New running backs coach Tony Alford joins the Irish from the University of Louisville.

Tony Alford Named Notre Dame's Running Backs Coach

Jan. 19, 2009

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Tony Alford, former running backs coach at the University of Louisville, has been named running backs coach at the University of Notre Dame, Irish head coach Charlie Weis announced Monday.

“I’m very happy to add Tony Alford to our staff,” Weis said. “In talking with several sources at the college and NFL levels for suggestions the first name that came up was Tony’s. He came highly recommended because of his tremendous reputation as both a running backs coach and as a recruiter and is a great addition to our program.

“For the past 22 years, Tony has either played running back or coached running backs and the experience and knowledge gained over that time will definitely benefit our current and future ball carriers.

“We look forward to a smooth transition and welcome Tony and his family to the Notre Dame family.”

Alford has spent his entire 14-year coaching career with running backs at five different schools and has produced a 1,000-yard rusher seven times. His stops include Louisville (2007-08), Iowa State (2002-06 and 1997-2000), Washington (2001), Kent State (1996) and Mount Union (1995). His assigned recruiting areas during his coaching career have included California, Florida, Georgia, Ohio and Texas as well as Arizona, Colorado, Iowa and Michigan.

“Notre Dame is the epitome of college football,” Alford said. “To join a place with the tradition and history of Notre Dame is very exciting and I’m grateful to Coach Weis for extending me this tremendous opportunity.

“I have several people in my life that I greatly respect and use as sounding boards for important life decisions such as changing jobs. When this position opened, I counseled with those individuals and they were as enthusiastic about this opportunity as I am. I am very flattered that Coach Weis considered me for this post and my family and I are thrilled to join the Notre Dame family.”

This past season, one of Alford’s pupils, redshirt freshman Victor Anderson, rushed for 1,047 yards with eight touchdowns and became the first Louisville running back to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards since 2005. Anderson was rewarded for his efforts as he was named the BIG EAST Conference Rookie of the Year and second-team all-BIG EAST. Anderson averaged 5.7 yard per carry and 87.2 yards per game and was the first Cardinal to earn BIG EAST Rookie-of-the-Year honors. He was also placed on Sporting News’ Freshman All-America squad.

Louisville averaged 164.5 yards rushing in 2008 and scored 18 rushing TDs. Brock Bolen gained 505 yards and added seven rushing TDs while Bilal Powell tallied an addition 354 rushing yards with two TDs.

In 2007, Anthony Allen averaged 4.8 yards on 141 carries and Bolen averaged 4.5 yards on 75 attempts for an offense that averaged 137.5 rushing yards per game. The two running backs combined for 12 rushing touchdowns. The ’07 Cardinals were led by quarterback Brian Brohm (344.3 passing yards per game) and that was reflected in the 44/56 run/pass ratio that season.

Alford spent a total of nine years during two stints as the running backs coach at Iowa State where he developed three of the school’s top six career rushing leaders (the last five years at Iowa State he also held the title of assistant head coach). Darren Davis, Ennis Haywood and Stevie Hicks combined to total five 1,000-yard seasons with Alford as their position coach. Four of the 10 best single-game rushing totals in Cyclone history occurred during Alford’s tenure and Iowa State had a 200-yard rushing effort by one of Alford’s running backs eight times during his nine-year stint in Ames.

Hicks became the third Cyclone rusher under Alford to surpass 1,000 rushing yards in a season as he led Iowa State with 1,062 yards in 2004. As a team, the Cyclones averaged 141.8 rushing yards during the ’04 campaign that concluded with an appearance in the Independence Bowl.

Iowa State was one of only three FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) schools that produced a 1,000-yard rusher annually from 1995-2001. Haywood continued the tradition in 2000 as he led the Big 12 Conference and ranked 10th nationally with 1,237 rushing yards. Alford helped make Haywood a first-team all-Big 12 running back as the Cyclones’ rushing attack averaged 209.0 yards per game and totaled 27 rushing TDs.

When Haywood was sidelined due to injury for a game versus Oklahoma State in 2000, Alford prepared freshman Michael Wagner and helped him rush for a freshman school-record 170 yards and two TDs against the Cowboys. Alford also assisted the Cyclones in making school history by finishing their 9-3 season with the school’s first bowl victory at the 2000 Bowl (37-20 over Pittsburgh).

During Alford’s initial four years in Ames (1997-2000), Iowa State improved from 103rd to 17th nationally in rushing. A driving force behind that was Alford’s coaching of Davis. Under Alford’s guidance, Davis produced three consecutive seasons over 1,000 yards en route to becoming the second-most prolific rusher in school history. Davis gained 1,005 yards as a sophomore in 1997, 1,116 yards in 1998 and ranked ninth in the nation in 1999 with a Big 12-best 1,388 rushing yards.

Davis recorded the fourth-most rushing yards in a season by an Iowa State running back in 1999 and helped the Cyclones average 200.5 rushing yards per game. His 14 rushing TDs and 4.8 yards-per-carry average helped him earn first-team all-Big 12 accolades. He played his final three years for Alford and finished his career with 3,763 rushing yards, second-most in school history behind his brother Troy Davis.

Sandwiched between Alford’s stints at Iowa State was a year as Washington’s running backs coach in 2001. Under Alford, Husky tailback Willie Hurst became the ninth back in school history to rush for more than 2,000 career yards. Washington finished 9-4 and played in the Holiday Bowl.

Alford started his collegiate coaching career with stops at Kent State in 1996 and Mount Union in 1995. With the Golden Flashes, he helped make Astron Whatley a first-team all-Mid-American Conference player as he rushed for a career-best 1,132 yards, fifth-most in school history. In Alford’s first college job, Mount Union rushed for 214.5 yards per game as the Purple Raiders made it to the ’95 Division III semifinals and finished with a 12-1 record.

Alford was a first-team all-Western Athletic Conference running back for Colorado State in 1989 and was an honorable mention selection on USA Today’s All-America team. Alford played for the Rams from 1987-90 and he was a 1989 Doak Walker Award nominee. His 1,035 rushing yards in 1989 were the sixth-most in school history at the time and he set the school record that still stands when he dashed for 310 yards versus Colorado. Over the course of his college career, Alford totaled six 100-yard rushing games.

Following college, Alford was in the Denver Broncos training camp in 1991 and played for the World League of American Football’s Birmingham Fire in 1992. Alford earned his bachelor’s degree from Colorado State in 1992 and coached high school football in Fort Collins, Colo., and Lake Wales, Fla., in 1993-94.

A native of Colorado Springs, Colo., Anthony J. Alford was born Nov. 27, 1968, in Akron, Ohio. He was raised in Akron and moved to Colorado Springs while in high school and graduated from Doherty H.S. in 1987. Alford and his wife, Trina, have three sons: Rylan, Kyler and Braydon.

Alford replaces Mike Haywood who was named head coach at Miami (Ohio) on Dec. 23, following four seasons on the Irish staff.

THE ALFORD FILEYear     School          Assignment1995        Mount Union     Running Backs1996        Kent State      Running Backs1997-2000   Iowa State      Running Backs2001        Washington      Running Backs2002-06     Iowa State      Assistant Head Coach/Running Backs2007-08     Louisville      Running Backs2009     Notre Dame      Running Backs