(Salt Lake City, Utah) – Dave Christensen is Utah’s new offensive coordinator, head coach Kyle Whittingham announced today. He will also coach the tight ends. Christensen was one of the top offensive coordinators in the country during eight seasons at Missouri (2001-08) before spending the past five years as the head coach at Wyoming, where he was the 2011 Mountain West Coach of the Year.
Dennis Erickson and Brian Johnson, who served as co-offensive coordinators this past season, will continue their duties as position coaches. Erickson will coach the running backs for a second season, while Johnson is preparing for his fifth season coaching the quarterbacks. Erickson is also a former Wyoming head coach (1986).
“As one of the pioneers of the spread offense, Dave Christensen is an innovative coach and was the architect of one of the top offenses in the country during his time at Missouri,” said Whittingham. “We feel fortunate he was available and interested in joining our program, and he will be a great fit with our staff. We want an explosive offense and that’s been a trademark of Dave’s throughout his career as an offensive coordinator.”
Wyoming’s head coach from 2009-13, Christensen was named the Mountain West Coach of the Year in his third season. Before Wyoming, he served 17 years as an assistant for Gary Pinkel at Toledo (1992-2000) and Missouri (2001-08). Christensen coached the offensive line at both schools and was the offensive coordinator from 1997-2008, including his entire stay at Missouri.
“I am thrilled at the opportunity to work with Kyle again,” said Christensen. “We were assistants together many years ago at Idaho State and I have great respect for him and what he has accomplished since then. I am also excited to be back coaching at the BCS level and at the University of Utah in particular, where I think there is a great opportunity for success. I have experience in the Pac-12 as a player and a coach at Washington and it is exciting to be back in one of the premier conferences in the country.”
Christensen devised and implemented one of college football’s most exciting no-huddle, spread offenses at Mizzou, where he was named the 2007 National Offensive Coordinator of the Year by Rivals.com and was runner-up for the 2007 Frank Broyles Award, honoring the nation’s top assistant coach. Missouri played in the Big 12 Championship game in both 2007 and 2008 as the champion of the Big 12 North.
Missouri finished the 2007 season with a No. 4 Associated Press ranking and Christensen’s offense ranked No. 5 in the nation in total offense (490.3 yards per game), No. 8 in scoring offense (39.9) and No. 9 in passing offense (314.1).
Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy balloting in 2007, when Christensen masterminded an offense that scored a school-record 558 points, far surpassing the previous Missouri single-season record of 399 points. Also that season, tight end Martin Rucker and freshman wide receiver Jeremy Maclin were Consensus first-team All-America selections, marking the first time Missouri had two Consensus first-team All-Americans in the same season. Senior center Adam Spieker was named a finalist for the Rimington Award, which honors the nation’s best center.
In 2008, the A.P. No. 19-ranked Tigers (No. 16 Coaches’ poll) finished fourth in the nation in passing offense (330.4 yards per game), No. 6 in scoring offense (42.2) and No. 8 in total offense (484.1).
That season, the Tigers again had two Consensus first-team All-Americans in Maclin and tight end Chase Coffman. Coffman also won the 2008 John Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end, while Maclin was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, which honors the nation’s top wide receiver.
The Tigers were nationally ranked offensively throughout Christensen’s tenure as the offensive coordinator, which followed a successful stint at Toledo. During his nine years as a Toledo assistant (the last four as the offensive coordinator), the Rockets set numerous school records on offense while winning one Mid-American Conference championship and two MAC West titles (tying for another).
After 24 years as a college assistant coach–he also had stints at Western Washington (1983), Washington (1988-89, graduate assistant) and Idaho State (1990-91)–Christensen was appointed head coach at Wyoming in December of 2008. He led Wyoming to a bowl game in his first season–only the second Cowboy head coach to accomplish that feat–and is the only UW coach to win a bowl game in his first season. The Cowboys defeated Fresno State, 35-28 in double overtime, in the 2009 New Mexico Bowl.
After a 3-9 season in 2010, Christensen enjoyed his best season as a head coach in 2011 when he led Wyoming to a third-place finish in the Mountain West Conference behind No. 6 Boise State and No. 13 TCU and was named MWC Coach of the Year.
He concluded his tenure at Wyoming with a 27-35 overall mark after 4-8 and 5-7 finishes in 2012 and 2013.
As an undergraduate, Christensen played offensive line at Washington from 1980-82. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Western Washington in 1985 and a master’s degree from Eastern Washington in 1988.