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Houston on AAC coaches' minds

Harvey
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Evacuees walk along a median of Interstate 610 covered in floodwaters in Houston on Sunday.

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BY RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

It is not easy for a lot of people in Texas right now as they battle the flooding and aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, and the American Athletic Conference coaches can feel that because part of the league’s roots are in the Lone Star State.

The first AAC coaches teleconference of the season began Monday with veteran Ken Niumatalolo of Navy offering support to Houston first-year head man Major Applewhite before he even mentioned his team’s matchup at Florida Atlantic. The struggles in Texas were a theme throughout the rest of the teleconference.

“It is so saddening to see what is happening down in the coastal area of our state, but yet it’s rewarding to see the people coming together,” SMU’s Chad Morris said.

Morris is a Texas native and former high school coach in the state. He has offered help to Houston and to Rice, which is coached by David Bailiff, and Morris described Bailiff as one of his best friends in the profession.

“It’s just a time of need right now and we all have to come together,” Morris said.

Houston’s players and coaches have been in Austin since late last week and been able to use the Texas’ Longhorns facilities. UH assistant athletics director for communications David Bassity said during the teleconference that an emphasis during the weekend was for all players to contact their families and assure their safety, which was able to happen.

The Cougars are scheduled to play Saturday night at Texas-San Antonio, but the team is having to take a day-to-day approach to the week for now.

“We just continue to monitor the situation and obviously it changes rapidly,” Bassity said. “You can go back to Wednesday when it looked like it was just getting remnants of a tropical storm and 48 hours later, it was a Category 4 hurricane.”

East Carolina had to go through a similar situation last fall with Hurricane Matthew. It caused schedule changes and required flexibility by coaches and players.

“When parents can’t get to their kids, there is a lot of angst with it,” Pirate coach Scottie Montgomery said. “At the end of the day, it’s all about patience and family. … It’s bigger than football and is bigger than school — these are these kids’ lives.”

Thursday primetime

The biggest opportunity for an American team this week likely comes with Tulsa’s trip to Oklahoma State set for Thursday night.

OSU is considered by some pundits a serious national championship contender. Tulsa had a breakthrough 10-3 record last season, but also hasn’t won in Stillwater since 1951.

“You have good feelings about your team, but until you actually tee it up for real, you just don’t know,” Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery said. “We go against each other all the time and now we finally get a chance to go against a new opponent.

“It ought to be a great game and we’re looking forward to it. Hopefully we can represent our conference and our university well.”

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

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