Band of Brothers at Arizona
Last week I had the pleasure of spending 24 hours with Rich Rod and his staff at Arizona and came away believing that the future of Arizona football is bright.
We met a couple of the staff for dinner the night we arrived in Tucson. Plenty of jokes amongst these guys, even though the three guys we were with had virtually never met prior to about 3 months ago. These guys are excited about where this program is headed.
When we arrived at the facility in the morning, Rich and his staff were in a staff meeting and immediately welcomed us in. The room had a family feel. Everyone seemed to know their spot, have an understanding of their role, be on the same page; yet there were plenty of wise-cracks in the room as well...honestly, if I had had my eyes closed, I might have thought this was a band of brothers sitting around the kitchen table.
First thing on the agenda that day was a meeting with Arizona's AD Greg Byrne. We'll bring you more from that meeting later; but one thing that Byrne said really stuck with me. He said that one of the reasons he hired Rich was that he felt Rich could reinvigorate the Arizona community to rally behind this program...to create a greater sense of pride in the program.
Later in the day I had the opportunity to visit with Rich Rod (along with Mike from Overtime Software) in his office and came away with an even greater belief that Rich specifically hired this staff to bring the family feeling back to Arizona football.
At practice that afternoon I saw the same...literally and figuratively as I saw Rich Rod's wife and kids observing practice and his son working with some of the support staff (including director of on-campus recruiting Matt Dudek) ensuring one of the more important pieces of equipment was working as planned (see the mobile sound system pictured). I add figuratively because I also noted a large number of local high school coaches observing practice and interacting with the staff as well.
After practice, the team and the coaches and their families head up to the training table on the club level of the stadium for dinner. One comment we heard a few times while touring the place and meeting a few of the players was that before this staff was hired there was desert as part of the training table dinners. Rich Rod and his guys had the standard ice cream cooler installed and judging by the grins we saw as the players mentioned it, we think that was a wise investment.
From up top of the stadium you can really see the status of their new end zone addition (which will also house all of football operations). The project is rolling and is scheduled for completion shortly before Fall camp begins in 2013.
As we all know, facilities are nice (and Arizona's will be quite nice once done); but players win games for you and right now several of the players will tell you that as a team they need to get stronger. Rich brought in a new strength & conditioning staff and over the next few recruiting classes will be able to bring in and cultivate more and more talent. We see these guys competing real soon; and in a few years, we can see Arizona scrapping their way into a Rose Bowl. Until we sat down with Rich we had no idea that Arizona had never played in the Rose Bowl. When they do, we want to be there to see the smiles on the coaches, administrators and players faces.
More to come about this staff over the next few weeks...
Trooper Taylor: We had to say "Whoa!"
Trooper Taylor came away impressed with today's practice, noting the teams intensity and enthusiasm as the main reasons.
Day to day, Gene Chizik sets the tempo for the practice, letting players know when to go full speed, and when it's more of a "thud" tempo. Taylor said that they had to say "Whoa" and slow things down today, and as a coach, you have to really like that mentality on day one of full pads.
Taylor added that they'll know when they're making progress when they can say the physicality and enthusiasm is at the same level after five days of padded practices.
A lot of the new enthusiasm can be traced to the fact that everyone is competing for a starting spot in the spring he explains.
"I think the thing that's creating a lot of enthusiasm is everybody's trying to compete for a job. They understand this is their 15-day interview, because come two-a-days we're really giving the new freshmen a chance to interview and then polish them for the season. If you're going to win a job, you better win a job this spring."
USC's new facilities, a game-changer
At FootballScoop we hate to break bad news. Prepare yourselves, you might want to sit down for this.
As most of you probably know, USC won 10 games last year, including handing Chip Kelly his first loss ever at Autzen, all while being on double-not-so-secret probation from the NCAA. The part you might not know is that Lane Kiffin and his staff were able to do that despite having what are easily one of the worst set of facilities in the conference. Literally, if it rained, they took on water in the locker room, the weight room, etc...
After touring the current facilities, our respect for what both Pete Carroll and Lane Kiffin have done at USC has grown significantly.
Now, here's the part that hurts...in a few months, Lane and the team (oh yeah, Matt Barkley's back) are moving into what will immediately become the nicest set of facilities in the conference. This might just be checkmate for Lane when it comes to recruiting. He's already got the weather, a great campus environment (although the surrounding neighborhood isn't as nice as one might like...but we don't see that slowing down too many kids), campus life that we're certain most 18 year old boys will enjoy to the fullest extent, the legend that is USC Football including six Heisman's on display as you walk into the existing facilities, etc...
These new facilities, scheduled to be completed in late July, will be very, very nice. You'll walk in and immediately see an amazingly large an impressive video display (it's actually comprised of 273 smaller panels). Staff members that have seen the demo say the pictures and visual capabilities are beyond anything they have ever seen before.
If we were to put the before and after pictures side by side, we're quite certain those recruiting against SC might ram their head into a wall.
The building is built; but they are still adding drywall, flooring, pulling cable, etc...it's a dusty place right now. Thus, none of the design components are in just yet; but once they are, this place is going to be very nice.
Opposing coaches who get to see Lane's office suite will immediately be placing a call to their AD saying they need an upgrade. For us to describe it in words would not be appropriate....we'll try to head back out there in August and take some video.
More to come throughout the week on our visit with the USC coaching staff...
Below are a couple of pics from our day there.
John Baxter talking Academic Game Plan.
The view as you enter the current coaches offices.
Six Heismans on display.
SC's current training table (available to all students during the daytime).
Plenty of Trojans have made SI.
The current weight room is adequate. The new one will be top of the line.
Leaving the tunnel, entering the field.
The massive new space for the 273 panel video board (will be amazing).
View from Lane's new office onto the practice fields.
"Prep Not Hype" - The motto for Spring Ball 2012.
Pac-12 Tour - UCLA
A few months back Jim L. Mora was hired to lead the UCLA football program back to glory. He quickly loaded his staff with some talented recruiters, some excellent game planners and some bright young coaches. The question is can they attract the talent they need to win consistently in Westwood.
Touring UCLA's campus you see a beautiful campus in a great part of town. Their football facilities have been recently refreshed.
The weight room, although below ground and slightly dim; is well designed and outfitted.
The locker room is in great shape.
The coaches' offices have the right feel (and show the right messages...plenty of NFL scouts here to see you and "Beat SC").
People say the practice fields are an issue as they are land-locked; but they have just about as much space as everyone else (except for Oregon...who actually uses their indoor nearly all the time) has. No indoor; but...this is Los Angeles.
The Rose Bowl is something to see; but to do so you have drive about 40 minutes away.
All in all, there is nothing wrong with the facilities at UCLA.
We'll conclude this quick report back where we started...can Mora and his staff attract the talent they need to win. One of the assistants we spoke with told us the reception he's received once he moved to UCLA from his former school has been night and day "Guys that really weren't interested before are now calling us." As we all know, the future lies in the talent you can land. Coach Mora and the staff need to capture some momentum and then ride that back to the top.
High School coaches' cell numbers
As you probably are aware, The Coach Tracker is a service that over one hundred college staffs subscribe to in order to obtain access to high school coaches' contact information. That's all the service provides...contact information for coaches and their schools. Clients range from nearly every top 5 division 1 team all the way through a few junior colleges. The goal is the same for each, to simply have accurate contact information (principally email and cell numbers).
While the information in the database is extremely accurate (with accurate emails for nearly 90% of the 15,000 high school head coaches in the country) the information could always be more complete. With the first of the month coming on Sunday, we're trying to finalize as much data as we can this week....and we're looking for some help reaching a few high school coaches.
If you know one of the following coaches, please have him email (Info@TheCoachTracker.com) or text (225.229.3429) us with his cell number so we can get it into the database before we push data out to the colleges on the 1st.
North Carolina Coaches:
Littrell: Players quickly grasping new offense
New Indiana offensive coordinator Seth Littrell says he is happy with the way the players are grasping the new offense.
Littrell says that by day four, most of the offense has been installed, and terminology is the only thing that they are still sorting through. He was also impressed with the progress of the quarterbacks, saying they were further along than he had originally expected.
The weather in Bloomington has been outstanding the past few days, and Littrell explained that he's more than happy than to be wearing shorts during spring ball in the Midwest.
How to coach toughness: You'll love this
Middle Tennessee's two new offensive line coaches, Glen Elarbee (guards / centers) and Matt Moore (tackles / tight ends), are instilling a new mentality of toughness within the Blue Raider front five, and it was very evident at Friday's practice.
Rising senior center, Alex Stuart had a little too much Gatorade and as the quarterback started his cadence, that Gatorade decided to make its way back out.
As Stuart was throwing the liquid back up, Elarbee would not allow him to move, reminding him that it would draw a penalty. So Stuart stayed put, continued to vomit, and snapped the ball.
"Why not? He enjoyed it, actually. He pushed through it. We just want toughness so that we can push through anything.” Elarbee explained.
Head coach Rick Stockstill is liking the idea of having two guys with eyes on the offensive line. “It’s been phenomenal they fly around. They have great energy. They coach on the run. There’s not a play that goes by that every one of those linemen aren’t getting coached.”
Hoke: Complacency is dangerous
Brady Hoke met with the media to talk about spring practices yesterday and was asked about how his coaching philosophy with the interior defensive line may change after graduating some veterans.
Hoke explained that he had changed his coaching philosophy briefly as an assistant in 1998, coming off of a national championship with three returning starters, and complacency set in.
"I didn't do a good job as a coach sticking with the basics in a progression that you want, and an expectation that you need to have, and I have promised myself since then that I wouldn't do it again."
Hoke said his biggest regret was that he didn't coach them hard enough the following year, and their loss to Syracuse opened his eyes to the complacency.