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How Jay Hill Turned Weber State Football Program Around

Head coach Jay Hill of the Weber State Wildcats stands on the sidelines during their game against the California Golden Bears at California Memorial Stadium on September 9, 2017 in Berkeley, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Jay Hill was an assistant coach at the University of Utah for 14 years before deciding to take over the head coaching duties at Weber State University. His coaching career started in 2001 as a graduate assistant (GA) but it did not take long before he found the trust of Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham and became a full time assistant in 2005.

In 2014, Hill took a leap of faith taking over a Weber State Wildcat football program that had a total of four wins over the previous two seasons. It took Hill one year to teach his players how to win, in his second season in charge he gave the Wildcat fans their first winning season in 5 years.

Hill joined Tom Hackett and Andy Phillips on their podcast, Special Forces Gang and gave some insight into how he turned the program around.

The APR

One of the reasons Hill could not turn the program around during his first year was due to an NCAA rule. According to ncaa.org “teams must earn a four year average Academic Progress Rate or  APR of 930 to compete in championships.”

“Each student athlete receiving athletically related financial aid earns one point for staying in school and one point for being academically eligible,” ncaa.org states. “A team’s total points are divided by points possible and then multiplied by 1,000 to equal the teams APR.”

“We also have rules like the APR, and I could not kick players off the team that probably should have been kicked off. I think that was one of the reasons why we could not flip things around that first year like we wanted to because we still had guys holding back and I could not get rid of everyone because of NCAA rules and APR,” Hill said.

Progress Delayed

“That delayed our progress for a while. You can get better by addition but you can also get better by subtraction, and getting rid of some of the problems.”

That was exactly what Hill did and it began paying off in his second season.

“We (Weber State) had to get working harder, and we had to get more talent in here, and we had to start doing things the right way so that our expectations could match the results,” Hill said. “Once we started doing that you could tell that something flipped in the players, where, they (the players) actually said we got a chance to be good and then they started working harder and believing and they started playing for each other. All those little things that make a good team, we started doing,” he added.

History

Since 2014, Weber State has had three consecutive trips to the NCAA FCS Playoffs. “The last two season’s have been the best two seasons in Weber State History”, Hill said on Special Forces Gang. “We are still scratching the surface, we can still take another step, have higher expectations and be one of the top two teams in the country.”

The Podcast

To listen to the full podcast, click here. Don’t forget to rate and subscribe!