MAGNOLIA – Southern Arkansas University Director of Athletics Steve Browning has announced that Mulerider Football interim head coach/offensive coordinator Mike McCarty has been named the 20thhead coach of the Mulerider Football program; effective immediately. The official announcement was made at 2 p.m. on Thursday, November 12.
Over the past month, it was McCarty’s leadership within the program following the retirement of Bill Keopple that stood out to Browning and ultimately led to the university removing the interim tag.
“This fall has been a challenge to us all and football was no exception. Coach McCarty did an outstanding job of leading our football program in all facets during his interim role this past month,” noted Browning. “His leadership skills, knowledge of the game, and desire to build on the success of our program were a few of the reasons why Dr. Berry and I felt like Coach McCarty was the perfect fit to be our next head football coach.”
“We have been impressed with Coach McCarty’s passion, energy, and vision for our football program and in building a character-centered atmosphere among our student-athletes,” remarked Southern Arkansas University President Dr. Trey Berry. “We are excited for his plans to not only nurture champions on the field, but champions off of the field as well.”
McCarty’s appointment to lead the Mulerider Football program will see the longtime collegiate assistant become a head coach for the first time.
“I want to thank Dr. Berry and Coach Browning for giving me this opportunity and for entrusting me with leading these young men and our football program,” stated McCarty. “I would also like to thank the SAU campus community for being very supportive in this process.”
McCarty, who will be the fifth head coach to lead the Muleriders in the program’s NCAA Division II Era, acknowledged the foundation that had been laid prior to his arrival in Magnolia. “I am extremely grateful for the program that Bill [Keopple] left me and I look forward to building onto what he established.”
“Our vision for the program is to consistently become a double-win program,” McCarty noted. “We believe winning off the field is just as important as winning on the field and we look forward to building a positive relationship with our campus community and the city of Magnolia. We will take pride in representing this university and will strive to put a product on the field that we all can be proud of.”
Browning added, “I look forward to having Coach and his family plant roots not only in the SAU community, but in the community of Magnolia as well.”
McCarty spent the past five weeks serving as the program’s interim head coach before Thursday’s promotion. The Oregon native brings over 30 years of collegiate coaching experience at numerous stops along the Division I, Division II and junior college levels including 22 seasons as an offensive coordinator.
Prior to coming to Southern Arkansas, McCarty spent the 2018 and 2019 seasons at Division II Colorado State-Pueblo where he served as the ThunderWolves’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
During his time in Pueblo, CSU-Pueblo posted an overall record of 22-4 with an 18-2 mark in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) play, captured the 2018 RMAC Championship and made consecutive trips to the NCAA Division II playoffs. In those two seasons with McCarty leading the offense, the ThunderWolves averaged 33.8 points per game and over 380 yards of total offense.
McCarty’s arrival in Magnolia is not his first coaching stop in the Natural State as he previously spent time at the University of Central Arkansas (2014-16), where he coached running backs and served as the program’s recruiting coordinator, and at Arkansas State University (2004-07) where he instructed the Red Wolves’ wide receivers. In 2005, ASU won the Sun Belt Conference Championship and competed in the New Orleans Bowl.
In between his first two coaching stints in Arkansas, McCarty served as the offensive coordinator at Holmes College (2011-13) of the highly competitive Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) and coached the quarterbacks at Bryant University (2009-11).
Following his playing career as a wide receiver at the University of Oregon (1983-86) as well as serving as a graduate assistant (1988-90) in Eugene, much of McCarty’s coaching experience came at the NCAA Division I-AA/Football Championship Subdivision level.
From 2001-03, he was the associate head coach and offensive coordinator at Stony Brook and during that time the Seawolves offense lead the Northeast Conference in total offense.
Preceding his time at SBU, McCarty served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Nicholls State (1999-01), Illinois State (1996-97), Hofstra (1994-96) and Oregon Tech (1991-92). While at Hofstra, The Pride appeared in the FCS Playoffs in 1995 and boasted the No. 3 offense in the nation with the fifth-best rushing game and the eighth-ranked passing game nationally.
McCarty also worked as a wide receivers coach at Troy University (1997-99), with the Trojans making the FCS Playoffs in 1998, and at Southeast Missouri State (1992-94) where he also served as the passing game coordinator.
In addition to his lengthy and impressive coaching resume, McCarty has extensive experience on the recruiting trail having blanketed the south (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Texas) and west regions (California, Colorado, Oregon) during his career.
McCarty has spoken at numerous coaching clinics around the nation and is a member of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) where he has served as chairman of the AFCA Coach of the Year committee and on the Assistant Coaches committee.
McCarty’s father, Don, enjoyed a highly successful high school coaching career in the state of Oregon which lasted nearly 40 years and earned him induction into the National High School Coaches Hall of Fame.