LSU Sport Management Alum Named Inaugural Tony Dungy Diversity Coaching Fellow
Brent Jackson, 2020 graduate of the LSU Sport Management master's program, has recently been named one of two inaugural Tony Dungy Diversity Coaching Fellows. This fellowship was created to give qualified candidates the opportunity to gain extensive coaching experience early in their careers.
Read as he discusses his career trajectory, the balancing act between working and
getting a master's degree, and advice on how to be successful in the competitive field
Where are you from?
I am from Lafayette, Louisiana.
What is your educational background?
I received my undergraduate degree in 2018 from Louisiana-Lafayette, majoring in Sport Management, and then got my master’s in Sport Management from LSU in 2020.
Please share a little bit about your career.
I began my coaching career in 2015 while an undergrad at Louisiana-Lafayette. I was a sophomore at the time when I began volunteering with the football program under Mark Hudspeth. I worked with the program for a total of four years, my last being with Billy Napier during his first season with the program. In 2019, I left UL to take a graduate assistant coaching job at the University of Illinois under Lovie Smith. I spent two seasons there in Champaign, Illinois with the program before taking the same role at Auburn University under Brian Harsin and Derek Mason in 2021. At the conclusion of the 2021 season, I accepted another graduate assistant coaching role at the University of Oregon under Dan Lanning.
All of my roles at each of these universities have varied to some degree. But to sum it up, I have done everything from opponent game-planning, film breakdown, scouting reports, recruited high school prospects, worked summer camps and evaluation camps, ran drills at practice, post-game grading and assessment, occasionally ran position meeting with players, and more. Now I am the one of two of the first inaugural Tony Dungy coaching fellows here with the Indianapolis Colts, working in a quality control role on the defensive staff.
Why did you choose LSU for your sport management graduate degree?
I felt as though I would have more opportunities to be successful in the future if I were to get a graduate degree from a prestigious university like LSU. Also, being that LSU has one of the top sport management programs in the country, I knew that whatever specific area I ended up pursuing after graduation, LSU would fully prepare me to take on that challenge.
Were you working while in the LSU online program?
Yes, I was currently working at the University of Illinois at the time. It was rather difficult trying to balance long work hours, as well as a full-time schedule in grad school to say the least. Time management was extremely important for me, as well as coming up with a plan for when I could set aside time to devote to my studies. Also, that fact that all of my classes throughout the program were asynchronous was very critical for me. It gave me an opportunity to get my work done at my own pace and at the best times that fit my work schedule.
How did the School of Kinesiology and your degree prepare you for your career?
The School of Kinesiology at LSU helped me in more ways than one. But the first thing that comes to mind is that it taught me how to teach others. It helped me understand that everyone learns differently in their own unique way -- which as a coach is extremely important in order to successfully get information or coaching points across to your many players. Also, interacting with my classmates on a weekly basis through the discussion posts really opened my eyes to the opinions of others. Now, anytime I am in a situation where I have to think critically, I often find myself thinking outside the box as opposed to being one-track minded like I was before.
Please share about being named one of the two inaugural Tony Dungy Diversity Coaching Fellows.
A good friend of mine that I worked with a few years ago, Ilir Emini, who is currently on staff with the Houston Texans, passed my name along for the job. I ended up getting a call the next day and proceeded to go through a very strenuous interview process over the next several weeks. Through prayer, countless hours of preparation, and great advice from my mentors, I was able to make a good enough impression on the coaching staff for them to hire me. They felt as though I proved to be the best candidate for the position, and I will be working in the role of defensive quality control coach for the 2022 season with the Colts.
This opportunity means a lot to me. I can’t say that there are many things that I have wanted more up to this point in my life. This business is so competitive, and there are so many great coaches out there that would love to be in my shoes. Being that there are only 32 teams in the NFL, I feel extremely grateful and fortunate to be employed by one of them because the number of jobs is so limited. As opposed to college, there are 131 FBS programs, and even that level is extremely competitive in terms of obtaining a coaching job at one of those schools. My goal is to one day be a defensive coordinator in the NFL, and I truly believe this is a huge step in the right direction for me in order to achieve that.
Any advice for current students or prospective students looking to pursue sport management as a career?
The best advice I can give to current students is to build relationships with people that are looking to go in the same direction as you from a professional standpoint. Sports is all about people. No matter what area of sports you choose to go towards, you will have to work with people. Be someone that people enjoy being around, working with, and can recommend for future job opportunities. Be genuine to others, serve others when possible, and it will come back to you in due time. My previous three jobs that I have had, I received because other people recommended me for them, not because of how great my resume looked or anything like that. Build real relationships with people in your field, work your tail off, and never lose sight of your goals.
Read more about the Tony Dungy Diversity Coaching Fellowship here.