Blugold’s new football head coach talks goals for the team

Rob Erickson named head coach, said he’s excited for the season



Rob Erickson was named head coach on Feb. 7.

On Feb. 7, Dan Schumacher, UW-Eau Claire athletic director, announced the Blugold football team had found its new head coach

“After an extensive search with over 60 applicants, I am excited to announce that Rob Erickson will be our next head football coach,” Schumacher said in his announcement. “Rob brings a wealth of experience in the WIAC, Division III and Division I.”

Rob Erickson joins the Blugolds after three years as special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach at South Dakota State University. 

According to Blugold Athletics, Erickson was a part of the staff coaching the Jackrabbits’ defense which ranked first in the Missouri Valley Conference. He also coached cornerback Don Gardner who now plays in the NFL for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Erickson started coaching college football in 2003 as defensive coordinator at UW-Stout. Then he served as defensive coordinator for Aurora University for two years.

From 2008-2014, Erickson was the associate head coach and defensive coordinator for UW-Platteville. While Erickson was leading the defense, the Pioneers earned a top-10 national ranking in 2013. In his seven years with UW-Platteville, Erickson’s defenses posted five shutouts, according to Blugold Athletics. 

Erickson then joined UW-Whitewater as associate head coach and defensive coordinator for five years. With Erickson leading the defense, the Warhawks reached the national semifinals three times and played in the national championship in 2019. 

Erickson was named WIAC assistant coach of the year in 2011 at UW-Platteville and again in 2015 at UW-Whitewater.

In college, Erickson played cornerback and safety at UW-Platteville from 1996 to 1999. 

Now, he said he is excited to take on his first head coaching job at UW-Eau Claire.

“To finally get that call saying ‘you’re the guy we believe in’ is extremely exciting,” Erickson said. “I was hoping I’d get offered the job because I knew my answer would be yes. Now let’s go to work, we can do some really good things here.”

Erickson said he believes his experience coaching in assistant roles has allowed him to prepare for leading a team.

“I’ve always looked at how leaders in front of me managed situations on a daily basis and made decisions,” he said. “I have a series of notebooks I would write the situation down and maybe I would do something a little differently, I would keep that if I ever got the opportunity to coach.”

In his three years at South Dakota State, Erickson said head coach John Stieglmeier helped him grow as a coach.

“Several times a week we would just talk about things he would do as head coach and he’d ask me what I would do and challenge me to look from a head coach’s perspective,” Erickson said. “These last three years have been my biggest growth, putting myself in a position to be a confident head coach.”

Erickson also said his experience in the WIAC will help with the transition and the organizational aspect of coaching.

For his first season as head coach of the Blugolds, Erickson said he has goals for the team both on and off the field. He wants to establish a team identity of respect, demand the details from players’ and coaches’ performance and hold everyone to a high standard of success.

He said he also wants to implement a more organized system for practices, focus on eliminating turnovers and creating explosive plays on offense, and improving tackling and preventing explosive plays on defense.

“I’ll never say ‘we’re going to win this many games.’ I believe wins are a byproduct of doing everything to the best of our ability,” he said. “If we do the little things right, the wins will come.”

Erickson said in the long term, he wants to build the team to compete and win a national championship.

“Ultimately we want to win a national championship, that’s what we’re fighting for,” he said. “The way we do that is to win the conference, and that’s definitely no small feat. If you win the conference you put yourself in a great position.” 

Beyond the football field, Erickson said he wants to set his players up for success in college and after.

“The goal for every kid that goes through the program is that they graduate,” Erickson said. “I want every kid to have a tremendous experience and to give back to the community.”

With spring training and offseason work starting up, Erickson said he’s excited to get to work.

“Seeing how this team comes together with new staff and with new kids and seeing how we gel will be exciting to see,” he said. “The players this fall will set the standard for this team for the years to come.”

Mohr can be reached at [email protected].