Morehead: the next 'cradle of coaches'?

Miami (Ohio) University long has been known as the "cradle of coaches" in college football. Such greats as Paul Brown, Woody Hayes, Ara Parseghian and others came out of the school in Oxford, Ohio.

Morehead State might be taking a cue from Miami because three of the Eagles' former assistants are now head coaches in the NFL.

With the hiring of Rex Ryan by the New York Jets this week, Morehead has cashed in on a trifecta.

Mike Smith of the Atlanta Falcons was NFL Coach of the Year for 2008, his first year on the job. John Harbaugh led the Baltimore Ravens to the AFC title game in his debut season.

Morehead is mentioned in the bios of the three coaches on the teams' Web sites.

Smith, 49, was defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator for the 1986 Eagles under head coach Bill Baldridge.

Harbaugh, 46, coached the secondary and special teams and was MSU's strength and conditioning coach in 1988 under Cole Proctor.

Ryan, 46, got his first coaching job as an assistant to Roy Kidd at Eastern Kentucky in 1987-88. He was Morehead's defensive coordinator from 1990-93 on Proctor's staff. His 1992 defense had more than 80 tackles for losses, including 40 sacks. His 1993 defense had more than 100 tackles for losses, including more than 30 sacks.

The three coaches spent several years as NFL assistants before their promotion to head coach. After the 2007 season, the Ravens' staff, including Ryan, was fired. Harbaugh got the top job and rehired Ryan.

Western Kentucky had a former player and an assistant coach serve as NFL head coaches at the same time. Jerry Glanville directed the Falcons from 1990-93, while Joe Bugel was boss of the Phoenix Cardinals. Glanville was a Western assistant in 1967.

Travelin' on

The men's and women's basketball teams at Transylvania are using a new travel schedule this season.

For Saturday afternoon road games in the Heartland Conference, the teams are traveling together and playing doubleheaders. They can return to campus the same day.

"It seems things are going well," Transylvania Athletics Director Jack Ebel said. "We're doing it for financial savings and as a labor-saving plan. This way, some of our staff gets a day off. By leaving one team in Lexington, they would be working every Saturday."

Ebel said other conferences adopted the Saturday plan before the Heartland and some use it for weeknight games, too.

"The players don't seem to mind," he said. "They just want to play ball."

The Manchester women will be at the Beck Center at 1 p.m. Saturday. The Transylvania men will tip off against Manchester at 3 p.m.

Ebel said the conference would assess the travel change after the season.

Verax on Team of the Week

Transy's Joey Verax earned a spot on the Team of the Week. He tied a school record by making all 10 shots against Franklin last Wednesday, then set a Beck Center record with 39 points against Anderson on Saturday. The senior forward shot 81.3 percent (26-for-32) from the field.

Verax ranks in the Heartland top 10 in scoring (16.8), rebounding (6.0), field-goal percentage (56.3), free-throw percentage (83.0) and three-point field goal percentage (42.6).

Eighth honor

It didn't take long for Marshall tennis star Kellie Schmitt to capture another Conference USA Player of the Week honor, the eighth of her career.

"Being honored ... is an exciting way to start the season," she said. "We have many tough opponents ahead."

Schmitt won her singles match and teamed with Karolina Soor to win in doubles against Kentucky. The Wildcats won the match 4-3.

Schmitt is ranked No. 33 in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association poll.

Rick Bailey covers state colleges and Marshall for the Herald-Leader. This article contains his opinions and observations. Reach him at (859) 231-3336, (800) 950-6397, Ext. 3336, or