EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Climbing the coaching ranks to a Pac-12 program was never the plan for Marco Regalado when he started a Tik-Tok account in the spring of 2020, at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I never wanted to make money off of Tik-Tok,” said Regalado. “I just wanted to make people smile.”
By making people smile, Regalado found himself as the Washington State Director of On-Campus Recruiting roughly one year later. The former Texas high school football coach is back in his home state this week, as the Cougars battle Central Michigan in the 88th annual Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl.
A special teams coordinator and linebackers coach at PSJ Memorial High School in the Texas Rio Grande Valley in the spring of 2020, Regalado was bored during the pandemic and started a Tik-Tok account. He made a variety of videos, parodying football coach behavior during practices and games.
Initially something just to make his friends laugh, Regalado quickly went viral.
“I guess it was something that resonated with all the coaches in our state,” said Regalado on Monday at WSU practice at Eastwood High School. “A couple of the right people retweeted it and then it started spreading like wild fire.”
His videos were retweeted and reposted all over the internet, making their way to coaches all over Texas, including in El Paso.
When Regalado went to coaching clinics last summer after his rise to relative fame, he was one of the most popular figures at the Texas High School Coaches Association clinic.
“I was star-struck to meet him in person having seen all of his videos on Twitter and Tik-Tok,” said Eastwood head coach Julio Lopez with a laugh. “He’s just such a breath of fresh air.”
The videos helped Regalado’s stock in the coaching world rise quickly. He moved from the Valley to Eaton High School in Fort Worth as the running backs coach for the 2020 season. After helping Eaton to its best season in program history, Regalado got the call of a lifetime.
Always interested in making the jump to the collegiate level, Regalado was offered and took the position as the Director of On-Campus Recruiting at Washington State in Feb., 2021. It’s been a whirlwind ride and Regalado attributes at least some of his success to his videos.
“It’s all about who knows you so it definitely helped in that aspect in getting my name out there,” he said. “People knew who I was and were genuinely interested in getting to know Marco Regalado.”
Working in recruiting, Regalado has made an immediate impact in his first year on the Palouse.
“We started calling him Coach Tik-Tok; he’s a man of many talents,” said WSU head coach Jake Dickert. “He came to our program and has given us life and energy and done a good job in our recruiting department.”
Regalado hopes to be an inspiration to other high school coaches hoping to make the collegiate jump and Dickert commended him on his understanding of how to make the jump.
Now that he’s at the collegiate level, having some social media notoriety doesn’t hurt with recruiting.
“When they recognize what you’ve done or who you are, its a great ice breaker, especially because recruiting is all about relationships,” said Regalado.
‘Coach Tik-Tok’ and the rest of the Cougars will hope to make a different kind of splash and beat Central Michigan on Friday in the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl. Kickoff is slated for 10 a.m. MT and will air nationally on CBS.