Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

On the “Other Side of the Table!”

Posted by admin January - 2 - 2016 - Saturday

I had an interesting experience the other day. The A.D. of the school where I just retired asked me if I would sit in on the interview of a prospective candidate for my position… head football coach. I told him that I’d be glad to help… so out to school I went. Sitting on the other side of the table watching and listening to a coach talk about himself and how he’d run the program was eye-opening. I’ve written several posts on the interview process for prospective head coaches but have never had the opportunity to observe someone going through the process. Let me share a few observations:

1- He dressed well. He had a coat and tie on and his shoes were shined. Yep… I checked out his shoes. We took him on a tour of the facilities while the AD posed a few “X’s and O’s” type questions. I pointed out some of the positives about our school and program as we drove around. I was mostly observing his body language. I wanted to see if it had as big an impact on the AD as I’ve stated it to have in these blog posts. It did!

We moved into the AD’s office where the real interview began. He had a whole page of questions prepared to ask. He started with the biggie! “Tell me about your coaching philosophy.” I had a young coach ask me last week, “what do you mean by coaching philosophy?” It caused me to pause…. it’s one of those things that we “talk about” but I’m not sure anyone ever really explains what it is! My answer was: Your coaching philosophy is HOW you do things. What you believe in. It’s everything from conducting practices to relating to players, parents and administrators. MY philosophy can be summed up in one phrase: I wanted my players to leave my program even better people than when they came in. What we teach them about character is as important as what we teach them about blocking and tackling! Thus, we want the Double Victory. We want to win ON and off the field.

The young man we were interviewing certainly had his ducks in a row. He’d put together a short packet— I emphasize short cuz you don’t want to overwhelm the interview committee members— that highlighted what his key points are in HOW he’d run our football program. He went, in my mind, a bit too long in covering everything. I think you can lose people if you take too long to answer one question… but he was enthusiastic and it was obvious that he had put this packet together himself! I’ve known coaches who freely “borrow” from the internet! Make it YOUR work.

The AD asked about HOW he would lead his coaching staff. He asked about what offense and defense he would run. I liked that he used correct grammar; spoke clearly and measured his words; i.e., he wasn’t just “talking to be talking.” He knew what he wanted to say and was, wellllll… eloquent. At that point our Head of School walked in and I thought it was time for me to leave.

As I drove home, I thought about what impressed me the most about this young man. It was his demeanor. He got excited talking about the opportunity to lead our football program while still coming across as very much in control. He projected an air of confidence— not cockiness— in expressing his football knowledge. What stood out though was his character. I just knew that here was a young man who was prepared to lead. He possessed that “it” thing. You know it when you see “it”— right?!

I realized that here was a young man who was “properly prepared” to take over a program that has solid citizens as players; are talented; are used to working hard and are winners. I was obviously impressed with what I saw and heard. There are two other excellent candidates. Our AD is going to have a tough decision!!! I’m glad it’s him and not me!

Leave a Reply