Things need to change in 2013 for Nicholls St. football

Nicholls releases schedule
December 4, 2012
Miles spurns Arkansas, will remain with LSU
December 4, 2012
Nicholls releases schedule
December 4, 2012
Miles spurns Arkansas, will remain with LSU
December 4, 2012

When Nicholls hired Charlie Stubbs in Jan. 2010, a sudden rush of energy was jolted into the Colonels’ football program.

Rightfully so, as Stubbs arrived in Thibodaux as easily the most decorated coach in the program’s history.

But three seasons later, that adrenaline has fallen flat and the team has mustered just a 5-26 record in the head coach’s tenure.

They also haven’t won a Southland Conference game in 741 days – by far the longest drought in the conference.

Heck, if not for lowly Evangel College, the Colonels would be staring two-straight winless seasons in the face.

Long story made short: something needs to change in Thibodaux. That change also needs to come next year, because the 1-10 seasons have gone on long enough.

Before people get on my case and call me a home wrecker and a trouble starter, let me state this clearly: This is not a column saying that Charlie Stubbs should be fired.

I would never suggest that – it’s not my job to make coaching decisions in Thibodaux.

Rob Bernardi does a quality job as the Colonels’ athletic director and a vast majority of his hires have been home runs.

Besides, Stubbs’ resume speaks for itself.

The Colonels’ head coach knows a thing or two about football.

As an assistant coach, Stubbs found success at UNLV, Tulsa, Alabama and Louisville.

With the Crimson Tide, he was the passing game coordinator for an offense that won the 2000 Orange Bowl.

During that season, he was named the SEC Offensive Coordinator of the Year.

At Louisville, Stubbs coached one of the most powerful offenses in America – a group anchored by current NFL players quarterback Brian Brohm and Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Harry Douglas.

Heck, Stubbs even has three published books about football, including the most recent in his collection, titled “101 Playmakers and Special Plays.”

But so far at Nicholls, that knowledge and resume hasn’t equated to victories and it’s left a lot of people wondering why.

I have a few theories why – they all seem to be correctable mistakes.

These are things that the Colonels have to improve as they transition their football program into next season.

The first is the most obvious – recruiting.

Nicholls just doesn’t simply have enough solid football players on its roster – especially along the offensive and defensive lines.

The Southland Conference is one of the fastest growing conferences in the entire Football Championship Subdivision.

Two teams within the conference (Sam Houston State and Central Arkansas) were ranked in the Top 10 of the FCS’s Top 25 poll at press-time.

To compete within the league, you have to recruit players who are capable of playing high-level football.

The Colonels currently have a handful of guys who fit that bill, but not enough. Their team is just physically inferior to others in the league.

In a contact sport, physical inferiority is a dangerous thing.

It’s not a coincidence that the Colonels have battled injuries in all of Stubbs’ seasons in Thibodaux – their players are not as well equipped for the grind as the other teams within the league.

It’s easy to state that Nicholls has had recruiting woes, but to be fair, one has to point out the disadvantages they face on the offseason trail.

The Colonels have small enrollment numbers, some of the poorest facilities in the conference and also miniscule funding to its athletic department.

Those things make a world of difference to recruits who are on the edge between one school and another.

It means Nicholls’ recruiting coaches have to do much more with less than other schools – a true competitive disadvantage.

The second thing Nicholls must combat is geography.

When you’re a 1-10 team, it’s hard to get people to buy into your program under any circumstances.

When you’re a 1-10 team with three rival conference schools within your state, it’s even harder.

How do you convince a locally born FCS prep talent that Nicholls is the best place to be when Southeastern Louisiana or McNeese State is also calling?

That’s a difficult question to answer. Sure, Nicholls can offer the promise of early playing time, but if a player is solid enough, those other schools will also make the same promise.

The easiest way for the Colonels to get players is by finding gems and diamonds in the rough. But with any high-risk, high-reward project, you sign a lot of players who do not pan out.

The final thing the Colonels have to do is combat their own expectations and establish new roots within the community.

When Stubbs took over in Thibodaux, he did a fantastic job reaffirming to players the importance of academics and teamwork.

Once among the worst in America in Academic Progress Rate (APR), Nicholls is now on the up-and-up.

But that pride and commitment just hasn’t been able to stretch into the community and within the team’s fan base.

Nicholls just isn’t a huge draw in Thibodaux. Sure, athletic department buffs like to point to increased ticket sales, but those stats can easily be skewed to say whatever one wants them to say.

The true litmus test is whether or not the average man on the street can name a few Colonels off the top of their head.

Currently, that buzz isn’t there and no one has a true love for the team.

The reason for that is because fans do not believe in the team because of its recent history of losing.

Those things need to change – fast.

Again, let’s reiterate, I’m not telling anyone that Stubbs needs to be replaced – not at all.

He’s a solid coach and a great man. He has forgotten more about football than I’ve ever known.

But results are results and the Colonels haven’t had any in the past three seasons.

Something needs to change for this thing to get turned around.

No one can be happy with one-win seasons.

Everyone involved deserves more.

Nicholls State football coach Charlie Stubbs addresses the team during a game last season. Sports Editor Casey Gisclair says change must come to the team in 2013.