Editor suggests Head Coach options

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Jordan Larimore, associate editor

Jordan Larimore

 

With Bart Tatum’s “resignation” this week, Southern is left without a football coach. The University has not named any preliminary candidates, but based on some rumors, rumblings, and what I think the team could use, I’m prepared to unveil my top five candidates for the next Head Coach of the Lions football team.

 

DARYL DAYE

 

The top candidate, in my mind, to take over for Tatum is one of his former assistant coaches. Daye served as the Lions’ defensive coordinator, linebackers and special teams coach from 2006-09. Daye has 24 years of collegiate coaching experience and has been serving as an Assistant to the Head Coach for the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League for the last two years. From 1999-20003, Daye was the Head Coach at Nicholls State. Southern’s defense was absolutely punishing under Daye. For the first time in school history, the Lions led the conference in defense in 2007. Daye is still in his role with the Bills. So the question with this candidate is not whether he would be qualified, or whether the current players on the roster would welcome him. More than one player has expressed, mostly via Facebook and Twitter,  that they’d support his return to the Lions. One tweet used the hashtag ‘#BringBackCoachDaye.’

The problem with this candidate is luring him away from his cozy job in Buffalo. Many men would see going from an NFL Assistant to the Head Coach job to a Division-II Head Coach as a major demotion, and it would likely take more money than Southern has available for the job to lure him back to Joplin. So, let’s explore some options. 

 

JOHN RODERIQUE

 

My No. 2 candidate is one who won five of 11 Missouri Class Four High School State Championships in the last decade and is in the running for the school’s sixth title since 2000 this season. He obviously is no stranger to success, and the local support from such a hire could reinvigorate the community and be just the shot in the arm Lions football needs. His gig isn’t the NFL, and becoming the next Head Coach at Southern would likely be a promotion for him, but in the words of another one of my favorite coaches, “there’s nothing wrong with being a successful high school football coach.” Roderique likely knows that, and I wonder if he’d want to leave the dynasty he’s created at Webb for the program rebuilding Southern would be putting him in charge of. 

 

ERIC DRISKELL

 

A semi-local product, Driskell is the Head Coach at Blue Valley High School in Stilwell, Kan. The Tigers are currently marching their way through the playoffs in Kansas. He was named the Head Coach of Blue Valley in February of 2010 and has continued the program as the powerhouse that had been built there during his time as offensive line coach there. Driskell’s teams specialize in defense, and his Tigers have gone 10-1 thus far in 2011 and have allowed only 94 points in their 10 wins.

Southern’s athletic department prefers someone with some NCAA coaching experience, but Driskell is a good enough football mind that if he’ll come, Southern should welcome him with open arms.

 

JIM FRAZIER

 

Now, this one is obviously mostly a joke, but believe me, I’ve been barking up this tree since Monday’s announcement. A member of the Joplin Area Sports Hall of Fame for his accomplishments as Head Coach of the football team at Missouri Southern, Frazier won the first, and last, National Championship at Southern in 1972. Frazier has been in semi-retirement for the last couple years, serving as the Director of the Joplin Sports Authority. Imagine the support from the community if the best coach Southern has ever seen were to return. And, as he likes to say, he is the only undefeated soccer coach in the history of the University.

 

ROD SMITH

 

Easily the biggest name to come out of Southern, and maybe Joplin, imagine being a top Division-II recruit and having Rod Smith come into your house telling you you could do what he did at Southern. It’d suddenly become a much more fair fight against Pittsburg State when recruits go and see Carnie Smith Stadium nowadays and throw on crimson and gold as quickly as they can. Having a team led by a future NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver would surely bring in some incredible recruiting power. Not to mention the PR the athletic department would get out of it. He’s old enough to have the experience to do it, and still young enough that he could be a long-term fix. The problem with Smith is money. Lord knows he’s got a pretty substantial bank statement. How much would it take to lure Smith back to his alma mater? Hopefully not more than is in the budget.