Q&A: FAMU coach Marvin Green

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Today on Wildman’s Corner, I interviewed a coach who works for the school that has the best band in the country. Let me make this perfectly clear, as well: I believe there should be no marching bands during halftime. Call me a hater, but I am just not a band guy.

However, if you haven’t seen the FAMU (Marching 100), you are missing out.

Let me introduce Coach Marvin Green. Green is the head men’s golf coach of the Florida A&M Rattlers:

Question: Golf at Florida A&M, where does it rank among sports at your university?

Answer: Probably at FAMU, it’s No. 18 out of 18. We have a passion for it at Florida A&M University, we have been around for about 50 years, had a great program early on, and I think we still have a good program amongst historically black colleges and universities. Probably every year out 25 to 28 historically black colleges, we are probably one of the top five out of all those teams in the country.

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Q: What are some of the biggest challenges historically black schools face trying to create or develop their schools’ golf programs each year?

A: Our problem typically always comes down to the budget. We’ve had a great situation in Tallahassee because we actually have a lot of support from the local golf courses who give us a place to go out and practice. When you are talking about a full allotment of scholarships, like other schools have all across the country, we don’t necessarily have that. We are right about 2.8 (scholarships) out of three, which can kind of hurt you in recruiting, so when you don’t have that full allotment of scholarships, it doesn’t allow you to go out there and always go after that one guy you are looking for. It’s tough to tell a kid sometimes I can only offer you a part of a scholarship, as opposed to a whole one.

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Q: Being at a historically black school, is it tough to recruit?

A: Not really. I think you try to be open and stay open to all individuals of all nationalities whenever you may be recruiting. Typically, most of the young men who choose to come to our university are going to be African-American, so you want to go out and look at those tournaments and events. We have a lot of young men at our school who you would call a minority who always are looking to come to our school as well. It’s not really that hard to recruit because most guys just want to make sure they can play at a quality facility as well as have a quality-type playing schedule at quality events. The one beautiful thing about playing golf is if you score low, you are going to be recognized, no matter where you are.

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Q: My family has had season tickets to the Miami Hurricanes football team for years, and I love seeing your band play when the team goes South. I’m curious, though: When you and the golf team travel, do any schools ask you to bring the band with you?

A: Of course they do! Everyone wants to see the “Marching 100,” that’s one of the most special things about our university. The history of our marching band has been able to set a trend and set a way people think of our university. It’s great to have a trademark like that when people think of FAMU, which I think is one of the best institutions in the country. All of my guys are strictly golfers and student-athletes, though. No band members on this squad.

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Q: You played in the Seminole Intercollegiate this year. What does playing in an event like that mean to your program?

A: To me, this is tremendous. What Trey Jones has done at Florida State, and what FSU’s reputation is in college golf, it means a lot. To come to an event like this means you are going to face quality teams from across the country, come to your city and be able to play against them allows you to see where you stand. Even if you are not one of the teams out of the 18 teams like Nos. 1 or 2, it’s OK to finish in the top 12 or top 15 since we are playing quality competition. To be honest with you, if we could stand in an event like this, we can use it as a recruiting tool and get a chance. We don’t just play bad teams all year round. We play in two tournaments a year, at St. Johns and FSU, where we get the chance to play in big fields and face good teams from across the country. When you come to Florida A&M University, you are going to get the chance to see where you stand against some of the best golfers in the nation, as well.

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Q: What do you think it would take for a historically black school to crack the top 50 of the rankings?

A: Scholarships are going to be the first thing. Two, we have to have a commitment from our university for our golf programs, and I think whenever potential golfers are looking at a school, they want to be able to improve when they get there. So you want to have quality golfers come in and have the opportunity to get better once they’re there. Then, every once and awhile, you get the right mixture of four or five guys on a team and everything seems to come together and work well. If that happens, you can possibly make it happen. However, there’s a lot of quality programs across the country, and it’s tough to make that happen, especially if you have a predominantly black team, but I think it can happen somewhere down the line.

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Q: Realistically, where do you think you can take this program in the next few years? Ever since the .500 rule, smaller schools are taking advantage of better schedules and invites. Where do you see this program heading?

A: I think the sky’s the limit and that we can crack the top 100 to 75, realistically. I think being able to get into a tournament like the Seminole allows us to recruit some of the best and brightest around. I think by being able to do that you get the chance to see the competition, because sometimes you play down to the level of competition as well when you know you are going to face elite competition you prepare and train differently. You even get your game up a little when you know what you’re facing. I think the .500 rule will be a great thing for our program in the long run as well.

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