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D1 assistant coach resigns for 3 very respectable reasons

Sometimes it’s just time to do something else.

After eleven seasons on the staff at Kent State, A.J. Pratt accepted a position on Willie Taggert’s staff at Western Kentucky in 2010.

One year later, Pratt has decided to resign his position for three very respectable reasons.

Pratt, who served as the tackles / tight ends coach under Taggart, released a statement saying, “My wife and kids know nothing else but being a family of a college football coach for the past 12 years. This decision is based solely upon three factors - my family, my faith and my health.”

“Our family has discussed this decision the past few days, and we are at peace with the outcome though it is the most difficult decision I have ever personally had to make. The opportunity for a new occupation has just recently been presented, and I wish the timing could have been different.”

“We are very thankful for the people of Western Kentucky University, especially the athletic department, administration and our student-athletes. We are thankful and blessed for those relationships. I will continue to support WKU football and the people that make it successful from our home in Bowling Green."

Taggart understood his assistant’s position and said the decision was entirely Pratt’s.

Pratt will serve as a teacher in the Bowling Green, Kentucky area.

Stay tuned to The Scoop.  There are always three or four surprising changes just before August camp arrives.  About this time last year, Vanderbilt head coach Bobby Johnson decided to hang it up.  




Big East coach tabbed most friendly head coach in college football

Have you ever wondered what some of these college head coaches are like when nobody is looking?

ESPN The Magazine wanted to find out by creating superfan “Jim Smith.”

Smith wrote a letter in February to each of the D1 head coaches stating, “Dear Coach: Would you be willing to call my voice mail and leave a message I can use as my outgoing greeting? Something like, 'Hi, this is ________ .  Jim can't take your call right now, but if you leave your name and number ... '"

Larry Fedora, Art Briles, Mike London, Kirk Ferentz were among the four coaches to respond to the letter.  Seven head coach declined, but sent autographed photos.

Of all the coaches, it was Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone, a native of the Bronx, New York, who offered the nicest response.  Despite all the responsibilities that Marrone has with leading a major D1 program, he took the time and clearly went above and beyond.

A month after the drafting the letter, Smith received this voicemail from Marrone:

"Hi, Jim, Doug Marrone from Syracuse football. I got your note and want to thank you for your support. Every fan matters here for us. It's been a tough few years for Syracuse football, but we have that Big East title in our sights. Stay with us. I'll start the message in a minute." Awkward pause. "Hi, this is Doug Marrone from Syracuse football. You've reached Jim. He can't take your call right now. But I promise you, if you leave a short message after the beep, he will get right back to you. Go Orange." Another awkward pause. "So thanks again, Jim. We really appreciate your support up here. Go Orange."

You won’t believe what happened next…

Who would you say is the most friendly head coach in college football?  Let us know in our newly added conversation section, which is down below.




UCLA will pay Norm Chow serious $$$,$$$ this year

UCLA will be paying Norm Chow $500,000 this year while Chow calls plays for the Utah Utes.

Chow, who has signed a 2-year extension at UCLA last summer worth $1.1 million, was forced out as the Bruins’ offensive coordinator following a month of negotiations following the season.  Shortly thereafter, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham offered his offensive cooordinator position to Chow, who accepted the job.

UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel opted to bring in former San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Johnson to run the offensive.  The Bruins also hired Nevada running backs coach Jim Mastro, leading most people to believe “The Pistol” will remain a big part of the UCLA offensive scheme.

Utah actually hosts UCLA on November 12th at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.

Chow graduated from the University of Utah.  Oddly enough, he isn’t coaching the quarterbacks for the Utes.  Instead, Chow is coaching the tight ends.

Even more strange, Chow has opted to live in a hotel.





Video: Tulane football does something really cool

Last week, Tulane quarterback Ryan Griffin served as a camp counselor at the Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, Louisiana.  Griffin joined the likes of Andrew Luck, Kellen Moore, Landry Jones, Tino Sunseri, John Brantley, Jordan Jefferson, Nick Foles, EJ Manuel, and many more.

Today, Tulane launched a marketing video featuring the 6’5 and 215 lb red-shirt junior quarterback.

Personally, we like the bold statement in the video from Griffin.  Tulane football…with a little bit of swag.  Notice the crowd noise in the video.  Have you ever been to a Tulane game in the Louisiana Superdome?  Beautiful!

Tulane is the fourth school that we have seen use a specific player to market ticket sales.  USC and South Carolina kicked things off early this summer with campaigns featuring Matt Barkley, Devyn Taylor, and Marcus Lattimore.

Tulane’s home schedule includes Southeast Louisiana, Tulsa, Syracuse, UTEP, Memphis, and Houston.




Video: Behind-the-scenes with the Gophers' summer workouts

It’s only fifty-two days until the first Saturday in college football and only three weeks until head strength coaches hand over the players to the position coaches.  You will undoubtedly hear a number of head coaches praise their strength staffs as August practice approaches.

It’s almost a guarantee that Dabo and Dan Mullen will be among several that say, “We have the best head strength coach in the country.  I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.”

Muschamp will praise Mickey Marotti.  Jimbo will throw a bone to Vic Viloria.  Cutcliffe will praise Noel Durfey.  

Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill got it started today.

When Jerry Kill accepted the head coaching  job at Minnesota, it was a no-brainer to offer the head strength job to Eric Klein.  Klein has coached with Kill for the last 17 seasons including stops at Northern Illinois, Southern Illinois, Emporia State, and Saginaw Valley State.

Kill said, “He’s been the difference.  He’s the difference maker on the team.  I don’t think any coach (on our staff) would tell you anything different.  Without him, we wouldn’t be where we are.”

“He knows how to talk and communicate.  He doesn’t talk at them, he talks with them.”

During a behind-the-scenes look into the Gophers’ strength program, Klein explained, “Where we started at and where we are now is 180 degrees.  When we walk out on the field now for a workout, the expectation level is so much higher.”

Here's a peak inside the Gophers' strength program this summer:




Greg Adkins talks about Syracuse recruiting success

Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone secured nine commitments in June and has secured four more thus far in July.

Offensive line coach / recruiting coordinator Greg Adkins told Brent Axe of 1260 The Score, “I think it is a number of different things. I think it is across the board. You look across the country; it is a trend right now. The process of recruiting has sped up so much. I heard a figure the other day that somewhere around 300 kids in the month of June committed to some Division I school.”

The Orange has received verbal commitments from players in six different states including New York (5), Florida (3), New Jersey (1), Pennsylvania (1), Georgia (1), Michigan (1).

Marrone and Adkins believe in pounding the strengths of the university, city, and program.  Neither coach hesitates to admit that Syracuse isn’t for everyone.

Adkins believes the Syracuse coaches do an excellent job of building trust, not only with the recruits, but with their high school coaches as well.

Adkins said, “I think the key to being a good recruiter is the trust of being able to go in to each of these schools and tell them the truth. As long as you can tell the prep school, high school, junior college coaches the truth, and there is a trust between you and that other person, those are the people that do a great job in recruiting.”

Doug Marrone will enter his third year as head coach in 2011.  In his first two seasons, the Orange finished 4-8 and 8-5.  Syracuse opens the season with back-to-back home games against Wake Forest and Rhode Island, before traveling to USC.




Video: New stadium nearing completion at FAU

Florida Atlantic will not play a home football game until the seventh week of the 2011 season.  That’s right, the seventh week of the season.

The Owls open the season in Gainesville against the Florida Gators.  The next five weeks include trips to Michigan State, Auburn, Louisiana-Lafayette, and North Texas.  The Owls catch a BYE week after the trip to East Lansing.

However, when Howard Schnellenberger (78) leads his team against Western Kentucky for their first home game in mid-October, it will be under the lights in a brand new stadium on campus in Boca Raton.

In the past, FAU rented Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale at a cost of $390,000 per year.

As Sun Sentinel writer Tim Hutton explains, FAU is hoping the new 30,000 seat stadium will help generate $3.8 million off the five home games this season if revenue expectations hit.  The total cost of the new stadium was $70 million.

The stadium is slated to feature 6,000 premium seats, including 24 suites, 26 loge boxes, 1,000 premier club seats and 4,000 priority club seats, and the latest, state-of-the art amenities.

Yesterday, FAU released a time lapse video of the construction of the new stadium.  It’s pretty neat, so check it out.




High school coaches compare Al Golden and Randy Shannon

Miami (FL) head coach Al Golden is receiving rave reviews from several local high school coaches in Dade County.

Christopher Columbus HS head coach Chris Merritt said, “You want to talk about a night-and-day difference. There’s a lot more communication and texts now. Miami didn’t recruit any of our kids under Shannon.”

Coaches from Norland HS, Miami Central HS, and Miami Belen HS shared comments as well.

The coaches believe Golden is more committed to recruiting than previous head coach Randy Shannon and his philosophy will greatly benefit the Hurricanes’ program.  

Looking back however, Scout.com ranked Shannon's class of 2008 as the 3rd best in the nation, Rivals.com ranked it the 5th best in the nation.

Starting with the 2006 class, Rivals' final national team ranking for the Hurricanes was 14th, 19th, 5th, 15th, and 16th.  Some would say, considering the below average facilities at Miami (FL), those rankings would be hard to improve upon.  

Golden told the Miami Herald, “(The former staff) had four coaches doing South Florida. We have nine.”

Currently, Golden’s staff has secured 22 commitments including 18 from the state of Florida.

Golden admitted, “We want to be 80 percent Florida.”

The four out-of-state commitments come from Texas (QB), Pennsylvania (DE), Georgia (WR), and Georgia (DE). The most highly ranked player that is committed is the 79th ranked player in the nation, a defensive end named Jelani Hamilton from Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Golden vs. Shannon.  In the end, it's about winning games.  Only time will tell.

Shannon finished 5-7 in his first season as head coach.  The Hurricanes open the 2011 season at Maryland.  The other non-conference games include Ohio State, Kansas State, Bethune-Cookman, and at South Florida.