Throughout the offseason, GoMocs.com is checking in with all 12 Chattanooga Mocs head coaches to see what goes on during the summer months with each program. Today we visit with two-time Southern Conference Coach of the Year Russ Huesman.
Coach Huesman is about to enter his sixth season at his alma mater and is coming off the program’s first SoCon title since 1984. The Mocs return 15 starters from last year’s squad that went 8-4 overall, 6-2 in SoCon action.
We are less than two weeks away from the start of camp and preseason accolades have been pouring in at both the team and individual levels. Continue reading to see how summer workouts are going, what coach does to relax in the offseason and how he feels about the preseason recognition.
You have been a proponent of allowing more interaction between coaches and student-athletes in the summer. Now that the rules are allowing eight hours of work (conditioning, lifting or meetings) in the summer, what are your thoughts on how things are going to this point?
“I think our guys are working hard. We have a good, blue-collar group that comes to work every day. I feel like we are improving over the summer. Having access to them has been great because we get to see it ourselves. We get to work with them a little and meet with them some. I think that’s helped. I think it has helped the freshmen and redshirt freshmen in guiding them.
“It’s pretty similar to what you can do in winter conditioning. We can be out with them eight hours per week. We can be out there for any conditioning, but like in offseason conditioning, you can’t have a sled, a ball and you can’t put them in formations.
“If you went out there and watched us in winter conditioning before spring practice, you’d see something very similar to that. We’ve made the decision that we’re going to meet twice a week for 40 minutes and get that part of it in. They rest is devoted to conditioning and lifting.”
How do you re-charge and relax during the offseason?
“I like to play golf. Golf takes my mind off football more than anything. If I am with my family, my mind doesn’t get off football. Obviously, I love being with my family, but I think I concentrate more when I play golf. I don’t think about it at all, but I think about it when I am in the backyard throwing a ball with Levi.
“I love to go watch him play baseball and love watching my kids in athletics, but that is still a scenario where you still think about what I need to get done through football. Golf is the only thing that keeps me from thinking about football.”
Speaking of baseball, you played here in college, do you still follow the game?
“I like baseball a lot. I am a big-time Cincinnati Reds fan. I don’t pay much attention to any other teams out there. Levi loves playing baseball. I enjoy watching him play, and I like watching baseball on television, but I love the Reds and following them.”
When in the summer does it kick back in and you really start getting ready for camp?
“This is not a stressful job 365 days a year. I think there’s a period in there from July 29 until the season is over, that is when the stress comes in. After the season is over is when you can recruit, and you kind of get a new lease on life. When that is done, then it’s time to start preparing for spring practice. You begin sharing ideas with other staffs and continue to learn your craft. Then after spring practice, you get a little time in the summer to relax. I’d say last week and this week is a little ratcheted-up because it’s starting to feel like football season.”
What are your thoughts of the new additions to the Southern Conference?
“I think it’s very cool to get VMI back. They were in the SoCon while I was here and I remember playing in Lexington. I know how hard it is to play there. It’s kind of like playing at The Citadel. I think they bring something to the table as far as coming back and playing a part.
“I think Mercer is a great addition. Obviously they are building a program right now, but I think they have a chance to be a very strong FCS team that can compete like the Woffords and the Furmans. I think Bobby Lamb is doing it the right way over there.
I think bringing those two in is great, but the potential for a big rivalry with ETSU is great for Chattanooga in all sports. It’s something that’s going to be unique, and I don’t know that football has had a rival. We haven’t had that one rival that you hate, the one you talk about. Hopefully it’s going to be East Tennessee, and I hope they feel the same way about us. It’s just a natural rivalry, and it hasn’t felt like there’s been that kind of connection in a while. I can imagine ETSU and Chattanooga being intense.”
What are your thoughts on all of the preseason recognition the team is receiving?
“The only meaning with the preseason polls is that you have a decent team. That’s probably all it means. They rank you 10th, 12th, 14th, but that probably means you had a decent year before and you have a decent team coming back. That means nothing other than you are probably decent.
“I enjoy the recognition for the student-athletes more than most coaches do because I love for our guys to get recognized. They work hard and these are ways they can be recognized other than a coach telling them they are doing a great job.
“I think it’s important that guys get recognized for the hard work they do and things they’ve done. But you also have to prove it and step up. You have to work to earn any accolades you get in the preseason. Obviously, the postseason awards are earned, but I think it’s good for the program. Any time you see a name and Chattanooga beside it in a poll or watch list, I think it is great for the team and the program. But I am especially happy for the guys because they deserve it.”