If you’re looking for a new head football coach, we might be able to provide an idea, or two, about the process of weening out candidates and ushering in any highly experienced and dedicated on-field educators.
Beaumont’s in buying mode.
First, we’re assuming all the candidates have passed initial screening, which means you’ve met all the criteria in the district’s advertisement – medical clearance, college background, all the requirements.
In other words, have they coached five years. More? Head coach? Championship experience? Fundraising? Academics? Developing a staff? Following a philosophical approach? Can they land these kids in college? You know, all the stuff that got them to this interview in the first place.
If I’m a school board member, athletic director, principal, booster club member, Superintendent, person-at-large on a panel interviewing a football coach, here’s what I’d be asking (plus, a few answers):
Panel: Talk a little about your program philosophy, Coach.
Prospect: I like to win. To get there, though, there’s some interesting twists. Preparation. I believe some of the best players are the best students. They’re paying attention. I’ve seen great athletes get better in the classroom. When that happens, they’re better on the field. You get both of those things rolling, there isn’t much else to discuss. It’s books and football.
Panel: Coach, what is your policy on players missing practice?
Prospect: Practice is vital. It’s can’t-miss. Period. We’re constantly training. We’re playing two hours-plus on Friday nights. My goodness, there are four quarters, 48 total minutes, 80 to 90 total snaps, maybe more. Our guys have to be ready.
Panel: So if they miss practice, you do what?
Prospect: Gotta sit ‘em. We’ve got kids who practiced all week. It’s an opportunity. We put in a game plan. How can they play if they miss our game prep? We’ve got kids playing offense, defense, kicking teams. If someone’s not at a practice and I put them in a game, what if they miss an assignment we covered at practice? That’s on me, not doing a good job of discipline.
Panel: We might have a parent, or two, that’ll try and excuse their kid for missing.
Prospect: Sure. If we know ahead of time, we can accommodate that. On the other hand: Unexcused misses. Parents trying to alibi for them. Once we know a parent gets involved, well, I guess that tells me I’ve got a real non-participant type of kid.
Panel: The trend around high school is throwing the football. Thirty passes a game in the playbook sometimes. Rancho Verde does it. Centennial of Corona does it. Redlands East Valley. Cajon. Typically, they win a lot of games. What about Beaumont?
Prospect: You need a QB, a real shooter. They don’t grow on trees. By the way, Heritage High, over in Menifee, is almost exclusively run-oriented. Citrus Hill, in Perris, is, too. Rarely do you see many balls in the air from those teams. Rubidoux is a double wing team, hardly any passes. Lots of yards. Control the clock. Look at their records. They’re in every game. You’ve got to size up the skills your team has and figure it out.
Panel: Think we can make the playoffs next year?
Prospect: When’s the last time you made the playoffs here?
Panel: We’re asking the questions here, Coach. Actually, I think it was 2012.
Prospect: It’s a long time. What’s been the problem?
Panel: It’s why we’re here.
Prospect: Hmmmm. Yeah. Think you need a change of culture?
Panel: Of course. We thought we were heading in the right direction. Had a guy. Things were going okay. Then our coach, uh …
Prospect: I heard.
Panel: We need to recover quickly. Can you get the kids to buy in right away?
Prospect: I believe we can. I can’t wait to get them on the field. To talk with them. To see what their strengths are. To see our weaknesses. To try and improve. Like you said, we need a quarterback. Plus, we have to develop a coaching staff.
Panel: We’ve got a booster club, youth programs in the community. Think you can affect those in a good way?
Prospect: Here’s the thing about those kinds of support systems: If they’re honorable, doing their jobs, not getting in the way of the progress of the high school team, then everything’s good. If you’ve got typical know-it-alls, shooting their mouths off at home, in front of their kids, then you’ve got real problems.
Panel: How well do you deal with the media?
Prospect: I can handle him. That guy’s great, though. Very perceptive.
Panel: What’s your plan for playing time?
Prospect: PT is earned. That’s why we practice. I don’t feel good about playing kids that haven’t earned their spot.
Panel: There are some kids that play other sports. Can you accommodate that?
Prospect: Good question. Most of the time, I get with the coaches from those sports. We work things out. If you’ve got a kid playing more than one sport, you know they’re dedicated. It’s just a matter of organizing their time. That’s on them.
Panel: How badly do you want this job, Coach?
Prospect: How badly do you want to a winning program, Panel?