SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Missouri State Athletics Director Kyle Moats said the University already had money to buyout Football Coach Dave Steckel’s contract before a Thanksgiving meeting.
That contract had two years left worth more than $500,000.
After the meeting, though, Moats felt good about the Bears football future under Stec despite only 13 wins in five seasons with the coach.
“We talked a lot about things that happened during the season,” Moats said. “And how we could improve those things which dovetailed into other things. We both left feeling we have to make it better.”
Moats met again with Stec on January 6th in a regularly scheduled meeting, but in this one the mood changed.
“In that meeting, we both talked about the direction that the program was going to go,” Moats said. “And it started to separate at that particular time. That didn’t happen in the first meeting. We never even discussed that. The second meeting we got more in depth in more things. And that led to this situation.”
Both Moats and President Clif Smart said hiring Stec was not a mistake.
“When we think back over that, I don’t know a single person that wasn’t excited about that hire,” Smart said. “And about the potential for Bears football.”
But five years and 42 losses later, Stec is now gone and the Bears are searching for his replacement.
“I told Kyle that I want to hire the best football coach available,” Smart said. “I want to hire the best football coach available. And I want it done in the next two weeks if possible.”
The clock is running on Missouri State to get the hire done with football signing period in February and many players waiting to see who the next coach will be.
As for what the University is looking for in its new coach, Moats did not cite any specific qualities but adds he’s learned some lessons from the previous cycle.
“I think you need to find a coach who can win, been successful,” Moats said. “I’m not so worried about that, where they come from. They could be any level.”
The Bears have not had a winning season since 2009 and have not made the playoffs since 1990.
On top of that, they continue to play in arguably the FCS’s toughest conference.
Both Smart and Moats agree that Missouri State needs a football program and it will remain part of the fabric of the University.
In the future, however, it needs to start winning.
“Our issue is not just caught up,” Moats said. “But at least try to get ahead in some areas. And I think that’s the challenge that we have. And a coach has to know that.”