Why not do it all again?
In Mike Woodley’s eyes, that’s why he didn’t immediately ignore the vacant position for a newly-created football program at a small, Catholic college in small-town Yankton, South Dakota.
No, he was intrigued.
So too was Mount Marty College, which was searching for someone to build its football program from scratch.
And so, the two sides came together, and on Wednesday afternoon, Woodley — who built Grand View (Iowa) University into a national champion — was introduced as Mount Marty’s first football coach.
Woodley will now be tasked with building a program from the ground up a second time.
“That’s the reason I’m doing this,” he said, following his introductory press conference on the MMC campus. “This is all about trying to do this again.
“I just happen to have a little more knowledge this time around.”
He’s also got quite a track record.
The 67-year-old Woodley comes to Mount Marty (he’ll officially start Aug. 1) after 11 seasons as the head coach at Grand View, located in Des Moines, Iowa. He was that school’s first football coach when it began playing the sport in 2008 and quickly turned the program into a contender.
Grand View was 93-35 during Woodley’s tenure, with six consecutive NAIA playoff appearances, a 2013 NAIA national championship and at least eight wins in nine of the past 10 seasons.
The Mount Marty opening had attracted a wide array of candidates and interested coaches, according to head coach Chris Kassin, but ultimately Woodley’s experience with building a program won the day.
“It’s easy to walk into a perennial winner, but it’s a whole other challenge to walk into a place without a football history,” Kassin said Wednesday.
“That’s why we didn’t know what to expect with this search.”
Woodley will now begin the process of recruiting players to a Lancer program that will play a full Great Plains Athletic Conference schedule in 2021 — a year earlier than previously stated.
The idea of taking on such challenges at his age was something Woodley jokingly addressed during Wednesday’s press conference. He joked that New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and University of Alabama coach Nick Saban are his same age.
“I’ve never looked at it as a job,” Woodley said. “I’ve never had a job. I’ve gotten to be a kid my entire career.”
Those who know Woodley well would tell you, age is only a number.
“He’s still got some energy left in him,” said son Joe, who was Tuesday announced as his father’s replacement as head coach at Grand View.
“He loves competing and he loves game days,” Joe added. “He’s still got that fire in him.”
An Iowa native, Woodley played college football at the University of Northern Iowa and then began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at the University of Iowa (1974-75).
He was later the head coach at Saint Ambrose (Iowa) from 1991-93, was then an assistant coach at Iowa State (1994-2003), and was then an athletic director and football coach at a high school in Texas before being hired by Grand View in 2007.
Woodley then crafted Grand View into not only an immediate winner but a consistent winner — the Vikings were 50-10 in their conference games (between two leagues) during his tenure.
“He lived that for 11 years, and made it successful,” MMC president Marc Long said Wednesday. “He did it the right way, and that speaks volumes about the person he is.”
In the scheme of building a football program, Mount Marty is actually ahead of Grand View’s pace from 2008 in two key ways, according to Woodley.
First, the timing — He was hired at Grand View in the summer of 2007 and was the Vikings played their first game in 2008
Second, facilities — Mount Marty already has a home field, at newly-turfed Crane-Youngworth Field.
“It sounds like a football community,” son Joe said. “We drove by the stadium; it’s awesome.”
The benefit of having once built a football program will also mean that Woodley already knows what’s ahead of him, his son added.
“He learned from some mistakes here, which will only help Mount Marty,” Joe said. “He’s better off now than he was 11 years ago, quite honestly.”
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