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Kirby Smart: 'If you get the wrong (head coaching job), it could be the last one'

Examine Kirby Smart's rise up the coaching ladder, and it looks pretty typical for the profession - almost a stop a year. After playing at Georgia from 1995-98 and then spending another year in Athens, Smart took his first coaching job as the defensive backs coach at Valdosta State in 2000. By 2002 he was a graduate assistant at Florida State, and then joined Nick Saban's staff at LSU as defensive backs coach in 2004. He returned to his alma mater to coach running backs in 2005, then reunited with Saban as the Miami Dolphins' safeties coach in 2006. That's five moves in seven years. Again, pretty typical for the industry. 

Then, in 2007, Smart followed Saban to Tuscaloosa - his sixth stop in eight years - and that's when the moving stopped. It's not as if Smart hasn't been wanted elsewhere, either. He was offered the Auburn head job in 2012 - though the timing of his offer juxtaposed against Gus Malzahn's offer is unclear, Smart was indeed offered the job - and could certainly have pursued head jobs outside the Power Five conferences had he found one desirable.

But he hasn't.

"I'm not sitting here saying I got to go today in order just to take one to take it," Smart said. "Every one of them says don't just jump at the first one. If you get the wrong one, it will be the last one." In an interview with Atlanta's 680 The Fan, Smart noted that he takes pride in the fact that his six-year-old twins know only of life in Tuscaloosa. 

Smart has been counseled by Joe Kines - who went 3-6-1 as Arkansas' interim head coach in 1992 - and Kevin Steele - who went 9-36 as Baylor's head coach from 1999-2002. Neither was a head coach after that. 

With his status (and salary) as one of the very best coordinators in college football, and still being a year and a half shy of his 40th birthday, Smart reserves the right to change his mind, but for right now is more than happy in his current role. 

"I could finish my career being a defensive coordinator and say, 'Hey, he's Mickey Andrews,'" Smart said. "I'd be happy knowing that I had success doing it and I was the best I could be at my job.

"If the opportunity knocks, then so be it."

Read the full story here.

More schools should do this: Showcasing real world success of former players

Martin Rucker was one of the best players in the Gary Pinkel era of Missouri football. Earning both Freshman All-America and First Team All-America honors, the pass-catching tight end helped guide Mizzou to the Big 12 North championship in 2007 and closed his career with a 38-7 thumping of Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl. 

After a fourth round selection by the Cleveland Browns in the 2008 draft, Rucker spent time with the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Jacksonville Jaguars and Kansas City Chiefs before a torn ACL ended his career. Though his playing career is done, his professional career is just taking off. Rucker has started Body By Ruc, his own personal training enterprise in the Kansas City area.

Every single school in America touts its ability to prepare its players for life after football. Every single one. But not many schools actually follow their players into the real world and give a first-person example like this. 

Here's how one head coach improved his team this summer: By starting a book club

The summer time is for running, lifting weights, some 7-on-7, and generally doing everything the rules allow to be prepared when fall camp opens. At St. Joseph Central Catholic in St. Joseph, Mo., the Indians have done all that, but without a doubt the best move head coach Jeff Wallace has made has nothing to do with football whatsoever.

Wallace has orchestrated a five-week study of Season of Life, Jeffrey Marx's book on the football-centric journey to manhood of former NFL player Joe Ehrmann.

"By far, I can easily tell you this is the best thing I've ever done in football," Wallace said.

When they're not running and lifting, the Central Catholic football team is sitting around talking about life and getting to know one another. And they believe it could make all the difference this fall. 

"It's really cool how we're able to not talk about so much 'oh did you see the hit I laid on that guy?' Or 'did you see that catch I made?' It's more about, we're getting more personal and I'm getting to know my teammates a lot better," said senior Eric Siemens.

Here's one way you know you're coaching the right way

Bruce Pearl, the new head basketball coach at Auburn, told an awesome story at the Auburn Basketball Letterman reunion a few days ago that packed quite the punch, a recent article in ESPN points out.

While the head coach at Tennessee seven years ago, Pearl received a voice mail from one of the best players (if not the best) in Auburn basketball history, the one and only Charles Barkley. It's a message that he has saved to this day.

"Don't get me emotional about this, but the truth of the matter is he called our basketball office one day," Pearl at the letterwinner reunion. "He says, 'Coach Pearl, this is Charles Barkley, you do not need to call me back. I've just been watching your teams play and I love the way you coach and I love the way your teams play.'"

In the hyper-competitive business that is coaching, it's good to have a morale booster when times get trying.

"I have it on an old cellphone. Believe me, there are times when we get down on ourselves and lose confidence in what we do and I've listened to that message a time or two. I had never met him, I didn't call him back because he said don't call me back, but I kept that message. I absolutely still have it today."

And now, of course, the story has gone full circle, as Pearl is now the head coach of Barkley's alma mater, the Auburn Tigers.

Twenty questions every recruit should be asking

Say what you will about the man, but John Calipari knows how to recruit. The man has turned the green room at the NBA Draft into an annual family reunion for Kentucky basketball, placed Kentucky in the Final Four three of the past four years and is on a personal run of seven Elite Eight appearances in the past nine years, dating back to his tenure at Memphis. 

It takes many aspects to form a winning team, but having better players than your opponents is at the top of the list. This man knows how to find them. 

Posted on his website CoachCal.com (the man is nothing if not a self-promoter), here are Calipari's 20 questions every recruit should be asking (and, obviously, with a basketball-heavy slant):

  • Does your program offer multi-year (four-year) scholarships?
  • How many players have graduated from your program over the last four to five years?
  • How many players have graduated from your school and gone on to the NBA?
  • How many players have come back to finish school after they have left to pursue other dreams? Who pays for it?
  • How many of your players were insured through the disability program last season? If none were, why not?
  • What is your team grade-point average?
  • Where does your Academic Progress Rate retention rank among other schools?
  • What type of media training do you offer?
  • What kind of social media training program do you have in place? What are your social media policies?
  • How many double-figure scorers have you averaged in the last four to five years? If you only have one or two a year, what does that mean for me?
  • Have you ever coached anyone like me? If so, who?
  • How many McDonald’s All-Americans have you coached? How many of them went on to the NBA?
  • How have your teams fared with three or four McDonald’s All-Americans on the same team?
  • How many freshmen have you started within the last four to five years?
  • How many draft picks have you had over the last five years? How many drafted were not McDonald’s All-Americans? How many of the total were first-rounders and were any of them No. 1 draft picks during that time?
  • How many of those players have gone on to make the NBA All-Rookie team?
  • How many games will my family be able to watch on national television?
  • How many of your home games are sold out? How many of your road games are sold out?
  • How have you done in postseason play? Any Final Fours?
  • What is your core philosophy?

 

The goal of any good recruiter should to not only have answers readily available when these questions come up, but to provide this information so cleanly and clearly that the questions never even need to be asked.

(HT SI.com)

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