Brophy: Wallace successor could be named next week

Published 4:25 pm Thursday, November 11, 2010

LIVINGSTON — University of West Alabama athletic director Dr. E.J. Brophy said Thursday that an announcement could come as early as next week regarding the successor to retiring head football coach Bobby Wallace.

“We’re going to do it at light speed and we’re probably going to make an announcement as early as next week,” Brophy said of the search for the Tigers’ next head coach.

The university announced Wednesday that Wallace, who has been selected to be inducted into the NCAA Division II Hall of Fame, would retire at season’s end after five years at the helm of the Tiger football program.

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Wallace has managed three winning seasons in five years while working to resurrect the UWA program. His successes in Livingston included clinching the team’s first NCAA Division II Playoff appearance in 34 years in 2009 when the Tigers rounded out the campaign at 8-5. That season featured the most wins for the program since 1975, eight players on the All-Gulf South Conference team, wins over nationally-ranked Delta State and at then No. 1 North Alabama and first round playoff victory on the road against Albany State.

“He’s done a great job here and he brought instant credibility to our program at a time when we needed instant credibility,” Brophy said of the work Wallace has done at UWA.

Wallace’s tenure at UWA marks his second as a Gulf South Conference head coach. His first came in a 10-season stretch from 1988 to 1997 when he led the University of North Alabama to prominence. He coached the Lions to three consecutive national championships from 1993 to 1995, going 41-1 during that stretch. The 1995 team was selected as the “Best Team of the Quarter Century” in Division II. Under Wallace’s tutelage, linebacker Ronald McKinnon became the only defensive player to win the Harlon Hill Trophy, the D-II equivalent to the Heisman Trophy which is presented to the nation’s best player.

In addition to the three Gulf South Conference titles he captured at UNA, Wallace qualified the Lions for the playoffs six times, amassing a record of 82-36-1 over that stretch while sending 12 players to the National Football League.

Wallace’s list of accolades also includes three straight GSC Coach of the Year honors and a NCAA Division II National Coach of the year award. In 1997 he received the honor of Division II Coach of the Quarter Century before being inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.

“You don’t,” Brophy said of the task of finding someone to replace Wallace. “How do you follow Bryant? How do you follow Landry? How do you follow Lombardi? Ho do you follow the best? That’s what Bobby is. He’s the best Division II coach there is. So you don’t try to follow him. You just try to get someone who will continue working, continue winning and continue building on the program we have here.”