"I am excited that Craig Bray and Mark Criner will be joining our staff after a very complete search and interview process," Minnesota head coach Glen Mason said. "We were able to hire two individuals that have extensive Division I coaching experience. Both of them have served as defensive coordinators at some point during their career, which gives them comprehensive knowledge of defensive football."
Bray comes to Minnesota after spending the past two seasons at the University of Colorado, where he coached the secondary. Bray has 30 years of college coaching experience, including 27 seasons on the defensive side of the football. Prior to his time at Colorado, Bray was the linebackers coach at the University of Arizona for one season.
The Yreka, Calif., native coached under Dennis Erickson at Oregon State University for three seasons from 2000-02 as the Beavers' defensive coordinator and secondary coach. During that time OSU made two bowl appearances, including a 41-9 win over Notre Dame in the 2001 Fiesta Bowl. Bray's defense that year ranked first in the Pac 10 Conference in total defense and set an Oregon State school record for fewest rushing yards per game at just over 80 yards per outing. In 2002, Bray's defense ranked first in the conference and 11th nationally in total defense.
Prior to joining the Oregon State staff, Bray coached at Washington State from 1994-99 after serving as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach under John L. Smith at Idaho from 1989-93. Bray first coached with Erickson at Idaho in 1984 before moving with him to Wyoming in 1986 and Washington State during the 1987 and 1988 seasons.
A two-year starter at wide receiver for the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Bray received his degree in education in 1975. Bray began his collegiate playing career at the College of the Siskiyous where he played two seasons between 1970-72 before transferring to UNLV. Bray is married to the former Kaprice Rupp, a former head volleyball coach at Washington State. The couple has two sons, Josh and Trent. Josh recently graduated from Oregon State and Trent was a senior linebacker on the OSU football team this past season.
"I am extremely excited about coaching at the University of Minnesota and working with Coach Mason," Bray said. "The Big Ten Conference is one of the most balanced conferences in the country and every week is a difficult challenge. It is exciting to have the opportunity to coach in a great conference and with a program that expects to compete for a conference championship."
Criner joins the Gopher coaching staff after two seasons at Middle Tennessee State University where he held the position of defensive coordinator for the 2005 season, while coaching the secondary both years. Prior to his stint at MTSU, Criner coached at the University of Cincinnati for two years where he was the defensive coordinator during the 2003 campaign and the linebackers coach from 2002-03.
This past season, Criner's defense ranked 28th nationally in total defense and first in the Sun Belt Conference in scoring defense, rushing defense, red zone defense and pass efficiency defense. Criner improved the Blue Raiders' national pass efficiency rating from 112th in 2004 to 32nd last season, while ranking 17th nationally in scoring defense at just under 19 points per game. During his two seasons at Cincinnati, Criner coached defenses that ranked in the top 30 nationally in several categories, including total defense, pass efficiency defense, total pass defense, passes intercepted and turnovers gained.
Criner began his coaching career in 1992 as the outside linebackers coach at Utah State where he spent two seasons. He then moved on to Portland State where he was the secondary coach for the Vikings from 1993-97 and the defensive coordinator from 1997 -99. Criner then moved to the XFL for one season where he served as the defensive coordinator for the Las Vegas Outlaws with his father, Jim, who was the head coach. Criner's stint in the XFL produced the league's top defense.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for me to coach at the University of Minnesota," Criner said. "Coach Mason has built the program into one that is nationally competitive and I am excited about the direction it is headed. Gopher football is full of tradition and coaching in the Big Ten is a challenge each and every week."
A graduate of Ames High School in Ames, Iowa, Criner played one season at Iowa State University in 1986 before transferring to Boise State where he lettered for the Broncos in 1988, '89 and '90. Criner was part of two NCAA Division I-AA playoff teams at Boise State, including the 1990 team that reached the I-AA semifinals.
Criner and his wife, Angie, have four children – daughter Madison (11), son Calin (8) and twins Jackson and Brooklyn (2).
Ankney joined the Gophers staff prior to the 2001 season after serving as the defensive coordinator at Missouri for seven seasons. A Xenia, Ohio native, Ankney served as the Gophers' assistant head coach the past three seasons while coaching the defensive ends during the 2003 and 2004 seasons before handling outside linebackers this past year. In 2004, Ankney coached All-Big Ten performer Darrell Reid, who finished second in the conference in tackles-for-loss and sixth in quarterback sacks. Ankney was also part of a defensive staff that did not allow an opposing running back to rush for 100 yards during the 2003 season.
Ankney joined the Missouri staff in 1994 on the day that fellow coach and friend Larry Smith was named head coach. Ankney had previously worked with Smith at Tulane (1976 -79) and Arizona (1980-85). While at Missouri, Ankney was a 1998 candidate for the Frank Broyles Assistant Coach of the Year award and received the Missouri Total Program's Academic Enhancement Award in 1997, which is awarded to a Missouri coach who made significant contributions to his team's academic success.
"We are going to miss the daily involvement of Coach Ankney in our football program," Mason said. "Coach Moe is well respected in the coaching profession for not only what he has accomplished on the field, but for the positive impact he has had on the lives of young men off the field. There are a lot of current and former football players at Minnesota and around the country who are better individuals because of Coach Ankney."
2006 Gopher Football Coaching Staff
Head Coach: Glen Mason
Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator: Mitch Browning
Defensive Coordinator/Outside Linebackers: David Lockwood
Running Backs: Vic Adamle
Defensive Line: Carey Bailey
Defensive Secondary: Craig Bray
Linebackers: Mark Criner
Passing Game Coordinator/Quarterbacks: Tony Peterson
Guards & Centers: Gordon Shaw
Wide Receivers: Luke Tressel
Head Strength and Conditioning: Dwayne Chandler
Assistant Strength and Conditioning: Blake Cundiff