Gerard Wilcher, Defensive Coordinator, Seton Hall University
Assistant coaches rarely have an opportunity to impact the philosophical side of the football program. Generally, we are very much like the military. Policy is made and passed down and it is the officer’s job to get the enlisted men to carry out their marching orders. In other words, assistant coaches have to get the players to follow the directive of the Head Coach, no questions asked.
Therefore, when given the opportunity to impact a program you are faced with 3 choices. First, the coach can degrade everything in the program he or she disagrees with and risk being viewed as a traitor or someone who is not inline with the thinking of the policy maker, ie Head Coach. The second option is to blow the opportunity off, because the assistant coach doesn’t really believe that what he or she says is going to make an impact. This is a critical trap that several young and inexperienced coaches succumb to because they are not savvy enough to understand the big picture. Finally, there is option three which is assistant coach can open his mind and eyes and put himself in the seat of the Head coach. In other words, that assistant coach can respond to the opportunity as if it was his personal program and understand how his decisions can take the program to the next level.
After this past season I was asked my thoughts about program building in the areas mentioned below. This was a landmark opportunity to impact the rebuilding effort at Seton Hill University; a program, which has a limited history, only 10 years on the grid-iron and only 1 season of post season play. Although I have a greater role in the decision making as defensive coordinator at the university, I am still an assistant coach and I was sure to choose option three as I evaluated the program in the following areas.
What does doing the right thing mean? Taking care of Business
Leave no man behind Act in a Respectable and Responsible Way
Roll of Each Class:
Freshman: Learn Grow Develop
Sophomores: Contribute Add Positional Depth Add Special Teams Depth
Juniors: Fight for a Starting Position Leadership Master the Defense Seniors: Push himself to physical and mental limits All Conference Graduate
Staff Covenant: Focus on what you can control Don’t Point Fingers Put everybody in a position to succeed
Player Covenant: Be Prompt, Enthusiastic, and Positive Share the Spotlight Focus on the Moment
Player Development: Develop Young Players Teach the Big Picture Teach the Game
Program Development: Don’t Say “if”, say “when” Recognize the people who get less attention Respect the Dignity, Diversity, and Faith of Development Spend more time visiting local high schools to sell our brand and build relationships
Recruiting Plan: Identify key needs Create a working list of attainable recruits Try to recruit as many good students as possible. Attack areas where we have had previous success Attend recruiting fairs, combines and workouts to maximize resources Defensive Identity: Fast and Physical Position Group Identity: Unbreakable How I approach football and recruiting: “I do not want to be considered merely the best, I want to be considered the only one who does what I do!” -Jerry Garcia, Grateful Dead
In addition to answering the questions in the aforementioned manner, I asked my defensive coaches to rank of all returning players on defense. We then averaged the ranking of each player and created an in house draft board.
This in house draft board allowed us to objectively look at who our top 10-15 players are and to look at our bottom five players. By examining the defense in groups of five it allowed us to focus more on who we felt was ready to contribute and on what level we felt that they were ready contribute.
The ranking also allowed us to look at which player (s) we need to focus on getting better at their positions. It also gave us some clarity on what positions were positions of need that we needed to focus on during the upcoming recruitment season.
When you use the in house draft technique, then it gives coaches the ability to be honest about their talent without feeling like they are being negative about the men they are coaching. Instead, they must create a rank along with everyone else. It creates an even playing field and can foster some healthy debates and great opportunities to help build the football program.
I hope that these thoughts help you on your journey to becoming the best Coach and Leader that you can become.
Gerard Wilcher Defensive Coordinator and Recruiting Coordinator Seton Hill University