St. Petersburg Times Online: Business
 Devil Rays Forums
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather




printer version

Andrews runs own game; how about his own team?

Click here

By GARY SHELTON, Times Sports Columnist

© St. Petersburg Times
published September 15, 2002

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The light does not shine as brightly on his end of the field. Across the way, Bobby Bowden was talking and grinning and aw-shucks-ing, and the cameras could not turn away.

On his end of the field, in the middle of the shadows, defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews stood with his arms folded, the way he usually does, all grim and gruff and grumpy. At Mickey's end of the field, they do not tell jokes. At Mickey's end of the field, they do slap shoulders.

This is his place. Where else does he need to go? For 19 seasons, Andrews has been the straight man in an act in which Bowden gets the top, and sometimes the only, billing. He is the yin to Bowden's yang, the darkness to his light, the gol-darnit to Bowden's dadgummit.

Such is the life of a trusted companion. For almost two decades, Andrews has been Bowden's right hand, running his own plays, playing his own games within the game. Bowden once referred to it this way: If Bowden is Robert E. Lee, then Andrews is Stonewall Jackson. A general of one fewer stars, if you will.

Yet, after all this time and all these victories, no one has ever seen fit to give Andrews a team of his own.

On a night such as this one, when it was up to Andrews' defense to blunt the offense of Maryland's Ralph Friedgen, it's easy to notice Andrews. Like Andrews, Friedgen spent an eternity as assistant coach, doing the thankless tasks while the program bore someone else's name. Everyone knew Friedgen was pretty good, but like Andrews, he lacked the corporate image and the polish that has taken over the sideline.

And so Friedgen waited until the Terps called. If they had not called, his window might well have shut. Since he arrived here, there has been a reason to pay attention to Maryland football.

Around the country, longtime assistant coaches have taken over college football. Larry Coker at Miami. Bob Stoops at Oklahoma. Frank Solich at Nebraska. Ron Zook at Florida.


He's still waiting.

"I really think people have missed the boat on Mickey," Bowden said. "I don't know why it hasn't happened for him. He's got all the tools to be a head coach. I know if I were to leave here, he'd be the guy I'd recommend."

Isn't that the implied contract to sports? That if you're good enough, if you work hard enough, then you move up the depth chart. Yet, at 60, Andrews is still in the profession of second-in-command. A quarter century ago, Andrews had a couple of head jobs at small colleges in Alabama, but that was as close as he ever came.

Over the years, the phone has rung from time to time. It's either been some place where Mickey could get the job, but he couldn't win, or a place where he could win, but he couldn't get the job.

Colleges wanted an offensive guy. A smoother, younger guy. A better speechmaker, a firmer back slapper. An alum. Someone who had been a head coach before. An easier sell to the boosters.

You know. Someone else.

For years, college programs have come to FSU to pluck assistants. But FSU's reputation always has been an offensive one, and so schools have come in to hire Brad Scott or Mark Richt or Tommy Bowden.

If you're Mickey Andrews, maybe you pick up the phone from time to time, just to see if there is a dial tone. It is as if programs believed if Andrews were the answer, someone else would have asked him the question long ago.

"I always thought he'd be perfect for Alabama," Bowden said. "He's one of Bear's boys, and with his success, that just made sense to me. But they've chosen to go other directions, I reckon."

For some assistants, for some great assistants, it works that way. Jerry Sandusky with Penn State. Erk Russell (until late in his career) with Georgia. Gary Stephens with Miami. For some reason or other, the tumblers never fell in place.

Don't get Bowden wrong. He isn't complaining. In fact, he gets a little nervous whenever he thinks about Andrews coaching somewhere else.

Case in point. When the Washington Redskins began to light it up this preseason, Bowden started to sweat.

"The first thing I thought was "Once Spurrier started to light it up, someone's going to come after Mickey with a bushel-load of money.' Because if Spurrier is moving the ball, teams are going to want someone who has stopped him. Those guys (the NFL) come after Mickey every year anyway."

In other words, all those great Spurrier-Bowden matchups? Forget it, Bowden said. First of all, those were Spurrier-Andrews matches. Spurrier's offensive, Andrews' defense.

Yeah, in a perfect world, maybe Andrews is on a different sideline. Maybe the cameras are following him wherever he wanders.

For now, however, this is a good place for him. Hey, wouldn't you rather be lieutenant governor of Florida than, say, king of lower Latvia?

Besides, there is much for Andrews to do at FSU. Last year was not a good year, and the early part of this season has had a few speed bumps too. In both games, the Seminoles had large leads. In both games, the defense turned vulnerable in the fourth quarter.

"We haven't slammed the door," Bowden said. "That's not like us."

Look at this FSU team. Chris Rix still has some untamed colt in him. Anquan Boldin missed all of last season. If the Seminoles are to reconquer the ACC, the defense needs to be relentless.

On Mickey's end of the field, he tends to mention such things a time or a hundred. At Mickey's end of the field, there is some snarl and some snap.

After all, there are assistants who turn into head coaches.

And there are assistants who turn head coaches back into assistants.

Back to Times Columnists

Back to Top

© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111

Times columns today

Mary Jo Melone
  • To get to Tallahassee, you have to travel I-4

  • Robert Trigaux
  • Time to end excuses for executive excesses

  • Helen Huntley
  • On Money

  • Jan Glidewell
  • Another election, with all the flinching

  • Martin Dyckman
  • Another Florida election

  • Philip Gailey
  • Misdirected blame won't explain the Election Day debacle

  • Bill Maxwell
  • They're laughing at us in Texas

  • Robyn E. Blumner
  • Bush's religious prescription

  • Hubert Mizell
  • Say 'see ya' to young announcers in prime-time sports

  • Gary Shelton
  • Andrews runs own game; how about his own team?

  • John Romano
  • Ravens mortgaged future for title, with no regrets

  • From the Times Sports page

    College football
  • Maryland mauling
  • Florida remedies few weaknesses
  • As ugly as can be for Bulls vs. Hogs
  • College football: Sick child receives valuable gift
  • Special teams make progress for UF
  • Weather delays 1st half
  • Local star steps in for Terps
  • Sloppiness doesn't cost Miami in rout of Temple
  • Big East: Syracuse rebounds against overmatched R.I.
  • ACC: Tiger defense preserves victory after late fumble
  • Around the State: Printers leads FAMU at Riverfront Classic
  • Around the nation: Nevada quarterback helps knock off BYU
  • Big Ten: Freshman Clarett spurs Buckeyes
  • Big 12: Trojans give Buffs little in trouncing
  • Irish squeak by Wolverines
  • SEC: Texas Tech sets Big 12 mark against Ole Miss
  • S.C. miscues lift Bulldogs
  • C-USA: West Virginia escapes Cincy's comeback specialist
  • Pac-10: Oregon continues mastery of Idaho
  • USF stumbles badly out of the blocks
  • Arkansas' blitz, mistakes silence Bulls offense

  • NFL
  • Rams will not abandon their confidence game
  • NFL Game Day: Week 2

  • Golf
  • Tough times near end for Tampa Bay Classic
  • A threat has little effect on Fleisher

  • Bowling
  • Two-time titlist top qualifier for World Team Challenge

  • Motorsports
  • Battle in Texas to decide IRL
  • Montoya has fastest F1 lap

  • Track
  • Montgomery breaks world record in 100

  • Et cetera
  • Highs and Lows

  • Baseball
  • Rivera is upbeat over BP session
  • NL: Risk pays off for red-hot Cards
  • AL: A's silence Mariners bats again
  • Cold spells may doom Red Sox

  • Prep
  • Depth the difference as Jaguars, Tigers repeat
  • Seminole's turnaround culminates
  • This time, Warhawks outduel Hurricanes
  • Level of competition the focus for Mitchell
  • Second-place finish helps Bucs enjoy trip
  • Mustangs, Knights overcome course
  • Plant teams pull off sweep

  • Outdoors
  • Daily fishing report

  • Letters
  • Game between 'Canes, Gatorsis worth seeing every season