Storm's temporary head coach Dave Ewart has been here before.
By FRANK PASTOR, Times Staff Writer
Published April 2, 2005
TAMPA - Dave Ewart never saw it coming.
One week, he was tracking substitutions from the sideline box. The next, he was calling plays on the field.
Not last week, when he was named Storm interim coach after Tim Marcum was suspended for four games spanning this and next season for salary-cap violations in 2003 and '04.
Nearly a decade ago, in St. Louis.
Earle Bruce resigned a month into the '96 Arena Football League season, leaving then 27-year-old Ewart two days to prepare for a game at Albany.
"It was much like last week," Ewart said. "Earl resigned on a Wednesday, we took the team up on a Friday, and we beat the (stuffing) out of them."
It was a different story March 26 in Los Angeles, where the Storm suffered a season-worst 59-28 loss. And unlike the situation in St. Louis, Ewart's promotion is only temporary.
"We know it's still Coach Marcum's ship," quarterback Shane Stafford said. "It's just somebody is kind of steering it for a little while."
Though the circumstances are new, Ewart has been in this situation before.
After a year coaching fullbacks/linebackers and special teams with the Cleveland Thunderbolts, he moved with Bruce to St. Louis in '95, where he served as assistant head coach and director of player personnel. Bruce stayed away during the offseason, leaving Ewart to put together the roster, find practice facilities and get the expansion franchise off the ground.
"Basically, they threw a team at me and said, "Here you go, run with it,' " Ewart said.
St. Louis burst out of the gate, winning nine games to tie for the most by a first-year team. The mark was surpassed by Nashville (10) in '97 and New Orleans (11) last season.
"That was something to be proud of," Ewart said, "because that's something that's tough to do in this league."
Ewart, a Division I All-American at East Tennessee State, showed an aptitude for coaching when he picked up ETSU's offense just weeks after transferring from Salem College in 1989.
"You've got a good football mind," Ewart said an assistant told him. "You need to get into coaching."
He worked with ETSU's offensive line for a year before moving to Glenville (W.Va.) State College to coach the defensive line and special teams in 1992 and '93. While at Glenville, he attended a Storm camp in St. Petersburg, then spent a few weeks with the Sacramento Attack.
When Bruce sought an assistant with knowledge of the Arena league, Ewart parlayed a connection at Glenville into his first pro job. Walking into Richfield Coliseum as fireworks popped overhead and AC/DC's Thunderstruck blasted from speakers, Ewart immediately was hooked on the Arena game.
"Ever since then, the outdoor game's been boring to me," Ewart said. "I can't really sit there and watch it."
Taking the reins in '96, Ewart guided St. Louis to an 8-6 finish before the team folded. He used the experience to beat out more than 30 candidates, including two-time NFL coach of the year Jack Pardee, for the Texas job the next year.
Though the Terror's 6-8 record was a five-game improvement over the previous season, Ewart was replaced when the team was renamed the Houston Thunderbears the next year. He became coach of the Florida Bobcats in 2000-01 and led the team to a victory over the Storm in 2000 and a sweep of the Orlando Predators in '01, something the organization hadn't done in eight previous seasons.
Ewart joined the Storm in 2003 after receiving a phone call from quarterback John Kaleo, whom he had coached in Cleveland and St. Louis, telling him the team was looking for a line coach.
"It was just a good fit," Ewart said. "I'm having a good time. I'd be having a better time if we won some games, but I'm enjoying myself in Tampa."