On Dec. 16, Adam Dorrel was hoisting the Div II national championship trophy with Northwest Missouri State as snow whipped around them. Three days later, Dorrel was welcomed as the 20th head football coach in Abilene Christian University’s long history. Now the winningest active football coach at the collegiate level is settling in nicely in Abilene with a full month under his belt. We had the chance to catch up with ACU’s newest head coach, on one of his brief breaks from the busyness of recruiting and settling in.
Q: Coach, you’ve been in Abilene for almost a month now, what do you think of the place?
A: We love it! I’ve been really impressed with the people, they’re very friendly, very kind, very gracious, very helping people. It’s kind of everything you’ve hoped it would be. For me it’s been fun, my family got in a few days ago and we’re trying to get situated and get a house and get my daughters into school, but you know they love the place, love the whether, it’s been extremely nice. So it’s just really exciting times right now.
Q: Talk a little bit about your progression from when you started to coach, the passion that initiated it, to where you are now?
A: It’s been a whirlwind with everything that’s happened in my career, and you know I’ve been very blessed to be around a lot of great coaches. I’ve always felt like great head coaches surround themselves with great people and I felt like I did that at Northwest Missouri State, and I feel like I was able to do that here again. But ya it’s been whirlwind, you come off the championship game this year, and basically jump in a plane and fly down here a accept the job, do the press conference and stuff like that. It’s been exciting, it’s been a lot of work at times, but for the most part it’s been exciting and everything you hope it’d be.
Q: With the hiring of coaches like Danieal Manning and J.W. Walsh and the other coaches, can you talk a little bit about the splash and the noise some of those names are making around campus?
A: I think it’s a good staff for many reasons, but the number one thing I think makes it great is there’s a good balance of guys with pretty good experience and then new guys, young guys, and so it’s a good mesh together. But for me I think the thing that I’ve been real happy with with the entire staff is its a group of guys that are very passionate about young men, they’re very passionate about the mission of ACU and the Christ-Centeredness of ACU.
Q: You’re coming in with a strong emphasis and background on academics, what is it that makes it so important to you.
A: Well I still believe in the student-athlete. I really do. Number two is there is a direct correlation with guys that do things right in the classroom and how they play on Saturday and I don’t think anybody can argue that with me. And so there is not going to be any compromise on that. We’re going to do things right there, because I know if you want to have a championship football program, if you buy into the academic part of it it just helps get you there that much quicker.
Q: What are some of your early aspirations as you make this transition to Div. 1 and look ahead to the season?
A: I told the team this in our opening meeting Tuesday night, I’m not a guy that talks a lot about winning and losing I talk about the process. And the four things I outlined for them immediately is we’re going to be better academically, we’re going to be better in the community, we’re going to be better in our blueprint for recruiting and then my big challenge to them was, I do feel like we need a boost in our mental and physical toughness. At the end of the day I challenged them to go be great student-athletes for the next five months. I have a lot of buzz words I talk to them about. But I’m going to give them a couple of pieces each week and the two that I gave them this week were, “Are you putting in time, or are you putting in work?” And there is a big difference in those two things. And the other one was family. We want to create a family atmosphere here. I genuinely feel like that’s part of the culture here at ACU and we want to grow that as a football program.
Q: Coach, there have been a lot of great movies made in West Texas, specifically sports, but what are some your general favorites?
A: My favorite movie overall would have to be Forrest Gump. It’s kind of corny at times, but there is the epitome of a guy who took what he had and never complained about anything and turned out being great. And then Varsity Blues, that’s obviously a great football show with a lot of good humor in it.