As you may have read in the last blog, I talked to Campbell coach Dale Steele Thursday morning. (One benefit of covering FCS, generally speaking, is accessibility. Steele called me, we talked for a little bit, then I apologized and told him Georgia State was coming off the practice field, and could I call him back. We arranged a time and I called then and finished the interview. Something tells me that wouldn’t fly with, say, Bobby Petrino.) Anyway, a few pearls from Steele and then I’ve got to start packing for Buies Creek.
1. Campbell is 1-2, winning the opener over Virginia-Wise by scoring a touchdown with 8 seconds to go, then losing badly to Old Dominion, then losing to Davidson by giving up 14 fourth-quarter points to lose 28-27. He said he likes that the players have been resilient and feels like the team is still new (starting in 2008). Campbell hasn’t had nearly the number of transfers that Georgia State has had, and almost half of the roster is true and redshirt freshmen.
Transfers “are able to tell the younger kids, ‘This is an experience that I had at Auburn or Georgia Tech or Alabama.’ We didn’t have that luxury. Our kids had to learn what college football was all about from the (coaching) staff and just the experience,” Steele said.
2. Campbell recruits against schools like Furman, William & Mary and Elon, he said, but mostly those schools’ lower-rung kids that they’re not offering full scholarships to. (While Campbell doesn’t offer scholarships for football, he said most kids are on academic aid.) He said they’ve begun recruiting metro Atlanta, particularly private schools.
3. His take on Georgia State: “They’re a well-coached football team. They’re going through the growing pains of pulling everything together.”
Players he was impressed by: defensive tackle Christo Bilukidi, linebacker Louie Muasau (I’d say it’s quite possible he mistook him for his brother Jake) and both quarterbacks, Drew Little and Kelton Hill. “Their offensive line has made good strides very quickly. I think that’s a group that has several transfers. You can see that they’re starting to come together.”
4. On having jobs at 13 different schools (over 32 years): “It’s something that certainly has been a challenge but it’s something that, when I got into coaching many years ago, it was not uncommon. … Each one of them was a good experience for me and my family.”
5. Steele has crossed paths with Bill Curry previously. He was on the staff at Tulane from 1980-1982, when the Green Wave played Georgia Tech (and Curry was head coach). Curry also broadcasted a game that Steele coached in for Baylor played Boston College in 1999, which, by the way, strikes me as a really weird matchup.
He was also Georgia Tech’s recruiting for about a month in 1992. After helping East Carolina win the 1991 Peach Bowl – the final football game ever played at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, by the way – he came with Bill Lewis to Georgia Tech. However, a colleague was named Lewis’ replacement at East Carolina and Steele went back to join his staff.
Lewis, you may remember, had a very forgettable tenure at Tech, leading to George O’Leary’s hiring.
6. Lastly, for those going to the game, Steele recommends Howard’s Barbecue, which is in nearby Lillington.