Burke praised Peveto’s impact in many respects, but said an overall 14-30 record and a 9-19 mark in Southland Conference play triggered the decision to seek a new head coach. Peveto’s teams went 0-11, the school’s first winless season, in 2009, then 5-6 in 2010 and 2011, and 4-7 in the just-completed season.
“Bradley Dale has moved the Demon football program forward in many areas -- academics, community relations, fund raising, to name a few -- but on-field success has not been at a level for which anybody associated with the program had hoped,” said Burke.
In 2010, the Demons played for a share of the Southland Conference championship in the season finale but were beaten by Stephen F. Austin and finished 4-3 in the league, their only winning conference record under Peveto.
“Going in a different direction with our head coaching position is not an easy decision,” said Burke, “because Bradley Dale has represented NSU in such a positive fashion and has genuinely had the best interest of our football student-athletes in mind on a daily basis.
“He has developed close and, in some cases, renewed long-lasting relationships in the community, as well as with former players and with countless alumni. He really loves this university and this community and dedicated himself with unlimited energy to bettering the fortunes of Demon football,” said Burke.
“I know that I speak on behalf of coaches and staff in the athletic department, many who have developed close relationships with Bradley Dale, in wishing him the best of luck in moving forward.”
Peveto was the Demons’ defensive coordinator under legendary coach Sam Goodwin in 1996-98, helping Northwestern win the 1997 and 1998 Southland championships and make playoff appearances both seasons, including advancing to the FCS semifinals in 1998. He was hired as head coach after four seasons on the LSU staff under Les Miles, including the 2007 BCS national championship campaign.
“I’m highly disappointed, to be honest, but I want to say that I have loved and cherished the four years I’ve spent, along with this coaching staff, at Northwestern State,” said Peveto. “The community’s been incredible. It’s a great university that I dearly love. The players have been tremendous, the alumni have been wonderful, and it’s been a fun ride. I’m going to cherish the great memories of being at Northwestern State as the head football coach.
“It happens. At the end of the day, I felt like we did everything right, but we didn’t win enough games in four years to make Northwestern State happy. When that happens, this is the outcome. This is the decision that’s been made, and we’ll look it in the eyes as a staff and a team. I will be here personally when the kids get back (from Thanksgiving break) to meet with them and make sure they’re doing the right things,” he said.
“I’ve preached responsibility and accountability to these players since they got here, and now I have a responsibility and accountability to them. I’m going to be sure they do what they’re supposed to do academically, they stay the course in the weight room, to ensure they do a great job of finishing the semester strongly, so whoever the next head coach is, doesn’t walk into a disaster. That’s my responsibility right now,” said Peveto. “My main concern is the players here, and my coaches, making sure they’re taken care of, that I lead in a mature and responsible manner.”
Burke said he wants the new head coach to embody a broad range of characteristics along with restoring a winning tradition to the Demon program.
“While improving the team's win-loss record must obviously be a primary focus for that next coach, being a Division I head coach also involves a myriad of other obligations and responsibilities. It will be important that the new head coach also place emphasis on areas such as academic success, rules compliance, public relations, fund raising, and the student-athlete experience,” he said.
“It's not an easy job and it is one which comes with challenges, which make it imperative that the level of internal and external support for Demon football continues to trend upward,” said Burke.
Northwestern made the most recent of its five FCS playoff appearances in 2004, following trips in 1988, 1997, 1998, 2001 and 2002. The Demons also last claimed the Southland title in 2004 along with capturing crowns in 1988, 1997 and 1998.
Three former Demons – Seattle rookie cornerback Jeremy Lane, Philadelphia offensive tackle Demetress Bell and Buffalo cornerback Terrence McGee – are the latest in a long line of NSU products who have reached the NFL, including eight who have won Pro Bowl honors highlighted by Pro Football Hall of Fame member Jackie Smith.