Macomb, IL (NNCNOW.com) --- For a guy who has spent the better part of the past two decades coaching collegiate football, Bob Nielson doesn't have many firsts left --- but he will have one Thursday with his first game in charge of the Western Illinois University (WIU) Leathernecks.
Nielson left the Unviersity of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD) this past fall to sign on with WIU after a total of 10 seasons coaching the Bulldogs and helping the program to the NCAA Division II championship in 2008 and 2010.
He and the Leathernecks were picked to finish 9th this season in the Midwest Vally Conference preseason coaches' poll, but Thursday's game will be a non-conference affair against Hampton.
Nielson said this week that, even in a different city and with different players, game week is always an exciting time.
"You spend the entire preseason camp banging on each other, so the opportunity to play a game is one of those things you look forward to," Nielson told WGEM-TV. "Through the entire year, that first game rings true for everybody."
Nielson amassed a record of (100-26) during his 10 seasons as head coach with UMD, and he also served as the school's athletic director from 2003-12.