COMMERCE — Texas A&M University-Commerce’s new head football coach was influenced by the late Jim Wacker, who won four national championships as a coach.
“I am the product of one of the greatest college coaches that impacted my life,” said David Bailiff, the new head coach of the Lions. “His name was Jim Wacker. He was a man of tremendous faith. He was a man of energy. He was a man that was my true first servant leader. I knew he loved me and I worked so hard for him...”
Bailiff, who played as an offensive lineman under Bailiff at Southwest Texas State, said the Bobcats knew “that we weren’t going to lose because of the respect and love we had for him. He taught me so much and turned me into the man and coach I am today. I wish he was still here to watch this because he would really be proud and I understand his granddaughters (Jaslyn and Jaryn Wacker) go to school here.”
Bailiff said he couldn’t wait to meet the Wacker sisters, two all-conference players on the Lions’ 30-6 volleyball team who were also recognized for their academic achievements.
“Because I knew they have to be outstanding young ladies if they’re his grandchildren.”
Jim Wacker also won two NAIA national championships in 1974 and 1975 at Texas Lutheran. He was also the head football coach at North Dakota State, Texas Christian University and the University of Minnesota.
Bailiff is joining a Lions program that won the NCAA Division II football title in 2017 under head coach Colby Carthel, who is now at Stephen F. Austin.
“I applaud Coach Carthel for the job that he did here,’ said Bailiff. “And the great job that you guys are continuing to do. You walk in that room and the first question that you’re asked is, ‘Coach, you want to win a national championship?’ Yeah. Let’s go to work doing it. And the next one is, ‘Challenge us. Work us. We want to be challenged. We want to do the right thing.’ And that’s an atmosphere where at that point, there’s no doubt this is where I want to be.”
Bailiff played high school football in San Antonio under a former Lion head coach, Eddie Vowell. Bailiff recognized Vowell during Bailiff’s introductory press conference at A&M-Commerce. Vowell coached the Lions from 1986-98.
Bailiff was the head coach at Texas State (formerly Southwest Texas) from 2004-6 and from 2007-17 at Rice. He coached the 11-3 Texas State Bobcats to the NCAA Division I-AA semifinals in 2005 and coached Rice to records of 10-3 in 2008 and 10-4 in 2013.
He’s taking over a Lion program that went 10-3 in 2018, reaching the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs.
Bailiff said he’s going to “count on everybody in this room and everybody that’s listening to help us build that momentum.”
“It takes this whole community and the synergy for this to continue to happen. It’s not because of one man. It’s a team of people all over this campus and in this community. That’s how you win national championships. When everybody’s all in with each other. I’m an all-in guy. I will do whatever it takes.”