HEAD COACH TYSON HELTON
WKU head coach Tyson
Helton was voted 2019
Conference USA Coach
of the Year, the league
office announced on Dec.
11. Helton is the first
Hilltopper head coach
in 19 seasons to win
the honor, since Jack
Harbaugh was the Ohio
Valley Conference Coach
of the Year in 2000.
Tyson and his father, Kim Helton (Houston in 1996 –
with Tyson on the team as a freshman), are the only
father-son duo to each be named Coach of the Year
in C-USA’s 25-year history in any sport. The Heltons
are the first father-son duo to earn Coach of the
Year honors in any FBS league since the Bowdens –
Tommy (Clemson in 2003) and Bobby (Florida State in
1993 and 1997) – in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
This is only the sixth conference Coach of the Year
honor in program history, with the previouslymentioned
Harbaugh, Jimmy Feix (1973, 1978 and
1980) and Nick Denes (1963) as the only other WKU
head coaches to earn the recognition.
Helton helped lead WKU to an 8-4 record in his first
season as a collegiate head coach after inheriting a
Hilltopper team that finished with a 3-9 mark in 2018.
At a five-game improvement, WKU owns the third-best
turnaround in the nation this year. The Hilltoppers were
voted to finish fifth in the East in the preseason C-USA
poll, but concluded the year tied for second with a 6-2
WKU boasts notable wins over four bowl teams (9-4
UAB, 7-5 Southern Miss, 7-5 Charlotte and 6-6 FIU)
and collected one of the two C-USA victories over a
Power Five opponent this season; a 45-19 statement
win at Arkansas in which the Hilltoppers led 35-7 at
halftime. The Hilltoppers also claimed a 17-8 win over
Army, a game in which WKU “out-Armyed Army” –
winning the time of possession battle 38-to-22 and
outrushing the Black Knights 225-to-137.
Helton was named WKU’s 21st head football coach on
Nov. 27, 2018. He returned to the school three years
removed from the 2015 football season that ended
with WKU’s final Associated Press ranking of 24 –
the highest in school history – and a school-record
12 victories, including the first-ever FBS conference
championship. Helton was WKU’s offensive coordinator
and quarterbacks coach in both 2014 and 2015.
During his three years away from the program, Helton
spent two seasons at USC as the passing game
coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Helton developed
quarterback Sam Darnold into an All-Pac-12 First
Team quarterback and the No. 3 overall selection in
the 2018 NFL Draft by the New York Jets. Immediately
prior to his return to The Hill as head coach, Helton
was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach
at Tennessee in 2018. He also has previous coaching
stops at Cincinnati, UAB, Memphis and Hawai’i.
Helton played quarterback at Houston (1996-99),
where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business in
1999, after starring at Clements High in Sugar Land,
Texas. Helton and his wife, April, have two daughters,
Shelby Grace and Presley, and twin boys, Cole and