Lawrence C. "L.C." Cole finds himself in an unusual position on the coaching staff for Morgan State's football team. He and Ricky Diggs were among the final candidates for the head coaching position six months ago, a job that went to Diggs.
They did not know each other at 7p,14l the time, but both were staying in the same hotel when they came in for final interviews.
"When Ricky got the job, I went back to the University of Toledo, where I was coaching the running backs. Then he called and asked if I would consider being his defensive coordinator," Cole said of his arrival at the Hillen Road campus.
"On the one hand, I felt I was ready to be a head coach, and Morgan State officials affirmed that thought when they talked to me. At the same time, I had never been a coordinator before and I figured that would be one more level of experience for me."
Cole, a native of Dayton, Ohio, and a graduate of the University of Nebraska, has been an assistant coach at such schools as Nebraska, New Mexico State, Kansas State, and Wisconsin. "Ricky and I have a mutual friend who was on the staff at Wisconsin and he put in a good word [with Diggs] for me," he said.
Morgan State, still looking for its first win of the season, draws Virginia Union (5-1) as its homecoming opponent today. After six losses, Cole has seen some good and some not-so-good from his charges.
"We're lacking the basic fundamentals," he said. "Our whole defensive team is green, but they are improving as they learn our concepts and what is expected. They have started to play more together, and have forgotten the selfishness.
"It's a team game and each one has to do his own assignment. It just seems that every mistake ends up in a big gain for the other side."
The leading tacklers are linebackers Reno Lucas, Vincent Ward and Wesley Smith, and safety Mario Rivers. The front three are tackles Matthew Steeple and Monjah Brown, with William Crawford the nose guard.
"Brown [6 feet 3, 220] is an undersized tackle, but he gives us a lot, especially on the pass rush. He also provides the second effort we need," Cole added.
The coach is particularly enthusiastic about the job being done by Smith.
"He's one of our leading tacklers. He does everything right, makes things happen," Cole said. "He's caught on quickly to what we're trying to do, and he works hard at it. He looks at a lot of film, and studies better than anybody else on defense."
Helping Smith apply pressure to opposing quarterbacks is Lucas, who also has four of Morgan's 26 sacks.
"He's a hard worker who does the right things," Cole says of Lucas, one of five senior defensive starters. "And he's a strong leader by example, because he puts in the time necessary to be a good football player."