ELMHURST – Last season Elmhurst College football made the playoffs for the first time in school history.
The Bluejays won a share of the CCIW title for the first time since 1980 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III playoffs.
After the season coach Tim Lester moved on to Syracuse to be the quarterbacks coach and Joe Adam, who was the defensive coordinator, replaced him. Among the challenges facing Adam in his first season is replacing running back Scottie Williams, who won the Gagliardi Award for best player in Division III last season.
What did it mean to you to take over as head coach?
Dream come true. It really has been. It’s been such a blessing and it’s been fun putting it together for me and the coaching staff trying to raise the bar for what we did last year.
How do you follow up such a successful year like last year?
I think you start by understanding that that’s how the culture is here now and will continue to be. When we set up to put this thing together it was with this very point in mind that we would have a team that would be able to contend on a consistent basis, not just a one-hit wonder. It took a bit longer than we would like, but we are to the point where we expect to win.
How has the transition from assistant to head coach been?
I think for me it was an easy transition because I’ve been the recruiting coordinator for almost five seasons now. I was very in tune to what we were looking for, the characteristics and traits we were looking for. We scour the country for not just anybody, but the right people that fit what we’re going to do here.
How do you recruit for a Division III program?
One of the things that I put a big onus on is work ethic here. I expect and I demand work ethic from the players. It’s going to be work ethic that gets you into successful situations, whether it be here in college or in life. We measure that in a lot of different ways. We measure that in academics, in face-to-face communications and in interactions with our support staff.
What makes the CCIW such a competitive conference?
It’s Illinois football and it’s the partnership that our league has with our area high school coaches who understand the level of football here and understand the type of players we’re trying to recruit collectively. Plus, the location in the big part of the midwest here where we’re close to major metropolitan areas and a few hour drive from major cities. I think that’s an attraction to kids.
Is there anything you’ve tried to change since you took over?
The thing that identifies this program is called blue collar mentality. It’s on every piece of paper we hand out. BCM is on every article we issue from a team standpoint. It’s what our identifying mark is this year. It’s teaching kids what the blue collar mentality stands for.
How has the program changed since you joined in 2007?
It was a very much different culture. This is a complete 180. It’s enjoyable. It’s fun to challenge people and the kids have responded. I give a lot of credit to our kids here. They work like no other group in any level of football I’ve coached.