© December 17, 2014
Latrell Scott’s first official act as Norfolk State’s football coach was an apology of sorts.
After accepting a green Spartans cap from athletic director Marty Miller to kick off an on-campus news conference Tuesday morning, Scott stepped behind a podium and flashed a sheepish smile.
“Well,” he said, “if anybody sees my grandmother, please don’t tell her I had a hat on in the building.”
The crack drew laughs from an audience of media members, school administrators and supporters who gathered in a conference room to welcome Scott to NSU from Virginia State, where he compiled a 19-4 overall record and a 15-0 CIAA mark in two seasons.
But the line also offered a glimpse of what Miller and NSU interim president Eddie Moore saw in Scott, who was introduced just over three weeks after Pete Adrian retired.
“Based upon the things that I’ve discovered about this young man, he’s the ideal leader for our football program,” Miller said.
Scott is a former head coach at Richmond and a former assistant at James Madison, Virginia, Tennessee, VMI and Western Carolina. He runs a West Coast-style offense that he believes will play well in the defense-first MEAC.
Scott’s Virginia State team went 10-3 overall and 7-0 in the CIAA this past season, finishing third in the league in scoring at 29.8 points per game.
NSU, which had one of the nation’s top FCS defenses, went 4-8 and was among the lowest-scoring teams in the country, averaging 11.7 points per game.
“I think the system that we run, it’s entertaining,” Scott said, employing an adjective not recently associated with NSU’s old-school offense.
“It’s worked for us to this point. I don’t want to change it; I just want to tweak it a little bit to make it fit what we have.”
NSU quarterback Malik Stokes was recruited by Scott at both Tennessee and Virginia State.
He remembers Scott’s youth, energy and charisma, adding that he’s excited that the coach will mix things up when the Spartans have the ball.
“As an offense, we need a spark,” said Stokes, a transfer from Bowling Green who will be a senior next season. “We need some new energy and just the opportunity to kind of reinvent ourselves as an offense and get back to the basics, and we need to put points on the board.”
Scott said his first priority is to hire “the best staff possible.” He did not say whether he plans to retain any of the assistants who worked under Adrian.
The hire ended an unusually quiet search that began when Adrian, a 46-year veteran of coaching, announced his retirement Nov. 24 with a year left on his contract. He had been NSU’s coach for 10 seasons.
Since then, Miller had declined to discuss the hiring process with the media. The school’s only public statement on the position came Monday, when it announced it would introduce a new coach the following day.
The job was not posted, according to Miller, who said he and Moore, a former Virginia State president, acted as a two-man search committee. They alone reviewed the 20 to 30 resumes they received, including a few that arrived before Adrian stepped down.
Miller said the president exercised his authority to appoint Scott.
Miller defended his silence during the search.
“I just feel that we wanted to use our process, and I don’t think it’s written anywhere that we have to publicize every step that we take,” he said. “We just wanted to make sure that we were doing things right, and we had time enough to actually look at our process and think about the candidates.”
Scott said he has begun the process of moving his wife, Brandi, and their son Chase, who turns 1 today, to Hampton Roads. He plans to spend the coming days getting to know his players before turning his attention to recruiting. He said he’ll recruit locally first, then regionally and nationally.
As some members of Tuesday’s audience urged him on with the school’s rallying cry, “Behold the green and gold,” Scott laid out his plans in his new job.
“I have a very simple philosophy: I like to try to do things the right way,” he said. “I’m tough, but I’m fair. And we care about every kid in our program. My goal at the end of a young man’s time playing for us is to make sure that he’s better at 22 than he was at 18. And if we haven’t accomplished that, then we’re not doing exactly what we need to do.”
David Hall, 757-446-2367, firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter @DavidHallVP
Photo: Bill Tiernan/Virginia Pilot