Pete Shinnick was introduced Thursday, as the first head football coach at the University of West Florida. The work now begins towards the first game in September of 2016.
By her count, UWF President Judy Bense has waited five years, four months and 32 days for today’s announcement.
“I now can finally answer the question that I have been asked more as president than any other question,” said Bense. “”When are we going to start UWF football?’”
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. UWF Athletic Director Dave Scott says Shinnick’s experience at UNC-Pembroke made him stand out from about 200 applicants.
“When we were looking for a coach, we started looking at somebody who could build a team, put academics first, (and) somebody who would recruit student-athletes,” Scott said. “And Pete met all those things….you don’t often get the chance to have an individual who’s done it before.”
The bedrock of any college program is recruiting, and that’s no different in the Gulf South Conference. Shinnick says they’ll concentrate in the 850 area code, adding that he’s already starting to build relationships with local high school football coaches.
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. 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.
As far as the X’s and O’s, Pete Shinnick is hands-on when it comes to one side of the ball, and more of a CEO on the other side.
“I’ve called the offense pretty much most of the time I’ve been a head coach,” Shinnick said. “We’ve been running the zone read for a long time. The past few years, my defensive coordinator has been a 4-3 (4 down linemen and 3 linebackers). And I turn the defense really over to my coordinator.”
Part of the 30-month timeline between Thursday’s announcement and kickoff 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 will occupy offices in the Field House.