Synchronize your watches to GMT – Gus Malzahn Time
There are many challenges for an incoming coach at a major university in the NCAA. There is the ever present distraction of being the center of media attention. The higher the profile school, the greater the media focus on his every move and utterance. Then there is the pressure of the hiring process and organizational meetings with primary and secondary staffs. There are recruiting goals, objectives and of course athletes to contact, interview and review. There are countless tasks concerning the ordering of existing facilities and procedures. There are alumni gatherings, speaking engagements, and even mundane day to day tasks like moving in to a new home, settling personal affairs and the every precious family time. Last but certainly not least, there are your new players, some of whom you might happen to know, either from crossing paths on recruiting trips or even having the opportunity like Gus Malzahn did, of coaching them in the past.
The time spent on these tasks for an incoming coach before the first practice of the spring can be immense, even with the advantage of having been on campus before. As a head coach, you’re in a different role than any other opportunity you’ve had before. The task list is infinitely longer, the schedule is now yours to establish rather than follow and everyone is looking for you to decide nearly everything. There is a wealth of things that a new coach must attend to in addition to getting his team ready for that first season, and no matter how many times you’ve done it before, it still requires an inordinate amount of time to accomplish.
Even when that first season begins, and many distractions fall away there are still growing pains to overcome as you establish not only your game plan, but your leadership philosophy and “the way” you and your staff will work going forward. The players and your subordinate coaches all have their own input and plans as well, and throughout that first year there are inevitable mis-communications and misunderstandings that will usually be addressed and resolved by the start of the next year.
By the second season the mettle of a team has been tested and a working routine is well established. The productive tempo of day to day tasks increase dramatically and the extra time now afforded the head coach can be spent adjusting and improving key areas of his team, coaching staff and program. The second year coach is allowed to fully establish his philosophy, fine tune his coaching style, and communicate quickly with his staff and players in the common language of shared experience.
Everything just seems to go smoother the second time around. How much smoother? Well, let’s take a look.