In early April, former Washington State assistant football coach Jody Sears was named the defensive coordinator at Weber State University. Less than four weeks later, after John L. Smith bolted WSU's program to become the head coach at Arkansas, Sears took over as the Wildcats' interim head coach for the 2012 season — his first collegiate head coaching job. Deseret News sports writer Randy Hollis recently caught up with coach Sears.
Q: Do you feel like you're auditioning for the lead role — to become Weber State's permanent head coach — this season?
A: Well, I guess if that's how you want to put it, yes. The thing about it, too, this is all about the process. It's about the process of these kids growing and becoming men and becoming leaders and growing in their character. Yes, we want to win a championship and we want to win football games. And yes, I'd love to be the head coach here at Weber State for a long time. But we're not going to focus on the outcome, so to speak, we're going to focus on the process right now, especially with the kids in our program. ... The coaches have made a commitment to me and our staff, and we're going to take it day by day and do the best job we can. ... Outcomes are outcomes, and as a leader our focus has got to be about the process. It's got to be about our ofcseason, about our summer program, about how our captains can become better leaders, how our kids can become better teammates, how our staff can even grow and become wiser and more knowledgeable in our teachings and coaching. That's where the focus has got to be.
Q: Is there any concern about the negative impact that Coach Smith's departure might have on future recruiting?
A: It's not about what has happened that matters. It's about where you're at and where you're going and about where's the leadership and what's the vision. We've got an awesome institution, we've got awesome facilities, we've got awesome people. ... We're not going to try to sell something that we're not — we are who we are. And if you want to come be a part of it, that'd be awesome. That's gonna be great. You're gonna have a great career and a great relationship here. ... Definitely our focus is not going to be on oh, poor Weber State. That's not what this is about. It's about the team, it's about this program growing and finding better players year in and year out and selling who we are.
Q: Do you feel like you're stepping into a pretty good situation with the talent level of the team that's coming back for this season?
A: Yes, no question. We've got good players, we've got good talent and we have some good leadership. I've been in some rebuilding deals — this isn't one. The blueprint's been laid and the leadership's obviously been identified, now the roles just have to be defined and we can continue to move forward. I like where we're at.
Q: Have you had any conversations with Coach Smith since he left?
A: Plenty. Mostly asking him a lot of busywork kind of stuff, tying up some loose ends. A lot of it was recruiting stuff, cross-referencing some lists, administrative-type things that needed to get tied up, communication with kids, work-related stuff. Coach has been an awesome mentor. He's an old-school guy and I think he's genuinely supportive. He always says, 'You call me any time and let me know what you need.' Every time I call him, he picks up the phone.?
Q: What do you know now about Weber State that you might not have known a month or two ago?
A: I do know that the people are outstanding, the administration, the support staff, everybody's been great. Looking at it from a head coaching standpoint, it's even better than I thought. There is tremendous support from (Director of Athletics) Jerry Bovee and everyone else on down the line — everybody has been awesome. The support staff and their resources are top-shelf. The people here are so willing to help. The transition has been pretty smooth. Now we just want to keep the blueprint in place that coach Smith instilled. There's a good foundation here, we've just got to keep pounding nails. ... We've got an awesome opportunity to grow these kids, come together as a football team and be a contender. Everything's in place.