WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Turning Around Leatherneck Football

Dec 19, 2012

Western Illinois University has a new football coach who has a history of turning around struggling programs.

Bob Nielson inherited a poor program at the University of Minnesota-Duluth in 1999.  While there, he led the team to six playoff appearances and two national championships.  

New WIU Head Football Coach Bob Nielson
Credit Jonathan Ahl

Now the Marion, Iowa native will take over the WIU program that won only five games over the past two seasons.

"I enjoy building, and if you look at my track record, you can see there has been situations where I have taken over programs that needed a little push forward,” Nielson said during his introductory press conference Wednesday afternoon at WIU.

"That part of the situation here didn’t scare me.  As a matter of fact, maybe, moreso than some coaches, it excited me about the potential here.”

Nielson has also been head coach at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Wartburg College and Ripon College.

Nielson said any team that can be competitive in the Missouri Valley Conference also has a legitimate shot at a national championship, which seems to be part of the expectations of WIU President Jack Thomas.

"We have found a coach who will help us showcase our football program. More importantly, we have found a coach that will help us win games, and to win national championships," said Dr. Thomas.

Nielson said his first priorities are to get his coach staff in place and continue the recruiting work that is already underway for next season.