Marble Falls ISD gathers input on ideal head football coach

Jeff Gasaway, assistant superintendent at Marble Falls Independent School District, talked to Marble Falls High School students about their thoughts on the traits the next head football coach should have. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

Jeff Gasaway, assistant superintendent at Marble Falls Independent School District, talked to Marble Falls High School students about their thoughts on the traits the next head football coach should have. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO

More than 50 people, including about five Marble Falls High School football players, attended a meeting April 1 for those interested in giving their input into the qualities the next Mustangs head football coach should have.

Marble Falls Independent School District Superintendent Chris Allen and Assistant Superintendent Jeff Gasaway presented three questions to those at the meeting.

• What are the qualities or attributes of the next coach at Marble Falls High School?

• What are the professional experiences the next coach at Marble Falls High School should have?

• What are the professional skills the next coach at Marble Falls High School should have?

MFISD posted the head football coach opening on March 11 after current head football coach and boys athletic coordinator Mike Birdwell announced his resignation.

Allen said he wants to name a new head coach during the April 15 school board meeting. On April 1 meeting, the superintendent told those gathered in the school library that 127 people have applied for the position. More applicants could still submit their resumes.

“I think we have a great pool of candidates,” the superintendent said.

District staff members will use the information gathered during the April 1 meeting to create a profile of what the community and MFISD are looking for in a head football coach.

The student-athletes highlighted a number of things they’d like to see in that person, including a high football IQ, loyalty, trustworthiness, humbleness, determination, relatability, persistence, straightforwardness, and discipline as well as someone willing to take risks when needed and who has faith in his players and staff. Parents and adults echoed many of those attributes, adding they wanted someone with a proven track record in building a program starting from youth sports through varsity. They also want a person with coaching experience at a school similar to Marble Falls High School in demographics.

Allen agrees that Marble Falls can’t be the next coach’s first time to lead a program.

The superintendent said a coaching search committee will narrow the applications, possibly down to between seven and 15, for a first round of interviews, though the group can interview as many as they like.

That committee then will recommend two to four finalists for a second round of interviews by a second committee consisting of Allen, Gasaway, Marble Falls High School Principal Damon Adams, and Director of Special Programs Cord Woerner, the former head football coach and athletics director from 2004-12.

While the goal is to present a coach for hire at the April 15 school board meeting, Allen said he didn’t think it would be a problem for the trustees to call a special meeting if one of the committees needed more time.

One concern raised by attendees April 1 was a prospective coach seeing Marble Falls as a stepping stone to another job. Allen said that is one of the hardest things to gauge during an interview.

He noted that while he was going through the interview process to be superintendent here, that was one question he was asked. He said, at some point, the committee must find someone they believe will lead the program back to its winning ways.

“You want someone who has an obligation to the community that’s not greater than to themselves,” he said.

This is the second head football coaching hire Allen will recommend to the board since he became superintendent in 2015. He recommended Birdwell as the interim head coach and athletics director in 2017 after then-head coach and athletics director Matt Green accepted the same job in Llano. Birdwell then accepted the position of head football coach and high school boys athletics coordinator in 2018 before resigning earlier this year.

A 2019 hire would mark the fourth Marble Falls High School football coach since 2012, when Woerner was reassigned in January of that year.  Two weeks later, Todd Dodge was named head football coach and athletics director. He stayed for two years then accepted the same position at Austin Westlake High School.

Green took over in 2014 before heading to Llano three years later.

Birdwell, who was a co-offensive coordinator on Green’s staff, took over after Green’s departure.

Allen said longevity and service are priorities as the district looks for a coach who will stay longer than three years.

“We need to break that pattern,” he said.

Allen said residents, alumni, and anyone who has a coach in mind who they believe would be a great fit for the program are encouraged to contact Central Office at (830) 693-4357 or email him at callen@mfisd.txed.net.

“We want to be very good listeners as we go through this process,” he said.

jfierro@thepicayune.com

4 thoughts on “Marble Falls ISD gathers input on ideal head football coach

  1. Where to begin with the events described in the article? First, the meeting last night was ridiculous as it was a simple CYA for Supt Allen. He tried to create a learning environment where people stated qualities they wanted and experience the coach would have. It was silly because the statements were extremely generic and broad in scope. Nick Saban or Jimbo Fisher wouldn’t qualify based on the far reaching and highly idealistic comments that were made.
    Second, the article states that Allen agrees a coach with experience rather than a first time head coach is needed. That may be true, but Birdwell, a rookie head coach, won more games than Green or Dodge who are both coaches with experience (and successful other than their stints at MFISD). Both left quickly; WHY? Now Birdwell wants to leave? As I said on another article, this makes no sense. Someone is lying here? Birdwell has a daughter that will be a senior next year, he’s worked in the district for 5 years, he accepted the head job when Green left, he won 5 games this past season, beat Burnet, his wife is a principal in MFISD, and he has no job to go to that anyone knows of BUT he’s receiving full pay but he does not go to work? Anyone else confused? He did not get to visit with the players when he left? WHY?
    Green left before Birdwell in a rush as well. Rumors are strong he did not see eye to eye with Allen and he moved on.
    The article points out that Allen will be working with his 3rd head coach in 5years and he’s on his 3rd AD in 4 years. Head coaches have left in mass numbers. Why? The only common variable in this equation is the Supt. Principals have left, ADs, football coaches, head coaches in large numbers. Problems with top guy!
    Back to the article, Allen claims to have 127 applicants and yet he asks that if anyone knows of a qualified candidate to simply reach out to him by phone?
    Why? You have 127 qualified candidates so it’s confusing to me?
    The 127 candidates sounds awesome to most people who simply read the article, but the truth is jobs that have a large number applicants are generally bad jobs. Example, large numbers of coaches don’t apply for jobs such as LT, Westlake, Cedar Park, etc because inexperienced coaches know they do not have a shot at getting those jobs. Bad jobs; those where you have a head soccer AD, problematic Supt where there is high coaching turnover, head football coach teaches multiple classes, and lackluster success tend to appeal to younger, inexperienced coaches that realize due to the circumstances, they probably have a shot at the job. This is why there might truly be 127 applicants, but less than 5% are currently head coaches.
    Marble Falls kids and parents need to open their eyes and take notice. Better make sure the hire has zero connections to Allen and that he is a good one. Need to ask some tough questions and figure out what problems and circumstances are causing heavy turnover in the coaching staff. If we don’t, we will be looking for another head football coach in a year.
    No success will come in any program if coaches continue to leave and people just look the other way. Something is very wrong in MF. I feel sorry for the senior football players.

  2. I agree that there is not a man alive that can qualify under the parameters that were set during the meeting. No one is perfect. From what I understand Marble Falls has the opportunity to hire a very successful football coach at the high school level and at Division I. One of the young men at the meeting mentioned that they wanted a coach that was willing to take chances. They wanted a coach to trust the players.
    What we also need is a Superintendent to take a chance and trust that the athletic community would welcome the new coach. This is an opportunity that a school like Marble Falls doesn’t get often. If Chris lets this opportunity pass by it speaks volumes as to Chris’s willingness to think outside the box and to do what needs to be done to turn our athletic program around and teach these kids how to win.

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