Will be updated
MIAMI — Tuesday was a day Zach Allen never expected would come when he joined the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M football coaching staff as a grad assistant in 2009.
“Not a chance,” he said during a Tuesday, Jan. 16, press conference to announce his hiring as Golden Norse head coach.
“NEO wasn’t quite the same situation when I moved into that dorm,” Allen said. “To see it grow, none of this I ever thought was possible. When you look at the things that Dr. Hale (NEO president Dr. Jeff Hale), Coach (Dale) Patterson, Coach (Ryan) Held and Coach (Clay) Patterson did. We just kept building and building making it better and better.
“I never thought this would ever happen.”
He takes the reins from Clay Patterson, who stepped down to pursue other opportunities in coaching.
“I am super excited for Zach and the staff he has put together and where NEO football is going,” said Clay Patterson, who will announce his future plans later this week. “I think we have something special going here. When you sell a brand and what we want to be, Coach Allen and this staff have it set to move on and continue what we started.”
Allen was part of NEO’s Southwest Junior College Football Conference championship teams in 2012 and 2017.
He was the recipient of the Merv Johnson Integrity in Coaching award in 2017.
The American Football College Coaches Association recognized Allen in 2016 as one of the best 30 coaches under the age of 30.
He lived in Dyer Hall and coached the defensive line when he first arrived on the NEO campus in 2009.
Since then, he’s been defensive line coach, special teams coach and recruiting coordinator (2010-13), defensive coordinator, recruiting coordinator and campus director of discipline (2014-17) and run game coordinator, offensive line coach, recruiting coordinator and athletic academic advisor the past last season.
“You look back and there hasn’t been a lot that Zach Allen hasn’t done for this football program over the years,” Dale Patterson, currently NEO’s athletic director, said. “If you want something done right, you give it to Zach — he will get it done and will get it done the right way.”
Also at the press conference, it was announced that former Miami High School head coach Andrew Rice would join Allen’s staff as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
The remainder of the Norse coaching staff will remain intact.
Defensive coordinator Landry will take on recruiting coordinator duties,” Allen said.
NEO president Dr. Jeff Hale and Dale Patterson discussed various options on which direction to go with the hiring of a new coach.
“We really felt like the best option already was here on campus,” Dale Patterson said. “We felt the best option for NEO football, a person that was ready for this was right here. We didn’t need to look any further than our own staff.”
Allen was long snapper under Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy for four seasons.
That’s when Dale Patterson — who also was a long snapper himself while at NEO and then Drake — first got to know Allen.
“It’s an incredible honor obviously to stand here,” Allen said. “You (Clay Patterson) brought a new energy to this program that has allowed it to reach heights that we haven’t seen in a while. I have incredibly big shoes to fill.”
Gundy tweeted about the hiring of Allen:
“Congratulations to @CoachZAllen the new head coach at @Norsemen_FB. Former #okstate walk-on and one of our own. Hard work, discipline and structure pays off. Best of luck. #GoPokes”
Mike GundyVerified account @CoachGundy
“A great foundation and standard has been set over the last five or six years by a group of really great coaches," Allen said. “It’s big shoes to fill, but we have the staff and have the players to meet those expectations.”