It takes time, energy and, perhaps most importantly, patience to rebuild a program.
Those are all things Steve Laqua is keeping that in mind during his rookie season at Minnesota State University-Moorhead.
Although he had experience as an assistant at North Dakota State (his alma mater) and Minnesota, Crookston, this would be Laqua's first head coaching gig at the collegiate level.
There wasn't much to work with when he first walked on campus. The Dragons had won just six games since 2008, and had very little pedigree in a conference that features the reigning NCAA Division II national champions.
Undettered, the ever-energetic Laqua went to work.
His top priority was generating more support for the program. MSUM did not have a football booster club when Laqua arrived, therefore lacking the most obvious avenue for football-specific donations. As a result, many potential donors were keeping their checkbooks closed because they didn't have control over where their money was going. That's really stacked the deck against the Dragons, who are currenlty working with eight of a possible 26 scholarships in the ultra-competitive NSIC.
Another thing on Laqua's list was recruiting. The coach stressed the importance of retaining local talent--something there is an abundance of in the Fargo-Moorhead area--during his introductory press conference. The primary target is the 150-mile radius surrounding the MSUM campus, which is similar to the strategy employed by several other successful NSIC programs. It requires establishing solid relationships with area coaches, something Laqua had already done during his time at Shanley.
It's far too early to call, but a quick glance at the Dragons' current crop of freshman suggests Laqua is already enjoying a certain measure of success in the area.
Meanwhile, it's clear there is plenty of work still to do on the field (as indicated by last week's 48-10 loss to Winona State). Laqua wants to win football games, sure, but improvement is his main goal. In other words, he understands it's going to take time, energy and, perhaps most importantly, patience.
Looks like MSUM has just the right man for the job.