VAUGHT: Minter likes Coaching

Rick Minter, 56, started his coaching career in 1977, but he insists he's as enthusiastic today as he was in 1977 when he was a graduate assistant coach at Henderson State.

Minter was brought on board at Kentucky last December as co-defensive coordinator with Steve Brown after spending the 2010 season at Indiana State as defensive coordinator. He's a former head coach at Cincinnati where UK?coach Joker Phillips worked under him.

Minter joked before he spoke at the Kentucky High School Football Coaches Association summer clinic at Centre College Thursday that a Kentucky assistant asked him during a summer camp about his past and how long he was head coach at Cincinnati.

"His first response was, 'What are you doing? Why don't you retire on the lake somewhere?' I kind of took offense to the age reference, but the point is I like to coach," said Minter. "I love the profession because it keeps you young. You are always working around young kids and younger coaches in many instances.

"I just enjoy what I do so much that I really don't want to do anything else regardless of my role. I have played different roles in my career. I was fortunate to be a defensive coordinator for a number of years before getting my opportunity to be head coach for 10 years, longer than most guys get to do it. From there I have been a coordinator ever since and yet have been out a couple of times.

"In 2007 when I was let go at Notre Dame, I could not find employment. I enjoyed the year to sit back and re-energize. I was back at Marshall and did not get head job over there when it came open. Last year I ended up over at Indiana State working with my son and living with my son and living like a little gypsy. I had the time of my life coaching I-AA football and basically running the defense and seeing the elation on the face of kids who had never won before. They had won about one game in 50 tries and we ended up going 6-5. You would not believe the looks on the faces as they just won a game nobody gave them a chance to win."

Minter says those kind of moments are what makes the hard times in coaching more than worthwhile.

"I enjoy those moments in coaching. They are small, small moments but that is why we are in it. We are in it for kids and to make a difference," Minter said. "You are in it for the passion and the love of the game. I just enjoy talking football and enjoy the war room aspect of the game and the mental challenge. I enjoy seeing kids develop, coming in as youngsters all bright eyed and leaving out of there grown men and better players to become productive citizens.

"It's like being the parent of a bunch of kids at the same time each and every year but every day you wake up is like Groundhog Day. You are always dealing with 18- to 22-yea-olds every year. As I get older, in reality your students stay the same age and that makes it really fun."

He admits it might not have been fun for UK's defensive players when he arrived in December with a no-nonsense approach and new defensive alignment before the Cats played — and lost — to Pittsburgh in the BBVA Compass Bowl.

"I have talked to the players and certainly to the coaches about coming in a little bit boxed in. Everybody has to understand the timing and sense of urgency. I was brought in to do a job and had a limited amount of time to change some ideas and concepts," Minter said. "When you compare that to what they were used to and how it had been done, maybe there was a clash. Who the heck is this and what is he telling us? You have to understand the kids of Kentucky in their own minds were slightly spoiled by going to five straight bowls and success was there. There had never been anybody there on the down side of the ledger like many Kentucky players before them had been."

Minter said his mission was to let players know going to bowl games was good, but not good enough and not the ultimate goal for a championship team.

"To do that, you have to instill a sense of urgency. To go somewhere you have never been and do something you have never done you have to be willing to work," Minter said. "While the strength of our defense is seniority and experience, that's also the challenge of our defense because you have to teach older guys who have been doing it one basic way a whole new set of ways to do it. That's the opportunity we have and the challenge we have all at the same time.

"The kids are great. They are buying in. Once they get to know me one on one, sit down and rap and talk and it is not me out there yelling and screaming, they find out I am just another good guy who has their best interests at heart. I hope they say that any way. We all learn together and whatever I can teach individual kid to be better players that will make our team better, our season better, then their careers could become better. There was probably a different perception by the end of spring about me, or at least I think there was."

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