Tahlequah Daily Press

December 21, 2013

Robinson: NSU has to get back to traditional roots

Rob Robinson introduced as 19th head coach in Northeastern State history

Sports Editor

— bjohnson@tahlequahdailypress.com

Rob Robinson has been a part of the Northeastern State family for less than a week. But he's already well-versed in RiverHawks history.

Well, more like Redmen history.

Robinson was introduced as the 19th head coach in NSU history on Saturday afternoon inside the film room at Northeastern State's event center, where he proclaimed NSU's need to get back to the days of Redmen football — when winning was a constant.

"The Redmen times are what we have to get back to — the traditional roots," Robinson said, talking about the former nickname of the university until the school switched to RiverHawks in 2006.

"This a program with more tradition than a lot of the programs in the MIAA that we're going to be playing."

Now it's Robinson's job to get Northeastern State football back to where it once was. The RiverHawks went to the Mineral Water Bowl in 2011, but NSU hasn't ventured into the NCAA playoffs since 2000 — again, during the Redmen tenure.

Addressing the potential of the program, Robinson cited the state of Oklahoma as a source to draw from for winning — and winning often.

"When you look at Oklahoma football, you've got a place you can win," Robinson said. "We're fully funded and we've got the resources in place to take the next step to get us on a competitive level in the MIAA."

Robinson spent the last 12 years of his coaching career in Topeka, Kan., coaching at Washburn University. He spent the last four seasons as the Ichabods' offensive coordinator.

So why leave a stable program in central Kansas and in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association to take over at NSU?

"When you get to be a coordinator, obviously if you want to be a head coach, you have to start looking at that," said Robinson, who was on hand with his wife, Jes, and three children, Tabor, Beckett and Grier, at the press conference.

"Probably the last two years is when I really started looking. And you've gotta go somewhere to where you can recruit to. I can be the smartest coach — and I'm not saying I'm going to be the smartest coach — but you can X-and-O as much as you want to, but if you don't have the recruits to do it, then you're not going to have the means necessary to compete with anybody."

On the same day that Northwest Missouri State reclaimed the Division II national championship for the MIAA, Tony Duckworth, NSU's director of athletics, finally provided a face for the NSU football program. He also detailed his coaching search, which lasted a little more than a month.

"There were two elements that I did not mention publicly that were very important to me in the back of my mind as we were moving into this search," Duckworth said. "The first thing was I was and preferred and keenly interested identifying an individual that was currently coaching successfully in the MIAA. Just knowing the difficulty of this conference and what it takes to compete at a high level in this league is very very important. The second characteristic that was important to me, that I preferred, was finding someone on the offensive side of the ball."

Check and check for Duckworth.

Now after the holidays, Robinson will be out on the recruiting trail as his first order of business in Tahlequah.

"There's enough (players) in Oklahoma that we're going to recruit at the high school level," Robinson said. "...This is a place where you can draw great kids here."

Robinson was drawn to NSU. Now he's tasked with bringing back the Redmen success.