Mattox continues coaching climb in college football
Seeing Holton alumni flood the coaching ranks at major colleges across the country is nothing new. Several former Wildcats have made headlines and an impact transitioning to those roles.
One former Wildcat in particular who continues to make headlines is former HHS football player Matt Mattox. Mattox’s rapid ascent the last four years has seen him go from the junior college ranks to coaching Division I collegiate football and he is currently settling into a new position as the co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at NCAA Division I Tulsa University.
The move reunites Mattox with one of the coaches he played under and worked with in his final seasons playing college football at the University of Houston, new Tulsa head coach Phillip Montgomery.
Montgomery is taking over after serving as the offensive coordinator at Baylor under Art Briles, following a stint with Briles at Houston. Working with Montgomery again and staying in the same offensive system made this an opportunity Mattox was pleased to get.
“I definitely feel like it’s kind of an honor that he (Montgomery) would think of me to come back and think of me as a guy that we would want to have back on their staff,” Mattox said.
While the last few years have been a wild ride for Mattox and his family, making four different coaching stops in as many years, he expects things will calm down a bit after accepting this new position. Working at Tulsa allows both Mattox and his wife, Stacy (a Houston native), to be closer to their families.
That was another big factor that drew him to the position as well as the family-like atmosphere and the good experience he had working with Montgomery while he was at Houston.
“It felt like it was a fun time again and you were never at work feeling like it’s dragging in that style,” Mattox said. “When kids can see a staff like that, I think it just makes things move in the right direction not only with the kids that you have now, but when it comes time to recruit as well.”
Building those kinds of relationships with the players at Tulsa is a big part of Mattox’s current focus and, in that sense, he may have some advantages in Tulsa as opposed to his last stop.
Coming in after getting things set up in one short year at Bowling Green, Mattox said he has some better ideas of how to install his system as he starts his tenure at Tulsa. While he knows things won’t be exactly the same, he also said the familiarity he has coaching and recruiting the area should help him as well.
“It’s a different conference, maybe a different level of players, so you kind of have to adjust to different coaches, different styles and different talent levels. The good thing is I’m back in an area that I’ve been familiar with as far as a recruiting base,” Mattox said.
After he left Houston, Mattox joined the coaching staff where he started his collegiate playing career, at Butler Community College. Mattox was the offensive line/tight ends coach at Butler for five years, spanning three NJCAA championship game appearances for the Grizzles. In that time, Mattox helped coach 31 All-Conference offensive linemen and six junior college All-Americans.
Following that, the whirlwind began at Coffeyville Community College where Mattox served as offensive coordinator for a year before he took a position as offensive line coach for Division II Eastern Illinois University.
Eastern Illinois head coach Dina Babers left after Mattox’s first year and took him with him to his next stop at Division I Bowling Green where he was promoted to co-offensive coordinator with Sterlin Gilbert, who Mattox will share coordinating duties with once again at Tulsa.
To hear the self-professed “sports junkie” talk about it, Mattox knew from an early age that he wanted to get into coaching and he noted he was fortunate to have HHS coach Brooks Barta as an influence.
Mattox said he initially intended to get involved in coaching at the high school level, but his time at Houston pushed him to make sure he stuck around in the Division I ranks.
While becoming a head coach is an eventual goal, Mattox noted he has never really nailed down a certain timeline. Besides, putting down roots with his wife and children, Kirby and Macey, is something Mattox said he looks forward to after the whirlwind of the last four years.
In that time, Mattox said he has picked up a lot from the coaches he has worked under like Babers, Briles and Butler’s Troy Morrell. He anticipates doing the same once again under Montgomery and passing along all that he has learned with his players at Tulsa to help them progress and be the best players they can be on the field, which is something that gives him a lot of fulfillment.
“Since I can’t play anymore, my satisfaction is playing other teams and my guys playing with the technique that they’re coached to do. I still like to win, so I’m very competitive that way, too,” Mattox said. “Winning’s always a bonus, but seeing young guys do it the way they’re being coached to do and knowing that you’re not just wasting time in practice or wasting your breath when you’re talking academics and that type of stuff is the best part about it.”
From his time as a junior college second team All-American tight end at Butler to the final days of his playing career as a second team All-Conference USA tackle at Houston, Mattox’s career has been on an upward trend. As doors continue to open, something he said he is very grateful for, Mattox intends to keep working and keep growing just like he hopes to see his players doing.
“I think it’s something I’m definitely very fortunate for along my path, especially being able to make the jump from junior college up to Division I. I definitely appreciate all the people who have given me opportunities along the way. The big thing is making sure I do my job and keep learning as I’m going,” Mattox said.
Mattox is the son of Bill and Barbara Mattox of Holton.