Menlo College hires Speckman as new head football coach | January 13, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - January 13, 2012

Menlo College hires Speckman as new head football coach

by Rick Eymer

Mark Speckman has been around the block a few times and Thursday he found himself standing in front of one of his previous homes. Make that his new home, again.

Speckman, whose life story has been an inspiration for many, was introduced as Menlo College's head football coach in front of a filled auditorium in Brawner Hall on the Menlo campus.

Speckman, who graduated from Carlmont High in Belmont, attended Menlo during its junior college days in the early 70s. Playing for legendary Oaks' coach Ray Solari, who was on hand to greet his former player, Speckman developed into one of the most respected coaches on the West Coast.

"These guys had a big influence on me," Speckman said of Solari and his coaches at Carlmont. "I came here and my grades got better and I went on to graduate (from Azusa Pacific, where he earned honorable mention All-American recognition in 1976)."

Speckman, the head coach at Willamette University the past 14 years, went on to get a teaching credential and spent a year at Menlo School before getting a job at North Monterey County High, where he was introduced to the 'fly offense.' He has since developed into its leading authority.

"When I got there they ran the 'veer,' and something called the 'fly.'" Speckman recalled. "I watched a player run sideways and thought that can't work, that's like running out of bounds. They only ran it once in a while and it worked every time."

Speckman took over at Merced High, where he began to tinker with the famed offense and ultimately led Merced High to consecutive undefeated seasons in 1989-90.

"I considered myself a defensive coach," Speckman said. "My idea was to play defense and punt. I didn't people would go for that so I put in the 'fly.' If you ever want to do something, make up a name and stick with it. I didn't invent but I will take credit for developing a system."

He compiled an 82-59 record with the Bearcats, including a 47-28 mark in Northwest Conference play, utilizing the system.

"It's really mythological and Zen-like," Speckman said. "I did not have any offensive background. Some of the things happened by mistake. There was a day when a guy lined up wrong and we ran a sweep. I was screaming at the guy, but he went the wrong way. Somehow it worked. I watched game film and it was genius. He went the wrong way and the defender went with him, so the sweep worked even better as a result. It was those types of things that went into it."

Speckman won five conference titles and reached the national NCAA Division III title game in 1997 (as an assistant coach) while at Willamette. He's coached eight All-Americans, four Conference Players of the Year and 79 first team all-Northwest selections.

Speckman was named Coach of the Year in the NWC in 1999 and 2008 and was named Regional Coach of the Year for Division III in 2008.

Speckman, who was born without hands, is also a nationally-recognized motivational speaker and has given presentations on reaching one's potential to business, community and educational organizations.

He replaces Fred Guidici, who led the Oaks to their best season since 2003 last fall. Guidici took a position withe San Jose State football coaching staff.

Menlo went 5-5 last year (starting 4-0 to earn a No. 25 national ranking) and has not recorded a winning season since finishing 7-3 in 2003. The Oaks were 13-18 in three years under Guidici after compiling a 12-37 mark in the previous five years.

There were a total of nine seniors listed on the team roster this year. There were 42 freshmen on the 95-man roster.


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