Texas Southern head coach Darrell Asberry understands the 2014 season is a big one for himself and the program.
After posting subpar seasons in his first two years as Tigers’ coach, (which were due in large part to NCAA sanctions) Asberry expects the Tigers to contend for the SWAC West championship and be the defacto home team for the conference championship game come early December.
In an interview with Houston Sun reporter Alan C. Peterson, Asberry talked about how the program is attempting to move forward from NCAA sanctions it received following the 2004 season, and expectations for the upcoming year.
Peterson: Can you tell me about the sanctions involving the scholarship situation and the post season ban?
Asberry: We will be eligible in 2015 to compete for the SWAC Championship. We are one year down now. We can still win the Sheridan Black College National Championship and we can win our division in 2014 but can’t compete for the SWAC championship. We are about 98 percent through the sanctions. The other piece is the scholarship piece. We can only have 65 on scholarship…60 full and not to super exceed 65 on money. We can only sign 16 kids this year and can’t afford to miss. What the community and alumni need to understand is that the kids we are bringing in out of high school have to be ready to play because we don’t have the luxury to redshirt a kid due to lack of depth. Those sanctions have hurt us and we will be off of that penalty in October 2017, which means that we won’t be able to use all the scholarships until 2018. We just need to get the right mixture of young student athletes that can help us win football games.
Peterson: Considering how well you played against the SWAC Champions (Southern), how would you describe last year?
Asberry: Not having a spring practice and bringing on kids that had 20 something days to get to know each other to get ready for a game was tough. The second half of the season, we started gelling. We played hard, with a lot of passion and we didn’t want to quit. The locker room is different from our first year to now. We went from going in a locker room after you lose a game and guys are talking about what they are getting ready to go do, to now when you walk in after a tough loss you have guys crying, you have guys upset and talking about the game and the mistakes we made as a team. That means something and tells you that we are heading in the right direction of wanting to get better and we as coaches have to lead them in the right direction.
Peterson: What are your expectations for this year?
Asberry: People always tell me I set my expectations extremely high. They tell me we are still on probation and still have these sanctions, but they are high. We want to win. We want to win the ones they say we can’t win and win the ones we are supposed to win. As a coach when you go back to those last four losses…conference losses. That hurt. We want to take care of those guys. It’s year 3 and its time to win some football games.