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A director of football operations handles many aspects of a team, including the recruitment and advisement of players. Directors of football operations work at many levels of the game, although most who hold the title are employed by universities. Some, however, work for professional teams, both at the NFL and minor-league levels. The mission of a director of football operations is to help create the best team possible.
At the college level, directors of football operations typically set up recruiting visits between coaches and high school players, then oversee things such as an athlete’s housing and academic affairs once a recruit arrives on campus. In the pros they are typically in charge of a team’s scouts. They assign scouting territories, watch film of potential draft picks and make recommendations on trades and free agent signings to the general manager and coach.
Directors of football operations must be knowledgeable about all aspects of the game. For instance, at the college level they must be aware of a player’s size, speed and strength and how he fares in the classroom as well. In the case of the pros, he must know how a player has fared in college or in the community as directors of football operations often place great stock in a player’s character. Directors of football operations at every level must be analytical, organized and outstanding communicators.
Directors of football operations usually have had success at some level of the game as well as plenty of connections within the sports community. The majority are former players, coaches or scouts. Those who work at the college level need to have obtained at least a bachelor’s degree. And while a formal education isn’t required to be a director of football operations in the NFL, most have a college degree as well.
While landing any job in college or professional sports is never easy, it is far from impossible. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of coaches is expected to increase by 23 percent before 2018.
The NFL doesn’t release salaries of its directors of football operations, but it is believed most make anywhere from $75,000 to more than $200,000 per year. Meanwhile, salaries vary just as widely at the college level, with earnings mostly being based on the size of the program and the football operations director’s responsibilities. Some earn no more than $30,000 per year, while others can earn as much as $45,000 or $50,000 per year. However, it should be noted that information on earnings is based on interviews with those in football who wished to remain anonymous and not any firm reference.
Sam Amico is a reporter for NBA.com and worked as a writer and editor at daily newspapers for more than a decade, covering everything from rock concerts to college football to courts and crime. He attended Kent State University and is the author of the book, "A Basketball Summer." He also is the co-host of a nationally-syndicated television show, "The Wine & Gold Zone."
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