Saluki coaches share long-lasting bond

Saluki coaches share long-lasting bond

By Thomas Donley, @tdonleyDE

They may have a combined five years coaching at Southern Illinois University, but two football coaches have spent nearly three decades together in the game.

Co-offensive coordinator/assistant head coach Bill O’Boyle and inside linebackers coach Todd Auer are in their 20th season coaching together.

Auer and O’Boyle were teammates at Western Illinois University in 1983. Auer, a freshman that year, played linebacker and O’Boyle, a sophomore then, was an offensive lineman.

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O’Boyle broke two vertebrae in his neck that season, ending his playing career. He stayed as a student coach for the following two years.

Auer began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at WIU in 1989. At the same time, O’Boyle was coaching the offensive line at Division II Chadron State College in Chadron, Nebraska.

O’Boyle returned to Macomb to coach the offensive line in 1990. At the time, Auer considered taking a graduate assistant position at Northern Illinois University, but instead took the newly-vacant full-time position at CSC.

Four and a half years later, the two were reunited when O’Boyle returned to Chadron State to take over the offensive line again. Auer was promoted to defensive coordinator.

Brad Smith, an assistant coach at Western when Auer and O’Boyle were there, was the head coach at CSC from 1987 to 2004. When Smith retired, O’Boyle was promoted to head coach.

He and Auer coached together at Chadron State until 2012, when they joined Russ Martin’s staff at Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference rival Colorado Mesa University.

Martin said Auer and O’Boyle brought passion to the Mavericks’ football program. 

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“They helped change the culture and the expectations of the players to a much, much higher level,” Martin said. “[The players] were more intense, and believing in themselves and finding ways to get it done. Both those guys will always be great friends of mine.”

O’Boyle left CMU after one season to join the Saluki staff as the offensive line coach. The next season, he recommended that head coach Dale Lennon bring on Auer.

“We were always successful out there,” O’Boyle said. “His defense was always top-10 in the nation and did great things. He’s a very good coach.”

Auer said O’Boyle’s familiar face was a factor in coming to SIU.

“Another reason was getting back into this conference, where I played,” Auer said. “I’ve run into some family members and friends I haven’t seen since college.”

Auer and O’Boyle enjoy hunting and fishing away from football. O’Boyle claims he can out-hunt and out-fish Auer any day.

“Some days I out-fish him,” Auer said. “Some days he out-fishes me. So, it depends, really.”

Martin said they bring the same passion to their recreation as they do to football.

“That’s how they coach, and that’s also how they live,” Martin said. “When they want to have fun, it doesn’t matter. They’re going to go do it. When they were coaching at Chadron, there were times when they and some of their players would go out and help ranchers brand cattle.”

O’Boyle said the years spent together have made him and Auer close as kin.

“I’ve got five older brothers, and he is as close as any brother I have,” O’Boyle said. “We’ve been together that long.”

Thomas Donley can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311

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