Friday, July 22, 2011

Former Ditka-era Bears assistant coach leads juco team

HighBeam Research

Title: Bringing back big-name football Kazor trying to make COD a force again.(Sports)

Date: 9/11/2005; Publication: Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL); Author: Bush, Joe
Byline: Joe Bush Daily Herald Correspondent
It was just a year ago that Steve Kazor was in desperate search of names. Now he's dropping them in bunches.
Barry Alvarez. Dick Vermeil. Mike and Bob Stoops. Charlie Weis. Bill Callahan. Chuck Long. Tom Landry. Mike Ditka.
In a span of a half hour last week, Kazor, the football coach at College of DuPage, mentions each, not because he idolizes them - he does - but because he knows or knew them. Personally.
You may recognize Kazor's name; he was a special teams/tight ends/assistant offensive line coach for Ditka's Chicago Bears teams. He's been from one end of the country and football world to the other as a player and coach, picking up rings for an NCAA title (Texas, 1978) and Super Bowl championship (Bears, 1985) along the way.
He left the NFL in 1996, and from 1998 to 2004 he guided the programs at MacPherson College in Kansas and Wayne State University in Michigan. When he arrived at COD in July 2004, the team consisted of 25 players and no paid assistants. The once-powerful program had dropped football from 1996 to 1999, and the Chaps had not won since 2002.
"We were actually an APB football team," Kazor says, referring to the law-enforcement term "all-points bulletin." "We actually put up signs around the school, signs downtown."
Within three weeks Kazor had increased his roster to 60. The team was winless, but this year the roster is well over 100. The 55-year-old says he has taken four days off. Last week the Chaps won a game, 17-14, over Ellsworth College.
That progress is a result of one of Kazor's strengths: recruiting. He's done it on Broadway - Colorado State, Texas and UTEP - and in the back alleys: College of Emporia, Southern Utah, Iowa Wesleyan.
"I love recruiting," he says. "We have so much to sell."
COD's athletic facilities and academic programs are top-notch, as are Kazor's background and contacts. The above list is only the most-recognizable men he's coached or coached with, and his Rolodex has already done wonders. Not only did he get practice time this week at Iowa State - "I know most of the Big Ten head coaches, most of the Big 12 coaches," he says - and later at Northern Iowa's UNI Dome, he helped secure full-ride scholarships (Oregon State, Delaware State) for two of his 2004 skeleton crew. He says that every one of his second-year players who wanted to play beyond COD got an opportunity.
Those latter two facts may be Kazor's shiniest sales pitches. In the world of junior-college athletics, especially in football, two- year schools are open-call auditions for the big time.
"Anytime you're here, you're looking to move on," says one of COD's best, 6-foot-5, 250-pound tight end Josh Hise.
Kazor doesn't hide his ability to showcase and deliver talent - "getting 'em in and getting 'em out," he calls it - behind talk of a return to glory at COD. If he has enough standouts for scholarship programs, his teams will probably do well.
"We tell 'em we expect a team concept here, but we certainly encourage individualistic ideas and goals because you're only gonna be here for two years," Kazor says. "We want you to move on to the best place you can go."
There are just 22 second-year players on the 131-man roster, and there are mid-majors sniffing around a few of them. Besides Hise (Gordon Tech), center Nick Slobidsky (Waubonsie Valley), and defensive backs Steve Kartheiser (Glenbard East) and Max Frempong (Romeoville) are attracting Division I attention.
"We're almost like an NFL situation," Kazor says of his recruiting task. "We're trying to get free agents for one or two years."
Except in the NFL players don't sit because they didn't make grades. That happened to Kazor's top two quarterbacks, dropping the job in the lap of 6-foot-5 freshman De Marien Hampton (Julian). Hampton led an option attack in high school, and Kazor's teams throw, throw and then throw. Nevertheless, Kazor says, "He's gonna be a great one."
Kazor has a bit of a feel for greatness. As an administrative assistant to Dallas Cowboys president Gil Brandt and Landry from 1980 to 1982, he got to know Ditka, a Cowboys assistant coach. That's three Hall of Famers. When Ditka got the coaching job with the Bears, he took Kazor along for a 10-year joy ride.
"(Ditka) gave me the ultimate opportunity, the chance to be an NFL coach," Kazor says. "That was something that I'll always treasure. I learned a lot of things as far as motivation. He was fun with the players, but very, very structured most of the time. Everybody knew where they stood with him. I think I'm the same way. I get a little excited, probably like he does. We both learned some things from Tom Landry."
Kazor says his other main influence is Tom Moore, the Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator. He worked with Moore in his three-year stint with Detroit (1994-96), where he held the same positions as he did with the Bears. Kazor says you may be able to detect some Colts in his offense.
"I probably learned more offensive football from him than anybody, collectively, in my entire life," Kazor says.
Kazor is passing along his knowledge to volunteer assistants Bob O'Connor, Ted Brom, James Kevil, Rich Petroski, Derrel Sanders, Eric Wates, Kevin Worthy and Greg Williams. Worthy, a defensive coach with experience at McHenry High School and North Central College, applied for work at Northwestern before meeting Kazor at a coaches' clinic. He's now an offensive line coach soaking up Moore's offensive ideas through Kazor.
"The whole offensive line play, the checks, the ways you attack certain things, whew, is all new, so it's refreshing," Worthy says. "There's another one of the coaches on the staff, we're kind of coming from similar backgrounds, and we couldn't be more excited."
COPYRIGHT 2005 Paddock Publications
This material is published under license from the publisher through the Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan.  All inquiries regarding rights should be directed to the Gale Group.

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