ETSU holds first football practice in a decade
Story and photos by Scott Robertson
Monday, Sept. 15, 2014 will be a day long remembered at East Tennessee State University. For the first time in 11 years, the ETSU Buccaneers held football practice.
It wasn’t an idea. It wasn’t a dream. Finally, ETSU football was real again.
Quarterbacks threw and coaches hollered.
Head Coach Carl Torbush moved from one group to another, watching his assistants begin the process of molding 75 individual players into cohesive squads.
During a break in the action, Torbush addressed the media, some of whom had come from as far away as Knoxville. Torbush thanked Jerry Robertson, the longtime team doctor who spearheaded the decade-long battle to bring football back to campus. Robertson was the first individual asked to address the team during practice. Said Torbush of Robertson and his fellow football backers, “I just want to thank the ones who stayed with it, stayed the course for the last 11 years. They should get a very special thank you.”
Torbush also thanked ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland, saying, “Without him, football would not be back.”
And then Torbush was back among his players, working to create a sense of urgency on a field that has lain fallow for a decade. “Play like your hair’s on fire,” he told the team at one point, “and we’ll be better than we ought to.”
For fans, it was a day to celebrate. But for Torbush and his charges, it was time to get to work. The first game is only a year away, and after 11 years off, a sense of urgency is a welcome change.