Northern Colorado officially introduced Ed Lamb as the 18th head football coach in school history on December 6. The Bears moved to the Big Sky conference in 2006, but have yet to win a conference championship or make an appearance in the FCS Playoffs. Lamb brings Big Sky experience and the proven ability to build a championship culture in Greenly.
Lamb spent the previous seven seasons at BYU, where he served as the assistant head coach and special teams coordinator. He helped BYU to an overall record of 55-34, three bowl wins, and six bowl appearances over those sevens seasons under head coach Kalani Sitake.
Prior to his time at BYU, Lamb was the head coach at Southern Utah for eight seasons (2008-2015) as he helped the Thunderbirds make the transition from the Division-II level to the FCS in the 2012 season.
The Thunderbirds were in the midst of an 18-game losing streak at the start of Lamb’s tenue, but he led Southern Utah to the conference championship in only his third season.
Southern Utah accepted an invitation to the Big Sky before the 2012 season. Lamb led the Thunderbirds to an upset win over No. 1 ranked Eastern Washington in their first season in the conference. The Thunderbirds made an appearance in the FCS Playoffs in their second season at the FCS level and two years later won the Big Sky title.
Prior to his head coaching tenure at Southern Utah, Lamb served as the defensive backs and special teams coach under Jim Harbaugh at San Diego. The Toreros won three straight Pioneer League championships with Lamb on the staff.
It has been seven years since Lamb was a head coach at the collegiate level. Lamb expressed his anxiousness to step back into a head coaching role in an interview with Zach McKinnell from The Bluebloods.
“I wanted to be a head coach again and that wasn’t over the last year or two… That’s been for the last several years. I really was anxious to get back in the head coaching seat and make some of those decisions that I missed making and some of the scheduling things that I kind of geek out on that are unique to the way that I like to do things.”
Northern Colorado Director of Athletics Darren Dunn spoke about wanting a winner at the FCS level to lead the program, which is why Lamb emerged as the top candidate for the job.
“The thing we were able to accomplish at Southern Utah was to overcome some of the challenges, some of the obstacles, and compete at the highest level of the conference,” Lamb said. “Then from there, a lot of the times, it just comes down to inches and sometimes luck. We’re fortunate to end things during our time at Southern Utah with that championship, but I feel like that Northern Colorado has that same opportunity.”
Lamb spoke about his confidence that Northern Colorado will be a contender in the Big Sky conference moving forward.
“We want to come and show these guys how we do it, how we work, and give them the confidence to go out and compete. I can’t promise championships, but I can promise that we’re going to compete against the very best teams in the conference.”
Northern Colorado officially announced the new football staff for the 2023 season. Lamb noted the major difference in his staff at Northern Colorado compared to his time at Southern Utah, which is the experience of the other coaches in the building.
“I’m glad that we got guys that know the game and are experienced at their positions. It was not like that when I took over at Southern Utah. We had a bunch of guys who were in their first coaching jobs and we learned together on the fly. I think we’re a little bit ahead of the model that we had use back then, but I was most interested in getting the right people, good people, around me.”
Lamb utilized his BYU connections to fill multiple key positions as offensive coordinator Blair Peterson and defensive coordinator Preston Hadley both coached with Lamb during his time at BYU. Special Teams coordinator Justin Walterscheid also coached with Lamb at both Southern Utah and BYU.
“These are guys that I have known for years and years… Every one of them,” said Lamb when talking about his new staff. “They’re guys I trust, guys that I trust my family with, my players, and my livelihood. That’s what I’m most excited about. As much as we geek out on X’s and O’s of football and the strategies and philosophies… I really do think that is the easiest part. Where we need to be effective and put a lot of our energy into is developing the overall person and overall student athlete here.”
Coach Lamb has accepted the challenge of building another program into a contender in one of the most competitive conferences at the FCS level. Lamb knows that his first challenge is to begin earning the support of the Northern Colorado fanbase with improved on-field performances.
“We want to earn their support. Whether they pay attention by radio, newspaper, or internet early on… or if they put some trust in the process and come into the stands and pay for a ticket. That’s not really as important to me as over time earning the support of this community and earning the support of the fans,” said Lamb about his mission in first season.
His personal expectations are clear, but the first year of building a program is always a massive unknown. Regardless, the standard of the program under Lamb will not change and he made that clear in his final statement to the fanbase of the Bears.
“We’re going to be a team plays physical, tough, fast, aggressive football and it’s going to be fun to watch, said Lamb about his expectations entering his first season. “In the end that process is going to lead to victories. Whether it leads to an undefeated season in year one… time will tell. The thing I can promise is the way that we’ll play and the style that we play will be obvious. There will be a benchmark that’s set and that will be to be competitive with the very top of the Big Sky year in and year out.”