SHSU’s offensive coordinator worked under NDSU’s WackerFRISCO, Texas — The architect of Sam Houston State’s complex offense has football roots that can be traced all the way north to Fargo. Offensive coordinator Bob DeBesse spent 20 years playing and working under former North Dakota State head coach Jim Wacker.
By: Jeff Kolpack and Eric Peterson, Forum Communications Co.
FRISCO, Texas — The architect of Sam Houston State’s complex offense has football roots that can be traced all the way north to Fargo. Offensive coordinator Bob DeBesse spent 20 years playing and working under former North Dakota State head coach Jim Wacker.
Talking about Wacker provided a nice diversion Thursday during Sam Houston’s Division I Football Championship Subdivision title game media day.
“You bet, let’s talk about Jim Wacker,” DeBesse said. “We used to give Jim a hard time asking him to chill out a little bit and come down to cloud seven. You don’t always have to be on cloud nine, because sometimes it would wear us out.”
DeBesse’s resume with Wacker reads playing for him for two years and being a student assistant for him for two years at Southwest Texas State, nine years at TCU and five years at the University of Minnesota.
Wacker died in 2003.
“Almost bigger-than-life personality,” DeBesse said.
So big that while coaching at Texas A&M a few years ago, DeBesse had a flashback while on a recruiting visit at Judson High School near San Antonio when he walked into the coaches office.
“I heard ‘the voice’ and I thought, ‘By god, Jim’s back,’ “ he said.
The voice was of Mike Wacker, Jim’s son, who is a highly successful head boys basketball coach at Judson. He’s averaged 26 wins per season in 22 years.
“A spitting image of his dad,” DeBesse said.
An image that was cultivated, in part, in Fargo.
“He loved those days,” DeBesse said. “He even joked about the cold, that it was a source of pride and the reason why the Bison were so tough.”
Fritz has some Bison influence with his defense
Sam Houston State head coach Willie Fritz was a standout defensive back for Division II Pittsburg State, which had some memorable games against NDSU when it was a D-II program.
Fritz’s Pitt State playing career ended in 1981, and while he never played against the Bison, he is well aware of the rivalry the teams developed after his playing days with the Gorillas ended.
“I knew of the great rivalry between the two schools and I’m still real tight with my alma mater,” Fritz said.
Fritz also credited former Bison defensive coordinator Leo Ringey for influencing how his teams play defense from when Fritz was a defensive coordinator at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas.
“When I was a D-coordinator at Coffeyville, I read an article from coach Ringey about running to the ball and swarming and all those kind of different things,” said Fritz, who was at Coffeyville from 1987-1990. “I implemented that with my teams at Coffeyville and have continued to keep doing that throughout my career and kind of got that from him.”
The Bearkats are allowing 14.8 points per game heading into the championship game.
Bearkats hope to ground the Bison offense
While NDSU has a balanced offense, averaging 177.4 yards rushing and 176.4 yards passing per game, Sam Houston safety Robert Shaw thinks the Bearkats need to take away the ground game first.
“Our big challenge is to stop the run,” said Shaw, a 6-foot, 195-pound junior. “We know they are going to try to run because that is what they do best.”
Kolpack and Peterson are sports reporters for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.