Finding creative ways to enhance coaching staffs is often the norm at Division III programs where resources are often taxed to the limit.
For Bridgewater College head football coach Michael Clark, using the NFLPA/NCAA Coaching Internship Program has been a positive platform in recent years for adding personnel and knowledge to the Eagles coaching staff.
The Eagles have taken advantage of the program twice in past seasons with former NFL players Larry Moore and Ben Taylor serving on the Eagles coaching staff with positive results. Bridgewater must apply for the position each time through the AFCA and the NFLPA. According to Eagles head coach Michael Clark the application is a “competitive process” open to Division II and III teams.
This season the Eagles once again will utilize the program as Ike Charlton will join the staff to coach the tight ends. Charlton, like Taylor, is a former Virginia Tech Hokie.
"This is the third time we have participated in this program and I hope Ike can bring the same expertise we got from Larry Moore and Ben Taylor who came to BC after their professional careers had ended," said Clark.
Clark acknowledged that the interns bring some instant credibility with them when they join the staff. “I think to survive that long at the professional level you need a certain amount of football savvy that I think our kids will see.”
The internship program was created in 2006 by the National Football League Players Association, the NFL, the NCAA and the American Football Coaches Association. Initially, the program provided additional experience to retired NFL players who interned in NFL Europe. When NFL Europe ceased its operation in 2007, it became the primary program to aid former players looking to break into the coaching profession.
The opportunity to coach at Bridgewater served the purpose of the internship program as both Taylor and Moore are still in the coaching profession.
Taylor is an assistant football coach and head baseball coach at nearby Skyline H.S. in Front Royal.
Moore is now the tight ends coach and academic coordinator at University of the Incarnate Word, a Division II institution in San Antonio. UIW in presently being evaluated by the Southland Conference as it attempts to move its athletic programs to the Division I level.
For Moore, his one season at Bridgewater proved invaluable.
“I was very fortunate to spend my time with an outstanding staff at Bridgewater,” Moore said. “Coach Clark is an outstanding coach and the assistants – guys like coach (Pete) Raeford, Jack Johnson, Troy Shaffer – were excellent coaches. I played football my entire life and I thought coaching would be a way for me to stay involved with the game. That first year at Bridgewater was about getting my feet wet as a coach. I had the chance to watch how those guys went about their business and how they worked together as a staff. And, Coach Clark allowed me to coach and have my input. After leaving Bridgewater and moving to other programs there have been few surprises.”
After his stay at BC, Moore moved to Division II Central State University in Ohio for one year before landing at University of the Incarnate Word.
Regardless of the level of play, for Moore, the game is still the same. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the NFL or Division III, football is still football,” explained Moore. “Everybody wants to win. Coaching is still the same. As a coach you strive to make your players better and put them in a position to succeed. That doesn’t change regardless of where you are coaching.”
Clark echoed the sentiment that the coaches share a common ground. “My biggest worry is always that these men have to adjust to a level where things do not show up on silver spoons. We are fortunate that in the fall once teams hit the field, we really share a lot in common.”
Note: Thanks to Peggy Erwin for supplying the photo of Coach Moore for this artice.