VIENNA, VA. - Former NCAA and NFL head coach John Mackovic has been selected by USA Football to lead the United States national team that will compete in the 3rd World Championship of American Football next year in Kawasaki, Japan.
Mackovic replaces former Virginia and Navy head coach George Welsh, who was announced as Team USA's coach in August. Welsh withdrew from participation due to business opportunities that precluded him from devoting full time and effort to coaching the national team.
"John Mackovic's international experience makes him the ideal choice to lead the United States national team in our first appearance in the World Championship of American Football," USA Football Executive Director Scott Hallenbeck said. "Along with his impressive coaching credentials he is a great ambassador for our sport and we're pleased to have him lead our U.S. National Team."
Mackovic is currently in the process of identifying and selecting coaches to fill out his five-man assistant staff.
The 45-man United States roster will be comprised of college football players who complete their eligibility in 2006. Player selection will begin late in the 2006 college football season when head coaches at all NCAA and NAIA schools will be asked by USA Football to nominate up to two seniors from their teams for consideration.
"This is like a dream come true. I have always wanted to spread the game of football around the world," Mackovic said. "We intend to select outstanding young men from across our country to play on this first-ever United States National Team. While we will train and play to win every day, we also recognize the immense opportunity through football to make new alliances across the globe. We welcome the chance to play against other countries in a true world championship."
The United States will be one of six countries competing in the world championship. Japan, the host country and two-time defending champion, and Sweden, the current European champion, and Germany have already qualified for the event along with the United States. Two more countries will qualify for the championship through play-in tournaments in Europe, Asia and the South Pacific later this year.
Mackovic is no stranger to the international popularity of American football. He has twice visited Japan to coach at Konan University in Kobe City, delivered a coaching clinic in Sweden, and assisted with coaching the Italian national football team in 2005. He also hosted many international coaches on his campuses to learn from his coaching staff.
In 35 years of coaching, Mackovic held four college head coaching positions and one top NFL spot, served as offensive coordinator at three different Division I-A schools and worked as an assistant under legendary coach Tom Landry in Dallas. With an overall collegiate record of 95-82-3 in 16 seasons, Mackovic led nine teams to winning records, culminating in eight bowl invitations.
Mackovic made his first head coaching stop in 1978 at Wake Forest. In his second season the Demon Deacons finished 8-4 and earned what was then just its third post-season invitation in school history with a bid to the Tangerine Bowl.
A six-year stint in the NFL followed his three-year stay in Winston-Salem. In 1981 Dallas Cowboys head coach Tom Landry chose Mackovic to mentor a Danny White for two seasons as quarterbacks coach. In 1983, Mackovic was hired as the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, and in four seasons, he led the team to the playoffs for the first time in 15 seasons.
In 1987 the University of Illinois came calling. During his four-year stay at Illinois from 1988-91 he guided the Illini to a 30-16-1 record (.649) and four consecutive bowl games.
He served as the head coach for the University of Texas from 1992-1997. In 1995, Texas won the last Southwest Conference title, finishing with a berth in the Sugar Bowl and a final 10-2-1 record. In 1996, Mackovic led the Longhorns to the first Big 12 title with a 37-27 victory over No. 3 Nebraska in the Inaugural Big 12 Championship Game. The Longhorns went on to a Fiesta Bowl appearance and finished 8-5.
He became Arizona's 26th head coach on Dec. 4, 2000 and served in that capacity until 2003. His 2002 squad set 50 school team and individual offensive records.