Capitals

New rule expands opportunities for young coaches

201211031534560437042-p2.jpeg

New rule expands opportunities for young coaches

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) When longtime special teams coordinator Joe DeForest left to take charge of West Virginia's defense, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy took advantage of a new NCAA rule to help replace him.

Gundy brought in graduate assistant Ty Linder from Texas Tech and gave him oversight of the Cowboys' punts, kickoffs and field goals. It was a move made possible by a new NCAA rule that allows football programs to have four graduate assistants - instead of just two - starting this season.

Linder, an ex-linebacker for the Red Raiders, had worked with tight ends and special teams for four years at his alma mater before Gundy picked him to come to Stillwater. He had to wait in limbo for a few months until the rule took effect in August, in time for training camp.

``I knew we were going to need some help,'' Gundy said.

Oklahoma State also hired safeties coach Van Malone from Tulsa to fill DeForest's duties, keeping the number of allowed assistant coaches at nine.

Gundy ended up giving Linder a good deal of responsibility, along with some help. Another graduate assistant, Andrew Thacker, assists with the punt team preparations. Running backs coach Jemal Singleton aids with kickoff return plans, and Gundy works with the kickoff unit.

``He's not handling the workload like Joe did, but he's taking the lead on most of it and I've been involved in it a little bit more. I wasn't involved in the Kansas State game, but I was involved in the other ones,'' Gundy said, joking, after Kansas State got a 100-yard kickoff return TD from Tyler Lockett last week.

The Big East proposed the new GA rule as a way to provide additional opportunities for those with coaching aspirations, including minorities. As the title implies, GAs must be pursuing a postgraduate degree. The positions are intended for people who have finished school, or their athletic eligibility, within the previous seven years.

``More than anything, it allows you to bring them along as coaches, so there's a bigger pool when opportunities come for guys that are prepared for other jobs,'' said Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, who started his career as a GA at Iowa. ``It also just allows you to have more people, whether it's working with scout teams or hands-on with your players. The thing is, we deal with a lot of players. It just helps getting more eyes and people in their ears.''

Oklahoma State's GAs have been high-profile this season. Beyond Linder, Jermial Ashley was pushed into a bigger role when defensive coordinator Bill Young had to miss two weeks early this season because of medical issues.

At Oklahoma, Stoops used the two extra spots to add a pair of former Sooners who'd played in the NFL: tight end Joe Jon Finley and All-American cornerback Derrick Strait.

``It's a big step, getting my foot in the door,'' said Strait, who started his new job in the spring. ``And what better place to start than at OU? All in all, it's a positive thing for me getting my coaching career started.''

While Strait said he's able to pass along tips from his playing career, he's learning as much as the players. He works with defensive coordinator Mike Stoops and linebackers coach Tim Kish, trying to understand that position better. He also has some more menial tasks: preparing folders, hunting down information for his bosses, cutting up film - ``small things that people don't pay attention to,'' he said.

But this is about opportunity, not celebrity.

Bob Stoops remembers painting houses every summer just to make ends meet. He's convinced now that Barry Alvarez, Kirk Ferentz, Bernie Wyatt and others on the Iowa coaching staff didn't really need the work done, but let him do it because he needed the money. Oftentimes, Stoops would have to borrow $100 from Wyatt and pay him back on payday.

Jerry Emig, the athletic spokesman at Ohio State, said the Buckeyes' GAs get a stipend for lodging and meals, and they can participate in the university's health insurance plan, in addition to having their tuition covered.

``You've got to pay your dues before you get to that level,'' Strait said.

Linder won't exactly get the chance to match wits with the man he helped replaced when West Virginia visits Oklahoma State on Saturday. DeForest left to become the Mountaineers' defensive coordinator, in part because it could expand his resume in hopes of becoming a head coach one day.

In DeForest's 11 years at Oklahoma State, his special teams were considered among the best in the nation - with Dan Bailey winning the Lou Groza Award as the nation's top kicker and Matt Fodge getting the Ray Guy Award for top punter.

``Joe's very good. His special teams' organizational skills for being a coordinator were excellent and his years of experience are excellent,'' Gundy said. ``We have a young guy doing it that I think's an up and rising special teams coordinator at some point in his career.

``But we can't take a 27-year-old and all of a sudden make him as effective as a 47-year-old. ... He has to learn on the run.''

---

AP Sports Writer Rusty Miller contributed to this report from Columbus, Ohio.

Quick Links

Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal

capture_jerabek.png
USA TODAY Sports

Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal

Defenseman Jakub Jerabek is really happy about the opportunity to play with the Washington Capitals, but it could have come at a better time. The trade came with his parents already on their way from the Czech Republic to visit him.

“It was crazy days past three days because I had my parents on the way to Montreal and they didn't know so it was a big surprise for them,” Jerabek told reporters Saturday after his first skate with the team.

A native of the Czech Republic, Jerabek signed his first NHL contract with the Montreal Canadiens in May 2017. After spending some time in the AHL and struggling to consistently earn a spot in the Canadiens’ lineup, he knew a trade was possible.

“My family, maybe we expected some trade. When its come with Caps and it was Washington, I was really happy.”

RELATED: TRADE DEADLINE STORY TIME WITH ALAN MAY

Jerabek said he came into the NHL with no expectations and was simply happy for the opportunity, but it is fair to wonder if he was not just the least bit frustrated with how he was utilized by Montreal.

For a player with experience playing for the national team, the Czech league and the KHL, getting only 25 games with a bad Montreal team seems a bit low.

“In first two weeks, I didn't know what's going on because the coaches just told me that I played well, but we just make some competition between the [defensemen] and that I have to wait for my next chance,” Jerabek said. “It was hard, but now I'm happy down here.”

Washington now offers a very different opportunity. In need of help on the blue line, Jeraebek has the chance to earn consistent playing time for a team on pace to reach the postseason.

Jerabek will not play in Saturday’s game against Buffalo, but he was hopeful he would be in the lineup for Monday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

MORE CAPITALS: IS IT TIME FOR GRUBAUER TO START IN PLACE OF HOLTBY?

For now, Jerabek and head coach Barry Trotz are unclear as to what his ultimate role on the team will be. With eight defensemen now on the roster, Trotz cautioned any lineup decision could not be rushed because of the trickle-down effect it will have on the other players.

“You always look at chemistry and all that with your group depending how high that player goes up the lineup, it affects different people,” Trotz said. “In a forward group, if you get a guy that you all of a sudden stick on the first line, there's four other guys that are bumped down and one guy's bumped out.”

The addition of Jerabek, however, offers the Caps another defenseman who can quickly move the puck out of the defensive zone, something the team has struggled with immensely throughout the season. Though he shoots left, he also said he is comfortable playing on the right said and has played there regularly over the past few years. That provides the lineup with some flexibility on the third pair behind Matt Niskanen and John Carlson.

As for Jerabek’s parents, they will be arriving in Washington on Saturday.

“I tried to figure out the situation with them to get them to here and they will come today,” he said. “So I'm really happy.”

Quick Links

Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

usatsi_9095555.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.

Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.

PODCAST: WIZARDS MAKE A FREE AGENT SIGNING

The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message. 

"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."

The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.

RELATED: DURANT MAKES HUGE DONATION TO PG COUNTY SCHOOLS

Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.

Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.

Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one. 

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS