Bob Connelly, who spent the past four seasons coaching the offensive line and serving as Associate Head Coach and Co-Offensive Coordinator for UTEP, has been named as an assistant coach at Arizona State University, head coach Todd Graham has announced. Prior to UTEP, Connelly spent the 2007 season at UCLA and four seasons in Tuscaloosa, Ala., as the offensive line coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide.
While with the Miners in 2009, running back Donald Buckram shattered a UTEP single-season rushing record that had stood for over 60 years. Buckram ran for 1,594 yards on 259 carries, ranking third nationally in scoring (10.5 ppg), fourth in rushing (132.8 ypg) and 11th in all-purpose yards (170.6 avg.). Buckram set a UTEP record for 100-yard games with eight, while tying the school standard with three 200-yard performances.
UTEP's 2009 season was filled with offensive highlights, as the Miners pinned 50 points on a pair of bowl teams (Houston and Marshall) and received a school-record 517 yards passing from quarterback Trevor Vittatoe against the Thundering Herd. The Miners were particularly potent offensively in Conference USA play, averaging 36.1 points, 521.6 yards and 188.1 rushing yards in league action.
The 2008 Miners piled up 4,878 yards of offense and averaged 32.9 points per game. Injuries took their toll on the line late in the 2008 season, but Connelly adjusted accordingly. His patchwork unit still produced 37 points and 464 yards at Houston, as the Miners came within a touchdown of upsetting the Armed Forces Bowl champions. UTEP averaged 36.9 points and 427.5 yards versus Conference USA teams. The Miners had a season-high 277 yards rushing versus New Mexico State when Vittatoe went down with an ankle injury early and they were forced to implement an option attack around shifty signal-caller James Thomas.
Named one of the nation’s Top 25 recruiters by Rivals.com in 2005, Connelly coached a number of All-SEC performers during his time with the Tide. His offensive line helped Alabama carve out the 20th-best rushing attack in the country and the top rushing game in the SEC in 2004. The Crimson Tide also ranked second in the SEC in fewest sacks allowed. In 2003, Connelly's line led a rushing attack that netted 2,067 yards - fourth-best in the Southeastern Conference - and produced two All-SEC linemen. Alabama played in three bowl games during his four seasons, including the 2007 Independence Bowl, 2006 Cotton Bowl and the 2004 Music City Bowl.
Prior to coaching at Alabama, Connelly spent two seasons tutoring the offensive line at Washington State. In Pullman, his 2002 squad allowed just 24 sacks in 424 pass attempts while helping the Cougars win a share of the Pac-10 title and play in the 2003 Rose Bowl. His 2001 unit gave up 27 sacks in 434 attempts and WSU played in the Sun Bowl.
Following graduation from Newman-Smith High School in Carrollton, Texas, in 1990, Connelly earned a degree in kinesiology and sports studies from Texas A&M-Commerce in 1994. A year later, he earned a master’s in health, physical education and recreation. As a player, he was a three-time all-academic selection and earned all-conference honors as a junior and senior. He was also a two-time academic All-America selection.
While finishing his graduate degree at A&M-Commerce, Connelly coached the offensive line and tight ends. He moved to Cisco Junior College for two seasons (1996-97), again coaching the offensive line and tight ends. In 1998, Connelly was a graduate assistant at Texas A&M and coached in the Sugar Bowl. In 1999, he coached the offensive line and tight ends at California State Northridge and in 2000, he moved to San Jose State to coach the offensive line. That season, the Spartans rushed for 29 touchdowns and his unit allowed just 11 sacks in 12 games.