The best time to hire a coach is when he’s not looking to leave his current position. Let’s be clear about this: Darren Allman had every reason to stay as Austin Westlake’s head football coach and athletic director and not even consider the opening at Colleyville Heritage.
Allman won 72 percent of his games (between Westlake and Odessa Permian), took Westlake to the 2009 state championship game and the 2012 state semifinals. Colleyville Heritage had been a solid program. Playing for state championships seemed out of reach.
But all it took was Phil Blue’s phone call, a little probing, a little selling and a little convincing to lure Allman away from the state capital.
That’s what executive athletic directors are supposed to do. That’s why Phil Blue was hired to become the GCISD executive AD.
That’s why Allman is here.
As this process evolved, Allman realized Colleyville and Westlake presented similarities. The difference was that Allman didn’t have to push paper as the athletic director. That’s Blue’s job.
“I wanted a place for my family that would be in a great area and where academics and athletics go hand in hand,” Allman said. “There are a lot of good things taking place here. That’s why we did it.”
Allman is a week into his new position. Aside from unloading boxes, scrambling to hire a coaching staff and deciding how spring football can even work amid all of this mayhem, he has to settle the concerns of more of 150 players throughout the program.
He also has to assure a community that this program can reach higher levels than it’s witnessed. You get paid six figures to do that by winning a bunch of football games and doing other things like practicing on Thanksgiving.
“We just explained to the kids that the current and former coaches still care about them and that coaching changes are a part of the business,” Allman said. “We wanted them to feel comfortable and that I didn’t come in out of default. I came in here guns blazing. I chose to come here. I felt I had something to offer.”
Allman will offer a stark contrast to what Mike Fuller developed. If you’ve ever watched Clemson’s offense, you’ll see two backs, shotgun formations and use of a tight end. The quarterback will be under center. It doesn’t have to be short-yardage or goal line packages. Then there’s a 3-4 base defensive alignment that can flex out and provide multiple fronts.
How well this all develops before the 2014 season is the unknown. Allman knew what he was walking into when he accepted this position.
Colleyville Heritage is part of a new Class 6A district that features powers in Carroll, Coppell and Euless Trinity. When those districts were released, the first thing that probably came across CHHS supporters minds was they were going to be fighting Hurst L.D. Bell for the last playoff spot behind the Dragons, Cowboys and Trojans.
Colleyville Heritage has had more than its share of issues with the Dragons and Trojans. But there’s a first time for everything. The mentality is that this program needs the athletes to do it, but it also needs the belief that is can really win. Picking off one of those three would be the major step in the right direction.
“When you get that win, it changes everything,” Allman said. “It changes how you look at yourself and how other teams look at you. We’re here to take this program to another level and create a stronger identity.”