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Simms Named RB Coach

Jan 15, 2003

BOULDER - The University of Colorado has named Shawn Simms as its new running backs coach, head coach Gary Barnett announced Wednesday.

Simms, 39, joins the CU staff after coaching the running backs the last two years at the University of Pittsburgh. His experience includes stops at Illinois and Ohio State.

All university appointments are subject to the approval of CU-Boulder chancellor Richard Byyny.

"When I hired Eric (Bieniemy) two years ago, I interviewed Shawn and was impressed with him then," Barnett said. "So, we had a history. When I started talking to guys about this job, I had him the back of my mind. No single guy had all the qualities I felt like Shawn could bring to our program.

"His experience will give him the credibility to make the transition from last year's group (of CU tailbacks) to this year," Barnett continued. "We're going to have a different flavor this season, as we lose two guys, and I believe that he'll make that transition smooth. He has all the things I look for in a running back coach: toughness, experience, recruiting ability and love of the game."

Simms replaces Bieniemy, who left CU for family reasons after the Alamo Bowl to take a similar position with UCLA under its new head coach, Karl Dorrell.

"I've admired the program for a some time, and the tremendous job that Coach Barnett has done there," Simms said from Pittsburgh. "I was impressed with him when I heard him speak at the coaches convention while he was with Northwestern.

"I've seen from afar the job Gary's done at both Northwestern and Colorado," Simms added. "It'll be an honor and a privilege to get the chance to work with him and the other CU coaches, and it's going to be great to be part of their program. I've seen the job they've done the last couple of years as far as running the football. They've obviously had talented running backs, and we want to have continued success in running the ball and even improve upon it."

In each of the last two seasons, CU tailbacks have rushed for more yards nationally than any other school in Division I-A.

Simms earned his bachelor's degree in business education from Bowling Green in 1986, where he lettered as a linebacker and was an all-Mid America Conference performer as a senior in 1984. His first taste of coaching came in 1985 with Heidelberg in nearby Tiffin, Ohio, as he coached the linebackers one year and the secondary in another while finishing up his degree at Bowling Green. He then moved on to San Diego State, where spent one season (1987) as a defensive grad assistant; while at SDSU, he studied in its master's program in educational administration.

His first full-time position was as running back coach with Oberlin, where he worked one year (1988), before accepting his first full-time Division I-A job with Miami, Ohio.

After two seasons as outside linebacker coach with Miami (1989-90), he moved on to Toledo, where he again coached the running backs for four seasons (1991-94). Simms then spent the 1995 and 1996 seasons as running backs coach at Illinois, where he tutored Robert Holcombe, who set single game, season and career rushing records for the Fighting Illini. Holcombe went on to earn a Super Bowl ring with the '99 St. Louis Rams.

Simms moved on to Ohio State for the 1997 through 1999 seasons, switching sides of the ball in coaching defensive ends, including standout performers James Cotton and Rodney Bailey, future NFL draft picks. He also recruited four players who saw plenty of action for the Buckeyes on their 2002 national championship team, including starting defensive end Will Smith.

Prior to joining the Pittsburgh staff in 2001, he coached the running backs at Rutgers for the 2000 season. At Pitt, he coached junior Brandon Miree, who gained 943 yards last fall to help lead Pittsburgh to a 9-4 record and near upset of No. 1 Miami.

He was recruiting the Baltimore, Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia areas for the Panthers; that's not an area CU has heavily recruited in the past and Barnett said he has not finalized what areas Simms would cover, although California is a possibility.

Simms is a native of Fremont, Ohio. He is married (Victoria) and the couple has two small boys.