The former head football coach was fired after four seasons. Flipping a page and starting a new chapter as head football coach, George Masten returns after leaving in 2017.
With a staff of eight new coaches, the program begins to rebuild its purpose after facing adversity.
Masten shares his past experience with the football program as he originally started here in 2009 as an assistant coach and took over as the head coach in 2014.
“When I first got here, the team was 0-26,” Masten said. “With the coaching staff that I have now, we turned the program around and in a few years we won the conference.”
The team went 9-1 in 2017, which was Masten’s last season coaching.
“We made it to the playoffs for the first time in a very long time,” Masten said. “Since 1997, I think it was the first or the second time it has been done.”
Strength coach Ryan Wood started coaching at Marshall in 2014, when Masten officially became the head coach.
“Anyone compared to coach Masten is not a fair comparison,” Wood said. “As far as I’m concerned, coach Masten is the best coach that a school could have.”
Wood said Masten has the best mixture of coaching techniques and is able to adjust accordingly.
“If more of a caring and empathetic coaching style is needed, then he’s caring and empathetic. If more of a strong-willed, strict coaching style is needed, then that’s what he’s going to give,” Wood said.
Matsen is exercising the technique of giving other coaches more opportunities to make independent decisions.
“My number one thing is [that] I’m not a micromanager. So I like to put the best people possible in those positions, fully trust them and let them run with what they do.”
Wood said he enjoys being able to specialize in his respective coaching role.
“He never comes into my realm, which is in the weight room and all things strength and conditions and says, I’d like to see us do X,Y, Z,” Wood said. “He fully trusts me to do what I know how to do.”
Regarding the weight room, Wood said that it’s not uncommon for coaches to tell him what to do and what not to do in his programs.
“It’s actually rare to get someone like coach Masten,” Wood said.
Defensive coordinator Kevin Bosworth also supports Masten’s technique, applying his own philosophy to spark growth in the teams’ defensive plays.
“I tell the players that I’m not the smartest tool in the shed, but I’m one of the hardest working tools in the shed,” Bosworth said. “The coaches that we have on staff, defensively, are using the techniques that they believe are the correct way of doing things.”
Another goal amongst the coaching staff is to create a more enthusiastic environment on the field.
“Sometimes we watch a lot of old film and they look like they weren’t excited about plays,” Bosworth said. “I want to make sure that the guys are having fun.”
Bosworth said he wants to steer away from a negative environment as he has had coaches in the past that were verbally loud and abusive to a certain extent.
“As a coach, I learned that personally, as a player, I responded better to the coaches who weren’t yelling strictly at me the whole time during practice,” Bosworth said.
It has become a major goal between the coaches this year to build relationships by verbally respecting their players.
“We respect the players as coach Masten and I are dads of old girls and these are our boys,” Bosworth said. “We treat them how we would want our sons to be treated.”
Senior team captain Derek Lenert said he notices greater effort from the new coaches and supports their visions for the program.
“The bond I have with these coaches is [one] I didn’t really have in the past with any of the other coaches,” Lenert said. “I’ve just been trying to get the underclassmen to really buy into what these coaches are doing here, because I know that if we all buy into the program, then we can be successful.”
Lenert expresses appreciation for the joint effort and support from all of the coaches.
“I know all the players couldn’t be more ecstatic about the new guys that they brought in,” Lenert said. “I think it’s something that we didn’t know we needed until they showed up.”
Ultimately, the coaches have started to see unity, creating hope for future growth within the program.
“That’s been the biggest goal this year, trying to get [the players] to go from being ‘I’s’ and ‘me’ players, to ‘us’ and ‘we,’” Masten said. “We have to be able to make a transition from that kind of selfish style of football to a team environment football.”