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#CoachesCorner: Former FCS coach details in-season schedule and expectations for staff

Welcome to Coaches Corner, a new ongoing series from FootballScoop where coaches submit ideas to share with the rest of the coaching community.

Coaches can publish articles with their names attached, or anonymously if they wish.

Today’s #CoachesCorner is from former James Madison (FCS – VA) head coach and college coaching veteran Mickey Matthews. Coach Matthews is a three-time National Coach of the Year who helped two programs win national championships. As head coach at James Madison, Matthews won the 2004 FCS National Championship. In 15 seasons as head coach at JMU, Matthews’ teams won 109 games. After serving as defensive coordinator at the FBS level for two seasons, Matthews most recently coached linebackers for the Dallas Renegades of the XFL.

I've been asked many times about our weekly in-season schedule. There are many different thoughts and ideas on how to get maximum productivity from your staff and team. This is what we settled on after many changes.

Staff reports at 1pm. They then grade the game from the day before. They are expected to be prepared for our 4pm staff meeting. At that 4pm staff meeting everyone turned in their grade sheets. We went around the room and everyone reported on their position to the rest of the staff. This was always interesting!

At the conclusion of the meeting I gave my thoughts and we adjourned to our 5pm team meeting. I began the team meeting immediately by watching the special teams film from the day before. I got this idea from Jimmy Johnson and liked how it put a strong point of emphasis on special teams. During this session, I was the only one commenting about each play. Poor effort was not over looked, but I tried to make it a point to praise effort and execution to the entire team. I gave an overview to the team about my thoughts about the game. The players were then dismissed to their individual position meetings.

After the meetings we met on the field and ran 10-100s. At this point I dismissed them.

My objective was to make sure when they left the field, that yesterday's game was over. WIN or LOSE! Our staff then went upstairs and began evaluating our opponent. I wanted everyone out of the building by 10pm.

Our players were off on Monday's. Many of them came in and got a voluntary lift but our staff never saw them them. Our staff reported at 6:30am. I would watch Saturday s tape with each side of the ball in the am. I left the day's activities up to my respective coordinators. The next staff meeting we had was at 4pm. The entire staff watched our coming opponents special teams film. Many times I had already picked out particular plays that I felt we needed to review. Many good ideas always came out of this meeting. We broke for dinner and went home about 9:30pm.

We had individual meetings at 7am for 30 minutes . It helped us get a head start on our opponent and kept the afternoon meeting from being so long. We always had an afternoon special teams meeting on on punt and punt return. Our practice window was 4pm -6pm. That night I insisted on each side of the ball to watch last weeks opponent film. Is that what we saw in practice today? That question is very important to reflect on. If we need to make adjustments with our scout squad let s make them. If we wait to do that until Thursday, it is too late. We then reviewed practice tape.

We basically had the same schedule as Tuesday except we did not meet in the morning, and we met on kick off and kick off return. After practice we recruited. Some guys stayed at the office while others went home. I left that up to them. We had a Thursday morning meeting on recruiting the next morning, so they knew to be prepared.

Staff reports at 7am. We started with a review of practice, and then began to prepare for today's practice. Staff meeting at 9:30a. We always had our academic people report problems at this time. Also spent some time to get our practice organization done and go around the room and each coach reports on his recruiting area. I wanted each coach to be organized, prepared, and to be honest. Practice consisted of one hour separate and then special teams. I ran the special teams part of the practice and we covered all phases. I had a list of specific situations I always went through at this time. Football is a game of critical situations and I covered as many as I could as time permitted.

Staff was off this night. Many of them recruited because they it was important to them.

I allowed each coach to decide how he spent his Friday morning. Some went out recruiting, while others just relaxed. If you were in town, the expectation was that you be in the office at noon. I always kept the coordinators in to watch tape with the kids. We then had a short strech / dinner and a movie. The only change we had was if it was an early game we watched tape Friday nite instead of the movie. When we got up it was time to play.

In the event of an evening game we watched opponent film on Saturday morning.