Samuel contract remains unsettled

Friday, January 7, 2011

Tony Samuel got a good laugh at the obvious question Thursday afternoon.

Coach, are you coming back next year?

"I get that question a lot, as you might imagine," he said, followed by laughter.

Samuel earned the prestigious Eddie Robinson Award as the Football Championship Subdivision's national coach of the year Thursday. But the Southeast Missouri State football coach's contract expires at the end of this month, and the university hasn't announced an extension.

"I notice a lot of people making a whole lot of it," Samuel said. "We're just trying to figure out. My contract expires Jan. 31. We're just working toward finding a way to make it work."

Samuel's original contract, which is dated Dec. 19, 2005, runs through Jan. 31, 2011 and pays him $96,000 a year plus an annuity. Samuel earned an additional $3,500 this year because he was named Ohio Valley Conference coach of the year ($1,000) and the team won the OVC championship ($2,500).

Samuel's negotiating position increased considerably this season after leading the program to its first playoff berth in its 104-year history. The Redhawks posted a 13-32 record during Samuel's first four years before going 9-3 this season. It's the program's first winning season since 2002 and only the third since it moved to the FCS level in 1991.

Samuel dismissed the notion that Thursday's award improved his position, but said he hopes it's a harbinger of continued success.

"I don't know if I'm going to put all that on my resume," he said of the award. "All these things are team things, you know? We came to Cape Girardeau with the idea this was a sleeping giant. We looked at our neighbors across the river and saw they were able to turn their program into a national power. I felt that we would really enhance the area from a great rivalry just by being able to figure out a way to match that. I'm hoping that we use that as leverage toward that goal and not just let it be a missed opportunity."

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