Off the beach, onto the field

Bobby Wallace, who returned to UNA last week as the new head football coach, worked as head coach at UNA from 1988-1997 and won three straight national championships during that time.

UNA introduced Bobby Wallace as its new head football coach Jan. 3 with hopes to continue the success he left behind while also building toward the Division I transition.

 Wallace, 57, went into retirement in 2010 and returned to UNA after spending 10 years as head coach from 1988-97 and winning three straight national championships.

He said there wasn’t much that could get him off the beach and out of retirement until the head coach position became available again at UNA.

“I spent 10 years here at UNA and the Shoals area and the bottom line is it’s the longest I have lived anywhere in my adult life,” Wallace said. “The friendships and relationships that I built over those 10 years and the success that came with it, it’s hard to put in words how much UNA means to me.”

According to Athletic Director Mark Linder, Wallace was the perfect fit for UNA to help the university transition to Division I athletics.

“From the time we started the process and all the phone calls that we took, it was Coach Wallace that knocked all the other candidates out of the ball park,” Linder said. “We are about graduating champions and that is what Coach Wallace is all about.”

Wallace said there is a lot of infrastructure that has been added to high school coaches around the area.

            “Once we make the jump to Division I, we are going to have to recruit a lot better athletes than we did before,” Wallace said. “We want players that take their academics seriously, are willing to work hard, and have the talent and intangibles that we want to have at this program,”

            “Most importantly, it starts by building those relationships with the head coaches around the area to bring good quality high school players,” he said.

            Throughout the entire Division I process, people have wondered where UNA will be 10 or even 20 years from now. Once finished, Wallace wants to leave UNA in a better position and also as a legitimate Division I university.

            “At this time I hope we can get into a conference in Division I and be able to compete in the league for championships, and national championships, but I would like have a lot players that are willing to come back to UNA, have their degrees and be successful in their lives,” Wallace said.