This might be my favorite interview so far with Jim Tomsula. He talked about his coaching philosophy and the people he learned from, which provides some interesting insight. He opened with a cool story about putting on the Warriors game during minicamp. Give the whole thing a read.
On keeping up with the Golden State Warriors:
Well, not as much as I'd like ‘em to, but obviously we're following them through the year, and we're big, we had the game on the other night. We came off the practice field, we had the evening meetings, and I saw the guys were a little antsy, they didn't want to say anything, we got a minicamp going on. Everybody's a little antsy, they're checking the watches, so we had Bob Lange (PR Director) and our guys, and (Mike) Slap (team logistics coordinator) they got the game on the big board ... They got it up, and it was kind of fun. You know how excited the guys are. We went in, we were going to have the meeting, and then they turned on the game and the guys went nuts. Jumping all over each other. Then they brought in the pop corn and we watched the game. So we got a lot of fans here.
People like him, so as NFL head coach, can he be the "bad guy" when needed:
Well, I mean it's my job, doing my job. There's parts of your job that you're not thrilled with. I've done all the roster restrictions and the cuts with the Europe league. And having to sit with a guy, and I don't care who it is, you close the door and your sitting with a guy and you have to look him in the eye and tell him his services are no longer needed. That's not something that's enjoyable or comfortable.
I did get great advice from a guy named Lionel Taylor back when I worked for him in the Europe league. And LT, obviously he's in the Ring of Fame in Denver, coached with the Steelers for four Super Bowls. So he sits me in there, and we talk about all this stuff, and he says, "Let me tell you something, buddy. The minute that becomes comfortable, or let me put it better, the minute it stops being uncomfortable, you need to get out of this game."
On how his life has changed since getting the job:
Well again, we're not in the season, we're in the offseason. The time that's spent away from the actual football, it's obviously guys, it's "Tomsula's got a little work to do on his press conferences", you know what i mean?
I'm not making light of that, because I didn't do a good job. But they asked me to go to bed, they asked me to get a good night's sleep, they asked me to spend time preparing for that press conference. I didn't. I went and stayed up all night, and was making calls for a coaching staff. And putting things together on the football side of it.
So, the biggest thing that I have to do, that's one area where I'm working on. Bob Lange's helping me with. But if we can sit down and talk ball all day, I'm good. When I stutter, that's when I can't say bluntly exactly how I feel with the language I have to say. So that's when you start seeing me stutter.
On big name departures and young guys stepping up to be leaders:
Well, guys, I would also say to you, the way I like at that is, in a lot of ways, guys that step into a head coaching position. They're walking into a locker room where they know no one. They don't have any relationships built. They don't know what it looks like.
One of the advantages, if you can call it that, that I see as an advantage, is all these players have been around those guys you spoke of. I'll say Justin Smith because I coached him in a position. But, they know what that looks like. A lot of times, you go into a job, guys don't know what that looks like. So you're trying to explain it to them and paint them that picture. These guys all know what that looks like. And we still have leaders in this locker room. For the other guys, other than the rookies, the other ones know what that looks like on a day-to-day basis. That's something to draw off of. And again, talking about Justin, he was in my position group, so I feel more comfortable speaking exactly about him. But they've seen it, they've been with it, they've worked side-by-side with him. So, there's a definite carryover there.
But I would be wrong if I didn't tell you there's some nice leadership going on in this locker room right now. And it's nice to see the guys who, it fires me up when I see people who can work their tales off and have fun doing it. And that's the magic. This isn't a Thursday night family game of Monopoly where we all laugh. But, it's also not suit and tie behind a desk, and pulling out your portfolios. These guys straining in every way they strain, but also enjoying that strain. And I think, anybody in sports knows what I mean. And any special team you've ever been with, that's the way it's been.
On whether he needs a grand vision of what the team should be and who he has drawn off for his philosophy:
I mean I've drawn off everybody I've worked for, or worked with. I got to work for Lionel Taylor, who was part of the Steelers teams when I was a kid in Pittsburgh rooting for them. Lionel Taylor really taught me a lot. But jut the guys I've worked for and with, I've learned a lot there.
I got a lot of experience in the Europe league, and I know a lot of people don't understand the Europe league. But that league was run out of the New York office, so being able to go to every training camp in the National Football League over a course of ten years. Part of my job responsibility was to go to training camps and evaluate the rosters for the guys that were going to get cut. Potential players for the Europe league. So through that process, I was able to watch everybody in the league run training camp practices, have personnel meetings. And not everyone, but a lot of them I was able to sit in, I was able to go to team meetings, I was able to do those things. So that was a ten year process, and I learned a lot.
But then also, things like the birthday boy today, Joe Montana, talking about him. That's a guy I spoke with, I mean Joe Montana has been where we'd like to go. How crazy is that? I gotta go have at least a cup of coffee with Joe Montana. Let's put the egos on the shelf here, there's no crystal balls, and I'm surely not going to have the audacity to tell you how things are supposed to be done when we haven't even played a game yet. So we're doing it the best way we know how to do it, we're working our tails off doing it that way, and very optimistic that the results will be where we want them to be. But we're not going to stand here and tell you how it is, or tell anybody else how it is. I mean that's stupid to me.
On if he is focusing on defense and leaving the offense entirely to the offensive coaching staff, or is he providing coaching to offense:
I am, to your first question, absolutely not, and to the whole scheme of it, if you see something on game day that you don't like, there's only one guy you need to point a finger at (quick joke by hosts about it being Steve Logan, Tomsula laughs, makes it clear it's Tomsula). You know what I mean? ... And again, through the course of this thing, I have coached the offensive line way early in the career. But yes, that is it, it does catch my way. I haven't spent a lot of time on a d-line individual because I know who's there, I know the guys that are doing it. I've been spending my time in other places on the field, and quite frankly, looking at things that I don't know or don't understand, so I know what question to ask. And then also, my input on the way I'd like it to look. So, no I am not going to coaching the offense, nor the defense, nor the special teams. And we go with four phases here: offense, defense, special teams, and then we're also putting a lot of emphasis on the life side of things. So we're gonna talk about the four phases of football. We'll make a playbook, and we do all our technique and fundamentals. And we'll teach how to be prepared on offense and defense and special teams, and we're taking that same approach and putting it into the life skills, and being able to assist the guys. So I'm involved in all of it.