Speckman named as assistant head football coach

Mark Speckman, who coached for Dan Hawkins at Willamette University and the CFL's Montreal Alouettes, most recently served as offensive coordinator at Lawrence University in Wisconsin.
(Photo courtesy of Lawrence University)
Dec. 15, 2016

DAVIS, Calif. - A veteran of prep, college and Canadian football, Mark Speckman was announced as the newest member of the UC Davis football staff as announced by new head coach Dan Hawkins. Speckman, entering his 36th year in the profession, will serve as assistant head coach and running backs coach.


“I’m extremely excited, humbled and honored,” said Speckman. “UC Davis has a great tradition, which I’m well aware of from my days in California. I’ve had a chance to work with Bob Foster, so I know what a class guy he is. Again, very excited.”


This marks the third reunion between the two coaches: Speckman served as offensive coordinator to Hawkins at Willamette before taking over the Bearcat helm in 1998, then more recently with the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL. He guided Willamette to an 82-59 record in 14 years, including two Northwest Conference championships, eight league title games and three NCAA Division III postseason appearances. Speckman’s 2008 team finished 11-1 and ranked fourth nationally, earning him his second Northwest Conference Coach of the Year award and AFCA Division III West Region Coach of the Year acclaim.


“I’m excited to work with Dan again,” Speckman said. “I enjoy Dan’s vision for football, culture and team-building. We’re on the same page. I’m very confident that he will do well here. I had a great job [at Lawrence] and was not really looking at all, but there are only so many chances to get on at a school like UC Davis.”


Before becoming the Bearcat head coach, Speckman assisted Hawkins as the OC from 1995 to 1997. The program won the conference crown each year and advanced in the NAIA playoffs in the final two, culminating with a national runner-up finish in 1997.


In 2012, Speckman returned to California to head the football program at Menlo College. He served just that one season with the Oaks, leading his team to a school record for total rushing yards. A year later, Speckman reunited with Hawkins as the running backs and tight ends coach with the Montreal Alouettes. He remained on the staff until 2014, when the Alouettes reached the East Division final. That opened the door to return to college football: Speckman has served as the offensive coordinator at Division III Lawrence University for the past two seasons.


Formerly a Hall of Fame linebacker at Menlo and an honorable-mention NAIA All-American at Azusa Pacific, Speckman began his coaching career with brief but successful stints at Livingston High School and Gilroy High School. It was during those early years that he introduced the “Fly offense,” a system for he which he has since written articles and released two video series. It is a sophisticated scheme that has served him throughout his coaching career.


However, Speckman’s greatest success at the high school level came in Merced, California. In eight seasons, he guided Merced High to 81 wins, back-to-back 14-0 seasons, six Central California Conference championships and two Sac-Joaquin Section titles. Speckman’s 1990 Bears team ranked No. 1 in California and No. 5 in USA Today. Then in 1994, when a new high school opened in Merced, Speckman assumed the helm at Golden Valley High, where he started a varsity program despite having only sophomore and junior players. His overall 113-48-3 record as a high school coach then earned him a spot on Hawkins’ staff at Willamette.


In addition to coaching football, Speckman has also become well-known for his motivational speaking engagements. Born without hands, he avoided drawing attention to himself as a younger athlete but has since embraced his own story to the point of earning numerous speaking appearances, including bookings at Boeing, Nike, Northwest Mutual, Patterson Dental, the Million Dollar Roundtable and other organizations. Speckman also co-authored a book called Figure It Out: How I Learned To Live In A Digital World Without Digits in 2009.


“I’ve always been a football coach and a speaker second, but through word of mouth, I’ve had some unique opportunities,” said Speckman. “The mantra is ‘figure it out.’ There are a million ways to do something and all of us have to figure it out. When I was a player, I had to figure out how to throw a ball, catch a ball and how to tackle. Nobody every told me. They’d tell the team, then I’d have to figure out how I’d have to do it. Coaching football, I was a defensive player who started coaching offense. So I had to figure it out. That has become my niche in the speaking world.”


Finally, Speckman welcomes the return to his home state. Born and raised in the Bay Area, he earned his associate degree at Menlo in 1975, then added a bachelor’s degree in social science and a teaching credential from Azusa Pacific. Speckman later added a master’s in health and human services from Columbia Pacific (San Rafael) in 1994.


Speckman is the second assistant to be announced to the Aggie football staff since Hawkins’ appointment on November 28. Robert Tucker was named defensive coordinator on Wednesday.