It was not a surprise but UMD is now looking for a new Athletic Director and a new head football coach as Bob Nielson has decided to move on in the head coaching ranks. Starting immediately Bob will be the head coach at Western Illinois University Leathernecks in Macomb, Illinois. There is a nice story about Bob on the UMD web page.
This is a hockey blog and this departure does effect UMD hockey as Bob was the Athletic Director and a one of the faces for getting the Nation Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) started. This will raise some questions among UMD fans who now have to hope that the University will find the appropriate leader as Men's hockey is moving to a new conference and one that will continue the winning tradition UMD has enjoyed under Bob's years as AD.
I must admit that I have only meet Bob on one occasion which was at the 2010 NCAA Frozen Four. I was looking for a spot to take pictures prior to the start of the game when Bob was standing taking in the scene at the Xcel Energy Center. I congratulated him on his 2nd NCAA Div II championship and asked him what was harder being the head coach of a team prior to a championship game or the AD of a team prior to the game. He said he was more nervous being the AD than the coach. We then continued to briefly talk about change in media and he asked about my role. I mentioned to him that I was a UMD alumni and he then asked about my day job. In the conversation he seemed generally interested and a very nice person.
After then game the scene in the locker room was very energetic. Bob was standing outside the looker room letting the players celebrate when I congratulated him on the win and he remembered our previous conversation. He remained in the background accepting the congratulations and giving them back to others as people went in and out of the locker room. I could see he was very happy and knew his place to let everyone involved with the team to take in this beg win.
We wish Bob the best with his new team. For all of the Bulldog fans living in the Twin Cities area, next year Bob and his new, team the Leathernecks, will be playing the the Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium on September 14, 2013.