The annual AFCA Convention kicks off this weekend and runs through Wednesday. It's the only time a year where thousands of coaches spread throughout the country in all divisions gather in one place.
The event officially gets underway on Saturday but, in reality, things really get going on Sunday afternoon and run through Wednesday morning. The current schedule can be found here, but remember all events and speakers are tentative and subject to (and often do) change.
So, aside from seeing old friends, networking with new ones and checking The Scoop five to ten times a day, here's what we see as a good way to spend your time while in Nashville.
Reminder, the football operations guys have a full agenda as well.
Our full staff will be there (look for the best looking guys guys wearing FootballScoop stuff) and will be providing full coverage daily on the site and on Twitter.
The Gaylord has been fully renovated since the last time the AFCA was held there. Will provide some thoughts on dining options once there as well. Here is a link to Fuse & the other dining options on property.
The Gaylord is a huge place. Walk around and see the place. Given the amount of "lobby chatter" etc... this could take a while.
The only two items on the schedule are the Black Coaches & Administrators Meeting and the NAIA Officers Meeting. Otherwise, if you get in Saturday afternoon or evening this is a great time to visit with friends before the larger crowd arrives Sunday.
Most coaches arrive Sunday. If possible, arrive a bit early. There are hundreds of coaches in the various lobbies of the hotel and the place is huge. Take your time, shake a few hands and visit with old friends.
The exhibit hall opens at 9 am. We assume, as in prior years, that the registration for coaches will be in the exhibit hall. Please spend a few minutes with some of the exhibitors. These guys pay an exorbitant amount of money to travel, ship their displays, rent their space and operate their booths. We have heard of some pretty cool technological advancements to be unveiled at the convention this year. We'll be tweeting about some of them throughout the convention. Stay tuned for plenty more on this...
There are a number of meetings for high school coaches to attend beginning at 1 pm.
The Professional Development Series and the Buzz Sessions are some of the best parts of the convention. A plethora to choose from Sunday night. A couple that have been recommended to us.
7pm - Noel Mazzone talking QB play, Dan Brooks and Brick Haley both on DL play and Harlon Barnett talking DBs.
8pm - Tony Franklin on QBs, Marvin Sanders talking DBs, Jeff Shinn (Mary Hardin-Baylor) talking RBs.
Thereafter the night is open. Fuse is a great spot (same place our party will be Monday night at 5). The Falls bar over in the Cascades area is always popular as well (although it's smaller now after the renovations).
Jacksonville Jaguars assistant director of football technology Mike Stoeber is slated to speak on offensive game analysis from 8-8:50. This is the only time a current NFL coach or staff member is scheduled to speak, so for those eager to learn what the NFL is doing in there here and now, here's your chance.
Plenty of quality high school coaches scheduled to speak from 8-11:15 as well.
The graduate assistant career forum is scheduled from 9-11, with Chris Thomsen, fresh off leading Texas Tech to a bowl win (and heading to Cal as OL coach), and ULM head coach Todd Berry among the scheduled panelists. This is always a packed event. Good place to learn and ask questions. We wish this event wasn't scheduled at the same time as the high school coaches speaking, though. They're didn't ask our opinion, but we wish the AFCA would help the high school coaches demographic a bit and give those guys a chance to attend both.
We hear the guys at ProGrass will have a pretty cool announcement at their booth around 11:15.
Some big names are scheduled to hold court: Mark Richt from 2:10-3, Bill O'Brien from 3:10-4 and Phillip Fulmer and Dick Vermeil from 4:10-5:30.
The FootballScoop Party will begin at 5pm at Fuse Sports Bar. 16 Coaches of the Year will be honored. Open to everyone. Stop by and enjoy a few cool beverages of your choice. Huge thanks to our sponsors: ProGrass, JumpForward, Advent, Thimbleweed Consulting and The Coach Tracker.
The BCS National Championship kicks off shortly after 7:30 p.m. Fuse has over 100 TVs, we highly recommend staying there for the game.
For those looking for more Buzz sessions Monday night, there will only be one round and they begin at 6pm. Those recommended to us for that night include: Louisville's Shawn Watson on QBs, Colorado's Jim Jeffcoat on DL play, Toledo's "Tuke" on LBs and Vanderbilt's Bob Shoop on DBs.
The ladies with Collegiate Sports Travel also host a party most can only hope to get an invite to later Monday night. Good stories always follow that one!
For early risers, the FBS head coaches breakfast will be held from 6:30-7.
Plenty of breakout sessions will take place throughout the morning, with Craig Bohl, possibly fresh off his second straight FCS championship at North Dakota State, and reigning NAIA champion Ted Karras, Jr., both speaking from 8-8:50. St. Thomas (MN) head coach Glenn Caruso is up at 9.
There's also an AD panel on hiring practices and a high school session from 10-11.
Jimbo Fisher will speak from 2:10-3, David Shaw follows from 3:10-4 and Bill Snyder closes from 4:10-5.
If you're not going to the Coach of the Year reception, this is a good time to make dinner plans with friends you might not see for a while.
Some quality chalk talks are scheduled for those who stay through Wednesday morning. Between 8 and 10... Jemal Singleton, Clay Jennings, Ron Middleton, Brian Rock, Curt Mallory and Mark Tommerdahl all speaking about topics they love and excel at. A lot to be learned from that group.