Jan. 31, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – University of Notre Dame head football coach Charlie Weis announced today that 44-year coaching veteran Bill Lewis, Irish assistant head coach/defense the last three seasons, will leave the Irish football coaching staff and join the University’s athletics community relations staff. Weis also announced that former Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta has been offered and accepted the role of assistant head coach/defense.
Lewis will remain at the University and will begin his role as manager of athletics community relations on Feb. 18. Tenuta’s start date also is Feb. 18.
FOLLOWING ARE QUOTES FROM Charlie Weis:
“Initially, Bill Lewis and I were not going to meet until next week, but due to rumors swirling around we felt it was best to address this right now.
“Early in December, I learned that Bill Lewis needed to have both his hips replaced and that he would have a four month recovery. He said there was a chance he may need to leave the coaching staff and that I should prepare a list of replacement names should this come to fruition.
“I spent time with (defensive coordinator) Corwin Brown in January discussing possible replacements for Bill in case this situation arose. Corwin and I talked to a few candidates and agreed that Jon was the best person for the job. Corwin and Jon had numerous conversations on how they would work together and they both agreed this would be a great fit.
“Personally, I’m excited Bill will remain a member of the Notre Dame family and I’m ecstatic that we could offer Jon the position. Bill has been a great member of our staff and he is a tremendous asset to the Notre Dame community. Jon’s track record speaks for itself. He is a coach with an immense amount of defensive knowledge and will undoubtedly help our program.
“I will discuss this further on Friday, Feb. 8.”
FOLLOWING ARE QUOTES FROM Bill Lewis:
“I first want to make it abundantly clear that this was my decision.
“I should start by giving some background on this decision. During the bye week this year, I learned that I needed to have both my hips replaced. I’ve run six to eight miles a day almost every day for a long time and now I need to get a tune-up.
“The initial plan was to have surgery on one hip on Feb. 8 with the hopes of being back for the start of spring practice. Then I was going to have surgery on the other hip in the middle of May with hopes to be back for training camp. The more I thought about it, though, I thought this was a selfish plan.
“At this same time, Dr. Kevin White and Bill Scholl were having discussions about creating a position where someone could coordinate a variety of activities involving athletics community relations and represent the department at various events around the country. Dr. White approached me about retiring from the coaching staff and moving over to the community relations staff.
“I viewed this as another way to stay involved in athletics at Notre Dame and to possibly lengthen my career in athletics. I have been a lot of places and I absolutely love this place and my wife feels the same. We love this community and love being part of it.
“This job opportunity gives me a chance to stay very close to the football team, coaches, players and everyone else in this great place. It also gives me a chance to stay involved with this wonderful university and great community.
“My whole life has been coaching and I have a tremendous amount of respect for this profession. It’s going to be really hard to leave that. But at the same time, being here and having the feelings I have for this place including our team, Coach Weis, Dr. White, Father Jenkins, etc., this is a place I want to be.
“I’m very appreciative of the opportunity Coach Weis initially gave me in coming here and now I’m very appreciative of this opportunity the athletics department has given me.”
FOLLOWING ARE QUOTES FROM JON TENUTA:
“It’s a great opportunity for me to coach at Notre Dame and to work with Coach Weis. I’m truly thrilled about this and my family is excited, too.
“Two things attracted me to this job, Coach Weis and Notre Dame. It’s an opportunity to coach at one of the greatest traditional powerhouse programs in college football and to work with one of the brightest minds in the game.
“I love coaching defense and Corwin is a very bright young coach who has a bright future ahead of him. He’s a great guy who I’m looking forward to working closely with daily. My main goal is to do whatever I can to help the defense become the best in the country and help return Notre Dame to where it belongs.”
FOLLOWING ARE QUOTES FROM SENIOR ASSOCIATE ATHLETICS DIRECTOR BILL SCHOLL:
“We’re thrilled to have Bill join our athletics community relations staff. With all the planned athletic facilities additions on the board for the coming years, plus all the various other projects that are ongoing, we expect Bill to play a critical role in reaching our goals. He brings with him a wealth of experience in college athletics, and his experiences here at Notre Dame as a member of Charlie Weis’ staff provide him a great feel for the University. He has represented Notre Dame in impressive fashion, and we are excited that he will have that same opportunity as part of our operation.”
A former college head coach who brought to Notre Dame an impressive wealth of experience from both the college and NFL ranks, Lewis finished his third season with the Irish in 2007, while serving as assistant head coach (defense) and defensive backs coach.
Lewis molded a much-improved and opportunistic secondary for Notre Dame as the Irish defensive backfield produced 46 of the 68 turnovers created by the defense over the last three years. That helped contribute to Notre Dame’s plus-15 turnover margin since 2005.
In 2007, the Irish ranked second in the nation in passing yards allowed, permitting 161.6 yards per game, and were 21st in passing efficiency. The 161.6 yards passing per game ranked as the best for a Notre Dame defense since 1996. In fact, the ’07 pass defense ranked as the fifth best for the Irish over the past 25 years.
Safety Tom Zbikowski returned for his fifth year and eclipsed 300 career tackles during the ’07 season, becoming the all-time leader in tackles by a defensive back at Notre Dame. Safety David Bruton blossomed in his first season as a starter, ranking third on the team with 85 tackles, while his three interceptions led the Irish. Sophomore cornerback Darrin Walls started a career-high 11 games and paced Notre Dame with nine pass break ups.
From 2005-06, the Irish defense limited opponents to only a 35 percent success rate on third downs while Notre Dame foes scored touchdowns on only 55 percent of red zone opportunities. Among Lewis’ pupils were Zbikowski, who led the ’05 defense in interceptions and ran back four punts or interceptions for touchdowns, and safety Chinedum Ndukwe who ranked second on the ’06 defense in tackles while adding two interceptions and five pass break-ups. Cornerbacks Mike Richardson and Terrail Lambert each blossomed from Lewis’ tutelage as each recorded career highs with Richardson nabbing a team-best four interceptions and Lambert recording three picks in 2006. Richardson was drafted in the sixth round of 2007 NFL draft by the New England Patriots while Ndukwe was taken by the Cincinnati Bengals in the seventh round in ’07.
Lewis joined the Irish after nine seasons with the NFL Miami Dolphins, working as defense nickel package coach from 1996-2004. Lewis joined the NFL coaching ranks after 32 years (1963-94) of coaching at the collegiate level (including 13 bowl appearances). He coached his first four NFL seasons in Miami under head coach Jimmy Johnson, the last five under Dave Wannstedt (now head coach at the University of Pittsburgh).
Under Lewis, the Dolphins finished in the top eight in the NFL in pass defense six of his last seven seasons (second in 2004 at 162.0 yards per game), including a number-one ranking in 2001. He helped Miami qualify for the NFL playoffs in five of his first six seasons with the Dolphins, including wild card wins in three straight seasons from 1998 through 2000. Miami qualified as American Football Conference East Division champion in 2000.
Lewis spent 1995 as athletic director at The Marist School in Atlanta after three seasons as head coach at Georgia Tech from 1992-94. He also served in 1995 as a color analyst on college football games for ESPN and espn2.
In his first season at Georgia Tech in 1992, the Yellow Jackets produced their first back-to-back wins over top 25 teams (Clemson and North Carolina State) in 25 years. That Tech squad was led by two first-team All-Americans – defensive tackle Coleman Rudolph (later a 1993 second-round NFL draft pick by the New York Jets) and kicker Scott Sisson. That 1992 unit also set a Georgia Tech season record for passing yards (2,590) – a mark that was topped by his third Yellow Jackets team in 1994 (2,702).
Prior to his stint at Georgia Tech, Lewis served as head coach at East Carolina for three seasons (1989-91). Taking over a program that hadn’t had a winning season since 1983, in his third year (1991) he led the Pirates to an 11-1 record (their only loss came 38-31 to Illinois in the season opener), a victory in the Peach Bowl over North Carolina State (their first bowl appearance in 13 years) and a final ranking of ninth in the AP poll.
Lewis received 1991 National Coach of the Year honors from the American Football Coaches Association, United Press International and Scripps-Howard. Following that 1991 campaign, Lewis accepted the Georgia Tech head coaching job, replacing NFL-bound Bobby Ross.
Lewis began his coaching career with three seasons at East Stroudsburg (Pa.) State in 1963 (he also coached the East Stroudsburg baseball team in 1965) and made stops as defensive backs coach at Pittsburgh (1966-68), Wake Forest (1969-70), Georgia Tech (1971-72), and Arkansas (1973-76).
During his initial stop at Georgia Tech in 1971-72 he coached three-time All-America defensive back Randy Rhino – and was part of a staff that eventually produced eight head coaches (including Steve Sloan and Jerry Glanville). The Yellow Jackets qualified for bowl games in both 1971 and 1972 (a Liberty Bowl victory).
Lewis became head coach at Wyoming in 1977 and spent three years at the helm of the Cowboys. He coached a pair of All-Americans there – linebacker Ken Fantetti and offensive tackle Dennis Baker – as well as 16 all-Western Athletic Conference picks.
He began a nine-year stint at Georgia in 1980 as defensive backs coach before occupying the job of defensive coordinator in each of his last eight seasons with the Bulldogs (his defense led the Southeastern Conference in scoring defense and rushing defense in 1981 in his first season as coordinator). While in Athens, the Bulldogs won the 1980 national championship (capped by a Sugar Bowl win over Notre Dame) and during his nine years at the school, Georgia appeared in nine straight bowl games (four of them wins) and won three SEC titles.
He coached 23 all-SEC honorees and seven All-Americans (including defensive backs Scott Woerner, Terry Hoage, John Little and Jeff Sanchez) at Georgia. Those nine seasons in Athens produced a combined 83-21-4 record, including a 43-4-1 record in his first four years at Georgia (the first three with Herschel Walker as tailback) in which the Bulldogs finished sixth or higher in the final polls all four times.
Lewis was a four-year letterman and senior captain as a football quarterback at East Stroudsburg (Pa.) State from 1959-62 and earned Little All-America honors during his playing days. He also played four years of baseball at East Stroudsburg as a pitcher and infielder. He was a three-year letterman in both baseball and football at Delhass High School in Bristol, Pa. Lewis spent two years in the Detroit Tigers’ minor league system as a pitcher.
He received a bachelor’s degree in 1963 from East Stroudsburg State in health and physical education and did work toward a master’s degree in the same field. Born William J. Lewis on Aug. 5, 1941, in Philadelphia, Pa., he and his wife, the former Sandy Schmoyer of Pennsburg, Pa., have two sons, Mark and Geoff; daughters-in-law Dawn, Laurel and Lisa; and grandchildren Ella and Billy.
For the last six seasons, Tenuta served as Georgia Tech’s defensive coordinator as he brought to the Rambling Wreck an aggressive, attacking scheme, forged in his 26 years of experience as a defensive coach. In 2006, Tenuta was promoted to associate head coach – and he also coached the Yellow Jackets’ defensive backs.
In his six seasons in Atlanta, Tenuta helped Tech win at least seven games in every season and play in bowl games following all six regular seasons. The Yellow Jackets finished as champions of the Humanitarian Bowl after the ’03 season and the ChampsSports Bowl after the ’04 campaign – and Tenuta served as interim head coach for Georgia Tech in its Humanitarian Bowl appearance following the ’07 season. The Yellow Jackets finished 9-5 overall in ’06 – and won the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division title (at 7-1).
Over the last four seasons, the Yellow Jackets ranked in the top 30 nationally in total defense, scoring defense and rushing defense, including 20th or higher against the run all four years.
In 2007, Georgia Tech led the nation in sacks, averaging 3.69 per game, and ranked fourth in tackles for loss per game. His overall defense ranked 20th in the country, allowing 330.4 yards per game, and the rushing defense ranked 20th (allowing 114.5 yards). The Rambling Wreck allowed fewer than 21 points per game, as the defense ranked 21st nationally in scoring defense. Junior defensive tackle Vance Walker was named first-team all-ACC and a third team All-American by Rivals.com, while linebacker Philip Wheeler and defensive end Darrell Robertson were each named all-ACC second-team performers.
Tenuta assembled another outstanding defense in 2006, despite losing six starters from the previous year. That unit ranked ninth in the nation in pass efficiency defense, 20th in rushing defense, 27th in total defense and 27th in scoring defense. The ’06 Tech defense held eight opponents to one offensive touchdown or less.
In ’06 senior tackle Joe Anoai and junior safety Jamal Lewis were named first-team all-ACC, linebacker Philip Wheeler and defensive end Adamm Oliver, both juniors, made the all-ACC second team, and senior linebacker KaMichael Hall earned honorable mention recognition.
In Tenuta’s six seasons, 18 Yellow Jacket defenders earned first- or second-team all-ACC recognition, and 15 players from his first four units were either drafted or signed NFL free-agent contracts.
In 2005, defense keyed the Jackets’ road victories at Auburn and Miami in 2005 as Tech allowed a combined total of 80 yards rushing to the two top 10 teams while collecting 10 sacks and forcing six turnovers. Tech held the Hurricanes to 237 total yards and one-for-14 success on third downs, while limiting Georgia, another top 10 foe, to 266 total yards.
Following the Miami game, Tenuta was named national coordinator of the week by Rivals.com as well as national defensive coordinator of the week by the Master Coaches Survey. Tenuta’s unit grabbed 21 interceptions, the most by a Tech defense since 1990, and led the ACC in turnover margin.
The 2005 defense featured a trio of all-ACC honorees in defensive end Eric Henderson, a three-time selection, linebacker Gerris Wilkinson, a two-time all-ACC pick, and safety Dawan Landry, honored for the first time. All three moved on to the National Football League. Wilkinson was drafted by the New York Giants in the second round and Landry was selected by Baltimore in round four. Henderson signed as a free agent with the Cincinnati Bengals, as did safety Chris Reis with the Atlanta Falcons, cornerback Reuben Houston with Tampa Bay and cornerback Dennis Davis with Oakland.
Tech’s 2004 defense, which started only one senior, ranked 12th in the nation in total defense at 297.9 yards per game. The Jackets also stood 13th in rushing defense, 21st in pass defense and 21st in scoring defense and held five teams to one offensive touchdown. That unit was led by standout free safety James Butler, a first-team all-Atlantic Coast Conference selection and semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back for the second straight year. Butler now plays for the New York Giants.
From Tech’s 2003 defense, linebacker Daryl Smith was a second-round selection by Jacksonville and linebacker Keyaron Fox was a third-round pick by Kansas City. Tony Hargrove, a defensive end for Tenuta in 2002, was drafted in the third round by St. Louis. Tenuta’s defensive unit also performed very well in 2003, particularly in victories over bowl-bound Auburn (three points, 230 yards allowed) and Maryland (three points, 253 yards) and a one-point loss to ACC champion Florida State (251 yards). Tech led the ACC and ranked 12th in the nation in rushing defense while ranking 20th in total defense and 27th in scoring defense.
Tech’s 2003 defense featured three first-team all-ACC selections in Fox, who led the league in tackles, Henderson, who led in sacks, and Butler, who was second in the ACC in interceptions. Two Tech defenders also earned all-ACC honors in 2002 in free safety Jeremy Muyres and linebacker Recardo Wimbush.
Tenuta came to Tech in 2002 after one season at North Carolina, which he guided to become the top-rated defense, statistically, in the ACC in 2001. Under Tenuta, the Tar Heels led the ACC in total defense and pass defense while ranking third in run defense and scoring defense. Two members of that defense were first-round picks in the 2002 NFL draft.
Tenuta previously served as a defensive coordinator at five other schools, including Marshall (1987), Kansas State (1988), SMU (1990-94), Ohio State (2000) and North Carolina (2001). He helped develop several defensive backs into NFL players, including first-round draft picks Shawn Springs, Antoine Winfield, Ahmed Plummer and Nate Clements from Ohio State. Springs was the 1996 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team All-America, while Winfield won the 1998 Jim Thorpe Award. Ohio State’s pass defense was consistently ranked among the nation’s best during Tenuta’s tenure.
Tenuta began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Virginia (1981-82) and Maryland (1983), and then served as an assistant coach at Vanderbilt (1984-85), Marshall (1986-87), Kansas State (1988), SMU (1989-94) and Oklahoma (1995). At SMU, Tenuta was the defensive backs coach in 1989 before being promoted to defensive coordinator in 1990. At Ohio State, he was the defensive backs coach from 1996-1999 before being elevated to the defensive coordinator post in 2000.
A native of Columbus, Ohio, Tenuta is a graduate of Virginia. He lettered three years as a defensive back for the Cavaliers and earned the team’s John Acree Memorial Football Trophy and Kevin Bowie Award.
Tenuta and his wife Dori have three sons, Zach, Matt and Luke.