Falcons don’t expect changes

Loss of head coach won’t affect BG heading into bowl

Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage knows what BG’s players are going through with coach Dave Clawson’s departure. He was at Arizona when head coach Mike Stoops was fired in 2011.
Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage knows what BG’s players are going through with coach Dave Clawson’s departure. He was at Arizona when head coach Mike Stoops was fired in 2011.

DETROIT — University of Pittsburgh senior quarterback Tom Savage has experienced the feelings that the members of the Bowling Green State University football team have been experiencing in the past week.

Savage was at Arizona when Mike Stoops was fired in 2011, so he understands the emotions the Falcons are dealing with following the departure of head coach Dave Clawson to take a similar position at Wake Forest.

“You have that ‘home’ feeling when you’re with a coach,” Savage said. “Then when they leave, it’s difficult because you don’t know the next move. That can be tough.

“It’s a scary feeling. You don’t know who they’re going to bring in [as the new coach]. It’s the fear of the unknown. You want to know what system they’re going to bring in, so it’s a question mark.”

Pitt and Bowling Green will meet in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl at Ford Field on Thursday, Dec. 26. Savage and Panthers coach Paul Chryst were at the Motor City Casino on Friday along with BG interim coach Adam Scheier and seniors BooBoo Gates and Paul Swan as part of a media day event for the bowl.

Gates, Swan, and the rest of the BG players found out officially Tuesday morning that Clawson was leaving for Wake Forest. During this week the Falcons’ offensive and defensive coordinators, Warren Ruggiero and Mike Elko, began recruiting for the Demon Deacons, while strength and conditioning coach Brandon Hourigan also made plans to join the Wake Forest program.

Both Ruggiero and Elko will return to BG to coach the Falcons in the bowl game, but Clawson will not.

Swan said he and the rest of the team’s seniors are trying to keep the team focused on the bowl game — and trying to keep them from worrying about the future.

“At first they were all disappointed, because they will be coming back and right now there’s a cloud of unknowns,” he said. “[We seniors] are telling them, ‘This could be a good thing. Keep an open mind; things are going to be all right.’

“[Bowling Green] has a lot of players returning next year, and the next coach is really inheriting something great.”

Chryst said he doesn’t expect the uncertainty of the coaching situation to result in a drastic change in the Falcons’ game plan for the bowl game.

“When you get to this point, teams aren’t going to reinvent who they are,” he said. “We’ll take a look at the film and plan accordingly.

“We’re going to try and not overthink this.”

BOWL SCHEDULE: The Falcons will hold practices today and Sunday, then not practice again until Friday, Dec. 20, as the team goes through finals.

The Friday practice will begin a week of practices leading up to the game. The Falcons will practice in Bowling Green through Monday, then leave for Detroit later that day.

“We didn’t want to present Pitt, then have to think about finals and forget about it,” Gates said.

“After finals we’re going to introduce Pitt and hit the ground running.”

TICKET SALES: The Falcons have sold almost 5,000 tickets for the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, but BG still has tickets available for the contest.

Tickets are $15 except for BGSU students, who can purchase two tickets for $5 each with a valid student ID. Fans can purchase tickets at the BG ticket office located in the Stroh Center or at bgsufalcons.com.

Contact John Wagner at: jwagner@theblade.com, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.