Went to the Signing Day Celebration last night at the Don James center. The place was packed - definitely a great buzz around the program still. Coaches were mingling with the crowd prior to the event during the silent auction phase, saw quite a few former players - Andre Riley, Elliott Silvers, Marques Tuiasosopo, Hugh Millen off the top of my head. Coach Lambo and Coach Baird were there as well.
While the event itself - the coaches discussing their players, watching the video highlights - was fine (I'd love to hear coaches say "Well, the kid's OK if he works at it - really we're just taking a flier on him and hope he does something"), the really interesting thing is just watching and listening to the coaches themselves. If seeing these guys in person doesn't get you fired up, there's no hope for you.
Sark really has that "it" factor. He's got a sense of humor, but he's also got a grit that a guy like Neuheisel will never project. He's clearly a fierce competitor. Really impressive face for the program. I was amused to see him call out Softy Mahler at one point for texting on his phone while Sark was on stage speaking, laughing at how he reminded him of his players.
Holt is a character as we all know. The guy has intensity, but also a good sense of humor.
Nansen is clearly a key guy for recruiting. Intense, relentless. He makes a great face for us in interfacing with the Poly community, and as long as he's on staff we should do very well in Hawai'i. Had a great story about him and Sark during a home visit in the islands getting talked into getting out of their nice clothes and going for a swim with a recruit, and then trying to figure out where to change back and present themselves for their next home visit...
Martin is another key recruiting guy, someone that can really relate to the kids he's recruiting. Got the energy level of the room up by leading some chants before talking about his CB recruit. He's clearly a key guy for us in recruiting SoCal.
Cozetto was funnier than I'd expected. He's salty and pretty clearly amused by the characters around him on this staff. He had some funny lines for Coach Lambo, reminiscing about the days he was with Cal back in '91.
Cox is another funny character - he was joking about getting duped by the rest of the staff on how to dress for events in the past, showing up in casual clothes while everyone else was dressed up. So last night he wore a blazer, shirt and tie and commented how only he, Sark and Daugherty were wearing ties, saying Sark had to as the head coach and Daugherty was just trying to impress his girlfriend he'd flown in for the event.
Daugherty is another guy like Martin that can obviously really relate to the kids he's recruiting, and he has just the right amount of cockiness to him.
Nussmeier projects well, and I can easily see him running his own program at some point.
Mills has some swagger to him and was clearly excited about landing Parker.
Thomas is another guy that got the crowd fired up, and I can see where he'd be an intense guy to have coaching you, but in a good way.
Some interesting tidbits:
- Sark thinks if us fans do our part with noise in the stadium, we can go undefeated at home next year;
- Sark singled out UCLA as a team he really wants to beat, though he didn't elaborate his reasons why (though he made it clear he had his reasons).
- Holt said of Potoae, "If we don't screw up as coaches, this kid will be in the NFL in 3 years"
- Sark said one of the things he sold Locker on is the thought of standing on the 50 yard line of the Rose Bowl after beating Michigan
- Sark reiterated he doesn't think it will "take long" before the program is again competing for Rose Bowls and National Championships
- Nansen said they already have 35 offers out to kids in the 2011 class