After leading the NAU football program for 21 seasons, head coach Jerome Souers is reportedly retiring.
The Arizona Daily Sun points out that Vice President for intercollegiate athletics Mike Marlow and university president Rita Cheng tried to make a push for Souers to return, but Souers ultimately felt it was time to step away.
The announcement comes about a year after Souers was fired by former athletics director Lisa Campos. Souers has earned the admiration of many in and around Flagstaff, so many of those folks made their opinion on the decision known, and nonetheless, shortly after Campos left for the athletic director job art UTSA. In a strange twist, an announcement a short time later was made that Souers would continue as head coach of the program.
Souers' tenure in Flagstaff included an overall record of 123-114, including a 85-77 mark in Big Sky play. He notched back-to-back 10 win seasons inn 2012 and 2013 and leaves the sidelines as the all time leader in wins in the Big Sky. He led the program to five appearances in the FCS Playoffs, culminated by the a run to the quarterfinals in 2003, when they also won their only Big Sky title under him.
I had the opportunity to visit with Souers and some of his staff during a recent vacation with my wife out west, and it's easy to see why he's so well respected by the coaching community, and those in Flagstaff. This is one of those times when I can confidently share that the coaching profession is losing one of the good guys.
While Northern Arizona hasn't held a coaching search in over two decades, the opening is one that will be attractive to some quality coaches. Flagstaff is a beautiful setting, the school has done a great job with their branding as an athletic department, and Souers has built a program and proven that they have many of the resources required to be a contender in the Big Sky and at the greater FCS level.
With that being said, they do have a few unique challenges, one being that most who travel into Flagstaff fly in through Phoenix, and it's about a two-hour ride to the NAU campus from the airport, which can make recruiting outside the traditional radius a bit challenging.
A few other relatively minor hurdles also come to mind, but overall this is going to be a job that has some really good coaches in the mix, with no shortage of interest.
Stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.