When a high school goes looking for a head football coach, all of them - every single one in America - wants to hire Steve Specht. I'm not talking about Specht specifically. Most of them, assuredly, probably haven't heard of the 12-year head coach at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati. But all of them are looking for their own replica of him.
Specht has been St. Xavier's head coach since 2004, leading the Bombers to a 106-36 record with two state championships. He's been named the NFL High School Coach of the Year, an Ohio Coach of the Year twice, and as one of the top 10 high school coaches in America by Athlon. Specht sits on the board of USA Football and has coached in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
So, yes, each high school in America wants Specht's win and his accomplishments. But what they really want, what their program, department, school and community truly crave, is a coach with Specht's leadership capabilities and his outlook on the job. In that regard, many of Specht's peers may stand to his side as an equal, but none are above him.
In a 15-minute feature with Gridirons TV, Specht lays out his coaching roots, philosophy and outlook on his career and in leading the day-to-day of a powerhouse program, and through that Specht reveals how he's been so successful.
On his calling to coaching: "I think I'm one of the fortunate ones. I knew when I was younger what I wanted to do: I wanted to teach and I wanted to coach. For the most part it was the experience that I had with the coaches that coached me. That was a difference maker for me.... I studied the coaches that seemed to have a positive impact on kids, and I studied the ones that didn't have a positive impact on kids. What I do today, it's a combination of what I saw (that) I liked, I took a lot of great things from coaches that were positive with me, and I took away some things that I never wanted to do."
On his philosophy in leading a high school program: "When I speak at clinics I'll have a slide that talks about the perception of team. Everybody looks at it as a pyramid, and at the top of the pyramid you have the individual player, and the parents are watching their son. Little bit below the pyramid you have the position coaches. They love their guys, and it's so hard when you want to take a defensive back and make him a receiver because he might play as a receiver, the defensive back coach says, 'You can't take him, he's my guy.' Little bit lower you have your coordinators, the offensive coach wants to score a lot of points, defensive coach wants the offensive coach to run the ball to shorten the game, and at the bottom you have your strength coach, your alumni and the head coach, who look at the whole team. My goal is to flip that and have everybody buying into the team concept, to have the parents not only watching their kid but the whole team. Celebrating the play and not the player."
On leading and delegating: "It's almost like being a CEO of a company. I've got to manage a lot of different personalities. I have a lot of help. My moms group that's getting breakfast together for the kids today, I know that's taken care of. I've got one coach assigned, he takes care of that end of it. We delegate to a lot of different coaches, give them more responsibility. How do you manage it all? You find great people to make you look good. I always tell the kids, 'Hire up. When you're in a position to hire, hire people smarter than you so that you look smarter.'"
On if he looks to move on to college football someday: "Is it a fit? That's the thing. I don't know that I'm a college coach. I've been very blessed to be where I am. I love what I do. I wake up every morning wanting to go to work. I talk to college coaches all the time through the recruiting game, I see their lives and what they go through. I don't know if that fits me right now. Maybe after my boys graduate then I start looking at things differently, but I'm going to be older, and it's a young man's game. I feel very blessed to be where I am. I've never been one to look and see, is the grass greener over there? I've been very content doing what I'm doing here, and I think that's the key - to find something you love and work hard being the best you can at it. I don't know that there's a better job than what I have here."
On his favorite part of the job: "Everybody thinks that the Friday nights and the games are exciting. That's drudgery for me. I love Sunday game-planning through Thursday practices, working with the kids. Game days, there's too much going on. It's monotonous. I wake up looking forward to seeing the kids, seeing how they're developing, how they're getting better, and I hope it always stays that way. If it ever changes then I'd have to reconsider what I'm doing."
Paul Franklin and the guys at Gridirons TV have done an excellent job with their first 3 videos. Looking forward to seeing what is next in their series.