Monday, March 8, 2010

'Dreams do come true'

Fowler named Tarleton's 24th head football coach

Sports Editor

Cary Fowler can finally drop the "interim" from his title.

Fowler, who has served as interim head football coach at Tarleton State University since Sam McElroy's resignation on Feb. 2, was named full time head coach in a Monday afternoon press conference at Wisdom Gym.

He becomes the 24th head football coach at Tarleton.

More than 100 people were on hand for the announcement, including approximately 50 Tarleton football players.

"Dreams do come true," said Fowler, 38, a Kentucky native. "This should encourage anyone who has big dreams, because a little boy from Kentucky reached his dream today."

Fowler has served Tarleton as defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator the last two seasons. He previously held both titles at Midwestern State for seven years. He has been coaching in the Lone Star Conference longer than any other assistant or head coach.

The players on hand lined up to congratulate Fowler one by one and express their support and commitment to the new head coach.

"This is huge. We know him and trust him and he knows and trusts us," said defensive end and co-captain Jacob Rowe, who will be a senior next fall. "He just has so much passion for his players and so much confidence in us. He makes us believe we can take on anybody."

Tarleton athletic director Lonn Reisman said the search was wide open ever since McElroy resigned to becomedefensive line coach at Texas Tech.

"I was very open and our search committee was very open," Reisman said. "During (Fowler's) time as interim head coach we were able to evaluate him and we found that he ran the program the way we expect it to be run. Cary has tremendous leadership qualities and he is committed to having a program built on character and discipline."

Fowler's first official order of business was announcing that spring football practice will begin March 22 and the annual spring game is scheduled for April 17.

The Texans won a share of both the LSC league-wide championship and South Division title in 2009 and posted the school's second win in the NCAA Division II playoffs. Tarleton won 10 games for only the third time in school history, earning McElroy regional Coach of the Year honors from the American Football Coaches Association. McElroy was 40-15 in five seasons as head coach at Tarleton.

"Coach McElroy had a dream and a vision of winning a national championship at Tarleton," Fowler told the crowd on hand. "He had a tremendous opportunity to go to Texas Tech, but I told him on the phone (Monday morning) that I plan to see that vision and those dreams come true here."

Fowler's defense was a big part of the Texans' 2009 success, finishing third in the league in both points allowed and scoring defense. Tarleton was first in scoring defense and second in total defense in 2008.

At Midwestern, Fowler was named the 2005 NCAA Division II Assistant Coach of the Year by the AFCA. His 2007 MSU stop-troops topped the LSC in total defense. He helped Midwestern to its first NCAA playoff appearance in 2004 and first NCAA post season win in 2006.

Fowler was a standout safety and special teams player at Murray State in Kentucky in 1992 and 1993 after beginning his college career at Austin Peay State in Tennessee.

He remained at Murray State for seven years after his playing career was complete, serving as a graduate assistant from 1994-96, secondary coach in 1997 and linebackers and free safeties coach as well as recruiting coordinator from 1998-2000.

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