Lewis at a Glance
Lewis, UPI 1991 national coach of the year, replaces 1990 national coach of the year Bobby Ross, who resigned Dec. 31 to become head coach of the San Diego Chargers of the National Football League.
"This is one of the happiest days of my life," said the 50-year-old Lewis when his appointment was announced by Athletic Director Homer Rice at a press conference in the Wardlaw Center on Jan. 6. "This opportunity is one of the remaining goals of my career, to coach at an institution that believes in the concept of the student-athlete. Georgia Tech has been a national leader in that area for a long time and I believe that collegiate athletics in the '90s are headed in that direction."
Lewis, who was head coach at East Carolina during 1989-91 and directed the team to an 11-1 record last season and a Peach Bowl victory, said he borrowed money to buy out his contract with the Pirates. He is paying East Carolina $239,000 for leaving before his contract was terminated, a financial obligation which he said does not involve Tech.
Lewis was a Tech assistant in 1971-72 under head coaches Bud Carson and Bill Fulcher; head coach at Wyoming from 1977-79 and an assistant coach at Georgia during 1980-88.
His first move was to name Danny Smith as assistant head coach. Smith was running back coach under Bobby Ross for five years. Brian Baker, who has also been a member of Tech's coaching staff for the past five years, was named outside-linebacker coach, and Lance Thompson, a four-year member of the Yellow jacket coaching staff, was named director of football operations. Thompson will direct Tech's football recruiting effort and several football-related administrative duties.
Lewis also brought Mike Cassity, Steve Shankweiler, Gary Godette, Dave Huxtable and Greg Nord from East Carolina to Georgia Tech. Cassity will be defensive coordinator and defensive-back coach: Shankweiler, co-offensive coordinator and offensive-line coach; Godette, defensive-line coach; Huxtable, inside-linebacker coach and special-teams coordinator; and Nord, running-back coach.
In announcing Lewis as Tech's head football coach, Rice said, "Although I have known Bill for many years and have admired his work on and off the field, I did more research on his 29-year career than anyone I've ever been associated with. He has an impeccable background of integrity. He is a family man of high principles. He received only the highest marks from his peers.
President John P. Crecine issued the following statement prior to the press conference. "In filling any major position at Georgia Tech, I look for the person who can best lead Georgia Tech and the programs for which they are responsible into the next century, while building on the best of Georgia Tech's rich traditions.
"The same broad criteria apply in the context of the head-coaching position. The direction I gave to my athletics director, Dr. Homer Rice, the search and selection committee, and to the athletic board, was to recruit the best available people nationwide. I also asked Dr. Rice and the search committee to thoroughly and exhaustively investigate the qualifications and records of the final list of candidates, paying particular attention to three dimensions:
"I am convinced that Bill Lewis will strengthen our football program, will advance the development of Georgia Tech student-athletes academically, athletically and as people, and will provide the basis for the continued success of the university and its educational and athletic programs."