Following the departure of former head coach Kevin Sumlin, Tony Levine took the helm with the Cougars on Dec. 22. After defeating No. 22 Penn State in the Ticket City Bowl, Levine confronted the challenges of being the man in charge. The Daily Cougar caught up with Levine to get his thoughts on the season seven games in.
The Daily Cougar: How would you evaluate your first seven games as head coach this season?
Tony Levine: One thing about being a head football coach, or a head coach of any sport, is building a successful program and maintaining its consistency, which is a process that takes time. It’s something that does not happen overnight, and we’re working extremely hard every day. In establishing that consistency, while you’re focusing on the present, you’re also spending a great deal of time on the future — the recruiting aspect of it. A lot of people are not pleased with our current record of 3-4, and I would be at the top of that list, but I like where the direction of our program is headed in the immediate future and in the long-term.
TDC: At what point did you know you wanted to be a head coach?
TL: I’ve always wanted to coach. I determined I wanted to be a head coach when I got into coaching. In my first year coaching, I was a high school assistant, and our head ninth grade coach as a 22-year old — really that gave me my first taste of coaching. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a head coach.
TDC: Talk about your coaching staff and what it was like putting together a staff for the first time.
TL: It was one of the toughest things to do as a head coach. You’ve got to hire nine full-time assistants, half a dozen graduate assistants and quality control coaches, a strengths coach and a strengths staff, a support staff, director of player personnel, director of football operations and a director of recruiting. What made it difficult, in no particular order, what that I was not looking to hire my friends. I wanted people who were the best for our program, people who wanted to be here, men who had great character and I thought were great teachers. If they were married, they were great husbands. If they had kids, they were great fathers and they would care a lot about our program. I think the guys we’ve got in our program all fit those parameters.
TDC: Mentally, as a head coach, what helps you keep a positive attitude through the long days and tough times?
TL: What I look to — and I told this to one of my assistants today — is number one, being around our players and their energy, enthusiasm and outlook is something very positive on a day-to-day basis. Then, knowing what the future is going to look like. When I say future, I mean immediate future, as in a month from now, and distant future as in a year, two years or three years from now. People that follow our program, while they want instant gratification, you know we are going to be successful — it’s going to be in the near future and consistently in the not so distant future.