Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

August 31, 2012

Architect of powerhouse bringing team to Bluefield

BLUEFIELD — Georgetown football coach Bill Cronin drove down to Bluefield last Saturday to watch the Bluefield College Rams play the University of Pikeville at Mitchell Stadium.

It was Bluefield’s first football game in 71 years. Cronin, who knows a thing about successful programs, was impressed with what he saw.

“I thought the atmosphere with the fans, they were really into it, of course they are going to be for the first game and their first game in so many years,” Cronin said. “If they can continue what I saw last week I think they will be a very competitive football team real quickly.

“I compliment the coaches, I thought they did exactly what you have to do to have a young team get a chance to win.”

Cronin will be back this Saturday, and will bring along his team, as the Tigers — the fourth ranked NAIA program in America — visit the Rams for a 1 p.m. kick.

While Bluefield (0-1) dropped a hard fought 42-28 decision to the University of Pikeville, the Tigers will be playing their first game.

“We are anxious for a ball game,” said Cronin, in his 16th season at Georgetown. “Just like any other team, we are concerned about first game mistakes and assignments and that type of thing that are a big part of every game, but seem to play a big role in your first game.

“We have got some new faces that are going to have to settle into the ball game hopefully quickly, but time will tell.”

Cronin has built a powerhouse at Georgetown, winning three national championships and finishing second two other times. He has posted a 145-35 record in 15 seasons, winning the last two Mid-South Conference crowns.

“I think the key to our success is we have been able to recruit the players that fit at Georgetown,” Cronin said. “When you start bringing in players that really don’t fit the environment and fit the philosophy of your institution, that is when you start getting the transfers and start getting a lot of people that are here for a year and then they are gone.

“For us it has been attracting players that are here for four years and I think that is the biggest thing, and they end up graduating. I think that is a real positive, but there are a lot of factors involved in any winning program.”

Georgetown had been the training camp home of the Cincinnati Bengals, but that changed this year for the first time in 15 years.

“This is the first time we have not had them. I missed them, they were a great resource to have on campus, but it makes life a little bit easier because you are not trying to share fields and do things when they are on campus as well,” Cronin said. “We used to have an overlap of about a week so it does make life a little bit easier, but we do have a tendency to miss them a little bit.”

While Georgetown was able to improve its facilities to attract the Bengals, and a new turf field was added for this season, Cronin liked what he saw at Mitchell Stadium.

“I think it is a great facility,” Cronin said. “It is a little bit older facility than what ours is probably, but it has been well kept and you can tell they have made some additions to it and the field seems to be adequate.”

Bluefield will enter Saturday’s game as an underdog against the Tigers, but don’t tell that to Cronin. Already in the opening week in the Mid-South, UVa-Wise upset No. 11 Bethel and Lindsey Wilson, which had been just on the outside of the Top 25, was toppled by Kentucky Christian, which is where the Rams travel next week.

“That is the great thing about college athletics is that just about anybody does have a chance to win at any time if a team is not prepared properly and if they don’t take the right mental approach to it,” Cronin said. “There were some big surprises, but the Mid-South has always been pretty equal all the way up and down, a lot of parity in this conference and I am sure it is going to continue that way.”

Cronin likes the addition to Bluefield to the Mid-South.

“I enjoy playing next teams, fresh teams that we haven’t played before, I think it is more challenging for everybody,” Cronin said. “I think it is fun to see how people are going to approach you and how people are going to gameplan against you so I enjoy that.

“I think it is good in a lot of ways. Sometimes you kind of get complacent when you are playing the same teams all the time, you know them so well so I think it is fresh and I think it is new for the players and I think it is a real positive thing to have these new teams coming in and out.”

Bluefield is the new kid in the Mid-South. Cronin is excited about bringing the Tigers to town.

“I was very impressed with the atmosphere, with the organization, everything about it really,” Cronin said. “I thought for a first year program it was very well done. I thought the coaching staff did a nice job of game planning and trying to put themselves in a position where they could possibly win at the end, but it just didn’t happen for them...

“They have got some good players, I was very impressed with several of the players. I think they are well ahead of where most people would think they would be in their first year.”

—Contact Brian Woodson

 at bwoodson@bdtonline.com

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