BOWLING GREEN — When spring football practice arrives March 1 at Bowling Green State University, every player will be entering competition vying for a starting position.
New coach Dino Babers said he has not watched game replays of last year’s 10-4 Mid-American Conference champions.
“I just won’t look at last year,” Babers said. “I will base all my decisions on what I see [in spring practice].
“That gives everyone a clean slate, a clean opportunity to prove who they are.”
So while the Falcons return seven starters on offense and five on defense, those numbers may as well be zero.
That was a point Babers said he made in one of his early meetings with the team.
“In the first meeting I asked, ‘Who is the starting quarterback?’ And Matt raised his hand,” Babers said, referring to Matt Johnson. “I said, ‘No, you’re not.’ I didn’t mean to be mean to him; there’s just no starting quarterback, no starting tailback.
“I also told them that if they are the best [at a position], it won’t take us long to figure that out.”
If Johnson — who led the MAC in passing efficiency (161.7 rating) and was second in passing yards per game (247.6 yards) — isn’t guaranteed a job, then every job is available.
“For a guy who has been starting for two or three years, that can be scary,” Babers said. “But for a guy who has been a backup for two or three years, that can be exciting.
“But no one should be afraid of competition. The best rises to the top. Trust me, I like winning, so if you’re the best and can help us win, you will be in there.”
While Babers will bring the fast-paced, four-wide receiver offense he helped implement at Baylor, the new BG coach said he can find uses for tight ends and other positions that may seem to not have a place in his offense.
“We don’t use a tight end on every play, but we do use them,” said Babers, who then listed a variety of different personnel sets using combinations of tight ends, H-backs and fullbacks.
“I promise you, if we have two or three tight ends, I know some plays we can use for them.”
Babers said he hopes to announce his entire coaching staff in the near future. Through a variety of sources, The Blade has learned that Larry McDaniel and Nick Monroe have been retained from the staff of former coach Dave Clawson, while seven assistants will follow Babers from Eastern Illinois to BG.
“We want to finish with recruiting,” he said. “We have all these kids who are committed — we don’t have many scholarships to recruit because of the kids who were committed by coach Clawson and his staff.
“The positive is that our recruiting is done and we can focus on junior recruiting. The negative is that you hope everyone is as good as he said they are.”
Babers said he will introduce new players who have enrolled at Bowling Green for the spring semester on national signing day, which is Wednesday, Feb. 5.
2 Falcons, 1 Rocket make all-star games
Two former Bowling Green players will play in postseason senior all-star games Saturday.
Safety Jerry “BooBoo” Gates will play in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl at the StubHub Center in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson, Calif. The contest kicks off at 3 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN.
Gates will play on the American team of coach Dennis Green.
Tight end Alex Bayer will play in the East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. Kickoff for that game is at 4 p.m., with the broadcast NFL Network.
Bayer’s coach on the East squad is Perrysburg native Jerry Glanville.
Former University of Toledo running back David Fluellen will play Jan. 25 in the Senior Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. The game kicks off at 4 p.m. and can be seen on the NFL Network.
Fluellen, who will play on the North squad, finished his Rocket career with 3,336 rushing yards, which ranks fourth all-time at UT. A two-time All-MAC first-team selection, Fluellen rushed for 100 or more yards 13 times in his career. He gained 1,121 yards in 2013 despite missing most of four games because of injuries.