Vic Shealy says the new program at Houston Baptist is ahead of schedule. (HBU Collegian)
- We don’t get a chance to highlight small-school coaches nearly enough, but Dale Robertson of the Houston Chronicle put together a fantastic feature on Vic Shealy, who is 11 months into starting a new program at Houston Baptist. On the heels of a recruiting year that Shealy says “went well, very well,” the program is ahead of schedule. The Huskies will compete in the Southland Conference, arguably the deepest in the FCS. Sam Houston State has played in consecutive national championship games, and Central Arkansas has been to the playoffs the last two seasons. Neither of those schools have HBU’s admission requirements, but Shealy sees it as an opportunity more than a challenge. “I know it’s a very tough league,” Shealy said, “but we have the benefit of being located in the most athletic city in Texas – and probably the nation … So maybe you talk to a kid who could go somewhere else in our conference or to ABC University in Conference USA, but he says, ‘I want to major in pre-med, and HBU has one of the top pre-med programs in the state. I can stay home and play in front of my parents. I’m going to at least go visit HBU.'” Shealy knows a thing or two about turnarounds. He took over at Azusa Pacific in 1995, and two years later led the Cougars to their first winning season since 1990. Two years after that, the team went 12-2 and won the NAIA national championship. Shealy credits many of his decisions with HBU’s fledgling program to a conversation with former Miami and current Texas-San Antonio coach Larry Coker. One thing that Coker, whose UTSA teams have gone 4-6 and 8-4 in their first two seasons, regrets was not playing any games in 2010. Instead, HBU will play an abbreviated “developmental” schedule of eight games this fall. “The way we’re doing it,” Shealy said, “we won’t burn a year of eligibility, and they’ll get live competition. Sure, as a ball coach, you always go out there with the idea of winning every game. But I’ve got to set what victory means for us. When they win a one-on-one situation, or play harder than their opponent and what we teach them in practice, they’re able to execute – that’s how were going to judge them this fall. But I expect to be very competitive in the conference in 2014.”
- Former University of Alabama law professor Gene Marsh, who served nine years on the NCAA’s Infractions Committee, has reinvented himself as a go-to guy for colleges and coaches accused of NCAA violations. Twenty years ago, he was directing the school’s Honors College. “Now,” he says, “I’m a piano player in a whorehouse.” A big part of Marsh’s appeal is that he’s viewed as both an insider and an outsider. As a faculty representative, he defended Alabama in two contentious NCAA disputes, and later, as a member of the infractions committee, he presided over several the NCAA’s most high-profile decisions. In his new job, Marsh and his Birmingham, Ala.-based group has represented some 15 institutions, including USC, Michigan, North Carolina, and Penn State. In an excellent feature from The Chronicle of Higher Education, Marsh shares his unique perspective on a number of NCAA-related matters.
- Nebraska’s defense is under scrutiny this spring. But that’s what happens when you give up 539 rushing yards and 70 points to Wisconsin, 513 yards and 63 points to Ohio State, and 653 yards on 94 plays (6.9 per play) to UCLA. Bo Pelini and his defensive staff are using spring ball as an opportunity to toughen up the Huskers – particularly mentally. As always, that starts up front. “You can clean up technique and assignments and all of that,” defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski said. “But spring is more about finding out about players’ grit, how tough they are, what they can handle. I tell the guys I’m not going to let them be average. If they want to continue to be average, well, that train’s moving, too.”… “When you get a little tired, and things start flying around fast, you have to have that mental toughness. That’s non-negotiable. The Big Ten is a big-boy league. We have to find out now who we can trust.” Steven M. Sipple of the Lincoln Journal Star takes a good look at the Huskers’ defensive line and what Kaczenski is doing to avoid a repeat.