Coach Joey Jones Show Recap 2009-01-14

January 14, 2009 · Filed Under Football, Joey Jones Radio Show · Comment 

Joey Jones, Lee Shirvanian, Haven Fields and Daniel McCarthy were all at Wing’s Sports Grill in Mobile today for the Joey Jones Show. Most of the episode was dedicated to recruiting talk since we are in the home stretch before national signing day.

This weekend is a recruiting weekend at the University of South Alabama. About 13 prospects and their families are coming to tour campus and what Mobile has to offer. Most are verbally committed but there are some in the group who are not committed. They wil lbe housing them at the Battlehouse Hotel in downtown Mobile and will take them to a coupld good restaurants to eat, including Wing’s for lunch one day. While they are at USA they will have a chance to meet with some of the academia at USA. What the staff wants is for the recruits to leave USA and not have any unanswered questions.

USA is actively recruiting about 50 students heavily in order to fill their 30 scholarship alotment for the 2009 signing period. When asked, Coach Jones said that there are about 20 more students that are sort of on the fence. In the case of oversigning, one option is a gray shirt. A gray shirt is when a scholarship is held for them the next signing season and they agree not to enroll into school until that next spring. So, a 2009 recruit would hold off from enrolling at USA in the fall of 2009 and would enroll the spring of 2010. He would still get a scholarship and would then count against the 2010 scholarship alotment.

Haven Fields is the assistant athletic director for football, he was hired by athletic director Joe Gottfried. He was a former linebacker for Auburn from 1996-1999. He was associate director of athletic development at Auburn University before coming to the University of South Alabama. He works for the football program on the school side to work out things so Coach Jones and his staff’s day-to-day life is much easier and so they can focus on working with the student athletes and prepare for gameday.

Keith Ayers, in the Office of Public Relations for USA, stopped by for a few minutes to talk about a couple things. First he wanted to let the listeners know about the schools plans for national signing day on February 4th. At 4pm in the Mitchell Center they will announce the schools first signing class and they will have some video to show to everyone in attendance. This will be a historic moment for the University and the football program. Free T-shirts, autographs and much more will be available.

The second thing Mr. Ayers wanted to let everyone know is that ticket sales have been ramping up and wanted to urge everyone to call 461-1USA to get their season tickets before they are all gone.  The third and final thing is that tomorrow evening the USA Men’s Basketball team will host Troy and it will be K-12 appreciation night so kids in K-12 will get free admission and the first 1,000 will get free USA Football T-shirts as well. This is all tomorrow night at the Mitchell Center.

Daniel McCarthy’s former team in Richmond just won a national championship for Division I-AA football. Lee Shirvanian asked if a playoff would work in Division I-A since it seems to work fine in Division I-AA.  Mr. McCarthy said that going through it with his former team was probably the most exciting thing he has ever gone through. Just like every game in the Division I-A regular season is like a playoff game, every game in the Division I-AA is also like a playoff game as well because there are only a limited number of spots available in the playoff for schools to get in.

Mr. McCarthy is the compliance officer for USA, so he is the go-to guy on questions about proper and improper conduct by the staff on recruiting visits. Coach Jones says that when recruiting, “Its pretty much just use your common sense.” But he and the staff do sit down with Daniel from time to time in order to ask him questions, not to try to find a loophole, but to make sure everything is done within the rules set forth by the NCAA.

Mr. McCarthy said he would like to see football recruiting treated more like the other sports in college and have it opened up somewhat. Other sports are much more open than football so the kids get to know the coaches much better and he thinks this would help cut down the number of transfers by students to other schools. This will help players choose the right school and program for them and would allow the school of find good players that fit well in their program.

When asked about how they educate their student athletes about rules, both Mr. McCarthy and Coach Jones responded that they have meetings to go over what is acceptable and what is unacceptable. The caller who asked the question mentioned the Andre Smith situation with the University of Alabama before the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. Mr. McCarthy said that it has gotten to the point where agents have to be approved by the NFL and in some states they have to be approved and licensed by the state legislature to operate in that state. Sometimes they employ a back door runner, someone who might want to get into the agent market or whatever, to work their way into befriending student athletes to steer them to their ’employer’. It can start out innocently by giving them a few dollars then it can easily escalate to more and eventually becoming an NCAA violation. The staff and everyone involved work hard to make sure nothing like this happens.

It was mentioned in the show that Coach Jones is working hard trying to find the right person to fill the offensive coordinator position left vacant when Les Koenning left for Mississippi State recently. Lee Shirvanian made light that if people knew who has been contacted, interviewed or even were interested in the position, we would be amazed. But one person who was interviewed by Coach Jones for the position was former Hoover High School head coach Rush Probst. However, since his interview he has since let Coach Jones know that he is uninterested in leaving his position at Colquitt County High School, at least that is what he has told the local newspaper. We will see what transpires over the next few days.

So come out and support your Jaguars tonight as the Women take on Troy and tomorrow night when the Men host Troy both in the Mitchell Center.

GO JAGS!

Joey Jones Show Recap 2008-12-10

December 10, 2008 · Filed Under Football, Joey Jones Radio Show, Uncategorized · Comment 

Coach Jones joined the program over the phone since he was just across the state line from Auburn in Columbus Georgia for recruiting. He left out early this morning and will return late tonight. Also Travis Toth joined Lee Shirvanian at Wings Sports Grill, he is the marketing director at USA.

First off Lee wanted to bring everyone up to date on recruiting. Coach Jones said that they are at the point where they can be more specific about what they are looking for such as defensive linemen, linebackers, getting another quarterback or so and they would be looking pretty well. They seem to be set with offensive linemen, running backs and wide receivers for now.

It was brought up that a letter was sent out by the SEC and SBC clarifying an NCAA rule that they had been back and forth on for some time now. The rule maybe was a bit fuzzy so they ruled that coaches could not attend the game or practice of the Alabama – Mississippi All-Star Game coming up soon. Even though they are in a contact period with recruits they cannot go to these events. A lot of good players have played in this game and it’s a huge honor for any high school player to be selected to play in this game.

When asked about the challenges the coaches have when it comes to preparing for this game coach Jones answered that the key was offense. Defensive schemes are easier to prepare and get the kids ready for, but offense is a huge key to get prepared. They will be bringing together kids that play in a multitude of different offensive schemes. Some may have played in the Wing-T, Veer, or Spread offenses so bringing them together and creating a cohesive offense that they can run together is a huge task. The key is to keep it simple so they can learn, understand and execute it over the course of a four day period.

The holidays is coming up and Travis Toth talked about an ad they are running in the Mobile Press-Register as gifts for that sports loving fan this holiday season. They have a choice of two sideline tickets ($75 for the season) or two endzone ($48 for the season). It will come with a certificate for the tickets and a USA Football T-Shirt. So if you know a USA sports fan, this would be a great holiday gift for them to open on Christmas day.

Coach Jones said they have set dates for spring football practice and when I talked to one of the team members last night he told me that it will start February 18th. So after the holidays, they will jump right back into the grind to get ready for South Alabama Football in the fall. When asked about something like an A-Day game, similar to what Alabama and Auburn have in the spring, coach Jones said that they would have something special for the last day of spring practice. He did not indicate if it would be a full on A-Day game like experience or if it would be a more low-key scrimmage but something will be planned and we will know about it on his radio show for certain.

Daniel McCarthy has been hired as directory of compliance so he will be working closely with the football program to make sure everything is done by the book and no rules are broken accidentally. The rule talked about earlier with the All-Star game was mentioned again and he expects that it may be changed in the future. Kids may be recognized at the game who may not have received a scholarship otherwise which is a huge benefit to the kids.

Recruiting trips will continue through December 20th and then they will pick back up on or around January 4th, Coach Jones could not remember the exact date since he was on the road recruiting. USA will be able to sign up to 30 kids in February but they could receive more than those in verbal commitments. Some may not qualify academically, but they are talking to a lot of interested kids that have good grades so that may not be a concern come signing time.

Lee Shirvanian then asked Coach Jones what his first roster could look like. Jones responded that they could have anywhere from 50-60 on scholarship this fall and about 20 of those would be Junior College transfers and the rest walk-ons. He expects them to be 120-130 players by the time they start next summer preparing for the fall schedule. He started recruiting Junior College kids fairly close to home but they are now recruiting them from Texas, California and other places to find the best players they can to fill the positions they need. So far this year, 17 kids have been signed to scholarships and they have 13 more they can sign this calendar year. They have been working on some and can announce them around the December 17th deadline hopefully.

Lee brought up an interesting thing, why don’t Junior Colleges in Alabama play football? Coach Jones and others agreed it would be great for kids in our state. The economy and money are probably the biggest factors.

Coach Jones is not close to releasing the schedule yet for next year. Many of the coaches he is talking to for contracts have been in the midst of their season so negotiations have been put on the back burner for the last few weeks. They will be getting back into that soon. Currently, even the players do not know who they may be playing and I know at least one of them is quite eager to know.

Going back to the rules talk, Lee Shirvanian stated that lately he has not hear much about football rules violations. Mr. McCarthy said that rules compliance for football is much harder than for basketball. Basketball has maybe from 7-10 players they have to monitor. Football they could have 120-130 as Coach Jones indicated on their roster, that they have to monitor and make sure no rules are being breached. Its really a whole team effort to get this done. USA has a group of faculty volunteers that help advise these players when they come to see the school and it really helps that they can talk to faculty from their potential chosen majors too.

When asked about the sports dorms that the NCAA has gotten rid of, Coach Jones was outspoken about them. He likes the sports dorms for players so they are held responsible and are kept out of potentially bad situations. When he was a player at Alabama he knew that there were people there watching out for them. Kids are going to be kids, nothing has changed since he was in college. They do not need babysitting but they can sometimes use a big brother as a mentor.

Lee asked Coach Jones about how soon USA could have a senior in the Senior Bowl, which is held each year in Mobile, Alabama. Coach Jones was very optimistic and enthusiastic stating that it could be in the next few years. They are really bringing in good, talented players that could be selected. Its also a good recruiting tool to say that the Senior Bowl is located in Mobile and that they will definitely be looking at USA for potential players.

Travis Toth then mentioned that USA will be hosting our basketball rival, Western Kentucky on Thursday, December 18th and we need everyone we can get into the Mitchell Center to help kick off the Conference season with a big win over the Hilltoppers. They have been playing well and so has USA. So come out and join us for the game!