March 30, 1940|
|Alma mater||Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo|
|1960–1961||Cal Poly, San Luis Opispo|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1969||Hayward State (DC)|
|2001||Las Vegas Outlaws|
|Head coaching record|
|Accomplishments and honors|
1 NCAA Division I-AA (1980)|
2 Big Sky (1977, 1980)
1 Casque de Diamant 1st division of France (2012)
Jim Criner (born March 30, 1940) is a former American football player and coach. He was the head coach at Boise State University from 1976 to 1982 and at Iowa State University from 1983 to 1986, compiling a career college football head coaching record of 76–46–3 (.620). Criner was also the head coach of the NFL Europe's Scottish Claymores from 1995 to 2000, and the short-lived XFL's Las Vegas Outlaws in 2001.
His 1980 Boise State team won the NCAA Division I-AA Championship and his Scottish Claymores squad won World Bowl IV in 1996. Criner was later a scout for the Kansas City Chiefs of the NFL under head coach Dick Vermeil, whom he assisted at UCLA in the mid-1970s.
Early life and playing career
Born in Lurton, Arkansas, Criner was a four-sport athlete in California at Coachella Valley High School in Thermal. He attended Palo Verde Junior College where he was a junior college All-American at linebacker, then transferred to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, where he was an All-American at linebacker, and also played fullback.
High school football and college assistant coaching
Criner began his career as an assistant to Jim Hanifan at Charter Oak High School (1963), and then was an assistant under head coach Leonard Cohn at Claremont High School (1964) and then was head coach at Clovis High School.
He became a college assistant coach in 1967 at Utah, serving two seasons as the offensive line coach. In 1969, he became the defensive coordinator at Cal State Hayward. In 1970, he became the secondary coach at California for two seasons, and in 1972 moved to BYU for a season. He was the offensive line coach in 1973 at UCLA under Pepper Rodgers and continued under Dick Vermeil in 1974; he moved to linebackers coach in 1975, when UCLA won the Pac-8 title and upset top-ranked Ohio State 23–10 in the Rose Bowl.
Following UCLA's Rose Bowl victory over Ohio State in January 1976, Criner was hired as the head coach at Boise State, replacing Tony Knap, who had departed for UNLV. At the time, Boise State was a strong Division II program in the Big Sky Conference, and had won three consecutive conference titles. The Broncos won the conference title again in Criner's second season in 1977, and the conference moved up to the newly formed Division I-AA in 1978. The Broncos went undefeated in conference in 1979, but were ineligible for the Big Sky title or the I-AA playoffs; they had been placed on probation for improper scouting late in the 1978 season.
Off of probation in 1980, Boise State won the Big Sky title with a 6–1 conference record, and advanced to the four-team I-AA playoffs, and defeated Grambling, 14–9, in the first round (semifinals) in a 22 °F (−6 °C) fog in Boise. The following week they traveled to Sacramento and defeated defending champion Eastern Kentucky 31–29 for the NCAA Division I-AA Championship.
Boise State again went 6–1 in conference in 1981, and tied for first with Idaho State in the Big Sky; both co-champions were invited to the expanded eight-team I-AA playoffs. The Broncos defeated Jackson State on the road, but were defeated at home in the semifinals by Eastern Kentucky. Idaho State won the 1981 national title, defeating Eastern Kentucky the following week. In Criner's seven seasons at Boise State, the Broncos were 34–12 (.739) in conference, and 59–21–1 (.735) overall.
Following the 1982 season at BSU, Criner became the 27th head coach of the Iowa State Cyclones of the Big Eight Conference. He held that position for four seasons, from 1983 until 1986. His career coaching record at Iowa State was 9–17–2 (.357) in conference and 17–25–2 (.409) overall, ranking him 14th at ISU in total wins and 19th in winning percentage. He was fired from this position in 1986,  when the school announced the organization had made 34 allegations of wrongdoing in the football program. Allegations included coaches giving players cash as well as giving recruits rides and meals.
Amiens Spartiates (Spartans), France
2012 1st Division Champion with the Amiens Spartans, France
Criner has three brothers and two sisters; all three of his brothers had prominent sports careers. His son Mark was his defensive coordinator in the XFL for the Las Vegas Outlaws and went on to coach at Cincinnati, Minnesota, and Middle Tennessee State among others. Grandson Calin Criner currently plays football at Eastern Washington University in Cheney.
Head coaching record
|Boise State Broncos (Big Sky Conference) (1976–1982)|
|1980||Boise State||10–3||6–1||1st||W Division I-AA Championship|
|1981||Boise State||10–3||6–1||T–1st||L Division I-AA Semifinal|
|Iowa State Cyclones (Big Eight Conference) (1983–1986)|
|National championship Conference title Conference division title or championship game berth|
Assistant coaches under Jim Criner who became NCAA or NFL head coaches:
- Phil Bennett: SMU (2002–2007)
- John Fox: Carolina Panthers (2002–2010), Denver Broncos (2011–2014), Chicago Bears (2015–2018)
- "Boise St. coach admits to scouting violation". Daily News. Bowling Green, Kentucky. Associated Press. November 16, 1978. p. 4-B.
- "Big Sky's down hard on Boise". Spokesman Review. Associated Press. December 17, 1978. p. B1.
- "Probation slapped on Boise State football". Ellensburg Daily Record. (Washington). UPI. December 18, 1978. p. 7.
- "Defense difference for Boise State". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). Associated Press. December 14, 1980. p. 106.
- "Boise gets title". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. December 22, 1980. p. 28.
- Iowa State Coaching Records Archived 2009-06-21 at WebCite