Redhawks' defensive coordinator coached the Sycamores for seven seasons

Thursday, September 13, 2007
Southeast Missouri State defensive coordinator Tim McGuire was a head football coach at Indiana State for five years. (MIKE WILLIAMSON ~ Special to the Southeast Missourian)

Paul McGuire played on the offensive line at Indiana State before transferring to Southeast.

Tim McGuire says he has no hard feelings about being let go as Indiana State University's head football coach a few years back.

And Southeast Missouri State's defensive coordinator emphasized that he would take no special delight in beating the school where he was employed for 12 years.

That's not the case for his son Paul, a starting offensive lineman for the Redhawks who used to play for the Sycamores.

But the McGuires agreed on one thing: Defeating the Sycamores (0-2) on Saturday night at Houck Stadium would be a nice lift for the Redhawks (1-1) heading into the start of Ohio Valley Conference play.

"For Paul, I'm sure it would be special. He's young and he's got a lot of friendships from there," Tim said following Tuesday's practice. "For me, the most important thing is getting the win for these kids.

"We want to be 2-1 when it's over. It would be a nice way to go into the conference. But it would be no more special than Saturday's win [over Division II Southwest Baptist]."

As for Paul's take on things, he said: "It's special beating anybody. But oh yeah, it would be more special beating the team you used to play for.

"I grew up there. I still know some of the players. I have friends there."

Paul smiled when pointing out that bragging rights would be one of the more enjoyable things about beating the Sycamores.

"If we win, I'll be able to talk when I go back there to visit. And if they win, I know they'll be talking," he said.

Home in Terre Haute

Tim, 54, was an offensive lineman at Nebraska in the early 1970s and then began a coaching career that featured several stops, including as a Division I-A assistant and an NAIA head coach.

In 1993 he landed at Division I-AA ISU as defensive coordinator. For the next 12 years, the McGuires called Terre Haute, Ind., home.

Tim spent five seasons in charge of the Sycamores' defense, helping develop seven All-Americans.

He was also part of winning seasons in 1995 and 1996 at a program that for the previous decade had experienced only one winning campaign.

Following a 3-8 record in 1997, 13-year head coach Dennis Raetz stepped down to become an assistant athletic director at ISU. Tim was named his replacement.

But he never could get the Sycamores back over the .500 mark, his best records being 5-6 in his rookie year of 1998 and 5-7 in 2002.

In 2004, ISU started 4-1, but lost its last six games, including being outscored 193-45 in the final four contests. Tim did not have his contract renewed following that 4-7 season. His seven-year record was 24-55.

"No hard feelings," he said. "It's just another part of your life."

Tim made no excuses, although the fact is ISU faces steep odds trying to compete in the Gateway Conference -- considered among the nation's premier I-AA leagues -- against programs with much larger budgets and better facilities.

The Sycamores have gone 1-23, including a winless 2005 season, since Tim was let go. During last year's 1-10 campaign, ISU was outscored 493-236.

"It's a tough job. We just didn't have any money," Tim said. "But we competed as hard as we could. That's about all you can ask."

Nebraska connection

After Tim was let go at ISU, he spent the 2005 season as defensive coordinator at Division III St. Norbert College in Wisconsin.

Then a chance telephone conversation with Tony Samuel brought Tim to Cape Girardeau.

"I just happened to call Tony at Purdue [where Samuel was an assistant] and he said he was getting ready to take the job at Southeast Missouri," he recalled. "He asked me if I would like to be his defensive coordinator. I said sure."

So Tim joined the Redhawks' staff after Samuel was hired as Southeast's head coach in December 2005.

Like Tim, Samuel played at Nebraska and later was an assistant coach for the Cornhuskers, but the two really did not know each other well during their playing days.

"He was a freshman when I was going into my third year [in 1973]. At the time, freshmen didn't play on varsity. They had their own team," Tim said. "I got hurt that year and didn't play anymore, so I didn't really get to know Tony until he got back to Nebraska as a coach, after I had started coaching.

"I was an assistant at Kansas State for a while when Tony was coaching at Nebraska. That's when we would see each other quite a bit."

Tim laughed when recalling some of those meetings between the Wildcats and powerful Cornhuskers.

"They used to beat up on us pretty good," he said.

Tim is one of six former Nebraska players or coaches on Samuel's staff.

"We've always kept in touch, us Nebraska guys. That's what we do," Samuel said. "When he called me that day ... we're real fortunate to have a guy like that."

Said Tim: "If I had not picked up the phone that day, I would not be here. It's kind of like it was meant to be."

Son follows father

As it turned out, Tim was not the only McGuire to join Southeast's program.

Paul, who basically grew up in Terre Haute with his family -- which includes his mother Judy and three siblings -- signed with his father at ISU following a standout high school career.

Paul redshirted during the 2004 season, after which his dad was let go. He was an offensive line starter in 2005 during current ISU head coach Lou West's first year, which ended 0-11.

Then, after Tim was hired at Southeast, Paul figured it was time to join his father, for whome he had originally planned to play.

"It just wasn't working out for me [at ISU]," Paul said. "I thought it would be best to come here."

Paul, 6-foot-4, 325-pounds, had to sit out the 2006 season at Southeast under NCAA transfer rules, but the junior has started the first two games this year, playing the opener at tackle and Saturday's contest at center as the Redhawks have been trying to find the best combination for their re-tooled line.

"Wherever they need me, I'll play," said Paul, whose older brother Tim Jr. played for their father at ISU and is now an assistant coach at Cape Girardeau Central High School.

Paul's hopes of playing for his father were temporarily dashed when his dad was let go by ISU. Plus he saw his family uprooted.

"It was hard getting through it," Paul said. "But football is football. You go through ups and downs."

Paul said it was at first difficult leaving all the friends he had made on the ISU team and in Terre Haute. But he added that it didn't take long to adjust.

"I had a lot of good friends there," he said. "But I like it a lot here. These are all my friends now."

Happy at Southeast

While Tim might not have any hard feelings toward ISU, he acknowledged he has strong feelings about the decade-plus he spent at the university, and he and his family spent in Terre Haute.

"You spend 12 years of your life in one place, it becomes home to you and your family," he said. "At that point, it's like going through a major separation.

"I'd have stayed there forever. I would have retired there. I won't lie. I was down, sad about it. I missed it. But I don't miss it now.

"Like Paul said, our family really likes it here. Now I'll stay here 'til they want me to leave. I'm very happy where I'm at."

A win Saturday would make Tim even happier, not to mention Paul and the entire McGuire clan.

But Tim repeated again, for him personally, the joy wouldn't come from beating his former school.

"The big thing for me, we're trying to get this team better," he said. "It doesn't matter who the opponent is. It just happens to be Indiana State."

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