Early in Bobby April's career, the Eagles' special teams coordinator could have focused on defense. He chose special teams because he wanted to be a head coach and figured it was the surest path.
"I thought the best avenue to my goal, which was to be a head coach, was special teams," April said. "The problem was, I think I was the only one that thought that."
April is now a long-time special teams coordinator, and one of the most successful ones. But he seldom receives interest in becoming a head coach. Ravens coach John Harbaugh suffered from a similar plight when he was with the Eagles. Harbaugh's hire in 2008 was a major move for special teams coordinators.
I think there’s a culture, even with as good as John has done, because in the last five years, the guys that have been hired in the last five years, no one has come close to doing as well," April said. "In fact, some places have hired three guys since he’s been hired. His last year, or his second to last year, he still had all those capabilities. I think he’s made a big mark because over the last five years or before he was hired, no special teams coaches were ever even interviewed. Now, there were certain situations, like I got interviewed in Buffalo but I was on the staff. No one from somewhere else. So it never happened.
"I remember, [Ravens owner Steve] Bisciotti, even in the initial interviews saying this is really rare, but we want to do this and that. So, it was an aberration to do it but I think what he has done, just this past year, I think there were three coaches interviewed for head coaching jobs that were special teams coaches. That would have never happened without John’s ability to pioneer to the owners, to the general managers, that these guys can do it, too."
Eagles coach Andy Reid made a case for special teams coordinators on Wednesday. He explained how special teams coordinator deal with the most players of any assistant coach and also deal with the media. April explained how it's more of an adminstrative position than any other coach on the staff, and the special teams coordinator is dealing with players from both sides of the ball.
"Even in Bill Walsh’s book, he says it’s the best position to move from to be a head coach," April said. "He recognized the administrative, the overall, the detail to getting something from every player, getting players to do stuff that they really don’t want to do. It’s a constant day-in, day-out training on the job to be a head coach.”