Morris took the University of Arkansas head-coaching job in November.

By Brent Glasgow

Morris took the University of Arkansas head-coaching job in November. Here’s a look at his pathway to success.

Q: What are your first football memories?

A: Playing little league in Plano, Texas, PSA (Plano Sports Authority). We were the Wildcats and my dad was the coach.

Q: Who was your high school coach, and how did he shape the player and coach you were to become?

 A: I had several high school coaches that impacted my life – David Whiting, JD Laprade, Jimmy Lee McEnturff and Jack Shellnutt. They pushed me beyond my limits and challenged me to be more and do more. They taught me that the only way you lose is if you don’t get back up.

Q: What other coaches do you consider to be primary mentors, and what did you learn from them?

A: Growing up in Dallas, I loved watching Coach Tom Landry. Also Coach Bill Belichick and the way he has built the Patriots, and working for (current Arizona State coach) Todd Graham (at Tulsa) and experiencing his passion for the game. Dabo Swinney was and is a huge mentor to me. His vision in building a program at Clemson, his relationship with his players and his family-first mentality are all second to none.

Q: You coached Texas high school football for 16 years. How would you describe it to someone who’s not from there?

A: I have recruited across the entire country and have seen some great programs, but the passion, community support and facilities are incredible in our home state. It’s football year-round.

Q: Do you spend much time recruiting outside the state, or do you find that unnecessary, based on the talent pool?

A: Yes, we recruit all over the country, but because we are building a program in Texas and (with) my connection to Texas high school coaches, we have been able to begin by recruiting primarily from within our state. We do have several kids committed, however, from surrounding states.

Q: What were the top reasons for the steady improvement in your three seasons at SMU?

A: It has been a complete culture change. Culture is a belief that drives a behavior that produces a result – the ability to just be where your feet are every day. We concentrate on daily wins and how we respond to the situations and circumstances that are 100 percent in our control – just be present, not perfect.

Q:  How many hours go into your average work week, both in-season and the offseason?

A: In-season, I don’t get caught up in total hours worked. This is not an 8-to-5 job. It requires a commitment. If I had to guess, approximately 115 hours per week. Offseason is spent recruiting, so you are in a different mindset. The hours don’t vary very much.

Q: What advice do you have for young coaches who are just starting out, who have Division I or NFL aspirations?

A: There is no job too big or too small. If someone has to tell you to do something, you probably will not last in this business. There is always work to be done. Hunt work. You may not have the greatest knowledge of the game, and that’s OK, just don’t be outworked. Always learn something daily. Focus on getting better every day at something.

Do you have a thought about this article that you would like to share? If you do, email managing editor Dan Guttenplan at dguttenplan@ae-engine.com. Tweet us @fnfcoaches.

 

About the author

Dan Guttenplan