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Couch Family Endows Football Coaching Position
Stanford's defensive backs coaching position now endowed thanks to gift from George '69 and Debra Couch
Stanford announced Wednesday that its defensive backs coaching position has been endowed by a gift from George '69 and Debra Couch.
"I am blessed beyond words for the Couch family's extraordinary generosity, and the confidence it reflects in our football program," said Duane Akina, Stanford's first Couch Family Defensive Backs Coach. "It will enable us to continue our tradition of providing leadership and development for our student-athletes to achieve success on the field and in the classroom."
A 37-year coaching veteran, Akina joined the Stanford staff in 2014. The 2017 season marks his fourth on the Farm.
"We are very grateful to the Couch family for their generosity," said Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football David Shaw. "I am humbled and very pleased that our success on the field, success in the classroom, and the way we represent Stanford University can inspire feelings of joy from our alumni. We are honored to have to the Couch name permanently associated with our program, and we will work to make them proud of what we do on and off the field."
George Couch earned his bachelor's degree in economics from Stanford. Following his time at Stanford, the avid golfer attended business school at Harvard and has been a football season ticket holder for more than 25 years. Couch and his family have been very supportive of several non-profits in the Monterey and Bay areas. George is the chairman and president of Couch Distributing Company, the largest independent beverage distributor in California's Central Coast.
"Stanford Athletics, and the tremendous success of the football program in particular, has been for me a source of great excitement and many thrills," Couch said. "As a Stanford graduate, I am especially proud of the high integrity of our programs and the unparalleled quality of our student-athletes.
"Coach Shaw and his staff have taken our football program beyond my wildest expectations. I could think of no better way to say thanks for the great memories and the exciting future than to make this commitment. Stanford, after all, played an important role in my family's ability to create this endowment. We are very proud to have Duane Akina be the first person in this role."
Akina has coached three Thorpe Award winners, six Thorpe finalists and 33 defensive backs who have played in the NFL—including six Pro Bowlers, eight Super Bowl participants and 12 All-Americans. Akina coached in 23 bowl games.
Akina's secondary has enjoyed success at Stanford. In 2016, it included two fifth-year senior safeties who provided the cornerstone of a deep and athletic unit. All-Pac-12 honorable mention safety Dallas Lloyd accounted for a team-high five of Stanford's 14 interceptions, including a pair to help secure Stanford's Sun Bowl win over North Carolina. Lloyd's total ranked 13th nationally and second among Pac-12 defenders. He was joined on the All-Pac-12 team by honorable mention selections Quenton Meeks and Justin Reid.
Anchored by All-Pac-12 second team defensive back Ronnie Harris, Akina's secondary in 2015 included starting safeties Kodi Whitfield and Lloyd, who each transitioned from offense. The Cardinal posted the league's fifth-best passing efficiency defense (123.96) and third-best total defense (368.3). Stanford's secondary allowed only 6.76 yards/pass attempt while picking off eight, led by Meeks' team-best three interceptions. Meeks added a pick-six in the Rose Bowl win over Iowa.
In Akina's first season in 2014, Stanford finished second nationally in scoring defense and eighth in passing defense. The Cardinal allowed only one passing score in nine games, including a stretch of five with zero. Stanford forced the same number of interceptions as passing touchdowns allowed (12). Strong safety Jordan Richards led the Cardinal with three interceptions and forced three fumbles, and was awarded the 2014 National Football Foundation's Scholar-Athlete Award. Richards was a first team All-Pac-12 selection and finished his career with nine interceptions.
Akina came to Stanford from Texas, where he spent 13 seasons on defense while developing an impressive number of NFL defensive backs. Akina's secondary helped Texas rank among the nation's top 10 in pass defense six times and featured consecutive Thorpe Award winners Michael Huff (2005) and Aaron Ross (2006) to go along with finalists in Earl Thomas (2009) and Quentin Jammer (2001) and 14 first team All-Big 12 picks.
Akina earned titles of assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator in Austin.
Prior to Texas, Akina spent 14 years at Arizona (1987–2000). He started as the defensive backs coach and was named associate head coach before spending four years as the offensive coordinator. He resumed defensive coordinator duties shortly before his departure.
Akina helped guide Arizona's famed "Desert Swarm" defense, one of the nation's most aggressive and productive groups. He coached 1990 Jim Thorpe Award winner Darryll Lewis and finalist Chris McAlister. Lewis went on to a 10-year NFL career and was a Pro Bowler for the San Diego Chargers. McAlister earned a spot in the 2004 Pro Bowl and was a member of the 2000 Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
Akina also spent five years at Hawaii (1981–85) following a graduate assistant role at his alma mater, Washington (1979–80).
His one season at the professional level came in 1986 when he served as the defensive backs coach for Calgary in the Canadian Football League.
A native of Hawaii, Akina graduated from Washington in 1979. He earned three letters as a quarterback for the Huskies.
Akina and his wife, Donna, have five children—Kainoa, Keoni, Dionicia, Alli and Kamalii.
This article first appeared on GoStanford.com.