Rob Robinson was the only coach at the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Football Media Day that was making his debut as the head coach at his school.
But he brought confidence with him to start off the lineup of coaches to be interviewed through the morning.
That success is not likely to come easily, which an opinion shared by the coaches and media associated with the MIAA. NSU was picked to finish 12th in the league in both preseason polls.
“In the MIAA, you know it’s going to be a tough task. But the support we’re getting from the university is tremendous and we’re just looking to have a great building success in the MIAA year after year and we know what it’s going to take for us to get it there.”
And he should know. Robinson is no stranger to the league. He spent 12 years on the Washburn University coaching staff under head coach Craig Schurig, a staff that put together 10 consecutive winning seasons.
But he didn’t shy away from the fact that his journey needed to continue and Northeastern State seemed to be a good place for the next step.
“It just looked like a good opportunity, a good fit,” Robinson said. “When I went down there, I made sure I took my wife first of all, so the boss approved. At the end of the day, you’re in the state of Oklahoma. It’s a football-rich tradition. They want to win down there and they expect you to win down there.”
That is the kind of place that can get a person out of a comfort zone.
“You can get kind of in a safety position at a school where you’ve been there so long and continue success. At the end of the day, I got in this game to become a head coach. My name’s not going to appear on any victory chart from 2002-2013 at Washburn University. My ultimate goal since I got into this game was to be a head coach and to see if I can do it on my own.”
Robinson’s first chance to do it on his own comes taking over a program that was 2-8 in 2013 and has had only two winning seasons in the last 13 years. And he was asked if he had to change the mindset in Tahlequah.
“Big time,” Robinson said. “And I think that when you’re coming into the program, you’ve got to get them on your train of thought. They’ve got to be able to think for you. These seniors have to be, in the summertime, an extension of your coaching staff.
“That’s why I brought in guys like Josh Lattimer, our defensive coordinator, a two-time All-American in this league and just tough as nails. And that’s the thing we’re going to bring is just going to be hard work – day in and day out.”
Knowing the MIAA well should prove to be beneficial for Robinson as the RiverHawks’ schedule in 2014 includes only conference games.
The 11-game slate gets underway on Sept. 6 at Pittsburg State. NSU plays at home the following weekend, hosting Fort Hays State at Doc Wadley Stadium on Sept. 13 at 2 p.m.