Saturday, July 16, 2016

So How Will Ferrum Finish This Year?

I was asked this the other day by a friend of mine, and had to honestly answer, I really do not know
It's a new time, and based on some comments I have received, there is an underlying optimism. For me, I look at some of the following when trying to predict how they will finish. 

Returning players/starters coming back

This is an important factor, and speaks directly to returning experience. While there are certain players, you feel sure you can count on, no coach will really know who is coming back until the start of camp. Immediately, I would look for Montel Lee, Troy Helton, Harvey Taylor, Matt Baker, and Jayson Shurland just to name a few. There should be many more, and with what looks like a solid incoming freshman class, I am feeling good about a core group on the field this year.

Conference and Non Conference Opponents

While Ferrum had some bright spots last year, none came against non conference opponents. As they face the same non conference slate this year, its not hard to imagine similar results. I do think that there will be improvement, and a non conference win is possible. Look for the first game, with a new coach, against his former team, to produce a high level of excitement.
If Ferrum can win one of the non conference games, look for the season to hold promise.
Within the conference, Ferrum will be in the some level, but its hard to tell how they will fare. Having given up more than 55 points in 4 games last year, the defense will have to be a priority,
but looking across the conference, there are several new coaches, and Ferrum could have reason to look forward to the conference schedule.
Ferrum had three losses of less than ten points. (Averett, LaGrange, and North Carolina Wesleyan)
So with that in mind, there again is reason for optimism.

Offensive and Defensive Schemes

As a believer that defense wins championships, I am certain that the Ferrum defensive approach of 2015 will be re-worked this the very least there will be some serious tweaking.
On offense, there has already been a change at offensive coordinator when Luke Summers was promoted after Joel Gordon accepted a job at Iowa State. In either case, I am just not sure what to expect, but I do think Ferrum will be a better team.

So I don't really have an answer to the question How will Ferrum finish this year? Anything is possible......but I want to know what you think would be an acceptable finish this season? There is a new poll question on the sidebar, so please leave your input.

Go Panthers!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Get Ready, We Are Getting Close to Kickoff

As it has been well over two months since my last blog post, I return with many "new" things to write about....and while this has been an unacceptable delay on posting, It's time to once again get the ball rolling, so here I go!

Tyler Comes Home

Tyler Brubaker '13, has returned to Ferrum as an assistant coach on Rob Grande's staff. Bru' who had spent the last two seasons as an assistant at Averett, returned to Ferrum when Luke Summers was promoted from assistant coach to Offensive Coordinator after Joel Gordon left to accept a job at Iowa State.

photo by Gary Holden

                       Tyler Brubaker gets up to make a great catch at North Carolina Wesleyan

While wearing the Black Hat, Brubaker was a force to be reckoned with-
While his primary role was receiver, Brubaker was not just a talented receiver, but filled other roles  also. In his Senior year, Brubaker ran for 444 yards with 5 touchdowns, caught 31 passes for 418 yards and 3 touchdowns, had 302 yards in kickoff returns, and 166 yards in punt returns. Lastly, Tyler made 6 pass attempts that year, completed three, and one of those was for a 31 yard touchdown......In 2011, and 2010, Brubaker was 1 of 1 passing in each year, both for touchdowns.  Overall, he was 5 of 8 passing with 3 touchdowns......Not bad at all. Welcome Back Bru'

Ferrum Hosts Camp For Area Players

For the first time in my recent memory, Ferrum College held a youth football camp. This camp was for sixth graders to rising Seniors, and focused on many fundamental principles of the game. Below is a link to a video highlighting the camp.

Ferrum Football Camp

Recruits Continue To Roll In

From what I can tell, Coach Grande and his staff are having a strong recruiting season. I have posted some recruit successes in a previous post, but below are even  more recent recruits.

Bryce Casey: QB Isle of Wight Academy
Andrew Comer: Lineman, Tazwell High School
Jordan Patti: OL Staunton River High School
Mikey Walker: OL Staunton River High School
Madison Dunn: WR/SS Wilkes Central High School

USA South Media Day

This year, the conference media day will be August 1st, and will be hosted by Huntingdon College in Montgomery Alabama. This will be the first time hosting this event by Huntingdon, and this will be the prelude to the beginning of fall camps all around the conference.

Media Day will allow all of the coaches a chance to give an overview of their upcoming season, and will feature the unveiling of the coaches poll. I will, as is my custom, reveal my predictions the day prior to Media Day. This season, there will be three new head coaches in the conference:

Rob Grande-Ferrum
Keven Williams- Methodist (Interim Head Coach)
Greg Crum- Greensboro

On A Personal Note.....

I want to say a huge thank you for all of the comments of support I have received since my prostate cancer diagnosis back in February. I went through a great deal of research trying to choose which treatment would be best for me, and I began treatments on March 28th, and finished them on May 24th. I recently went back for my first follow up visit, and the doctors were very pleased with what they saw. My PSA score has dropped significantly, and while it is not where they want it to be yet (and they did not expect it to be), it is heading in the right direction. Everything seems very positive.
Thank you again for all of the kind words of support.

I am looking forward to this season, and planning on attending several games. It has been a struggle to keep the blog posts coming as not only do I work two jobs, but I have had, as I have mentioned before, a myriad of computer problems. Well, I finally decided that it was time to get a new computer, and it should be a huge help in keeping the blog posts more timely.

Get ready to come out and support the Panthers. I think you will see a lot of good things out of Ferrum this year, and I cant wait for September 3rd......I'll be there. 

Go Panthers!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Article Reveals What Fans Can Expect This Fall

Below is an article from the Roanoke Times covering Spring Practice at Ferrum.

Roanoke Times Article

Busy Off Season for Panthers Staff

While this time of year keeps coaches busy recruiting, there is more than that going on at Ferrum. The Panthers have a football camp scheduled June 20-22 for 6th thru 12th graders. This is the first camp of this type offered at Ferrum in recent memory, and will be overseen not only by the Ferrum coaching staff and some players, but will also have assistance from high school coaches and coaches from other colleges. This is an excellent opportunity to acquaint area students with Ferrum football.

The camp will be preceded by a football coaches clinic this month. This one day clinic will be April 15th. Click link for more information.

Information on Coaches Clinic

Other news out of Ferrum is that the times are set for the 2016 schedule. Note: Homecoming will be a 4 PM start....plenty of time for tailgating! Click link below for full schedule:

2016 Ferrum College Football Schedule

As mentioned earlier, this is a busy time for recruiting at Ferrum. It would appear that there have been some major successes in this area. Here is some information that has been forwarded to me.

Waldron Recruit
Beck Recruit
Vitale Recruit
Glenvar H.S. Recruits
Sydnor Recruit
Simmons Recruit

These are likely just a few of the recruits that have committed to Ferrum. If there are others out there, feel free to email me at Please put "Recruit" in the subject line.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

All Quiet on the Western (Franklin County) Front

Its tough to know how things are going in the off season for Ferrum. While there is not a lot of news, there is some:

On March 1st, the Ferrum Athletics Department held a football open house. This no doubt was designed to introduce the new coaching staff, and facilities to the local community, the press, alumni, and fans. While I do not have any information about the event, I think this was a needed, and a very important move. Ferrum needs to re energize the community and re-engage the Franklin County fan base. I was not able to attend, but if there was an opportunity to attend another one this summer (hint hint) I would make every effort to be there.

The installation of lights has begun at Adams Stadium. This likely means Ferrum will host the first ever home night football game this season. This will be a great chance for Ferrum to really promote something special. This should include fireworks, tee-shirts,  and a panoramic picture (for sale) of the stadium under the lights. How about a concert afterwards?This also should be promoted, if they play at home at least once, at a Franklin County High School game. Wouldn't it be nice to have a sell out at Adams Stadium?? It's never happened, but this should be a goal for the season opener.

Don't have much info. on recruiting, but did find this in a comment sent from a reader. (See link below) Look for more recruiting news as as it becomes available.

New Ferrum recruit

Finally, I want to thank everyone for the well wishes I have received. I very much appreciate all of your kind words. I am feeling great, and treatments will begin very soon.

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Lessons of Life Through Football

It has been said many times that football teaches great life lessons. The sport has been put forth by many coaches as the best way to draw meaningful analogies between the successes and failures on the field and those that we will see as we go through our lives.

Life is not always easy, and neither is football. Yesterdays 50th Super Bowl between the Carolina Panthers, and the Denver Broncos serves as a great example of lessons in life. One team that was riding high with only one loss and a quarterback that the day before had been named the league MVP, had to play against a team that had the best defense in the league, but whose quarterback was likely in his last game. Peyton Manning was 39 years old, and yesterday became the oldest quarterback to ever start in a Super Bowl.

There have been better Super Bowls, but there was something about this one that was different. I had told several people before the game that I thought Carolina would win by 20. My brother (a retired football coach)reminded me that Denver was not about to roll over and play dead for Carolina. Boy was he right. Denver played within their capabilities on offense, and played lights out on defense, thoroughly frustrating Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. A game that I thought had a very predictable outcome became anything but predictable, and showed me that when a team works together, anything can be accomplished.

Like in a football game, there are many times in life  that you don't know what is coming next. There are sometimes pleasant surprises, and sometimes unpleasant surprises. Whether in football or life, it's how you deal with each that helps you move forward.

For me personally, I have never played football....not organized anyway. I have always been a fan, and was an equipment manager in both high school and college. In addition to this, my father was a coach, so I have had ample exposure to the sport. During this exposure it has always been the aspect of how football helps to form the athlete as a person that I have found most fascinating.

The coach develops a game plan based on the opponent, and  puts the best players on the field to execute their role to help ensure the teams success. As the game goes on the opposition will make adjustments, and present a different challenge to the team for which the coach will need to adjust etc., etc., etc.,

For me, I have received a new challenge in life. This past Tuesday, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and am currently working  with doctors to develop a treatment plan.
The word cancer for most people, me included, is quite scary to hear. The good news is that there have been huge advancements in the treatment of prostate cancer, and mine is considered very treatable. It will likely involve radiation therapy, but there at this point, are far more questions than answers. I will listen to the doctors (coaches), and do my best to help in the execution of the best game plan possible to win this battle.

How will all of this affect me? I am not sure. I have two jobs that keep me very busy, so I worry about how physically taxing this may be on me. I will do my best to maintain the blog with Ferrum updates, but I cannot guarantee how often I will post. I appreciate your reading the blog, and ask for your patience as it will take a back seat for a while.

My plan is right now however to be at the Emory and Henry game, and see the Panthers be just as victorious in their battle as I will be in mine.

Go Panthers!

An Update From the Last Post

After writing the post regarding the release of the 2016 schedule, I had the good fortune to speak with Gary Holden, and have learned the following. At this time, the dates, locations, and opponents themselves are set and correct. The times, and home game designations are still not totally set. The designations are an easy fix, but the times are going to be more dependent on when the lights are installed and how Coach Grande wanted to proceed. Gary expressed certainty that they would be installed well ahead of the start of the fact, the transformers are in place.

In other news, Ferrum has added yet another assistant football coach. Coach Richan Gaskins. Coach Gaskins bio can be seen through the link below. The addition of coach Gaskins adds one overall position to the coaching staff, giving Ferrum a total of 8 coaches.

Coach Richan Gaskins Bio

Monday, February 1, 2016

New Schedule Released

Ferrum has posted their 2016 football schedule, and at first glance, it looks very much like the 2015 fact exactly like it. The opponents are all the same, and the order that they are played is the same, but the good news is that Ferrum will play all of their home games at home....well with the exception of one. On September 17th,  Ferrum will play Hampden-Sydney at Salem Stadium for a 1p.m. contest.

As has become the custom, Ferrum will open against the Wasps of Emory and Henry at Adams Stadium. This game will have particular significance as it will pit Coach Grande against his former team. While this will make for good stories in the press, Ferrum has recently struggled against ODAC teams, but I believe that the Panthers are working towards being competitive on that level.

The schedule had several things about it that caught me off guard:

>No date is designated as homecoming

>Many TBD game times for away games (Not all that unusual this early)

>Their are no other game designations like Franklin County Appreciation Day, or First Responders

Day. These have been tags assigned to home games in the past.

The schedule had one other thing that left me scratching my head. All games are scheduled at 1p.m.
Usually Homecoming has started at 2p.m., and the fact that all games are scheduled at 1p.m., leads me to wonder  What about night games? The field upgrades were supposed to include lights. I am guessing that this particular upgrade has not happened. I am curious as to what to expect regarding this.

Nonetheless, Ferrum is hopefully on the right track toward returning the program to a level of respectability. I, as much as anyone want to see the Panthers turn things around. What would be a success for the first year under a new head coach?  I would hope for the following:

Winning one non conference game, and picking up three to four conference wins. This would make me very optimistic about the future. I do not expect Ferrum to win the USA South, but I am definitely hoping to see improvement over last year.

Restore the Roar

Go Panthers!

2016 Ferrum Panthers Football Schedule

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Two More Coaches to Join Football Staff

Ferrum fans can expect the formal announcement from Ferrum athletics of the addition of two new coaches to the Panther staff.  Joel Gordon of Shepherd University will be the new Offensive Coordinator and Quarterback coach, and Luke Summers of Muskingham University will be the new OL coach.  Please see Bio's below:

Joel Gordon

Thursday, January 7, 2016

As Expected, Doss joins Ferrum Staff

Today, Ferrum made it official that Marshall Doss, former Assistant Head Coach at Emory and Henry, has been named defensive coordinator for the Panthers. This will fill the position formerly held by Bryan Zyglocke. Presently, Zyglocke is still listed on the Ferrum staff as an assistant coach.

See Link Below:

Doss named to Ferrum staff

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Another Addition to the Coaching Staff is reporting that Marshall Doss will be the new defensive coordinator at Ferrum. Doss was an associate head coach at Emory and Henry. Please see link below for Bio:

Marshall Doss Bio

First Take: Strong Move....Very Strong

I was in bed when my cell phone chimed. It was just after 10 pm on Tuesday December 15th....I almost ignored it. I am glad I didn't. A parent of a Ferrum player had gotten the word that Ferrum was about to have its seventh head football coach in the programs history, and messaged me. Rob Grande, Associate Head Coach at Emory and Henry was to be announced as the next head coach of Ferrum football.
I knew nothing about this hire, but have learned the following:
He was a Defensive Coordinator. This was obviously  important in the search. He was the head of recruiting for the Wasps, and this too is an important qualifier. A source very familiar with the Emory and Henry program indicated to me that this is a great move for Ferrum.
While the coach has many things on his plate, emphasis for coach Grande I am sure will be to meet with the players, and assistant coaches, and then the ball will be rolling. With winter break in full swing, one would think that there may be very  little news as to which assistant coaches stay or go, but already there are three openings on the sideline. OC Chris Bache took a job at FCS school Stony Brook as an offensive line coach. Coach Patrick Hill has left the staff, and Coach Dave Keeny has also moved on. Time will tell if more changes are coming. While there is still much to do, I am seeing nothing but positive comments about Coach Grande. From all indications, Ferrum has made an excellent choice.
There are many questions to be answered, and time will answer them all. Questions like what type of offense will the Panthers run? Will they run a 4-3, or a 3-4 defense, and who will the new assistant coaches be? This will all become clear as time goes on. While all of these questions are important in transforming the program, I also want to highlight other things that I believe will go a long way in returning the Ferrum football program to prominence. Below is part of a post from June 5th 2014. It gives an overview of what I think Ferrum needs to address to produce a high caliber program:

In the last article, I referred to pieces of the puzzle as they apply building a winning football program. The question has come up, just what are these pieces of the puzzle?
This list could vary from person to person. There is no set answer, but I will list what, in my mind would be very important elements in building a winning program.

In no particular order-

Quality Coaching Staff
Institutional Support
Community Support
Sports Marketing
Sports Medicine Staff
Strength Speed and Conditioning Dept.
Quality Recruiting Program
Alumni Interaction and Engagement

This list, now 18 months old, was not posted to be critical of the college, but rather to show how far Ferrum has come in its commitment to athletics. While Ferrum is making progress in many of these areas, I think the one area that needs the most attention is Sports Marketing (Sports Information) Gary Holden, Sports Information Director for Ferrum is doing an unbelievable job in his role. The passion that he brings to his job is unparalleled, and the results he produces are of the highest quality. Gary however is just one man, with only two arms and two legs, and is only able to be in one place at one time. While he is assisted by many students, and coaches on campus, the growth of Ferrum athletics has made it necessary, in my opinion, to expand the office of Sports information.
While Ferrum is not a D1 program like an Alabama or Notre Dame, it needs to be treated as such. The facilities are first class at Ferrum, and the story of the evolution of sports on campus and the facilities is an amazing journey, but to get the word out so that the public is aware takes a huge amount of time.
Ferrum currently has 21 varsity sports and two club sports. In 1991-92, there were 12 varsity sports and two club sports. At that time Ferrum had one full time position in the office of sports information.
Spring ahead 24 years to today, and Ferrum has increased its intercollegiate offerings by 9 additional sports, and yet, Ferrum still has only one full time position in the sports information office.
A quick tour around the internet reveals the following about schools and their sports information staff:

Mount Union University: 21 sports and 3 SID staff
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater: 20 sports- 2 SID staff
College of William and Mary: 21 sports-7 Media Relations Staff
Hampden- Sydney College: 9 sports and 2 SID staff (Men's Only College)
Averett University:13 Sports-3 SID staff
Methodist University: 20 Sports-2 SID Staff
Huntingdon College: 15 Sports- 2 SID Staff
North Carolina Wesleyan College: 12 Sports- 1 SID Staff
LaGrange College: 16 Sports- 1 SID Staff
Greensboro College: 18 Sports- 1 SID Staff
Maryville College: 15 Sports- 2 SID Staff
Emory and Henry: 16 Sports- 1 SID Staff
Notre Dame University: 21 Sports- 12 Media Relations Staff
Virginia Tech: 18 Sports-  9 Communications Staff
UVA: 23 Sports-11 Media Relations Staff

(Numbers above based on information found on each schools website. It is believed to be accurate, but in some cases it was difficult to interpret the departmental roles.)

In the list above, it is easy to say that this list mixes apples and oranges. That some of the large DI programs should not be compared to a DIII school. Yes the budgets are vastly different, but the sports are the same or mostly the same, the programs each crave the best student athletes available, the best coaching staffs, a dedicated fan base, and above all they all want to be successful.
Ferrum is no different in what they want, but the ability to achieve this is greatly affected by the sports information department. There is no doubt that public schools vs. private schools have a huge gap in available funding, but rest assured that even the public schools have to justify the positions for approval. While Ferrum will never have 12 SID staff on the payroll, one or two more cannot be a huge stretch. I hope this can be looked into. It is every bit as important as the facilities upgrade we have seen over the last 15 years.