Man Behind the Whistle: Part 2. Good Eats

The Man Behind the Whistle: Part 2: “Me, Myself, and I”

Welcome back Red Wolves’ fans. We hope you enjoyed Part 1 of our “Man Behind the Whistle” series, where you found out what music may be on the coaches’ playlists and which “chick flicks” they loved most.

Today we bring you Part 2 as we get to know the Arkansas State Football coaching staff on a more “personal” level as they share more about who they are off the field. There’s a saying that says “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” So we’ll jump right into Part 2 by finding out what these guys like to eat most.

Right out of the gates we head into “Bizarre Foods with Allen Johnson,” whose favorite meal happens to be whole fried catfish. We need to find out if the Red Wolves’ Safeties Coach likes the eyeballs like Andrew Zimmern on the Travel Channel. Speaking of seafood, Running Backs Coach Anthony Tucker’s favorite culinary delight would be crab legs; and that was before Jameis Winston made them popular in football circles. In an example of “A man knows what a man wants,” Defensive Line Coach Brian Early doesn’t just want steak for dinner, he specifically prefers the 12oz Outback Special from Down Under. In the same vein, Offensive Line Coach Walt Bell doesn’t just want steak, as he prefers his favorite meal of steak, asparagus, and a sweet potato. “If it’s free, it’s for me,” fits the bill for Cornerbacks Coach Trooper Taylor as his favorite food is free food.

The Red Wolves’ newlywed coach, Wide Receivers Coach Luke Paschall, has quickly learned that giving compliments to the chef, particularly if the chef is your new wife, is the smart way to go. Mrs. Paschall’s “famous” grilled salmon recipe is Coach Paschall’s favorite dish. Keeping with the family theme, Defensive Coordinator Joe Cauthen likes “anything that Mom makes,” and Offensive Graduate Assistant Kyle Cefalo loves his Mom’s Italian cooking. If Mexican food is your thing amigos, then give Tight Ends Coach Dan Dodd and Head Coach Blake Anderson a call as they will meet you anytime, anywhere if it involves food from south of the border.

The one weakness Superman had, which would render him powerless and bring him to his knees, was kryptonite. The coaches offered up their own version of kryptonite, in the form of junk food. Coach Anderson can’t drive by an Andy’s Frozen Custard without stopping to pick some up. Coach Bell claimed on ESPNU’s behind-the-scenes look at ASU that he is a health food nut. The more popular and entertaining behind-the-scenes look by yours truly proved this claim to be false as I witnessed the consumption of a brown sugar Pop-Tart at the first staff meeting, and then later found out his greatest junk food weakness is Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake.

The other “program secret” revealed last season was the existence of the infamous “snack closet” in Coach Anderson’s office. Candy bar lovers, Offensive Graduate Assistant Micah James and Coach Johnson, are sure to find their respective favorites, Butterfingers and Snickers. Defensive Graduate Assistant, John Mohring, likes scanning the closet for his kryptonite, cinnamon rolls, while Coach Dodd comes looking for M&Ms. Trooper enjoys the closet because it fulfills his “all of the above” sweet tooth when it comes to junk food. But never fear health-conscience Red Wolves’ fans, Coach Early carries your flag as he claims to be the one coach without a junk food kryptonite because, “I have incredible will power.”

What do these coaches enjoy doing once they’ve pushed their chairs back from the table? Offensive Line Coach, Glen Elarbee, prefers putting the food on the table via his grill, as his favorite past time is making some culinary magic happen on the grill. If he plays his cards right, and his linemen take it easy on Coach Cauthen’s linebackers, then he may be grilling up whatever Coach Cauthen caught while he was out hunting. If he’s more into grilling fish then he needs to call Director of Player Personnel, Dave Roberson, or Coach Cefalo to see what they pulled out of the lake on their fishing rods. Hopefully they were careful where they cast their lines or they’re liable to hook Coach Mohring, who would most likely be on the lake too doing some sort of watersport. If the fishing got slow they may notice Director of Football Operations, Jason Andrews, riding his bike on the cycling path around the lake. Back at the cabin one may find Coach Tucker and Coach Paschall going at it in poker while Defensive Graduate Assistant Larry Hart might be lounging on the couch devising new game plan while he plays Madden Football. Right about then Coach Anderson should be walking through the door after a round of golf or Trooper may be popping some ibuprofen following a session of riding horses. If Coach Dodd is at the lake, he’s hoping it’s with family. As for Coach Bell, his favorite hobby is…wait for it…work. All in all, these guys have a diverse range of hobbies off the field.

This staff works hard and plays hard but sometimes all they want is what every hard-working person wants…a vacation. They’re not always picky either as Coach Cauthen, Coach Early, Coach Bell, and Coach Roberson will go anywhere if it involves a beach and some sunshine. Not a difficult request. Others have favorite spots that stand out such as Key West for Coach Mohring or The Atlantis Resort for Trooper. A plane to Mexico would suit Coach Elarbee and Coach Johnson just fine, while Coach Tucker prefers to take his talents to South Beach. The DFO, Jason Andrews, controls all logistics and planning for the program, but when it comes to controlling his vacation, he loves planning an excursion to the British Virgin Islands. Coach Cefalo may be hanging out with the Kennedy family and eating some “lobsta” when he vacations in Kennebunkport, Maine. As for the boss, Coach Anderson will travel anywhere his family wants to go, but his favorite spot is Horseshoe Bay, Texas.

All of this talk of great vacation spots makes me want to call a travel agent, put the world away for a minute, and transport myself out of here. Speaking of transporting one’s self, what if you could hop in Doc Brown’s DeLorean and go back in time to meet any historical figure; who would it be? One of the most popular requests was to meet Jesus; the person Coach Anderson, Coach Early, Coach Dodd, Coach Hart, and Coach James would most like to meet. Martin Luther King, Jr would have a full schedule too; meeting with Coach Bell, Coach Roberson, Trooper, and Coach James. Sometime between the Gettysburg Address and the Emancipation Proclamation, Coach Cefalo would like a moment of Abraham Lincoln’s time, and Coach Tucker would like a ride back to that same era to spend some time with Frederick Douglass. Sticking with politics, Coach Mohring wouldn’t mind hitching a ride with Marilyn Monroe to the White House in order to meet JFK. Coach Cauthen and Coach Elarbee would like to pick the strategic mind of General Patton. On a lighter note, Coach Paschall wouldn’t mind sitting down and sharing some laughs with Richard Pryor, while Jason Andrews wants to head back to the Wild Wild West and share a frosty beverage with John Wayne. Last, but not least, Coach Johnson would like to meet Oprah, preferably during one of her giveaway shows in the past.

Time travel sounds nice, but if you believe in it odds are you might be a tad superstitious in general. Sports are filled with different superstitions, even having sport-specific cases. Does anybody of the Red Wolves’ coaching staff have any particular game day superstitions? I got strong “no” responses from Bell, Cauthen, Paschall, Andrews, Johnson, Hart, and Coach Anderson. However, some of the other guys had some interesting habits. Coach Elarbee said he has too many to count because they are always changing. Coach Cefalo and Coach Mohring team up to do 10 100yd sprints before each game. Coach Trooper Taylor said that if the Red Wolves are losing at halftime then it’s time for him to change hats before coming back out of the locker room for the second half. Coach James doesn’t leave the locker room unless he has 2 Sharpies, 2 pens, and 2 highlighters. Coach Tucker and Coach Roberson have them, but don’t like to talk about them. The most logical one came from Coach Dodd, who claimed he has a superstition that having the most points at the end of the game is usually a good thing. As for Coach Early, he doesn’t really have a superstition, but his gear has to look good as he explains, “If you look good, you feel good, play good, and coach good.”

The guys on this staff are well-liked because they’re genuine. What you see is what you get. However, even they have some things about them people may be surprised to hear. For those of you that think you have Coach Anderson pegged, did you know he grew up singing and playing the drums? Did you know that Coach Elarbee thinks most people would be surprised to know he actually does have a personality? Coach Bell is football through and through and loves any type of contact sport like boxing or MMA, but at the end of the day you might be surprised to know that this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fan might just be the biggest nerd you’ll ever meet. Don’t know the full story here, but we need to ask Coach Hart why he got the key to the city of Conway, Arkansas. And how did Coach James end up playing football in college when he, in his words, was terrible at football until his senior year in high school? Coach Roberson used to roam the rough and tough sidelines of the classroom as a math teacher, which could come in handy in helping Coach Paschall keep track of his 7 brothers and 1 sister. Far from any classroom and in an ocean with great waves you might be surprised to look out onto the horizon to see Coach Dodd surfing his heart out. And while it doesn’t surprise me, you may be surprised to know that Coach Trooper Taylor’s energy isn’t just limited to the football field but it’s also been seen on the rodeo circuits that he’s competed in.

We’ve come to the end of another segment in our “Man Behind the Whistle” series. You’ve gotten a glimpse into their lives and personalities off the field and outside of sports. In our next segment, Part 3, we will take a look at what other sports these guys like and what figures in sports they keep an eye on. By the way, speaking of personalities off the field, if you were paying attention, you’ll know that one the Red Wolves’ coaches tied the knot this summer with a wonderful woman. Congrats to Coach Luke Paschall!