March 29, 2002
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Bob Simmons, who spent six years as Oklahoma State’s head football coach from 1995-2000, has been named linebacker coach at the University of Notre Dame by Irish head coach Tyrone Willingham.
Simmons replaces Phil Zacharias, who originally came with Willingham from Stanford to join the Irish staff of assistants — but left last month to accept a position as defensive assistant with the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League.
In addition to his head coaching experience, Simmons brings with him a 19-year background as an assistant coach at Colorado (1988-94), West Virginia (1980-87), Toledo (1977-79) and Bowling Green (1976). His overall coaching career includes 13 seasons in which his teams participated in postseason bowl games.
At Oklahoma State, Simmons was charged with resurrecting a program that had endured six straight losing seasons and gone winless in 18 straight conference games. He increased the Cowboys’ victory total in each of his first three seasons in Stillwater, highlighted by the ’97 season in which Oklahoma State won its first six games. Simmons’ ’97 squad went on to top 25 rankings seven of the last eight weeks, a final 8-4 record and a final ranking of 24th (both Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN polls) following an appearance in the Alamo Bowl (first Oklahoma State bowl appearance since 1988).
Those achievements helped earn Simmons Big 12 Conference coach-of-the-year honors for ’97. Along the way that season came victories over Colorado and Texas that vaulted the Cowboys as high as 12th in the polls in their first appearance in the national ratings in almost nine years.
Simmons came to Oklahoma State from Colorado, where he spent seven seasons on Bill McCartney’s staff. He coached the Buffs’ outside linebackers the first four years, the defensive line the last three years — and added the title assistant head coach in 1993. While helping elevate Colorado into a college football power, Simmons and the Buffs had a record of 76-16-5 and appeared in six bowl games. Colorado won the national championship in 1990 and won Big Eight Conference championships in 1989, 1990 and 1991.
Simmons joined the Colorado staff after eight seasons at West Virginia coaching outside linebackers for Don Nehlen. He began his coaching career in 1976 as receivers coach and academic advisor at Bowling Green. After one season at the Ohio school, he moved to Toledo, where he was outside linebackers coach for three seasons. After Toledo had back-to-back 2-9 finishes in 1977 and 1978, he helped that staff guide the Mid-American Conference school to a 7-3-1 finish in 1979.
In eight seasons at West Virginia, he was part of a staff that fashioned six winning seasons and made five bowl trips, including a 1987 appearance in the Sun Bowl opposite Oklahoma State. Bowl victories at West Virginia came against TCU, Kentucky and Florida.
Simmons then joined McCartney at Colorado for what would be the most successful era in that school’s football history. In Simmons’ second and third seasons in Boulder, Colorado raced to a combined 22-2-1 record, had back-to-back Orange Bowl appearances against Notre Dame and was a perfect 14-0 in Big Eight Conference play. During the 2001 season Simmons served as a consultant to the Big XII Conference.
He graduated from Bowling Green in 1971 with a major in physical education. He received his master’s in college student personnel from Bowling Green in 1972.
Simmons lettered three times as a linebacker at Bowling Green and was all-Mid-American Conference as a senior when he registered 150 tackles. He lettered in football, basketball and track at Shaw High School in East Cleveland, Ohio.
Born June 13, 1948 in Livingston, Ala., he is married to the former Linda Davidson and has three children, Brandon, Nathan and Lelanna.