CLINTON, Miss. — John Bland has been named the 14th head football coach in Mississippi College history, it was announced by athletic director Mike Jones on Thursday (Dec. 26). The head coach at the University of the Cumberlands for the past eight seasons, Bland led the Patriots to the NAIA playoffs six times, including a 13-1 season and a trip to the national championship game in 2013.
“We are very excited to have John Bland be the head coach of our football program as we head into this new era with our institution moving to Division II and the Gulf South Conference,” said Mike Jones. “We went into this process looking for someone that would meet the mission of Mississippi College and have a track record of winning. John Bland exemplifies everything we were searching for.”
“I’d like to start by saying that we have just spent eight incredible years with the University of the Cumberlands, who will always hold a special place in our hearts,” said Bland. “We are now excited to begin this new era in Mississippi College football. I feel like this is a great opportunity, and we are excited as a family to begin this new journey in our lives.”
A press conference will be held on Thursday, Jan. 2 on MC’s campus at a time and location to be announced. This will be an opportunity for the community and the media to come out and meet Coach Bland.
Bland will take over the program immediately. He was selected out of a pool of more than 40 candidates for the position after it opened in November.
“Coach Bland will be a fine fit for Mississippi College,” said Dr. Lee Royce, MC President. “His experience and credentials are excellent. I appreciate the great work of the search committee and Mike Jones in bringing John Bland to MC.”
Bland joins the Choctaws after eight seasons as the head coach of the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky. UC earned the #1 ranking in the country for two weeks and spent most of the season as one of the top two teams in the nation. Overall, he posted a 70-21 mark and won the Mid-South Conference championship five times. Bland was named MSC Coach of the Year five times and 103 Patriots earned all-conference honors in his tenure.
In 2013, the Patriots led the nation with 4,978 rushing yards, averaging 355.6 per game, a mark that also led the country. Cumberlands averaged 44.0 points per game, ranking 5th in all of NAIA. The defense was also stout, ranking 15th in the nation in rushing defense (128.6 ypg) and 16th in scoring defense (20.7 ppg).
Prior to his time at Cumberlands, Bland spent five seasons (2001-05) as the quarterbacks coach at Rice University in Houston, Texas. He spent seven seasons at Southern Arkansas University (1994-2000), earning the head coaching position in 2000. Bland also served as an assistant coach at Central High School in Columbia, Tenn. He worked as a graduate assistant under Pat Dye at Auburn University and was a student assistant at the University of Arkansas while he finished his undergraduate degree.
Bland spent his collegiate playing days at the University of Arkansas where he was a four-year letterman as a quarterback. While in Fayetteville, Bland helped the Razorbacks to four consecutive bowl appearances in the Holiday, Liberty, Orange, and Cotton Bowls. He was named a team captain for the 1988 Southwest Conference Championship squad that competed in the Cotton Bowl.
Coach Bland holds a master’s degree in Kinesiology from Auburn University and a bachelor’s degree, also in Kinesiology, from the University of Arkansas. Originally from Knoxville, Tenn., Bland is a graduate of Farragut High School where he was an All-State recipient playing at the quarterback and defensive back positions.
Coach Bland and his wife, Candis, have three children, Shreve, Jade and Bo.