UCA Begins Coaching Search – Clint Conque Resigns


UCA Begins Coaching Search - Clint Conque Resigns

By Donna Stephens

Clint Conque has resigned after 14 seasons atop the University of Central Arkansas football program to take the job at Stephen F. Austin, the Bears’ Southland Conference foe.

He informed his staff, which had been on the road recruiting, of his plans Friday.

On the surface, the move looks to be no more than a lateral one. Conque’s name had been tied to coaching vacancies at several Division I schools over the years, but he had indicated in recent months that he was not looking at other positions and expected to be in Conway for the foreseeable future.

But he and his wife are from south Louisiana, so they will be closer to home in Nacogdoches, Texas. His youngest son, Zach, was a redshirt freshman quarterback at Texas-San Antonio this season and drew praise for his play in a scrimmage in March, according to www.mysanantionio.com.

Conque put together a record of 105-59 in 14 years with three conference championships. He shepherded the program in its transition from the Gulf South Conference of NCAA Division II to the Southland and Division I Football Championship Series. The Bears reached the FCS Playoffs in 2011 and ’12.

On the eve of the 2013 season, Conque told Sporting Life Arkansas: “You worry about complacency and entitlement, but as long as we stay hungry and don’t feel entitled and get complacent, I think good things will happen.

“Now we want to remain a consistent player at the national level, and to do that presents its own challenges. But at 52, I am as motivated and energized as I was the first year I came to the university. I look forward to it.”

But 2013 was a disappointment. Coming off a 9-3 record in 2012, having won the Southland Conference championship and reached the second round of the playoffs, UCA opened the season at No. 6 in the FCS rankings but finished 7-5 overall and 4-3 in the conference amid a flurry of season-ending injuries, including one to senior quarterback Wynrick Smothers, the SLC’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2012.

Smothers had not heard the news when he graduated from UCA Saturday morning.

“I guess I’m just shocked at the whole idea, but if he feels this is best for him, I wish him the best of luck,” Smothers said after confirmation came.

UCA won its last two games to tie Sam Houston State for third in the league behind Southeastern Louisiana and McNeese State

SFA’s season was worse. The Lumberjacks finished 3-9 overall, 1-6 in the SLC, including a 66-31 loss at UCA. They tied Nicholls State for last in the conference and lost their last five games.

On Nov. 25, SFA athletic director Robert Hill fired coach J.C. Harper after a seven-year record of 37-45. The national search for his replacement has apparently ended, and now UCA’s will begin.

Several names have been tossed around among coffee shop talk in Conway, including Tim Horton, the Auburn running backs coach who grew up in Conway as the son of UCA coach Harold Horton; and Todd Cooley, a former UCA assistant coach now the head coach at Delta State.


From UCA…

After 14 seasons as head football coach at the University of Central Arkansas, Clint Conque has resigned to accept the same position at Stephen F. Austin. During his 14 years in Conway, Conque compiled a 105-59 record, won three conference championships, led the Bears to two Division I FCS Playoffs and a consistent presence in the national Top 25, peaking at No. 6 to start the 2013 season.

Dr. Brad Teague, Central Arkansas’ Director of Athletics, issued the following statement on Conque’s resignation and the search for the next leader of the UCA football program:

“We appreciate the 14 years Coach Conque dedicated to UCA and Conway. UCA has a longstanding championship tradition, and Clint Conque continued this tradition and led us into our Division I era with great success, and for that we are thankful.”

“UCA is and always has been a very strong athletics program, and football is a cornerstone of this strength and has been for many decades. The University of Central Arkansas has quickly become one of the nation’s preeminent Division I FCS programs, and because of that there will be considerable interest from quality candidates who will not only continue, but build upon this institution’s standard of success both in academics and athletic achievements. I can assure our current student-athletes and fans that we will continue the UCA way of winning on and off the field.”

“This is a tremendous opportunity for our next head football coach. There are precious few jobs around the country that combine our type of quality institution, a nationally-respected football program, and a winning athletics program situated on a vibrant, beautiful campus in a fabulous city with great people. This is a coveted position, and there is no doubt we will have many high-caliber football coaches with a great desire to lead this program.”

“We will immediately begin focusing on the search for our next head coach. Head coaching and/or Division I experience is very important, as is a passion for helping our student-athletes succeed as football players and men and upholding the standards of this university. Quality people work at UCA, and that will continue with this and all hires.”

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