Albert on new mission: scouting

August 25, 1994|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Sun Staff Writer

Life is good for Phil Albert. He is trimmer than a man of 50 should look. He talks with the optimism of a teen-ager. He is enjoying his return to the classroom, where he teaches five physical education classes a week at Towson State.

On top of that, Albert is excited about his reunion with an old friend -- football.

More than two years have passed since Albert stepped down after 20 seasons as coach at Towson State, where he guided the Tigers to 117 victories, four national playoff appearances and an unbeaten season, not to mention a progression from Division III to I-AA status.

And thanks to the NFL's San Diego Chargers, Albert has rejoined the game at the highest level and in a new capacity. Earlier this summer, the Chargers hired Albert as an advance scout.

"For two years, I've stayed away from the game. I held steady, and that was not easy," said Albert, who resumed teaching in the fall of 1992. "This is a new challenge for me, a good opportunity. When the door opens, you go through it."

Albert has been going through a lot of airports lately. His first four assignments this month have taken him to Indianapolis, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Dallas. Today, he will fly to Denver, where he will scout the Broncos in their final preseason game against Arizona. Tomorrow, he's off to Cincinnati to scout the Bengals against Detroit. San Diego's first two regular-season opponents are Denver and Cincinnati.

Once the season begins, Albert will scout one future San Diego opponent per weekend, thus freeing him of any time conflicts with his full-time teaching job.

Traveling has not been the only adjustment for Albert. As Towson State's coach, he rarely scouted opponents, delegating those duties to assistants. And a typical college scouting summary does not compare with the lengthy NFL reports.

"I send an in-depth, 49-page report to them the day after each game. I've got to scout offense, defense, special teams, substitutions, signals, situations," said Albert, who takes notes and dictates observations into a tape recorder, then pieces together his report after the game. "It's pretty hectic, the logistics of it. It's nothing like watching a game as a fan."

"In my first game at Indianapolis, I scouted Seattle, and I had to ask someone after the game if Marshall Faulk had played," he added, referring to the Colts' top draft pick and running back. "I learned a lot about the job after that first week. It comes down to knowing what the Chargers want, then developing a system to accomplish it."

For Albert, two connections helped him land the job. Jeff Mann, who just took over the football program at Dulaney High School, coached under Albert at Towson State. From there, Mann coached at Maryland under former Terps coach Bobby Ross -- now the coach of the Chargers -- then spent two years scouting for San Diego.

In addition, San Diego general manager Bobby Beathard has known Albert for more than 10 years, dating to when Albert successfully recruited his son, Kurt Beathard. Kurt, who went on to throw for 4,768 yards and 38 touchdowns over two seasons, now works as an assistant under Towson State coach Gordy Combs.

"What a great guy," Beathard said of Albert. "I thought he was a heck of a coach. It was fun watching his team. He was a big influence on my son wanting to become a coach."

Beathard added that the Chargers pursued Albert, who spent a week with the coaching staff in June learning about the position. "We asked him if he would be interested, he said yes, and that was it. Bobby Ross gives him a lot to do, and Bobby has had no complaints."

Neither has Albert, so far.

"I'm not making a lifetime commitment to it, but I'm the kind of guy who is going to give 110 percent in whatever job I do," Albert said. "It will be a full, seven-day week for the next 16 or 17 weeks. When it's over, I'll re-evaluate it."

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