The new leader of the Western Illinois University football program said his background makes him the perfect fit for the job.
Charlie Fisher comes to Western from the University of Richmond, where he was the offensive coordinator. He has held assistant coaching positions at Penn State, Vanderbilt and Temple. He was also a head coach at The University of West Georgia from 1993-1997.
While he has more than 30 years of coaching experience, Fisher said it’s his life experience that has best prepared him for this job.
“I grew up in the farmland of central Pennsylvania. All I know is hard work. Try to do things the right way. Treat people the right way and have a blue collar, tough mentality,” Fisher said at his introductory news conference Monday afternoon.
Fisher replaces Bob Nielson, who left Western for the University of South Dakota after three years of improved records culminating in a trip to the playoffs this past season. Nielsen’s departure left a bad taste in some fans' mouths, and left them hoping Fisher would stay around longer, especially if he is successful.
The 56 year-old coach said that shouldn’t be a concern. “I’m at the perfect place in my career to really finish,” Fisher said. “And to build a program the way we want to do it. And do it the right way on the back end of my career.”
Fisher says he is aware of declining enrollment, budget challenges, and possible layoffs of faculty and staff at WIU. He says a successful football team on and off the field can help bring more attention, students and money to Western.
“There are challenging times in a lot of places, and obviously that’s here in some shape or form,” Fisher said. “People take pride in our football program. We want them to feel good about what’s going on. That helps them. That helps all us of feel a lot better.”
Western Illinois lost about a month of recruiting time between Nielson's departure and Fisher's hire. The new coach said he has reviewed the roster and potential recruits, and is confident he can move forward and bring in a good class of players for the 2016 season.