Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Football Coach Leaves Siuc at Critical Time

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Football Coach Leaves Siuc at Critical Time

Article excerpt

"I'm honored. It means a lot to be selected to come back and coach at your own school and SIU is my school. It's going to be like going home."

Shawn Watson, after he was hired as SIUC football coach in 1993.

******** Three years ago, Shawn Watson was the talk of Carterville and Carbondale. Watson, then 34, had been hired to give the failing SIU football program a big boost. He was one of the youngest head coaches in the country, taking on a program that had had only two winning seasons since 1984. But, just when it appeared that Watson had turned the corner with the Salukis, he decided to call it quits and leave home. Watson, 37, resigned last week as the Salukis head coach to become the quarterbacks coach at Northwestern. He went to work for Gary Barnett, a hot prospect whose name is thrown out every time a head coaching position opens at a major college or in the National Football League. "As much as leaving SIU hurts, I simply believe the opportunity of joining Coach Barnett and his staff at Northwestern is too good of an opportunity to pass up," said Watson, who compiled an 11-22 record at SIUC, including 5-6 last season. "This is an opportunity to work with a guy I have a lot of respect for, and I will have an opportunity to learn from him." Watson is a native of Carterville, which is about nine miles east of Carbondale, and was a high school football star there in the 1970s. He is the only player in Carterville High history to have his jersey retired. After graduation, Watson went to Illinois on a football scholarship. When the Illini switched him from running back to defensive back, Watson returned home and enrolled at SIUC, graduating in 1982. He coached at Illinois from 1983-86, and at Miami (Ohio) from 1986 until being named head coach at SIUC. When Watson told Salukis athletic director Jim Hart that he was leaving, Hart wasn't happy. …

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