Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
MU grid candidate has swift reversal in mind
MU grid candidate has swift reversal in mind
David Taynor wants the job of returning Millersville University to football prominence.
Fast, in a word, is his plan: Talk fast, think fast, practice fast and play fast.
To demonstrate, Taynor pulled two people out of a small gathering at MU's Student Memorial Center Tuesday morning, one flanked to his left, the other to his right.
On Taynor's instruction, one flashed four fingers of his left hand, the other, two fingers of his right. Or maybe it was the other way around.
Taynor was counting off seconds to himself, asking us to be the defense, and to process a small fraction of everything a defense must, pre-snap. He was asking us to do it in 20 seconds, because that's all the time Taynor wants to allow between snaps.
"Usually I have a stopwatch when I do this,'' he said.
He uses a "shot-clock,'' in practice, to force the relentless tempo.
"I want to be running the fastest offense in the Philadelphia area,'' Taynor said. "Yes, I am challenging Mr. Chip.''
Meaning Kelly, of the Eagles.
There's a way to go before, and if, Taynor gets the chance. The head coach at Urbana (Ohio) University, he's one of six finalists to replace Greg Colby at the head of Millersville's struggling program.
The others: University of North Dakota offensive coordinator Greg Breitbach (whose forum was Monday); East Stroudsburg defensive coordinator Robert Forgrave (Wednesday); Shippensburg assistant Robert Morgan (4:15-5:15 p.m. Thursday); Delaware Valley head coach James Clements (10-11 a.m. Friday) and Ohio Northern defensive coordinator Adam Gonzaga (1-2 p.m. Monday).
(Yes, Forgrave is the former Hempfield and Penn Manor coach.)
All six are getting the chance to state their case this week, and not just to the administration, hiring committee and players. Each candidate is holding an "open forum,'' in the SMC, with anyone and everyone invited.
"There are a number of constituencies that are very interested in the process,'' athletic director Peg Kauffman said Wednesday. "It's an opportunity for folks to meet the candidates.''
It's also an opportunity to ask questions, and fill out a MU-provided form evaluating each candidate.
MU football was a power under late coach Dr. Gene Carpenter, who went 212-89 and reached the NCAA playoffs six times from 1970-2000.
But 2000 was the last winning season, and the Marauders have won just 11 of their last 55 games. Colby resigned last month to become defensive line coach at Illinois. Ron Rankin, an assistant under Colby, is the interim head coach.
There were 60 applicants to replace Colby.
Things seem to be changing a bit, in terms of athletics at Millersville.
Outgoing President Dr. Francine McNairy was replaced by Dr. John M. Anderson in November 2012. McNairy was perceived to place a relatively low priority on athletics.
Athletics at MU are overseen, administratively, by Dr. Aminta Breaux, Vice President of Student Affairs, hired in 2008.
Although Breaux took much of the heat for the dropping of the men's track and field program last spring, she is seen as football-friendly.
"Dr. Breaux has been very, very supportive,'' Rich Barbacane of the Dr. Gene A. Carpenter Football Foundation, said Wednesday.
"She attends all our events, and even plays in our golf outing.''
Barbacane said when Colby resigned, Breaux contacted the Carpenter Foundation, a booster group that helps fund the program. Members met with Breaux and Kauffman.
"We talked about the qualities we think are important in a coach, and she has kept us informed through the process.''
A six-person hiring committee, including women's basketball coach Mark Flieg and baseball coach Jon Shehan, will recommend three unranked finalists to Breaux this week.
She will make the call. The plan is to have the coach in place fast, ideally by April 6.
That's the first day of spring practice.
There were only about 15 people in the room for Taynor Tuesday, probably because of the time, early in the school day. Two players were there.
"I like what he said,'' one of them, sophomore running back Mark Damirgian, said afterward. "He was confident in what he was selling.''
Damirgian said he just wants the program to be competitive.
"I think we need a new philosophy, a change in outlook,'' he said. "We need leadership, guys to get on other guys' backs, but in a good way.''
Without being asked, Taynor addressed the gorilla in the room: Can MU win in football, in a strong Division II league, while ranking near the bottom of that league in scholarship money for athletes?
NCAA Division II schools are allowed to give 35 football scholarship equivalencies. Within the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, California is giving the maximum. The three private schools in the PSAC, Mercyhurst, Gannon and C.W. Post, are all over 30.
According to the latest (2011) information in the federal government's Equity in Athletics Database, MU gave 4.94, lowest in the conference. The current figure, according to sources, is 6.75.
"Shippensburg went 11-2 last year, and they're at 6-point-something,'' Taynor said. "The number of scholarships can't be an excuse.
"We're going to win with the kids we have here now. At the same time, if Cal has 35, we've got to work ourselves to that point.''
The use of the word "we,'' here is theoretical, of course.
nDavid Taynor, one of six final contenders to succeed Greg Colby, says less scholarship money 'can't be an excuse' for failure.