ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ANDREW OTTOSON
Tabor College announced last week that it would not be renewing the contract of head football coach Robert Rubel for next season.
“It’s a crazy business,” Rubel said in response to the decision.
Rubel had interviewed Nov. 27 for the head position at Texas A&M-Kingsville, considered to be one of the more prestigious coaching opportunities in Division II.
“(At the time) I was the hottest thing in small-college football, because I interviewed for what could be the best small-college football job in the country,” Rubel said. “I got back and (Tabor) told me they had decided not to renew my contract.
“I had my 15 minutes of fame. Now nobody’s calling me back. So it’s a strange business. It comes with the territory and as a coach, you expect it.”
Rubel did not comment on the headlines his dismissal generated in Hillsboro last week.
“Honestly, I don’t even read the paper that much,” he said. “I’ve got people who call me up and say, ‘Hey, did you read this?’
“(But) it isn’t a concern for me. My concern is for my family and my assistants and their families,” Rubel said.
Changes extend to Rubel’s 20056 staff.
Don Brubacher, Tabor director of athletics, said, “Anytime there is a change at the head coaching position, the assistant positions may all change, or some of them may continue. We are in process with deciding that, so we cannot say for certain.”
Assistant coach Ivan Goepferd, who served as defensive coordinator, has submitted his resignation to Tabor and is set to retire.
Goepferd’s resume includes coaching with three state championship football teams and two runners-up in Montana as well as two Division II national title winners at the University of Northern Colo.
Goepferd coached with Rubel at North Dakota State College of Science and won the Graphic Edge Bowl.
Decisions about other coaching positions are still pending, but Tabor has begun the process of bringing in a new head coach.
“We have a typical method-it’s no different here than it is anywhere else,” Brubacher said. “We advertise the position, screen candidates, call references, hold interviews. It’s a very standard process.”
The prime months for small colleges to hire coaches are typically January and February, and Tabor is working quickly, Brubacher said.
“We are fully aware of the fact that our success in recruitment and retention (of current players) hangs in the balance,” he said.
“We are working to complete the process in a timely manner, and we are moving as quickly as we can. But there are often factors you have no control over. We hope to have a head coach appointed before the end of January.”
Rubel said he was first contacted by Texas A&M-Kingsville on Nov. 20.
“There’s just not a lot of opportunities out there right now for small college (coaches),” Rubel said. “You’ve got to wait for all the big dogs to make their moves.”
Rubel brought in 45 recruits for the 2006 season and said “the cupboard is not bare” for his eventual successor.
In his brief stint at Tabor, Rubel coached the Bluejays to a 6-4 record despite losing all but seven of the 2005 team’s starters to graduation.
“I think the most important thing is the way our kids responded after starting 1-2,” he said. “Coming back to win five of the last seven games is a testament to them and their character. As I leave here, that’s what I’m most proud of.”
Questions about the character of some current and former Tabor football players have arisen in recent days.
Without commenting directly on any published report or naming names, Rubel said “probably most of the problems derived from basically two kids.
“You know, it’s unfortunate because Tabor is a place where you try to help kids and transform lives. In order to do that, you have to take risks on kids to try to help them.
“Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out, but I truly believe Tabor and the football program help more kids than they end up hurting.”