Northwestern selects Matt Walter as next head football coach

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Northwestern selects Matt Walter as next head football coach

Matt WalterNorthwestern Oklahoma State University has turned to one of the heroes of its 1999 national championship team to revive its football program.

The University announced alumnus Matt Walter as its new head football coach at a press conference on Friday. Walter takes over the position after spending the last six years on the staff at Emporia State University, the last four as offensive coordinator.

“We are very excited to have Matt Walter return to Northwestern to lead our football program,” Dr. Janet Cunningham, university president, said. “He exemplified the model student-athlete during his time here, and has proven to be a highly successful coach at the NCAA Division II level. He knows how to be successful the right way.”

“Matt Walter knows what makes Northwestern a special place and personifies what it means to be a Ranger.”

Walter, a native of Azle, Texas, was the starting fullback on the Northwestern team that won the 1999 NAIA national championship and finished as the runner-up in 2000.

"I could not be more ecstatic about coming back to my alma mater to be the head coach of the Rangers,” Walter said. “I love this place with all my heart. It is truly my second home.”

“I cannot wait to get started instilling Ranger pride back into the program. I am committed to getting the program back to where it belongs and keeping it there. Through a commitment to the process of being a champion, we will get it there. I want to thank President Cunningham and Andy Carter for this wonderful opportunity.”

Northwestern began the search for a coach after Alan Hall relinquished the duties due to health reasons.

“There was tremendous interest in the position and we had a great pool of candidates,” Andrew Carter, director of athletics, said. “We wanted a proven winner at the Division II level and someone who was ready to roll up his sleeves and do the work necessary to build and sustain a successful program. Matt Walter is everything we wanted in a coach.”

Matt Walter speaking at the news conference announcing him as the Northwestern Rangers' new head football coach. Matt Walter speaking at the news conference announcing him as the Northwestern Rangers' new head football coach.

Walter was instrumental in the turnaround of Emporia State’s football fortunes. The Hornets were 2-9 in his first season at ESU, but steadily improved and had a breakthrough season in 2012. That year, ESU finished 10-2 in the rugged Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAA). In 2013, ESU finished 9-2 and made its first Division II playoff appearance since 2003.

Walter’s ESU offense ranked 15th in the nation in scoring offense and 20th in the nation in total offense during the 2013 season. In 2012 the Hornets led the MIAA and were ranked 10th in the nation in passing offense. They also were third in the MIAA and 25th in the nation in total offense. Emporia State scored over 40 points in six games that season, reaching 50 on three occasions.

Before going to ESU, Walter spent the four previous seasons as the head strength and conditioning coach for the New Mexico State football team. Known to his athletes as ‘The Punisher’ for his grueling strength, speed and agility training, Walter guided the Aggies to break numerous school records in lifting, running and jumping. He also implemented a nutrition supplement program as well as the Lifter of the Year Award.

Walter also is recognized as a National Speed and Explosion Association certified coach. He previously served as the head strength and conditioning coach at Southeastern Louisiana University for one year. Prior to that, Walter spent one year at Louisiana Tech University as an assistant strength and conditioning coach.

Walter has two sons, Rowan and Torin.


Thoughts about Matt Walter:

“Matt was a great competitor when he was a player for Northwestern and will bring a competitive attitude back to the program. He truly bleeds red and black. There is not a better coach for the program than Matt Walter. He was a huge part of the success we have had at Emporia State University. Northwestern is important to him, and he will work diligently to get the program back on top where it belongs.”

Garin Higgins – Head football coach at Emporia State University; head coach at Northwestern, 2000-04.

"Matt is a rising star in this profession and he will instill a work ethic in his players that will make the Northwestern family proud. Having coached Matt, I had the privilege to see his personal motivation each day as a player and now as a coach. He is a great leader who will demand toughness and discipline. His players will understand what it means to be a Ranger.”

Tim Albin – Assistant head coach and offensive coordinator, Ohio University; head coach at Northwestern, 1997-99.