Paul Mierkiewicz looked under his Christmas tree and his best gift was a new coaching challenge.
Mierkiewicz was announced today as McPherson College’s new head football coach, replacing Steve Fox. Fox resigned Dec. 3 after one season as head coach and a 5-6 record to take an assistant coaching job in Texas in order to be closer to his family.
“It was evident in the interview that Paul was our guy,” McPherson College Athletic Director Doug Quint said. “His values, philosophies and vision are just what we need to lead this football program. We feel very fortunate to land a guy that has been a successful collegiate head coach at the NAIA level. I look forward to the stability he brings and watching him build this program back to where it needs to be.”
“I’m truly honored for the opportunity to be the next football coach at McPherson College,” Mierkiewicz said. “I want to thank President (Michael) Schneider and the entire athletic administration for giving me this chance. My entire family is excited to be a part of the McPherson community.”
The 47-year-old Mierkiewicz will be moving to McPherson in a couple of weeks with wife, Heather, and two daughters, Jensen and Abigail, ages 12 and 10. He told midkansasonline.com one of the top attractions of the job was the community, as wanted to find a town where his family can settle down and he can see his children through high school.
Mierkiewicz’s most recent head coaching stint came at his alma mater, Loras College (Iowa), where he led the Duhawks from 2011 to 2013. For the past year he has been an assistant coach at Dubuque Hempstead High School in Iowa.
Mierkiewicz is best known, however, for his highly successful 10-year stint as head coach at Hastings College in Nebraska. He led the Broncos to a sparkling 65-41 record, which ranks him third all-time at the school, which has a rich tradition. Their best season was 2009 when Hastings was 9-3 and twice he led the Broncos to the NAIA playoffs.
Prior to being the Broncos’ head coach, Mierkiewicz was their offensive coordinator for three season, going 27-5. The offensive side of the ball produced 12 school records and in 1999 Hastings was the No. 1-ranked NAIA team in the country for much of the year.
Mierkiewicz also served as the assistant to the Hastings athletic director from 1998-2001.
His first college coaching job came in 1994 when he was named the offensive coordinator at Loras College, where he served until 1998.
Mierkiewicz earned his Bachelor of Arts in Physical Education in 1989 and his Masters of Physical Education with an emphasis in Athletic Administration in 1995, both from Loras College.
Merkiewicz said today that he has several orders of business. One is to put together a coaching staff and he’s already spoken with some present members to gauge their interest in staying. Also, he said contacting the current players is an immediate task, as he needs to see how many will be returning. The Bulldogs are coming off a 5-6 season, which included four losses by a touchdown or less.
The current staff has been recruiting and staying on those prospects is another priority. Merkiewicz said hitting Kansas hard is at the top of his list, but he also has some contacts in Oklahoma, Texas and Arizona — a state that once was a gold mine for the Bulldogs, especially during their playoff days.
Merkiewicz said he’ll tailor his offense to his personnel, but would like to employ the pistol look with an emphasis on the run. He believes controlling the line of scrimmage is a key as time of possession and valuing the football often are barometers of a team’s success. He said developing depth in both the offensive and defensive lines is a key to a successful program.
The new coach said he was impressed with the defensive job the Bulldogs did last year and is pretty much on board with the scheme from the previous staff. Mac had one of the best defenses in the KCAC last year.
Merkiewicz says once he can establish the program, he’d like to see the squad number at about 105. He generally had very good numbers while at Hastings.