VALPARAISO | Forty losses in the last four years, including Saturday’s 72-12 loss to Butler, was enough for Valparaiso director of athletics Mark LaBarbera.
The school announced Sunday that football coach Dale Carlson was relieved of his duties effective immediately and that assistant coach Mike Gravier would coach the Crusaders in Saturday’s season finale against Dayton.
“I felt that after yesterday’s game that it was time to make the change,” LaBarbera said. “Clearly things weren’t going in the direction we’d like them to go.”
Carlson finished 3-40 in four years at the helm with all three victories coming over Campbell. The Crusaders are 1-9 this season and have lost six straight games.
“That’s life in coaching sometimes,” Carlson said. “We just didn’t get things turned around. I’m certainly not walking away from here with my head down. We did a lot of good things from improving the academic profile to raising the APR. We did a really good job there; we just didn’t get the wins.”
LaBarbera wouldn’t specifically point to Saturday’s loss to the Bulldogs as the reason for making the move, but the game was clearly on his mind when he spoke about the Valparaiso football program in general.
“When I got here in 2004 we were better than Butler as a program and they have clearly moved significantly beyond us as a program,” LaBarbera said. “That shouldn’t be the case. We need to be competitive with programs in the Pioneer Football League and that clearly wasn’t the case yesterday.”
Neither LaBarbera or Carlson would comment on the discussions that took place following the Butler game or leading up to the decision, but LaBarbera was highly complementary of the former coach.
“Dale Carlson is an honorable man and I respect the effort that he put in,” LaBarbera said. “He’s done some really good things for our program. He brought in some really quality young men. We just weren’t getting it done on the field.”
LaBarbera noted that a national search for a new football coach would begin immediately.
“We have expectations about where we’d like our program to be and we’re not there right now,” LaBarbera said. “We’ll work to get to where we need to be.”