The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

    Coach returns to place he loves

    Kathlyn Hotynski

    Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of articles featuring first-year coaches at UW-Eau Claire.

    A year ago, current Blugold defensive coordinator Mark Sipple headed a team to recruit players for the UW-Eau Claire men’s football program because the team was without a head coach.

    Meanwhile, athletics director Scott Kilgallon searched for a replacement for departed head coach Todd Hoffner. He said he knew who the prime candidates were, but due to the Wisconsin state hiring process, he had to advertise nationally, and the process took between six and eight weeks.

    A search and screen committee found four finalists, and Kilgallon picked a familiar face to Eau Claire football, Todd Glaser.

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    On Tuesday, Glaser recruited his own prospects.

    The Eau Claire alumnus’ first season as coach proved to be difficult. The Blugolds finished with a 3-7 overall record and a 2-5 WIAC mark. But the record may be deceiving. Glaser’s team lost five games by six points or less, including two overtime games. It also played two of the top Div. III schools in the nation in St. Johns (Minn.) and runner-up for the national championship, UW-Whitewater.

    “It’s probably no different from the season I had my first year,” Hoffner said. ” . When there’s change and transition, sometimes the record doesn’t go the way you want it to.”

    Kilgallon said he is happy with Glaser’s first year.

    “I think he did a tremendous job. I’m just pleased we hired him,” he said. “He just clicked right away with the student athletes.”

    His ability to click with the athletes at Eau Claire might come from his long history in the program. Glaser played defensive line for the ‘Golds from 1987 to 1990. He worked under four Eau Claire head coaches after he graduated. He was the defensive coordinator under Hoffner, who resigned after the 2005 season to take the offensive coordinator job at the University of South Dakota. If you total playing and coaching, Glaser has been in the program for 14 years.

    “I think it’s a great place. I went to school here, my wife went to school here and my two brothers did and (also) played here.”

    In three of the years he wasn’t a Blugold, he was head coach of Div. III Marietta College (Ohio) from 2003 through 2005. In the four seasons before Glaser arrived at Marietta, the Pioneers had a 10-30 record.

    Glaser turned the program around quickly, posting a 6-4 record in 2004 and a 5-5 record in 2005. The Ohio Athletic Conference named Glaser coach of the year in 2004. When the Eau Claire job opened up, it was a no-brainer for Glaser.

    “Eau Claire has given me a lot. I consider this home,” he said. “I’ve been here for a long time and it’s just a great, great place and I think it’s the best job in America.”

    The players welcomed Glaser with open arms, Marc Moonen and Ryan Schulz, seniors for the 2006 season said.

    “I think a lot of players really responded to Glaser because he’s more like a players coach . Glaser really could relate,” Schulz said. “He kind of had that fiery attitude and he kind of brought that out on the field.”

    One of the moves Glaser made in his first year was naming sophomore Kyle Paulson starting quarterback. Paulson struggled at the beginning of the season, throwing seven interceptions and only four touchdowns in the first five games. But Paulson picked it up at the end of the season, throwing four touchdowns to only two interceptions and averaged more than 215 yards passing over the last four games.

    “We’re excited about him. He did a good job of getting better throughout the year,” Glaser said. “He’s a good leader.”

    Moonen said he expects the football team to do big things in the next few years.

    “The next few years I see the program actually taking off,” Moonen said. “He does a lot of different things that help the program out.”

    Schulz pointed to recruiting as a catalyst for change.

    “Until he gets his players in, because right now he’s still playing on Todd Hoffner’s recruiting classes . I think you’re going to see a very big upswing,” he said. “And even next year there’s going to be an improvement. One thing that Glaser is really good at is recruiting because he relates so well to players . He just knows how to talk to players.”

    Another aspect of the job Glaser excels in is fundraising and relations with the community, alumni and boosters, Kilgallon said.

    Previous coaches in the program held luncheons with boosters to discuss and review the previous game. Kilgallon said many coaches weren’t able to succeed in the luncheons, but Glaser has.

    “He did such a great job with it that a lot of the community people that attended asked us if we could extend it through the winter sports as well,” he said, adding that his success with luncheons led to support for all 22 sports programs at the university.

    Glaser said former players and coaches he worked with have come out to support the program.

    “Part of fundraising is building and cultivating relationships and that’s something he’s tremendous at,” Kilgallon said. “He’s clearly brought alumni back into the program here.”

    Hoffner expects Glaser to turn the team into a contender very soon.

    “(The program) will go as high as he wants it to go,” he said. “With his direction and his leadership, they’ll be competing for conference championships this fall or future falls to come.”

    Schultz said that when he first met with his new coach he was concerned that if Glaser became successful, he would move on to another job. He asked him if he would move onto the next level if he won a couple conference championships.

    “He (said) ‘no,’ this is where he wants to be,” Schultz said. “It shows you he’s perfect for the job . he’s going to stay here for the long haul.”

    Glaser couldn’t agree more.

    “I’m not going anywhere. This is it,” he said. “My wife and my kids are excited to be back. … It’s a great place to raise a family, a great place to work, we’re exited to be back and we’re excited about the future.”

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    Coach returns to place he loves