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Players stunned at coach's dismissal

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Posted: Sunday, November 14, 2010 4:59 pm

Idaho State senior defensive end Sean Rutten looked out at the media to speak, but he seemed to be in somewhat of a haze.

    ISU Athletic Director Jeff Tingey had just announced that head football coach John Zamberlin had been terminated, effective the day after the Bengals’ final game on Saturday at Eastern Washington.

    “Coach Z and the entire staff all would give you the shirts off their backs,” Rutten said softly. “That’s the type of guys they are. They would give you anything at any time. Coach Z always did right by me. He respected me for the work I put into this.”

    Tingey agreed that Zamberlin put his heart and soul into the program. “I have a great respect for Coach Zamberlin,” he said. “He cares deeply for his student athletes and the community. He has done good things for the young men who have been part of the program.”

    At the end of the day, though, Tingey said he wanted another direction for the program. “We want to win championships,” Tingey said.

    Tingey said he already has spoken to athletic directors at all the universities “in the area” about possible candidates. He said the position would be filled as soon as possible with a target by the end of the month when recruiting heats up.

    Reached at his home, Zamberbin said he wanted to take some time to compose his thoughts. During a 24-year coaching career, he had never been fired.

    He did ask to be able to finish the season. “I am going to finish the week out,” he said. “I told my players, I am not going to quit on you.”

    Zamberlin’s assistants also were given termination notices. Tingey said he would require whomever he hires to interview all of Zamberlin’s assistants to see if they would be a good fit on the new staff.

    “It’s tough,” said ISU quarterback Russel Hill. “You’ve been with these coaches and we’ve put in a lot of time together. They gave us their heart and soul and we gave it right back. It’s a blow to your emotions ... your self esteem.”

    Hill praised Zamberlin for turning around the culture of the football program through his four years. “The selfishness when I got here, it is night and day now,” Hill said. “It used to be ‘me and I’ oriented. Now we lose as a team and we win as a team.”

    “We understand this is a business, but coach Zamberlin has taught me little things that I will take with me the rest of my life. In am indebted to him. I wish I could have performed better for him.”

    Tingey said he knows that many people will look negatively upon his decision because Zamberlin was so embraced by the community. “This is a difficult day for Idaho State University,” he said. “But one that is important.”

    So what qualities does Tingey desire in a new coach? “We want a new coach who can command respect,” Tingey said. “We want a coach who can recruit strong young men, physically and academically. Those players need to be able to transition well because Pocatello is different. It is a small community.

    “We want a coach who is good at speaking to people, who can promote his program. We want a coach who can stand up for his convictions.”

    “First and foremost, we want to have success ... everyone wants it. And we need to not only find the best coach, but the best coach who is the right fit for Pocatello.”

    Tingey wouldn’t point out specifics in terms of things Zamberlin did to make him decide to buy out the final year of his contract. “I don’t want to get into the blame game,” he said.

    He said he made the decision because he felt uncomfortable that more people were becoming involved in the process and he didn’t want Zamberlin to hear the news from someone else.

    Although Tingey said he doesn’t yet have the numbers in terms of what it will cost to terminate Zamberlin a year before his contract is terminated, it is likely to be well over $100,000, not counting the fact ISU most likely will have to pay a new coach much more than the approxiate $100,000 a year that Zamberlin earned.





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Welcome to the discussion.


  • taiter posted at 6:42 pm on Wed, Nov 17, 2010.

    taiter Posts: 1

    Tingey listing all of the qualities he's looking for was a poor move. Yes, those are the qualities you want but he might as well kick the coach when he's already down and out. Do that stuff when the guy is done packing his boxes out, you affect the man's whole family by doing that. It seems to me he's trying to "save face" after making his own mistakes; who hired the coach? There is no doubt that heads need to roll with a record like that but with that many coaches that have come and gone there at ISU over the years, you had better start looking for accountablilty at the top.

  • maggie6 posted at 4:11 pm on Mon, Nov 15, 2010.

    maggie6 Posts: 568

    BengalCub and Joker 28

    I agree with you, but it goes deeper. You mention these Quarterbacks who left.
    Blum and Butler. Neither one of these guys stood out. Davenport never played
    a game.

    Hill's fault!? Never blamed Hill. The Quarterbacks including Hill have only been mediocre. Just a fact of life. In Division 11 Hill would have been a star. In the Big Sky he was a confirmed passer that did well sometimes. Look at his record.
    Not to good.

    The guy that got screwed in my book was Storms. He is the man we all thought that was going to play Quarterback after the championship run at Meridian. And Zamberlin puts him at Safety. Nuts

    Zamberlin dug his own grave. Nobody is crying as far as I can tell. After the Portland game I was chewing nails. Guess who beat Portland Saturday in Portland.
    You got it, Northern Colorado.

    Hill was all we had, and he just wasn't enough.

    I might look at your APR statistics, but they are only meaningful if they are much different from the rest of the Conference.

    And I will tell you something for sure, these treams coming tinto the Conference are no slouches.

    It is one thing to be at the bottom of a nine team Conference, and if we don't win saturday we will be, odds are 9 to 1 we won't. It is another to be at the bottom of a 13 team Conference. And every indication standing is that every one of the entering teams is standing above us, and Montana is staying in the Big Sky.

    Yes Zamberlin has had his rows. You'd think he would be tired of the headache,
    and looking for a Carribean Cruise to put this bad time behind him.

    But there are one or two good memories that could have been better. Oh well.

  • BengalCub posted at 1:36 pm on Mon, Nov 15, 2010.

    BengalCub Posts: 24

    If your program has a 60-65% attrition rate, the program will never be successful. Why? Because you never develop continuity or leadership inside the program. Programs are build off of recruiting classes and 5th year seniors.

    If you don't get the APR fixed, this program will continue to fail by losing up to 5 members of each recruiting class in addition to lost practice time.

    Next time around, ISU will loses scholarships, practice time and be banned from post season play.

    After that, the penalties are unthinkable.

    Zamberlin lost Butler, Mozzachi, Galloway, Blum and Davenport during his tenure MINIMUM. Good luck getting someone new to come in with that track record.

  • Joker28 posted at 12:53 pm on Mon, Nov 15, 2010.

    Joker28 Posts: 99

    maggie6, you apparently have as much knowledge (or lack thereof) of APR as the previous ISU coaching staff did.

    The GPA is only a PART of it. Player retention is a BIG factor, because that is related to graduation rates. If a player quits the team and leaves school, then the APR takes a major hit. ISU's program is in such disarray because of it, that the NCAA took away scholarships and practice time. How do you build a program and its depth with less scholarships? How do you get better when a day of practice is taken away? If the NCAA takes away the post-season, then how do you out recruit other schools who will use that against ISU?

    I agree with you about ISU's lack of a mobile QB. Is that Hill's fault? Maybe he should have quit like the majority of Zamberlin's initial recruiting class and screwed ISU over even more. Hill did the best he could to make ISU win. Zamberlin had 4 years to get a QB in here, but he didn't. In fact, some of the QB's on the roster left the team because of the inept offensive staff he hired.

    The APR is an administrative issue AND a coaching issue. Coaches monitor athletes' progress, but they are also responsible for keeping them in the program.

    maggie6, please educate yourself.

  • maggie6 posted at 11:56 am on Mon, Nov 15, 2010.

    maggie6 Posts: 568


    Are you for real? Idaho State has won three games in three seasons,
    and you think the Academic Progress rate deserves some attention???

    How about getting a Quarterback that isn't afraid to run the ball.

    The NCAA is after everybody on that count. It is just plain bad news
    for atheletes to fall below a "C". As a rule, most don't. Most atheletes will major in courses that are akin to their life interests and academic success usually follows.

    The APR is more in Tingey's workshop. hw was the first one to yodel about
    alcohol awareness classes. So nacademic success is his rooster too.

  • BengalCub posted at 8:15 am on Mon, Nov 15, 2010.

    BengalCub Posts: 24

    Jay--additional support at ISU is needed.

    Something that you have failed to address is the APR issue and retention issue at Idaho State under the Zamberlin tenure.

    ISU is in SERIOUS peril if the football APR does not improve significantly in the eyes of the NCAA. A few things:

    1. As of this year, NCAA notes the APR scores "follow" head coaches. So , now that Zamberlin is gone, the APR scores at ISU under his leadership will follow him as he seeks other coaching employment in other NCAA institutions.

    2. ISU IS VERY concerned of additional sanctions if the FB PROGRAM IF THE APR does not improve to greater than 900 in the next APR reporting cycle. ISU FB current penalty "level" for historic APR deficiencies is "level 2" - reductions of scholarship and practice time. IF ISU FB APR doe not improve to at least to 900 by the next cycle, it is possible the NCAA may penalize "level 3" sanctions - same as level 2 PLUS ban of post-season play. Even if the FB APR improves, it may not be enough in the eyes of the NCAA. Should poor APR continue to plague FB, then the NCAA may penalize the entire athletic program

    The wins and losses matter--but you cannot get there if you cannot keep the players that you recruit.

    John Zamberlin is a great guy, but he did not have the savy to run a D-1 football program nor did he have the connections to hire enough quality assistant coaches.

    We can both or all agree that ISU needs to step up to the plate. Vailas in particular had better pay attention. Tingey needs to get the administration at ISU fixed and that may require changes in that area as well.

    Mike Kramer or Bruce Barnum would be great fits at ISU.

  • tourist posted at 2:54 am on Mon, Nov 15, 2010.

    tourist Posts: 2

    Tingey gave Z a two year extension last year, now he pulls the rug out from under him? The time was right last year, as it was the end of the contract. Now, it is going to cost some big bucks to get rid of him. Now we know what the "body bag games" money is used for. How much did ISU pay Larry Lewis to leave before the end of his contract?Maybe next year ISU can play Ohio State and Auburn, that way they can afford to fire another coach or two, somewhere down the road. Tingey needs to go out the door with Z.

  • 90s alum posted at 12:47 am on Mon, Nov 15, 2010.

    90s alum Posts: 11

    This was the worst coach in the history of ISU! The coach drove a mediocre program far deeper into the ground with a tradition and mentality of losing and playing favorites. Maybe now coach Z sees that sitting your upper classmen to give your younger players experience for the future is not the best idea for player morale, wins on the filed and your longevity as a coach.

    Most division II teams are better than ISU, nobody cares about losses to great teams, but this poor excuse for a team could not win AGAINST ANYBODY!!! Most games were downright embarrasing! This firing took place at least 1 year too late in most poeples opinion! Yes, it was the coaches fault, That extreme level of losing is not acceptable when smaller communities with colder outdoor stadiums in freezing hole in the ground places like Cheney WA and Bozeman/Missoula MT contend year in and year out while we remain winless against all but NAIA teams, some of which even beat ISU some years!

    I hope they pay enough to get a decent coach in here to turn around the program! This community deserves a winner for once! Good Job Tingey! Go Bengals!

  • Joker28 posted at 10:45 pm on Sun, Nov 14, 2010.

    Joker28 Posts: 99

    90% of the FCS schools play "body bag" games. Welcome to present day NCAA football!

    He couldn't beat his "peer" institutions. His player turnover was higher than any coach in recent memory - so much so that ISU took APR hits because of it. Those APR hits cost ISU scholarships and practice time. He couldn't understand what social media sites mean to the present day, and he used his media appearances to blast fans for writing their opinions.

    Do you expect players to take the microphone at a press conference and start singing "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead?" The players were very gracious and classy, and Zamberlin should be commended for recruiting men of fine character. Unfortunately, they couldn't win on the field.

  • bengalfan posted at 8:26 pm on Sun, Nov 14, 2010.

    bengalfan Posts: 1

    it's not the losses to Arizona State and Georgia that cost him his job. It's the losses to Central Washington and North Dakota that cost him.

  • sdk61boise posted at 5:36 pm on Sun, Nov 14, 2010.

    sdk61boise Posts: 1

    Nice job coach, you play body bag games for the sake of the whole athletic department
    and then they say they don't need you anymore. I have seen what a athletic department here in Boise that built a program a little bit at a time can do. It is a shame you were
    not given the same opportunity. Shame on you Idaho State for not seeing the effort it
    takes to overcome such games that put money in your coffers at the expense of your
    coaches and players. Look at his record at Central Washington and I can bet he didn't have to play the likes of Georgia and Arizona State to pay for the uniforms of all the athletic department. Good luck coach and staff you deserve much better!


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