Jan. 10, 2003
PULLMAN, Wash. - George Yarno, an 11-year National Football League veteran and former defensive lineman for Washington State is returning to his alma mater, WSU head coach Bill Doba announced Friday. Yarno will tutor the WSU offensive linemen.
The Spokane native who earned All-West Coast honors as a defensive lineman for the Cougars in the 1970's, also began his coaching career at WSU with a four-year stint as offensive line coach, 1991-94.
"We are really happy to get George," Doba commented. "I think I was most impressed by the change in his persona, the way he teaches players. When he was here earlier George Yarno was a player and a coach. Now he is a coach and a teacher. I think our players will be able to relate to him and there will be instant credibility because of his professional and playing career. I think they will really enjoy the way George teaches kids."
A 1975 graduate of Ferris High in Spokane, Yarno was a standout in three sports during his Greater Spokane League career, including all-conference first team honors in football. In his only varsity baseball season, he also received all-city first team honors. As a wrestler he finished seventh at the State meet.
Yarno started for WSU for three years, 1976-77-78, chalking up 232 career tackles, fifth on the Cougar career list. He was a nose guard and tackle and in 1977 and 1978 received All-West Coast and All-Pacific-10 Conference recognition. He was recruited and played for Jim Sweeney at WSU, then played for Cougar coaches Jackie Sherrill (1976), Warren Powers (1977) and Jim Walden (1978).
"I've wanted to come back to the area," Yarno explained about his return. "Also, my wife is pretty settled in the area as a teacher at Lewiston High School. I've always loved Washington State and this opportunity came up and allowed me to return. When I first coached at Washington State I had just finished playing the month before. I was really more of a player than a coach then, but now I think I am more of a coach and I try to be a teacher. I have mellowed with age, but I am still very competitive."
"I'm excited about the future," Yarno said looking ahead to the 2003 season. "WSU has a great group of linemen coming back next season and I've been told they have great work ethic. All the things you need in offensive linemen they possess and hopefully I can add some things, help them mature and grow, and be a dominant group in the Pac-10 next year."
Signed as a free agent in May of 1979 by Tampa Bay, Yarno embarked on a 13-year professional career as an offensive lineman, eight with the Tampa Bay Bucs. In his first season in the NFL, he played in the National Football Conference title game with the Bucs.
Following his first five years with Tampa Bay, Yarno played two years with the Denver Gold of the new United States Football League (USFL), then returned to Tampa Bay and the NFL in 1985 for three more years. He finished up his NFL career with Atlanta in 1988, Houston in 1989 and Green Bay in 1990.
Yarno then joined Mike Price's Cougar staff in May of 1991, coaching the WSU offensive line for the next four years. During his first stint with WSU, the Cougars played in the 1992 Copper Bowl and 1994 Alamo Bowl.
In 1995 Yarno joined the coaching staff at the University of Idaho, where his brother John had earned All-America honors as a center in the mid-1970's. He served as head coach Chris Tormey's offensive coordinator and also coached the Vandal offensive linemen for three seasons.
Yarno spent the next two years at the University of Houston, where he was head coach Kim Helton's assistant head coach and offensive line coach. From there he spent a year on Bruce Snyder's Arizona State staff, 2000, then was with head coach Nick Saban at Louisiana State for two seasons before joining the Cougars.
Yarno and wife Cindy have three children, Josh, Adrianne and George.