Texas A&M-Commerce Lion football fans have endured a long offseason. Last fall when it was announced that Colby Carthel would accept the head coach position at Stephen F. Austin, fans knew that the next head coach had big boots to fill. It didn’t take long for the A&M-Commerce to announce David Bailiff as the next Lions head coach.
On Monday, Bailiff made his formal introduction at the Lone Star Conference Media Day at the McKinney ISD Stadium. Accompanied by offensive linemen Amon Simon and defensive back Dominique Ramsey, the three had a lively interview with Fox Sports host, Erin Hartigan.
“I’ll be the first to say it, college football is always better with David Bailiff in it, am I right,” said Hartigan as they walked onto the stage. “Welcome back.”
The Dallasite understands the expectations and task ahead. “Colby (Carthel) really left us with a great culture and there is a great blueprint. The programs I've taken over before were rebuilding. Expectations are high here,” said Bailiff.
Bailiff enters his 15th collegiate season as a head coach but he’s coached football since 1981. He played offensive lineman at formerly Southwest Texas State, now Texas State. His record is 78-95, 3-1 bowl games, 2-1 playoffs in NCAA DI-AA and won the 2013 C-USA championship.
Ramsey is an explosive junior punt returner. After playing in all 13 games last season, he racked up Associated Press First Team All-American as an All-Purpose player, D2CCA Second Team All-Super Region 4, and First Team All-LSC honors.
Simon is also a junior who played in all 13 games last season. He notched D2CCA Second Team All-Super Region 4 and First Team All-LSC honors.
Many have anticipated the season kicking off with Kane Wilson as quarterback. However Coach Bailiff made it clear the position is up for grabs given Wilson’s status.
“We don’t know that Kane Wilson is going to be able to play,” said Bailiff. “He still hasn’t been cleared (to play) so we’re going to need a quarterback to step up, that’s the big battle.”
The Lions are ranked 3rd in the Lone Star Conference preseason poll, behind 2018 conference winner Tarleton State and rival Midwestern State.
MSU will be anchored by their preseason Offensive Player of the Year in junior wide receiver Juwan Johnson. Last season’s Receiver of the Year set a school single season record with 1,215 yards on 67 catches.
The Texans notched 217 votes and 19 first-place votes as the favorite to repeat as conference champs. They return several core offensive players who are juniors and seniors, including senior Zimari Manning. He led the team with 947 yards on 44 catches, leading the conference with 12 touchdowns.
When asked who they have circled on their schedule, without hesitation Ramsey and Simon utter, “Tarleton.”
The Lions kick off the season Saturday, September 7 against an international competitor, Selección Nuevo León, 6 p.m. kickoff at Memorial Stadium.
Field of Dreams
News of the new Lions turf field last week was swift, to the dismay of fans. Gone is the largest logo on a football field in the county. Now, Memorial Stadium’s field will consist of Symmetry SafeFlex and AstroTurf 3D3.
"With the amount of foot traffic on Hawkins Field annually, our previous turf was developing into a safety and well-being concern for our student-athletes," explained director of athletics Tim McMurray. "Symmetry is providing us a Best In Class product proven to be a safe and aesthetically pleasing option for our football and track and field programs.”
"Our decision to return to the more traditional midfield logo was made based on a significant cost savings over the previous custom logo. At the time, it was an excellent decision to expose and energize the Lion brand. The necessity to accelerate our new turf this summer allowed us to assess all options and arrive at the one which added additional protection in the best interest of our student-athletes."
More the Merrier
The Lone Star Conference is now the largest Division II conference in the nation with a whopping 19 teams. Eight teams were added to the fold, Dallas Baptist University, Lubbock Christian University, Oklahoma Christian University, St. Edward’s University, St. Mary’s University, Texas A&M International University, University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, and the University of Texas at Tyler. According to the conference, it will conduct conference championships in 18 sports (nine men and nine women). Men's championships include football, cross country, soccer, basketball, baseball, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, golf and tennis. Women's titles are determined in volleyball, soccer, cross country, basketball, softball, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, tennis and golf.
In a move to prevent CTE injuries, the LSC and VICIS have partnered to provide usage of the ZERO1 helmets to players. The VICIS ZERO1 recently ranked first for the third consecutive year in the National Football League (NFL) and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA)’s Helmet Performance Testing, which assesses the performance of all helmets used in the NFL to determine their ability to best reduce the severity of head impacts at the professional level. The ZERO1 outperformed 33 other helmets tested.
The ZERO1 features a deformable outer shell and a unique columnar layer designed to slow impact forces while enhancing players performance. Players from more than 1,200 high school programs and 150 professional and college teams have embraced the ZERO1.