New 'can do' coach
ATHLETICS DIRECTOR Torre Chisholm says he asked every question possible when he researched the background of new head football coach Nigel Burton.
"Can he teach? Players who he helped put in the NFL told me he can," says Chisholm. "Can he recruit? Best recruiter on staff was a common response. Can he lead young men? He has been doing it ever since he was a team captain at Washington and a student-athlete representative to the NCAA Management Council."
Chisholm eventually asked the obvious question, "Can he win? They said he has everywhere he has coached and at every level of competition, because Nigel always finds a way to be successful."
In December, PSU chose Burton, 33, from a field of highly qualified finalists to become the Viking's 13th head football coach. He replaces former head coach Jerry Glanville, who resigned in November after a disappointing three-season, 9-24 record.
Burton is not new to Portland State. He was defensive backs coach under Tim Walsh during the 2001 and 2002 seasons. He went on to become the secondary coach at Oregon State for five years and, for the past two seasons, defensive coordinator for the University of Nevada Wolf Pack.
"The opportunity to come back to a university that I loved being a part of before is outstanding," says Burton. "And I believe the potential is here to return to the dominance that Portland State once had."
Burton says that dominance was exemplified by former Viking stars such as Chris Crawford, Chip Dunn, Terry Charles, Shaun Bodiford, Clint Didier, and June Jones.
A 1999 graduate of University of Washington, Burton was a three-year starting safety who led the Huskies to three bowl games. He was also a three-time Academic All-Pac-10 and Academic All-District selection, and served as team captain his senior year. He earned an MBA at South Florida in 2000 while working as an assistant coach.
Burton, who plans to emphasize student-athlete academic progress, also brings with him a reputation as one of the West Coast's top football recruiters. He said one of his priorities will be to recruit Oregon athletes.
"You do not have to leave Portland to play great football or get a world-class education," he says, "and you do not have to leave Portland to get a real college experience."
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