Scott Secules – A Virginia Kid Drafted by the Cowboys
Scott Secules – A Virginia Kid Drafted by the Cowboys
An NFL quarterback for six years, Scott Secules has quite the perspective on sports. He sat down with us to talk about the experiences of being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, walking into an NFL locker room for the first time, and coming in when Jimmy Johnson arrives.
Scott tells us about the things that have changed in the NFL and in college athletics since his time as a player and administrator at those levels, respectively.
We talk about stepping away from life as a professional athlete, closing a chapter of his life, and his views on parenting youth athletes.
Enjoy Episode 42 of Hustle and Pro, with Scott Secules.
- [:30] Quick hits with Scott Secules
- [5:41] Scott drafted by the Cowboys in 1988
- [10:35] NFL mentality of doing your job
- [12:35] Playing for Bill Parcells
- [15:03] Changes in football since Scott’s playing days
- [18:42] Stepping Away from the NFL
- [24:22] Changes in College Athletics
- [32:00] Positive Coaching Alliance & Parenting roles
Resources within this episode:
- Scott Secules: Bio | Twitter: @scottsecs
- Positive Coaching Alliance North Texas: PCANorthTexas.org
- PCA on Twitter: @PCA_NorthTexas
Connect with Lifestyle Frisco:
This is Hustle and Pro with Kelly Walker. Join Kelly as she talks sports with players, coaches, organizers and entrepreneurs from Peewee League to Pro. Now here’s your host, Kelly Walker.
Welcome to Hustle and Pro. Our guest today covers both the hustle and the youth side of sports and the pro side. Welcome Scott Secules. Scott was an NFL quarterback for six years and another 15 within the college sector and now leads a team who helps with youth athletics. How are you Scott? Great, how are you? Thanks for having me. Yeah, I’m great. All right, so I want to jump into a couple of quick hits to get to know you better. Who is your all time favorite athlete? Boy, that’s a tough one cause you’re, you’re making me pick sports there too. Well I know that’s my next question. You can go with a few if you need to. Well, you know, I, I as at a point now with someone that played for three different teams in the NFL, I root for the offense. So I like watching great quarterbacks play. So it would have to be a great quarterback. I don’t really know if I really have a favorite, but you know, guys, now I, you know, I love watching Tom Brady play, Drew Brees, Aaron Rogers, those guys that do it at a high level. You know, I was lucky enough to spend four years really close to Dan Morino in South Florida with the Dolphins. And that was a great experience just to see, you know, be that close to greatness. Really. Yeah. So then how about this, thinking back when you were a kid playing, who was your, you know, idol that you were looking up to?
Well, I grew up in Northern Virginia as a Redskin fan, so Sonny Jurgensen and Billy Kilmer to date the really old people, were the quarterbacks then. They won a Superbowl with Joe Theismann. And you know, there were some great quarterbacks and some great teams, uh, that were part of the Joe Gibbs era and the George Allen era in DC. So those were, that was my team, you know, cause I was probably a football fan worse, you know, or more so than any other DC area sports even though I was, uh, adamant about cheering for something all year round. Right. So that was another question then. What’s, when we talk about your favorite sport to, to watch and then versus your favorite sport to play yourself, whatta ya got? Oh, I, I’m too old to play a lot anymore, but you know, I still love watching football. You know, I will sit and watch a football game. I won’t watch a baseball game unless it’s the world series or playoffs. And you know, kind of the same with basketball, although I’m more of a college basketball fan I think than the NBA, uh, until playoff time. But, and I also watch English premier league soccer and I will have a cup of coffee once on a Saturday morning and watch an EPL game and thoroughly enjoy that. But, you know, I think it’s more so that I’ve always had a great appreciation for something being done well. And I love watching guys at their craft, you know, regardless of what it is.
Right. What about distance, say the farthest distance you may have traveled to either play yourself a as a player or to go watch sports? Well, to play is an easy one. In back to back years when I was in Miami, we played in Berlin and in Tokyo, the dreaded preseason games that had to travel. So, uh, we played the Raiders in Tokyo in the Tokyo Dome, so that was probably the farthest. And then the second farthest was we played the Broncos in Berlin and actually stayed in East Berlin and drove through the Brandenburg Gate going to and from practice. And we played in Olympic Stadium and practiced on the parade fields, which has a big stone tower where, you know, Hitler used to stand and watch the troops. Who’d have thought playing football would take you there? Yeah. It was an amazing experience. And then when our son was playing at Jesuit, they played in Dublin. Oh really? Yeah. They were part of a group of Catholic schools that went over and Notre Dame and Navy played in Dublin as the marquee game and they played three or four high school games the day before and the Jesuit kids got to go. So as a high school sophomore, you know they took the JV kids as well and they all got to go to Dublin for a couple of days.
It’s very nice for a high schooler. Well you mentioned earlier, I didn’t want to make you pick a sport, so now I’m going to make you pick a favorite team of all time. Now I know you’ve played on several teams like you said, but just kind of taking a step back, sort of favorite team you, you grew up as a fan of or even that you were on or associated with. Favorite team doesn’t have to be a season either. Some people pick a specific team, but just in general. Kelly, that’s a tough one you know. I’m going to claim Switzerland and all this and stay as neutral as possible. Um, you know, I mean, I grew up a Redskin fan. I’m not a Redskin fan anymore. You know, that changes as soon as Mr. Brandt called you on the second morning of the draft and said, do you want to be a Cowboy? Yes sir! Um, but, you know, I don’t really root for anybody in particular. You know, my Virginia Cavaliers. It’s been great to see them have some success lately. As an alum, you know, I’m proud of that, but that’s a challenge for us to keep track of in Dallas versus the East coast. Uh, we don’t get a lot of ACC news here in Dallas. You know, I would, I would say that I’m really not, I’m more of a sports fan versus a team fan. Gotcha. You are probably my first guest that that doesn’t immediately have a favorite team, but you have a different perspective than the rest of us. Well when you’ve played for multiples, you learn that your allegiance goes to a paycheck, you know, and, and that’s kind of why I like watching good offense. Yes. I love a good quarterback battle.
So you got ahead to my first question already, you alluded to this. So in 1988, you were drafted by the Cowboys. So I want to know what you remember most from that day and tell me how that went down. Well, it was, amazingly enough, back in 1988, Mel Kiper, who still has the same hair cut in the same hairline, um, was a draft guru back then and I was a sleeper. You know, this kid out of Virginia that had started one year, was a sleeper and you know, who knows when you’re going to get drafted, you could go as high as, you know, the speculation that goes in. And the draft was a couple of days back then and the first day came and went and I didn’t get drafted. And matter of fact, I think only one quarterback did, Chris Chandler out of Washington. And I’m in the second day, Don MacPherson from Syracuse went to the Eagles and then in the middle of the sixth round, um, the Cowboys called. So just an amazing thing. I mean that, that whole process of going from a career backup to playing one year at Virginia and we won eight games, we won a bowl game, the second bowl game in the history of the university and all of a sudden my phone’s ringing and I’m getting messages from the football office that somebody wants you to work out.
Did you not expect it? No, in effect it’s not all the hoopla and there, you know, you went into a season with no expectations other than okay, you know, it’s your turn to lead it, after standing in the wings for so long. And that’s something I’m proud of because in this day and age, all you hear about, everybody transferred, you know, it doesn’t work out for you. So I’m leaving to go find a better pasture. And you know, I backed up a guy that, that went on to have a very nice NFL career. Don McCalsky played for the Packers, went to the pro bowl. Don and I were classmates. I red shirted he didn’t. So I was a year behind him and it got to be my year and we took advantage of the opportunity and then all of a sudden, you know, you’ve got coordinators and Scouts coming to Charlottesville to work you out. So, uh, it was really a surreal experience. And then to get drafted and come down here and see the business side of things, you know, that you’re very much, you’re very quickly walk into a locker room and, and I’ll still remember to this day, uh, an offensive lineman, the head gray hair, that was like a 13 year veteran, you know. So if I’m 22, there’s a guy in his mid thirties, he’s got great temples. Yeah. Wow. You know, and this span of the game, because you don’t, you know, in your other experiences, you’re a sophomore play in varsity in high school, big deal. You’re coupled infant, you know, you get to college, you’re 18, you’re 19, they’re 22. All of a sudden you walk into a locker room that’s got people that range from the Randy White’s and the Danny White’s and the Tom Rafferty’s and Too Tall Jones’s of the world to little, little rookie Secules.
Oh yeah, yeah. You mentioned the hoopla. I mean the draft is so much hoopla and we watch it on TV and all that good stuff, but what do you remember as far as who called you did you say? It was Gil Brandt, you know, who went into the hall of fame this year? So you know, one of the iconic Dallas Cowboy names, uh, you know, Mr Schram and Gil Brandt. Gil was, Gil ran all the personnel. So it was Gill that called that, that second day of the draft. Now you were there, you were only in Dallas a little while, but was that during the end of the Landry era?Yeah, it was Coach Landry’s last year. Coach Landry’s last year was my rookie year, so I got drafted with guys like Michael Irvin and Kenny Norton. Um, actually there were a bunch of us from that draft class that went on to have nice careers in the NFL. I mean all the way down to, you know, our 11th round draft pick. Chad Henning was our 12th round draft pick that year. Um, you know, and, and I had forgotten that, uh, until recently looking at a list because he went off to serve in the air force and then came back and had a great career. So he was part of that same 1988 draft class. But then when Mr. Jones bought the team and they drafted some guy named Aikman and some guy named Walsh, uh, there were lots of young quarterbacks in the quarterback room. Uh, as a matter of fact, so we went to training camp my second year with Steve Walsh, Troy Aikman, Babe Laufenberg and myself and I got traded. You know, I, I learned the part of the business that means you walk in the door one day and Coach Johnson looks at me and says, we’ve traded you to the Dolphins. Your plane leaves LAX at 9:30. Wow. And that was it? And I it and I took a red eye from LA to Miami and I’d never been to Miami and had no idea where I was going. And I had a bag full of shoulder pads and helmets and cleats and another bag full of training camp clothes. And off I went.
Wow. I was going to ask if what from your perspective with the, with that transition time, the, you know, of Landry leaving and everything, how dramatic it probably was from the other side. I wondered what you felt from being a first year player in a rookie in the locker room. Like what, what did you guys feel or think about all of this drama that was seeming to go on with the team? Well, I think you learn real quick on the business side of that, that it’s up to you. You know, it’s the, the Patriot mentality or the NFL mentality of do your job. You have a job to do and you need to do it to the best of your ability and whomever is in that leadership role needs to see that. And I think you realize that very quickly that you couldn’t get caught up in the transition or the emotion, uh, that, that, that whole situation was charged with because you had a long time iconic coach that, um, left a position that he’d been for years and years and years with great success and you know, in comes Coach Johnson and, and a new owner and a new coach. So, um, we tried to just stay focused, you know, it was in the middle of the off season, so we were working out so that, that nothing changed really.
So then you were off to Miami and you are with the Dolphins for three years? Four years. And then off to the Patriots for a season. Right. Free agency. Okay. That 93 year when we finally got free agency in the NFL. I was a union rep for several of my years in the league. And so we finally got that free agency and you know, got a chance to go to New England and be a part, a part of building something up there and working with a young quarterback in Drew Bledsoe who was drafted first in the draft. Um, so I was the old guy using my air quotes here. Uh, the old guy? Yeah, 28, almost 29 years old that during that season, um, to work with the young guy who was 21 at the time, um, and got to start some games. So, you know, I’ll always value that time. We weren’t the greatest team in the world and I’m sure I wasn’t the best quarterback for that fit, but you know, what we went up there to accomplish. It was a neat experience that on four or five Sundays in my life I was a starting quarterback in the NFL. Under what coach? Bill Parcells. Right. What do you take away most from working with him, under him? You know, I think Bill was, was a really at the forefront of I think managing an entire roster full of guys and realize that you coached 53 guys really 53 different ways. You know, there wasn’t one way to coach, which I think the mentality had been, you know, it was a very, you know, and it’s what we talk about a little bit, um, with what we’re doing now, that in in that day and age coaching was so militaristic. Coach said it, you did it and you didn’t question it or you took off and ran a lap. Um, whereas now coaches today, bless their hearts, deal with the kids looking at them and saying, well, why? You know, I think I’d pull my hair out, what little I have left, uh, if you had to deal with that. But you know, I think Bill was really on the cutting edge of that. You know, when in working with me versus a young rookie, you know, he had told me several times, Hey, there are going to be times when I’m yelling at you, but I’m not talking to you. I’m talking to the kid next to you. He needs to hear it. And it might be loud and directed at you, but he’s listening. Okay, whatever it takes to, to better the team. And I think you realize that in your career. And Bill was really masterful with that.
Yeah, I was going to say he seems to have a distinct point of view or style. I wondered if it’s hard to align with, you know, a pretty, I don’t know, I was gonna say powerful but not powerful, just a unique personality that he seems to have. Yeah, strong personality. I think you’ve gotta learn to get along. And that’s part of anything we do in any job we have now is you’ve got different personalities that you have to be able to adapt. And I think that’s one thing that business shows you. Just like any other businesses, you adapt to different leadership styles. I think the good coaches today have figured out that there are different leadership styles for different types of people. you know, guys like Pete Carroll, um, some of the, you know, Sean McVay, some of the young guys have, are really on the cutting edge of some of those things. And, uh, I think that’s a gift. You know, and that’s what I think separates the good ones. Look at the job the guy in Pittsburgh ‘s doing Mike Tomlin. You know, I mean they start off poorly. I heard the guys talking this morning that, you know, they should, they could be coach of the year for the job that he’s done managing their injuries in the roster and all the different changes that they’ve had there. So you know, and that’s the good thing we get to see and learn from those coaches even though we don’t play for them, from just watching them from afar.
And you talk about all the things that those coaches are managing and more and more of those now in the modern day era of things like players putting their opinions out there, doing things that cause a little bit of a, you know, Twitter world rough road. So are how glad are you? Are you glad that that wasn’t a factor? I am thrilled that that was not a factor. I mean, just think about that in the day and age, we would stop and have some team fellowship on the way home from practice or meet our wives and have dinner and a beverage. You almost can’t do that anymore. You know, there’s somebody with a camera, there’s somebody looking out for you and you know, if they tell the story, they control the narrative, whether it’s true or not. And that’s so unfortunate in this day and age. Yeah, no question so easy to react to what could be nothing. Yeah. And, and that’s one thing that I think, you know, we talk about in, in some of the, the coaching workshops that, um, we as humans are great at judging and passing judgment. And that applies to our coaches too, as they try to criticize and correct their players is they, you know, Hey, look, let’s be careful. Because that gets into managing the emotion and the motivation of a player. And if you keep being negative, it beats them down and they don’t get to play at their fullest. Right. Do you think the public perception and how much access the public has to these to be able to have these judgments? You think it’s, um, how it affects the players. So for example, now when, when the player puts their personal agenda out there and everybody gets to weigh in, that obviously didn’t happen as much in the 90s. Right? When you were playing, well, what I guess my question is, was it still happening and we just as a public, we weren’t aware of it?
Well it was, it happens on a lot higher level. So, you know, the guys in the Boston Globe were still very vocal about the fact that they didn’t think I was a very good quarterback. The fans in the stadium let you know, you know, there were those kinds of filters, but there wasn’t somebody chirping at you on Twitter or you know, websites that said fire coach X or coach Y or something like that. So I think it’s a lot more, it’s a lot deeper now. You know there were times when you didn’t listen to talk radio or you didn’t read the sports page. And now I’m sure that, you know, that’s why you see guys go quiet on their social media during a season. You know, LeBron James has done that a couple of times, you know, some years he does, some years he doesn’t. But you almost have to really be very good with your own personal filters, I think, you know, because there is somebody out there telling you that you didn’t do a good job whether you did or not. And if you’re about, you know, if, depending on how you, you know, intrinsically motivate yourself or if it’s extrinsic, you’ve gotta be really careful with what you let in. Right. To let that affect you. Yeah, no question. Right? Because ideally, you know what, you’re trying to create this, and this goes again to the coaches and the organizations. You’re trying to provide a climate that allows for the best possible performance and how do you insulate, how do you educate your athletes, your employees to guard against those things and be mindful of them and make good choices in how they digest so they can perform at the highest level and they’re not dealing with, you know, something between their ears that’s going to get in the way of them playing at the highest level because after all this, you know, the business of pro sports is about winning and you win when you have guys playing at the highest level. Right.
So you mentioned some names that we’ve all heard and know, earlier. So how do you manage those relationships? Do you keep relationships with some of those guys now? I really don’t. You know, I think one thing you see in there is there are kind of two ways to step away. You either step away and close the book or you try to keep your foot in the door. And I kind of made a conscious decision that I was not gonna, you know. There’s still some teammates that I keep in touch with, more so on the college level, you know, guys I went to school with. But you know, I think if I ran into a former teammate, we’d have a nice conversation and catch up about how old we are and how old our kids are now. Amazingly enough, I mean, you know, our oldest was born when we were in South Florida. The Marino family had several kids and Danny just became a grandfather again, I think. So it’s like, dang, we, we are getting old. You know, I saw that on social media, but, you know, it’s, uh, I just kinda decided that I was not going to be that guy that kind of clung on, you know, I was going to be thankful for my experience and I was going to close that book. And, you know, my kids don’t know me as a quarterback in the NFL. They see pictures or helmets on my shelf in my office, um, that can prove that, Hey, I did this. Or, you know, what really freaks them out is that even 25 years later, I get football cards in the mail. Thank you internet. But I get actual mail that and they laugh and say, Oh dad got some more fan mail. And someone tells you how great you were and that they’re such a big fan and would you please sign my card?
It’s staggering. I actually had an interesting situation a couple of weeks ago. My cell phone rang. I answered the phone was a number I didn’t recognize. But when you’re in the external business, you answer the phone and listen to this stuff. Guy goes, Oh yeah, you know, such and such. I met you when you were with the Dolphins. I’m was cleaning out some of my memorabilia and I have a Jersey of yours. Would you like it? Sure. So all of a sudden I get a package in the mail that has one of my Dolphins jerseys from like 1989 and a picture that I had signed for this guy that I was sitting on the bench with Mark Duper, who was one of our great receivers. And my little chicken scratch autograph, is in black marker on the side of this picture. And he sent it with a little note that said, Hey, hope you’re doing well. But you know, out of the blue. That trumps getting a football card in the mail. So I had some guy calling me like, Hey, you want one of your jerseys back? Sure. I think that’s pretty cool. So when you made that decision to kind of, like you said, close that chapter and move on, um, you ended up still staying in sports and in football. Right? But in the collegiate level. Well, I got into the kind of the, the administrative side. So, so what we did the first, the first year we played the who’s going to get hurt game, which I think lots of guys do when they don’t end it on their terms. You know, the salary cap kicked in after the 93 season and, you know, old backup quarterbacks were one of those things that kinda kinda got pushed out. And so, um, at the time we owned a lake house down in deep East Texas outside of Jasper on Sam Rayburn reservoir. And we had just had our second daughter. And I still vividly remember, um, little kids and my wife who’s from Dallas and we were 25 miles from a town of 2000. Wow. And it was a very healthy year, unfortunately for quarterbacks. So, uh, the season came, the season went and nobody called. So it was kind of a long protracted shutting of the book, but when we finally shut it and my wife looked at him and said, okay, we got, we gotta get outta here, you know, this isn’t gonna work.
And we went back to Dallas and that’s when I went to work at SMU. The guy that was a great mentor of mine, uh, ultimately became my AD at Virginia just got the job at SMU, a gentleman named Jim Copeland. And I walked into Jim’s office. Jim had gone to Virginia, uh, had played eight years for the Browns as an offensive lineman, and kind of looked at him and said, Hey, I’m interested in staying in sports. Uh, how do I navigate this? And, and he had just taken the job at SMU and said, well, I need some help raising money. Um, would you be interested in this job? And amazingly, I took a job as the associate director of the Mustang club at SMU. Uh, and I made less in a year than my game check was my last year in the league, you know, which was the first year of uh, free agency. Real life. Well, yeah, it was, it was real life. I laughed at, you know, Hey, I couldn’t, couldn’t wear flip flops to work every day. I had to shave a lot more often than I did, you know, things like that. A different grind. That’s exactly right. A very different grind. But you know, went in there and then spent 12 years with him at SMU and we built stadiums and we, you know, rebuilt athletic programs and had a great time. And went and did that at Virginia Commonwealth in Richmond, Virginia for a couple of years. Okay, so SMU was first. That was a 12 year run at SMU. So we were there for a long time and you know, over the course of that time I did just about everything in the department but sit in his chair. Uh, so you got to see the business side of, of athletics, got to, you know, be involved in marketing and PR and communications and all the different aspects that go into an athletic department and really get a lot of great experience.
Which I would think is fascinating. Um, college athletics is such a big business. It’s exactly what it is. It’s grown into that. So my question for you then is being in that administrative role, um, for 15 years you probably saw some real shifts in like cultural changes and just how things are done in sports and, um, on college campuses. So what are some of the things that you look at now, now that you’re out of it and realize are just such major changes from when you were in it? Well, I think that the transfer rules were really, have really changed things. You know, it seems like that whole portal concept that, uh, that it’s new and, and especially college football and college basketball have really had a huge impact. I mean, you know, you look at the great teams, uh, this fall and college football, how many of them have transfers and how many of them were woven together because kids transferred from another very successful program. I think that’s an issue. I think this whole debate over paying and, and their likeness in marketing and stuff like that, that’s been needed for a long, long time. So I’m grateful to see that come, you know, it has become a business. There are universities that are making lots of money off the likeness of these young men and young ladies and, and I have no problem with them being paid, being paid and compensated for that. Student athletes? Yeah, I think that’s coming. You know, I think you learn that it’s a very different business and you know, you’re part of the business in that you’re an asset when you’re playing in the league, you’re managing those different assets. And the assets are everything from your logo and your mark and all the inventory parts and all the signage that you have and all the stuff that, uh, make up ways to make revenue. And that’s ultimately what it’s become. I mean, it’s staggering to think about a program like Ohio State with a hundred million dollar athletic budget, you know, and a football team that puts 100,000 people in the stands seven times a year and you know, is excellent in everything they do. Um, and to see the arms race that has become facilities, you know, spectacular.
And then around here in North Texas to see what that has become at the high school level. You know, in my travels around visiting with athletic directors, I’m in awe of some of the beautiful facilities that these high school kids are playing in. Uh, and I think back to what we had, which in my time in the league Valley Ranch was beautiful. That was cutting edge. In Miami we were in the back of a little St. Thomas University in a building that would probably fit in the weight room at Valley Ranch at that time. But we had great fields cause they grew good Bermuda grass in South Florida. And then in New England we were in the stadium and old Foxborough stadium that we lockered every day in the exact same locker room that we got dressed. There was no separate practice facility. It was, we drove to grass fields about two miles away from the facility and the bubble was on the far side of the parking lot, which we practiced inside from the first week of November until the end of the season because of snow in New England.
What’s the, I mean, what’s the going rate? Is every NFL team have a separate practice facility in their playing field now? I mean, absolutely. Without question. Yeah. I think that, you know, and, and in the business sense of things, if you go look, and I’ve noticed this when ESPN cuts to Cleveland or Indianapolis or something and they show the reporter talking about the team, there’s a logo on the side of the building that’s not the teams, you know, it’s Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Browns Practice Facility, you know, or whatever they are. They are so, you know, they’re sponsorships. You know, they’re logos around The Star, you know, that are, are part of that engine that make it work. And, and you know, I think there’s so much in facilities wise, it’s not the recruiting pitch. I don’t think that it is in college. Right. Um, you know, I mean, you go to someone like Oregon that has 14 different color helmets and 14 different color jerseys or something like that. I mean, there are high school teams in North Texas right now that have three helmets. I don’t know where they store them. Right. They build a new facility.They have, you know, where our son went to went to school they have three helmets. They have four or five different color jerseys and they have four or five different colored pairs of pants and they play 10 games. Right. They don’t ever wear the same thing twice. Then they’ve got to hire a person to figure out what they’re gonna wear each day. Well I think they, they’ve let the, they let the captains pick it. Sure. But you know, the business side of things have really changed. You know, I think the, the, the different revenue streams, the internet and social media and all that stuff has opened up a whole can of worms with how college athletics is covered, is discerned, is judged. Um, you know, I could think about that. You know, I mean the same, the same filters that you put on, uh, on pro sports. There is nothing that keeps it from trickling all the way down. Right. Even to high school sports, you know, and that’s the sad thing. And then we see parents get in arms about a coach that, you know, they don’t like cause they’re not playing their kid the right way. And if they know the right person, that coach’s job can be in jeopardy. That’s just tragic.
It is. Yeah. I was gonna ask, before we move on to that, I want to talk to you about that, but at the collegiate level, how involved were you with those vocal alumni who want to put their 2 cents in, literally I guess, and their opinions? How much did that impact you as an administrator? Yeah. When you’re on the external side of the department, which was my role, um, you’re knee deep in that, you know, especially when you’re in a situation. We did not have a lot of success when I was at SMU. So invariably every few years we’d go with, Hey, it’s time for such and such to go. We need to make a change. And if we ultimately did, you know, I mean, the economic engines involved their buy outs in these contracts. You know, I, I saw recently that the coach from Florida state lost his job, five games into the year. He’s going to make $17 million. That’s crazy. And they’re, yeah. And they’re taking grief down there because they’re trying to say they didn’t go raise that $17 million to buy him out. Well, you know, I don’t know if I believe that or not, but you know, that’s, that’s the, the world we live in nowadays. You know, that, Hey, look, if I make the right couple of phone calls to the right donors, and say, Hey, we need to make a change and we’re going to do it now because that gets us ahead of the search. And I could start moving covertly with a search firm and start putting feelers out there. And, you know, by the time the season’s over, we’re ready to go. It’s just an amazing part of it. But you know that again, what drives the economic engine, those donors, uh, and you have to listen and you have to not deflect. Maybe just listen craftily and, and acknowledge because you have to say, Hey, thank you for your input and thank you for what you do because their support is critical to operating these mega, mega departments nowadays. And all of them, quite frankly, you know, I think you even see at the smaller levels, the smaller schools that have more developed fundraising operations have a few extra resources to do things they want to do.
You mentioned parents, so I want to just quickly touch on you know, what you do today in sports. That’s a whole other conversation. Several conversations we’ve talked about this awhile, um, before this podcast and we’ll talk about it some more, but you work for Positive Coaching Alliance. So you’re the senior regional manager and partner and in partner development you oversee all partner development for the whole state of Texas. So what does that look like? What teams, who do you work with when you say the whole state of Texas and what is your goal in this role? So, so Positive Coaching Alliance is a national nonprofit as you know, that works in the youth sports space to try to develop kids into the type of young people we want in our families, in our communities. Um, we have 21 chapters across the country. We happen to have three in the state of Texas. We have a North Texas chapter that, that covers the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex and extended out to Tyler-Longview- Dennison, Weatherford, Waco, you know, a big, big circle. We also have a Houston chapter and we also have a Central Texas chapter. What I do is work with the partner development staff in those two chapters to help support them throughout the year and sell across the area. Because what we do is work with youth, sports organizations and schools and school districts to remind them that youth sports is about developing kids more so than it is winning games.
And in the land of Friday Night Lights here in Texas, that’s a hard swallow sometimes. I can imagine. You know, that we’re talking about stories of high school coaches that lose their jobs because of overzealous parents. And yet we’re trying to get those same parents to listen to our models. And, and the fundamentals of what we do, uh, is we’re about trying to shape culture. You know, and we’re in the culture change business and that is a slow, arduous process. But if we can continue to train coaches and train parents and train the athletes on what their role is in a positive, character building, youth sports environment, then we can change things for the better. And the parents, you know, very simply what we try to tell our parents is that we see problems when parents get their noses into the playing and the competing in the winning part. You know, what we want our parents to do is focus on the teachable moments in the life lessons that their kids learn as participants in sports and not be so caught up in how many points they scored or what their, you know, how many touchdowns or how many goals or, or those things. And, and where you really get in trouble is the parents that are living vicariously through their kids right now that might not have had great careers or might’ve had great careers, but they see their child as another chance to bring adulation on them. And one of the first things we tell a group group of parents in a workshop is today, let’s remember this is not about you anymore. This is about your kids. And that’s the focus that we need. And as simple as that sounds, it’s incredibly difficult at times.
It is. I mean, you’re a parent. Did you have three athletes, three kiddos that were athletes? All at different levels and in different times of their lives, yeah. Okay. So it is harder. You naturally want to see your kids do well, especially in a sport that you enjoyed or play or whatever. So it is for me, I naturally want to, to push my kids, but I have, you know, I have to consciously make sure I’m taking the right role, step back, say the right things, give the right support and guidance and not say the thing. You know, there are times to just not say anything at all and let them figure some things out. And I do think it’s hard. It’s a struggle. But your group is actually, I’ve been to workshops, and so I really like the message and I do think it’s super important here in, like you said, the land of Friday night lights and I’m not even a football parent, but I’m in the world of it. And so all the other sports I’m involved in, it’s a tough position. You have to learn how to be better at it as a parent, I think.
I think that’s, that’s a great way to put it because I think, you know, we, we put all the focus on getting better on the kids, you know, and that, and that’s a big part of what kids want in youth sports. You know, I think, uh, we talked to youth league coaches about kids wanting to be connected, you know, they want to be part of that team that’s important to them. Something bigger than the family, which is such an important lesson. They want to know they can get better and they want to be part of something that operates with integrity. And yet we have coaches that will stretch the rules and not play kids the right amount and put the wrong kid on their team. And you know, it, it amazes me right now we’re, we’re dealing with the University of Memphis and, and you know, they’re playing an ineligible kid. That’s the number one recruit in the country that the NCAA has deemed ineligible. And they went and got a temporary restraining order on that order. So there’s a kid that’s knowingly ineligible that they’re playing and they could lose their entire season. You know, they could lose any opportunity and, and, but they’re probably trying to get this kid a couple of games, so he gets drafted on here. You know, just the ethics that, that get lost.
And you know, and it breaks my heart to hear the stories of parents fighting in the stands or getting mad at an official and the officials 18 years old and trying to earn $15 a game. They are doing the best they can do.They’re not there to make everybody mad. Yet the parents forget that they’re doing their best. So the, the neat opportunity that we have in trying to change culture is that we deliver a consistent set of terms, a consistent language across the players, the coaches and the parents that kind of lays the foundation for a good positive culture. And if we can do that, then kids will come back and they’ll keep playing. And we can remind coaches that, Hey, your goal this year should not be focused on how many games you win or lose, but did every young person on your team come back, that did they have fun? Yeah. Did they still enjoy the sport, did they enjoy you as a coach, they’ve learned something enough to where they come back and do it again.
And a lot of times that’s just focused on having fun and we forget that. Right. You know, and I think one of the great, the great things that we’ve learned too is that, you know, parents have a goal. You know, and when we talk to the parents in our little sessions about what are your goals for your child’s sports experience and, and invariably all the good stuff comes out, you know, teamwork and learn to lose and learn to win and you know, make friends and all these things. And then there’s a couple of parents that’ll raise their hand when we talk about winning, you know, that that’s important to them or, or scholarship. And they might be eight or nine years old and they’re already focused on scholarship. And, and we quickly kind of redirect the conversation to say, Hey, but what are your child’s goals? You know, because if you’re running around with a 10 year old and your goal is to get them a scholarship, cause you see that as the way to not have to pay for college and their goal is to be with their friends and have fun and that’s not a bad thing. It’s, that’s a source of a great conversation over the dinner table, you know, to make sure you’re on the same page and that you support their goals. And if the day comes that they say, Hey, you know, mom and dad, I want to play in college, then great. It’s our job as parents to try to help them get there and they’re going to say the same thing to their coach and their coach is going to do everything they can in their power to provide them an opportunity to have a chance to play. It might not be at the Ohio State’s or the University of Texas’ of the world, but there are lots of places if they want to play. Right. Sure. Um, and what we’ve seen sometimes is those kids that are coming from high school indoor facilities and multiple color helmets, look at this division three college and go, Oh my God, their facilities aren’t as good as what we had in high school. Yeah, a step down. I’m just going to go be a college kid. I don’t want to play. And that’s okay. And that’s a decision they need to make,
But it’s not okay if the narrative since you’re 10 was that you have to go get a college scholarship and play in college and then there’s disappointment. Okay. So will you come back and do a Positive Coaching Alliance topic episode with me? Of Course! Okay. Good deal. Well thank you. I know I’ve taken a lot of your time today, but thanks for coming up here to Frisco and chatting with us. We’ll invite you back anytime you want to come back. My pleasure. I really appreciate the chance. Thank you.