Even though it wasn’t a great night for the Los Angeles Rams, we had fun rooting for John Fassel during last night’s Thursday night NFL game against the Seattle Seahawks. When the Rams parted ways with head coach Jeff Fisher earlier this week, they named John interim head coach for the remainder of the season.
John served two stints as an assistant coach under Tom Gadd at Bucknell, first in 1999 as a graduate assistant, and then in 2001 as wide receivers coach. In between, he spent a season with the Amsterdam Admirals in NFL Europe, and Cris Collinsworth told an interesting anecdote on last night’s NBC broadcast about how John worked for the Admirals for no salary, but he was paid from the pool of money from player fines. Talk about paying your dues.
We remember John as a hard-working young coach with an outgoing personality. He was a heck of an athlete in his own right — he almost made the Colts roster as a wide receiver coming out of Weber State — and he was an early pick in the daily noontime hoops game in Davis Gym.
John is the son of former New York Giants head coach Jim Fassel, who had a longstanding relationship with Tom Gadd. Both worked on the same staff at Utah in the 1980s.
It’s interesting to look back at that 2001 coaching staff at Bucknell. Tragically, that would be Coach Gadd’s final year on the sidelines due to the brain cancer that would take his life in March of 2003.
Secondary coach Derek Mason is now the head coach at Vanderbilt. Former Bison defensive coordinator Dave Kotulski previously served in that role at Stanford and then at Vanderbilt under Mason, and now “Koto” is on the staff at Utah State. Defensive line coach Lance Anderson is now the DC at Stanford, where he has worked for the last 10 years.
On the offensive side of the ball, Coach Gadd’s offensive coordinator in 2001, Marty Schaetzle, just completed his 15th year as the head coach at Mercyhurst. His daughter, Courey, is in her first year as a member of the Bucknell athletic training staff. Quarterbacks coach Chris Turner went on to coach with the Oakland Raiders for four years and went to the Super Bowl with them in 2003. Offensive line coach Russ Ehrenfeld is still coaching the OL at Tennessee State, where he just finished his fifth season. And tight ends coach Mike Morita, who was a GA and the youngest member of Coach Gadd’s staff that year, is now back with Derek Mason as an offensive coach at Vandy.
And speaking of former Bison football assistant coaches, we would like to congratulate Brent Thompson on a terrific first year as head coach at The Citadel. The Bulldogs started out 10-0 and went a perfect 8-0 in the always-tough Southern Conference. They finished the regular season with a loss at FBS North Carolina before falling to Wofford in the NCAA FCS Playoffs. Brent spent seven years on Tim Landis’ staff here at Bucknell, finishing his tenure as offensive coordinator in 2009.