Offensive Analyst • Ninth Year • UCLA '59
Joe Harper, head football coach at Cal Poly from 1968 to 1981 and athletics director from 1968-73, returned to the Mustangs in 2011 to serve as an offensive analyst.
Harper is the winningest coach in Cal Poly football history with 96 wins in 14 seasons. His winning percentage of .687 (992-28-3) remains the best in school history. Harper's coaching highlights during his career include an undefeated regular season in 1972, the year the Mustangs earned a trip to the Camellia Bowl.
The most memorable moment came in 1980, when the Mustangs went 10-3 and captured the NCAA Division II National Championship under Harper's leadership. He was named the 1980 NCAA Division II Coach of the Year and also the District IX Coach of the Year for the fifth time in his 14-year career.
Among several other accolades, Harper was named the Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association in 1972, 1973, 1975, 1978, and 1980.
Harper, a Glendale High School alumnus, is a 1959 graduate of UCLA and earned his master’s a year later. During his playing career at UCLA, he captained the 1957 Bruins and also played five years of rugby.
Coaching stints at UCLA, Riverside City College, Colorado State, UC Santa Barbara and five years as offensive line coach at Colorado preceded his arrival at Cal Poly in 1968.
Harper subsequently served as head football coach at Northern Arizona from 1982-84, and at Cal Lutheran University from 1990-96. He owned and operated two restaurants in San Luis Obispo. Harper has three children, Bradley, Dan and Kerri Jean, and eight grandchildren.
Harper was inducted into the Cal Poly Athletics Hall of Fame in 1997.