Ansley Joining Raiders: Last week, I posted about Colorado State making our own Derrick Ansley an offer to become its next defensive coordinator. Just days later, Ansley was offered the secondary coach's position with the Oakland Raiders. Wow!
There's a whirlwind of activity right now for Ansley. He's fresh off of a national championship as a the DB coach with Nick Saban at Alabama.
I communicated with the former Tallassee Tiger wishing him well and requesting some time to talk when things settle down. Ansley assured me that he would.
It's amazing to watch him climb up the ladder. Ansley is someone we watched lead Tallassee to the most wins ever in a season back in 1999. The Tigers went to the semifinals and finished 13-1.
He then went on to Troy as a player excelling as a defensive back on Larry Blakeney's squad. He coached with Mike Turk at Huntingdon and then became a graduate assistant with Nick Saban and Kirby Smart in T-Town.
He was actually hired at Central Florida (this year's national champs - lol) but took the same position at Tennessee. Next was a spot with Kentucky, where Ansley became co-defensive coordinator before returning back to the Capstone to rejoin Saban and company.
Now, Ansley appears to be off to the NFL to join the $100 million man, John Gruden, as the Raiders prepare for the transition to Las Vegas.
At the age of 35, the sky's the limit for Ansley. Adding experience in the professional ranks adds to his repertoire and enhances his already impressive resume. He's worked with some of the best defensive minds in the business in Saban, Smart and Pruitt. Now, add the offensive guru "Chucky" Gruden to the list.
Remember John North?: With Ansley's future at the forefront of conversation on my radio show last week, I received an interesting call from Tommy Rigsby. Rigsby informed me that Ansley's not the first with Tallassee ties to crossover to the National Football League.
John North coached the Tigers back in 1953. Rigsby, by the way, was just a ninth grader back then. It was the only season for North in Tallassee.
North was the first coach after J. E. "Hot" O'Brien. He coached at THS just one season. He also coached at the college level at Tennessee Tech, Kentucky and LSU.
His first offer with the NFL came at Detroit. He joined New Orleans in 1972. With a couple of games remaining in the 1973 season, he was promoted to head coach of the Saints. He remained there until 1975.
North, a Louisiana native, played football, basketball and ran track at Vanderbilt.
According to Wikipedia (the source for everything), North enlisted in the Marines at the age of 17 to fight in World War II. He was shot multiple times and his parents were told he had died.
Doctors informed him that he would never walk again. "This proved only to hold true for about a year," Wikipedia cited. "He (began) walking around the hospital on his hands in his free time, and pushed himself hard in physical therapy (regaining) his strength."
Amazingly, the Purple Heart recipient was drafted by the Washington Redskins in 1945 and played with Baltimore Colts until 1950. He died in Covington, La. in 2010 at the age of 89.
Whoa Nellie!: We said goodbye to Keith Jackson last week. He was 89. Jackson, was the voice of college football back when I was coming up. Think back on all the big games in the 1980s and '90s, Jackson was at the mic for most.
He called many Auburn/Alabama games. He called many national championship games. And, as Georgia native, he had a southern flair that fit for those SEC contests.
Dick Enberg, who just passed a few weeks ago, was the standard for NFL broadcasts during the same era. I rank Enberg at the top of the list of broadcasters, like Jackson. To me, there was only one Keith Jackson. And there will never be another. To me, he was the very best to ever call college football.
Top Picker: The final numbers are in and there were no hanging chads. Robbie Ellis is your 2017 Prognosticating Champion. Robbie overtook Jeff Reese during the bowl season to claim the prize.
Ellis had a 72.7 percent win percentage, slightly better than Reese and Byron Taylor who finished third. James Thrower, Brian Thornton, Steve Stokes, Jonathon Garnett, Ruthanne McCaig and Steve Butler round out the top ten.
The WTLS/Tallassee Times top staff picker was Gary Buchanan. It was his third staff title tying him with Trey Taylor. The all-time leader has seven titles, but he'll remain nameless to avoid narcissism in this column.