The University of West Florida will field its inaugural football team in the fall of 2016. Leading the Argonauts will be Pete Shinnick – who is no stranger to starting a program from scratch. WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody recently sat down with the head coach.
The 48-year-old Shinnick comes to Pensacola from the University of North Carolina-Pembroke, where he started that football program from scratch. In seven seasons, the Braves won 55 games – including a 9-2 mark last year while advancing to the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs.
Shinnick says the bedrock of any college program is recruiting. He plans to concentrate in the 850 area code – the Florida Panhandle.
The Argos will play those first couple of seasons at Bayfront Stadium downtown. UWF’s Master Plan, unveiled in 2011, includes an on-campus football stadium, preferably by 2018. While there will be no football-related activities for the new program this coming season, Shinnick says they won’t lack for something to do – such as hiring a coaching staff.
Shinnick says his coaching career has been influenced greatly by his father. Don Shinnick – who died in 2004 -- played 13 seasons for the NFL’s Baltimore Colts and coached for another 14. He still holds the NFL record for most interceptions by a linebacker with 37, played on two championship teams (1958 and 1959) and was in Super Bowl III.
Part of the 30-month timeline between the announcement in February and kickoff in September, 2016 includes the first class of student-athletes, who will enroll in the fall of 2015 and begin practice. The long-term plan calls for coaches’ offices, practice fields, strength and conditioning areas and locker rooms to accommodate football. For the time being, Pete Shinnick and his coaching staff are working out of the UWF Field House.