Former Bradwell Institute assistant head football coach Ross Couch can take the word "assistant" from his title.
Couch, named the Tigers’ head coach on Tuesday, replaces Greg Hill, who went 3-26 before resigning in December.
Couch served on Hill’s staff for two years before taking a job last season at defensive coordinator at Windsor Forest, where he helped a program that went 2-38 the previous four years finish 4-6 in 2016.
Bradwell Principal Scott Carrier and BI Athletic Director Ken Hill said they are glad.
"I am very pleased and excited that coach Couch has once again joined our staff," Carrier said. "I am confident that he will be a great asset to our school both as a classroom teacher and as a head football coach. He has proven this to Bradwell in the past."
Griffin, who is also the BI golf coach, said Couch’s understanding of the entire athletic program is important.
"Coach Couch is an asset for our athletic program," Griffin said. "Ross is very knowledgeable of an overall program. He believes in multi-sport play. This will benefit our athletes and help build our programs."
First, the Tigers’ new head coach faces a rebuilding job at BI, though there were signs the Tigers were beginning to turn things around last year when once-mighty Bradwell finished 3-6-1 after back-to-back 0-10 seasons. Last season included the Tigers’ first playoff appearance since 2009.
Couch said coach turnover has been "the root cause" of Bradwell’s struggles.
"Anytime you change coaching staffs regularly it makes it tough on the kids," Couch said, noting some players he coached at BI had three head coaches in their four years – and under Hill there were two offensive coordinators in three seasons.
"The first thing to do is establish consistency for the kids, continue what we’ve already started with the weight room and keep improving on what they’re doing in there," Couch said.
Players can expect their new head coach to demand they pay attention.
"I’m a discipline coach," Couch said. "Make the kids be accountable for little things, whether it’s
having the front concrete swept every day after practice or making sure equipment is in the right order in the locker room every day, with your helmet in a certain place and your shoulder pads put up a certain way. …and how our academics are kept up with."
But he won’t try to reinvent the wheel.
"We’ll expand on some things Coach Hill started," Couch said. "I think he left a really good blueprint. We’ll take some things to add to it, and modify some things, but I believe in discipline, structure and accountability."
His staff is a work in progress. Bradwell has slots for two coordinators and 10 assistant coaches, and Couch plans to meet with Hill’s assistants and go from there. He’s also not ready to commit to a scheme despite his background coaching "even number" defensive fronts.
"Once we see them out in the weight room and see them running, that’ll dictate more what direction we go," Couch said. "We want to put them in the best position to be successful and we’re not going to try to shove a square block in a round hole."
He points to two former Swainsboro coaches, David Johnson and Ken Eldridge, who inspired him to coach football.
"(They) really laid the foundation for how I want to lead a football program. They both set great examples and made me want to be better than what I was," Couch said.
But Couch, whose wife Jamie is an ER nurse in Savannah and brother Chris is an assistant for Willie Fritz at Tulane, said he didn’t get into coaching because of those men. Instead, Couch’s background explains why he’s a coach and one who, as Griffin put it, "believes in multi-sport play," for students.
"Both my parents were in education," Couch said. "My dad was a biology teacher and coach for 33 years, coached baseball and softball and football and basketball, and even was a swimming coach for a couple of years. My mom was a math teacher. And, growing up and watching them doing it for years, and being on every field or court imaginable, it gets ingrained in you."
Now, he hopes to have the same sort of impact.
"Both me and my brother are really driven by the example my parents gave, and my dad was the best possible role model we could possibly have had," Couch said. "I hope I can have the same impact on these kids."