I thought this would make for an interesting topic: Twitter DMs I get. The reason I thing this will be interesting is that many coaches ask the same sort of questions.
I thought it would be fun to save them all, and share this with coaches, as many questions I get as a consultant are repeated over and over. I heard from 96 coaches this week in DMs on Twitter, not all were questions. Some were connecting me to articles, or giving me feedback on a tweet I sent out, etc.
Here are 25 questions from this past week, December 3-11, 2016!
So I graduate in Dec with my teaching degree and I really feel like I’m ready to take on the helm of a program, so my question is how soon will schools start posting jobs do u think?
You haven’t graduated from college yet, but you’re ready to be a Head Football Coach? I tend to disagree with your assessment that you’re ready to “take on the helm of a program.” Simply from a maturity standpoint, dealing with administrators, parents, etc. etc. etc. I suggest becoming a Coordinator first, shadow your Head Coach with everything you can. Even hostile parent meetings, admin meetings, the bad stuff. Then, see if you’re “ready.” I became a Head Football Coach at 27 years of age, and I look back at that thinking “I didn’t know the first thing about being a Head Football Coach.”
Any advice on what State’s to look at or stay away from lol
Hmmmmmm, I’ve only coached in one state, California! (There is no apostrophe in “states.”) I think each state comes with its own set of good and bad issues.
What’s the best way to find out if a school is committed to athletic excellence since I won’t be in that state I may not know anything about the school or city, etc
Easy answer here: the proof is in the pudding. What kind of championships are they winning now, and have they won in the last year, last three years? If they haven’t won championships, how close are they? This is one way to figure out how committed a school is to athletic excellence. MANY schools, if not all, will tell you that “we are committed to athletic excellence.” But there is a HUGE difference between being committed in word and in deed.
What I mean is that any school, any administrator, can say they are committed to the cause. But do you see the results of that commitment? If a school is truly committed to athletic excellence, you are going to see athletic excellence, right? You are going to see championships being won. You are going to see happy coaches, happy kids, happy families. You are going to see a school that is attracting student-athletes. You are going to see a school with good facilities, or at least doing their very best to put forth good facilities, a good sparkle and shine.
One of the best ways to figure out if a school is truly committed to athletic excellence in my opinion is by talking to two or three local media guys. I went on an interview this summer for an athletic director position. I contacted three media members in that area, and asked about the school’s commitment to athletic success. I asked why they had gone through a few ADs and head coaches in many sports in such a short period of time. ALL THREE reporters told me the same thing: admin isn’t committed to athletic success. Again, the proof is in the pudding.
For the perfect Head/AD job, would say hour commute is deal breaker?
That’s really hard for me to answer coach. I drove an hour to school for teaching/HFC job. 2 years. Friday’s were 2.5 hours coming home. Depends on if commute is in traffic or not. Traffic makes it suck that much more. But I’m in CA where most of So Cal drives 30-60 mins a day for work. AD/Head jobs don’t come along often. A one hour commute is probably worth the “perfect Head/AD job” in my opinion!
I currently am at a private school, but my wife believes I need to have a Masters to teach in the public schools here in California. Do you know if that’s true?
Coach, to teach public in California at a public school, you need to have a credential. The Masters doesn’t help you get a job if you don’t have a credential, unfortunately. You can read more here at the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
Coach, do you have any manuals/information on applying for an athletic director position
I have two great resources for you. An Insider’s Guide To Scoring Your Next Coaching Job, and Outside The Lines Manual: Athletic Directors. Both of these will do a fine job of helping you to apply for an AD position. Insider’s gives you a blueprint for applying to an athletic job, interview techniques, cover letter ideas, etc. etc. Outside is a manual with 100 forms every AD needs! Download that bad boy and pretend you created it all in that interview!
Coach how do you tell the team you’re leaving? Probably a 90% chance at this point that I’m on my way out. I’ve only left one other school and it happened over the Christmas break so I called all my guys individual. But this time I want to address them in the meeting room. And I am an extremely emotional guy lol.
Think clearly about what needs to be said, and what doesn’t need to be said. Have notes with you. Be compassionate, kids are losing their coach. Keep it positive. It’s never easy saying goodbye. Organize your thoughts, be drama free, be compassionate and leave the kids with some positive words.
What are your thoughts about the number of private schools with CIF championship wins this weekend? Is 6 out 13 the usual?
There is no doubt that the private sector has a whole lot of advantages over the public sector in terms of developing championship quality football programs. I spent 10 years in the private school world, 2 at a charter school, and now 3 in the public school environment. Each have positives and negatives concerning building strong athletic programs. It certainly seems like each year we have more and more private schools winning CIF titles here in So Cal. I think that there will be a time when the two separate, like Texas does, like many other states do. There are certainly enough privates to make that happen.
Does a coach “have it” or “not have it” in terms of advancing to coordinating or being HC, or can coaches be taught to take on new roles?
I think so. The ones I’ve seen who have “it” are just natural leaders and think about football on a different level than those who don’t have “it.” So, I very much think that to advance to being a coordinator or a head coach, you’ve got to have “it.” Some head coaches land jobs simply because they were the hot coordinator of the year, or they have coached a long time. Coordinating one side of the football does not give you many of the necessary skills and attributes one needs to be a successful head football coach. But, the natural progression is assistant, coordinator, head coach. So, it happens. You’ve probably seen coaches who became head coaches because they did a good job calling the xs and the os, then struggle running their own program. In my opinion, those are the coaches who do not have “it.”
Coach, Going to get a coaching subscription; what do you recommend x&o lab or American football monthly?
If you’re purely looking for xs and os, then go with X and O Labs if you can only do one. If you’re looking for a more well rounded approach to a football program, with some resources on companies, etc. embedded, then go with American Football Monthly. It just depends on what you’re looking for exactly.
Did you like the wing t ?
Like it? I freaking love the Wing T! Love it! Ran it from 2001 – 2010. I think the wing t has many, many advantages for the high school level, and strongly recommend it to programs who are struggling with running anything else. I’ve ran it at two different schools, both of which were struggling before we installed the wing t. One was 1-9 and moved to 10-2 in just two years. The other was 0-10, and we went 5-5 in my first year with that team, lost TWO games on the last play of the game! The wing t does wonders! Ask Gus Malzhan!
Here is my favorite Wing T passing play that we used.
Another fav: Speed Out Waggle.
Coach where do you do your resume business at? I really like my resume but I always like improving
Hi Coach! Thanks for asking about the resume business. You can find information about it here.
Gonna meet with my HC for an informal interview for our OC position. He has told me that he thinks I can do it, and he’d like to be able to focus on the defense, but he’s still hesitant to give up the play-calling duties. Any advice?
Go in with confidence. If he is asking you to interview for it, then he believes you can do it. Go with a plan. Go with some practice plans, maybe changes you feel that need to be made as the OC. What’s your philosophy to move the football down the field to score touchdowns? Be ready to discuss all of that. Be confident, not cocky.
Is it required to have teaching license out there (in Cali) to coach??
Nope! There are many, many “walk ons” in California. In fact, high school football would not really exist at most schools without the many, many, many dedicated coaches who do not work in the building. They come from ALL walks of life.
I heard you only need to have a bachelors to be a GA, than you can apply for masters
And a tremendous contact. Becoming a GA is such a hard job to land. When a school, let’s say North Dakota State for instance, graduates its seniors, many of those kids want to keep working in the football program. Or USC, or Alabama, or San Diego State. Many of those graduates want to keep working in the program they just played. And most programs can only hire either 2 or 4 Graduate Assistants. So, a school graduates 15 seniors for instance, I’m guessing about 6-7 of them want to coach. So, that is what makes landing a GA job so hard. You better have a great connection to land one, not just a bachelors!
Is this cover letter too over the top?
Here is a cover letter worksheet.
Coach Fore…I have a question for you. My HC doesn’t give me an evaluation like I wish he would. I would value the feedback, and I would like to know what I can do to improve. Do you think it’s appropriate to have my position coaches evaluate me? I’ve asked another mentor of mine, and he said “don’t do it.” I’d like to get your feedback on this.
Not sure how honest they will be, unless it is anonymous. And I wouldn’t so it without your Head Coach’s permission. Ask your HC if you can survey your kids. I’m a big believer in that Coach. You can do it on survey monkey. Totally easy. I admire your willingness to get better. I surveyed all of my staff and players all 8 years as a head coach. I really believe it’s the best way to get better. You can see some of the survey stuff I’ve written about here.
Coach, You’ve been around the job game a while. Got a career trajectory question for you: I have been at my current school for 4 years as an assistant. At my previous stop I was STC 2 years, and OC 1 year. Been a defensive assistant (DBs) with a ton of success here at my current gig. Almost been a co-coordinator situation in work and input, but not title. I’m not a title chaser, but I do want to be a HC one day. Just got offered the STC gig here. Question: does being a STC rather than OC/DC become prohibitive in a job search for head coaching jobs later?
You know sometimes a head coach is going to ask you’d be an STC to see how good of a job you do coordinating everything. And sometimes that’s a step to being in OC/DC. There’s not a doubt that if two guys in room one snow see once an STC the OC is going to get the job. I think it’s stupid. Obviously I’ve been an STC for a long time now. Ha ha. But if you look in the football world I think there’s only one guy who’s move from STC to head coach in the NFL. Have no idea what that looks like in the college football world. But it’s not often you see a guy moving from STC the head coach. However you have coordinating position in your background, so I want to get too caught up in it.
Hey coach, quick question…how do you go about applying for a new HC job when you already have one. My current plan is to put under the reference section “available upon request.” I have also been advised to state that I don’t want my current employer to know that i’m looking for a new job and would appreciate it if they told as few people as possible that I am interviewing. At this time, I have my resume ready and need to work on my cover letter as it will be different now that I have HC experience. But I have a few schools im planning on applying to but I want to do it the right way as I am still committed to my current team and want to minimize any backlash if anything were to transpire.
Yes you have to be very careful, you don’t want to anger your current school, bosses. So definitely only apply if you know that you’re going to have confidentiality, or you tell your bosses you’re going to apply. In some states and some districts I have heard that they have to list everybody who apply. I don’t know why they would have to. But that’s what I’ve heard or everybody who interviewed. A coach I know in another state got in some trouble last year for going out in interviewing without telling his boss.
How much leg work do you think needs to be put in by calling people you know close to the decision makers?
I think it is a great idea to call as many folks as you might know, or have other people call on your behalf. You don’t want to alienate the decision makers, but just let them know you have applied. Having a few of the more influential people you know, your best 2-3 references make a call on your behalf is a great idea. Believe it or not, in 6 years as an Athletic Director, I didn’t have too many people ever do this. I hired about 25 head coaches during that time, at two different schools. When I did have someone make a phone call, it went a long way with me. Especially if I trusted that person, and they meant something to the coaching scene.
Coach, looking for your thoughts. If one wants to be a HC, what do you generally think is more favorable? JV HC/OC in a dominant program, or is is better to coach at the varsity level in a weaker program?
Coach, I am going to apply for a JC opening locally here. Any suggestions or advice?
Try to see who you know on their staff. Who do you know that knows somebody on the staff? Who do you know who knows somebody who knows somebody on the staff? Get the picture? Networking is KEY Coach! Recently I helped a friend get in touch with the head coach of a college program. I ended up coming in contact with SEVEN people who had worked with this head coach, who currently worked with this head coach, and even one who had HIRED this head coach 10 years ago. And that all happened from one tweet asking if anyone knew anyone at XYZ School, and also buy getting online and reading the bios of all of the coaches. I was able to connect the dots on a few coaches who had worked with people I know, or what have you.
Coach, sorry to bother, however, I know you would be the man to ask. Coach, I’ve recently named two of my Coaches my OC and DC. I’ve done this in the past, but had a difficult time knowing my role as HC for my two coordinators. This year I will be running ST teams, but was wondering if there was something I could read that possibly a coach who has done the same and managed his coaches, what their strategy was, like College Coaches, but possibly with HS experience. I know there has to be some sort of formula or template. Thanks for all your help Coach!
Well, usually he’s still going to lean towards whatever he just came from. I was always the OC when I was an HC, for 8 years. My head coach I work for now, he will sit in each meeting. Has a good understanding of the game plans. Then he also meets with me, as the STC. Gets my game plan ideas, we might watch a little film.
How does California classify to do competitive balance. Talk about Colorado using model for 2020 cycle. Curious. Thanks !
California is broken up in to 10 sections. The sections do it all a little different. I’ve been in the largest of the sections, it’s called the Southern Section, we have more than 400 schools. We have 13 divisions, ranging from Division 1 with 18 teams to Division 13 with 86 teams. We just launched something new this year based on the last two years of “competitive equity.” Each school is put in to a division based on their last two years’ record, playoff success, and league strength. So, you can have a league with teams in 2, 3, 4 different divisions. Our league has teams, and we have teams in divisions 3 (2 teams), 9, 10, 11 (2 teams). They will reset the divisions every single year based on competitive equity of the last two years. Make sense?
Here is an article about some of how we did it here in the Southern Section this year.
I have a question, how would you define culture within athletics? Do you have a good definition for the word culture?
I would define it as the expectations and surroundings of a group of people.
Hey coach I was wanting to visit with you sometime, I have quite a few questions for you. There’s a chance the head job at the school I’m at could open up and was wanting some advice about some things bc I may want to put in for it. I just have a bunch of questions and may think of more in the next few months, I’m really wanting to land this job bc I think I can really fix things (don’t we always think that lol) but then I have doubts! I’m young, only 28, only been coaching for 6 years but believe my enthusiasm and rapport I build with the kids will make up for experience. The problem with this job is numbers, we have about 30 high school players, they aren’t tough, they want to always quit and skip practice, not any community support, a really really good administration
What’s the question?!