UCLA assistant coach Brian Schneider, whose punt return team set an NCAA record averaging 25 yards per return in 2005, and former Colorado running backs assistant coach Shawn Simms, who previously coached defensive ends at Ohio State and outside linebackers at Miami University, have joined Iowa State head coach Dan McCarney's football staff. Schneider will serve as special teams coordinator and tight ends coach. Simms will coach outside linebackers. McCarney also announced that Cyclone quarterbacks coach Todd Fitch has been promoted to passing game coordinator. McCarney also announced that Erik Link, the defensive line coach at Drake last season, has joined the ISU staff as a graduate assistant coach.
"Brian Schneider's special teams at UCLA consistently ranked among the nation's best," McCarney said. "Shawn Simms has coached in the Big 12, the Big Ten and the Big East Conferences. Both coaches bring exceptional experience to our program. Todd Fitch's work with quarterback Bret Meyer speaks for itself. Bret has become one of the best signal callers in our league and Todd has been a huge part of Bret's exceptional progress. The addition of coaches like Brian and Sean demonstrate the high regard people have for our football program nationally."
Schneider was an all-conference linebacker at Colorado State, where he was a teammate of current ISU running backs coach Tony Alford on a Ram team coached by former Iowa State head coach Earle Bruce. Bruce's staff at CSU included Fitch. Schneider then played under and later coached at Colorado State with Iowa State defensive coordinator John Skladany.
"This was a great opportunity for me professionally and personally," Schneider said. "I already know several people on this coaching staff and how much they have accomplished here at Iowa State. This is also a great place to raise a family."
In 2005, several of Schneider's special teams units ranked among the best in the nation — punt returns, kickoff coverage and net punting. Maurice Drew led the nation in punt returns with an NCAA-record 28.5 average, including three touchdowns. In 2004, punter Chris Kluwe was a finalist for the Ray Guy Award, presented annually to the nation's top punter, and place-kicker Justin Medlock was named first-team all-Pac-10. Schneider also coached the safeties in 2005. In 2004, he served as coach of the outside linebackers and nickel backs, as well as special teams. In 2003, he coached the punt and punt return units and the outside linebackers and nickel backs. Schneider came to UCLA after serving the previous six seasons as tight ends and special teams coordinator at Colorado State. During his tenure at CSU, the Rams excelled in special teams play. He coached eight all-conference special teams or tight end performers for the Rams.
Simms joins the ISU staff after coaching the running backs for three seasons at Colorado. His experience includes stops at Illinois, Ohio State and Pittsburgh. At Colorado, he tutored Bobby Purify in 2004, the 12th player in school history to run for 1,000 yards in a single season. Simms earned his bachelor's degree in business education from Bowling Green in 1986, where he lettered as a linebacker and was an all-Mid America Conference performer as a senior in 1984. After two seasons as outside linebackers coach with Miami University (1989-90), he moved on to Toledo, where he again coached the running backs for four seasons (1991-94). Simms then spent the 1995 and 1996 seasons as running backs coach at Illinois, where he tutored Robert Holcombe, who set single-game, season and career rushing records for the Fighting Illini. Holcombe went on to earn a Super Bowl ring with the 1999 St. Louis Rams.
"Having been in the Big 12 Conference the last three seasons, I know about the success of Iowa State's football program," Simms said. "From the outside looking in, Dan McCarney's football program is a contender and I am happy to be joining the Cyclone team."
Simms moved on to Ohio State from 1997-99, switching sides of the ball in coaching defensive ends, including standout performers James Cotton and Rodney Bailey, future NFL draft picks. He also recruited four players who saw plenty of action for the Buckeyes on their 2002 national championship team, including starting defensive end Will Smith. Prior to joining the Pittsburgh staff in 2001, he coached the running backs at Rutgers for the 2000 season. At Pitt, he coached junior Brandon Miree, who gained 943 yards in 2002 to help lead Pittsburgh to a 9-4 record and near upset of No. 1 Miami.
Under Fitch, Meyer's sophomore season trumped a freshman All-America campaign. Meyer averaged 239.7 passing yards per game in 2005, ranking second in the Big 12 Conference. Meyer, one of the top three rated quarterbacks in Iowa State history, threw for 2,876 yards and 19 touchdowns last season with just 10 interceptions. At one point in the 2005 campaign, Meyer completed a school-record 155 pass attempts without an interception.