The Virginia Tech Friday Q&A: New Staff Positions, Basketball, And More

Brent Pry Virginia Tech

1) Can you give a breakdown of the off-the-field staff? I know you guys talked about it on the Podcast, but it’d be great to have a visual of what Hazel, Villagrana, the Director of Recruiting person, Ballein’s daughter, etc. do. I’m confused as to where the crossover is, etc. – Bon Jovi Hokie

Chris Coleman: First, keep in mind that not all off-the-field staff have been announced. Second, also remember that a job description on a person’s online bio isn’t always 100% indicative of what they do on a day-to-day basis. I say that second part from experience. When I was Managing Editor of TechSideline, I actually did very little managing. My current title of Lead Analyst and Columnist (is that what I’m called now?…let me go check…yep, that’s it) is a much more accurate description of what I’ve been doing all these years. My job title changed, but what I did on a day-to-day basis did not.

Earlier this week, I wrote an article that was mostly about strength & conditioning, plus the new Director of Sports Science for Football. I won’t waste your time in repeating any of that here. If you missed it or want a refresher, click here for the article.

Let’s talk about the ones you mentioned in your question….

Michael Hazel, Chief of Staff

Virginia Tech describes Hazel’s job at Penn State as this…

“Hazel’s duties included overseeing the program’s external operations, analytics and facilities projects. He also served as the liaison between the Nittany Lions’ football program and the athletic department’s marketing, creative services, strategic communications and video production offices. Hazel was named the 2020 FootballScoop Operations Director of the Year and was a finalist for the award in 2015 and 2016.”

He’s certainly a jack of all trades. I assume he’ll be doing all of that, or most of it, at Virginia Tech. At Penn State, he also handled head coach James Franklin’s public appearances, though that part isn’t mentioned in his Virginia Tech bio, so I’m not sure if that will be part of his job description in Blacksburg.

I suppose that what a Chief of Staff does on a day-to-day basis can vary by school, or by that COS’s own unique strengths and weaknesses. Here’s an interesting article by Harvard Business Review, and here’s an interesting passage from the article…

“When new CEOs with a change mandate take over a company, they typically invest time in reshaping its strategy and determining the kind of culture needed to succeed. Those choices guide other decisions, including who their senior managers will be and how the leaders will allocate their time.

Most new CEOs pay little attention to a key factor that will help determine their effectiveness: the administrative system that guides day-to-day operations in their offices. This system ensures that leaders make the most of their limited time, that information arrives at the right point in their decision-making process, and that follow-up happens without their having to check. Many new CEOs default to the system they’ve inherited, even if it is poorly suited to their style or to the operational changes they must make. Often there’s a better way to handle the information flow necessary for a CEO to succeed—and very often a chief of staff (CoS) can play an essential role.”

Brent Pry has