Eric Kiesau is in his fifth year as a member of the Buffalo coaching staff assembled by head coach Dan Hawkins when he accepted the Colorado position in December 2005. He is in his second season as offensive coordinator, promoted into the position on April 30, 2009, just a little over a month after he was named assistant head coach.
Kiesau, 37, came to CU from the University of California at Berkeley, where he coached the receivers for four seasons (2002-05). He was a significant contributor to the Bears' high-powered passing attack in his four years at the "other" UCB.
He was CU's passing game coordinator and receivers coach his first three years in Boulder. When he moved into the coordinator role, he switched to coaching the quarterbacks instead of the receivers. When promoted to offensive coordinator at the age of 36, he was one of the five youngest offensive coordinators in the collegiate ranks. The offense was inconsistent in his first year as coordinator, but then again, he had just 29 practices prior to his first game in the job since he was named after spring ball had already ended. That along with several other variables led to struggles at times, though CU did put a season-high 417 yards on a vaunted Nebraska defense in the season finale.
Though Kiesau had only six years as a collegiate assistant coach under his belt prior to arriving at Colorado, he seemingly mastered the art of both tutoring the accomplished performer as well as molding walk-ons into top-notch players, doing so at his previous two institutions before coming to Boulder. He personally thrives on the teaching and developmental relationship with his players, working on the total person concept in academics, athletics and character.
He's already pulled it off at Colorado, as six players caught 20 or more passes in a season for just the third time in school history in 2007, including a team-best 43 by a redshirt freshman walk-on, Scotty McKnight, and 23 by a true frosh, Josh Smith. McKnight led the team again with 46 receptions in 2008, with another former walk-on, Cody Crawford, second with 31. Due to attrition at the position, Kiesau often coached a group that had three walk-ons on the field at the same time but would hold their own for the most part.
In 2005, his receiving corps produced four 100-yard receiving games. Robert Jordan and DeSean Jackson were his stars at the starting positions, with Jackson having two of the century games, 128 versus UCLA and 130 at New Mexico State, the latter being the most yards ever by a Cal freshman. Jordan's top performance came at Washington, when he caught 11 passes for 192-yards, the sixth-best single game total in school history; he also had three touchdowns, all in the first half, tying a school record. And with Jackson and Jordan sidelines due to injury, former walk-on LaReyelle Cunningham caught five balls for 112 yards and a score in his first career start.
Though injuries sidelined four of his top five receivers for much of 2004, the Bears continued to field first-rate pass catchers in a Cal offense triggered by quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Second-team All-American Geoff McArthur set school career marks for receptions (202) and receiving yards (3,188). In 2003, McArthur ranked second nationally and set a school season receiving record with 1,504 yards on 85 catches. That same year, Kiesau developed two walk-ons, Burl Toler and Vincent Strang, as the pair combined for 65 receptions for 814 yards and eight touchdowns, as both blossomed as they emerged in the regular rotation of receivers.
In 2002, his first campaign at Cal, he developed a wide receiving corps that featured Jonathan Makonnen (54-682, 7 TDs), LaShaun Ward (39-709, 9 TDs) and McArthur (36-454, 1 TD), a trio that combined for 129 receptions, 1,845 yards and 17 TDs.
Kiesau earned his bachelor's degree in business communications at Portland State in 1996, where he lettered at quarterback (he was PSU's starter as a senior in 1995). He was an All-American junior college quarterback as a sophomore in 1992, as selected by JC Gridwire, at Glendale Community College in southern California.
Upon graduation from PSU, he worked the better part of five years in private business, for Corporate America in Portland, and then for Eclipse Specialties, Inc., a family-owned and operated company, in North Hollywood, Calif. He first entered coaching while employed by his JUCO alma mater, Glendale Community College. He then made a brief four-month stop at the University of Oregon as head coach Mike Bellotti's teamwork coordinator in the winter and spring of 2000.
His first full-time collegiate coaching position followed later that year, when he was named running backs and receivers coach at Utah State University under Mick Dennehy. In 2000, he tutored Emmett White, Utah State's third team All-American who led the nation in all-purpose yards and ranked 13th in NCAA rushing, including a school-record 322-yard effort against New Mexico State in 2001. In his second year at USU, he coached wide receiver Kevin Curtis, who would earn Associated Press All-American honors that season with an NCAA-high 100 passes (while ranking third in yards per game and eighth in all-purpose yards). He was a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award, accomplished after walking on at Utah State the previous year.
He was born November 24, 1972 in Pasadena, Calif., and graduated from Glendale (Calif.) High School, where he lettered in football and baseball. He is married to the former Wendy Kanan, and they have a daughter, Tayler (11) and a son, Blake (5). (His last name is pronounced key-saw.)
TOP PLAYERS COACHED-All-Americans (3): Kevin Curtis, Geoff McArthur, Emmett White. All-Pac-10 Performers (1): McArthur. All-Big West Performers (1): White. NFL Players/Draft Picks (3): Curtis, Chase Lyman, Patrick Williams.
RECORD-He has coached in 121 Division I-A games as a full-time coach (16-33 at Colorado, 33-17 at California and 9-13 at Utah State); he has coached in four bowl games.