D-III powerhouse Whitewater stays course with new coach
WHITEWATER, Wis. (AP) One of the biggest selling points that Kevin Bullis made when he applied for the head coaching job at Wisconsin-Whitewater was that he was going to essentially keep the status quo.
No major changes necessary for a team that just keeps winning.
Six of the last eight Division III national championships. The nation's longest current winning streak at any level at 32 games.
''The wheel's not broken,'' Bullis, who got the job, said in a recent interview in his new corner office with a view of Perkins Stadium. The season opens Saturday against Belhaven in Jackson, Mississippi.
Bullis knew about the expectations better than most of the other candidates. He was a defensive assistant the previous seven seasons at Whitewater, helping former head coach Lance Leipold lead the program to new heights.
Leipold left for Buffalo in the offseason for his first major college head coaching job. Whitewater launched a search for a replacement that attracted heavy interest.
Athletic director Amy Edmonds settled on Bullis, the in-house favorite. Bullis is just the fourth head coach in the last 60 years at Whitewater.
''He really understood our institution,'' Edmonds said. ''A lot of pressure for this group, 32-game winning streak ... It was more about making sure that we had the right person that fit our culture.''
Bullis planned to stick with a pro-style offense and 4-3 defense. He tried to keep similar practice routines in training camp.
What's new is the pressure to maintain success at Whitewater with Leipold now gone. Here again, Bullis felt he had an advantage over an outsider.
''For someone to come in ... new to the program, I think there would have been a lot of pressure,'' Bullis said. `For me, I guess there is pressure there, but I don't perceive it as pressure.''
As always, Bullis said, players are focused on small steps.
Improve a certain play or technique each practice. Win each week. Win the conference.
Then start thinking about achieving more once the postseason comes around late in the fall.
Senior running back Dennis Moore said that there was a carry-over in administrations in ''taking pride in the little things to help us win ... Really it's not pressure, it's just expectations.''
He describes the new boss as a high energy guy who always wants players to keep moving.
''Having him as head coach is probably the best thing that happens to us with the loss of Coach Leipold,'' Moore added.
The Warhawks, who return seven starters on each side of the ball, are a favorite again to win a Division III title.
Bullis said he had an offer to follow Leipold to Buffalo as an assistant, the second time that Bullis had an opportunity to jump to a major college program.
Instead, he stayed, intent on keeping a dynasty humming. In the small college of town of Whitewater - population 14,700 - that means fans are gearing up for another big season and wishing Bullis luck.
''Well that's the positive part, it's been all highs,'' Bullis said. ''Haven't lost a game yet.''
AP College football site: http://collegefootball.ap.org/