Dickey's Plan for Success: Character and Discipline
The 2008 season represents a new era in West Georgia Wolves football. Or is it a new beginning, a new day or some other overused, hoary phrase?
New football coach, Daryl Dickey.
The truth is, clichés don’t win football games. They also don’t turn around the perception of a football program, help student athletes graduate or ingrain the program into the fabric of both the campus and the community. Daryl Dickey came to West Georgia to do all of that.
As the fall season gets underway, Dickey, at the helm of West Georgia Wolves football, is frequently asked, “Can you win here?”
The coach never blinks with his answer, “The short answer is, yes!” He elaborated at length. “There is no question it can be done here. This school has a great academic environment and social environment, it has proximity to Atlanta and there is great high school football in this state. All the ingredients are here.”
He’s steadfast in his belief that not only can he do the job, but that he will return UWG football to the ranks of Gulf South Conference and NCAA contender. And he plans to do so by avoiding shortcuts and without compromising his ideals and integrity or those of the program and the university.
A simpler way to put it: Daryl Dickey plans to do things the right way.
Dickey wasn’t exactly sure about the state of West Georgia football when he first interviewed for the position late last fall.
Yes, he knew the records had not been good, evidenced by five losing seasons in the previous six years.
And yes, he had seen the Wolves on television, giving him at least a rough idea of the program’s talent level.
Yet, he also remembered the perception and the reality of the West Georgia teams he coached against three times in the years 1998-2000 while at Presbyterian College.
“I remembered a lot of really good football players; really physical football players,” Dickey said. “They were a well-coached, good football team. I scheduled West Georgia then to raise the perception of the Presbyterian football program.”
Presbyterian, at that time, had been in a slump and Dickey was busy restoring the Blue Hose to prominence in their conference and in Division II.
No stranger to rebuilding projects, Dickey emerged as the top candidate to undertake the overhauling of the program at UWG. He knew where the program had been, but he needed to know where it could go. Dickey says the answer came quickly.
“I was extremely impressed,” he said of what he saw at West Georgia. “What I found here blew me away. I saw a university totally committed to its young people. I saw a school that offers a great opportunity academically and to compete on the field at the highest level possible.”
In short, just as West Georgia was being sold on Dickey, the new coach was just as sold on West Georgia.
Still, tackling the daunting job of rebuilding a program as down as this one would require priorities. Dickey’s first at UWG might surprise many. No, it wasn’t recruiting or hiring a coaching staff.
“I wanted to a get a handle on where we were academically,” said the coach, reflecting on his first days in December. “I didn’t want this to be a rollover program. We want kids who will be here for the long haul and we had to see where our players stood in the classroom.”
Once that was accomplished, Dickey tackled his next challenge: putting together a coaching staff.
“We wanted the best people available,” he explained. “You can only be as good as the people surrounding you, and we think this is an excellent coaching staff.”
Dickey and his staff then set about the task of not only salvaging a good recruiting class, but bringing in players who would be at the ground floor of a program on the rise.
The new staff wanted good football players and good people. They were looking for student athletes who could and would compete on the field and in the classroom. Just as importantly, Dickey wanted players of good character.
Where better to accomplish that task than in a state where the high schools produce players who compare favorably with any in the country.
Dickey wants the cornerstone of his program to be recruits from Georgia high schools, and throughout the winter and spring he and his staff were walking into schools across the state.
As recruiting continued, UWG’s off-season program did too. Spring practice followed, which Dickey called “a chance for the coaches to get a feel for the players, and for them to get a feel for us.”
Shortly thereafter, it was time for finals and for the focus to shift toward the beginning of the 2008 season.
As for the 2008 season, the coach makes no promises on wins and losses. He does, however, want fans to like the product they see this season.
“We want to be known as a team that plays an upbeat style,” he said. “We want to be upbeat, physical and attacking in nature. I want us to play good defense and special teams, and try to score some points on offense. We will be a disciplined team.”
The coaching profession is like many others where people say the right things. However, with Dickey, it’s more than just hitting the talking points.
His fondness for the University of West Georgia was evident from the day he was hired. Any questions about that — and there really weren’t any — were answered when his daughter Karis enrolled at UWG for her freshman year this fall.
Dickey’s affection for the community was clear when the coach brought his family here in late spring and enrolled sons Dallas James and Drew in the Carrollton City School system.
Dickey came to West Georgia with a glowing resume. His successful building of an enduring program at Presbyterian, and his six seasons on the staff of Bobby Bowden at Florida State speak volumes. Also, the name Dickey has a special gravitas in southern college football, thanks to dad Doug and his success at Tennessee and Florida.
UWG Athletic Director Ed Murphy says of Dickey, “The man was born to be a head football coach.”
As West Georgia’s program grows and the university begins its move that will send the team to the Division I-FCS level, the entire UWG community will be more and more proud that its football coach is Daryl Dickey.
It’s already very apparent that the coach is proud to be here.
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