Eric Brock can't wait to take over the struggling football program at Haskell Indian Nations University.
"I think it's a little firecracker waiting to explode," said Brock, who has been defensive coordinator at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., for the last year.
A wide receiver at Haskell in 1991 and 1992 when the four-year school still was a junior college, Brock succeeds Graham Snelding who left following last year's 0-11 season.
Brock, 28, will assume his new duties on Monday.
"He's a very energetic guy," said Phil Homeratha, HINU's interim athletic director. "He played here and he understands what we are as a school and our mission. And he's familiar with Native America."
Born in Albuquerque, N.M., Brock is a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe of New Mexico. After earning an associate degree at Haskell, Brock went on to Fort Lewis where he earned a bachelor's degree in exercise science. He also has a master's degree from the University of New Mexico.
While at UNM, Brock worked as a graduate aide under Dennis Franchione, now head coach at Alabama. Later he was an assistant coach at Eastern Arizona.
"To get this opportunity to be a head coach at a young age, I couldn't let go," Brock said. "One of the things I loved about Haskell was the stadium with those arches. And Lawrence is such a sports town. It's a pretty town, too."
While at Haskell, Brock played under Gary Tanner, now the school's soccer and softball coach.
"I really like Eric," Tanner said. "I enjoyed him as a player. He had a lot of heart and he knew football because his dad was a high school coach in Albuquerque. I think he'll fit right in here."
Brock will inherit an under-funded program that has been essentially rudder-less for almost five months. Richard Brewer, a holdover aide from Snelding's staff, has been in charge temporarily and will be Brock's offensive coordinator.
Since becoming a four-year school three years ago, the Fightin' Indians have had a difficult time being competitive in all sports, but particularly football, partially because the school has to rely on the vagaries of U.S. government funding.
In fact, in some circles, it was speculated Haskell might have to drop football. However, Karen Swisher, the school's president, has freed more funds for the football program.
"We've got some more money," Homeratha said. "Dr. Swisher will help us as much as she can, but she still has to think of the university as a whole."
Homeratha is also working to water down Haskell's schedule. That's fine with Brock.
"Haskell hasn't had success in the past," Brock said. "Maybe we need to get some wins to get the ball rolling."
Brock will begin to put his imprint on the program next week. Haskell's holdover players can't wait.
"He came in and spent a day talking to the players," senior defensive back Nick Lewis said, "and his philosophy, attitude and enthusiasm really impressed me. For all this time we didn't know where we were heading, but now we have a new spark."
Brock and his wife, Regina, have a one-year-old daughter.