Saturday, December 31, 2005

More Names; Some Departures

Coach Lembo at Elon has officially hired two Lehigh assistant coaches to join him at Elon to rebuild their football program. Defensive line coach Jay Bateman and linebacker coach Tony Trisciani are joining Elon. Jay Bateman is joining Elon as defensive coordinator, while Trisciani is keeping his same position, linebackers coach.

Both Bateman and Trisciani were in their first years as the defensive line and linebackers coach, respectively, in 2005 for the Mountain Hawks. Trisciani was known as an excellent recruiter for New Hampshire (his previous coaching stop), and Bateman had a wealth of experience coaching -- not only had he coached every defensive position imaginable, he was also head coach at Siena before they stopped football there.

Lehigh didn't have a dominating defense in 2005 (partially due to injuries), but this mass defensive defection to Elon means that the new Lehigh head coach may also need to get a brand-new defensive coordinator in there as well - the third in three years for this new batch of seniors. It will be imperative that the new head coach - in my opinion, preferably a defensive mastermind himself - solidify this defense, and get a new staff in there that will be sticking around for a long time. I am hoping Gerard Wilcher, the current Lehigh defensive coordinator, will remain in his post. He did an excellent job developng senior FS Kaloma Cardwell and senior LB Anthony "Graz" Graziani into all-Patriot League players.

It's been an anxious week in Lehigh Nation. It's important that the head coach search be completed very soon, so there's no more nasty surprises.

The rumor mill has resulted in two more coaches that are (rumor has it) interviewing, or been in the running for the head coaching position.

Muhlenberg head coach Mike Donnelly. Rumor has it Donnelly has been interviewed for the position already - putting him on the "short list" if true. An eight year head coach down the street at D-III Muhlenberg, he was an assistant coachh at Lafayette and the defensive coordinator at Columbia before guiding the Mules back to D-III prominence. Already local, a defensive guy, very experienced, and a proven winner - right down the street. This resume makes him a very intruiguing option. He's definitely a guy on the rise.

University of Chicago head coach Dick Maloney. Another deeply experienced D-III guy, Maloney has been head coach of the Maroons for the past 12 years. An offensive guy, the Maroons have had a history of being one of the top passing offenses in D-III, so he would fit right in with Lehigh's passing attack. He may want a head coaching gig out east so he can see his son play college football - an all-state WR in Chicago, he may be playing football out east (I beleive it may be VMI, but I haven't been able to confirm this). He has experience at Penn to go with his University of Chicago resume, making him familiar with recruiting athletes with high academic profiles. He has experience and a strong resume to bring to the table.

Here's to 2006, and a quick resolution to this head coaching vacancy.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Football Scoops: A New Name

Checking, the following names hit the rumor mill officially today:

LeHigh names: Jim Hofner (former HC Buffalo), John Luckhardt (California, PA HC), Dave Cecchini (OC Harvard), Andy Coen (OC Penn), Brian Norwood (DB Penn State), Bob Heffner (OL Lafayette), Steve Spagnulo (LB Philadelphia Eagles), Kenny Carter (RB Vanderbilt)

First of all, this is one heck of a roll-call for Lehigh's head coaching vacancy, if all are really in the running. All but one of these coaches were already profiled here on the blog, but the one highlighted coach - Kenny Carter from Vandebilt - has not. Let his name officially be thrown in the mix now. Below is a profile on this new candidate.

Kenny Carter, RB Coach, Vanderbilt. A Citadel alum and former Citadel assistant coach, Carter has only been a RB coach at Vandy for the past year. He has quite a packed resume, however, with three years as an assistant at Penn State to go with experience at Pitt and LSU. (Might he have gotten a nod of approval to apply for the Lehigh job from former coach Higgins, with his Citadel connections?) At 36, he's another young guy, but he boasts a fantastic I-A resume. Looks like an extremely interesting name in the mix.

Carter is the third African-American candidate to be mentioned in the Lehigh head coaching race. As previously mentioned, there are only (to my knowlege) two current African-American I-AA head coaches, not including HBCU coaches (meaning, head coaches from historically black colleges and universities such as Grambling St., North Carolina A&T, and Tennessee State).

The nervous wait for a new head coach continues.

Monday, December 26, 2005

A Few More Names To Throw In The Mix

Hope everyone had a happy holiday. As you can tell, I have not been idle in my Christmas "break" from reporting the developments on the Lehigh head coaching search. But some names have been popping up, and I wanted to add these guys to the list of possible coaching candidates. Some names may surprise you.

Issac Collins, defensive coordinator, The Citadel. A former "Higgins Guy" who was a part of the Lehigh family, Collins is a firey defensive coordinator who has been at Holy Cross and Delaware over the past three seasons. Very recently he made it to The Citadel to be reuinted with Higgins, but what if he had an offer too good to refuse to become one of the youngest head coaches in Division I? Collins is flat-out a great defensive coordinator - it's no coincidence that Lehigh had great defensive teams with him coaching the defense. But his bitter separation from Lehigh in 2003 may have burned his bridges.

Steve Spagnulo, linebacker coach, Philadelphia Eagles. A former assistant coach at Lafayette, UConn and UMass, he's been associated the past seven years with the Eagles' rise to defensive dominance in the NFL. With the Eagles' summer NFL camps at Lehigh, he for sure will be no stranger to Lehigh's athletic department. Could this be a great opportunity for him to get his first head coaching gig, at the conclusion of the Eagles' disappointing season? With his history around Lehigh and Lafayette, could he be the type of guy who is a perfect fit for the coaching postition?

Andrew Cohen, defensive line coach, Fordham. A former defensive coordiantor at Stony Brook, Cohen is a talented line coach who may be able to be plucked from the Fordham staff in a time of transtion in Fordham's coaching staff. It remains to be seen how he would do as a head coach, but as a defensive guy who recruits well and knows the Patriot League back and forth, to me he seems like a strong candidate.

Bob Heffner, offensive line coach, Lafayette. From the movie Citizen Kane: "Six years ago, I looked at a picture of the world's greatest newspapermen. I felt like a kid in front of a candy store. Well tonight, six years later, I got my candy." Some feel like Joe Sterrett may make just like Kane and do the unthinkable - hire away Lafayette's incredibly successful offensive line coach and make him ours. Stranger things have happened, and he has managed to recruit and get some very good linemen to Easton. Furthermore, last year he very nearly was hired away to the University of Illinois, so you know he may be looking for a new position.

He may seem an odd fit, as basically a career Lafayette coach(he's been back and forth to and from Lafayette in the past 15 years), but there's no denying the talent and the familiarity with the Patriot League. If there was ever a head coach who could give Lehigh an advantage in the Lehigh/Lafayette game in 2006, Heffner is that guy.

Brian Norwood, defensive backs coach, Penn Sate. A coach at Richmond and Navy, Norwood has been an effective secondary guy for the Nittany Lions and could benefit from a move to South Mountain. Another young coach, his Navy ties may benefit the type of recruiting he would need to perform as Lehigh's head coach. Unproven as a head coach, he's been rising up the assistant coaching ranks and could be an interesting pick.
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