For the first time in 15 years, there’s a new man at the helm of Wayne State football.
John McMenamin was officially introduced as the 22nd coach in the 103-year history of Wildcat football on Dec. 10 after athletic director Mike Powicki announced the decision Dec. 6. McMenamin takes over for Dan McLaughlin, who retired upon the completion of the 2019 season.
“I got the call from Mike Powicki and the first person I went to was my wife, Andrea, and once we were both in agreement that Wayne would be a great fit, we moved forward accordingly,” McMenamin said.
McMenamin has familiarity with the WSC football program, having served as offensive coordinator under McLaughlin from 2011-2014. McMenamin’s 2014 offense at WSC was ranked in the top 25 nationally in seven different categories.
After serving four seasons at Wayne State, McMenamin took the same position at the University of Central Missouri, where he was offensive coordinator for the Mules for the last five seasons.
UCM’s offense was a juggernaut with McMenamin as the offensive coordinator, having ranked second in the MIAA and 22nd nationally in total offense during his first year in Warrensburg. The Mules went 8-3 in 2015.
Similar success followed in 2016, when Central Missouri ranked 1st in the MIAA and ninth nationally in pass offense en route to a trip to the playoffs and a 9-3 record.
In 2017, the Mules’ offense was virtually unstoppable, ranking second in Division II with 524.4 yards per game in total offense, along with setting the top two single game records in school history. UCM also finished the 2017 season with a 9-3 record, including a 38-28 victory over Minnesota Duluth in the Mineral Water Bowl.
“We’ll implement the same type of offense (as Central Missouri) and we’ll do a lot of the same type of things,” McMenamin said. “There have been a lot of great offensive minds that are contributing but it won’t be identical to any of my previous stops. But we’ll put together an offense that will be pretty fun to watch.”
More of the same success followed McMenamin’s offense in 2018 and 2019, as McMenamin headed an offense this past season that had the top ranked offense in the nation at 547.5 yards per game. The Mules’ passing offense was ranked second nationally with 346.2 yards per game and was sixth in DII in scoring at 44.8 points per game. Central Missouri also had two AFCA All-Americans who were coached by McMenamin, including a Harlon Hill Award finalist at quarterback in a season where UCM finished 11-2 and reached the DII quarterfinals.
In total, the Mules went 42-17 while McMenamin was offensive coordinator and the 11 wins this past season tied a school record.
“Nothing is identical; you have a blueprint that you want to use for how you form the offense and how you want to install your concepts and attack other team’s defenses,” McMenamin said.
“Spring ball is really important in gauging what our guys can do and from my standpoint, we really need to find out what our guys can do. If you’re doing something you can’t do, then you’re not going to be very good at it.”
McMenamin’s coaching career started at Omaha Central High School in 2004, where he also served as offensive coordinator. Collegiately, McMenamin also coached as an assistant at the University of Nebraska-Omaha from 2006-08 and worked as the offensive coordinator at Midland University in 2009-10.
While McMenamin and his staff did not have a full offseason to recruit for Wayne State, he and his staff’s familiarity with WSC, the state of Nebraska and the Midwest has been nothing but beneficial – enabling the staff to garner 20 commitments and counting for next season.
“They (McMenamin’s coaching staff) know the way of the landscape and it (20 commitments) is no accident,” McMenamin said.
“It’s knowing who to target, how to target them and we kind of know everything about the school already and how to put our best foot forward and what we need to showcase. That goes a long way.”
Filling out the coaching staff at WSC are: offensive coordinator Logan Masters; defensive coordinator Scott McLaughlin, retained from the previous staff; special teams coordinator Austin Flyger; assistant coach Quincy Griffith; and grad assistants Andre McCall, Alex Boyer and Keyan Williams.
“There were a couple people I was dead set on getting,” McMenamin said. “You just reach out and tell somebody you’re interested in them and that they needed to seriously consider coming with me and I was fortunate enough that almost all of them did. We have a bunch of guys that are a bunch of go-getters and loyal to Wayne and we’ve got a really great staff.”
McMenamin and his staff will continue to recruit student-athletes to Wayne State and, in the meantime, continue evaluating the individuals on the roster in order to be well-prepared for spring practice and what follows.
“The NSIC is a tough conference and we have one goal – and that’s to finish at the top of the conference and not meander in the middle of the pack,” McMenamin said. “It’s going to get harder before it gets easier, but it’s not a matter of if we’re going to win, but when we’re going to win.”
When he isn’t hard at work with WSC football-related tasks, McMenamin has spent his time re-acclimating himself to the community, attending other Wildcat sporting events and visiting with faculty and students.
“The outpouring of support has been second to none,” McMenamin said. “Everyone has been offering a helping hand and everyone wants to see us be successful. Everyone from the president, Chartwells, campus residential life – have been really hospitable to our coaches and to myself to make sure we’re very comfortable. It’s just been great to be back here.”