Football coach Paul Winters has decided to stay at Wayne State University. (Mark Hicks/WestSide Photographic)
This is a Thank You note to Wayne State University Paul Winters.
Thanks for staying in Detroit.
That does not happen that often.
Mostly, people do not come here at all. If they do, it is often forced and due to a job transfer.
They put in their two years or whatever with General Motors or the Ford Motor Company and that is it.
Happiness is the Motor City in the rearview mirror.
They cite the crime, the blight, and the bleakness. They never talk about the area’s future or potential to be great again.
Winters obviously believes in both.
Winters was the leading candidate to take the head coaching position at the University of Akron. That’s his hometown and his alma mater.
In fact, he grew up in the city in northeast Ohio. He played at St. Vincent-St. Mary’s, played for the Akron Zips and was an assistant coach at Akron. Winters’ late mother worked at the University of Akron.
Officials from Akron even drove to Detroit to offer him the job on Sunday.
The next morning, Winters signed a five-year extension to remain at Wayne State.
He has been on the job at Wayne State for the last eight seasons, and guided the Warriors to the Division II national championship game in Florence, Ala., on Saturday, when they lost 35-21 to Pittsburg State (Kan.).
Wayne State had a 12-4 record this season. Those 12 wins are a school record.
“I am very excited about what we have accomplished and I am even more excited about the future,” Winters said. “The immediate future means bringing in another great recruiting class.”
Winters has compiled a 48-43 record at WSU, including a 35-14 mark over the past four winning seasons.
“I am ecstatic that Paul has decided to continue as our head football coach,” WSU Director of Athletics Rob Fournier said.
I am ecstatic, too, and I do not even know Coach Winters. Admittedly I have driven past the football field at Wayne State many more times than I have stopped at it. I know plenty of people who attended the school, but I am not among them.
But I love the fact that the coach opted to stay in town. I love the fact that he did not outsource himself like nearly every company in this state has done; that he opted to continue on at a school located in a city that few, other than Kid Rock and Eminem, ever sing the praises of.
I guess there is plenty not to love about Detroit. You don’t see many of its images on Pure Michigan postcards. There are neighborhoods that barely deserve the name. There is crushing unemployment and consequently, numbing poverty.
There are nearly insurmountable problems, but there is also a pulse and potential.
It is similar to the potential tapped by Winters and his staff. For years, the football program at Wayne State was barely on life support. There were those in the school’s administration who were ready to put it six feet under. They wanted to follow the University of Detroit and turn WSU into a exclusively a basketball school.
But Winters took a chance. He came to Detroit and proved that the Bible does not have squatter’s rights on resurrections.
He saw the potential in both the city and the entire state. There are plenty of quality football players in the Public School League in the city, as well as in Macomb Area Conference in Macomb County, the Oakland Activities Association in Oakland County and all the other leagues and conferences in Michigan.
Check out the Warriors’ roster. It is largely populated by in-state players. The few others are mainly from the coach’s home state of Ohio.
So Wayne State University is more than just a line on coach Winters’ resume. The city of Detroit is more than a fading memory and a disappearing return address.
Thanks for sticking around, coach. Kid Rock and Eminem appreciate it. So do a whole lot of other folks.