February 20, 2014
This fall, the Hamilton football program will head in a new direction. Following the resignation of head coach Andrew Cohen after two seasons, Athletic Director and Professor of Physical Education Jon Hind has assumed a one-year interim term as his replacement.
Given his football coaching and playing experience, as well as the time constraints under which the Athletic Department had to replace Cohen, the appointment made sense.
“It’s a moment to take a diagnostic approach to our football program in general,” asserted Hind. “Overall, I want to embed myself in the program to get an overall sense of the culture, a comprehensive view of Hamilton football.”
Hind was frank about his desire to unearth what has gone wrong in recent years, as well as implement changes that would put Hamilton football back on the winning track. “We need to sort through areas where we have been inefficient or lacking,” he said. “The three words I’ve used are perspective, patience and perseverance. That’s the position I’m in—I’m trying to gain a full perspective and figure out what about Hamilton football needs changed or fine-tuned.”
Hind does have fairly extensive previous head coaching experience, albeit in a different sport.
The Hamilton graduate enjoyed a successful lacrosse coaching career, with stops at the College of Wooster from 1987-1991 and Butler University from 1993-1999, where he guided the Bulldogs to six winning seasons in seven years.
In terms of past football experience, Hind was an offensive lineman for the Continentals and coached the running backs in 1985. He went on to coach at Wooster from 1986-1990, serving as the team’s offensive coordinator the last two seasons.
Hind only plans to coach the football team for a single season. Thus, a comprehensive evaluation of the future holds nearly as much importance as however many wins and losses he compiles. “We’re trying to assess who the right person is,” he says. “You’re always wondering if you have the next head coach within your staff already.”
Indeed, all six assistant coaches on Cohen’s staff are currently slated to return, as none have expressed any desire to step down following Cohen’s resignation.
Though he did not commit to promoting a current assistant to be the College’s full-time head coach, Hind noted he would use next season as an opportunity to evaluate Hamilton’s internal options for the position.
Moreover, while Hind expressed an intention to lean heavily on his staff as he imbues himself in the program, he also emphasized greater clarity and communication with the players.
“I’ve had separate conversations with several of the players,” explains Hind. “I met with [the team] the day after Coach Cohen’s resignation…I want to know why our players chose to come here, what they feel the strengths and weaknesses of the institution are and what their level of commitment to the program is.”
As a Division III program, Hamilton is not authorized to hold spring practices, which will provide more time for Hind to familiarize himself with Hamilton’s offensive and defensive schemes. In discussing the X’s-and-O’s, he admitted he would have a steep learning curve and reintegration after being away from football coaching for over 20 years, but that the extra time should allow him to be ready when the season commences in the fall.
As for Cohen, Hind would not delve into the reasons behind the erstwhile coach’s decision, stating that “it would be pure speculation” to talk about hisdecision to leave. Hind did say that Cohen sent an e-mail out to his players informing them of his resignation on February 1.
It’s no secret that the Continentals football program has fallen on hard times. In Cohen’s two-year tenure, Hamilton went just 1-15, with only Tufts (0-16) faring worse among NESCAC teams.
When a team loses that consistently, the issue stretches beyond talent and into the program’s foundation and principles. The immediate impetus is to reverse the demoralizing atmosphere surrounding Hamilton football, one that has drained its players and coaches.
Hind may or may not prove more successful than Cohen in terms of wins and losses, but if he can revitalize a disillusioned culture and eradicate a “who cares?” mentality, he will ultimately have done his job.