He grew up in Missouri. He’s worked in Kansas.
Yet, Rob Robinson seems to know a lot about Oklahoma.
“There are 3.5 million people in the state,” Robinson said, “And in Oklahoma football, high school football is important to the state. It is the No. 1 sport (in the state).”
Now Robinson will get to witness what high school football is all about in the Sooner State.
That’s because Robinson was introduced as Northeastern State’s new head football coach on Saturday afternoon inside the film room at NSU’s event center. Robinson becomes the 19th head coach in school history, and fills the void that was left when Kenny Evans was relieved of his duties in mid November after the RiverHawks wrapped up a 2-9 campaign in 2013.
Robinson, 36, left Washburn University in Topeka, Kan., where he spent the last 12 years of his coaching career. He gave up the offensive coordinator job with the Ichabods to become the head coach of the RiverHawks.
And shortly after Tony Duckworth, NSU’s director of athletics, introduced Robinson to a select crowd of media members and university dignitaries, Robinson addressed his desire to bring in Oklahoma kids to lead the RiverHawks.
“When I evaluated film of Oklahoma kids, they’re generally in the upper echelon of being ready to play right away,” Robinson said with his family — wife, Jes, and three children, Tabor, Beckett and Grier — only a few feet away during the press conference.
“That was the big draw for me [to NSU] was recruiting.”
Robinson, a Trenton, Mo., native, continued on and divulged into what it’s going to take to draw high school football players to Doc Wadley Stadium.
“[In] Tahlequah, we’ve got to recruit a different type of athlete, I believe, than just going out and finding the best,” Robinson said. “You’ve got to find somebody that it going to fit in with the town and what’s to be there and wants to be a part of the community, which we will once we get this thing rolling.”
Before presenting Robinson with a NSU helmet and a letterman’s jacket, Duckworth addressed his reasoning for hiring Robinson.
“No. 1, he’s keenly interested in developing student-athletes, not only on the football field but also academically and helping mentor these young men into good citizens once they graduate from Northeastern State University,” Duckworth said. “He has experience in being a part of a rebuilding process. When he went into Washburn University with Craig Schurig 12 years ago, they had had their struggles, and over the past decade, they have built a program that is competing at a very high level in our conference.”
There’s no denying that.
Since 2006, Washburn has made two playoff appearances while picking up one Kanza Bowl berth in 2010. The Ichabods have also gone 62-30 during that same time frame with Robinson on the coaching staff.
Observing Schurig’s winning ways over the past decade-plus has provided Robinson with a blueprint on how to succeed in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association.
“You’ve got to have good players, obviously,” Robinson said. “You’ve got to put your time in — scheming. This is one of the top leagues for coaches, in my opinion. The MIAA has had a lot of success against other conferences, and not to say by out-athleting people at all, but I would say out-coaching them.
“It’s a top-to-bottom conference; there are some of the best football minds we play. ...It’s not a fun league. It’s going to take some bumps in the road the first few years and that’s what we’re going to build to — to eventually get [where we want to go].”
In the midst of a holiday break, not too many NSU players stuck around to meet Robinson after the press conference. But quarterback Cory Meaders, of Anna, Texas, said he’s eager to get to work with Robinson.
“I haven’t met him but I’m real excited from what I’ve heard [about him],” Meaders said. “I like the offense they ran over in Washburn, so I’m just ready to get to work on it.”
Same goes for Robinson. Although first on his list is the recruiting trail the first week of January.
“I don’t have connections in the state very well, but that’s going to change Jan. 6,” Robinson said. “The staff and I will meet Jan. 2 and 3, and we’re going to figure out the best plan, and I’ll basically be criss-crossing the state for the next two weeks.”
He’s going to hit the ground running in the state that he hopes will provide the athletes he needs to succeed.