After the exit of former head coach Ken Collums less than 24 hours removed from a season finale loss to Southeastern Louisiana, the search for the program’s 20th head coach began. On Sunday morning, just over a month after the search started, and following much speculation of who it would be, Director of Athletics Lee De Leon confirmed Collums’ successor as Northwest Missouri State’s Adam Dorrel.
“We found us a winner, but we also found us a strong Christian,” De Leon said. “We found us an excellent recruiter. We found us someone that can bring structure, discipline and accountability and organization to our football program.”
In November when the search started, the university enlisted a search firm in Eastman & Beaudine, Inc to help with the process. Along with the firm De Leon assembled a group of four ACU alum including University President Phil Schubert, former football player Ryan Boozer, former golfer Mark Anthony and College Football Hall of Famer Wilbert Montgomery. This group unanimously agreed on Dorrel under the direction of De Leon and four points of emphasis; a strong Christian, structure and discipline, excellent recruiting skills and most likely someone with Texas ties.
De Leon said Dorrel, a 1998 graduate of Northwest Missouri State, satisfies all the points of emphasis minus having Texas ties, but brings a winning pedigree, which is something the team added to the lists of emphasis. In fact, Dorrel brings to ACU the longest active winning streak in the nation at 30 consecutive wins, even ahead of the Alabama Crimson Tide at 25.
Dorrel also earned his third Div. 2 national title with a 29-6 victory in the midst of a Saturday afternoon blizzard. This was just 24 hours prior to being announced as ACU’s 20th head coach. He also became the only coach in Div. 2 history win three championships with a perfect 15-0 record in each of those three seasons.
However, Schubert said while winning is crucial, other factors were key in the hiring process.
“When we started this process we were absolutely determined to find the best possible fit for our program and for this university. So obviously we wanted a coach that was a proven winner, but it’s about a lot more than winning at ACU,” Schubert said. “Winning is incredibly important, but in addition to winning we wanted a coach who was going to lead a program, that had the characteristics and qualities that we could be proud of as a university, that would support and encourage everything we are about at ACU.”
In turn, while fulfilling these points of emphasis from the university and the team, Dorrel has four things he would like to enhance immediately. Dorrel said he hopes to have better student athletes, find great recruiters, community-focused players and a tougher team physically and mentally.
“All four of those things have nothing to do with athletic ability, nothing at all,” Dorrel said. “They have to do with character, want and desire and they are measurable.”
Despite lacking Texas ties, something many people consider key when recruiting in Texas, Dorrel said he plans to hire coaches and staff with those ties and start the recruiting process as soon as possible.
“We’re going to find young men that want a complete experience. I’m not looking for guys that just want a football experience,” Dorrel said. “If you hire quality people that truly love kids and put their heart and soul into kids each and everyday and our good recruiters, the X’s and O’s that stuff is easy.”
Dorrel enters the job with some familiarity and success linked to ACU. As the coach of Northwest Missouri State, Dorrel met the Wildcats in the Div. 2 playoffs in 2008 and 2009, coming away victorious both times. Although he did not go into extensive detail about his game strategy, Dorrel said he wants to have versatility on both sides of the ball.
“It’s going to be an offense that’s very diverse, a defense that’s very diverse, it’s going to fit our guys,” Dorrel said. “We’re going to find what these guys can do and put them in a position to succeed.”
The contract is for five years, which will carry Dorrel through non-conference FBS match ups with the likes of Colorado State in 2017, Baylor in 2018, Mississippi State in 2019 and Texas A&M in 2020. The Wildcats will also open play in the new Wildcat Stadium Sept. 3 against Houston Baptist as part of their first year with FCS playoff eligibility.