by Norm Miller
Louisiana College Media
Responding to his new assignment at Louisiana College, Coach Chris Boniol, who was named the Wildcats’ new special teams coordinator and running backs coach, sat down with LCNews and shared his thoughts in the following interview.
“As a kicker in the NFL, I was judged on results only,” Chris Boniol said. “If you miss a big kick, there won’t be much forgiveness from the critics. Jesus Christ, on the contrary, gave us a life-long contract of forgiveness when he died on the cross.”
“For me, it is not about a Super Bowl ring; it’s about my wedding ring. It is not about treasures on earth; it’s about treasures in heaven. It is not about adoring fans; it’s about my adoring family,” Boniol said.
“Every year there is a new Super Bowl Champion,” he added. “Jesus Christ was crowned our Eternal Champion when he died for our salvation. I pray that others find the same unfailing peace that I have found in Christ.”
LC president Rick Brewer said, “Chris Boniol fits the model of a Louisiana College professional. If you want to talk about relevant, relational and rigorous, then Coach Boniol has to be part of that conversation. Few things are more relevant to college life and the fabric of American culture than football, and Chris Boniol is a football champion at the highest level. Relationally, no one accomplishes what he did as a coach without excellent people skills. And rigorous? Becoming proficient in a full contact sport like football takes more than a mere half-hearted effort.”
“God continues to add his best people to our stellar personnel,” Brewer added. “Coach Boniol has elevated LC’s game on the gridiron before the first whistle of the season has blown. He’s an ‘And.Then.Some.’ kind of guy — giving his best and then some more. I know Coach Boniol will make an impact. He already has.”
- Many athletes aspire to play football in the NFL. What did you do to get there?
- I always had a dream to play professionally and to compete at that level. I had a passion for it. And I had success in college with a lot of game-winning kicks. Having that type of performance in clutch situations definitely gives you a leg-up on the competition in training camp. Many good players don’t get the opportunity to go to training camp, but I was fortunate enough to do that. Of course, once you get there, you still have to compete, and that’s what I had to do from that point on.
- The Wildcats have enjoyed a successful kicking game in recent years. How does that affect the program going forward?
- Yes, we’ve had some good success here. But as for the Wildcats, it’s not what you did in the past. It’s about what you do today. The next opportunity is the most important one. We’ll take the success that’s been here in the past and build on it. My only concern now is getting ready for fall camp and getting ready for the first game of the year. My job is to get our players ready.
- As a kicker, there were times when an opponent’s time-out was meant to “ice” you. Does “icing” a kicker really work?
- It depends. Kicking is a lot about establishing a routine. If a kicker gets iced, then something in his routine got disrupted and he did not adapt very well. I think you can prepare for any of those situations, and prepare your players for any out-of-the-normal situations that may occur, and that’s our job as coaches — to get our guys ready. We’re educators, as coaches, and not only about football and life, but about situational football and we need to be ready when those situations arrive.
- What about transitioning from the professional football to the college game? How will you relate to these players?
- Surprisingly, a lot of the players we coach in the pros are right out of college. They’re guys who have a dream, and they are pursuing that dream. The majority of the players in the NFL are like that. There are three classes of players in the NFL. The upper class — those are the guys who were drafted in the first three or four rounds. They have a really good shot to make the team, and they’ll get paid more money than the other players. The middle class, they’re back-ups or limited starters. They’ll play in different roles on special teams. They’re not the marque-type, big name players. Then you have what I was as part of the lower class of the NFL, undrafted or drafted late. I was undrafted. You’ve got a bunch of guys in that class who are fighting to make a team or even the practice squad. And those are the guys that you count on to build your special teams units — guys right out of college. They are young and hungry players who want an opportunity to compete. So, in my mind, I’ve always looked forward to the opportunity to coach college ball because I love the practice squad player. They are the guys like I was. They are fighting for that foot in the door, giving it everything they have. And I believe college players are the same way. They have a dream, and they are fighting to be the best that they can be so they can live their dream.
- You mentioned your responsibility, as a coach is to prepare your players for life. What are your philosophies in that regard?
- Football is going to end one day. A player will have to get an education and find a job. Life just comes at you at some point. Football is a hard job — for the player, for coaches — you have to make sacrifices. You go through adversity. You have to overcome adversity. You have to be mentally tough and physically tough. Life is hard, too. And I think football prepares young men for life.
- How significant are special teams?
- Every game starts with special teams. There are kick-off and return teams, and punting and punt return teams. There’s the potential to have from 25-to-40 plays a game with special teams. That’s a lot of opportunities to set field position for the offense and defense. Special teams can set the tempo of the game, create big plays, and show character especially with hard and aggressive play. Special teams are an important phase of the game. It’s important for the identity of your team.
- What do you mean by identity?
- It’s what you put on tape when other teams watch your film, and when your teammates watch your film. The first thing you’ve got to have is effort, and then be tough and play fast with emotion and passion and enthusiasm. That’s what’s gonna be seen by others. Here are some questions about team identity: Do you play physical? Do you take care of the ball? Do you tackle? Do you finish plays? Do you play as a team?
- What’s it like coming to coach college football especially after playing for the Dallas Cowboys and winning a Super Bowl?
- Well, I appreciate being a part of those opportunities. It’s part of my history. It’s where I’ve come from. But that was a long time ago, and I have done other things since then. My identity doesn’t revolve around being that player. We can’t hang our hats on those identities because those identities will change. There will be new players. Life comes and goes. But if being a Super Bowl winner and a former Dallas Cowboy gives me the platform and credibility to continue to be an influence on people professionally, spiritually, personally, then I will take advantage of that. Being at Louisiana College is a continuation of this journey I’m on. The job is still the same. It doesn’t matter where you are. But where I’ve built my life is around my family, and the different jobs I’ve had as a teacher, a private coach, a pro coach. Being a mentor at any level, whether it’s family, school, football, what-have-you, it doesn’t matter.
- You mentioned spiritual mentorship. How are you going to approach that with Wildcats Football?
- There are biblical principles and character traits that you present by how you live your life and how you do your job and how you interact with people. I believe we all have spiritual gifts. Mine are teaching and encouragement. So, that’s how I approach my job, but also with accountability — challenging my guys with high expectations and high standards — expecting everyone to do the best they can do every single day. There is no syllabus for life. There’s no lesson plan. You just do your job and live your life according to those principles.
- Is Louisiana College a God thing for you?
- I think it is. I think he opens and closes doors, and I had a lot of doors that closed this year for one reason or another. It’s a great opportunity, and I believe it’s one he provided. Any time you run into closed doors, it’s disappointing and frustrating. But when you have those challenges, God will always provide something else. The amount of time I’ve gotten to spend with my family — it’s been unbelievable. And then to have the opportunity to work for Coach Dunn and his staff, to be a part of the mission here to not only be a successful football program, but to be a positive influence in these young men’s lives, all that presents another goal here besides just winning football games. This is an opportunity that God has provided for me — to be a positive role model and teach these young men about life. And professionally, I get to be a special teams coordinator and the running backs’ coach. It’s a great opportunity.
- Who has influenced you the most in your life?
- No question, I learned a tremendous amount from both my parents. My dad and his leadership in sports and competitive nature and work ethic. My mom, relationally, got to spend a lot of time with her because my dad coached a lot. She taught me to be extremely independent and confident. She taught me the value of family — extended family. This was always a big priority in our lives. In today’s culture it’s not as prevalent, but it’s something that has remained important to me.
- Anyone else?
- Probably one of the biggest influencers in my life was when I coached with the Oakland Raiders. We had a tremendous staff, tremendous friendships, some family bonds were made. But the man I worked for, special teams coordinator was Bobby April, he coached for the Saints a long time. He did a lot for me in my coaching career as a mentor. I learned a lot from all the coaches along the way. Jason Garrett — just how he goes around doing things in his standard of excellence. And the different special teams coaches I worked for over the years in Dallas. I have gained a tremendous knowledge for the game and a tremendous passion for the game.
- The Wildcats have seven road games in a 10-game season. What about that?
- The way I see it? It’s a great opportunity. We get to travel. We get to have camaraderie on the road and go play games. I don’t think it matters where you play. In the NFL, you play eight home and eight road games. They all matter. There’s no excuse when you travel. That’s what it is, and you go and do your job anyway. The good teams are the teams that win on the road, also. You win at home and you win on the road, also. That’s our job. Every game is an opportunity, every drive, every play is an opportunity.