Burnham leaves USF

Less than a week after offensive coordinator Greg Gregory departed for South Alabama, South Florida announced Tuesday that defensive coordinator Wally Burnham left to take the same position at
Iowa State.

“It’s a big loss for us,” said USF defensive end George Selvie. “He’s been here for a long time — nine years is a long time. He was a great person — a player’s coach. As players, we could go to him about anything and everything. It’s tough to lose a coach that cares so much about his players.”

Burnham’s son Shane will join him as defensive tackle coach, the St. Petersburg Times reported. The two coached against each other Sept. 1, 2007, when South Florida defeated Elon — where Burnham’s son was a defensive assistant — 28-13 in its season opener.

“This is part of my Bucket List,” Burnham told the Times. “This is something I’ve always dreamed about. It’s a great opportunity for him, and we’re excited to try to do something together as a family.”

Burnham, along with his wife Barbara, visited Ames, Iowa, last weekend and made the decision to leave the Bulls on Tuesday. Burnham, who will join new coach Paul Rhoads, said the decision felt right.

“It was hard, there’s no doubt about it,” he told the Times. “You stay nine years at a place, you’re going to get close to a lot of people — the coaches, the players, everyone. We went out there and just had a real good feel for the place. It seemed like the right
thing to do.”

Burnham built a USF defense that ranked in the top 30 in six of the past seven years, and he’ll try to do the same for an Iowa State defense that was No. 10 in the Big 12 in total defense.

The departure comes as a surprise as the Bulls bring in their best recruiting class in school history — which includes four-star Armwood defensive end Ryne Giddins — and return defensive end George Selvie, who did not enter the NFL draft.

“Wally did a great job for us. We will sorely miss him and his wife Barbara,” said USF coach Jim Leavitt in a statement. “I am absolutely proud of everything he has done here and the success he has brought to USF. We wish him luck at Iowa State, and I know that he will always be successful because of his tremendous character.”

Spring football begins March 9 and Leavitt still hasn’t filled both coordinator positions.

The team needs to come together to push forward, Selvie said.

“We have to go through this thing as a team,” he said. “We’re really happy for him. It’s a good situation for his family … we’re going to come together and be ready for spring football as a team.”