One last hurrah?
Most Tulane assistants to coach Liberty Bowl
Posted: Friday December 18, 1998 11:03 PM
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Tulane begins practice for the Liberty Bowl on Wednesday and a spokesman for the university said most of former coach Tommy Bowden's assistants will stick with new head coach Chris Scelfo through that December 31 game.
Scelfo, most recently the assistant head coach at Georgia, was named Tulane's head football coach on Monday. The announcement shocked both players and assistants who had expected offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez to replace Bowden after Bowden accepted the head coaching job at Clemson.
"All the coaches have committed to stay except Coach Rodriguez," sports information director Scott Strickland said on Tuesday. "We haven't gotten word from him yet."
Rodriguez was offensive coordinator during Bowden's two-season stint at Tulane. He helped turn the lowly program into a winner that went 11-0 this season, won the Conference USA title and wound up ranked No. 10 in the country.
"A lot of people thought that Coach Rodriguez was a shoo-in for the job," wide receiver Kerwin Cook said. "The news that he didn't get it disappointed a lot of people."
Rodriguez was also shocked by the announcement, saying he arrived at the school Monday morning thinking he would be introduced as the new coach. He said Monday he was not sure if he would be able to coach in the Liberty Bowl game, although he would like to.
On Tuesday Rodriguez was scheduled to visit Clemson where Bowden had offered him a position earlier. Rodriguez also learned on Tuesday that he was not chosen as the Middle Tennessee State coach. The Blue Raiders picked Baylor linebackers coach Andy McCollum, who started his coaching career at Middle Tennessee State.
"We felt real bad about coach Rod not getting the job," receiver JuJuan Dawson said on Tuesday. "I hope he will be here for the Liberty Bowl at least. He's been the engine that made our offense run. He's been that important."
Meanwhile, Bowden was reportedly taking at least two of his assistants from Tulane to Clemson.
Ron West and Burton Burns said Monday they have accepted offers to join Bowden's staff, The (Columbia) State reported Tuesday.
"I always wanted to come back and be the line coach at Clemson. It's something that's special to me," said West, who played at Clemson in 1977 and 1978 before coaching Tulane's offensive line.
West, Burns and Tulane defensive line coach Thielen Smith toured the Clemson campus and community Sunday. Burns, who coached Green Wave running backs for four seasons, said he would reserve comment until Bowden announced his staff picks.
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