Photo via Todd Gill/Fayetteville Flyer
After taking over the Southern Methodist University football program in late 2014 — following a four-year stint as the offensive coordinator at Clemson — coach Chad Morris went from 2-10 in his first season to a bowl game in Year 3. He has since taken the head-coaching job at the University of Arkansas.
Morris will speak at this year's USA Football National Conference in Orlando, Florida, from 2 to 2:45 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 26.
Here’s a look at Morris' pathway to success:
Q: What are your first football memories?
A: Playing little league in Plano, Texas, PSA (Plano Sports Authority). We were the Wildcats and my dad was the coach.
Q: Who was your high school coach, and how did he shape the player and coach you were to become?
A: I had several high school coaches that impacted my life – David Whiting, JD Laprade, Jimmy Lee McEnturff and Jack Shellnutt. They pushed me beyond my limits and challenged me to be more and do more. They taught me that the only way you lose is if you don’t get back up.
Q: What other coaches do you consider to be primary mentors, and what did you learn from them?
A: Growing up in Dallas, I loved watching Coach Tom Landry. Also Coach Bill Belichick and the way he has built the Patriots, and working for (current Arizona State coach) Todd Graham (at Tulsa) and experiencing his passion for the game. Dabo Swinney was and is a huge mentor to me. His vision in building a program at Clemson, his relationship with his players and his family-first mentality are all second to none.
Q: You coached Texas high school football for 16 years. How would you describe it to someone who’s not from there?
A: I have recruited across the entire country and have seen some great programs, but the passion, community support and facilities are incredible in our home state. It’s football year-round.
Q: What were the top reasons for your team's steady improvement during your three seasons at SMU?
A: It (was) a complete culture change. Culture is a belief that drives a behavior that produces a result – the ability to just be where your feet are every day. We concentrate on daily wins and how we respond to the situations and circumstances that are 100 percent in our control – just be present, not perfect.
Q: How many hours go into your average work week, both in-season and the offseason?
A: In-season, I don’t get caught up in total hours worked. This is not an 8-to-5 job. It requires a commitment. If I had to guess, approximately 115 hours per week. Offseason is spent recruiting, so you are in a different mindset. The hours don’t vary very much.
Q: What advice do you have for young coaches who are just starting out, who have Division I or NFL aspirations?
A: There is no job too big or too small. If someone has to tell you to do something, you probably will not last in this business. There is always work to be done. Hunt work. You may not have the greatest knowledge of the game, and that’s OK, just don’t be outworked. Always learn something daily. Focus on getting better every day at something.