Man Behind the Whistle: Part 1. Entertainment

The Man Behind the Whistle: Part 1: “Are You Not Entertained?”

As every single national article written likes to mention, Arkansas State went through a crazy coaching carousel prior to the 2014 season. Blake Anderson and his staff arrived shortly after the 2013 season ended and after the 2014 season came to a close he did something 4 other Red Wolves’ coaches before him didn’t do; he came back into the office to begin working on his second season in Jonesboro. In addition to that, he also retained his entire staff, many of which turned down serious offers from other schools across the country. Over the course of their first season at Arkansas State, it’s safe to say this staff has been as approachable a group as any staff in the country. They’ve given countless interviews breaking down the X’s and O’s of football and their mindset and approach to coaching. Red Wolves’ fans should know by now what these guys are like when the whistle blows.

Well, it’s July, a painfully slow news month for any football fan. It’s time to have some summer fun. We talked to the entire staff and decided to break down the X’s and O’s of what these coaches are like…off the field. What follows is Part 1 of a 4-part series on getting to know “The Man Behind the Whistle.” Every coach answered the same questions on different topics and I’ll just say this…get ready to unlearn what you’ve thought you’ve learned about the personalities roaming the sidelines at the Vault. Honesty can be a beautiful, and in this case, comedic experience.

Let’s get started with Part 1, which as you can see by the title, will focus on the coaches’ interests in the entertainment world. Right out of the gates, if you recognize the quote in this week’s title, then you’ll be in good company with Defensive Line Coach, Brian Early, who listed Gladiator as his favorite movie. I don’t know about you, but I’d be happy knowing that the guy coaching the beasts on the d-line is more Maximus, and less Commodus in the case of Early. Speaking of line coaches, the offensive line tends to the position group that goes unnoticed most of the time, doing their work behind the scenes. If you’re familiar with Shawshank Redemption then you that Morgan Freeman’s character, Red, did a LOT of work behind the scenes for his fellow inmates. I’m not sure if Glen Elarbee is buying his offensive linemen posters of Raquel Welch(Miss Fuzzy Britches), but the “Red” of the o-line can probably use some lessons from his favorite movie to teach about planning, preparation, and execution of that plan. If Red Wolves’ fans ever doubted that they had the right guy running the defense, look no further in figuring out his personality than knowing that his favorite movie is ‘The Outlaw Josey Wales.’ Who doesn’t want a defensive coordinator with some old school Clint Eastwood flowing through his veins? Coach Joe Cauthen has probably even considered using this quote from his favorite movie: “When things look bad and it looks like you’re not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean. I mean plumb, mad dog mean. Cause if you lose your head and you give up, then you might not ever live nor win.” Speaking of great lines from movies, if you hear one of the coaches yelling at his guys, “This is chess, it ain’t checkers!”, it is most likely Running Backs Coach, Anthony Tucker, who counts ‘Training Day’ among his favorite movies. One coach you’ll always hear if you’re at practice is Cornerbacks Coach Trooper Taylor. A great quote from his favorite movie, ‘Remember the Titans,’ “Attitude reflects leadership, captain!”, fits his personality well as there is no shortage of great attitude coming from Trooper.

Now don’t get too serious on me just yet, not every favorite movie was a serious one. In fact, Safeties Coach, Allen Johnson, went old school with ‘Coming to America.’ If you don’t think characters like Randy Watson, Reverend Brown, or the Barber Shop guys(all mostly played by Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall) are gut-busting funny, then we can’t be friends. Speaking of being friends, if you’re not ready to talk deep about learning life’s lessons through the eyes a surf God named Bodhi from the movie ‘Point Break’, then don’t expect Offensive Coordinator Walt Bell to hang out with you. Tight Ends Coach and Recruiting Coordinator, Dan Dodd’s philosophies on life might center more around the “Life is like a box of chocolates” line of thinking as he favors the musings of one “Forrest Gump.” Another great “dude” on this staff is Director of Football Operations, Jason Andrews. If you need something, this “dude abides” which makes it fitting that ‘The Big Lebowski” is his favorite movie. And of course, I wouldn’t even be involved in anything Red Wolves-related if it weren’t for ‘Wedding Crashers.’ This happens to be the favorite movie of Director of Player Personnel, Dave Roberson, Offensive Graduate Assistant, Kyle Cefalo, and the Head Coach himself, Mr. Blake Anderson. If you’re a movie buff, you better at least be able to go 4 to 5 quotes deep into ‘Wedding Crashers.’”Got that…team player?” Here’s to hoping Anderson’s crew crashes the Sun Belt Party this season and leaves other teams in the conference running for their “Don’t kill me books.”

We can’t leave the movie world without seeing what “chick flicks” this bunch of manly football coaches count on their favorites list. If you hear the oldies music playing outside of the film room you may find Coach Bell and Defensive Graduate Assistant, John Mohring, watching ‘Dirty Dancing.’ With Patrick Swayze in mind, make sure you ask Wide Receivers’ Coach Luke Paschall about “The Move” in his favorite, ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love.’ Coach Cauthen, always wanting to take over an opponent’s offense and break it apart, probably relates to Richard Gere’s character in his favorite, ‘Pretty Woman.’ Speaking of the defense, make sure somebody keeps the inventory of tissues in the football offices stocked full as Graduate Assistant Larry Hart may need some when he watches ‘The Notebook.’ Meanwhile, his fellow Grad Assistants, Micah James and Kyle Cefalo, will need those tissues to wipe away tears of laughter while they watch ‘Mean Girls’ and ‘How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,’ respectively. ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ made this list. I mean who wouldn’t think of Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, and Mary Louise-Parker when you think of Trooper Taylor? As for the head man, Coach Anderson can’t get enough of “Farmer Ted” in ‘Sixteen Candles.’ One “Farmer Ted” quote from that movie may sum up this paragraph best; “This information cannot leave this room, okay? It would devastate my reputation as a dude.” Oops, too late. Of course, Coach Early is safe because he’s never stayed up long enough during a chick flick to know whether he likes any or not.

Every good movie has a great soundtrack, so let’s see what music the staff likes as the soundtracks of their lives. Coach Johnson and Trooper get things started out of the gates as founding members of the ‘Earth, Wind, and Fire’ fan club, whose top song, ‘September,’ fits perfectly as the opening month of the football season for the Red Wolves in Los Angeles. It’s summer time, right? What better way to relax in the sun than to chill out with Coach Elarbee to the tunes of Bob Marley? Speaking of summer music, no summer was complete for me in high school without seeing the Allman Brothers play. Maybe I bumped into Jason Andrews there as they hit this list as his favorite band. If you favor the singer-songwriter type, check out Ray LaMontagne, one of Coach Paschall’s favorite performers. Anybody that likes a bass player named “Flea” can hang out with Coach Hart and rock out to The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Classic rock was bound to find its way onto this list with this group as Coach Dodd like’s to “Take It Easy” with The Eagles and Coach Cauthen definitely goes his own way with Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac. Of course, as the Red Wolves head into the upcoming season, Coach Anderson’s favorite band, Journey, will remind you to “Don’t Stop Believin’!”

Listening to music in your car or at home is great, but nothing beats listening to music live in concert. Everybody remembers their first concert. I’m not embarrassed to say that my first concert, at the young age of 9, was The Monkees at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Coach Bell was also 9 years old when he was trying to figure out what “those funny smells” were at a Tom Petty concert. Coach Early’s Dad loved outlaw country and took his son to see Waylon Jennings. It makes sense that Anthony Tucker is coaching at an Adidas school as his first concert was none other than RUN DMC. Coach James was lucky enough to see a legend, no not Trooper Taylor, but Ray Charles at his first concert. Jason Andrews and Coach Dodd both caught a wave and rocked out to The Beach Boys in their first live music experiences. What better way to rock out than to see Kid Rock, Coach Paschall’s first concert, singing “All Summer Long?” If you’re talking summer concerts then you can’t ignore summer tour giants, The Dave Matthews Band, and Coach Mohring and Coach Roberson had never been to a show until seeing these guys live. Finally, we need to get some musical acts flowing into Mississippi because Coach Hart has NEVER been to a concert. Why you ask? “Not many folks come through the ‘sip,” according to him. This is unacceptable. Considering going to games is the only thing I like better than concerts, it will be my new mission to get Coach Hart to a show sooner than later.

I’ve witnessed firsthand the hours this staff puts into their work at the stadium. During those moments they actually make it home I also learned these guys have a diverse range of entertainment they seek out on television. Coach Anderson travels around the state of Arkansas so often, kissing babies and shaking hands, that some wonder if he’s running for political office. It makes sense then that his favorite all-time TV show was ‘The West Wing,’ where he must have picked up tips on how to work the handshake lines and handle some of those tough press conference questions. Coach Cauthen is always scheming how to prevent opposing offenses from attacking his end zone; so it’s no wonder he loves watching Jack Bauer preventing foreign enemies from attacking the U.S. on ’24.’ I hope the guys on the team respect the team as their “family.” Otherwise, Director of Player Personnel, Coach Roberson, might hand down some mob-like punishment seen on his favorite show, ‘The Sopranos.’ Why am I not surprised that Coach Johnson and Trooper Taylor, the brain trust of the defensive backfield, team up once again in both giving the nod to ‘Sanford and Son’ as their all-time favorite show? I can see Trooper now, re-enacting a Fred Sanford “This is the Big One” scene, and Coach Johnson just shaking his head at him like Lamont Sanford. Another blast from the not-so-distant past is ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.’ Coach Hart and Coach James both list it as their favorite show, but the jury is still out on which one of them can do the “Carlton Dance” the best. ‘Friday Night Lights’ fans can’t get enough of Tim Riggins, but which character does Jason Andrews like most from his favorite show? And speaking of favorites, I love Sig and the guys on ‘The Northwestern.’ If you’re confused then turn the channel to the Discovery Channel to watch ‘The Deadliest Catch,’ a favorite of Coach Elarbee. I plan on seeking out Coach Tucker the next time I’m in Jonesboro and share some laughs as we trade classic Larry David lines from one of the funniest shows around, ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm.’

Television shows and movies may come and go, but some do stick around to become those guilty pleasures of ours or the ones we just can’t ever turn off once they’re on. Offensive coordinators love to give their quarterbacks a few play options they can take to the line of scrimmage in case they need to audible out of the call. One movie Coach Bell would never audible out of is ‘Star Wars.’ Knowing that, it’s only fitting that some are calling his quarterback padawan, Fredi “Jedi” Knighten. The Force may be strong with Coach Bell’s pal, Coach Elarbee, but he prefers to see if the crazy people on ‘Naked and Afraid’ have enough control of nature’s forces to survive the wild circumstances they have put themselves in. If you’re talking crazy reality shows, not many get crazier than ‘The Bachelorette’ on ABC. This season’s bachelorette, Kaitlyn, has a tough choice to make between two annoying guys, not that I or Coach Tucker would know anything about that. There is an interesting “bachelorette” on the Netflix series, ‘Orange is the New Black.’ Next time you see Coach James, ask him to explain further. Of course, in this modern age, Netflix allows you to watch a whole series in a matter of hours, and Coach Paschall approves of this efficient “binge-watching” tactic. Speaking of a popular movie series and tactics, what could be better than ‘007’ in the James Bond movies? Now I know why Coach Dodd prefers his PowerAde “Shaken, not stirred.”

Well, there you have it Red Wolves’ fans. A little glimpse into the minds of your football coaching staff. But hey, football is a team sport so we can’t let you go before seeing how would these coaches fall into place when asked an either/or question about their true comedy preferences. In this case we close the entertainment portion of our series with the simple question, “Adam Sandler or Will Ferrell?” Team Sandler is made up of Early, Cauthen, Dodd, Johnson, Hart, James, and Trooper Taylor. Team Ferrell is represented by Bell, Elarbee, Paschall, Andrews, Roberson, Tucker, Cefalo, Mohring, and the head judge, Coach Anderson. I hope that you were indeed, entertained by Part 1 of “The Man Behind the Whistle.”