Dec. 17, 2012
Co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Ron West has been around college football for a long time. With more than 30 years of collegiate experience both as a player and a coach, West has dealt with a litany of student-athletes, assistants, staff members and situations.
He was a member of the staff at Tulane in 1997 when the Green Wave put up a school record 375 points. He helped defeat legendary head coach Lou Holtz's South Carolina team in 2003, 63-17. He mentored the late Gaines Adams, a unanimous first team All-American and the No. 4 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.
However, with all the success he's been a part of, there's one thing that matters more to West than wins, losses or defensive philosophies: Character.
West, who spent the 2009 season with head coach Todd Graham as the co-defensive coordinator at Tulsa, decided to rejoin Graham in the desert after coaching at Illinois from 2010-11. One of the main reasons why, West says, was because he wanted to work for someone who was a man of character and took pride in the impact he had on young people.
"He's going to make sure every detail is covered, he's going to make sure kids are being raised as men, and they have role models in their lives which help them become better men," West said.
Whether it's dealing with off-the-field issues or holding players accountable in practice, West says the coaching staff Graham has assembled at ASU understands the importance of focusing on values and morals, in addition to athletic prowess.
"You're not going to have to worry about guys doing things right," West said. "They're going to do things right on and off the field - or they're not going to be here."
As the father of two children - a son that plays college football and a daughter in nursing school - West recognizes the impressionable nature of young people and the great influence that coaches wield.
"Being a parent, I always wanted my children impacted in those kind of positive relationships," West said. "That's one reason why I took the job with coach Graham because I knew how it was going to be."
West says it was an honor to play college football and the traditions he was a part of at Clemson, such as the Tiger Walk and a team dress code on game day, helped him become the person he is today. Graham is implementing some of the same things West grew up with in the Deep South, including ASU's own Devil Walk and team-issued Pitchfork emblazoned blazers, something West says creates building blocks for becoming a successful person.
"The way we're dressed when we get off the bus and what the guys wear in their daily lives - we're all one heartbeat, one mindset," West said. "These are old fashioned routines that teach discipline and the right way to act."
Throughout the years, West has been able to gain a perspective that is unrivaled among his peers. That insight has enabled him to see that what makes college athletics truly special is not what the team accomplishes on the field, but what they represent while they're off it.