Kragthorpe as Louisville head coach in October 2009
April 28, 1965|
Eastern New Mexico|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
Northern Arizona (QB)|
Northern Arizona (OC)
North Texas (OC)
Boston College (QB)
Texas A&M (QB)
Texas A&M (OC)
Buffalo Bills (QB)
Texas A&M (WR)
|Head coaching record|
|Accomplishments and honors|
1 C-USA (2005)
Steve Kragthorpe (born April 28, 1965) is an American football coach and former player. He is currently an administrative assistant for the Louisiana State University football program after previously serving as quarterbacks coach for the Tigers football team. He served as head coach at Louisville from 2007 to 2009, and for Tulsa from 2003 through 2006.
Kragthorpe was born in Missoula, Montana but attended Highland High School in Pocatello, Idaho. Kragthorpe played high school football with ESPN commentator Merril Hoge. Both graduated from Highland High School in 1983.
He was recruited by Bill Kelly to play at Eastern New Mexico University, where he played quarterback in 1983 and '84. When Kelly left ENMU for West Texas State (now West Texas A&M University), Kragthorpe followed him. After sitting out the 1985 season, he played in 1986 and '87. He started 11 games as a senior and completed 179-of-344 passes for 1,980 yards and nine TDs.
Kragthorpe earned a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1988 from West Texas State and received his MBA in 1989 from Oregon State University. He then spent more than a decade as an assistant coach at several colleges. At age 26, he became offensive coordinator under Steve Axman at Northern Arizona University. He left in 1994 to join Matt Simon's coaching staff at the University of North Texas. After leaving the state of Texas for one year, serving as quarterbacks coach under Dan Henning at Boston College in 1996, Kragthorpe came back to join R. C. Slocum's staff at Texas A&M. He served as quarterbacks coach in 1997 before replacing Steve Marshall as offensive coordinator in 1998. Texas A&M won a Big 12 championship in 1998.
In 2001, Kragthorpe left the collegiate ranks to become quarterback coach under head coach Gregg Williams for the Buffalo Bills. He coached quarterback Drew Bledsoe during one of Bledsoe's better seasons in the NFL. In 2003, Kragthorpe took over his first head coaching position, succeeding Keith Burns at the University of Tulsa.
Head coaching career
In his first season at Tulsa, Kragthorpe guided a program that had won just two games during the previous two seasons to an 8–5 record and its first bowl game appearance since 1991. In 2005, Tulsa won the Conference USA championship and then went on to beat Fresno State in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
Kragthorpe took over the University of Louisville vacancy on January 9, 2007. He replaced former head coach, and fellow Montanan, Bobby Petrino who agreed to serve as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons. Kragthorpe's contract was a 1.1 million dollar a year contract (with bonuses) for five years. Louisville hired Kragthorpe in what many consider to be a "whirlwind courtship," becoming the head coach in less than 48 hours after Petrino submitted his resignation. Kragthorpe was the third straight Louisville coach with Rocky Mountain ties. John L. Smith was an Idaho native, and Bobby Petrino was a fellow Montana native.
In 2007, Kragthorpe carried around a baseball bat in an attempt to motivate his players to become "Better After Today" and placed mousetraps around the locker room in another effort at motivation.
Although Louisville started the 2007 season as #10 in the AP Poll and returned the majority of the 2007 Orange Bowl champion team, including Heisman Trophy candidate Brian Brohm at quarterback, the Cards finished the season a disappointing 6–6, including a loss to Syracuse in which the Cardinals were 37 point favorites. Nine consecutive winning seasons and bowl games came to an end under the direction of Kragthrope, even though he led a team that had enough talent to see five of its players taken in the NFL Draft. Rumors swirled on whether Kragthorpe would return for a second season. After days of speculation whether Kragthorpe could leave for the vacant head coaching job at Southern Methodist University, Louisville sports information director Rocco Gasparro confirmed on November 21, that there is a "50–50 chance" Kragthorpe will be at SMU in 2008. In a press conference that same day Kragthorpe ruled out any speculations that he was entertaining an offer from SMU, saying he was "100 percent committed" to Louisville. Following Louisville's dismal 2007 season, Kragthorpe released both offensive coordinator Charlie Stubbs and defensive coordinator Mike Cassity and then hired Michigan defensive coordinator Ron English to guide the Cardinals defense and handed the offensive coordinator duties to Jeff Brohm, who was expected to install an offense similar to that run by former Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino.
Kragthorpe opened his second season at Louisville with very low expectations. A year removed from being a preseason top 10 program, the Cardinals entered the 2008 season picked 7th in the 8 team Big East Conference by members of the media. Louisville hosted in-state rival Kentucky on Sunday, August 31, falling to the Wildcats 27–2 in Louisville's first opening day loss since 2002. On October 25, 2008, Louisville defeated a ranked South Florida team 24–20. Kragthorpe also lost to Syracuse in back to back seasons, giving Syracuse head coach Greg Robinson two of his three Big East wins as a head coach. Following the Syracuse loss, Kragthorpe's Cardinals lost the next four games capped off by a 63–14 loss to Rutgers (Louisville's worst defeat since 1987.) This marked the team's first losing season since 1997.
Louisville fired Kragthorpe on November 28, 2009. He accepted the wide receivers coaching position at Texas A&M in February 2010, but later resigned due to a family member's illness. After spending the 2010 season out of football, on January 20, 2011 he was hired as the new offensive coordinator at LSU.
Following the 2012 season, Kragthorpe assumed the role of special assistant to the head coach and chief of staff for the LSU football program.
Kragthorpe and his wife have three sons. His brother, Kurt, is a sports columnist for The Salt Lake Tribune; their father, Dave Kragthorpe, was also a college football coach, most notably at Oregon State. Steve's son, Brad, was the quarterback for Holland Hall, a private prep school in Tulsa, where he was rated as one of the top high school quarterbacks in the state. Kragthorpe was recently diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. (NOLA.com)
Head coaching record
- "Government Salaries". Louisville Courier Journal. October 9, 2009. Retrieved October 9, 2009.
- "Kragthorpe leaves Tulsa for Louisville". ESPN.com news services. January 9, 2007. Retrieved December 5, 2008.
- Prisbell, Eric (August 20, 2007). "Louisville's Kragthorpe Wants to Be a Real Hit". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 5, 2008.
- "College Football: No. 8 Louisville 58, Middle Tennessee 42". Associated Press via International Herald Tribune. September 7, 2007. Retrieved December 5, 2008.
- Kragthorpe could be leaving. Web.archive.org (November 21, 2007). Retrieved on April 17, 2013.
- FoxSports: Kragthorpe shoots down SMU rumor. Associated Press. Retrieved on April 17, 2013.
- Louisville Courier-Journal: Kragthorpe announces changes on his staff. December 2, 2007.
- 2008 Football Media Day: Commissioner Tranghese's Opening Remarks. BIG EAST Conference (July 29, 2008).
- Louisville Football – Cardinals Drop Season Opener. Uoflsports.com (August 31, 2008). Retrieved on April 17, 2013.
- Crawford, Eric (December 5, 2008). "Questions on Cards should focus on future". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved December 5, 2008.
- Brown, C. L. (December 5, 2008). "A Scarlet fever epidemic". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved December 5, 2008.
- Sherman Completes Coaching Staff with Three Hirings. aggieathletics.com, February 13, 2010
- Baker, Matt (October 15, 2010). "Holland Hall's Brad Kragthorpe benefits from dad's coaching experience", Tulsa World.
- Bailey, Eric (January 12, 2011). "TU search will not include ex-coach: Kragthorpe surprised he won't be considered for Hurricane opening." Tulsa World.
- Kleinpeter, Jim (January 20, 2011) "LSU football: Steve Kragthorpe hired as offensive coordinator", Times-Picayune.
- "Kragthorpe stepping down as LSU's offensive coordinator", Sporting News, August 4, 2011.