After choosing to not renew Kelly Bates’ contract after three winless seasons for Simon Fraser football, the Clan now has their new man: Thomas Ford. Theresa Hanson, Simon Fraser’s senior director of athletics and recreation, made the announcement on Monday afternoon. Ford will be getting down to work right away as SFU is in the middle of recruitment season.
Ford is a native of Seattle, and has coached in the NCAA before in both the second and third divisions with Southeastern Oklahoma State University (Division II), University of Puget Sound (Division III), and Linfield College (Division III). He also has excelled as a player, team captain, national championship winner, and star running back at Linfield College.
Most recently, Ford coached at Stadium High School (starting in 2014), where he resurrected a program not too different from Simon Fraser’s recent years. Stadium had not had a winning season since 1993 before Ford arrived, and had an 0–10 season the year before. Within two years, Ford took the team to the playoffs for the first time in their history, and did so again in 2017. Ford hopes to have a similar experience with the Clan, as he says there is “no reason this cannot be a winning program again.” He further aims to remove some of the negative stereotypes that may surround SFU football.
When asked about what this role means for him and his family Ford responded to The Peak with: “This opportunity means the world to me and my family. We’re a football family and we’re excited to be at the collegiate level again.”
While Ford does not have Canadian roots or ties to SFU, this should not be seen as a negative. There are other American coaches that have succeeded at Simon Fraser. As stated by SFU Athletics, “American-born Ernest Duncan ‘Pokey’ Allen was co-head coach of the Clan with Bob De Julius in 1973, and they led the team to a 6–2 record in the NAIA that season.” On top of this, Texas native Clint Schneider has had a lot of success coaching SFU men’s soccer, winning two straight Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships.
Of course, there is a lot of work to be done to get the program back to where it needs to be. The first step of this, as stated by Ford, is recruitment. He hopes to add depth to the roster this offseason, as “depth is important at any level of football.” As he told The Peak, Ford has great connections in Washington, as his brother operates Ford Sports Performance in Seattle, an institute that excels in training high-level athletes from high school, collegiate, and professional levels. On top of this, his coaching resume in the area should carry some weight. SFU star quaterback Miles Richardson is a Washington native.
As for his goals for next season, Ford kept it simple: “Our main goal is to get better every day.” Ford also added that he wants the team to go 1–0, already having his eye on the team’s first game.
When asked if Ford had anything he wants to add, he stated that he has “an open-door policy,” and wants to be transparent with the football program. If there is one thing that is clear, it’s that there is a lot of work that needs to be done to get the program back to where it needs to be. Ford is the man chosen to lead that revival.