The Rise of Travis Trickett
By Matthew Osborne
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With spring practice at Samford starting two weeks from today, Trickett is looking forward to the opportunity to prove that, like his father, he is one of the elite coaches in the country.
Growing up the son of legendary offensive line coach Rick Trickett, current Samford co-offensive coordinator Travis Trickett has been around the game of football his entire life.
As a young child, Travis could often be spotted out on a college practice field, watching his father instruct future NFL stars from a distance. Elite college athletes and famous football coaches weren’t as much celebrities to Trickett as they were friends of the family.
Being raised in such an environment, it is easy to infer that Travis was always destined to follow in his father’s footsteps. It would have made for the picturesque story: legendary football coach takes his son under his wing and helps guide him into the world of coaching. According to Travis, however, his ascension into the coaching ranks could not have followed a more different path.
“When you look at a family like mine, you want to say ‘that kid doesn’t stand a chance, he’s going to be a football coach whether he likes it or not’, and that wasn’t really the situation with me and my family,” Travis commented on the presence of football early in his life. “My mom was big on academics, and my dad actually discouraged all of us from being football coaches. He didn’t want us to be coaches, because there’s not a lot of job security. He made sure that we all got our degree, and he really wanted us to do something other than football.”
Despite his father’s suggestion that he choose a profession outside of football, growing up around programs such as West Virginia, Auburn and LSU made it difficult for Travis not to catch the football bug.
Although Travis grew up in an environment where he was frequently subjected to the negative aspects of college coaching, it was the positive aspects of coaching that ultimately led to his decision to enter the field himself.
“I saw the good part of coaching. I saw the ability to change kids’ lives, lead people and really be a father figure.”
With his family constantly moving from town to town, Travis played his high school football at three different schools. A solid athlete in his own right, Travis spurned the possibility of playing college football at the Division II or Division III level in order to pursue a career in coaching. However, in order to pursue his dream, he knew that he was going to have to tell his father that he was planning on going into the one profession that his father did not want him to enter.
“I gathered up enough guts my junior year to tell my dad what I wanted to do. I told him I wanted to be football coach and he kind of got mad at first. He wanted to make sure that I was getting into it for the right reasons and that I wasn’t just trying to ride his coattails. He told me that I was going to have to earn it all my own.”
With his father offering up his blessing, but not so much his assistance, it was up to Travis to jumpstart his coaching career by himself.
Electing to enroll in college at West Virginia University in nearby Morgantown, a freshman Travis Trickett walked into then Mountaineer head coach Rich Rodriguez’s office to ask him for an opportunity to become a student assistant with the football program.
“I went to Coach Rodriguez and he gave me my first opportunity to be a student assistant. I went in there and I got to sit in meetings, and it was really neat. I was on defense for two years, working with the defensive line coach. I never played defensive line, but I wanted to learn defense. I knew I wanted to be an offensive guy and, if I wanted to be an offensive guy, I had to know what I was going against.”
As a junior, Trickett switched over to his preferred side of the ball, spending his remaining two years of college learning under the tutelage of Rich Rodriguez, who coached the quarterbacks for the Mountaineers.
With graduation rapidly approaching in the spring of 2007, Trickett knew that he needed to find a graduate assistant position with a quality program for the upcoming season. Ultimately, it was an old family friend, Nick Saban, who offered him a position to join the staff at Alabama.
After a year with the Crimson Tide, fate united Travis with his father at Florida State where the younger Trickett would continue to work as a graduate assistant. The opportunity to work side-by-side with his father was something that allowed Travis to catch up on some missed father-son bonding time.
“I didn’t get to see my dad as much as some other people did growing up, but football created a common ground between us two. I mean, he’s my best friend now. Me being able to coach with my dad, I mean, it’s priceless”
While Travis is the first of the three Trickett children to enter into the coaching world, he certainly is not the only one with an undying passion for the game of football. Clint, the youngest of the Trickett children, is currently a quarterback at Florida State. Travis’ other brother, Chance, was also heavily involved with football growing up.
“Chance loves football just as much, if not more than all of us. He tried out the coaching thing for awhile, but that just wasn’t the path he wanted to take. With Clint, he already knows what he wants to do. When he’s done playing, he’s going to be a graduate assistant and get right into coaching.”
As the lone female in a testosterone driven household, Travis’ mother, Tara, also got in on the football action.
“She’s a soldier,” Trickett said of his mother. “It’s been hard on her the last two years. It’s always good to see your boy play, but now, your boy is playing behind your husband’s offensive line, so if he gets hit, who is she going to get mad at? It’s created some interesting dynamics, but she’s awesome.”
Trickett is certainly thrilled to have the loving support of a football family as he heads into unfamiliar territory in his first year as an offensive coordinator at Samford. At the age of 27, Trickett is uncharacteristically young for a play-caller at the Division I level. Despite his relative inexperience for the position, Trickett is ready to meet this new challenge head on.
“I’ve always had that drive that I’m not going to let the competition outwork me. I am a grinder, that’s just what I am. I worked as hard as I possibly could to be the best inside receiver coach that I could be last year. I feel honored and blessed to be in this position this year. I’ve been around it my whole life. I’ve always worked around coordinators wherever I’ve been. There is anticipation and excitement. I want to get going.”
While this will be Trickett’s first season calling plays, he also finds himself in the unique position of being a co-offensive coordinator with Brandon Herring. Although it is a unique position that college football fans don’t see very often, Trickett is confident that it will work well for the Samford offense this fall.
“You know, Coach Herring and I will game plan everything together. Coach Herring and I get along great and we are great friends. It’s going to be a staff thing. It’s not just going to be me and Coach Herring. As far as the play-calling goes, I’ll be up in the box on Saturdays, but I will be relying on Coach Herring for adjustments. We will be working together on all aspects.”
The person calling the plays may be different from last year, but the Samford offense will look much the same with Trickett and Herring calling the plays this season. The Bulldogs have decided to keep the same offensive system that helped them average an impressive 28.3 points per game last a year ago.
Samford was one of the youngest offensive teams in the country last season and they will be extremely young once again in 2012. Trickett, however, is confident that the Bulldogs have the talent to be an elite offensive unit and he knows what his players must do to be successful on the gridiron.
“We are going to be able establish the run. That’s the first thing you need to do to win football games. I want to run the ball because I think winning games starts there. The area that we need to improve upon, and we have the players to do it, is the vertical passing game. We need to be able to stretch the field vertically. Everything is in place to do it. I can’t brag enough about our players and how much they have worked this offseason.”
With spring practice at Samford starting two weeks from today, Trickett is looking forward to the opportunity to prove that, like his father, he is one of the elite coaches in the country. Even more motivating than that, however, is his natural drive as a competitor and a winner.
“I’ve always had that drive as a competitor. I want it 24-7 and I want to go get after it.”
We wouldn’t expect anything less from a member of the Trickett family.