By Kevin Wilson
PORTALES — For Eastern New Mexico University fans, the football season lasts from September to November.
For the players, it lasts from August to spring football in March — not including summer workout programs.
For the coaches, it’s a 12-month process, and it comes full-circle this week when practices begin on Thursday.
Not including walk-ons, 157 are scheduled for workouts for the Greyhound football squad. Going from zero to 157 is something the coaching staff builds up for “as soon as spring football gets done,” according to offensive coordinator Mike Howard.
“People think you work from August to November and that’s it,” Howard added, “and that’s just not true.”
The average hours for the coaching staff right now, Howard said, go from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. with a break for lunch — and those hours would be much longer without 10-20 hours of preparation each week throughout May and June, when students are all but gone.
Most of those hours aren’t spent in the office, as there are meetings throughout — the average Greyhound coach is usually in the office long enough to return phone calls.
The coaches spent Friday filling binders with a “how-to” manual for Greyhound players. There are three books — offense, defense and special teams — and running backs coach Mike Walton said that only about 40-50 players will receive more than one book.
Each book — the one for offense is 102 pages — includes the game schedule, the ENMU fight song, rules and policies (including practice, academic and dining hall), media guidelines and a playbook.
Through film sessions, the playbook is edited based on tendencies and results for each opponent and for the Greyhound team itself. The offensive play book, for instance, will actually be reduced from last season’s version. Howard estimated the play book includes 65-70 plays, but added that only 26 are running plays because “you can run the option against anything and everything.”
July 1 is the primary date to start preparing, as the university enters into its new budget for the upcoming year. Athletic trainer Ed Kabrick said no orders can be sent out until then, but there are other matters to attend to as well.
By the end of June, Kabrick sends every new athlete a packet of medical and legal documents, including a medical history form, a drug testing consent from, an insurance affidavit and a medical release form.
“The medical history helps us when we do the physical and alerts us to past medical history,” Kabrick said, adding that around 350-400 physicals will be done by August for all ENMU athletes — including spring sports. When necessary, the forms are updated and all are kept on file for at least 10 years, Kabrick said.
Each team will require items exclusive to its sport. That’s where Mark Ribaudo comes in for the football team. Ribaudo is the defensive coordinator for the Greyhounds, but equipment falls under what he calls “administrative duties.”
“Everyone has an administrative duty,” said Ribaudo, who takes care of equipment and acts as the pro scout liaison. “We all have administrative duties, teaching duties and football duties.
On Monday, Ribaudo will start to stock the field house with all of the necessary equipment. Ribaudo talks with Kabrick about equipment orders and the pair try to make determinations as to athletes that may need special equipment (i.e., an aggressive tackler and/or a player with a history of concussions may need a special helmet).
Ribaudo said that 50-60 helmets are sent each year to Riddell in San Antonio for upkeep and recertification. For safety and legal purposes, Ribaudo said that the helmets are not to be mishandled in any way. It’s not at all like the movie “Rudy,” where helmets are painted by a booster club — that is also done only by the helmet manufacturer.
“You don’t want to scrimp or cut corners when it comes to certain things,” Ribaudo said. “A helmet is one of them.”
Ribaudo said that ENMU head coach Bud Elliott delegates all of the duties, and has several duties himself including the budget, scheduling and public liaison duties.
At the Division I level, many of these duties are handled by people hired exclusively for each function. It’s a burden Ribaudo gladly takes because he feels he’s “never been to work a day in my life.”
“It’s just like third grade,” Ribaudo said. “I go to school, then football practice. I just don’t have to take tests now.”
The Greyhounds open the season at Adams State on Sept. 6. The home opener is scheduled for Sept. 13 against New Mexico Highlands.