Kurt Barber has been named WKU’s Outside Linebackers Coach, Head Coach David Elson announced Friday. Barber joins WKU after spending this past year as defensive coordinator at Kentucky State. Prior to his stint at Kentucky State, Barber worked three years as an assistant coach at UNLV, serving as the co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach each of his last two seasons. A four-year letterman at linebacker at Southern Cal, Barber also played five years in the National Football League with the New York Jets, Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears. Barber takes the place of Cary Marquell, who has resigned to pursue other opportunities.
“Kurt is a tremendous addition to our program,” Elson said. “He has had a significant impact with successful Division I programs, which followed an outstanding playing career on both the collegiate and professional levels. He will have a positive influence on our players both on the field and off.”
Barber helped UNLV linebacker Beau Bell earn Mountain West Conference Defensive MVP honors in 2007. During his first two seasons at UNLV, Barber was in charge of the Rebel special teams and helped produce one of the top punters in UNLV history in Kip Facer. Facer earned first team All-MWC honors in 2006, leading the league and ranking sixth in the nation with a 45.2 average. UNLV also ranked in the nation’s top 25 in kickoff returns in 2006. Barber also coached the Runnin’ Rebels linebackers in 2005 and defensive line in 2006.
Prior to his tenure at UNLV, Barber coached two seasons at Utah. He oversaw the Utah linebackers during the 2004 season after coaching the defensive line in 2003, including producing first team All-Mountain West Conference end Josh Savage. Savage and Jonathan Fanene are currently playing in the NFL. The Utes turned in a 22-2 record during his two seasons, which included two Mountain West Conference titles and a pair of bowl-game victories. Utah won the Fiesta Bowl, posted a perfect 12-0 record, and was ranked fourth in the nation in the final Associated Press poll in 2004, a season in which Barber helped linebackers Spencer Toone and Corey Dodds earn all-Mountain West Conference honors.
Barber moved to Utah after two years coaching the defensive line at Kent State. Previous to that, he served two years in the same position at Tennessee-Martin. He began his coaching career in 1998 at Riverside Community College, where he coached the defensive line and coordinated the strength and conditioning program.
“I chose the coaching profession because it allows me the opportunity to positively influence our youth,” Barber said. “I am extremely excited about this particular opportunity here at WKU. We have excellent leadership throughout the university, and I feel fortunate that I have placed myself and my family in a position where we are a part of a first class family.”
A prep All-American, Barber was named Kentucky's Mr. Football in 1987 before choosing to play for Southern California. A 1992 graduate of USC with a degree in communications, Barber was a four-year letter winner (1988-91) for the Trojans, starting at outside linebacker as a junior and senior, including earning All-Pac-10 Conference honors from Football News. He was taken in the second round of the 1992 NFL Draft (42nd pick overall) and went on to a five-year career with the New York Jets, Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears.
Barber has three daughters, Erica, Briahna and Nia, and two sons, Kurt II and Khoury.