Pac-12 Assistant Coaches Ready To Lead: Pep Hamilton, Stanford Cardinal

By Tyler Brett

Big time college football won’t ever stop looking for the next great head coach among the ranks of assistants across the nation. In that spirit, we continue with our series profiling Pac-12 assistant coaches ready to move up to the big office with Stanford Cardinal offensive coordinator Andrew Luck Director of Offense, Pep Hamilton.

Hamilton is a 37-year-old former quarterback from Howard University, where he was known as much for his smarts as his arm, winning the team’s scholar-athlete award in both 1995 and 1996. He would get his first coaching job at his alma mater in 1997 when he became the quarterbacks coach. Two years later, he was promoted to offensive coordinator, where he served for three seasons before catching the eye of the NFL.

In 2003, Hamilton made the leap to the NFL and joined the New York Jets‘ coaching staff as an offensive quality control coach. He would move on to become offensive assistant/quarterbacks coach the following year, working with Chad Pennington during some of his most successful years in New York.

From the Big Apple, Hamilton headed to the West Coast and took a job as the quarterbacks coach for the San Francisco 49ers. After a season working with Alex Smith, Hamilton left for the same job in Chicago with the Bears, where in 2009 he helped Jay Cutler set franchise records for completions (336) and pass attempts (555), while setting the second-best franchise mark for passing yards in a season (3,666). He would also finish third in team history for passing touchdowns in a season (27), and his 60.5 completion percentage was the fifth best in Bears history.

In 2010, Hamilton returned to college coaching as the wide receivers coach at Stanford under Jim Harbaugh, where he also helped tutor the quarterbacks, and Andrew Luck in particular. In his first season with Stanford, the Cardinal won a school-record 12 games, including an Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech. The Cardinal that season ranked first in the Pac-10 and third nationally in passing efficiency (168.4), while also finishing third in the conference in passing offense (258.7). Hamilton’s corps of receivers and tight ends combined for a school-record 32 touchdowns as the team set single season records for scoring (524), scoring average (40.3), and total offense (6,142).

Last season, new Stanford head coach David Shaw promoted Hamilton to offensive coordinator, and the Cardinal offense flourished. Under Hamilton, the Cardinal scored a school-record 561 points in 2011 and averaged 43.15 points per game, the seventh best total in the nation. The team also set a school single-season record for total offense (6,361) and finished eighth nationally in yards per game (489.3). Hamilton’s offense also boasted the 18th best rushing attack in college football. The Cardinal finished tenth nationally in first downs per game (25.0), and their 52.6 third down conversion percentage was the third best in the country.

Hamilton has used a combination of football knowledge and charisma to move up the coaching ranks into the leader of one of the best college offenses in the entire country. He brings an energy and love of the game (his name is Pep for crying out loud) and philosophy of hard-nosed, physical football that translate to a winning formula everywhere he goes. If Hamilton can duplicate the success of the last couple years without the help of his position’s namesake, Andrew Luck, then you can bet schools will be falling over themselves to hire him as their next head coach.

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