Dave Steckel plans to make Kansas City a key cog in his football rebuilding effort at Missouri State.
Steckel — who spent 14 seasons on Gary Pinkel’s staff at Missouri, including the last six as defensive coordinator — realizes he faces a hefty challenge, but he vowed not to shy away.
“I’m excited to get the challenge,” said Steckel, 57. “My biological clock was ticking. I wanted to try to build something to see if I could do it myself as a head coach. I think we’re going to pull this off, because I’ve got great assistants that are working their tails off.”
Missouri State hasn’t reached the FCS postseason since back-to-back appearances in 1989-90, when the school was known as Southwest Missouri State.
During the last 24 seasons, the Bears have won more than six games only twice and haven’t topped six wins since 1996.
Steckel, who was hired as the Bears’ coach in December, is the fifth coach during that span and hopes for more success than his most recent predecessors — Terry Allen, who went 37-64 in nine seasons; Randy Ball, who was 34-42 in seven seasons; and Del Miller, who went 21-23 in four seasons.
It starts, at least in part, with mining the talent at Kansas City high schools.
“The first week we were allowed on the road, we went to all the high schools in Missouri to let them know that we’re here and we’re going to keep coming back,” Steckel said.
Many coaches commented that the Bears hadn’t passed through in a while.
“I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it won’t be the case anymore and Kansas City players are going to be paramount to our success,” Steckel said. “They can’t all play at Mizzou.”
Missouri State signed O’Hara quarterback Michael Briggs and Olathe South offensive lineman Coleman Clanton as part of Steckel’s first recruiting class.
Steckel said St. Louis, northern Arkansas, Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Dallas will be Missouri State’s other key recruiting grounds.
“I’m not sure if I’m going to succeed (at Missouri State),” Steckel said. “We’re going to find that out down the road, but what we’re going to do is put a blueprint in and build a foundation. When adversity and storms come, it’s going to be built on a rock of discipline, hard work and no excuses, like I learned from coach Pinkel.”
Steckel also said his brother, Les, a longtime NFL coach, was a big influence on his career along with a quartet of college coaches he worked under — Lou Holtz, Dwight Wallace, Tim Rose and Terry Shea.
“I gleaned something from all of them,” Steckel said. “With that said, I think a lot of our program, probably 80 percent, is the Gary Pinkel way and 15 percent is from other coaches with 5 percent Stec.”
He hopes the time is right for him to build his own program.
“The good Lord probably put me in this situation now because I’m older and a little wiser,” Steckel said. “I hired coaches that are really energetic and honestly probably more intelligent than I am, but it’s like I tell them, they don’t have the gray hair, ‘I’ve got the wisdom; you’ve got the energy.’ Let’s put it together and go build this thing.”