A former Texas Longhorn is returning to the program with Octavious Bishop filling a role in a player development.
The role of “Director of Player Development” can be an ambiguous space for a lot of people, as its purpose is sometimes difficult to understand. But for former Texas Longhorns’ offensive lineman Octavious Bishop, it’s a role many around the 40-Acres view as a match made in football heaven.
In Texas’ Week One wrap up of fall camp, head coach Charlie Strong was asked about Bishop’s role during the media availability, and how he was settling into it. “When I look at Big O, when we talked about that position, it was just about player development,” Strong said. “And I always felt that you need another voice as a coaching staff.”
The Texas Tech Red Raiders hired former South Oak Cliff head football coach Emmett Jones as its Director of Player Development in January 2015. He has since transitioned into being Tech’s outside receivers’ coach, so whether Texas will transition Bishop into a role on the offensive line has yet to be seen. But for now, coach Strong seems to all about having Bishop on to broker relations between coaches and players.
“As a coach, we can only say so much to a player, and we’re always either… trying to get them to go to class, or go to this, said Strong. “And to hear another voice — where he can deliver the same message, but he can deliver it in a different way — and he can develop that relationship.”
Bishop played at left tackle for Texas from 1995-98, where he helped pave the way (literally) for Heisman winner and 1999 NFL Draft first-rounder, Ricky Williams. After brief stints in the NFL, NFL Europe, and the XFL, he retired due to a career-ending injury and settled into stronger academic pursuits.
Bishop holds a Masters from the University of Texas in social work and is a Ph. D. candidate at Walden University–Minnesota. But having worked with at-risk youth, he truly gets to apply his background through player advocacy, and in his own words, let players know “There is something beyond the game.”
In coach Strong’s press conference, he detailed that Bishop has sat down with what he believes to be the entire football team by now. “When it comes from someone like O, who has played the game and has been to the NFL, now he has a Ph. D. and he’s back here working, it has some meaning to it. He’s been great at it, and it’s been a super addition to our staff.”
With more and more programs adding Director of Student Leadership and Personal Development on to their staffs, it’s important to distinguish what, exactly, that role entails.
According to the official Texas Longhorns’ press release on Bishop from back in May:
“In his role, Bishop will work with Strong and the football staff to provide strategy and implementation of programs to support student-athlete development. Among the program’s goals and objectives will be personal growth, character enhancement, leadership assessment and development, life skills and career preparation.”
Players often view their coaches as an extension of their friends or parents–if the coach and player learn to trust each other. But for former players to have face time with current players as their advocates, we could see a new pattern emerging where players’ behavior and attitudes begin to maintain consistency, thus eliminating drama and distractions.
The thought might seem like a mirage on the college athletics’ landscape, but hopefully, cultural enhancements within programs begin to reveal themselves within the next few years, and we start to see returns from the additions in overall player morale, and trust.