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FootballScoop examines head coach hiring trends: NAIA

Every off season for the past few years now we've kept track of every head coaching change from the NFL and FBS level, all the way down the small college ranks to NAIA. Today, we start a new series exploring the hiring trends at every level with the aim of educating coaches on what athletic directors at each level value in their search for a new leader of their football program.

The hiring trends series starts off with a look at the NAIA level. At last count, we tallied nine head coaching changes.


2017 Coach

2018 Coach

Bethel (KS)

Morris Lolar

Terry Harrison

Bethel (TN)

Chris Elliott

Brent Dearmon

Cumberland (TN)

Donnie Suber

Tim Mathis

Faulkner (AL)

Charlie Boren

Shayne Wasden

Lyon (AR)

Kyle Phelps

Casey Creehan

MidAmerica Nazarene (KS)

Brian Willmer

Todd Sturdy

Montana State-Northern

Aaron Christensen

Andrew Rolin

Sterling (KS)

Chuck Lambert

Chase Hansen

Trinity International (IL)

Kirk Wherritt

Lamont Butler

Here's a closer look at the hiring trends in bite-sized pieces, by the numbers:

1 - From pro football to NAIA head coach
Casey Creehan was named the head coach at Lyon (AR) after a two-year run as the defensive line coach for the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL, and prior to that he coached the defensive line and served as defensive coordinator for the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

1- Former NAIA head coach gets another opportunity
Along with his previous stops at the Division I level, Todd Sturdy also served as the head coach at St. Ambrose (NAIA - IA), where he spent 12 seasons, winning six conference titles and making multiple NAIA playoff appearances.

2 - From HS head coach to college head coach
Bethel (KS) dipped into the HS ranks to hire Terry Harrison awawy from Wichita Heights HS (KS). Harrison had led the Wichita Heights program since 2012, compiling an impressive 38-16 record with four Kansas 5A regional titles. Cumberland (TN) also hired from the high school ranks with St. Francis HS (GA) head coach Tim Mathis. Mathis had a decade long run as an assistant at Shorter University while the school made the jump from NAIA to Division II.

2- Experience on both sides of the ball
In coaching circles, getting college coaching experience on both sides of the ball is increasingly rare. From what we can tell, two guys were able to check this box. Dearmon got his start as a defensive backs coach as a student assistant at Bethel (KS), and Sturdy coached the secondary at St. Ambrose before rising to defensive coordinator in the early-mid 90's.

1 - Coaches that were promoted from within
Lamont Butler (Trinity International), Chase Hansen (Sterling) are the coaches that were previously on staff that were promoted to the head coaching post. Butler had spent two years previously as the defensive coordinator, Hansen was the co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach.

5- Head coaching experience of any kind
Head coaching experience in general was a somewhat popular trend among hires, with four guys having previous head coaching experience at the high school level (Dearmon, Mathis, Wasden, Butler) and one with previous college head coaching experience (Sturdy).

5 - FBS coaching experience
Over half of the NAIA head coaching hires this year had previous experience at the FBS level. That experience ranges from analyst roles (Brent Dearmon - Auburn), to coordinator (Creehan - DC at Eastern Michigan and Todd Sturdy - OC at Washington State and Iowa State) all the way up to associate head coach like Shayne Wasden who previously served in that capacity at Troy for a number of years. Andrew Rolin, the head coach at Montana State-Northern, spent time as an assistant at both San Jose State and Washington.

9 - Coordinator experience was far and away the most valuable
All of the new NAIA head coaches heading into 2018 had at least co-coordinator experience.

If you happen to notice another trend worth pointing out or a coaching change not noted above, let me know via email at or by DM on Twitter @CoachSamz.