Joe Glenn, 62, has always extolled a positive, upbeat message, whether coaching, congregating with family or friends, addressing the public or just living his life. He always has lived the ideal of "being a good guy."
That positive message was on display as Glenn was named The University of South Dakota's 29th head football coach at press announcement on Monday Dec. 6 on the Vermillion campus. Once a player and assistant coach for the Coyotes, Glenn's career has come full circle as he takes over the reins of the state's most storied football program as it begins a new era as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference.
From all appearances, the arrival of Glenn appears to be a perfect fit. A high-motivation guy who loves USD, he now gets to talk the Coyote talk and walk the Coyote walk in Coyote land.
“Somebody come pinch me," said Glenn, who graduated from USD in 1971. "Words can’t express how I feel right now. It’s a Kodak moment for me. This is full circle. How proud can I be? You couldn’t have picked a more proud person to have this position,” said Glenn, who played wide receiver and quarterback for Joe Salem's Coyotes from 1967-70.“I promise you this – one of things I looked at, when they offered me the job, was you have a chance to go back to your university and do something that they’re asking you to do and go to it with every fiber you have in your body and with all you’ve got. Here I am, and I am so proud to be USD’s football coach," Glenn said at the USD press conference.
He is all in.
After moving the press conference to laughter several times in a 15-minute or so talk, Glenn had those gathered feeling like they might like to put on the red and white. He called out former teammates (in attendance) and told each person there that he would love to go around and hug them all. At the close of his remarks he asked everyone in attendance, including the media, to stand and join him in a sing-along of USD's fight song,
It looks like Coyote Nation is all in.
A quick snapshot of the past 10 days shows a University of South Dakota administration setting its target on Glenn and selling him on taking over the head coaching duties. USD Director of Athletics David Sayler, beginning just his second year at the state's flagship university, noted at the presser that Glenn was the primary candidate. He fit what USD wanted in a coach as a new era in the Missouri Valley Conference begins. After a few meetings with Sayler and Associate AD David Herbster, Glenn agreed to take the job. USD had their guy - the right guy.
Glenn wasn't the "young gun" that some might have thought might be the choice for the Coyote program. Instead he was a semi-retired former coach working as a TV color analyst for WAC Sports Network that featured a long list of credentials, likely much more than any potential coach could bring to the job.
How many Coyote Hall of Fame coaches have returned to coach at USD? I can tell you? None.
Glenn, who was inducted into the Coyote Hall in 2006, has led two programs to national titles (three overall), won conference championships (six), posted 17 winning seasons in 25 coaching seasons, and earned significant respect from his peers and those who watched him near or far.
It is a pertinent question if Glenn is too long in the tooth to do a job that demands relentless energy and get up and go.
Yet, I think, if you heard his passion on Monday, the answer is an resounding "no." http://www.youtube.com/user/SouthDakotaSID?feature=mhee#p/c/0/M_mZyZ_9o8Y
Or just listen to his new boss, Sayler, who addressed the age factor in a comment reported by Mick Garry of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.
"If anyone spends five minutes with Joe, you know he doesn't seem like he's 62. He's going to tackle everything with the same ambition and the same passion he had when he was younger. I have no concern about his age whatsoever. That's the last thing on my concern list of anything that's out there about this process. I think the team is going to feed off his energy," said Sayler, who in tapping Glenn made his first major personnel move as AD at USD.
A native of Lincoln, Neb., Glenn's football coaching career began shortly after his graduation from USD and after serving two years in the U.S. Army after receiving an ROTC Military Commission. He returned to campus as a backfield coach for Joe Salem in 1974, helping leading USD to an 8-3 record and 7-2 and a tie for first place in the North Central Conference. In that season, USD defeated a future Glenn employer, Montana, 24-10, but the season ended without a playoff berth.
Glenn left his Alma Mater after earning a Master's degree in 1975, moving to Northern Arizona where he served as backfield coach for Salem, who had taken the head job in Flagstaff. Almost a year later, Glenn was named the head football coach at Doane College in Crete, Neb., becoming its youngest head college football coach at the tender age of 27. He fashioned a 21-18-1 record at Doane College before moving on to Montana as quarterbacks coach, wide receivers coach and offensive coordinator from 1980-85.
In 1987, he was hired as the quarterbacks and kicking coach for Northern Colorado, eventually moving up to head coach by 1989. At UNC, he led the Bears to the DII playoffs seven times, winning DII national titles in 1996 and 1998. His Bears were just the fourth DII squad to repeat as national champions. While there, he had a 98-35 (.737) record, including a 70-28 (.714) mark in the North Central Conference. He directed the Bears to three straight titles from 1997 to 1999.
Glenn moved onto Montana, where he led the Grizzlies to a 39-6 record, which included a 20-2 mark in the Big Sky Conference. He directed Montana to Big Sky titles in 2000 and 2001, tying for the league crown in 2002. While there, his Grizzlies advanced to the NCAA DI-AA championship game twice (2000, 2001), winning the national title in 2001 as the team fashioned a 15-1 mark. Overall at Montana, Glenn had a .867 winning percentage, which ranks best in the Big Sky Conference history. His Grizzlies had a 24-game winning streak during 2001 and 2002, which tied the I-AA all-time mark.
He moved onto Wyoming, where he made things happen quickly. In his second season, the Cowboys went 7-5, winning the Pioneer Pure Vision Las Vegas Bowl (24-21 over UCLA) in 2004). It was Wyoming's first bowl appearance in 11 seasons. However the following years were frustrating as the program couldn't finding footing in the WAC. He had a 30-41-1 mark at Wyoming, which ended its association with Glenn in 2008.
Yet, Glenn had some big accomplishments as the Cowboys' leader.
~Wyoming recorded its first win in history over a Southeastern Conference (SEC) school in the 2004 season with a 37-32 win over Ole Miss.
~The Cowboys also posted their first road win ever over an SEC team when, in 2005, the Pokes traveled to Oxford, Miss., and defeated the Ole Miss Rebels 24-14.
~Wyoming posted a 2-1 record versus BCS conference schools in 2004, defeating UCLA and Ole Miss, losing only at Texas A&M.
~Two of Glenn's former Cowboys were selected finalists for the National Football Foundation's (NFF) Draddy Trophy, which is called the "Academic Heisman", and awarded annually to the top football scholar-athlete in the country. Fewer than 20 student-athletes from all levels of college football are selected as finalists for the trophy each year. Both Trenton Franz (2004) and John Wendling (2006) were Draddy finalists. Both received postgraduate scholarships from the National Football Foundation.
In addition, Glenn's resume includes numerous honors from his peers, including his selection as the Big Sky Conference Co-Coach of the Year in 2002, an honor he shared and won for three years straight. He was also named the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division I-AA Region 5 Coach of the Year in 2002, marking the second consecutive season he earned that honor.
In 2000, Glenn received the Eddie Robinson Award from The Sports Network as the Division I-AA National Coach of the Year. He was named the AFCA Division II National Coach of the Year (1996, 1997) while at UNC. In 2000, the Denver Post selected him one of Colorado's "Greatest Coaches of the 1990s."
When SD made the move away from Coach Meierkort about two weeks ago, Glenn seemed like a perfect choice. But, would he take the job?
His answer turned out to be yes. Giving back and leading his Alma Mater proved to draw him in like a bee to honey.
For Glenn to move from the warm, sunny climate of Arizona for the unpredictable hot and cold temps of the Midwest, may seem a little odd. But for Glenn, who weighed the decision with family before moving forward, it was about coming home and giving back to the school that has always meant a lot to him.
“Words can’t express how I feel right now,” Glenn said at the USD presser. “This is a Kodak moment for me. It’s full circle, especially to come back to the university where you played and coached with Joe Salem. I want to thank President Jim Abbott, Athletic Director David Sayler and Senior Associate Athletic Director David Herbster for showing the confidence in me and for believing my leadership and experience can help at this university.”
Glenn, who has a 188-100-1 overall coaching mark, takes over a program that was hardly treading water. The Coyotes, while losing 23 seniors, had a 6-5 mark and played for the Great West Conference Championship, twice this season, losing in heart-breaking fashion both times. USD was 54-35 over the past eight seasons under Ed Meierkort, including a remarkable 40-5 mark at the DakotaDome..
Now the Coyotes head into the Missouri Valley Conference, where they will strap up with rivals South Dakota State and North Dakota State.
Glenn has already named current Offensive Coordinator Wesley Beschorner to the same position and added the title of Associate Head Coach. It is likely he will also retain Adam Breske, whose dad, Mike (now defensive coordinator at Montana), worked for Glenn at Northern Colorado, Montana. and Wyoming.
Glenn knows the value of a good staff and credits them for a program's success, just as he did at Wyoming.
"One of the keys to our success has been the quality of individuals on our coaching staff. I believe to have continued success that it is critical to not only attract the best coaches possible, but to also keep them together as a staff. I'm so proud of the job our coaches have done, and I am thankful that they have chosen to stay together as a group. I feel very lucky to have my staff," Glenn said in his coaching bio at Wyoming.
He has always developed strong relationships with players and coaches by utilizing a positive reinforcing message. On his Wyoming bio, he said he had one rule for his players --"Be A Good Guy."
As the players, and others get to know Glenn has his friends and many others have, they will understand that he practices what he preaches.
“A lot of places, like Alabama maybe, can have the power thing where you can do whatever you want with people and make them do things out of fear. Or, you can make some people love some place, you can make people love what they do, make people love each other, make people love their colors, their name on the front and their name on the back, love the game they’re playing, the school they’re at, make them love to compete. . . you intrinsically make them love who they are and where they’re at. You make them feel good about all those things and you have a motivated athlete," said Glenn.
In truth, I don't know Joe Glenn, other than what I have observed and heard from others (like his son Casey and several of his teammates) that are close to him. But, I think in my observations that I see a good guy. And, college football needs "good guys" like Joe Glenn.
Welcome home Joe.
Media Coverage of Glenn Announcement --
Here are a few links of the many media outlets that reported on Glenn's hiring at USD. They range from Sports Illustrated to the Washington Post to news outlets in Colorado and Wyoming and locally. This is just a small sampling.