Mike Nesbitt is living in the present but most certainly has an eye on the future. The new head coach at Ottawa University is already ramping up to the Spirit’s first official football season which doesn’t start until the fall of 2018 in Surprise.
For now, there is plenty of work to do finalizing his first-ever recruiting class (2017), keeping close tabs on the yet-to-be-built football stadium, dorms and learning center on the south side end of campus and in many ways, just getting accustomed to his new surroundings after spending several years coaching at all college levels in both Texas and his home state of New Mexico.
“The thing that attracted me to the job was, one, the great local high school football players in Arizona,” Nesbitt said to Sports360AZ.com. “Just the proximity close to the school. The high school coaches, when we first got here in January, they were really excited about having us here. That’s an exciting thing.”
What has also been exciting for Nesbitt and his staff is overall growth of the private school to close to 400 students in Ottawa’s first year transitioning from an on-line/night school into a 21-sport member of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA). The hope is to join fellow Valley private college Arizona Christian at the NAIA level in the near future. The Spirit’s other 20 sports, excluding football, will begin play in the upcoming 2017-18 school year.
— Mike Bethea (@CoachMikeBethea) April 26, 2017
Nesbitt’s recruiting blueprint since taking the position back in January is simple. The program’s main recruiting focus is Arizona but OUAZ will also look to Texas, New Mexico and southern California for prospects, as well.
“You have to build a relationship with the coaches, the players and the parents,” he explained. “Show that you’re going to do a really good job of taking care of their kids. We have a really good academic background here. We can show them academically how we can graduate their kids in three-and-a-half years with their undergraduate and try to get them their Master’s and post-secondary degree before they leave here.”
Nesbitt, a former college punter at the University of New Mexico who had a couple stints in the NFL, said the 2017 class (all of whom will redshirt) will scrimmage one another on nearby fields until the Spirit’s 3,000-seat, on-campus stadium is complete. No target date has been set but the turf will be installed in October with stadium construction to follow.
— Mike Nesbitt (@Coach_Nesbitt) May 31, 2017
“When you create a four-year university and an intercollegiate football program that can keep kids at home, that’s the major draw for me,” Nesbitt said with a grin. “And getting to live in a great state.”
A great state loaded with talented prep football players looking for an opportunity to play at a four-year university, maybe in the west Valley. The football plans are in place, even if the facilities aren’t…at least, not yet.