With salaries and popularity constantly escalating, there has never been a better time to get into the college football coaching profession. For the young and ambitious, here is a road map on how to make it to the pinnacle of college sports:
A Road map for Entering the Profession of College Football Coaching
1. Play Football at the College Level – This is arguably the biggest barrier into the college football coaching profession. Take a glance at the most recent AP poll and you will find the likes of Bob Stoops, Pete Carroll, Mack Brown, Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer. What do they all have in common? They played football in college. For every Mike Leach (who did not play), there are dozens of ex-athletes roaming the sidelines.
2. Get Your College Degree – This may seem like a no-brainer to many, but the balance of school and athletics is a difficult one. Many athletes fall into the trap of letting their academics slide. If you want to pursue coaching at the college level, a degree will be one of the first credentials you will need in your resume.
3. Build Relationships with College Coaches – Being the first one to practice and the last one to leave will do more than make you a better player. It will endear you to the coaches who will one day have the ability to get you into the profession. Never pass up an opportunity to go the extra mile to build relationships with both your coaches and others that you may encounter.
4. Build Relationships with High School Coaches – There are two very important benefits to this piece of the puzzle. The first is that you might need to begin coaching at the high school level. Building relationships with high school coaches will open that door. The second is that those relationships will pay off in recruiting if and when you reach the college coaching level. Talk to them about various stuff like best shoulder pads etc. You never know what clicks.
5. Find a Graduate Assistant/Volunteer Position – This is where your relationship with college coaches will pay off. If you have been identified as a hard worker who picks things up quickly, you will have a great shot at getting on somewhere as a volunteer or graduate assistant. If that doesn’t work,
6. Find a High School Coaching Position – Many of those who pursue college coaching as a profession start in the high school ranks. Building a strong winning resume in the high school ranks will open doors for you at the college level. The bigger and better program you can get into, the better off you will be.
7. Be Active in the Coaching Community – There are a number of opportunities to get involved in the coaching community. Clinics are a great way to meet other coaches as well as build your resume. Camps are another great way to build relationships. Take advantage of each opportunity that presents itself. You never know which one will pay off.
8. Become a Subject Matter Expert – Find your niche in the business. This could be a new and innovative offensive strategy or a specific position that you coach exceedingly well. Whatever your subject matter ends up being, strive to know everything you can about that particular area.
9. Be Proactive, but Patient – Don’t rush into just any job. Each staff has its own personality. In the long run, you will be much better off finding a staff that shares your philosophy and values.