BETHANY, W.Va. – Bethany College introduced current Columbia University and former Harvard University defensive coordinator Tim Weaver as its 36th head football coach during a press conference Thursday afternoon in Hummel Field House.
Weaver was selected to be the next Bison head coach over more than 65 other applicants by a committee consisting of Bethany President Dr. G.T. “Buck” Smith, Bethany Senior Vice President Joe Kurey, Lee Irvine, a 1959 Bethany graduate and special friend of the College, and former University of Cincinnati athletic director and current Bethany Board of Trustee member Bob Goin (’58), who is volunteering his time to Bethany during this search and their upcoming search for an athletic director.
According to Smith, the committee found the perfect candidate to fit the job description that was posted.
“The committee’s job was to find a person with passion, energy and motivational skills to develop and lead a highly successful football program consistent with the mission of a small college of distinction,” said Smith. “We believe we found the ideal person that fits that description in Tim Weaver.
“Tim comes here after working for two of the most academically challenging schools in the country and has proven to be very successful on the field and in recruiting,” said Smith. “His organization and preparation in every challenge he faces ensures that our team will be thoroughly prepared every Saturday. Tim has also proven to be able to guide young men to achieve success in the classroom at the most esteemed institutions of higher learning, which will aid us in recruiting the type of high-quality student-athletes we want here at Bethany College.”
Weaver will arrive at Bethany with his wife, Kelly, and their three-year old daughter, Delaney, following a three-year stint at Columbia. His best season came in 2004 when the Lions improved from 117th the previous year to 59th in I-AA in yards allowed per game. In the last two seasons at the helm of the Columbia defense, seven players on that side of the ball earned All-Ivy League recognition.
Prior to serving as the defensive coordinator and defensive line coach for the Lions, he was at Harvard for four seasons, including two years as the defensive line coach, one season as the special teams coordinator and one season as the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. Prior to his step up to the Ivy League, Weaver was the defensive coordinator at West Virginia Wesleyan from 1996-99.
Weaver was a four-year starter at defensive end/linebacker for Davidson College in North Carolina, where he graduated in 1990 with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Anthropology. He began his coaching career at Western Connecticut State in the fall of ’90, where he was the defensive line coach and special teams coordinator for two years. He then went to Hofstra University, serving as the defensive line coach for four seasons before taking the job at West Virginia Wesleyan.
For Weaver, the opportunity to take the reins of a program for the first time in his 16-year coaching career is one that he didn’t think he’d want 10 years ago.
“Becoming a head coach is very exciting because it’s why you get into the business,” said Weaver. “Although if you would have asked me 10 years ago if I wanted to be a head coach, I’m not positive I would have said yes. But as my career progressed, it became something I wanted very badly.”
Weaver said there wasn’t one person or program that made him want to take this step, but there were numerous influences along the way that helped him get to this point.
“There are several people who have helped me throughout my career and who I have taken one aspect of their philosophies to build mine,” said Weaver. “Joe Gardi was the head coach at Hofstra and he was the face of the program, while letting his assistants do a lot of the day-to-day things. I learned a lot about people skills from Bill Struble at West Virginia Wesleyan and will try to emulate the way he dealt with the players and handled the coaching staff.
“At Harvard, the head coach Tim Murphy placed a strong emphasis on recruiting and I will do the same,” said Weaver. “One of the coordinators at Harvard, Bruce Tall, who is now at West Virginia, had a tremendous work ethic and attention to detail that I try to bring every day. And it was the entire staff I played for at Davidson, especially Dave Ungerer, who is now the special teams coordinator at Alabama, and Greg Gigantino, who I played for and also coached with at Hofstra, that made me want to be a college football coach in the first place.”
In taking over the Bison, Weaver will have a challenge ahead in building the Green and White into a contender. The school, coming off its third consecutive 1-9 season, has not won a Presidents’ Athletic Conference championship since 1980 and will be taking the field against two conference teams next year that earned berths in the NCAA playoffs this season. Weaver sees two major challenges ahead in improving the Bison program.
“Our first challenge is to build the players’ confidence,” said Weaver. “No one on this campus has won and we have to get them believing in themselves and believing they can win. Our second challenge is recruiting. The success has been limited lately and we have to go out and get the right players who can get the program to the next level.”
When Weaver looks at recruiting for Bethany, he has a clear cut agenda and part of that is make sure the local players stay in the area.
“When we recruited in the Ivy League, we could only recruit student-athletes who fit the college’s profile, with a few exceptions,” said Weaver. “Even though the talent pool opens up without those Ivy League academic restrictions, I want our approach to be more similar than different. I want our players to have similar profiles to the typical student here at the school, with only a few exceptions so we can give those students the type of attention they need to be successful in the classroom and graduate.
“And I know there are a lot of quality players in the local area,” said Weaver. “We need to do a good job in our backyard, keep those players here and then fill the gaps with players from different markets.”
When looking at his goals for the program, Weaver has many short-term goals that will keep his attention for much of his early time on the job, but he will never lose site of the one long-term goal he brings to the Bethany campus.
“My first short-term goal is to get the squad size up to where we can be competitive, which in my mind, is 105 to 110 players,” said Weaver. “However, we won’t just chase numbers early. We will look at who is coming back and set a goal from there. If that leaves us a little short of where I’d like to be, then we’ll just work harder on retention and then focus on getting where we want to be next year.
“As far as on the field success, I look at three short- to mid-term measures,” said Weaver. “First step is to have a winning record at home. Once we accomplish that, then we start trying to achieve a non-losing or winning overall record. After we’re there, then we want to be in a position where our last three games mean something in the conference race.
“And I only have one long-term goal,” said Weaver. “It’s that every student-athlete who plays for Bethany will graduate and win at least one conference championship in their time here. That’s my idea of a competitive program. Get everyone a degree and a ring. We said that to every recruit we talked to at Harvard and that’s the same approach I want to bring to Bethany.”