Updated: Feb 27, 2021
On the first episode of season 2 of Real Talk, we had the opportunity to talk to Current Head coach of the Western Connecticut Colonials, Joe Loth!
In 2013 coach Loth broke a 23 game losing streak his second season after inheriting it the season before. Then fast-forward to 2018, were he became the All-Time winningest coach in program history for Western Connecticut.
Coach Loth calls himself the architect of the Colonial offense that has been in the top two offenses either for scoring or total offense every year in the MASCAC. Since his first year coaching the Colonials they haven't had a season under 500 and continue to dominate their conference.
How have you adapted to today’s world mid Covid?
“I think it’s kind of a crazy year I was just talking to my wife last week that I think I feel more pressure coaching this fall and I know it sounds crazy coming from a college football coach then I do in most normal fall season.
This is because you show up every day you must look at your list and every one of our kids must take this quiz every single day and if he’s got any symptoms and he will automatically get put in quarantine, his roommates get put in quarantine too. If he forgets to fill out the app, then he can't practice the next day, even in the dorms, if a kid walks in the wrong dorm and he must quarantine for two weeks.
So, it’s a constant juggling all were doing is doing individual practice twice a week but I’m constantly looking at my list, constantly disciplining kids for not doing things that don’t allow them to practice and so it’s just been a lot of pressure, as a coach to kind a handle or this pandemic, all we’re trying to do is have our guys practice and have a good football experience. But for them to have a good football experience and college experience as you guys probably know it’s challenging, because of how different it is”
With some extra time on your hands due to the season being postponed have you added any new plays or schemes?
“You know what’s funny is every coach in America is on these zoom calls. Sharing information. Usually, most Thursday nights I’m using a zoom call with one my good friends who is the head coach of a CFL team, A coordinator for a one AA team down in Texas, another coordinator from a one AA team in the New York City area and like two other coaches. All you do is talk football and return all these ideas and share ideas and run through scenarios, really all coaches have done for the past three or four months”.
Also, you know we’re in the process of breaking down an NFL team, I’ll get NFL game pass or upload one of their coaches cut and as a staff we break it down one game a week, analyzing what they do. Since they are a spread style NFL team, hopefully get some ideas from there.
I think your always trying to improve what you do, always trying to get ideas. I been running the same system since 2007, so we run a system of football, we might not be looking for just a random play but something that fits our scheme”.
What’s been your keys for sustained success at western?
What's interesting is this is my third head coaching job and really, I have taken over three bad programs. I kind of use the same Philosophy with all of them. First You got to recruit the best student athletes you can recruit within the parameters of the school. This is because normally the most talented team wins weekend and week out but then you must retain them.
We’ve had 20 to 25 seniors I think six straight years or something and I’m sure how you guys won the last two years at Nichols your senior class got bigger and I think to win at any level you need to have a big senior class, so we’ve always had 20 to 25 seniors consistently really since my third or fourth year.
With retention we have a unique but very successful academic program that we do with our kids, then it becomes development and development is strength conditioning, having a year-round strength and conditioning program and a leadership program. We’re we trying to develop our kids on and off the field.
Then the last thing is the Xs and Os we believe in system football were going to run a system of football on offense and that system will change year-to-year to adjust to our talent. We’re not a bunch of random plays thrown together but a system built from A-to-Z. It’s recruiting, retention, development and then football in that order.”
What kind of offseason work do you expect from your athlete’s?
It’s probably the same as everywhere, pre Covid everyone had their fall and 5 weeks in the spring for practice. We would lift for the 9 weeks before the 5 weeks of spring practice, then have spring practice.
Then meetings and get them out of here. Then try to develop guys with strategic leadership programs. We implement a 3-year leadership program every year and kind of repeat the process year to year based on the feedback.
Advice for recruits?
"The first thing, which might be obvious but if you really want to play in the next level put together a good hudl highlight tape. Your hudl highlight tape is the starting point to get recruited by division 2,3 and division 1 schools. Within that hudl highlight tape I would suggest putting your name, your email, your cell phone number, twitter handle, also put your best plays in the beginning. Most college coaches will look at your hudl first and since they have such a large area to recruit athletes the first couple plays are the most important".
The interesting thing or challenge today for coaches is that a lot of the players we recruit are players that turned into a great player their senior year or were only able to start senior year. Those kids now don’t have highlights because of no football senior year.
My best advice to that is go to your high school coach and if he thinks you're a good player, get a list of schools you should look at and have that coach email the college coach and be like Listen,’ Billy here is a really good player, you might not have film on him, but I recommend recruiting him’. That will help your case tremendously”.
Have you had a particular team you’ve coached that was your favorite? If so, what made them stand out compared to the rest?
“I would think my favorite team is the 2013 team, just a little history of the situation I took over. I took over like a 23-game losing streak at Western Connecticut. So, our first year, we were in another conference called the NJAC. Our first year we only won one game we’re competitive, we beat Monclair State who was a real good team.
We could’ve won four or five games but it's hard to turn around a team that fast. Then we switched to the MASCAC which is not as good as NJAC but it’s still a pretty good conference. My first-year coaching here, we were picked 6th out of 8 teams. That team went 8-2 that year, went to a bowl game beat Salve in a bowl game, a real good team and just the emotion from that game was something else.
When we beat Monclair State it was crazy because I was not there for a 23-game losing streak I was there for a handful of games they lost before we beat them, but I’ve never been involved in a game with more emotion then when we won that game. To be a part of a team that from losing 23 games in a row to going 8-2 and winning a bowl game is something I’ll never forget”.
Favorite defensive scheme?
"It’s interesting as a head coach, I was a defensive coach before, and I have been coaching since 1991. When I became a head coach in 1999, the last time I coached defense was probably 2002. So really what we run offensively is what I ran, what I always say is I am the architect of the offense, so I have been on the offense side of the ball really since 2005 100%. But defensively I always been a 4-2-5 guy".
What has been the most rewarding about your career?
"As you get older, you appreciate different things and different things evolve as a coach. It’s been really rewarding, watching the kids I coached going all the way back to when I was a very young coach seeing them now in there 40s having kids, having successful careers and giving back to football. Watching them turn into successful family men, husbands and being a successful businessman".
Favorite play concept on offense?
“Yeah, I have some favorites, I don’t know if I want to be saying this in New England, but we like to offset the back weak, then we like to run a 5-step glance route by our extra receiver and read the free safety. If he stays high, we hit them with an uptight end with either the weak or strong and then we are going to block six of those guys regardless if it’s zone, gap, spilt zone and read that free safety. If he drops hand the ball off if he steps up throw it over the top".
What coach do you look up to the most of all?
"Probably a guy named Donny Anderson and Coach Anderson was my high school coach probably the most influential person on my life. We believe in PMA, positive mental attitude, stuff I got being a high school player in northeast Ohio. He was a program builder, a guy that put in systems on offense and defense, and always a very positive guy. Unfortunately, he passed away last year. The most influential person on my coaching career and the reason I’m coaching today".
Hobbies outside of coaching?
"I always say this, I have zero hobbies. I think if you're going to coach football and raise a family. Extra free time has always been with my family. I don’t golf, I don’t fish, I coach football and try to be a good dad".