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TheLionWire

The Dramatic Turnaround and Revial of Texas A&M-Commerce Football...and sports.

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Last November, Guy Morriss stepped to the podium at Texas A&M-Commerce's Football Facility and annoucned his immediate resignation after being blown out by Nationally ranked West Texas A&M, 45-14. Morriss has just finished his fourth, and final season at Texas A&M-Commerce. The Coach that had helped Hal Mumme and Mike Leach turn Valdosta State from puffsugar to powerhouse with the wide open attack, and had done the same at Kentucky, and was the head guy at Baylor for 4 years, helping them to raise money for new facilities, but not even he could help turn the Lions around.

 

Roughly a month later, Carlton Cooper, the athletic director at Texas A&M-Commerce "resigned" for personal reasons, despite the fact he was on paid administrative leave. Within a month, the head Football coach and Athletic Director were both gone, leaving an interim staff and a suprisingly good recruiting class that had some instability.

 

University President Dr. Daniel Jones launched a nationwide search for a new athletic director and found Ryan Ivey, a former college football player at the University of Memphis and associate AD at McNeese State University in Louisiana. Ivey was hired and was given two hard tasks, turn around an athletic program that had been killed by title 9 laws, a changing student demographic, a discouraged fanbase and alumni association and find a Football coach that could bring the Lions back to being a power in Division II's Lone Star Conference. He did not have to look very far.

 

Jones and Ivey hired Colby Carthel, the Defensive Coordiantor at West Texas A&M University and son of former WTAMU coach Don Carthel. His Father had arrived at WTAMU in circumstances similar to what he was in at the beginning of the year, and observed. Carthel said that unlike at WT, the ground work had been laid at TAMUC and with its immediate proximity to the metroplex, being not far the heart of East Texas High School Football programs, TAMUC was a "Lion just waiting to be awoken."

 

Carthel started Spring Ball with 102 players on the roster. Carthel started a Boot Camp-Style workout sessions program. Stadium stairs at 5 AM. Weights at 7 AM. Running at 9. Then came part 2, weeding out players who had no business being in college, much less playing college football on the dime of the athletic department. A good example that many have noted is a week after Carthel was hired and moved to Commerce, he was at a TAMUC Basketball game when an athlete came up to him and told him who he was, and said "Im'ma go to da league. Im that good, I just gotta get a chance." Carthel, in front of all his friends told him; "First of all, you did not introduce yourself in a proper way. You shake a hand when someone extends it to you. I am your coach right now and I will demand respct. Also, you have been here 2 years and not played a down because you have been academically ineligble and then on the scout team due to poor effort and attitude. You have a long way to go."

 

After the Boot Camp, Carthel and the staff started cutting players who were not good citizens nor good students, and benching entitiled players. Some ended up quitting and getting dropped from scholarships, riling up some student groups. Only 37 players were on roster for the Annual Blue and Gold Spring game in Commerce. Carthel was not suprised. The attrition in the program turned into a huge addition by subtraction. The days of no discipline, coddled players, and bad attitudes were over, and Carthel and Company were well on their way. However, there was one more thing that needed to be addressed. The state of the entire athletic program.

 

President Jones and AD Ivey held a meeting first with all Coaches of all of the sports at A&M Commerce. All were told the same thing. Mediocrity in their sports would not be tolerated, and they would be held accountable for the players they recruited, their behavior and grades, and that institutional control was an absolute must. Players must be going to class, producing in the classroom, giving back to the community, and graduating in a resonable time frame. If not, prepare to be held accountable. Ivey also told all of the student athletes in a meeting that past behaviors under previous coaches would not be tolerated, and that it was not a hard thing to grasp. Behave yourself. Stay out of trouble, be a good citzen, do well in the classroom, graduate, and leave Commerce better than when you arrived. That was the whole point of being a student athlete.

 

Part 2 Tommorrow...........................................

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