OUT OF BOUNDS: Newest Western head coaches share common bond, passions for Hill

Kyle Hightower

For those of you who just met David Elson for the first time last season, you should know that he’s been putting in work on the Hill for many years.

We all remember the scene. As Hilltopper alums and new and old Western fans alike celebrated the school’s first ever football national championship, it was Elson the players chose to splash with Gatorade as ESPN cameras peered in.

His piano key smile and fiery spirit glistening brighter then ever that day.

But as the longest tenured assistant coach under Jack Harbaugh, Elson will take over for the legendary Western football coach this season with a reputation that far exceeds his lack of celebrity status. He is the Western son that waited for his pop to hang it up and has now come back to build upon the foundation Harbaugh’s sweat laid.

He paid his dues with interest and he gave up a job in Division I-A to get a return on his investment of faith.

He’s not alone. Across the way at Diddle Arena there is new men’s basketball coach Darrin Horn. He remembers the days when Diddle last rocked. And they were days long before anybody knew names like Felton, Marcus or Sparks.

He left Final Four particpant Marquette for his old Western Kentucky home. That is saying something. And to me that is saying that he truly believes he knows how to bring the Hilltoppers up to that status.

Now that Western is back in the spotlight, he’s back to see that it stays there. And like Elson, he is as likable as he is hard-nosed.

Players loathe them both at times for their strict, demanding styles, but as Elson showed as defensive coordinator last season – it works. It produces wins, and champions.

To lose one of your major coaches after a successful season stings definitely. To lose two in the same year is the kind of things that can cripple athletics programs.

Not only did Western luck out by snaring two proven coaches who learned from exceptional mentors (Harbaugh and Marquette coach Tom Crean), but they have two guys who have truly love the place.

You can’t teach that. But I’d be willing to bet that those two can coach it.

Kyle Hightower’s column appears on Tuesday and ocassionally on Thursday. He can be reached at [email protected]