Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Gryphons tab Stu Lang to be new head football coach: Former receivers coach takes reins, bringing athletic and professional experience

“Stu Lang is the right man, at the right time for Guelph. We are very fortunate to have him lead our program to accomplish the goal of competing for a conference and national championship.” – Tom Kendall, athletic director.
photo credit: Gryphons Athletics

After a dedicated search to find their next head coach, the Guelph Gryphons football team has found their new leader.

Gryphons receivers coach and former CFL slotback Stu Lang was introduced as the new head football coach on Tuesday afternoon at a press conference in the Gryphon Lounge on campus. Lang takes over from former Gryphons head coach Kyle Walters, who tendered his resignation in February to take the job of special teams coordinator with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Canadian Football League.

“Stu Lang is the right man, at the right time for Guelph,” said athletic director Tom Kendall, during the introduction of the new coach. “We are very fortunate to have him lead our program to accomplish the goal of competing for a conference and national championship.”

Lang brings familiarity and continuity to the Gryphons football program, having coached an explosive group of receivers last year, including the likes of veterans Jamie Shaw, Jedd Gardner, Dave Harrison, and budding rookie Dillon Dimitroff.

Lang, a former football coach at Upper Canada College, also had a successful playing career, winning a Yates Cup title with the Queen’s Gaels and five Grey Cups with the Edmonton Eskimos in the CFL. He has also been incredibly successful in the business world, recently retiring from his position as a senior executive of CCL Industries, his family’s lucrative specialty packaging company.

With the Gryphons, Lang will serve in more of a general managerial role, effectively leaving the ‘x’s and o’s’ to the two full-time coordinators that will be hired shortly. Guelph will be in the unique position of having three full-time coaches, more than any other OUA football program.

“Above all else, Stu Lang brings organizational and management experience to our program,” said Kendall. “Managerial experience is something that all football teams should have, but many in this country don’t.

“Football is unlike any other sport in that there are so many players, coaches and support staff,” Kendall continued. “If you don’t have that organizational structure that works, it can be a disaster. I’m really excited about this new structure and format.”

For the past four years, Lang has traveled across North America, obtaining coaching information and knowledge and educating himself in the world of football leadership. His long-term vision for the program is all about sustained winning and the development of great athletes, who are also individuals of high character.

“I want our student-athletes to win in two areas: first in the classroom, and second, on the football field, he said. “As a coaching staff, we’ll make sure that we build into our players the character that will make them great friends, great fathers and great husbands.”

Part of Lang’s vision is also to help bring a new stadium to the Guelph campus. He will be actively working with prospective donors, using his experience to bridge football and business management.

“Part of our vision is to leave behind a new stadium that is the heart and soul of the community in Guelph,” said Lang. “I’ll be out in the community, shaking hands, fundraising, meeting alumni, and developing those relationships too.”

With spring camp shortly and other schools already naming their incoming recruits, Lang recognized that he may be behind the 8-ball, relative to other university football coaches, both from a preparation and recruiting perspective. Despite his late start, his strategies and ambitions moving forward are quite clear.

“There are two ways to get superior talent. The easy part is recruiting, and the hard part is training,” said Lang. “I met with the recruiters last night – we’ve got some great recruiters, but we’re pretty localized in Ontario. We need to stretch our recruiting from coast to coast and expand our geography.”

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