Charlie Weatherbie's head coaching resume shows peaks and valleys in stops at Utah State, Navy and ULM. Among the high points though, Weatherbie led both Utah State and Navy to bowl games after both programs had endured years of losing.
Utah State had gone 12 years without a winning season when Weatherbie led the Aggies to a Big West Conference title and a win in the 1993 Las Vegas Bowl.
Navy had also suffered 12 straight losing campaigns before Weatherbie arrived and led the Midshipmen to a victory in the 1996Aloha Bowl in his second season.
The coach and ULM fans have needed more patience. Although the Warhawks earned a three-way split of the Sun Belt title in 2005, Weatherbie still hasn't found a postseason opportunity at ULM. Maybe, that time has come.
Now in his seventh season in Monroe and the final year of his current ULM contract, Weatherbie's Warhawks still have a chance to earn a bowl berth. At 6-4 overall and 5-1 in the Sun Belt, ULM has games remaining at Louisiana-Lafayette and at home against Middle Tennessee. The Warhawks haven't had a winning season since 1993, although the team did finish 6-6 under Weatherbie in 2007.
Asked this week to compare his prior bowl teams to the 2009 ULM squad, Weatherbie said, "Great leadership and finding a way to win a close football game. There are going to be three, four or five games a year that come down the last couple of minutes of the game. Finding a way to win those games makes a difference."
Chemistry also comes into play. "Young men who refuse to lose and find a way to win and play together very well as a team. There's a lot of great team unity."
For example, when the offense was struggling in Saturday's 21-18 win over winless Western Kentucky, it was linebacker Josh Thomas who spoke up and told his teammates to pick up the pace. Quarterback Trey Revell took the message to heart.
"The turning point was late in third quarter when Josh Thomas jumped in the offensive huddle and kind of got on us a little bit," Revell said. "He told us we needed to get it going. They were making big stops for us. He just kind of rallied us. The offensive line answered, and we rode on their backs and were able to run the ball to win."
Having weathered a trap game against Western Kentucky, the Warhawks seem to understand that they can't let a postseason possibility cloud their vision.
"The coaches are real big on every week is the most important week," Revell said. "They've instilled that in us. We're not looking ahead right now. We've got our six wins and we're bowl eligible. But everybody remembers November. It's how you finish that everybody looks at for the bowls. We've got to take Lafayette one game at a time."
ULL (6-6, 3-3) has played spoiler for ULM before, including a disheartening 51-24 win that cost the Warhawks a New Orleans Bowl bid and the outright Sun Belt title in 2005. The Cajuns beat ULM 44-35 in 2008.
"It's going to be a rivalry game, so we're going to be up for it," Revell said. "We're going to hope to open some eyes in the bowls."
So how meaningful would it be to Weatherbie to get ULM to a bowl? "It would be a great blessing," Weatherbie said. "It would be a great blessing."