By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Editor
As we bring FNF Coaches Culture Month to a close, let’s look back at some of the top stories and podcasts.
San Jose State University coach Brent Brennan
Our most recent podcast features one of the hottest names in college football coaching circles — San Jose State University coach Brent Brennan. The Spartans coach led SJSU to an undefeated regular season and a top-25 ranking in the AP Poll — remarkable considering SJSU was just 3-22 in his first two seasons as head coach in 2017 and 2018. Brennan talked about how the foundation of his culture is a focus on academic success as well as a commitment to the strength and conditioning program. If you’re looking to mold better men, this pod is for you.
Shiloh Christian (Ark.) coach Jeff Conaway
The next pod is a great one for any coach of a private school program. Shiloh Christian coach Jeff Conaway set up a discipleship program for his players in the last year, and he believes that helped lift his program to a state championship this fall. Find out how Coach Conaway stimulates growth for his players in four areas: spiritually, socially, academically and athletically.
Bishop Miege (Kan.) coach Jon Holmes
It’s safe to say any coach who leads his team to six consecutive state championships has established a championship culture. Bishop Miege coach Jon Holmes shares how he sets the expectations for coaches, players and parents that his football program requires a 12-month-a-year commitment.
Dowling Catholic (Iowa) coach Tom Wilson
Not to one-up Holmes, but Dowling Catholic coach Tom Wilson won seven consecutive state championships heading into the 2020 season. He talks about the structure of his offseason program and how he has a point system to reward players for various achievements.
Jim Ned (Texas) coach Matt Fanning
Jim Ned High (Texas) third-year coach Matt Fanning never set a goal of winning a state championship for his staff and players. With all of the uncertainty and angst surrounding a fall season during a pandemic, Fanning made this season about one thing: Having fun. That fun approach led to Jim Ned’s first state championship ever in December thanks to a 29-28 overtime thriller over Hallettsville High School at AT&T Stadium.
Central Valley High (Pa.) coach Mark Lyons
Central Valley High (Pa.) coach Mark Lyons didn’t need to put a slogan on a t-shirt to remind his players of their mission this fall. After falling in the Pennsylvania state championship game in 2019, his players committed to finishing the job in 2020. They did just that with a 35-21 win over previously unbeaten Wyomissing. With the win, the Warriors captured their first state championship in program history — and erased the heart-breaking memories of last year’s loss once and for all.
Pickerington North (Ohio) coach Nathan Hillerich
Pickerington North (Ohio) coach Nathan Hillerich led his team this fall to its first outright OCC-Ohio Division championship since 2003. Hillerich has focused on establishing a championship culture since accepting the head coaching position at Pickerington North in 2017. Hillerich adjusted to the challenges of the pandemic this fall by fostering team culture over online platforms and apps.
Wall High (N.J.) coach Tony Grandinetti
Wall High coach Tony Grandinetti led his team to an undefeated (7-0) season and New Jersey Shore Conference championship in 2020. Over the last two seasons, he has led Wall High to a record of 19-1. He shared how he established a winning culture last spring with at-home, body-weight workouts.
Ankeny High (Iowa) coach Rick Nelson
Ankeny High coach Rick Nelson had encountered several near misses in his quest for a state championship during his first five seasons as head coach before finally taking his team to the promised land this fall. Nelson shared how his team was able to persevere this fall in the midst of a pandemic.
Ashland-Greenwood High (Neb.) coach Ryan Thompson
Ashland-Greenwood High coach Ryan Thompson has led his team to a combined record of 92-42, including nine playoff appearances. In both 2013 and 2014, he led Ashland-Greenwood to the Class C-1 state championship game. Throughout his career, Thompson has taken pride in establishing a tech culture within his program.
We hope you find some resources to help your program! The theme for February is “Coaches of the Year”. Stay tuned for podcasts and stories.