Kickoff will be minutes away, but Mike Jinks won’t put on his headset, answer a question or give yet another order on the Bowling Green sideline Saturday until completing what has been his ritual since becoming a coach in 1996.
“It will be the same thing that always runs through my mind,” he said. “I will take about 10 to 15 seconds to say a prayer to myself and be grateful for this opportunity. And then it’s game on. It will be 60 minutes of fun.”
What will be vastly different from the other season openers is that Jinks, 44, will be head coach of a college team for the first time when the Falcons play Ohio State at noon Saturday in Ohio Stadium.
Five years ago, he was coach at powerhouse Steele High School in Cibolo, Texas.
Jinks was associate head coach and running backs coach at Texas Tech last season and running backs coach there from 2013-14, which makes him the only man among the 29 new Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches not to have been a coordinator.
This is the first time he is employed out of the state of Texas.
“It is an unbelievable opportunity and a blessing to be here,” Jinks said.
Jinks appreciates stepping into a situation that almost is picture-perfect. The Falcons have played in four straight bowls and won Mid-American Conference championships in 2013 and last season.
“At the first stop it’s usually a rebuilding deal,” he said.
Senior quarterback James Knapke got excited when he saw that Jinks had been part of a Red Raiders offense that averaged 594.5 yards and 46.6 points per game.
“A Big 12 coach coming in?” Knapke said. “Texas Tech was faster than we were last year. They like to throw the ball around. Well, that’s almost like basketball. The main difference in Coach Jinks’ offense (from former coach Dino Babers) is that it’s more complicated. There is more on the quarterback.”
Cornerback Marcus Milton, who played at Pickerington Central and Jireh Prep in Matthews, North Carolina, took to Jinks right away.
“Coach is a humble man,” he said. “You see his resume and understand why he got here so quickly.”
Jinks said he won’t hesitate to soak in the atmosphere Saturday.
“To be there on opening day in an historic arena in front of 107,000 and hear the crowd get ramped up is something I’m really looking forward to,” he said. “But if they are still yelling three and four hours later, that’s something I wouldn’t look forward to.”