Taking a look at ESPN's recent peice on Todd Graham reminded us not only the impressive coaching tree he has started, but more importantly, where those coaches came from.
Let's take a quick look at that coaching tree in progress. It includes Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn, Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris, Tulsa head coach Bill Blakenship, West Virginia defensive coordinator Keith Patterson, Texas A&M receiver coach David Beaty, and Texas co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite. Morris and Blankenship had no previous college coaching experience before joining Graham's staff.
The piece starts out by revealing Graham's interesting strategy for finding up and coming talent in the coaching ranks. Spoiler alert: It involves some brews.
After giving a clinic talk, Graham would extend an invite to the coaches in attendance to follow him to talk football and grab a beer.
"That's when you'd find out who is passionate," Graham explained. "If you want to have a beer, I'll have a beer with you. But be ready to talk some football. The guys that came out afterwards and wanted to learn and wanted to talk, those are the guys I that I knew had a passion for this game. Those are the guys I kept my eyes on."
Graham was looking for guys that were teachers in the most basic sense, once he identified them and gave them the tools needed to succeed, they all took off.
"All of them are outstanding teachers who just needed the opportunity. Chad turned me down three times because he didn't think he could do it. Now he's the highest paid offensive coordinator in the country after four years."
As a former high school coach himself, Graham notes the ability to adapt as one of the main reasons behind his confidence in hiring high school coaches.
"We're adaptive. When you coach in high school you have to learn how to teach fundamentals and develop fundamentals. But you have to be adaptive to the skills and talents of the players that you have year in and year out. That's what's served me and those guys well."
Let this be a lesson to everyone out there during clinic season. After the clinic talks are over the real clinics and networking begin over a beer and drawing up plays. concepts, and schemes on napkins at the bar. You never know who you'll run into, and how it may change your coaching philosophy, or better yet, career path.