Football coach finds new career through technology - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Football coach finds new career through technology

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Tony DeMeo Tony DeMeo
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Tony DeMeo is known for his Triple Gun Option offense.

He is not known for expertise in technology.

That’s why the former college football coach teamed up with Lawrence Fine of Charleston-based Webbreez to help him develop a winning platform to carry on with a football career, post-sideline pacing.

Webbreez developed a content management system website for the coach, tonydemeo.com.

Now DeMeo, a 65-year old retired coach with more than 40 years of gridiron experience to draw upon, has a new way to teach the game he loves. The intuitive web design has allowed DeMeo to expand upon his already impressive 30 year career of instructing through hosting camps and clinics — but now it’s electronically.

The site introduced DeMeo-taught webinars to its tools in 2013, to help other coaches learn the finer points of installing an offensive scheme that has gained national notoriety for DeMeo.

“The concept of a webinar is not new at all,” explained Fine. “But the interactiveness (of DeMeo’s) is unique. When he is doing it live, participants are able to ask questions (in real time), rather than just listen to someone giving a speech.

“Later, if they choose, they can go back and log in to the website and see the exact same speech. They can still submit questions (to DeMeo) even though it’s been taped, so it’s still interactive. That separates his webinars from almost all webinars, whether they’re football-related or not.”

Instruction using a webinar format is something that many could benefit from, said Fine.

“Coaching is coaching — whether it’s football, soccer, volleyball, business or anything else,” he said. “That makes it interesting to me.”

Doing the work

Fine quickly credits the daily work DeMeo puts in with his site that drives its success.

“It’s not all about the technology,” Fine insists. “It’s using technology, allowing technology to make the personal connections work. Too many people think that technology can replace the human interaction.

“There’s a thing that people have to understand about technology,” Fine added. “We could have developed a version of Tony’s website for just about anyone. But, 99 out of 100 will fail. It’s not really about the technology; it’s about what you do with the technology.

“It’s not a ‘build it and they will come’ situation. If Tony wasn’t actively posting to the forum and to Twitter, Facebook and the newsletter, it fails. That’s true in every case.”

Webbreez also works with a website for a sewing coach who has a national and an international audience in which she demonstrates her talents.

“She gets her message across worldwide, and it’s the technology that allows that to happen,” Fine said.

Humble beginnings

DeMeo started his website upon the advice of a sports information director while he was still the head football coach at the University of Charleston. DeMeo retired from UC in 2011.

“In the beginning, I had no idea what the website was going to bring and what it was going to mean to me,” Demeo said. “I was totally new to it. Immediately I found it to be a great recruiting tool. High school players would see what we’re doing on the website. We put a ‘Play of the Day’ on there every day, and they would see the offense and get intrigued by it.

“The other thing that happened was that coaches started going on the website every day and their interest helped not only in my speaking engagements but also camps and other things. The website became very interactive. People will go on the forums and ask questions.”

Discussing football from the comfort of his home office is something the coach has enjoyed, mixed in with several trips across the country to host clinics and speaking engagements.

“The website looks great,” DeMeo said. “I’ve had so many compliments on it, just the look of it. I had someone come up to me before a clinic I did at the Outer Banks in North Carolina. He told me that he loves going on the website.”

Virtual coaches clinic

Webinars were the next logical step for DeMeo.

“The webinar idea came from the difficulty of travel,” he said. “I had traveled, doing clinics, for 30 years. It’s also expensive for coaches to travel, taking their assistant coaches, sometimes six or eight of them, to hear me speak.

“About a year ago, a coach from California called and asked if I would come and do a clinic there. That’s a three-day commitment. I didn’t really want to have to spend three days — one day getting there, one day doing the clinic and one day coming back.

“Then he asked if I’d do a webinar. I didn’t even know what he was talking about.”

DeMeo contacted Fine, who assured the California coach it could be done.

The coach has hosted four webinars in 2014, along with several others in 2013.

“The response has been incredible,” DeMeo said. “(Coaches) typically meet at the head coach’s house and watch it. It’s like a big staff meeting, watching the webinar.

“That allows a small school that wouldn’t have the resources for that many coaches to go to a clinic that I’m speaking at to experience it.”

When viewing a webinar on TonyDeMeo.com, a coach is able to type in a question as he gives the presentation.

“We get questions throughout the webinar,” DeMeo explained. “I’ll see them on the screen and answer them as it is pertinent to what I’m talking about, or answer it right away.

“A lot of coaches tell me that it’s the first time that they’ve ever been able to do that.”

The webinars, currently a series of four, two-hour presentations, are archived on the main website.

“If you miss one, you can go back and view it and still ask a question,” DeMeo said. “If you didn’t sign up originally you can still get it.”

The current webinar titles are: “Installing the Gun Triple — Soup to Nuts,” “Developing the Triple Gun Play Action Pass Game/Complimenting the Triple Gun Option Game with the Quick Pass,” “Adding the Empty Package to the Triple Gun / Using the Triple Gun Jet Sweep Series to Compliment the Option” and “Installing the Complete Triple Gun Screen Game.”

“I’ve had a lot of fun doing these,” DeMeo said. “It has kept me active in coaching and kept me in touch with people that I wouldn’t have had that chance otherwise.”

Going social

DeMeo engages with coaches through an email newsletter from his website and social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn — posting “Play of the Day” links that also drive traffic back to his website.

“Now that I’m retired, I have time to do that,” DeMeo said. “I try to do that every day. It has connected me with a lot of coaches. There is a gentleman from Germany that posts all of the time on Facebook. And I get questions through LinkedIn all of the time.”

DeMeo essentially gives tips away for free through social media. But he doesn’t mind.

“I believe that it comes back to you, in many ways,” he said. “I just put out a new DVD that I sell through the store on the website, a virtual playbook. It encompasses diagrams, video and my voice taking you through the plays.

“It helps market that product. People will listen to you if you don’t always have your hand out, asking for something.”

Sharing in a small part of the success that coaches who use the DeMeo system have enjoyed is additional motivation, said DeMeo.

“It’s fulfilling,” he said. “I did 13 camps last summer and nine of the 13 teams went to the playoffs. I felt real good about that. The year before that I did eight (camps), and seven of the eight (teams) went to the playoffs.

“There’s a particular school in New York that had only won one game in three years. We did a two-day camp there and they went to the playoffs.

“I’m not in any way, shape or form trying to take credit for that,” DeMeo stressed. “But we helped that a little bit. The head coach still has to coach them. But he had a new system that he had to use and it worked really well for them.”

DeMeo has hosted “Live Tweet” events during sporting events such as the BCS National Championship game, interacting with many followers during the broadcast.

“It was really neat,” DeMeo said. “I gained about 300 more followers during that. As a matter of fact, Johnny Manziel’s Twitter account actually re-tweeted one of my comments and made it one of his favorites.

“I think it’s neat because some people want to hear someone else’s comments other than Brent Musburger and give their opinions back to me.”

DeMeo counts Fine as a crucial member of his team.

“Lawrence brings all of the technology expertise,” he said. “Without him, I wouldn’t have a chance to do any of this.

“I might have the content in my head but I couldn’t get it to anybody.”