CLEVELAND, Miss. – Over 150 members of the campus and community turned out Monday, Jan. 28 at 11 a.m., as Delta State University officially welcomed Todd Cooley as the 19th head coach in Statesmen football history. Cooley took over the program on Friday, Jan. 25 and has hit the ground running since arriving at Chadwick-Dickson Fieldhouse.
Known as one of the top offensive coordinators in the country, Cooley brings his high-octane system to Delta State after serving as the offensive coordinator at Northwestern State University (2009-2012), University of Central Arkansas (2005-2008) and Arkansas Tech University (2004).
In three years running the NSU offense, Cooley’s established the Demons as one of the top units in the Southland Conference. In 2012 under Cooley’s tutelage Brad Henderson finished the season ranked seventh in the SLC with 181-of-330 passes completed for 1,874 yards with 14 touchdowns and only four interceptions. The Demons averaged 24.1 points per game and ranked fifth in the league in scoring.
Cooley’s explosive offenses at Central Arkansas lit up scoreboards around the Southland Conference in 2007-08 and during his four seasons with the Bears as offensive coordinator and quarterback coach. In that time (2005-08), UCA posted an overall 35-13 record, including an 11-3 SLC mark in the Bears’ first two years (2007-08) as an NCAA Division I FCS member.
In 2008, Cooley’s offense at UCA scored 40 points or more in seven of 12 games. The Bears had six receivers make 23 or more catches, four with 35 or more receptions.
In 2007-08, Cooley’s offense averaged 445 yards and 35.4 points per game. In his last season at UCA, the Bears went 10-2, 6-1 in the SLC, led the conference with a 37.5 scoring average and a 48 percent third-down conversion rate.
In 2007-08, the Bears threw for 57 touchdowns and completed 68 percent of their 804 passes with only 14 interceptions — just four in 400 pass attempts in 2008. UCA ran for 47 touchdowns and 4.2 yards per carry in his last two years. In their first two seasons of full-fledged Division I competition in 2007-08, the Bears averaged 287 passing yards and 157 on the ground while making only 32 turnovers in 23 games.
Cooley helped his alma mater, Arkansas Tech, and UCA to reach the NCAA Division II playoffs in back-to-back seasons in 2004-05. He spent one season at Arkansas Tech, and in 2004 he restructured the Wonder Boys offense from a unit averaging 18.4 points per game in 2003 to a squad that averaged 32.2 per game. Arkansas Tech went 10-2 and became the first Arkansas school to host and win a Division II playoff game.
He was hired at UCA the following February and promptly helped the Bears win the 2005 Gulf States Conference championship and they went on to reach the Division II playoff quarterfinals.
Cooley was also quarterbacks coach from 2001-03 at Ouachita Baptist University for former DSU head coach Todd Knight, quarterbacks and receivers coach in 2000 at Northeastern Oklahoma for a Lone Star Conference championship team that reached the Division II playoffs, and running backs coach in 1998-99 at Arkansas Tech, helping the Wonder Boys win the 1999 Gulf South Conference title.
At UCA, he coached record-shattering quarterback Nathan Brown, the 2008 SLC Player of the Year and the 2007 SLC Offensive Player of the Year. Brown was invited to play in the 2009 Senior Bowl, and is now coaching at UCA. He also coached a record-setting passer at Arkansas Tech in 2004, an All-Lone Star Conference quarterback in 2000 at Northeast Oklahoma and the 1999 Gulf South Conference Offensive Player of the Year at Arkansas Tech.
As a player, Cooley set 13 school records at quarterback for Arkansas Tech in 1996-97 and was a finalist for the 1997 Harlon Hill Trophy presented to the most outstanding player in NCAA Division II. He was also Academic All-GSC in 1997 and was named to the Daktronics All-Region Team in 1997.
At Nashville (Ark.) High School, he was an all-state passer for coach Billy Laird. In 1993, Cooley’s senior year, the Scrappers became the first NHS team to reach the state championship game as Cooley broke state single-season passing record by throwing for over 2,300 yards.
Born September 7, 1975, Cooley married the former Lisa Gatlin of Conway, Ark., on July 16, 2005. His parents are Don and Lynne Cooley, who reside in Nashville, Ark. Cooley’s father is a longtime Arkansas high school football coach and his mother is a reading specialist for the state of Arkansas. Cooley has two younger sisters, Paige Fisher of Russellville, Ark., and Kristi Simms of Natchitoches.