David Alexander is the head football coach at Broken Arrow and a former professional offensive linemen. He played ten seasons in the NFL for the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Jets. He played college ball at the University of Tulsa and was drafted in the fifth round of the 1987 NFL Draft.
He worked as an assistant coach for seven years at Jenks High School. In 2005-06, he was also head coach of the Tulsa Talons of the af2 arena football league. In 2013, he left Jenks to move to Broken Arrow, where had played and graduated in 1982, as the running backs coach. In January 2014 he was announced as Broken Arrow’s new head football coach.
Coach A is also one of my best friends in the coaching business. We have had the opportunity to share many moments together, some great, some very difficult. But I have always enjoyed our conversations about life and football because he has a great heart and great insight into many situations because of this unique education and experiences. He played for Buddy Ryan and Bill Muir (if you don’t know Bill Muir as an OL coach, sit in the corner for 5 minutes and think about the choices you have made in this life and then Google him). He had to block Reggie White and Jerome Brown on a daily basis in practice and then turn around to block Lawrence Taylor or Eric Swann on a Sunday or Monday night in front of millions of people. He has had more injuries than I can name, yet he managed to keep playing for 10 straight seasons in the toughest football league in the world at one of the most difficult positions.
I say these things because it would have been very easy for a guy like Coach A to be arrogant or unapproachable. To be above certain jobs. To be above coaching “lower level” football. He most certainly wasn’t. His first coaching job straight out of the NFL was in junior high ball, in addition to coaching his sons in JTA youth football.
One of the reasons we started working on Team Attack Academy and Run The Power is because of several conversations I had with Coach A and Coach Trimble. They were always mentioning how difficult it was to find GOOD middle school and high school coaches, especially young ones. I also couldn’t understand how some coaches were resistant to work or development in a job they supposedly loved very much. It baffled all of us.
I asked Coach A these three questions to sum up some of these thoughts about hiring coaches and developing coaches.
Why is it so difficult to find quality coaches at ALL LEVELS of your program (8th-Varsity)?
The biggest hurdle we face in Oklahoma is that we are ranked 49th in teacher pay. Good young coaches leave here for Arkansas or Texas, where they immediately receive a 30-40% raise. And many young men coming out of college with a degree can get any job, in any field, and their starting pay will be $25,000+ what a teacher/coach will make in Oklahoma.
That being said, I have found it near impossible to find motivated, YOUNG coaches to take 8th/9th grade coaching jobs. The young coaches (almost everyone I have interviewed) will ONLY accept a varsity spot, and many want to be considered for coordinator spots. My best Jr. High coaches are “Lifers” – experienced, older varsity coaches that want to continue coaching but are ready to slow down from the grind of varsity football.
We ask our players to develop physically and mentally throughout their careers. Why are some coaches resistant to developing themselves to become better coaches, in your opinion?
This is a question that I have thought about a lot!
Developing and growing takes a long term plan, which means it takes time, and a certain amount of humility.
As a society right now, we think of TIME this way: if it doesn’t happen immediately, then I will just move on and find someplace else where I can get my satisfaction.
Being humble and working for the vision of the Head Coach or program is imperative. All motivated people think they can do as good or better than the Head Coach, and they have a vision of what they would do with a team. BUT NOTHING works (a team, a school, a society) if we do not learn from our superiors and teach our subordinates.
Do your job to the best of your ability, and you will be rewarded with opportunities for more responsibility. Humbling yourself to tasks that do not put the spot light on you may not build your ego, but I hope it builds your character and your self-esteem.
When I started coaching, I had just finished a ten year NFL career. The first four years I coached Jr. High football, one at the 9th grade and 3 more at the 8th grade. Looking back, I learned as much during those years as I did during the 6 years I worked for Allan Trimble at Jenks.
Why is it so important to develop professionally and personally as a coach?
I will NEVER hire a coach if he tells me, “I already have all the answers” or “I know everything.” We must all continue growing and learning, or we will fall hopelessly behind. As a head coach, I can tell pretty quickly which assistants LOVE their job and are sponges for knowledge. When I am looking for a varsity assistant now, my number one criteria that I want to hear in an interview is, “I love this job!”
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Run The Power (RTP) episode 005 is a talk with Nick Bunting, Defensive Coordinator at Holland Hall HS in Tulsa, OK. Coach Bunting played at Holland Hall before becoming a 4 year starter at the University of Tulsa at Linebacker. Nick started as a true freshman, earning Freshman All-American honors, setting the tone for a standout career under Todd Graham and Keith Patterson. Coach Bunting began his coaching career at Bartlesville under Ron Smith. He moved to Jenks in 2012 as LB coach where he won a state championship working for Allan Trimble and Keith Riggs before moving to his current job as DC for Holland Hall since the 2013 season. Listen along as Rowdy and Walz ask Coach Bunt about his multiple 3-4 defense, his use of hybrid players to tailor his defense to fit his best 11 players, and his experiences working and learning for an unbelievable network of coaches to hone his philosophy and ability to build relationships with athletes and push them to their maximum ability. Coach Bunt also runs 5 Star Football Academy to train defensive players, especially linebackers, on the nuances and fundamentals of the position. You can follow Coach Bunt on Twitter @coachbunt and @5starfbacademy. Hope you enjoy!
This episode of Run The Power podcast is brought to you byTeam Attack Academy.Team Attack Academy is an online football development site for football players and coaches of all levels. It is the most powerful teaching tool introduced into the game today to raise level of playing and coaching football. After using Team Attack Academy your athletes and coaches will outplay, outwork and outsmart their opponents guaranteed. Visit Team Attack Academy at https://teamattackacademy.com
Several of us are probably working on those resolutions and improvements for next season. I have had a few coaches reach out to me about this topic, so I decided to give my take on some possible solutions because we have had the same problems getting our 2-way players and our backup players enough reps in practice at various stops I’ve made along the way.
The best solution I have seen: Split Defensive and Offensive Emphasis Practices.
Why Split Practices? At the end of the day, it is all about player development, program development, and winning (getting our best players on the field). This practice system allowed us to get all 3 goals accomplished.
Weekly Practice Schedule
Obviously most of our heavy work and fundamental development is getting done on Monday and Tuesday. This is the emphasis of this article.
Monday/Tuesday Practice Schedule
So here is the schedule for a sample Offensive Day. This means Offense has 70 minutes of practice to script, and Offense has the choice of ALL PLAYERS it wishes to have for VARSITY OFFENSE. Now, we would have some Offense Only players and some Defense Only players. They would stay on that side of the ball for the entire practice. Any CROSSOVER PLAYERS (2-WAY PLAYERS) would go to OFFENSE first since it is an Offensive Day. All JV/Sophomore/Developmental Players would go to Defense.
Segments like Inside Run/1 on 1, 7 on 7/Pass Rush, and Team Offense, we would come together and service/scrimmage each other as best we could. Many times I would take the Scout Team because our defensive coaches didn’t know what defense the opposing team was running, so I would let them stay with their older defensive specialists to work on their game plan and technique. It made things move smoothly, and I didn’t have to explain a card/read to the coach and the players.
Offensively, we ALWAYS had 2 huddles going in Inside Run, 7×7, and Team. We maximized reps for all of our developmental guys in every segment. This is why we were able to reload with players each year (program development).
We would switch emphasis after our Team periods, and Crossovers would head to Defense for 35 minutes of whatever they needed. As an offensive coach, I would coach our Scout units HARD for our Defense to get a look. It was also 2 huddles of Scout Offense, so we had more young guys getting great reps vs our 1 Defense.
We would finish with Special Teams for 20 minutes, giving several units (OL, QB especially) more time for corrections and Indy work as well at the end of practice.
Tuesday, we would rinse and repeat but flip Defense and Offense. We were able to develop our Crossover players and our JV/Second Unit players in a multitude of ways.
I hope you got a nugget or two from this article. If you have questions or comments, please leave them below or contact me. Thanks for reading, and PAY IT FORWARD as a BALL COACH!
In this episode of Run the Power (RTP) we talk football with Coach Ryan Mullaney! Coach Mulls is currently the Run Game Coordinator at Denver Lutheran HS. He played DE for the Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, Kansas City Chiefs, and LA Rams, in addition to stints in the CFL and USFL. Before his NFL career, Coach Mulls was a LB at UNLV and the University of Colorado. He has been HC at Denver South HS, DC at Evergreen HS, DC at Cole College, and DL coach at Colorado School of Mines. He has also been a successful business leader in the telecom industry, and currently he is CEO ofTeam Attack Academy, LLC, an online athlete and coach development company. In this episode of RTP, we talk about Coach Mulls’ varied background in the game, Team Attack Academy and the advantages it creates for programs and players, and developing of your coaching art, leadership, and assistant coach or player management. You can Follow Coach Mullaney on Twitter
This episode of the podcast is brought to you byTeam Attack Academy. Team Attack Academy is an online football development site for football players and coaches of all levels. It is the most powerful teaching tool introduced into the game today to raise level of playing and coaching football. After using Team Attack Academy your athletes and coaches will outplay, outwork and outsmart their opponents guaranteed. Visit Team Attack Academy at https://teamattackacademy.com
What if the stats coaches normally use to analyze football games are really not that telling? What if the game has changed? What if coaches are biased to certain information and it clouds their vision of important indicators in football games? Is there a better way for coaches to self-scout and create goals each week for your team to give them the best chance to win?
SportSource Analytics is a sports-focused analytics company dedicated to enabling better decisions with better data through the use of customized platforms and services.
I met these guys at the AFCA Convention in Nashville a few years back, and I’ve been a big fan of their work ever since. They are the official data analytics platform for the College Football Playoff, and they provide platforms, consulting, and data services for many major college programs and conferences. They offer insight that few can, and I highly recommend their services and Twitter feed.
I was able to ask them a few questions this past week, and they gave some great ideas for BALL COACHES to change their thinking, scouting, coaching, and goal setting week in and week out.
What are some of the most under-utilized statistics for measuring OFFENSIVE success that coaches should be focusing more toward in their preparation?
It’s all about being efficient and being explosive. Given that, we advise that coaches put a lot of focus on the following statistics:
P & 10 efficiency: One of the most important plays in football
1st & 10 efficiency: Over 40% of football is played on 1st and 10. If you aren’t successful on 1st and 10, it’s hard to be a great offense
Walsh Ranking: Bill Walsh said that great offenses are the best at avoiding 3rd down. What percent of your first downs are coming on 1st down, 2nd down, 3rd down. What percent of your plays are on 1st down, 2nd down, 3rd down? Best offenses don’t wait until 3rd down to gain first downs
Points Per Possession: How efficient are you being with the ball?
Plays Per Point: Helps measure both efficiency and explosiveness
Quality Play Index: We have what we call a quality play index. This looks at what percent of your plays were Good and Great plays. A Good Play is any play that gains a 1st down, results in a TD, or results in first down. Great Plays are any plays of 25+ yards and/or a TD.
What are some of the most under-utilized statistics for measuring DEFENSIVE success that coaches should be focusing more toward in their preparation?
Defensive Mayhem Index: This measures what percent of the time a defense gets a sack, TFL, or a turnover.
Points Per Possession
Plays Per Point
3 and Out Percentage: What percent of opponent’s drives are three and out
Trips to the RZ: Red Zone efficiency can be a bit overrated. The goal is not to allow the opponent to get to the Red Zone.
P & 10 Defense: How often are you keeping opponent’s from being efficient on P&10
3rd Down YTG: Best way to be good on 3rd down is to put offenses in situations where it is difficult to gain a first down. What is the average Yards To Gain on 3rd down for your opponents.
What statistics are the greatest indicators of winning and losing?
Winning the Efficiency Battle
Winning the First Half
Winning the Big Play Battle
Winning the Trips to Red Zone Battle
Winning the Tackle for Loss Battle
When hiring coaches, what are the most important analytics/attributes to consider from the research you have performed?
It’s all about looking at the job a coach has done relative to the situation he took over. Where did they get better or worse? How much impact did the coach in question have to do with that improvement? Also, looking for consistency so we don’t fall prey to a What You See Is What Is bias. Good coaches can have down years and bad coaches can have up years. We also like to test how coordinator dependent a coach is. When it comes to using data in the hiring process, it has to be a very holistic approach that takes a very deep dive into the data.
I think this is some fascinating insight from SportSource Analytics. It has helped mold and change the way I evaluate my coaching style and emphasis and how I evaluate the formula needed to give athletes the best chance to be successful. Focusing on the most important situations in football can give any team the edge needed to win more games, especially when the talent differential is minimal. Ball Coaches search and find ways to win ball games.
I hope you enjoyed this article. Leave some comments/questions to discuss further!
Jordan Johnson, Director of Strength and Conditioning at Jenks High School, NHSSCA State of Oklahoma Director (CPR, USAW, CSCCA)
Jordan is an Oklahoma native from Texhoma in the Oklahoma panhandle. He graduated from Texas Tech in 2007 with a Bachelors Degree in Exercise Science and a Minor in Health. Jordan’s professional certifications include Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (CSCCA), USA Weight Lifting Sports Performance Certified (USAW) and CPR.
Jordan has been a strength and conditioning professional for the past 10 years. * 2004: Texas Tech University: Strength & Conditioning Assistant, Olympic sports, under the guidance of strength coach Tory Stephens. * 2005 & 2006: Texas Tech University: Intern Strength & Conditioning, football, under Head Strength Coach Bennie Wylie. * 2007: University of Arkansas: Graduate Assistant Strength & Conditioning, football, basketball & baseball, under Head Strength Coach Don Decker. * 2008: University of Mississippi: Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach, football wide receivers, baseball, basketball and track, under Head Strength Coach Don Decker. * 2009: University of Texas El Paso: Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach, football, women’s soccer and softball, under Head Strength Coach Kirk Davis. * 2009: University of Texas El Paso: Head Strength & Conditioning Coach, men’s and women’s basketball. * 2011: University of Tulsa: Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach, football, men’s soccer and women’s volleyball under Head Strength Coach Rohrk Cutchlow. * 2012: Jenks High School: Director of Strength and Conditioning, football and all varsity sports.
I have known Jordan since 2011 during our time at Tulsa University. We were able to really work together starting in 2012 when we were back at Jenks HS, and his influence on that program led to state titles in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. In my humble opinion, Jordan is the best strength coach in the nation. His foundational knowledge of training is impressive and evolving each time I talk to him. What separates Jordan from many strength coaches is his character and his ability to establish relationships and develop leadership and maturity within the players he works with. Athletes and coaches alike respect and value his opinion because he truly cares about every individual within a program. Jordan gets the most out of his athletes, and I am forever grateful for his friendship and expertise because he is a true BALL COACH.
I had the opportunity to ask Jordan a few questions to help your off season program this winter and beyond.
What are your goals for football athletes during this phase?
We have two blocks that run from January through Spring Break (early March) and testing in April. This is a great opportunity for our kids to gain size and strength, as we are not trying to be in football shape this time of year. Our ultimate goal at Jenks for the winter/spring offseason is discipline and accountability and creating a constant environment of competition. We only get 6-7 weeks in the summer, and much of that is focused on conditioning, as well as all the other aspects of speed, power, and strength. Our spring phase is crucial for establishing our Jenks culture with current and incoming freshman football players.
What are some strategies you use to train your multi-sport athletes who are playing basketball or wrestling?
Obviously the multi-sport kids require some adjustments as far as their training goes, especially with basketball and wrestling being in-season. As far as the exercises go, we still do full power clean and squat, back and front, with both groups. The volume will be low, but the intensity will be high for both sports staying around 80% and up for most of their in-season, allowing those athletes to still get stronger. I am not a huge fan of “sport-specific” training in the weight room. All sports need to triple extend, push, and pull, so we will look very similar across all our sports in the weight room. As far as conditioning, speed, and COD drills, those will closely mirror their sport.
How often does your program run and condition during the week in this phase?
Our football offseason has two blocks: one 6 week block with a deload during week 7, and the second block is 8 weeks with testing during the 8th week. The first block we will not be conditioning very much, usually once a week, but most of that conditioning will be of a competitive nature. The 2nd block we will condition twice a week. One of those will involve competition and one will be normal conditioning. I like our kids to be in great shape by the end of the 2nd block because after testing we will be very close to spring ball and summer team camps.
We always have Speed Technique 1x per week and Agility/COD 1x per week, so we are running 3x or 4x per week depending on the block.
What is one improvement you feel any program can make during the off-season that may often be overlooked?
One of the most underrated football improvements that I feel can be made in the offseason is creating a T.E.A.M. Environment. For us at Jenks that acronym means Together Everyone Achieves More.
Everyone is going to get bigger stronger and faster in the offseason. To me, the difference can be finding your leaders through competition and responsibility. Find out who is bought in and who just is along for the ride. Find out how your players respond to adversity, and, most importantly, find out who will fight and work for their teammates. To me if all you learn about your team in the offseason is who is the biggest and strongest, then you really aren’t learning anything about your team.
We have all been in that brutal AM staff meeting. You can hear the complaints. Heck, maybe you are the one saying them.
“Why are we here?”
“Couldn’t this have been sent out in an email?”
“This is too much information. There is no way I can remember all of this.”
These are ADULTS! Now imagine being a teenager or a college student-athlete. We all know they didn’t sleep 8 hours. They have been in a minimum of 4 hours of classes that they can’t stand. And now we are going to install 2 new fronts, 4 new blitzes, go over a scouting report, and watch film. All before going out to practice for 2 hours and maybe some post-practice film correction.
Our time is valuable. We MUST be effective in how we run our position meetings! Research says humans can best remember a maximum of 4 pieces of information, so here are 4 ways to help you design more effective position meetings as a ball coach.
Put First Things First
This is one of the 7 Habits that Dr. Stephen Covey outlined in his famous book: spend more time on PREPARATION, PREVENTION, and RELATIONSHIP BUILDING when starting meetings. Drawings, installs, film, and handouts should be prepared before your players arrive. Have drawings already on the board. Have film cutups already built. Use all of your meeting time as efficiently as possible.
The start of a meeting is an excellent time to let your players know you care about them. This is the PREVENTION and RELATIONSHIP BUILDING.
Matt Campbell, HC at Iowa State, begins each meeting with a short story or quote to get guys thinking about a topic that benefits them. For instance, the Spring Ball meeting I attended he was talking about Spring Break and the people his players would be around and the decisions they would be making. He would make his leaders read the quote/excerpt aloud to the team, and they would discuss it. It was a 3-5 minute conversation, but I thought it was genius because it let everyone know PEOPLE AND RELATIONSHIPS COME BEFORE FOOTBALL.
Ask how players are doing. Ask about important things in their life. Congratulate them for things they accomplish outside of football. Show fun videos, or show videos on topics you feel need to be addressed before you meet. PREVENTION and RELATIONSHIP BUILDING will go a long way in building your position group and team morale.
One of the more profound things I learned when I was in college football was extremely simple: PLAYER SEATING IN POSITION MEETINGS.
When I was at Tulsa, Denver Johnson outlined a specific way for me to set up for meetings every day. He wanted 3 rows of tables with 5 chairs in each row facing the film projector. I thought it was odd at the time, but it made perfect sense when the Offensive Line came in. The first unit sat in the first row, in order: LT, LG, C, RG, RT. The second unit did the same in the second row, and the young guys were in the 3rd row or aisle. This was genius. It created a routine for the players. It gave them more opportunities to communicate with players that played next to each other. They could make calls, coach each other, build better relationships, and Coach Johnson knew exactly where each player would be so he could locate and coach or correct him. It also allowed me as the assistant OL coach to sit in the back with the younger players to answer questions and get them up to speed more quickly since they were receiving fewer reps than the older players. When watching End Zone film, players could watch themselves literally in the position they were playing most of the time. I feel it really accelerated their learning and communication skills.
This concept can be applied to any position meeting. Boundary Defensive Backs and Field Defensive Backs can sit next to each other (or right and left side if that fits your scheme) to communicate coverages and calls. Quarterbacks should sit with the WRs that play the most so they can communicate route adjustments and signals.
Smart seating can be a simple solution to some problems you may be having in educating your athletes or getting your athletes to communicate more effectively.
Simple and Clear Mission
Every meeting MUST HAVE a simple and clear mission. What are we going to accomplish? What are the standards and expectations for behavior within the meeting? What materials are needed for this meeting? What is the weekly and daily schedule? ARE WE ALL ON THE SAME PAGE? DO WE ALL BELIEVE IN THE MISSION?
One of the premier books any coach should read is Extreme Ownership: How Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. It has taught me more about leadership skills than just about any resource I have ever found. It outlines the most important factor in the success of any team, large or small: LEADERSHIP. If your position group is not performing up to standards, it is the coach’s fault, plain and simple. The coach needs to take responsibility and find out what the problem is and come up with a solution or the group will continue to fail.
Most often the coach has failed to provide a SIMPLE and CLEAR mission that everyone UNDERSTANDS and BELIEVES IN. A standard of excellence needs to be set, and it needs to be modeled and enforced on a daily basis. If your players are not doing what needs to be done, chances are they don’t UNDERSTAND or they don’t BELIEVE IN IT. It is your job to get that done.
Some helpful hints in setting a standard with a SIMPLE AND CLEAR MISSION:
Outline and Model rules and expectations for meetings. Keep it at 3-4 simple rules. Reteach, if necessary. POST THEM IN YOUR MEETING ROOM.
Have a daily, weekly, and monthly agenda or calendar visible to your players.
Have a standard for how your players will conduct themselves, practice, and play.
Explain HOW and WHY the skills you are teaching your players will benefit them to increase BELIEF AND UNDERSTANDING. Kids love WINNING and PLAYING WELL. Start there!
Here are some example slides I used to use with my Quarterbacks and Wide Receivers in 2015 at Broken Arrow. This was our Standard and Mission. We preached it daily, and when we were having problems, we went back to this and did Level Sets. Where are you now? Where do you need to be?
Always start and end meetings on time. Always be cognizant of how much information you are providing your players. Do your best to keep it simple, concise, and constructive.
During an Iowa State special teams meeting I observed, the Special Teams Coach was showing clips from the previous practice’s Indy period. He would show 2 clips of the technique desired in this drill being executed flawlessly. Then he would show 1 clip of the technique that needed to be corrected. Several players had made mistakes in this technique, but he didn’t take time to correct each one. HE DIDN’T HAVE THAT MUCH TIME! Instead he showed the desired result and what needed to be fixed. He would get the others later in practice when he had that opportunity. Then he moved on to the next Indy drill, and he did the same thing: 2 perfect reps, 1 rep that needed correction. He was modeling the desired technique so the players who needed work knew what it should look like. This is excellent Time Management.
Finally, I will leave you with another clinic note and story I heard from Scott Frost, current Nebraska head coach. When Coach Frost was at Oregon as WR coach, HC Chip Kelly had brought in an outside consultant to evaluate their meetings and overall operations. Imagine that: a team on the cusp of a National Title bringing in an outside set of eyes to improve what they were doing: A BALL COACH MOVE. Anyway, Coach Frost knew he would have this gentleman in his meeting, so he had a perfect one planned. He was organized. He asked great questions. His players were engaged and prepared. He filled up his allotted time with activity and learning, and then he sent his players off to get ready for practice.
Immediately following the meeting, the consultant quickly grabbed Coach Frost to give him feedback. He told him what an awesome meeting he had just executed, but he also had just one question for him.
“Scott, I’m just wondering. Since Oregon is known as the fastest team in football with their practice style and tempo, why do you meet so long and relaxed with your players?”
Coach Frost, rather than being offended, said he didn’t know why, but said it made perfect sense! He knew the guy was right. So he changed the way he met. He met SHORTER. He made players answer questions quickly to mimic the tempo they had to see, process, and execute in a game and at practice. His players believed in it, and they got better, more efficient use of their meeting time. Plus, they were done with meetings faster!
Analyze your meeting time. Find creative ways to maximize your time. Make it better for your players and yourself.
I hope you got something out of this. Please feel free to contact me with suggestions, comments, or needs. I’m here to help you guys. More to come!
I guess you could say I started learning about “ball” at a young age. This is about 1982. I was 3 years old, and I’m sitting with my father Darryl Walz enjoying some cereal, probably Cheerios. He is wearing his 1981 South Dakota High School Football Playoffs shirt, where he was Offensive Coordinator of a Frederick team that won a 9-man State Championship. For those that don’t know, Frederick is a town of 199 people north of Aberdeen, SD, basically on the border of North Dakota. 9 man football is a cross between rugby and arena ball with offensive tackles removed. It is awesome. And from the stories I’ve heard, my dad could coach it pretty well. He had quite the team in 1981, and he also worked with some excellent coaches. They had to coach both sides of the ball, and they loved every minute of it.
As excellent as Frederick was, the salary for 2 teachers and a family of 4 was not going to allow for much growth, so we moved to Brandon, SD, for a year and ultimately landed in Pierre, SD, my hometown and where both my parents live to this day. I was lucky to have this small town upbringing with two parents who taught me discipline, love, appreciation, and hard work.
Long story short, my father is my hero. I have grown up to be very similar to him: I teach, and I coach. He was always an assistant coach, sacrificing his own career so he could watch his boys (me and my brother Ryan) grow up, and so he could be an excellent husband to my mother Marla. Simple goals, simple life. But he was an unbelievable ball coach. He could coach and reach all kids. He coached every position in his career. He could coach the Offensive Line, and then he could turn around and call the defense. On a staff with 3 coaches total, he was running 3 fronts with multiple coverages and multiple pressures. And teaching run schemes and pass protections. To me, that was the definition of BALL COACH: I can coach and develop all kids; I can coach both sides of the ball and special teams; and I don’t think I know it all, so I’m going to continue learning as much as I can. Oh, and I’m going to be a great dad and husband, too.
Darryl Walz – BALL COACH. Brady Walz – BALL COACH in Training. This is who I am, and it never stops evolving.
As I write this first blog, it still amazes me the football education I’ve been fortunate enough to attain. A Doctorate in Ball Coaching.
How many coaches can say they worked for both Allan Trimble and BillBlankenship, head coaches who have combined for 18 State Titles (and counting) in Oklahoma and Arkansas? How many coaches can say they worked for and LIVED WITH the man who developed quite possibly the most influential offensive system in HS football history (R4 Football System) in Dub Maddox? How many coaches can say they learned Offensive Line play from legendary coaches like David Alexander and Denver Johnson? How many coaches have been a Strength Coach, Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator, College Position Coach, JV/Freshman Coach, and Graduate Assistant for teams that went undefeated or didn’t win a single game? How many coaches have built their own business? It has been a unique experience, to say the least. But it wasn’t always roses. It was hard work.
When I got started, I was AWFUL. My first 3 years of coaching – coaching RB, WR, QB, defensive backs, and all special teams; OC for 9th grade/JV (Denver South), and varsity (Golden HS); head coach in Nebraska (Tekamah-Herman); all while, quite honestly, NOT HAVING A CLUE WHAT I WAS REALLY DOING. Sure, we set some offensive records at Golden HS, but then as a head coach I didn’t win a game in Nebraska! F.A.I.L. – First Attempt In Learning. I was learning on the job, and I needed to learn more. Luckily, I had met some good Ball Coaches along the way who were willing to help me. BALL COACH rule #1: Pay it forward. Always be willing to develop other coaches.
Ryan Mullaney gave me my first job. I think he felt bad for me, or he really needed coaches, but I can guarantee I wasn’t his first choice. His impact on my career continues today, but I always remember the 2 things he taught me:
You can know the SCIENCE OF COACHING all you want, but you need to become an expert in the ART OF COACHING.
LEADERSHIP and MANAGEMENT are the most important skills you will ever learn.
You see, in addition to being a great football coach, Coach Mulls (what everyone calls him) was also pretty good at leading multi-million dollar sales and telecom companies. I was getting a crash course on management, leadership, and the art of coaching daily. I also got my first taste of the AFCA Coaches Convention with Coach Mulls, where he would force me to go out and meet new coaches and introduce myself despite my hatred of those situations. And guess what, I am still learning these things today. Currently, we collaborate on a platform helping coaches and athletes develop called Team Attack Academy.
Brad Salem hired me from the HS ranks in 2007 to coach WR at Augustana University (SD) as a GA. I would be making $526 a month, but I leapt at the chance to learn more football. I needed to learn how to watch film, how to recruit, how to better manage a position group, and how to be a professional. Coach Salem, Coach Mike Aldrich, and Coach Steve Olinger were tremendous coaches to learn these skills from. I became much more well-versed on defenses and run game. I learned how to sell and develop a program. In the spring, I was able to move to Tight Ends to learn more of the run game. Coach Aldrich, I felt, was the ultimate Ball Coach. He played OL in college, and he was an undersized, nasty player. He was the Defensive Coordinator, but he always took time out of his busy schedule to answer questions and teach me defensive football. He was also the DC for the Sioux Falls Storm, an indoor football team with several championships. Kids and men loved playing for him. His confidence and belief in his system and players was contagious. He has been a successful head coach now for several years, both at Augustana and Minot State. I definitely wanted to have that kind of impact on young men like Coach Aldrich and Coach Salem had on our athletes at Augustana.
After a couple years back home in Pierre developing a successful strength program and business from scratch, my coaching education was about to enter Hyperdrive: Coach Mulls had helped me land a job coaching at Jenks High School, which would end up being the smartest football move I ever made.
Dub Maddox accelerated my Ball Coach education probably more than anyone. Here was a guy I could sit with in the Lab, talk football 24 hours a day since he was nice enough to let me live in his guest bedroom for a season, and challenge me to find out ways we could coach and teach things SIMPLY and with MORE UNDERSTANDING for our players. It was phenomenal. The perfect set up for a football coach. I am forever grateful to Dub for giving me that opportunity and for helping me learn more football than I thought possible the 3 seasons we worked together. Practice planning, game planning, offensive precision, staff management, film breakdown, mechanics and footwork, play diagrams, teaching progressions, common language…the list was endless. He also trusted me enough to let me coach Tight Ends in 2010, Running Backs in 2012, and Offensive Line in 2013. We ended up winning 2 state titles (2012-2013) and 1 runner up in 2010, where we set numerous scoring records but came up just short in the finals. His offenses have broke just about every record there is to break at Jenks and in Oklahoma 6A football. Quite simply, he is the best OC I have ever worked for. Period. A BALL COACH.
Since Dub believed in me enough to give me a job, I was also able to meet 4 other men whom I consider some of the best to ever coach the game of football. TRUE BALL COACHES.
Allan Trimble is the head coach at Jenks High School. He is the epitome of BALL COACH. He could coach any position in any sport. I have never met a better man in my life. His approach to program development has been emulated and will be emulated for many years to come. He develops a standard for coaches and players, and he holds you to that standard. Coach Trim is dedicated to his Faith and church, and he walks the walk. The man has had a tremendous impact on my coaching philosophy as well as the way I live my life. The list of things he has done for me can fill many blog articles, so I will leave it at that. His current battle with ALS is as inspiring as it is saddening. His greatest impact: THE ULTIMATE IN PAYING IT FORWARD AND BEING A MENTOR TO OTHER PEOPLE.
Please donate to his cause if you are still reading this: Trimble Strong
David Alexander is another Ball Coach I was able to meet at Jenks. He was the OL coach, and he was probably wondering who is this young coach Dub and Trim are bringing in to coach Tight Ends in 2010. We formed a lasting friendship, and he has ended up being one of my best friends and mentors in the game of football. He played OL in the NFL for 10 seasons, he was HC for the Tulsa Talons, and now he is the current HC for Broken Arrow (OK). I have learned a ton from this man. He also knew I needed to learn more about OL play in order to be the coach I wanted to be. I appreciated his willingness to teach, and his willingness to help me get a job at Tulsa to learn this final piece of the puzzle.
Bill Blankenship hired me to be an OL assistant in 2011 under Denver Johnson. Again, not many people have worked for 2 coaches that define high school football in a state like Oklahoma like Bill Blankenship and Allan Trimble. They have won 18 state titles, the most recent coming this season for Blankenship at his new school Owasso. Blankenship is the son of a coach. He knows football inside and out. He has impeccable character. And he was awesome to work for. He allowed me to learn a ton of football. I bet I broke down close to 200 games, watched over 3000 possible athletes, and had a seat in the room for the best OL coach in America, Denver Johnson. What did I learn? A better question is what didn’t I learn. We had film on everyone. Air Raid, spreads, pro-style offenses, zone schemes, gap schemes, man schemes, pin-pull, power, calls and checks, technique, play action ideas, defenses, coverages, blitzes, blitz pick-up, angles and footwork, hand placement, drills…it was heaven. When I wasn’t learning OL, I was watching other films. What did Alabama do on 3rd down? How can we shut down Boise State and their pressures? What are the secrets to Texas A&M and Oklahoma tempo? Who is TCU recruiting? Oh, and we played Oklahoma, Boise State, Houston, and Oklahoma State with some of the most prolific quarterbacks and offenses in college football. An awesome environment to learning OL, football, and how to run a program. All while making $1000 a month, sleeping in the office or my car, knowing full well I could be teaching/coaching and making a comfortable living. But I needed to do it, and I did it.
In the end, I was able to go back to Jenks to win state titles, and I was able to follow Coach Alexander to Broken Arrow as Offensive Coordinator. We nearly won the school’s first state title in 2015, but we couldn’t quite beat Trimble, Maddox, and Jenks in the finals. But I was able to finally put all of these things together to make an impact on an offense, manage coaches (several of which went on to get better jobs), and make a positive impact on kids (dozens went to college to play and improve their life). I still remain in contact with many today, and several of them want to become coaches. PAYING IT FORWARD.
It continues today. BALL COACH DEVELOPMENT. I’m developing myself, and I’m trying to develop other coaches and players to reach their own goals. I now have a circle of BALL COACHES I can depend and lean on. Guys like Jordan Johnson (Jenks), Bobby Klinck (Owasso), Jason Semore (Montana) and the GA Crew from Tulsa, Rowdy Harper (Broken Arrow), Tanner Antle (Flower Mound Marcus), Nick Bunting (Holland Hall), Rick Nelson and Nick Nelson and others from Ankeny High School were I currently work. The list continues to grow.
And I hope I can help some of you become better BALL COACHES. Not gurus. Not “neat guys”. But guys that want to learn the entire game of football. Guys that want to pay it forward and help other people. And guys that love what they do as much as I do.
Dad, I hope I have made you proud. Your son…BALL COACH IN PROGRESS.