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, an 18-year veteran in the collegiate coaching profession who has been a member of 10 bowl game staffs, is in his second season as the defensive backs coach at Cal in 2015. Burns has spent nine of the last 13 seasons working in the Pac-12 with four previous campaigns each at USC and Arizona State. Among Burns’ 10 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 has already begun to pay dividends,” 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 and back in the Pac-12,” 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.”

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 Stefan 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 having more experienced players in the defensive backfield in 2015, Cal is also bringing in significant reinforcements. Converted quarterback Luke Rubenzer and junior college transfer Derron Brown took the majority of reps in the spring of 2015 with projected starters McClure and Piatt still on the mend. Brown is one of eight new scholarship defensive backs on the 2015 Cal roster.

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 season.

His two national championships in 2003 and 2004 came during a tremendously successful run as the defensive backs coach at USC under Pete Carroll for four seasons from 2002-05, with the Trojans also 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 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 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.

The Burns File

Birthdate: November 9, 1972
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
High School: Dorsey HS

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 (League) 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
2008 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 (10 Games)

*Season School Bowl Game
1998 Louisville Motor City Bowl
1999 Louisville Humanitarian Bowl
2000 Louisville Liberty Bowl
2001 Louisville Liberty Bowl
2002 USC Orange Bowl
2003 USC Rose Bowl
2004 USC Orange Bowl
2005 USC Rose Bowl
2011 Arizona State MAACO Bowl
2012 Purdue Heart of Dallas Bowl





*Season in which bowl game was played

Last Updated
July 29, 2015