James Madison football coach Everett Withers was able to share his story in the coaching profession to a group of potential future head coaches as part of the NCAA Champion Forum on Tuesday night at the Orlando World Center Marriott.
Withers met with the group of coaches who all serve in various assistant roles at institutions in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten Conference, Big 12 Conference, Pac-12 Conference and the Southeastern Conference. Withers went through the same program in June 2013 while he was on Urban Meyer’s staff at Ohio State. Seven months later, JMU hired Withers as its next head coach.
“I remember a couple years ago when I sat in that room trying to gather and process all the information that you get but when I left, I had a lot of stuff I could use to help me progress in the profession,” Withers said. “I hope I was able to add some of that for them today. It’s neat to come back and see that I know a lot of those guys in that room. They have aspirations to become head football coaches and maybe I can help them through my journey on theirs.”
Withers, who is a coaching veteran of 28 years, told of his background and different positions he has held over the years, which included coaching on the staffs of big-name head coaches like Urban Meyer (Ohio State), Butch Davis (North Carolina), Mack Brown (Texas) and Jeff Fisher (Tennessee Titans).
During the session, Withers touched on important aspects for coaches to keep in mind when moving to the head-coaching level and broke down the four quarters of a coaching year that he has instilled since coming to JMU. He also spoke on media training being the number-one thing he took away from the Champion Forum, and a big proponent of said training is Charley Casserly, the former general manager for both the Washington Redskins and Houston Texans.
“One person I had the chance to spend a lot of time with was Charley, and even after the forum, I had a chance to spend more time with him,” Withers said. “It was good to see him again and just remember some of the things he helped me with a couple years ago.”
In addition, Withers added that patience plays just as big a part as the media training when moving to a head-coaching position.
“Patience is something a lot of people don’t have that coach football, but you have to learn it when you’re ultimately trying to become a head football coach,” Withers said. “There’s never going to be that perfect job, so when you take it, you have to be ready to go and be able to put all your energy and effort into it. Hopefully I was able to help these guys with that. Charley helped me with that process a couple years ago.”
While answering questions from the group of college football’s future leaders, when asked about the biggest thing he learned from Meyer at Ohio State, he responded, “culture.” Since being hired a year-and-a-half ago, Withers and his staff have been building a culture at JMU.
“You have to start with culture,” Withers said. “You have to start with what you believe in with your core values, your foundation and what the characteristics of your football team are going to be. We’re still in the process of building that. It’s not a one-year thing, it’s a journey and we’re going to continue that journey as we move into the ‘third quarter’ of our 2015 journey. The culture is what really drives and is the foundation of a football team.”