By Zac Vanselow
It is no secret that the Bearcat football team drudged through a difficult 2012 season, where they finished only 3-8. The record alone showed that there was a need for a drastic change. This change called for new coaches. Five new coaches to be exact, who are all assembled around the nucleus of highly accredited head coach Craig Schuler, who took his place as the eighth head coach in school history on January 8th, 2013.
Schuler attended Benedictine College wher e he earned his undergraduate degree in journalism. Schuler earned a master’s degree in Athletic Administration from the University Of Kansas. He is married to Alison Schuler and they have two daughters: Katie and Nikki.
“I am very excited for the opportunity,” Schuler said. “I have been looking for somewhere like SBU in terms of the community and how it is a faith-based institution. The challenge is to see if what we accomplished at Lindenwood can be translated to SBU, in regards to what we do with the kids and the way we try and develop them on and off of the field. I feel this is going to be a great fit.”
With the front office of SBU preforming a clean sweep of the football coaching staff, Schuler had the job of hiring five new coaches and issuing titles to everyone. All coaches that were hired under Schuler came with him from Lindenwood. The new coaching staff includes Phil Staback as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Marcus Klund as the defensive coordinator and linebacker coach, Rickey Hunley Jr. as the defensive backs coach and special team’s coordinator, and Anthony Vitale as the offensive line coordinator. With this sense of familiarity, it makes the job of head coach slightly easier.
Schuler believes that players should want to come to practice every day and have fun playing the sport they all love. While trying to make practice effective and efficient, he also wants it to be full of fun and energetic athletes who fly around the field making big plays that can be transferable to game day. He is adding background music to football practices in hopes to pump up the players. He is also cutting unnecessary time off of the practice, making practice 22 periods versus the 27 periods ran by former coach Keith Allen. Schuler is a strong believer that his players are student-athletes, emphasizing student over athlete. This change means there will be no more spring workouts at 5:00 a.m. or at midnight. He wants his players present in every class and maintaining above average grades.
Schuler has the full support from the SBU administration.
“I am thrilled that Craig Schuler will be our next football coach,” SBU Director of Athletics Mike Pitts said. With the full support backing Schuler, SBU plans to continue the renovation plans which include a full revamp of the football locker rooms and weight room, and a stadium upgrade including new turf. All of which have high hopes to be completed this summer before the start of the revamp season.
Schuler has numerous coaching credentials, which include positions at Benadictine College, Bishop Alemany High School, Avila University, Wayne County High School, and Lindenwood University. He has also claimed his fair share of NAIA Heart of America Athletic Conference championships in 2004, 2007, and 2009 with the Lindenwood Lions. As offensive coordinator, Schuler was part of turning the program around at Lindenwood from an abysmal 7-27 team between the 2001 and 2003 seasons to a 82-26 overall record between 2004 and 2012.