In the tiny office he had occupied for barely two weeks at Cal State Long Beach, Larry Reisbig donned his new tweed jacket for a picture session.
"My wife bought this for me," he said with a grin as he smoothed the lapels. "This is the first one I've had in about 15 years. You can't believe what coats cost today."
Breaking in his jacket might be a lot easier for Reisbig than adjusting to the mantle of head coach of 49er football.
He took the job not knowing if it would last even a month, as boosters scurried to raise enough money to guarantee at least one more season. Now that the money has been raised and the season secured, he must direct a program that has been severely tested off the field.
'Prosperous Program' Possible
Reisbig, 47, a graduate of Washington State University where he received All-West Coast honors as an offensive lineman, says that Cal State Long Beach can have "a prosperous program."
Reisbig's attitude about next season is "one of hope. We're going to surprise people." But he's also a realist.
"I know we've got to win," he said, adding that victories attract spectators, who in turn can help improve the financial situation.
Reisbig, formerly a head coach at College of the Canyons in Valencia and Pasadena City College, has spent two years at Long Beach as running-back coach. The man he replaces, Mike Sheppard, favored a wide-open offense. The 49ers were 16-18 under Sheppard and lived and died by the pass. Reisbig is expected to add a running attack.
"We won't pass quite as much," he said. "We'll strive for more balance, but not at the expense of the pass. I've always believed in a good running attack."
Three Aspects to Program
He says he believes there are three aspects to a solid game plan.
"People talk about offense, and that's important, but I also believe in a strong defense and good special teams. Last year we were as good as we could be in those areas with the people we had, but I think we can get better."
With five assistant coaching jobs open (Sheppard is taking four assistants with him to his new head coaching job at the University of New Mexico), Reisbig will have an opportunity to hire a staff that reflects his goals. In his first move, he elevated defensive coordinator Ken Visser to assistant head coach.
Reisbig has not settled completely into his new routine.
"Look at the walls," he said, gesturing in his new headquarters. "There's not a picture on them. Everyone has moved out and we haven't had time yet to put some of ours up. But we will by the time the recruits come in."
Reisbig said the turmoil surrounding fund-raising will fade away and should not hurt recruiting. The 49ers have about 65 underclassmen returning next year and that should make recruiting easier. He said he's only seeking 15 players to fill key areas.
Reisbig said he thinks he can deliver stability to the program in another area as well. He's the fourth coach the university has had since the 1976 season.
"I know you hear this from every other coach you talk to, but I have no desire to move from here," he said. "I've lived in the same house for 17 years and I hope to add that kind of stability here."