Grossner benefits from Manning camp
Baker University football coach Mike Grossner used his annual trip to the Manning Passing Academy to recruit, keep in touch with contacts and become a better coach.
Grossner attended the camp in Thibodaux, La., last weekend for the third straight year.
"Once again it was a lot of fun," Grossner said. "It was my third year doing it. The first year you are kind of in awe of some of the people you are around. Each year, it gets better and better. By year three, it's nice to go back and know the routine and see all of these guys once a year."
One of the main reasons he attends the camp each year is to become a better football coach.
"I am always trying to come away a better coach," Grossner said. "You would be a fool to go to Louisiana, work with those type of people and not take something away."
Grossner is able to become a better coach as he learns from some high profile coaches in the National Football League and in college. He is also able to learn from many NFL players, such as Peyton and Eli Manning, both NFL quarterbacks.
"It's a neat experience," Grossner said. "When I get back I look back at all of the high-profile coaches and players that I have met. It's neat."
One particular coach that Grossner met this year was the offensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts, Tom Moore.
"Tom Moore put on a presentation for us coaches one day before practice for an hour," Grossner said. "It was so down to earth and old school. It reiterated my beliefs about the game of football."
Moore spoke about many things, including his relationship with P. Manning and how much of the team's success is because of P. Manning.
Moore also shared one valuable play with the coaches and it made Grossner happy, because Baker has it in its playbook.
"When Tom Moore spoke, there were some philosophies that I wrote down that were really neat," Grossner said. "Then he put his favorite pass play up and I wanted that. He runs something that we have in our offense, but he runs a little variation off of it."
But the camp was not all about learning for Grossner this year. Since he has been to the camp before, he was questioned by some of the high school coaches one night.
"This year, since it was my third year, I know some of the high school coaches there," Grossner said. "They came to me and asked me about the running game and some things we do. I had a forum of about four coaches that picked my brain one night about the run game."
Grossner said he tried to learn something new about quarterbacks this year from P. Manning.
"I try to pick up something that I can take away," Grossner said. "My first year I worked on play action and screens. There is nobody better than Peyton Manning. So I sat there and he told me what he does and how he would teach it. I taught it for three days, so I got pretty good at it. Last year was the same thing. Now I feel pretty comfortable in that aspect.
"This year I took a step outside and worked on quarterback movement," Grossner said. "I was able to learn from the Mannings as well as bring in my own ideas. I felt like I walked away a better coach in that area."
When he wasn't learning coaching philosophies or techniques, Grossner was teaching young quarterbacks about football. He ran a station that rotated every 10 minutes, allowing him to meet nearly 200 young athletes.
"I worked with the youth quarterbacks, as in freshmen and sophomores, which I like," Grossner said. "I kind of like working with the younger kids, because you can change some bad habits. They are wide-eyed and ready to learn."
Approximately 1,200 football players attended the camp this year, nearly 400 more than last year. The camp runs three practices every day.
After being worn out during the day, the camp staff went to dinner. They were served southern food, which included shrimp, fried catfish and alligator.
"One night we actually ate over a pond with alligators in it," Grossner said. "We were able to walk out on the dock and feed the alligators. It was unbelievable. It was a unique experience for a lot of us."
Then the staff would go out at night for social time and Grossner loved the treatment they received.
"We went out as a staff and you understand what a celebrity is like," Grossner said. "We had Secret Service and FBI with us, because of the Mannings and John Elway. We had their phone number if anything went wrong. It's neat to have a sense of security. You don't know what could happen, because there is always an idiot in a town."
Then the staff would return to the dorm to sleep and rest up for camp the next day.
During his time at the camp, Grossner tries to recruit and scout many players.
"I use this trip as a recruiting trip," Grossner said. "I got there early and went to see a kid who lives north of New Orleans. Then, some of the best high school coaches in the area work the camp. So it allows me to recruit, which is one of my primary reasons for going.
"I can keep those contacts in the south, because southern football is awesome," Grossner said. "That's kind of the religion down there."
Grossner hopes he can keep returning to the camp to maintain those relationships he has built with players and coaches.
"I hope to continue to do it, as long as my schedule permits," Grossner said. "I think it's a pipeline that I will always be able to use."
Once he returned to Baker, Grossner began working hard in his office, preparing for the upcoming season.
"It's time to settle back in," Grossner said. "It's been a whirlwind summer. I am used to getting prepared earlier, so I got a lot of work done in May. We are still tying up a few loose ends with recruits, scholarship money and making sure everybody is ready for camp."