Nielson brings championship pedigree to Western Illinois - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Nielson brings championship pedigree to Western Illinois

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Bob Nielson (right) stands with WIU president Dr. Jack Thomas following Wednesday's press conference announcing Nielson as the Leathernecks new football coach. Bob Nielson (right) stands with WIU president Dr. Jack Thomas following Wednesday's press conference announcing Nielson as the Leathernecks new football coach.

MACOMB, Ill. (WGEM) -- The buzz was felt at even the highest level of Western Illinois University in the announcement of new football coach Bob Nielson.

"We have found a coach who will help us win games and to win national championships," WIU president Dr. Jack Thomas said.

Western Illinois didn't only earn a first down at Wednesday's press conference, they seem to have scored a touchdown.

Bob Nielson, the owner of 100 wins in 10 seasons and two NCAA Division II national championships at Minnesota-Duluth, is now the leader of the Leathernecks and eager for the opportunity that awaits.

"To move to this job at this level is something I've been sincerely interested in," Nielson said. 

"I haven't aggressively sought out jobs, I've been very happy in Duluth. As I've told people it was going to take a good job to get me to leave that position and I'm here because I feel this is a really good job."

Western athletic director Dr. Tim Van Alstine says he knew Monday night, following Nielson's on-campus interview, they had found their guy.

"Bob Nielson is not a rising star, he already is a star, and he's a highly respected and successful football coach," Van Alstine exclaimed. 

"As far as football coaches go, he's a rock star."

Nielson now faces the task of turning around a former perennial playoff contender that's won only five games overall, and just twice inside the Missouri Valley Football Conference, the last two seasons.

"Our focus from day one is going to improve, to be better, and to win every game that we play," Nielson told WGEM Sports. 

"With that as our focus we're going to move forward and develop as fast as we possibly can."

Van Alstine says it's hard to argue with Nielson's track record of success.

"Every place he's been he had to built it into a championship team and that's exactly where we are. We've got a really good foundation but we certainly need someone that can build us and grow our program into a championship caliber program."

If anything, the Western program has gained instant credibility.

A couple weeks ago the Leathernecks were in desperate need of a boost, and now they have a head coach who's won at every level, including 62 victories in his last five seasons at UMD.

The rebuilding process in Macomb is officially underway.

"This opportunity provides me a situation where I can truly focus on doing what I love best," Nielson indicated. 

"From that stand point it's another reason why this job made a lot of sense."

Nielson and Western Illinois have agreed on a five-year contract but Van Alstine added, "We'll give him all the time he needs."

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