“As muddy as black creek water,” Alan Hall says in describing how clear his understanding of the task before him was in taking over as head football coach at Northwest Oklahoma State University. Hall was in an unusual place. The Rangers were in the process of transitioning from the NAIA level, where they won a national title in 1999 and played for two more in 2000 and 2003, to NCAA Division II, but he didn’t know for certain at what level his team would compete his first year on the job.
“When I got hired in December 2011, we were still in the application phase (for Division II),” Hall recalls, “We didn’t find out that we actually got accepted into the provisional process until the following July. So there was six months there where we had our fingers crossed.”
A former quarterback at the University of Miami in the early ‘90s, Hall has had success at nearly every level of college football as a coach, most recently as head coach at Bible Baptist School in Savannah, Ga. In his second season at NWOSU, Hall finds himself in the position of trying to return a powerhouse program to its past glories, and against better competition, to boot.
“I knew that there was a long, football-rich tradition that they had (at NWOSU),” Hall says, “and that was something that intrigued me in terms of coming here and trying to carry that tradition on at the Division II level. Things are moving in the direction that we planned on, so we’re excited about that.”
There were growing pains. The Rangers struggled out of the gate against a tougher schedule to seven straight defeats to start the 2012 season, before ending with four wins in a row. But the building blocks were in place.
“We were young at a lot of spots, and it took some time for us to sort of buy in to what we were trying to do,” Hall says. “We were fortunate to end the way we did. The kids kind of got that taste in their mouths about what winning was like. Certainly, we’re not where we want to be, but we’re headed in the right direction.”
The Rangers’ 2013 season will kick off at home on Sept. 5 against Arkansas Tech.