CONWAY, Ark. (UCA) -New University of Central Arkansas head football coach Steve Campbell was greeted with a standing ovation by a standing room-only crowd on Friday on the UCA campus.
Campbell officially met the media, UCA faculty and staff and Bears supporters for the first time Friday and proved to be a hit with all of them. Most of the comments were along the lines of "I can't wait to see what this guy is going to accomplish here.'
Campbell has accomplished a lot in 25 years of coaching football, coming to UCA from a highly successful 10-year stint at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, where he regularly sent players to BSC schools and the NFL. In fact, 15 players from his 2013 roster signed with four-year schools earlier this week. He currently has six former players on NFL rosters, and he said all six have their college degrees. Campbell has also coached in the Southland Conference (Nicholls State), the Southeastern Conference (Auburn, Mississippi State) and at the NCAA Division II level (Delta State).
"You walk into this room and you can tell there is an excitement here, that football is important here,' said Campbell, who has been a part of three national champions as either a player or coach. "Being successful is important here. I'm very, very excited about being a part of this.'
"You know, UCA is used to winning championships. A lot of places have never won a national championship. UCA has won national championships. That's important. I want to go somewhere you have a chance to compete not only for conference championships, but for national championships. You can do that at UCA.'
Campbell, who was joined by his wife Shellie and his eight-year-old daughter Tate, won national championships at Troy State as a player and at Delta State and MGCCC as a head coach. Campbell's teams at MGCCC went 87-22, including a perfect 12-0 season and national championship in 2007.
Dr. Brad Teague, UCA director of athletics. presented Campbell with a No. 4 UCA adidas football jersey to signify the fourth national championship he is expected to win at UCA.
"I believe we have three NAIA national titles here at UCA already,' said Campbell. "Then that will be our fourth national championship, too, and that's what we're going for.'
Campbell pointed out that throughout his travels as a collegiate coach, on every level, he always heard great things about UCA and the city of Conway.
"Anytime UCA or the city of Conway came up in conversation, it was always something positive,' he said. "What a great experience, what a great time. That was the best place they have been in any time in their tenure. I just kept hearing that over and over through the years.
"So during the interview I was asked what about this time, what about this opportunity makes you (want to leave MGCCC)... that's it, the vision of our president (Tom Courtway), the chance to work with Dr. Teague, who I know has done great things everywhere he's been. When this opportunity came up, it was an obvious, obvious decision. Then when you walk into a room like this and see the excitement and the passion for UCA football.
"It's something that's got me and my family very, very excited, and we're definitely looking forward to building a championship program here and continuing on the tradition and building on that legacy. I'm very excited and thank you for the opportunity.'
Campbell, 47, is a native of Pensacola, Fla., who played collegiately at Southeastern Louisiana and Troy. The Campbells also have two other children, Steven (21) and Kelsie (22).