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Pough changes in coaching staff reflect new priorities for SCSU
Returning faces, familiar names at new positions and a “Bird” sighting.
The makeup of the 2013 South Carolina State football team will have all of these characteristics. As promised following the Bulldogs’ first losing season in 12 years, head coach Buddy Pough has indeed made change a priority in retooling his coaching staff.
“We knew that we’d have a good bit of change from last year’s team and last year’s staff,” he said. “The margin of error is so thin in college football from sometimes success to lack of success until you do whatever you can to gain any advantage you can.”
Pough’s newest hire is Steve Bird, who will now serve as wide receivers coach and special teams coordinator. A former Kodak All-American wide receiver and two-time Division I-AA national champion at Eastern Kentucky (where he was inducted into its athletics Hall of Fame in 2010) and NFL draft pick of the then-St. Louis (now Arizona) Cardinals, Bird has more than 25 years of coaching experience with assistant stints at his alma mater, Kentucky, Pittsburgh, Tulane, Tennessee, Middle Tennessee State, Kent State, West Virginia and Bowling Green.
Bird’s most recent college job was at South Florida, where he worked under head coach Skip Holtz. Among the future NFL wide receivers Bird has mentored over the years were Anthony Dorsett, O.J. Santiago, John Jenkins and the late Chris Henry.
Bird will take over the receiving corps duties from Lee Chambers, who will now serve as running backs coach. He replaces Danny Lewis, who was moved to quarterbacks coach in place of the departed Kevin Magouirk and will surrender his special teams responsibilities to Bird.
The biggest change on offense was announced in April with the rehiring of offensive line coach and offensive coordinator Joseph Blackwell after a four-year absence. In replacing Jared Powers, Blackwell looks to rebuild an offensive line that under his previous leadership produced four consecutive Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Offensive Linemen of the Year winners and an NFL Draft selection (Johnny Culbreath).
Nygel Pearson, who shared the offensive line duties with Powers last season, will remain with the tight ends. The defensive staff remains intact with defensive coordinator Mike Adams, defensive line coaches David Blanchard and Gerald Harrison, defensive backs coach Joel Taylor and secondary assistant Chris Cook.
Adams and Taylor will also continue to work with punting and kick returns on special teams.
Another old face brought back to the fold was strength and conditioning coach John Williams. His training during the 2008 and 2009 seasons was seen as vital to S.C. State’s run of conference championships and Football Championship Subdivision playoff appearances and takes over for Trumain Carroll.
Pough’s new staff will get its first meeting with the players when they report to preseason camp Aug. 2 and hold the first team practice at 9:10 a.m.
By THOMAS GRANT JR., The Times and Democrat