Drake Introduces Rick Fox As Football’s 26th Head Coach
DES MOINES, Iowa – Rick Fox, who was named the successor to Chris Creighton as Drake University football head coach on Dec. 11, was formally introduced as the Bulldogs head coach during a press conference in the Paul Morrison Room on Monday, Dec. 16.
Fox, who spent the past six seasons as an assistant on Creighton’s staff, inherits a program that has won two Pioneer Football League titles in the last three seasons. His role establishing the foundation for those championship seasons as an assistant made him the natural choice to succeed the program’s all-time winningest coach.
“This is how success continues,” said Drake director of athletics Sandy Hatfield Clubb. “When you have extraordinary people ready, willing and qualified to step into this role.”
Fox’s 27 years of coaching experience at various levels, combined with his vision and passion for the position fit perfectly with Hatfield Clubb’s desire to build a program on excellence and a culture of caring.
“We could have scoured the entire country for the very best football coach and very best man for Drake University to add to our family,” Hatfield Clubb said. “I’m 100 percent confident that search would have taken us right back here to Drake University and to our – at that time assistant head coach – Rick Fox.”
Fox addressed the media and assembled crowd to lay out his immediate goals for the program which are to build upon the lofty standard and character that he helped establish as an assistant.
“We [Creighton and Fox] have been friends for over 20 years and had the opportunity to coach together these last six years,” Fox said. “We beat with the same heartbeat in terms of our vision for a college football program and the impact it can have on young men and the impact that it can have on a community and a campus. My stamp on the program is what you see in our program right now.”
Part of that stamp is maintaining the program’s five pillars – academic success, being your best, being a family, having fun and becoming impact men.
“This is generated by our players,” Fox said of the program goals. “They lead it and they move it forward. That’s the kind of men we have in our program. They run with it to be leaders, not only on our team but on this campus and in this community. We hope that we’re a football team that the city of Des Moines can take great pride in.”
Rick Fox Introductory Press Conference Quotes
Sandy Hatfield Clubb – Director of Athletics
On what Chris Creighton meant to the program:
“Chris Creighton is an extraordinary coach and an even better man. He made a significant impact on this university and the people around him. One of the things he and I talked about is that you really know if you made an impact if there is success in what you leave behind. Today we’re talking about new leadership and new personality leading our football program. It is time for new building blocks and I’m grateful to Chris and his family as they go off into a new journey in their life.”
On why Rick Fox was the natural pick to succeed Chris Creighton:
“At Drake University, we’ve made a commitment to live the Bulldog way. To build a program on excellence and ethics and wrap that in a culture of caring. We could have scoured the entire country for the very best football coach and very best man for Drake University to add to our family. I’m 100 percent confident that search would have taken us right back here to Drake University and to our – at that time assistant head coach – Rick Fox. Coach Fox is a veteran coach with 27 years of coaching experience and spent the last six as our offensive line coach. For the last three seasons, he has served as our assistant head coach where he, arm in arm with Chris Creighton, has built the success that we’ve seen on the football field.”
“Thank you to Coach Fox for continuing to believe in Drake athletics. This is how success continues. When you have extraordinary people ready, willing and qualified to step into this role. When Coach and I talked a few days before Coach Creighton’s departure, I went home just praying that should the transition take place, that coach [fox] would be willing to take the lead.”
Dr. David Maxwell – Drake University President
Not present – Written statement read by Sandy Hatfield Clubb:
“I am beyond delighted that Rick Fox has agreed to take the reins of the program and build upon the accomplishments to which he’s contributed greatly over the past six years. Beyond his extensive experience and expertise in football, he’s a man with a vision, integrity, character and energy. Drake football is a very special program – a team that wins championships with young men of high character who exemplify excellence in the classroom and their personal lives. Rick is the perfect role model and leader to continue a cherished tradition and take the program to an even higher level.”
Head Football Coach Rick Fox
On the emotions surrounding Chris Creighton’s departure:
“I wish you could have been in this room Wednesday night. One of our program goals in Drake football is to be a family. When Coach [Creighton] announced to the team he was leaving for Eastern Michigan, you would have seen first-hand what that means. Obviously it was very emotional for Coach and for our team. The love that you would have seen following that would have astounded you.”
On the challenge of taking over the Drake football program”
“The question I’ve been getting is how you follow a man [Chris Creighton] like that in this position. The answer is you don’t follow that. We continue it. You look at the pictures on the walls around here [Paul Morrison Room] and you see the history of Drake football. Johnny Bright, the 1958 Sun Bowl team that recently came back, the Chuck Shelton years as well as the Rob Ash years.”
On his vision for the program:
“I’ve been asked ‘what is your stamp on the program going to be?’ That is the most difficult question I’ve been asked. The reason it is so difficult is because Coach Creighton and I are really brothers. We have been friends for over 20 years and had the opportunity to coach together these last six years. We beat with the same heartbeat in terms of our vision for a college football program and the impact it can have on young men and the impact that it can have on a community and a campus. My stamp on the program is what you see in our program right now. Having the opportunity to work with Chris on that the last six years is one of the most enjoyable things in my career. I look forward to building on that.
“Rather than telling you some vision of the future, I want to share with you some things that are going on in the program right now and how we’re going to continue that going forward to even greater heights. If you’ve heard Coach Creighton talk, you know that we have five program goals in our program. As I said to the team on Wednesday night, those are going to continue to be the foundation of our football program as we move forward.
“The first one is academic success. We led the Pioneer Football League this year in academic all-conference selections. This past year, we had a team GPA of over 3.0.
“Our second program goal is to be our best. This is the football component. We don’t talk about winning. We talk about being our best in the very next thing that we do. Whether is a rep in the weight room, a 6 a.m. workout in February or converting that play in November to win a conference championship. What matters next is to be our best. The result of that has been two conference championships over the past three years. I can speak on behalf of the guys in this room and the guys that have already gone home that they have a passion in them to go get another one [championship] this coming year.
“Our third program goal is to be a family. If you ask any of our guys ‘What’s the greatest part about being a Drake football player?’ they will answer that it’s ‘Being a part of the Drake football family’. That has been true for a number of years.
“Our fourth goal is to have fun. We believe that football should be as much fun now as when these guys were in third grade and decided to go out for fourth grade. The did that because they had a blast playing this great game. Too many times college football is described as a business. We want our guys to keep in mind that this is a great game and they should have a blast playing together.
“Our final program goal is to be impact men. What’s not often reported is the things that these guys do on a regular basis in our community. Since the end of the season, I’ve had three different players come into my office and say ‘coach let’s start this community service project.’ This is generated by our players. They lead it and they move it forward. That’s the kind of men we have in our program. They run with it to be leaders, not only on our team but on this campus and in this community. We hope that we’re a football team that the city of Des Moines can take great pride in.
On his communication with Chris Creighton since the transition:
“It was more hugs. He was getting on a plane the next morning and I was getting in a car the next so I said ‘let’s talk.’ We talked a little bit and I said ‘Coach, there’s not going to be much change to the offense except one thing.’ He has this one formation that always screws the rest of us up. So I can promise you that’s gone. All of our offensive coaches were relieved when I told them that. As far as advice when he left, there wasn’t much more to say because we’ve worked so closely.”
On what he learned from Chris Creighton:
“Don’t be afraid to take risks. That trip to Africa was taking risks that few coaches and few administrators would be willing to do. What an amazing experience. And just the example he showed with the passion with the things he did. That impacted me as a coach.”
On the reaction from recruits:
“It’s been pretty positive. John Hugunin a linebacker, at our team meeting got up in front and said ‘We are family. It’s not about one man.’ He meant that with all respect to Coach Creighton because he helped make us that. That’s the same message that we’re taking out recruiting. We’re continuing to build on the same principles that got you interested in Drake football. Those things haven’t changed and the reception has been good. My voice isn’t great right now because I’ve been talking to a lot of recruits.”