November 5, 2013
By Mark Janssen
Within the Garden City Community College football coaching staff, "We're K-State West."
And for good reason.
Matt Miller is the head coach of the Broncbusters, who just finished the 2013 season with a 5-4 record. Miller quarterbacked the Wildcats in 1995 when K-State won 10 games, which included the Holiday Bowl. Miller also served as an assistant coach for the Wildcats from 1996-2006, which included the 2003 Big 12 title season.
Jeff Kelly is GCCC's defensive coordinator and strength and conditioning coach. A former Broncbuster All-American linebacker, Kelly played for the Cats in All-American 1997 and 1998 seasons when K-State won a total of 22 games, which included the 1997 Fiesta Bowl.
Joe Gordon was one of the "foundation" players at K-State playing in 1993-96 when he was a two-time All-Big 12 cornerback and an All-American. He serves as co-coordinator on defense for the Broncbusters, plus recruiting coordinator.
Kelly was already on the Garden City coaching staff when the offensive coordinator position opened after the 2011 season.
"I knew Matt was looking for a job, so I got him here to run the offense, and then the head coach left which opened the door for Matt to become the head coach," said Kelly.
"I was out of coaching for a couple years, but with each year of Saturday's it became harder and harder to take," said Miller. "I had been around football my entire life because of my dad being an NFL front office guy and scout for 45 years. I had to get back in the area of helping out young people and shaping the lives of student-athletes. These young guys need a direction in their life."
The theme was the same for Gordon and Kelly: Once a footballer, always a footballer.
"It's who I am," said Gordon. "I wake up every morning truly excited to make an impact on young men and elevating them as young men and players. We're coaching the game of life as well as coaching the game of football. It's my job to develop a trust and help them become what they want to become. That excites me."
Kelly said, "This is what the Lord put me on this earth to do. I'm here to touch the life of a young man like guys like Coach (Mike) Stoops and Coach (Brent) Venables did for me at Kansas State."
While Miller was out of coaching prior to landing in Garden City, Kelly was returning to his community college alma mater, while Gordon was making the move to western Kansas from Kansas State where he was serving as recruiting coordinator.
"It wasn't easy because there was a part of my heart that wanted to remain at K-State. As a recruiting coordinator, there were rules that limited what you could do and couldn't do," said Gordon. "What you couldn't do was grow as a coach. The next step was to be an operations guy and I didn't want to fall under that umbrella."
The helmets that a community college coach wears are numerous. They range from on-field coach, to typing up your own practice charts, academics, recruiting, placement of graduating players, strength and conditioning, to getting drinks and meals, and on and on.
"It makes you understand all aspects of the game," said Kelly, who was coaching at Trinity Valley Junior College in Texas prior to Garden City. "You do the same things that a K-State assistant does, plus all the graduate assistants."
"There are more hats to wear than space on your head," quipped Gordon, who worked as a financial advisor before returning to K-State as a recruiting coordinator in 2011.
The move to Garden City for Miller was relatively simple because it was the quickest path to becoming a head coach.
As offensive coordinator in 2012, Garden City went 7-4, was ranked No. 19 in the nation and won the Mississippi Bowl to become the first non-Mississippi-based team to win that postseason event.
Now as head coach, he admits, "Coach Snyder has said this, but you really don't have any idea of what you're getting yourself into if you've never been a head coach. It was a dream to be a head coach, and I'm having the opportunity to do it with long-time friends."
The things Miller is using today that he learned at K-State include "time management skills" and discipline. "At this level, discipline is vital because you have kids from so many different backgrounds. As Coach (Snyder) says, young people really do want discipline."
Kelly also today carries the lessons learned from Snyder.
"I helped on the Oklahoma staff with Brent (Venables) and the Stoops and you see the qualities of Bill Snyder," said Kelly. "We're all in this little fraternity, but we all know who the president of the fraternity is."
We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact Kelly McHugh, Mark Janssen or K-State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.