After a year away from college football, Daryl Dickey is back at home on the sidelines.
The former Georgia Southern University offensive coordinator is the new head coach at Division II West Georgia. But in the midst of his rebuilding efforts for the Wolves football program, the university and athletic department also are in the middle of a significant building splurge.
“I was shocked by what I saw and found here,” Dickey said of the Carrollton campus. “There’s a lot of growth.”
West Georgia is building a 9,000-seat football stadium — the current Grisham Stadium seats 6,000 — and the ever-growing enrollment is expected to top 11,000 this fall. The athletic facilities building boom is expected by school officials to spur enrollment to 15,000. Those numbers, in turn, are expected to drive the Wolves from Division II to the door of Football Championship Subdivision, formerly I-AA.
In the meantime, it’s Dickey’s charge to make the Wolves competitive again in one of Division II’s top conferences, the Gulf South. Dickey spent last year in private business after six seasons as quarterbacks coach at Florida State University.
“We want to re-establish our identity and gain some respect back among our peers and our competitors,” he said.
Prior to coaching at FSU, Dickey was head coach at Presbyterian College. He posted a 28-15 mark in four seasons before being succeeded by former Georgia Southern defensive coordinator Tommy Spangler.
But the Wolves, as West Georgia’s teams are called now, have suffered mightily the last two seasons. After going 7-4 in 2005, the Wolves were a combined 3-17 in 2006 and 2007.
Dickey went 1-2 against West Georgia during his days as Presbyterian head coach, so he knows the capabilities of the program.
“My perception of West Georgia was a heckuva football team from way back,” he said.
One of his first orders of business after taking over for Mike Ledford — Dickey also brought in a new staff — is re-establishing connections with the state’s high school coaches. His outreach program goes beyond the coaches.
“We have to gather our alumni, the right way, and get them back involved in the program,” he said.
In the situation he’s inherited, Dickey said he’ll have to rely on junior college and four-year college transfers, but he prefers getting high-school signees. He believes the type of institution West Georgia has and the variety of degree programs it offers will help.
“It’s extremely important,” he said. “When they come to school, they develop a sense of pride in it. We’ve got a great place to do that at. We have to go through those things to establish those four-year kids.”
Dickey grew up in college football. His father Doug was coach at Florida and Tennessee, and the younger Dickey quarterbacked the Volunteers to a 35-7 Sugar Bowl upset over heavily-favored Miami in 1986.
But don’t expect the Wolves to run any of the offenses that are all the rage in college football now.
“We’re not a spread offense by any means,” Dickey said. “I’m a little bit old fashioned. I believe you have to run the ball to help your defense out. We’re going to be a physical team and establish the run.”
The Gulf South Conference has a television contract with CSS and that, coupled with West Georgia’s commitment, has Dickey excited.
“We’ve got a lot of things going on,” he said. “I love my opportunity. I love my job. I think we’ve got an exciting place at an exciting time at our place with the facilities coming on-line.”