University of Northern Colorado
2005 - Present
Charged with leading the University of Northern Colorado into a new era, Head Coach Scott Downing took the challenge and ran with it.
Downing and the Bears are eligible for postseason competition at the Football Championship Subdivision for the first time in 2007 after transitioning from Division II play. Last year was the team's first season of competition in the Big Sky Conference and Downing is looking forward to what his team can do in its second season.
Downing became the 15th coach in Northern Colorado history on Dec. 27, 2005, coming to the Bears after spending three years as the recruiting coordinator at the University of Nebraska, where he also coached tight ends and kicking specialists.
He has also spent time as an assistant coach at Purdue and Wyoming and was the head coach at his alma mater, Sterling College in 1982 and 1983.
Downing has not shied away from tough scheduling to get his team ready for one of the toughest conferences in the FCS. The Bears will face Hawai'i out of the Western Athletic Conference on their home turf, never an easy task. Then after opening their home season against Chadron State, which defeated Big Sky foe Montana State a year ago, the Bears hit the road for four straight contests, at San Diego, Northern Arizona, Cal Poly and Idaho State.
"The old cliche of `to be the best, you must play the best' is true," said Downing. "Playing four straight road games will be a tough challenge, and it will help our team develop."
As an assistant to head coach Bill Callahan at Nebraska (2003-05), Downing helped coordinate recruiting efforts that landed the Cornhuskers one of the top-rated recruiting classes in the nation. His recruiting efforts helped Nebraska shake off its first losing campaign in 43 seasons in 2004, improving to 7-4 in 2005 and earning an appearance in the Alamo Bowl against Michigan, where the Huskers won 32-28.
Downing also helped the Cornhuskers' punters gain national recognition. Current Cincinnati Bengal Kyle Larson earned First-Team All-American honors and was a finalist for the 2003 Ray Guy Award, given to the nation's top punter. In 2004 and 2005, Sam Koch ranked 16th in net punting (38.39 yards per punt) and third in punting (45.9/punt), respectively.
In his first season with the Huskers, Downing also coached tight end Matt Herian to All-Big 12 First-Team honors.
Before Nebraska, Downing spent six seasons, 1997-2002, as the assistant head coach and running backs and special teams coach at Purdue University under head coach Joe Tiller. He guided the Boilermakers' Travis Dorsch to All-American honors as both a kicker and punter. Dorsch won the 2001 Ray Guy Award, finishing his career as the Big Ten's all-time leader in field goals (68) and kicking points (355). He also guided running back Joey Harris to a 1,115-yard rushing season and eight touchdowns in 2002. While at Purdue, Downing's special teams set 37 team and individual records.
Downing also spend 10 seasons (1987-96) at the University of Wyoming, the final six under Tiller.
From 1987-90, he was the linebackers coach for the Cowboys before being promoted to defensive coordinator in 1991. He served in that capacity from 1991-94, until coaching running backs and special teams in both 1995 and 1996.
Wyoming made four bowl appearances and won three WAC titles in 1987, 1988 and 1993 and the WAC Pacific Division title in 1996 during Downing's tenure.
Prior to Wyoming, Downing served as a graduate assistant under legendary Nebraska coach Tom Osborne and was the Huskers freshman head coach in 1986. During his first stint in Lincoln, Nebraska posted a 29-7 record and played in the 1985 and 1987 Sugar Bowls and the 1986 Fiesta Bowl.
Downing earned a bachelor's degree in history in 1979 from Sterling (Kan.) College. He was a four-year letterwinner for the Warriors at offensive guard and was the team's co-captain his last two seasons.
Following graduation, he was an assistant coach at Sterling for two years (1980-81) and was the program's head coach from 1982-83. He recorded a 13-4-1 record during his two years and ranked in the NAIA Final Top 20 poll for the first time in school history. Downing was inducted into the Sterling Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990.
A native of Kansas City, Mo., Downing and his wife Karen have three sons, Matthew (20), Andrew (17) and Zachary (14).