In his 12 years at Henderson State University, head football coach Scott Maxfield has been the winningest coach in Arkansas and in the Great American Conference.
Maxfield, who is a finalist for the head football coaching position at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, spoke to university officials, football players and members of the community at a meet and greet event held Tuesday night at UAPB.
“I’m glad to be here, and I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could turn this program into a winner again,” Maxfield said. “That’s not going to be easy, and there’s a lot of hard work you go through when flipping a program.”
Maxfield was the second of three finalists to hold events at the university. Cedric Thomas, the defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach at Alcorn State University, spoke on Tuesday morning, and Eric Dooley, the offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach at Grambling State University, is scheduled to appear at 11:30 a.m. Monday at UAPB.
If hired, Maxfield would be the first non-African American head football coach in UAPB history. UAPB is also the only university in the state that has only ever had an African-American head coach.
Maxfield, who is white, tackled the question head-on, explaining how race doesn’t factor into the job.
“I think I can make a difference here because I think there’s probably some barriers that can be crossed that haven’t been crossed in the past,” Maxfield said. “As a football coach, I don’t see color, I see people. I see people who can get the job done or that can’t get the job done. In 2017, I don’t think it’s as big an issue as it was. I look at what Alcorn did when they hired Jay Hopson, who is a friend of mine. He went in there to Alcorn and won three conference championships, so I don’t see that as a negative. I’ve never coached in the Southwestern Conference, but I have coached against some teams from the conference.”
Maxfield is a proven winner, having compiled an 88-43 record at HSU; he also has three GAC championships and a Gulf South Conference championship under his belt in the 12 years he has spent in Arkadelphia.
In 2012 and 2013, he was named the Great American Conference coach of the year.
UAPB Athletic Director Lonza Hardy Jr. referenced Maxfield’s winning ways as a key factor in UAPB’s coaching search. Hardy said the goal is to find someone who can build a winner, and that’s exactly what Maxfield sees himself as: A program re-builder.
“As a competitor and as a football coach, the only thing I can do at Henderson State that hasn’t been done is win a national championship,” Maxfield said.
“I’m looking for a new challenge, something to get excited about. I’ve rebuilt three programs, and that’s what I am, a program re-builder. As a professional coach, I’ve learned a lot from the mistakes that I’ve made in my 17 years. I think this is a challenge, and I see this is an opportunity to set this thing back to the top.
“It can be done, you’re going to have to get the right person to do it, and you’re going to have to get somebody who knows how to build a program. It’s not easy if you’ve never done it before. It takes a lot of work, it takes a lot of expertise. It’s a lot of things that go into rebuilding a football program. My question is why would I not want to leave, this is a great challenge and opportunity.”
Maxfield is a graduate of Louisiana Tech University, and he holds a master’s degree from the United States Sports Academy.
Prior to arriving at Henderson State, Maxfield made a few stops, starting in the Southeastern Conference as a graduate assistant at Ole Miss. From Ole Miss, he spent a total of 10 years at Northwest Mississippi Community College as the offensive coordinator.
In 2001, Maxfield took his first head coaching job, leading Pearl River Community College to a 7-2 record. He then moved on to Blinn College as the head coach from 2002-04, where he compiled a 22-10 record.
Maxfield was hired as the head coach of Henderson State in 2005, and after that 3-8 rebuilding year, the Reddies have only had one losing season since.
It’s obvious that Maxfield knows how to win, and a member of the audience asked him to recite his definition of a winner. Maxfield went on to explain that it’s not just about winning on the field with him, it’s about winning in everyday life.
“Well, the definition of a winner is somebody that’s successful in their day-to-day task, their weekly tasks, how they carry themselves around as a person,” Maxfield said. “That’s a pretty broad question, but there’s a lot more to it than just winning on the field. You can win in the classroom, you can win in the community, you can go out and be a better person. There’s a lot of ways you can be a winner. A lot of people are more talented than others in different areas, so I believe if you can get guys to be better in certain areas of their life then you’re a winner.”
Maxfield said he puts extreme emphasis on his student-athletes handling their business in the classroom. Discipline is also a pillar in Maxfield’s blueprint; getting the grades is a part of that.
“It’s a lot of work to build a winning program,” Maxfield said. “Number one you have to recruit great student-athletes. Not only guys who can perform on the field, but that do the same thing in the classroom. My program really stresses that. We’ll be good in the classroom and attack the classroom with the same vigor and enthusiasm that we do the field. I know they’re going to give me all of their effort out on the field, but a lot of guys don’t want to give you that effort in the classroom. It’s my job as a coach and a mentor to get that out of them. You got to find a way to motivate the guys to be successful in that area, ‘cause football is only going to last a short period of time.”
Discipline will be applied both on and off the field, he said.
The number of pre-snap penalties and mental miscues that occurred under the last UAPB regime was brought up during the meet and greet.
“First thing we’re going to do is we’re going to have discipline,” Maxfield said. “We’re not going to be jumping offsides seven or eight times a game, and if we do you’re going to see this white man on the sideline going crazy. That would be difficult for me to take, because that’s one of the things I pride my football team on is discipline. If you want a championship team you have to have discipline.”
Maxfield also has a lot of experience with recruiting against in-state schools. Recruiting to Henderson State could be a different challenge as opposed to recruiting to UAPB, but according to Maxfield, that’s not a worry at all.
“I’ve recruited against UAPB, I’ve beaten them on some, and they’ve beaten me on some,” Maxfield said. “As a recruiter, number one, I’m going to try to identify the best player I can that’s a fit for this university. It’s all about the players, you can be the best coach in the world, if you don’t have good players it’s hard to win. I’m going to go out and find the best, and I’m not afraid to battle anybody for a recruit. I’m not afraid to battle UCA, I’m not afraid of Grambling, Southern or whoever it is. I’m going to sell myself and the school. You can’t back down in recruiting, and you can’t be afraid. Let’s show them what we have to offer. That’s what I do is recruit, I feel like I’ve got a pretty good feel on recruiting.”
Maxfield said that when rebuilding a program, it’s important to have trust and confidence in the people around you.
“As a head coach, when you take over a new program you have to have people who are loyal to you and who you believe in,” Maxfield said. “They have to be able to get the job done. I have a great coaching staff right now, and I’m not saying that I’ll bring all of those guys with me. I’ll talk to anybody that wants to talk about a job. I’ve already got my thoughts on a lot of guys that I’ve had personal contact with. I know exactly what their capabilities are, and that’s going to be one of the key ingredients to get this program back to the top. I have to get the best assistant coaches available to help me turn it in the right direction.”
As far as the system that Maxfield runs schematically on offense and defense, he’ll tailor it to what the players are capable of doing. Maxfield takes credit as one of the first coaches to start running the spread, but he’s also run the wish-bone. After 34 years of coaching, Maxfield said he can base what his team does off of the personnel that he has intact until he gets guys who fit what he likes to do.
“I started running the spread offense in 1996, I was one of the first guys to do it,” Maxfield said. “At Henderson State, we led the NCAA in scoring offense, passing offense and passing percentage. We had a three-time All-American quarterback, we had a receiver who led D2 football, we led the nation in total defense twice since 2012. Coming into a new program, I might not have the kids to run what I’m running right now. That doesn’t say that we can’t recruit to that and move to that in the future. I’m going to do whatever the kids can do, I’m going to adjust my coaching style and run whatever offense or defense I need to run to be successful. You have to recruit to your system, because if the kids can’t execute it, you’re going to have a bad product on the field. You got to do what your kids can do. I’m a 34-year college football coach, I’ve ran it all.
“I’m going to evaluate the players that we have on hand, and I’m going to get them to buy into the system we have. I’m going to coach them as hard as I can coach them, and I’m going to coach them to be champions. I’ll work as hard, and I’ll work as many hours as necessary until I get that done.”
Maxfield also explained how he would get his program out into the community so they can be in touch with supporters.
The plan is this: Putting time into the community will lead to better game attendance, which will lead to a better product on the field.
“I’m going to try to get my team out in the community to be seen,” Maxfield said. “I’m going to get my coaches out in the community to be seen. We want to get involved with as many organizations as we can. There’s a lot of different ways you can get in the community. Going to elementary schools, having camps, and at Henderson State, we even had a women’s football clinic. In return, they’ll come to the games because they know the coaches and players. If we can get those things done I think the attendance at the football games will drastically improve as well as putting a winning product on the field.”
Making the switch from grass to turf would be one of the first tasks on Maxfield’s checklist as well.
“It’ll be best to do away with the practice and game field and go with turf,” Maxfield said. “It’s a problem when it rains, so there’s some work right there that can be done.”
Maxfield summed up his brief time at UAPB with this: “Everybody wants a winner. At the end of the day you have to have good players, good coaches, and you have to have support from the administrative staff. I think everybody is here tonight because they want a winner. If you look at my background and what I’ve been able to do as a football coach, I don’t think there’s any question that I can get that job done.”