EDMOND — Central Oklahoma has hired one of its tough old fullbacks to turn around its storied football program.
Well, Nick Bobeck is not that old — just age 31 — but he is an authoritative guy who expects success, which are reasons why the former Broncho was announced Wednesday as the new head coach of the NCAA Division II program. The second floor of the Wantland Stadium press box was jammed with administrators, alums from the days of UCO football glory, Bobeck's former teammates and current players who have already returned from the holiday break.
“Driving through campus, seeing some of the changes since I've been here, you can see so much progress. Then you get to Wantland Stadium and see how much it's changed — I can't wait to see that kind of change on the football field here,” Bobeck said.
“We have a lot of blue collar people here in Oklahoma. We don't quit until we get what we want. We can be stubborn. That's the way I was raised. That's what I want to put back into this program.”
Bobeck has spent the last four seasons as head coach at Navarro Junior College in Corsicana, Texas, where his teams were 42-5, won the 2010 national championship and three other bowl games. He replaces Tracy Holland, who was fired in December after four years. The Bronchos struggled to a 4-18 record over the last two seasons under Holland, who had taken over a program in 2008 that had just been placed on probation.
Bobeck is in charge of a program that is now free of NCAA sanctions but eight months away from beginning its first season as a member of the powerful Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association. The MIAA produced the Division II national champion in 2011, Pittsburg State (Kan.).
Central Oklahoma athletic director Joe Muller told The Oklahoman the day of Holland's firing that it was time to make a change; he wanted the football program to compete at a level it will take to win in the MIAA.
THE NICK BOBECK FILE
*Family: Married to Keely, a Dripping Springs, Texas, native. The Bobecks are expecting their first child, a boy.
*High school: Starred as a quarterback and linebacker on the Beaver football team; helped the Dusters' basketball team reach the Class A state tournament at The Big House.
*College: Lettered over the 1999-2002 seasons for Central Oklahoma. The fullback was a first-team selection to the All-Lone Star Conference North Division squad as a senior.
*Coaching: Spent three seasons (2003-05) as a graduate assistant coach at UCO. He was an offensive line coach during the 2006 season at Texas A&M. Bobeck was hired in 2007 as Navarro Junior College's offensive coordinator. He took over as Navarro's head coach in 2008, In four seasons, he guided the Bulldogs to a 42-5 record, the 2010 National Junior College Athletic Association championship and three bowl victories.
*Did you know? Although Bobeck played all four seasons at UCO, he did not get his first carry until his senior season. That went for a 2-yard touchdown run in a win over Northeastern State. ... As a player, he wore No. 45, which was retired in 2010 by UCO to honor its numerous star players who used that jersey.
COMPILED BY SCOTT MUNN
TENTATIVE 2012 UCO FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Aug. 30 or Sept. 1: Missouri Southern
Sept. 8: at Pittsburg State (Kan.)
Sept. 15: at Emporia State (Kan.)
Sept. 22: Washburn (Kan.)
Sept. 29: at Missouri Western
Oct. 6: Northwest Missouri State
Oct. 13: at Central Missouri
Oct. 20: Open
Oct. 27: at Lincoln (Mo.)
Nov. 3: Southwest Baptist (Mo.)
Nov. 10: Northeastern State
Source: Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association