Troy Taylor had a habit of squatting on the sideline in three years as Sacramento State’s head football coach. Andy Thompson will not stand still, much less squat, in his first year at the Hornets helm.
His title has changed, but Thompson has no intentions of changing his style. In three seasons as defensive coordinator, Thompson covered as much ground on the sideline as any player on the field. The Energizer Bunny has nothing on Thompson except for the drum, fluffy tail and long ears.
Count on Thompson beating a path in the sideline turf today when Sacramento State plays Nicholls State at 4 p.m. The Hornets’ are visiting Louisiana for the first time since a 56-0 loss to Louisiana Tech in 1977.
“I’ve got to be me. I’m who I am,” Thompson said Tuesday evening after practice. “It wouldn’t be a good deal if I tried to be somebody else. This is not going to be just about me. It’s going to be about the team.”
Thompson will continue to direct the defense. In the NFL, defensive-minded head coaches are more unlikely to gamble on offense for fear of putting the defense in jeopardy. Thompson has every intention of breaking that mold.
Taylor is an offensive-minded head coach and rarely played it safe with the Hornets. Thompson will follow suit even with a background in defense because “we want to be aggressive. We want to be attacking.
“That’s been successful here,” added Thompson, who was the defensive coordinator at Northern Arizona for 10 years before coming to Sacramento in 2019. “I think the kids feel you’re confident in them if you can go for it. At the same time, you’ve got to be smart. That’s why you get paid to be the head coach.”
Mark Orr, Sacramento State’s athletic director, interviewed three of Taylor’s assistants – Thompson, Bobby Fresques and Kris Richardson – after Taylor left for Stanford. The three made a pact to stick together regardless of who got the job. Fresques joked in the spring that he and Richardson let Thompson “have all the headaches.”
“It’s good to know that now,” Thompson quipped after learning of the conspiracy Tuesday. “There’s stuff you don’t know about being a head coach until you are. I’m just trying not to make the same mistake two days in a row.”
One mistake Thompson wants to avoid is distancing himself from the players now that he is in charge. He would much rather earn the respect of his players than expect it just because he is head honcho.
“I want to build great relationships, but you have to make sure you hold people accountable,” Thompson said. “For me to do that, I have to get to know people and not just live in a bubble and make decisions and think people are just going to do it because the head coach said to do it.”