Robert McFarland is entering his second season at the helm of the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjack football program. McFarland was named the school's 17th head coach in December, 2004.
In his first season, McFarland was given the charge of guiding his youthful squad through one of the toughest schedules in the nation, facing four nationally ranked opponents. The Lumberjacks began the season with 44 new players in the SFA huddle. Of the 'Jacks' 86-man roster to start the season, 36 players were either true or redshirt freshmen and 17 were sophomores. The youth movement was even more apparent in the 'Jacks' starting lineup. By season's end, SFA was starting seven newcomers on defense, while the offensive starting unit consisted of five sophomores and a freshman.
Despite finishing the season 5-6 (.455), the Lumberjacks recorded some big victories, which proved McFarland has the ship headed in the right direction. SFA battled back to defeat eventual Southland Conference Champion Nicholls State, 27-21, in its lone overtime game of the season. SFA also knocked off No. 21 UC Davis, 27-17, in November.
McFarland's troops made an immediate impression in 2005. The Lumberjacks led the Southland Conference and finished 13th in the country in passing offense (283.45 ypg), and finished 21st in the nation in total offense (412.45 ypg). SFA also led the conference and finished 17th nationally in turnover margin (.73). All-America selection Keldrick Holman led the league and finished fourth in the nation with his six interceptions.
Under McFarland's guidance, the Lumberjacks placed 11 athletes on the All-SLC teams, including first-team defensive back Keldrick Holman. Linebacker Ryan Luedecke earned Don Hansen's Football Gazette NCAA Division I-AA Honorable Mention All-America honors and first-team All-Southwest Region honors after leading the league in tackles. Holman was named first-team all-region and All-America by Don Hansen's Football Gazette, and earned second-team All-America recognition from the Sports Network.
McFarland arrived in Nacogdoches after spending the 2004 season at East Carolina as the offensive line coach. Prior to that he spent four seasons as the offensive line coach and offensive coordinator at Central Florida. During his stay at Central Florida, McFarland's offensive unit was ranked 11th in the nation in total offense and sixth in the nation in pass offense that season. The Knights averaged more than 436 yards of offense and 32 points per game in 2002.
His offensive units produced two 1,000-yard receivers and a 1,000-yard rusher in 2002, only the eighth time in NCAA history a team has accomplished that feat.
Central Florida finished ninth in the nation among I-A teams in passing offense in 2001 and was 12th in the nation in passing offense in 2000. During his stay in Orlando, McFarland coached six student-athletes who went on to the NFL.
A former Lumberjack assistant coach, McFarland was the offensive line coach at SFA from 1991 through the 1999 season. During his earlier stint with the 'Jacks, SFA claimed two NCAA playoff appearances and the 1999 Southland title. The 'Jacks advanced to the semifinals of the I-AA playoffs in 1995. SFA led the league in rushing offense four times with McFarland's offensive line leading the way. SFA also set single-season records for rushing yards (2,193 yards - 1993) and rushing touchdowns (30 - 1999) while McFarland was a Lumberjack assistant. Four of his former offensive linemen also went on to NFL camps.
Prior to coming to SFA, the 45 year-old McFarland made coaching stops at Kent State, Notre Dame and Clemson, coaching teams in the Citrus Bowl, Gator Bowl and Orange Bowl.
He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.
McFarland and his wife, Pam, are the parents of two children, Ashley (16) and Koy (11).