July 27, 2010

By Amy Farnum

It is the beginning of a new era for University of Richmond football in 2010 as it opens a new on-campus stadium and first-year head coach Latrell Scott takes the reins of the program. But, one thing that will not be changing this season is the Spiders' commitment to winning.

Despite being the new mentor of UR's football program, Scott is a familiar face around the city and campus. A native of Richmond, Scott also served as an assistant coach for three years with former head coach Dave Clawson, who is now the head coach at Bowling Green. Promoted to assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator before the 2007 season, Scott was a part of a Spiders' squad that posted a then-school record 11 victories and advanced to the NCAA semifinals for the first time in school history.

Scott then had a pair of one-year stints at Tennessee and Virginia before returning to his hometown to take over a UR program coming off of an 11-2 mark and NCAA quarterfinal appearance in 2009. Scott replaced Mike London, who is now the head coach at the University of Virginia, becoming the youngest head coach (35 years old) in all of Division I.

"One of the main reasons I was hired was to maintain continuity," said Scott. "Although there will be changes from what Coach London did, a lot of the blueprint will be based on what we did when I got here in 2005 with Dave Lawson. I think we set a foundation for success then. (Richmond) struggled the first year (2004) at 3-8, but then the next year we were in the NCAA playoffs and started to build this thing. There are a lot of coaches still here from our initial staff, and I was able to bring some guys with me from Virginia."

Growing up in the state capital, Scott recalls UR's program as one that had its' ups and downs, and is happy to see the team flourish in recent years. The Spiders have advanced to the NCAA playoffs in four of the last five years, and won the school's first national title in 2008.

"Traditionally, Richmond would have one or two good seasons, and then maybe take a step backwards, but then after a few more years win a conference championship," said Scott. "I think we've been able to establish consistency of being successful year in and year out without having that decline."

Richmond is positioning itself to be a force in Division I Football Championship Subdivision for a long time to come as the school opens Robins Stadium this fall - a brand-new, on-campus facility that cost $25 million and will seat 8,700. Dr. Edward Ayers, UR's president, spear-headed the project, which broke ground following the Spiders' NCAA championship season in 2008.

"Dr. Ayers realizes the significance of athletics and the value that it brings to the university community," said Scott. "He really wanted this to happen, and I think the new stadium gives the University of Richmond as a whole the ability to showcase the school. For so many years we played downtown and even though it was only five miles away, the people that actually came to games at UR Stadium never saw our campus. This gives us the ability to have 9,000 people on our campus that otherwise would not get the opportunity to see the school."

The new football stadium will not only help the football program, which brought in a recruiting class that was ranked second in the nation by Rivals.com, but all of the UR athletics teams as it fosters a great game day atmosphere on campus for a school that has an enrollment of less than 3,000 students.

"For the students, it's big," said Scott. "I've seen the student support grow over the last five or six years from almost nothing to having some of the best student supporters in the country."

Richmond, which plays in the tough Colonial Athletic Association, sold out its' 4,000 season tickets months ago in anticipation of Robins Stadium's inaugural stadium - more than doubling the 2008 season total of 1,737.

"When you go to Villanova or James Madison or Delaware or William & Mary - those are great atmospheres and tough places to play on the road," said Scott. "The teams (in the CAA) are excellent so you need any advantage you can get - if our crowd can be one, that will be a great help."

Single-game tickets have been snapped up as well as only tickets for the Towson game are remaining. Following a pre-sale of single-game tickets to season ticket holders and Spider Club members, as well as University ticket obligations for students, Family Weekend, Homecoming, and the visiting team, the other five home games currently have no tickets available for purchase.

"People like to see a successful product, and once you win people want to become involved with the program," said Scott. "Sometimes, the best motivation for people to want season tickets is the inability to get them. We wanted to create a tough ticket and we did. People responded by buying them all."

After opening the 2010 season at Virginia on Sept. 4, the Spiders will host Elon on Sept. 18 at 1 p.m., in the inaugural game at Robins Stadium.