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NCAA Football News - Sports News | Archive December 31, 2007


Long-Time HU Football Coach Joe Taylor to Leave Pirates

Jerrry Holmes Takes over Hampton Football Program

Long-time Hampton University head football coach Joseph Taylor has announced his intentions to leave the University and to accept an offer to coach at another university, according Lonza Hardy Jr., Hampton University's Director of Athletics.

Hardy said Taylor indicated to him late last week that he had another offer on the table and that he had decided to accept that offer.  It is expected that the coach will make an official announcement of his new position on Monday.              

Taylor, the all-time winningest coach in the history of HU football, said his decision to leave the program that he steered into national prominence was a difficult one to make but one that afforded him the opportunity to take on a new challenge.              

"When I look back over my 16 years at Hampton University, I have nothing but fond memories," said Taylor.  "The leadership of the University has treated me well.  The staff, the alumni and the players who played for me all treated me like I was a member of their family.  Everything that I accomplished here was because of their loyal support of Hampton University in general and of me personally."              

Taylor leaves Hampton after compiling a record of 136-49-1, ranking him among the winningest active coaches in the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision (formerly called Division I-AA).  His teams at HU captured three CIAA championships and five MEAC championships.  Since Hampton left the CIAA and Division II, the Pirates, under the guidance of Taylor, competed in the NCAA playoffs a total of five times.  Overall as a head coach, including stints at Howard University and Virginia Union University, Taylor's career record is 197-78-4.              

"Coach Taylor is a man of great character," said HU president Dr. William R. Harvey.  "One of the many reasons I have enjoyed working with Coach Taylor over the years is because of his positive leadership.  He won many games for us here at Hampton, but the true measure of Coach Taylor's success here has been the affect he has had on the young men who played for him.  He has been a positive role model for hundreds of young men.  He has been a true ambassador for Hampton University."              

Lonza Hardy Jr., who last July assumed the athletics director's role that Taylor held the previous two years, said everyone hates to see Taylor leave but wishes him well. "Even before I joined the staff here at Hampton University, I knew of the outstanding program that Coach Taylor had built," said Hardy.  "Working with him on a first-hand basis the past five months has been a pleasure.  He is a consummate professional, both on and off the field.  We all wish him continued success in his career."              

Hampton University officials have indicated that defensive coordinator Jerry Holmes has been tapped to replace Taylor as head coach of the Pirates.   

Holmes, a Newport News, Va. native and West Virginia University graduate, has an impressive vita that includes 10 years as a player in the NFL, four years as an assistant coach at his alma mater and seven years as an assistant coach at Hampton University.  He also has seven years of coaching experience on the professional level, including stints as defensive secondary coach with the San Diego Chargers (2002-03), the Washington Redskins (2001) and the Cleveland Browns (1999-2000).  

"Everywhere Coach Holmes has been, he's enjoyed a high level of success," said Hardy.  "He has a very good relationship with our student-athletes and the staff alike.  He is the ideal coach to bring continuity to our program."   Holmes played football at Bethel High School in Hampton, graduating in 1976.  He then attended Chowan Junior College in Murfreesboro, N.C., where he received an associate's degree in Business Administration in 1977.  He later journeyed to Morgantown, West Virginia, graduating in 1980 with a bachelor's degree in Business Administration.  Holmes has done further studies towards an M.B.A. degree at Long Island University and Hampton University.  

During his NFL playing career, Holmes enjoyed success with three NFL teams, including the New York Jets (1980-83 and 1986-87), the Detroit Lions (1988-89) and the Green Bay Packers (1990-91).  He later was a two-time all-star selectee during a two-year stint in the USFL with the Pittsburgh Maulers (1984) and the New Jersey Generals (1985).   Dr. Harvey called Holmes "the ideal man" to replace Taylor at the helm of the HU Pirates.    "Jerry Holmes, just like Coach Taylor, is a man with high morals and ingenuity on the football field.  His impressive resume' speaks for itself," said Dr. Harvey.  "When Coach Taylor told us that he was leaving, we didn't have to look far to find a very qualified replacement.  That individual was on the staff already."  

A press conference to officially introduce Holmes as Hampton's new head coach is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Thursday, January 3, 2008.  The press conference will be held in the Team Meeting Room of the Armstrong Stadium Football Office Complex on the HU campus.

Courtesy: Hampton University

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Woodhead leaves mark at Chadron

By Jim Holland, Journal staff
Monday, December 31, 2007

Danny Woodhead left a lot of indelible marks over the course of his stellar football career.

Starting as a youngster in North Platte, Neb., when he used a permanent marker to map out a football gridiron on the living room rug,  to this year, as a senior tailback for the Chadron State College Eagles capping a phenomenal four-year run with a slew of records, including the career rushing standard for all of college football.

Woodhead earned a second consecutive Harlon Hill Trophy, the NCAA Division II equivalent of the Heisman, and became the first CSC athlete, male or female, to have a jersey number retired.

For those accomplishments, Woodhead has been named the Rapid City Journal’s Sports Person of the Year for 2007.

“All that stuff is an honor,” he said in a telephone interview from his home last week. “The individual things haven’t really sunk in yet. What I’ll remember most is all that the team has accomplished, more than anything in these last two years. It’s so good to have been a part in helping to turn the team around,” he said.

Woodhead drew national attention to Chadron State when he started working his way through the all-time NCAA football records.

On Oct. 6, Woodhead became the most prolific rusher in the college game with a five-yard run early in the third quarter against Western New Mexico University.

That 15 foot gain eclipsed the old mark of 7,353 yards set by R.J. Bowers of Div. III Grove City College of Pennsylvania from 1997-2000. 

Woodhead ended his career with 7,962 rushing yards. His marks of 9,479 all-purpose yards and 654 career points scored rank second all-time, and his 109 career touchdowns ties the NCAA record. He also owns the record for the number of games exceeding 200 yards rushing (18).

The numbers would have been even higher, had Woodhead not suffered a foot injury and sat out three games late in the year.

Chadron has always been supportive of the college and the Eagles’ men’s and women’s sports teams, Woodhead’s assault on the record books has taken that support to another level.

An estimated 5,000 fans, close to the overall population of Chadron itself, jammed CSC’s Don Beebe Stadium at Elliott Field on many a Saturday afternoon to witness his march to history. 

“I remember when I was a freshman and sophomore, the crowds were always good. The stands were always nearly full. The last two years were just insane. We couldn’t find enough seats for people. That’s just awesome. It makes for such a fun atmosphere,” he said.

As a boy, Woodhead painted jersey numbers on toy figures. “I turned them all into football players,” he said.

He could have ended his career before it started after using a marker to transform the family living room carpet into his own personal gridiron.

“Lines and all,” Woodhead recalled with a chuckle. “My mom (Annette) wasn’t too happy with me about that.”

His desire to be a player was also fueled with Friday night’s spent at North Platte football games as a ball boy. His dad, Mark, is an elementary school teacher and also serves as an assistant high school coach.

Woodhead said another highlight was playing in the Nebraska state Class A high school championship game with his brother, and also named Chadron State’s win over NCAA Div. I Montana State in 2006 and the Eagles first-ever playoff win over West Texas A & M that same year.

Then there was this year’s wild 76-73 triple-overtime win over Abilene Christian University on Nov. 24.

The Eagles rallied from 29 points down at the start of the fourth quarter to tie the game at 56 at the end of regulation.

After holding ACU to a field goal in the third overtime, Eagle quarterback Joe McLain somersaulted into the end zone from the 12-yard line to clinch the win.

Woodhead carried 39 times for 188 yards, ran for three touchdowns and caught a McLain pass for another score.

The 149 points by both teams was an NCAA playoff record.

The scoring onslaught ran a local National Guard unit out of blank ammunition for a ceremonial cannon shot fired after each Eagle touchdown.

“That was crazy,” he said.

Woodhead will don a helmet and pads one more time when he joins top college players from across the nation at the Hula Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii on Jan. 12.
“I’m really looking forward to it. I’m still training and hopefully that will help me out,” he said.

While Division I programs shunned Woodhead because of his size (He’s listed at 200 pounds and an optimistic 5-9). Eagle fans will wait and see if the NFL will make the same miscue.

Frank Cooney’s NFL Draft Scout web site lists Woodhead 26th out of 182 running back prospects.

Watchers say Woodhead, in spite of his small frame, could be a threat as a third-down running back or a kick returner.

If a pro career doesn’t beckon, Woodhead said he’ll make do and move on. He’s making plans to marry his high school sweetheart, Stacia Ries, on July 5.

“I’ll finish up my degree and become a teacher and a coach,” he said.

Looking back on his college career, Woodhead said he’ll remember his Eagle teammates and coaches more than the awards and numbers.

“There were so many good times together with the guys that you become so close to, I can’t really pick any one of them out,” he said.

He also hopes fans will look beyond the records.

“More than anything,” he said. “I’d like to be remembered as a pretty good guy who did things right.”

That sentiment is probably already written in permanent ink.

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NCAA football is big business
"Ohio State has the biggest athletic department budget in the U.S. - a whopping $104.7 million for 2007."

STU COWAN, The Gazette
Published: Sunday, December 30

The Rose Bowl is one of my favourite annual sporting events to watch.

"The Granddaddy of Them All," as it is billed, is a great way to ring in the New Year, starting with the Tournament of Roses Parade, followed by the U.S. college football game, which also offers the spectacular background scenery of Pasadena, Calif. This season, the matchup has the University of Southern California (10-2) playing Illinois (9-3) on New Year's Day.

But while I enjoy watching the Rose Bowl, the more I read and learn about U.S. college football, the more I have to shake my head in disbelief ... and disgust.

The term student/athlete has become an oxymoron south of the border.

After winning two national championships and one Heisman Trophy, quarterback Matt Leinart returned to the University of Southern California for his senior year in 2005. He took only one course in his final semester: ballroom dancing.

That's not a joke ... it's a fact.

And Leinart seems to have set a precedent for other college football players in the U.S.

A recent New York Times article by Pete Thamel described how three of the most talented and successful college quarterbacks in the U.S. were "spending more time in the film room this season than in the classroom."

Oregon's Dennis Dixon took one course this semester: billiards.
Hawaii's Colt Brennan was taking three classes, including one in CPR.

Meanwhile, Matt Ryan, because of Boston College rules, had to take at least three classes to be eligible to play. His three night courses were personal

finance, social stratification and literature. Ryan joked that there is "no ballroom dancing at BC."

William C. Friday, a former president of the University of North Carolina, told Thamel that allowing players to lighten their course loads at the end of their collegiate careers was another sign that college athletics is spiraling out of control.

"I think it's wrong," Friday said. "What we're witnessing in this country is that intercollegiate athletics is becoming an entertainment industry."

And what a big industry it is. According to Forbes magazine, Ohio State has the biggest athletic department budget in the U.S. at a whopping $104.7 million for the year ending June 30, 2006. Texas was second at $97.8 million.

Ohio State (11-1) is definitely getting some bang for its bucks, and will play Louisiana State (11-2) in the BCS national championship game on Jan. 7.

Last March, in a Sports Illustrated feature story on Ohio State titled The Program: Big Wins, Big Money, Big Spirit, L. Jon Wertheim wrote:

"It's academic, really. Big money has changed college sports, transforming athletic departments into mini-industrial complexes. The level of commerce is such that some in Congress are questioning the tax-exempt status of athletic programs."

Nowhere in the United States is college football bigger than in Alabama. That's why after going 14 years without a national championship, the University of Alabama hired Nick Saban away from the National Football League's Miami Dolphins last January and made him the highest-paid coach in college football with an eight-year, $32-million contract.

After hiring Saban, the Crimson Tide's spring exhibition scrimmage game attracted a record crowd of 92,000 and was also televised live in Alabama.

A Sports Illustrated story last August on Saban, written by Rick Bragg and titled In the Nick of Time, reported how Tim and Hannah Witt of Hartselle, Ala., named their baby boy, born March 20, Saban Hardin Witt. They already had a son named Tyde.

"At first I thought my husband was crazy," Hannah told SI's Bragg, "but it grew on me."

Hannah might be having second thoughts after the Crimson Tide went 6-6 this season and takes on Colorado, also

6-6, in tonight's Independence Bowl

(8 p.m., SCORE).

Top players like Leinart can laugh - or should I say dance? - all the way to the bank after their collegiate careers are over. Leinart was the 10th overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals at the 2006 NFL draft and signed a six-year contract that could be worth as much as $50.8 million.

But what about the young men who don't make it to the NFL?

In the same edition of Sports Illustrated that featured Ohio State's program last March was an article written by Angela Busch about former University of Missouri receiver Sean Coffey, a former ESPN high school All-American whose football career was derailed by shoulder injuries. He left school without a degree.

Despite coming from Cleveland's inner-city and having no interest in farming, Coffey was encouraged by the Missouri athletic department and academic counsellors to become an agriculture major. He later switched his major to hotel and restaurant management.

"All the athletes start in ag because it's easy," Coffey told SI's Busch. "Our academic people's job is to keep us eligible. They know every class and which ones are easiest."

Dexter Manley's academic advisor's must have known all the easy courses, too. How else can you explain how the former NFL Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion survived for four years at Oklahoma State University before admitting after his professional football career was over that he was functionally illiterate?

Like I said, I'll be watching the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day. I'm almost ashamed to admit it.

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