Just moments after completing his 30th season as a college football coach, Dino Babers accepted a job at his 13th stop. A career that started as a graduate assistant at Hawaii, his alma mater, in 1984 has now taken him to Arizona State, Eastern Illinois, UNLV, Northern Arizona, Purdue, San Diego State, Arizona, Texas A&M, Pittsburgh, UCLA, Baylor, Eastern Illinois again, and then Bowling Green.
With two seasons under his belt as a head coach, Babers has now worked himself into the always-enviable springboard position as a MAC head coach, taking over the conference-champion Falcons following Dave Clawson's departure for Wake Forest. Babers sat down for a Q&A with SI.com on Friday, and we've highlighted his most interesting answers. You can check out the entire thing here.
On which coaches had the largest impact on him... There are some coaches who have had major impacts. Art Briles is the first one. The next one is Homer Smith, a long-time assistant who died of cancer three years ago. He was the offensive coordinator at UCLA and out at Alabama. A Hall of Fame coordinator. The next two guys that made the biggest impact on my life were June Jones, who was running the run and shoot when I was in college. Just to see what an innovative offense could do to a community, how he re-energized our fan base and made them kind of rabid.
After that, you’d have to go back to Mike Martz. I was a [graduate assistant] for him when he was at Arizona State, and we all know that Mike never saw a pass he didn’t like. Being around those guys and knowing how throwing the ball can give you a chance to win when you’re playing an opponent who maybe has a couple more apples than you do, really made a good impression on me.
On if his Eastern Illinois program, and now his Bowling Green program, are a grab bag of aspects he's taken from coaches throughout his career, or a replica of Art Briles' Baylor program... No, this is an Art Briles copy.
On experienced such rapid success after taking over a 2-9 program... I just think it was a blessing. You swing it around and go from worst to first, then have another big year where you beat an FBS school and you almost beat another FBS school. (Note: Eastern Illinois lost 43-39 to Northern Illinois on Sept. 21). I think God decided he wanted to touch our university and our football team. We had some good players, but that team really bought into each other and cared for each other and that had a lot to do with the success we had on the field.
On his recruiting philosophy... Recruiting is everything. You need to have good, good players if you’re going to have good, good seasons. It’s not something you can be lazy about. You have to shave every day so you don’t look like a bum. You need to recruit every day so you don’t look like a bum. Recruiting is something you have to do every day. It’s like eating. It’s extremely important.
On forming his staff... It’s going to come about in the days to come. It’s a puzzle. You have to make sure all the pieces fit. That’s something I’m working on, and it’s something I stopped working on to talk to you. After I talk to you, I’ll go back to working on that.