Steve Axman, a former Bruin assistant (1987-88) who served as quarterbacks coach at the University of Washington the past four years and as assistant head coach the past two, was hired as UCLA’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach on January 9, 2003. Axman has a reputation for developing young quarterbacks.
This past season, Washington’s Cody Pickett became the first quarterback in Pac-10 history to pass for over 4,000 yards in a season, finishing with 4,458. He also set a Pac-10 record with 4,273 yards of total offense. On the year, Pickett completed 365 of 612 passes (59.6%) for 28 touchdowns. The Washington pass offense was rated fourth in the nation with a average of 346.2 yards per game in 2002.
In 2001, Axman was elevated to assistant head coach in addition to serving as quarterbacks coach. That season, Pickett finished second in the Pac-10 in total offense (246.3).
The first Husky quarterback Axman worked with was Marques Tuiasosopo, who finished his outstanding career by being named the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year and MVP of the Rose Bowl. He was the first UW player to be named the league’s top offensive player since 1983. On Sept. 9, 2000, Washington gained 415 yards in its victory over Miami, the Hurricanes’ last loss until the 2003 Fiesta Bowl. In 1999, Axman’s first year at the UW, Tuiasosopo became the first player in NCAA history to rush for 200 yards and pass for 300 yards in one game. Washington’s offensive coordinator that season was current Bruin head coach Karl Dorrell.
Steve joined the Husky program after serving as quarterbacks coach at Minnesota in 1998 under head coach Glen Mason.
Prior to joining the Golden Gophers’ staff, Axman was the head coach at Northern Arizona from 1990-97. He inherited a NAU program that had experienced just three winning seasons during the 1980s and had never qualified for the Division I-AA postseason playoffs. During his eight years, Axman guided the Lumberjacks to a 48-41 record, making him the second-winningest coach in Northern Arizona’s history.
Axman’s teams were known for their offensive fireworks and averaged 30 points per game over the eight years. His 1996 squad set or tied 14 national records and averaged 43.2 points per game en route to a 9-3 overall record and a 6-1 mark in the Big Sky Conference. That season produced a second-place conference finish, the school’s first postseason appearance and a school-best No. 6 national ranking.
Honored as the Region V Coach of the Year in 1996, Axman’s team led the nation in total offense (522.8 yards per game) and ranked third in passing (311.3 yards per game). The Lumberjacks became the first college football team to produce a 2,000-yard rusher, with Walter Payton Award winner Archie Amerson, and a 3,000-yard passer (Travis Brown) in the same season.
In 1990 and 1991, Axman’s offensive coordinator at Northern Arizona was current Bruin head coach Dorrell. In 1989, Axman served as quarterbacks coach at the University of Maryland where he worked with future NFL performers Neil O’Donnell and Scott Zolak.
Axman spent two seasons as offensive coordinator at UCLA in 1987 and 1988, coaching the quarterbacks the first year and the offensive line the second. In 1987, junior Troy Aikman ranked second in the NCAA in passing efficiency and the Bruins finished 10-2 and ranked No. 9 in the final AP poll. In 1988, Aikman finished third in the Heisman Trophy race, leading UCLA to a 10-2 record and No. 6 ranking. UCLA’s total of 5,252 yards of offense in 1988 is the third highest in school history while the 1987 total of 5,107 ranks seventh. In 1987, UCLA scored 426 points, No. 4 in school history and in 1988, the Bruins scored 392 points (No. 6).
Prior to UCLA, Axman coached at Stanford (1986), with the Denver Gold of the U.S. Football League (1985) and at the University of Arizona (1980-84), as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Axman spent a year at Illinois, three seasons at Army and one season at Albany State. Prior to that, Axman’s first collegiate coaching assignment was at East Stroudsburg (PA) State in 1974.
A 1969 graduate of C.W. Post in Greenvale, N.Y., Axman went on to earn his first master’s degree from Long Island University in 1972 and his second in 1975 while coaching at East Stroudsburg State.
Axman has authored seven books and produced eight instructional videos about football. His most recent release “101 Pass Patterns” was published in 2001. His other books are titled “Coaching Quarterback Passing Mechanics,” “101 Quarterback Drills,” “The Art and Science of Coaching” and “Coaching Offensive Backs.” His first non-coaching book, “Achieving Your Success” is due for release next year.
RECRUITING RESPONSIBILITIES — Local / California: North Orange County; National: Quarterbacks.
PERSONAL — Education: Bachelor’s in History, C.W. Post, 1969; Master’s degree, Long Island University, 1972; Master’s degree, East Stroudsburg State, 1975 At UCLA: First year (joined staff Jan. 9, 2003; also on staff in the 1987-88 seasons); Born: June 10, 1948 in Huntington Station, NY; Family: Married to Dr. Marie Axman and has four daughters, Mary Beth, Jaclyn, Melissa and Kimberly.