As the University of North Alabama Athletic Director Mark Linder started his comments in front of today’s press conference in Flowers Hall, he said that his goal was to find the right coach to continue the culture of Lions football as well as a person with good character and integrity.
He already had that person on staff at UNA and passed the reigns of the perennial powerhouse team to Coach Chris Willis. The hire comes just two days after legendary Head Coach Bobby Wallace announced his retirement.
Willis is a long-term Lions assistant coach and was the Defensive Coordinator and Assistant Head Coach this past season. He has spent 15 years on the UNA football staff working under three athletic directors and the past three head coaches. He has coached both offense and defense while also being the recruiting coordinator under Mark Hudspeth.
“In every search for a head coach, we look at individual character, the ability to recruit and their professional pedigree,” Linder said. “When you look at his body of work, we have known Chris for 15 years on our staff and we know he is a man of character. We also know he has the ability to recruit excellent student-athletes. And his coaching pedigree includes working with Steve Campbell, Mark Hudspeth, Terry Bowden and Bobby Wallace and he has excelled with all of them. In his 15 years here at UNA we have a 139-45 record, have won seven conference championships and been in the playoffs 12 times. Those numbers speak for themselves.”
Coach Willis will take over at a time when UNA has one season remaining in Division II before beginning the transition to Division I to play in the Football Championship Division (FCS). He inherits a team that has received a post-season bid for the past four seasons and has won an unprecedented four consecutive Gulf South Conference titles.
“I’m not here to fix anything. I’m here to continue everything,” Willis stated in his remarks.