By Mike Linn: CNJ news editor
In his first public comments as head football coach of Eastern New Mexico University, Mark Ribaudo said he will work to continue the program’s success in graduating players and winning games.
His only caveat: Win more games.
The defensive coordinator for the Greyhounds the past eight seasons, Ribaudo was promoted to head coach on Wednesday. He will continue his duties as coordinator of the team’s defense, which led the league in sacks this year with 36 but ranked only 10th out of 13 teams in total defense.
“I’m extremely pleased and excited,” he said. “There will be no major changes, (but) I will explore ways to do things better.”
A former running back and corner back at Hastings College in Nebraska, Ribaudo succeeds longtime coach Bud Elliott, who retired on Nov. 6 after Eastern’s victory over Western New Mexico University.
Elliott said he promoted Ribaudo to assistant head coach last year to prepare him for the head coach’s position.
“It was one of the reasons I kind of retired now; he had so many good job offers that I was afraid he might get away from us and I didn’t want to see that happen,” Elliott said.
Elliott said the players respond well to Ribaudo, who according to Elliott embodies a quote by George Washington Carver, which reads: “Take what you have with what you are, make something of it and never be satisfied.”
For Ribaudo, who is married with two children, following in the footsteps of Elliott will be a tough task.
“Working with coach Elliott has been one of the best experiences of my professional career,” Ribaudo said. “He’s shown us how to run a successful program and run it with class, with character … ”
Ribaudo said Mike Howard will continue to coordinate the Greyhound offense, and defensive ends coach Todd Wallis will be promoted to coach the defensive line.
Ribaudo began his coaching career at his alma mater, Sambino High School in Arizona. At the college level, Ribaudo coached five years at West Texas A&M University and was a graduate assistant coach at Midwestern State University from 1990-1991.