It’s been exactly 190 days since Mike McCoy was introduced as the newest head coach of the San Diego Chargers.
Now he only has one more day before the 2013 season kicks off with the first practice of training camp.
For many fans the wait may have seemed painfully long, but for the head coach, the past seven months went by in a flash.
“These months have gone by fast,” he said from his office overlooking the fields at Chargers Park. “Something would come up every day for me and (general manager) Tom Telesco. But with all the changes we were making, we had a plan in place. We were busy. We were dedicated to laying the foundation for the future of the organization on how we want to do things around here on a day-to-day basis.”
The words “plan” and “culture” have been buzz words for both McCoy and Telesco this offseason, and with good reason. They’ve worked tirelessly to transform the Chargers in the image they see fit. For McCoy, a key component of building the winning culture here in San Diego was beginning by constructing a well-respected, intelligent and hard-working staff.
“I was very fortunate to get some great advice,” he said. “There’s a short amount of time to get a staff together, and I came into this with a list of coaches I’ve had that if I was ever fortunate enough to be hired as a head coach, these are guys that I would want as coaches. And it all happened so fast, having just played in a playoff game shortly before being hired. I listened to some of my very close friends and people I have a lot of respect for in this business. They helped me put this staff together. After hiring certain people on this staff, I took their advice on other people they worked with and knew. So I had a good idea of who I wanted, but I also took advice from the right people. I couldn’t be happier with this group. We are very fortunate as an organization to not only have very good football coaches, but great people.”
As a result of the hard work the coaching staff put in, McCoy is pleased with the state of the team heading into training camp.
“We’ll continue to build off what we did already during the offseason,” he said. “And I’m happy with the way things went in OTA’s and minicamp. But as coaches, we’re still learning about this football team. Training Camp is going to be the first time we have these guys in pads, so we will see what happens.”
One unique aspect of training camp compared to the regular season is that many practices are open to the fans. Making training camp even more fan friendly than ever was a point of emphasis for McCoy, who says he wants to see as many supporters as possible flock to Chargers Park.
“Incorporating the fans is the only way Tom and I know how to do it,” he said matter-of-factly. “From the way we grew up, it’s the access we always wanted to have. It’s important for the people who not only have tickets, but those who may not be as fortunate to go to games every Sunday. We’ve got to expand our fan base to as many people as we can, so to have some little kid come to a practice who isn’t able to get a ticket to a game, this is their chance to be up close and personal with the team. And really, they are a lot closer to the players than they get on game day.”
McCoy has an idea of what type of synergy he wants to see between the fans and his players.
“I want to see excitement and energy,” he said. “We’re going to work extremely hard, practice fast and play fast. We will be known as a team that works and plays extremely hard for four quarters regardless of what the score is. If we’re up or down, we’re going to play extremely hard and have a good time. When good things happen, we’ll celebrate together.”
McCoy has been a part of training camp as either a player or a coach for the past 17 years. He’s seen it all, yet one thing always remains a favorite of his each and every summer.
“To me, I love learning more and more about my football team,” he said. “The team changes every year whether you like it or not. There are transactions that happen. Guys come and guys go. You bring in new guys. And if you are fortunate enough to be on the same staff for a while, that’s great, but there are always changes that are made. So I learn something new every year about the personality of the team and the organization. I like figuring out the right buttons to push for each player. Some guys are coming off great years; others may come off disappointing years. My job is to get these guys going in different ways. And I’m excited about this season. We have a great group of guys and I look forward to getting out there with them.”
In the end, though, McCoy will have to evaluate each and every player on the field and trim the roster from 90 to 53. There is no surefire formula when it comes to making those decisions. But according to the head coach, he bases it on a wide mixture both on and off the field.
“It’s everything,” McCoy said. “When you pick a football team, you have to look at everything. Obviously game film doesn’t lie. That’s full speed. That’s realistic. But then again, you have to look at the whole picture of things. What does the guy do in the classroom? How is he off the field? How is he with his teammates? How is he in practice? What changes in practice from games? Some guys may not look very good in practice, but in games they are lights out. Or it’s vice versa where in practice they blow everybody out but in games they disappear. So I think it’s a combination of everything. You have to look at the big picture.”
Don’t miss your chance to “look at the big picture” by being a part of this year’s training camp. Thursday marks the first open date for fans to watch the Chargers. Click here for more information on how you can watch the action first hand.