football quality control jobs

Football quality control jobs have proliferated in football over the last three decades and have been formative for many coaches. Former Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders head coach Tony Sparano said that working in a QC position shaped him into a stronger coach. Former Kansas City head coach Todd Haley said it was the best position for learning the NFL football system.

Whether you want to land a role at the collegiate or professional level, quality control positions can be great learning experiences that allow you to expand your skills and build your resume. QCC jobs are viewed as ways to accrue additional experience so that you might eventually advance into a position coach or assistant coach role.

Top Football Quality Control Jobs

NFL Quality Control Coach

You may not think of Jon Gruden or Haley as quality-control specialists. However, both of these NFL head coaches got their start in quality-control coaching positions. Actually, Gruden was the first-ever to hold this position, when Mike Holmgren hired him in 1990 to come to the San Francisco 49ers and transfer the old-school paper-based playbook to a computer. While Gruden’s position prepared him to coach Oakland and Tampa Bay, Haley held the same role at the Jets on his way to head-coaching Kansas City.

QC coaches are behind-the-scenes. These quality control jobs have a heavy emphasis on film and data analysis. Although this job involves minimal direct coaching of players, sometimes a quality-control coach will be in charge of running the scout team during practices.

These entry-level NFL jobs allow people to take their first steps into an extraordinarily competitive industry. The hours and hours spent analyzing film are essential to helping budding coaches understand how to best prepare for the toughest game-day challenges. 

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People in quality control jobs work well ahead of the team’s schedule — five weeks or more ahead – in their core function of improving game preparation.

They can be incredibly valuable in running the scout team since they are so aware of how opponents operate individually and as teams. Since they are so granularly familiar with the other teams, the QCC is able to run the scout team in a manner that closely resembles the rival. During game weeks, this part of their role is helpful in getting the team ready for what they will actually see on Sunday.

This position is a bit brutal in its time expectations. With football quality control jobs, salary is low, and the hours are long: these professionals work day and night, not just at the headquarters but on planes and in hotel lobbies. As an example, Gruden spent his nights transitioning plays to the computer and sleeping on a cot after completing his 18-hour day — all that so he could make $6000 a year (equivalent to $12,228 in today’s dollars). 

Things have changed a bit since Gruden’s tenure at the 49ers, though. Now quality control coaches even have agents so that they can be taken seriously by the right people and get the best possible salaries. Nonetheless, an agent will only be able to get your salary up so much: it is entry-level and a position many desire, so you should expect long hours and not to be compensated well for your time.

College Quality Control Coach

While this concept and position originated in the NFL, college football programs have been increasingly adding quality control coaches to their staff. Well-funded football powerhouses such as Ohio State University, the University of Texas, and the University of Alabama have numerous quality control coaches.

The NCAA limits how many people you can hire to perform core coaching functions, such as helping players improve and recruiting off-campus: 10 people. You can have a huge support staff, though, that includes analysts evaluating data and studying film – so college head coaches hire for those positions to develop a better strategy and stay competitive with other programs.

Those restrictions on NCAA jobs mean that the tasks you perform are not as broad. While people with NFL jobs in quality control can get breaks from the data running scout teams, the college coach is dedicated specifically to game preparation analysis. 

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Offensive, Defensive, and Special-Teams Quality Control Coaches

As with offensive and defensive coordinators, it is also typical to have QC coaches who focus on the two different sides of the team; actually, the information from these coaches is often handed straight to the coordinator of that part of the team. QC coaches are extremely important today, with even special-teams coordinators now getting their own QC coach to conduct their analysis.

You can get positions at the collegiate or professional level as an offensive quality control coach, defensive quality control coach, or special teams quality control coach – although the same position is sometimes called the offensive, defensive, or special teams quality control assistant.

The defensive quality control coach looks at groupings of players, the use of different formations, substitutions, field position, down-and-distance scenarios, and other aspects of the rival’s offense. Once this work is complete and compiled into a report, the individual is able to hand that information to the defensive coaches — critical to how they plan for upcoming games. 

The offensive and special teams quality control coaches prepare the same type of report for the offensive and special teams staff. 

The data and statistical analysis from the QC coach create sound expectations for the team in terms of what the opponent will do. By charting how the other team’s coach orchestrates their playbook and responds, your players will be able to have reasonable certainty in particular scenarios that a pass or run is coming.

Beyond the central work of opponent analysis and game preparation, those in quality control jobs have some of the additional duties described above in the general NFL and college sections.

Working Your Way Up In Football

If your goal is a career in football at the collegiate or pro level, a quality control position can be critical to sharpening your skills and opening up additional opportunities. While the hours are long and the pay is not great, it is still a dream job for many people and often leads to more. 

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