New coach, new direction

New football Head Coach Frank Scelfo plans to elevate the program with a tough playing style and more recruiting in state. Scelfo has a wealth of experience,  which includes working in the NFL and in Tulane University. Jonathan Rhodes/The Lion's Roar 

At the press conference last Tuesday in Victory Club, Director of Athletics Jay Artigues announced veteran coach and Louisiana native Frank Scelfo as the new head coach of the Lions football program.

Artigues mentioned the criteria that Scelfo fulfilled to become the 16th head coach of the football program following the departure of coach Ron Roberts. 

“In the search for our next football coach, there were a few traits that we wanted to identify,” said Artigues. “Number one, we wanted to identify someone who can fulfill the mission statement of our athletic department: committed to excellence in the classroom, in the community and in competition. Number two, a person who’s very visible in our community and in our state as well as teach our young men the importance of giving back to their community. Number three, someone that could have our program compete at the highest level to be a perennial power in the Southland Conference and a national FCS contender.”

Recruitment and connections with high schools was another factor in the decision making process.

“We also wanted to identify someone that will be able to connect our program with the high schools in our state as well as do a great job recruiting in the state of Louisiana,” said Artigues. “We feel we’ve identified all these traits and some in our new football Head Coach Frank Scelfo.”

Scelfo described the process of becoming the head coach of the program.

“Since the contact was made, conversations went back and forth,” said Scelfo. “In the meantime, you’re always exploring things. I was at the Senior Bowl last week. So, I got the chance to see some stuff. I had a mixed championship Sunday. It’s been a lot of mixed emotion, lot of stuff going up and down, but to culminate in this, awesome.”

Scelfo was appreciative of his predecessor and his work in the program.

“I also want to thank coach Ron Roberts and his staff and their families,” said Scelfo. “He put together a really good foundation here, and it’s a stable program right now. For their dedication to this program, this is a tough profession, and coach Roberts certainly epitomizes that. This is not a rebuilt program. These guys have been winning. They’ve got good players here. They’ve been competitive. Coach Roberts and his staff, like I said before, they’ve done a good job here.” 

Having worked with NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars as an offensive assistant working with the quarterbacks, Scelfo described how he would bring in his experience at the highest level to the Lions program.

“You coach people,” said Scelfo. “You teach people. You develop relationships, and it’s not different coaching the NFL level as far as developing relationships with your players. In college football, you got to develop relationships with those guys. Those players got to trust what you were gonna do for them, challenge them to be better players and better people every day. You can’t sit back and say, ‘I coached here, and therefore I am.’ It’s an ongoing process. 35 years being in this profession helped prepare me for this.” 

Scelfo played against the Lions when he was on staff at Tulane University.

“We’ve played them at the Tiger Stadium,” said Scelfo. “We had to score late in the game to win the game during the Katrina season. I’ve seen it close enough where we’ve recruited against them. I know they’ve recruited some quality players. We can get what we want here. This campus has exploded. There’s all kinds of changes. It’s really a neat time to be part of this organization.” 

Scelfo explained how he wants his team to play offensively and defensively.

“Offensive philosophy-wise, we’re gonna play hard,” said Scelfo. “We’re gonna play physical. We’re gonna be a dominant football team. I’m looking forward to the way our guys react this spring. I want to be a physical football team. We’re gonna be a physical football team all round. I want our guys to fly around. Defense has a lot to do with effort, and we’ll portray that every Saturday.”   

Scelfo addresses the Lion fans and commends their support for the program. 

“I’d like to thank the alumni and the fans,” said Scelfo. “Since I became involved in the process, you can’t believe how much of outpouring of support I’ve gotten. It’s been pretty cool to see, visit and talk to so many alumni that I didn’t know attended Southeastern. ‘Lion for life’ is not just a hashtag here. It’s a pretty neat deal. I promise to take care of your program that you so passionately love.” 

One of the important element that Scelfo wants to bring to the program is bringing the in-state players to the program. 

“I was born and raised in this state,” said Scelfo. “My dad, born in Bogalusa, raised in Bogalusa, coached high school football. Mom, born in Lafayette, raised there, high school math teacher. It was born and bred in me, this state of Louisiana. There are enough good players in this state, and we’ll start our recruiting efforts here.”