Ricky Williams Brings Star Power to UCA Bears Football Opener


The list of accolades is long for Ricky Williams.

During his four years as a running back at the University of Texas, Ricky Williams set the NCAA career rushing record and was the 1998 Heisman Trophy winner.  He won the Doak Walker Award twice, the Jim Brown Trophy twice, the Walter Camp Award and the Maxwell Award.  He finished his college career with 6,279 yards rushing. 927 yards receiving and 75 total touchdowns and was recently inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.

And in Conway on Thursday, Aug. 29, the first college football game of the 2013 season in Arkansas kicks off with Ricky Williams on the sideline as a new assistant football coach for University of the Incarnate Word Cardinals.

The small Catholic college located in San Antonio, Texas, travels to Conway to face the UCA Bears. It will be the first game for both the Bears and the Cardinals, a team that starts only its fifth season of football and plays for the first time as an FCS school in the Southland Conference. The Bears are ranked No. 7 in the FCS and defending Southland Conference champs.

Last week, as the Bears were in the midst of their second week of fall football camp and coming off media day, the former college and pro football star, Ricky Williams, was being announced as the newest member of the Incarnate Word Cardinals football coaching staff.

“We are elated and thrilled to have such a fabulous person join our coaching staff,” said Incarnate Word’s head football coach Larry Kennan.  “Having Ricky Williams join our program gives us instant credibility in the world of football.”

Williams will be an offensive coach for the Cardinals specifically working with the young running backs and any others who might need his help. Williams is going to continue his work as a broadcaster for the Longhorn Network, which means he won’t be on the sideline for every game his team plays, but he will be making the hours-long bus ride with his new team for it’s season opener in Conway – adding even more incentive for football-starved fans to catch the game in person that night at Estes Stadium.

Here was the scene at the announcement of Williams’ hiring.


As the USA Today reported:

Williams got a boost in his new career from a pair of coaches who were important in his career in Mack Brown and Nick Saban. They wrote letters of recommendation for Williams when he was looking to land this job.

Their endorsements probably weren’t necessary though, Incarnate Word coach Larry Kennan was thoroughly impressed with Williams from the moment the two first spoke.

“Ricky Williams is one of the biggest names in Texas football,” Kennan said. “To have him join the coaching staff is a huge boost.”

[Williams] is looking forward to getting back on the field a year after his retirement from the NFL. Williams will work with the team part time because he had already accepted a position working for the Longhorn Network during the football season.

He has a simple goal for what he hopes to get out of his new pupils.

“Just that they can be much better than they think they can be,” he said. “What I’d like for everybody that’s associated with this football team is to go beyond whatever we thought we could do. That’s when things for me start to get fun. It’s easy when you know what you can achieve and you go out and do it. But for me that gets boring. When you can go beyond what you thought you could do, that’s when it gets contagious and for me that’s when it starts getting really fun.”

Williams was a first round draft pick out of the University of Texas in 1999 for the New Orleans Saints.  He played for the Saints, Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens before retiring after the 2011 season.  He finished his career with 10,009 yards rushing and five 1,000-yard seasons.

It was, by many accounts, an odd pro football career and certainly untraditional. He retired from the NFL in 2004, days before the start of training camp that season, after he was found to have violated the league’s drug policy. He returned to the sport and the Miami Dolphins in 2005, but was found to have violated the NFL drug policy again and was suspended for the entire 2006 football season, which he spent playing in the Canadian Football League.

The ESPN 30 for 30 documentary Run Ricky Run details much of Williams’ life and career.



Here is video of Ricky Williams earlier in 2013 when he was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.

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