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Fullerton Aide Expected to Become CSUN Football Coachs

January 16, 1986|MIKE HISERMAN | Times Staff Writer

Bob Burt, defensive coordinator at Cal State Fullerton, has been offered the job of football coach at Cal State Northridge. If he accepts, he will be introduced at a news conference at 11:30 a.m. Friday in the lobby of the Northridge gym.

Burt, who has been at Fullerton six years, was selected over more than 50 applicants. The field was trimmed to three Tuesday night, according to Northridge Athletic Director Bob Hiegert. The other two finalists, according to Hiegert, were former Northern Arizona Coach Joe Harper and Cal State Long Beach assistant coach Larry Reisbig.

Harper and Reisbig were informed by Hiegert on Wednesday morning that the job had been offered to someone else.

Burt, 44, would be the seventh coach in the 23-year history of Northridge football, inheriting a program that has had only five winning seasons in the past 16 years.

Northridge had a 4-7 record in 1985 and finished in a tie for last place in the six-team Western Football Conference.

Coach Tom Keele was fired two weeks after the end of the season. He had a 31-42-1 record in seven years at CSUN, with only two winning seasons.

Northridge administrators insisted that Keele's poor record was the reason for his dismissal. Two weeks after that announcement, however, the NCAA revealed that Keele held an illegal tryout for nine prospective kickers in December, 1984.

The school was publicly reprimanded and its head coach was prohibited from recruiting off-campus for a one-month period, ending Jan. 1. By then, Keele had already been fired.

Burt's name and Fullerton's defense rose to national prominence in 1984 when the Titans led the nation with 27 interceptions. The team was second in turnover ratio and fifth in rushing defense.

Fullerton's defense has been ranked in the nation's top 20 for most of the season in three out of the past four years.

Burt will be the first beneficiary of an increase in money that will enable Northridge to offer 18.7 football scholarships next season. Northridge offered just nine last season.

In an interview Tuesday night, before he had been offered the job, Burt said he could put those extra scholarships to good use.

"Everyone thinks that all of the big-time Division I colleges come out here and get all the good players," Burt said. "They don't. It's that simple. A lot of outstanding players get overlooked by those colleges every year. We've had nine players from Fullerton turn pro in the last two years that no one else recruited out of high school. In Southern California, there are plenty of good players to go around.

"The recruiting situation at Northridge is a lot like Fullerton's. The Valley area is a nice suburban area, just like Orange County. The campus is nice and the educational opportunities are good. Those qualities have been a successful combination in attracting good student-athletes to Fullerton. I'm sure the same could be done at Northridge."

In Burt's six seasons as defensive coordinator, the Titans have an overall record of 36-33; they are 24-11 in the past three seasons. Fullerton's best season was 1984, when it was 11-1. The Titans added a victory and a Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. title shortly after the season when the conference stripped Nevada Las Vegas of its victories and its conference championship. Fullerton was 6-5 in 1985.

"I've always said that my success in six years here has been due to the fact that I've been surrounded by outstanding assistant coaches," said Fullerton Coach Gene Murphy. "Bob is a good coach in all phases. If he has a forte, it would be making good decisions during the game. He seems to have a knack for making the right call at the right time."

Harper and Reisbig, the other finalists for the job, are both offensive specialists.

Harper, who resigned his position as coach at Northern Arizona after the 1984 season, had a record of 108-63-3 in 17 years as a collegiate coach. He was 96-43-3 in 14 seasons at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and 12-20 in three season at Northern Arizona. He resigned because Northern Arizona officials were planning to fire several of his assistant coaches, according to a spokesman for the school.

At Cal Poly SLO, Harper built one of the nation's most successful Division II programs. His 1980 team went 10-3 and won the Division II national championship. He had a 14-1 lifetime record against Northridge, including a 26-10 victory over the Matadors while at Northern Arizona in 1984.

Reisbig, who lives in Canyon Country, was the football coach at College of the Canyons for 11 seasons before taking over a similar position at Pasadena City College from 1981 to 1984. He coached the running backs at Cal State Long Beach this season.

Other applicants among the final nine interviewed by Northridge administrators were Rich Lopez, offensive coordinator at CSUN, Jim Fenwick of Pierce College, and Walt Criner of Snow College, Utah.

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