Updated Sep 4, 2007 15:50:14
Scelfo's Return to Ruston
Saturday’s game against Central Arkansas was Frank Scelfo’s first as Louisiana Tech’s offensive coordinator.
But it wasn't the first time he’s been to Joe Aillet Stadium.
Nor was it be his initial venture on the home sideline.
Scelfo was Tulane’s offensive coordinator in 2005 when the team – along with most of the rest of New Orleans – was forced north by Hurricane Katrina. And the suddenly nomadic Green Wave made Ruston their temporary home.
Following Katrina’s landfall in August, all of the student-athletes from Tulane were, for the time-being, homeless and in limbo. The football team and coaches had holed up in Dallas for the time being. But five schools, including Tech, opened their doors to Green Wave athletes and coaches.
It was Ruston and Louisiana Tech -- which welcomed Tulane’s football players and coaches with open arms – that will forever be dear to Scelfo’s heart.
“It was unbelievable, the outpouring of support we received,” Scelfo said.
Scelfo and his family were driving from Dallas to Ruston, not knowing where they were going to live and, for all they knew, without a home or any possessions except what they had with them.
“Everything we owned at that point was in our car,” he said. “We didn’t know what kind of shape our house (in New Orleans) was in. I left Dallas, and my wife asked me, ‘Where are we staying?’ I didn’t know at the time, but I knew I had three hours to figure it out.”
The university was able to provide accommodations for the players in student dormitories. But the coaches were left to fend for themselves.
Enter the good people of Ruston, Louisiana.
“I contacted Randy Graham, and he gave me his parents’ number (Bill and Linda Graham),” Scelfo said. “They gave us a place to stay in their pool house.”
He said that a few days later, he got another call from then-Washington Redskins and former Tulane quarterback and Ruston native Patrick Ramsey, offering his home to Scelfo and his family.
“We didn’t pay for anything,” Scelfo said. “It was unbelievable. It’s humbling when something like that happens.
“I couldn’t tell you how many times we sat in a restaurant – Chili’s, Ponchatoula’s, Monjuni’s, we ate at those places regularly because we had no place to cook for awhile. People would come up and say, ‘Good luck, if there’s anything we can do to help you, let us know.’ Then we’d get up to leave, and someone had picked up the check. Nobody ever said a word.”
Following a tough 4-8 season at Tulane in 2006, Frank’s brother, Chris, was relieved of his duties as head coach of the Green Wave, and Frank was not retained by new coach Bob Toledo.
But it wasn’t long before other coaches came calling. New Tech coach Derek Dooley was one of them.
And the decision to come to Louisiana Tech was not difficult for Scelfo, despite leaving a city and a school he had served for the better part of a decade – not to mention his son Anthony, who is a sophomore quarterback for the Green Wave.
“It was very easy when Coach Dooley gave me this opportunity for me to say yes,” Scelfo said. “Coaching is coaching. I never tried to treat my son like he was anything other than just another player. It’s not difficult at all because I’ve already got new relationships, made new friends.”
Those new relationships have him excited about the prospects for the upcoming season.
“I like the spirit of our team; I like the personality of our ball club,” Scelfo said. “What I saw in the offseason and in the summer workouts, it showed me that these guys are hungry. I really believe that the kids we have is what’s right about college football.”
And for Scelfo, his new community is what is right about life.
“I’m just happy to be here,” he said. “The people of Ruston are (a big reason why).”