HAVEN — It’s been more than a month since MSU-Northern named Big Sky Conference legend Jerome Souers as its new head football coach, and he hasn’t wasted a minute.
“You know, it went fast and furious, but it was a lot of fun,” Souers told MTN Sports this week. “I think we were well received by the city of Le Havre and the whole state of Montana was very nice to us.”
He spent much of the month on the road, visiting high school coaches and sharing his vision for the program. He made stops along the Hi-Line, in Great Falls, Missoula and beyond.
“We intend to win the H-Line in recruiting and we’re going to do a great job of meeting everyone hand in hand, eye to eye,” Souers said. “We want to build trust and relationships so our high school coaches know that if they send a young man to us he’ll be treated well, he’ll be treated right.”
Souers also has its full-time staff in place. Tim Davis is the Lights’ offensive line coach and running game coordinator. A veteran coach, Davis made stops in Utah, Wisconsin, USC, Florida, Alabama and spent three seasons as an assistant for the Miami Dolphins.
“He coached at Alabama with Nick Saban and USC with Pete Carroll when they won the national championship,” Souers said.
Steve Broussard joins the Lights staff as offensive coordinator. Broussard is a Washington State Hall of Fame running back who played 10 seasons in the NFL after being drafted in the first round of the 1990 NFL Draft.
As a coach, Broussard spent time at Washington State, Arizona State, UCLA and had significant success as a high school coach.
“Steve brings a wealth of experience and a great recruiting network and his skills in building relationships with young men are phenomenal,” added Souers.
And perhaps the most familiar to Montana fans is former MSU assistant Joe O’Brien, who joins the Lights as associate head coach and defensive coordinator.
“Joe O’Brien and I worked together in 1999 when I hired him as a graduate assistant at Northern Arizona University. I lost it from there but I always wanted a coach with Joe again, we had great chemistry and I can’t wait to do that.
O’Brien was a promising coach for the Bobcats under head coach Mike Kramer, before a federal methamphetamine charge and a 28-month stint in federal prion derailed his promising career.
Since then, his life has changed. He embraced sobriety, started a successful roofing business in Great Falls, raised a family, coached at Simms High School, and worked behind the scenes with several college programs.
He hopes to use his experiences to help athletes with mental health and overcome their own struggles.
“Tackling a lot of the trauma that young people go through and being able to relate to and recognize when young people are having trouble is part of what Joe brings,” Souers said.
O’Brien is grateful to have the opportunity to coach again.
“This coaching thing is what I do. It’s just what comes naturally. It’s the most passionate thing I’ve ever done,” O’Brien said. “And you know, we don’t like to look back, we can’t change anything in the past, and of course it’s been 18 years since I’ve worked. But I’m just blessed and lucky to be able to be with Coach Souers. (Northern President) Greg Kegel and the whole community there have put their arms around me and I’m blessed to be there.
The numbers are light in Northern. Following the departure of coach Andrew Rolin, several players left the program. The Lights currently only have 36 players on the roster, so there’s a lot of work to do.
But Souers and his team have all been involved in rebuilding teams, ascending teams and eventually championship teams so they know how to build a winner. With players already in the fold and future signings to come, Souers is delighted to be working with a clean slate.
“We do our ABCs and we’ll build a word, then we’ll build a sentence,” Souers said. “And finally, we can tell our story.”
There will be several opportunities to meet the coaching staff of the Lumières. They will be on sale at the Paddle Auction at MSU-Northern on Friday, March 4. The event will take place at the Student Union Building at 6 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased by calling 406-265-3711.
Several boosters are also organizing a meet and greet scheduled at the Gallery Lounge in Le Havre on Saturday at 4 p.m.