On July 18 in Newport, R.I., all six football coaches from the American Athletic Conference‘s East Division took the stage for a roundtable discussion, an annual tradition this year moderated by Verne Lundquist.
It was entirely new to most, relatively new to others. Randy Edsall of UConn, Geoff Collins of Temple and Luke Fickell of Cincinnati had never participated. Scott Frost of Central Florida and Scottie Montgomery of East Carolina were involved in 2016 as rookie coaches, and Charlie Strong took part in 2012 while coach at Louisville.
The AAC’s annual summer gathering for a clambake and press conferences is always the unofficial season kickoff — and often a showcase for what a revolving door the conference is. A land of first and last chances, the AAC is part launching pad for young coaches on the rise and part soft landing for more experienced coaches on the rebound.
Basically, there’s Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo, and everybody else. Niumatalolo has been on staff at Navy for 21 years, 11 as coach. The 11 other AAC coaches enter the 2017 season with a combined eight seasons in their current positions.
“It’s bittersweet when coaches leave, but in the end, what it means is that they’ve been successful and they’ve left a good program behind,” AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said. “That means the next coach has something to build on. And we’ve found the right formula. We usually get a really solid veteran — like Charlie Strong or Randy Esdall — or we hire top young assistants, the best of the best.”
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