June 3, 2005
Peter Vaas, a University of Notre Dame assistant football coach in 1990 and ’91 and most recently a head coach in NFL Europe the last six years, has been named the Irish quarterbacks coach by first-year Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis.
Vaas replaces David Cutcliffe, who was part of Weis’ original staff of Irish assistants but opted to resign due to health issues.
“For several years, Peter Vaas has been on our ‘radar’ and was certainly on my short list (of coaches) when I took this job,” Weis said.
“After further research, the support for Peter from people I know and trust was overwhelming, making this move an easy one. An additional plus was Peter’s Notre Dame experience in 1990-91, adding another coach with Notre Dame ties. I’m looking forward to working with Peter as we prepare to kick off the 2005 season.”
“I’m looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity of returning to the Notre Dame family,” Vaas said.
“In this business, you always leave a place with a heavy heart and some sadness, yet arrive at your new place with a smile on your face. That certainly will be the case with this move. I’ve been in NFL Europe for eight years now, so I’ll be leaving a part of me over here, but I’m excited about returning to Notre Dame.
“My past experience in college football was tremendous, and I’ve had some opportunities to return to college football over the last 10 years. But none of those opportunities were as exciting as this one. Our first experience at Notre Dame was fabulous, something that had a great impact on my family and me. The chance to return to South Bend and to work with – and learn from – Charlie Weis is an amazing opportunity.”
Vaas joins the Irish staff after two seasons as head coach of the Cologne Centurions, having led the team to a record of 9-10 (with one game remaining in 2005 season) over the last two seasons, Cologne’s first two years in the league. In his first year as head coach, Vaas guided the Centurions through a successful 2004 season, posting a 4-6 mark in the team’s first year in NFL Europe. Before joining the Centurions, Vaas served as head coach of the Berlin Thunder for four seasons (2000-2003), winning World Bowls in 2001 and 2002 while compiling an overall record of 21-21.
In his final season in Berlin, Vaas and the Thunder chased an unprecedented third World Bowl crown but ended the year with a 3-7 record. In ’02, Vaas ensured the Thunder made history by helping them become the first team to win back-to-back World Bowls in NFL Europe with a 26-21 victory over the Rhein Fire in World Bowl X, earning coach-of-the-year honors in the process. Berlin boasted the best offense in NFL Europe under Vaas in ’02, gaining 3,704 total yards.
In 2001, Vaas led the Thunder to their first World Bowl title with a 24-17 victory over the Barcelona Dragons at Amsterdam Arena. He first joined NFL Europe in 1998 as an offensive assistant (quarterback and wide receivers) for the Barcelona Dragons. In 1999, he helped the Dragons to a league-best 7-3 record and a berth in the World Bowl – while coaching the league’s offensive MVP, former Nebraska running back Lawrence Phillips. Vaas was named Berlin’s head coach in 2000.
Vaas started his coaching career in 1974 as an assistant coach at Allegheny College (in Meadville, Pa.), spending five years coaching running backs and quarterbacks under head coach Sam Timer (he also served as assistant basketball coach and head baseball coach). From 1979-85 he worked as running back coach and then offensive coordinator (from ’83 on) at the University of New Hampshire – helping head coach Bill Bowes to a 44-26-2 mark in seven seasons
In 1986, Vaas returned to Allegheny as head coach, turning around a team that had not posted a winning record in seven years and guided the Gators to two North Coast Athletic Conference championships, including league coach-of-the-year honors both those seasons. In his second season he led them to a 9-1-1 record, followed by an 8-2 mark in ’88. His Allegheny teams went 21-4 in league games, including 17 straight wins over one stretch – and his ’87 team made the NCAA Division III playoffs and finished fifth in the final rankings.
After compiling a 29-11-1 record in four seasons (1986-89) at Allegheny (the Gators went on to win the NCAA Division III national crown in ’90), Vaas became the running backs coach (’90) and then quarterbacks coach (’91) at Notre Dame. He coached standout Irish players such as quarterback Rick Mirer (he ranked eighth nationally in passing efficiency in ’91 and set an Irish single-season TD pass mark that year with 18), fullback Jerome Bettis (1,912 yards and 27 rushing TDs in his Irish career) and tailback Ricky Watters (career marks of 1,814 rushing yards and 21 TDs), all of whom went on to become top-flight NFL players.
In ’90 Vaas helped the Irish finish 9-3, including a berth in the Orange Bowl against top-rated Colorado. A year later, Notre Dame ended up 10-3 following a 39-28 Sugar Bowl win over second-rated Florida
From 1992 to ’95 Vaas was head coach at Holy Cross before spending a season as offensive coordinator for the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League in ’96.
In his playing days, the native of Westwood, Mass., was a walk-on quarterback at Holy Cross. He was a three-year starter and set nine individual school passing records in his senior season. As a senior he completed 135 passes for 1,631 yards and 13 TDs (and five TDs in one game). His career numbers included 2,642 passing yards and 21 TD passes.
He graduated from Holy Cross in 1974 with a degree in history. In 1992 he was inducted into his high school’s hall of fame as a player – and in 1999 Allegheny College inducted him into its hall of fame as a coach. At Allegheny, he spent three years on the institutional Academic Standards Committee, serving as chairman in ’89.
Born April 26, 1952, in Westwood, Mass., Vaas and his wife Rosann have two daughters, Katelyn (a sophomore-to-be at Notre Dame) and Kelly.
The Peter Vaas File
Year Team Position1974 Allegheny (Pa.) College Running Backs/Quarterbacks1975 Allegheny (Pa.) College Running Backs/Quarterbacks1976 Allegheny (Pa.) College Running Backs/Quarterbacks1977 Allegheny (Pa.) College Running Backs/Quarterbacks1978 Allegheny (Pa.) College Running Backs/Quarterbacks1979 University of New Hampshire Running Backs1980 University of New Hampshire Running Backs1981 University of New Hampshire Running Backs1982 University of New Hampshire Running Backs1983 University of New Hampshire Quarterbacks1984 University of New Hampshire Quarterbacks1985 University of New Hampshire Quarterbacks1986 Allegheny (Pa.) College Head Coach1987 Allegheny (Pa.) College Head Coach1988 Allegheny (Pa.) College Head Coach1989 Allegheny (Pa.) College Head Coach1990 University of Notre Dame Running Backs1991 University of Notre Dame Quarterbacks1992 Holy Cross Head Coach1993 Holy Cross Head Coach1994 Holy Cross Head Coach1995 Holy Cross Head Coach1996 Montreal Alouettes Offensive Coordinator1998 Barcelona Dragons Quarterbacks/Wide Receivers1999 Barcelona Dragons Quarterbacks/Wide Receivers2000 Berlin Thunder Head Coach2001 Berlin Thunder (World Bowl Champions) Head Coach2002 Berlin Thunder (World Bowl Champions) Head Coach2003 Berlin Thunder Head Coach2004 Cologne Centurions Head Coach2005 Cologne Centurions Head Coach