Head Coach • 11th Year • UC Riverside '77
56-58 at Cal Poly (Ten Years)
173-140 Overall (28 Years)
Tim Walsh, who guided the Mustangs to the No. 1 ranking in team rushing offense for four consecutive regular seasons (2013-16), was named Cal Poly’s 16th head football coach on Jan. 9, 2009.
After guiding the Mustangs to a 4-7 mark in his first campaign, Walsh turned the program around with three consecutive winning seasons (7-4, 6-5, 9-3), a Great West Conference title in 2011 and, in his fourth year at the helm of the Mustangs, a share of the Big Sky Conference crown and an NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoff berth in 2012.
Cal Poly returned to the FCS playoffs in 2016, posted a 7-5 overall mark and finished fourth in the Big Sky. The Mustangs won four of their last six games in 2018 to finish 5-6.
Cal Poly is 31-28 in its first seven seasons in the Big Sky.
Now in his 11th year at the helm of the Mustangs, Walsh was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the United States Military Academy for two seasons before arriving in San Luis Obispo.
“Tim Walsh relishes his role as an educator at Cal Poly," said Mustang director of athletics Don Oberhelman. "He embraces our high academic standards and has built an excellent football program with these standards as the cornerstone.
"Tim fully understands the academic demands of Cal Poly students and our Learn by Doing philosophy," Oberhelman added. "I can't imagine a better marriage between a football coach and a university than what we have with Tim Walsh at Cal Poly."
Walsh replaced Rich Ellerson, the Mustangs’ head football coach for eight seasons. Ellerson was named head coach at Army on Dec. 26, 2008.
“We had several outstanding applicants from which to choose, but I am thrilled we were able to hire a person with such outstanding credentials to direct this program,” then-director of athletics Alison Cone said of Walsh in 2009. “He is a high-character, high-quality individual who brings great passion and enthusiasm to our campus.”
"You couldn’t ask for a better coach than Tim Walsh,” said Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong. “Besides his understanding of football and his outstanding credentials, he knows how to lead student athletes to live the Mustang Way -- with pride, honor, integrity and excellence both on and off the field.”
Walsh has compiled a 173-140 record in 28 seasons as a college head coach, including four years at Sonoma State (27-14 from 1989-92), 14 more seasons at Portland State (90-68 from 1993-2006) and 10 at Cal Poly (56-58 from 2009-18). He guided Sonoma State to the Northern California Athletic Conference title in 1991 (ending UC Davis’ streak of 20 consecutive conference titles), a pair of NCAA Division II playoff berths while at Sonoma State and four more postseason berths while at Portland State.
“I have a tremendous working knowledge of Cal Poly, its history and current status,” Walsh said at the time of his hiring. “The combination of a tremendous academic university, a tremendous area to recruit and live, and a football program that’s winning all added up to a great opportunity for me.
“My goals are to continue to recruit student-athletes whose goals are to be the best they can be, both in the class and on the field, and become quality young men,” Walsh added. “If we do that, winning won’t be a problem. This is an opportunity to build a great program and develop a great relationship between the campus and the community at large.”
Ted Tollner, former Mustang quarterback who has held numerous coaching positions at the college and professional levels, praised the hiring of Walsh.
“He did an excellent job at Portland State and is extremely well respected in the profession,” said Tollner. “Cal Poly had some great candidates for the position and I think he’s an excellent choice. He will keep the program moving forward and continue the success it has had in recent years.
“People who have worked for him have great respect for his total abilities from a recruiting standpoint, his communication with players, his sound philosophy and his winning record,” Tollner added. “His track record speaks for itself.”
Added Bobby Beathard, also a former Mustang who has held numerous positions in the NFL, including scout, personnel director and general manager, "Tim Walsh is a terrific choice. He will be a tireless recruiter, he knows what athletes are and what kind of athletes will fit into the program.
"I am excited about him. it's a great choice," Beathard added. "When you find a guy that is really good for you, you grab him and I am glad Cal Poly hired him."
A charismatic speaker and motivator, Walsh guided Sonoma State to three winning seasons in four years at the helm of the Seawolves and 10 more above-.500 campaigns in his 14-year term at Portland State. With the Vikings, Walsh coached 14 All-Americans and 11 Academic All-Americans.
Teri Mariani, who was director of athletics at Portland State when Walsh accepted the duties of offensive coordinator at Army, said at the time of his departure that “Tim showed great loyalty to our program and led us through a transition to Division I that a lot of coaches wouldn’t have wanted to do. He has had proven success both on the football field and off, and he’s always been such a team player within our department.
“Two words that describe him in my eyes are loyalty and class,” Mariani added. “In his 14 years (at Portland State), he has never done one thing that could change that opinion of him."
Portland State joined the Big Sky Conference in 1996. During Walsh’s 11 seasons when the Vikings were in the Big Sky, he coached players who earned 39 first-team All-Big Sky honors, 51 on the second team, 80 honorable mentions, 58 Academic All-Big Sky honorees, 59 Big Sky Players of the Week, 20 national player of the week honorees, five Walter Payton Award finalists and one Buck Buchanan Award finalist.
Cal Poly’s 2009 squad posted a 4-1 record at home, finished No. 6 in the nation in punt returns (15.60), No. 11 in turnover margin (+1.00), 19th in rushing offense (178.45 yards per game) and 23rd in time of possession (31:22) and was ranked as high as No. 12 in the national polls.
A total of 10 Mustangs earned All-Great West Conference first- or second-team honors, including first-teamers Jake Romanelli (fullback), Ryan Shotwell (defensive end) and James Chen (defensive tackle).
The 2010 Mustang squad also finished 4-1 at home en route to a 7-4 mark. The Mustangs earned six come-from-behind victories, split six games on a very difficult road schedule one year after going winless (0-6) and winning three straight games late in the year to put Cal Poly in a position to compete for a playoff berth.
Cal Poly’s triple-option offense finished fourth in the nation in rushing offense, averaging 252.91 yards a game, and 14th in rushing defense, allowing only 106.82 yards a contest. The Mustangs also were No. 3 in punt returns and No. 16 in both time of possession and sacks allowed.
Cal Poly finished the 2010 season with national rankings of No. 24 in The Sports Network media poll and No. 23 in the Football Championship Subdivision Coaches Poll. The Mustangs were ranked in the top 25 of both polls for the final 11 weeks of the regular season.
Senior linebacker Marty Mohamed was named Great West Conference Defensive Player of the Year and five other Mustangs earned first-team all-conference honors. In addition, Mohamed and Chen were named to the FCS Athletics Directors Association Academic All-Star Team. Chen also was named to the Great West All-Academic Team for the third straight year and earned a $7,500 NCAA Postgraduate Scholar-ship. Five other Mustangs landed on the Great West All-Academic Team.
Cornerback Asa Jackson earned a spot on The Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS All-American third team while slotback Mark Rodgers landed on the Associated Press FCS All-American third team as an all-purpose player. Offensive guard Will Mitchell was selected to Phil Steele’s FCS Postseason All-American Fourth Team.
In 2011 Jackson landed on the All-Great West first team for the fourth time as Cal Poly finished 4-1 at home once again en route to a 6-5 campaign. Jackson also earned numerous All-American honors, played in the Senior Bowl and participated in the NFL Scouting Combine.
Cal Poly posted a winning record for the eighth time in nine years. The Mustangs captured their fourth Great West title, put together a midseason four-game winning streak and won three straight home games after trailing at halftime.
The Mustangs finished sixth in the nation in rushing offense, No. 16 in punt returns and No. 27 in scoring offense. Cal Poly was No. 1 in the nation in interceptions thrown with one and No. 28 in rushing defense.
Fullback Jake Romanelli became the first Mustang in five years and the 14th overall to surpass the 1,000-yard mark in rushing yards, finishing with 1,015 yards. James Langford broke a school record with 15 field goals and 86 points while Andre Broadous rushed for 18 touchdowns, another school mark.
The 2012 playoff squad was led by FCS All-Americans Deonte Williams and Kenneth Jackson. Williams is Cal Poly’s No. 2 rusher all-time for a single season with 1,506 yards, scored 12 touchdowns, was a finalist for the Walter Payton Award and was selected to play in the Casino Del Sol All-Star Game. Jackson finished second in tackles for the fourth straight year with 97 stops and also intercepted a pair of passes. Both were among the four Mustangs earning first- or second-team All-Big Sky honors. Ten others earned honorable mention praise.
Cal Poly was 5-0 at home and finished No. 1 in the FCS in passing efficiency, No. 3 in rushing offense, No. 7 in scoring offense, No. 8 in sacks allowed and No. 13 in total offense. The Mustangs lost to eventual national runner-up Sam Houston State in the second round of the FCS playoffs.
In 2013, Cal Poly let second-half leads against Montana, Northern Arizona and Yale slip away in an “underachieving” season, according to Walsh.
The 2013 Mustangs finished No. 1 in the FCS in rushing offense, No. 2 in sacks allowed, No. 19 in scoring defense and No. 25 against the rush. Defensive tackle Sullivan Grosz was named Big Sky co-defensive player of the year, earned eight All-American awards and was joined by offensive guard Lefi Letuligasenoa, fullback Akaninyene Umoh and safety Alex Hubbard. on the all-conference first team.
For the second straight year, the 2014 Mustangs finished No. 1 in the FCS in rushing offense and averaged nearly 35 points a game. Cal Poly rallied from a 1-3 start to win six of its last eight games, defeating three teams that went on to qualify for the FCS playoffs.
The Mustangs shattered Big Sky records for rushing yards and rushing touchdowns in a season and produced its 11th winning season in 14 years.
While the 2015 squad slipped to 4-7 facing arguably the toughest schedule in school history, Cal Poly still finished No. 1 in rushing offense and averaged 33.8 points a contest, No. 22 in the FCS. Fullback Joe Protheroe was named to the All-Big Sky first team and quarterback Chris Brown surpassed the 3,000-yard mark in career rushing and passing.
Four Mustangs earned first-team All-Big Sky honors in 2016, including Protheroe for a second time. Linebacker Chris Santini and offensive linemen Matt Fisher and Joey Kuperman also were selected.
Despite a 1-10 mark in 2017, two Mustangs earned All-Big Sky accolades — fullback Jared Mohamed on the first team and defensive tackle Augustino Elisaia on the second unit. Mohamed became the 21st Mustang to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season, accumulating 1,172 yards and scoring four touchdowns en route to third-team All-American honors. He rushed for more than 100 yards in a game seven times in 2017.
Protheroe earned first-team All-Big Sky honors for a third time, captured seven All-America awards and shattered school records for rushing yards in a season (1,810) and career (4,271) in 2018 as Cal Poly won thee of its last four games for a 5-6 mark.
A Serra High School (San Mateo, Calif.) graduate, Walsh played football at UC Riverside in the mid-1970s as a backup quarterback and earned a bachelor’s degree in history in 1977.
He began his coaching career at his high school alma mater, Serra, spending four years (1977-80) as an assistant coach before becoming head coach (1981-85) at Moreau Catholic High School in Hayward. Walsh moved into the college coaching ranks in 1986, becoming an assistant coach and defensive coordinator at Santa Clara for one year.
In 1987 and 1988, Walsh was offensive coordinator at Sonoma State before becoming head coach of the Seawolves (then the Cossacks) in 1989. His first season in Rohnert Park produced a 4-6 mark, but Walsh guided Sonoma State to 7-3, 9-2 and 7-3 records in his final three years there.
Walsh embarked upon a 14-year head coaching career at Portland State in 1993, guiding the Vikings to NCAA Division II playoff berths each of his first three seasons.
Portland State elevated its athletics program to Division I in 1996 and, though the Vikings struggled in the first three years at that level, there was steady progression -- from 3-8 to 4-7 and 5-6. The 1999 Viking team began a string of seven winning campaigns in eight seasons, including a Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) playoff berth in 2000.
Walsh piloted Portland State to a quartet of second-place finishes in the Big Sky along with a third and three fourth-place finishes. In 14 seasons at the helm, Walsh’s Vikings were 62-21 at home. He earned two wins against FBS schools -- Hawaii in 2001 and New Mexico in 2006 -- and was 3-0 against Cal Poly while at Portland State along with a 2-1 mark against the Mustangs while at Sonoma State.
Walsh was a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award (FCS Coach of the Year) in 1999.
In 2008, Walsh’s second season at Army, the Black Knights finished ninth in the Football Bowl Subdivision in rushing offense (241.42 yards per game), fourth in sacks allowed (1.00) and 15th in time of possession (31:45).
While at Army, Walsh’s recruiting responsibilities included nine Western states.
The list of assistant coaches under Walsh includes Dan Hawkins (Colorado), Gary Patterson (Texas Christian) and Chris Peterson (Boise State). National Football League players who com-peted under Walsh’s tutelage include -- from Sonoma State -- offensive lineman Larry Allen (Dallas) -- and from Portland State -- tight end Tony Curtis (Dallas), wide receiver Shaun Bodiford (Green Bay), linebacker Jordan Senn (Indianapolis) and linebacker Adam Hayward (Tampa Bay).
Walsh and his wife, Jody, have four children: Luke (36), Casey (35), Sean (33) and Megan (28).