A lot of times in the coaching world, for better or worse, guys get labeled. A typical list would include your “players coaches”, your “schematic wizards”, and “your motivators”…but those simply don’t cover everyone. In an effort to create a list that is all-encompassing, I got a little creative.
Looking at the list of FBS head coaches heading into 2016, I decided to list out 17 different subsections that coaches could belong to. Obviously I just used the major college coaches as the measuring stick for a lot of these, but as you read through the list, you’ll notice where your high school or college head coach would fit in, and perhaps a few types that your boss (or yourself) would fit into.
If you’re an assistant coach, you can probably get a good gauge on where you’d sit as a head coach from the options below as well.
*Note – You’ll find certain coaches in more than one type*
1. “The Motivators”
Examples: Urban Meyer, Nick Saban, P.J. Fleck, Dabo Swinney, Tom Herman, Jimbo Fisher
These are the coaches that are always looking for a new and unique way to engage and connect with their players to motivate them. Maybe it’s a story, an equation (like Urban’s E+R=O), or another nugget that players can recall and relate to when adversity strikes.
2. “The X’s and O’s Guru”
Examples: Pat Narduzzi, Nick Saban, Gary Patterson, Rich Rodriguez, Mike Leach, Will Muschamp, Art Briles, Tom Herman, Gus Malzahn
These are typically the guys who saw a ton of success as coordinators, and now have their shot at being the head honcho.
3. “The ‘I Wear My Emotions On My Sleeve’ Coach”
Examples: Will Muschamp, Steve Addazio, Dabo Swinney, James Franklin
These are often the fiery guys. The coaches who are very passionate when they’re angry, and even more enthusiastic when things go great. Whether the cameras are around or not, they’re the same guy.
4. “The ‘I’m All Business’ Facial Expression Coach”
Examples: Mark Dantonio, Bill Snyder, Kirk Ferentz, David Shaw
Every time the camera pans to these guys on the sideline, they have that same stoic look on their face. Their team just grabbed a one-handed interception and dragged the toes to stay inbounds? Stoic look. Blocked punt in the final seconds of regulation that gets returned for a touchdown as time expires for the win against their rival? Stoic. Pictures of them celebrating or smiling have become rare collectors items.
5. “Mr. GQ”
Examples: Kliff Kingsbury, Scott Frost, Bob Diaco, Brian Kelly
Their coaching, not their good looks, got them here; but whether it’s their impeccable hair, their shades being on point, or their gear / suits looking great from head to toe, these guys understand the value in fashion and are looking good all the time.
6. “The Players Coach”
Examples: Pat Fitzgerald, Bronco Mendenhall, Kevin Sumlin, Charlie Strong
These are the guys that are beloved by players, and make as much of an impact off the field as they do on the field. You know you’re one of these coaches when you have players coming back to visit years after they’ve graduated.
7. “The Micromanager”
Examples: Nick Saban, Pre-Ohio State Urban Meyer
These are the coaches that have trouble delegating tasks to others demand total control over every single decision within the program. While few coaches, like Nick Saban, have mastered this art, it seems to be the downfall of many others in the profession. If you can be a micromanager effectively, by all means do it, otherwise hire guys you trust and delegate some tasks their way.
8. “The Innovator”
Examples: Art Briles, Chad Morris, Gary Patterson, Gus Malzahn, Justin Fuente
These are guys that are always on the cutting edge of the latest schemes, plays, and formations and aren’t afraid to use them come game day in big situations.
9. “The Outside The Box Guy”
Examples: Jim Harbaugh, Mike Leach, Les Miles
Whether it’s recruiting, scheme, press conferences, or what they eat just before the game (that one’s for you Les), these are the coaches whose approach can be a little odd, often wacky, and otherwise “outside the box”
10. “Mr. Brutally Honest / No Coach-Speak”
Examples: Mike Leach, Les Miles, Steve Spurrier, Mike Leach, Gary Patterson
These coaches lack that filter that sometimes reminds us not to say something. You want the honest answer? Coaches in this group will give it to you straight, no coach speak included.
11. “The Class Act”
Examples: David Shaw, Ken Niumatalolo, Bill Snyder, Mark Helfrich, Chris Petersen, Bob Stoops, David Cutcliffe
As the title implies, these guys are pure class in everything they do include how the interact with the media, how they coach, how they treat their players, and how they treat their staff.
12. “The ‘Let Me Put The Pads On And Show You’ Coach”
Examples: Steve Addazio, Mark Hudspeth, Pat Narduzzi, Jim Harbaugh, Pat Fitzgerald, Kyle Whittingham
These are the coaches that could probably suit up and still do some damage. During fall and spring practice, they’re the guys demonstrating how to throw the fade to the corner of the end zone, or how to take on a fullback on an iso play, or that they can get one more rep on the bench than you. They’re more “showers” than “explainers”.
13. “The Storyteller”
Examples: P.J. Fleck, Butch Jones, Hugh Freeze
These guys have a crystal clear vision for running a program, and often have a slogan (or story) to go along with it that elicits buy in from everyone that touches the program. For Fleck it’s Row The Boat, and when Butch Jones arrived in Knoxville it was “Brick By Brick”. Players know the story/slogan, understand it, and embrace it and they go on to serve serve as the driving force behind the foundation of their programs.
14. “The Guy Everyone Would Love To Grab A Beer With”
Examples: Bret Bielema, Mark Hudspeth, Les Miles, Mike Leach, Dana Holgorsen
Whether it’s to get into a heated debate about the safety of the no huddle, or just to share stories, this group is unique in it’s very own way.
15. “The ‘Where’s My Caffeine’ coaches”
Examples: Dana Holgorsen, P.J. Fleck
These are the high octane bunch that are always roaming around the facility or field with a Red Bull, Monster, or cup of coffee in their hand to help them “bring the juice.” I consider myself a proud member of this group.
16. “The Remarkably Down To Earth Coaches”
Examples: Clay Helton, Pat Fitzgerald, Mike Riley, Mike Leach, Lovie Smith, Mark Helfrich, Chris Petersen, Blake Anderson, Matt Rhule, Willie Fritz, Lance Leipold, Justin Fuente, Sonny Dykes
These are the types of coaches if someone with no football knowledge met them at chatted with them at a barbecue, you’d never know they were a major college head football coach because they make you feel so comfortable around them.
17. “The ‘Old School Isn’t Only The Right Way, It’s The Only Way’ Coach”
Examples: Paul Johnson, David Shaw, Ken Niumatalolo, Jim Harbaugh, Willie Fritz
These are the coaches that have resisted the urge to switch to the latest trendy scheme, and instead are thoroughly convinced that the old school approach of controlling the clock, pounding the ball with phsycality with your quarterback under center, and playing rock solid defense is the the best way to win football games. They’re a dying breed at the major college level, but they’re a proud (& successful) bunch.