A former college head coach who also brings an impressive wealth of experience from the college and NFL ranks, Bill Lewis enters his third season with the Irish serving as assistant head coach (defense) and defensive backs coach.
Lewis has molded a much-improved and opportunistic secondary for Notre Dame as the Irish defensive backfield has produced 32 of the 43 turnovers created by the defense over the last two years. This has helped contribute to Notre Dame's plus-15 turnover margin since 2005. Lewis will work with first-year defensive coordinator Corwin Brown in molding the Irish defensive unit into an aggressive, competitive group that exhibits superior effort.
Over the past two seasons, the Irish defense limited opponents to only a 35 percent success rate on third downs while Notre Dame foes scored touchdowns on only 55 percent of red zone opportunities. Among Lewis' pupils are safety Tom Zbikowski, who led the '05 defense in interceptions and ran back four punts or interceptions for touchdowns, and safety Chinedum Ndukwe who ranked second on the '06 defense in tackles while adding two interceptions and five pass break-ups. Cornerbacks Mike Richardson and Terrail Lambert each blossomed from Lewis' tutelage as each recorded career-highs with Richardson nabbing a team-best four interceptions and Lambert recording three picks in 2006.
Zbikowski earned All-America status for the second straight season in 2006. A Jim Thorpe semifinalist last season, Zbikowski was named to the preseason watch lists for the Bednarik and Nagurski Awards, while Ndukwe and Richardson were each chosen in the recent NFL Draft. Ndukwe was chosen in the seventh round (253rd overall) by the Cincinnati Bengals, while Richardson went to the New England Patriots in the sixth round (202nd overall).
Lewis joined the Irish after nine seasons with the NFL's Miami Dolphins, working as defense nickel package coach from 1996-2004. Lewis joined the NFL coaching ranks after 32 years (1963-94) of coaching at the collegiate level (including 13 bowl appearances). He coached his first four NFL seasons in Miami under head coach Jimmy Johnson, the last five under Dave Wannstedt (now head coach at the University of Pittsburgh).
Under Lewis, the Dolphins finished in the top eight in the NFL in pass defense six of his last seven seasons (second in 2004 at 162.0 yards per game), including a number-one ranking in 2001. He helped Miami qualify for the NFL playoffs in five of his first six seasons with the Dolphins, including Wild Card wins in three straight seasons from 1998 through 2000. Miami qualified as American Football Conference East Division champion in 2000.
Lewis spent 1995 as athletic director at The Marist School in Atlanta after three seasons as head coach at Georgia Tech from 1992-94. He also served in 1995 as a color analyst on college football games for ESPN and espn2. In his first season at Georgia Tech in 1992, the Yellow Jackets produced their first back-to-back wins over top 25 teams (Clemson and North Carolina State) in 25 years. That Tech squad was led by two first-team All-Americans - defensive tackle Coleman Rudolph (later a 1993 second-round NFL draft pick by the New York Jets) and kicker Scott Sisson. That 1992 unit also set a Georgia Tech season record for passing yards (2,590) - a mark that was topped by his third Yellow Jackets team in 1994 (2,702).
Prior to his stint at Georgia Tech, Lewis served as head coach at East Carolina for three seasons (1989-91). Taking over a program that hadn't had a winning season since 1983, in his third year (1991) he led the Pirates to an 11-1 record (their only loss came 38-31 to Illinois in the season opener), a victory in the Peach Bowl over North Carolina State following the season (their first bowl appearance in 13 years) and a final ranking of ninth in the AP poll.
Lewis received 1991 National Coach-of-the-Year honors from the American Football Coaches Association, United Press International and Scripps-Howard. Following that 1991 campaign, Lewis accepted the Georgia Tech head-coaching job, replacing the NFL-bound Bobby Ross.
Lewis began his coaching career with three seasons at East Stroudsburg (Pa.) State in 1963 (he also coached the East Stroudsburg baseball team in 1965) and made stops as defensive backs coach at Pittsburgh (1966-68), Wake Forest (1969-70), Georgia Tech (1971-72), and Arkansas (1973-76). During his initial stop at Georgia Tech in 1971-72 he coached three-time All-America defensive back Randy Rhino - and was part of a staff that eventually produced eight head coaches (including Steve Sloan and Jerry Glanville). The Yellow Jackets qualified for bowl games in both 1971 and 1972 (a Liberty Bowl victory).
Lewis became head coach at Wyoming in 1977 and spent three years at the helm of the Cowboys. He coached a pair of All-Americans there - linebacker Ken Fantetti and offensive tackle Dennis Baker - as well as 16 All-Western Athletic Conference picks.
He began a nine-year stint at Georgia in 1980 as defensive backs coach before occupying the job of defensive coordinator in each of his last eight seasons with the Bulldogs (his defense led the SEC in scoring defense and rushing defense in 1981 in his first season as coordinator). While in Athens, the Bulldogs won the 1980 national championship (capped by a Sugar Bowl win over Notre Dame) and during his nine years at the school, Georgia appeared in nine straight bowl games (four of them wins) and won three Southeastern Conference titles.
He coached 23 all-SEC honorees and seven All-Americans (including defensive backs Scott Woerner, Terry Hoage, John Little and Jeff Sanchez) at Georgia. Those nine seasons in Athens produced a combined 83-21-4 record, including a 43-4-1 record in his first four years at Georgia (the first three with Herschel Walker as tailback) in which the Bulldogs finished sixth or higher in the final polls all four times.
Lewis was a four-year letterman and senior captain as a football quarterback at East Stroudsburg (Pa.) State from 1959-62 and earned Little All-America honors during his playing days. He also played four years of baseball at East Stroudsburg as a pitcher and infielder. He was a three-year letterman in both baseball and football at Delhass High School in Bristol, Pa. Lewis spent two years in the Detroit Tigers' minor league system as a pitcher. He received a bachelor's degree in 1963 from East Stroudsburg State in health and physical education and did work toward a master's degree in the same field.
Born William J. Lewis on Aug. 5, 1941, in Philadelphia, Pa., he and his wife, the former Sandy Schmoyer of Pennsburg, Pa., have two sons, Mark and Geoff; daughters-in-law Dawn, Laurel and Lisa; and grandchildren Ella and Billy.
The Bill Lewis File
|1963||East Stroudsburg State||QBs/Receivers/Secondary|
|1964||East Stroudsburg State||QBs/Receivers/Secondary|
|1965||East Stroudsburg State||QBs/Receivers/Secondary|
|1969||Wake Forest||Defensive Backs|
|1970||Wake Forest (6-5)||Defensive Backs|
|1971||Georgia Tech (6-6, Peach Bowl)||Defensive Backs|
|1972||Georgia Tech (7-4-1, Liberty Bowl champ, #20)||Defensive Backs|
|1973||Arkansas (5-5-1)||Defensive Backs|
|1974||Arkansas (6-4-1)||Defensive Backs|
|1975||Arkansas (10-2, Cotton Bowl champ, #7)||Defensive Backs|
|1976||Arkansas (5-5-1)||Defensive Backs|
|1980||Georgia (12-0, Sugar Bowl champ, #1)||Defensive Backs|
|1981||Georgia (10-2, Sugar Bowl, #6)||Defensive Coordinator/DBs|
|1982||Georgia (11-1, Sugar Bowl, #4)||Defensive Coordinator/DBs|
|1983||Georgia (10-1-1, Cotton Bowl champ, #4)||Defensive Coordinator/DBs|
|1984||Georgia (7-4-1, Citrus Bowl)||Defensive Coordinator/DBs|
|1985||Georgia (7-3-2, Sun Bowl)||Defensive Coordinator/DBs|
|1986||Georgia (8-4, Hall of Fame Bowl)||Defensive Coordinator/DBs|
|1987||Georgia (9-3, Liberty Bowl champ, #13)||Defensive Coordinator/DBs|
|1988||Georgia (9-3, Gator Bowl champ, #15)||Defensive Coordinator/DBs|
|1989||East Carolina (5-5-1)||Head Coach|
|1990||East Carolina||Head Coach|
|1991||East Carolina (11-1, Peach Bowl champ, #9)||Head Coach|
|1992||Georgia Tech||Head Coach|
|1993||Georgia Tech||Head Coach|
|1994||Georgia Tech||Head Coach|
|1995||The Marist School (Ga.)||Director of Athletics|
|1996||Miami Dolphins (8-8)||Defensive Nickel Package|
|1997||Miami Dolphins (9-7, NFL Wild Card qualifier)||Defensive Nickel Package|
|1998||Miami Dolphins (10-6, NFL Divisional qualifier)||Defensive Nickel Package|
|1999||Miami Dolphins (9-7, NFL Divisional qualifier)||Defensive Nickel Package|
|2000||Miami Dolphins (11-5, NFL Divisional qualifier)||Defensive Nickel Package|
|2001||Miami Dolphins (11-5, NFL Wild Card qualifier)||Defensive Nickel Package|
|2002||Miami Dolphins (9-7)||Defensive Nickel Package|
|2003||Miami Dolphins (10-6)||Defensive Nickel Package|
|2004||Miami Dolphins||Defensive Nickel Package|
|2005||Notre Dame (9-3, Fiesta Bowl, #9)||Asst. Head Coach (Defense)/Defensive Backs|
|2006||Notre Dame (10-3, Sugar Bowl, #11)||Asst. Head Coach (Defense)/Defensive Backs|
|2007||Notre Dame||Asst. Head Coach (Defense)/Defensive Backs|
(numbers in parentheses indicate final season ranking in Associated Press poll)