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Nevada makes hiring of Brian Ward as defensive coordinator official

Brian Ward
Brian Ward is Nevada's new defensive coordinator. (Handout)

Nevada officially announced Brian Ward as the team's defensive coordinator Wednesday.

Ward accepted the job more than 10 days ago and will replace Jeff Casteel, who served in the same post for the first three seasons of Jay Norvell's tenure. Casteel and two other defensive assistants were fired after the regular season.

Ward was most recently the defensive coordinator at Syracuse before being fired in November.

“I talked to a great number of coordinators for several weeks about our position and Brian was the most detailed and competent coach throughout that process,” Norvell said in a press release. “He has great knowledge and came very highly recommended. Brian has a history of building championship defenses at multiple institutions and he’s won games at the highest levels of college football.”

Norvell said the Wolf Pack will run multiple-front looks on the defensive side moving forward under Ward, who will also coach linebackers at Nevada. Ward comes to Nevada after a four-year stint at Syracuse with the Orange. He was hired as DC in 2016 and added the role of linebackers coach in 2017.

Before joining the Orange, Ward served as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for Bowling Green in 2015. Ward was a nominee for the Broyles Award – given to the nation’s top assistant coach – in 2017 at Syracuse and he was one of three FBS finalists for Linebackers Coach of the Year from FootballScoop.com in 2015 while at Bowling Green.

From 2012-14, Ward was the defensive coordinator at Western Illinois. Before joining Western Illinois, Ward was the defensive coordinator at Drake in 2011. Ward’s other previous coaching stops include: McPherson College (1997, 2007-09), Glendale Community College (1999-2000), Wabash College (2001-04), Missouri Southern State (2005) and North Dakota State (2010). He spent the 2006 season as the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Tulsa Union High School in Oklahoma.

A 1997 graduate of McPherson College, Ward served as the head coach of his alma mater for three seasons from 2007-09, compiling a 17-14 record. In his final season, he led the Bulldogs to a 9-2 mark, the program’s first berth in the NAIA national playoffs, and was named CollegeFanz.com Sports Network NAIA Coach of the Year.

Nevada has two open defensive assistant coaching positions it still must fill.

The File on Brian Ward

Hometown: Glendale, Ariz.

Family: Wife – Amy; Daughters – Ellie, Erin; Son – Travis

Education: Bachelor's, McPherson College, 1997

Coaching Experience

2020-present: Defensive Coordinator/LBs, Nevada

2016-19: Defensive Coordinator/LBs, Syracuse

2015: Defensive Coordinator/LBs, Bowling Green

2012-14: Defensive Coordinator/LBs, Western Illinois

2011: Defensive Coordinator/LBs, Drake

2010: Assistant Coach/DBs, North Dakota State

2007-09: Head Coach, McPherson College

2006: Asst. Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator, Tulsa (Okla.) Union HS

2005: Asst. Head Coach/Co-Defensive Coordinator/Special Teams Coordinator/LBs, Missouri Southern State

2001-04: Asst. Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator/Secondary, Wabash College

1999-2000: Defensive Coordinator/Secondary, Glendale CC

1997: Defensive Coordinator/Special Teams Coordinator, McPherson College

Playing Experience

McPherson College (1994-96)

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