In 2011, the Pitt's Panthers' ranked 70th nationally in scoring (25.8 points per game), 76th nationally in passing yards (211 yards a game) and 84th nationally in yardage (362.2 yards per game) .
Tulsa, the Golden Hurricanes had five 1,000-yard receivers, led by All-American WR Damaris Johnson, who in 2009 led the country in all-purpose yards for two consecutive years and set the all-time NCAA FBS record in that category with 7,796 career yards. In 2008, Norvell's receivers at Tulsa averaged 569.9 yards per game leading the nation in that category. That season Tulsa was also ranked second nationally in scoring (47.1 points per game) and ninth in passing yards (301.8 yards per game). The 2007 Golden Hurricanes became the first team in NCAA history to have a 5,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard rusher and three 1,000-yard receivers in a single season.
Chris Ball, 45, was also hired after serving as assistant head coach, co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Washington State for the past three seasons. His first stint with the Cougars was from 2000-02, coaching the defensive backs.
In 2007 he ironically served as Pitt's secondary coach (prior to Graham's arrival there). During that season the Panthers' defense ranked fourth nationally in pass defense (167.3 yards per game) and seventh in total defense (297.7 yards per game).
Ball spent four year, from 2003 to 2006, as Alabama's secondary coach. In 2004, the Crimson Tide led the nation in pass defense, allowing just 113.1 passing yards per game and finishing second nationally in pass efficiency defense. The following season, Alabama ranked fifth in both pass defense (160.8 yards per game) and pass efficiency defense and ranked second nationally in total defense.
Chris Thomsen, age 43, served as Abilene Christian's head coach for the past seven years, and will now assume the running backs' coach duties in Tempe. Following 4-6 record in 2005, Thomsen led the Wildcats to a 47-15 record over the next six seasons and six straight trips to the NCAA Division II playoffs. His overall record at Abilene Christian is 51-21.
Thomsen won the Lone Star Conference South Division Coach of the Year award four times, and led Abilene Christian to an undefeated regular season in 2008 and 2010, capturing undisputed league crowns. He also won 11 games there twice. Abilene Christian is one of just four programs in the country to have reached the NCAA Division II playoffs in each of the last six seasons.
Thomsen most notable achievement was Abilene Christian's performance in a 2008 II playoff game against rival West Texas A&M in which the two teams combined to break 45 NCAA Division II records in a 93-68 Abilene Christian victory. That season, the Wildcats led the NCAA in yards per game (558.8) and points per game (52.3) and scored at least 36 points in all 13 contests.
Before becoming the head coach at Abilene Christian, Thomsen served two seasons as offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator at Central Arkansas. He began his coaching career in 1994 as a graduate assistant at Abilene Christian before spending two seasons as the offensive line coach and one as the defensive line coach. He was named the Wildcats' offensive coordinator in 1998, spending two seasons in that position.
Connelly has been the offensive line coach and co-offenisve coordinator at UTEP since 2008. He served as the offensive line coach at UCLA in 2007 and the previous four year he spent at Alabama at the same capacity.
In 2010 UTEP set a school record posting 5,144 yards of offense, and allowing just 25 sacks in 422 pass attempts.
His offensive line helped Alabama carve out the 20th-best rushing attack in thecountry and the top rushing game in the SEC in 2004. The Crimson Tide also ranked second in the SEC in fewest sacks allowed. In 2003, Connelly's line led a rushing attack that netted 2,067 yards - fourth-best in the Southeastern Conference - and produced two All-SEC linemen. Alabama played in three bowlgames during his four seasons, including the 2007 Independence Bowl, 2006 Cotton Bowl and the 2004 Music City Bowl.
Prior to coaching at Alabama, Connelly spent two seasons tutoring the offensive line at Washington State. In Pullman, his 2002 squad allowed just 24 sacks in 424 pass attempts while helping the Cougars win a share of the Pac-10 title and play in the 2003 Rose Bowl. His 2001 unit gave up 27 sacks in 434 attempts and WSU played in the Sun Bowl.