Jody Sears Q&A: What went wrong at Sac State — and what’s next

Days after termination, the former football coach reflects on time with Hornets


Emily Rabasto - The State Hornet

Sac State head coach Jody Sears instructs his team during the Hornets 41-15 loss to North Dakota on Oct. 20. Sears was fired on Monday after five seasons at Sac State with an overall record of 20-35 [13-26 Big Sky].

Shaun Holkko, Social Media editor

Head coach Jody Sears and the Sacramento State football team came into 2018 with a lot of hype following a 7-4 season in 2017.

The Hornets did not live up to expectations this season as injuries piled up and the team failed to win a single game in Big Sky Conference play, finishing the season 2-8 and on a seven-game losing streak.

Nine days after losing to rival University of California, Davis in the Causeway Classic, Sears was fired. Sears spent five years as head coach at Sac State with a record of 20-35 [13-26 Big Sky].

RELATED: Sac State fires head football coach Jody Sears after 2-8 season

The State Hornet spoke with Sears following his departure, who reflected on his time in Sacramento and shared insight on what’s next.

Q: How would you describe your time at Sac State?

A: Oh boy, that’s a great question. Very thankful and grateful for the opportunity. Five years, five seasons, two really good ones, three not so good. But to me, it’s more of the relationships that we were able to build and the culture we were able to build. I was very well pleased with my time, very satisfying.

Q: How did your experience and time at Sac State differ from your time in Utah at Weber State?

A: Well, it was different because I got more time here. It was really two different ends of the spectrum. At Weber, we didn’t have as good of a team my first year. Obviously, here my first year we had really good players and we had a really good team. That’s probably the major difference. After that first season, we had to start over with young guys, young freshmen. For two years, was pretty tough but you have to watch those kids grow and see them come [up,] which accumulated to last year’s 7-4 season.

Q: What were your favorite moments at Sac State?

A: Watching DeAndre Carter my first year was pretty cool, Garrett Safron and DeAndre Carter. Watching those seniors really buy into creating a culture of loyalty that first year was really pleasing. Obviously, winning the Causeway my first year was a real joy. My second and third year was a little few and far inbetween. But watching those young kids stick together and hang in there; that’s one thing I was very pleased with, is [these] guys didn’t just abandon ship after a couple of tough seasons. They stuck together and hung in here.

Then making that run we did last year and winning the Causeway again was pretty special. This year, we struggled but again, the guys hung in there and kept battling for one another and we hit some hard times, but I’m just really thankful for those seniors that hung in there with us.

Q: Why did your team have so much success in 2014 and 2017 but not in the other three seasons?

A: Well, I think in ‘15 and ‘16, we were really, really young. That hurts consistency, and you know, when you play with young players, it can be a struggle. This year, you know, I don’t like making excuses, and the word I kept using all year is consistency and the consistency in our playmaking on both sides of the ball, especially defensively, that hurt us. You can sit hear and say “Well they had all these injuries,” but [the] guys still gotta step up and make plays, and that’s the coaches responsibility.

RELATED: Key stats from 5 years of Jody Sears as head football coach

Q: After so much hype following last season, what went wrong in the 2018 season?

A: [When] you lose a couple key players, it makes a difference. Wyatt Ming, our best offensive lineman, goes down first game of the year, second touchdown of the football season. George Obinna goes down second game he plays, third game of the season, he’s out. You lose two of your best football players on both sides of the ball, it’s a huge impact. But again, not being able to make plays consistently defensively [is] number one. Offensively consistency, sustaining drives and putting up numbers, it was tough [and] hard. You go through it sometimes, it happens. I was hoping that we could’ve been able to weather the storm, and it didn’t work out that way. I’m very hopeful and optimistic about next year’s crew, a lot of those kids are going to be back next year, and hopefully they can enjoy some of the fruits of their labor that they enjoyed in ‘17.

Q: Do you believe you deserved to be fired?

A: That’s not my choice, that’s not my call. This is a results-oriented profession that I chose. At the end of the day, it wasn’t my choice. I’m very proud of the work that we have done. I’m very proud of our seniors and coaches. I’m proud of the healthy culture that they’ve established. I’m very proud of the work the coaches did with honesty and integrity. We worked as hard as we possibly could. We did it the right way in terms of sticking to the rules and not taking any short cuts, treating people the right way. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. We’ve got our character and integrity and we thank the people that have supported us. I’m thankful for the opportunity, the people that allowed us to have that opportunity, we’re very thankful and now it’s time to move on.

Q: What would you do different about your coaching experience at Sac State?

A: Oh boy, I don’t know. Someone asked me this yesterday, but golly, I don’t know I have any regrets. I know we missed out on a few players, I know that we missed a few, I’m not gonna name names, you’re always combing that over. I don’t have any regrets. I really don’t have any regrets. No bitterness at all. I’m very thankful.

Q: What is your response to the allegations made by former players back in October about students transferring from the program after 2016? What’s your side of the story?

A: Some of those guys were asked to leave and some of those guys chose to leave and some of those guys, whose roles were going to change, ending up leaving. For a lot of those kids, (and I’m not so sure if it’s not every one of them,) my motivation was for these kids to have a positive experience. Those kids that left, a lot of them ending up having a positive experience I do believe. Some situations work out, some don’t, and if its not working out, then let’s find another place where you might have a more positive experience. I have no ill will towards any of that. Again, we did the best we can, by being honest and treating people the right way, which is being honest with them. At the end of the day, you know, if someone is going to disagree with that and what I say, that’s fine we can agree to disagree and move on.

Q: What interest, if any, have you gotten from other schools so far?

A: It’s still kind of [new,] it’s not even Dec. 1 yet, none right now. Just a lot of friends and coaching acquaintances reaching out and offering support if something were to come open and those kinds of things. In the coaching profession, you have a network of people that you have relationships with and stem from many different levels and left us with a lot of people just reaching out and thinking of me and my family and wondering how they can help. No offers of jobs yet or anything like that. It gives me an opportunity to take a step back and reassess my career and exactly what is going to be in the best interest of my family and myself moving forward.

RELATED: Sears agrees to multi-year contract to remain Sac State head football coach

Q: If offered, would you consider taking a coordinator position at a bigger school like you did in the past at Washington State?

A: Sure, I love coaching, I love being around the players, I love the impact and I love the difference a coach can make in a young man’s life. There’s no doubt about it.

Q: In what ways will you adjust your coaching technique/style at your next job?

A: I learned a lot the last five years and I also am a firm believer in playing to the potential and designing a scheme in a defense around your personnel in the things that you do well.

Q: What is next for you?

A: Lord willing, we will have a coaching job, something in the coaching profession. I am very grateful for my time here. My wife Molly and my kids really love the Sacramento community. If there is an opportunity in California, that would be great, but I would like to be coaching.