“Coach Fore, I have the opportunity to be a Head JV Football Coach at a school across town, but I’m not sure if I should. I’m a Varsity Assistant at one of the best programs in the area. What looks better on a resume?”
“Hi Coach, when you were an AD, would you rather see a guy come from a great program as a varsity asst, or a subpar program as a JV Head?”
“If one wants to be a HC, what do you generally think is more favorable? JV HC/OC in a dominant program, or is it better to coach at the varsity level in a weaker program?”
These are the DMs that I’ve received on Twitter in the last 3-4 days.
I get this question a LOT! So, I thought I would write about it here, then copy and paste the article, because I’ve written these ideas about 4,582 times the last four years! Coaches are very curious about my thoughts regarding this question, and how I’ve evaluated candidates in the past while making a hire.
Every Athletic Director Is Going To Approach This Differently
First off, these is not a “right” or “wrong” answer here, and every single Athletic Director is going to answer this question very differently. I’ve spoken with quite a few ADs about this question, especially when I was a young AD, and trying to develop my philosophies.
So, you can ask 10 ADs this question, and you’ll get 7 different answers.
I think it will also vary from state to state.
It Really Depends On The Program
This is always such a hard question for me to answer. I’ll get it from a coach in another state, and I have NO idea what kind of programs he is talking about. If your program you are currently in as a varsity assistant, and that program is one of the top five in the state, why would you want to leave to a JV job at an average program?
One thing coaches do not ask is: is it better to be a JV head coach at a great program, or a varsity assistant at an average one. The question never comes that way. I bring that up to prove a point: there is a reason that that great program isn’t looking for a JV head coach right? Supply and demand.
If you’re talking about taking a Head JV job at one of the worst programs in your area, just to be a head coach, you have to ask yourself if it is worth it. Will you become better as a coach? Will you learn more about running a program?
So, it really depends on the program you’re leaving, and the one you’re going to. It’s just so hard to answer that question with such limited information.
I know Texas is different from California is different from Iowa is different from Hawaii. In Texas for instance, if you want to be a head coach at the 5A/6A level, you better remain an assistant at that level, and become a coordinator. Or, be a very successful 2A/3A/4A head coach, and move up the ladder that way. Thanks to Coach Jason Strunky of Lubbock High for that insight!
How Will Your “9-5 Job” Be Effected?
This is another thing that coaches never ask. But I try to ask them about it. How will a change in football program change your “real job?” In my opinion that needs to be addressed before anything else. Take a head JV job, but have a worse teaching assignment? At the end of the day, what is your quality of life going to be like?
The Bottom Line
So, there are a lot of things to consider here.
At the end of the day, what is my opinion? If you want to be a head coach, I think that you need to show a progression in your career. If you stay as an assistant in the same place for 10 years, are you progressing? Have you become a coordinator there? If not, why not?
You need to show that you have had an increasing amount of responsibility as a coach, in my opinion. There are SO many “things” that a head football coach must deal with that has absolutely nothing to do with your x and o knowledge. Sometimes, you see great x and o guys do a really poor job as a head coach. They just don’t have “it.”
However, you can get that “increasing responsibility” where you are as a varsity assistant. And that is what I tell guys most of the time. Take on more and more roles and jobs as an assistant. What can you do to get that extra responsibility on your resume that will show you understand the total program, not just coaching on the field. Maybe it is becoming the Booster Club Liaison, or the “Hudl guy,” or the “stat guy,” or the go to coach for equipment. Some schools at the high school level have the title “Director of Football Operations.” Not many do. But this is a role like assistant head coach, where you are doing a lot of the things that a head coach does. Working alongside the Athletic Director to organize transportation, facilities, fundraisers, eligibility, etc. etc. etc.
So, I suppose that is my final answer. Stay at the varsity level, but build up your resume by taking on more and more responsibility so that you can discuss these things in the interview room.
Chris Fore has his Masters degree in Athletic Administration, is a Certified Athletic Administrator and serves as an Adjunct Professor in the M.S. Physical Education – Sports Management program at Azusa Pacific University. He is a speaker with the Glazier Clinics, and a Coaches Choice author. Coach Fore runs Eight Laces Consulting where he specializes in helping coaches nationwide in their job search process. He also serves on the California Coaches Association Board of Representatives.
Check out his book below! Nothing like it on the market today!
Written FOR coaches BY an Athletic Director!