Is Ron Gould the Best Running Backs Coach in the Country?

Steven ResnickSenior Writer IAugust 27, 2010

Ron Gould is entering his 14th season as running backs coach for the California Golden Bears and in his time with the Bears he's found tremendous success especially over the past decade. 

He may be the best running backs coach in the country and nothing proves that more then the success his players have had at the college level, but also moving forward into the NFL. 

Here's a look at the running backs that Gould has coached while at California.


Tarik Smith, 1997

Smith was a senior in Gould's first season as running backs coach. Smith had a decent season for the Bears, but did not hit the 1,000-yard mark. He missed two games due to injury.

Smith, though, was picked in the seventh round of the 1998 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. He played two and a half seasons in the NFL but did not see any carries, he retired in the 2001 season after suffering a knee injury. 


Marcus Fields, 1998

Marcus Fields took over as the stating running back as a sophomore and did a solid job as a starter. Here's what his career numbers looked liked while with the Bears:

  • 1997: 95 carries for 419 yards, a 4.4 yards per carry average, five touchdowns, and a long run of 31. 
  • 1998: 163 carries for 734 yards, a 4.5 yards per carry average, four touchdowns, and a long of 72. 
  • 1999: 98 caries for 368 yards, a 3.8 yards per carry average, a touchdown, and a long of 49. 
  • 2000: Carries the ball once for four yards. 
  • Totals: 357 carries for 1,525 yards, a 4.3 yards per carry average, 10 touchdowns, and a long of 72. 


Joe Igber

Took over the starting spot in 1999 from Fields, the one thing about Igber was that he was shifty. He was the smallest running back the Bears have had as a starter. 

At 5'8", 190 pounds, he was good at hiding behind his offensive line and finding holes and at times he resembled Barry Sanders in the backfield. Here's a look at Igber's numbers from when he was with the Golden Bears. 

  • 1999: 148 carries for 694 yards, a 4.7 yards per carry average, two touchdowns, and a long run of 55. 
  • 2000: 195 carries for 901 yards, a 4.6 yards per carry average, five touchdowns, and a long run of 80. 
  • 2001: 94 carries for 399 yards, a 4.2 yards per carry average, two touchdowns, and a long run of 39. 
  • 2002: 241 carries for 1,130 yards, a 4.7 yards per carry average, and seven touchdowns. (No stat on what Igber's longest run was). 
  • Totals: 678 carries for 3124 yards, a 4.6 yards per carry average, and 16 touchdowns.

His 2001 season was cut short by injury, hence why his yards were so low in his junior year. 

Igber was not drafted to play in the NFL.


Adimchinobe Echemandu

The running back who took over after Igber graduated was Adimchinobe Echemandu, who got his first chance to start as a senior and he took advantage of the opportunity. 

In 2003, he had 238 carries for 1,195 yards, a five yards per carry average, and 13 touchdowns.

Echemandu was drafted in the seventh round of the 2004 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns and appeared in 19 games over four seasons. 


J.J. Arrington

The 2004 season brought on the runner with the best single season performance in the Bears history and that running back was J.J. Arrington. He played just two seasons for the Bears as he was a transfer student before playing for the Bears. 

  • 2003: 107 carries for 607 yards, a 5.8 yards per carry average, and five touchdowns. 
  • 2004: 289 carries for 2,018 yards, a 7 yards per carry average, and 15 touchdowns. 
  • Totals: 396 carries for 2,625 yards, a 6.6 yards per carry average, and 20 touchdowns. 

Arrington was drafted in the second round by the Arizona Cardinals and he's been primarily used as a third-down back and on special teams. 


Marshawn Lynch

In the 2005 season, Marshawn Lynch become the first running back since Igber to keep the starting running back position for two years in a row as he was also the starter in 2006 for the Bears. In his freshman campaign he backed up Arrington. 

  • 2004: 71 carries for 628 yards, a 8.8 yards per carry average, and eight touchdowns. 
  • 2005: 196 carries for 1,246 yards, a 6.4 yards per carry average, and 10 touchdowns. 
  • 2006: 223 carries for 1,356 yards, a 6.1 yards per carry average, and 11 touchdowns. 
  • Totals: 490 carries for 3,230 yards, a 6.6 yards per carry average, and 29 touchdowns.

Lynch was drafted in the first round in the 2007 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills and has two 1,000-yard seasons to his credit in the NFL so far.


Justin Forsett

Since the 2004 season, the Bears had another running back waiting his turn to become the starter. The running back who backed up both Arrington and Lynch was Justin Forsett. 

  • 2004: 11 carries for 49 yards, a 4.5 yards per carry average, and a touchdown. 
  • 2005: 132 carries, 999 yards, a 7.6 yards per carry average, and six touchdowns. 
  • 2006: 119 carries, 626 yards, a 5.3 yards per carry average, and four touchdowns. 
  • 2007: 304 carries for 1,543 yards, a 5.1 yards per carry average, and 15 touchdowns.
  • Totals: 566 carries for 3,217 yards, a 5.7 yards per carry average, and 26 touchdowns. 

Forsett was drafted in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL draft by the Seattle Seahawks. He was waived by the Seahawks and was signed by the Indianapolis Colts, but eventually found his way back to the Seahawks. 

He was used primarily for special teams play in his rookie season. In his second year, he showed glimpses of what made him so successful for the Bears. This season it looks like he'll overtake Julius Jones for the starting spot at running back. 


Jahvid Best

Jahvid Best entered the 2008 season as the new starting running back for the Bears. There was a lot of hype with Best as he was lightning quick and pretty much anytime he touched the ball he could take the ball for a touchdown. 

  • 2007: 29 carries for 221 yards, a 7.6 yards per carry average, and two touchdowns. 
  • 2008: 194 carries for 1,580 yards, a 8.1 yards per carry average, and 15 touchdowns. 
  • 2009: 141 carries for 867 yards, a 6.1 yards per carry average, and 12 touchdowns.

Best's junior year ended early after suffering a concussion during a game against Oregon State. If he hadn't been injured he would have easily made the 1,000-yard mark. 

He decided to leave college early and entered the NFL Draft in which he was selected in the first round by the Detroit Lions. Best is pushing for the starting running back spot for the Lions. 


Shane Vereen

For 2010, the starting running back is Shane Vereen who would have already been starting if he had gone to any other school. Here's a look at what he did in his sophomore year with the Bears.  

2009: 183 carries for 952 yards, 5.2 yards per carry, and 12 touchdowns. 

Last season was the first since 2001 that the Bears did not have a running back break the 1,000-yard mark. A new streak looks like it's going to start with Vereen at runnning back. 

Only two running backs in Gould's tenure with the Beras weren't drafted and that was Igber and Fields. 

David Walker of the Pittsburgh Panthers could give Gould a run for his money as the best running backs coach in the country. Walker has Dion Lewis, who is among the best running backs in the country, as well Lesean McCoy, and LaRod Stephens-Howling. 

Yet, Walker has only been at Pittsburgh for six years, which does not match the longevity Gould has had with the Bears. Not only that, he hasn't had a streak of 1,000-yard rushers either. 

In his first year for the Panthers, Raymond Kirkley led the team in rushing with 560 yards. In his second year Stephens-Howling had 434 yards, and in his third year was the leading rusher with 893 yards. 

It took four years for Walker to get his first 1,000-yard rusher and that was McCoy who did it twice (Lewis went over 1,000 yards last year as well and will likely repeat the feat this year). 

John Settle of the Wisconsin Badgers is another likely candidate as one of the better running backs coaches in the country. In the five seasons he's been with the Badgers, his running backs have gone over the 1,000-yard mark, with John Clay being mentioned as a Heisman contender. 

Though impressive, Gould still has Settle beat due to longevity and the streak of 1,000-yard rushers.

There was an article that can be found here on five-star recruit Aaron Green and the final two teams he could end up going to. One of course was California the other was the Nebraska Cornhuskers. 

If Green wants to have success and make it to the NFL, there's no question what his decision should be and it's not committing to Nebraska. Why? 

The Cornhuskers have a relatively new running backs coach in Tim Beck, who's just entering his third season at the school. The number of yards per game on the ground isn't close: the Cornhuskers averaged 147.1 yards on the ground while the Bears averaged 169.5 yards per game rushing. 

In terms of longevity, that belongs to Gary Campbell of the University of Oregon Ducks. According to, the Ducks have led the Pac-10 in rushing the past four seasons. Campbell has been the running backs coach for the Ducks for what will be his 28th year. 

Though the Ducks recently have had 1,000-yard rushers in LaMichael James, Jonathan Stewart, and Jeremiah Johnson, they have had a few seasons of marginal success on the ground with the running backs and again don't have nearly as long of a streak as California has with Gould. 

Cale Gundy is in his 12th season as running backs coach for the Oklahoma Sooners. Names of running backs include Adrian Peterson, Quentin Griffin, DeMarco Murray, and Chris Brown. 

Yet, again Gould can't be touched in terms of having a running back go for 1,000 yards as well as being drafted. 

Penn State's running back coach is Galen Hall who has helped Evan Royster, Rodney Kinlaw, and Tony Hunt have 1,000-yard seasons. The team has a streak of five straight years of having a 1,000-yard rusher.

For Gould with the amount of players he's had drafted, those who have gone for seasons of over 1,000 yards, and being able to consistently replace that talent without any letdown, speaks volumes of Gould's ability as a running backs coach. He is the best running back coach in college football.