The University of Massachusetts hired Florida State offensive coordinator Walt Bell as the football program’s 30th head coach, director of athletics Ryan Bamford said on Monday.
Considered one of the most dynamic young recruiters and offensive minds in college football, Bell, 34, of Dickson, Tenn., brings 12 years of FBS coaching experience to the Minuteman program, including five seasons as the offensive coordinator at three institutions: Arkansas State (2014-15), Maryland (2016-17) and Florida State (2018).
“We are excited to welcome Walt Bell and his wife Maria to the UMass family,” Bamford said in a statement. “Walt is a fantastic coach who has tremendous credentials as an offensive coordinator, recruiter and developer of talent.”
Most recently, Bell oversaw Florida State’s passing offense that ranked second in the Atlantic Coast Conference for passing yards per game (270.1) and 28th overall in the country during the 2018 season.
In addition to his offensive coordinator duties at Florida State, Bell guided the growth of Seminoles quarterback Deondre Francois, whose strong 2018 season included 2,731 passing yards and 15 touchdown passes. Francois missed all but one game in 2017 due to injury.
At Maryland, Bell helped showcase the abilities of D.J. Moore, the Big Ten Receiver of the Year who broke the season school record with 80 catches and was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the first round in 2017.
At Arkansas State, Bell oversaw an offense in 2014 that broke season school records with 6,194 yards total offense, an average of 476.5 yards per game, 1,024 plays, 477 points, and 65 touchdowns.
“It is Walt’s genuine interest in supporting the personal growth of his student-athletes, evidenced by his lasting relationships as a mentor and leader the last 10 years — that really resonated with us,’’ Bamford said.
“He is a teacher, a motivator and an ambassador and we are fortunate to have him lead our Minutemen in to the future.”
UMass will hold an introductory news conference for Bell on Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the Martin Jacobson Football Performance Center in Amherst.
“I am immensely excited for the opportunity to serve as the University of Massachusetts football head coach, and for my wife, Maria, and I to join the UMass family,” Bell said in a statement.
“I cannot thank Ryan Bamford, Chancellor [Kumble R.] Subbaswamy and the entire university administration enough for the opportunity to guide this program.
“I look forward to getting right to work with the young men on our team.”
In addition to his tenures at Arkansas State, Florida State and Maryland, Bell also worked with the North Carolina (2012-13), Southern Miss (2010-11), Oklahoma State (2009) and Memphis (2007-08) programs prior to his arrival at UMass.
Bell, a native of Dickson, Tennessee, was a four-year letterman at Middle Tennessee State. He played wide receiver for the Blue Raiders and earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration in 2005 and a master’s degree in sport management in 2006.