Friday, January 06, 2006

Coen's Review from the Press?..... Good!

Ain't this picture (courtesy of Harry Fisher of the Morning Call) a beauty?

The press conference was reviewed by the local media (and AP as well), and there's nothing but gushing praise from all corners. The Brown & White hasn't checked in yet, but we'll forgive them - after all, it's still winter break.

The jury is in, and Lehigh Nation seems extremely excited. Lehigh Dean of Athletics Joe Sterrett ('76) seems to have made an outstanding choice.

There's still a lot of intrigue left. Coach Coen will need to fill out his staff - part of that is deciding who on the current staff stays or goes - and we'll have to see the all-important "class of 2010" announcement, coming up in only a couple of months. For now, though, here's your press roundup and your press digest.

(Oh yeah, I also need to summarize 2005 too.)

Allentown Morning Call:
Andy Coen Is Named Lehigh Football Coach
Groller: Coen Hopes To Make Football Fun

Easton Express-Times:
Mountain Hawks Pick a Familiar Face
Sokoloski: Coen is the right choice to lead Lehigh

From the moment that Pete Lembo's departure for Elon was announced on Dec. 19 — and even before it — many Lehigh University football fans and alumni clamored for the return of Kevin Higgins to South Mountain.

Those fans and alums didn't get their wish, but they may have gotten the next best thing on Tuesday.

"I was looking for fit for this institution and leadership," Sterrett said. "Some people may believe in this institution and may be comfortable here, but may lack leadership. Other people may be leaders, but may not have the same values, structure, experiences that fit this institution. So, those two things need to work together to be a successful coach here and Andy offers that to us."

"The thing that impressed me the most when he was here originally was how hard our kids played for him and how they felt about him," athletic director Joe Sterrett said. "Kids like playing for him, and have great enthusiasm playing for him."

Sterrett is banking on that likability factor translating into big wins and titles, because at Lehigh, that's important as well.

"This is a great place with wonderful pride and tradition," Coen said. ''I'm humbled to now have that responsibility to carry on that tradition... When I left [Lehigh], it was a very, very hard decision," Coen said. "I thought, at the time, for some personal and professional reasons, it was a good opportunity to go to Penn. But all along, I have been preparing myself to be a head coach and the opportunity to come back to Lehigh is wonderful."

"It is my hope that when you see a Lehigh team, the phrases you throw out will be 'well-coached, and mentally and physically tough,'" Coen said. "I pride myself on what I've accomplished as an offensive coordinator at Lehigh and Penn, and we've been very creative and innovative.

"My sincere hope is that we will have an environment in which the players will have the best experience of their lives and they will have a lot of fun playing college football," Coen said. "I look back at my own career and it was the best time of my life. My sincere hope is for every player that's in the program right now to look back at their time at Lehigh under Andy Coen and feel the same way.

"It's also my message to our incoming recruits. I'll tell them that if they come here, they will get a great education, win a lot of football games and they will look back at their time spent as one of the most positive things that will ever happen in their life."

"But I steadfastly believe that football is still a game of blocking and tackling, first and foremost, and we've got to be good at those things. We've got to be fundamentally sound and, hopefully, we'll excite the crowd with some of the things we do. But we'll never lose sight of the fact that football is a physical game."

"The challenges are many," Coen said. Then he squared his jaw and said, "but I know I'm up to every one of them."

Later, after he was finished speaking to a crowd that included a lot of alumni and boosters, he was talking about winning championships, not getting in position to play for them near the end of the regular season.

"Those are the expectations," Coen said. "That's the way it has been every year."

Phil Stambaugh, the former Pius X star who became a record-setting quarterback for Lehigh under Coen's tutelege: "I had a very good relationship with Coach Coen. We were successful, too. He's an approachable coach. And he's firm when he talks to you. For him to be back and be part of the family again, I'm excited. Nothing against Coach Lembo but having Coach Coen come back to Lehigh is something I was hoping to see."

"Sedale Threatt will benefit the most from this," said Cody Fedorcha, a star receiver under Coen at Lehigh in the 1990s. "He (Coen) is an Xs and Os guy. He'll find a way to utilize all of his (Threatt's) talents. He (Coen) is just an infectious person to be around. He's going to win games. He's going to bring his own personality to this program. I think it's going to be a lot different than what we've seen.

"He's a genius on offense," Fedorcha said. "He and Coach Cecchini could find any holes in defenses. Look at his points on the first drive of the game. He's got a high level of success on those scripted plays. His second-half adjustments are definitely solid. He's a great recruiter. He's a disciplinarian but he never makes you feel like you're being disciplined. You just conform to his philosophy."

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Lehigh's New Head Coach Is... Andy Coen!

Hope your money was on Andy Coen and 5:1 odds!

The decision was in this morning, and... it's Andy Coen, former offensive coordinator at Penn! There's no doubt in my mind that he's an excellent choice for head coach, and I'm already excited for spring football to start!

We are getting a guy that was the one of the architects of the more dominating Lehigh offenses under head coach Kevin Higgins in the mid-to-late '90s. Beloved by former offensive players and an emotional leader, coach Coen boasts a truckload of experience with both the Patriot League and the grant-in-aid scholarship environments.

While at Lehigh, he was the offensive line coach in 1994 and 1995, and went on to become Lehigh's offensive coordinator from 1996 to 1999. He coached future NFL RB Rabih Abdullah ('97), RB Ron Jean ('99), WR Brian Baker('97), WR Brett Snyder ('00), and QB Phil Stambaugh ('00). When you look down the rushing and passing milestones, you see these names over and over again. Coach Coen is the guy who headed the system to make them excel.

At Penn he didn't stop there. He coached the Quakers' all-time leading rusher (Kris Ryan - 3,181 yards), passer (Gavin Hoffman - 7,542 yards) and receiver (Rob Milanese - 3,409 yards). His teams scored piles of points - in 2002, Penn's offense averaged 43 points per game. His offenses were instumental in the three Ivy titles they won during that time.

As a part of Penn's coaching staff, he recruited New Jersey, Georgia, and Florida. Penn's leading rusher in 2005, junior RB Joe Sandberg, was undoubtedly recruited by coach Coen, and this year three linemen were named all-Ivy second team and all-Ivy honorable mention. He knows the importance of recruiting nationally and it's likely we won't skip a beat recruiting.

I saw Penn play last year against Yale, and coach Coen's defense simply was in a different universe than Yale's defense, as they cruised to a 38-21 victory that could easily had been greater had they chose (Yale scored all three TDs against Penn's "B" defense). If the offense I saw that day is any indication about what coach Coen can deliver for us on offense, I'll be one happy camper.

Finally, check this resume out:

1998, Lehigh OC: 12-1, Patriot Champions, Playoffs 2nd r
1999, Lehigh OC: 10-2, Patriot Champions, Playoffs 1st r
2000, Penn OC: 7-3, Ivy Champions
2001: Penn OC: 8-1
2002: Penn OC: 9-1, Ivy Champions
2003: Penn OC: 10-0, Ivy Champions
2004: Penn OC: 8-2

5 championships and 2 I-AA playoff appearances is quite the resume!

By all early indications he seems to be really excited and eager to jump right in and to win Patriot League Championships and get back to the I-AA playoffs. He may need some time to get it all in place, but he seems like a great choice!

You'll read plenty of quotes from yesterday's press conferences in tomorrow's papers, but he says something that is worthy of repeating here:

"It will truly be 'our' program. It's not going to be Andy Coen's program, it's going to be the program of the players... and together, we will work to accomplish great things at Lehigh. I want our program to be something that the entire Lehigh community will take pride in, both in the academic community, [and] certainly our student body, but also, very importantly, I want our alumni to have a real sense of connection with our football program.

"Tradition never graduates. The great tradition of Lehigh will go on and on forever and ever... the faces will change, the guys wearing the uniforms will change, but the tradition... will continue. It's critical that our alumni realize that, and I want them to get involved with this program. I will reach out to them, [and] I certainly want them to have the sense that we want them around... [and] we want them involved.... Once you're Lehigh, you're always Lehigh."

As you may have guessed, I think we're off to a great start to 2006!

Please leave your comments here. The link to the official announcement and the archive of the press conference is here.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Updated Odds On New Lehigh Head Coach

There's precious little news on the head coaching front, so I figured I'd make my own "odds" as to who the new Lehigh head coach will be. Please don't use these odds to make actual bets - these lines are purely for fun.

Harvard OC Dave Cecchini 2:1
Muhlenberg (D-III) HC Mike Donnelly 4:1
Penn OC Andy Coen 5:1
Former Buffalo (I-A) HC Jim Hofner 6:1
Former Gerogia Southern HC Mike Sewak 8:1
Chicago University HC Dick Maloney 8:1
Philadelphia Eagles LB coach Mike Spagnulo 10:1
Lehigh WR coach Adam Scheier 10:1
Lehigh OL coach John Powers 10:1
Vanderbilt RB coach Kenny Carter 15:1
Lafayette OL coach Bob Heffner 20:1
California (PA) (D-III) HC John Luckhardt 20:1
New Hampshire OC Chip Kelley 25:1
Field 30:1

I am hoping - hoping that the press conference will be called sometime this week. And I may be going to the press conference if all my cards fall right.

Hope we know soon.
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