Tim McCarty, head football coach at East Central University, is what might be called a pessimistic optimist.
That’s during football season.
On an ice-cold, gray day inside his office at ECU, with the opening kickoff seven months away, McCarty is an optimist’s optimist.
With 28 new recruits to bolster the depth chart of his ECU Tigers, and with the knowledge he lost only five seniors off last year’s .500 ball club, optimism is easy.
But that’s not what’s driving his current optimism. McCarty’s staff has recruited a road grader to take care of one side of his offensive wall this fall.
That would be a man — and Kevin Bowen is a man — all 6 feet 8 and a half inches and 342 pounds of him.
This is an offensive tackle from Southwestern College in Chula Vista, California who in his entire college football career, has never allowed a sack.
That’s NEVER, as in NEVER. At no time.
So that takes care of one side of the field. No matter how many mortal opponents line up to try to slow Bowen, holes will be popping up at all the mortals’ abandoned positions.
Choose your poison, gentlemen.
Jo Jo “Beep Beep” Snell could run between this guy’s legs undiscovered for 15 yards. And you know what happens when Beep Beep gets a coyote (safety) in a one-on-one disaster 15 yards downfield.
Chalk up six and go kick off again.
Granted, Kevin Bowen is a mythical creature in these parts right now. The important thing is, he’s already on campus eating local groceries. He’s still trying to fill out, you know.
Bowen used to be a basketball player, but three years ago he tried football and never looked back.
McCarty tries to maintain his dignity while describing his new prize recruit, then starts to lose it just as quickly.
“God makes very few people like this,” he says as he leads a reporter to a laptop on his desk. “I’m just glad to have a chance to coach one of them.”
Kevin’s teammates back in California call this guy “Green Mile.” Movie buffs will remember that last walk on death row for doomed murderers.
“Watch No. 74,” McCarty says, trying not to giggle while watching for the viewer’s facial expression to change a second later.
Remember the movie, “The Blind Side”? Now, you’re starting to get the picture. There Kevin, or Green Mile, is towering over his opponents as if he’s making flapjacks one play at a time.
Running backs behind him look like they’re trying to win the 100 meter dash on the way to the goal line.
Off season optimist’s optimism? Sure it is, but East Central University isn’t about to lose a football game for at least the next seven months.
How did little ol’ East Central wind up with this guy?
“He’s a no-nonsense type of person,” McCarty says. “A player has to consider a lot of things when picking a college. Part of it is emotional, and part of it is having a good head for business — what can this school offer him. He doesn’t like a lot of coaches in his face all the time telling him how good he is, or bothering his mom on the telephone.”
Kevin has his mind set on being a computer programmer. He’s within two years of reaching that goal. He may want to set some other goals if he’s as good as advertised.
Making Saturday afternoon pancakes is a means to a promising end, regardless.
McCarty gives assistants Josh Phillips and Chad Roark much of the credit for recruiting this fella to Ada.
Those same coaches intend to give him all the help they can with what looks like a high-quality recruiting class — at least on a cold February day.