EDGE Wise moves keep UTC Mocs football team in play

EDGE Wise moves keep UTC Mocs football team in play

October 1st, 2017 by Jay Greeson in EDGE

UTC head football coach Russ Huesman introduces new coaches Kadeem Wise, center, and Rob Spence, right, as he speaks to those gathered for a national signing day event at Finley Stadium on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

For a football play to work, a lot of moving pieces have to come together at exactly the right time.

Whether it's a pick-up game or the final drive of the Super Bowl, coordination can be the difference between winning and losing.

For the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football program, just getting to and from the game takes planning and precision.

In September, the Mocs and first-year coach Tom Arth traveled to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to face nationally ranked LSU. It's what is called a "money game" for programs such as UTC, which received a check for close to a half milliton dollars to go to Death Valley.

"It was a great opportunity for our team to play against the best and see some of the things we can do well and some of the things we really need to improve on," Arth said afterward.

The outcome was never really in doubt, even with UTC taking a quick 3-0 lead in what became a 45-10 LSU win. The Tigers get more than three times UTC's total athletic budget just from the lucrative TV and bowl money split among schools in the powerful Southeastern Conference.

For Arth and his team, the logistics of trying to score against LSU's defense that includes several future professional players was daunting.

For director of football operations Kadeem Wise and the school's manager of equipment and facilities Mike Royster, the logistics of getting everyone and all the equipment to Louisiana was just as taxing.

Packing for a family trip can be a daunting task, and for Wise and Royster that family included a charter flight of 156; and that was just the starting point.

The players and coaches and the Mocs supporters lucky enough to tag along bussed from the school to the Chattanooga airport for the roughly 90 minute flight to the Louisiana state capitol on a Friday.

From there, they bussed to the hotel to rest for the Saturday night game, before returning to the bus and the Baton Rouge airport on Sunday morning.

It was a quick turnaround, and Wise handled most of the travel details.

"Kadeem also does a great job in his role as Director of Football Operations," says Scott Altizer, UTC's senior associate AD for internal operations and sports oversight for football. "He has to be extremely detailed-oriented and communicate with a number of different groups to make sure everyone is in place and on time. As a former student-athlete, he knows what needs to be done to make sure our team travels in an efficient manner to make sure they arrive ready to play."

Wise was an All-Southern Conference defensive back for UTC under coach Russ Huesman, and now that he's on the other side of the operation he wanted to make sure the players' comfort and experience was part of the planning process from the beginning.

As for the loads of equipment — from shoulder pads to iPads and every thing in between — Royster loaded a big truck and drove the Mocs' essentials to Baton Rouge a couple of days before the charter took off.

For some that may seem odd but, for Royster, it's old hat. The mainstay in the Mocs athletic department for more than four decades, Royster has been making sure UTC is game ready since before Arth was born.

"We are extremely fortunate to have a resource like Mike Royster in our department," Altizer says. "He has been doing this for 44 years now at UTC and does an outstanding job."

And that includes the program's trip LSU.

Jay Greeson is a columnist for the Chattanooga Times Free Press and co-host of the radio show Press Row on ESPN 105.1 The Zone. Greeson is a graduate of Auburn University and has worked as a reporter and editor for the past 20 years, including as sports editor for the Times Free Press.