Keith Burns' enthusiasm and excitement is obvious to the most casual observer.
Despite a 1-10 season in 2001, Burns kept that enthusiasm and excitement as his trademark. He was his usual upbeat and motivated self, knowing that the dismal record would be a thing of the past as his 2001 team paid the price of being extremely young. The Hurricane finished 1-11 in the 2002 season.
With 62 of 88 players either freshmen or sophomores, the 2001 Tulsa squad could not overcome their inexperience. But, the most casual observer could see the quality of talent Burns had assembled and how the youthfulness would start to pay off some time, and although still rather young, it just could be this year.
Tulsa football took-off in the right direction during Burns' first season at the coaching helm. In 2000, his first year as the Hurricane head coach, Burns led Tulsa to the most wins (5) since 1991 and the most victories (4) in the Western Athletic Conference since Tulsa became a league member in 1996.
He completed his first season at Tulsa with a 5-7 record, and became just the 10th coach among the school's 25 to win at least five games in his first year. he completed his head coaching stint at Tulsa with a 7-28 record.
Burns became the school's 25th Head Football Coach on December 7, 1999. He brought 15 years of Division I coaching experience to the Tulsa football program. He has been involved in five Bowl games as a coach, and four as a player at Arkansas. Burns has coached teams to appearances in the Rose Bowl, Citrus Bowl, Freedom Bowl and two Cotton Bowls, while he participated in the 1980 Hall of Fame Bowl, 1981 Gator Bowl and the 1982 Bluebonnet Bowl as a player.
Before his appointment at Tulsa, Burns spent two seasons as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at the University of Arkansas. During his tenure, the Razorbacks' rushing defense ranked seventh nationally and second in the SEC in 1998, improving a defense which ranked 103rd in the NCAA the year before. The UA defense also ranked 13th in scoring defense that year, while also forcing 32 turnovers. For his efforts, Burns was a top-five finalist for the Broyles Award in 1998, which is presented annually to the nation's most outstanding assistant coach.
In 1999, Arkansas was once again among the national leaders in a number of defensive categories. The Razorbacks ranked 12th in rushing defense, 17th in total defense and 35th in pass efficiency defense. His defensive unit allowed just 100 rushing yards per game and 303 yards in total offense.
In his two seasons, Burns helped the Razorbacks post an overall 17-7 record and appear in two Bowl games, including the Citrus Bowl and Cotton Bowl. Burns left the Razorbacks for Tulsa prior to the Cotton Bowl game.
Prior to his tenure at Arkansas, Burns spent five seasons under John Robinson at Southern California. Burns began as secondary coach in 1993 and was promoted to defensive coordinator in 1994, a position he held for four years.
At USC, his defensive units ranked fourth nationally in scoring defense in 1994, first in the PAC-10 in scoring defense in 1995, second in total defense in 1996 and first in rushing defense during the 1997 season.
Burns helped with the turnaround of the football program at Rice University under Fred Goldsmith in 1989. Previously, Rice had the nation's longest losing streak, but that ended in the first game of Goldsmith's tenure. Burns spent four years as an assistant coach at Rice, coaching the defensive secondary all four seasons and spending the last two years as the defensive pass coordinator as well. In his final season there, the Owls posted a 6-5 record.
He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Arkansas in 1984, then received his first full-time coaching position at the University of Pacific in 1985, coaching the secondary. Burns served as the defensive coordinator the next two years (1986-87), before becoming the offensive coordinator for the 1988 season.
A native of Hurst, Texas, Burns was a three-year letterwinner and two-year starter as a safety at Arkansas. He led the Razorback defensive backs in tackles in 1981 with 50 and had 41 stops and four interceptions in 1982. Burns received his bachelor's degree in physical education from Arkansas in 1984.
Burns and his wife, Yvonne, have three sons: K.C., Tanner and Davis.
ATHLETICS TICKET OFFICE