Mississippi College officially named John Bland the new head coach of the Choctaws during a ceremony Thursday, Jan. 2, in the Rebounder's Room of MC's A.E. Wood Coliseum.
Bland is the 14th head football coach in Mississippi College history. He replaced Norman Joseph, who stepped down after this past season.
"We are very excited to have John Bland be the head coach of our football program as we head into this new era, with our institution moving to Division II and the Gulf South Conference," Mississippi College Athletic Director Mike Jones said. "We went into this process looking for someone that would meet the mission of Mississippi College and have a track record of winning. John Bland exemplifies everything we were searching for."
Bland holds a master's degree in kinesiology from Auburn University, where he was a graduate assistant under former Auburn Coach Pat Dye. Bland also worked as a graduate assistant at the University of Arkansas while he finished his undergraduate degree.
He formerly coached at Farragut High School in Farragut, Tenn., where he was named an All-State quarterback and defensive back. Farragut named Bland team captain for the 1988 University of Arkansas Razorbacks squad, which went on to win the Southwest Conference and compete in the Cotton Bowl.
Following his time at Farragut, Bland was the quarterback coach at Rice University in Houston, Texas, from 2001 to 2005. He also spent seven seasons from 1994 to 2000 at Southern Arkansas University. SAU named Bland head coach in 2000.
Bland spent eight seasons coaching at University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky., where he led the Patriots to the NAIA playoffs six times, including a 13-1 season and a trip to the national championship game in 2013. During his tenure at UC, Bland compiled a 70-21 record and won the Mid-South Conference championship five times. He also was named coach of the year in the conference five times.
"I'd like to start by saying that we have just spent eight incredible years with the University of the Cumberlands, who will always hold a special place in our hearts," Bland said. "We are now excited to begin this new era in Mississippi College football. I feel like this is a great opportunity, and we are excited, as a family, to begin this new journey in our lives."
Bland will help lead MC into its transition to Division II from Division III. Mississippi College will begin competing in the Gulf South Conference, the same conference as Delta State, next season.
Bland and his wife, Candis, have three children: Shreve, Jade and Bo.