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Columbia Missourian

TIGER KICKOFF: Where are they now?: Brock Olivo

By Caitlin Swieca
October 12, 2012 | 12:00 p.m. CDT
Brock Olivo is congratulated by fans after having his jersey No. 27 retired during halftime of the Missouri-Eastern Illinois game Sept. 13, 2003. Olivo was tailback for the Tigers from 1994 to 1997.

Brock Olivo has always been the eccentric one. 

During college, he lived in a downtown apartment that had been converted from an old hotel. It featured antique furniture and no television. He cruised around Columbia in a 1959 paddy wagon. 

Brock Olivo college stats

Brock Olivo graduated as Missouri's all-time leading rusher, though he's since been passed twice. Here are his college statistics by year:

1994: 614 yards, 5 touchdowns, 4.3 yards/carry
1995: 985 yards, 6 touchdowns, 4.2 yards/carry
1996: 749 yards, 5 touchdowns, 4.8 yards/carry
1997: 678 yards, 11 touchdowns, 4.4 yards/carry

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It figures that he would make a few unconventional stops on his way back to college football.

Today, Olivo, Missouri's star running back of the 1990s, is in his first season as running backs and special teams coach at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, S.C. Between his 1998 graduation and his being hired there, Olivo traveled the globe and worked several jobs that helped mold the perspective on coaching he has today. 

After five seasons playing for with the Detroit Lions, Olivo worked for the National Italian American Foundation and eventually became the coach of the Italian national football team.

His first coaching experience came in a country where players don't get exposed to the sport until they turn 18. 

"You're having to teach young adults the most tactically complicated sport in the world," Olivo said. "It taught you incredible patience, because the older we get, the harder it is for us to learn. Instead of focusing on my teaching, I had to focus on my guys learning." 

If converting soccer-crazed Europeans into football players taught him patience, his next job coaching the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League taught him to have faith in his players. 

The UFL, which Olivo considers a feeder league to the NFL, is full of star college players or former NFL players who lost their opportunity to make it big.

"Dealing with former NFL players whose egos could've been damaged, they could've taken it negatively, stuck up their chin at teaching points," he said. "They were very open and accepting of everything you had to tell them."

After one season with the Nighthawks, Olivo's head coach Joe Moglia brought him along to Coastal Carolina when he was hired there. Olivo says he's finally back where he wants to be — in the college game. 

"I couldn't be happier, quite honestly," Olivo said. "The athletic department, the athletic director, the president — they're young, vibrant, for lack of a better term, avant garde people in the field. It's just fun."

Eventually, Olivo hopes to return to Missouri, patrolling the sidelines as a coach for the Tigers.

For now, he says he's still a "psychopath," leading the same high-energy lifestyle he did in college. He still has no television, and his home is full of guitars that he plays in his spare time. 

For now, he's drawing on lessons from his own playing career to help guide his players through their development.

"I love the underdog guys, walk-on guys, under-recruited guys who are just starving for one little opportunity," Olivo said. "I always tell them, 'Follow your dream.' It's cliche as all heck, but it comes from a guy who actually lived it and was the underdog in a lot of cases."