Five Presentations you can’t afford to miss at this year’s AFCA Convention in Indy
The conclusion of one of the best times of the year, college football season, means that it’s almost time for another one of the best times of the year, the AFCA Convention. If you love talking football, meeting new people, reconnecting with old friends, and just basically hanging out with a group of people who are just as passionate about football as you are, then the convention is the place to be. I’m also extra excited because this year’s convention will be taking place in my hometown of Indianapolis.*
I’ll be posting daily summaries after each day has completed, and if you’re unable to make it to Indy this year, you can sign up HERE or at the bottom right of this article for my newsletter and receive my complete notes from all the presentations I attend. Since I plan on staying all the way until Wednesday morning, that means I’ll have great notes from Hal Mumme and Pat Narduzzi.
The thing about this list below is that most of the “big” names aren’t on this it, and that’s because, well, what’s the point? Everybody already knows that Nick Saban and Art Briles are going to be speaking, and everyone is planning on being there with a pen and paper. What I really wanted to do with this list is to highlight some speakers and some topics that you may not be familiar with, or have some questions about.
Along with the topics and descriptions, I’ve also included the time, date, and room number for each of these speakers, all based on information which can be found on the AFCA website.
And now, in no particular order, here are the five presentations you can’t afford to miss at this year’s AFCA Convention.
1. The Future of Football: A Dose of Reality with Mack Brown
- Mack Brown – 2013 AFCA President
- Steve Hatchell – President and CEO of the National Football Foundation
- Dr. Sandi Chapman – Founder and Chief Director of the Center for Brain Health
Date: Monday, Jan 13
Time: 8:00 AM
Location: CC Exhibit Hall F
This is one of the most important discussions that will be had the whole convention, and the fact that Mack Brown will be heading the panel gives me confidence that this problem will be honestly approached, and not simply given lip service. This game that we all love so much is facing it’s biggest crisis since Teddy Roosevelt had to step in at the beginning of the twentieth century to create new rules for the improvement of player safety.
With all of the new information coming out on head trauma and concussions, many parents are hesitant to let their children put on a helmet and shoulder pads, and justifiably so. As one of the leaders of our game, Coach Brown is in as good a position as anyone else to lead the charge to save football, and I do mean save football. Complain all you want about frivolous personnel foul penalties during games, and how you’re not allowed to touch the QB anymore, if changes are not made to football as it is right now, this game will drastically decline in popularity within a couple of generations. With parents more safety conscious than ever, they need to be made to feel comfortable letting their child play football, otherwise America’s greatest game will no longer be played by America’s greatest athletes.
I’m very interested to see what exactly will be discussed and what solutions will be proposed during this meeting.
2. Breakout Session: Be Your Own Man
- Joe Moglia – Coastal Carolina University
Date: Tuesday, Jan 14
Time: 8:00 AM
Location: CC 500 Ballroom
If I could only pick one presentation to attend, this would be it. Call me crazy, but I love guys who think differently from others, and who’ve had an unorthodox route to success, and Joe Moglia definitely fits the bill.
Here’s a guy who was in love with football, but left the game to pursue a career on Wall Street, because he had a family to support. Fast forward many years later, and he had officially joined the billionaire club, making enough money in finance to return to his passion from so long ago. Moglia hung around the Nebraska program with Bo Pelini’s staff for a couple of years, but didn’t want to go the traditional route of working many years as an assistant before getting the chance to lead a program.
There’s an excellent article over on Grantland that goes into great detail about him and his story, but the author Michael Weinreb also spent time with him at practice and in coaches meetings. Here are some snippets of what he had to say in one of the meetings with his assistants that gives you a peek into how his mind works:
- “One of the terms I heard used today that I liked — it hit me like a Rocky movie — was ‘no mercy.’ Maybe it fits, maybe it doesn’t fit. I kind of like it. Doesn’t mean you’ve got to like it.”
- “Don’t be offended, don’t be offended, but in one of your meetings today, in 30 minutes, do you know the number of times you guys said, ‘OK’? Sixty-two times. Just something to think about. There was a while where I was saying ‘You know’ all the time.”
- “When you ask questions that merit one-word answers, what that reinforces is memorization. Questions that require an explanation reinforce an understanding.”
- “When you’re giving guys a break, put them in the shade. If you’re near enough to the trees, take 30 seconds and give ’em the shade.”
- “I’m not trying to be redundant, but I am being repetitive.”
- “That’s an observation: I’ve only made one directive in two days.”
There have been plenty of “outside-the-box thinkers” who have failed spectacularly on the sidelines, whose philosophies and grand ideas have looked good on paper but laughable on the gridiron. However, with all of the talk about how different he is, Moglia has also won consistently, taking his team to the playoffs the past two seasons. This is one guy I can’t wait to listen to.
3. Practice Good Medicine: Coaches and Medical Personnel
- Johnny Tusa – Waco (Texas) ISD
- Dr. Brian Hartline – NCAA
- Craig Bohl – Wyoming (Former coach of the three-time defending FCS National Champion North Dakota State Bison)
Date: Tuesday, Jan 14
Time: 9:00 AM
Location: CC 103-104
This is a topic that doesn’t get addressed enough, and to the credit of Grant Teaff and the AFCA, they are doing what they can to make sure there is an open and honest discussion about the relationships between coaches, athletic trainers, and doctors. Everyone knows that a good athletic trainer can make all the difference in the world to your football program. If you’re a high school coach at a program that doesn’t have a full-time athletic trainer, you can still benefit, perhaps even more so, since this can give you some information on how to deal with and create positive professional relationships with medical personnel who can sometimes very literally hold the fate of your season, the fate of your program, and the fate of your job in their hands, depending on how well you communicate with them, and how well they’re able to respond to trouble and anticipate problems down the road.
Side note: As someone who competed against Craig Bohl in the Missouri Valley Conference the past three years, and (brag) being a part of the only team to beat them in the past two seasons, I have a lot of respect for Craig Bohl and what he’s all about. He really is one of the good guys in college football.
4. Graduate Assistants/ Career Forum
- Carlos Alvarado – Murray State
- Dino Babers – Bowling Green
- Jake Spavital – Texas A&M
- Kalen DeBoer – Souther Illinois
- James Franklin – Vanderbilt
Date: Tuesday, Jan 14
Time: 9:00 AM
Location: CC 103-104
This session is obviously geared toward college coaches, but if you have any ambition of moving up to a higher level, whether it’s a move up the ladder in the college game, or a more prestigious high school job, this will have something to offer you (I took very extensive notes on this session last January in Nashville, which you can find on Brophy’s site here).
This session is all about improving your ability to find work as a coach and strengthening your connections in this business. With all the news surrounding James Franklin at the moment, it will be interesting to hear his perspective on climbing the ladder and finding your next job.
5. First-Timers Meeting
- Fred Farrier – Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Date: Sunday, Jan 12
Time: 5:00 PM
Location: CC 121-122
I was at this meeting last year, and Coach Farrier spoke at that presentation as well. He’s a no-nonsense kind of guy who spelled everything out very clearly when it came to the information new coaches and first time attendees need to know about the convention and what you can get out of it. One of my favorite pieces of advice from Coach Farrier was about giving out resumes to head coaches.
Imagine your walking through the lobby at the convention, and you spot a guy like Urban Meyer, who for some reason is by himself and you see an opportunity to approach him and make an introduction. The mistake many guys make in this situation is not being properly prepared with the proper formatting of a resume. What does that mean? It means that if you don’t have your resume and contact information in an easy to carry format, it’s gonna get tossed in the trash. Do you really think that head coach you just talked to, and who probably will get approached by another 500 coaches looking for a job is going to carry around 500 extra pieces of paper from every applicant who approaches, in addition to whatever he’s already carrying on his person? Do you think that by giving him something to he has to hold on to for the rest of the day until he gets back to his hotel room, it’s going to leave a good impression?
Of course not. The point here is to make it as easy as possible for that coach to hold on to your resume. You can do this in a number of ways. Coach Farrier suggested putting it into an envelope that can be easily slid into the front pocket of a suit jacket. If you really wanted to set yourself apart, you could even do something like putting your resume on a custom-labeled flash drive (I never did this, as it’s very expensive, but it would definitely set you apart from the crowd) and having your contact info printed on the flash drive.
The bottom line is, that whether you’re a young coach just starting out, or a veteran who’s just now attending your first convention, you can definitely get something out of this meeting.
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