Joe Davis will lead the Western Illinois football program as it moves into the Big South-OVC Football Association in 2024. Davis was most recently the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach for Eastern Illinois since 2022.
Davis has been instrumental in helping EIU improve from an abysmal 1-10 record in 2021 and an offensive that averaged only 14.5 points a game. The Panthers were shut out twice and never scored more than 28 points in a game during the 2021 campaign. Davis arrived with head coach Chris Wilkerson and the offense put up 22.3 points per game in 2022 where they were not shut out and put up 30 points in four different games.
In 2023, the offense improved slightly to 23.6 points per game while being more consistent throughout the season. The Panthers went 8-3 and were one of the first four teams that missed out on a selection to the 2023 FCS Playoffs according to the committee. The Panthers finished in a tie for 3rd behind co-champions Gardner-Webb and UT Martin (another team that was in the first four out).
Before joining EIU, Davis was with Albany from 2018 through 2021 as the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach, Fordham as the QB coach (2016 – 2017), and Northern Iowa as the OC/QB coach (2015). Davis has additional experience in Illinois with four seasons at Wheaton College as the OC from 2009 through 2012 and North Park from 2006 through 2008 as the OC and associate head coach.
Davis will have quite the challenge ahead of him as Western Illinois has been one of the worst FCS programs over the past several seasons. The Leathernecks’ most recent trip to the FCS Playoffs was in 2017 but haven’t had a winning season since. Jared Elliott went 9-31 in his four seasons from 2018 through 2021 in Macomb including a 4-25 record in the final three years. Myers Hendrickson took over in 2022 and proceeded to go 0-22 in two years, which led to him being let go and Davis getting a chance to right the ship. The daunting task of taking over a program that has gone 4-47 over the last five years awaits Davis but the change from the MVFC to the Big South-OVC should help as well.
Photo Credit to Western Illinois University Athletics