Coach of big names: Faces of Horned Frogs prepped Schultz for moment

Published 7:45 pm Thursday, December 22, 2016

BEAUMONT — To understand Mike Schultz’s style of managing a coaching staff — although Lamar is his first head coaching job — is to understand how he worked with two of his mentors in the business, Dennis Franchione and Gary Patterson.

“Nothing happened without Fran and I talking about it or having some dialogue between each other,” said Schultz, who followed the former Alabama and Texas A&M coach from Southwest Texas State (now Texas State) to New Mexico and to TCU. “Any major issue, any decision we made, it was not done without us talking about it.”

Schultz, who was introduced as the head Cardinal on Thursday, stayed at TCU as an offensive coordinator when Franchione became Alabama’s head coach in 2001 and spent the next eight seasons under Patterson.

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“Gary Patterson is a defensive coach, no doubt about it,” Schultz said. “He gives you a lot of freedom as an offensive coach. He let me have a lot of input on who I put on staff. Gary has the final decision, I want to clarify that, but I had a lot input on who I thought was the best guy.”

Schultz, who turns 59 on Jan. 3, will pay Patterson’s act forward with his own staff.

His management style is to give ownership of the team back to the assistant coaches.

“I’m not a micromanager,” he said. “When [the ownership] is there, I think we put a lot more effort into it. I’m going to let people do what they need to do.”

That’s not to say Schultz won’t have his hand “firmly entrenched in every aspect” of the team, he cautioned, but he enjoys letting his assistants take ownership.

“Mike has been with me through a lot of years,” Franchione said in a statement. “He and I have turned around a lot of programs, and he knows the formula and knows what it will take.”

Schultz said during his introductory speech he is in the process of organizing a staff but did not offer a timeline. It is not known whether any of the assistant coaches who’ve remained at Lamar following Ray Woodard’s firing will be retained.

The players, who have been out of class since Wednesday for the holiday break, have yet to meet with Schultz. He planned on calling each one that’s returning by Christmas Day, which is Sunday, and assure them of the hiring process.

“They’ve been in a little bit of a disarray. They haven’t had leadership here at the top,” Schultz said. Woodard was fired Nov. 21.

Ask Schultz about his coaching style, and he’ll boast of his passion in doing so. He gave an example when asked about his favorite story of mentoring LaDainian Tomlinson, a semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2017.

“LaDainian Tomlinson is fixing to make his run for the Heisman Trophy,” Schultz said, recalling the 2000 season at TCU. “Now, guys, this is going into his senior year. He put the ball on the ground in practice one day. I took him off to the side, I put the ball on the ground, and I said, ‘Cover it.’ I took it, I batted it and put it over here and I made him recover it again. I coached him hard. LaDainian Tomlinson still talks about that.”

Seven years later, Katy native Andy Dalton took over the TCU offense as a redshirt freshman quarterback and began a career in which he threw for 10,314 yards and 71 touchdowns. Schultz coached Dalton, now the Cincinnati Bengals star, in his first two collegiate seasons.

“Andy may be the most upstanding kid I ever met,” Schultz said. “Andy doesn’t do anything wrong, and he doesn’t give you any reason to get mad at him or get on him. He’s just a really good kid.

“He’s pretty straight-laced. He hasn’t touched a drop of alcohol in his life. Andy is a straight-laced, good Christian kid. Was he a good player? Wow.”

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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