Cylar seems like good hire for Liberty

When Brian Jones resigned as head football coach of the Liberty football program on June 5, the Leopards were left in a bind just 86 days before the start of the football season.

By this point, all high school football teams know their coaches, with the cream of the crop in head coaching candidates having taken a job elsewhere or staying as assistant at some school. The odds weren’t in Liberty’s favor to find a high-quality replacement quickly.

Nineteen days later, the Liberty School Board found its man in former Ursuline assistant Kevin Cylar, and it could turn out to be a good hire despite the speed at which it took to find him and hire him.

Cylar was with the Fighting Irish during the team’s building of a powerhouse. He’s accustomed to playing in November, and considering Liberty has qualified for the playoffs in consecutive years once in its history (2004-2006), that mindset will be crucial. The Leopards made it to the playoffs and won their first-round matchup in 2012 after going 1-19 in 2010 and 2011.

Also, Cylar’s experience will help the Leopards, who won the All-American Conference, National Division title in 2012. At Ursuline, Cylar didn’t have to worry about conference titles. Instead, the state’s best were gunning after them, especially during the state title years from 2008-2010.

While this proves to be vital, the 1991 East graduate’s greatest asset as a coach comes in his ability to relate to his players, according to him and his former boss Larry Kempe. He called himself a “player’s coach,” and his enthusiasm and energy at taking over the job was evident over the phone before he even officially became the Leopards football coach.

Considering the short amount of time he has to implement his coaching philosophy, this ability will be crucial to his success in the fall.

“The best thing that Kevin does is he relates very well to the student athletes,” Kempe said of Cylar when he received the job offer last Friday. “He knows how to get the most out of kids. He’s a great communicator, and one of the things I’ll miss with him, he’s extremely loyal to his players and fellow coaches.”

His loyalty is also hard to miss, even when not meeting with Cylar face to face.

Even before accepting the job offer, Cylar called Kempe to ask his permission to take the biggest coaching opportunity of his life. How many assistants would do that at any level in any sport? Most coaches bolt at the moment a better offer exists and only discusses it with his players and coaches after making a “tough” decision to leave.

With the move to Liberty, that loyalty has shifted to the Leopards. Cylar said he was grateful for his time at Ursuline, but in the hours following his hire, Cylar referred to the Leopards as “we” and not using the same term for the Fighting Irish.

Only time will tell whether Cylar’s reign at the helm of the Liberty football program will be a success, but all signs at this moment point toward this as a good hire.