Pressure mounts for Akron University footballer Tom Arth
Akron University football coach Tom Arth never fails to greet anyone with a smile.
It could be a journalist. It could be a Zips fan. It could be one of his players. But there is always a healthy smile.
“That will never change,” he said earlier this week as his team began preparations for their opener at Auburn on Saturday night.
As the Zips prepared to take on the most prominent opponent since joining UA in December 2018, no one could fault him for shouting “no mas”.
Times have not been exactly favorable for Arth and his staff as they attempt to transform the AU football program – a program that has been given renewed priority if a report from the task force on the review of the school athletics should be credited.
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The report, which showcases the contributions of different AU communities, recognizes the importance of men’s basketball and in particular football in the financial health of the athletics department and suggests prioritizing these sports with regard to scholarships and other areas.
That, however, is a complicated question when you consider that the football program’s income falls below UA’s mid-American conference peers, according to the report.
For Arth, that ultimately means the pressure to win, if not already at its peak, is sure to increase, especially since Larry Williams, the athletic director who hired him, is now gone. and replaced by Charles Guthrie.
Tom Arth sets his own expectations
And, if there is to be an honest conversation, a 0-12 season debut left no one with a great taste in their mouths. Arth has been consistent and sincere about his beliefs and goals since joining UA. He knows that with his position comes constant pressure.
“We expect to be the best. To be the best that we can be. I mean, it always is, it never changes, ”he said.
But there is a certain level of confidence heading into this particular fall.
“I definitely think we’re in a much better position than we’ve ever been for this season,” he said, “in terms of our roster, roster and all of that stuff. so really excited to see how we compete.
This confidence comes even after an undisclosed number of players missed training camp for reasons he steadfastly refused to share. Heading to Auburn, he adopts the next man mentality.
“Well, it’s everyday. Every day is a new day, and the challenge we have is the one that is here, the one that is in our meetings, in our tours, here on the training ground, our job is just to go there ”, a- he declared. “Going as hard as you can, improving as much as you can, competing, pushing hard, all of those things.
“And if we do this everyday, we’re going to get better, we’re going to get better. And sometimes there are days you miss a guy here, miss a guy there, but they have to come back when they come back and have the same mindset. So as we’ve had guys in and out of practice, the team as a whole has developed and grown. Some guys are a little more advanced than others, but we’re all on the same path, if that makes sense.
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What is Akron AD University waiting for?
While there are expectations for a number of Guthrie’s wins, he doesn’t share them. He wants what he calls “competitive excellence” from all of his programs. Yes, it is very vague. No, it cannot be measured by any number.
“This is the norm. As far as football is directly concerned, we obviously only have one place, but we still have to go up, ”he said. “And I am excited about the challenge of going up.”
Guthrie came to UA without any experience with a Division I football program.
He said he had not received any decree from his boss UA Pres. Gary L. Miller, per se, in terms of turning the tide. Perhaps he’s leaning on Markus Jennings, a newly hired assistant director of athletics and a Buchtel graduate who returned home after working at Sacramento State, an FCS school that offers a football program. However, for everyone involved, the Track and Field Review Task Force report presents a recommended roadmap.
“Well, I think when you look at what the inquiry committee is looking at is that we’re going to invest in whatever programs we want to make the most of our investment,” Guthrie said. “And so obviously, with the football program not having been successful over the past two years, return on investment is critical. It will be about all of us focusing on academic success and doing the right thing. .And that’s the best part of normal business.Competitive excellence is what we pursue.
Tom Arth takes up the challenge
Arth is okay with that, despite the level of adversity in his first three years, including a lack of the players necessary for the way he wanted to play the game. Staff changes this year, including his departure. friend and offensive line coach Tommy Zagorski, last season’s star loss, running back Teon Dollard and last but not least trying to coach and field an always competitive team in the middle global pandemic.
“I love it,” he said after practice on Tuesday. “The state of mind that I have, just bring it.” The more the better. Challenge me, challenge us.
That’s what he tells his team. Bring adversity.
“All it is is how you react and that defines you as a person. And great, here is another challenge, here is [more] adversity, ”he said. “Alright, opportunity for me to grow, opportunity for me to be better and be a better leader and get through that.
“And that’s what I think that really brings people together in a special way. When you don’t go through such situations, it’s really hard to really become the team that you are capable of being. When you’re going through tough, really, really tough times, I think that has the ability, if handled the right way, to really galvanize your team.
Zips fans, still hungry for a winning schedule, are likely hoping the process will begin on Saturday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn.
Contact George M. Thomas at [email protected] or on Twitter at @ByGeorgeThomas
Akron to Auburn
Time: 7 p.m. Saturday
TV: ESPN + / SEC Network