One of the legendary names in college football coaching, Morris Watts, is in his sixth season at Central Michigan, serving as the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach.
Watts’ coaching career spans more than five decades and encompasses three high schools, nine universities and two professional teams.
Since joining CMU in 2011, Watts has made a significant impact, particularly in his mentoring of quarterback Cooper Rush.
Rush, who enters his senior year as one of the Mid-American Conference’s top talents, has developed into one of the very best quarterbacks in CMU history.
In 2015, Rush threw for a school-record 3,848 yards and 25 touchdowns while completing 66.3 percent of his passes. He ranked second in the Mid-American Conference and 14th nationally in passing yards and was seventh in the nation and second in the MAC with 24.92 completions per game.
Rush also ranked in the top three in the MAC in completion percentage, completions per game, passing efficiency, TD passes and passing yards per game.
The Chippewa passing game averaged 300.4 yards per game in 2015, which ranked 19th in the nation and second in the MAC.
Watts’ offense features a bevy of talented receivers, nine of whom caught at least 11 passes in 2015. Of those nine, eight return in 2016 including senior Jesse Kroll, who led the Chippewas with 61 receptions for 866 yards last season.
In 2012, Watts mentored quarterback Ryan Radcliff to an outstanding senior season at CMU as he threw for 3,158 yards, marking the third consecutive season that he had surpassed the 3,000-yard milestone, and tossed 23 TD passes against just nine interceptions.
Radcliff remains second in CMU in history in career passing yardage, pass attempts, pass completions and total offense, and ranks third in TD passes.
Watts is in his 53rd year of coaching, his 44th at the college level, making him the most-experienced of any current NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision coach.
He began his career at Seneca (Mo.) High School in 1961 before moving on to Joplin (Mo.) High School. He moved on to college coaching in 1965 at Drake University, beginning a journey that would take him to Louisville, Indiana, Kansas, LSU (twice), Michigan State (three times), Mississippi State, Miami (Ohio) and, finally, in 2011, Central Michigan.
Watts also mixed in two pro stops, the first with the Birmingham Stallions of the USFL, the second with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL.
Throughout his career, Watts has worked directly with several quarterbacks who have played professionally, including Indiana's Tim Clifford; Michigan State's Jim Miller, Tony Banks and Jeff Smoker; Cliff Stoudt of the USFL's Birmingham Stallions; and Vinny Testeverde of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Among Watts’ coaching highlights:
• He helped lead Michigan State to two bowl victories and a share of the Big Ten championship in 1990 as the Spartans’ offensive coordinator.
• He served as Michigan State’s interim head coach for the final three games of the 2002 season.
• In 2001 while at Michigan State, Watts was nominated for the Broyles Award, which goes annually to the nation's top assistant coach.
• From 1995-98, Watts helped lead LSU to 31 victories as the Tigers’ offensive coordinator. Included in that span were three consecutive bowl wins.
A 1961 graduate of the University of Tulsa, Watts played running back for the Golden Hurricane. He earned a master's degree from Pittsburg (Kan.) State in 1964.
His family includes wife Marlene, his daughter Charlavan, and his son, Danny.
The Watts File
|1961||Seneca (Mo.) High School||Assistant Coach|
|1962-64||Joplin (Mo.) High School||Assistant Coach|
|1965-71||Drake University||Offensive Coordinator|
|1972||University of Louisville||Offensive Coordinator|
|1973-81||Indiana University||Offensive Coordinator|
|1982||University of Kansas||Offensive Coordinator|
|1983||Louisiana State University||Quarterbacks|
|1984-85||Birmingham Stallions (USFL)||Quarterbacks|
|1986-90||Michigan State University||Offensive Coordinator|
|1991||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL)||Quarterbacks|
|1992-94||Michigan State University||Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator|
|1995-98||Louisiana State University||Offensive Coordinator|
|1999-2002||Michigan State University||Offensive Coordinator|
|2003||Mississippi State University||Offensive Coordinator|
|2007-08||Broken Arrow (Okla.) High School||Offensive Coordinator|
|2010||Miami University||Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks|
|2011-13||Central Michigan University||Passing Game Coordinator/Quarterbacks|
|2014-Present||Central Michigan University||Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks|