Wally Burnham brings more than 50 years of experience to The Hill in his first season as Arkansas’ defensive analyst.
Burnham previously spent seven seasons at Iowa State as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach (2009-15) under then-head coach and current Arkansas defensive backs coach Paul Rhoads. Burnham helped produce four All-Big 12 first-team selections during that span. Prior to that, the Cyclones had only two first-team all-conference linebackers.
Burnham’s defenses were instrumental to the Cyclones making three bowl games in his first four years in Ames, Iowa. He coached arguably the two best players over the last seven years in A.J. Klein and Jake Knott.
Burnham came to Iowa State from South Florida, where he led a Bulls defense that ranked 10th nationally in 2008. Burnham’s defenses ranked among the top 30 nationally in six of his last seven years at South Florida. The Bulls ranked 10th nationally in total defense (287.6 yards per game) and run defense (95.2 yards per game) in 2008.
Prior to USF, Burnham was the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at South Carolina between 1994-98. He helped transform the Gamecocks defense into one of the most improved in the SEC during his first season in Columbia. During his tenure, the defense ranked as high as 22nd in the nation.
Prior to coaching at South Carolina, Burnham was a nine-year assistant (1985-93) to Bobby Bowden at Florida State, where he was on the 1993 National Championship staff.
Burnham coached nine linebackers at Florida State who were drafted into the NFL and a 10th player who signed as a free agent. Among his standout linebackers at FSU were Derrick Brooks, Marvin Jones, Paul McGowan, Jesse Solomon and Garth Jax. Jones and McGowan each won the Butkus Award, while Jones garnered the Lombardi Award.
A 1963 graduate of Samford with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education, Burnham began playing collegiately for Bear Bryant at Alabama during the 1960 and 1961 seasons. He transferred to Samford, where he was a Little All-America linebacker in his senior season. Burnham also earned a master’s degree in athletic administration from West Alabama.
Burnham began coaching at the high school level in 1967, before first joining the college ranks at North Alabama in 1971, where he remained the offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator through 1976, before moving to East Tennessee State as defensive coordinator for two seasons (1977-78).
In 1979, Burnham was outside linebackers coach at Richmond before becoming linebackers coach at Memphis State in 1980. In 1981-82, Burnham was defensive coordinator at Lamar prior to making the jump to the USFL, where he was the linebackers coach for the Arizona Wranglers, who reached the 1984 USFL Championship Game. Burnham joined Bowden at Florida State after two seasons with the Wranglers.