Jon Anderson named football coach at WVSU
INSTITUTE, W.Va. - Jon Anderson tugged the brim of his black West Virginia State hat to make sure it was snug before making his first remarks as a college football head coach Tuesday afternoon.
In front of a packed Grand Hall inside the Erickson Alumni Center on the Institute campus, Anderson said: "The opportunity to build something is very enticing to me."
The 36-year-old Iowa native, who spent the past 11 seasons as an assistant at NAIA power the University of Sioux Falls (S.D.), takes over a West Virginia State football program coming off four consecutive losing seasons.
Earl Monroe was fired last month after compiling a 25-47 in seven seasons.
State President Brian Hemphill and Athletic Director Sean Loyd went 1,000 miles West to find their next coach.
"I can tell you we had an exhaustive search process ... and interviewed a lot of phenomenal coaches," Hemphill said. "But at the end of the day we knew we had found the person to come here ... and take us to the point where we should be as a football program."
Anderson, the 13th coach in program history, was USF's defensive coordinator the past three seasons. He left a winning program that went 134-26 with three national championships with him on staff.
"I had a great job in Sioux Falls," Anderson said. "I was not looking for a head coaching job. They found me and sold me on the vision and the opportunities here to lay a foundation, to start something special and to be able to do it from the ground up."
Anderson will get that chance. State has had four winning seasons in football since 1983.
In the past four seasons, the Yellow Jackets went a combined 6-35, including 3-28 the past three years.
State was 2-9 overall and 1-7 in West Virginia Conference play last season. Anderson will lead the program into the new Mountain East Conference.
He spoke to a large audience Tuesday afternoon, which included about 35 football players.
Anderson said he's working at assembling a coaching staff, and he'll immediately start recruiting. He wants to start in the state and branch out regionally.
"I told the guys, offensively, my expectation would be to hire a great offensive coordinator and let him do his thing," Anderson said. "I do believe in running the football and I do believe in the ability to change tempo as far as no-huddle, but we won't pigeonhole ourselves right now into a specific scheme.
"Defensively, I can speak a little bit further on that because of my background and comfort level. I love the versatility of what we're going to do on defense. We're going to be multiple.
"On both sides of the football we're going to work really hard to develop a physical nature."
Sioux Falls went 9-2 in 2012. In his first season as defensive coordinator in 2010, Anderson's unit led the nation in scoring defense (8.5 points per game), total defense (206.1 yards per game) and pass defense (113 yards per game).
West Virginia State was last in the conference in scoring defense (42.4 points per game) and next to last in total defense (436.7 yards per game) this past season.
"I take it very seriously moving our family to where we're at all the way here," Anderson said. "I wouldn't do that, I wouldn't bring the staff that we're working to bring here, unless I fully believed that success was right around the corner."
Contact sports editor Chuck McGill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-7949.