CRESTVIEW — New Crestview High School athletic director and head football coach Tim Hatten was formally introduced to the community during a Wednesday press conference in the school's media center.
The event ended a hectic two-day stretch in which the Okaloosa County School Board approved Hatten’s hiring on Monday and he started work on Tuesday.
"I've met a lot of good folks that have moved here and they've been here 20 years and they are staying for a reason,” Hatten said. “It's a good place to educate your children. It's a good place to go to school."
Hatten wouldn’t promise a certain number of wins or a playoff appearance, but he said the players will work hard on the field and in the classroom — and they will have fun playing football.
The Bulldog offense will be exciting for players and fans, Hatten said.
"To an extent, we are a spread (offensive) team," he said. "We like to throw the ball down the field and we like to throw it vertically, but you have somebody that can throw it vertically and that's the main thing.
"That's not to say we are not going to hand it off 35 times, but we are going to throw it if you give us numbers. That's always been my philosophy as a coach. The kids like it and I like it."
An offensive coordinator will work closely with Hatten, but the head coach will be heavily involved in the offense.
Defensively, Hatten has incorporated certain philosophies, including using some variation of a four-man front, but he's open to running other defensive sets.
"I think you need to go a little multiple on defense, but we've always been a four-man front and then some 3-3," he said. "It just depends on our defensive coaches and what philosophy they believe in. We've got three of them coming back from last year's team and I'll talk to them.
“Whatever they feel comfortable doing is probably what we are going to do. I'll turn the reins over to somebody and they will be in charge of the defense. I'm not a micromanager."
Hatten said he likes the makeup of Crestview defensive players, having seen film from last season. Players are tough and physical, which aligns with the aggressive defense he wants on the field.
With the start of spring practice less than two months away, Hatten must move quickly to get his systems in place.
The next few weeks, he will begin installing his offense so the players can get familiar with it. Starting in April, the team will get on the field during football class and start picking up more of the system with the hopes of having things in place for the start of spring practice on May 1.
Hatten wants to be involved with the junior varsity and freshman teams as well as the varsity.
"I want to be successful at the ninth-grade level and at the JV level as well," he said. "To do that myself as the varsity head coach, I need to put some time into those kids. They need to know coach Hatten, not coach Hatten's assistant coach that takes them by himself.
"I want to make sure they are coached by nine or 10 guys just like our varsity."
‘Athletic director first’
While football is the sport by which most will judge Hatten's success, he said he is the football coach second.
"I'm going to make sure I'm accessible to all the sports," he said. "I am the football coach, but I'm the athletic director first. I'm still getting informed about what everybody is doing in different sports, and what they need.
"We are going to attack those issues; obviously, we can't solve all of those problems (right away). But I need to know those problems we have so I can attack those."
Crestview assistant principal Dexter Day, who chaired the search committee that selected Hatten, was all smiles as he talked about the Crestview athletic department’s new top Dog.
"The things that stood out the most is obviously he has won at all levels — the high school level and the college level," Day said. Day, a former coach himself, said he and Hatten didn't talk much about football philosophies, as the new athletic director’s record, with a junior college National Championship, spoke for itself. "Number two, he's only been in two places so he doesn't bounce around.
"Looking into his background ... we got outstanding reviews as to what kind of character he has and what kind of man he is.”
‘I love him’
Bulldog assistant coach Andrew Black and Matt Sanders — both former Crestview players — expressed excitement for Hatten.
"I love him. I think he's down to earth," Black said. "I think he's going to be a right fit here at Crestview High.”
Sanders, who completed his career at Clemson following the 2011 season, said getting a coach with a college coaching background boosts the program.
"I think somebody with experience at the next level (college ball) can help our students understand what it takes to get there," Sanders said. "That's really big nowadays. Everybody wants Division I scholarships.”
Hatten stood out among 90 resumes, and at each phase of the trimming process, his name remained at the top of the list, search committee member Dale Rice said.
"I like a guy that is easy to talk to," he said. "He's humble and he's had a lot of success on the field. He knows how to win on the field; his record proves that.
"And you want a coach that gives the player the best advantage to win. He shows that he can do that ... He's also a players' coach, and he loves the players and the players love him. When you have that kind of unity, and one heartbeat, good things happen."
Hatten’s hiring marks a fresh beginning for the Bulldogs, Rice said.
"What's in the past is in the past," he said. "This is a new day and a new chapter (for Crestview).
"There's fresh breath in the air and I think we can rally behind that and we can all be excited about what's going to happen at Crestview High School."
Crestview High School athletic director and head football coach
Children: Allison, 20; Eli, 14; Ian, 9
Education: Pearl River Community College
The University of Southern Mississippi
Playing experience: Pearl River Community College
Head Coaching Experience:
Haines City High School 1993-2001. Record: 75-29
Pearl River Community College, Miss., 2002-2012. Record: 80-30
Four-time Mississippi State Junior College Champions; 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
Junior College National Champions; 2004
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524