“We are ecstatic to welcome Mike, Michelene and their five children, to the Northwestern football family,” said Fitzgerald. “He has demonstrated outstanding impact and improvement at every stop of his career, both in college football and in the National Football League. The feedback we received from former colleagues and student-athletes was impeccable. He has helmed offenses that beat you through the air, and others that punished opponents on the ground, depending on personnel. Mike rose up our candidate list with every conversation we had about him, and we are thrilled to have him on board in advance of the early signing period and winter workouts.”
Bajakian joins the Wildcats after a year in the same position at Boston College, where he led the Eagles to the top rushing attack in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the best ball security in the Conference and a ground game that ranked No. 3 in Power-5 football in yards/game during the 2019 regular-season. In nine seasons as a college offensive coordinator, Bajakian’s offenses averaged 424 yards and 31.3 points/game and ranked in the Top-40 nationally in total offense seven times.
“I am grateful to Pat Fitzgerald, Jim Phillips, and Morty Schapiro for this opportunity at a world-class institution,” said Bajakian. “It is an honor to join Coach Fitzgerald and his staff, developing the highest caliber student-athletes, in the most competitive conference in collegiate football. My family and I are looking forward to becoming part of the community and culture of excellence at Northwestern.”
Prior to his time in Boston, Bajakian spent four seasons as quarterbacks coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In his debut season with the Bucs, Bajakian and rookie quarterback Jameis Winston piloted Tampa Bay’s offense to a Top-5 finish in the NFL and the most yards in team history. Winston set team rookie records for passing yards, passing touchdowns, pass attempts, pass completions and passer rating.
In 2016, as a second-year quarterback under Bajakian’s mentorship, Winston set single-season franchise records for passing yards (4,090) and passing touchdowns (28), becoming the youngest player to throw for 50 touchdowns in NFL history and the first player in league history to throw for at least 4,000 yards in each of his first two seasons. The 2017 season saw Winston post career bests in completion percentage (63.8 pct.), yards per attempt (7.9) and passer rating (92.2), while posting a career-low interception rate (2.5 pct.). Winston finished his third season with the third-most passing yards by a player from their rookie season through their third season, trailing only Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning.
The Buccaneers led the NFL with 320.3 passing yards per game in 2018 and finished with the league’s No. 3 total offense (415.5 yards per game). Tampa’s quarterbacks ended the season with 5,125 passing yards, 36 touchdown passes and a 65.3 percent completion percentage. The Buccaneers finished with 71 passing plays of 20+ yards and 14 passing plays of 40 yards or more.
Bajakian joined the Buccaneers from the University of Tennessee where, as the team’s offensive coordinator, he was part of the coaching staff that helped the 2014 Volunteers earn the school’s first bowl game appearance since 2010 and first bowl victory since 2007, winning the 2015 Taxslayer Bowl.
Prior to joining the Volunteers, Bajakian worked as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the University of Cincinnati (2010 to 2012), where he helped lead the Bearcats to back-to-back Big East Conference titles in each of his last two seasons. In his final campaign, Cincinnati led the Big East in scoring offense, rushing offense and yards per play.
From 2007 to 2009, Bajakian worked as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Central Michigan University, where the team posted its three highest-scoring offenses since joining the MAC in 1975 and set or broke more than 30 school records.
Bajakian’s NFL resume also includes three seasons with the Chicago Bears as offensive quality control coach (2004 to 2006). He was a member of the 2006 Bears team that won the NFC Championship and played in Super Bowl XLI.
A native of River Vale, New Jersey, Bajakian was an All-New England Small College Athletic Conference and All-ECAC quarterback at Williams College.
Bajakian’s Coaching Career:
- 1996 to 1997: Delbarton School, Quarterbacks & Passing Game Coordinator
- 1998 to 1999: Rutgers, Graduate Assistant, Defensive Backs
- 2000: Sacred Heart, Quarterbacks
- 2000 to 2001: Michigan, Graduate Assistant, Quarterbacks
- 2002 to 2003: Central Michigan, Quarterbacks
- 2004 to 2006: Chicago Bears, Offensive Quality Control, Wide Receivers
- 2007 to 2009: Central Michigan, Offensive Coordinator & Quarterbacks Coach
- 2010 to 2012: Cincinnati, Offensive Coordinator & Quarterbacks Coach
- 2013 to 2014: Tennessee, Offensive Coordinator & Quarterbacks Coach
- 2015 to 2018: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Quarterbacks Coach
- 2019: Boston College, Offensive Coordinator & Quarterbacks Coach
- 2020: Northwestern University, Offensive Coordinator & Quarterbacks Coach
Northwestern opens the 2020 season with a Big Ten battle against Michigan State in East Lansing on Saturday, September 5, and hosts a local slate highlighted by a return to historic Wrigley Field on November 7 to host Wisconsin. Season ticket information is available by calling 888-GO-PURPLE.