College football • Coach John L. Smith looks for assistants to share his philosophy.
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With a change of head coaches at Weber State inevitably comes the change of coaching staff. Last week John L. Smith made his final hire, bringing in Jody Sears as his defensive coordinator.
Three coaches offensive coordinator Matt Hammer, offensive line coach Cecil Thomas and linebackers coach Colton Swan survived the purge from former coach Ron McBride's staff.
What goes into creating a staff, at least for Smith, has as much to do with philosophies as it does coaching ability.
"I have a list of things," said Smith following Saturday's scrimmage at Stewart Stadium. "Loyalty is No. 1. Agreeing with philosophy we have and we're going to have, you have to have a believer. You'd better be on board with our philosophy or you're not going to be on board very long."
From a checklist of 12 items, Smith also stressed that his staff must be able to coach on the run as well as care about the players.
"Guys who are excited about coaching and love the kids," he said. "I want coaches of our kids to understand, 'Even though we're going to be hard on you, we do love you.' Coaches have to show that and be able to relate that to the kids."
Sears has hit the ground running, keeping much of the same terminology as he fine-tunes the Wildcats' basic 4-2-5 formation. Sears also brings plenty of experience to Weber State, including time spent at Eastern Washington, which gives him insight into the Big Sky Conference.
Unfortunately for Sears, who spent the past three seasons at Washington State, he was himself a victim of a coaching purge. He was the co-defensive coordinator under head coach Paul Wulff, whose staff was let go after the 2011 season.
The move to Weber State was in part because of his respect for Smith, but also the best possible fit for Sears' family.
"The coaching profession, we all know how it is," said Sears, whose young son one of five Sears children was busy nearby tossing a football. "And I've seen a lot of dear friends sit out after being let go, right or wrong, it doesn't matter. Nobody cares. I have to put my family first. I was going to go after aggressively the first job I thought would be a good fit for my family. And here I am.
"I love John L. I thought it would an absolute wonderful opportunity for me to get some experience and work for a legend. The ego, I didn't feel like I had to stay at that Division I level and get that paycheck."
Weber State's starting quarterback Mike Hoke has spent this spring on the sidelines rehabbing a surgically repaired right shoulder.
The senior, who threw 19 touchdowns with only four interceptions in 2011, is expected to be at full strength come fall. Smith has been impressed with Hoke's leadership even while he hasn't been playing.
"Right now, he shows me he's on track," Smith said. "One thing I see out of him, I think he could be a great leader for us. He's kind of a warrior. When he says something, these kids listen. We need great leadership, so I'm anxious to get him back."