This week Jason Swepson will coach his first game as a head coach when his Elon Phoenix play at Vanderbilt.
Swepson has served the last 13 seasons as an assistant under Tom O'Brien at Boston College and N.C. State. In total, Swepson has served as an assistant for 19 seasons now, and credits O'Brien, Tom Coughlin and Jack Bicknell as three of his mentors.
That's a successful, albeit stoic group. Develop your plan, deliver your plan, take action on your plan, do not deviate from your plan.
Swepson says he learned his coaching philosophy from these men. "It's structure. It's discipline. There's a start and there's a finish."
Over the years, Swepson said he read up on authoritarians such as Vince Lombardi and Bear Bryant; but when he picked up Tony Dungy's memoir it really hit home, "I was like, 'OK, I can apply the principles I learned from Coach Coughlin, Coach O'Brien and Coach Bicknell; but this is who I am, Tony Dungy' and I can kind of just mix it all together and see if it works."
Swepson has set a schedule for the year for his staff and players. Staff arrive at 7AM and leave by 9:30. For the players, meetings begin at 2:45, practice starts at 4PM and dinner is served at 6:30.
Swepson also tries to show more personality than some of his mentors did publicly. "I think the kids understand that I like to laugh and I like to have fun and do all that; but when we blow the whistle after stretch, it's time to work....And that's probably what's different from a Coach Coughlin and maybe a Coach O'Brien. When you came into the building, you were under the gun with them."