Two Big 12 products picked for coaching academy

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Two current college football assistant coaches who played in the Big 12 have been picked to attend the NCAA's Football Coaches Academy.

Former Nebraska player and current Western Michigan wide receivers coach Mike Grant and former Kansas player and current Marshall running backs coach Jared Smith have been chosen among the 26 football coaches invited to attend the academy. The program was developed to boost head-coaching opportunities for minority assistant coaches.

Both are familiar names. Grant was a quarterback during his player career, worked in the Nebraska public relations office and even served as the executive producer of Tom Osborne's television show after his playing career ended. Grant also worked nine seasons on Dan McCarney's staff before ending up at Western Michigan.

Smith was a starting center for the Jayhawks from 1993-96, including their 1995 team that finished 10-2 and claimed an Aloha Bowl triumph over UCLA. He later served as a quality-control assistant at Ohio State before coming to Marshall in 2005.

The NCAA Diversity and Inclusion department administers the program, which prepares coaches for many of the situations and issues they will experience at the head-coaching level through targeted program sessions and networking opportunities with current head coaches and athletics administrators.

"We're bringing 26 coaches to Indianapolis to reinforce specific areas of expertise that we know athletics directors and head coaches believe are critical when advancing through the coaching ranks," said Charlotte Westerhaus, the NCAA's vice president for Diversity and Inclusion.

"The coaches already have the X's and O's under their belt and they are familiar with many of the skill sets we place emphasis on during the program. We're simply going to enhance their skills by providing them with information and feedback from some of the most successful coaches and athletics administrators from around the nation during the various program sessions."

Both coaches deserve the opportunity they are receiving. Hopefully, the skills they will learn participating in the program will help them earn head-coaching jobs in the future.