It's that time of year again.
The AFCA Convention returns to Nashville from Sunday through Wednesday, and once again FootballScoop is back with our official guide to lead you through the 4-day extravaganza.
Saturday night: If you’re in town, take advantage of the opportunity the schedule has afforded you and head out with your friends in the profession. Use this opportunity to explore downtown -- you'll get your fill of the Gaylord Opryland over the next four days.
Catholic mass @ AFCA Saturday at 5:30pm & Sunday at 8:30am in Bayou C room in Opryland Resort.
Sunday: When you arrive at the convention center, familiarize yourself with the official convention schedule. Head over early to get your credentials and spend some time with some of the vendors in the exhibit hall. Every attendee needs their badge in order to access the talks so get your badge well before any talk you plan to attend. There are always some unique and impressive new products and services to see (hey, let us know @FootballScoop if you see anything we need to hear about). This is truly the best time to hit the exhibit hall, and we recommend you stop by and see 2015 Product of the Year Sky Coach, 2016 Product of the Year Go Rout, and as always, you must stop by & see our friends at TeamWorks, lead by the always dapper Zach Maurides.
The high school coaches' academy runs from 2-6 p.m., ending with a recruiting forum headed by AFCA executive director Todd Berry and a 1-hour session with Nebraska head coach Mike Riley. The first timers' meeting, run by Morgan State's Fred T. Farrier, begins at 4 in Bayou E.
Sunday evening: Buzz sessions get underway at 6 with Mike Thiessen (Air Force), Charles Kelly (Florida State), 2016 FootballScoop Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach of the Year finalist Kirk Ciarrocca (Western Michigan), Kris Cinkovich (Idaho), Alan Hensell (Buffalo), Kasey Dunn (Oklahoma State), De'Rail Sims (James Madison), Everett Todd (Grambling), Brandon Shelby (Indiana), Kevin Cosgrove (New Mexico), Travis Niekamp (Montana), Brent Grablachoff (Kicking World), Adam Conway (Dordt College) and a chalk war between California high school coaches Jason Bornn (offense) versus Jim Benkert (defense).
At 7, 2016 FootballScoop Wide Receivers Coach of the Year Todd Fitch (Louisiana Tech) and 2015 FootballScoop Defensive Coordinator of the Year winnerDon Brown (Michigan) will give coordinator talks, while position-specific buzz sessions will be held by Kyle McKenna (Brooklyn Tech High School), Saga Tuitele (New Mexico), Luke Schleusner (South Dakota State), Keith Nichol (Washington State), Bryan Applewhite (Colorado State), Tom Sims (Pittsburgh), Troy Reffett (North Texas), Ben Barton (San Diego), Maurice Linguist (Mississippi State), Drew Watson (Newberry College), Cedric Oglesby (Cedric Ogelsby Kicking Academy) and Mark Asanovich (Minnetonka High School).
Sunday night:Weather.com has provided an exclusive forecast to FootballScoop that projects lows in the 20's by Sunday night so dress accordingly. Monday is a stellar day at the AFCA, don't run too late Sunday night.
Monday morning: High school, junior college and international sessions begin at the crack of dawn AFCA time -- 8 a.m. -- while the always informative graduate assistant/career forum begins at 9. Do yourself a favor and plan on arriving by 8:30. This year's panel will be staffed by Clay Helton (USC), FootballScoop Division III Coordinator of the Year finalist Brandon Staley (John Carroll and now Chattanooga), Nick Fulton (Colorado Mines), Brian Johnson (Houston) and Bobby Wilder (Old Dominion). It'll be moderated by the always entertaining and informative Van Malone (SMU).
Monday afternoon: General sessions begin at 1:30 -- plan to get there early -- with an address from Berry and a message titled "What is your legacy?" by anti-sexual assault speaker Brenda Tracy. That will lead into a session titled "In Transition" led by Berry, Gus Malzahn (Auburn) and David Cutcliffe (Duke). Justin Fuente (Virginia Tech) follows at 3 and Craig Bohl (Wyoming) closes down the general session at 4.
Monday evening:As you exit Bohl's talk, the annual FootballScoop party roars from 5-7 p.m. at Fuse Sports Bar in the Gaylord (Opryland).
The beverages will be frosty (and on us & our good friends and sponsors), some good food and plenty of camaraderie. Come join us as we celebrate this year’s Coaches of the Year sponsored by ProGrass.
Alabama & Clemson kickoff at 7:30 local time. Fuse will be a good spot for the game but the AFCA is also hosting a "Tailgate" party beginning at 7 boasting free food & two beers per attendee plus the ability to watch the games on 4 big screens. Several groups of coaches are getting together in various locations to watch the game together. Find a group and have some fun while watching the big game.
Tuesday morning:Breakout sessions get rolling at 8 with John Stiegelmeier (South Dakota State) and Drew Cronic (Furman), and Gabe Infante (St. Joseph's Prep) and Andy Ryland of USA Football leading a session on shoulder tackling. The NCAA's Dr. Brian Hainline will lead a discussion titled "The Value of Medical Care and Medical Autonomy" with panelists Derek Mason and Tom Bossung of Vanderbilt. At 9, Ronnie Huckeba (Harding) and Tom Arth (Chattanooga) will lead breakout sessions, while Jay Paterno will hold a talk titled "Crisis Management: You Better Have a Game Plan." Should be interesting. At 10, Tony DeMatteo (Somers High School) will lead a session titled "Power of Influence," while two panel discussions will take place: "On Discipline and Accountability" will be led by Farrier with panelists Mark Dantonio (Michigan State), Leslie Satchell (Satchell & Associates), Linguist and Glenn Caruso (St. Thomas), and "Football Operations Without an FBS-Sized Budget" featuring Jed Stugart (Lindenwood), freshly-minted NAIA national champion Doug Coate (Saint Francis), Rob Smith (Humboldt State) and Tony Kunczewski (Berry College) with moderation from Jeff McMartin (Central College).
Tuesday afternoon:Day two of general sessions begin at 1:50 -- again, get there early -- with an introduction from Berry followed by 50-minute talks from Mike MacIntyre (Colorado), Mike Gundy (Oklahoma State) and P.J. Fleck (Western Michigan).
Tuesday evening:The AFCA has changed things up this year, going with a new event in the slot previously reserved for the Coach of the Year dinner. This year will be the first live broadcast of the AFCA Awards Show. This free event is open to all attendees. Doors open at or before 7pm and close around 7:30... with TV broadcast at 8pm on CBS Sports Network. Our understanding is nearly 100 FBS head coaches are scheduled to attend.
Wednesday morning: The final set of buzz sessions run from 8-10 a.m., with FootballScoop Offensive Line Coach of the Year finalist Ashley Ingram (Navy), Vic Koenning (Troy) and Mark Tommerdahl (California) talking offense, defense and special teams, respectively, and Bob DeBesse (New Mexico), the entire Ohio defensive staff and Neil Herman (Buffalo State College) following in the next hour. After that, it's time to to say goodbye to the colleagues you won't see again until next year (or over the next couple weeks on the recruiting trail) and hit the road.
Restaurant recommendations to come...
See you in Nashville.