Nowadays, head coaches are judged in a rather nebulous category of whether they can win a press conference.
Give UCA coach Steve Campbell his first “W” on Friday.
He scored big in every phase.
He raved about the University of Central Arkansas and the Conway community — and put in a huge plug for the giant Christmas tree downtown.
“That’s the first thing that sold Tate (his 8-year-old daughter),” he said. “We were driving about town and she said, ‘Look at that big, beautiful Christmas tree. Daddy, is that the biggest in the world?”
The first thing Campbell reportedly told Dr. Brad Teague, UCA’s Director of Athletics, and Tom Courtway, UCA president, and others on the committee that interviewed him was, “I want my players to graduate.”
“You just don’t hear that from a potential coach right off the bat,” said one UCA official.
Campbell noted at the news conference that of his six former players on current NFL rosters, all have college degrees.
Campbell has a degree in economics and an MBA from Auburn.
Dr. Don Bradley, head of the UCA business school, asked if he would be willing to be a special guest in the classroom.
“I’ve taught before at other places,” he said. “I love the classroom. Any time ... Well, not on game day.”
Although he’ll oversee the football program, he said he also is willing to spend a lot of time in the trenches.
As an assistant coach at several stops, he was rated as one of the best offensive line coaches around.
During the news conference, he rapidly spouted off fundamental drills that he loves.
“I’m a trenches guy,” he said. “I believe to be successful, you’ve got to be successful in the offensive line. I don’t want to give up the trenches.”
He’s coached teams to national championship at Delta State and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. He stayed at the junior college 10 years, winning 88 percent of his games. He reportedly had offers or was a major candidate for several head coaching jobs, some in the Southland Conference.
He stayed at MGCCC so two of his children, Kelsie (21) and Steven Jr. (22), both now in college, could have a stable high school environment.
He has a commitment to football and family.
His daughter, Tate, was so named because he and his wife, Shellie, met in the 10th grade at Tate High School in Pensacola, Fla.
And his wife is an integral part of his program.
“She is the best coach’s wife you could ever hope for,” he said. “She has been our cheerleader sponsor for 10 years, and she gets them going. When the other team has the ball and they are cheering ‘defense, defense,’ they are cheering really hard because she has a vested interest in it. This is a family deal.”
Just hours into his job at UCA, he and his family appear all in.
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 501-505-1235 or email@example.com or follow him on twitter @dmaclcd)