New job, new perspective

Todd Cline

Jess Simpson's office is still in the weight room. But very little else is the same for the former Buford football assistant.

Simpson knew his life would change when he was promoted to head coach after Dexter Wood's retirement. But he couldn't fully appreciate the vastness of the new job until the title was his.

With spring practice behind him - the Wolves finished with a scrimmage last Thursday followed by a Friday meeting - you'd assume Simpson would have time to reflect on how this whole head coaching thing is going.

And you'd be wrong.

In a job that's sink or swim, there's no time to tread water. What has surprised Simpson most is how his focus has changed from being reactive to being proactive.

"I hate the fact that I'm having to look at my watch during practice," he said. "I find myself as concerned about issues today as I am about issues a year from today."

When you're constantly thinking about tomorrow there's not a lot of time to worry about yesterday. Especially when it comes to critiquing your own status.

Simpson said he started out spring practice wondering if he'd be comfortable in his own skin. By the time balls were hiked and passes thrown those concerns went out the window, replaced by the daily struggle of making sure everything was running smoothly.

With so much expected of him, Simpson said it was easy to remember that he was now a head coach.

"I didn't evaluate myself except that I was going to be prepared," Simpson said on Monday as he was getting ready for a speed camp for youth players. "I just go to bed every night with a list of so much to do that it's hard to forget what's staring you in the eyes."

Just because things are different doesn't mean Simpson isn't enjoying his new job. A member of the Buford staff since 1995, he likes having a new challenge and he's never been afraid of hard work.

It's just that now the work is very different.

"Now you're a CEO trying to manage people correctly," he said. "That's been a real eye opener for me. It's knowing that you are going to have an issue at some level every day and it's up to you to come up with solutions.

"There's a thousand different people pulling you in a bunch of directions."

Wood, Simpson's mentor, has purposely stayed away and that has been the toughest thing, the new head coach said. He misses having Wood around, but he knows it's part of the process.

It's now Simpson's job. His chance to sink or swim. His time to think about tomorrow and the next day and the days after that.

Todd Cline can be reached via e-mail at todd.cline@gwinnettdailypost.com . His column appears on Tuesdays.