October 26th, 2019 12:00am
GSC Spotlight Interview for Week 8
Todd Cooley – Head Coach Delta State University
Vada King, Jr. – Senior Linebacker Delta State University
Vada King, Jr. – Senior Linebacker Delta State University
Tell me a little bit about yourself? Class, and Minor?
“Well I come from a military family, so we moved around a lot. I was born in Columbia, South Carolina, but went to High School at Smith’s Station, Alabama. Both my father, Vada King, Sr., and my mother, Veronica King, were in the U.S. Army, with my dad being a U.S. Army Ranger. I’m currently a senior, majoring in Education.”
Who would you say is the one person that has always inspired you?
“I would say my biggest inspiration and who has always pushed me and inspired me to be my very best every day is my mother, Veronica King.”
What would you say is a talent that you have outside of football? I.e. playing a musical instrument, singing, juggling, etc.
“Poetry and my favorite poet, it has to be Tupac Shakur.”
What is your favorite food? What would you say is the best eating place you enjoy the most in Cleveland?
“Hmm, I don’t really have a favorite food, but if I had to pick one it would be Chinese. I like to go with my fellow linebackers to this place in Cleveland called the Tokyo Express.”
I know you don’t have much free time throughout the year being a student athlete, but what is a favorite hobby of yours?
“Talking and spending time with my girlfriend and reading poetry.”
Most embarrassing thing ever that you can think of?
“When I was in the 5th grade, my P.E. class was into teaching dance to the students and I was really shy, so I would go hide in the bathroom every day during P.E.”
I know a lot of schools recruited you before attending Holmes JUCO and after, so what made you decide to come to Delta State?
“Just the love that was shown by everyone. I got a sense of unity from the players and coaches, and just everyone. Lots of love from everybody I met.”
Do the guys on the team have a nickname for you?
“No. Not that I’m aware of.”
Obviously you’re a leader on this team. What are some things you say or do that you feel like motivates your teammates in case you are down at halftime or not everyone is playing with 100% energy?
“I don’t really get in anyone’s face or raise my voice or anything like that. I try to lead by example in everything I do.”
Any special or superstitious thing you do before a game?
“The night before I always make this special tea and for the game, I wear this headband my mom gave to me.”
Who is your position coach and describe how he is during practice as well as off the field?
“Coach Kelvin Green and he is a straight forward, very level headed type coach. If you screw up, he doesn’t chew you out, he just reminds you to get better on the next play.”
No pressure, but describe Coach Cooley for me from a players perspective?
“Very passionate. Truly shows how much he cares for me and all of his players.”
Which position would scare the heck out of you if Coach Cooley called you over and said I need you to get in there and play fill in the blank? What position would you love for the coaches to call you in to play if it was just for one play?
“The position that would scare the heck out of me if called on to play would have to be Quarterback.”
“Oh, I would to play some running back.”
Have there been any community projects you have been a part of during your time at Delta State and if yes, which one did you feel you learned and got the most out of?
“I think the biggest thing that I really got a lot out of as far as meaning something to me and to this community would be the City Cleanup. It’s something we do for the community and it’s called ‘Keep Cleveland Beautiful’.”
What is something you would like to see yourself doing after the game of football, career wise?
“I could see myself becoming a U.S. Army Ranger.”
What’s your favorite class ever at Delta State?
“It would have to be a Psychology class I took one time.”
What are some things you do, being a student athlete that helps you manage such a hectic schedule?
“I use a daily planner that the coaches gave to me and I use that to plan my days and make sure I am where I’m supposed to be at.”
What had been your proudest achievement ever up to today’s date?
“My Associate’s Degree from Holmes Junior College.”
Do you have any personal goals, whether on the field or off, that you still are working on towards achieving?
“My personal goal every day is to be the very best that I can be in everything.”
Final question, is there any game you have circled on your calendar this year?
“We just try and take one game at a time, so I would say the next game is the most important to me.”
Coach Todd Cooley – Head Football Coach at Delta State University
Watching you on TV or in person, I see that you are very passionate about the game you love, especially towards referees and it reminds me a little bit of watching Coach Nick Saban. I know D2 does not have replay, but if a referee made a bad call or no call right in front of you that literally caused the other team to win, how do you handle those type of things at that moment as well as after the game?
“I don’t handle bad calls well at all to be honest with you, but it’s tough on those referees, especially in the GSC and at this level. There is no benefit of the instant replay at our level. Sure, in the heat of the moment I know I have said some things during and after that I sort of regret, but I try to remind myself how tough these guys have it. I try to help them as well when talking to them. I’m definitely not going to apologize for my passion on wanting to win though, so you have to be yourself towards the referees, towards anybody. Again, it’s a tough job they have on their shoulders, and I understand that, and I try to talk to them as reasonable as I possibly can under the circumstances, but at the same time, it is tough on me too, especially if it is a bad call or no call.”
What is your opinion of multi-sport athletes?
“I’m all for the success of Delta State Athletics and if that means one of my players can help another team out to win, then I support that. Every situation is different though. If a player of mine wants to play baseball, but instead I find out he is sitting on the bench all the time, I’m going to have a talk with that young man and discuss priorities especially if he is here for football and his scholarship is for football. I had a former player of mine, David Harrington, great linebacker and a great 3rd baseman for our baseball team, and so there is a situation that worked out for both me and Coach Mike Kinnison. Sure, I missed not having David during our spring training and I’m sure Coach Mike Kinnison missed not having David during his fall camp, but David was able to help both teams win. Every situation is different though.”
What would you say is the toughest thing about being a Head Football Coach?
“Managing everything. Just trying to manage everything. Practice schedules, study halls, budgets, recruiting, you name it. At this level, you just don’t have the staff that say an Alabama or an Ole Miss has, so myself, along with my staff, we have to wear many hats. I love it though because at the end of the day it is all about these players.”
How do you go about getting the community and students involved and attend the games regularly?
“A lot of people work on this, not just me. For example, Dr. Vernell Bennett, Vice President for Student Affairs, does a lot around here on getting the students involved, but it’s not just on her either, it’s on all of us. We try to take student buses for big time games. We took a couple of buses to West Alabama during the playoffs one year. We try and offer an amazing tailgate area at the Levee. Most importantly, we try and show appreciation from the coaches down to the players towards our fans that are able to attend our games. I have dreams and ideas for all sorts of things on campus related to the football team and filling out this place during games, and my plan is to see them through one day in order to make this university greater than it already is.”
Who is your biggest inspiration in your life Coach?
“My dad, Don Cooley. He passed away in 2015. He taught me so many things in life. One thing I think of the most is my grandfather had a hardware business and my dad gave up coaching to work for him, even though he didn’t like it. He did this in order to watch me grow up and be there for me as a dad versus not being there much at all if he was in coaching. After the hardware store went out of business, my dad did go back into coaching and we would be driving home after a game with him asking me what I would do in certain situations. He was definitely someone that inspired me and that I miss to this day.”
Have you ever dealt with an irate parent who was questioning you on why his son wasn’t being played? How would you deal with something like that?
“Yes, unfortunately I have had to deal with a situation like this a time or two. As a parent of a player though, you have to do what I call ‘Stick to the Facts’. True story. We had a good quarterback one year, great kid, who was named National Player of the Week after one of our rival games. Two weeks later, we go and play one of our conference rivals and he’s just not doing that well, so I put in the backup quarterback who turns out to be very good, actually better quarterback than the previous starter. Well, about a week later after a victory against Valdosta State I think it was, the step dad of the original starting quarterback comes up to me and says “Coach, that quarterback you have now playing is a great player”, and that is how all parents should be. I pride myself on being up front and honest with these young men and their parents while recruiting them. I also expect and hope that the parents realize that their son is not playing junior high or varsity high school football. That they are playing college level football.”
Obviously, most fans want to win every game, every year, no exceptions. How do you handle fan and/or alumni criticism?
“My dad actually taught me many lessons long time ago about being the coach and having fans not like you, and I’ve tried to apply those lessons when the situation arises in order to deal with it. I understand the job I’m in. It’s tough. I don’t read newspapers, message boards, or things like that. I try and read your articles when I can, but everything else, I try to just ignore. You have to just keep coaching though. I know this program is better today than it’s ever been before. What’s scary to me is the short leash that coaches have nowadays. People expect you to change a program or a culture around the second day on the job and that’s just not realistic. The multi-million dollar donors that say they are going to quit giving if the administration doesn’t meet their demands, I mean what is that teaching our young people? It just scares me for the game of football in the future.”
What do you love the most about being the HC at Delta State? What do you love the most about living in Cleveland, MS?
“I love this university. I love Cleveland. My wife, Lisa teaches here. You know I was not a DSU guy when I got hired, and several other applicants did have ties to DSU, so I’m blessed to have this opportunity to live and coach in a place that is truly remarkable. It’s all about the people here. You know, and I have to deal with this in recruiting battles sometimes, that Cleveland is in the middle of nowhere by our competitors, but not only is that not true, it’s all about the great people here at this university and in this area. They are the ones that make it a great and beautiful place to live and raise your family. The people here make the difference.”
What are your thoughts on the current playoff structure for D2?
“As a current regional committee member, I honestly think it is as good as you can get at this level. It is so hard to know how good teams are from all over the country at this level. I’m good with the way it is unless someone can come up with something better.”
Final Question, there has been a lot of talk recently about players getting paid additionally to what they currently receive thru their scholarship. California has already passed legislation on this and several other states are looking into this as well. Do you think this is good or bad for the sport and why?
“Personally, I think this could very well open up Pandora’s Box on college football. In my professional opinion, college football today is going to be totally different by the time you and I are gone. I see big time schools breaking off, and more importantly though, where does it stop on additional payments? What about Title IX? Smaller revenue schools versus large revenue schools but in the same division level? I mean I agree with Tim Tebow, and that is a college scholarship and all that goes with that should be enough. I understand that schools and companies make millions, I really do, but again, where do you stop? If you’re wanting to make some money off your likeness and you can’t under the current conditions, then don’t go to college for those 3-4 years, and stay in your hometown and train, and then join the NFL. It’s just a dangerous turn in my opinion and again, what are we teaching our youth? And then you have the transfer portal that is the hot topic. What are we teaching our youth in that area? If life doesn’t go your way, it’s okay to quit and try somewhere else? We have to start thinking of any and all repercussions of the decisions we make, especially the ones in positions that are contemplating the possibility of Pay for Play for student athletes across the country.”