Fans, players say Glenn is the right fit for Coyote Football

The faces have changed, the competition level has increased and there's a new football stadium, but Joe Glenn is back home in Vermillion after nearly 40 years.

This time, however, the 62-year-old returns as the head coach at his alma mater University of South Dakota.

And for those who either remember Glenn from his previous stay at the University of South Dakota or are new to his style, they all say the same thing: "Cowboy Joe" – the nickname he's earned over the years for his straight-shooting, energetic style – is a magnetic personality.

Newly-named University of South?Dakota head football coach Joe Glenn, right, leads a rendition of the school’s fight song during his introductory press conference Monday afternoon in Vermillion. Glenn, a 1971 USD graduate, has three national championships to his 24-year head coaching resume, which includes stops at Doane (NE), Northern Colorado, Montana and Wyoming. The 62-year-old Glenn takes over for former USD coach Ed Meierkort, who was fired last month. (James D. Cimburek/P&D)

"We spent a lot of time together, he and I, so I came to know and love the guy," said Vermillion High School football coach Gary Culver, who was a defensive back at USD in 1974 when Glenn was an assistant coach.

"And you know, he really hasn't changed at all."

Culver was a three-year letterman for the Coyotes, who won three straight North Central Conference titles in his career. Since taking over the Tanagers in 1976, right after graduation, he has guided the school to five state titles.

Saying he was "surprised" to see Glenn as the new Coyote coach, Culver pointed out that USD is getting a man who, despite his age, is the same youthful coach he was in the mid-70's.

"Throughout all these years, he's the same Joe Glenn I remember," Culver said."

For what he accomplished after his USD days, Glenn is far from the same.

In 24 years as a head coach over three different levels (NAIA, Division II and D-I), Glenn won three national championships – two at Northern Colorado and one 1-AA crown at Montana.

He was hired by Wyoming in 2003, guided the Cowboys to a 2004 bowl victory over UCLA, but was fired after a 4-8 season in 2008.

It was that track record that fit the mold of USD's next coach, after Ed Meierkort was fired on Nov. 22, according to tight end Jay Burns.

"I wanted someone who was an established winner, someone who's proven themselves; not just an assistant somewhere," said Burns, who caught five passes for 32 yards as a junior this season. "On paper, he obviously knows how to win.

"He knows what it takes."

The energy that Glenn brought to his job as a color analyst for football games on the WAC Sports Network the last two seasons will no doubt translate to his new player at USD, Wes Beschorner said.

"Players will sense what the coach is doing and how he's giving them energy, and I think our players have done that well in the past," said Beschorner, who served as interim head coach for the past two weeks.

"It's a different coach, but he'll send a great message."

That message is something Glenn spent a good portion of his introductory press conference Monday talking about. He said his style of motivation is best described as "Make me feel and I will produce."

He talked at length about treating players the right way and giving them the motivation to want to succeed.

That coaching style – falling under the "leadership" umbrella – is one David Sayler said he was searching for.

"His ability to tackle things is pretty unmatched, so I'm excited to see how excited the players will be to work with him," Sayler said.

So, will the energy from their new head coach trickle down to the players?

"It's got to," Burns said. "You're either going to buy into it or you're not going to be here."

There are still areas to be ironed out with Glenn's hiring, specifically a coaching staff, a salary and recruiting. To those areas:

  • Glenn said one of his first orders of business is to hire a defensive coordinator. "I couldn't get my arms around a co-defensive coordinator thing," he said, referring to USD's format last season.
  • On the issue of salary, Glenn's annual contract figures to be in the range of $100,000, which is what Meierkort made last season.
  • And on recruiting, the new coach said he will remain true to looking at local and area recruits first, and looking elsewhere as needed.

Either away, the exuberant attitude Glenn showed at Monday's press conference – specifically leading the crowd in a rendition of the school song – figures to be here to stay, Culver said.

"That's the amazing thing about him. He's always been like that," Culver said. "He's a youthful 60-year-old, to say the least, and I told him there are great opportunities for 60-year-olds.

"It's great to see him aboard and he'll certainly do a good job in the years to come."

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