N.C. Central football coach Jerry Mack was the keynote speaker Wednesday at the Durham Sports Club. Mack was escorted by his “bodyguards,” assistant athletic director George “Bulldog” Smith and running backs coach Adrian Jones.
A near capacity crowd at Croasdaile Country Club listened as Mack, an Arkansas State graduate, began with an overview of his highly traveled career, beginning with his first job out of college at Delta State as a graduate assistant at the barely legal age of 21.
“I learned a lot at Delta State,” he said. “First, don’t watch the clock. You have to have a passion for what you do. Second, sacrifice. I had a chance to take a job at my alma mater, but it was not the right situation for me at the time. I had to tell my wife, who was home with a 1 year old, that I was not coming back home to take the job, I was staying at Delta State. It’s not a conversation you want to have with your wife. But Delta State is where I developed my craft. Third, I learned to manage my time. And fourth, I learned to recruit. The players at Delta State were just as old as I was or older.”
On his stint at Jackson State:
“That community is what Durham could become. It is a great community. Young men grow up wanting to play at JSU. I want the same thing in Durham –high school athletes at Southern Durham, Hillside, Northern, Jordan – players that want to play for NCCU.”
On Central Arkansas:
“Central Arkansas was detail-oriented program. The same athletics director that was at Delta State when I was there was at Central Arkansas and he hired me. So I tell players you never know who you’ll meet again so don’t burn your bridges. Central Arkansas got the most out of players. That’s why I say hard work beats top talent if the top talent doesn’t work hard.”
On Arkansas Pine-Bluff:
“This was my first opportunity as a (offensive) coordinator and where I grew as a coach. But I made some mistakes. I told God ‘If you just let me be an offensive coordinator again or head coach, I won’t make the same mistakes.’ “
On University of Memphis:
“Going home is not always what you expect. (Mack is a native of Memphis, Tenn.) We lived up the street from my parents. I wouldn’t make that same mistake again. My kids loved it, my wife not so much.”
On South Alabama:
“Great staff. Mobile, Alabama, is the best city I’ve worked in. The kids played hard. We lost five games by two points or less, but we ended up winning our last four games. They never gave up.”
Dang, it’s 1:41 a.m. Thursday morning.
Part 2 will be Mack’s interview process for the job and the response from the Eagle community so far.