Polian, April come from NFL families
NEW ORLEANS -- The NFL may be far away from the Tulane practice field, but for a couple of the Green Wave assistants, it's always close.
Dennis Polian, whose father is the general manager of the Indianapolis Colts, and Bobby April III, whose dad is the special teams coach for the Buffalo Bills, are on the Tulane football staff this season.
"It's a stepping stone to get your career started," said April, a graduate assistant.
Polian is Tulane's new director of football operations.
"I do whatever I can, within my role, to make the kids experience as valuable as possible," said Polian. "That's how I look at it -- if it helps make our program better, I'm going to do it."
Polian, a 1999 graduate of Villanova, came to Tulane from Columbia University, where he was director of football operations. Before Columbia, he spent one season as corporate sales and client services manager for the Arena Football League, as well as a stint as assistant director of security at the Fleet Center in Boston. He also earned his master's degree in administration at Boston College.
Polian's move to Tulane began this summer when coach Chris Scelfo was at a Chicago Cubs home game and met Polian's dad. When Dennis Polian found out about the Tulane opening, his father called his new friend. Then some more references began ringing Scelfo's phone -- Archie and Peyton Manning.
"They knew him, they knew me," Scelfo said. "And they know what kind of program we have. It was a good fit."
The younger April also benefited from his family connection. When the Tulane graduate assistant's job opened up, April got a recommendation for the job from his father, a 14-year NFL coaching veteran and friend of Scelfo.
"He came in, and he has worked hard," Scelfo said of the younger April, whose high school career included playing defensive back for St. Paul's School in Covington. He is a 2004 graduate of Louisiana-Lafayette, where he was a student assistant for the Ragin' Cajuns. "You can tell he's been brought up in a coaching family."
April's goal is to become a head coach at some level of football. Growing up around the sport fixed his ambitions early. He decided he wanted to coach when he was a 5-year-old at the University of Arizona practices, where his dad was an up-and-coming assistant under former Tulane coach Larry Smith.
Nothing changed his mind as he followed his dad to places like Atlanta and New Orleans.
April's father was his mentor, but his role model was Jerry Glanville, the coach of the Falcons.
"I was at the age where you're looking for a role model, and Jerry Glanville was a crazy guy, and he was always having fun," April said. "I was about 12, 13, thinking, man, this guy is having a great time. This is something I'd like to do."
At Tulane, Polian's job is to coordinate several areas for the Green Wave football program, including logistics of team travel, preseason and practice schedules and recruiting visits. Or, more specifically, "Whatever Coach Scelfo wants, I do," he said.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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