Football Coaching Staff
Greg Burns
Coach Info:
Position: Safeties
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
High School: Dorsey HS
Alma Mater: Washington State
Graduating Year: 1995
Experience: 1 Year

Twitter: @coachgregburns | @calfootball
Instagram: cal_football

Greg Burns is in his second season on the Cal coaching staff in 2015 and his first as the team's safeties coach after working with all of the defensive backs in 2014. In his 19th season as a collegiate coaching profession, Burns has been a member of 11 bowl game staffs and spent 10 of his last 14 seasons working in the Pac-12 with four previous seasons each at USC and Arizona State before the last two campaigns at Cal. Among Burns’ 11 bowl games are four BCS bowls all during his time at USC when he was part of a Trojans’ coaching staff that won back-to-back AP national championships in 2003 and 2004.

“The coaching and recruiting experience Greg has at the highest levels of college football, his familiarity with the Pac-12 and the type of players the league attracts pays dividends for us,” head coach Sonny Dykes said. “He’s a good communicator and teacher who has a lot of credibility having coached and played in this league. He is a fair and demanding coach who does an excellent job communicating with his student-athletes.”

“I’m excited to be a member of the coaching staff at Cal,” Burns said. “I have always admired the tradition and excellence of Cal football, and I feel that my experience and skill sets in coaching, teaching and recruiting fit well at Cal and in this conference. I am looking forward to being part of a staff that has us headed in the right direction and add to the program’s storied tradition.”

The contributions of the 2015 Cal defense have helped the Golden Bears post a 7-5 regular-season mark to secure a winning record and a spot in postseason play for the first time since 2011 at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl. A bowl victory would give Cal its first eight-win season since the 2009 team was 8-5 with only 17 squads since the beginning of Cal football in 1882-83 winning either nine or 10.

Cal's safeteies under Burns have played a significant role in the team's defensive improvement in 2015 with the Bears one of the nation's top teams in categories related to caused turnovers all season. Cal is tied for 21st in the nation in defensive touchdowns (3), tied 22nd in turnovers gained (24), tied for 27th in interceptions (14) and tied for 28th in fumbles recovered (10). Cal ranks tied for second in the Pac-12 in fumbles recovered, third in turnovers gained, and tied for third in defensive touchdowns and interceptions. All of those numbers are improvements from 2014.

The Bears also went from allowing 39.8 points per game to rank 120th nationally in 2014 to its current 30.3 points per game allowed and a ranking of tied for 88th in 2015. Cal has also put up significantly better numbers than a season ago in sacks (2015 – 2.25; 2014 – 1.33 spg), team passing efficiency defense (2015 – 134.51; 2014 – 154.54), tackles for loss (2015 – 5.3; 2014 – 4.6) and total defense (2015 – 455.3; 2014 – 511.8).

The safety position at Cal has been solidified by the play of senior Stefan McClure and junior Damariay Drew during Burns' second season with the Golden Bears and his first coaching the safeties only. 

McClure recovered from a series of injuries that caused him to miss 25 of 49 possible games including the entire 2012 campaign over his first four seasons to start all 12 regular-season contests as a fifth-year senior in 2015. He has career highs of 52 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss (-11 yards), his first career sack (-9 yards), third career fumble recovery that he returned 45 yards for his first career touchdown against Washington State and two pass breakups. McClure was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against Washington State. He was also on the Wuerffel Trophy watch list and Cal’s nominee for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team®.

Drew ranks third on the team with 64 tackles with all but one of those coming in the first nine games before he was injured early in the 10th contest of the season against Oregon State. Drew has nine or more tackles in five contests including a career-high-tying 10 at UCLA and at Oregon. He also had two critical interceptions late in the fourth quarter to secure victories in back-to-back games at Washington and against Washington State, as well as 3.0 tackles for loss (-8 yards) and one pass breakup. Drew missed the final two regular-season contests with the injury but is hopeful to return to action for the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.

In his first season at Cal in 2014, Burns’ defensive backs dealt with significant injuries at the safety position and a tremendous amount of youth and inexperience at cornerback. Key veteran safeties McClure, Griffin Piatt and Avery Sebastian combined to miss 21 possible starts due to injury. The team’s three starting cornerbacks in 2014 – Cedric Dozier, Cameron Walker and Darius White – had a combined four starts at the position prior to the season.

In addition to his Pac-12 experience, Burns has other collegiate coaching stops at Idaho, Louisville, Kansas State, Purdue and Massachusetts.

Burns spent the 2013 season as the defensive backs coach for a Massachusetts’ 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 on All-Big Ten teams came from his secondary in cornerbacks Ricardo Allen and Josh Johnson, and safety Landon Feichter. 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, 297.58 ypg), rushing defense (No. 19, 108.58 ypg) and passing defense (No. 26, 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 ranking second in the league and among the nation’s top units in tackles for loss (No. 8, 7.42 tflpg), pass efficiency defense (No. 20, 108.58) and scoring defense (No. 26, 21.08 ppg). Defensive back 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, where he has played in 47 of 48 regular-season games over the past three seasons.

Prior to his four campaigns at ASU, Burns spent the 2007 season as defensive backs 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 campaign.

His two national championships in 2003 and 2004 came during a tremendously successful run at USC as the defensive backs coach under Pete Carroll for four seasons from 2002-05, with the Trojans winners of the BCS National Championship Game in January of 2005 following the 2004 campaign.

During his time at USC, Burns developed a reputation as one of the brightest 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 cornerbacks for four seasons at Louisville from 1998-2001 and produced six All-Conference USA selections during his tenure, including first-teamers Anthony Floyd (2000, 2001) and Antonio Roundtree (1998) while Rashad Holman was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the sixth 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 bowls during each of the four seasons of his tenure at the 1998 Motor City Bowl, 1999 Humanitarian Bowl, and 2000 and 2001 Liberty Bowl.

He started his career with one campaign as the cornerbacks 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 counseling psychology from the same school in 1997.

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.

Greg Burns File
 November 9, 1972
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
High School: Dorsey HS
College: Washington State, 1995, Bachelor's in Psychology; Washington State, 1997, Master's In Psychology
Family: Wife, Crystal; Sons, Cristopher, Carter and Cooper

Coaching History
Season: School – Position

1997: Idaho – Cornerbacks
1998: Louisville – Cornerbacks
1999: Louisville – Cornerbacks
2000: Louisville – Cornerbacks
2001: Louisville – Cornerbacks
2002: USC – Defensive Backs
2003: USC – Defensive Backs
2004: USC – Defensive Backs
2005: USC – Defensive Backs
2006: Tampa Bay (NFL) – Defensive Backs
2007: Kansas State – Defensive Backs
Arizona State – Cornerbacks
2009: Arizona State – Cornerbacks
2010: Arizona State – Cornerbacks
2011: Arizona State – Cornerbacks
2012: Purdue – Defensive Backs
2013: Massachusetts – Defensive Backs
2014: Cal – Defensive Backs
2015: Cal – Safeties

Bowl History (11 Games)
Season: School – Bowl
1998: Louisville – Motor City Bowl
Louisville – Humanitarian Bowl
2000: Louisville – Liberty Bowl
2001: Louisville – Liberty Bowl
2002: USC – Orange Bowl
 USC – Rose Bowl
2004: USC – Orange Bowl
2005: USC – Rose Bowl
2011: Arizona State – MAACO Bowl
2012: Purdue – Heart of Dallas Bowl
2015: Cal – Armed Forces Bowl
*Season in which bowl/playoff was played

Last Updated
December 9, 2015