In 2003, I took over the reigns of the football program at Southwest Texas State University and what happened in that year changed the course of my coaching career. In that one year, a balance was non-existent as I was obsessed with turning around the fortunes of this I-AA program in San Marcos, Texas. I used an approach that we had implemented at Texas Tech, and I had learned from my mentor Bill Snyder at Kansas State. I hired an excellent coaching staff (Below clockwise: Myself, Frank Hernandez – WR’s, Ron Roberts – DC, D.J. Eliot – LB’s, Chris Stacey – FBO, Louie Matsakis – STC, Darrin Hicks – RB’s, Clancy Barone – OL/OC, Not in Picture: E.K. Franks – DL) and we embarked on a 5-year plan which I had documented in a 240-page manual. I was sure that this method would put us at the top of the Southland Conference. That year was a blur.
Balance, A Failed Attempt …
This master plan was very aggressive in part because I believed that the University was considering a move up to the I-A level. The underlying drive of the scheme was laid out in the concept of “Fill the Stadium,” and everything we did was aligned with the mission to fill our stadium.
We felt that to accomplish this we would work internally and externally to fulfill our mission.
Inside the program, our staff created an approach to improve our players with peak performance mental state training. We also hired a top strength coach Nick Kyros (Nick had worked at Alabama in Track & Field and Football for the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant) to develop our player’s physical bodies and athleticism on the field. Then our entire coaching and support staff was trained in the Egoscue Method, which is a physical therapy designed to align player’s bodies for the rigors of football.
We made progress as our team gained confidence, ran faster and became better football players. The Egoscue Method reduced our injury rate with a proactive approach to the game.
Externally, we started with a re-branding of the football program. I was enlisted to help in changing the name of the University to Texas State University, and this before the season. We also aided in the creation the new Bobcat logo with a Texas State student, which is still used today.
Our public relations strategy involved promoting the program statewide and in our community. Our coaches would regularly go out on campus and support the vision of Texas State Football. Student participation was paramount, so we created a unique weekly television show that was a football version of the Tonight Show.
This was fun, but it was also labor intensive for our coaching staff.
Season Tickets were vital to filling the stadium, and I created a marketing group of 100 students that would help to promote the upcoming season. Together, we had put together a strategy to put fans in the stadium as we went into that summer.
We placed an assistant athletic director in charge of following through with that plan. I regret that to this day…
A month into the summer, I met with the assistant athletic director to check on the progress of the season ticket program. Much to my surprise, I realized that there had been no progress toward season tickets, and we were approaching the season. What I did next, I am not proud of …. (more…)