Hazell gives assistants chance to lead Flashes into game day

Senior linebacker Dorian Wood tackles a Murray State player. Photo by Erinn Best.

Senior linebacker Dorian Wood tackles a Murray State player. Photo by Erinn Best.

A.J. Atkinson

The football coach on a college campus is often the face of the team and sometimes even the face of the university — such as Penn State’s Joe Paterno or Alabama’s Nick Saban. Only the die-hard fans know any of the assistant coaches’ names.

At Kent State, however, coach Darrell Hazell does things a little differently. Hazell shares his role as head coach each week by appointing one of his assistant coaches as “head coach of the week.”

For instance, tight ends coach Dave McMichael was the head coach of the week when the Flashes played Louisiana, and offensive line coach Chris Bache is the head coach for this week as the team prepares for Kansas State.

The role of the head coach of the week is mainly to study and know the upcoming opponent the best they can and present the team with that information.

Hazell said it is highly effective because the coaches make the most of their opportunity to act as head coach for a week.

“It gets (the coaches) invested,” Hazell said. “They really dive into studying the team that much more by giving them that title that week. They’re supposed to be the expert of that team. We should be able to go to that coach and he should know everything about that team.”

Linebackers coach Marcus Freeman said he believes one of the reasons the assistants get so invested is because they remember how the last assistant addressed the team and get excited to show their own style of presenting the team.

“I think we all strive to be head coaches someday,” Freeman said. “(Being the head coach of the week) gives you a chance for you to think, ‘If I was the head coach, I would present the team this way.’”

The use of more than one coach always presenting the team is beneficial to both the players and the coaches, Freeman said.

“It allows players to see how other coaches coach and coaches get to know all the players better,” Freeman said. “Coach Bache coaches with a lot of passion, and my linebackers were able to get that.”

In no way, however, is this Hazell’s way of lessening his coaching responsibilities. The main responsibility of the position is to go over the opponent’s defensive and offensive schemes, key players to watch and injuries.

Freeman laughed as he said in no way does Hazell hand over his whistle to the head coach of the week for the practices or the play calling in the game.

“Hazell takes his whistle back and he’s the head coach,” Freeman said. “You don’t run out there Saturday and take over the calls. When we come out and get between the white lines, Hazell is the head coach.”

Saturday will show how well Bache prepared the team for Kansas State. He said his scouting of the Wildcats has shown they demonstrate quickness and speed. They run multiple options with their scrambling quarterback.

The Kent State defense has looked strong this season. Hazell said in the press conference after the 20-12 loss to Louisiana that he felt the defense was only responsible for three of the Cajuns’ 20 points. It will be interesting to see how the Flashes’ defense matches up to the Wildcats’ offense.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday in Kansas at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Contact A.J. Atkinson at [email protected].