Published: January 17, 2012
Following a Cinderella run to the 2011 NCAA National Championship game, Charlotte head coach Jeremy Gunn was one of the hottest names among
coaches in college soccer.
In his five seasons with the 49ers, he developed a program with limited postseason success into a prominent national contender. It was a remarkable turnaround in a brief period.
Shortly after he closed in on the apex of building the 49ers program, a new opportunity was presented to Gunn that he could not pass up.
Jeremy Gunn at the College Cup.
“It was not that I had any great desire to leave Charlotte,” Gunn told TopDrawerSoccer.com on Wednesday. “It was the opportunity to join one of the finest academic institutions in the world, and arguably the best athletics program in the country, was too big of a draw.”
It was only one week after a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to North Carolina in the title game, the first trip in program history for Charlotte, when he bid adieu to the Atlantic-10 program.
“I’ll think about that game every day for a long time,” said Gunn about the loss. “The wonderful part about the championship game is that we couldn’t ask anything more from the team, staff, and players. I couldn’t have been any prouder for how our players played that game.”
Now, a fresh challenge awaits Gunn in the Stanford Cardinal program that has only appeared in the NCAA tournament once since 2002.
A decade ago though, Stanford was the best in the west. The Cardinal appeared in three College Cups in four years and captured its only PAC-10 title during that spell.
Gunn believes the program is capable of returning to those days of glory.
‘“There will be no excuses here,” said Gunn. “I came here because I really think it is one of the best opportunities in college soccer.”
There is a reason for Stanford fans to be excited about Gunn’s appointment. The England-born coach has been successful at every stop in his college career.
Prior to his stint with Charlotte, he was the NSCAA NCAA Division II Coach of the Year in 2005 with Fort Lewis after making three trips to the title game in eight years. Before Fort Lewis, he was an assistant coach with Cal State Bakersfield when the Roadrunners won the Division II National Championship in 1995.
Gunn is humble about his accomplishments and his new role, even though he beat out a who’s who of coaches for the Stanford job.
“It is really flattering and really humbling. In the profession of college coaching, there are so many tremendous coaches out there. The timing was great for me personally that such an opportunity arose at a time when my program was successful.”
Gunn seized the opportunity to take on the next step in his coaching career when Stanford came calling, even though some amount of doubt surrounds his new conference.
During the college soccer offseason, San Diego State, which is a member of the Pac-12 for men’s soccer, announced it would be joining the Big West for all sports in the near future. With the Aztecs departure, the Pac-12 would fall below the required members standard for an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
“Even with San Diego State moving on, I am sure there are going to be some great programs that are interested in joining the Pac-12,” said Gunn.
For the new head coach, there are more immediate concerns that mainly revolve around laying the groundwork to put together a successful program with his new school.
“The biggest thing to begin with is that foundation of getting organized as a group and getting the structure I’ll be looking for in the future.”
The coach also stated that all players previously verbally committed to Stanford were still planning on attending the university after the coaching change.
With previous successes come expectations and Gunn is aware that there is pressure on him to succeed in a similar manner to his previous stops, but putting a timeframe on achieving those types of accomplishments is not something he is willing to do at this point.
“The goal is always to do that as quickly as possible,” he said about winning league titles and other postseason triumphs. “But to give a timeline on it, I couldn’t even go there really.”