (2005). He also coached first-team All-Pac-10 cornerback Will Poole in 2003. Polamalu was a first-round selection (16th overall) of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2003 NFL Draft, while Poole and Bing were fourth-round picks of the Miami Dolphins and Detroit Lions in 2004 and 2006. Terrell Thomas, who played one season for Burns in 2005, ended up a second-round selection of the New York Giants in the 2008 NFL Draft. In 2004, the Trojans were ninth nationally in pass defense.
Burns previously coached four seasons at Louisville from 1998-2001 and produced six All-Conference USA cornerbacks during his tenure, including first-teamers Anthony Floyd (2000, 2001) and Antonio Roundtree (1998). Rashad Holman was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the first round of the 2001 NFL Draft. The Cardinals ranked 18th nationally in pass efficiency defense and had 20 interceptions in his final season in 2001. In 2000, Louisville led the nation in interceptions (27) and was 20th in the country in pass efficiency defense. Louisville played in four bowls during his tenure at the 1998 Motor City Bowl, 1999 Humanitarian Bowl and twice at the 2000 and 2001 Liberty Bowl.
He started his career with one campaign as the defensive backs coach at Idaho (1997) with the Vandals intercepting 13 passes.
Burns was a four-year letterwinner (1991-93, 1995) and three-year starter at Washington State, earning honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors in 1992 when the Cougars won the Copper Bowl. He earned his bachelor's degree in psychology from Washington State in 1995 and his master's in 1997 in counseling psychology from the same school.
Burns participated on the football and track and field teams at Dorsey High School in Los Angeles, where he graduated from in 1991.
He and his wife Crystal have three sons: Cristopher, Carter and Cooper.