To say new University of Central Arkansas coach Steve Campbell has been in a 24-day whirlwind is an understatement.
It’s been more like a F5 tornado with constructive, rather than destructive, effects.
Since he was introduced as football coach, Campbell has hired 10 assistant coaches and plus a strength and conditioning coach, has moved his family to Conway, has gotten recruiting back on track and helped coordinate two group recruiting visits, has enrolled his eighth-grader in school and has assembled a new keychain.
He’s a veteran high-energy guy who has formed a staff with a mix of young high-energy guys and older high-energy guys.
The Conway community got a chance to meet his new staff Monday night and at first blush, and on paper, it appears one of the best ever assembled at UCA. The prevailing question when you glance at the resumes is not “why did he hire this guy,” but “how did he get this guy?”
Several originated from long-term relationships and coaches who had either coached together before or competed against each other wanting an opportunity to form a new dynamic. A lot of it was coaches who had coached in bowl games at other schools wanting to go to a place where there thought there is a realistic chance to win a national championship.
One of the best examples of the new dynamic is Robert Stiner Jr., the Bears’ new strength and conditioning coach who comes to UCA after serving as the assistant strength and conditioning coach at Mississippi State.
He came quickly. Really quickly
Campbell wanted the best one available because the strength and conditioning coach is allowed to spend more time working with, relating to and motivating players (particularly during the offseason and summer) than any other coach.
Campbell said he contacted several friends and coaches throughout the country and was told by many that the best, best-organized and best-run strength and conditioning program in the Southeastern Conference, and one of the best in the country was at Mississippi State.
In talking to Matt Balis, the head strength and conditioning coach at MSU at the time who is now headed for UConn, Campbell was told “I got just the man for you. He’s my right-hand man.”
Two of Campbell’s former players at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College play for Mississippi State.
He called them.
“They told me, ‘Coach, he works the dog out of us. If you can hire this guy, hire him.’” Campbell said.
After Stiner agreed to take the job, he was in Memphis for the Liberty Bowl and left quickly after the game to drive to Conway to work out the final details of his employment.
Campbell expected him to return to Starkville and was ready to set a time for him to start duties.
“He told me, ‘Coach, I’ve already bought a place, moved in and I’ve got a cot. When’s work?’”
It’s apparent that this new UCA staff has not only hit the ground running; they are sprinting.
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 501-505-1235 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @dmaclcd)