|Title:||Head Football Coach|
Now in his fourth season at the helm of the Northern Colorado football program, Scott Downing has a roster full of his own recruits and is looking to make a splash in the Big Sky Conference.
Despite the wins-losses not improving from the previous season, the team showed marked improvement week-to-week in 2008 and is looking to carry that momentum into a new year.
Quarterback Bryan Waggener threw for 2,546 yards in 2008, the sixth highest total in school history, while his 2,716 yards of total offense is the fifth highest tally ever at NC. The quarterbacks combined to complete 231 passes, tying the single-season school record from 1981.
Kicker Michael York also tied for the sixth-most field goals made with 13. Defensively, Cristian Sarmento notched the seventh-most tackles in a year with 142 and was sixth with 10 sacks, which also ranked him among the NCAA FCS leaders.
Downing became the 15th coach in Northern Colorado history on Dec. 27, 2005, coming to the Bears after spending three years as the recruiting coordinator at the University of Nebraska, where he also coached tight ends and kicking specialists.
He has also spent time as an assistant coach at Purdue and Wyoming and was the head coach at his alma mater, Sterling College in 1982 and 1983.
For the first time in Downing's tenure, the Bears play more home games than away contests, with six games at Nottingham Field in 2009 and five on the road. The team continues the tough scheduling it has become known for as they open against Kansas of the Big XII. The team then opens at home against San Diego before beginning the always tough Big Sky Conference schedule.
The conference has produced the Buck Buchanan (top defensive player) Award Winner the previous two seasons and looks to have several more candidates this year. The Bears host Montana State, Portland State, Weber State and Sacramento State from the league, as well as a late non-conference tilt against South Dakota. They play at Eastern Washington, Northern Arizona, Idaho State and Montana.
The team has seen the first-ever Big Sky All-Conference First Team selections in Ryan Chesla (2007 & 2008) on offense and Sarmento (2008) on defense during Downing's tenure and is now undergoing renovations for a new locker room in Butler-Hancock as well as new meeting space and other improvements.
As an assistant to head coach Bill Callahan at Nebraska (2003-05), Downing helped coordinate recruiting efforts that landed the Cornhuskers one of the top-rated recruiting classes in the nation. His recruiting efforts helped Nebraska shake off its first losing campaign in 43 seasons in 2004, improving to 7-4 in 2005 and earning an appearance in the Alamo Bowl against Michigan, where the Huskers won 32-28.
Downing also helped the Cornhuskers' punters gain national recognition. Current Cincinnati Bengal Kyle Larson earned First-Team All-American honors and was a finalist for the 2003 Ray Guy Award, given to the nation's top punter. In 2004 and 2005, Sam Koch ranked 16th in net punting (38.39 yards per punt) and third in punting (45.9/punt), respectively.
In his first season with the Huskers, Downing also coached tight end Matt Herian to All-Big 12 First-Team honors.
Before Nebraska, Downing spent six seasons, 1997-2002, as the assistant head coach and running backs and special teams coach at Purdue University under head coach Joe Tiller. He guided the Boilermakers' Travis Dorsch to All-American honors as both a kicker and punter. Dorsch won the 2001 Ray Guy Award, finishing his career as the Big Ten's all-time leader in field goals (68) and kicking points (355). He also guided running back Joey Harris to a 1,115-yard rushing season and eight touchdowns in 2002. While at Purdue, Downing's special teams set 37 team and individual records.
Downing also spend 10 seasons (1987-96) at the University of Wyoming, the final six under Tiller.
From 1987-90, he was the linebackers coach for the Cowboys before being promoted to defensive coordinator in 1991. He served in that capacity from 1991-94, until coaching running backs and special teams in both 1995 and 1996.
Wyoming made four bowl appearances and won three WAC titles in 1987, 1988 and 1993 and the WAC Pacific Division title in 1996 during Downing's tenure.
Prior to Wyoming, Downing served as a graduate assistant under legendary Nebraska coach Tom Osborne and was the Huskers freshman head coach in 1986. During his first stint in Lincoln, Nebraska posted a 29-7 record and played in the 1985 and 1987 Sugar Bowls and the 1986 Fiesta Bowl.
Downing earned a bachelor's degree in history in 1979 from Sterling (Kan.) College. He was a four-year letterwinner for the Warriors at offensive guard and was the team's co-captain his last two seasons.
Following graduation, he was an assistant coach at Sterling for two years (1980-81) and was the program's head coach from 1982-83. He recorded a 13-4-1 record during his two years and ranked in the NAIA Final Top 20 poll for the first time in school history. Downing was inducted into the Sterling Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990.
A native of Kansas City, Mo., Downing and his wife Karen have three sons, Matthew (22), Andrew (19) and Zachary (16).
2006-Pres Northern Colorado Head Coach
2003-05 Nebrasksa Assistant Coach, Recruiting Coordinator
1997-2002 Purdue Assistant Head Coach
1987-96 Wyoming Assistant Head Coach
1984-86 Nebraska Graduate Assistant Coach/Freshman Coach
1982-83 Sterling College Head Coach
1980-81 Sterling College Assistant Coach