December 7, 2015
In a Portland State football season filled with highlight moments, first-time-evers and bests, there had to be room for at least one more. That came today when Bruce Barnum was named the FCS National Coach of the Year by STATS LLC, sponsor of post-season awards for the NCAA I FCS level.
“Professionally, I was overwhelmed winning the Big Sky award and knowing the quality of the coaches in this conference,” said Barnum. “But to move to this level, it’s the most humbling thing professionally, knowing the names that have been on that list. I don’t see myself on that list, but somebody did. It means, bottom-line, I have the best staff in the country. I did my job by hiring that staff. The Big Sky award told me we had the best staff, and now the country is telling me that. That’s bigtime.”
Barnum led his Viking team on a remarkable journey in 2015 – the best-ever season at the Division I level for PSU – while making a remarkable journey of his own in his first season as a head football coach.
The Vikings’ offensive coordinator for five seasons, Barnum was named interim Head Coach on Nov. 26 of last year. Within a week, he was given a one-year contract to run the program and no guarantees for the future. All Barnum did was take a 3-9 program that was an after-thought in the Big Sky Conference, and even in the city of Portland, and turn it one of the best teams in the nation. He accomplished that with virtually the same roster as 2014, save one key addition; quarterback Alex Kuresa.
Barnum guided PSU to a 9-3 record in 2015 – its best record ever at the Division I level. The Vikings beat two FBS programs in the same season for the first time in their history, including a first-ever win over a Pac-12 team. PSU went 5-1 against nationally-ranked teams and was ranked as high as fifth in the nation at the end of the season.
The Vikings have made their first appearance in the NCAA playoffs in 15 years, just their second ever, and hosted a Division I playoff game for the first time. PSU lost to Northern Iowa of the powerhouse Missouri Valley Conference, 29-17, on Saturday.
Most of all, using his “BarnyBall” style of tough, hard-nosed fundamental football sprinkled with remarkable team chemistry and unity, Barnum made Portland State football relevant again in the city of Portland, in the Big Sky Conference and on the national scene.
On Nov. 25, Barnum became the first Viking football coach ever selected as Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year. And now he takes FCS Coach of the Year honors in a vote of media members from around the nation.