Southeast Missouri State renews Tony Samuel's contract

Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Southeast Missouri State head football coach Tony Samuel (Fred Lynch)

Download a copy of Samuel's contract by clicking here

The Football Championship Subdivision national coach of the year will continue to call Cape Girardeau home.

Southeast Missouri State University announced a new five-year contract for Tony Samuel during a Tuesday morning news conference at the university's Statuary Hall.

In attendance were a number of Southeast administrators, coaches in other sports, boosters and Cape Girardeau Mayor Harry Rediger.

"This was very important. We want Tony, Tony wants to be here," Southeast director of athletics John Shafer said. "The university wants him, the community wants him and most importantly, the student athletes want him.

"We need continuity. We need somebody with dignity and character. ... We have that in Tony. We never thought about looking elsewhere."

Samuel's original five-year contract expired Monday. Although it was widely anticipated that he would sign a new deal, Southeast fans were a bit uneasy following the Redhawks' historic season and with national signing day set for today.

Don't count Samuel -- winner of the prestigious Eddie Robinson Award as the FCS national coach of the year -- among the concerned group.

"I didn't know it was that big a deal. We were out recruiting and trying to get that done," the 55-year-old Samuel said. "I really wasn't that concerned. I don't think our recruits were concerned. They knew the way we were working that we weren't going anywhere.

"I'm sure there will be some of them, when they get this news, will be a little more at ease."

Samuel will receive a base salary of $125,000 per year, after his original contract paid him $96,000 per year. The contract, dated Jan. 31, runs through March 31, 2016.

New to this contract, Samuel also receives 5 percent of the net revenue of all guarantee football games against FBS opponents. Net revenue equals the total gross game guarantee revenue less team travel expenses for guarantee games and less any game guarantees paid to another team.

Samuel will continue to receive an annuity and revenue resulting from camps and fundraising new to the contract is $10,000 per year for radio and television appearances. He also will continue to be eligible for various performance stipends related to individual and team goals, with some of those new and with many of the monetary figures increased.

"The guarantee games, we've had success and moving forward we have some games that are larger guarantees than we've had before. There's some play in there, additional revenue," Shafer said. "Then on the incentives, that's something that you never know when it's going to happen. It took 104 years to do what we did, but it's something that needed to be in there. There needed to be compensation for a job well done. That was a way for us to show that we were committed to football.

"Those, quite honestly, you look at those incentives as an athletic director and you say, 'Well if we reach those goals, we're going to have increased revenue.' They go hand in hand."

Southeast is coming off one of the top seasons in the program's 104-year history as the Redhawks captured the program's first playoff berth.

The Redhawks went 9-3 for the program's first winning season since 2002 and only the third since moving up to the FCS level in 1991.

Southeast won the program's first Ohio Valley Conference championship one year after a last-place OVC finish with a 2-9 record. Samuel was named OVC coach of the year in addition to earning the Eddie Robinson Award.

"The most important thing in all of this is still the players. They made us look good," said Samuel, who posted a 13-32 record in his first four years at Southeast before the breakout 2010 season.

Now the challenge for Samuel and his staff is to build a consistent winner, something no Southeast coach has been able to do on the FCS level.

"Last season is in the past. We have a lot of work to do," Samuel said. "We're not going to be sneaking up on anybody. People will give us their best shot from here on out."

The 2011 campaign will present an especially big challenge after the 2010 squad featured numerous key seniors.

Of Southeast's 10 all-OVC selections, seven were seniors. Of the Redhawks' four All-Americans, three were seniors.

That senior list is led by record-setting running back Henry Harris and four of the five linemen who spearheaded one of the nation's top rushing attacks.

But Samuel said he sees no reason why the Redhawks can't have consistent success. He said he called Southeast football a "sleeping giant" when he originally took the job and hasn't changed his opinion.

"We thought that's what this was," Samuel said. "This is still a sleeping giant."

Samuel said it takes a solid commitment from the university and the community for any program to reach its full potential.

He pointed to what has taken place in nearby Carbondale, Ill., with SIU's previously floundering program that transformed into a national power.

"When I first came here, I looked across the river, thought they did it right," Samuel said. "They've taken football to another level, where I think we can go with the right help."

Plans are in the works to replace the aging FieldTurf and the tiny, temporary scoreboard at Houck Stadium. Shafer said he and Samuel have discussed other potential facility upgrades, including to the Rosengarten Athletic Complex that houses coaches offices and the players' permanent lockers.

"We talked about facilities and we talked about the FieldTurf. ... We talked about we need to update the locker room at Rosengarten," Shafer said. "Just a lot of things that need to be done. They weren't something that were demands or anything. It was stuff that in our talks, this needs to be done. Just like last year getting the new uniforms. That needed to be done."

Shafer said nothing was put in writing.

"We just talked through them and agreed that they needed to be done," he said.

Without getting specific and without making public demands, Samuel said various program upgrades are needed to fully capitalize on the 2010 success.

"Where do we go from here? A lot of programs have had opportunities but have not been able to sustain," he said. "We're on the way, but we have an awful lot of work to do."

mmishhow@semissourian.com

388-3645

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