January 30, 2014

St. Scholastica coach retires

More news about: St. Scholastica | Wabash
St. Scholastica photo by Jack Rendulich

St. Scholastica coach Greg Carlson told his staff and his team earlier this week that he is retiring from the profession after six seasons at St. Scholastica and 27 years as a Division III head coach.

Carlson, an Indiana native, has been St. Scholastica's only head coach in the program's six-year history.  He has built the CSS program from the ground up very quickly, as the Saints have made the NCAA Division III playoffs the past three seasons.

In his time at St. Scholastica, Carlson accumulated a record of 39-22, including an 18-9 home record. He guided the Saints to five straight Homecoming victories and 14 consecutive conference road wins. He has also coached six First Team Capital One Academic All-Americans, including a Division III-high four this past season.

"I talked to several coaches that retired recently and they all mentioned that there aren't circumstances or situations that arise, that when these things happen it is time to retire," Carlson said. "You know when it's time and I know what they mean now. It is time for me to step away professionally and stop coaching football at a full-time basis."

"He has done a truly outstanding job of developing a foundation of success and a culture of excellence on the field, in the classroom, on the St. Scholastica campus and in the Duluth community," St. Scholastica Athletic Director Don Olson said.

Carlson was hired back in March of 2007 and the CSS football program's first season was the fall of 2008. Carlson spent 18 years at Wabash College (Ind.) and some time as an assistant coach of the Los Angeles Avengers of the Arena Football League. However, Carlson was always intrigued in starting a football program.

"I didn't know much about St. Scholastica, where it was or what they were all about," Carlson described. "I actually talked to John Baggs for about an hour one day on the phone and he was probably the one person that said to not just apply, but go 100 miles per hour for it. It certainly was everything that John built it to be."

After one win in its first season, the Saints recorded four wins in 2009 and seven wins in 2010. Carlson's Saints then finished a perfect 10-0 in the 2011 regular season to qualify for the program's first NCAA Division III playoff appearance.

The Saints fell to eventual national semifinalist St. Thomas in the first round that season. In 2012, the Saints finished 8-2 in the regular season and ended up in a three-way tie for the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference regular season title. After the Saints were picked to represent the conference in the postseason, CSS fell to eventual national semifinalist UW-Oshkosh in the first round of the playoffs.

This past season, St. Scholastica was the preseason UMAC favorite for the first time in program history. The Saints ended up capturing their third straight UMAC title, but had to beat next four-best teams in the league all on the road to do so. CSS would face Bethel in the first round of the NCAA playoffs where it would fall to the Royals in the final college football game ever played at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.

"It has been remarkable experience here at St. Scholastica," Carlson reflected. "I think the college did a great job setting the table to start a Division III football program. I was thoroughly convinced when I interviewed that all the pieces were in place to build a successful football program. Every second was rewarding."

A national search will begin immediately to find a successor. St. Scholastica's current assistant coaches will run the program in the meantime and handle all the recruiting.

"We will not rush this process and make sure we have a quality pool of candidates," Olson said. "We hope to have someone in place as soon as possible."

The Saints will open the 2014 season at home against Ripon on Sept. 6.

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