Wallace announces retirement from football

North Alabama head coach Bobby Wallace studies the team during spring practice in 2016. Wallace announced he is retiring from football Dec. 20 after leading the team to the 2016 national title game, and steps away as the all-time winningest coach in school history.

by Sports Editor Andrew Fulmer

Bobby Wallace, the all-time winningest coach in North Alabama history, announced his retirement Dec. 20 as the Lions head football coach.

The move comes after a 29-3 defeat in the national championship game to Northwest Missouri State and a reclassification from the university to Division I Football Championship Subdivision.

“I am retiring for the third time, and hopefully this one sticks,” Wallace said. “There are many reasons I’m retiring now, two of them being personal.”

Wallace cited he wants to spend more time with his family, especially with his third grandchild being born in September, and his fourth grandchild due in February.

Wallace finishes his career with 171 wins, including 126 at UNA, over his 28-year head-coaching career at three different universities.

In his final season, Wallace led the Lions to an 11-2 record and their first national championship game appearance in 21 years.

Wallace said the accolades his teams received are special, but they are not what he will cherish the most from his tenure at UNA.

“People and relationships are what I’ll miss the most,” he said. “Not trophies, or winning or anything like that. The people I worked with and the players I coached are what I’ll remember the most.”

In his second stint as head coach of the Lions, Wallace led the team to a 44-15 record and a record breaking four consecutive GSC titles from 2012-16.

Quarterbacks Luke Wingo and Jacob Tucker were integral players during his second stint, and both said playing for a coach like Wallace was a blessing.

“It was a great experience,” Wingo said. “He’s a players coach. He always put us first in every situation, and he loved us.”

Tucker said Wallace’s relationship oriented style of coaching made the team function efficiently.

“It made everything run so much smoother,” he said. “He’s the type of coach that has his door open anytime you want to talk to him. To play for a guy like that, makes everything so much easier.”

He began his head-coaching career at UNA in 1988 and coached the Lions until 1997. This first stint in Florence included three straight Division II national titles from 1993-95 and the program’s first Harlon Hill Trophy winner, Ronald McKinnon, in 1995.

Wallace then accepted a job offer from Temple, a Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. He coached the Owls from 1998-2005 and led them to an upset over the No. 14 Virginia Tech Hokies in his first season at Temple— the first win over a ranked opponent in 11 seasons and the programs first Big East Conference road victory.

The Owls struggled to find much more success during Wallace’s tenure there, compiling a 19-71 record. He returned to the Division II ranks in 2006 when he took the head coach job at one of UNA’s biggest rivals, West Alabama.

Wallace was the head coach of the Tigers from 2006-10 and led UWA to a playoff appearance in 2009.

After spending a year out of coaching in 2011, Wallace returned to UNA for a second stint in 2012 following Terry Bowden’s departure to Akron.

Wallace played football at Mississippi State from 1973-75 and spent a year there as a graduate assistant.

He then became a position coach under Pat Dye from 1977-85 at East Carolina, Wyoming and Auburn, where many credited him for recruiting 1985 Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson.

He returned to Mississippi State as defensive coordinator in 1986, followed by a one-season stint as defensive backs coach at Illinois.