Rick Minter never pushed his son Jesse into a career as a football coach.
But wherever Rick coached, Jesse usually was there on the sidelines absorbing everything he could until, just as with his father, the sport became his passion.
Their careers intertwined at a few places — Notre Dame and Indiana State — but Rick was the authority figure on both teams. Jesse was a graduate assistant with the Fighting Irish and an assistant with the Sycamores.
Now, their roles are reversed in a situation seldom seem in college football: Jesse is Georgia State’s defensive coordinator, charged with coming up with weekly strategies and tactics. Rick is the defensive line coach, tasked with developing his players and helping execute his son’s plan. There have often been fathers hiring sons. There have rarely been sons hiring fathers.
“Anything I can do as a parent to help my child become successful …,” he said. “I just happen to have some expertise in what he wants to do.”
Sitting in Jesse’s office at the team’s practice facility, the two smile often, laughing when unable to come up with an answer as to what they will call each other during games, or when both say “probably can’t be printed” when asked what coaching phrases Jesse uses that he picked up from his father. Part of that happiness is pending fatherhood and grandfatherhood. Jesse and his wife, Rachelle, were expecting their first child at any hour. The baby will be Rick’s first grandchild, and he said will “absolutely” spoil it.
Part of the pride is what each has accomplished.
Just 33 years old, Jesse Minter has been a defensive coordinator at two schools: Indiana State, where he was promoted in 2011 after Rick went to Kentucky, and all four seasons at Georgia State, where he followed Trent Miles from Terre Haute to Atlanta. The Panthers had arguably the most improved defense in FBS last season in reaching their first bowl game. With nine starters returning and the depth and breadth of the Minters’ knowledge, the defense will be key to the team trying to post its first winning season as an FBS program this season.
Rick also got his first defensive coordinator job at a younger age, when he was 30 at Ball State. That stop was part of a resume that is almost as long as a football field, complete with stops at some big college programs (Notre Dame) and the NFL (Philadelphia). He started at Henderson State in 1977, before working under Monte Kiffin as a graduate assistant at Arkansas in 1978. In the cyclical world of sports, Monte Kiffin eventually worked for his son, Lane, first at Tennessee and again at USC.
Though Jesse is Rick’s son, and has benefited from his knowledge and advice, he isn’t a carbon copy of his father.
Rick said he can be dictatorial in his coaching style; Jesse is more inclusive.
Rick said he can be more of a lone wolf when formulating strategies; Jesse works more with the staff.
Rick said he has been described as teaching trig-level courses on defense; Jesse tries to keep things more simple.
Their similarity is their belief that coaching is teaching and if, during a game, the players don’t know what they are supposed to do or aren’t executing, then the coaches have failed.
During Georgia State’s first two seasons under Miles, when the team won one game, Jesse Minter would lean on his dad quite often for advice.
Rick Minter knew what was wrong. Most people did: The talent level wasn’t deep enough. The players were still developing. The important thing for Jesse to remember was that winning and losing don’t define who you are as a coach. Losing will cause anyone to question everything they do. Jesse needed to remember to find the little victories along the way.
Soon, the talent improved. The players developed. The success happened.
Now, it’s up to the Minters and the rest of the coaching staff to keep teaching, coaching and leading. Jesse and Rick are excited about the opportunity to share their sport, their family and their passion.
“It’s kind of like studying a subject your whole life and taking a role and then you get a chance to work with the person that wrote the book and have them here,” Jesse Minter said.