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Elmassian returns for his final coaching call
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Phil Elmassian

Friday, February 21, 2014

By STEVEN MARSH - Sports Editor

FERRUM -- The nomadic coaching career of Phil Elmassian -- one that includes stops at 19 colleges and universities -- has reached its final destination.

He admitted so Wednesday in an introductory press conference Wednesday at Ferrum College's Hank Norton Athletic Center.

Elmassian's career spans 40 years and a multitude of stops, but he said it will end when his second stint as the Panthers' defensive coordinator is finished.

Elmassian played at Ferrum for two years during its junior college. He completed his playing career at The College of William & Mary and began his coaching career there as a 23-year-old.

"I was fortunate to play for three head coaches and I've worked for all three of them. That's something I'm very proud off. That would not have happened if I had not gone to Ferrum,' Elmassian said.

Those coaches are Lou Holtz and Jim Root at William & Mary and Hank Norton of whom he spoke with great affection at Ferrum.

"Yes, it's my intention for Ferrum to be my last stop,' said Elmassian, who replaced Cleive Adams, who was recently hired as Averett University's new head coach, as the Panthers' defensive coordinator.

Elmassian admitted that after a one-win season this past fall at the University of Massachusetts, which was transitioning from the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), which ended with the firing of the head coach, he was ready to call it quits.

But Norton pulled him back into coaching. In effect, the legendary Panthers' coach re-recruited him, Elmassian said.

"Coach Norton kept calling and persisting. I had to weigh the options -- do you want to retire or keep going? ...Then I started thinking that this (coming to Ferrum) was the right thing to do,' Elmassian said. "I'm going to give back one more time to a school that gave me everything -- end of story.

"I couldn't tell Coach Norton no,' Elmassian said. "If he wants something, you're not going to say 'No.' '

Norton, who was not in attendance Wednesday, took Elmassian on a tour of the campus, which included a look at the athletic center that bears his name.

"It was just like 1969 all over again. He took me on a tour of the campus. He took me to the cafeteria. It was still all the milk you can drink. What else would you want. That was his recruiting line,' Elmassian said.

"Coach Norton was like Bear Bryant to us at that time in the '60s. I came down here and saw the pictures of the national championship teams and I wanted my picture on that wall. When I played here I didn't get it done. The last game I coached here we lost in the national championship game and I cried like a baby,' Elmassian said.

"I don't where this is going to take me, but I've got the drive and determination to get my picture on that wall,' Elmassian said.

Ferrum enters its spring campaign attempting to recover from last fall's 2-8 finish, one in which Ferrum's defense surrendered 40 or more points in six of those eight setbacks.

"I'm back all for the right reasons,' Elmassian said. "...I feel like this is the first job all over again which is a good thing.'

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