It's a good time to be Louisiana-Monroe

COMMENTARY — With Louisiana-Lafayette coming to Stillwater this weekend, it's useful to look at how Oklahoman Todd Berry and ULM pulled an upset at Arkansas last weekend.
by Berry Tramel Published: September 11, 2012

Another example: Louisiana-Monroe employs a 3-3-5 defense, which few teams use. Watch out Sooners; OU hosts Louisiana-Monroe in the 2013 season opener.

“We're certainly a difficult team to prepare for,” Berry said. “We know we have some advantages. We just have to find them. It's not because we have a Heisman Trophy winner. It's because we're different.”

Louisiana-Lafayette runs the quarterback run/shotgun option offense similar to Arizona's, so at least the Cowboys have seen what the Cajuns will do.

* * *

Todd Berry grew up in Miami, Steve Owens' hometown in the northeast corner of Oklahoma. He went to the University of Tulsa and was a backup quarterback under head coach John Cooper and offensive coordinator Larry Coker.

“I loved growing up in Oklahoma,” Berry said. “It's just something about the people, in terms of the work ethic. You cared for your neighbor. I have more appreciation for that now, because of all the different places I've lived.”

Berry, 51, is accustomed to coaching where winning doesn't come easy.

He's been an assistant coach at Tennessee-Martin, Mississippi State, Southeast Missouri State, East Carolina, Louisiana-Monroe, Miami and UNLV. He was an OSU graduate assistant for Pat Jones in 1985.

He's been head coach at Illinois State, which hadn't won more than six games a year in a quarter century but went to the I-AA playoffs the last two of his four seasons, and then at Army, where he was fired after 3½ seasons and a 5-35 record.

Berry's first two seasons at Monroe produced 5-7 and 4-8 records, but now he's got a victory over Arkansas on his belt and The New York Times calling.

“We don't have all the amenities that a lot of people have,” Berry said. “But we have a lot of people that care. It's not just a team victory. There's a lot of people here that go above and beyond in their willingness to help.”

Berry wasn't sure he wanted to be a coach. But Cooper and Coker, who went on to be big winners as head coaches at Ohio State and Miami, respectively, convinced him to give it a try.

“I wanted to be like them,” Berry said. “My experiences at Tulsa were phenomenal because of the people I was around. People make places special more than anything else.

“I learned so many things from being a collegiate athlete. One of the great life lessons, if every time you think you can't take another step, you do.

“I think that's what happened last Saturday for us.”

The Warhawks trailed Arkansas 28-7. “We kept pushing, kept taking another step, taking another step,” Berry said. “That's a great life lesson.”

Beware, OSU. Another Louisiana hyphen's coming to town.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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Louisiana comparisons

Comparing the football programs of Louisiana-Monroe, which upset eighth-ranked Arkansas last week, and Louisiana-Lafayette, which plays at OSU this Saturday.

ULM, Category, ULL,

8,405, Enrollment, 16,885

1931, Established, 1898

174,086, Metro population, 263,171

Tim McGraw, Famous alum, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco

Northeast Louisiana, Previous name, Southwestern Louisiana

Todd Berry (3rd year, 10-15), Football coach, Mark Hudspeth (2nd year, 11-4)

1975-81, 1994, Joined Division I-A , 1974

0, Bowl games, 1

279-367-8, All-time record, 486-515-31

30,427, Stadium capacity, 31,000

Alabama 2007, Notable victory, Texas A&M 1996

Sixth, 2011 Sun Belt Conference place, Third

Sixth, 2012 Sun Belt projection, Third

Stan Humphries, Super Bowl quarterback, Jake Delhomme

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