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D-II head coach Tony Annese explains "the keys to success, regardless of level"


Fresh off the AFCA convention in Louisville, I headed to Lansing, MI to attended the Michigan High School Football Coaches clinic. While there, I sat in on a talk from Ferris State (D-II - MI) head coach Tony Annese.

Annese is a well known name in midwest coaching circles, especially in Michigan. He got his start as a head coach leading Michigan high school programs at Montrose HS, Ann Arbor Pioneer HS, Jenison HS and Muskegon HS where he compiled an impressive cumulative record of 225-45. During his last prep stop at Muskegon HS, he went 92-15 with three state titles in his final five seasons.

Riding that success, Annese took the head coaching job at Grand Rapids Community College, where he built the program into a national power, winning two national titles. When the Ferris State job came open, it presented Annese with another opportunity to win at an even higher level. He's done exactly that in Big Rapids, leading the team to a 26-8 record (with four of those losses coming in his first season), signing some highly regarded D-II recruiting classes, snapped a 10-year losing streak to rival Grand Valley in his first season, and this year he led the team to a perfect 11-0 record and #4 national ranking entering the playoffs and churned out Harlon Hill (the D-II Heisman) winner quarterback Jared Vander Laan.

Long story short, Annese has won big at every level. With the recent opening at Central Michigan, Annese's name has been mentioned in circles as a logical candidate, and with his track record of results and recruiting ties in Michigan, it's easy to see why.

Speaking on "the key to successful teams, regardless of level" at the MHSFCA clinic Annese dropped some major knowledge that attracted some of the top high school and college coaches in the area.

Here are my notes from his session and at the bottom you can find his entire PowerPoint presentation loaded with great stuff.

Annese constantly tells his team how important it is to to have a "player coached team" rather than a "coached coached team". He then shared a story that he used to show up to practice 15 minutes late to see if the leaders on the team would step up and get things started on their own. His best teams would have practice humming by the time he showed up

Annese wrapped up his talk with this inspirational note on being a coach

Tony Annese's Clinic Presentation - MHSFCA