Prior to July of 2007, the football program at Colorado State-Pueblo was merely an idea. Fast forward seven years to this past weekend and John Wristen - the man tabbed with building the program from scratch - and his staff captured the school's first national title.
Wristen's squad went 4-6 in their first season, and in the two years that followed, went 7-4 and 9-2. Starting in 2011, Wristen and his staff have led the team to 11 wins or more, and at least one playoff win each season, culminating in the national title this year. As a first time head coach, building a program from the ground up, Wristen has an impressive career record of 68-16 overall.
Coming off last season's disappointing loss to Grand Valley State (D-II - MI) in the second round of the D-II playoffs, Wristen had the idea to hand out some motivational t-shirts on the first day of camp this year.
"Our kids were really ready and prepared for the moment, because it's something that we really discussed the first day that we came to camp. I handed out t-shirts that said 'WTLG' and I tried to explain that was the process. You have to understand the process."
"That mean 'Win The Last Game', and if you understand the process of taking care of business, and not looking up at the scoreboard and only playing against one team, you could win the last game. Sure enough, we were able to do it, Scott."
When we asked about how his defense was able to stifle the prolific offense Minnesota-Mankato (and shut them out 13-0) in that title game, Wristen gave credit to each member of his defense staff and added, "We were just on point, it's just one of those things where we executed so well."
"You know, I ask my guys to be Clark Kent, not Superman. If you're supposed to be in that gap, be in that gap and play it as hard as you can, and they did that."
Coach Wristen also sheds some light on his perspective as a head coach when other programs come calling for his assistants and his thoughts on how he goes about filling those positions.
"You know, for me, my job is to help my guys get job,." he noted. "I just want good quality people. I think that knowing football...everyone knows football...to me, I want to be surrounded by great, quality people that have great character, great integrity within the staff and are loyal, not just to me, but to each other."
Hear more of our interview with coach Wristen below.