Many college coaches have previous experience playing football, at any level. Having played the game, coaches will know what to expect when leading their players and planning out a regimen that will be effective for them.
College football coaches also usually start at a minor level job, such as a water boy or ball boy. This shows programs that a coach is dedicated and that team commitment is a lifelong aspiration.
All head football coaches have previous experience coaching at the college level. Even the best high school coaches need to learn the differences and nuances of the college game before heading an entire staff and team.
Head coaches are usually promoted or receive their first head coaching job while working as an offensive or defensive coordinator. This position oversees the entire offense or defense, respectively, and shows that a coach knows how to deal with responsibility and pressure.
Programs look for head coaches to be level-headed in their interviews. Coaches get worked up frequently, but being able to think logically in even the most stressful situation is an absolute necessity for any coach making game-time decisions.
All coaches, whether it be assistant or head coaches, should have excellent communication skills. Coaches must counsel, coach and mentor dozens of players, and they must be able to communicate their lessons and instructions effectively.
Head coaches also need to be impervious to public opinion. At some point, coaches will make someone mad, whether it be in the stands or in their program, and they need to be able to deal with people disliking them. Sometimes what's best for the team isn't always the popular decision.
All college football coaches, especially those wishing to be a head coach, should have at least a bachelor's degree, preferably in a health or sports-related field. Some colleges prefer a master's degree, but this is not the most common degree of college football coaches.
Some coaches get licensed to referee, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This can show you are competent in the game of football and have a solid understanding of all the rules, both in recruiting and game-playing.
In some smaller programs, coaches are expected to both coach football and teach classes, so a degree in a subject that you can teach is recommended for many first-time coaches.