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Grad Assistants Career Forum
Carlos Alvarado - Texas Tech
Chris Thomsen - Texas Tech
Maurice Linguist - Buffalo
“One of the roles of a leader is to create an environment that people want to be a part of.”
Q: How do you develop a relationship with a coaching mentor?
- Summer camps are huge, they allow people to see you in action. Everyday is a job interview. Head coaches take notes on who is in the bar all night and who is there to work.
- 2-3 legitimate relationships are better than 20 artificial relationships. Genuinely trying to get to know people instead of empty and shallow conversations.
- Ask yourself, what am I doing when I’ve got time off in the summer? Am I sitting around for a couple of weeks just hanging out, or am I trying to get better by visiting with coaches, asking questions, working camps, etc?
Q: What’s another way coaches can align themselves with coaches who can help them?
- Reach out to the people around you, not just to get a job.
- Working summer camps is a great way to learn how to coach and find your coaching voice without your head coach there to be critical of you. You can tell whether or not a guy is coming to work a camp to get better and help kids or just for the money.
Q: How do you get selected to work summer camps?
- Just reach out to different coaches (Be mindful of NCAA rules depending on what level you’re at). Try to observe the differences between camps, and the differences in coaching styles that you see. Expose yourself to a lot of different styles and viewpoints and find what works for you.
- Start your own offensive, defensive, and special teams playbook and head coaches manual right now.
- February is the best time to contact coaches about summer camps, when preparations are just starting to be made for the summer.
Q: What is the most effective path to becoming a GA?
- It’s much easier to get a GA job at the school where you’re at. A good backup plan is to get your masters degree in teaching certification. Just in case you don’t get a college job you can go the HS route. Grad school can also help you improve your writing skills, because people do pay attention to the way you write.
- It doesn’t hurt to send your info to everyone. The best thing to do is to find that ONE guy who will champion you to other coaches. A head coach doesn’t have time to talk to all 15 of your references, but he does have time to talk to 1 guy.
- If you’re doing a great job where you’re at, the coaches will be inviting.
- “Surround yourself with people who love football and winning is important to.”
- “Communicate with everyone about your intentions.”
- “Get into a position where you’re able to work for almost no money.”
Q: What are some more characteristics of being a good GA?
- Work ethic and positivity are crucial. Negativity breeds negativity. Find a positive mentor you can call who can straighten you out and appreciate what you have.
- Have social intelligence. Observe how the staff interacts with one another and how they interact with the players. Handle your business, stay out of the way, and listen. Be able to absorb all the information you can.
Q: What should be a GA’s attitude toward working hours?
- “You are what the kids do on the field. Put your name on it.”
- Your identity is how others view you. BE PROACTIVE. Humility with dignity. Be around people who care about you. No job is above another job.
Q: What are some characteristics you look for in a GA to possibly move to a position coach?
- How do you interact with the players? You’re not gonna hire a guy who can’t go in and control a room. How interested are you in the academic part of school? Do you really care about the player?
- Do I know that this guy will get the job done when I’m not looking over his shoulder? Can he bring something to the table?
Q: How do you know you are ready to be a full-time position coach moving up from a GA?
- Small school GAs get to coach, allows you to build confidence and develop your coaching style.
- Until you control your own room, there are things you won’t recognize while you’re a GA. If you’re fair to the players, they’ll allow you to make some mistakes. At the end of the day, you just have to jump in the deep end and start swimming.
Q: What is some good advice for preparing for an interview?
- “Know what you know, and if you don’t know it, let the coach know.”
- It’s easiest to talk about the stuff you do everyday. Have a teaching progression. Take the interview, don’t wait for them to ask you questions. Over-prepare.
- Be able to answer that you “don’t know, but this is how the special teams coach handled it.” Todd Barry will often put on drill tape of his own players and asks how the candidate would coach it.
- Have a coaching manual, drill tape, etc.
- Have a plan. Know what to teach and how to teach it. Schemes can be learned by anybody. Get away from schemes and teach fundamentals. Teaching progression is important, know what your plan is. Have confidence in what you’re doing. If you don’t know it, don’t open that can of worms. Who are the people I’m communicating with? What is the setup of the interview?
- Have a plan for the academic side. How will you motivate your guys to achieve academically?
- There is an art to drawing things on the board. Be prepared to draw up all kinds of schemes on the board. How are your circles?
Q: If a job is open, how do you position yourself to interview and get it?
- Send your resume to HR, and find the one guy who will go to the mat for you.
Q: How do you select guys for bringing into an interview?
- I don’t care what you know, you gotta be able to teach it.
- Be strategic in the jobs you go after. Realize that working in an ‘Air Raid’ offense probably makes you more marketable and upwardly mobile than working in a flexbone triple option attack. Obviously if you’re at a successful school, that jumps out as well.
Q: What kind of preparation do you do for interviews?
- Make sure you’re giving them your own information, don’t just repeat everything you’ve heard. Do you really know what you’re giving them? Can you teach it?
Q: What are the toughest questions in an interview?
- Why do you coach?
- Why do you want this job?
- Who has been influential in your life?
- What do you bring to the culture and the atmosphere? (Culture and atmosphere is the most important thing when hiring a staff)
Q: What should a young coach consider when selecting a job?
- “Do you want to manage your happiness or your career? Where do you see yourself? What are you looking for? Who are you?” - Todd Barry
- What are the priorities? Masters degree vs normal job.
- Lots of schools require a Masters Degree in order to become a head coach. If you have a chance to get your education paid for, you have to take it.
Q: What about balancing loyalty to the HC and your own ambition?
- Do what you said you were going to do when you were hired. Do a good job where you’re at. Are you a man of integrity? Be constantly grabbing information. Let people notice the good job you’re doing, and they will come to respect you and seek you out, rather than the other way around.
- “If you commit to something, how can there be the word ‘de-commit’? Have some integrity and do what you said you were going to do. If I ever hear of a guy taking a job somewhere and then taking another job somewhere else, I put his name in my ‘Do-Not-Hire’ file, and if he ever sends me a resume, I’ll know what kind of man he is.” - Todd Barry
Q: When is it OK to look for another job?
- End of the season until March 1st. “After that, if you go and interview for another job, you’d better get it, because you won’t have one here.” - Todd Barry
Q: Which is better, an FBS position coaching job, or a D-2 coordinator job?
- It depends on what the right fit is for you, what are you looking for?
Q: How does a young coach become a good recruiter?
- Get into the schools as much as possible. Your true work ethic shows on the road when no one is looking over your shoulder. Teaching and recruiting are the two things you do most in this job. Are you just hitting schools or are you really getting to know the high school guys?
Q: Hardest lesson you’ve learned about recruiting?
- The HC will know what kind of job you’ve done when he gets into the home, whether or not you’ve built a relationship with the kid.
Q: What separates a good recruiter from an average recruiter?
- Developing personal relationships, do you care about that player? Tell them: “At the end of the day, I want you to do what’s good for you.” Convey to that person that you’re generally interested in them. “You’ll be better off 4-5 years from now with us.”
- You have to take the recruit and guide them through the process, this is all new to them. Help the families understand what’s going on, a lot of times they get a lot of info and they don’t know how to separate it. When you’re a GA, recruiting should be at the forefront of your mind.
- Know what your team is looking for. Be realistic about the players you bring to the table. It’s not about getting a lot of numbers, it’s about evaluating talent, character, and football intelligence.
- If you don’t know about a position, defer to that position coach.
Q: How do you motivate players differently from a position coach to a HC to a GA?
- Be yourself, don’t try to be something you’re not. Be a good person, the players will know if you’re phony.
Q: Effective ways to develop players?
- Have your position group write down goals for the week, then have them exchange the goals with another player in the group. That player will be responsible for the others. A great way to create accountability, get them to buy-in to the plan. Do things with the intent to develop them as men.
Q: Effective ways to keep players in line?
- Most guys want discipline. You gotta remember that these are your guys. Find ways to infuse your identity onto your position group.
- “Men work hard for fear, but men work harder for interest.” Once they understand you care, you’ll have them.
- We are builders of men. Move from fear-based motivation, to taking ownership and being proactive.
Q: Philosophy of discipline?
- Ownership culture. If you have too many rules, there’s too many to keep track of. Develop a culture of positive peer pressure.
Q: How do you manage starting a family with starting your career?
- You have kids at home, and you have more at the locker room, the wife has to understand.
- Family planning is important. If you’ve got four kids and a wife at home, your job options are a lot more limited. Be aware of job opportunities and how they affect your families.
- GA at the FBS level or a position coach at D-2 school?
- Don’t think about levels. Just be a full-time coach. Don’t have a level as a goal.
- If your ultimate goal is to be a 1-A coach, you have to be a 1-A guy. The HC is gonna have to sell you to the AD. A lot of it depends on your scheme, if you know something someone else doesn’t.
Q: How important is it to get a GA job with your preferred major?
- More important to get around the right coaches and learn football. Are these some coaches that I can learn from? Is the classwork light enough to where you can do what you need for football?
- Do research on the school you want to work with. What programs, majors, etc?
- If you do get a GA job, take advantage of the free education: “Use the university, don’t let that university use you.”
- Do the best you can. The strongest network you have is the guys you’re around every day.
- Enjoy the ride, this is a great profession.
- The impact you have is incredible, the longer you’re in this profession the more obvious it will be. Be more worried about who you are, not where you are.
- Perfect your craft. Be around the office, be a sponge, always be ready.
This post was a special contribution provided by:
Indiana State Football
more notes can be found on Coach Huey's - AFCA 2013 Notes
Indiana State Football
more notes can be found on Coach Huey's - AFCA 2013 Notes