LOUISVILLE, Ky. – One of the most experienced offensive line coaches, Chris Klenakis, is joining the University of Louisville football staff as the run game coordinator and offensive line coach, head coach Bobby Petrino announced Tuesday.
With 24 years of coaching experience under his belt, most recently at Iowa State, Klenakis re-unites with Petrino after spending two seasons together at Arkansas in 2010-11.
“It’s great to have the ability to hire Chris Klenakis again as part of my staff,” Petrino said. “Chris is an expert on teaching technique and the innovator of the Pistol offense. He is a tireless worker and a great recruiter. We have enjoyed a lot of success together through the years and I’m excited to have his expertise on staff.”
Over the course of his career, Klenakis has shown the ability to develop talent, tutoring 17 offensive linemen who have advanced to the NFL. As offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, he has tutored 15 all-conference selections, including 2010 first-team All-SEC performer DeMarcus Love. Klenakis has coached in 12 bowl games and in two NCAA Division I-AA playoffs.
“It’s a pleasure for me to reunite with Bobby Petrino,” Klenakis said. “We have had a lot of success together and I’m so excited to be a part of the Louisville football program and Card Nation.”
Before coming to Louisville, Klenakis spent the 2013 season at Iowa State. Injuries hampered stability along the offensive line, as six different starters missed at least one game, and Klenakis was forced to use nine different combinations.
When the offensive line was healthy, the Cyclones’ tallied consecutive 500-yard games of total offense for the first time since 1989, achieving the feat in the final two games against Kansas and West Virginia. The Cyclones finished the season with the 10th-most points in school history, and were one of the most efficient teams in the red zone, converting on 90 percent of their chances for a No. 17 national ranking.
Under Klenakis’ tutelage, Tom Farniok was able to earn All-Big 12 accolades and also was named honorable mention All-Big 12 by the league’s coaches for the second-consecutive season in 2013.
Prior to his short stint at Iowa State, Klenakis served as the offensive line coach for three seasons (2010-12) at Arkansas. The Razorbacks flourished with Klenakis directing the offensive line. The Razorbacks allowed the third fewest sacks in the SEC in 2012 and the pass offense was also third. Travis Swanson was named as an all-conference offensive lineman.
In 2011, the Razorbacks led the SEC in passing offense, scoring offense, and total offense in earning the school’s first-ever BCS appearance after finishing 10-2 overall. That season, the Razorbacks set records for passing yards (4,061), touchdown passes (34), and total yards (5,871).
Klenakis’ offensive line had replaced three starters from 2010 and featured two players who made their first starts of their collegiate career in 2011 to block for an offense that set or tied 16 school records. Arkansas led the SEC in passing offense (300.7), total offense (438.1), and scoring offense (36.8) to become just the fifth different school to lead the conference in all three categories in a single season and the first since Florida in 2001. The Razorbacks topped the conference in passing offense for the third straight season and became the second SEC team since 1992 to lead the conference in that category for at least three straight seasons.
Quarterback Tyler Wilson led the SEC in passing yards and total offense per game, while receiver Jarius Wright topped the conference in receiving yards per game in 2011. Guard Alvin Bailey was named an All-American by Pro Football Weekly.
Before his successful stint at Arkansas, Klenakis served as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Nevada for six seasons. Nevada’s 2005 WAC championship team led the nation in time of possession and ranked eighth in the NCAA in third-down conversions. In 2004, his first year at Nevada, he coached All-WAC performer and San Francisco 49ers’ tackle Harvey Dahl.
At Nevada, he was at the helm of the “Pistol” offense that was prolifically productive, featuring a powerful running game led by the offensive line and, from 2007-09, current San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
In 2008 at Nevada, the Wolf Pack offense steamrolled over opposing defenses to the tune of a number of school records, including total offense, rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns. In 2009, Klenakis and the offense eclipsed all those marks. Klenakis was the first coordinator in NCAA Division I history to coach an offense that led the nation in rushing (2009) and passing (1997) during his career.
The Wolf Pack had three 1,000-yard rushers during their record-setting 2009 season, the only school in NCAA history to feature a trio of players to reach the 1,000-yard mark on the ground.
Prior to his most recent stint as offensive coordinator at Nevada, he was offensive coordinator at Southern Mississippi (2000-02) and spent one year at Central Missouri (2003).
Klenakis helped Central Missouri finish the 2003 campaign with a 9-2 record and a share of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association title for the first time since 1988. Central ranked second among all NCAA Division II schools in scoring offense (41.5 points per game) and was 25th in rushing offense.
The former two-time Nevada High School Coach of the Year earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education and history from Carroll College in 1986, where he was a four-year letterwinner as an outside linebacker. In 1992, he completed his master’s of exercise physiology at Nevada.
He has a son, Nikos, and a daughter, Lucy.