Fort Hays made change in football in 2010
Published on -12/23/2010, 9:41 AM
By RANDY GONZALES
One winning season in six years prompted Fort Hays State University athletic officials to oust Tiger football coach Kevin Verdugo on Nov. 10.
FHSU Athletic Director Curtis Hammeke said the program needed to "change directions" at a news conference announcing Verdugo's dismissal.
On Dec. 10, Fort Hays named Verdugo's successor, choosing Washburn University defensive coordinator Chris Brown to become the 22nd head coach in school history.
"Everyone said, 'If you can get Chris Brown, that's who you should get.' " FHSU President Edward Hammond said at a news conference announcing Brown's hiring.
The change in head coaches for Fort Hays football was one of the HDN's top stories of 2010.
Verdugo, whose lone winning season was a 6-5 record in 2009, won his first three games in 2010, but then lost his last eight, sealing his fate. He finished 18-47 overall and 9-36 in the MIAA.
"It's been a journey, an interesting challenge, Verdugo said at his news conference. "I look forward to the next thing we have coming in the future."
In 102 years of football, Fort Hays has never had a nine-win season, and has had six eight-win seasons and six seven-win seasons.
Fort Hays has made improvements in the offseason to try to turn that around. Hammeke said assistants' salaries have increased a cumulative $50,000, and Brown received a raise over Verdugo's salary, to $90,000. As well, the school hopes to have an indoor training facility built in the next few years.
Brown, 36, played prep football at Liberal before becoming an All-American safety at Pittsburg State University. He was an assistant at Liberal for three seasons before being named defensive coordinator at Washburn, where he has been the last nine years.
The Tigers' new coach will bring a 4-2-5 defense and a pro-style offense to Fort Hays. He has an idea what it will take to turn things around.
Brown said it "comes down to the attitude of the players."
"Getting those players ready, getting them excited again for football," Brown said. "... Bringing that love back to the game, I really think that is what they needed."