Zook to coach new Parkland football program
Published: Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Updated: Thursday, April 5, 2012 17:04
This coming fall, Parkland’s first-ever football team will begin play as one of only two junior college teams in the state of Illinois.
Junior college football had, until recently, fallen out of favor throughout the Midwest and the rest of the country as a result of the costs associated with the program.
Adding a football program requires the use of a larger portion of a school’s budget due to the need for more scholarships and the expenses associated with salaries for a larger coaching staff.
These expenses have caused many small colleges to cut their football programs. This was one of the main reasons why Parkland has decided that football will now be one of its thirteen sports.
“We felt that football was disappearing from junior colleges in this part of the country,” newly appointed Director of Football Operations Jerome Bettis said. “Parkland is a great place to get it going again.”
The former Pittsburgh Steeler has been eager to take charge of a football program ever since his days in Pittsburgh.
“I’ve always wanted to be more than just a player,” he said. “Now I have that opportunity here at Parkland.”
However, starting a brand new football program is no easy task. The athletic department now has to hire coaches, trainers, and other staff before they can even consider going after the players to field the team.
“There certainly will be a strain on everyone the first year,” Assistant Coach Juice Williams said. Williams, the former U of I quarterback, was the first assistant coach to accept a job with the Cobras.
The real buzz being generated, however, is over the appointment of the first head coach for the team. Former Illinois head coach Ron Zook was interviewed last week by Bettis and has been named head coach.
“I’m very excited to be the first head coach here at Parkland,” Zook said.
Other assistants to Zook will be named shortly after his arrival in Champaign. The first order of business for Zook and the Cobras will be to put together a roster for the upcoming season.
Parkland will hold open tryouts to attempt to fill the roster. “This is our best option to have a full roster by the fall,” Bettis said. “It’s a great opportunity for any student to prove himself and represent Parkland.”
The open tryouts are for any current or incoming Parkland male students. No former football playing experience is needed and all students are encouraged to try out regardless of their skill level.
From the group trying out, 70 players will be chosen to represent the team. All players chosen will receive an athletic scholarship covering books and tuition.
Current Parkland student, John Smith, is excited about the possibility of playing college football, though he has never played in his life.
“I don’t know that much about football, but I’m excited to try out with Ron Zook as coach,” he said. “I’m excited to meet him.”
The Cobras 2012 schedule will feature mostly out of state games because there aren’t any other football teams in region 24, and just one other in the state, at College of DuPage.
Six home games will be played this first year in the new football complex to be built at an off campus location.
Football, under Bettis’ leadership, looks to add strength and stability to an already solid athletic department. “I look forward to building a strong football tradition here at Parkland with Ron as head coach,” Bettis said. “The football program will strive to be just as strong as the rest of the Cobra athletic programs.”
(Editor's note - This article is a part of the annual Prospectus News April Fools' edition. All information presented is fictional.)