New head football coach Jeff Sims is not waiting around.
The new figurehead atop the Garden City Community College football program portrayed a lot of confidence when he was introduced in November. He assured those in attendance that with the right support, the right resources and the right players, GCCC and the city of Garden could again see the success on the gridiron that once seemed to be a given.
But the process isn’t going to be easy, either, and Sims has begun to take those first steps since his arrival in Garden City in early December.
“This is by far the best community college that I’ve been a part of,” Sims, who previously has coached at three other junior colleges and played at another, said in a telephone interview on Sunday. “The college has the best resources and the best opportunities of any place I’ve ever been. They want to be successful. They want to graduate students. They want to put a football program on the field that represents western Kansas — tough, hard-working people.
“What I have to do, I have to show them what a successful junior college program in 2014 is.”
That begins with how and who the Broncbusters recruit, Sims said, noting that the previous issues he’s come across in recruiting is that schools did not adapt to the young players that the school needed to recruit.
“Our job is to service 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds,” Sims said. “Everything we do should be built in a way that engages them, educates them and supports them in a way that they can be successful on and off the field.”
Sims said that one of the responsibilities for his incoming assistant coaches would be to strengthen the football team’s social media platforms.
Coaches cannot just rely on calling recruits anymore, he said. Coaches must communicate with players in a multitude of ways to remain competitive in the demanding recruiting hotbed that is Kansas football.
“You can’t just say, ‘Well this is how I used to do it.’ Well, you’re building a team that would be successful in 2004,” Sims said.
Another big change, Sims said, was that he is planning to put together a 10-member coaching staff, which would make it the largest in the KJCCC.
By comparison, the Busters’ staff for the 2014 season was six.
Sims believes that will be a big boost to the football team, given that many of the schools in the Jayhawk Conference had larger staffs than GCCC in 2014.
“When they have nine coaches, and you have five coaches, they should beat you,” Sims said of the reason to hire more assistants going forward.
In the KJCCC, five coaches are allowed on the road recruiting at any given time, leaving GCCC at a severe disadvantage in the past if the school desired to keep at least one or two coaches at the school to help current players.
“If I keep three to five coaches at home, who’s on the road?” Sims said. “Jayhawk recruiting is the most difficult in the country. Kids have a lot of offers so it makes it really, really challenging.”
So Sims said he is planning to have his entire staff together by Jan. 2, when he will announce the coaches as a group.
The five assistants under previous head coach Matt Miller — Oscar Rodriguez, Jared Powers, Eric Hickson, Darrell Shropshire, Jordan Sanders — are all still employed as assistants, Sims said, noting he’s offered them some type of role to stay on at the college.
“They’ll be asked to meet expectations, and they have done that up until this point in time,” Sims said. “I just don’t believe you fire people that are making $25,000 to $35,000 and moved here to help the college.”
However, Sims did announce the hiring of assistant Nate Haremza, who previously was on the staff at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College and a player at Butler in 2009-11 and at Southern Illinois University from 2012 to 2013.
Sims said Haremza is important to being able to recruit western Kansas because he is a Larned native, he played at a Jayhawk school, and he knows what it takes to compete against the out-of-state players who are largely more talented.
“The No. 1 thing I’m looking for from a Kansas kid is that he’s tough,” Sims said. “Someone who will work hard. From out of state, we’re looking for the most talented players in the country.”
With 20 out-of-state players allowed on Jayhawk rosters, 43 in-state players will provide the foundation of a good program, Sims said.
“Kansas players set the tone for our football program,” Sims said. “They’ll set the work ethic and how we play, and the out-of-state players will assimilate. And our out-of-staters will bring an athleticism and talent level to the team to push the Kansas kids.”
The recruitment of those players is why Sims has Jan. 2 as his goal date to complete the coaching staff, with national signing day just over a month later on Feb. 5, which Sims said he called the first “game day” for the college in a meeting with the Broncbuster Athletic Association.
“The reason I met with them is, I showed them a video of Nick Saban in his first press conference at Alabama,” Sims said. “In it, Saban says, ‘It’s not what the football coach is going to do for a program, it’s about what we’re all going to do.’
“If we really want to be the best JUCO football program, we all have to be the best. We can’t try to be the best on 12 Saturdays of the year. We have to be the best 353 days a year, and those other 12 days will take care of themselves.”