BY JEREMY HOECK
University of South Dakota athletic director David Herbster made clear Wednesday that no, football coach Joe Glenn is not going anywhere, and yes, certain things need to be addressed.
Herbster was in Yankton on Wednesday to speak at the Yankton Quarterback Club luncheon, and spent the first five minutes of his 30-minute conversation talking about the state of the football program. The Coyotes went 2-10 this past season, including 0-8 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference — their second winless league season in three years.
Following his speech, Herbster sat down with the Press & Dakotan for a candid chat about the football program.
During your speech, you talked about Joe Glenn’s commitment to staying on to “finish this out.”
He is committed. Joe’s a national championship coach, and he knows what he’s doing. This hasn’t been easy on him and certainly hasn’t been easy on the staff. He doesn’t like to lose, I don’t like to lose; we both want to win. If you look at the squad, we return starters at every single position. The player development and the future of the program is in the kids. If you look at what we’ve got coming back, wow, that side is promising. We always say, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day.’ You’d have to look back at our record before Joe got here and where the wins and losses came from. And then really take a look at where we’re winning and losing now. It doesn’t help that you’re trying to build a program in the toughest conference in the country.
That’s part of the challenge, isn’t it? Having to build a program in a league with seven ranked teams, five who went to the playoffs.
Absolutely. Getting the traction, getting the recruits in here, playing your system, and being healthy. Let’s be honest. You start the season 2-2, go into a bye week, still fairly healthy, lose at Southern Illinois, and that’s when guys started getting hurt. Everybody gets moved around. And we haven’t developed our depth yet. Our starting center the last few games had never started a game before in his life. It really kind of pinballed back and forth. But you’ve got to be committed to what you know is right, and what the integrity and character of the coach you’ve got, and there’s no question of that with Joe. There have been a lot of conversations that start, ‘You’re 2-10, there has to be change.’ If you change it right now, you set the program back even further. You want to let the maturity and progress continue.
You talked about there being fewer distractions with the program, fewer off-the-field issues. How important was not having some of those things to worry about?
The only distraction we had was losing. When you look at this team at the end of the year, you didn’t have a ton of finger pointing. You didn’t have a ton of drama. You almost wish there was, that you’d have leaders within that group that would step up and challenge everybody. That’s what we need. That’s got to come from within. The players need to look within themselves and don’t be afraid to lead.
Does that come with experience?
It’s a learned trait, it really is. Some are just natural at it, and others it has to be learned. You’d like to thinks your captains would have that about them, and if not, we need to teach them. Take it on your shoulders, that’s what it’s all about.
Are there plans to address the financial support for the football staff, whether salary or added positions?
It will get addressed, it has to be. It’s two-fold. It’s the number of full-time assistants we have; when you don’t have as much as everybody else, you’re asking younger more experienced individuals to do more with less. You’re asking a 24-year-old to act like a 34-year-old and make some of those calls or judgments. And frankly, so does our head coaching salary. It’s the lowest in the league. Missouri State and Youngstown State are looking for a coach, and I’ve got to believe Missouri State is going to up the ante. They were the lowest and then they passed us, and we took the badge of honor. That has to change. Those are the things you ask these guys to do, to be the coaches and mentors for these players. I love our guys to death. I don’t question their work ethic or abilities or knowledge, but there’s just less of them. Those are things we will address. The things we’re doing isn’t like Indiana trying to catch up with Michigan. The gap isn’t so daunting that we can’t manage it. And as soon as you or I win the lottery, it gets done a lot quicker.