Bob Casey hasn’t been sleeping well the last few weeks.
While his newborn daughter takes a good portion of the blame, Casey’s mind has also understandably been preoccupied with Merced College’s head football coaching search.
Casey has held the reigns of the Blue Devil program while working as an adjunct since Mark Kaanapu resigned in July of 2010. When a full-time teaching position became available with the job at the beginning of the year, he was forced to reapply for the post while the school conducted a national search.
Odds are he’ll be resting a little easier, new baby and all, after the school announced on Friday that he’ll be the fifth full-time head coach in MC football history.
“Without knowing the other candidates’ situations, the hardest thing for me was knowing this was an all or nothing proposition,” Casey said. “Having run the program from year to year, there’s real peace of mind that comes from knowing it’s mine now.
“Now instead of just worrying about what’s happening this year, I can start implementing some long-term things that are going to secure this program down the road.”
The Blue Devils have gone 13-27 during Casey’s tenure, though his 2-8 first campaign is considered a throw away after stepping in so late for Kaanapu.
While the wins have not been prevalent, it was Casey’s work to stabilize the program that helped distinguish him from the rest of the field. The Blue Devils have definitely improved in character and competitiveness during his tenure.
“There’s so much to the job that the public doesn’t see,” MC athletic director Steve Cassady said. “You’re constantly running paperwork, coordinating financial aid and keeping track of academics.
“Bob did a tremendous job of all of that, all while working as an adjunct. He definitely went above and beyond.
“His hiring creates a continuity for the future.”
That’s where Casey’s sights now turn.
Merced College has not produced a winning football season in 16 years and last finished at .500 in 2003. With his future settled and CCCAA’s realigning of the NorCal divisions set to begin this fall, the opportunity for Casey to succeed will never be better.
“I was a part of the glory days,” Casey said. “I was playing when no one wanted to play us and we had to face the same teams twice sometimes because other schools refused to face us.
“Obviously, trying to recapture that is the ultimate goal. Now that kids know I’m for sure going to be the guy, I need to make the most of what’s left in this recruiting season. And I’m the first to acknowledge that I need to improve my relationships with the local coaches, but that should also be easier now that they know I’m here for the long haul.
“We need to gain ground over the next few years, get some winning seasons, get to a bowl game. The idea is to make this the best situation possible for kids to come and play.”