Ferris State University head football coach Tony Annese completed his coaching staff when he announced the hiring of a Bulldog alum and former professional football coach in Charles "Sparky" McEwen prior to the 2012 campaign. He'll embark on his fourth season as a Bulldog assistant coach in 2015.
In the 2015 campaign, he helped the Bulldogs to a second-straight GLIAC Championship and unbeaten regular season. FSU posted its first NCAA Playoff victory in 19 years and ran its regular-season winning streak to 25 consecutive games.
McEwen, who played for the Bulldogs from 1987-90, spent more than a decade as a professional football coach in the Arena Football League with both the Grand Rapids Ramapge and the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz. He coaches the wide receivers at Ferris State and is also involved in alumni relations aspects of the program.
"We're excited to announce the hiring of a former Bulldog and someone of his caliber in Sparky McEwen," Annese said. "He's a guy who really has some great connections and ties to Ferris State University and has had success at all levels. We believe he'll be a great fit as we continue to elevate our program."
At the professional level, McEwen most recently coached the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz for three seasons prior to the franchise's departure from the AFL prior to the 2011 campaign.
McEwen began his arena football career as a quarterback with the now-defunct Grand Rapids Rampage in 1998 and first served as the team's offensive assistant and scout in 2000. He was the offensive coordinator from 2001-03 before originally becoming assistant head coach and offensive coordinator in Oklahoma City in 2004.
The Bulldog product returned to Grand Rapids as head coach and director of football operations of the Rampage for three seasons (2005-08) before going back to Okalahoma City as the head coach and president of football operations for his final three seasons of indoor football, which included two as an arenafootball2 franchise and the final year in the AFL.
McEwen was the Rampage's offensive coordinator during the program's three best seasons from 2001-03, which included winning ArenaBowl XV in 2001. Under his direction, the Rampage's offense scored more points than any other team in the Arena Football League and gained more yards than any other over the three-year span.
McEwen also served as a successful prep football head coach in Grand Rapids at Creston High School from 1996-2003.
A Bulldog alum, McEwen played football at Ferris State from 1986-90, but was redshirted for the 1987 campaign. He quarterbacked the Bulldogs for two seasons (1988-89) and was switched to wide receiver for his senior year in 1990. He currently ranks 14th among the school's all-time passing leaders with 2,183 career yards and 17 TD's on 155-of-297 attempts (52.2% completion pct.). McEwen's best season was in 1988 when he threw for 1,386 yards and nine TD's while completing 49.8% of his aerial attempts (100-201). As a senior, he had 18 receptions for 259 yards and one TD. McEwen also ranks 17th in Bulldog history in total offense as he compiled 2,298 yards in his collegiate career.
"The opportunity to get back involved with young student-athletes is something I have thought about for years," McEwen said. "I'm excited about working for the university where I started my career many years ago.
"After speaking with Perk Weisenburger and Coach Annese about their goals for the program, it was very apparent that high degrees of success will be the expectation. Tony is a relentless worker who has a great sense for success and high level of committment to detail, and it's those things that will continue the great tradition of Ferris State Football," he added.
While a collegiate player at Ferris State, McEwen played seven different positions, including quarterback, receiver, corner, safety, kick return, punt return and special teams. As a quarterback in the Rampage's inaugural 1998 campaign, McEwen appeared in five games and had a 2-1 record as a starting quarterback with 477 passing yards, four passing touchdowns and six rushing scores.
Sparky has three children, Charles, A.J. and Ja'nae. His son, A.J., played football for the Bulldogs and was a member of the school's 2014 GLIAC Championship squad as a starting cornerback.