Cajuns battle the Wolf Pack _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns' defensive backs coach Tim Rebowe on the sidelines against the Nevada Wolf Pack in the New Orleans Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 20.

If new Nicholls State coach Tim Rebowe took anything from his first stint at the school as an assistant coach from 1995 to 2000, it’s that good things can happen with vision and hard work.

The Colonels were 0-11 in 1995, but they went the other way just one season later with an 8-4 mark and a trip to the Division I-AA (now FCS) playoffs.

“We didn’t have too good of a season (in 1995),” Rebowe said, “but we turned it around the next year. It was just a lot of hard work.

“We built the foundation. We had a good core of guys and they took their lumps that first year, but they stuck together and believed in what we were doing. In this business, that’s a lot of the battle right there: getting guys to believe they can be successful.”

Two decades later, Rebowe is hoping history can repeat itself in Thibodaux.

After 20 years as a college assistant, the past 11 at Louisiana-Lafayette, Rebowe accepted the head coaching job at Nicholls on Nov. 21 — just a day after the Colonels went 0-12 to extend their school-record losing streak to 18 games.

With such a tall task ahead, it’s unrealistic to think Nicholls can do what it did the last time the Colonels failed to win a game. Yet Rebowe, a Norco native, is ready to do whatever he can to get the program on the right track as a first-time college head coach.

As part of Mark Hudspeth’s staff in Lafayette, Rebowe helped the Ragin’ Cajuns to four consecutive New Orleans Bowl victories.

“We had some success the last four years, and I’m trying to take some of that formula — some of the things we did there to turn it around,” Rebowe said. “Obviously, it takes some good players to do that.”

Offensively, he has that in a couple of key returnees who are two of only three players in Nicholls history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season: running back Michael Henry and quarterback Tuskani Figaro.

While they’ll be a spread offense, Rebowe said there should be opportunities for Henry, a first-team All-Southland Conference preseason pick, and Figaro to make things happen on the ground.

“We’ll run the spread with a little bit of up-tempo,” Rebowe said. “As a defensive coach, I know you have to run the football to be successful. It’ll be a spread (offense), but we’ll have the ability to be multiple.”

Rebowe said he’s excited about his defense, which will work out of a 3-4 base. Two of the top players on that side of the ball are inside linebacker Hezekiah White and safety B.T. Sanders.

“We’re really strong at linebacker with some experienced guys that played last year,” Rebowe said.

“We may not be the biggest there, but we can really run. We’ve also got some good young players in the back end that can play.”