The following is the second of a three part series on the Alabama Football Coaches Association. In this segment, ALFCA Executive Director Jack Wood answers some questions about the association and how it operates on behalf of the coaches in the state.
1) What is the yearly membership of the Alabama Football Coaches Association and what does a coach receive by being a member? We have maintained some 1800 members per year plus some "allied memberships" of college coaches. We were even able to keep those numbers during the Covid crisis which was really amazing. Membership in the ALFCA entitles each coach to attend the convention and clinic at a price that we have purposely kept at a low rate and cannot be matched anywhere. Coaches may nominate their fellow coaches for the Coach of the Year and Assistant Coach of the Year awards and of course, be eligible for those awards themselves. We have a first class scholarship program and coaches can nominate students at their school as well as their own children for these awards. The ALFCA provides three socials per year at the summer conference, the Super 7 championships and at our own convention. We also provide All State certificates for all players in the state. The board and myself keep up with the issues of high school football in the state, and we discuss those at our board meetings as well as in our general assembly meeting of the association at the convention in January.
2) Does the ALFCA really provide a voice for coaches in the state? How does the association decide when to support a proposal or a cause and when to not get involved? Absolutely! This was one of the points in our by laws, that we were to serve as a group to discuss football issues and support what we believed to be important causes or rule changes. Our members can go to our board members with suggestions and input for proposals, and those will be discussed at our board meeting. They can also be talked over at the general assembly meeting. at the convention. If the board and general assembly vote to get behind a proposal, we will support it fully by corresponding with every school. If the coaches are divided on something, we will not get involved in it. We have been very successful with this in the past. The "Zero Week" proposal several years ago was one we got behind and helped to get passed that has been good for football in the state. I would also say that our association has had a great relationship over the years with the AHSAA and Steve Savarese. They are really good to give me a call about football issues and get our take on what is going on. Steve would always come to a couple of our board meetings and talk football. I feel certain we will continue that relationship with Coach Briggs. Finally, I would tell our members to call me or any of our board members with any questions or concerns or to just discuss any football issues. If a member has a proposal they feel passionately about, they are welcome to come to our July board meeting and discuss it there.
3) Who is responsible for organizing the ALFCA Convention and Banquet? Who decides on the speakers and why have we stayed at the Embassy Suites in Montgomery all of these years? As executive director, I am responsible for organizing the convention, but I use Jennifer Byrd, our executive assistant, and some help from the board. Jennifer is primarily responsible for the banquet and does an incredible job. We are always taking suggestions for speakers, even as much as a year ahead of time. The college guys we bring in on Thursday nights are mostly about availability because recruiting is still going on. We will always have Alabama and Auburn represented as well as some of the small colleges in the state. We are always looking for high school coaches to speak on Friday and our members are good to make suggestions. The high school guys have done a great job with their presentations. Plus, if one of our members would like to speak, they just need to let me or one of our board members know that. It takes a lot of others to run the clinic and banquet and do it first class which is always our goal. We know that we are kind of maxed out space wise at the Embassy, but they have been great to work with and have given us a really good price to hold our convention for 17 years. The Embassy also gives our members a great room rate, you just have to get your reservation in by the cutoff date. Plus you get free happy hour and free breakfast there, and that has been real popular with everyone. We have looked at some other things, but nothing has beat the Embassy out so far. We are always looking for ways to improve the convention. We would love to increase the attendance at the General Assembly meeting and we are looking at maybe changing it to another time to help with that.
4) How are the winners selected for the Coach of the Year Awards? We send out nomination forms to every school in the state and our member coaches can nominate anyone they feel worthy, even in other classifications from their own. The nomination forms are also on our website. We select the winners at our board meeting we have each year at Super 7. Our board members serve on selection committees with one serving as chairman for each committee. They research the candidates that have been nominated and get input from the rest of the board members and take a vote. I can say that the letters of recommendation written by the coaches making the nominations carry some weight in the room. It was important from the beginning that we have Assistant Coach of the Year Awards as well. So we give out 14 total per year. The winners get a plaque as well as a Coach of the Year ring, so it is really a nice award, selected by the peers. But in order to win you have to be nominated. In some of the smaller school classifications, we have very few nominations, which is disappointing. We have to do a better job as an association at encouraging nominations so they we have a bigger pool of names to consider. There are a lot or worthy coaches out there each year that should be considered.
In the last part of the series, Coach Wood discusses how coaches are selected to the board, the association finances, the scholarship program and the success and disappointments of his 17 years as the executive director of ALFCA.