Two-a-days are common. Three-a-days are unusual. Four-a-days???
Graham Snelding, first-year head football coach at Haskell Indian Nations University, plans to hold four practices a day when the Indians begin preseason drills on Tuesday.
The first workout is scheduled for 6 a.m. that's right, 6 a.m. with the others slated for late morning, mid-afternoon and about 7 p.m.
Snelding, who was elevated to head coach from offensive line coach when Gary Tanner retired for health reasons after the 2000 season, hopes practicing early and often will help the Indians improve on last year's 2-8 record their first year as a full-fledged member of the NAIA and the Central States Football League.
Snelding plans to install a spread passing offense and he believes he has the quarterback to implement the pass-oriented game in Peter Hahn, a transfer who spent a freshman red-shirt season at Florida State.
"We contacted him before he went to Florida State," Snelding said, "and now we got him to come here."
Hahn will be the leading candidate to replace Brandon Watson as the Indians' quarterback. Watson threw for 1,480 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior last season, but decided to transfer to Central Oklahoma State and play baseball.
No doubt the new Haskell quarterback, whoever it is, will look first to Sonny Duncan, a 6-foot-3, 185-pound senior from Peridot, Ariz., who has been HINU's primary offensive weapon over the last three seasons.
Despite missing the last two 2000 games with a knee injury, Duncan led the CSFL in touchdown receptions (seven) and finished second in catches (4.25 per game).
Duncan will not report, Snelding said, until Aug. 18.
"He'll be late for family reasons, but his knee is fully recovered. He's back to 100 percent," Snelding said.
Fully half of last year's HINU roster was composed of freshmen so Snelding is expecting 17 starters back among the 34 lettermen.
Haskell surrendered an average of 343.6 yards per game with a freshman-dominated defense. Still, one of those freshmen free safety Michael Murray earned first-team All-CSFL honors and two others linebacker Alex Herder and linebacker Ben Baker were second-team all-league picks. Baker was moved to strong safety in the spring.
Moreover, Matt Treadwell, a 6-4, 280-pounder who made second-team All-CSFL at offensive tackle, has been switched to defense.
Haskell had the worst rushing offense in the conference last year, averaging only 81.1 yards per game and scoring only five TDs on the ground. Those numbers may not change with Snelding committed to a passing game, but he feels he has a threat at running back in red-shirt freshman Joe Spears.
"Restoring tradition and pride in Haskell Indian football is very important to me," Snelding said. "It is first and foremost in rebuilding the program."
Snelding is undertaking the rebuilding with an ambitious 11-game schedule that contains only four home games. The Indians will be making three bus trips to Oklahoma (Bacone, Langston, NW Oklahoma State), one to Illinois (Principia), one to Nebraska (Dana), one to Texas (SW Assemblies of God) and one to North Dakota (Trinity Bible).
On the positive side, the Indians will be able to use their new locker rooms under the south stands at Haskell Stadium for the first time. And they'll be wearing new uniforms.
Nevertheless, with a budget of only about $22,000, Snelding will have to make-do in many areas.
"We're definitely under-funded," Snelding said. "That's a shame because I think these kids deserve the best. So often they've had to settle for second best."
Haskell will open on Aug. 25 against Bacone College, a new member of the CSFL, on Aug. 25, in Muskogee, Okla. Like Haskell last year, Bacone is making the transition from junior college to four-year college in 2001.