by Mark Brown, Alumni News and Information, for C-N athletics
Doug Malone came to college with one intention, football. After that, he expected to return to Greeneville to join his dad and granddad building roads and interstates.
Phase one happened, but, given the influence of coaches like Mike Turner, Ken Sparks and others, the rest did not.
"My story is that I came to Carson-Newman to play football, but these guys made sure that I got a degree along the way that allowed me to do something else."
Nodding his head toward Turner moments later, Malone smiled, saying, "He's the reason I do what I do."
In his senior year, nearing the completion of a bachelor's degree in physical education and health, he figured he would try the career his coaches had. He married 1978 alumna and volleyball coach Jenny Blanc, and he had an idea.
"We said, 'Okay, we'll see how far I can go and what I can do, and if I can't, then we'll go back home and I'll do road construction…" So, I've been able to keep a job, and the road company is not even there any longer."
"Kept a job" is a two-fold understatement. First, he has grown across a 30-year career that has included positions on both sides of the line at schools from coast to coast, as well as from entry level roles to head coach and upper level athletics administration. Stops have included Cal State-Northridge, the University of Texas-El Paso, Tennessee Tech and Wingate. Second, his Saskatchewan Roughriders offensive line recently helped win the Grey Cup, one of the storied trophies in all of sports.
Whereas America's Super Bowl is a social phenomenon that transcends the gridiron, Canadian Football's national championship is a cultural festival that draws people to it. Think about a holiday built around football.
"Oh, it is," confirmed the 1982 alumnus. "And it's not just the fans of the two teams that are in it; it is really a celebration that they have, and all of the teams come together for that week and the festivities."
Under the watchful eye of a Mounties detail, Malone says citizens and spectators carry the trophy. "They actually have a parade and the fans walk the cup through the town and up to the stadium… they pass it from fan to fan on the way to the game."
Though similar to its American cousin, the game is played on a field more than half-again the size of a NFL gridiron with 12 players on each side, three downs to make a first, several offensive players in motion at one time and time stoppage after every play in the final three minutes of each half. There are fewer teams – nine with expansion to Ottawa earlier this week, compared to 32 NFL clubs – and an average player salary of less that $100,000, but, contrary to what many people might think, it is not the minor leagues, or the NFL's farm system.
Malone's journey north began in 2010 with three weeks as a guest coach for Calgary, which led to two seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He says his and Jenny's willingness to "follow the Lord" throughout his career is the reason he commutes between Regina and Jefferson City, their off-season home as of a recent move back. Although he likes the idea of a coaching job closer to East Tennessee, he says he will continue in the CFL as long they feel led for him to do that.
While his family infused in him a dedication to hard work and perseverance, the Grey Cup winning assistant says Carson-Newman taught him "how to treat people. You know, to be straight up… How to treat players, and pro players are no different from anyone else."