by Hunter Bower, GeauxPreps.com Owner
There are not a ton of college football staff that go out of their way to connect over coffee with high school coaches.
If you take a trip to McNeese State University in Lake Charles each month, you will find a group of newly hired coaches ready and willing to talk shop.
Shortly after his announcement as the next head football coach for the Cowboys in December, one of Gary Goff’s first priorities was to build a relationship with the area coaches that went beyond the X’s and O’s.
The former Valdosta State leader was quick to invite coaches in Lake Charles and the surrounding areas to attend a morning social once a month where everyone could talk shop and fuel up before starting their day.
“I think it’s extremely important for our staff,” said Goff. We are going to do a great job at recruiting the Lake Charles area as well as the entire state of Louisiana. We really started this “Coffee With The Coaches” program so everyone can come and talk X’s and O’s to start their morning and get to know us a little bit more.”
The first meeting was an instant success with over 30 local area coaches in attendance and this month’s group of 25 or more trickled in and out during the two-hour get-together.
“In that first meeting, our goal was to introduce ourselves and get to know the area coaches a bit more and talk about the culture we are trying to establish here, said Goff. “I think it’s important to have a solid high school recruiting class and not live completely in the transfer portal. There has to be a good balance of that.”
St. Louis head football coach Brock Matherne was in attendance and the impressment on his face showed after witnessing McNeese’s willingness to open its doors and create a learning environment.
“This is great and gives us an opportunity to learn more about their staff,” said Matherne. “Coach Goff and his staff brought us in and were very specific that he wanted to recruit his backyard and that means so much to us due to the fact that we have a lot of kids who love this area and want to live here.”
“There are a lot of high schools here in Lake Charles and the surrounding areas,” said Goff. “McNeese has a great group of alumni who are coaches around here and beyond so we wanted to put on this event in order to build relationships with the local programs.”
Rosepine head football coach and McNeese alum Bradley Ducote praised Goff and his staff for reaching out to the local communities that continue to serve as a pipeline for great talent that has the opportunity to don the Cowboy uniform.
“It really is great what Coach Goff is doing for the community,” said Ducote. “For a few years, we were unable to put a face with a name as far as being able to develop relationships with the high school and college coaches in the area. To be able to shake hands and talk football with the entire McNeese coaching staff is just awesome.”
Ducote described that a thirty-minute conversation over coffee can be more intimate as coaches are able to really dive deep into conversations with the local universities.
“When we go to the big clinics, we don’t really know anyone and don’t have much time to connect,” said Ducote. “With an event such as this, the coaching staff makes you feel at home and you know the local staffs which makes it easier to talk ball.”
Goff’s efforts to develop a tight-knit community between his staff and the high school coaches in and around the state could have a significant impact on changing the recruiting landscape for McNeese.
“What is just as important is that it’s connecting us with a lot of our alumni in the area,” said Goff. “For us to turn this program around, we are going to need that local support as well as a good relationship with those who have graduated and still support this university.”
Matherne, who is in his second season as a head coach, was thrilled to compare offensive schemes with the new staff and how they could improve heading into the 2022 season.
“I was excited to be able to speak with Coach Goff and his staff,” said Matherne. “We run very similar offenses. So for me and my staff, this is awesome. We get to pick the brains of some great offensive minds and build on what we are trying to do as a program.”
Goff’s plans to continue the monthly morning social hopes to attract more coaches in and around the state to come in and learn and teach over a cup of coffee.
“We would like to make this a monthly thing,” said Goff. “I know it can be tough for some coaches to get here on school morning’s but we think it’s worth the time and effort to provide this to the high school community.”
The door has been opened by Goff and his staff and the invitation has clearly been accepted.
“You can only improve if you are willing to learn and the fact that Coach Goff has given us this opportunity is very exciting,” said Matherne