PITTSBURGH--Shawn Watson, a 35-year coaching veteran who owns an extensive and accomplished record overseeing offenses on the collegiate level, has been named offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Pitt by Pat Narduzzi.
Watson previously served as offensive coordinator at Texas (2014-15), Louisville (2012-13), Nebraska (2007-10) and Colorado (2000-05). He also has head coaching experience on his résumé, serving in that capacity at his alma mater, Southern Illinois, from 1994-96.
Watson joins the Panthers from Indiana, where he spent the 2016 season as an offensive quality control assistant before being named the Hoosiers' quarterback coach. His Pitt appointment serves as a reunion with Narduzzi. The pair previously worked together on the late Randy Walker's staff at Miami (Ohio) from 1990-92.
"Shawn Watson was one of my first mentors in this business," Narduzzi said. "He sat me down as a young coach and taught me how to work with wide receivers in my first full-time job at Miami in the early 1990s. Ever since that time, we have always talked about being able to reunite on the same staff again. I'm really thrilled that the time has finally arrived and he'll be joining us at Pitt as our new offensive coordinator.
"Shawn is, first and foremost, a wonderful person and father," Narduzzi added. "As a football coach, he is extremely knowledgeable, an excellent recruiter and will be a tremendous strength in the quarterback room and offensive staff room. I'm really looking forward to having Shawn and his wife Anita join us in Pittsburgh."
"I am tremendously honored and excited to join the staff at Pitt and be part of what Pat Narduzzi is building there," Watson said. "Pat is one of my closest and dearest friends. I've known him for a very long time and have always admired the passion and energy he brings to coaching and teaching. Pat and his staff have accomplished so much in such a short period of time at Pitt. I can't wait to join them, meet our players and get ready for spring ball.
"I'm excited to join a program that is heading in a really special direction," Watson added. "With his passion and energy, it is easy to see just how hard Pat is working to build a championship program here. I understand the football tradition Pitt has. I grew up watching Pitt teams with Dan Marino and Tony Dorsett. So many great players have played at Pitt. It's a great football school."
Watson counts among his protégés Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who he coached for three seasons at Louisville (2011-13). Under Watson's guidance, Bridgewater became one of the nation's most dazzling players while the resurgent Cardinals went a combined 30-9 during that three-year span and claimed two Big East championships.
In 2013, Louisville stormed to a 12-1 record as Bridgewater threw for 3,970 yards and 31 touchdowns with only four interceptions. He led the nation in completion percentage (71.0%) and was a finalist for the prestigious Manning Award. The Vikings' first-round selection in the 2014 draft, Bridgewater went on to be named the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year.
Prior to Louisville, Watson spent five seasons (2006-10) at Nebraska. His work helped the Cornhuskers annually rank among the nation's most productive offenses.
In 2010, Nebraska ranked ninth nationally in rushing (247.6 avg.), while averaging more than 30 points per game. Nebraska's 2008 offense ranked 12th nationally in total offense (450.8 avg.), 15th in passing yards (281.0), 15th in pass efficiency (154.5 rating) and 17th in scoring (35.4 avg.). In 2007, Watson's initial season as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Nebraska threw for a school-record 3,886 yards, ranking seventh in the nation in passing yards (323.8 avg.) and ninth in total offense (468.2 avg.).
Cornhuskers quarterback Joe Ganz set 23 school records under Watson's guidance, including single-season marks for total offense (3,826), passing yards (3,568), completions (285) and completion percentage (67.9%).
Watson coached at Colorado from 1999-2005, helping the Buffaloes claim four Big 12 North Division titles and a conference championship in 2001.
That 2001 Colorado team will forever be remembered for its 62-36 demolition of No. 2 Nebraska in the regular-season finale, followed by a thrilling 39-37 win over No. 3 Texas in the Big 12 title game to earn a Fiesta Bowl berth. Watson's offense ranked eighth nationally in rushing (228.5 avg.) and 20th in total yards (434.4 avg.).
Watson coached quarterbacks at Northwestern during the 1997 and 1998 seasons. His appointment in Evanston came after serving three years as head coach at Southern Illinois, where he coached 20 all-conference players. Watson himself was a safety at SIU (1979-80) and began his coaching career as a Salukis graduate assistant in 1982.
His additional coaching stops include Miami of Ohio (1987-93) and Illinois (1983-1986).
The Watson File
Born: September 21, 1959
Hometown: Carbondale, Ill.
Alma Mater: Southern Illinois, 1982
Family: Watson and his wife, Anita, have three children: daughter Amber and sons Aaron and Adam.
Southern Illinois, 1982 graduate assistant.
Illinois, 1983-84, graduate assistant; 1985, tight ends and offensive tackles; 1986, wide receivers.
Miami (Ohio), 1987-88, wide receivers and tight ends; 1989, wide receivers; 1990-93, quarterbacks and recruiting coordinator.
Southern Illinois, 1994-96, head coach.
Northwestern, 1997-98, quarterbacks.
Colorado, 1999, quarterbacks; 2000-05, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks.
Nebraska, 2006, tight ends and recruiting coordinator; 2007-10, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks.
Louisville, 2011, quarterbacks; 2012-13, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks.
Texas, 2014-15, assistant head coach for offense and quarterbacks.
Indiana, 2016, offensive quality control; quarterbacks (bowl game).
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