The Job Requirements

Now that the search for a new coach is in full swing, it is time to consider some of the things Gene DeFilippo will be looking for in the next coach. The X & O aspects are a given, but success at Boston College is more than just calling plays. The next coach will have to have a combination of skills in order to be successful.

The head coaching job at Boston College is not fundamentally different than the job at other schools. Football is football. If you recruit well, develop the players and run a system that is flexible enough to take advantage of the talent you have each year, you will win a lot of football games. At the executive level, it is a simple thing.

At the granular level, it is a bit more complicated. The head coach is not just a guy drawing up plays and running practice. At a BCS level program with designs on high level success, the head football coach is more than just a coach. They have other responsibilities that require skills not normally associated with coaching football.

When the decision is made to hire the next coach, the criteria will include things that are as critical to the success of the program – and the coach – as making the right calls during the game. Saturday is the culmination of the work that goes on during the week and throughout the year. The successful coach at Boston College will have to be as good in the off-season as he is on game day, in order for the program to continue its upward trajectory.

The Skill Set

Coach as CEO: This is an overused and inaccurate term, but it is not a wild exaggeration. At BCS programs, the head coach is not a micro-manager. The time commitments of the job prevent the coach from spending all of his time approving every single decision in the program. Some things have to be delegated.

That means a successful coach is a good manager. He hires and manages a staff that is in tune with his philosophy. He also communicates well with his direct reports and the administrative staff in the athletic department. He also has to have trust in and command the respect of his coaches and the staff assistants. Strong management skills are therefore the chief requirement of the next BC coach.

Public Relations: Successful college football programs have to raise money and get on well with the media. The head coach is the face of the program and in many cases the face of the school. When the coach stands in front of the press, he is speaking for the school. More important, he is representing the school to the rest of the world.

That means the coach has to have some media savvy and a personality conducive to inspiring confidence amongst fans, alumni and boosters. He also has to be willing to do it. Talking to the media and chatting up alumni is not always as fun as it seems. But, the head coach has to understand it is a part of duties and he has to go at it with enthusiasm.

Coffee is for Closers: Much is made of the recruiting skills of various coaches. Getting talent is critical to the success of every football program. But, the recruiting savvy and talent evaluation skills of head coaches are often over rated. The truth is 90% of the recruiting is done by the assistants. They are on the road, hustling up video and building relationships with high school coaches.

The role of the head coach is to be the sales manager, so to speak. When a kid is on the fence, it is the head coach that comes in with the recruiting coach to close the deal. That means the coach does not waste his time getting kids to visit or hear the school's pitch. He works with his recruiters to come in when it is time to close the deal. The coaches who recruit well know when it is time to close the deal.

People Skills: At a BCS program, the head coach will deal with a lot of people in the bureaucracy. That means admissions, academic support, athletic staff and the folks on the academic side. While head of the football program, they are also a member of the athletic staff. They report to the AD and work with fellow coaches.

The successful coach at BC has to be able to deal with all sorts of personalities with all sorts of agendas. As soon as you get three people together, you get politics. When dealing with 300, the politics can be serious and personal. A good coach will be enough of a politician to navigate the system, but not so much so he is divisive. That requires good people skills.

Philosophically Sound: BC is not for everyone. It is a unique place and particularly unique in the world of big-time college football. The next coach cannot just begrudgingly accept it; he will have to embrace it. There are plenty of good players who cherish the educational opportunities their football prowess is giving them. Those are potential BC guys.

A coach who thinks he will change the culture of BC to make it easier for him to get players and run his program will soon become frustrated. The culture of BC will not change. Jim O'Brien learned this lesson the hard way. At BC, the school comes first and the coach has to embrace it and proudly promote it.

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