Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Micromanaging Your Program

Posted by admin January - 17 - 2020 - Friday

I had a situation arise this week that, although it was sad… like anything that happens to us, there is a life lesson involved. It’s a chance for me to grow and, once you read what I’m going to share, an opportunity for you to grow too.

As some of you know, I came out of retirement last year to accept the position as Offensive Coordinator at a local high school. It was my understanding that the HC wanted me to run the Wing T offense for him. I have 32 years of successful experience running this great offense. I was under the impression that an Offensive Coordinator is the one in charge of planning, implementing and running the offense. To my surprise, the HC began dictating what he wanted our offense to look like. I agreed (cuz he is the HC) to try to implement his ideas. I wasn’t totally comfortable with the way he wanted to do things but, my wife kept reminding me that HE is the one in charge.

The season started and he continued to dictate how he wanted things to go. It came to a head during one of our games when he demanded that I run a certain play when I had been setting up the offense to run a different play. It got a little heated.

We made it through the season and had a great record running what was basically the “base” Delaware Wing T system. We had 2 running backs rush for over 1000 yards and averaged almost 36 points a game. Despite not having the over-all control of running the offense (like I thought I’d been hired to do), it was a pretty satisfying season. I grew because I had to learn to be an assistant again— after being in charge (as a HC) for 35 years!

Then this winter, the HC began telling me that he wanted to “move in a different direction” with the offense. I disagreed. It was my understanding that the OC is the one who is responsible for running the offense. When he told me that he wanted to promote one of the assistants to “Passing Game Coordinator” I’d had enough.

I explained that this is not what I signed up for. It’s his program and his team. He has the right to do things whatever way he chooses. However, I did not agree with the changes that he wanted to institute. He wanted to move the offense to a place where I do not feel comfortable. It was my opinion that we did not have the personnel to run it (“Spread”) that way. I also did not feel confident in my ability to call the offense using a system that I have not run before. Soooooooo… on Wednesday, I submitted my resignation.

I share all of this with you for 2 reasons:

First, to the Head Coaches reading this (or those of you who aspire to be HC’s one day), I want you to read what an assistant coach’s perspective would be on a very integral part of your staff organization. I hope that what I shared enlightens you to the feelings that your assistant coaches have… but may never share with you.

Secondly, it’s an important lesson in how you lead your staff. If you’re going to give someone a “title” be sure that he understands what his role and responsibilities are— before things get started. If a title/role on the coaching staff is simply a “title” (not really any responsibility… just “bragging rights” to tell his friends!) that you’re sticking behind someone’s name, be sure that the assistant understands what his 1- role, 2- responsibilities and 3- authority is before you start working out.

Along these lines, if YOU (as the Head Coach) are really going to be the one in charge of your Offense and/or Defense, be sure that your “coordinators” know that you can and will overrule them at any time. By the way, we’ve had several successful coaches in our area who have “done it all.” They hand out “titles” but.. they run everything.

I do not agree with that approach to leading a staff. As long as you hire an experienced, successful coach who is knowledgeable of his part of the game. let him have the authority to run that side of the ball the way he sees best. If you don’t like it, you can let him go at the end of the season! I was fortunate that I hired an excellent DC late in my career as HC. After “holding in the reins” a bit our first season together (as I gained confidence in him), I turned over the defense to him. Rarely did I ever need to step in! He was highly qualified and did a great job.

As the leader of your program, I challenge you to do some SELF-evaluation. Are you willing to admit to yourself that you are micromanaging your program? Are you basically “doing it all?”— when you have assistants to assign those duties to! It could be something as simple as making sure the locker room is cleaned up after practice each day to a weight room coach… to an assistant coordinating your defense. If you’re going to give a responsibility to an assistant, be sure that both of you understand how much autonomy you’re giving him BEFORE you start working together.

Clear lines of communication are so important to the success of your program. Make sure that you keep them open!

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