Wofford Athletics Director Richard Johnson didn’t have to travel far to hire his new head football coach. He actually only had to walk down the hall to find his man as the Terriers announced Thursday the promotion of Shawn Watson from assistant head coach and offensive coordinator.
Watson joined the Terrier staff under Josh Conklin in January. When Conklin resigned in October with the team winless, Watson took over as the interim head coach, and the Terriers split their final six games.
Here’s the full release from Wofford:
Wofford College has announced that Shawn Watson has been named the head coach of the football program. A veteran with nearly 40 years of coaching experience, Watson came to Wofford in January 2022 as assistant head coach and offensive coordinator. On Oct. 6, he was named interim head coach and led the Terriers to a 3-3 record.
Prior to Wofford, he spent the 2021 season as the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at the University of Northern Iowa. Along with his work with the Panthers, he has served as offensive coordinator at Texas (2014-15), Louisville (2012-13), Nebraska (2007-10), Colorado (2000-05) and Pittsburgh (2017-18). Additionally, he was the head coach at his alma mater, Southern Illinois, from 1994-96.
“Wofford was fortunate to have had a lot of interest in the position,” said Dr. Nayef Samhat, Wofford’s president. “I believe this is because we have a tradition of success, but it’s also because we are second to none when it comes to encouraging student-athletes to excel academically, athletically and in leadership and service. That’s a powerful legacy, and we look forward to Coach Watson continuing the tradition.”
“In getting to know Shawn as interim head coach and during the interview process, it was clear that he is the type of person who cares deeply about student-athletes and has the experience to provide leadership to the football program,” said Director of Athletics Richard Johnson. “We are excited to introduce him as our head coach.”
“I am extremely excited and humbled by this great opportunity to be in charge of a program that has such a great tradition,” said Shawn Watson. “I appreciate the support that the Wofford community has provided, including from faculty and staff, athletics administration, football alumni, player parents, our coaching staff and their families. Most importantly, I am excited about the future for our student-athletes. The chemistry and bond that we have together is strong, and I look forward to seeing where that will take us.”
In 2021, Northern Iowa posted a 6-6 overall record with the season coming to an end in the NCAA FCS Playoffs against Eastern Washington. In the shortened 2021 spring football season, they were 3-4 overall with a conference-only slate of games.
He spent the 2019 season in an offensive quality control role at the University of Georgia. The Bulldogs were 12-2 overall that season, capping the campaign with a win over Baylor in the Sugar Bowl. They averaged 30.8 points per game as Jake Fromm threw for 2,860 yards and D’Andre Swift rushed for 1,218 yards.
In 2018, Watson helped the University of Pittsburgh win their first ACC Coastal Division title after going 6-2 in league play followed by an appearance in the Sun Bowl. The Panthers featured one of the nation’s top rushing attacks including a 1,000-yard rushing duo (Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall) for the first time in school history. Pitt finished the 2017 season with an upset of No. 2 Miami (Fla.), which marked the highest-ranked opponent the Panthers had ever defeated at home.
Watson spent the 2016 season with the University of Indiana, first as a quality control coach before taking over as quarterbacks coach. During the 2014 and 2015 seasons he was the assistant head coach for offense and quarterbacks coach at the University of Texas under Charlie Strong.
While at Louisville from 2011-13, Watson helped develop Teddy Bridgewater as the Cardinals went 30-9 during a three-year span with a pair of Big East Championships and three bowl appearances. Bridgewater went on to become a first-round NFL draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings. In 2013 the team was 12-1 overall as Bridgewater threw for a school-record 31 touchdowns. The Cards capped the 2012 season with a 33-23 upset win over fourth-ranked Florida in the Allstate Sugar Bowl to finish 11-2.
Prior to the Cardinals, Watson spent four seasons (2007-10) at Nebraska. The Cornhuskers annually ranked among the nation’s most productive offenses. Cornhuskers quarterback Joe Ganz set 23 school records under Watson’s tutelage.
Watson made his first stop in the Big 12 in 1999 when he became the quarterbacks coach at Colorado. He was elevated to offensive coordinator/QB coach the following season and spent six years (1999-05) in Boulder, helping the Buffalos win the Big 12 North Division four times, including a conference title in 2001. He coached quarterbacks at Northwestern for two seasons (1997-98) under Gary Barnett.
Watson played safety at Southern Illinois (1979-80) and began his coaching career as a Salukis graduate assistant in 1982, making stops at Illinois and Miami (Ohio) before landing the head job at his alma mater in 1994. In his three seasons as head coach, the team was 11-22 overall and produced 20 all-conference players.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in health education from SIU in 1982. Watson and his wife, Anita, have three children: Amber (Marcus Capone), Aaron and Adam (April) and three grandchildren, Caden, Maggie and Wyatt.