Earlier this week I wrote about the importance of Staff Continuity. Today I will offer some examples from some very successful collegiate programs regarding coaching continuity.
A few weeks ago, Boise State head coach Chris Petersen, became the new head coach at the University of Washington. Eight of the nine coaches that he hired had worked with him at Boise State. New Washington defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski had this to say:
“I think that makes the transition flow easier. You’re not trying to get to know guys and then put in a defense. We’ve already done most of it. … that is huge when we’re sitting in a room and we’re starting to put the defense together and make things go a lot quicker and a lot smoother and there won’t be as many bumps in the road.”
When Mark Helfrich took over at the University of Oregon for the departing Chip Kelley, he retained eight of their 10 coaches from 2012, and six of those coaches have spent more than a decade in Eugene. Helfrich explained:
“I think that says a lot about our staff. It’s a tribute to them that they’ve instilled their faith in me and us… I look at that as nothing but a huge positive. We all get along really well. I was a graduate assistant here in ’97”
Oregon maintained their high level of play in 2013, finishing the season with an 11-2 record and a final ranking of #9 in the nation.
The continuity that Helfrich inherited pales in the comparison to that of another NCAA DI football program, Wofford.
Head coach Mike Ayers, recently completed his 25th season at Wofford. Wade Lang, who Ayers brought with him in 1988 to be Terriers’ running backs coach was promoted to offensive coordinator in 1990 and has occupied that position ever since. Nate Woody recently completed 22 years on staff, the last dozen as defensive coordinator, before departing for Appalachian State. His replacement, Jack Teachey, is in his 20th season on the staff. Offensive line coach Eric Nash has spent 10 years at Wofford. Those coaches’ tenures pail in comparison to that of Joe Lesesne, who has spent 48 years on campus, the last eight of which as director of football operations.
This continuity has translated to 18 winning seasons in Ayers 25 years as head coach.
My final example of the importance of staff continuity is the story of Jerry Kill at the University of Minnesota. Head Coach Jerry Kill’s battle with seizures this year has been well documented. For most programs and coaching staffs a situation like this would be a major upheaval to a normal game day and a really difficult thing to deal with for 85 young men. The Gophers are lucky that they can say it will be “business-as-usual” each week, and that’s because Kill has had one of the most loyal and long serving staff of coaches in the country.
Coach Tracy Claeys, took over as head coach from the press box as part of his duties as defensive coordinator when Coach Kill was restricted due to his illness. He has been on Kill’s staff since 1995 when he was a defensive line coach and has moved with Kill at every stop along the way as his defensive coordinator.
Offensive Coordinator Matt Limegrover has been with Jerry Kill’s staffs since 1999 himself, coming on board as the offensive line coach at Emporia State and being promoted to offensive coordinator/line coach when Kill took over at Southern Illinois.
They aren’t the only two long-term assistants on the staff either, as at least six other coaches have been on staff with Kill dating back to either Northern Illinois or before.
While there’s no doubt that Kill’s physical episodes are not something to be taken lightly, the Gophers were about as well equipped to deal with this situation as any staff could be.
Remember – You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!
Jeff Floyd – email@example.com