Northwestern State has dipped into Division 3 for its next head coach. The Demons hired Blaine McCorkle from Belhaven after his six years in charge.
McCorkle’s time at Belhaven was some of the school’s best seasons. The Blazers – located in Jackson, Mississippi – started football in 1998 when they were in the NAIA. In 2015, they joined the NCAA Division 3 and finished with the same 2-8 overall record each year between 2015 and 2019. McCorkle’s first two years were 2018 and 2019 and he followed up the back-to-back 2-8 seasons with a 3-2 record in the 2020-21 season.
Belhaven turned a corner in 2021 going 7-3 and then 8-2 in 2022. In 2023, McCorkle led the Blazers to an 8-2 regular season record and won the USA South title, which was the team’s first conference title and clinched their first NCAA Division 3 playoff berth. The Blazers lost the first-round game 65-0 to defending Division 3 champions North Central (IL). McCorkle went 31-25 overall and 25-22 in conference games in his six seasons at Belhaven.
McCorkle has spent significant time at the FCS level as an assistant coach. He had stops at Chattanooga, Delaware, Liberty (thrice), Tennessee-Martin (twice), Tennessee Tech, and Richmond before landing the head coaching job with Belhaven.
McCorkle will help navigate a Northwestern State program that was mired by tragedy when junior safety Ronnie Caldwell died on October 12. The team played one game following his death but canceled the remainder of the 2023 season on October 26 with then head coach Brad Laird resigning at the same time. Laird went 16-41 overall and 15-25 in the Southland over his six seasons in Natchitoches.
Photo Credit to Belhaven University Athletics