SE: Assistants Provide Head Coach Experience

Dec. 24, 2011

By Mark Janssen
K-State Sports Extra

Are four head coaching minds better than one? Could it have been a difference-maker in all those heart-thumping close games this fall?

It sounds reasonable, and if so, Kansas State is in great shape.

First, there’s legendary head coach Bill Snyder, but within the Snyder staff are three other former head coaches in the NCAA ranks in co-offensive coordinators Del Miller and Dana Dimel, plus secondary coach Tom Hayes, who served as an interim head coach.

Miller, 1995-98, Southwest Missouri State, 21-23
Dimel, 1997-98, Wyoming, 22-13 (two Division titles); 2000-02, Houston, 8-26
Hayes, 2001, interim coach at Kansas, 1-2

When each coach had his opportunity they found it to be an all-new world.

Miller, who has been with Snyder since his days at Iowa in the 1980s, said, “I knew of the extra duties you have as a head coach, but you certainly gain a better appreciation of them when you’ve been there. There is just so much non-X and O stuff you have to deal with, and not all of it is fun.”

Dimel added, “You are a mother hen to 120 kids day and night. If anything goes wrong with one of them, you are ultimately responsible. You can never truly relax. As a position coach, you have maybe eight guys you’re trying to help. As a head coach, you have 120.”

Along with game-planning, there are the pregame and postgame press conferences, the coaches shows, the equipment, medical and conditioning aspects of the program, not to mention academics and discipline, plus speaking engagements and fund raising duties.

As Dimel says, “It just never stops.”

While Miller heads the K-State passing game, and Dimel the running attack as co-offensive coordinators, as a head coach, Miller said, “You see all sides of the ball. You have a better understanding of what you do offensively feeds into the play of the defense. You no longer look at things only from an offensive perspective, but from a total team perspective. As head coach, there is always some area that did not have a good game that you worry about.”

Dimel couldn’t agree more: “As a head coach, there is always that big picture that you’re looking at instead of just what would be best for my individual unit. It’s always what’s best for the team.”

Hayes coached the final three games of the 2001 season when Terry Allen was fired at the University of Kansas.

“It’s not a position that I wanted because I thought the man I was replacing deserved to close out the season,” said Hayes. “But I did as they wished and it didn’t take long to figure out that there were three times the things to be concerned about.”

That’s during the 60-minute football game on Saturday, but even more so all the other minutes of each and every day.

“As a head coach, you want your assistants to come to you with solutions,” said Dimel, a former offensive guard at K-State in the mid-1980s. “Come to me with me with a problem, but also have a solution to go with it. Head coaches want to be kept informed, but not with petty things.”

Plus, the coaches agreed of the personality change that comes from being the “good guy” assistant to the players, to the “bad guy” head coach.

As Dimel concludes, “Being a head coach ages you big time. There’s a lot of enjoyment to it, but it is crazy how much stress there is and how many areas that are demanding of your time. You have to be on your game at all times.”

Each current assistant agreed that you don’t fully know the responsibilities of being a head coach “… until you sit in that chair,” each one of them agreed.

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