The Glanville show

There are two things new football coach Jerry Glanville is quite fond of: taking a challenge and having fun. It looks like he’s found both at Portland State.

There are two things new football coach Jerry Glanville is quite fond of: taking a challenge and having fun.

It looks like he’s found both at Portland State.

The former NFL coach welcomed me into his office, eager to show off the Viking helmets and sculptures he’s been ordering online.

“You’re going to love this,” he said, cranking up a Romanesque battle song on the stereo, complete with blasts from a Viking horn. “This is for when we come out the tunnel at the games.”

Glanville is full of ideas to increase attendance at PSU football games, though his presence alone may be the biggest seller. Some of Glanville’s proposals, however, pragmatic as they may be, may not be adopted.

“I thought to get most students to the game we should give out a token and the first two beers are free,” he said, half joking. “They’d come. I hope they wouldn’t leave after the first two beers though.”

His idea of a Viking costume contest, however, where the winner each week wins a bookstore gift certificate, seems more likely to be adopted by the administration.

“What if we give out an award for the best horn blower every game?” he said.

And while Glanville seems to take just about any chance he can to muck about off the field, his playful, media-friendly personality stops at the sideline.

“ESPN wanted to come in and film the first practice and I asked them to wait a week,” Glanville said. He said he intends to spend the first few practices intently focused on teaching.

All the exposure is nothing new for Glanville, who said it doesn’t get in his way. But the increased media attention will be a change for his players.

“It will be new for them, but that’s good,” he said. “Being successful, you have to handle distractions, and we’ll have distractions a lot early, which will be good for us come game day when there will be more.”

The new coach has yet to spend much time with the returning Viking players, but is excited to get down to it when practice begins Monday.

Glanville’s longtime associate and former PSU head coach from 1975-1980, Darrel “Mouse” Davis, joins the team as offensive coordinator. The two friends have worked together for years, most recently last season in Hawaii. And it was Davis who suggested to Glanville that he apply for the job at Portland State.

“I knew he wanted to get a head [coaching] job,” Davis told me. “This is a good city. The school is in kind of the right situation, and they have brought the level of ability in play up from what it was formerly.”

Davis, whose colorful personality, like Glanville’s, outweighs his diminutive frame, is excited to be back in Portland.

“I have a certain amount of my life already invested in Portland State, from the time they were going to can the program, to where we saved the program,” Davis said. “And now it’s at a spot where it needs to go to another step or it could be a bad thing for it again.”

Though he says the road will not be easy, Mouse believes Glanville might just be the guy who can get it done.

“The media attention lavished on Jerry,” he said, “it’s good for the program, good for the school, good for the city, good for the players–it’s all plus, plus, plus. But you still have to do it on the field–that’s the key.”

Both Davis and Glanville agreed that establishing a home-field advantage is key to that success. Glanville said he wants to see games played on Saturday afternoons, rather than at night, so students get that “complete college experience.”

And if there is anyone who can put that package together, it is Glanville, who has been through this before.

“Wherever we’ve been we’ve always had the home-crowd advantage, but it’s never been like that anywhere we started,” he said of his numerous coaching jobs. “Before I became the head coach of the Falcons their last game was against the Detroit Lions. They had 5,200 people at the game. In that stadium, we never had an empty seat after that.”

After all, what he came here for is a challenge, and changing the culture at PSU will be just that. Glanville left a team in Hawaii that is nationally ranked, which he believes could go undefeated next season. But coasting along just isn’t for Jerry.

“That’s never been my style,” he said. “I’ve always liked another challenge.”