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Weber State football: Wildcats tackle leadership issues prior to camp

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Jody Sears is in his first season as the interim head coach at Weber State. Courtesy Weber State Football

By Martin Renzhofer

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Aug 05 2013 03:57PM
Updated Feb 14, 2014 11:31PM

Ogden • There were a lot of issues during Weber State’s 2-9 football season in 2012, but trust, or the lack of it, may have been the biggest problem of all.

The players, following a series of pinball-type changes in the head coach’s office, didn’t necessarily buy into what first-year coach Jody Sears was selling last year.

"They don’t really care," linebacker Anthony Morales remembered thinking about the WSU staff. "For us, it was hard to trust coach Sears."

Often in 2012, the Wildcats fizzled late when the pressure was on. "I think it’s just a Weber State thing, not to finish," Morales added.

Since then, though, Sears has taken the offensive to fix the problems and regain that trust before the Wildcats opened their first preseason practice Tuesday to get ready for the 2013 season.

Sears took a select number of players to a two-day ropes — or challenge — course, at nearby Eden. It is an activity, often using utility poles and ropes as a team, that asks those involved to trust each other, to confront fears.

They also opened up to each other emotionally in a way they hadn’t before.

Maybe the player who benefited most from the two-day challenge course was senior quarterback Jordan Adamczyk, a backup during his tenure at WSU. He’s played in only nine games, starting one.

"I found out the higher-ups on the team truly believed in me," he said. "It was definitely confidence booster."

In the end, even the most hardened skeptics were won over.

"I thought it was ridiculous," said Morales, a second-team All-Big Sky performer in 2012. "I was like, ‘We’re about to start camp and we’re going to Eden and hike a mountain.’ It sounded like a terrible idea. But that’s the kind of stuff that was keeping this program down, me not trusting coach Sears."

In retrospect, he said, "It was honestly one of the most life-changing deals I’ve ever done."

Now the job, as Morales says, is for the 11 players who participated to pass on what they’ve experienced.

For Sears, it was a large piece into rebuilding after the damage following the retirement of Ron McBride and the subsequent hiring and resignation of John L. Smith — who left for Arkansas after spring ball. Then, a week after being hired as offensive coordinator, Timm Rosenbach left for UNLV.

Sears was elevated to interim head coach and the season followed a downward spiral. Weber State didn’t win one home game.

Sears wanted to build a player-led team, not a coach-driven squad.

"I’m guilty even as a player," said Sears, who played for Washington State when Dennis Erickson resigned as the head coach there. "We had our heels dug in a little bit. … Players feel like they’re a commodity, and an expendable one, too."

martyr@sltrib.com

Twitter:@tribmarty

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