Feb. 3, 2011

Nine Innings with Scott Doffek of Milwaukee

Nine Innings with Joe Jordano of Pittsburgh


Nine Innings with Scott Norwood

By Phil Stanton

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder

phil@collegebaseballinsider.com @roadtoomaha

What if you shared your name with someone famous, but the notoriety was for failure instead of success?


Such is the plight of UALR head coach Scott Norwood. His namesake missed a 47-yard field goal wide right in the waning seconds of Super Bowl XXV, giving the New York Giants a 20-19 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Jan. 27, 1991.


Norwood the coach is not Norwood the kicker. Norwood the coach has been at UALR for two seasons. The Trojans were 16-24 in 2009 before rebounding to post a mark of 29-25 a season ago. The 11-game turnaround was the 11th-best in Division I.


A native of Tulsa, Okla., and a 1988 graduate of Oral Roberts, Norwood has also been a head coach at Indianapolis, Mercyhurst, Sterling and Ouachita Baptist. He guided OBU to the Division II College World Series in 2008.


Norwood agreed to have some fun with us and answer our questions about football and baseball.


First Inning – Have you ever been a place-kicker, and have you ever been to Buffalo?
I really have never been a place-kicker at all. I have been to Buffalo quite a lot, as I was the head coach at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa., which is about 90 miles from Buffalo.


Second Inning – Have you ever been mistaken for the former Buffalo Bills kicker? Does it happen a lot?
I do get a lot of responses of "I have heard of your name, or how do I know you". Some are really because of baseball, but I'm sure some are trying to recall that former kicker. The kicker, Scott Norwood, and I don't look alike at all, I probably have a lot less hair. I actually wrote him a letter once at Mercyhurst and told him what I do. He did write back and signed a player card and wrote a nice letter. Last I knew he was in Virginia, working in insurance.


Third Inning – Most of your players weren't even born before Super Bowl XXV. Do they know about the missed field goal?
Some players have heard of the kicker, but of course that is probably from old footage and watching replays. Some guys who really know sports ask if I changed professions, which is funny.


Fourth Inning – Where did you watch the game? What was your reaction when you saw the kick go wide right?
I was watching the game in my hometown of Tulsa, with some of my friends. Actually my friends were going to dog pile me if he made the kick, but that didn't go the right way.  I do remember one of my friends said, “That kick just changed your life too. They might think you were the one you missed the kick.” All in fun.


Fifth Inning – Have you ever been heckled on the road about missing the kick?
I have been heckled about it before. I have been told the reason I obviously coach is because I can’t kick.

“Do the two foul poles remind you of any particular field goal? Maybe now you could kick it between the foul poles.”

“If you coach like you kick, you will be looking for your third job.”

Actually, Bo Collins of SIUE has nicknamed me "Wide Right" for years.


Sixth Inning – Do you have any funny stories over the years about sharing the name with the kicker?
As I mentioned earlier, I was the head coach at Mercyhurst College. For a fundraiser, we sold programs at Rich Stadium for all of the Buffalo Bills home games. I had to go to an orientation meeting in August of that year. As I checked into the Bills administrative offices, they asked for my name. I told them without thinking, “My name is Scott Norwood.” The secretary looked at me without hesitation and said, “If you say that again, we will have you removed from the property by security.” Well, I had to show them my ID and we all laughed at that afterwards. She told me they had had a lot of pranks and jokes and that Scott was one of their favorite players.


One other thing that was funny happened at the last game of the year vs. the Jets. The administration let our baseball team throw footballs on the field and take pictures. One guy on the team said we should recreate the kick , to exorcise the ghost of Scott Norwood. We did try, 11 on each side. The snap was good, the hold was great, and miraculously the kick was long enough from 46 yards. The only problem was it drifted wide right by about two feet. The Jets and Bills players laughed, as did our team. The pro players were just doing walkthroughs that early.


Seventh Inning – We are a College Baseball website, so we can't let you off the hook without asking about your team...you had an 11-game turnaround last year. What are some of your strengths this year?
Our pitching depth is a lot better and more consistent. Most of all our overall talent level is going to let us compete every day now. When I first arrived, we were lacking in talent, depth and a desire to be at the yard every day. Now we have a group of players and coaches that want to win and practice as much as possible. Our defense should still be a strength as well. Also, our overall hitting has more depth with more balanced hitters and speed. We look forward to an exciting season, we believe in our team as they do in their coaches.


Eighth Inning – Entering your third season at UALR, what are your thoughts on the depth and quality of play in the Sun Belt?
The Sun Belt is one of the most balanced leagues in the country. The quality of play is exceptional and the coaching is just as great from top to bottom. It is a dog-fight every weekend, and that is what makes this league very well respected. Our conference RPI was 7 last season, and we, our baseball team, are helping make that even stronger.


Ninth Inning – What was it like to take Ouachita Baptist to the D-II College World Series? And compare the rebuilding process at UALR to that of OBU, which had won 45 games in five years before you arrived and won 51 games in your final year in 2008.
The World Series at Ouachita Baptist was a great ride. I had friends tell me I would kill my career there, and look what happened. Some friends told me the same about coming to UALR. As many coaches do, I don't listen to them. You can't waste time talking about things you can't control, you can only improve the things we can control. It proves with hard work and quality young men, on and off the field, you can do anything. We only had roughly seven scholarships there, out of nine possible. Both places, including UALR, were in need of a jump start and I enjoy being a part of rebuilding programs from nothing. Rebuilding is fun, but it takes many hours of hard work from your staff, team and help from your administration. It also can require time away from your family and I am fortunate to have the support from my wife as well. We have that here in place at UALR. It takes a little bit longer at D-1 due to APR, transfer issues, etc. We have instilled a winning atmosphere here now. I know that starts at the top with me and my staff, but winning comes from recruiting better players as well. Having the 11th best turnaround was great and we need to build upon that. We have upgraded our schedule to attract the athletes we need. I believe we are on the right path, and we are excited where this program is headed. Our team doesn't believe in what all the polls predict and what’s written about this place. We know what we will do, and can do, and we look forward to winning together here. We hope to open some more eyes in the future, but we know we will have to outwork others, and we can. We want to get to the NCAA Tournament. Many people say we will never do that, I believe we will.


(head shot courtesy of UALR Media Relations Office, action shot by Nelson Chenault)