DENTON, Texas - His coaching stops have taken him from Whitewright, to Plano High School, across the Southwest Conference, the U. S. Naval Academy, junior colleges, Division I, II, and II schools in between. His name is Scotty Conley and he's the director of football operations at North Texas. That's just scratching the surface though.
Conley coached against Jimmy Johnson's Oklahoma State team in the 1981 Independence Bowl while with Texas A&M. A year later, he moved to Austin to coach with Texas. That year he would first meet a young quarterback named Todd Dodge who would end up starting his first game in the 1982 Sun Bowl that season with Conley as one of his coaches.
Conley always wanted to coach at the collegiate level, but he almost never made it there.
Conley had the coaching bug in him early, starting back in his high school days, but soon found out a harsh reality of the business.
"I always wanted to coach, even after I graduated high school, and then I found out how much money they made," said Conley laughing a bit. "Then in the spring semester of my senior year I knew that this was what I wanted to do and I was going to try it."
His first stop in 1970 was Sulphur Springs Junior High. "I was an assistant junior high coach and I also taught math," Conley said.
After moving up to Whitewright in 1971, he moved onto Mt. Vernon in 1972 and then had a five year stop at Plano High School in 1974-79. During that time Conley saw the Wildcats erupt into a juggernaught. He coached a skinny kid by the name of Billy Smith, an ordinary name to most. That would be former San Diego Chargers linebacker Billy Ray Smith.
He had some great times with the Wildcats, but still had the itch to get to college coaching even if an opportunity was on the horizon.
"The hardest part was just breaking away from everything," said Conley. "Plano East High School was opening up and I considered it as an option but I always knew that I wanted to coach in the Southwest Conference."
And the opportunity came along.
Conley started winding his way through the college coaching ranks in 1981 with Texas A&M. There he coached Johnny Hector, who would have a prosperous NFL career with the N.Y. Jets. The starting QB at the time for the Aggies? None other than current Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak.
His time with the Aggies though lasted only one season. Conley then he made a decision that most wouldn't make wearing maroon and white. He went across enemy lines to work for the Longhorns.
"You learn in coaching that somebody is writing a check for you and that decides the loyalties pretty fast," said Conley.
Under Coach Fred Akers, Conley and the Longhorns went to the Sun Bowl in 1982. It was there that a fresh faced quarterback Todd Dodge would make his debut in the burnt orange for the first time.
After coaching in the Cotton, Freedom, and Bluebonnet Bowl, Conley's path took him to Arkansas, the junior college level, division III jobs, and others. The coaching carousel finally landed him at Texas A&M-Commerce as the head coach in 2004.
Looking For A Fresh Start
He's always loved coaching, but his time at Commerce began to wear on him.
"The reality is that I had four athletic directors in five years and the changes just kept on coming," Conley said. "This is a business that you have to have a passion for and as I started to evaluate things, my age, the time you have to spend, it became difficult. I was talking to Frank Broyles about it and you just realize that sometimes this is a younger man's profession."
In the off-season following the 2008 season, North Texas just so happened to be in the market for a new director of football operations. It's not a coaching position per se, but a role Conley envisioned for himself.
"I knew if I wasn't going to coach that I wanted to be around athletics and this job is the perfect mix," said Conley. "We are like-minded people in this profession and I feel like I can use my experience and background to help. I know that I've got to gain that trust factor with the other coaches and I want to be able to help everyone out if they need it with any lessons I may have learned from in the past."
Conley doesn't look at himself as the grizzled veteran of the staff but a person that others can confide in and ask advice for and about.
His title says it's only about operations with the football program, but his heart knows there's more than that.