University of Central Arkansas head coach Steve Campbell is leaving his post after four seasons for a similar position at the University of South Alabama.
USF is situated in Mobile, less than an hour’s drive from where he grew up in the Pensacola. He came to UCA from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College at Biloxi.
Campbell, 51, just completed his fourth season at UCA, leading the Bears to a 10-2 record, a undefeated Southland Conference championship, a No. 3 Football Championship Subdivision Championship and a No. 3 seed in the FCS playoffs. New Hampshire eliminated the Bears in the second round of the playoffs Saturday. UCA was making its second straight playoff appearance.
Campbell, the SLC’s Coach of the Year this season, was 33-15 at UCA.
He was been part of national championship teams as a player and as a coach in NCAA Division II and junior college.
"It’s an opportunity for him to go home," said Brad Teague, UCA athletic director. "He has kept me informed through the whole process, he told the team and he’s handled everything professionally just as you would expect of him. We’re extremely happy for him and his family. We’re going to miss him."
"Both my mom and older brother live in the next county (to mobile)," Campbell said. "Shelley (his wife) has a lot of family in the Mobile area. My son is a short distance away (at Mississippi Gulf Coast). I’m very excited about South Alabama (a Sun Belt team). I think it has great potential."
He acknowledged it was a tough decision.
"It’s always tough to leave when you’ve been around really good kids," he said. "Also, at this university, you have great leadership in Dr. Teague. He’s the type of athletic director you want to coach under. He gives you the resources in all sports to be able to attract good student athletes.
"I think UCA’s new president (Houston Davis) is big time. And I appreciated what Tom Courtway (former president at UCA) in giving me a chance."
Teague, who is know to move quickly in coaching hires, said the search for the new coach has begun, both internal and nationwide. The UCA post is considered one of the best FCS positions in the country.
""As usual, we’re going to be both diligent and quick," he said. "A lot of people are interested. We’ll get some very strong candidates. We’re going to move to find the right fit with our UCA family and our coaches and who can work best with me.
"Steve has taken our program to another level and created the culture we are looking for, athletically and academically. We’re moving on to continue that."
Campbell will be introduced at a press conference Friday at South Alabama. He said it is too early to determine if he will take any UCA assistants with him.
"I’ve got to get the lay of the land down there," he said.
Campbell played his college football at Troy, where he was starting center on the Trojans’ 1987 Division II national championship team. He got his coaching start the following year as a graduate assistant at Auburn under Pat Dye.
Campbell then was an assistant coach at Delta State, Nicholls State and Southwest Mississippi Community College before taking over as head coach at Southwest in 1997. After two years at SWCC, he became head coach at Division II Delta State in 1999. His 2000 DSU team went 14-1 and won the national championship, earning him Division II national coach of the year honors. From there he was offensive line coach/offensive coordinator at Middle Tennessee State for a year, then offensive line coach at Mississippi State for a year.
Campbell took over at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in 2004, going 87-22 in 10 seasons. His 2007 team, led by future SEC standouts such as Terrence Cody (Alabama), Demond Washington (Auburn) and Chris White (Mississippi State), went undefeated and shared the NCJAA championship.