If the Nicholls State University football team were a gumbo, it would be a bland, bitter-tasting bunch that everyone at the table would spit into their napkins as soon as the roux first entered their mouths. This is what happens when one wins just 10 games in 5 years – most of those wins coming against smaller-tier opponents.
But finally, the program has the right chef in place – a guy with the magic recipe the Colonels need to spice a few things up and build a savory, delicious brand of football that this community can enjoy.
The Colonels hired UL-Lafayette assistant coach Tim Rebowe this week to be the team’s head football coach.
Rebowe’s hire comes after his second flirtation with the job. He applied and was a finalist for the job in 2010 but was passed over when the team hired Charlie Stubbs.
Five years have passed, and the Stubbs hire didn’t work out like it was planned. Now finally in control in Thibodaux, we fully think that Rebowe possesses all of the qualities needed to turn Nicholls around in the coming seasons.
And it all starts with recruiting.
The Nicholls’ football roster simply isn’t up to par. The team has some quality players, but they just don’t have the depth of talent that other programs in the Southland Conference possess. It’s obvious. Just look at the size of Nicholls’ players compared to other players in the league. It’s like night and day. The Colonels’ guys are smaller, slower and less versatile – something that needs to change.
Stubbs was a great X’s and O’s coach, but he was never much of a recruiter. His conservative, no-nonsense philosophy never was appealing to the 18-year-old high school kids that he attempted to lure into the program.
But Rebowe is different. He is a whale of a recruiter with that little twinkle of charisma to sway some better, more talented players to Nicholls.
At UL-Lafayette, Rebowe was a driving force in swaying a lot of the team’s talent into the Ragin’ Cajuns’ locker room.
Those recruiting efforts have firmly established the Cajuns as the unquestioned second-best program in our state – a team that has been to, and has won bowl games in several-straight seasons.
In an interview in 2011 before the New Orleans Bowl, Ragin’ Cajuns head coach Mark Hudspeth offered Rebowe high praise for his ability to communicate with and lure quality talent to Lafayette.
“Tim Rebowe, I think, is the best recruiter in Louisiana,” Hudspeth said in the interview. “He is relentless. He just doesn’t take no for an answer.”
At Nicholls, Rebowe will have to be the same way, though it won’t be easy. He will have to get into local high schools and start a grassroots campaign to sell Nicholls to players who don’t currently think the program is a viable option.
Right now, the mentality of a lot of local high school players is that the Colonels are a fallback option that should only be considered if you’re not recruited by other programs around the Southeast.
But under Rebowe, that attitude should change. The team’s new coach has shown a consistent ability to get young players to believe in his vision and the things that he’s working toward. That is much-needed for a team that needs new blood in the coming years.
On the recruiting trail, we expect Rebowe to conduct a complete roster overhaul over the next two-to-three seasons. As a former head coach at Destrehan High School, Rebowe will possess the ability to go to the Bayou and River Parishes and swag quality players, which will give the team’s roster the makeover that it so-desperately needs.
But a similar rebuilding needs to take place in our communities with the team’s fans. There just isn’t much pride around the Nicholls’ football program. The team and university has pockets of support, but not nearly as much as it could have.
Of course, a lot of this is because the team hasn’t won many games. But empty seats are not appealing to recruits, so fans do have the ability to be the change that they wish to see within the program.
Rebowe comes to Nicholls with rich ties to the program. He was an assistant coach at Nicholls for several seasons. Being from Norco, he’ll return to Thibodaux familiar with everything the community has to offer.
Having a local man in a local position is always something that people flock to. It’s something that Stubbs never could give the team as someone with no Louisiana roots upon his hire. Nicholls fans and supporters will be excited to see what Rebowe can do. More important than that, they will be patient and trusting in his vision and will not be too unrealistic in their expectations, because they will trust in the local boy’s ability to see the program’s transformation through,
This process will take time. The Colonels will not win the National Championship next season. Heck, they may not even be a .500 football team.
But they now have the right man in place to lead the program into the future.
From recruiting prowess to a knowledge of our area, Tim Rebowe possesses everything that Nicholls needs in its football coach.
The Colonels passed on him once and regretted it.
But the second time is the charm, and Nicholls has got its man – the guy that we expect to clean the program up, turn it around and make it a contender in the Southland Conference.
It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen in the future.
Just be patient and watch it all unfold.
The gumbo that is Nicholls football is tasting better and better every, single day.