In the football-mad state of Texas this time of year is almost as invigorating as the opening of deer hunting season. There are usually quite a few openings for head football coach/athletic directors around the state. And usually in a realignment year there are more jobs open than in the year caught in between. That is due to retirements, reassignments (once upon a time known as firing), or resignations. And yes the newly released realignment list is a huge factor. Sometimes it is simply a “do the math” situation where winning is virtually impossible or the chance at a job where winning and winning big is almost guaranteed. So hunting season for both coaches and school districts begin……………………
Probably more than 90% of the men who choose high school coaching in Texas as their career, hope someday to hold the position of head football coach and athletic director. And truthfully anyone who gets into this profession because coaching football is their passion should have that very goal. I know that I did and fortunately I was able to hold that position for 14 years in two different school districts…………….
I thought at a very early age that I wanted to coach but not until I was a senior in high school did I begin to think about becoming a head football coach. At the time I don’t even think that I knew that there was such a position as athletic director. That was because at Roaring Springs High School, with a total enrollment between 25 and 30, there was only one boys coach and one girls coach. They didn’t need a director: one handled the girl’s sports and one handled the boy’s sports: all of them! ……………..
Both of these men at my school coached the football team and then they soloed in the other sports. Since they coached every sport, I just accepted the fact that was what the position of coach was all about. They coached from the beginning of two-a-day practices in August and ended with the last track meet of the year (we stopped playing baseball after my sophomore year). I just assumed that was the way that every high school did it……………….
Not only did they coach, they usually taught four classes. They would have taught more except that on a seven period schedule, they had to use one period to coach the junior high and then have one conference period. Once again in my mind I just figured that was how it was being done everywhere. And these guys were probably getting a $1000 stipend for coaching…………..
In those days there was no bickering over which kids played which sports, why kids went to off-season football when we were in the middle of track season, or why we weren’t lifting weights and doing mat drills during basketball season. There was one coach and whatever season that we happened to be in, was the one that we practiced for and nothing else interfered……………..
In my heart, I will always believe that a majority of the parents wish that we still did things this way and an even larger majority of the athletes wish the same thing. Now I am speaking of schools from about 3A on down where many kids participate in two and maybe three sports. And yes sometimes four……………
Even though I had a passion for coaching football, I could never understand as an assistant coach why in the world would we require kids playing another sport to come to football off-season for any reason. If the coach of that sport thought lifting weights was an ingredient for success then let them do it; otherwise leave them alone. After all the skills required to be successful in the sport of the season were the ones that should be honed. And I can honestly say, from my perspective, that those skills only enhance those skills that are required to play football at a higher level……………………….
When I got the opportunity to become the head football coach/athletic director for the first time in the fall of 1981 at Aspermont High School, I could not help but adhere to that ingrained logic with which I had grown up: the one that told me that I was to coach every day from the beginning of two-a-days until the last whistle blew in May. Plus I believed that during the school day that I was supposed to have an academic teaching assignment. In my first meeting with the coaches, all four of them, I reassured them that in no way would I interfere with their season by placing restrictions on their practices or games so as to allow football off-season to become the priority. I carried that same philosophy with me into my stint as HF/AD at Comanche.
At Comanche I told the coaches that we would have five goals: #1 – Run cross country in November, #2- Play football in December, #3 Play basketball in March, #4-Run track and play tennis and golf in May, and #5 Play baseball and softball in June. I assured the coaches that we would do everything within our power to make all these happen. By doing so would mean a trip to state or to the playoff round before state in each of the sports. All were attainable goals even though very lofty………………
Rarely in this age do you see the AD/FB position ever teaching class or coaching anything other than football. Part of this is due to the request of those who hold that position, but in many cases it is simply a requirement of the school district. For some silly reason there has become a belief that the more time and money bestowed upon this position the more likely they are to win. And we all know that there is absolutely no truth in this concept. What hasn’t changed through the years is that on every Friday night in football games across the state only 50% of the teams are going to win and the same goes for basketball nights across the state as well as the days and times for the other sports…………………..
Something else that I think that has changed and not for the better is that so many of AD/FB guys no longer teach in the classroom. This has only isolated these folks from the rest of the staff and creates nothing but hard feelings because of salary differences, plus the abundance of time, and in many cases the poor use of that time. This does nothing but create an atmosphere of distrust and rejection. I will forever believe that any time a coach teaches academic class they have the opportunity to develop a very positive relationship with the staff and those students who are not involved in the athletic program. They are exposed to the academic strengths or weaknesses of their players as well as having the opportunity to observe their discipline patterns in a setting other than the sports program………………….
I could go on and on but I do not want to overstate how I feel about the AD/HF position and how my philosophy in this matter was born. I can honestly say that I never played for a coach that I didn’t like and respect. The same goes for those whom I called “boss” even though from time to time I disagreed with their philosophy on how other sports fit into the total athletic program. There is a place for off-season football but never at the expense of another sport………………
Comanche is in the market for the AD/FB position and I can only hope that some of the things that I have written about will at least be considered by both the school district and the applicants…………….
For the sake of the kids, the staff, and the community let’s hope that the person at the top of the athletic program remembers that it is just that: an athletic program……………….RC