Copyright John T. Reed
I am often asked where I am currently coaching football. From 2003 to 2005, I coached freshman at Monte Vista High School in Danville, CA. At present, I am either retired or between jobs. I never know which. Below are the jobs I would be willing to take. They are generally also the jobs that you should be willing to take.
When a successful coach is between jobs and is asked if he will take another, he usually says, “Yes, If I can find a good situation.” What follows is my current definition of a good situation.
Age: I would agree to coach 9- to 12-year olds. I would only coach 8-year olds if I could recruit enough kids to try out that I only had to take about one extraordinary eight-year old per year and could cut the rest. Paid youth-football camps generally exclude kids under 9for good reason. Most 8-year olds are overwhelmed mentally by the complexity of the game. The only eight-year olds who worked out in my experience were one who got drafted by the NFL in the seventh round in 2006 (Kevin Simon of U. of Tennessee) and a boy whose birthday was August 6. The cut-off was July 31st so he was technically league-age eight, but was closer to nine than eight.
I would not coach teenage youth players unless I could cut the delinquents throughout the season. I would also need to recruit far more to try out than I could keep so I could cut the attitude cases without destroying the team via insufficient number of players.
Recruiting: I would insist on the ability to recruit at the youth level. If I could not recruit such that I could cut about half the kids who tried out, I probably would not want the job. I coached for a team that prohibited cuts once. Unfortunately, our opponents cut. Forget about it.
I believe I am good at recruiting and would be able to increase the try-out to double the roster size even at a team where that had never happened before. So I am not saying I would only coach where they already have twice as many try out as the roster size. Rather, I am saying I would only coach where they would let me try to accomplish that much recruiting success.
At some youth programs, the parents running the program would be opposed to such recruiting on the unspoken grounds that while it would clearly be in the best interests of the team and organization, it might not be in the best interests of their son if a superior recruited player aced him out for first string or the position he wanted to play.
Also, I would absolutely refuse to coach a team for which ninth-graders were eligible in a league where my community’s ninth graders typically played on the high school freshman team, but some of my opponents’ ninth graders typically played on the youth team. Been there. Done that. Bad memory.
Since I have coached six years at the high school level, and presented clinics to college and pro coaches on clock management, some may be surprised that I am willing to coach youth again. Don’t be. Each level of football has its advantages and disadvantagesall the way from youth to pro.
The advantage of 9- to 12-year olds is that they are eager for adult approval and you can typically recruit at that level. An ounce of recruiting is worth a pound of coaching.
As a youth head coach, I would expect total autonomy to choose my playbook and staff. At the high school level, often and maybe usually, only the head varsity coach has the power to choose the playbook schemes. Plus, at the high school level, some assistant coaches are sometimes locked in because they are long-term teachers and the administration is reluctant to anger them by letting any of the high school head coaches fire or replace them.
In one respect, I have a situation that is relatively rare but that high schools need: my jobwriting booksallows me to coach at any hour including the 3:30 to 6 PM hours that most high school teams practice. A great many otherwise-qualified coach candidates have to work elsewhere until six PM.
Head coach only: At this point, I would only be a head coach at the high school level. Either freshman, junior varsity, or varsity would be equally acceptable to me. But I would not agree to be an assistant at any high school level. Been there. Done that. Learned a lot. But I simply no longer want to follow a less qualified boss’s orders and I rarely would feel that another coach was better qualified than I to be the head guy at this point.
Also, I would want full autonomy to pick my own playbook etc. if I were a freshman or J.V. head coach. I would not want to run the varsity’s offense and defense unless it happened to coincide with what I wanted to run that year.
School size: I would not want to coach freshman or J.V. team at a high school with less than a 1,760 student body (50% male) unless they had some extraordinary ability to draw football players like a past reputation. Schools smaller than that do not have enough football playersas opposed to bodies on the rosterto field a separate freshman or J.V. team.
My definition of football players includes boys who are strong players, mediocre players, and weak players. What it does not include is kids who cannot or will not carry out their assignments for whatever reason. See my definitions of “track stars,” “three tappers,” and “cowboys” at my football terminology dictionary. I have to be able to cut the “track stars,” “three tappers,” and “cowboys” and still have a team of at least 22 players.
Similarly, I would not want to coach a frosh-soph team at a school with less than an 1,170 student body (50% male) for the same reasons.
When you do not have enough legitimate football players to put eleven on offense and defense, your coaching is, in part, figuring out how to hide inadequate players. Been there. Done that. My youth books tell how to do that. It was interesting, but it no longer excites me.
In my area, some high school staffs are almost entirely made up of on-campus teachers. Generally, in my area, all head varsity coaches are on-campus teachers.
I have no teaching credential and I will not get one. I could and would be willing to teach an elective writing course. However, in California, I believe I would be considered unqualified to teach such a course. If I had a teaching credential from we-admit-anyone-with-a-pulse State Teachers College and nothing but rejection slips from publishers, I would be considered qualified to teach writing, but not as a West Point/Harvard grad who has published 64 books and over 4,000 articles.
I understand that one can teach in California without a teaching credential if one has a masters degree in the subject in question. I have a masters degree in business administration. Again, I would be willing to teach an elective business course if it would help the administration justify hiring me.
The reason I would only teach elective courses is that I simply would not tolerate the apathy and other bad classroom behavior that public school teachers are apparently required to put up with. In electives, I presume, and have been told, that the students are generally excited about the material and eager to learn it.
Would I be willing to teach at a private high schoolwhere they typically have no bureaucratic rules about who can teach? Theoretically, yes, although not full-time. I would lose my house.
However, in my area, the only private high schools with football teams are religious schools. At least one local private high school here that has a football team requires coaches to sign a “statement of faith.” I will not do that. I would be willing to teach and coach at a religious high school, but I would not have anything to do with the religious mission of such a school. Morality, sobriety, ethicality, and good citizenship? Yes. Religion? No. I am not opposed to others teaching religion at the school. But I would neither interfere with that nor participate in it.
Because of my unwillingness to teach full-time, sign a statement of faith, or run the varsity’s offense or defense at the freshman or J.V. level, I suspect my high-school-coaching days are over. So be it. I learned a lot from doing it back when I was less experienced. But I only coach when I can either learn a lot from my boss or try my ideas. In the typical high school freshman or J.V. head coaching job, neither would be true for me at this point in my career.
About the only colleges I could coach in person at would be in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am qualified at the present time to be a position coach at the college level. I would have to hustle to get up to speed, but I would be able to do that before the season started. I doubt that I am qualified to be a coordinator at the college level, but I suspect after a season or two, I could.
I could be a clock management assistant coach (the coach in charge of clock management) immediately. (I wrote the book on football clock managementliterally.)
I would be leery of the recruiting responsibilities of college football if they involved air travel. I am not afraid of planes. It’s just too time-consuming. I would be willing to recruit locally.
I would not have to be a position coach. Since I have never coached at the college level, I would be willing to take almost any position as long as it allowed me to learn. There are a number of college coaching tasks that I could perform at a distance over the Internet like “film” analysis. So I could do those for a team anywhere in the world without leaving my Alamo, CA home.
Same as college although it would probably take me a year or so to learn enough to make a coaching contribution. I doubt I would ever consider myself qualified to be a coordinator at the pro level because of my late-in-life start.
As with college coaching, I would not be willing to relocate.
Your standards for what coaching job you would be willing to take should be similar except that if you have less experience than I do, you would be willing to take lesser jobs, as I am with college and pro coaching.
John T. Reed