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AD Hardy Sees ‘Potential’ in Donovan Rose’s Second Season as Hampton Head Coach
Donovan Rose is convinced Hampton University’s football program took steps forward in his second season as head coach.
“Those teams that did beat us know that we’re closing the gap,” said Rose, whose Pirates improved to 6-5 and 5-3 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference after going 5-6 and 3-5, respectively, last season. “We definitely got better.”
HU athletic director Lonza Hardy agrees, if in slightly different language.
“We saw some progress in the program,” Hardy said. “We had a very good start, a 5-1 start. It kind of slowed in the second half of the season. We did see glimpses of the potential that we have in this football program.”
The Pirates lost their opener 33-0 to FBS opponent Central Michigan before winning five in a row to surge into first place in the conference, fueling hopes for their first MEAC title since 2006. But four consecutive losses, including setbacks against playoff participants South Carolina State and Bethune-Cookman, followed before Hampton salvaged a winning season by beating Morgan State 21-16 on Saturday.
“Without a doubt, the goal wasn’t to be 6-5,” Rose said. “The goal was to win as many as we possibly can and be in position to be in the championship hunt. We got a taste of it.”
Rose’s attention turns now to recruiting, to the locker room renovations to be finished by spring, and to a team that will return both starting quarterback David Legree and leading rusher Antwon Chisholm, the MEAC rookie of the year after rushing for 607 yards and four touchdowns.
The coach, at the end of his original two-year contract, also waits to learn his fate.
Hardy said the HU administration will conduct end-of-season evaluations of all fall sports, beginning after Thanksgiving. There’s no timetable to complete them, he said, but the process won’t take an “extraordinary long period of time.”
“After we get those done and coaches get their evaluations in, we’ll sit down and discuss those and see where we are and where we need to go,” Hardy said.
Rose is Hampton’s third head coach since current Florida A&M coach Joe Taylor resigned in December 2007 after 17 seasons. Jerry Holmes went 6-5 in his one season as head coach in 2008 before Rose, an 18-year HU assistant, took over the next year.
“Of course, for any program to ultimately be successful, you always have to have stability in the program,” Hardy said. “It’s one of the things that we’ll be looking at, seeing whether or not everything is in place now to help the stability. That will be the one of the things we try to make a determination on.”
Rose thinks his teams have made progress in that area on and off the field.
“With Coach Taylor, and then you had Coach Holmes and myself, and you had different coordinators and different this and different that,” he said. ” … Once upon a time, before I was the head coach, it was kind of crazy. It was a lot of conflict and people doing their own thing and what have you, and you can’t have that. … Having a structured program – when you get all that straight, then football, that’s the easy part.”
Rose plans to soon start pouring over season stats and the copious notes he took in meetings and practice to assess each assistant coach’s performance, the same way he knows his own is being evaluated.
“I’ve been here for 20 years. I don’t ever look over my shoulder,” Rose said. ” … I feel – I don’t know what anybody else feels – but I feel that I’m going in the right direction.”
By Melinda Waldrop, Daily Press