(PHOTO/ Chris Wallace)
Troy head football coach Chip Lindsey is entering his first year calling the shots for the Trojans. Lindsey took the chance to speak with Trojan supporters and sign autographs at Fan Day.
Last school year, Troy welcomed a pair of new faces to the Trojan Nation. Scott Cross (men’s basketball) and Chip Lindsey (football) both came to Troy very optimistic and eager to get their respective programs to the standard of excellence that Troy teams are known for. But what have Troy legends of the past done in their first year of hire?
The first year as a college head coach is never easy. These coaches are set up with the task of teaching players they did not recruit or have relationships with prior to this year. A new head coach can either start building a program’s success for many years to come, or can continue the downward slide the program was on before the hire.
The first coach that comes to mind when thinking of successful coaches at Troy University is Larry Blakeney, whom the field in Veterans Memorial Stadium is named after. Blakeney is the winningest coach in Troy football history with a record of 178-113-1 and ushered Troy through the transition from Division II to Division I. Blakeney lead the Trojans to eight conference titles, five bowl games, and seven Division 1-AA playoffs in his coaching career.
But how did his first season go? Not too well. Blakeney was hired in 1990, and then his first full season in 1991 he led the Troy State Trojans to an overall record of 5-6. Although his first year coaching the Trojans was not as successful as he had hoped over the course of five seasons, Blakeney turned around a declining program into a perennial playoff team and even conference champions in 1996.
Another historic Trojan coach is Don Maestri. Maestri was the Troy men’s head basketball coach from 1982 until 2013 and is currently an assistant basketball coach at Texas A&M. Maestri led the Trojans to 27 conference titles and two NCAA tournament appearances, as well as two NIT tournament appearances. Maestri coached at Troy for 31 years held a record over that time of 501-403. Although Maestri’s record as a coach is impressive, his first year at Troy was far from spectacular. His team went 15-13 overall and 7-7 in conference play. The mediocre performances wouldn’t last long, though, because he soon got the Trojans back in postseason action in 1987 when Troy went to the Division II NCAA Tournament Final Four.
Regardless of what this first season entails for a new duo of coaches, Trojan fans have lots to look forward to.