Coach Rob Ambrose enters his third season as the Tigers' coach with a great deal of optimism.
Courtesy: PJ Dunn
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Coach Rob Ambrose enters his third season as the Tigers' coach with a great deal of optimism.
Ambrose Has Poker Face on For 2011
Courtesy: Milton Kent,  
Release: 08/10/2011

If you’ve never played Texas Hold-Em with Towson football coach Rob Ambrose, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to start now when his poker face is at its best.

Ambrose is walking around town and campus flashing an ear-to-ear grin that simultaneously displays confidence in the program while masking determination to get the Tigers moving forward.

“Until we’re winning championships and ballgames and going to the playoffs, you’re not going to see me smile. Not really,” said Ambrose recently at the Colonial Athletic Association’s media day.

“I’ll put on the fake (smile), but the day we go to the playoffs in Division I – and we’ve already done it in Division II and Division III - it will be historical,” Ambrose continued. “It will be an historical moment for the University and truth be told, probably the state of Maryland. And that will be the tide that turns the attitude about football forever. That will be success.”

It may sound strange for a coach coming off a 1-10 season in 2010 whose team is picked for last in the CAA this year to be talking about pushing all the chips into the center of the table, but that’s where Ambrose is.

And his optimism centers from what he has seen and heard from his team, which he says is “without a doubt, the most excited, energetic one-win football team in America.”

“These kids now believe in each other more than I ever thought they could,” said Ambrose. “And they love what that does for them. They challenge each other day in and day out. They’ve earned faith in each other and that’s what makes a really, really good football team. Just talking about it gets me excited.”

That energy and excitement stems from the notion that the Tiger players – their 2010 record notwithstanding – have taken important strides forward from Ambrose’s first season in 2009 to this year’s preseason.

“Instead of saying, ‘Woe is me,’ our guys weren’t even worried about it (the record),” said Ambrose, a 1992 Towson graduate. “They’re going, ‘Look what we did. If we’d have just done this, look where we would be. And they walked off the plane after New Hampshire, going, ‘Coach, this is awesome. We get to start for next year right now.”

With 16 starters returning on offense and defense, Ambrose has reason to believe that if the Tigers merely minimize the mistakes they made last year, a lot of the close losses they suffered through in 2010 will become wins in 2011.

“The kids who have played a lot of plays have a lot of experience, good and bad, and they’re able to speak for themselves and to the other players on the team with a great degree of intelligence when you have that many guys who have played that many snaps,” said Ambrose.

“It also breeds better leadership,” Ambrose added. “Good leaders come out of the fire. These guys have been in it, come out of it, survived and they’re ready to go back in it with a different attitude and a different look in their eye.”

And they’ll need that attitude to maneuver through a schedule that features the usual CAA opposition, including home games against Villanova, Delaware and New Hampshire, a road test at league favorite William & Mary, and an October 1 game at Maryland where Ambrose will match wits with one of his coaching mentors - new Terps coach Randy Edsall.

“Somebody asked me, ‘How many do you want to win this year?,” said Ambrose. “I almost choked the guy that asked the question. Like what? Am I not going to show up for two games? I’m the guy at the poker table who wants to win every hand. I don’t care if I was dealt a four or a two. I don’t care what the rules say. That’s me.”

It seems that for year three of his tenure, Ambrose is ready to hit the table with a better hand and more chips to play.

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