A New Face Arrives In Between the Bricks


Coach Ian Shields, now the head football coach at Lenoir Rhyne University, speaks with reporters and fans in a press conference held in front of the entire student body and Hickory community on Tuesday.

HICKORY–  Imagine being imported to an outlandish environment, an unusual place, quite different from the norm. Everyone stopping, staring, and observant of every movement made just because an individual is unaccustomed to the area. Perhaps this was the very thing that occurred when a brand-new face stumbled across in Bear Nation earlier this week.

Now, I’m not referring to a new freshmen student, or that unknown transfer that arrived on campus… but a new and unexpected face joined the Lenoir- Rhyne football program. This happened suddenly, no one knew that a unforeseen change was about to occur in the line up of the coaching staff. After three years of wonderful football, Head Coach Mike Houston abruptly resigned from Lenoir Rhyne last week.

Houston is now the Head Coach at The Citadel.  Six of Lenoir Rhyne’s assistant coaches also left with Houston last week. He and his team will be competing against teams like Old Dominion, and Appalachian State.

But where in the world did this leave LR?

The administration and athletic department worked intensively in a short time frame to find another coach who could continue the winning tradition for years to come. Folks… they found what they were looking for and now a new name is hanging on the door of the Head Coach’s office at Lenoir Rhyne.

It will read Coach Ian Shields.  Shields is now the 20th head coach for the Bears.  He has been the offensive coordinator and Head Coach for Army for the past five years.  Under his leadership Army had the third best rushing offensive yards per a game in NCAA Division I. He executed the same tactics that Coach Houston used in his offense, we would like to call it that good ole triple-option offense.  Although the Bears have used this offense in the years past, they owe it all to Coach Ian Shields, the inventor of this spread option offense.

The Bears had an inconceivable season, something that was unimaginable in the minds of many. Finishing the year out with the most school wins in a single season, set the all-time NCAA record for rushing yards in a season, a South Atlantic Conference Championship, fourth trip to the National Championship, and ranked second in the nation under the direction of Coach Mike Houston but now the torch has been passed to Shields.

“I know alot of you may be worried about what he can do,” quarterback Miles Freeman stated in a press conference on Tuesday. ” But I know this man personally, he knows what he is doing, he knows the triple option better than Coach Thompson, he’ll do the job well,” Freeman stated.

First string quarterback Miles Freeman was on the roster for Army years ago.  In fact, Coach Shields was the very same man who recruited Freeman out of High School in 2009.

“It’s funny how things work in life, it’s completely ironic how I left high school to come to him, and he left Army to come back to me,” Freeman said.

Shields opened the press conference by officially accepting the role as head coach stating that this was the best commitment he has ever made to date.  Throughout the conference he constantly repeated that there will not be one particular star of the team.

“The star of the team is the team,” he said. He quickly cut to the chase concerning the future. “We’ll be tough physical guys who love to compete. And we are going to continue to have faith in God, our University, and faith in each other in the locker room,” Shields said.

Over and over again he consistently ensured the university that he will do his job and the Bears will work hard on the field and in the classroom from the time they wake to the time their heads are on their pillows.

The Bears are still working to complete the coaching staff roster but those positions are filling quickly.

Just having Coach Ian Shields, a man who has an incredible track record, a family oriented man who is well familiar with the fundamentals of the game is a blessing in itself.

Towards the end of the press conference Shields pumped the crowd up by saying, ” We are going to W-I-N all day,” while reporters and fans applauded with faith and hope he will do a phenomenal job!

He couldn’t have ended with anything better, than his last words, “We will have the best games of all division football In Between the Bricks. Go Bears.”

Now it can’t get any better than that!