Mike Bajakian is in his third season as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the University of Cincinnati football team, directing one of the top-rated offensive units in the BIG EAST Conference the past two seasons.
Bajakian, a 16-year coaching veteran at the collegiate level and in the NFL, joined the Cincinnati staff in January 2010 as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach after three years in the same role at Central Michigan University.
Offensively in 2011, UC averaged 385 yards per game, ranking No. 2 in the BIG EAST in rushing offense (178.5 ypg) and scored an average of 33.3 points per game on the way to a BIG EAST Conference Championship and a win in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl over SEC foe Vanderbilt.
RB Isaiah Pead, the 2011 BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year, closed out his career with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, the first UC back to accomplish that feat in nearly 25 years. His 3,288 career yards rushing and 27 rushing touchdowns rank him third all-time.
QB Zach Collaros became only the second UC QB all-time to tally 6,000 yards passing and 50 passing touchdowns. He leaves UC as the school's all-time leader in completion percentage (.619) and was 485-of-783 for 6,278 yards and 51 touchdowns.
After Collaros went down with an injury late in the season, backups Munchie Legaux and Jordan Luallen came on to help the Bearcats win their final two regular season games to wrap up the BIG EAST crown.
Bajakian's offense produced four All-BIG EAST selections including first-team honorees Pead and Randy Martinez and second-team selections Collaros and Alex Hoffman.
In 2010, the Bearcats led the BIG EAST in scoring offense (27.1 ppg), total offense (417.3 ypg), passing offense (260.7 ypg), first downs (21.9 pg), third-down conversions (45.6 pct.), and touchdown passes (27). Wide receiver Armon Binns and quarterback Zach Collaros were both First-Team all-BIG EAST selections.
Collaros led the BIG EAST and ranked in the Top-20 nationally in passing yards per game (263.8), total offense (282.2), and points responsible for (15 ppg). He also led the conference in total passing yards (2,902), touchdown passes (26) and completions (20.5 cpg).
Binns and D.J. Woods were the No. 1 and 2 ranked receivers in the BIG EAST in 2010 in yards per game, overall yardage, touchdown receptions, and 100-yard receiving games. Binns (1,101 yards) became only the eighth receiver in UC football history to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in a single season.
Along with running back Isaiah Pead's 1,029 rushing yards, Binns and Pead became only the third duo in UC football history to achieve 1,000 rushing and receiving yards in the same year. Pead was UC's first 1,000-yard rusher in nearly a decade, and only the seventh all-time.
UC showed off its high-powered offense as the Bearcats were the only NCAA FBS school to have two wide receivers with 15 or more 20-yard receptions in 2010. Additionally, UC was the only BCS team to have a pair of wideouts with 10 more touchdowns apiece. The Bearcats had six players with 22 or more catches and four with over 25 receptions apiece.
"Mike is a very detailed and highly organized individual," head coach Butch Jones said. "He is a tremendous teacher of the fine details that it takes to play the quarterback position at a championship level."
Bajakian's Central Michigan offense ranked in the MAC's top-5 in most offensive categories in 2009, including leading the league in scoring offense (33.9 ppg) and passing efficiency (146.96). CMU's scoring offense was ranked 15th nationally in 2009 while its passing efficiency mark was 14th overall.
CMU finished second in the MAC in total offense and 24th nationally, averaging 423.14 yards per game. The Chippewas tied a school record with 28 passing touchdowns in each of the three seasons that Bajakian was the coordinator. CMU's offense also set record marks for completion percentage three times during his tenure, including the school-record mark of 68.7 percent in 2009.
Over the three years Bajakian coordinated the offense, CMU scored 30 or more points 24 times, 40 or more points 13 times and 50 or more points five times. The 2007-09 Chippewas were the three highest scoring teams CMU has fielded since joining the MAC in 1975.
During his time at CMU, Bajakian mentored quarterback Dan Lefevour, one of the most prolific offensive players in NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision history.
LeFevour, who closed out his career with an NCAA FBS record 150 touchdowns (102 passing, 47 rushing, 1 receiving), led the MAC in passing efficiency, and ranked No. 11 nationally, with a 150.26 rating. He was second in the league in total offense (296.5 ypg) and ranked 10th nationally. His 66.4 career completion percentage ranked him seventh among active NCAA FBS players at the close of the 2009 season.
He tallied 15,853 yards of total offense during his CMU career, trailing only Timmy Chang of Hawai'i (16,910 yards) in the NCAA ledger. He ranks ninth on the NCAA's all-time passing yards list with 12,905. He is the only player in NCAA FBS history to pass for 12,000 yards and rush for 2,500 yards in a career.
He finished his career as CMU's all-time leader in completions, attempts, passing yards, touchdown passes and total offense, and the Mid-American Conference's all-time leader in total offense, passing yards, completions, attempts and touchdown passes.
During the 2007 season, LeFevour had one of the top statistical seasons of any player in NCAA history, becoming just the second player in history to pass for at least 3,000 yards (3,652) and rush for 1,000 (1,122) in the same season. His 4,774 yards of total offense established a CMU single-season record, and he became one of just two players in NCAA history to pass for 20 touchdowns and score 20 touchdowns in the same season (Tim Tebow - also in 2007).
More than 30 school records were set or broken during Bajakian's tenure at CMU, and the offensive unit produced five all-MAC selections in 2009, including LeFevour, who earned MAC Player of the Year honors as well as his second award as MAC Offensive Player of the Year under Bajakian's tutelage.
Bajakian also had the services of record-setting wide receivers Brian Anderson and Antonio Brown. Anderson set an NCAA record by catching a pass in all 54 career games in a CMU uniform. Anderson and Brown were the most prolific receiving duo among active NCAA FBS players in 2009, combining for 50 career touchdown receptions.
Brown finished the 2009 season with 110 receptions, breaking his own single-season record of 102 set in 2007. Brown is the only player in school history to have 300 or more receptions (achieved in just three seasons), catch at least 100 passes in a season (twice), and have multiple 1,000-yard receiving seasons. Brown's 305 career receptions are the second-most in MAC history, behind only Marshall's Josh Davis (306 career receptions). Anderson is third in MAC history with 290 career catches.
The 2008 Chippewas set single-season school records for passing yards (3,767) and completion percentage (66.0), breaking school records that were set in 2007. The offense featured five All-MAC honorees and ranked second in the conference in both scoring (29.5 ppg) and passing (289.8 ypg).
In 2007, CMU's offense was the only offense to rank in the top four in the conference in scoring, rushing, passing and total offense. The CMU offense set or tied 23 individual or team school records during the 2007 season, including total offense (6,258 yards), total points (487), passing yards (3,738), passing attempts (557), completions (361), touchdown passes (28) and completion percentage (64.8).
Bajakian, who coached the Chippewas' quarterbacks during the 2002 and 2003 seasons, returned to CMU fresh off a trip to Super Bowl XLI with the Chicago Bears.
Bajakian spent the 2004-2006 seasons as the offensive quality control coach for the Bears, during which time he worked with the Bears' wide receivers. He was part of a coaching staff that led the Bears to Super Bowl XLI and back-to-back NFC North Division championships. The Bears' 13-3 regular season record was the best in the NFC in 2006, while Chicago's 24 wins over the 2005 and 2006 regular seasons were the most in the NFC during that span.
A 1996 graduate of Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., Bajakian was an All-New England Small College Athletic Conference and All-Eastern College Athletic Conference selection as a quarterback. He broke into the coaching ranks as the quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator at Delbarton School in Morristown, N.J., helping lead to the school to consecutive trips to the parochial state finals.
Bajakian spent the 1998 and 1999 seasons at Rutgers University as a graduate assistant coaching the defensive backs. He then spent a brief period at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn. as quarterbacks coach before moving on to Michigan for the 2000 and 2001 seasons.
He was part of a co-Big Ten championship team in 2000 that defeated Auburn in the Capital One Florida Citrus Bowl. During that season, he worked with honorable mention All-Big Ten selection Drew Henson. In 2001, Bajakian helped coach the punt rush phase of the Wolverines' special teams; UM blocked a school-record eight punts that season.
The New Jersey native played his prep ball at Bergen Catholic High School in Oradell, N.J.
Bajakian lives in Cincinnati with his wife, Michelene, and daughter Mary (2).