Head coaches use resource of assistants to their advantage

By Doug Gorman

Good head football coaches align themselves with good assistant coaches.

The formula doesn't always translate into success, but it's often the starting point for creating a winning tradition.

Former Georgia Tech head coach George O'Leary helped put the Yellow Jackets back on the college football map when he hired Ralph Friedgen as the team's offensive coordinator. Friedgen eventually took his high-powered offense to the University of Maryland four years ago when he was named that school's head coach after years of serving as an assistant at the college and NFL levels.

Friedgen now has Maryland ranked in the Top-25.

College football, the NFL and the high school coaching staffs are full of similar stories.

Dues paying goes with the territory if an assistant coaches wants to climb the ladder and someday run his own program.

Even at the high school level, head coaches try to surround themselves with good quality assistant coaches.

For some assistants, it a stepping stone as they start their career, for others it's a chance to stay in the game without the pressures of running their own program.

Former head football coaches can bring a wealth of knowledge in their roles as assistant coaches.

"One of the first things I look for when I want to hire an assistant coach is loyalty," said Henry County head coach Mike Rozier. "If a young coach tells me he wants to someday be a head coach that's great. It tells me he is ambitious."

Eagle's Landing Christian Academy head coach Tim Luke knows the importance of hiring a talented and experienced staff.

It has translated into success as the Chargers moved from the Georgia Independent School Association to the Georgia High School Athletic Association for the start of the 2004 season.

"I feel very blessed by the men God has placed around me to serve as assistant coaches on this football team," said Luke.

The transition has been a smooth one for the Chargers who enter Friday night's Region 5-A opener against Whitefield Academy with a 5-1 overall record.

The ELCA staff includes offensive coordinator Paul Hoch, defensive coordinator Marcus Trivette, running backs coach Stan Langley, quarterbacks coach Nick Westbrook, defensive line coach Lee Moss, and assistant coach Scott Queen ? all who bring a wealth of football knowledge into the lockerroom.

Trivette and Hoch have been head coaches. Trivette was also an assistant coach on the Morrow state championship team in 1987.

At Mt. Zion head coach Jackie Green has prided himself on hiring talented assistants too.

"When I am looking for an assistant coach, I try to find somebody that's has played college football, or at least as been around the game," he said.

Green, who is retiring at the end of the season, hasn't missed on too many of his hires as many of his former assistants have moved on to run their own programs, including several of his assistant coaches from the 1999 team which played for the state title.

Butch Prosser, the offensive coordinator on the Bulldogs state runner up team, is now head coach at McIntosh High School. Rodney Hackney, the defensive coordinator on that team was head coach at Riverdale High School after leaving Mt. Zion and is now head coach Osborne High School in Marietta.

Danny Bean is a head coach at a school in Kentucky.

All three coaches have taken pages from the Mt. Zion playbook with them such as running the Wing-T offense.

Alan Duff, a former assistant coach for Green is now the offensive coordinator at Fayette County. Edwin Turnipseed was Green's first quarterback and later an assistant coach for the Bulldogs. He is nowan assistant at Fayette County.

Most head coaches are comfortable giving their coaches plenty of latitude during games.

"I have always allowed my coaches to coach and make decisions," said Green.

Luke also lets his staff have plenty of input in developing game plans.

"I feel empowered by this staff. There's years of experience and football knowledge on this staff," he said. "I have the final say in what we do, but I agree with them 90 percent of the time," Luke said.