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Ted Iacenda begins season one as COC head coach

Posted: September 5, 2013 8:55 p.m.
Updated: September 5, 2013 8:55 p.m.
College of the Canyons head coach Ted Iacenda made a name for himself in the Santa Clarita Valley as an All-CIF running back at Hart and assistant coach on COC’s national title team. Now, he gets a chance to show he can be the head coach. College of the Canyons head coach Ted Iacenda made a name for himself in the Santa Clarita Valley as an All-CIF running back at Hart and assistant coach on COC’s national title team. Now, he gets a chance to show he can be the head coach.
College of the Canyons head coach Ted Iacenda made a name for himself in the Santa Clarita Valley as an All-CIF running back at Hart and assistant coach on COC’s national title team. Now, he gets a chance to show he can be the head coach.

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

No one wants to say it, but appears that way.

One of the greatest prep football players in Santa Clarita Valley’s history, Ted Iacenda had conversations about becoming Alemany head football coach before his friend Dean Herrington got the job.

He had full-fledged interviews with Golden Valley and West Ranch high schools and didn’t get their head varsity coaching jobs.

Yet College of the Canyons decided that Iacenda was the right man to lead its program.

“It was just a matter of time,” says College of the Canyons Athletic Director and former head coach Chuck Lyon, who was part of the hiring committee. “Coaching it’s more of a timing issue than anything else. I’ve known Ted a long time. I knew his aspirations long before I hired him. I know his mental makeup, know his coaching style. I have great respect for the Herrington brothers and what they do. It was just a matter of time.”

All Iacenda wanted was to lead a program.

And now he not only gets to lead a program he once worked for, he gets to lead one in his backyard.

“I’m not a really negative person. I never thought, ‘Oh, it’s never going to happen,’” Iacenda says. “No doubt, of course there was disappointment. ... I knew it was a matter of time. I wasn’t going to stop. I was going to fight for it. People would see who I am and what I’m about.”

It turned out this time around Iacenda didn’t have to fight as hard.

College of the Canyons announced the resignation of six-season head coach Garett Tujague on Jan. 14 after he accepted a position at his alma mater Brigham Young University.

That left COC to make an emergency hire under an interim basis.

Iacenda coached running backs, wide receivers and special teams at 2002 to 2005, all under Lyon.

Iacenda also interviewed for the recruiting coordinator job that Tujague got.

This time around, Lyon was heavily in his former coach’s corner.

The comment he made about respecting the Herrington brothers is significant because it is under the Herringtons that Iacenda learned.

He was the top football player in the Santa Clarita Valley at Hart High School in 1994 and 1995 — a two-time All-CIF Player of the Year — playing under head coach Mike Herrington and his brothers Dean and Rick.

He led the Indians to a CIF title in 1995, avenging a championship game loss the year before to Antelope Valley in a legendary contest.

The former Santa Clarita Valley single-season touchdown record holder earned a scholarship to USC, then transferred to New Mexico in 1999.

A foot injury ended his playing career altogether and he turned to coaching out of college in 2001.

He got a job at Trinity Valley Community College in smalltown Athens, Texas — which was closer to his mother in Houston, but uncomfortable.

Iacenda was logging countless miles recruiting and drove through towns where he was warned about the Ku Klux Klan.

He saw Dean Herrington at a coaches convention that year in 2001.

“It was a nightmare,” Dean remembers hearing from Iacenda.

Dean says he thought Iacenda was too smart to get into coaching.

Iacendas wanted to, though, and begged the well-connected Dean to get him out of Athens.

Dean took a job at Occidental and convinced the leadership to bring his former running back on.

However, Dean jumped ship for COC and brought Iacenda with him.

“We hired him (at Occidental) and a month or two later I got the job at COC and told Chuck he’d be a great asset,” Dean recalls.

Iacenda was, according to Lyon.

“He knew our offense really well. It was Dean’s offense,” Lyon says. “I was more impressed with the way (Iacenda) coached special teams. It’s really tough to coach special teams in community college. He did a great job with that.”

In 2004, Iacenda was part of the staff that guided the Cougars to a 14-0 mark and a national championship.

In 2006, he followed Dean to Alemany, where he served as assistant head coach until 2012.

All the while, it was 35-year-old’s goal to become a head coach.

A teaching credential was one obstacle, as schools wanted him to have that before they could bring him on.

Then an opportunity presented itself at COC.

It is on an interim basis and the job will be opened up after the season.

It’s not a concern.

“There’s not much I can do about that,” he says. “It’s been explained — the process, I’m fully aware of it. I might not get the job next year. My main concern is teaching and preparing them for academic success. (Being interim) is out there. It’s in the distance. It’s not something I don’t think about. But it’s not something I’m concerned with.”

Lyon says he shouldn’t be.

“I’m speaking for me as athletic director. The answer is no,” Lyon says on if Iacenda will be judged on wins and losses. “I don’t like the idea. There are a million reasons why you win and lose, especially at the community college level. We’re teachers. We only get them two years. Teachers first, coaches second. Personally I don’t believe you can hang your hat and evaluate a program on wins and losses at the community college level. That being said, we’re in America. We all know we’re in a competitive environment. There’s not a coach on our staff who wants to lose. But I don’t believe there’s a coach who puts winning above our students first.”

The example Lyon provided is Iacenda’s work with wide receiver Tim White — the explosive All-Western State Conference wide receiver and track star who would make COC a better team by being on the field.

White is redshirting this year to focus on his studies.

“That’s a decision we came to and Ted initiated the conversation,” Lyon says. “We wanted what Tim wanted. But Ted add I, our athletic counselors and (COC head track and field coach) Lindie Cane came together and said, ‘This is best for you because we want you to improve as a student.’”

Tough choice, but it showed Lyon something.

Lyon says he also wanted local flavor leading the program — a guy who knows the area and is connected in it.

It could go a long way to helping with recruiting, the thought is.

As for what kind of coach Iacenda is, Dean Herrington answers that.

“He has a great attention to detail,” Dean says. “The thing about Ted is he can coach any position. ,,. He’s a well-rounded coach.”

And now he has his shot.

Iacenda was married one year and four months ago to his bride Courtney.

Now he’s married to his job at College of the Canyons.

She’s understanding, he says, that he doesn’t see her as much these days.

“She’s a football wife.” he says. “She loves it, comes to all my games. She knows what she got herself into.”

As does he.

It’s what he’s been waiting for for years.


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