Spotlight On: John Ford Jr., Wake Forest Football

John Ford Jr.
Associate Director of Football Operations
Wake Forest Football
Hometown: Piscataway, New Jersey
Education: Rutgers, Wake Forest
Official bio
Twitter: @J_Ford02

What do the first two hours of your day look like?

The first two hours of my day consists of checking emails and following up on any team-related updates that came up the night before. After that, I put together my daily checklist of tasks that require my attention – prioritizing the more pressing matters. I check in with our Assistant AD of Football, Jordan Jarry, to review the schedule of the day and identify agenda items for the staff meeting. Depending on the time of the year, I may also be doing team travel preparation, class checks and/or importing CARA hours.

Name one go-to resource (or two or three) that helps you with your duties. 

Google Drive is my go to. I find it to be extremely useful, especially when working with different departments (academics, sports medicine, housing, event management, etc.) as there is a lot of file sharing. Google Drive helps us to stay on the same page and keep track of all the updates and changes. Our Ops team has moved all of our team and travel files on the drive so I’m never worried about whether or not I have the most updated, accurate version of a document. Hotel contracts, rooming lists, the team roster … it’s all on my drive, which allows me to gain access to this information no matter where I am.

Another valuable resource for me is having strong relationships with my colleagues in other departments. Supporting our players is a team effort and establishing relationships with those departments makes everything more manageable. For example, player health and nutrition is very important, so it’s beneficial that I have a great relationship with our nutritionist. On the ops end, I oversee our meal budget and procurement, while the nutritionist knows what players should be eating, when and why. Together, we ensure that our players are being fueled properly so they can perform at their best.

If you could go back to your first day on the job and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?

I would tell myself that you can only control what you can control. In college athletics, no matter how much you plan, things seldom go exactly as you intended. Unforeseen circumstances that are out of your control will occur: traffic problems, weather delays, running out of food, etc. This is not cause to panic or beat yourself up. Try to adapt to the situation as best you can and always look for the learning opportunities in it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or for help. Ultimately, everything will be okay.

As you look at the athletic operations field, what is one area that is growing/changing the most?

I have seen a lot of changes in the NCAA rules and regulations, support staff sizes and recruitment methods since I first started in 2009. In regards to rules and regulations, the addition of the 10th assistant coach, early signing period, and pre-season training camp schedule has changed the landscape of the operations focus. As a result, programs have increased the number of support staff members. I believe this has been very beneficial, as we have more departmental support than ever before — allowing each department to focus on their respective areas and increase the overall program efficiency.

Best career or work advice you ever received?

My mentor and former boss Ricky Palmer, Assistant Video Director for the Cleveland Browns, always stressed the importance of networking and building relationships. I’m truly grateful for that advice because the relationships I’ve developed in the athletic operations field have been very important to my career. I often talk to other DFOs about how they do things — their opinions on travel, compliance, budgeting, etc. The ability to have open communication and receive advice and ops knowledge is vital.

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