Meet Wally Burnham

Cyclone Sports Report goes one-on-one with Iowa State's new defensive coordinator Wally Burnham.

Cyclone Sports Report: When were you first contacted by Coach Rhoads and what led to you becoming the new defensive coordinator at Iowa State?

Wally Burnham: I believe it was about last Wednesday or Thursday that he first contacted me. Then my wife and I came up to Ames to spend some time with Paul this weekend. On Saturday we toured the facilities and toured Ames and just did a lot of talking. I thought it was very important for my wife to get a feel for it because it's a big decision. We went out and ate and then we just sat and talked about family and other things in order to really get to know each other and to see if we were compatible working together. Paul and I then met on Sunday and talked for about four to five hours in the morning. We talked coaching philosophy and X's and O's for a while and I asked him a lot of questions about his style just to make sure we would be a good fit. Then last night he called me at about 10pm and offered me the job. I immediately accepted the position and then went in this morning and officially resigned from South Florida.

CSR: How tough was it to leave South Florida?

WB: I have been here for nine years so it's really become like a family and I have so much respect for the program and the players. We accomplished a lot going to bowl games and I have a lot of memories that I will hold dear to my heart. But the opportunity that Paul Rhoads has offered me to come and help rebuild the program at Iowa State is outstanding. If you are a competitor you really can't ask for more. The other thing is my respect for Paul Rhoads. I coached against him when he was at Pitt and I just feel we have a lot of similarities.

CSR: How would you classify your relationship with Coach Rhoads before this past weekend?

WB: It was strictly professional but Dan McCarney is a very close friend of mine and he was the guy that tied Paul and I together.

CSR: What was it about Coach Rhoads that made you think you could work with him here at Iowa State?

WB: I just had a comfort level sitting down and talking with Paul about family and his vision for the program. I just have a common feeling that this guy has a plan and that he is for real. After talking with him I really felt that he knows what he is doing. Even on Saturday night I told my wife that I thought he was a really great guy and she thought the same.

CSR: What is your main defensive philosophy?

WB: We will be very aggressive and try and dictate what the other team is doing instead of seeing what they are doing and then reacting. We will demand that the kids be disciplined and lined up ready to go. It's not always the kid with the most ability. Sometimes it's the kid with the biggest heart. If you want it bad enough there is a way to get it. We're going to try and instill that into the kids and also the pride that Paul wants each of them to show.

CSR: You have coached in the ACC (Florida State), the SEC (South Carolina), and the Big East (South Florida). How excited are you take on the challenge of coaching in the Big 12?

WB: I'm very excited and I feel it's just a great opportunity. Someone asked me today why Iowa State and I said why not go out there and be a part of something that can be great. I want to go compete in what might be the best conference in the country and win.

CSR: When will you officially begin at Iowa State?

WB: I'm flying in Friday and I guess I'll be helping with a Junior Day on Saturday. So I guess I'll be starting the minute I hit the ground in Des Moines on Friday. I'll get to start meeting the staff and then we'll go from there.

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