Coaches hit Mobile looking for work
MOBILE, Ala. -- The Senior Bowl weigh-in is one of the more bizarre forms of scouting. The players line up wearing shorts or even less. They walk solemnly up to and across the stage, stop and have their height measured, walk over to a scale, then down the stairs and out. They walk with as much dignity as a 21-year-old can muster while being ogled by hundreds of middle-aged men.
So it was that USC center Ryan Kalil left the stage, having been announced for all the world to hear at six feet, two-and-seven-eighths inches and 291 pounds. His face gave away nothing. But as he moved toward the back of the room, the blank visage slowly dissolved into a big, warm smile. Up against the wall, taking notes and eyeballing the recruits, was former USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow, now on the Tennessee Titans' staff.
Kalil wrapped Chow in a shoulder-high embrace, exchanged greetings, and moved out of the room. The weigh-in returned to its regularly-scheduled programming.
Among the college coaches recently let go who came to Mobile looking for NFL work are, in no particular order (and all identified by their last places of employment), head coaches Larry Coker of Miami and Chris Scelfo of Tulane, and assistants Danny Pearman of North Carolina, Sparky Woods and Dave Rader of Alabama, Billy Sexton and Mark McHale of Florida State and defensive coordinator Rick Minter of Notre Dame.
All sounded a philosophical note, professing no rancor and saying they understood it was part of the business. Even Sexton, whom Florida State moved into fundraising after he coached Bobby Bowden's running backs for 30 years, said he had no ill will.
"I called Coach Bowden last week to tell him, 'I just want to make my peace with you,'" Sexton said. Bowden thanked him and remarked on how much they had achieved together.
Minter, whom Irish coach Charlie Weis replaced over the weekend with New York Jets assistant Corwin Brown, all but shrugged.
"I understand because I've been in his shoes," said Minter, the head coach at Cincinnati from 1994 to 2003. "You have to make some hard decisions. Would I have let me go if I were in his shoes? No. But I think Charlie will be more comfortable with somebody from the Belichick-Parcells family. Charlie has brought in a young guy who doesn't have my experience. But he'll be more comfortable with him."
The Senior Bowl's new title sponsor, UnderArmour, is making sure that its logo and gear will be wherever the players are. Each player in the game received an UnderArmour duffel bag filled with everything from a warmup suit, practice gear and a backpack all the way down to a chin strap, underwear, socks and sweatbands. They also could snag a pair of cleats and some off-field apparel, if they so desired.
Funny thing: The players seem a lot more interested in wearing this gear than they did last year when the sponsor was Food World.
One of the toughest things for the NFL coaching staffs on the field and the coaches and the scouts in the stands to calibrate is the fact that some players haven't played since November and others played two weeks ago. Ohio State and Florida, who played in the BCS title game on Jan. 8, each sent four players to Mobile.
Ohio State defensive tackle David Patterson believes that group will be at an advantage.
"I played football [two weeks] ago," Patterson said. "Hopefully I'll maintain some of that game-conditioning. No matter how much you run, it's nothing like playing an extra game."
Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Send your questions and comments to Ivan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2007 Senior Bowl
• McShay: Senior Bowl synopsis
• McShay: Break downs by group
• Kiper: Complete roster evaluation
• Thursday's practice buzz
• Maisel: Davis' short list
• Wednesday's practice buzz
• Kiper: Wednesday's watch
• Maisel: Scouting perspectives
• Tuesday's practice buzz
• Kiper: Senior Bowl prospect report
• Maisel: By the numbers
• Maisel: Curtain call for teammates
• Monday's practice buzz
• Maisel: Mobile job fair
• McShay: Burden of proof
• Maisel: Deep snappers take center stage
Complete 2007 Senior Bowl roster
• Kevin Kolb
• Chris Leak
• Tyler Palko
• Jordan Palmer
• Troy Smith
• Drew Stanton
• Monday's chat wrap
• Tuesday's chat wrap
• Wednesday's chat wrap
• Thursday's chat wrap
• McShay: Hughes, Booker impress
Complete 2007 NFL draft coverage