You can read in these pages the next couple of days University of Central Arkansas coach Clint Conque’s thoughts about last season and his analysis of the future.
Too bad you can’t feel the passion.
I’ve observed Conque for 13 years. I’ve never seen him with such zeal, such fire, such determination.
He’s gotten a sample of what’s cooking and he wants the whole pie.
It seems almost an annual event in December that Conque’s name is mentioned on a propective list of coaching jobs. He’s listened in the past and will listen in the future and will weigh the pros and cons.
But one of the major things that has kept him in UCA is his desire to help bring the school a national championship banner.
Going into this weekend, there were four teams left in the FCS playoffs. The Bears defeated one (Sam Houston State) and came close against another (Georgia Southern) on the road. UCA has won 17 of its last 21 games,
Yep. He smells it.
"Yes, I’m driven," he said. "My energy level is as high as it’s ever been. It (the prospect of seeing the Bears win a national title) drives me to come to work every day."
But with that passion, he admits he has matured as a head football coach from the days when he was an offensive coordinator at Louisiana Tech.
"You see these 30-something guys nowadays who are bold five-wide, spread, X-Box, PlayStation guys with their offensive philosophy," he said. "I was one of those guys in 2000. I think I’ve matured as a coach. It has helped me looking at the overall program. There’s a difference in looking at things as a coordinator and as a head coach.
"As a head coach, you are responsible for all three phases. But there’s a whole lot more. You have to be concerned with compliance, player development, player welfare, budgets, public relations. I think some of that is why some good coordinators don’t do well as head coaches."
Conque hasn’t exactly gone old-school. He’s had a 3,000-yard passer in four of the last six seasons and his teams have averaged 3,139 passing yards and 25 passing touchdowns since the Bears began Southland Conference play in 2007.
But UCA is the only school to lead the SLC in scoring defense three times (2008-2010) and the first to do it since the mid-90s. Conque has also put an increased emphasis on the kicking game and special teams in order to play field-position football and get big plays in another phase of the game..
"I’ve learned, to win championships, you better recruit for defense and put some of your best athletes on defense," he said. "I’ve learned you have to present some kind of threat with your running game. You have to have some balance."
Heading into the heart of recruiting season, he has gas in the tank.
"I see the bricks are there (to win a championship)," he said. "We’re going to turn over every leaf to get there. Now, it may not happen. But if it doesn’t, it won’t be because there is a lack of effort or vision or motivation."
With that, Conque excused himself from a lengthy interview.
There were recruits to visit.
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 505-1235 or firstname.lastname@example.org)