Video: Texas TEs/special teams coach Jeff Traylor mic’d up
Texas high school coaches are all the rage these days, but one hire that’s flown under the radar thus far is Gilmer High School coach Jeff Traylor leaving his East Texas dynasty for the Texas tight ends and special teams job.
It’s an interesting spot to jump into college football for Traylor. A Longhorn tight end hasn’t caught more than 16 passes in a season since Jermichael Finley – now out of the league after a six-year NFL career – snared 45 passes way back in 2007. Texas is desperate for production out of the tight end spot, so in that respect Traylor has been given an opportunity to substantially boost Texas’ offense from Day 1. But to get there he’ll have to cultivate a group of unproven players, many of whom moved to tight end after starting their college careers at another position.
As for special teams? The Longhorns ranked 61st nationally in punt returns, 99th in kickoff returns, 82nd in field goals, 98th in punt coverage, and dead last in kickoff coverage in 2014.
Let’s look at the bright side here: Traylor walked into college football with an opportunity to show why he should have been at this level a long time ago.
Photo: The best spring game moment of 2015 goes to….
Leah Still is a 4-year-old girl that has captured the heart of those around her.
The daughter of former Penn State defensive lineman and current Cincinnati Bengal Devon Still, Leah was diagnosed with Stage 4 leukemia last June. Her chance of survival was 50-50.
Leah fought and fought, and a month ago today her father announced his daughter was in remission.
June 2, 2014 and March 25, 2015 are days I will remember for the rest of my life. As everyone probably knows, June 2nd was the day doctors walked into the waiting room to tell me my daughter had cancer. It was the most devastating day of my life. March 25th , however, is feeling like the best day of my life. Today we received news from Leah’s oncologist that her cancer, stage four neuroblastoma, is officially in REMISSION! After 296 days of day dreaming about what it would feel like to hear the doctors say my daughter is in remission, I finally know the feeling. Funny thing is there is really no way of describing it because I never knew this feeling existed. When I look at my daughter all I can do is smile and hug her. It was not easy but every day, and every treatment Leah fought like hell and kicked cancers butt! I’m so proud and blessed to call her my daughter. She has made an impact on me and on the world, at the age of four, that I can only wish to make in a lifetime. Thank you to my family and friends for the support through all those tough days. Thank you to everyone who has sent a letter to give Leah and our family motivation to keep fighting, a toy that helped Leah get through her days in the hospital, and more importantly a prayer that helped God hear our cries for healing. Thank you to the doctors at CHOP for putting together the best plan of action for my daughter. Thank you to Child Life members Sarah, Laura, and Lindsey for really turning what could be a scary place into a place where Leah would enjoy going because she knew she would have fun with you guys. Thank you to the Bengals for taking on my situation and standing by me and my family and for helping to raise money to fight pediatric cancer. To every media outlet and persons that helped raise much needed awareness, thank you. Leah is not done with treatments yet. She still needs more to make sure the cancer cells do not return and to build back up her immune system and other damage from the chemo but I know my little warrior will get through it! #FistBump #LeahStrong #BeatCancer #TheFightAgainstChildhoodCancerIsFarFromOver #ThrowingTheBiggestKidPartyEver #WaitForIt
Today, Leah served as the honorary captain of Temple’s spring game, where she also scored a touchdown.
— Larry Dougherty (@Ldoc32) April 25, 2015
A great moment for all involved. Here’s hoping for a cancer-free future for Leach and the Still family.
FootballScoop Q&A: Bobby Hauck
Every coach to ever put on a whistle dreams of being an FBS head coach. Every coach desires the conference championships, the undefeated regular seasons, the bowl trips, the multi-million dollar contracts. Hardly anyone thinks of what may come after.
After seven seasons at Montana and five at UNLV, Bobby Hauck is now the special teams coordinator at San Diego State, and he’s enjoying the latest chapter of his 27-year career. FootballScoop spoke with Hauck about coaching special teams, his departure from UNLV and life in San Diego.
You haven’t been an assistant coach since 2002. Has there been an adjustment period for you? It’s been a long time. I’m actually out on the road recruiting right now. It’s been fun to go out and work an area, I haven’t worked an area in over 13 years. It’s been fun. I have a lot more narrow focus on what I have to prioritize on a daily basis and I’ve really enjoyed it.
Is it nice to have all the extra load of being a head coach off your back, or do you catch yourself biting your tongue sometimes? It’s kind of refreshing not to worry about some of the administrative things, and then my boss and I see eye-to-eye on virtually everything philosophically. It’s been great.
You mentioned you’re on the road right now. I imagine that has been a nice change for you, yes? It’s been kind of fun. I just left a coach, I told him it’s a lot more fun sitting and talking football with him than it was trying to get donors to help me pay for summer school this time of year, which is what I would have been doing the last three years. It’s been good. Recruiting is recruiting. The recruiting game hasn’t changed too much, the technology aspect of it is a little different with all the different electronic communications and social media since I last worked an area. It’s pretty smooth.
You’ve coached special teams continuously since 1995. How did that come about, and why did you keep doing it after you became a head coach? Like a lot of guys that are coaching special teams, I kind of happened into it almost accidentally. I don’t think anybody views themselves as they get into coaching as a special teams guy, and I certainly haven’t been just that. It’s something I’ve enjoyed and then when I became a head coach I hung on to it because I liked getting to coach every guy on the team, essentially.
For young guys looking to climb the ladder, would you recommend special teams as a means to carving out their niche in the profession? I’d go a little different route with that. The way I’d put it to you is, having been a head coach at a couple different places, special teams, from an organizational standpoint, seeing how the whole big picture fits together, I thought being a special teams coordinator was better prep for being head coach than the offensive or defensive coordinator. At least at the collegiate level.
You were tremendously successful in your seven years at Montana but were never able to build the same sort of success at UNLV. If you could do it all over again would you have still taken the UNLV job? Hindsight’s easy. We were real close to getting it going there, had the opportunity to get UNLV to their first bowl game in almost 15 years, the first winning season in the same amount of time and the fourth winning season in 30 years. There were some really good things. I enjoyed people there in town, they were really good to me. So, yeah, I’d go back and do it. I’d hope for a different result, maybe change a couple of things. I knew it was going to be an uphill struggle when I took the job so none of that was a real eye-opener to me. In terms of what our team looked like, how we competed, we made a lot of progress there. I wish we’d have won enough to be able to still be there.
You were still under contract when you left UNLV. Have you gotten the buyout all worked out? That’s not worked out very well. I’ve actually got the makings of a court case because we’re having a hard time getting to the point where what I believed to be agreed up is not coming my way. Contractually, I would have had to sit out two years and I couldn’t see myself sitting out of coaching for two years, so we made an agreement where I basically took half of what I was owed and we haven’t been able to get to that point where they’ve come through with what I thought they should.
So they just haven’t paid you? It’s funny. We’re down to a point where, contractually, I was due 30 days of full salary and benefits and we haven’t gotten that straightened out. It looks like it’s going to the lawyers.
Let’s switch gears a little bit. Not many people may be aware of this, but San Diego State is one of just 27 FBS programs, and only two in the state of California, to reach five straight bowls. What makes the program so successful? San Diego is a great place, first of all. There’s a reason why a lot of people want to live there. It’s a wonderful place to live, a great place to go to school and I think kids see that. The staff’s done a nice job of recruiting a lot of quality players and that’s opened them up to success on the field.
It seems like the entire department is consistently putting programs in the postseason. That’s hard to do at the mid-major level. What’s the secret? Our athletic director Jim Sterk is a very experienced guy. He’s a great man and understands how it all works. It really starts with him and a lot of the head coaches in this department are really tuned in and work together. Rocky Long and Steve Fisher are great guys and they’ve worked well together. You go around the department, our women’s golf coach Leslie Spalding does a great job. People who know what they’re doing permeate the department.
The Chargers’ desire to move to Los Angeles is well known. How closely is the athletics department watching development? Those decisions are being made way above my pay grade but our athletic administration and our university are keeping close tabs on that because it will affect the stadium and a lot different things involved with that. Everybody at San Diego State has got one eye on that. People in San Diego are not wanting the Chargers to go any place, so we’ll see how that goes. That’s a business. They’re going to do what they need to do.
The #DailyDose: Which college coach would you want as your UFC cage fight partner?
Today’s #DailyDose question for the FootballScoop staff: What college coach (head coach or assistant) would you choose as your tag team partner in a UFC cage fight?
We thought about adding strength coaches in the pool of guys to choose from, but we ultimately decided against that because some of them could legitimately decapitate someone, and nobody wants that.
This one prompted some interesting thought processes from Scott, Zach and I.
Scott’s choice (@FootballScoop): Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp
When Doug first posed this question to me, Alabama offensive line coach Mario Cristobal immediately came to mind. He’s strong, intense, loud and has a mean streak somewhere inside him. No brainer right? Well, I’m going unorthodox here. I’m actually going about 150 miles east over to Auburn and calling on new defensive coordinator Will #Boom Muschamp to be my partner.
Will’s gonna hit you first and have a great plan of attack; but it won’t be until you’ve bloodied him a bit until we see the real, inner war child of Will Muschamp show up in the ring. At this point, be it Cristobal or any potential challenger, Boom is gonna find a way to win. In my mind, the match ends with Will reverse suplexing some dude into a world of hurt.
Doug’s choice (@CoachSamz): Boston College head coach Steve Addazio
First of all let’s start with the mustache and build because it’s the perfect template for an old school WWF wrestler meant to be sporting a singlet and high laced boots – and hey – that has to count for something. Secondly, I just get the feeling that Addazio would get in the ring with the same hard-nosed, smash mouth approach that he brings to football, and that’s going to suit him well in the cage.
Really what 85% of this comes down to is an intimidation factor, and I’d hate to be entering the cage knowing that Addazio would enjoy ripping me limb from limb, so I want him on my side to tag in at my leisure to inflict great bodily harm on our opponents.
I also considered Penn State head coach James Franklin and Western Michigan head coach PJ Fleck (because they could probably both smooth talk the opponents into waving the white flag without breaking a sweat) and Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp (because he has some glares- like this one, or this one – capable of forcing people into submission).
Zach’s choice: Texas head coach Charlie Strong
Strong is not a tall man, which I view as an advantage for two reasons. First, he’ll have leverage over every opponent he faces. Second, have you seen the man? He’s as thick as he is tall.
When I tap myself out and him in – which, make no mistake, will happen the moment the bell rings – I’ll simply remind him to get his opponent on the ground and then place his his five core values all over his cranium.
Mike Leach shares the most (and least) important traits he looks for in a quarterback
Mike Leach appeared on “Culotta and the Prince” on ESPN Baton Rouge Friday morning (full audio available below) and, by Leach standards, it was a pretty straightforward interview. Common rabbit trails such as Geronimo, dating, the weather, economic expansion in Micronesia and the like were ignored in favor of Leach’s primary area of expertise: quarterbacks.
The hosts asked Leach, he of countless hours of watching tape and scores of quarterbacks evaluated over his now 28-year career, what is the first thing he looks for in a signal caller.
“I think it’s really pretty easy,” Leach said. “The first thing is, is he accurate? You can help him become a little more accurate but I can’t say that I’ve ever taken anybody from flat-out inaccurate to make him accurate. I don’t know that anybody else ever has, either. I know there’s a ton out there that think they can. I’d be interested in talking to somebody that thinks they have or seen it, because I haven’t seen it very much. And I’m not one of those guys that is really into, he’s either got it or he’s not, because that diminishes the role of a coach. It seems to me somewhere in the backyard around sixth grade a guy’s accurate or not. He might belong at quarterback or he might not. Some guys just throw more accurately, and there are enough accurate guys out there I think I’d start out with an accurate one. In other words, once he decides what to throw the ball at, can he hit it? And then, does he make good decisions? A lot of that’s coached. You can control that as a coach and you can enhance that as a coach. That’s probably one of the areas of quarterback play you have the most impact on.”
Leach said he uses that philosophy when evaluating tape of high school prospects.
“As I watch a high school kid’s film I try to see if he’s decisively going somewhere with his eyes and throws the ball on time, because you’re not sure exactly what he’s being coached there so you try to see if he has a nice, crisp operation, has clear priorities in his head where he’s going to go with the football,” he said.
Leach and his former boss Hal Mumme popularized the spread offenses that are now ubiquitous in college and high school football, but to this day Leach has never added the third dimension that many of his imitators did – a quarterback that can take off and run. Leach said that’s because he looks for quick-footed quarterbacks over ones that possess straight-line speed.
“The other qualities are, does a guy have quick feet?” Leach said. “There’s a difference between quick feet and fast. Does a guy have quick feet, does he have a strong arm and is he fast? Well, if you go to the NFL Hall of Fame none of them have all those five things but any of them that are any good have the first two, which is is he accurate and does he make good decisions.”
The hosts then asked where arm strength fit into Leach’s evaluations. Keep this in mind as the NFL Draft dominates the national discussion over the next week.
“Nice to have. Not important…It’s among the least important qualities I look for in a quarterback, but it’s good to have just like being fast is good to have,” he said. “I do think no matter who you have you have to have a guy who can throw it crisply 50 yards because there’s a point where you can only protect so long. We figure we can justifiably protect 3-3.5 seconds and I don’t have any skill players, never coached one, that can run an 80-yard dash in 3.5 seconds. And then you look at vertical routes, fade routes you’re throwing on time, those things are 28-t0-35 yards downfield, which then you have to add how far it is to the sideline it’s probably 40, 45 yards. There’s a point to where it’s only relevant on broken plays or emergencies. So it’s good to have in emergencies.”
Leach then explained, in typical Leach fashion, the one time it would pay to have a cannon-armed quarterback.
“Your quarterback holds the ball, or say he’s dumb, you’d rather not have a dumb quarterback and he holds the ball and it takes him a long time to sort it out, and finally there’s some guy 55 yards downfield and your offensive line manages to protect that long, it’s nice to know that he can hit him,” he said, “but your bigger problem is that he was dumb enough to hold it that long.”