New RCC football coach hopes to begin a new era

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By Ricky Holmes / Asst. Sports Editor

By Ricky Holmes / Asst. Sports Editor

After football coach Bill Brown stepped down following eight seasons at the helm, the search was on for someone to help bring the program out of mediocrity.

Fortunately for Riverside City College, the district has found a proven winner to take over a program that hasn’t been very good in a very long time.

Tom Craft was chosen to succeed Brown on Jan. 26 and he can’t wait to get the team back to where it should be.

“I think more than anything, we really want to restructure the program from the ground up,” Craft said.

Craft has over 25 years of coaching experience at the collegiate level and some impressive numbers to go along with it.

While at Palomar College, he amassed an overall record of 115-56-1 before going on for two stints as an offensive coordinator and head coach for San Diego State University.

With such a prestigious record some may ask why he is coming to RCC.

“When this opportunity came available, it got me closer to home number one, and number two, I felt like in my experience with the Mission Conference and all the different conferences that we have been in, that this has a lot of potential,” Craft said.

Craft’s most recent job was as an offensive coordinator at Mt. San Antonio College.

This past season he guided the Mounties to a state and national championship.

“We had a great run there the three years I was there. We were in the state championship game three years in a row which I think is unprecedented,” Craft said.

The Tigers will have to face Craft’s former team on Sept. 25 but for Craft it will be just another game.

“It’s something that I’m used to. I don’t look at that game any different than any other game. It’s going to be a tough game for us,” Craft said. “It’s really about the players”.

Facing his old team is the least of his concerns.

Craft is now faced with the daunting task of making a winner out of a program that won only one game last season.

He also knows that football isn’t the only thing that a student athlete has to worry about.

“The first order of business for me was to be to develop an academic advisor in athletics,” Craft said.

Coach Craft realizes that football may be important to an institution but to the average player education should be paramount.

“In this day and age it’s critical and it’s in need. I felt like you had to have a point person for financial aid, admissions, transcripts and DSPS. Nowadays, that’s critical for a program’s success,” Craft said.

Coaching at the community college level does have its advantages.

It helps level the playing field and gives students the opportunity to transfer out to more high profile institutions and division 1-A universities to advance player’s careers and provide them with a quality education as well.

Coaching football has also brought new meaning for Craft as he tries to mentor his players just as he was mentored during his playing days.

“I’ve always taught the game as a means of life-long lessons for the student athletes. Growing up without a father, the coaches that I had were my role models and my father figures,” Craft said.

Craft knows that there can be a balance between sports and education and wants to bring RCC along with his vision.

This fall, RCC will learn if its new coach can bring them back to glory.

With Craft’s guidance it seems that the team is headed in the right direction on and off the playing field.

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