Thursday Brings New Coach, NCAA News

What should have been a routine preseason practice day became something very different. The addition of a new receivers coach was balanced by news Mississippi State is talking with the NCAA about a recruiting irregularity involving the replaced wideouts assistant.

ESPN college football reporter Joe Schaad published the report on an investigation into the recruitment of 2012 signee Will Redmond. The freshman, an all-state recruit out of Memphis, has been practicing at cornerback this preseason. He was recruited for Mississippi State by then-assistant Angelo Mirando, who resigned Sunday evening for what at the time was given as personal reasons.

Mirando's place has been promptly filled by former Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster, who arrived in town shortly after noon and was already on the job working with Bulldog receivers Thursday. Brewster, 51, had planned to work commentary for CBS' on-line outlet this season and was living in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Mullen said Brewster contacted him about the sudden opening, and Brewster was interviewed yesterday before returning home. There he was golfing when the offer call came and was accepted.

Mullen said a veteran coach being available on this short notice eases an unexpected preseason problem. Brewster was head coach three-plus seasons at Minnesota (2007-10) before being released. Most of his coaching experience, college and professional, has been with the tight end position he played at Illinois 1981-83.

He has coached collegiately at North Carolina and Texas before taking the top job at Minnesota, and in the NFL with San Diego and Denver. In 2004 he was associate head coach with the Chargers. All his assistant stints have been on the offensive side of the ball.

The hiring though was overshadowed by afternoon revelation the NCAA is looking into the recruitment of Redmond, the star athlete out of Memphis-East High School. Redmond was a first-team All-Tennessee performer most noted for his defense but good enough to pay running back, receiver, and in a pinch quarterback. He committed to Mississippi State in August, 2011 with other offers, to name a sampling, from Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Ole Miss, North Carolina, Notre Dame, and more.

Mullen confirmed Redmond was practicing Thursday. The athletic department provided an official overall statement mid-afternoon. "Over the last several months, Mississippi State has worked in cooperation with the NCAA to examine a potential recruiting irregularity. We are nearing the end of this examination, and it is our intent to provide additional details when it is complete."

In both the MSU statement and ESPN reports, 'irregularities' was the word used and not violations.

These two topics dominated Thursday's post-practice interview, beginning with Mullen asked if his temporary role as wide receivers coach is finished now.

Will the receivers miss you now? "I did a couple of the drills today. With Coach Brewster they're not going to get off the hook all that much! There won't be a big relieve on their part."

Who approached who in this hiring? "(to Brewster) You came to me? To me the last whatever it's been, 72, 96 hours have been kind of a blur of a lot of things going on, of talking to a lot of people. While we're preparing for the season, while we're reviewing training camp, while we're still in practice, while we're getting first day in school ready, while we're getting organized; to go through this process has been very, very difficult."

"I think we're extremely, extremely fortunate. To be in the situation you're (Brewster) in, and have a coach the quality of Tim Brewster wanting to come be a part of it, wanting to step in and help in this very difficult situation that we're in. And for us to get the quality of coach we've gotten, I think we've very, very fortunate."

How is it to go from a man down to having a former head coach on staff? "Well, it's great. Not just a former head coach, but a guy with tremendous NFL experience. I mean who has coached at the highest level of football and coached all-pro, Hall of Fame type players, just that background. And any time you get somebody that has been a head coach, that understands what its like to sit in the chair you're in at times, as situations come up is always a great asset to your staff."

Do you relish having that on your staff? "Yeah. I do. It's not something that you're going out and saying we have to have as part of our staff. But I think it's a great asset to have as part your staff."

So is this both the short-term and long-term solution you talked about? "Yeah. When you go into it obviously you don't know all the options and what is going to happen for you, you know? But to get a coach of this quality for us, we hope Tim is with us for a long time."

How did the receivers respond? "I think good, I think they're excited. They know, they're smart players, and we have a bunch of seniors. And they look at the resume Tim brings in and how that is going to continue to help in their development. And I think the fact that you've got seniors, five seniors that are great kids, they understand this is not going to be an easy situation. I think we're lucky that we have good kids, that are older kids, that all they are going to look on is the positive and try to take advantage of every part to make this the best they can make it."

When do you get into more game prep? "Well, we've looked at Jackson State as a staff. We're into game prep more as a staff, in what we're doing and getting ready to go. But it hasn't turned into game week practice. We're still trying to take care of ourselves, take care of fundamentals. I know every year you're always doing things a little differently. The last couple of years sometimes if we had a short week or that Thursday night game we would kind of gameplan that team a little this week. Because you know you're not going to have time later on.We don't have that situation this year so it's been a lot more focus on us and working on our fundamentals."

You've said before you work on the first couple of games in summer? "Our staff does. A lot of times we try to incorporate that stuff during training camp. We haven't don't that, our focus this year has been how can we perform at hour highest level. Not get into scheming and gameplanning and all that stuff. Let's worry about our fundamentals, out team development, and our players to perform their best."

Dewayne Cherrington was grateful when he went on scholarship last year, how was it this year to be renewed? "Same way. And I think that's a great thing to reward him. There is a young guy that was very grateful for the opportunity he was given, he took advantage of it, but didn't rest. Dewayne I thinkg has improved greatly from this time last year, he's developed into a guy that is going to play a lot more than he did last year for us."

Today news came you are cooperating with the NCAA on recruiting irregularities? "Yeah, that's been going on for several months."

Have you talked to the NCAA? "I don't comment. I'm not able to comment on any of that stuff."

Is Will Redmond practicing? "We don't talk about injuries, you know that."

It wasn't about an injury. So he is practicing? "Yeah, everybody is practicing. Why wouldn't he be practicing?"

He was the player reported by Joe Schaad for recruiting irregularities. So he was practicing? "Yeah, he was practicing. I'd try to get a little more reliable source. I guess I'm supposed to be coaching at State College right now according to Joe Schaad last year?"

Obviously people wonder if Angelo Mirando's dismissal had anything to do with this? "I've talked about all that stuff. We don't get into Angelo's deal. I said at a time we will get into that whole situation with him as well."

Have you had a chance to talk to Angelo? How is he doing? "Mm-mmm. He's doing good, he'll be fine. Great kid."

How are the young kids responding to scout team work? "The young kids, it's a big-time learning deal, you know what I mean? I think today you got into a little more of seeing them getting accustomed to it. We've got a couple of things we've got to do, on Saturday we're going to just go with helmets. Because Thursday practice, and this is a major deal and I've made this mistake before; is on a Thursday practice you're just helmets. And if the first time you do practice with scouts is next Thursday, in helmets, I'm going to be miserable! Because that is such a critical, critical practice that you have to take advantage of that opportunity. Know how to practice that way."

"So we're going to do that the next couple of days and get them the opportunity to go out Saturday and have a big scout period practice and learn how to do it that way. I kind of like how they've learned this week to do it and they're getting it figured out. Now it's going to be just understanding how. When you get into gameplan aspect of it, we've been running more against our defense, letting them call our defense and calling a little more of our offense. Sunday will be very different for us, that will be the next learning stage."

Are there details to get sorted out with Tim? "Oh, we're going to be working, we're going to be grinding just to get caught up."

And his recruiting territories? "Yeah. In the immediate it's understanding what is going on in our system. To me the biggest adjustment is obviously language. I know that that's a telephone, but I couldn't say telephone in Chinese right now, you know?! When you look at that, you know what a stick-route is but you've got to learn the language and how we're talking right now and that sort of stuff. Know a six-man slide protection, how are we wording that and how are we wording our formations and personnel groupings and all of those things. I think that is the biggest adjustment, how we accelerate to get Tim caught up and ready to go."

Did you address the NCAA situation with the team, are you worried about a distraction? "No. I like our leadership, I don't see it being a distraction at all for our guys right now."

Practice plans for tomorrow? "Tomorrow will be a very similar practice. W're actually checking class schedules, most of our guys are done before one o'clock Friday so we'll go a little earlier tomorrow. We'll have our champions banquet afterwards, tomorrow night.

"Then Saturday we'll be in helmets, do a lot of things they need to prepare for game week. We'll do a mock game here. Last year it took us six times to figure out how to run out of the tunnel! Because there's a lot of guys that, alright, this is how we run out of the tunnel, this is when we do the Dog Pound Rock. There are some freshmen that are like…! We do that Saturday so we don't look like the Bad News Bears the following Saturday out on the field. So we look like an organized team."

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