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Mike Locksley – Head Coach, University of Maryland



The guest of today’s episode is Coach Mike Locksley. Coach Locksley is currently the Head Coach of The University of Maryland where he will be starting his first season as the head man, but back with the Terp’s a 3rd time in his career. Prior to Maryland, Locksley was the offensive coordinator at Alabama and received the 2018 Broyles Award, being recognized as the best assistant coach in the country. Coach has also been at schools such as Army, Florida, Illinois, and was a head coach at New Mexico.

Locks is 100% Maryland. Having grown up a DC native and played @ Towson State (known today as Towson University), he eats, sleeps, and breathes all things Maryland. I have been told that when it comes to the DMV area (DC, Maryland Virginia), all roads run through Mike Locksley. Throughout his career, especially when he was at Maryland, Locks has owned recruiting in the DMV. Players such as E.J. Henderson, Shawn Merriman, Stefon Diggs, and Vernon Davis are examples of players Coach Locksley won, and then developed in NFL stars, not to mention all DMV natives. When it comes to recruiting and evaluating talent, parents trust him and players want to play for him – the ultimate recipe for winning.

I always love going into environments, and offices where I am meeting people for the first time. This was the case for my trip to Maryland and meeting Coach Locks. I hadn’t been to College Park since ’09 when we (@ MTSU) played Maryland as an out of conference opponent. A lot has changed since then, obviously for the better. There are Under Armour logos everywhere, and new facilities being built as we speak. Most will play a large role for the football team as well as the other athletic programs on campus. Kevin Plank, CEO and founder of Under Armour, is a large part of the scene on campus, and has made a generous commitment to the new training and research facility overlooking the football stadium. Speaking of Plank, Coach Locksley shares a story on the pod about how he got “in” with the football program back in the early 2000’s that is pure gold….stay tuned.

Locks was super chill, inviting, and into the podcast. He invited me into his offices, behind the scenes, behind closed doors and told me to ask him whatever I wanted to. He made time, held off other calls and visits, and made me feel like an alum of the program…shows you what kind of guy he is. In my mind, Maryland made the long overdue but great decision in hiring Mike Locksley to be their head man and I know his Terp’s will be back on the national scene in no time. Thanks Coach for the time, and good luck!

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David Cutcliffe – Head Coach, Duke University



The guest of today’s episode is David Cutcliffe. Coach Cutcliffe is currently the head coach of Duke University, and beginning his 12th season with the Blue Devils. Prior to Duke, Coach Cut started his career at Banks HS in Alabama before moving on to Tennessee, and Ole Miss. Known as the ultimate QB coach, Cutcliffe has coached some of the best such as Peyton and Eli Manning, Heath Shuler, Todd Helton, Tee Martin, and most recently, Daniel Jones.

Coach Cutcliffe is the definition of a gentleman. I recall the first time he and I met….it was during Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco where I was lucky enough to be a guest of my sister’s and experience the weekend hosted by Gatorade. Coach Cutcliffe of course was there with the Manning family and all of his various connections, not to mention the Broncos were playing the Panthers where Peyton walked off the field a Super Bowl Champ. I instantly took on to coach and having played at Duke for one year, we had a common interest….Duke Football. His mannerisms, the way he treated my sister, my wife and I, and of course his wisdom when telling stories or having a general conversation were second to none, and I instantly wanted to be around him as often as possible. His attitude and personality is infectious, I can’t imagine how great it must be to play for him.

I was lucky enough to be able to record the podcast with Coach Cut inside his Duke office. It was neat, he has an almost what I’ll refer to as a boardroom, off of one side over looking Wallace Wade Stadium. I was sitting where men like Peyton, Eli, and Archie Manning sit. David Gettleman, Pat Shurmur, Phil Fulmer, to name a few….pretty powerful. But what struck me the most about Coach wasn’t the Mannings, not the fact he won a national championship at Tennessee, or that he’s arguably one of the best college coaches in the country. It was that he treated me like one of his own players. He valued what I had to say and listened to every word. He cared, he was present, he came prepared for the podcast. And to me, that shows you just what kind of person he is.

As I mentioned, I played at Duke from 05’-06’ and had not been back since. It’s been said that Coach Cutcliffe is just as good off the field as he is on the field. Meaning fundraising, recruiting, academic development and his community outreach is top notch. Those talents of his are definitely on display when you visit Duke University and the Yoh Football Center. Wallace Wade Stadium has been renovated, Yoh is polished and enhanced throughout, and the indoor facility behind the stadium is great. Cool story – the indoor @ Duke is where Peyton Manning came to rehab with Coach Cutcliffe when he came back from his injury. NFL scouts and coaches came to Duke to see Peyton in person to analyze how he had been progressing and to witness his workouts with Coach. Overall, the whole day was a first class experience for me and I hope to continue to visit regularly with Coach Cutcliffe and his impressive staff.

Follow TALKIN’ BALL Podcast on Twitter: @genedelledonne and IG: @genedelledonne. Listen @talkinball.com

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Chip Long – Offensive Coordinator, Notre Dame



The guest of today’s episode is Chip Long. Coach Long is currently the offensive coordinator of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish,  and starting his 3rd season. Prior to Notre Dame, Long spent several seasons with head coach Mike Norvell where he followed him from Arizona State to Memphis before getting hired by Brian Kelly. Coach Long also coached at Illinois, and GA’d under Bobby Petrino during his time at Louisville and Arkansas.

For a young coach, Chip has succeeded early and coached for some of the best. In my opinion, it’s only a matter of time until he gets a prominent head coaching job, but what stuck out to me while visiting with him was the level of respect his peers, especially the older coaches on staff, have for him. I was told by several on staff, “Chip is sharp, one of the best we’ve been around, and 100% gets it.” It was cool to hear them scheming for the upcoming season and say, “We’ll have to see what Chip thinks.” To me, this was awesome to hear and experience first hand….the amount of respect, wisdom, and simply put – polish was unbelievable throughout the hallways in the Notre Dame Football Offices.

Many people have asked me to start talking about my experiences when I visit these college programs and NFL Franchises. Especially the Notre Dame faithful. The football facilities were special, painted in blue and gold with the logo “ND” throughout. One of the strongest brands in college football. The indoor practice facility had just opened and was top notch. Large doors opened up to the outdoor fields practically connected to the facility and it had some of the best turf, and lighting indoors I have seen. I have to believe if you’re a recruit, it’s tough to say no to a place like that. Not to mention, the place and campus as a whole, reeks of football tradition. The golden dome, gold helmets, Lou Holtz, Tim Brown etc… one can get lost just taking it all in over the course of a day. The candlelit grotto you see on the movie Rudy is special, with touchdown Jesus overlooking you at all times. The grass, the flowers throughout the campus is like a fairway on a golf course. Everything looks, feels, smells perfect. If you’re a football fan, especially for the Irish, the place is a slice of heaven.

Lastly, Coach Long walked me across campus to see my man and old friend Mike Brey. Brey is the head coach of the Men’s Basketball team at Notre Dame, and came from the University of Delaware. Back in his Delaware days, I grew up with his son, Kyle, so it was great to reminisce and catch up with Coach. Thank you Coach Brey for the time and hospitality, and thanks Chip for the time spent. Can’t wait to get back, #GoIrish!

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Steve Ellis – DB’s Coach University of South Florida



The guest of today’s episode is Coach Steve Ellis. Ellis is the DB’s coach at The University of South Florida. Prior to USF, he spent 10 seasons at Middle Tennessee State and before that, Nichols State. Coach Ellis is a maser at developing talent. Having coached some of the NFL bests such as Lardarius Webb and Kevin Byard.

But what struck me the most about Coach Ellis is his passion. I’ll tell you why. Normally when I interact and reach out to a coach, I send him my questions and discuss topics I’d like to cover while being on the pod. Most of them say, “Great, can’t wait to do it, see you soon.” Not Ellis.  When I sent him my questions, he responded with 28 different topics where he fine tuned mine and made other suggestions of what he’d like to discuss. That show you how diligent of a man Ellis is and how much he cares about his profession. Ellis came into the podcast with his notes out and ready to go. Coach, I really appreciate that – thank you.

Coach Ellis and I now talk weekly, sometimes even daily. And most importantly, all the coaches I speak with who know Coach all say the same thing. Ellis is the flat out man. He’s the master at his craft and one of the best DB and defensive coaches around.

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Follow TALKIN’ BALL Podcast on Twitter: @genedelledonne and IG: @genedelledonne. Listen @talkinball.com


Danny Rocco – Head Coach University of Delaware



On today’s episode I sit down with Head Coach of The University of Delaware – Danny Rocco.  Coach Rocco has coached at programs such as UVA, Texas, Maryland, Boston College, and in the NFL with the Jets.  In 13 seasons as being a head coach, he has never had a losing season!!! That’s unbelievable.  Head coach at Liberty, Richmond, and UD.  Rocco was also named the CAA coach of the year in 2015 while at Richmond.
Coach Rocco comes from a football heavy background.  He and his brother were both players, and his dad was their ultimate mentor – a longtime high school head coach in Pennsylvania.  You can tell that football is literally in Rocco’s blood.  He’s intense, passionate, and clearly has a definitive plan to being successful which we discuss on the pod.
As being a born and raised Delawarean, I must say that it was an honor and awesome experience to meet finally meet and spend time with Coach.  In this small state of Delaware, we do not have a pro team, so the Blue Hen’s are the one’s we follow week in and week out, and we follow them heavily.  One thing that landed Coach Rocco away from Richmond to Delaware was the passionate fan base.  Coach elaborates on the podcast, but unless you have been to a game you have no idea how the Blue Hen Faithful is.  They really truly care – I saw it with my sister during her basketball career at Delaware.  Plus – at any game, you can catch Senator Coons, Senator Carper, Governor Carney, and Vice President Joe Biden (all monster UD supporters) sitting next to President Assanis…..a pretty cool experience.

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Matt Shadeed – Head Strength Coach UMass Football



Matt Shadeed, head strength coach of UMASS Football. Coach Shadeed has previously coached at Baylor, Arkansas State, Ole Miss, and Southern Miss and has spent a good portion of his career with head coach – Walt Bell.

When visiting UMASS and spending the day with Shadeed, I was amazed by his energy. Seriously, I’ve never seen anything like it. I asked him about it on the pod you’ll find interesting.

One of the biggest hires for a head football coach is the strength coach. The strength coach is the glue of the program, the one person who is around the players the most, whether it be during season or the off season. He is responsible for transforming an 18 year old freshman boy into a 22 – 23 year old senior man.  This is why the strength coach is also one of the highest paid coaches on a staff…..they are THAT important.

It was evident the level of respect the UMASS players have for Coach Shadeed. They look up to him, they workout and have fun with him, they rally around him. Walt Bell made a great hire here, and it’s going to be fun to watch Bell and Shadeed build the UMASS program brick by brick to prominence.

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Willie Simmons – Head Coach Florida A&M



Willie Simmons, head coach at FAMU, also known as Florida A&M. Coming out of high school, Simmons was a stud QB highly recruited and committed to Clemson and then transferred to the Citadel where he finished his college playing career. Coach Simmons then hit the coaching world as a RB’s coach at Middle Tennessee State and became the OC where he had a top 20 offense in the country. He was responsible for turning around the Alcorn State program’s offense as well as Prairie View A&M where he was the head coach and had one of the top scoring offenses in the nation. Today, Willie and his program at FAMU are set to be at the top of the MEAC and FCS. Needless to say, at age 38, the future is very bright for Coach Simmons.

I remember when Coach was our RB’s coach at MTSU. Always  cool, calm and collected, coach had an unbelievable rapport with us players and of course his fellow coaches. It was great to reconnect with Willie, and spend the day with him. As he drove me around the FAMU campus, I had no idea that it and Florida State touch borders. Obviously a great recruiting tool for Simmons at FAMU, Tallahassee has a lot to offer. A college town, but still has what a large city has to offer. Seeing where Willie is now and how successful he has been, I can only think about where he’ll be in 5-7 years. I would say a head coach at a big time university. I hope you enjoy the pod, and as always let me know your thoughts via the website at http://talkinball.com.

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Mike Vick – NFL 13 year veteran talks ball



Arguably one of the most transcendent players in the history of the game, Mike Vick played 13 seasons in The NFL.  Coming out of Virginia Tech in 2001, Vick was selected first overall by the Atlanta Falcons and played the bulk of his career in Atlanta and Philadelphia. Listen here as Gene was fortunate enough to be invited to the Vick household. Getting into the game at a young age, coaching mentors, and Vick’s current V7 platform are a few of many great topics discussed.

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Joe Craddock – Offensive Coordinator Univeristy of Arkansas



Description – Joe Craddock is the Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach at the University of Arkansas, the youngest Offensive Coordinator in the SEC.  Prior to Arkansas, Craddock was OC at SMU under Chad Morris, and was hired by Dabo Swinney to be an Offensive Player Development Coach at Clemson University.

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Rich Bisaccia – Assistant Head Coach Oakland Raiders



Rich Bisaccia is the Assistant Head Coach and Special Teams Coordinator for the Oakland Raiders.  Bisaccia has also coached at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the San Diego Chargers, and the Dallas Cowboys and at the College ranks at schools such as South Carolina, Clemson, and Mississippi.

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FollowTALKIN’ BALL Podcast on grailsports.com/listen Twitter: @genedelledonne and IG: @genedelledonne