Photos from Army football practice on Friday, Aug. 5, 2011.
Payam Saadat was named Army's co-defensive coordinator shortly after Rich Ellerson's hiring as head coach in January 2009. Saadat is responsible for coordinating the Black Knights' defensive front seven, including the defensive line, the middle linebacker and Army's hybrid defensive ends/outside linebackers.
A member of Ellerson's staff at Cal Poly for five years, Saadat held the title of defensive coordinator for the Mustangs in his last three seasons. Saadat mentored the Cal Poly linebackers during the first of his two tours in San Luis Obispo in 1996 and 1997 before returning to Cal Poly as linebackers coach for the 2004 season. He was promoted to full-time assistant status in 2005 and was named the Mustangs' defensive coordinator in March 2006. He also oversaw Cal Poly's defensive linemen in 2008.
Saadat's influence over the Army defense was felt immediately. In his first season at West Point, the Black Knights finished the year ranked 16th in the nation in total defense, 35th in scoring defense and third in pass defense. Defensive end Josh McNary set the Academy record for quarterback sacks on game, season and career levels.
In 2010, the Black Knights again stood among the nation's leaders, ranking 29th in total defense and third in the country in turnover margin. Army's 30 takeaways tied for the 12th most in the nation. The Black Knights held four of their 2010 opponents to 21 points or less, including the program's first shutout since 2005.
Saadat helped mentor one of the youngest defenses in recent Black Knights history in 2011. Despite having five plebes start at least one game and numerous others play key roles, the Army defense ranked fifth in the nation against the pass and 43rd in total defense. Army registered a shutout for the second straight season and held three opponents to 14 points or less.
A native of Santa Monica, Calif., Saadat lettered as a standout linebacker at Washington State University before graduating in 1994 with a bachelor's degree in biology. He helped lead the team to a Copper Bowl berth in 1992 and a spot in the Alamo Bowl during his final campaign. Saadat earned Washington State team awards for courage, inspiration and strength that season as well.
Saadat began his coaching career during undergraduate days at Washington State, working with the Cougars' inside linebackers in his redshirt season in 1993. He would go on to a similar role at Santa Monica College following graduation (1995). During his first coaching stint at Cal Poly, he earned his master's degree in kinesiology in 1998.
Saadat departed Cal Poly following the 1997 season and signed on at Western Washington University, where he worked with the defensive line and special teams for six years (1998-2003). He also served as the Vikings' recruiting coordinator and an assistant strength and conditioning coach during that stretch. Saadat accepted a position as defensive line coach at Saint Mary's in January 2004 before the school dropped football two months later. Shortly thereafter, he began a long association with Ellerson on the staff at Cal Poly.
During Saadat's first season in San Luis Obispo in 2004, Cal Poly's defense ranked first nationally in rushing defense, allowing opponents just 84.3 yards rushing per game, and ninth in scoring defense (16.6 ppg.) The Mustangs also established single season school records in quarterback sacks (50) and interceptions (25). Cal Poly ranked first and second nationally, in those categories, respectively, that season.
Cal Poly increased its school-record sack total to 62 the following year (2005) and retained its No. 1 national ranking in the category. The Mustangs also listed 14th nationally in rushing defense, 13th in scoring defense and 22nd in total defense that year. In 2006, the Mustangs finished sixth nationally in total defense (248.27) and were ranked in the top 20 in five other defensive categories (third in pass defense, fourth in sacks, fifth in tackles for lost yardage, 10th in scoring defense and 19th in rushing defense).
The Mustangs closed the 2008 season ranked second in quarterback sacks (3.36 per game) and tied for 42nd in tackles for loss (6.36).
Payam and his wife, Erica, have three children: daughter, Rowan Svea, and sons, Shyan Mahtais and Ashkan Odin.