Germany: Jeff Scurran new head coach for Allgäu Comets

German Football League quarterfinalists in 2018, the Allgäu Comets, have signed Jeff Scurran as their new head coach for the 2019 season.

After undergoing a season of coaching turmoil which had followed nine years of coaching stability, the Comets have turned to a true coaching veteran in the 71 year old Scurran.

His record as a high school and college coach is a remarkable 302-90-2. He has been named Coach-of-the-Year 15 times in four states (district level), state All-Star Coach four times, won 18 league championships and engineered turnaround seasons multiple times. His Sabino High School (Arizona) teams (1989-1999) made five appearance in the state championship game in 10 years and reached the state semifinals nine out of those 10 years. In 1998-1999, they won 23 consecutive games.

He was selected as the national Coach-of-the-Year by the NFL-SCA in 2007 for taking the Santa Rita Eagles in Tucson from 0-10 to 11-2, the biggest turnaround in state history.

Scurran has also coached Team Stars and Stripes, USA in Tokyo, Paris, Munich, Turin and Rome. Scurran has spoken in over 1000 high schools throughout the United States on athletic development, championship decision making, and motivation. He has been a featured clinician at over 500 university and nationally sponsored “Coaching Clinics” on various elements of strategy and athletic preparation.

Although he has spent most of his 43 year career coaching high school and college football he has coached in Europe. In 2012, Scurran took over a winless Firenze Guelfi team in 2012 playing in Diviion II in Italy and guided them to the national semifinals with a 10-2 record.

With a resume as impressive as this, American Football International asked Coach Scurran about his decision to coach in Europe.

AFI: It will be great to see you back on the sidelines in Europe. What prompted your decision?

Scurran:  My wife and I loved our time with the team and the city of Florence. Since I decided to wind down my coaching here, I have kept my ears open for a coaching opportunity with a committed team in a beautiful location. Kempten seemed to fit our desires and things worked out. Also, my family came to the USA from that same area, so I feel like I’m following my roots. All of the oldest males in our family speak German, including my brother and my son, but I’m the baby, lol. But I try hard. Hardly anyone understands my pronunciation, but I try.

AFI: You have a highly successful coaching career in the United States. Can you sketch in the details of your coaching in Europe?

Scurran: I’ve been very fortunate in my career and feel very lucky. Only time will tell if this success will spill over, but we did quite well in Florence. Our season ended without a championship because of tough injuries, but that’s a part of the game. I will try to follow a similar plan in Kempten, but this is a good team already, so I will be counting a lot on the returning players and coaches for guidance, too. I will say that “building through athletic development and the essential fundamentals of each position have been a hallmark of my career, so I don’t see that part changing.

AFI: You are joining a team that had the same coach for nine years and then saw complete upheaval last year. What is your first order of business?

Scurran: A very good man stepped up to take the reins after last year’s problems. Hesham Kalifa and I have become friends from long distance and I will count on his wisdom and guidance a lot. I will be visiting Kempten in late November and I plan on paying close attention to the returning players, coaches and management. I will learn a lot from these people and work with them to build a new plan. No one competes in a great league like the GFL 1 by just riding into town and taking over. Its always a group effort. So first, I must see what I have before I finalize a plan.

Tucson Sabino head coach Jeff Scurran is carried onto field by his team after the Sabercats’ victory over Avondale Agua Fria in the 4A title game at Sun Devil Stadium on Friday, Dec. 11, 1998.

AFI: Your coaching resume is extremely impressive. What do you feel is your strongest trait as a coach?

Scurran: Thank you for saying nice things about the teams that have brought me my success. Its always the team that wins, and my coaches that have done they tough work. I can tell you that I’ve never been afraid to surround myself with excellent coaches and people, and my wife has been a great sounding board. I listen to my allies and try to ignore my critics. My best trait is my worst trait, too. I’m very impatient…yet this is football and it always takes time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say. But I don’t believe in long rebuilding projects. I believe in finding the right people, working with their strengths, and working with the existing community of football to create a plan. Its always a group effort that wins. Always!

AFI: What are your expectations?

Scurran: As someone with a lot of experience, I will wait on stating my exact expectations until I get a first-hand view of the situation, talk to the team, and speak personally with the management. Football is the ultimate team sports. It literally takes many parts, working in conjunction with each other, to produce any level of success. Sometimes, a great organization hires the wrong person and good things (that were put in place over many years for a reason) are changed. Sometimes, its the organization (or lack thereof) that’s the issue, and no coach can change this. But when you get the right coach in the right organization, the sky is the limit..and things can progress very fast. I’ve taken over 3 teams that were winless the year before I came to the school, and believe me, they were very bad. But with a lot of help from a variety of places, we put the parts back together, gave the players a picture of what was possible, trained them hard and to a point…and ALL 3 times, we went to the playoffs. I’ve started a college team from scratch and we defeated the defending national champions in our first game. These things didn’t happen because I was a good coach. They happened because a lot of people were willing to sacrifice for the common cause. That is the secret, if there really is such a thing.

AFI: You are very familiar with football in Europe. How much development have you seen over the past five years?

Scurran: Football is growing so fast in Europe that I find it amazing. And the level of coaching is quite good now. I’ve done clinics for many teams that have coaches that would be excellent in the USA as well. I credit clinics on the internet, coaches visiting the USA to visit colleges, and cable TV for showing a lot more football, thus creating interest and bringing more and better athletes to the game. The weakness I still see is too much interest in strategy, and not enough on athletic development and fundamentals. That is where the gap is still very big. But while most players are still used to part-time practice (something NEVER done in the USA), a lot of the gap is made up through better coaching, player dedication, and that players “want to play”. In American football, a sport that has a huge variety of positions and responsibilities, it takes many years to learn the intricacies of the game. This will be the key to further development. But for a guy like me, whose spent many years teaching at clinics and camps all over the world, this level of improvement is fun to watch. I know I’ll be coaching against many very good and highly qualified coaches. I know that well.

AFI
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