Meet the Staff: Mike Bloomgren

With numerous problems associated with the previous staff, including dissension among the coaches, an ongoing NCAA investigation--not to mention the terrible 3-8 record, it wasn't surprising that Dennis Franchione chose to bring in an entirely new group of assistants. But though many fans don't realize it, there was one carryover from last season: Mike Bloomgren, offensive graduate assistant. "He took a chance on a young kid," Bloomgren said. "To get on with Fran was a real coup."

"I get the question a lot," Bloomgren continued. "'You're the only person from the old coaching staff still here. Why?' And I don't know why. None of us thought we would be able to stay, but Fran gave me a chance."

Having been brought in by the previous staff to help with film break down and scouting (among other things), Bloomgren had some previous experience to offer. "I definitely tried to help out with the transition," he explained. "Even if it was just giving them my take on players and positions as to what they can do. I shared what I thought our needs were in recruiting. The athletes already knew and trusted me."

As with the other Tide graduate assistants, Bloomgren is expected to perform just like another full-time assistant on the field. Principally he works with the offensive tackles and deep snappers, but Bloomgren also helps direct the scout team offense.

Like all the graduate assistants, Bloomgren has a variety of responsibilities. "My duties are to assist the offensive staff in any way I can," he related. "And of course keep Fran happy. Whatever we think he needs, we're going to get it to him.

"During practice, I work with the offensive line and the offensive tackles in particular. I take them during group work. And I also work with the deep snappers, which was a new one on me. But I talked to people that do it in the pros and a couple of coaches. I got some great drills, and Coach North helped me a ton. He coached deep snappers for 20-something years, and he gave me some great drills. Plus, Nick Ridings is outstanding. I can't screw him up."

A native of Tallahassee, Florida, Bloomgren lettered in seven different sports through high school. Though he enjoyed basketball where he was a self-described "banger" on the inside, a football career at Division 1 Culver-Stockton (Missouri) saw him through college.

A linebacker by trade, Bloomgren naturally expected to work with the Tide defense. But Coach Fran had other plans. "My previous comfort zone was on defense," Bloomgren explained. "And I wanted to stay since it was the only thing I had ever coached. But Coach Fran is a great teacher. He was very comfortable saying, ‘Look. You're a football coach. I can teach you and Coach Helduser can teach you what you need to know.' Both have been outstanding. Moving from defense to offense has made me more versatile."

Before arriving at Alabama, Bloomgren began his collegiate coaching career as a graduate assistant for his hometown Seminoles under a man named Bobby Bowden. So he knows a little something about successful coaches. "Chuck Amato (former FSU assistant and now head coach at NCState), who I think the world of spoke incredibly highly of (Franchione)," Bloomgren said. "He thinks the world of Coach Fran.

Shown working on the Alabama track during last week's senior football camp, Bloomgren understands that an important part of his job is helping out the other assistant coaches in any way he can.

"Last year there were times when we didn't always know what was going on. But with Fran, there is no doubt who is in charge. 'Get it done.' That's the bottom line. With Fran you know what your job is. If you don't get it done, then it doesn't matter if you are Carl Torbush, Les Koenning or Mike Bloomgren--your butt is getting chewed."

And like the other graduate assistants, Bloomgren is grateful for the level of trust that Franchione shows in letting him take such an active role on the staff. "I only know one way to (coach), and I'm very thankful that Coach Fran allows me to do it that way," Bloomgren stated. "I'm a teacher, and that's what I enjoy doing. He is in control, but every head coach has to trust his staff. Of course, I think if something ever started to get away, then he'd grab it and do it himself."

Along with his other responsibilities, Bloomgren also takes an active role in recruiting, putting his Florida ties to good use in scouting high school talent. "I help with recruiting in the bottom half of Florida," he related. "This staff doesn't pay attention to national rankings. The No. 1 rated running back in the land may not be able to play dead in a cowboy movie."

Rather than taking the word of so-called recruiting gurus, the Tide coaches evaluate the old-fashioned way--by watching film and then scouting the top prospects in person. "We have a rating system that goes from 1 to 3," Bloomgren explained. "One is an offer right now, and two is a guy we're going to stay on. You watch the film to see if he can play. Then, Fran uses a three-pronged system. You've got the area coach evaluation, the position coach evaluation and the coordinator evaluation. Everybody has a system, but it's not just something he talks about. It's performed.

With strong ties to the Florida State Seminoles, Bloomgren (shown here in the Tide media suite) understands the championship expectations at Alabama.

"It's fun to evaluate kids, and the more experience you have the easier it will be to get a full-time job."

Of course building a resume' is what it's all about for Graduate Assistants. Education is wonderful (Bloomgren, who already has a Masters in Higher Education Administration is currently working on a second post-graduate degree in Sports Administration), but the ultimate goal is to get hired as a full-time coach. "I guess every GA's hope is that you do well at the place you're at--win a national championship or whatever it may take, so that one of your (assistant) coaches branches off and gets a head job," Bloomgren explained. "Then hopefully they'll think enough of you to hire you.

"I've got some good connections in this business with Mark Richt (new head coach at Georgia), Chuck Amato and others, and hopefully that will pay off. Someone from another staff may move on and create an opening on another staff--whatever it may be. Head coaches hire based on what they know. And if they know you're reliable then you've got a good shot."

For Bloomgren, the chance to work full time will inevitably come. But in the meantime, he's watching and learning from one of the best. "During team meetings, Coach Fran may turn to someone and say ‘Talk about this.' Then we'll get up and cover the subject," Bloomgren related. "Someone else may be running the meeting, but as with everything--there is no doubt who is in charge. Coach Fran does a great job of delegating responsibility, but team meetings are intense. Team meetings are focused. All attention is on him.

"And there is something about Fran."

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