News of Augustana head football coach Mike Aldrich being fired caught many in KELOLAND off guard this morning including Aldrich himself. The Vikings now former leader had just finished his third season at the helm and boasted an overall winning record. While Augie is now in the market for a new man in charge, players are left asking why?
"He was a big reason why I came here and it's tough to see him go," sophomore quarterback Justin Heinrich said.
Aldrich led Vikings football to its best season in school history in his first year. But since, the team's record has been sliding in the wrong direction, capped off by this season's 5-6 showing and loss to rival USF. Overall though, Aldrich remained 22-13 at Augie which has several of his players like Austin Luecke searching for answers.
"I guess I don't know what the reasoning behind it was. I don't think anybody really knows. I think everybody's just as shocked as the next person," Luecke said.
After speaking with a few of this years seniors, it's easy to tell what kind of an impact Aldrich made on his guys. He's been referred to as a players' coach and while it didn't fully transfer to the field in 2012, there's no denying his popularity among the ranks.
"It's just tough because three years is tough to measure. If you're measuring by wins and losses, he had a good record here. That's what's tough is he's done a lot for this program. He's the second most winningest coach by percentage-wise and with all the players, he's supported heavily by every player here because he's really a great person and a great coach," senior quarterback Josh Hanson said.
He just wasn't given a great deal of time according to his supporters...
"His recruiting classes have only been here the last two years. The oldest ones are redshirt freshmen. A couple of them made big impacts this year and there was true freshmen that made big impacts on the team as well. I think three years, could have maybe had a little more time but again, I was shocked," Heinrich said.
Coach Aldrich declined an interview but he did say his firing was, "Quite unexpected." Augustana also declined to go on camera to explain the move. They did send out a press release this afternoon, click here to read it.