Northwest Missouri State University has named Rich Wright as the 20th head coach of Bearcat football. Wright was officially introduced during a press conference on Monday afternoon at the J.W. Student Union on the Northwest campus. Wright takes over for Adam Dorrel, who was announced Monday morning as the new head coach at Abilene Christian University.
“Number one, Rich Wright is a teacher,” said Director of Athletics Mel Tjeerdsma. “He is always very well organized, he is very passionate, very personable and definitely a motivator. He really has a great football mind more than anything else.”
Wright takes over a program that graduates a senior class that went 55-2 with three national titles in the last four years and six in program history. Pressure will be on Wright to continue the winning ways of this program.
Wright, a native of Hamilton, N.Y., has been a member of the Bearcat coaching staff since 2004, serving as the program’s defensive coordinator and assistant head coach the past six seasons. Since the 2004 season, Northwest is 163-22 overall and 119-10 in MIAA play. He has helped lead Northwest to eight NCAA title games, capturing four championship trophies.
The Bearcats have led the nation the past three seasons in total defense, allowing just 240.9 yards per game in 2016. Northwest was also the NCAA’s top rushing defense and scoring defense the past two seasons. Wright has twice been named the ProGrass Division II Coordinator of the Year, winning the award following the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
Three former players have been on NFL rosters, Longacre, Dave Tollefson and Steve Williams. Each have spent time with the Los Angeles Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots. Tollefson is a two-time Super Bowl Champion, earning his first ring with the New York Giants in 2007 and again following the 2011 season.
Wright earned his master’s degree from Northwest in 1996 and received his undergraduate degree from Dana College in 1995. After serving two years as a Northwest graduate assistant during the 1995 and 1996 seasons, he coached at Dakota State in 1997 and Central Methodist in 1998. Wright spent the 1999 season at William Penn University before taking a job at St. Ambrose University where he worked for four years from 2000-03. He is married to Sarah Wright, also a Northwest alum, and their two daughters, Grace and Katie.