By Robert Husseman • Sports Editor • 

Locey named Lewis & Clark head coach

Robert Husseman/News-Register
Lewis & Clark head coach Jay Locey poses in his office at the school’s Portland campus. Locey coached at Linfield for a total of 23 seasons, as part of three national championship staffs.
Robert Husseman/News-Register
Lewis & Clark head coach Jay Locey poses in his office at the school’s Portland campus. Locey coached at Linfield for a total of 23 seasons, as part of three national championship staffs.
News-Register file
Jay Locey won the 2004 NCAA Division III national championship as head coach at Linfield and was a staff member on two other national championship teams for the Wildcats.
News-Register file
Jay Locey won the 2004 NCAA Division III national championship as head coach at Linfield and was a staff member on two other national championship teams for the Wildcats.

PORTLAND – Jay Locey stood outside his new office in the Pamplin Sports Center on the campus of Lewis & Clark College Wednesday afternoon, chatting up prospective football recruits. The discussion centered on the Sacramento area, where one of the Pioneers’ prospects called home.

“I should give Brandin a call,” Locey said.

Brandin, of course, is Brandin Cooks, the former Oregon State University wide receiver who now plays for the NFL’s New Orleans Saints. Locey had been with the Beavers since 2006, coaching wide receivers and tight ends and, since January 2013, serving as OSU’s chief of staff, a non-coaching position.

“It was a little bit nebulous at first but what it kind of evolved into was there was a football component – game-planning, providing a quality-control perspective, pre-screening opponents,” Locey said. “The other part was more player development-focused.”

In the fall of 2015, Locey – who won the 2004 NCAA Division III national championship and six Northwest Conference championships at Linfield – will return to coaching on the field.

Lewis & Clark announced Locey’s hire as head coach of the Pioneers on Tuesday. Locey replaces Chris Sulages, who had coached L&C since 2006.

Locey went 84-18 in 10 seasons as Linfield’s head coach, the second-best winning percentage (82.4 percent) among Wildcats coaches. (Current Linfield head coach Joseph Smith has won 82.8 percent of his games.) Locey posted winning records in all 10 years, perpetuating the school’s winning-season streak, which now stands at 59 seasons.

He spent another 13 years as a Linfield assistant, coaching under Ad Rutschman. Locey is a Corvallis native and OSU graduate who was a sophomore linebacker on the Corvallis High School state championship football team that won a state championship in 1970.

The quarterback of that team was Mike Riley, the man who in part set these events in motion. Riley, Locey’s boss at Oregon State, left Corvallis on Dec. 4 to become head football coach at Nebraska. Riley had spent 14 seasons as the Beavers’ head coach in two nonconsecutive terms.

Locey said he learned of Riley’s decision “about 30 minutes before he announced it to the team.”

“Mike called me into his office along with (defensive backs coach) Rod Perry and told us what was going down,” Locey said. “Good conversation. I understand his whole reason behind it. For the most part, it was just the opportunity to start over, a great opportunity. I think he felt, just timing-wise, it was a good situation.”

Locey said that any opportunity to rejoin Riley at Nebraska did not work out “timing-wise for me and my family.” Oregon State hired Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen on Dec. 10 to be the Beavers’ head coach.

“That turned out to be not an option there,” Locey said.

So Locey pounced on the opportunity put forth by L&C athletic director Shana Levine and the university’s administration with no qualms about returning to a lower level of football.

“That’s always been where you got started. I had a lot of fun,” Locey said. “This is a unique campus setting.”

Locey is the third former Linfield coach under Ad Rutschman to hold a coaching position in the Northwest Conference. Smith, at Linfield, and Chris Casey at George Fox are also Rutschman disciples.

“Ad has touched so many coaches, and then the coaches, the hope is that we’re able to touch kids’ lives like Rutsch did.”

Lewis & Clark football posted a 7-2 season (4-2 NWC) in 2011 but has won five games total in the last three seasons. The Pioneers went 0-9 in 2014 and placed a single player, senior linebacker Andrew Traver, on the Northwest Conference all-league teams.

Locey’s immediate concerns include filling out his staff – the Pioneers will have three full-time assistant coaches, he said – evaluating and getting to know existing players and recruiting prospective freshmen and transfers. Locey hopes to have an 80-man roster for the 2015 season. (Lewis & Clark suited up 58 players in 2014.)

If the past couple of weeks caught him off-guard, Locey is prepared to hit the ground running with the Pioneers.

“The hope would be that great things happen at Nebraska, great things happen at Oregon State, great things happen here at Lewis & Clark,” he said.

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