Big Sky Champion Ed Lamb Named Head Football Coach
Lamb takes the helm after successes at Idaho, San Diego, BYU and others
Ed Lamb is the new head coach of the UNC Bears football program, UNC Director of Athletics Darren Dunn announced on Dec. 6.
Lamb comes to UNC with a wealth of college football coaching experience, including most recently serving as the assistant head coach and special teams coordinator at his alma mater BYU for the past seven seasons. During his tenure in Provo, Utah, the Cougars went 55-34, appearing in six bowl games.
Prior to joining the staff at BYU, Lamb was the head coach at Southern Utah University (SUU) from 2008-15. When Lamb took over the Thunderbirds program in 2008, he inherited a team that had lost 18 consecutive games. Southern Utah won four games in his first season at the helm and by his third season, they had a winning season, including a perfect 4-0 record in Great West conference play.
Helped by the school’s recent success in football, Southern Utah joined the Big Sky Conference in 2012, marking a step up in competition. Just one year later, the Thunderbirds earned an invite to the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs as Lamb’s 2013 team compiled an 8-5 record. In 2015, Lamb led Southern Utah to a first place finish in the Big Sky, reaching the FCS playoffs for the second time in three seasons.
During his eight years in Cedar City, Utah, Lamb’s Southern Utah teams earned two wins over FBS teams (UNLV in 2011, South Alabama in 2013) and compiled a 19-13 record in its first four seasons as a member of the Big Sky Conference. On two different occasions Lamb was named a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award, which recognizes the top head football coaches in the FCS.
“I am incredibly excited to welcome Coach Lamb, his wife Sarah and their family to UNC,” Dunn said. “It was evident through our process Coach Lamb was the man to lead UNC football. He is a man of high character who is a proven winner, tireless recruiter, and developer of young men. He’s won championships as a head coach at the FCS level and has worked alongside and learned from some of the best coaches in football.”
Lamb, who played at BYU from 1994-96 (the Cougars 1996 team finished 15-1 and finished ranked #5 in the country), said leaving the coaching staff at his alma mater wasn’t easy, but the opportunity at UNC was intriguing.
“I had missed being a head coach,” Lamb said. “I think Northern Colorado is a place with a higher ceiling and potential than maybe what people from the outside would give it credit for. When the position came open I was really excited about the chance to pursue it.”
In his first two months on the job, Coach Lamb has prioritized developing a strong culture and is seeing positive results early on.
“We’re looking for guys who are excited to be here,” Lamb said. “To me, a culture is built with how we interact with each other, how we interact with the campus and how we interact with the community. It’s not signs we look at or t-shirts we wear that set up a culture, it’s what I see when I look at you and what you see when you look at me. That’s what a culture is.”
Lamb leads by example, with the mentality that he wouldn’t ask his players to do something he wouldn’t ask of himself. This is evidenced by him working out alongside his players every day in the weight room, something that has been a bit of a surprise for some student-athletes.
“I want to be side-by-side with the players in their training,” Lamb said. “My philosophy is if we haven’t coached them to perform on gameday we’re not going to be able to do a lot in between the snaps to correct that. I want to make sure the work is put in during the offseason, during practices so we have confident players who can execute on gameday.”
Lamb says fans can expect his teams to be tough-minded and display a strong work ethic. The groundwork for the foundation is being laid right now, he says, but he has high expectations for his players and coaches heading into this fall.
“I’m expecting immediate success but that’s not something I can promise or guarantee,” Lamb said. “What you’re going to see out of UNC immediately is a competitive team that has a chance to win every Saturday.”
The Bears’ first game under Coach Lamb will be at Abilene Christian University in Texas, a team that finished 7-4 last year, on September 2.