By Patrick Crawford
Arkansas Media Relations
Managing the needs of an entire college football team is Mark Robinson’s task for Arkansas, and he tackles it head on. Robinson is in his third year as the Razorbacks’ director of football operations. He previously spent four years as a football operations assistant at Texas A&M.
Robinson’s responsibilities include managing the football budget, overseeing team travel and maintaining the team’s roster.Robinson played football for Appalachian State from 1998-2002, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in communications. He is married to the former Valerie Lynch and they have two children, Caroline (born March 2008) and Evan (Rocco), who was born in October 2009.
Q: What originally brought you to the Arkansas football program?
A: I came to Arkansas for the opportunity to work for the best football coach in America and be in the best conference in the country. Coach Petrino is an elite coach and I jumped at the opportunity to be part of his staff. I always knew that Razorback fans and the Razorback nation as a whole were outstanding, but I had no idea just how passionate and great they actually were until I arrived in Fayetteville.
Q: Having worked closely with head coach Bobby Petrino for more than two seasons, how would you describe him?
A: He’s a terrific coach and recruiter. He is extremely organized and efficient. I’ve been to a lot of football practices as both a player and a staff member, and have learned a tremendous amount by watching Coach Petrino’s practices. He doesn’t get after players for making mistakes like some coaches may do; he corrects the mistakes. Every time he says something at practice, players and staff learn from him. He’s one of the smartest people in college football. He is amazing when it comes to play calling and finding other teams’ weaknesses. Everything, including the way he runs practices and the way he runs meetings, is great.
Q: For the casual Razorback fan, could you explain what you do behind the scenes for the football program?
A: I oversee the daily operations of the football program. I manage the daily and weekly schedules for the football program and organize and maintain football rosters. I coordinate team travel, which includes distributing player complimentary tickets, arranging meals and other scheduling with hotels, buses and airplanes. I oversee and set the budget for the entire football program and am responsible for completing and monitoring all compliance paper work. I also act as liaison to the SEC football office and assist players with scholarship checks and financial aid. Lastly, I monitor the daily use of our football facilities.
Q: With this being game day, could you give a run-down of how a typical “football Saturday” goes for you?
A: My football Saturdays always start early at the team hotel. I am making sure the hotel has our team breakfast ready and prepared exactly the way we want it. Then, I go down my checklist, making sure the area for our team walk-through is set-up, players are getting the correct wake-up calls, the buses are ready on time and our police escort is ready to get us to the stadium. I make certain that the pregame meal is correct and that the post-game player’s meal delivery to the stadium is confirmed. I also meet with the game officials about an hour and a half before kick-off to make sure all of their requirements are met. Home games have a less details for me than road games. When we are at home, I don’t have to coordinate the flight home, post-game buses or police escort to the airport.
Q: What have you learned from your experience as a football player at Appalachian State and your time working with the Texas A&M football program?
A: Being a college football player helped me understand what the players go through on a day-to-day basis. It helps me understand their daily schedules, conflicts, and what I can do to help make their lives off the field as smooth as possible. As a college football player, you develop great work habits that carry on to the business world. At Texas A&M, I was fortunate enough to be tutored by an outstanding Director of Football Operations, Charley North, who taught me how to be organized and efficient. He was instrumental in preparing me for my position here at Arkansas.
Q: Football is undoubtedly a big time commitment. What are you normally up to when you’re away from the stadium?
A: Spending time with my wife and two young children, Caroline and Rocco. If I am not doing something related to Razorback Football, I am generally with them. I really enjoy playing golf, but until Caroline and Rocco are old enough to at least caddie, the clubs are staying in the garage.