Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tomcats' Owner Needs Time to Evaluate Season

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tomcats' Owner Needs Time to Evaluate Season

Article excerpt

Byline: Jeff Walker, Times-Union sports writer

The Tomcats had a new owner and a new coach this season but had the same result . . . missing the playoffs by one game.

Jacksonville owner Steve Umberger can replay different scenarios that would have given the Tomcats one more victory, but he chose to accept the past and move on. He's not sure, however, what the future will hold for the team, which finished the season 8-8, one game behind Florida and Tallahassee.

Umberger said he will try to bring in additional investors for next season to help promote and manage the franchise, and will also sit down with coach Earnest Wilson in the next month to discuss Wilson's future. If they don't keep Wilson, the Tomcats will begin next season with their fourth coach in as many seasons.

"Earnest is capable of coaching at this level, there's no question about that," Umberger said. "We're going to have to re-evaluate what we want to do to improve. I haven't had a chance to really recap this season yet."

Wilson also wasn't prepared to commit to returning next year.

"I want to talk about things we need to do, what [the owners] think we need to do and see what they want," Wilson said. "In my heart I have certain goals; I came here because this is an NFL city and some day I'd like to coach in the NFL. But, no matter where I am, I'm going to do the best I can. Right now, I'm just going to give it some time."

As for the ownership group, Umberger said he likes the model used by Wayne Weaver with the Jaguars and Wil Wollford with the af2's Louisville Fire. In both situations, the ownership group consists of one majority owner and several minority partners. Currently, the Tomcats are owned by Umberger and his wife, Kathryn, and minority partner Bruce Burge.

STAY OR GO? -- While the league has announced two new expansion teams for 2003 (Lafayette, La. …

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