Stump Mitchell meets the press

The first day of spring practice is over for the Southern football team. Stump Mitchell was there, from start to finish. If he’s staying there on a permanent basis? Well, that’s a little more difficult to decipher.

Wednesday night, Mitchell briefly answered questions from reporters for the first time since news spread of his interview with the St. Louis Rams this week. Here’s a transcript of what he said:

On the first spring practice:
“It was awesome. It’s been a while since we lost that Bayou Classic. This is our third season. We went out and got the players that we think we need to go with the guys we had our first two years. We’re excited about it. It was an awesome day.”

Your name has been in the headlines a lot this week, with a possible move to the NFL. Where does that stand, or can you flat-out tell us that you’re here at Southern, and that’s where you’re going to stay?
“Yeah. I’m only going to answer questions regarding me being here at Southern. This was Day 1 of 15 (spring practice sessions). We’ve got 14 more to go. I’m excited about them. We’ll be here Friday at 10 o’clock to practice. We’ll be back out here Saturday at 10 o’clock to practice.”

You’ll be here for the other 14 days?

Your third season (at Southern). What are your goals this year to continue to build up that win total?
“Hey, it’s got to be huge. No question about that. We’ve got to win a lot of games. I mean a lot of games, and I understand that, and that’s what I was brought here to do: to help the APR, to help enrollment, to help put people in the seats. We haven’t quite done that, but hopefully, this will be the year.”

You said you’ll be here for the next 14 (practices). But will you be here Sept. 1, 2012?
“No, I won’t be here. I’ll be in Albuquerque.”

NOTE: Albuquerque, N.M., is the site of Southern’s season opener, at the University of New Mexico.

Did you have to address (your situation) with your players, maybe just to put them at ease?
“I don’t have to put these guys at ease. They understand what the business is all about. If they don’t … do well in their classes, they won’t be on the football team. It’s that plain and simple. This is a business. These guys, they know what football is all about. They know what coaches are all about. But their job is to come here and prepare hard in the classroom and to do whatever the coach is asking them to do on the football field.”

Can you tell us about some of the assistant coaching changes?
“Yes, O’Neill (Gilbert) is not here. As you see, coach (Ricky) Diggs is not here today. There were some coaches here (today) that probably won’t be here, before it’s all said and done, but that’s the way it goes in this business.”

NOTE: Until spring practice, Mitchell had not confirmed the departures of some of his assistants from last season, including Gilbert, his defensive coordinator, and defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson. Former SU kicker and graduate assistant Breck Ackley has replaced Diggs as administrative assistant. It was similar, in some respects, to last spring, when he introduced two new assistants to the team on the first day of practice.

Is coach (Tayrone) Odums your defensive coordinator on a permanent basis?
“Yeah, he’s going to be the defensive coordinator.”

And that’s coach (Manny) Martin with the defensive backs?
“Yes, coach Manny Martin. He was coaching high school in Miami. He played at Alabama State, so he’s familiar with the SWAC, and we’ve got some guys coming in from Miami, so I wanted them to have a coach that they could relate to. Hopefully, they can relate to all of us, but to have someone from that area, I thought that would benefit those guys immensely.”

NOTE: Martin had not been introduced to the team until spring practice began.

What excites you about being here now, with three recruiting classes under your belt?
“The alumni involved this past spring and fall … going to the games and watching the needs that we have for this team in order for us to be successful. They’ve given us some leads on some players in this recruiting class, and I’m just excited about the help that they’ve given us.”

These guys, with everything going on, did you have to talk to them (about not) being distracted by everything with you?
“No. These guys know. I tell these guys about business. They know, from day to day, we all have to take care of our business, and that’s what we’re going to do. Regardless of who’s coaching who, they have to do what they have to do, and we as coaches have to do what we have to do.

“They know I’m going to do everything I possibly can to put this university and this football team in a position to win. If I think it’s better without me, then I’ll do that. If I think it’s better with me, then that’s the decision I’ll make.”

How long would you like to stay here? In the grand scheme of your career?
“Forever. Forever. … I would love to be here forever, until I’m done. Forever.”

Is there anything you can share with us about your talks with the Rams?
“I think they’ve got a great coaching staff. I think they have a great owner. It’s a great city. I started there, and you never know: I may end there. But it’s awesome.”

Is coach (Jason) Palermo moving permanently to the defensive line?
“Like I said: There’s some coaches here right not that probably might not be here. That’s just the coaching business.”

University release: Mitchell begins spring practice Wednesday

Southern University released this statement Tuesday night regarding the status of its third-year football coach, Stump Mitchell.

The statement does not quote Mitchell, who reportedly interviewed for an assistant coaching job withe St. Louis Rams on Monday. Attempts to reach Mitchell have been unsuccessful since Monday.

In full, the SU statement reads:

Mitchell, Southern set to open spring practice Wednesday
2.21.12 | Southern U. Athletic Media Relations

BATON ROUGE – Despite recent reports regarding his future at Southern University, head football coach Stump Mitchell opens 2012 spring football practice on Wednesday, the university announced.

The Jaguars begin the first of 15 scheduled practices at 4:15 p.m. tomorrow afternoon in shells before moving to full pads for the first time on Feb. 24. Southern’s spring game is scheduled for March 17.
Mitchell, who is 6-16 in two seasons at Southern, embarks on his third season as head football coach on the Baton Rouge campus and has one year remaining on a three-year contract signed in Jan. 2010.
Interim Director of Athletics Sandy Pugh said Tuesday that while it has been reported that Coach Mitchell has been interviewed for a position with the NFL’s St. Louis Rams, the University is going forward with Coach Mitchell leading players during their first day of practice.
“Stump Mitchell is head football coach at Southern University today,” she said. “There will be no other comments on the situation unless, and until, the situation changes.”
“I join the rest of the Jaguar Nation in wishing Coach Mitchell well in his third season at Southern University,” Pugh said.
The Jaguars open the 2012 season on the road at Football Bowl Subdivision member New Mexico in Albuquerque, N.M. on Sept 1.
Here is a complete look at the Jaguars spring practice schedule.
Feb. 22 – 4:15 p.m. (Shells)
Feb. 24 – 4:15 p.m. (Full Pads)
Feb. 25 – 9 a.m. (Full Pads)
Feb. 27 – 4:15 p.m. (Full Pads)
Feb. 29 – 4:15 p.m. (Full Pads)
Mar. 2 – 4:15 p.m. (Shells)
Mar. 3 – 9 a.m. (Full Pads)
Mar. 5-8 – Midterms Exams
Mar. 9 – 4:15 p.m. (Full Pads)
Mar. 10 – 9 a.m. (Full Pads)
Mar. 12 – 4:15 p.m. (Helmets)
Mar. 14 – 4:15 p.m. (Shells)
Mar. 16 – 4:15 p.m. (Full Pads)
Mar. 17 – Spring Game
Mar. 20 – 4:15 p.m. (Full Pads)
Mar. 22 – 4:15 p.m. (Full Pads)

Mitchell says he’s ‘not looking’ for another job

Southern football coach Stump Mitchell said Wednesday he is “not looking” for another job and that he is “happy” to be where he is.

Addressing questions as to whether he was considering a job offer in the NFL, Mitchell replied: “All I know is, I’m here at Southern, and that’s where I plan on being.”

Asked if he knew of anything that could alter that, Mitchell replied: “All I can say is that this is the coaching business. I don’t know if anything’s going to alter that. I’m not looking for no jobs. I know I’ve got a job, and I’m happy that I have the job here at Southern University. I mean, I have players in here. I think we can win, and again: I’m here at Southern University.”

Mitchell, a tailback and kick returner for the St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals from 1981-89, spent 11 seasons as an NFL assistant before taking his current job at Southern.

Mitchell was running backs coach under Mike Holmgren at Seattle from 1999-2007, then spent two seasons as assistant head coach and running backs coach with the Washington Redskins, serving under Jim Zorn.

He enters the third and final guaranteed year of his contract with a 6-16 overall record at Southern.

The Jaguars went 4-7 last season, losing four games by five or fewer points.

Mitchell confirmed late Monday night that the team begins spring practice next Wednesday. Players spent Monday afternoon in a team meeting to install schemes for spring drills.

“Unfortunately, things change from second to second, minute to minute, day to day,” Mitchell said Wednesday. “A lot of (coaches) that have gotten hired at other places — coordinators at D-I schools, two weeks later, they’re back in the NFL. So you just never know. You just never know. That’s the coaching profession. All I know is that I’m glad to be here today.”

Asked if he planned on being at Southern tomorrow, Mitchell replied: “What’s tomorrow? Thursday? We’ll be here at 6 o’clock in the morning, and we start spring ball Wednesday.”

Schedule set for spring football

Spring practice will begin Feb. 22 for the Southern football team, coach Stump Mitchell confirmed late Monday night.

The Jaguars will practice three times during the first week, on Feb. 22, Feb. 24 and Feb. 25.

After that, the team will follow a Monday-Wednesday-Friday-Saturday schedule, running backs coach Elvis Joseph said, with scrimmages on March 3 and March 10.

The spring game is scheduled for March 17.

Joseph said the team has tentatively scheduled its final two practice sessions for after the spring game.

In case anyone forgot, the Jaguars went 4-7 in their second season under Mitchell, losing four games by five or fewer points.

Let the fun begin.

Southern’s waiver request unheard by NCAA

Southern University received notification Friday that a waiver request submitted to allow the men’s basketball team to play in the 2012 postseason will not be heard by the NCAA.

“On behalf of the Southern men’s basketball program, I would like to express our disappointment in our waiver request failing to warrant consideration in the view of the NCAA,” interim athletic director Sandy Pugh said in a statement. “However, we continue to make every effort to ensure that the academic progress our men’s basketball program has made will continue and will encourage all athletic programs to strive to excel academically and athletically.”

Southern, which is serving a one-year postseason ban due to substandard academic performance results, requested the waiver last month at the urging of NCAA officials during the association’s winter conference held in December.

The NCAA’s annual Academic Progress Rate measures the academic performance of student athletes at all Division I institutions by tracking eligibility and retention scores. Under new rules that were adopted in October, teams must have a two-year average APR score of 930 or a four-year average of 900.

In its waiver request, Southern stated that it took several measures to address the program’s low APR scores, including hiring a new men’s basketball coach (Roman Banks) and instituting an academic tracking system. As a result, Southern’s score for the 2010-11 school year is projected to be about 954, drastically up from the 2009-10 score of 780. But that still gives Southern a two-year score of 867, well below the necessary 930 mark. (Southern’s four-year score is not known exactly, but is well below the necessary 900 benchmark.)

Southern’s waiver request also noted that the men’s basketball program achieved perfect APR eligibility and retention scores for the fall 2011 semester.

Southern’s 2012 signees

Stump Mitchell‘s third class of recruits is in.

National Signing Day is upon us, and as of Wednesday afternoon, these are Southern University’s football signees. According to the SU athletic department, these are their final answers; the list is complete.

1. Greg Pittman, K, 5-10, 170, Harvey (Helen Cox)
2. Willie Paisley, DT, 6-2, 330, Miramar, Fla. (Miramar)
3. Gabe Echols, DT, 6-1, 305 Decatur, Ga. (Southwest DeKalb)
4. Ernest Felton, DB, 5-9, 175, Miami (Jackson)
5. David Chin, RB, 6-0, 230, Miami (Norland)
6. Anthony Mosley, DE, 6-2, 260, Cairo, Ga. (Cairo)
7. Justin Morgan, QB, 5-10, 155, Pell City, Ala. (Pell City)
8. Willie Quinn, WR, 5-8, 170, Miami (Jackson)
9. Sony Sanon, CB 5-9, 170, Hialeah, Fla. (Hialeah)
10. Eric Eason, DT, 6-2, 350, Memphis, Tenn. (Whitehaven)
11. Terrell Lee, OL, 6-1, 280, Memphis, Tenn. (Whitehaven)
12. Gerard Levier, DT, 6-2, 275, Port Barre (Port Barre)
*13. Donald Phillips, DE/LB, 6-0, 240, New Orleans (Archbishop Shaw)
*14. Matthew Moody, OL, 6-3, 240, Winter Park, Fla. (Winter Park)
*15. Christopher Scruggs, DE, 6-0, 240, Jacksonville, Fla. (Ribault)
*-early enrollee

There’s no doubt about this: The program has filled areas of need. Southern was already thin on defensive tackles last season and figured to be even thinner in 2012 if it didn’t reel in a few recruits. The Jaguars also needed a kicker (anyone remember those special-teams meltdowns last season?) and a potential breakout running back (Sylvester Nzekwe will be a fifth-year senior next season, and top backup Dallas Fort, a sophomore-to-be, has 10 career rushing yards).

Scruggs, a high school teammate of SU reserve cornerback Kevin King, was an SU signee last season but didn’t make it to campus the first time around.

Also, though McKinley running back Lenard Tillery is not on the list, he said he has agreed to come to Southern on academic scholarship.

More to come. Isn’t this such a fun day?