Lincoln -- Nebraska Head Coach Bill Callahan announced on Friday that Jay Norvell has been hired as his offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. The addition of Norvell completes Callahan’s full-time coaching staff for the 2004 season.
Norvell comes to Nebraska from the Oakland Raiders organization, where he served the past two seasons as the tight ends coach on Callahan’s staff. Norvell became available to Nebraska on Friday after he was officially released from his contract with the Oakland Raiders.
"We are very excited that Jay Norvell is joining the Nebraska Cornhuskers," Callahan said. "I am delighted that Coach Norvell will have the opportunity to serve as a coordinator in the Big 12 Conference. "Jay has the ability to coach at an extremely high level. He has demonstrated that ability not only during his tenure in the National Football League, but also in his time at the collegiate level. There are very few coaches out there that can match his depth of knowledge in the West Coast system."
During Norvell’s two seasons on Callahan’s staff the Raider tight ends were a key component in Oakland’s West Coast offense. Doug Jolley topped 30 receptions in each of the past two seasons, including 32 catches for 409 yards and two touchdowns in Oakland’s drive to the AFC Championship in 2002. Jolley caught three passes in each of Oakland’s 2002 playoff victories, and had a touchdown reception in the conference championship game.
In 2002, the Raiders featured the most prolific offense in the National Football League, averaging nearly 390 yards per game. Norvell played a key role in designing the Raiders’ passing attack that averaged 279.7 yards per contest, 22 yards more than any other team in the NFL during the 2002 season. Oakland culminated the season with two explosive offensive efforts in the playoffs, defeating the New York Jets 30-10, before a 41-24 victory over the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship Game. Oakland racked up 375 yards of total offense and 286 passing yards in the victory over Tennessee.
Before joining the Raider organization, the 40-year-old Norvell spent one month on Bob Stoops’ Oklahoma staff in 2002 as wide receivers coach after serving in the same capacity for the Indianapolis Colts from 1998 to 2001. While with the Colts, Norvell worked with the passing game and tutored All-Pro receiver Marvin Harrison.
In Norvell’s final season with the Colts, Harrison had 109 catches for 1,524 yards and 15 touchdowns, marking the third straight year Harrison had topped 100 catches, just the third player in league history to accomplish that feat, joining Jerry Rice and Herman Moore. Harrison became the only player in league history to have four consecutive 100-catch seasons in 2002. While he was coached by Norvell, Harrison totaled 385 receptions for 5,376 yards and 48 touchdowns.
Before his jump to the NFL with the Colts, Norvell had established himself as one of the top young assistants in college football. He spent the 1995 through 1997 seasons on Dan McCarney’s staff at Iowa State, where he served as assistant head coach, in addition to tutoring the Cyclone quarterbacks and receivers. The Cyclone passing attack improved from averaging 132.9 yards in 1995 to 231.9 yards through the air in Norvell’s final season in Ames in 1997, when ISU wideout Ty Watley led the Big 12 with 827 receiving yards.
Norvell had worked with McCarney as an assistant on the Wisconsin coaching staff, where Norvell served as the wide receivers and special teams coach. Norvell was with the Badgers from 1989 to 1994, with the final five of those years on Barry Alvarez’s staff that also included Callahan as the offensive line coach and new Husker defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove as linebackers coach.
During Norvell’s stint in Madison, he helped rejuvenate the Badger program, capped by a Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl berth in 1993. Behind an offense that averaged a school-record 455.2 yards per game, Wisconsin finished the season with a 10-1-1 record and a No. 6 final national ranking. In Norvell’s final season at UW the Badgers finished 8-3-1 and played in the Hall of Fame Bowl. Both Callahan (Philadelphia Eagles) and Norvell (Iowa State) left Wisconsin following the 1994 campaign. Wide receiver Lee DeRamus was Norvell’s top product at Wisconsin, compiling 119 catches for 1,974 yards and 15 touchdowns from 1991 to 1993.
Norvell began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Iowa in 1986 before joining the Northern Iowa staff in 1988. During his time as a college coach, Norvell mentored 10 players that went on to professional careers.
A native of Madison, Wis., Norvell played collegiately at Iowa from 1982 to 1985. He was an All-Big Ten defensive back in 1985 when he led the conference with seven interceptions, helping the Hawkeyes to a league title and a Rose Bowl appearance. At Iowa, Norvel was associated with five bowl teams, including two Rose Bowl squads (1981, 1985), a pair of Big Ten championship teams and a team that spent five weeks of the 1985 season ranked No. 1. Norvell earned a bachelor of arts degree from Iowa.
Norvell played one season as a member of the Chicago Bears in 1987.Norvell and his wife, Kim, also a native of Wisconsin, have a four-year-old son, Jaden.