Manny Matsakis

Episode 12: Dale Carlson (Program Creator)

Interview with Dale Carlson

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Dale Carlson spoke with Manny at the 2020 AFCA Convention in Nashville about his career in college football. The former Head Coach at Tri-State (now Trine University), Ohio Dominican, and Valparaiso, Dale discusses what it’s like starting programs from scratch and also walking into some different situations. This interview is a great listen for anyone wanting to know more about what goes into creating a successful program, and how to avoid some mistakes along the way.

(00:00)- Intro

Manny: This is the Manny Matsakis Show with me, Manny Matsakis. Where you will gain insight on how to Win on the field and optimize your life. This is episode number 12. In this interview, done at the AFCA in Nashville, Tennessee. I speak to Dale Carlson. Dale is known for literally starting college football programs from scratch. Now, I hope you heard me right there. He literally will start them from scratch. And what's amazing about Dale as we get into this is that he started the program at Tri-city which is now trying one of the top division three programs in the country. And that's in Angola, Indiana and then outside of Columbus, Ohio, he started the program at Ohio Dominican, which is a Premier Division Two program. So he has done a fantastic job. Just starting football programs and building them up to a capacity where you know it's amazing because before he got there, there was no program. There's so much to learn from him. His expertise on how he was able to create something out of thin air is truly magical. Dale is also known as an expert in the Air Raid offense and his programs have been historically, very prolific, I mean I'm talking like lights out if you start to look at some of the offensive production they had when he was in Ohio Dominican it's amazing that he was able to do what he did great players but understand. He was the leader of all that. So I would like for you to, as I did enjoy this episode, as we both get a chance to learn from a true master in this profession.

Manny: Welcome Dale How's it going?

(01:57)- Dale Carlson

Dale: Hey It’s going good Manny, it's always good to see you. I'm glad we get a chance to talk a little football and have some fun going back and forth here with some q&a.

Manny: Yeah, I think, you know, the one thing is I, when I was introducing you. And it's just very interesting, I don't know another guy in this coaching profession that has started two programs from scratch. And, I think it's and I know some guys that have started programs, you know I mean I'm Jim Leavitt did it at South Florida which is a great program there and then Bill Curry did it at Georgia State and you know you've got guys at likeOld Dominion and, there's all they're popping up all over the place at variety different levels from the NAIA, all the way to Division 1.

Dale: Sure, sure.

Manny: And, you know, I just thought having known you for all these years. I think we had first met when you were at Ohio Dominican

Dale: Right, right. Yeah.

Manny: and I was in Columbus yeah I played football at Capital University in Columbus, I think I just stopped by one time and said I gotta meet this guy, you know, because you really had it going there. And it was interesting and at the time, I didn't realize you had already done it a Trine prior to that.

Dale: Sure.

Manny: So, you know, you look at that, what I mean, What possesses you to go into a situation, literally, and become an architect of something that doesn't exist, and bring it into existence because it's fascinating to me that these programs that you have literally created are fantastic football programs today.

Dale: Yeah, you know I became a head coach for the first time in ‘89 and that was kind of right around the time that teams or schools were starting to figure out that hey if we added a football program, we might be able to add 80, 90, 100, or 110 males to our student body. So schools were starting to do that and fast forward a few years. I'm at Taylor University in Indiana and Malone College in Ohio starts football.

Manny: Okay.

(04:06)- Tri State University

Dale: I became good friends with Joe Palmisano. I don't know if you know Joe But Joe started the program there. And when Tri- State, now Trine University in Indiana was called tri state back then. When that opportunity became available I thought you know, this could be fun and it might be something, put your stamp on it and I talked to Joe about what it was like to be the first coach and to do that and so lo and behold they hired me to do it. And I think it was seeing the success that Joe had had, we'd actually played him in his first year at Malone, when I was at Taylor, so I had kind of seen you know what a first year team look like we were, we beat them, although it was a lot closer than you would have thought it maybe should have been. But, so I saw you know the excitement that they had. Joe talked about how it really helped revitalize a campus and was doing some real positive things so I took the opportunity and tri state and, you know, really. Besides Joe's blueprint which was shared with me. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, absolutely nothing. It was nothing. Nothing, you know it's just like okay we're gonna go and start a program and you want me to recruit you know 80 students and student athletes and we're gonna go play and in what was arguably the best NAIA Football Conference in the country at that time “The Mid States Football Association” and so I said let's go in and do that and I remember I told the president when I interviewed with them I said so what your goals for this thing and I said well, by the time we get our first senior class and we want to win a conference championship and compete for the national championship. And he hired me despite the fact that I said that. Because He thought I was nuts, they were just happy if I could get some students. Well, the interesting thing is they set a goal they wanted me to have. I think 80/85, I think for the first year. And so I said well, I said if I get this many can you increase the budget. They said, well yeah. Because we're pretty much based on how many students you had. So we had 100 and I think 30 players show up for camp the first day in what year was that? 2004. and you know I did have 130 football players but we had some pretty good kids who were in the mix and, and it was the NAIA back then so we didn't have a lot of rules in terms of practice dates and those sorts of things.

Manny: Oh okay.

Dale: So I convinced them, we didn't play the first weekend you could play our first game was the second weekend. And so I convinced them, I mean it was like an old pro training camp I think we had the kids there for five weeks or four, or something.

Manny: Oh geez!

Dale: And so, we had two scrimmages set up and so lo and behold we go play my former team, Taylor University, and we beat them in the first game.

Manny: What?!

Dale: we beat them.

Manny: Do you still have the game ball?

Dale: Someplace probably. We might have the videotape but we beat them I mean, it was one of those things you know we call to fake punts we had the lead with, you know, two and a half minutes to go on a first down and I threw a bootleg pass so we completed kind of ice the victory. things that I don't know maybe you don't do if you're down the road a little bit but so we won that first game, we scheduled kind of a limited schedule that year because I didn't want to do when I go in and just pound and beat the kids up and so we ended up we finished 2-5 that year. We got blown out a couple of times by the good teams, but we played pretty competitively and I think that set the stage for us as we went forward with TriState yeah

Manny: so as you as you got that going and you were getting support from the administration. It's interesting, I have not been up to try and it's not far from where I'm at right now in defiance, Ohio but it, I hear it's fantastic. I mean, you probably wouldn't recognize it. The players back then if they went back on campus today

Dale: no no I mean it was, I mean, the first time I drove down, you have to kind of picture this, it's in a residential area in Angola, Indiana but if you come in on highway 20, and you turn to make a right, you go down this little hill and this is where the campus shows up and they have their own golf course so there's this 18 hole golf course right side and the tennis courts and then I look over to the left and there's whole busted windows in this dormitory and I'm like, Oh my god, what are we getting into. but I think they knew that that that I having a football program and hopefully having a successful one that that would do a lot, not just for student enrollment, but kind of get people more involved and get, you know, donations thing going so yeah as I went through the things are there now we didn't have.

Manny: Of course

Dale: but we were still able to, you know, sell a dream of Hey, come in. Be the first build something How often do you get to build something from scratch and yes if you stay. This is what we intend to do and the kids bought into it.

Manny: sure

Dale: now is interesting after the first year we had attrition which you're going to have and we had a lot of them needed to go. A lot of them were great players. I'll never forget we were out practicing our spring practice. And we had 46 or 47 players left. And of course the administration is looking at the checkbook and thinking about this group so don't worry. I said we're going to get it. So we came back with another 125 or whatever and of course, the attrition started to slow down. You know we and we built it but I know there's a lot of gas on campus and I think sometimes when when schools do this and I've heard this from other coaches that they just don't understand that you're gonna have attrition in the first year because one of the things you're saying to just come and play, you have kids come play for four years well they can’t all play for four years now. They figure it out and so you have some of this with you gradually kind of build that over a period of time.

Manny: So, as you did that. Obviously you built the program, what was the highest roster size you had at Tri State?

Dale: the highest ended up after the ‘98 season. our fourth year when we actually played in the national semifinals. And that really you know helped us and we ended up with like I think 145 or something, but we didn't have the infrastructure to handle that. It was too many for us at the time.

Manny: How many assistant coaches Did have?

Dale: you see, we weren't we weren't really, that well funded I mean we had a couple part time guys and I think we had, you know, four that were, besides myself that were, you know, full time interns whatever. so it wasn't it wasn't but we won in spite of that, in spite of those numbers and so that was a. I think a testament to those coaches and to those kids that they were able to, you know, still step up, perform take the coaching we gave them and play at a high level, which we did you know as we continue to go through the program.

Manny: Yeah, to get that far in the playoffs with a fledgling team.

Dale: It was, it was something and here's the interesting thing. So we went 2-5 the first year, we went 4-6 the second year, but we still played, you know like, Findlay and Westminster and we just got blown out, you know, Malone was really good at that time, he had really built a playoff caliber program, Geneva, Pennsylvania was there. We just, we just weren't there. Then come the next year. And now we've got juniors, and we go 4-6 again but we lose to Geneva colleges in class and over time, we lose Westminster who's in the playoffs by seven, we lose to Findlay by 70 I knew we had something going. And then the next year just, it took off you know in year four, and the kids just believed in themselves and we were able to get in there but, again, interestingly enough, we were 9-0, and we lost the next week, week ten. And then we came back and I think our kids were just a little tight and just you know they knew, we win then we get the conference and we’re in the playoffs. And then the next week I was a little tight. We got beat again and so I think we were like ended up being 15th and the poll, just got in, but we were able to, you know, take that all the way the national semis.

Manny: Now, how big was the enrollment of the college? I mean you had 145 students. how many total students that they have back then, can you recall?

Dale: They had 1200 maybe.

Manny: Okay

Dale: so it was an important part of the, you know, the dollars that were coming into the campus, and you know back then the scholarship rules were there were still two NAIA divisions and. And so, you know, we had more of 12 equivalencies maybe you know? some academic aid on top of that, but we had some caps I mean it was kind of an interesting deal that we've worked with that, you know, we, again, that we were able to find the right kids to make it work. One of the things I think really helped us is TriState had an engineering school. And so, that fourth year if you looked across three of our starting offensive linemen were engineering majors. All American for safety was an engineering major I mean so we were able to capitalize on a program academically that so many other schools couldn’t and we got some kids maybe we shouldn't have had but they wanted to get an engineering degree.

Manny: Okay, so you sold the academics.

Dale: Oh absolutely.

Manny: So, when did you-? When was your last season there?

Dale: last seasonthere was 2002, so I coached there for eight eight seasons.

Manny: Okay. Right.

Dale: And we just, we had been in the playoffs no one. And we just missed them we missed well I mean we missed them at night you know we just were right there but we got back in no one won the conference championship just missed them enough to finish in second place. So we had this sustained success.

Manny: That whole time wee you NAIA?

Dale: Yes,

Manny: okay, because now they’re division three.

Dale: Right and they were starting a Division Three process there in fact the last year, going into the 2002 season was the first year we didn’t a scholarship aid and that's that was hurting us. We didn't quite, and I think you know this to some extent Division Three, you’re not selling financial aid, you are but you're not, but you got to sell facilities, you gotta have those sorts of things and we just didn't have them now they have them now. Yeah, we did have them then. And so, you know, and of course we had so much success in the NAIA that all high school coaches were recruited in Michigan, Western Ohio, and Indiana. And they were like, Why are you doing this? you know why it is so it

Manny: So, what was the reason? why’d they choose to do that?

Dale: Well, interestingly enough, we had a in Susy Institute the 2000/2001 academic year. We got invited to the GLIAC, which would have been a heck of a step.

Manny: Yeah.

Dale: But again, the idea that we were going to fund it, scholarships because, because I think what it came down to, you know, the kids that we got and we got a lot of really good players we saw the academic piece to sell with it with the Engineering and Business School, but kids were willing to come because we could give them scholarships.

Manny: Sure.

Dale: Now I know I fortunately I had coached in the GLIAC, I knew what that was all about but I still felt like that was a better choice at the time than Division Three just because of the facility things which we didn't have so we could still get people. And, but Division II put a moratorium on new membership at that time because they were growing so fast, and we had a new president and he wanted nothing to do with Division II. And so we decided we were gonna go Division III. I don’t wanna say that was the reason I left but there were some, some things that were just happening with it that I just didn't agree with so

Manny: Hey, you had eight good years.

(15:40)- Ohio Dominican Football

Dale: Yeah, eight good years, and then Lo and behold, Ohio Dominican sared football.

Manny: Yeah, so how did you hear about that or what how'd you get into that in the first place?

Dale: Well, it’s an interesting story. I heard that they were gonna to start football, somebody's high school coach in Columbus or someplace where one of our kids was from those good early years,and told me they were looking to start football. I did some searches and actually found a Columbus Dispatch article, the new President came in and wanted to start football. Well, at the end of the 2000/2001 academic year there was a school out in Iowa that Started football. Briarcliff college. And so I applied for it because it was athletic director and head football coach I thought, well, you know, being the AD and the head football coach may not be such a bad deal. I don't know if that's at Cedar Falls? But it’s way out on the western side.

Manny: Yeah I’ve heard of it.

Dale: Well I went out there and was like, there’s no way I’m moving out here so we’re just not gonna do this. But the President, at that time, they offered me the job, but that president was the one going to Ohio Dominican. so I thought well, he offered me a job. Hopefully I can hold any grudges with that. So I applied, they called me up, I went down, I interviewed and he looked at me. I walked into his office and he goes, “I know you from some place.” He offered me the job regardless but he said you turned us down, why’d you do that? I said, well my family really didn’t want to move out there. Because my wife didn’t want to move and that’s whywe’re in Columbus. I think that once that relationship had been reestablished again,that, you know, I think he felt comfortable that I was going to do it. I mean I had a track record, I’d already done it once. We were in the same area so we were gonna be in the same league.

Manny: Okay.

Dale: You know, it was the mid states again so we were gonna be in the same league and I think they felt pretty comfortable that I could do it again.

Manny: So you get the second shot to start a brand new program and what did you learn from the first time that you did not repeat the second time?

Dale: I think we did a better job of vetting the kids. Not that we weren’t excited to have as many numbers as we could get because again, it's a tuition driven school. So, you know, the more revenue that they got, the easier it's going to be for me to do some things but and not that we had, you know, again, 150 some kids that year because it was Columbus I mean there's some things, some things that kids were gonna get drawn to. Not that we had the best upstanding citizens at that point but I think we limited. That was the thing I learned, is you can’t just take a kid just to take a kid. Don’t take a kid to make them happy. We still had a few that maybe we could debate whether we should or shouldn't have, which I think is always going to happen in a startup situation like that. But we were able to, I think, build a stronger base earlier, because we really focused a little bit more on the character side of who we were recruiting and not just trying to recruit a number to come.

Manny: That’s important, I mean the culture you’re gonna set is based off the kids you’re gonna bring in.

Dale: Absolutely!

Manny: So you get there, and you feel I mean, you did a really good job there. I mean by all estimations. I mean, I know offensively you're prolific, in many ways as you got the program going at Ohio Dominican. You had a great quarterback.

(19:05)- Chris Reisser

Dale: Yeah, we did. Chris Reiser, who is actually the head coach at Tiffin University, you know, came in year two, and it was an interesting, kind of mirrored what happened at tri state, our quarterback that led us to those to the national playoffs and all those things actually came in year two as well. And again, I think, Bolten, and Nick Welman was his name at Tri State. He was from Portidge, an Indiana high school. very good program. As a junior, led the team to the, to the big school state championship game. They lost in Indiana and had a lot of success, Nick was again one of those borderline FCS, DII kids, but they dropped him at the end there and he signed with us and when he signed, all of a sudden. At that time, Indianapolis has actually become the best recruiting site in Indiana now. But at that time, Northwest Indiana by Chicago was by far the best high school football state, the region. And all of a sudden, that became like dominoes we got so many key players in that second year class because I think Welman’s coming, I mean he was Mr football in Indiana that year.

Manny: Oh wow!

Dale: They said, oh he’s coming, then I want to come. I want to come play with him. Well, The same thing happened. We got Chris to commit, Chris went to Moeller and then next thing you know, a player that ended up being our starting center from Xavier came. We got another kid from Moeller who was a kind of fullback H-Back type player for him but because in the NAIA we can try him out. He could catch the football and I’m like this kid’s our tight end, so he could’ve walked down at Cinncinatti, a preferred walk on at Cincinatti, Ohio State. He’d say Chris is coming, I’m coming. You know, and then he became a tremendous tight end player for us. So a lot of those dominoes started to fall again because Chris came in and, you know, as we started to progress forward you know Chris obviously established himself as a dynamite player, and was honestly the best quarterback I’ve ever coached.

Manny: No, yeah the stats bear it out for sure.

Dale: Yeah, amazing.

Manny: Yeah. So, you got it really going there, I mean you were making a great run in the NAIA again, you know, so it's like you're repeating it but you’d learned from the first experience which, which is key and anybody taking multiple head coaching jobs but these are so similar in what you are creating

Dale: Right, right.

Manny: and very unique that no matter what you would have learned from Malone and their blueprint. Now you actually had, you know, your feet on the ground. I mean, you had a really-

Dale: I did, I had a really good feel of what we need to do, how we needed to get there. And again, it still was the same message. You come here. You know, before you leave, you're going to be a champion, we're going to compete for a national championship.

Manny: That’s right.

Dale: and I really believe, and I think this is key in almost any coaching situation. It's easier to do when you're starting a program because there is no history.

Manny: Yes.

Dale: But if you can, if you can project an image of confidence and belief and this is where we're going to go, and then work to build the kids to to buy into that and to believe that I think that's how you do take those next steps I think that’s how you do take a program and get it to where it needs to be.

Manny: Mmhmm, no question Dale because I've often felt that, you know, and you can let me know if you agree with this or not but it's like, it's harder to take a moribund football program like a K-state when Snyder got there, and turn that around

Dale: absolutely

Manny: Than just starting one from scratch,

Dale: Oh no doubt! No doubt.

Manny: Right, because you stepped into something after you left Ohio Dominican.

Dale: Right, right.

Manny: I don’t mean to put it figuratively stepped into it but it

Dale: Well I did step into it.

Manny: Again, I’m thinking likewhy, when you took the job of Valpo. And I’m like, I know him and is he sure he wants to do that? Because I thought it was a worse job even though the level was FCS and it’s non-scholarship and all that

Dale: I’m candid you wanted me to be here.

Manny: Well I just think for us, there's coaches out there, there’s ADs that are subscribed to this and it doesn't matter. I mean, I think we're trying to help coaches, share, learn through our success and mistakes,

Dale: Absolutely

(23:15)- Valpo University

Manny: You know, because I'm like, look Dale. I'll be honest, when you took that I'm like, is he out of his mind? Because I just couldn't see how that could happen because I knew what you were competing against-

Dale: sure

Manny: in that league, I mean San Diego's a different animal.

Dale: Yeah.

Manny: You know, and Dayton's different. I mean you're dealing with something and you weren't playing with the same rules as everybody else.

Dale: yeah and you know and there was, you know, there's obviously, there's a lot of reasons and I don't want things to be negative but as you know with Ohio Dominican decided to go Division Two essentially in the Gliac showed up.

Manny: Exactly.

Dale: And they invited us and we sat down and we had some really frank discussions, the athletic director. We had an interim president at that time so he was pretty much not going to be involved in those discussions, but the VP that we reported to, the AD and really myself, because I was the only one with any Division II experience. And we talked a lot about what that meant, how to do it, what the blueprint was and what I thought we needed to do. And so we kind of came up with this plan that yes that's what we're going to do. Well, unfortunately, and the interim president signed off on it, the President that was hired was gung ho.

Manny: Okay.

Dale: all about doing that and so we started to recruit those types of players and I felt really good about where we were going. So this was at the end of the seventh season, our fourth year, we had won the conference championship, we were 12-1 and got beat in the national quarterfinals NAIA, but we were starting to recruit like Division II teams we're getting kids and we weren't getting.

Manny: Yeah.

Dale: because they saw, you know, the few things that we might have lacked, but they saw the opportunity again. And we sold that, let's be first, let's build this thing, we were kinda in the hole because we started from scratch again

Manny: But you already had a culture.

Dale: We had a culture too-

Manny: Championship culture.

Dale: and they knew we were winning. So we're able to do that and then the new president was on board and then I don't know what happened. The board fired him, he was there for eight nine months.

Manny: Oh geez.

Dale: So now we have an interim president and he’s a finance guy. So we go into the 2009 season and we're playing an independent schedule because we couldn't work it out with the old leagues so we are going to go in 2010 with the Gliac. And so, the good part about that was I scheduled seven Division II teams. Now, they weren’t with Gliac, we scheduled some decent teams.

Manny: Sure.

Dale: Some teams that had been in the playoffs. We go 6-1. Like, so now the kids have an idea. This is who we’re going to have to play, it's going to get tougher but you have an idea what's gonna be about. I get called in after the season. The athletic director and Bill Blazier, who's the AD at Ohio Dominican was absolutely one of the best athletic directors I've ever worked with. I can tell, he's kind of sitting there and he's kind of fudgeting in his chair. He goes, I got some bad news for you. I said what? And he says they're cutting this stuff we agreed upon. They said we've spent too much money in financial aid and we’re cutting that, and so I had some serious discussions with them and you know I just thought I needed to, you know, if we weren’t going to do this the right way we can echo play in Grand Valley and Saginaw Valley and Ferris State and Ashland, if we're not going to do this the right way. So, ironically, of course you know how this business works right, I leave. Bill Connelly comes in and they give Bill pretty much everything I wanted. You know, that so you know. Now, the Valpo thing. I, you know, part of it is I'm from Chicago, so it was a chance to get close to home. I really thought they wanted to win. one of my offensive line coaches at that time was just there for that 2009 season at ODU but he had worked for me at tri state. He was a Valpo alum, he said you know I think they're behind it, they want to get it done and Homer Drew who was the basketball coach there for all those years, I had a real frank conversation with Homer about the new president, about where we were going to go. And I thought, these guys are serious. I think we can do this. And, you know, again, it just didn't follow through.

Manny: No, it didn’t Follow through at all.

Dale: in anything. Anything we talked about

Manny: I mean let’s think about this, I mean it's like in this profession, it's very interesting to me because guys. I mean you're a really good football coach and it's like you proved it over and over again. And then you get into a situation where you would think like okay well maybe he's gonna turn it around but sometimes guys will take these jobs, and they didn't didn't give you what they said, or it was wishy washy, there was something to that process and you get there, and you can't leave. I mean you're locked in. Because once you get somewhere. And even though you, you know it’s a turn around. I mean you knew it was gonna be a turn around?

Dale: Absolutely.

Manny: And you get there and it's like, oh my goodness, every time you turn the corner, it's like you find more problems.

Dale: Right.

Manny: and you see the inequity of what you're dealing with in your conference.

Dale: Right.

Manny: And, and then you realize like, I gotta find a way, or it's over.

Dale: Right and you know, actually we started to find that way and this is the interesting thing and I've said this to people and I don't mean this to be, you know, an excuse thing but, so I had a five year contract which I made sure because I knew this was going to take some time. And at the end of the first, I don't think anybody there realized how bad it really was.

Manny: Mmhmm.

Dale: At the end of the first year, you know, I went through the first spring. We had a dozen guys arrested, we had a hazing incident in a dorm, we lost a fraternity. We lost two really good promising freshman football players because of that. So I got to the end of the first season and I just told the athletic director Chris, we're remaking the roster. We are going to remake a roster, it's going to put us in some APR Jeopardy because your retention is going to be... Are you good with that, yeah if that's what you need to do, we'll suck it up, and we'll do it. And so we started that process, and you know it took us again, a couple of years to build it so I was into my fourth year. And so now we were playing more competitively. We had freshmen of the year in the conference, who was a finalist for the Jerry Rice award, FCS freshman of the year, we had kids like that. And you know what happens in week two, he gets hurt, best offensive lineman gets hurt, our best coverage kid gets hurt. A couple weeks down the road, kids end up on pace for thousand yards receiving, he gets hurt, a couple more weeks down the road the other kid we had on the pace for 1000 yards receiving gets hurt, you know we got no offense left you know, and just, you know, it's just one of those things if we had you know, if we would have been able to not have those injuries and you could say yeah those are excuses. Well, that's just, that's what happens to coaches a lot. You Just get some bad luck and I got some bad luck. That’s just the way it played out.

Manny: It’s tough at that level because you don't have the depth you have, even at the division III of your two schools, because you can get bigger numbers right you know there's some limitations and they don't have at least my understanding is that like you're not going to have a 150 man roster

Dale: yeah No you're not, you know, there's some things you have to do that, cause you to do some other things that have to do with the way the division I, FCS rules are set up if you're not on scholarships so you’re at a disadvantage to have that many kids, even though a couple of schools did, but it's not. You want to be at 115, 120.

Manny: Sure

Dale: That’s where you want to be.

Manny: Yeah. So, everything goes down at Valpo.

Dale: The way it goes.

Manny: Yeah, right. And then what?

(31:00)- Northpark/Lindenwood

Dale: Well so you know, of course, I had another year left on my contract which I made sure that that was fully guaranteed before I signed it. So I went to North Park in Chicago. They were running an Air Raid style offense, which of course, was my background and I was just trying it. The head coach was a good friend. I'm just trying to help. Help him and a young offensive coordinator kind of, find a way through what that was all about. And so I went over there and I, and I helped them and in the meantime you know I interviewed for some jobs but you know the Valpo thing, it had hurt, obviously, and so nothing kind of came of it and so did the thing in North Park, helped those guys out and you know, didn't see a whole lot of improvement record wise, but the kids were playing better. There's some good things happening and actually had some more interviews that year and nothing popped and then a school down in the St. Louis area, Lindenwood University. Who is in St. Charles Missouri in the St Louis suburbs. They had opened a campus on the Illinois side, and also had an NAIA football program, the one in St Charles was Division Two and then the other campus was NAIA. I don't know what happened with the head coach there, they got rid of him and moved him on after you know, June 30. So I come in two weeks before the start of camp. And, you know, I couldn't really do anything with the assistant coaches and had to keep all them and you know I was trying to decide and part of the thing was that the defensive coordinator was a good friend of mine so I felt like we were going to be okay there. Offensively I was concerned because I didn't think they had an identity and in fact the best player who was the running back, said to me after I had an initial meeting with the team leaders. A couple weeks again, before camp started. He asked, what are we going to do offensively? I said I'm not so sure you know it's two weeks before, you guys went through a whole spring of an offensive coordinator. He goes coach, we have no offensive identity. Do what you think we need to do, like, you're gonna you're gonna stand behind me? I said so you know what my background is, he said, I think you're going to try and do the best thing you can to help us put the best product on the field. I said well one thing you need to understand about me is, you know, that I’ve had quarterbacks throw for all those yards we did all that stuff. But you're our best player. So we're gonna make sure that

You get the ball.

Manny: Yeah, absolutely.

Dale: So he ended up being a 1000 yard rusher and so we had the best year they had ever had. It was only their fourth year of football. We had the best year they'd ever had, we still set all sorts of records throwing the ball and doing those things and, you know, I thought we were, you know in a pretty good spot. President. New president decides he wants a full time athletic director so the one that hired me is now just the basketball coach, bringing in a new AD and it was evident from the day he wanted to hire one of his buddies which is what he did.

Manny: Okay. And they don’t even play football anymore.

Dale: Well the campus is going to close.

Manny: Yeah.

Dale: They dropped football. The campus is going to close at the end of this academic year, you know.

Manny: Which is another thing, at least at the college level. There's so many small colleges out there that are on life support.

Dale: Yes.

Manny: and you just happen to be at one that was in that situation.

Dale: In the situation that was there.

Manny: Yeah, and that makes it tough, you know, I mean, shifting gears a little bit you know you're, you're talking about the air raid, you know, and I mean obviously our relationship, you know, work for Leach and for Mike and I know Hal pretty well and all that. Holgerson I mean I said it's like oh my gosh, all these Air Raid guys. That's not my background, it just happened to be the big guys that I associated with. How did you get into it?

Dale: Well you know I was a Run & Shoot coach.

Manny: Aha a man after my own interests.

Dale: a lot of people always think of Mouse Davis, June Jones.

Manny: Sure.

(34:38)- Master Red Faught

Dale: But there was a coach in Central Indiana at Franklin College, his name was Red Faught.

Manny: A legend.

Dale: and Red took Mouse Davis's book in like 1960 and went from the Wing T at Franklin to the Run & Shoot and, kind of, Mouse was running Tiger Ellison's book. Not Mouse I'm sorry, Tiger Ellison’s stuff. And, you know, kind of just evolved it and kind of put some things in that he came up with and lo and behold, you come to the mid 80s and you know he puts three straight quarterbacks into NFL teams. Now, none of them were starters, but there were backups, 700 student Franklin College, and so I go down there, I get hired as the offensive line coach

Manny: Were you around Mike Leonard at the time?

Dale: Oh, I got to know Mike. Yeah, very well later. When I was in Taylor

Manny: Great coach.

Dale: Mike's a great coach and good friend. In fact, Mike was running Red’s stuff at Hanover college when he was the offensive coordinator.

Manny: Oh yeah, I know.

Dale: So I go down there and you know funny story, because this is 1984, no internet, and I'm just a young guy and I think I get all the answers anyways you know I think I'm smarter than I am.

Manny: Sure, we all do.

Dale: I walked in and Red was probably 62 or 63 at that time and he's sitting there with a big, you know with the thick coke glasses and all that stuff. The reading glasses and I'm thinking man this is gonna be three yards in a cloud of dust. And so he says to Terry Hapner, who was the defensive coordinator at that time.

Manny: Oh I didn’t know he was.

Dale: Terry was a Franklin grad.

Manny: Oh okay.

Dale: Terry had been a high school coach in Indiana and then came back to Franklin, so he says, Terry, he says show Dale some film. So we go in. Of course, dummy me. I should have known what he was doing because we played Wheaton College, that season before when I was in Elmhurst college as the offensive line coach, Jared Bishop the coach there was a Franklin grad, he's running the Run & Shoot. Didn't even put two and two together now. So I'm watching the ball all over the place so that's how I got into Air Raid, so I got my first head coaching job. I was running the Run & Shoot, and I ran that, and my third year at Lakeland College in Wisconsin was Hal’s first year at Iowa Wesleyan with Hal and Mike.

Manny: Oh.

Dale: So, I coached against them, and I knew, I remember an assistant coach/ defensive coordinator saying I see this is kind of an odd Run & Shoot thing and I'm looking at it and thought this isn’t Run & Shoot. So I don't know what it is. I've never seen some stuff like this but it's not Run & Shoot. And the closest thing I could come and maybe you know this was what Darrell Mudra was doing at Northern Iowa with the split backs and the big splits. It was kinda something like that but it wasn't. So anyways, I just, Hal and I kind of became coach friendly you know and I followed them through the years and started to incorporate some of those things. When I went to Ohio Dominican, at that time, the AD at southeastern Louisiana where Hal was at, where he was starting that program, they just played their first year. The AD there was a good friend, we'd coached together at Elmhurst College in Illinois and at Grand Valley State and then he went on the ADs route.

Manny: Okay.

Dale: and then I said Hey Frank I'm going to come down and I'm going to talk to Hal and so we go down there and I mean I get the whole thing, I was there for four days. I got the whole thing hook line and sinker and said this is what we're doing at Ohio Dominican. This is the route that we're going to go so mesh, we were already running shallows we're running wide cross mesh and we will put the whole thing in and watch Hal and, still had a few of those Run & Shoot concepts you know? Still going in there I didn't, I still had had some of those things going as well.

Manny: Okay.

Dale: You know 90 go, certainly in the way you run Verts. The switch and you know some of those things and some more things that June did later on in Hawaii. We put in choice with the levels, you know, good stuff.

Manny: Sure, yeah.

Dale: Well, so we kind of meshed a little bit of those things together but the to go to play was still mesh.

Manny: Oh yeah!

Dale: You know, and that was what we did and so yeah it was fun doing it. It was fun running that stuff and we had a lot of success with it,

Manny: Oh, tons. Yeah without question, you know, today you know you're in St. Louis

Dale: Yes.

Manny: right, yes. So, what has been your role out there?

Dale: You know, again, it's a lot like what I did at Northpark. You know, not that we have a young offensive coordinator he's been there for a number of years but you know it's just being an experienced coach with, you know, another very experienced head coach, but just trying to help them, you know, find little tweaks, little things here and there to try and get over the hump. The first year, last year was the first year for Wash U to be in the CCIW college conference in Illinois and Wisconsin which is a great, great division. You know, North Central this year was our champion. They won the national championship and ran right through Mount Union and Whitewater So, very good. And I think a lot of people were wondering if Wash U was going to be able to compete in the league and what we did. We went 8-2 the first year, and 7-3 this year. So it really shows that we can compete but it's about helping train all those guys just, you know, this is what I've done, this is what I've seen, doing this for a long time, will this help you turn out, this’ll help you be there so it's been a fun role and I think you know this too, from being a head coach not being a head coach, kind of going back and forth through that sometimes some of those headaches and things kind of nice not having to worry about that.

Manny: Yeah, and a lot of guys want to be head coaches. But until you sat in that chair, you don't realize what it entails. And I think in your situation you've been so successful at different types of schools you know and, I was sort of fascinated by the startup program concept you know I think which is great and and and to be able. It's. I know it's difficult when you've been that guy in that chair and you have the you know you're in control of the direction of the program. And now you're in a, you know, an alternative subordinate role, you know a support, you know, and helping guys out. Now obviously, you know, I think he just retired you're a great football coach right?

Dale: I hate to use that word retired. I don't know where but we will figure out something, somewhere, someplace. But yeah, there's that there's that part of it. It's hard you know you do have to check your ego at the door but even the year that I did it at Northpark and I told you offensive coordinator, his name's John Berry, he’s at Georgetown now in DC. Very good coach. I said you know, John, I don't want your job. I want to help you. You know, I'm here to give you any support that I can and so we had a really good work relationship and it was the same thing with Scott Mueller, the offensive coordinator at Wash U, I said I'm here to help you. You know I'm gonna put my two cents in if you don't like it, you're not gonna hurt my feelings.

Manny: Yeah, you gotta make decisions.

Dale: Yeah, It's really your job on the line, not mine. You know, so I just want to try and help you and I think I you come in with that type of attitude. and not like you know, I did this, I coached these guys, I know this you know, you just let that go and just, here's the thing. Just have fun with the kids.

Manny: Yeah,

Dale: And you know, just as a head coach sometimes we tend to forget that. I tried not to but-

Manny: It’s hard to know them all and it's a lot easier when you're the coordinator or an assistant coach, you know, and now you're the head coach role and sometimes you’re gonna flashback for you if you got 150 guys in the team. Did You really know them all?

Dale: No, and you don't, and that's sad. It is, And I went back when I was coaching the tight ends here and we actually do put a tight end with his hand down in the ground.

Manny: Oh.

Dale: I have to teach them how to block a little bit besides all the other things we did with them and when I started out in college coaching I was an offensive line coach, and by far, that was the absolute best time I've ever had. Just as coaching and with the kids. Because you know offensive linemen are different breed anyway.

Manny: Yeah, the best.

Dale: They’re a lot of fun to be with and they’re a lot of fun to coach. And, you know, to be able to, you know, that was fun to kind of get back in, you know, let's get our hands down and let's get our hands down, let’s punch, you know let’s drive. kind of doing that and I hadn’t done it for a long time so it was fun to get back into that.

Manny: So what's next for you know?

Dale: I don't know you know we’re gonna see what happens You know, maybe wherever we, my wife and I decide to move, I'm sure there's somebody that might want to give me a chance to come in and, you know, Coach a little football. I was actually offered a new startup indoor league that I was offered a head coaching job at one of the franchises but I just was concerned about, I wasn’t that I was concerned a little bit about where they were going. And it just wasn't the right time and for where we live, to have done something like that I don't know maybe something like that it'll pop up. You know, you and I've talked about this, about Canada before. I talked to a few those guys about the XFL and, you know, we will see.

Manny: well and you know it's interesting is, you know, when I've had other guests on this podcast and we talk about the master coaches at some point you know some of these guys I'll say, you know, I had that Dan Connor on here and I don’t know if you know Dan, but Dan is the all time leading tackler at Penn State linebacker.

Dale: Oh yeah I know who that is.

Manny: The Panthers the Cowboys, the Giants.

Dale: Yes!

Manny: He was on this podcast and, you know, I'd asked him about how long do you want to coach? He’s a young guy just got done playing, you know, a few years back but you know how long you want to do this? You know because he loves coaching, and he’s a good football coach, and it was interesting, his insights were such that, you know, because I'd like to do this, like forever I really want to do this you know and I go well how do you think it works as you get older and all this you know, I'm getting 30 years away from being in the 70s, you know, and he goes, I'll tell you and, you know, and the dialogue we had was the best football coaches in the National Football League are in their 70s. You know, that's the masters, you know the Dick LeBeau’s of the world that these guys, that are just like they've seen it so many times, they know it, they've seen the way the game goes, they can almost close their eyes and know what everyone's doing you know and I really think that when a coach gets into his 60s and if he chooses to go on like Bill Snyder till 70 or so. You know, if you choose to do that and you take care of yourself. You know, which is the big if you know I mean Dick LeBeau workout out. He worked out for forever. He's in great shape. You know guys like that. And you can do that. You have an opportunity to be around young men and teach them the game, and the knowledge you're able to impart with them. I think that's the next deal. And it's not the, oh I want to hire the next Sean McVeigh.

Dale: Sure.

Manny: This hot shot young guy and I'm not saying that's bad. However, the master coaches are always guys with lots of experience, you know, and I believe after the conversations I’ve had with a few different people in the NFL and college and so forth that it's getting to the point where, what I notice is that when places want to make a change. And there's this deal that I've been like search firms have told me this. They have almost an inherent bias towards the opposite. Alright So, what happens is you bring in a young head coach. And he doesn't succeed, let's say, or he does, but let's say he doesn't. So we're gonna make a change. All right, so what they do is they bring in a mature guy, a seasoned veteran, to make a change, you know you could look at. I mean, it happens at every level.

Dale: Sure.

Manny: and I'm talking like thin guy, big guy, you know, it's like it's the rule of opposites.

Dale: sure

Manny: And it's almost like if somebody wants to come in and look, and if you just have your antenna up out there as a coach. And you say okay well this guy, They're not, they always figure like, even though he could have been a good football coach, he failed. So they want to bring in the opposite. And I think guys that, wherever you are in your journey and coaching. If you can just be attuned to that, say you know what, okay, if you want to, let's say you want to be a head coach again. Let's say that is the case, you know, my understanding from talking to all these firms and what they do is go find a place where they just fired a 30 year old.

Dale: Sure.

Manny: you know, and come in because they're looking for something different. They're looking, you know, if a guy is undisciplined, and you come in as a disciplinarian, there you've got to find those issues, and you have a much higher probability of having success and being the guy to take that job over.

Dale: Sure.

Manny: I don’t know Have you ever thought about it that way?

Dale: Yeah, I've never thought about, I've neve really looked at it you know from, you know, from that standpoint, I think, you know, the biggest thing for me is, at this point in my life, while I still want to do it, I don't want to just chase jobs just to have a job, you know that's the thing I don't want to do. Not that you know, you want to take over. You know, Mount Union just opened up now. I don't want to take over the Mount Union job. I'd love to, but I don't think that's going to happen but, you know, I mean I just, I don't want to, you know, just, if it's a place where I think they're committed. They want to be successful. They want to have a, they want to do things the right way, that's something I'd want to do if it's just a job to have a job just to go do it. And then, let's face it, I'm blessed I don't have to. So that's always a good thing too, so that's kind of where I'm at.

Manny: Yeah, well, you know, Dale thank you so much for coming on this show. That gives us an opportunity for everybody out there listening and watching this, you know, you imparted a lot of insight for coaches out there and administrators, you know, about how to build a program from scratch how the different speed bumps, people, coaches, hit so people have a better understanding about that, and it helps people win on the field but ultimately, you know, you have to win on the field and and still optimize your life, you've got to take care of yourself.

Dale: Absolutely.

Manny: Because you see the grind of the game and if you don't take care of yourself, and you're winning. In the end, you're not going to be there very long.

Dale: Absolutely

Manny: happens all the time. Just one

Dale: Just one more little side note, that was one thing that all the assistant coaches knew, that once it was whenever lunchtime was 11:15/11:30 Whatever. I'm going to work out. So, don’t schedule anything.

Manny: that's right.

Dale: Don't bring a recruit in, we're not going to do that because that is, that's my time and I wanted them to tell if we choose to do the same thing, because I knew that that was an important part that we were going to survive when you have the 15 and 16 hour days, you know, and the seven days a week for, you know, four months, you know you need to take care of yourself to do that and I think that's one thing that anybody out there listening if you're going to survive in this business, you know, take care of yourself

Manny: It is so critical and then when I come back I have a section here called our tips and reminders. And so, where we talk about how to optimize your life in a variety of different ways, maybe give some guys some insights and lessons learned from coaches and all types of things that can help you do this as long as you want to do it and do it at the highest level you can do it. But, once again, Dale Thank you so much.

Dale: You’re welcome Manny thanks for having me out. I appreciate it!

Manny: We'll be right back with tips and reminders.

(50:30)- Tips & Reminders

Manny: Well, I know you enjoyed that just as much as I did talking to Dale and the opportunity to learn from him is truly a pleasure. Now it's time for some tips and reminders, we wrap up each episode with some information that you can utilize in your approach to optimize your life. And what I truly have been enjoying educating coaches on I've gotten some really nice emails from you out there, is to talk about doTERRA essential oils and that's what I use myself on a regular basis. And this particular oil is one, I enjoyed diffusing in my office, and it is called rosemary, it is a pure oil. And it's powerful and powerful in so many ways, and I'm talking about one. I enjoy the smell of this, primarily because for me it takes me back to my childhood, running around on the island of Carpathia in Greece. Rosemary grows wild there. And it's not just for cooking, just to make amazing I've just got a nice smell and I think wow it's, it's pretty cool do used to drink Rosemary tea. My grandmother used to make it and so forth so there's a lot of just good memories for me there no it does grow wild in the mountains, do love the smell. And what is really neat for me is to notice the absolutely amazing benefits that you get by utilizing Rosemary central oil, and the first time I really noticed something was, you know, my father right now has he's had some dementia. Lately, he's shoe dad is 87 years old right now, and I know that when he smells it or we utilize it in the house with my mother that it seems like he remembers things a lot better and that's really what is awesome about this Rosemary central oil. It is so powerful to restore your mind, and it will dramatically increase your focus and memory that's why I use this in the office so much. I love that memory enhancement capability that it has. So that's what that one's about so hopefully you enjoyed that. Now, I want to conclude by thanking you. Each and for everybody out there and us specifically that are listening to this, I want to thank you for joining me on the mini med second show. It has been a pleasure for me to interview these fantastic football coaches and to get various insight throughout the week and thanks so much for coming to the website and listening to this, if you're listening to this on your podcast player, whatever it may be, subscribe in iTunes if you can, or subscribe on your podcast player give us a rating and comment on the show. If you happen to be watching this whichsome people do they actually enjoy the YouTube version of this. So, subscribe to the YouTube channel at V man in that second show at the top corner and you'll be updated and updates that every time a new show is uploaded. Feel free to comment below on our specific show. If you'd like to get all kinds of updates just go to our website and on the front page you may get a pop up where you can put your email in there. And there's also forms to auto email, subscribe, and that will you be the first one we're on Monday. Here's the podcast. On Wednesday, There's an inside access recently we've been doing another podcasts that are shorter podcasts, and then Friday if there is a version of this podcast, video, we generally upload that both those on Friday. So go ahead and subscribe with your email. And then you get those regular alerts. Also, As a bonus, for giving us your email, you're going to receive my latest report and it's only out for a couple more weeks at this point, where you'll receive my report. The stadium and it's a coach's secret formula to build a program, and filled to capacity. Thank you very much!

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