BERKELEY – Cal head football coach Sonny Dykes announced Wednesday that Art Kaufman, who has developed some of the top defenses in the country at multiple stops over his 32-year collegiate career, has agreed to become the Golden Bears’ defensive coordinator. Kaufman has 12 seasons of experience as a defensive coordinator at the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision level, serving in the role at Cincinnati, North Carolina, Mississippi and Texas Tech. He 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.
“After an extensive search and evaluation process, we have identified one of the top coaches and teachers in the business to join our staff at Cal,” Dykes said. “Art has a tremendous amount of experience and an excellent track record in significant roles on the defensive side of the ball at the highest level of college football. He is a great fit at Cal as he shares in our philosophy of developing players to their fullest potential both on and off the field, while being an excellent teacher in all aspects of the game.”
“I’m thrilled to be joining 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, 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).
Defensive lineman Jordan Stepp earned first-team All-American Athletic Conference honors 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.
“I feel confident that Art Kaufman is the right coach to lead our defense,” Dykes said. “I’ve observed his career for many years and have a strong appreciation for what he has accomplished. His teams are always fundamentally sound and play hard. The thing that really stood out as we researched him is that all of his former players that we talked to said the highlight of their career was playing for Art. It’s a real credit to who he is as a person and a coach.”
“When you have an opportunity to hire a coach of this caliber it speaks volumes to Cal’s reputation on a national level,” Dykes added. “Art had lots of other opportunities but joined us at Cal because he sees the same potential that I saw when I decided to take this coaching job. We’re all excited about the future of Cal football and the opportunity to build something together.”
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.
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-American® and one of 15 finalists for the prestigious William B. Campbell Trophy.
“Art has a proven track record of quick improvement and that was on full display during his tenure at Texas Tech,” Dykes said. “He also has the ability to mesh a defense with a fast-paced offense. Those are two things that we obviously need.”
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 national ranking in rush defense (123.92 ypg), a No. 48 ranking in total defense (365.23 ypg) and an appearance against Missouri in the Independence Bowl.
Carolina developed several outstanding linebackers under Karuman’s guidance, including current NFL players Zach Brown (Tennessee), Bruce Carter (Dallas) and Kevin Reddick (New Orleans).
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 both as the defensive line coach at East Carolina (2003-04) and two as the defensive coordinator/linebackers coach at Arkansas Tech (2000-01).
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 team 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 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.