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Mr. Nelson Stokley (Deceased)



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Stokley friends set up endowed scholarship

Special to the Daily Advertiser November 20, 2010

Nelson Stokley dedicated much of his adult life to strengthening and growing the UL Lafayette athletic department and football program.

Now, friends of the late Ragin' Cajun coach and former LSU football great are gathering to help cement his legacy, and are seeking help from Stokley's long line of friends, professional acquaintances and former players.

The Nelson R. Stokley Endowed Football Scholarship Committee has announced plans for a three-phase program to raise funds to endow a $100,000 scholarship at UL in Stokley's name. The fund-raising will be in the form of a direct mail and e-mail campaign, a benefit golf tournament scheduled for the spring of 2011, and a dinner/social/auction tentatively set for early next summer.

"Nelson touched the lives of so many in so many ways," said campaign co-chairman Preston Guidry. "He dedicated his whole life to athletics and was hugely successful in that, but he also embraced so many groups and community organizations that made life better for those of us in Acadiana."

Stokley passed away last June 5 at age 66 from complications linked to his long battle with Alzheimer's disease, and his funeral at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Lafayette drew hundreds of ex-players and coaching comrades.

The first priority for awarding of the scholarship, once the fund reaches the needed endowment levels, will be to the child of a former Ragin' Cajun student-athlete who intends to play football at UL. If there are no applicants to meet that requirement, the second awarding priority will be to a student who played high school football in Louisiana and who intends to play football at UL.

"It was here at USL (now UL) that Nelson returned to Louisiana to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a head coach," said campaign co-chairman Kathy Stokley. "That's why the first priority is to help former Cajun athletes. But Nelson's impact was obviously felt throughout Louisiana, and we felt it was important to also have all of the state represented in some way."

Minimum funding to establish the scholarship is $10,000, and two anonymous benefactors have already helped establish the fund with an initial investment totaling $4,000. The $100,000 goal would provide funding for the scholarship in perpetuity.

The direct mail and e-mail campaign is currently underway, and most former athletes and others with a connection to the UL program, including current season ticket holders, should have received information on the fund-raising drive. Groups, businesses or individuals wishing to aid in the drive or receive more information on a tax-deductible contribution may contact UL athletic development director Gerald Hebert at (337) 482-0927 or Darleen Lugenbuhl (darleen@louisiana.edu) in the UL Office of Development at (337) 482-0922

The golf will be held in conjunction with the UL Gridiron Alumni Club's annual Bill "Blackjack" Landry Memorial Tournament and is scheduled for Friday, April 15, at Acadian Hills Country Club. Funds from that tournament, which is one day prior to the Cajuns' Red-White Spring Football Game, go to the Gridiron Alumni group, who will then in turn donate those funds to the Stokley Endowed Football Scholarship Fund.

Guidry said that plans are underway for next summer's social gathering and fund-raising auction, with the date and site to be determined. The auction is slated to feature several high-end items in both athletic and non-athletic areas.

Stokley, a native of Kennedy, Texas, was a standout athlete in both high school and college, earning the maximum 12 athletic letters at Crowley High School. He later was the starting quarterback for three seasons at LSU from 1965-67 under former coach Charles McClendon, being named the team's Outstanding Player in his senior season. He guided the Tigers to the 1966 Cotton Bowl and to a win in the 1968 Sugar Bowl, leading LSU to a comeback 20-13 victory over previously unbeaten Wyoming and throwing two fourth-quarter touchdowns after the Cowboys held a 13-0 halftime lead.

Following that season, he was honored as winner of the inaugural James J. Corbett Award, which is presented annually to the state's top amateur athlete. Ironically, two Cajun athletes â€" football's Tyrell Fenroy and softball's Ashley Brignac â€" won the 2009 Corbett Award which now goes to one male and one female athlete.

Stokley served at LSU, Virginia Tech and Clemson during his coaching career, and was offensive coordinator for the 1981 Clemson team that won the national championship.

He then took over as head coach of the then-USL program in 1985 and guided the Cajuns for 13 seasons, and ranks second on the school's all-time victory list. He had seven winning seasons including three straight from 1993-96 when the Cajuns were members of the Big West Conference and won two league championships. His record in the Big West was 14-4 in two seasons, but his most memorable game came after that tenure when he guided the Cajuns to a 29-22 upset over nationally-ranked Texas A&M in 1996 â€" considered the program's greatest victory.

Stokley, who also served as UL's athletic director for almost five years from 1988-92 while continuing as head football coach, tutored a dozen players drafted by the NFL during his career including such Cajun greats as Brian Mitchell, Jake Delhomme, Orlando Thomas and Damon Mason. That group also includes his son Brandon Stokley, who is a member of the Seattle Seahawks in his 13th NFL season and holds two Super Bowl rings.

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Head Football Coach, 1986-98, 62-80-1 record. Athletic Director, 1988-92.

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Coach Nelson Stokley - obituary & funeral arrangements announced

Visitation Schedule: Monday - 3-9 PM and Tuesday 8:00 AM until time of service.

Service: 10:00 AM, Tuesday, June 8, 2010 at Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist

Source: Martin & Castille Funeral Home Website, June 6, 2010

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Nelson Ray "Coach" Stokley

A Celebration of Life will be held in the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Lafayette, at 10:00 AM, on Tuesday, June 8, 2010, for Nelson Ray "Coach" Stokley, 66, who died peacefully amongst family on June 5, 2010.

Interment will follow at Woodlawn Cemetery in Crowley, La.

Reverend Monsignor Keith J. DeRouen, Rector of Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Lafayette, will conduct the service. Lectors will be Katherine Kirsch and Colleen Ottinger. Eulogist will be Preston Guidry.

Survivors include his wife Kathleen "Kathy" Randol Stokley, his children, Jamie Stokley Kirsch and her husband Tim of Crowley, Shawn Stokley of Lafayette, and Brandon Stokley and his wife Lana of Denver; his stepchildren, Michael Guidry of Lafayette, Elizabeth Guidry Badeaux and her husband Jamie of Baton Rouge, Robert Guidry and his wife Holly of Baton Rouge, Colleen Guidry Ottinger and her husband Stuart of Lafayette; his grandchildren, Katherine, Connor and Samuel Kirsch, Peyton Stokley, Cameron and Carson Stokley, Roman and Mary Lucile Badeaux, Hayes Guidry, and Ford Ottinger; and one brother, Bobby Stokley and his wife Debbie and their son Vance of Lafayette.

Nelson was preceded in death by his parents, Paul and Holly Stokley, and by his grandchildren Elise and Taylor Kirsch.

Nelson was born in Kennedy, Texas on March 12, 1944. He earned a degree in Accounting from L.S.U. in 1967. He played football for L.S.U. from 1965-1967, leading the team as Quarterback to victory in the 1965 Cotton Bowl and the 1967 Sugar Bowl. He was voted All-SEC in 1965 and 1967 and was named SEC Sophomore of the Year in 1967 as well as LSU’s Most Valuable Player. That same year, Nelson was named the first-ever winner of the prestigious James J. Corbett Award, given to the most outstanding amateur athlete in Louisiana. For over 30 years he coached football, joining the L.S.U. coaching staff in 1968 as an assistant under the legendary Charlie McClendon (1968-1973) with four straight nine-win seasons. Nelson served as Offensive Coordinator at Virginia Tech (1974-78) and Clemson (1980-1985). Reaching the pinnacle of success in college football in 1981, by helping to guide Clemson to a perfect 12-0 season and the National Championship.

In 1986, Nelson returned to Louisiana to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a head coach. He took over the program at the University of Louisiana (USL) where he spent 13 years, producing 7 winning seasons, as Head Coach, eventually serving as both Athletic Director and Head Coach for a period of time. At one point, Nelson was the only individual in Division I-A Football to hold a dual position. In 1993, he had the nations #1 turnaround team finishing 8-3. He was recognized as the Big West and Louisiana Coach of the Year in 1993-1994. Under his guidance, in 1996, USL had the first ever victory over a top 25 team by defeating Texas A & M. Nelson was affiliated with Bartelstein & Associates as a Fundamental Skills coach for aspiring NFL recruits and served on the Harris Poll for 2 years. Throughout his tenure at USL, Nelson put 13 players in a position to make it in the NFL, one being his son Brandon Stokley. Brandon was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens and is currently playing for the Denver Broncos. One of the many highlights of Nelson’s career was having the opportunity to coach his son and see him excel at the next level.

After retiring from College coaching, Nelson joined his wife as an owner/operator of Pete's Family Sports Grill, where he loved watching Brandon on TV, playing Fantasy Football and visiting with his customers. Always a fierce competitor, Nelson was a low handicap golfer, reaching a milestone in 2008 with his first hole-in-one at the Farm Golf Course.

One of Nelson’s favorite times of the year was the Mardi Gras whether it was riding on a float or sitting on the parade route catching beads. He was a member of Krewe of Bonaparte and reigned as King Xanadu IX.

He also served with the Multiple Sclerosis Association, Heart Association and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America assisting in their fundraising efforts.

Pallbearers are Bobby Stokley, Tim Kirsch, Mike Guidry, Robert Guidry, Jamie Badeaux, Stuart Ottinger, William “Butch” Canty, Billy Gautreaux and David Tidwell.

Honorary pallbearers are Arthur Randol, III, Frank Randol, Rick Randol, Brother-in-laws, Causby Hamic, Jr., Miles Aldredge, Cornelius Babineaux, Joseph Babineaux, Dr. George Billeaud, Frank Boudreaux, Raymond Cordova, Richard Comeaux, Mel Credeur, Dr. Wayne Denton, Dale Deshotel, Bobby Farenthol, Mark Fontenot, Danny Ford, Preston Guidry, Dr. Phil Kramer, Jim Kreamer, Tony Mannina, Jimmy Martin, John Porche, Chuck Reedy, Lew Rigaud, Nelson Schexnayder, Phil Simon, Lynn Williams, the Grid Iron Alumni, and UL Coaching Staff (1986-1999).

His family wishes to thank, Mitch Richard, his hospice nurse Pat Richard and the Cornerstone Village South staff.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Hospice of Acadiana, 2600 Johnston Street, Suite 200, Lafayette, La. 70503 or on their website at www.HospiceAcadiana.com or to The Alzheimer’s Association, P.O. Box 96011, Washington, DC 20090-6011.

The family requests that visitation be observed in Martin & Castille's Southside Lafayette location on Monday, June 7, 2010 from 3:00 PM to 9:00 PM and on Tuesday from 8:00 AM until time of service.

View the obituary and guestbook online at www.mourning.com

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Longtime UL coach dies at 66

Bruce Brown • bbrown@theadvertiser.com • June 6, 2010

Former Ragin’ Cajuns football head coach Nelson Nelson Stokley died Saturday at age 66.

Brian Mitchell and Jake Delhomme owe Nelson Stokley a debt of gratitude.

Under Stokley, the two quarterbacked Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns to seven winning seasons â€" Mitchell four in a row and Delhomme three of four â€" then both graduated to successful careers in the National Football League.

They are among hundreds of former Cajuns mourning Stokley's death on Saturday at age 66 from complications brought on by Alzheimer's disease.

Stokley, a native of Kennedy, Texas, and multisport star at Crowley High, quarterbacked LSU in 1965 and 1967. He led the Tigers to a 14-7 upset of Arkansas as a sophomore, ending that school's 22-game win streak, and paced a 20-13 Sugar Bowl win over Wyoming in January 1968.

He coached UL from 1986-98, finishing with a 62-80-1 record for a school that labored as a football independent for 10 of his 13 years.

Using a roster heavily reliant on Louisiana talent, Stokley guided squads that lined up against Florida, Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Southern Mississippi, Memphis and Tulane.

"For me, the thing I remember is the innovative offense we ran," said Mitchell, who arrived at UL from Plaquemine in 1986 for Stokley's first season and helped trigger records of 6-5, 6-5, 6-5 an 7-4.

"He brought a big college feel to the program. He had been on a national championship coaching staff at Clemson, and he didn't care who we played. We played Alabama, and almost beat them (a 24-17 loss) and beat Brett Favre at Southern Miss.

"Coach Stokley gave you a lot of confidence. It was exciting."

Mitchell was the first player in NCAA history to run for over 3,000 yards and pass for over 5,000, scoring 47 touchdowns. He earned enough notice at UL to play 14 years in the NFL, winning a Super Bowl and setting kick return career records in the process.

"A coach is great who can take the talent he has and be able to use it," Mitchell said. "And they don't make you do what you can't do. I thanked him, too. I carried the ball over 600 times at UL and never missed a game, and that showed the NFL I was durable."

Perhaps Mitchell's greatest game occurred in 1987, when he ran for 271 yards and threw for 205 in a 35-28 win over Colorado State at Cajun Field.

"They were beating us at half," Mitchell recalled. "Coach asked me, 'What is it?' I said they were tired, that we couldn't run at them, but we could run around them. So they designed a lot of misdirection stuff for the second half. They made a great adjustment."

Four years after Mitchell left, homegrown Delhomme took over the versatile UL attack. He never lost to an in-state opponent, was the quarterback when the Ragin' Cajuns scored their momentous 29-22 upset of No. 25 Texas A&M at Cajun Field in 1996 and passed for 9,216 in his college career.

The Teurlings High product led the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl after the 2003 season, losing to New England by a field goal, and will play his first season with the Cleveland Browns this fall.

"It's funny, when you look back 10-12 years, and you realize he might have been a pretty good coach," Delhomme said. "He did a decent job. We were independent for so long, but he didn't shy away from playing the big schools. He didn't back down.

"Coach Stokley was very quiet, extremely intelligent. I appreciate that more now. He saw the big picture, saw what we could accomplish."

The Cajuns were members of the Big West Conference from 1993-95, and Delhomme quarterbacked records of 5-1, 5-1 and 4-2 in league play under Stokley. Then the Cajuns upset A&M in 1996 in front of 38,783 fans at Cajun Field.

From 1995-98, Stokely's son Brandon was a record-setting receiver for the Cajuns. And, like Delhomme, the younger Stokley is still playing in the NFL, with Denver.

"I was lucky to see him at his most gratifying time â€" for two years when he got to see his son play," Delhomme said. "That was a special time."

Joining Mitchell, Delhomme and Stokley as Cajuns in the NFL who played for Nelson Stokley are Crowley's Orlando Thomas (Minnesota), Cecilia's Anthony Clement (Arizona, San Francisco, NY Jets â€" 11 years), Richie Cunningham (Dallas, Carolina, Jacksonville), Todd Scott (Kansas City, Tampa Bay, New York Jets, Minnesota), James Atkins (Detroit, Baltimore, Seattle), Chris Gannon (New England) and Mark Hall (Green Bay).

Delhomme recalled the bond Stokley shared with his players, whether they were NFL-bound or not.

"At the time, we were living in the dorm in the Conference Center," Delhomme said. "I remember on Fridays before home games, we would watch a movie. But we would also watch high school football highlights, and Coach would watch with us.

"My true freshman year, Brandon was a senior at Comeaux, all 140 pounds of him. He would show up on the highlights, and we would ask Coach Stokley, 'Where'd he get those moves?' We would get on him. It was a lot of fun."

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Cajuns Mourn Loss of Coach Stokley

Courtesy: RaginCajuns.com
June 5, 2010

Coach Stokley led the Cajuns to an upset over No. 25 Texas A&M

The Ragin' Cajuns are saddened to learn of the loss of former head football coach and athletic director Nelson Stokley, who passed on Saturday.
Stokley led the Cajuns for 13 seasons from 1986-98 and ranks second on the school's all-time coaching victories list. The Kennedy, Texas native boasted seven winning seasons, including three straight winning seasons from 1993-96 when the Cajuns were members of the Big West Conference.

After a 2-9 season in 1992, the Cajuns made one of the best turnarounds in major college football history en route to an 8-3 mark in 1993 and a share of the Big West Championship.

Stokley also guided the Cajuns to a Big West Championship in 1994 and put together a 14-4 record in his three seasons of conference play.

He served as athletic director from April 6, 1988 until December 31, 1992.

Stokley coached Cajuns greats Brian Mitchell, Orlando Thomas, Damon Mason, Jake Delhomme and son Brandon Stokley. Coach Stokley is best-known for leading the Cajuns to a 29-22 upset of No. 25 Texas A&M.

Stokley, who attended Crowley High School, had coaching pit stops at Louisiana State, Virginia Tech and Clemson before taking over at then-USL. He was named head football coach on November 30, 1985 and remained an Acadiana area resident ever since.

Athletic Network Footnotes: Please click here for Nelson Stokley's AN profile: http://athleticnetwork.net/site.php?pageID=55&profID=2536

Click here for a photo of Coach Stokley leading the Cajuns against Alabama at Cajun Field: http://athleticnetwork.net/picpopup.php?piclibID=8330

Click here for photos of Coach Stokley and some of his players in the 1995 season: http://athleticnetwork.net/site491.php#

Click here to view Coach Stokley in his first year at Athletic Director: http://athleticnetwork.net/site1551.php#

Click here to view Coach Stokley, one of the two head football coaches in the nation to double as athletic director and head football coach: http://athleticnetwork.net/site1286.php

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BREAKING NEWS: Former UL football coach Nelson Stokley passes away

Daily Advertiser website June 5, 2010

Former UL football coach and athletic director Nelson Stokley passed away Saturday morning following a lengthy battle with Alzheimer's Disease.

Stokley led the Cajuns for 13 seasons from 1986-98 and ranks second on the school’s all-time coaching victories list. The Kennedy, Texas native boasted seven winning seasons, including three straight winning seasons from 1993-96 when the Cajuns were members of the Big West Conference.

After a 2-9 season in 1992, the Cajuns made one of the best turnarounds in major college football history en route to an 8-3 mark in 1993 and a share of the Big West Championship.

Stokley also guided the Cajuns to a Big West Championship in 1994 and put together a 14-4 record in his three seasons of conference play.

He served as athletic director from April 6, 1988 until December 31, 1992.

Stokley coached Cajuns greats Brian Mitchell, Orlando Thomas, Damon Mason, Jake Delhomme and son Brandon Stokley. Stokley is best-known for leading the Cajuns to a 29-22 upset of No. 25 Texas A&M.

Stokley, who attended Crowley High School, had coaching pit stops at Louisiana State, Virginia Tech and Clemson before taking over at then-USL. He was named head football coach on November 30, 1985 and remained an Acadiana area resident ever since.

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Dan McDonald's Chip Shots - Nelson Stokley's First Hole in One and More

November 26, 2008

A SPECIAL ACE: When one of Acadiana's best-known athletic figures reaches a pinnacle outside his sport, it's news.

For Nelson Stokley, though, he was just playing catch-up.

Stokley, the second-winningest football coach in UL history and a former standout quarterback at LSU, recorded the first hole-in-one of his golf career Monday when he aced the 147-yard 13th hole at Farm d'Allie.

"I've done this for a long time, and just to be able to get one ... you never know," Stokley said. "When it got there it hit the flag and went straight down. That was a first."

Stokley, who coached the Cajuns from 1986-98 after serving as offensive coordinator for Clemson's national championship squad in 1981, used a 7-iron and a Titleist NXT Tour ball while playing in a group with George Reynolds, Frank Boudreaux and Henry Longcrier.

During Stokley's stint at UL, the Cajuns claimed what is still the school's signature win, an upset of nationally-ranked Texas A&M in 1996. A total of 11 players were NFL draft picks during his career, after only two had been tabbed the previous 10 seasons, and he also tutored free-agent pick Jake Delhomme, at graduation the state's all-time leading passer and now a Super Bowl quarterback with the Carolina Panthers.

He also coached his son Brandon during a collegiate career that included a couple of NCAA career receiving records. It was Brandon, now a regular with the Denver Broncos and a UL Hall of Fame selection at this year's Homecoming festivities, who got the family's first golfing ace when he recorded a hole-in-one during last year's off-season.

"I had to go all this time, and Brandon already had one," Stokley said. "But this one felt great."

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Stokley back in athletics

June 10, 2006 -
Ex-UL football coach now A.D. at Sacred Heart girls school

Dan McDonald

He coached on a national championship college football team.
He was one of the few head coach-athletic director combinations in the NCAA's Division I for several years, and coached the University of Louisiana football team in more games than anyone in the program's history.

And now, Nelson Stokley is going to be in charge of a bunch of girls.

Not just any girls, mind you. Beginning this month, Stokley moves into a role as athletic director at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Grand Coteau, one of the nation's most renowned Catholic girls' schools.
"They want to get their athletic programs up to where their academic programs have been," Stokley said Friday. "That's the direction they want to go. It means a lot to them."

The 62-year-old Stokley has athletic director experience, having served in that role at UL for four years in the middle of his 13-year stint as head football coach.

He's also coached in top-notch collegiate football programs at LSU, Virginia Tech and Clemson, where he was part of a 1981 national championship.

This will be radically different.

ASH recently held its 184th graduation ceremony, having opened its doors in 1821 in Grand Coteau. It offers pre-kindergarten through grade 12 for girls, with residential accommodations for students in grades seven through 12. The 250-acre campus is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is the oldest institution of learning west of the Mississippi River.

This fall, the Academy will open St. John Berchmans School for boys, beginning with pre-kindergarten through second grade and adding grades yearly, but the campuses will be separate and the boys' school is several years away from even considering an athletic program.

"We'll be quite a ways from where the boys are," Stokley said. "They're not going to rush that. But who knows ... maybe one day we'll have a little Brandon Stokley or Jake Delhomme over there."

Stokley coached Delhomme, now a Pro Bowl quarterback with the Carolina Panthers, throughout Delhomme's UL career, just as he did with his son Brandon, now an established receiver with the Indianapolis Colts. The two are the most prolific quarterback and wide receiver respectively in Cajun history.

Football isn't part of this equation. Stokley will oversee the Academy's girls' teams in basketball, volleyball, softball, track/cross country, tennis and swimming.

"It's exciting for me to be there," Stokley said. "The people at the school were a little concerned since my background is with colleges and football, but the more we talked we felt we wouldn't have any problems. They're really good people, and they're going to let me continue to work with young people. I'll also have the opportunity to coach a little bit.

"I played enough golf. I needed to do something else."

Stokley, a native of Kennedy, Texas, who grew up in Crowley, saw the job in a newspaper advertisement. He contacted headmistress Mary Burns and principal Sheila Kurtz.

"At first I really didn't know a lot about the school," Stokley said. "But we had an opportunity to visit over the phone, I went over and we hit it off. We met three or four times and we had good vibes coming out of our meetings."

Stokley's biggest transition may be the mountain of administrative details now forced upon high school athletic directors, including certification, academic performance, drug testing and eligibility matters.

"It'll keep you busy," he said. "But they've done pretty well athletically considering their numbers (last year's high school enrollment at the Academy was only 116). They obviously have a lot going for them."


Born March 12, 1944 in Kennedy, Texas.

Graduated from Crowley High in 1963 after winning 12 athletic letters and is still the only athlete in the school's history to be named Outstanding Athlete three years in a row.

Graduated from LSU in 1968 and was the Tigers' quarterback for three years, leading LSU to two bowl victories. He was the first winner of the James J. Corbett Award as the state's top amateur athlete.

Coached football at LSU from 1968-73, at Virginia Tech from 1974-77, at Clemson from 1980-85 and at UL from 1986-98, the latter as head coach, and also served as UL's athletic director for four years.

Owned Pete's Family Sports Restaurant for several years before selling his interests within the past year.

Originally published June 10, 2006

Former coach part of new BCS selections.

Dan McDonald

Nelson Stokley will be voting in the new Harris poll in the BCS this year. The first Harris Interactive poll will be released Sunday, Sept. 25 and the first BCS standings will be released Monday, Oct. 17.

How will the 2005 BCS formula work?

The BCS standings formula will consist of three components, each of which will count one-third toward the rankings.

The USA Today coaches poll, voted on by 62 Division I-A head coaches and members of the American Football Coaches Association. Louisiana Tech's Jack Bicknell is the only state coach on the poll. Sun Belt coaches on the poll are Larry Blakeney of Troy, Darrell Dickey of North Texas and Howard Schnellenberger of Florida Atlantic.

The Harris Interactive college football poll, comprised of former coaches, players, administrators and media (in an approximately 80/20 percent split). Joining Nelson Stokley on the poll from Louisiana are former UL Monroe coach and administrator Lou St. Amant, former La. Tech and Pittsburgh Steelers standout Terry Bradshaw and writer Ted Lewis of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Nelson Stokley admits he didn't know much about the Harris Interactive college football poll when he picked up the phone two months ago.

Now, he's one of the voters involved in selecting teams for the BCS bowls, including the Jan. 4 Rose Bowl national championship game.

"This is something I'm really looking forward to," Stokley said. "You take a look at the people involved, and you can't help but be excited about it."

Stokley, head coach of Louisiana's Ragin' Cajun squad for 13 years and athletic director for some of those seasons, is one of 114 participants on a new college football poll created by the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). The poll replaces the Associated Press poll in the BCS standings formula that determines teams for the national title game and other BCS bowl games.

The new poll, which includes former coaches, players and administrators along with some media members, will begin Sept. 25 and will make up one-third of the selection formula.

"I really like the fact that we don't start right from the beginning," Stokley said. "It's four or five weeks into the season before we have to pick, and that gives everyone a chance to show what they can do. Early polls are more reputation, and if you have a team with a good reputation it's hard to get them out of there."

Each conference nominated individuals for the poll, and the 114 participants were selected at random from more than 300 total nominations. Many of the pollsters are recognizable names in recent college football and college athletic history.

"They've got a lot of people who have played and who have coached," Stokley said. "They've tried to take it out of the coaches' hands because they have so much to win or lose. This sort of takes the personalities out of it, and gets people involved that see it from a different perspective."

Stokley was a voter on the USA Today coaches poll during his stint at UL and saw up-close some of the politics involved. Because most pollsters aren't directly involved with any school, he figures that won't happen here.

"Harris Interactive had been very diligent in creating a voting panel that's balanced, statistically valid and representative of all I-A conferences and independents," said Big 12 commissioner and BCS coordinator Kevin Weiberg. "I want to thank the 114 panelists that have agreed to participate, and we appreciate their willingness to support college football."

Stokley's followed college football since he left UL in 1998, but keeping track of teams with voting in mind will be a different animal.

"You have to focus on teams a lot more," he said. "You have to see if offensively they're good, if they're well-rounded defensively, do they play well together, what kind of athletes they have, and can they do things it takes to win games. I'm going to take notes, put things down as I go, and evaluate what they have and what they don't."

It will require a lot of time in front of the television sets at his Pete's Sports Bar and Restaurant on college football Saturdays.

"I'll have to stay up late and watch those West Coast teams." Stokley said, "but I'm looking forward to it. From playing and coaching for thirty-something years, maybe this is my chance to give something back."

Originally Published Sept. 1, 2005
Administration:  1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992
Coaches:  1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998