"Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it." (Proverbs, Chapter 8, Verses 10-11)
FRIDAY, DEC 28, 2007- - "To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else." Emily Dickinson
*********** Dear Coach Wyatt,
I hope you and all your readers had a wonderful Christmas.
I wanted to send you some news from Connecticut...
I know Coach Pat Cox of Tolland sends you regular updates about his season. There was a recent development that I was afraid that he would not send in due to modesty, and I wanted your readers to know what a job he's done.
On Sunday Dec 23 the New Haven Register named Coach Cox as the Coach of the Year for Connecticut!
Coach Cox's team also had one running back, senior Chris Leonard, honored on the Second Team All State lineup.
*********** Horizon Air, which is owned by Alaska Airlines and connects Boise, Spokane and most of the smaller cities of the Pacific Northwest with Seattle and Portland, is painting four of its jets in the colors and logos of the four PNW schools - Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State...
*********** Hi Coach. Merry Christmas to you and Connie. May the New Year be filled with God's blessings. I attached two pictures of some old football players - I think 1948 Notre Dame Natl.Champs. Man, from watching the Michigan clip that year must've been a good year for our kind of football. What I want to share with you is something I learned today that bothered the heck out of me. D1 football programs channel and actually encourage the kids to go into the crappy majors just to make sure they stay academically eligible and graduate to boost their stats so to speak. When a kid mentions that he wants to go into let's say architecture or something that will give him a chance at a good life they discourage it. I believe that the bad thing about those crappy degrees unless you make it in the NFL, and that is unlikely, you have wasted a wonderful opportunity. Man the more I learn about all of this the more it is starting to smell. What do you think about this? Blessings,Armando Castro, Roanoke, Virginia
Coach Castro, a long-time coach, suddenly finds himself the dad of a rising senior, Alan, who is a very good QB and is getting some looks. And now Coach Castro finds himself looking at colleges in a different way from before. And the truth, I told him, is that, with rare exceptions, big-time college football is becoming a national disgrace. We all know, of course, that there are a lot of kids playing college football (and basketball) who have no business being in college. They know it themselves, and make no pretense of being students. And every bit as much of a farce as it is to admit kids who have little chance of succeeding in college, even with tutoring, I think it is even worse that kids who could do well academically in a solid program that could lead to a good career get steered into knucklehead majors, solely for the benefit of their coaches, who often have bonus clauses in their contracts based on the number of kids who graduate. Graduate? While their expenses are paid, they're directed towards the easy classes with the most "cooperative" instructors. (Interesting how often the name of their majors ends in "Studies.") The curious thing to me is how few of these guys major in education. Shoot, as easy and undemanding as that is, how easy must their chosen "field of studies" be? Oh, yes - and don't forget they're given all kinds of assistance, up to and including (at Florida State at least) the answers to online tests. Graduate? Graduate? (Try to picture me sounding like Jim Mora saying, "Playoffs?") Graduate? Big f--king deal.
Coach Castro wrote back - You are right I did not know this cause maybe I was in denial. I went to Notre Dame and was given a list of players and their academic hopes and I said to myself if you don't make it in something football you are screwed with all these dumbass degrees. Then I looked at Miami,Virginia,Virginia Tech, and the list gets longer and I told myself."I know these people are herding these boys into all these bullsh-- degrees. This is being done by young men trying to take the easy way. Nowadays it is nearly impossible to get into Miami, Virginia on your own merits. And you mean to tell me God blessed my son with that opportunity and you are encouraging him not to take advantage of it? That is disgraceful. But so it is. A player confirmed this, a kid that busted his ass a whole year at Fork Union (a prime Eastern prep school, on the order of a JC. HW) and left there on the Deans list for academic achievement. Then he gets to UVA and they dumb him down. Especially when this kid is a long, long, long shot to even have the NFL look his way. I think as a nation we have sold our souls for worldly things and it is scary to me. We are playing with America's young men of the future. That is real dangerous. Blessings,Armando I'll KEEP COACHING!
At least you know the things you need to talk to schools about. Not enough people look at choosing a college as a career decision.
A major piece of advice I give to recruited athletes and their parents is, "consider where you would want to be if you were to get injured and never be able to play another down of football." It's extremely difficult for a kid who's spent his entire high school career being identified first and foremost as a football player to divorce himself from that identity long enough to think of himself as just another kid looking at a college. That's where a father comes in. The man in a kid's life who's taken a few lumps from life and knows that sports don't last forever.
Unfortunately for all those kids without fathers in their lives, it's all but impossible for them to think of themselves as other than just football players, and so they are easy prey for the coaches who simply see them as pieces of meat.
Frankly, if the family budget - and the kid's and the father's ego - can handle it, a Division III college is often the best career decision.
*********** The NFL, faced with the indisputable fact that not enough people care enough about it to pay to get the NFL Network, is doing a magnificent job of announcing that its decision to relax its stance and also make Saturday's Patriots-Giants game available on CBS and NBC was made "in the best interest of our fans." Yeah. Those fans that have really been beating down the doors of their cable companies to get them to carry the NFL channel.
Joked (I think) Ryan White in the Portland Oregonian, "It's in nobody's best interest to have Giants' quarterback Eli Manning on three networks."
Who's kidding who? Not even this season's big NFL story - the Patriots' drive to the record books - could convince enough people of the need to subscribe to a network that, except for a small number of live NFL games, looks less like a sports channel and more like a retirement home for former NFL players as they sit and talk about - what else? -the NFL. Um - don't we already get that on, oh, maybe four or five other channels? For free?
"In the best interest of our fans," my ass.
First of all, the NFL has been under pressure from a couple of New England senators to televise this one live so that all the Little People who love the Patriots but don't have season tickets and don't get the NFL Network can see the game. (Who knew that Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Lord John Kerry of Massachusetts cared that much about Joe Fan?)
Added the Oregonian's Ryan White, "Politicians. Is there any meaningless topic they won't attack?"
And secondly, not even the NFL, which so far has been treated by the lap-dog media as if baseball's drug scandal has been taking place in another universe, would have been spared the ridicule of allowing the Patriots' historic win to take place in the near-secrecy of the NFL Network. Hell, there have to be five or six media guys left in the US who are not beholden to the NFL in one way or another, and one of them would have written the story. (Actually, there's probably even a wiseass on ESPN who'd be willing to risk his job for a good laugh at the NFL's expense.)
So for all you fans who heard the breathless announcement that you'll now be able to watch the Patriots-Giants game Saturday for free - has the NFL got a treat for you! See, the Giants, having already secured a playoff spot, are expected to play their starters only a portion of the game. Ditto the Patriots, once they've achieved all their personal and team goals. So go rent that movie you told your wife or girlfriend you'd watch with her - this one should be over by halftime. (Unless you enjoy watching a bullfight between a matador with a rubber sword and a holstein cow.)
*********** A lot of NFL teams, their playoff spots already nailed down, have been putting out the word that they're not going to go with their starters in this weekend's regular season final games. And the news media are passing along this news to us as if it's simply business as usual.
They seem to treat it as the football equivalent of a baseball team's resting its ace pitcher in the final game of the regular season. There's just one small problem with that analogy ...
Baseball teams play 162 games - 81 of them at home. What's one game?
But what if they were to rest their starters for ten games? Would anyone stand for it?
Essentially, that's what the NFL is doing. NFL teams play only 16 regular season games, eight of them at home. (They also play four "pre-season" games, two of them at home, and the NFL sells its season tickets as 10-game packages, knowing full well that you want to watch your team's best play against, say, the Colts or the Patriots, badly enough to pay for two "pre-season" games in which your starting quarterback will play (at most) a series.)
Now, given that the two "pre-season" games are the fat that you have to trim off the roast, season ticket holders are left with only eight games - for the price of ten.
Now, if your favorite team decides it's going to coast in its final game, that amounts to ten baseball games. So wouldn't you say they're ripping you off?
*********** Anybody else watch the Motor City Bowl? Anybody else notice how well those kids from Purdue and Central Michigan could catch?
So why can't those clowns in the NFL who masquerade as receivers catch the ball consistently?
I think, personally, that they are evaluating receivers by far too many criteria other than the most important one of all - the ability to catch the f--king ball.
The argument has been made that NFL receivers drop a lot of passes because in pro ball they throw the ball so much. I ain't buying. The fault in that logic is that they would also catch a lot more passes, too.
The fact remains that far too many of these highly-paid receivers drop way too many passes thrown right at them.
Yes, a major league shortstop will commit more actual errors if more balls are hit to him, but I rather doubt that the percentage of those errors will increase.
Again, as I've been contending, it's time to start charging receivers with errors, and computing their "receiving percentage."
My sister lives in Piedmont, not a mile from the high school and its nice artificial field. This Piedmont offense crap pisses me off to hell, like seeing a healthy guy park in a handicapped spot using a relative's pass who's not with him. I still don't get one part of it - I don't see how an interior lineman is a legal receiver no matter what number he's wearing, unless that's specified in the scrimmage-kick rule.
What's worst is to hear people justifying it as "creative" and "unconventional." I keep telling them that for all the insults thrown at offbeat offenses, this is one that actually isn't football.
The coach whines on his blog about playing schools with double the enrollment. What's ironic is that coaches have been tackling that problem for decades by not spreading it out by packing it in, with Wing-T/DW offenses.
Christopher Anderson, Palo Alto, California (They say that in politics, "patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrel." In coaching, it is "player safety." HW)
*********** Boy, what a whiner Mack Brown is. First, he's given a sideline warning, and then, as a loose ball bounces in front of the Texas bench, a guy in Texas sideline gear steps on the field and appears to touch the ball in an attempt to keep it in bounds. Meanwhile, downfield, at least one UT coach and one UT player are also on the field during the play. And this guy Brown, who's paid millions to run an operation that includes such minor details as keeping an orderly sideline, has the gall to bitch that he doesn't think that guy - who turns out to be his stepson - actually touched the ball.
*********** Is Arizona State a hard team to watch, or what?
*********** So West Virginia is suing Rich Rodriguez for the $4 million buyout called for in his contract. If it's going to come down to a jury trial in front of 12 West Virginians, he might just as well write the check right now.
*********** On New Year's Day, while you're busy zipping between this football game and that, don't be shocked by what you see if you happen onto NBC (or, if you live in Canada, CBC). Yes, that's an NHL hockey game. Being played outdoors.
At 1 PM Eastern, the Pittsburgh Penguins will play the Buffalo Sabres in Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson Stadium.
It's been done before by colleges (Michigan State), and by the NFL in Canada (Edmonton), but playing a regular season game outdoors, in a football stadium, is a first for the NHL in the US.
Now, those of you in warmer climes may think the NHL is nuts, but remember, this is Buffalo, where they learned a long time ago how to watch football games in snowstorms. The Sabres have a very strong following, and Buffalo is not that far from Toronto and very close to Hamilton, Ontario, and a crowd in the neighborhood of 70,000 is expected. Nevertheless - Brrr.
*********** Tired of reading about kids who have "committed" to go to a college and then change their minds? Terry Frei (himself the son of a former college head coach, the late Jerry Frei) writes in the Denver Post that calling something a "commitment" when - by any definition of the word - it really isn't, is not only inaccurate, but cheapening the meaning of the word...
TUESDAY, DEC 25, 2007- MERRY CHRISTMAS - “Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND DEEPEST THANKS TO THE BLACK LIONS IN IRAQ, AND TO ALL AMERICAN SERVICEPEOPLE SPENDING THEIR CHRISTMAS AWAY FROM HOME!
MY ANNUAL CHRISTMAS WISH FOR FOOTBALL COACHES EVERYWHERE (First printed in 2000, and printed every Christmas since): May you have.... Parents who recognize that you are the football expert; who stand back and let you coach their kids; who know their kids' limitations and don't expect them to start unless in your opinion they are better than the other kids; who don't sit in the stands and openly criticize their kids' teammates; who don't think it's your job to get their kid an athletic scholarship; who schedule their vacations so their kids won't miss any practices; who know that your rules apply to everybody, and are not designed just to pick on their kid... A community that can recognize a year when even Vince Lombardi himself would have trouble just getting those kids to line up straight... Opponents who are fun to play against; who love and respect the game and its rules as much as you do, and refuse to let their kids act like jerks... Students who want to be in your class and want to learn; who laugh at your jokes and turn their work in on time... Freshmen who listen carefully, hear everything you say and understand all instructions the first time... Officials who will address you and your kids respectfully; who know and respect the rulebook; who will have as little effect on the game as possible; who will let you step a yard onto the playing field without snarling at you... Newspaper reporters who understand the game, always quote you accurately, and know when not to quote you at all... A school district that provides you with a budget sufficient to run a competitive program... A superintendent who schedules teachers' workdays so that coaches don't have to miss any practices... An athletic director who has been a coach himself and knows what you need to be successful and knows that one of those things is not another head coach in the AD's office; who can say "No" to the bigger schools that want you on their schedules; who understands deep down that despite Title IX, all sports are not equal... Assistants who love the game as much as you do, buy completely into your philosophy, put in the time in the off-season, and are eager to learn everything they can about what you are doing. And if they disagree with you, will tell you and nobody else.. A booster club that puts its money back into the sports that earn it, and doesn't demand a voice in your team's operation... A principal who figures that when there is a teachers' position open, the applicant who is qualified to be an assistant coach deserves extra consideration; who doesn't come in to evaluate you on game day; who makes weight-training classes available to football players first, before opening them up to the general student body; who knows that during the season you are very busy, and heads off parent complaints so that you don't have to waste your time dealing with them; who can tell you in the morning in five minutes what took place in yesterday afternoon's two-hour-long faculty meeting that you missed because you had practice... A faculty that will notify you as soon as a player starts screwing off or causing problems in class, and will trust you to handle it without having to notify the administration... A basketball coach who encourages kids to play football and doesn't discourage them from lifting, or hold "open gym" every night after football practice... A baseball coach who encourages kids to play football and doesn't have them involved in tournaments that are still going on into late August... A wrestling coach who encourages kids to play football and doesn't ask your promising 215-pound sophomore guard to wrestle at 178... A class schedule that gives you and at least your top assistant the same prep period... Doctors that don't automatically tell kids with little aches and pains to stay out of football for two weeks, even when there's nothing wrong with them... Cheerleaders who occasionally turn their backs to the crowd and actually watch the game; who understand the game - and like it... A couple of transfers who play just the positions where you need help... A country that appreciates the good that football - and football coaches - can do for its young men... A chance, like the one I've had, to get to know coaches and friends of football all over the country and find out what great people they are... The wisdom to "Make the Big Time Where You Are" - to stop worrying about the next job and appreciate the one you have -... Children of your own who love, respect and try to bring honor to their family in everything they do... A wife like mine, who understands how much football means to you... Motivated, disciplined, coachable players who love the game of football and love being around other guys who do, too - players like the ones I've been blessed with. A nation at peace - a peace that can only exist because of a strong and dedicated military that defends us while we sleep. Merry Christmas.
Coach, I hadn't seen it, and it certainly does violate the spirit of the rules, which were written so that coaches could play eligible kids on the interior line on kicking plays without having to make them change jerseys. The coach is taking advantage of that rule so that he can play touch while everyone else plays tackle. And he justifies it as a "safety" issue, which provides him with cover, like a politician saying "it's for the children."
This is actually worse than the "This is the wrong ball" play, because that one only works once.
I can't believe that opponents haven't been raising hell, and I'm betting that it will not enjoy a long life. HW
*********** I have long felt that tackle football, especially at the NFL level, has been migrating toward 11-man flag ball. I think it may be inevitable if the game is going to continue to be a significant part of a society that has become softer and gentler, and I think that the NFL, by investing in youth flag football, understands this.
Watch a pass-only team (such as Hawaii) on offense. There often isn't a whole lot more contact when they're on offense than you'd see in flag ball.
Yes, receivers (and occasionally a runner) are taken to the ground, but with the exception of sacks and the occasional big hit on a helpless receiver (which, despite my dislike for receivers as a class, I would like to see outlawed), most of the time the ball carrier is tripped up, pulled to the ground, or pushed out of bounds (if he doesn't go out of bounds voluntarily). The tackles are rarely violent, and the blocking mostly consists of holding a defender at arm's length.
The game we're playing now is a different one from the game I played 50 years ago when I was in college, and considering the way football has evolved from the days of the flying wedge to today's pass-crazy game with its push-and-grab "blocking", there is no reason to believe that the game we see today will be the same one they'll be playing 50 years from now.
I fully expect blocking below the waist - on all plays - will be the next thing to go. Other than when backs have to pick up a blitz, it's no longer of much use to pass-first teams, anyhow.
*********** Poor Dan Guerrero. He's the UCLA AD, and he needs a football coach. But see, he's never really hired one before. He came from Cal-Irvine, a school that didn't have football, and all he's done on the football front is fire a quality coach, Bob Toledo, and quickly replace him with Karl Dorrell, a guy with no experience as a head coach, and no real experience as a coordinator. Oh, his resume said that he was OC under Rick Neuheisel at Washington, but that was the equivalent of saying you were Steve Spurrier's OC at Florida.
Now, though, Dorrell is out at UCLA, and the pressure's on Mr. Guerrero to find a replacement, and - gulp - he's in over his head.
In these days when the football tail wags the athletic department dog, colleges continue to hire suits (or female coaches) to run their athletic departments. Now, these people may be okay at raising funds, scheduling, marketing and budgeting, and they may provide the added bonus of promoting gender diversity - but where football is concerned they are totally lost, and when it comes time to hire a coach, they simply have no idea what to do.
The results are not usually pretty, going back to Barbara Hedges' paying Rick Neuheisel far more than necessary and throwing coaches' salaries nationally out of whack, and continuing to the present day with Michgan's theft of West Virginia's coach and UCLA's futile courtship of Mike Bellotti.
I find it amusing that people at UCLA consider Neuheisel a legitimate candidate, conveniently overlooking Slick Rick's "accomplishments" with the Ravens, as architect of pro football's most inept offense (which is really saying something). Of course, in the LA market, star quality trumps competence, and for good or bad, Neuheisel does have a certain star quality.
*********** Hi Coach,
Please get me on the list for when you announce the 2008 clinics. I saw you last spring in Chicago. 2007 was a good one for Rio, WI. We finished 8-3, won our first playoff game in school history, and set a school record for wins.
Our A and C backs had over 1,500 yards rushing and we had over 3,800 rush yards for the year. Obviously, your teaching has worked!
Chippewa Falls (where I am from) also had another good year with the DW, and finished 8-2.
Did you happen to watch the Florida Atlantic vs Memphis Bowl game from New Orleans. What a job Coach Schnellenberger has done at FAU. Since starting the program in 1998 and only being a Division I school for two years he had them 7-5 and in a Bowl game. He has a sophomore QB, 6-5, 220 lbs, who could probably start for the Dolphins right now, and he is being touted as the second best college QB in Florida behind Tebow. But the most amazing thing was the touchdown with 9:12 in the 4th quarter. After driving from their own 4-yard line, with the score 37-27 and getting a 1st and goal on the Memphis 4-yard line, he shifted his left tackle and tight end to the right side and brought in his split left end to a tight end position, and out of the I-formation ran a power play off right tackle for the TD. It was the old 5-1 and the entire right side of the line blocked down and the FB had a nice (Mke Lunde "inside-out block) on the end man on the line of scrimmage and they scored going away. It was awesome. All NFL teams should be made to review this play and see how it is done. Just had to let you know about it in case you were not watching.
Ron Timson, Umatilla, Florida (I was watching the game off and on and I missed that - but trust foxy old (73) Howard Schnellenberger to dip into the history books and give Memphis a lesson. Think there aren't a few other things we Old School Footballers could teach today's cutting-edge guys? HW)
*********** A Scottish photographer named Lyn Cameron spent the past season covering California high school football and evidently didn’t think much of the game. According to Sports Business Journal, she wrote her friends, “It must be the most boring game on the planet. They run in circles for about three seconds, barge into each other quite madly, then stop for a few minutes to discuss what to do before the whole thing starts again. It’s truly terrible.”
Apart from the fact that I can’t imagine why someone who didn’t know the first damn thing about a sport could think she was “covering” it, I have to feel for the poor thing. The excitement of soccer has spoiled her for any other sport.
*********** If you never thought you'd see the day when football pants were shorter than basketball shorts, you haven't seen Kellen Winslow, Jr. He looks like he just got off a racing bike.
*********** From a friend who obviously will remain anonymous: You will like this one....... (Our head coach) called a meeting of next year's varsity kids, but gave the staff no notice about the agenda. During their first meeting as a team he told them, "Next year will be a complete failure if we don't win the conference championship and go deep in the playoffs!" My jaw almost hit the ground. We can be good but we have tons of question marks and a long, long way to go. Can you believe a head coach with his years of experience would say such a thing?
*********** This appeared in our local paper Saturday:
*********** The last coach Michigan got from West Virginia was pretty good.
That was the great Fielding H. Yost, who started out at Michigan in 1901 and didn't lose until 1905 when Chicago finally beat the Wolverines, 2-0. All told, Yost went 56 games, winning 55 and tieing one, before finally losing.
With what they're paying Rodriguez, should today's Michigan expect anything less?
*********** It is way past time for Congressmen, always on the lookout for something sensational to get them in front of TV cameras, to dig into why it is possible to make tax-free contributions to college athletic departments when the money is not going to any legitimate educational purpose and instead is going to pay coaches to live like lords. I'm not talking just football coaches, either. I'm talking about paying more than $100,000 a year to coaches of programs that don't bring in a dime of revenue.
The gross disparity between what the bosses make and what the workers make leads more and more to people calling for players to be paid.
For all sorts of reasons, paying athletes is never going to happen.
Neither is allowing them to transfer freely, creating a chaotic free agency situation not unlike what we see in the NFL, and spelling an end to the college game as it now exists.
The easiest answer, it would seem to me, is a cap on coaches' pay, and a "non-compete" clause in every coach's contract, should he manage to squirm out before the contract expires. The coach could get out of his contract, but he would not be able to coach at another NCAA member institution for a full year.
If coaches insist on the security of a multi-year contract, they are going to have to reciprocate by providing a similar security. To the institution, certainly, but also to the players whom they enticed with"promises" that they would stay.
*********** Watching the start of a recent NFL game, I knew I was in trouble when I heard the P-A announcer say, "And now, performing our national anthem..."
*********** For years I've joked about Preparation H one day becoming the naming sponsor of a bowl game, but here we are, getting closer to that moment with every Flomax Halftime Report.
*********** Florida State is said to be down to 46 scholarship players for its bowl game. Do you suppose they might have to do the unthinkable and suit up actual students to play against Kentucky?
I know these are dark days, 'Noles fans, and I know it's hard to believe that things could possibly be any worse than they are, but just try to remember back to when Spurrier was in Gainesville, and imagine what he'd be doing with this story.
*********** I was going, "Yeah! Yeah!" as Mark May went off on Southern Miss for the way they treated Jeff Bower. As May said, who do they think they are?
Bower played at USM and coached there for the past 17 years. Amazingly, the guy's only sin - he had one losing season in the last ten - was that "attendance was off."
*********** Coach Wyatt, It was very special to give the Black Lion award to Tanner...he's a great and deserving kid.
The West Point Cadet who spoke at our banquet gave a great analogy for the boys.....as you know, my boys are 8th graders, so I asked Tim Steele to offer them some advice as they are entering high school...he spoke of setting goals and working to those goals....the analogy he gave was how all the Cadets have to box, and that when you hit someone in the face, you don't aim for the face, you aim for the back of the head (ie, hit through the face). He described high school as the face....a stepping stone to bigger and better things. It was great.
I'm in Maine right now with my parents getting ready to sit down to a nice meal which includes some moose meat from the 800-pound moose that my stepmother shot this fall. I've been really busy the last couple of days with my banquet, work, and traveling, but before I got into my second bourbon with my dad, I wanted to shoot you an email to say thanks, and to wish you a Merry Christmas.
*********** I always felt that there were two things that TV could not provide its viewers that people in the stadium get:
(1) The scoreboard and the clock. But thanks to technology, they've pretty much dealt with this satisfactorily;
(2) The program. I find it interesting to read about the players, especially where they're from. In that regard, TV is actually getting much, much worse, especially ESPN with its cutesy guest introducers and its mention of only one or two of the highlighted players.
There is actually a third area in which TV delivers MORE than the poor chumps in the stadium get, but the viewers at home are no better for it. The producers decide what they think we should be watching, and I have not idea how they make their decisions. Instead of our being able to watch the teams run onto the field, we get shots of the talking heads in the booth. Between plays, especially during NFL telecasts, we either get MTV-like rapid cuts, or lingering closeups so uncomfortably tight that if it were real life, we'd back off. Sometimes, it's kinda creepy. I mean, do I really want to see Tom Brady's nose hairs? And then, of course, if we were at the game, come halftime we'd be waiting in line at the concessions stand or the men's room instead of listening to the bimbo interrogate the coach on his way to the locker room. Personally, I think I'd rather be waiting my turn at a urinal.
*********** Could New Mexico's shutout of Nevada, holding the Wolfpack to 73 yards rushing and just 210 yards overall, mean that the vaunted "Pistol", that shotgun hybrid which supposedly originated at Nevada and generated so much interest over the last two seasons, has already run its course?
*********** Good for Kobe Bryant and all that (becoming the youngest player in the NBA to score 20,000 points) but it is only fair to point out that he had a significant head start over the previous record holders, Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan. Chamberlain spent three years at Kansas and then had to play a year with the Globe Trotters because the NBA then had a rule against signing players before the end of what would have been their senior season; Jordan spent two years at North Carolina; Kobe came right out of Lower Merion High School. In my opinion, there is no comparison between Bryant, a very good player, and Chamberlain and Jordan, either one of whom is the greatest ever to play the game.
They do come off the ball well, and they come off low.
The end over is their way of going unbalanced. They will often do that and run the rocket (toss) sweep.
I was sure pleased that Coach Nuimatalolo got the job, because the offense will live at Navy. (Although large numbers of my fellow Army supporters were less enthusiastic than I was at the news.)
What I kept thinking the whole time I watched was, "If Navy, giving away all that size and talent to Utah, can hang in there like that, why would Paul Johnson, with the talent he can get at Georgia Tech, run anything else?"
Merry Christmas to you and your family! HW)
*********** Wisdom from Cheers:
FRIDAY, DEC 21, 2007- "To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." Ralph Waldo Emerson
*********** A Christmas story.... Twenty-five years ago, a kid named Gary Malychewski (mal-i-CHEF-ski) transferred into Hudson's Bay High School, in Vancouver, Washington where I was coaching, and turned out for football. I knew his former coach, and when I contacted him about Gary, he told me that Gary was a great kid and a good football player. He was right on both counts. Gary was a good athlete, and a real team player - he would have been a really good fullback or tight end, but we needed him more at tackle, and by unselfishly stepping in and playing there, he made us a better team. He was a solid citizen, too. And a young man whose faith guided his life.
The next time I heard anything about him was ten years ago when tragedy struck him and his wife.
It was December 16, 1997, and Hannah, their 7-year-old daughter, had run out of their house with Christmas cookies to give to the driver of their trash truck. He never saw the little girl, and the truck struck and killed her.
Gary's now 42, a driver for UPS, and he and his wife, Mari, are the parents of five children, ranging in age from 15-year-old Caleb to three-year-old Abigail.
But they've never forgotten Hannah.
Neither, they discovered, did some people from a company called Waste Connections, whose truck had killed their little girl.
Earlier this month, the Malychewskis were contacted by the company's local managers, who said that the company wanted to do something for them. Gary accepted their offer, but stipulated that there was to be no publicity.
On that condition, the entire Malychewski family were the dinner guests of Waste Connections CEO Ron Mittelstaedt and several company executives last week. And during dinner in the private dining room of a Vancouver restaurant, Mittelstaedt handed the Malychewskis a folder marked "The Malychewski College Saving Plan."
Inside was money - enough, Gary and Ron Mittelstaedt agreed, to cover the cost of a four-year education at just about any college in the United States for their oldest sons, Caleb and Josiah, who were 5 and 3 at the time Hannah was killed.
Although the company's insurance had settled with the family years ago, Waste Connections had, unbeknownst to the Malychewkis, established the college savings fund. Mittelstaedt said that he had planned to notify the family of the fund in 2002, on the fifth anniversary of Hannah's death, but said that it just didn't seem to bethe right time. So he waited, and in the interim the amount of money in the fund doubled.
While it was Gary's wish initially that nothing be said about anything the company did for his family, he was so overwhelmed by the company's thoughtfulness and generosity that he relented, and contacted the Vancouver Columbian to share the news.
"God's desire is for us to heal, but you never forget," Gary told The Columbian. "You always have the memory. I think of her every day."
He said that after Hannah's death he had prayed that she would never be forgotten, and the company's gift was an answer to his prayers.
"They have blessed our family, more than they realize," he told the Columbian. "The fact that they remembered my daughter - that's amazing."
*********** Dear Coach Wyatt:
Attached please find a photo of the Black Lion award winners from the Junior Black Knights Youth Football League. I know you have been working with my vice president Jimmy Sadler on this, and I just wanted to send you this photo. Part of our tradition here, being part of West Point, is to have Army's Black Lion winner present our kids with their awards. At the center of the photo is 2006 winner Mike Viti. CDT Viti was our guest speaker that night and was amazing.
Thank you very much for all of your work with this program. It has been something very special for our league to be a part of.
*********** From a former student and player...
I was stationed in Pearl Harbor for 3.5 years and enjoyed your observations about Hawaii, I even found myself nodding at my laptop - especially the remark about the Japanese tourists. If the airlines ever open up more flights between Hawaii and Japan remind me to dump a large sum of money in Fujifilm stock.
What a disgrace Michael Vick is - not just to football - but sports, period. And yes, as a Navy Chief (one of the youngest in the Navy, I might add), I would never compare him to our officers (no matter how much we want to wring their necks sometimes!) My hope is that he won't come back to the NFL.
I also watched the Giants-Redskins game and was thinking the exact same thing... hell, I'll go get paid $500k to drop passes a few months a year. Work has had me pretty busy the last few years so I don't get to watch much football anymore ('Hajji' doesn't care about football), however I noticed the plays were horrible to watch. The lines just stood up and held each other's jerseys! Where was the misdirection!?! How come nobody f***ing tackles?
It reminded me of a debate going on in my office: Could the DW be successful in the NFL? One of the guys in the office, who coaches and runs the DW for his team of 8yr olds, says it won't work because there's just too much speed at that caliber. I'm sure you've been asked before, but what do you think?
*********** (Damn! I waited too long to get a my money down on Kentucky!) As many as 20 Florida State football players - several of them starters - have been suspended from playing against Kentucky in the Music City Bowl, as well as the first three games of the 2008 season, for their roles in an alleged cheating scandal involving an Internet-based course. Evidently a "tutor" provided them the answers to online tests.
Now, I really don't want to think the worst of Bobby Bowden. I'd like to think that that "Aw, shucks" demeanor is not just a veneer - that what you see is what you get. I don't want to believe that he's just another insincere phony, nor do I want to believe that the parade has passed him by and he can no longer control his program... and I suppose it's possible that cheating to the extent that it's gone on at Florida State, and with the complicity of a tutor at that, could have been taking place under the nose of a coach and his nine+ assistants without anyone's being aware of it... But...
*********** “I am disappointed that my 25 years in public life have apparently not earned me the benefit of the doubt." Roger Clemens (Gee. Why didn't Richard Nixon think of that one?")
*********** Just a few thoughts on Richbitch Rodriguez, besides the fact that he's pretty much trashed Oklahoma's shot at a split national title. (I mean, how bad would the Sooners have to beat the skipperless Mountaineers for people to give them credit for a great win?)
Not to say that Rodriguez is a slimeball, but consider...
(1) He told recruits, some of them already committed to WVU, that he was leaving for Michigan - before he had even told his players or the school administration. Following his call to one of the recruits, a highly sought-after QB from Jeannette, Pennsylvania, the kid told Scout.com, "Add Michigan to my list."
(2) Then, he met with his own players. Finally, he notified his AD - by having a graduate assistant hand-deliver the letter of resignation...
Now, he's doing everything in his power to weasel his way out of paying the $4 million buyout that he negotiated of his own free will. For those of us who knew him only as a guy on the sidelines, a look at his tactics says things about his character that we never knew before...
(1) His letter to the AD, hand-delivered (by a G-A!) on December 15, announced that he would resign on January 3. After the bowl game. No doubt his scheme was based on the belief that WVU would say "Oh, no you don't - you're outta here!" and fire him, thereby relieving him of his obligation to pay the $4 million buyout were he to leave of his own volition. Seems to me that a strong argument could be made by WVU that his resignation was effective at the very moment he notified that Pennsylvania QB and others that he was headed for Michigan; that little bit of treachery (he was still under contract to West Virginia) would appear to have constituted a breach of contract (which undoubtedly called for him to contact players on behalf of West Virginia, not Michigan).
(2) On the PR front, his tactic has been downright Clintonian - going on the offensive and smearing WVU. Not directly, you understand, because he's busy recruiting for Michigan, but through surrogates. His standins were telling anyone who'd listen (and espn.com did) that West Virginia had wronged him by not coming through on certain things they'd promised to do after his dalliance with Alabama last year. But when they rattled off the list of grievances, they seemed relatively trivial things, not the sort likely to drive a guy from a job paying him $1.8 million a year, and they conveniently failed to note that in order to keep him, WVU had given him a 70 PER CENT PAY INCREASE! One of his mouthpieces even claimed that WVU had tricked him into signing his contract, using what he called "bait and switch" tactics. But seeing that the guy making that claim was a major league baseball owner, and part of a shameful group of profiteers willing to look the other way while rampant steroid use corrupted the game, he seemed a strange one to be commenting on matters of business ethics.
*********** “What’s the difference between a head coach changing jobs and an executive going from IBM to Honeywell?’’ asked Rich Rodriguez' agent, a guy named Mike Brown.
Uh, I think I can answer that one, Mike.
First, of all, a head coach is not just "an executive." He is the CEO. College football is a business ( According to the Wall Street Journal - October 19, 2007) - Ohio State's football program in 2006 generated $57 million in revenue, and after expenses of $21 million, turned over nearly $36 million in profits to the university's athletic department.) And CEO's don't simply "change jobs." In the business world, a contract is still treated as a contract, and the IBM CEO's contract wouldn't let him simply walk out and go to Honeywell or any place else. (In fact, IBM's board of directors would probably fire his ass, with appropriate financial penalties, if they were to learn that he had been talking in secret with the people from Honeywell.)
But even if he were only "an executive" and wasn't under contract, he still would likely be governed by an employment agreement, and it would probably contain some sort of "non-compete agreement," stipulating that if he left the company he would have to wait on the sidelines for a while before going to work for a competitor. College coaches know all about such arrangements. Oh, no - not that anything of the sort applies to them. But it's the way they keep their players on the plantation - by making them sit out a year if they dare to transfer.
Finally, and probably most important, Mike - IBM and Honeywell are way too smart to hire a guy who's represented by an agent.
*********** Wrote Dave Hickman in the Charleston (West Virginia) Gazette, "It’s hard to fault Rodriguez for laying out those demands, but it’s even harder to fault the university for being reluctant to take on anything else. And the bottom line is, look at everything that has already been done — multi-million dollar renovations to the Puskar Center, including the Hall of Traditions, the academic center, the new suites, the new turf, the upcoming major renovations to the locker rooms. Add to that the $13.7 million contract commitment to Rodriguez and last year’s bump in the pay pool for the assistants and it’s like a kid who got a pony, a bike, a train set, a trampoline and, yes, the Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200-Shot Ranger Model Air Rifle for Christmas (“You’ll shoot your eye out.”), and then complained because he didn’t get the GI Joe set, too."
*********** Michigan has taken coach-poaching to a new and ugly level. They may think winning will make them feel better about themselves, but when you go out and pay millions for a coach, mere winning isn't going to be enough. They were already winning with Lloyd Carr, but that wasn't enough. Obviously, they shelled out all that money in order to win it all. But even if they do win it all, it still won't be enough, because no amount of winning will wash away the stain of this vile act. Nothing can change a cash-for-services act of prostitution into a family relationship.
*********** A reader wrote, "In my opinion, if there were a winner-take-all playoff, this (Rodriguez) stuff would happen all the time."
Not necessarily. A playoff could actually bring some sense to the coach-poaching.
I think one of the biggest objections to the playoff among the BCS people is that the NCAA - not the BCS - would administer it, and like the basketball tournament, the money, although greater overall, would be shared among all NCAA members and not just BCS conference members. The BCS guys, in other words, might actually wind up getting less than they're getting now.
The NCAA is a lot like the United Nations, where in the General Assembly the major powers are outvoted by all the Upper Voltas and Djiboutis. Given their voting power, the small schools would certainly vote themselves generous shares of any football playoff money.
Although I'm not generally for socialism, I'm not so sure as I once was that this is such a bad thing.
That's because I'm afraid that the BCS system and the enormous disparity in payouts it has brought about have made Rodriguez-type sellouts more and more likely.
I hate to say this, but if I thought that a playoff system could be structured so that it isn't nearly so much the winner-take-all thing that the BCS is, that it would put a stop to the insanity of poaching $1 million-a-year- college coaches with offers of $3 million a year, I'd be for a playoff.
*********** Somebody needs to tell the parents of all these pantywaists playing soccer year-round that they're wasting their time and money. They're not only playing a dumbass, boring sport, but there's no future in it.
At least that's what I took from the article that said that since MLS (Major League Soccer - now, there's an oxymoron for you) is adding a couple of new teams, which means that it's going to need more players, it wants to be allowed to add several extra foreigners to every team's roster.
In other words, after all these years of having soccer shoved down our throats, of having our taxes pay for more and more soccer fields, of being force-fed TV commercials that portray soccer as the universal youth sports experience, there still aren't enough American players to staff a semi-pro soccer league.
It may have something to do with the fact that in most other countries, the best athletes play soccer, while in the US, with the exception of "recent arrivals," soccer is often the sport of last resort for kids who can't play any other sport.
*********** A Florida coach is fired, and Bob Gabordi writes, in Tallahassee.com...
(thanks for the tip to Steve Tobey, Malden, Massachusetts)
*********** Coach I was sending you my Black Lion Award Nomination. I also wanted to thank you for promoting this great game and the values that make America great!! I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas & a happy New Year!!
*********** How cool is this?
Hi Coach Wyatt,
I came across your site after a Google search of "Aston Knights". I was conducting the search in hopes of finding a Christmas gift for my father who played for the team. I'm wondering if you can direct me to any resources that might be able to help. I'm looking, in particular, for the team's logo, any publications, photographs- anything that could lead to a thoughtful, nostalgic gift for my father. I know that this time of year can get particularly hectic, so any help would be enormously appreciated.
Sorry I couldn't do more.
*********** You don't suppose, do you, that the decision to replace the term "Global Warming" with "Global Climate Change" had anything to with the ridicule heaped on the Al Gores of this world every time another snowstorm hits the Midwest?
*********** "Something is wrong with the profession of college coaching today when a leader's word is no longer his bond." Governor Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
*********** Michigan's purchase of a coach is remindful of the New York Yankees and their continual efforts to buy pennants. The Steinbrenners' approach has always been to let the other chumps find and develop the players until the Yankees are ready to buy them. Michigan has chosen to do the same.
The turning point for me and professional sports came when I could no longer watch a game without continually realizing that I was watching millionaires, and now I find myself increasingly unable to look at a major college football coach without the sense that I am really watching a millionaire slavemaster.
In my opinion, this high-priced poaching of millionaire coaches already under contract to other universities is a black mark on college football.
If the NCAA can make athletes sit out a year after transferring, they ought to be able to require coaches still under contract to do the same, buyout or not.
*********** When I first heard that the Cowboys' Roy Williams was suspended for a game for making a horse collar tackle on Donovan McNabb Sunday, I thought that sounded a bit harsh. I mean, wasn't a 15-yard penalty enough?
Then I read that he was the guy whose persistent use of the horse collar forced the NFL to make it a penalty to do so, and that this was his third such penalty this year.
And my tune changed completely. Make it a season.
Who's kidding who? Like so many NFL miscreants, the guy probably set fine money aside before the season.
*********** The New York Times reported NFL may have a far bigger scandal mysteriously destroyed the Patriots tapes.
December 16, 2007
Questions Linger About Why N.F.L. Destroyed Patriots’ Tapes
By GREG BISHOP
The N.F.L. reacted swiftly to the spying scandal in September. Commissioner Roger Goodell promised on national television that there would be a full investigation of the New England Patriots’ covert filming of Jets defensive signals. He ordered the Patriots to send any videotapes filmed in violation of N.F.L. rules to the league office.
The tapes arrived sometime between Sept. 16, when Goodell said he had yet to receive them, and Sept. 20, when the N.F.L. announced all material from the investigation had been destroyed “to ensure a level playing field.” The league has not addressed the tapes since.
Two crisis-management experts used the same word — fishy — to describe the league’s handling of the situation, saying the destruction of the tapes raised questions about what they contained.
“The strategy is profoundly bad,” said Al Tortorella, the managing director of crisis management for Los Angeles-based Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide. “I don’t know why they would destroy the tapes. That’s astounding. There’s no criminality here, but it sure doesn’t pass the smell test.”
The Patriots’ videotaping practices became a league issue during the season opener for the teams at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., when Jets security personnel caught a Patriots employee filming the Jets’ defensive signals from the sideline.
The N.F.L. later clarified that the penalty was for the Patriots’ “totality of conduct” and not only for their actions against the Jets. The league never explained what totality of conduct meant. Presumably, the evidence was on the tapes.
Questions remain: How many tapes showed evidence of cheating? In what games? In the playoffs? In the Super Bowl? By other teams?
Said Greg Wilson, senior vice president at Levick Strategic Communications in Washington, “When you destroy evidence, most people assume guilt.”
The N.F.L. said the Patriots signed a statement that the league was in possession of the only copies of the evidence, all of which have been destroyed. Al Tortorella said they should not be so sure.
“That might come back to haunt them,” he said. “I know this: nobody ever makes one Xerox copy. Nobody ever makes one tape. Nobody ever makes one set of anything. Based on that, I’m not sure this crisis is over yet.”
Said Wilson, “The problem is the Patriots keep winning. That is both a blessing and a curse. By winning, they are vindicating themselves, showing this whole Spygate thing did not matter. But they are also shining a spotlight, over and over again, on what happened earlier this season.
“Spygate will be the biggest story if they win the Super Bowl.”
*********** Good to see that Rodriguez felt such allegiance to his alma mater that he walked out on them before a bowl game. And 24 hours before he announced he was leaving, he got catty when the media asked him about his discussions with Michigan.
Maybe it's just my imagination, but I'd swear that the level of sh--headedry amongst NFL and major college coaches has gotten worse every year.
I'm starting to believe that in order to be the most successful - whether it be in business, politics or coaching - one needs to be an incredibly miserable and flawed human being (Saban, Belichick, Guiliani, Hillary, Trump, Murdoch - Rupert, not legendary pro rassler "Captain Redneck" Dick Murdoch, etc.) Vaya con dios.... Ned Griffen, New London, Connecticut
SHOTS FROM A RECENT VISIT TO HAWAI'I
We were driving along the east coast of O'ahu, and just outside the town of Waimanalo, we noticed a bunch of kids playing. Oh, sh--! I said. I can't go anywhere without running into that f--king soccer! But wait - they weren't kicking the ball. They were throwing it. It was a football! The car must have sensed my excitement, instinctively slowing down and looking for a place to park. And when got out and visited with some people and learned that these 6-7-8 year-olds play flag football virtually year-round. This was the end of the summer league, we were told, and in a couple of weeks the winter league would get under way. This place was as close as I've yet come to heaven on earth - ocean, mountains, fabulous climate, football, and - a quarter-mile up the road - BBQ!
TUESDAY, DEC 18, 2007- "We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts." Aristotle
*********** There are a few advantages to living on the West Coast. One is the time difference from the East Coast - with football games back east starting at 4 or 5 PM Pacific Time, I can watch them all the way to the end.
Another is the possibility of a weekend in Hawaii. Now that Northwest flies non-stop from Portland to Honolulu, it's a five-hour flight - closer to us, actually, than the East Coast is, especially when you realize that non-stop flights between Portland, Oregon and the East Coast are few and far between.
I've often (at least in my early clinic days) flown to the East Coast on a Friday, put on a Saturday clinic, and then flown home on a Sunday, so the idea of a weekend in Hawaii wasn't all that farfetched to me, and when I proposed it to my wife, she jumped at the chance. (Among other reasons, only Hawaii and North Dakota stood between her and having been in all 50 states.)
The last time I'd been there was 1974, when I was working in the World Football League with a team called the Philadelphia Bell, and we went out to play a team called The Hawaiians, and I guess I'd forgotten what a special place Hawaii is, and I resisted going back. But this time I was really struck with what a magical place it is - and we didn't even leave the island of Oahu. (Sorry - make that O'ahu.)
More about this on Friday, but a few random observations...
* The people are really caught up in the University of Hawaii football hysteria, and I got caught up in it, too. So - Go Warriors!
* I jokingly asked the head of the grounds crew at Aloha Stadium if he'd be rooting for Georgia, and he laughed and said, "I already placed my bet!"
* In the same pretentious vein as "University of Texas-Austin," "University of Nebraska-Lincoln," and "University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill", the better to make all the smaller branch campuses feel more important while at the same time creating empires for administrators to rule over, it's not enough to say "University of Hawaii," even though that's how 99.99 per cent of the people in the rest of the US know it. In the islands it is "University of Hawai'i-Manoa," or sometimes just "Manoa." Its campus is quite nice. It's nothing special architecturally, but the setting is lovely, and, of course, the climate is fantastic.
* On the sort of street of shops you're likely to find near any college campus, the one near the UH campus has stores advertising surfing gear and "Brazilian Bikinis."
* Which brings up the question - where do University of Hawaii kids go on spring break? Newark?
* I really found myself enjoying the great (dare I say it?) diversity one encounters in Hawaii. Brown faces often appear to outnumber white ones. Japanese tourists are especially numerous.
* You have to wonder how any work gets done in Japan if the people back home have to watch all the pictures that Japanese tourists take.
* I am quite taken with the sing-song Island accent and found myself listening to the sort of auto-repair radio shows we get here on the mainland on Saturdays, just to hear the host and the callers talk. I found myself wondering what happens at Sugar Bowl time when islander and coonass converse.
* It is going to cost a pretty penny - and take a fair amount of stamina - to go to New Orleans to watch the Warriors play Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. One tour package advertised ranges from $2825 flying in coach to $4165 going first class. The flight leaves Honolulu at 4:10 PM Christmas Day and arrives New Orleans at 5:35 AM the day after Christmas. (They will find plenty of places open should they wish to start celebrating immediately upon their arrival.)
Now, get this - should the Warriors win, their fans had better get celebrating fast, because the flight home is due to leave New Orleans at 3:50 AM! The fans will arrive back in Honolulu, no doubt thoroughly rested and stone-sober, 11 AM the day after New Year's!
*********** By the time it's happy hour in Hawaii, most sports events on the mainland are over. (Monday night football starts at 3 o'clock in Hawaii.) I have no idea how Hawaii's sports bars manage to exist.
*********** We arrived in Hawaii Friday night about 6 PM, in time to catch the last three minutes of the App State-Delaware game. As the App State fans came down out of the stands and surrounded the field (preparatory to storming it), I thought the poor sideline dweeb was going to pee his pants. He couldn't let go of the story, and when on an on about how dangerous it was if someone went out of bounds, conveniently forgetting all the camera people who get clobbered on a regular basis. He kept suggesting that getting the fans back into the stands (like getting toothpaste back into the tube) was somehow the job of the Appalachian State coaching staff. Poor guy. He was probably disappointed that there wasn't a major incident, and that the only thing that happened was that, when it was evident that Appalachian State wasn't going to have to run another play, App State fans by the thousands poured onto the field.
*********** Because I was in Hawaii for the weekend, and understandably, had better things to do than watch the NFL (Actually, I could be clipping my toenails and if an NFL game were on the TV, I still might not look up) my son, Ed, from Australia, sent me his summary:
I can sum the NFL up very quickly for you...
*Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Seattle and the Giants were terrible.
I'll give you a call tomorrow or the next day!
Love, Ed (In fairness, I did watch a little of the Giants-Redskins while sitting in a noisy airport lounge. Impressions: (1) It is easy to see why most young kids want to become wide receivers when they know that someday they can play for the Giants and make at least $500,000 a year and not even have to catch passes thrown to them; (2) I know that the NFL makes so much money from TV that they almost don't need working stiffs to sit in the seats, but still it looks bad when you watch TV and none of those stiffs is sitting in those seats that they've already paid for, and rather than show thousands of empty seats, you have to figure that the graphics geniuses who are able to impose digital logos on playing surfaces are hard at work creating images that will "occupy" those empty seats; (3) Madden isn't nearly so bad in closed captioning. HW)
*********** For those who say that Michael Vick will never play again, I have just two words: Roger Staubach.
Stabauch graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1965, and then served three years on active duty with the US Navy.
Dallas had the foresight in 1964 to draft him, and while in the service he used all his leaves to attend various Cowboys' practice and camps, but he didn't play in his first NFL game until 1969, when he was 27 years old. And he didn't become a regular until 1971, when he was 29.
In other words, he became a Hall of Famer on the basis of things he did after he turned 29.
Michael Vick is now 27 years old, and if he serves his full sentence, he will be 29 when he gets out, and (his birthday is in June) 30 when he reports to camp in 2010.
Now, not saying that Michael Vick has at any point in his life demonstrated the maturity and judgement and self-discipline and intelligence of a US Naval Academy graduate who went on to become a Naval officer, nor is he likely at this late date to do so, but you never know...
*********** If you're getting tired of seeing Reggie Bush on commercials, imagine how had things would be if Brady Quinn were playing.
*********** Help me. I'm a college president and I've fallen into a cesspool and I can't get up.
Did anybody besides me cringe at the thought of the president of the University of Michigan, by any standard a major American university, sitting down with Rich Rodriguez, a coach who had five years remaining on his contract with his present employer, and discussing the terms by which Michigan would pay $4 million for his divorce?
This, you see, was (apologies to its archrival to the south) THE University of Michigan, which prides itself on being superior to your everyday, run-of-the-mill public university. Yet here was this same Michigan, baring its ass to one and all and confessing that when it comes to football, it is really no different from the Alabamas or Arkansas' of the world. In fact, Arkansas, which didn't have to fork over a red cent to buy out Bobby Pee's contract with the Falcons, looks downright noble in all this.
Considering that college presidents allow the NCAA to dictate such things as how many coaches they can hire, you have wonder when they're going to get together and agree to something as basic as recognizing the validity of each other's contracts. Until they do, they will continue to demonstrate totheir students, their alumni, their players, and the public at large that they talk a good game of ethics, but they are increasingly willing to jump into the cess that is college football.
You also have to wonder what West Virginia will do with that $4 million that Michigan will pay to buy Rodriguez' way out of his "commitment" to West Virginia.
When you consider that that's more than a bowl share - a BCS bowl share at that - with none of the usual bowl travel expenses to be deducted from it, it's a major windfall.
Maybe it should be distributed among West Virginia's players, without whom Rodriguez wouldn't have struck it rich. But no... we're not even allowed to buy them so much as a cheeseburger.
No, we can't give a nickel to the kids who bring in the bucks. But you just know the Title IX shysters are gonna have their greedy hands out.
*********** West Virginia governor. Joe Manchin, a former WVU football player, said that poor Rich Rodriguez was corrupted by agents.
“I have known Rich for most of his life, from a boy whose only wish was to play football at WVU to a young man whose only wish was to coach at WVU,” Governor Manchin said in a statement. “His dreams came true and he brought back with him to West Virginia a love and a loyalty for our state that I thought would never change.”
But then agents, he said, turned Rodriguez' career “into just another back-room business deal.”
*********** It was George Santayana who said, "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
In this case, we are talking about the history of football.
As the spread option becomes the soup du jour, the flavor of the month and the catch of the day, the people who rush to implement it MIGHT PROFIT FROM the study of football history.
They might think twice about their decision to copy the West Virginias of the world if they understood why the T-formation (with the quarterback under the center) originally supplanted the single wing.
Bill Barnes of UCLA was the last of the big-time coaches to switch over from the single wing, and in Sports Illustrated, Sept 24, 1962, he told why:
Now, granted that with the spread option there is no longer the need to recruit a blocking back or a wingback, and the fullback's (running back's) requirements are not quite so severe. But if you're going to run the spread option, the need to recruit the gifted tailback (now called the quarterback) is as crucial as ever, and the fact that he's going to get hit a lot means that the likelihood of his getting injured is greatly increased. Oops. Better recruit several of them.
And then, as we all know, the instant one of today's young QB's realizes that he's not going to be the starter, he's as likely to transfer as he is to fight for the starting position, and there you are with your entire offense depending on the health of one guy.
It made more sense to T-formation coaches to divide the labor - to assign the passing duties primarily to the quarterback, and the running duties primarily to the other three backs (known then as the fullback and the left and right halfbacks.
It should be noted that while the spread option is enjoying great success at the college level, not everyone is planning to switch to it.
Writes Scott Wolf in the Los Angeles Daily News,
*********** "I watched the Giants and Redskins last night, and believe it or not, I actually them threw a flag for defensive cutting on a kick return. It's the first one I have ever seen thrown in a game." Frank Simonsen, Cape May, New Jersey
*********** On the subject of the Giants-Redkins game... Eli Manning is catching a lot of hell for having thrown 34 incomplete passes. Allowing for some bad decisions and bad passes, I guarantee you that almost half of those incompletions were drops. So when are the stats guys going to to start listing "drops," the better to evaluate receivers? (Didja catch Hall of Famer Chad Johnson's drop on the "highlights?")
*********** Maybe the NFL is as popular as its suits keep telling us it is, but the Giants-Redskins game on Sunday night - in the heart of the largest metropolitan area in the United States - was played in front of an awful lot of empty seats.
*********** Hugh, I think I'm not supposed to enjoy this Division II title game, because none of these guys will play in the NFL. Yet I do. I'll have to mention this in the confessional.
*********** I received some sad news while I was away, in the form of an e-mail sent by Dick Leonard's daughter. Dick, a long time coach at the youth, middle school and high school levels in the Salinas, California area, passed away last week. Dick was one of the first guys I heard from when I began pushing my system, and we remained friends over the years.
Here's the e-mail...
This is Laurie Leonard Harless, Coach Leonard's daughter. I am not sure how many of you know of my father's passing on 12/10/07 from cancer. Please forgive me if I you had prior knowledge of it. I was scanning his e-mail contacts and felt moved to notify you.
In lieu of flowers, etc. please send remembrances to Dee Jarrett, Monterey Bay Youth Football League, 18516 Moro Rd, Salinas, CA 93907, Dad would love it!
*********** It has been brought to my attention that Islamic terrorists are offended by our referring to them as "towel heads." Maybe we should make an attempt to understand them. In reality, their head garment is not a towel anyhow, but actually a small sheet. So therefore, in the hope that we can each do our share to stop the killing in the Middle East, it is suggested that from now on one refer to them as "Sheetheads." (From the Internet)
*********** Ron, a nine-year-old boy, was being raised by his mother who didn’t know how to cope with his uncontrollable temper. She knew he was angry that his father had abandoned him. She tried professional counseling, but nothing seemed to work.
So she sent Ron to spend the summer on his grandparents’ farm. When he came home, he was a changed boy. His mom asked him what happened.
Ron told her that every time he got mad or said anything unkind, Grandpa Hal made him go outside and hammer a two-inch nail into a two-by-four. It was really hard, and he wasn’t allowed back until the nail was all the way in. After about 20 trips to the shed, he decided it was easier to control his temper than hammer in those nails.
"Did you hate the consequence so much that you just changed?" his mom asked.
"Well, that was part of it," he answered. "After I’d hit in all those nails and was behaving pretty good, Grandma Grace took me outside and made me pull them all out. That was just as hard. When I was done, she gave me this note I’ve been carrying around."
The note said:
Pulling out nails is like saying you’re sorry, but the holes you made in the board remain. You can’t fix what you do by being sorry, but you can stop making new holes. Remember, every time you do something mean and nasty, you’re making a hole somewhere, in someone. That’s what your Dad did to you. Please don’t do that to anyone else. You’re better than that.
"You know what, Mom?" Ron said. "Grandma was right. I am better than that."
Michael Josephson - Character Counts
FRIDAY, DEC 14, 2007- "God prefers admitted incompetence to fake authority." Garrison Keilor
*********** Prayers go out to our friends in the Heartland, where lecturers on Global Warming are not drawing large crowds because there's ice on the roads.
*********** Okay, okay. So it appears that a lot of baseball players were using steroids. Who knew?
Speaking of which, I suppose that next somebody will claim that professional football players use performance-enhancing drugs, when you and I know that that's preposterous.
*********** Duke's AD continues to diddle around, talking to Karl Dorrell, a guy who underachieved at UCLA, about trying to turn around the near-hopeless Duke situation. (Trust me - we are not talking basketball here. We are talking football, and while success at Duke might prepare you for success at UCLA, failure at UCLA all but guarantees failure at Duke.)
Not to say that the AD is clueless, but during the press conference at which it was announced that Ted Roof, a good man, was being relieved of his command, the AD announced to one and all that this time he would be restricting his search to guys who were already Division I-A head coaches. No more assistants for him (overlooking the small detail that Steve Spurrier, Duke's most successful coach in the last 40 years, was promoted from offensive coordinator).
When asked what made him think that any guy with those qualifications would be interested in Duke, he said, "Because we're Duke!"
I'm tempted to send him a copy of a book by Rick Page entitled, "Hope is Not a Strategy."
*********** Not saying that Duke is lame or anything, but the football head coaching job is listed on the university's human resources Web site. I am not making this up.
Just like some dumbass public school system that has an agreement with a union to advertise a football coaching job when it knows good and well there's nobody on the inside who's qualified, Duke has its football job listed, #400160742, "Head Football Coach" - right above an ad for a nursing assistant.
When he let Ted Roof go, the AD big-dogged it, saying that football is a business, and good business requires winning. "This business is very results-oriented," he said, "and when you win four games in four years, it makes you take a hard look at what you're doing. I felt that we had to make a change because of that."
Interestingly, though, the job lists all the duties of the coach - counseling players in academic and disciplinary matters, preparing budget recommendations and assigning assistants to recruit specific regions of the country; representing Duke at civic, charity and alumni events.
But it doesn't say a damn thing about winning.
*********** Speaking of clueless ADs... Dan Guerrero, the guy at UCLA who fired Bob Toledo and "replaced" him with untested Karl Dorrell, now finds himself having to replace Dorrell. And like far too many of today's modern ADs, marketing/administrative guys with master's degrees in sports administration, Guerrero has little or no actual coaching experience and zero football experience (he came to UCLA from Cal-Irvine, which had no football program). These guys, with their tailor-made suits and expensive haircuts, have no way of evaluating coaches, and as a result, when it comes time to do the most important thing any big-time AD ever has to do - fill the football job - they pee all over their shoes. (Gucci.)
*********** You wrote... What a joke that "Wendy's High School Heisman" is. Of the two kids from Oregon who won it, neither one participated in high school sports. Since it trades on the name of a football award but doesn't have anything to do with sports, why didn't Wendy's just offer to sponsor the National Honor Society?
Some brat's parents threatened to sue everyone involved if their little angel was not allowed to participate.
(You nailed it. I can hear the whining. First it was "why just football players?" Then it was "why just jocks?" Then it was "why just boys?" Etc., etc. HW)
*********** Coach, It looks like I am going to be the varsity and jv offensive coordinator next season. My question is should I show the kids the Installing the System tape as a review? I have run the DW with these kids in middle school and JV level. Or should I just do the review on the field. or both? I want to show the video in the spring, right before spring football. What do you suggest, coach?
First of all, congratulations. It sounds like a great opportunity and I'm sure you're up to it.
I'm not sure that I'd show Installing the System to players. It's mainly for coaches, and I know by now that you're capable of doing everything on it.
I do think that it is useful to take Dynamics of the Double Wing and show individual plays to players, either before or after running it, or both.
*********** A prayer of thanks to the heroic woman in Colorado who took out the church murderer on Sunday. She was not, as the MSM originally portrayed her, a "paid security guard." She was a volunteer, and armed citizen, who saved the lives of scores of innocent people because she was armed. And a prayer of thanks for the Second Amendment. And for the fact that the church wasn't a gun-free zone.
*********** Hugh, Like you, I think the NFL is terribly overhyped and boring to watch.
*********** Hey coach just wanted to let you know we won the 4a division two state championship 23-14 over Beaufort. We could not have done this without your help. I can not thank you enough. Clover first ever state championship in football the town is really excited.
*********** Coach, You were right on target about Bobby Petrino when he left Louisville for Atlanta. What a jerk! He gives football coaches a black eye!
*********** I'm betting that Jerry Jones, Cowboys' owner and former Arkansas player, (and well known adviser to cable subscribers) is more deeply involved in Little Bobby Pee's retreat from Atlanta than anybody's saying.
*********** Outside of the state of Petrino, you're going to have a hard time finding a lot of support for the Petrinos next year - except maybe when they play the Sabans. Then, my friend Tom Hinger suggests we pray for lightning.
*********** Did you ever think that Michael Vick's people might have arranged the whole Petrino deal? It sure got MV7 off the front pages!
*********** I guess the whole thing that set Petrino off was his shock at discovering that most NFL players are immature, egotistical, loutish thugs. You'd think someone would have told him.
*********** A word of caution to Petrino... Arkansas is a place whose AD met in secret with Mitch Mustain's mommy to listen to her whine that Houston Nutt wasn't running the offense that he'd promised her little boy he'd run. (Do you know what that stupid Nutt was doing, instead? He was giving the ball to some guy named Darren McFadden.)
Oh - and once you start getting itchy feet, Bobby, and you cast fond eyes on LSU or Tennessee or somesuch, better let your agent do the calling. Those Arkansas folks have been known to go through their coach's phone records.
*********** A word of caution to Arkansas...
The guy you hired is pure slime.
Nothing is beneath him. Just a little over four years ago - November, 2003 to be exact - he met in secret (unbeknownst to his AD) with an Auburn booster - in the booster's plane, in an airport near Louisville - and plotted to take Tommy Tuberville's job. Just the year before, Petrino had been Tuberville's offensive coordinator. How's that for treachery?
By now, Tuberville is probably grateful to Li'l Bobby Pee, because after the plot was exposed (an enterprising reporter traced the numbers on the plane's tail), it ultimately cost the Auburn president and AD their jobs, and launched Tuberville on his way to larger and longer contracts.
Oh. And did I tell you that Bobby Pee lies? On Monday, he looked Arthur Blank in the eye, shook his hand, and told him he would continue to be his coach. On Tuesday, he was on his way to Arkansas, to become a Pig, er, Razorback.
*********** Wrote Ryan White in the Portland Oregonian...
*********** Typical Falcon comments on Petrino's departure:
Joey Harrington: "He preached team and he preached family and then he quit on us. That's not what a man does."
Lawyer Milloy: "We didn't realize we had a cancer on our team."
*********** Hugh, I couldn't help but chuckle watching the Bobby Petrino deal unfold last night. No surprise really when you look at his track record. This guy has the Larry Brown itch no doubt. I think it's funny that the only other coach to make a move with a similar set of circumstances, leaving the pros after underachieving and going to Arkansas is of course Lou Holtz. Perhaps sometime in the future we will tune in to Bobby Petrino "Pep Talks" on ESPN! Do you think Arthur Blank has contacted Bill Callahan about the Falcons job?
Seriously though, you have to feel something for the Atlanta fans who do shell out the $$$ for their team and they have not only the "Bad Newz" Mike Vick saga, but now this...time to throw your allegiance behind Paul Johnson and the Yellowjackets folks!
Sam Keator, Litchfield, Connecticut
*********** While Nick Saban deserves his share of the blame for having laid the groundwork for this year's Dolphins Debacle, Bobby Petrino may have bailed out of Atlanta early enough that people won't pin next year's Falcons Fiasco on him.
*********** Hard to feel sorry for agents, but they're the real losers in the Saban LSU-Dolphins-Alabama and Petrino Lousville-Atlanta-Arkansas merry-go-rounds, because now no NFL owner in his right mind is going to consider hiring another college coach any time soon.
Nor are agents for NFL coaches going to have any easier a time trying to sell their clients to colleges, not after the crash-and-burn of Bill Callahan at Nebraska and Greg Robinson at Syracuse, and Chan Gailey's apparent unwillingness to schmooze with the alumni at Georgia Tech.
I won't get into other college-to-NFL misadventures such as Steve Spurrier's or Dennis Erickson's.
What ought to be apparent to anyone who has watched football carefully is that college football and NFL football are scarcely even the same sport any more. They are two different games, requiring different types of coaches.
Erickson noted this in an interview a couple of years ago with the Portland Oregonian's Bryan Meehan : "The X's and O's are pretty much the same. Nobody outcoaches anybody in the NFL. It is a player's league. If you have good players, you win. It's that simple."
*********** Following the murder of Sean Taylor, it's begun to dawn on professional athletes that all their wealth and fame make them prime targets for thieves, kidnapers, even murderers.
These guys have been spending fortunes on entourages, bodyguards and homes in gated communities, but a major part of the problem is that they can't completely cut their ties with their old neighborhoods and their old neighbors, many of whom see them as targets of opportunity now that they're rich.
But rather than take advantage of their plight and charge them an exorbitant fee, I decided as a public service (not to be confused with the "community service" that so many NFL players are familiar with) to offer my advice free of charge. Here it is...
CUT THOSE TIES... WITH OPERATION INCOGNITO!
HOW TO LIVE LARGE AS AN NFL PLAYER WHILE AVOIDING BEING IDENTIFIED AS ONE
1. Wear only one cap at a time, and wear it straight, bill in front. Make sure it fits. And bend its bill. A green John Deere cap would be perfect.
2. Avoid attention-getting hairstyles.
3. Wear bermuda shorts - but don't sag. Buy shirts two sizes smaller than you've been buying them - polo shirts, preferably pastel colors - and tuck them in.
4. Leave your jewelry in a bank vault. If you have to wear earrings - think small.
5. Drive a pickup truck. Ford, Chevy or Dodge. The older the better. Drive it yourself and park it yourself. Put an old "W '04" sticker on the back window.
6. Turn down the volume on the pickup's stereo, but if you insist on playing it loud, make sure it's not rap. Zydeco and reggae are okay. Country is even better.
7. When you're just lounging around, take the earbuds out of your ear and open a book and pretend that you're reading it.
8. Invest heavily in tattoo removal. No more than one tattoo per arm. None on the neck.
9. Consider wearing glasses. But not sunglasses. At least not at night.
10. Take a speech class.
11. Marry your girlfriend (or "fiancee"), and go places with your wife and kids.
12. Steer clear of any establishment with the word "Gentlemen's" in its name
13. At restaurants or clubs, if you don't have reservations, wait outside in line with everybody else.
14. Join a country club
15. Take up tennis.
16. Get a golden retriever and take him on walks.
17. Coach your kids' soccer team.
********** Turns out that even after his tirade about not going to Michigan, Les Miles still talked to the Michigan people. Said he was just doing his duty as a Michigan alum in "consulting" with them. Just helping them to find another coach.
Right. And I tried telling my wife that one of my old girl friends was having a tough time after breaking up with her husband, and I was just trying to help her get over him, and it took longer than I thought it would...
*********** When you turn on the TV Friday night and you see a team in blue and gold with wings on its helmets, you may think you're watching Appalachian State play Michigan all over again. But look closer - the blue's not as dark as Michigan's, and that's gold, not "maize."
That's been the Delaware helmet since about 1950, when Dave Nelson arrived on the scene.
Nelson, the chief inventor of the Delaware Wing-T, was a Michigan guy, a teammate of Forrest Evashevski and Tom Harmon on the great teams of the legendary Fritz Crisler. Nelson took the wing design with him wherever he went as a coach, first to Maine (which has long since discontinued them) and then to Delaware, which has not.
*********** Coach, I was watching the Northwest Missouri game last Saturday as I am a former player and had the great privilege to be coached by Mel Tjeerdsma (church-MA). Those guys that are seniors were redshirt freshmen when I was finished after the 2004 season. I thought it was a very classy act by Chuck Martin (of Grand Valley State) to let Coach T know that he was going to run the clock out. It showed that he’s a man that knows when he’s beat and isn’t afraid to face that fact and do what’s best for both teams, especially in a National semi-final.
(Quite by accident, my wife and I drove through Maryville, Missouri, home of Northwest Missouri State, last summer, and we loved the town and the campus. Nice stadium, too!
Nothing against Valdosta State, but as a result of our visit, we will be pulling for the Bearcats. HW)
*********** "A new head coach by the name of Chuck Noll had just been hired and one of his first decisions was to use a first round draft pick on some unknown defensive player from North Texas State. Coach Noll had to start building somewhere, but shouldn't he have used this valuable draft pick to strengthen his very weak offense? "Monday Morning Quarterbacks" all over Pittsburgh were hotly debating this question. This player would soon become known worldwide as "Mean" Joe Greene and he, along with Mel Blount, Jack Ham and Jack Lambert would become the most respected defensive line in football. The "Steel Curtain" would make D-E-F-E-N-S-E Pittsburgh's battle cry."
Just one little nugget of pro football history from a great site sent to me by my friend Tom Hinger, who now lives in Florida but is a western Pennsylvanian at heart.
Apart from the historical inaccuracy that only Joe Greene, of the four guys named, was a defensive lineman....
The Web site is www.steelerettes.com - it's the story of the Pittsburgh Steelers' cheerleaders. Yes, you read that correctly. You may know that the Steelers are the only NFL team with no cheerleaders - now - but between 1961 and 1969 they had 'em. And they looked a lot more like high school cheerleaders than Vegas hookers.
*********** I don't know who first named the position "Tight End," but I am beginning to zero in on when. It was some time during or after 1961.
Browsing through a 1961 Pro Football preview magazine, I came across this:
"Expected to replace (Will) Dewveall, who was the Bears' top pass catcher last year, is Mike Ditka, Pittsburgh end who made every all-American team chosen last Fall. He was the Bears' no. 1 draft choice and his 6-3, 218 pounds at the closed end are expected to add much to the Bears' running attack - woefully weak last year."
*********** With the way Marion Williams is playing, and the way Reggie Bush is hardly playing, all those people who ridiculed Houston for drafting Williams first (including - ahem! - me) will have some 'splainin' to do.
*********** Hi Coach Wyatt,
Have a Merry Christmas!!!
Coach, I faithfully read your column twice weekly. When your computer went down recently, I realized how much I would miss the tidbits and information you provide if you quit writing!! Please keep on with your good work.
My birthday is coming soon and I will have to see if you have any new video productions in the works.
Anyway, thank you for writing the double wing column.
I am working on a few projects, but I can't be sure when they'll be ready. If you don't have either of the "Virtual Clinics," they are very good!
Merry Christmas to you, too!
*********** The NFL keeps offering up one dreadful game after another. The play is slow and sloppy and devoid of fundamentals, and the players are largely indifferent - when they are not acting like jackasses.
Meanwhile, oblivious to the growing inferiority of the product, the NFL's marketing types have been trying to strongarm the nation's cable TV systems, employing stunts like Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones urging the nation's football fans to (choose one) (A) rise up and march on their cable suppliers (B) boycott their cable companies (C) hold their breaths... until they agree to offer the NFL Network at basic cable rates. Answer: (B)
Couple of problems. With the kind of dreck they're missing out on, nobody's going to be taking up pitchforks and torches and marching any time soon. Overall interest in the NFL is headed south, as evidenced by the empty seats at its games (did you check the Atlanta-New Orleans game Monday night?), and its nosediving TV ratings. NBC's Sunday night prime-time package ("Football Night in America," as it's called), is down 9 per cent from last year, and headed for an all-time low for a network package. And ESPN's Monday Night Football is off 10 per cent against last year,
*********** No doubt many of you read Jason Whitlock's outstanding column regarding what he called the "Black KKK," the "keepin' it real" fools who in their own way have been every bit as effective as the Klan itself was in preventing black people from advancing - in keeping them "in their place," in Klan terms.
It is clear to all but the idiots who say that fathers aren't necessary in children's lives that a major factor in keeping far too many black people locked in a cycle of illegitimacy, poverty, lack of education, crime, illegitimacy, etc. is a lack of men in the lives of young urban black males, an issue addressed in this great column...
many thanks to my friend Joe Daniels, a teacher and coach - and father! - in Sacramento for sending it to me.
*********** It's been a tough week for Atlanta. On Monday, Michael Vick's fall from glory was complete. On Tuesday, Bobby Petrino skipped town. But worst of all, that same day, the great George Morris died.
How good a football player was George Morris? Let me quote his coach at Georgia Tech, the great Bobby Dodd. In his illustrious career, Coach Dodd coached 21 all-Americans, but in his memoirs, "Dodd's Luck," he said,
"A lot of coaches don't want to say who's the best football player they ever had. I don't ever say who's the best back I ever coached because, really, it's hard for me to say that. But George Morris is the best football player I ever coached. Not only because of his play on the football field, his physical play, his fierce tackling. But he was a great leader. George ran the football team when he was out there."
My friend, George Morris
By Tony Barnhart | Tuesday, December 11, 2007
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
I beg your indulgence this morning.
I don’t want to talk about the BCS and whether or not there should be a playoff in college football.
I don’t want to talk about the coaching carousel, the agents, and the millions of dollars these people are chasing.
I don’t want to talk about any of the things that fans think are wrong with college football. We can do that another time.
Today I want to talk about my friend, George Morris.
It is a sign of our times, and a sad one I might add, that the first six pages of this morning’s sports section were consumed with news about a man whose selfishness and arrogance embarrassed and humiliated his family and university. That same man has all but destroyed the professional organization that once laid the entire world before his feet.
Our culture, and the media that feeds it, is consumed with the wealthy and the famous, especially when their shortcomings can be put on full public display. We just love it when the rich and talented crash and burn. They get the ink in the obsessive culture that all of us have played a role in creating.
That’s why you should know about George Morris, a man who spent his life giving back to the game and the people that he loved.
A man who was one of the greatest ambassadors in the history of Georgia Tech and who did everything in his power to further the legacy of its great coach, Bobby Dodd.
A member of the College Football Hall of Fame who never thought that football was supposed to make him rich. It just made him happy.
A man with an infinite ability to collect friends and admirers.
George Morris was a football official for 30 years, a pretty impressive run. His last game as an official was a famous one, the Alabama-Auburn game of Dec, 2, 1989, the first time Alabama had ever played at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Not a bad way to go out.
Every year George would return to the College Football Hall of Fame dinner in New York, where he was inducted in 1981. He loved being around his fellow Hall of Famers. Every year in the grand ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria, the spotlight would hit Morris, he would stand in his tuxedo, wave to the crowd and smile the largest of smiles. The emcee of the banquet would say “a 1981 inductee from Georgia Tech, the great George Morris.” It never got old.
And well after the banquet George could be found in one of the lounges of the Waldorf-Astoria, holding court with people of all ages. I have been in the audience. It was great stuff.
Here is the point. George Morris was a man who spent his life after his football playing days trying to give something back. He loved Georgia Tech and wanted to do whatever he could to help the Institute. He loved Bobby Dodd, which is why he devoted so much of his time as president of the Bobby Dodd Foundation. He loved his family, his community, and his friends.
The game of football in general, and Georgia Tech in particular, had given George Morris a better life.
Because of that, he felt an obligation to give something back and spent his life doing it.
George had a heart as big as a Mack truck. But on Monday the call came that his big old heart had stopped beating. He was so much larger than life that it just never occurred to some of us that he was mortal like the rest of us.
George Morris was a man. He was a man’s man.
And there are too damned few of them left.
Read some other folks' comments on Mr. Morris, a Tech legend:
TUESDAY, DEC 11, 2007- "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." George Orwell
*********** I don't enjoy watching the Steelers lose, but I sure did enjoy watching the Patriots expose Anthony Smith for the braggart that he is. He'd guaranteed a win, but in embarrassing him repeatedly, the Patriots showed that they were not only good enough to whip a good team, but even better than that, they were good enough to dedicate some of their effort to buttoning his lip.
And button it they did, deliberately throwing a couple of touchdown passes right over top of his fool head.
The worst part of it is that Smith probably didn't learn a damn thing from it.
I realize that players are different in the now, but there was a time when a loudmouth like Anthony Smith would have been straightened out, quickly, by his own teammates.
Come to think of it, maybe that's why there never were any Anthony Smiths in the first place back then, back in the days before pro wrestling jumped the fence and mated with real professional football to produce this illegitimate offspring that we're forced to watch today.
*********** WTF? Matt Hasselbeck, passing: "Our equipment people did a great job of rubbing the balls down They used a new technique..."
*********** I saw something I'd never seen before, when Grand Valley State's coach threw in the towel with two minutes to play and his team trailing Northwest Missouri by 16. I hope he didn't catch any hell for doing it, because the weather was really nasty, and truthfully, I didn't think his team had a chance either.
*********** Notice all those empty seats in NFL stadiums these days?
In NFL "action" Sunday and Monday, more than half of the games - eight - were blowouts, with a margin of victory of 20 points or more.
Think about it a minute - would you pay upwards of $50 a ticket for a season package (including "preseason" games) to watch: The Ravens... the Raiders... The Dolphins... The Jets... The Falcons... The 49ers... The Rams... The Chiefs? That's eight teams - one-fourth of all the teams in the NFL - that suck.
Up just one floor from the cellar - Arizona...Carolina... Chicago... Cincinnati...Denver... Detroit... Houston... New Orleans... Philadelphia,... Washington - 10 more teams that semi-suck.
Middle class teams that sometimes play very well: Buffalo... Cleveland... Giants... Jacksonville... Minnesota... San Diego... Seattle... Tampa Bay... Tennessee...
Real, bona fide professional football team that give fans their money' worth: Dallas... Green Bay... New England... Pittsburgh... Indianapolis
*********** So I'm watching the Green Bay-Oakland game, about as ugly a performance as you'll ever see, and some Green Bay defensive back whose name sounded like Atari Something-or-other (no name surprises me any more) makes a very athletic interception, and runs it in for a score, mainly because the Raiders basically quit. The original receiver for whom the pass was intended simply stood by and watched. And then some Packers' defensive lineman got a penalty because he took a shot at the Raiders' QB. "The refs are watching the QB," we were told, "because he's defenseless." Yes, I agree - he was "away from the play," just standing and watching. But wait a minute - didn't he just throw the interception? Is it now official - quarterbacks are no longer football players?
*********** Q. Is it true that "IN GOD WE TRUST" is nowhere to be found on "our" new dollar coin?
You do know, don't you, that Michael Newdow, the California atheist, has mounted another attack on the Pledge of Allegiance?
*********** Regardless of what Paul Johnson does at Georgia Tech, Navy will still run the triple-option.
Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk already had his new coach in mind when Paul Johnson left for Georgia Tech on Friday.
The very next day, saying that he wanted a coach who would stay with Johnson's triple-option offense, he offered the head coaching job to Johnson's offensive line coach, Ken Niumatalolo.
"Fundamentally, at Navy it's going to be the triple option," Gladchuk said. "It's an offense that has been really successful for us and given us that edge, that dimension. If you look at who's out there that can run the triple option, I consider Kenny one of the masters."
Niumatalolo said it didn't bother him that everybody considered it Johnson' offense. "I don't really care whose offense we call it. We're going to use it because it works," he said. "I've been involved with this offense for 20 years. I've called the plays for this offense before. I learned a lot from Paul about the various wrinkles and how to make adjustments."
Niumatalolo, born and raised in Hawaii, is of Samoan descent and is believed to be the first Polynesian head coach in NCAA history.
*********** I think Tim Tebow is deserving of the Heisman and in addition to his football ability he sounds like a really great young man.
But how bad must things be when his coach, Urban Meyer, notes as one of his strong points that "he treats women with respect?"
*********** Did you hear Chris Fowler raving about the fact that 96 percent of Heisman voters cast their ballots? Huh? Not 100 per cent? Other than being dead, what excuse could you have for not voting?
*********** Remember what happened four years ago when Steve Pederson fired Frank Solich at Nebraska, and one by one, college guys turned Pederson down? Pederson finally wound up hiring an NFL guy.
Now, Arkansas, Michigan and UCLA could find themselves in the same spot. They'll have to wait a few more weeks, but then they'll manage to find pro coaches to take their jobs. Those guy will do anything for money.
*********** What a joke that "Wendy's High School Heisman" is. Of the two kids from Oregon who won it, neither one participated in high school sports. Since it trades on the name of a football award but doesn't have anything to do with sports, why didn't Wendy's just offer to sponsor the National Honor Society?
We here in Connecticut were able to watch the various State Championship
It's guys like Bill Mignault who by their example show younger coaches how to act shoud they ever attain his stature. He is a class act. HW)
*********** Coach Wyatt,
Archbishop Curley HS
*********** It's kind of difficult to get a good grade on Hawaii - they were caught looking ahead to the BCS when they played Washington, and most mainlanders (like myself) occasionally bash them for their soft schedule. But, when you look at the teams that Hawaii has tried to schedule, you can't blame them. No one wants to play them. No one wants to handle the travel expenses, etc. It's difficult! Slightly frustrated, though, that Mizzou got left out of the BCS. Not really sure how you can pick Kansas over them...oh well.
I watched the Washington -Hawaii game and in my opinion the idea of "looking ahead to the BCS" line sounds like something you'd hear on ESPN radio.
In fact, there was nothing to look forward to unless they beat Washington, and that's the way they played - with the kind of ferocity you'd expect from a team that had to win in order to get into a BCS bowl.
It would be just as easy to say that Washington was just playing out the string of a bowl-less season. Plus, their flight was delayed. And then there were all the distractions (beach, babes, etc) of a Hawaiian trip.
Yes, Hawaii would love to play with the Big Boys. Wouldn't every other school in the WAC?
No, we can't "blame" Hawaii for their geographical location any more than we can blame Lousiana Tech (which, by the way, Hawaii pummelled, 45-44 in overtime) for not being located in Baton Rouge or New Orleans and not being the state's flagship university. It is what it is.
But we can't let that deceive us - neither one is a BCS school, and isn't likely to be any time soon.
It is wonderful that Hawaii is undefeated. It is a nice story, and it is great for the people of Hawaii. But there's such a thing as taking a story too far.
They don't have any place in any discussion of a national champion.
Consider an analogous situation...
I happen to live near Portland, Oregon. We have a AAA baseball team here called the Beavers. They're pretty good - the next thing to the Big Time. They even pay their players. But if the Beavers were to go unbeaten, and even if one of their wins were to be an exhibition game win over a major league team (such as the Baltimore Orioles), there is still no way they belong in the World Series.
I know it's not their fault that they play in a small city in the Pacific Northwest, and I know they'd love to be a major league franchise, and they'd love to have the Yankees and Red Sox come to town a couple of times a year. They'd really pack 'em in. But it's not going to happen.
Should Hawaii, with its puny schedule, finish in the top 10, it could really hurt fans of bigt-time football because bigger schools will realize that they can't hurt themselves by scheduling their non-conference games against the sort of weaklings - Northern Colorado, Charleston Southern, Idaho, Utah State - that Hawaii played.
As for Kansas over Missouri - no, I don't think it's right. It's not the first time that a deserving team has been shafted, as we on the West Coast know all too well.
At least this time, when a Big 12 team got a break, it was another Big 12 team that got the shaft.
*********** Give Georgia Tech a lot of credit for hiring Paul Johnson. Tech is taking something of a chance, because if he runs his offense there, they simply will not be likely to recruit the sort of offensive people whom you will see some day in the NFL.
On the other hand, they can still recruit outstanding defensive players, something Navy didn't exactly have, and when you put them together with the kind of offensive people they CAN recruit, which will enable them to run an offense on the order of Barry Switzer's Oklahoma teams -- I say, "look out."
I heard Ed Cunningham giving us his wisdom at halftime of App State-Richmond. He said the triple option won't work at Georgia Tech. If Ed Cunningham said it, it must be true.
But I don't see Paul Johnson, who has been an offensive coach his entire career, stepping back and letting some bright young fella run a spread offense. Not when he knows he can kick your ass with his triple option.
Johnson has made it to where he is by doing something that people said he couldn't do. His sole problem at Navy, which I am convinced he will correct at GT, was defense.
Even against superior talent, it wasn't offense. Check it out - Navy scored as little as 24 points only twice this season, and that was against two pretty good teams - Rutgers and Wake Forest. How much better do you suppose they'd have done with Georgia Tech-type personnel?
If Navy had had a better defense this year, the Mids - not Hawaii - would have been the feel-good story of the year.
He will win - but can he win enough to silence the fools who would rather pass than win?
*********** Speaking of fools who would rather pass than win...
I watched both Joe Alleva's press conference on the firing of Ted Roof, as well as Ted Roof's presser on his firing. Coach Roof handled himself unbelievable well, considering some of the tactless questions asked by the press. I was surprised that ANY coach could provide such earnest, comprehensive and thoughtful answers given the stress of that particular situation. Joe Alleva on the other hand, made a couple of statements that had me worried. First, was that he said while they wouldn't rule out a head coach from outside of D1, they weren't seriously considering any. I'm thinking, A) beggars can't be choosers and B) you should consider ANYONE and EVERYONE. The coaching search should be comprehensive. Leave no stone unturned. What if Ohio State's coaching search had been handled the same way? ("Oh sure, Jim Tressel's won four national championships, but they were only at D1-AA.")
Don't overlook guys like: Jerry Kill (Southern Illinois), Craig Bohl (North Dakota State), Dave Clawson (Richmond), Pete Lembo (Elon), Bobby Lamb (Furman) and Bobby Hauck (Montana). There's no telling where the next coaching "genius" may come from. Who was Spurrier before Duke hired him?
When asked about what style of football he wanted at Duke, he was asked if he wanted a defensive-oriented coach or an offensive-minded one and he gave a reply I thought was ill-conceived, naive and selfish (i.e., he's thinking of saving his ass). He replied (and not a direct quote, but) "we won't be winning too many '10 to 6' games here at Duke. We need a coach who will put points on the board." How many loser institutions have said (albeit indirectly) that they would rather lose 40-36 than win 10-6? My thinking is his reply showed that he cared less about winning games (by a 10-6 score) and more about putting fannies in the seats (with some high-scoring air show, no doubt), and that this would save his job.
It shows me that he really hasn't learned HOW to win. It shows me that he wants a pre-packaged commodity. He won't gamble on a "Jim Tressel--type" (D1AA coach) and is more interested in a David Cutcliffe or Karl Dorrell. Are you kidding me? Both of these coaches already had their shot at the big time and they blew it. They may be fine men and creditable coaches, but they failed at places that gave them far greater resources than Duke gave Roof. Why not look at a guy who has done more with less (Dave Clawson, Pete Lembo)? If Alleva had been Thomas Edison he would have thought, "Why invent the light bulb when the candle will do?" Innovators have a VISION. Those that have no vision merely follow the crowd.
Dave Potter, Durham, North Carolina
You really are right on. I think that Alleva is nuts in thinking he can get a name coach. (Actually, I still think he should have been fired after the way he mismanaged the lacrosse "rape" fiasco.)
I read Dorrell's name in association with Duke this morning and I damn near had a heart attack. Here's a guy with the resources of UCLA, and smack in the middle of the choicest recruiting area in the US, and he consistently fielded a team of underachievers.
I think his hiring at Duke would be a disaster.
At least Cutcliffe is employed, and doing well as an assistant. Dorrell has never been more than a wide receiver coach and that's what he'll have to go back to being - unless Duke hires him. (Rick Neuheisel had him listed as his "offensive coordinator" at Washington, but who's kidding who? Rick Neuheisel was Rick Neuheisel's OC.)
Karl Dorrell seems like a very nice young man, but he has spectacularly underachieved as a head coach, and he does not have a personality that will get donors fired up.
I agree with you totally that in the position Duke is in, their best bet is to hire a successful head coach from a lower division. I think that your suggestion of Rod Broadway, now at Grambling, is a great one. He has worked at Duke, and as head coach at North Carolina Central, he knows the Durham community.
*********** Coach Wyatt;
*********** I am going to be interviewing for an assistant coaching job at ---- -----. I was wondering if you had any advice for me in regards to what questions to ask or things to talk about with the HC?
In general, apart from the usual stuff about offensive and defensive systems...
You certainly need to know what his expectations are for his assistants, and what they are for the players.
I think it is extremely important to find out whether you and he agree on such basics as discipline.
Remember, although you certainly don't want to give him this impression, you are interviewing him every bit as much as he is interviewing you.
Nice to see you back on line!! I was getting worried and thought something
I saw the comment about the DW used at the division one level. Week after
One last comment -- again on Sunday in the pros they continue to kick the
Great to have you back!!
Jack Tourtillotte, Boothbay Harbor, Maine
*********** A nice tribute in the Albany Times Union to Lansingburgh, New York High, just prior to the state championship game...
"What is that? What kind of offense is that?"
Those are questions I remember hearing on the sidelines during Lansingburgh football games I covered in 2001 and 2002.
I still hear those questions from fans today, seven seasons after Lansingburgh coach Pete Porcelli first implemented the double-wing offense that has become a Section II staple.
This afternoon at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, Lansingburgh will try to become the fifth school from Section II to win a state football title since the full playoff system began in 1993. The Knights (11-1) will oppose Rochester area champion Aquinas (12-0).
Lansingburgh's path to its first state title game was filled with obstacles. Many felt the Knights wouldn't recover after losing 35-22 in Week 5 to Burnt Hills -- the school that beat the Knights 37-7 in the 2006 Class A Super Bowl.
Porcelli heard the whispers. So did the players.
All the Knights have done since their lone loss is real off seven wins in a row, including memorable consecutive victories over Burnt Hills, Indian River and Ossining.
"That game woke us right up," Porcelli said of the Burnt Hills loss. "We needed it, and it let us know we're not that good. We always have to prove ourselves and do the little things to get the job done. Losing, I think, was the greatest thing. Having the the No. 1 ranking was also a great thing because once we got knocked off our perch, it was time to get back to work. They've been working hard ever since."
The 2007 Lansingburgh football team enters the Carrier Dome today with its own title aspirations. But Porcelli's previous six squads will be there in spirit, and some will be watching from the stands.
Porcelli's first championship team, in 2002, featured wingbacks Kareem Jones (the area's all-time leading rusher with 6,092 yards), Marcel Youngs and Shonte Freeman. The Knights registered a pulse-pounding 22-18 regional victory over 2001 state Class B champion Peru in a snowstorm at Colonie High before bowing to eventual champion Harrison in the semifinals.
Jones, Youngs, Freeman, Zach Bashford, Matt McGrath, Bobby Perrault, Matt Weber, Mike Cloutier, Marc Pallozzi and Mike Flynn are just some of the past players who have called to lend their support, attended recent practices or watched playoff games from the stands.
"This is great for the program," Porcelli said. "The guys bought in to what we were doing from the beginning. Those early teams laid the foundation. They believed in the coach, the system and the program. They all have a stake in this, too."
I've been fortunate enough to cover the five most significant playoff victories in Lansingburgh history:
"All those games and teams played in a huge part in us being at the Dome (today)," Porcelli said. "There has been trial and error along the way with this system. We learned from the losses we had, and it helped us get to the Dome."
FRIDAY, DEC 7, 2007- "December 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan ."President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Thanks for bearing with me while I recover from a major computer disaster. If things look a little different it's because I'm using a different Web-authoring program.
*********** Check out what Kansas State has done to note their affiliation with the Black Lion Award!
*********** As you might expect I've been following the Michigan coaching search fairly closely. I was on the Brian Kelly bandwagon for a while but when it looked like Les Miles was begging UM to hire him I decided I'd be content with him. Now I have to admit that I'm not sure UM isn't making this into a clusterf***.
Blog rumors and newspaper rumors have added up to a whole lot of conflicting accounts, but something bad had to go down to cause LSU and Les to announce an extension the morning of his biggest game to date. One version of events has Michigan trying to directly contact Miles before the SEC Championship game, against the stated wishes of Skip Bertman. If true, a bad move on Michigan's part. On the other hand, Miles has publicly declared his love for Michigan; if UM wanted him to jump through some hoops or he thought they weren't being decisive enough, maybe he felt insulted and snubbed.
Certainly Miles was rightfully pissed about Kirk Herbstreit's (totally false as it turned out) Friday story that Miles was a done deal to Ann Arbor. Herbstreit's report claimed Georgia Tech's DC was going with Miles; Jon Tenuta later said he'd never spoken to Miles about it, so someone in the reporting chain had some very bad information.
Post-Miles, rumors get more farfetched (Greg Schiano? Jeff Tedford? Jon Gruden?) and there's little evidence there's a rudder on Michigan's ship. The AD has had three months to plan this, and I'm not seeing leadership. I really worry now that Michigan is fighting a three-front war between the president, AD and Carr, plus a search committee. Great.
Christopher Anderson, Palo Alto, California
I think that the boys at Michigan may have an exaggerated idea of what the Michigan job means these days.
Michigan is Michigan, of course, but in terms of attractiveness to a coach, it may have lost some of its edge.
Where once just being "Michigan" was nearly enough to guarantee a winning season, we're now living in a world in which the likes of Appalachian State and Louisiana-Monroe can line up and beat the biggest of the big. Where once the Big Guys could pay enough to attract anybody, we're also living in a world where the coach at Boise State - Boise State, for God's sake! - is making enough that he's able say he's not remotely interested in the UCLA job - and mean it. And people understand. And it's a world where a lot of coordinators hang back because with the best-paid ones already earning half a mill, there's a lot less economic incentive to get out of actual coaching and take on the headaches of being a CEO.
*********** I know, practically speaking, that it would never happen; but in theory, what would keep the DW from succeeding at the major college level? Would the defensive players' athleticism negate its advantages (ex. backside end or LB able to chase down Super Power from behind)? Or is it simply political matters that keep an offense like that from taking the field?
There is no doubt in my mind that at least as part of a total offensive package, the Double-Wing would work at the D-I level.
I have seen it work at the professional (CFL) level, when the Toronto Argonauts with the expertise of an assistant named Gary Etcheverry (a true Double-Winger) ran a few series a few years back. (I have the video.)
The major reasons you'll never see it are largely aesthetic. It's my child, and I love it, but I have to admit that to the average fan, the Double Wing is ugly.
The coach - and the AD - would find themselves constantly defending it to the news media. Few ADs want to have to do that.
It is unknown to many and disrespected by many of those who do know it, and it would certainly be used against a school in recruiting.
In addition, most ADs would be highly reluctant to hire a guy running such a contrarian offense for fear that if/when the guy moved on, they'd have a roster of players recruited primarily for a run-first offense, and ill-suited to another system.
Also, fans nowadays insist on being entertained, and that means a lot of passing.
It is no coincidence that the most successful run-first teams have been the service academies, because their grads place a higher priority on winning than on entertainment.
Only at a place that has been down for so long that all its people want to do is win for a change (Army?) would it be possible to even give it a try.
I was going through your 11/27 News, and saw that Bill Lawlor had summed up the Illinois championships, noting that no true spread team had one (although some had been beaten).
I have to add a little story about Dakota, the 2A champ. They beat us 54-12 in the first round, with our scores coming in the second half against their second team. Great program, great coach, great fans, the whole package. Last week I ran into my mentors from Richwoods High School in Peoria. Richwoods is a 5A playoff mainstay and one of the classiest programs in the state. They run belly-option and always will. It's not uncommon to see their fullback carry 40+ times in a game. Anyway, they commented on how good Dakota looked in the championship game. I told them that our game against them was so impressive because they quietly kicked our ass. Nothing high-flying. No 75 yard, reverse field td's by a scat back. Just a power running game out of a double wing that went length of the field pretty quickly at 9-10 yards a pop (literally). They got back in the huddle, called the next play, and kicked our ass again and again. They were awesome. They were all business, and had fun doing it.
A note about Richwoods former head coach Rod Butler, Illinois High School Hall-of-Fame member, and a key lesson I learned from him. Somehow the topic of the "perfect" game came up. Mind you I was still in college and volunteering as a freshman receivers coach (that's where they put the new guys). I knew enough to keep my mouth shut. Coach Butler said his perfect game would get the opening kickoff, go on a 12 minute drive, kick to them on the first play of the second quarter, get a three and out, and then do the whole thing over again. 14-0 at the half. 28-0 to end the game. No passes. He came close to those perfect games more than his opponents would care to remember. What a great lesson (and attitude).
Todd Hollis, Head Football Coach, Elmwood-Brimfield Coop, Elmwood, Illinois
*********** Colorado Double-Winger makes it to state final!
Double Wing (3700+ yards rushing in 13 games, 200+ passing on 11 completions (for the season)). We ran almost exclusively out of the tight formation. We finished 10-3 overall and lost the championship 21-7 to a very good Platte Valley team.
Great experience for our kids and our community.
*********** After having spent a season with 7 and 8 year-olds and reflecting on how they ran the Double Wing, Jason Clarke, of Glen Burnie, Maryland, wrote...
My right guard was 7, just smart enough to do what was asked of him.
*********** (Regarding my comment about the value of having an older coach on your staff)
Coach, Having a battle tested staff member is a no brainer for any young coach. There is NO substitute for quality experience.
More importantly, just because you are the head guy doesn't mean you are always right, see everything, know everything, or have all of the answers. When you think you do, you are screwed.
As you know, I have Tom Dunn on as my defensive genious (and Art Wheelock as my D line guy with 35 years under his belt). But, he is also in my ear on the offensive side, too. His input is invaluable. I've been coaching 13 years. He's been coaching 44. He's forgotten more than I know. I'm not saying that we don't disagree or that I don't stick with my gut in certain situations. Hell, we argue like an old married couple from time to time (afterwords we call each other "A...hole" and get back to work with smiles on our face).
The biggest thing, as a head guy, is you have to trust your staff. If you're intimidated by an older, more experienced coach on your staff, you are not ready to be the head guy. It's that simple.
*********** This is really cool - http://www.theinterviewwithgod.com/
*********** After the 1999 season the 'Monied Alumni' (at Army) pushed Bob Sutton (44-55-1 9 seasons) out the door because of his boring offense. They wanted a modern, high powered offense.
Three years of Todd Berry and the modern offense has set Army football back 10-15 years. Maybe after this current coaching staff returns from their retreat there will be a change in command. At least now that we have finished the 2007 season ,it should give hope that we are half way through the rebuilding process. Maybe by 2010 we can recover from the change after the 1999 season.
In a quote from Fred Russell, the great, longtime sportswriter with the Nashville Banner said in his 1954 book 'Bury me in an old Press box', "No Athletic Director should last longer than 2 failed football coaching hires"
Tim Brown, Jackson, Tennessee
As I have been told the story, the firing of Bob Sutton and the disgraceful way it was handled - on a Philadelphia sidewalk (or in a Philadelphia parking lot) right after the Army-Navy game - was that it was carried out by new AD Rick Greenspan, acting under the orders of then Superintendent Daniel Christman. I have never heard anything about the undue influence of "Monied Alumni," nor, although it may be that they played some role in Sutton's ouster, have I never heard the slightest suggestion that it was because of dissatisfaction with his Wishbone offense. He was by all accounts a class act, and he was exceptionally successful against Navy, but overall not all that successful against top competition, and someone there must have felt that they could do better. Wrong! What they wound up with was Todd Berry, who - not so coincidentally - had been Greenspan's coach at Greenpan's previous job, Illinois State. Berry had done very well at Illinois State, but it was no surprise to anyone who understands the problem of trying to lure blue-chip recruits with NFL aspirations to a school with high academic standards on the front end and a five-year military commitment on the back end that his wide-open game was unsuccessful. To say the least. If there were once people who wanted Army to open it up, they are now nowhere to be found. HW
*********** Just as I read that PJ is interviewing with SMU - "Daddy, can I have a pony for Christmas?" - I get to the bottom of the Baltimore Sun article and I find this:
"Ravens offensive coordinator Rick Neuhisel told the Morning News last
There will certainly be a "job" coming for SMU fans if Skippy gets the call...
Charlie Wilson, Seminole, Florida ( Bear in mind, this "indirect contact" might have been no more than a call to SMU from Neuheisel's agent. But if SMU thinks they're at rock bottom now and can't go any lower, boy, do I have news for them! In two words that all SMU people understand: DEATH PENALTY. HW)
*********** I was discussing Ted Roof's firing at Duke friend with a friend whose son, a good high school football player, had had some contact with Coach Roof, and this is what I told him:
Good football or bad, Duke is still a great school, and I always advise a kid to look at a school the way he'd look at it if he went there and got hurt and could never play another down of football. I tell him to ask himself, where would you want to spend your four years if you couldn't play football, and - even more important - where would you want to be able to say you went, 20 years from now?
*********** There was a recent article in the Wall Street Journal noting that despite the common belief that the way for older cities to come back was to remake themselves as hip and yuppie-friendly, so as to attract "creative types." Actually, the article said, the opposite is turning out to be true - with a few rare exceptions, those hip, gentrified downtowns turn out to have shelf lives. As young people start families, they outgrow the inner cities. They find that there's more to life than being able to walk to Starbuck's or eat at a different ethnic restaurant every night, and those vibrant, hip downtowns don't work for them any longer. The upshot? Businesses find that more productive (i.e., family-oriented) workers - of both sexes - are more attracted to places where housing is reasonable, schools are better, and commutes are shorter. The Charlotte, Dallas and Raleigh-Durham areas were mentioned specifically.
*********** Mark Bergen, a West Point grad and football coach in Keller, Texas, dropped me a note -
Hey, Coach - You'll appreciate this - Take Care. Tough day for Army on Saturday. Hope Stan Brock invites Paul Johnson to his summer offensive retreat (as well as the Father of "The" DW - and Black Lion leader, yourself).
and then he sent me this:
Honored World War II Fighter Pilot, Dies at 86
Jefferson J. DeBlanc, a World War II fighter pilot who was awarded the Medal of Honor for shooting down five Japanese planes on a single day while running out of fuel, died Nov. 22 in Lafayette, La. He was 86 and lived St. Martinville, La..The cause was complications of pneumonia, said his daughter, Barbara DeBlanc Romero.On Jan. 31, 1943, Mr. DeBlanc, then a lieutenant in the Marines, took off from Guadalcanal in his Wildcat fighter, leading a six-plane section of Marine Fighting Squadron 112. They were assigned to protect dive bombers and torpedo planes attacking Japanese ships off the island of Kolombangara, in the Solomons chain.Mr. DeBlanc became embroiled in a furious air battle as Japanese planes pounced on the American aircraft. His fighter was using fuel at an unexpectedly rapid rate and he could have returned to his base, but he pressed his attacks."We needed all the guns we could get up there to escort those dive bombers," he told The Times-Picayune in New Orleans in a 1999 interview. "I figured if I run out of gas, I run out of gas. I figured I could survive a bailout. You've got to live with your conscience. And my conscience told me to go ahead."In the span of a few minutes, he shot down five Japanese planes, but soon afterward his fighter was hit by enemy aircraft fire that knocked his watch from his wrist, peppered him with shrapnel and set his plane afire.He parachuted into the ocean, then swam for some six hours, making it ashore at Japanese-occupied Kolombangara. He hoped to steal a Japanese Zero fighter and fly it to Guadalcanal, but after resting for several days in an abandoned hut, he was seized by a group of tribesmen."I could see myself in the pot," he recalled long afterward.He was placed in a bamboo cage. The next day, deliverance arrived. A local man was carrying a gift for his captors."This guy came in and threw down a 10-pound sack of rice, which he stole from the Japanese," Mr. DeBlanc remembered in a 2000 interview with The Baton Rouge Advocate. "He threw it down at their feet, and they picked it up and let me go. From then on, I felt safe."His rescuer was affiliated with the coastwatchers, mainly Australians and Pacific islanders who spied on Japanese plane and ship movements in the Solomons and helped rescue downed Allied pilots. Mr. DeBlanc was taken to a nearby island by locals sympathetic to the Americans, and a United States Navy patrol plane picked him up.Mr. DeBlanc, who had shot down three Japanese bombers off Guadalcanal the previous fall, later downed another Japanese plane off Okinawa, giving him nine "kills" in the war.President Harry S. Truman presented him with the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for valor, on Dec. 6, 1946. Recounting Mr. DeBlanc's exploits off Kolombangara, the citation said that he had "remained on the scene despite a rapidly diminishing fuel supply" and had waged "a valiant battle against terrific odds."Mr. DeBlanc, a native of Lockport, La., left active military service after the war, received a doctorate in education from McNeese State University and taught mathematics and science in St. Martinville. He retired from the Marines in 1972 as a colonel in the reserves.In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his sons, Jefferson Jr., of Church Point, La.; Richard, of Coteau Holmes, La.; Frank, of St. Martinville; and Michael, of Parks, La.; seven grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. His wife, Louise, died in 2005.Examining diaries left behind by coastwatchers, Mr. DeBlanc eventually learned the identity of the man who had saved him. He returned to the Solomons in May 2000 to thank the rescuer, Atitao Lodukolo. Mr. Lodukolo was a frail 95 years old by then.Mr. DeBlanc and Mr. Lodukolo posed together for a video camera, and then they exchanged salutes in a final farewell."How about that?" Mr. DeBlanc remarked later. "That's full circle."
*********** A friend sent me an article decrying the way youth soccer teams get practice fields built for them, while youth football teams often can't even get the use of the local high school's facilities.
There is no question - and I see it where I live - that youth soccer gets its way because it is way ahead of youth football in terms of money and political influence.
Part of the problem is that while we in football were resting on our laurels, secure in the belief that our sport was such an ingrained part of our culture that it would always reign supreme, the soccer people passed us by. Typical of the outsider - the underdog - they organized and went after the things they needed, starting with money and moving on to political power.
Now, around here, at least, it's evidenced in the fact that any time anyone proposes a new park, it always includes "soccer fields." Not playing fields - soccer fields.
Without any hard evidence to back me up, and based only on what we used to call in the beer business a "grandmother's survey," I would venture to say from what I see that the movers and shakers in soccer are wealthier, better organized, and more politically savvy than their counterparts in youth football. (When was the last time you heard about politicians worrying about appealing to "football moms?")
Soccer people manage to insinuate themselves onto school boards and into local recreation departments, with the result that they keep getting their lighted, artificially-surfaced multi-field facilities, while youth football programs are reduced to begging for places to practice.
It is impossible not to notice the elitism involved here. I'm reluctant to go very far with this, but I would also suggest that there are certain issues of class and race at play, because with the exception of the large numbers of recently-arrived Spanish-speakers, most kids playing soccer in the US are white and decidedly upper middle class.
And then there is the violence factor. Violence sells, the more gruesome the better, and the NFL and ESPN, while pleading innocence, do everything they can to glorify it at every turn. Just the sort of thing to make a mother say, "Not my son."
And let's not kid ourselves - more and more women run American households (even when there are "men" present). Military recruiters will tell you that female-dominated homes are not generally welcoming to them. Is it reasonable to think that people who don't want their sons serving in the armed forces would want them playing a sport that glorifies violence?
Not that the NFL and ESPN are the only guilty parties. I see and hear enough things about youth and high school football coaches to convince me that there are far too many of them who contribute to the damage by the things they say and do. It may seem like a little thing, for example, but how many mothers do you suppose hear the term "smashmouth football," and decide that they don't want any part of a sport like that?
*********** I don't know who's on Oklahoma's schedule the next couple of years (other than the usual Big-12 opponents), but I have a very good idea who isn't: Clemson, Florida Atlantic, Florida State, and Oregon.
Voting in the final USA Today Coaches' poll - one of the components of the BCS rankings - their coaches showed that they were either unaware of what took place in the Big 12 over the last couple of weeks - which hardly seems likely, given the hype that first Kansas-Missouri and then Missouri-Oklahoma received - or they have the red ass for Oklahoma, because they all ranked Missouri and Kansas above Oklahoma on their ballots.
What coach with Oklahoma on his schedule next year would so willfully disrespect the Sooners, who beat Missouri, which beat Kansas?
Take Tyrone Willingham of Washington. He's not stupid. He's got to play Oklahoma next year, so he had the Sooners at number 5.
Oregon's Mike Bellotti, though, had them in 8th place, with Missouri in 5th and Kansas in 6th. I suspect his rankings may be related to the furor that came out of Oklahoma following the UO-OU game a year ago, when a replay official's screwup cost the Sooners the game and, subsequently, a possible shot at the national title. If you recall, even the president of the University of Oklahoma got involved in the pissing contest, and based on Mike Bellotti's ballot, it may not be over yet.
Interesting that both Bowdens (Clemson and FSU) were in agreement that MIssouri and Kansas were somehow better than Oklahoma. For those FSU fans looking for evidence that Bobby may be losing his faculties, he had Oklahoma in 10th place.
Give Howard Schnellenberger at Florida Atlantic a pass. He probably never will forgive the Sooners for firing him. But while you're at it, take his ballot away. He had Kansas (!) in second place.
Oh - you might as well add Louisville to the list, too. Evidently they won't be playing the Sooners any time soon, either. Their coach, Steve Kragthorpe, must still have some lingering problems from his days at Tulsa, because he had Kansas at number 5, and Oklahoma at number 8. Missouri (excuse me, but didn't they beat Kansas?) is at number 9.
Just one more argument for taking the vote away from coaches.
*********** This Sunday, when the Jets play the Browns, the two starting quarterbacks, Kellen Clemens and Derek Anderson, will have played against each other at the high school, college and pro level.
Cleveland's Derek Anderson and New York's Kellen Clemens are small-town Oregon kids, Anderson from Scappoose and Clemens from Burns, who first met in the Oregon Class 3A semi-finals where Anderson quarterbacked Scappoose to a 48-26 win.
Both were heavily recruited, with Anderson going on to Oregon State and Clemens to Oregon. They met in three "Civil War" games, with Anderson winning two of them.
*********** Starting Thursday night, NBA games on TSN will feature live mics on the coaches. Apparently not all the coaches are really happy about it. (I wonder why.)
I think that Bobby Knight would have known how to put an end to lives mics on the coaches.
*********** This Saturday night they'll be announcing the Heisman Trophy winner. It'll probably go to Tim Tebow, and if it does, it's richly deserved. Actually, whoever does win it will have earned it.
How? Damned if I know. Certainly, by playing quarterback, running back or receiver. Offensive linemen and defensive players, as we all know, have no chance.
It's supposed to go to the best football player in America. What - the one with the best running stats? Passing stats? Combined stats? The one whose team exceeded everyone's expectations thanks to his performance.? (Stop right now and give it to Dennis Dixon.)
Whatever, the minute someone starts to talk about how the winner will do in the NFL... TURN THE G-D SOUND OFF!!!
Despite what the yahoos on the sports shows will try to suggest, this is not about the NFL, where the winner will be drafted or what kind of career he'll have. . The fact that few Heisman winners have made it big in the NFL is of no consequence. The NFL never has figured into the equation, and, God willing, it never will.
The great Dan Jenkins, who loved college football as much as anyone who ever lived and wrote about it as well as anyone who ever lived, explained it best:
"The Heisman shouldn't have anything to do with the NFL. It should be awarded strictly on a guy's performance as a collegian. It's not like a player should have to justify his Heisman by becoming a pro star.
"Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it." (Proverbs, Chapter 8, Verses 10-11)
TUESDAY, DEC 4, 2007- "I do believe that life is a continuous thing. You can't just chop off your history and start anew." Ang Lee, movie director ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon")
IF THIS PAGE LOOKS DIFFERENT... IT'S BECAUSE I DROPPED MY COMPUTER LAST TUESDAY, AND NOW IT - ALONG WITH ALL MY WORK (MAIL, ADDRESSES, PHONE NUMBERS, PLAYBOOKS, PICTURES, ARTICLES, WEB SITE MATERIAL, NEWSLETTERS, ETC., ETC. ETC.) - COULD VERY WELL BE TOAST. (NO, I HADN'T BACKED-UP SINCE AUGUST!) MY BELOVED POWERBOOK IS CURRENTLY IN THE SHOP UNDERGOING "DATA RETRIEVAL." SO FAR, IT'S BEEN OVER 24 HOURS AND I STILL DON'T KNOW WHAT (IF ANYTHING) IF I'VE THEY'VE BEEN ABLE TO SAVE. NO, IT'S NOT AN INJURED LOVED ONE OR A SICK PET, AND I HAVE MY HEALTH AND MY WIFE AND FAMILY AND A ROOF OVER MY HEAD... BUT IT'S THE NEXT THING DOWN ON THE LIST, AND IT'S GOT THE POTENTIAL TO PUT ME OUT OF COMMISSION FOR QUITE SOME TIME!
MEANTIME, IM DOING MY BEST WITH THE SITE...
*********** You have GOT to see what Kansas State has done to note their affiliation with the Black Lion Award!
*********** Christmas - oops, better make that "Winter Holiday" - is fast approaching, at least in terms of shipping things to the Middle East. LTC Pat Frank, Battalion Commander of the Black Lions in Iraq, says "the guys all love movies." It would really be great if every coach out there would send a movie to the Black Lions in Iraq. Send to:
*********** I couldn't watch Army fullback Mike Viti in the closing minutes of the Army-Navy game and not feel some of the pain he had to be experiencing, after giving it everything he had for four years, and now seeing his last chance at beating Navy slip away.
Although nearly 30 years of coaching have taught me that there is no loss whose pain doesn't fade with time, I was once young and I can remember the intense pain of losing an important game.
Mike blocked the way he always did against Navy, and he ran hard, too, but he did suffer the pain of fumbling on the one-yard line as Army was going in, and from that point, the TV people wouldn't let it go. IN a game lacking in drama, that became a subplot.
I was disappointed that the TV cameras chose to stay on him as he sat, dejected, on the bench, but in retrospect I think it was a tribute to him, because Mike Viti personified the qualities that Army football (and the Army itself) represent - a courage, hard work, selflessness, dedication and loyalty during even the toughest of times.
Those qualities, in addition to the fact that he is a good football player, too, made Mike Viti a wonderful example to young football players around the country, and I swelled with pride every time I saw that Black Lion emblem on his jersey.
Mike Viti has embodied the meaning of the Black Lion Award, and I couldn't be any prouder of him if the score had been 38-3, Army.
*********** If Paul Johnson is serious about leaving Navy for SMU, I'm sure there are a few Army grads willing to kick in to help pay for his move.
*********** The NFL on the up-and-up? How could you watch the last three minutes of the Ravens-Patriots game - and then the final ruling - and not think, the entire time, that the fix was in?
*********** For those of you on the East Coast who haven't stayed up late enough to watch Hawaii play... If you like to see the human body disfigured with tattoos, if your enjoy the sight of hair spilling out from helmets and cascading down the backs of jerseys, you're going to love watching these guys in a BCS bowl game. (They truly are the scruffiest football team I have ever seen - and I got my start in semipro ball - they really are pretty good. But considering that Saturday night they were one dropped Jake Locker pass away from being taken into overtime by the Pac-10's last place team, they are not as good as they think they are. Nor ought their QB, Colt Brennan, who never played anyone on the order of Auburn, LSU, Kentucky, Georgia, South Carolina, Vanderbilt or Florida State, to be compared with Tim Tebow, as Hawaii coach June Jones now wants us to do.
But then I heard Georgia's Mark Richt whining about not getting a fair shake. There he was, bitching to a reporter about Georgia's not making it into the BCS championship game. He thought it was unfair that Georgia was ruled out because it wasn't the SEC champion. And the amazing thing is, he sounded serious. Hell, Georgia wasn't even in its own conference championship game!
Wow. Who to root for?
***********Brace yourselves, all you lovers of college football, for a flood of idiotic opinions, as Fox, almost totally NFL-oriented but nevertheless to broadcaster of the BCS bowls, begins to inflict its lack of knowldge of the college game on us.
On that score, it's hard to beat Barry and Jimmy, a pair of ex-Cowboys.
But another ex-Cowboy, Moose Johnson, gave them a run for their money on Sunday.
I heard him on the Eagles-Seahawks game saying that it "isn't fair" that schools like USC and Ohio State "don't have to go through conference championship games" the way the Big 12 and SEC and ACC teams do. He said that in the interests of "leveling the playing field," the Big Ten and Pac-10 should have to have conference championship games, too.
Uh, Moose - if you'd done your homework, you'd know that conference championship games are all about creating their own mini-Super Bowl, for only one reason (hint: it's not to determine a "true conference champion.")
Okay, okay - the reason is BIG BUCKS. The lure of the BIG BUCKS to be made from playing a conference championship game (which requires 12 teams) is why Texas A & M, Texas Tech, Texas, and Baylor were added to the Big 12 when the SWC broke up. And it's why Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech were added to the ACC. And it's why Arkansas and South Carolina are in the SEC.
But one of the chances they took when they grabbed for the BIG BUCKS was that their best team could get knocked off, and miss out on a chance to play for the BCS championship. (But wait - isn't that exactly what could happen in a playoff?)
Level the playing field? Hell, I'd like to see the Big Ten and the Pac-10 say to hell with the BCS and go back to sending their champions to the Rose Bowl.
*********** I have emailed you before concerning your wildcat offense but now I am posing a much more opinionated question than X's and O's. I am only years old and am still in college but I know for certain I will end up coaching high school football once I complete my studies (whether I go for a masters is still debatable). I am almost positive that an assistant coaching job is waiting for me at my alma mater high school with my original head coach. Now this is where the question lies. Do I side with my coach and get my coaching experience under him? Or do I go to a neighboring town (which does run the double wing to its very core) and try to get a job over there? It pretty much narrows itself down to... Go with somewhere I might be able to eventually become the head coach and THEN install the offense or learn more about the offense itself from someone who has years of work and THEN attempt to get a head coaching job with that experience by itself. I have studied the double wing for years and admired it down to its very structuring, so I know I can help the "double wing" coach. Please do tell me how you would handle the situation or if you were in the same position with a new assistant coach, would you
I appreciate your asking me for my opinion.
If you are offered two jobs, my answer would be to go with the coach whom you have the most respect for as a man and as a coach, and from whom you believe can learn the most about coaching in general, and whose recommendation would carry the most weight among other coaches if and when it came time to move on.
I wouldn't let the fact that a guy is running the Double-Wing outweigh those other issues.
Only if all things were equal would I let the offense that a coach runs sway my thinking.
I do think the fact that you are not biased against the Double-Wing is a huge factor in your favor, but as for knowing enough about the Double-Wing to be able to step right in and start coaching it right away... be very careful. My experience has taught me that even a guy who runs my stuff right out of the book still has his own way of doing and teaching certain things, and he's going to want you to buy completely into the way he's doing it.
Hope that helps. Keep Coaching!
500 yards of offense wasn't enough for us tonight. We lost the state championship game 44-34.
We were down 36-18 at the half and battled back to 36-34 with five minutes left, but they scored again and our last drive was stopped going in at the fifteen yard line with about 3 minutes left. They were able to run out the clock after I burned all of my TO's.
It's never easy losing, but I know my kids played their asses off against a team that was predicted to win 49-0 by a major CT newspaper.
I don't have all of the stats, but I can assure you they could not defend our system. We even threw for almost 200 yards because they were selling out to stop super power and g sweep. A break here or there, and if we played D in the first half like we did in the second, we could have gotten it done. Some days are diamonds, some days are rocks...
I hope you have a great Christmas and I look forward to seeing you in Rhode Island this Spring.
Yours in football
I played football in 1982 and I've found some flat film boxes the 'ole roll kind'.....I guess it would be a projector.
Do you know where I could send these films to be put onto 'DVD format'.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks ahead of time
The Yellow Pages in any decent size town will have a listing for "Video Duplication Services" or "Video Duplication and Transfer," or something like that.
I should warn you - it is expensive.
If you have a projector, you might be able to arrange to videotape off the screen. It won't be as good as a professional job, but it all depends on what you need.
*********** Don Shipley, a friend in Washington, D.C. and son of the late Dick Shipley, my coach in semi-pro ball in Frederick, Maryland, sent me a neat article from the Washington Post on the death of former Cleveland Browns great Bill Willis.
Mr. Willis, who was 86, was probably the first black athlete to play professional football in the so-called "modern era" (after 1932) when he joined the Browns in 1946 (preceding, it is worth noting, Jackie Robinson's entry into major league baseball).
According to the article...
Paul Brown, founder and long-time coach of the Browns, wrote in his autobiography, "P.B.: The Paul Brown Story" that in 1946, with Branch Rockey having just signed Jackie Robinson, he was determined to sign black players for his new Cleveland Browns franchise in the All-America Conference, if that's what it took to get the best players available. I'll let Coach Brown take it from there...
Though the constitutions of the All-America Conference and the National Football League did not forbid black players from competing, none ever had in the fourteen years since football's modern era had begun in 1932.
Nevertheless, I had made my mind up long before Rickey's action that I wanted both Willis and Marion Motley to play for us. Even though our sport did not have the same national impact as major league baseball at that time, I knew the fierce attention we would receive would create some unfair pressure which could in turn harm both players. I wanted to avoid that dangerous ground so, to soften the impact as much as I could, I decided to wait until our team was settled into training camp before asking them to join us.
We became the first pro football team of the modern era ever to sign black players, just a short time before the Rams of the NFL signed Woody Strode and Kenny Washington, but I think the delicate way in which we did it helped both of them to escape the tremendous amount of pressure that Robinson had to endure and to concentrate totally on becoming great football players. Some people in our league resented this action and tossed a few intemperate barbs at me, but I felt those were best answered by the players themselves when they played against those teams. Unfortunately, not every situation was under our control. When we went to Miami to play the Seahawks in 1946, neither Willis nor Motley accompanied us because it was against the law in Florida at that time for blacks and whites to compete against each other. Both men handled this very sensitive situation with great dignity and understanding, however, both then and throughout that season, and they made it easier for other black players to enter professional football....
(Willis, not having heard anything from Brown, was all set to go to play in Montreal when Brown contacted him and asked him before he left for Canada if he'd stop by the Browns' camp in Bowling Green, Ohio, just to asssure himself that he could - or could not - make the Browns' squad.)
When he arrived at Bowling Green, practice had just ended, but I talked him into staying that night, signing a contract, and taking part in our scrimmage the next morning. Bill, who had the quickest defensive charge after the ball was snapped of any defensive lineman I ever saw, lined up right on (center) Mo Scarry's head, and every time Mo tried to center the ball, Bill was on him so quickly that Mo couldn't even make the exchange with our quarterbacks. He told me later that he watched Mo's hands, and as soon as they tightened to smap the ball, he moved. I was so intrigued with this explanation I got right down on my hands and knees along the line of scrimmage to be sure Bill wasn't offsides. He wasn't, but he moved with the ball so quickly it was hard to determine.
Willis got off the ball so fast, Brown recalled, that Scarry began anticipating his moves, quickly stepping back immediately after snapping; in one of the early drills after star QB Otto Graham reported to camp following the College All-Star game, Scarry stepped on Graham's toes.
Everyone laughed, but that's what Willis did to an opposing center. When we played our first AAC game against Miami, its quarterback and center never made one decent exchange. It was Willis' quickness, as well, that forced us to realilgn our own quarterback's stance as he stood behind the center, from a standard parallel-foot position to one in which one foot was placed slightly behind the other in order to puch off and get away quicker from the line of scrimmage. This innovative move eventually became adopted throughout football.
Bill played for eight seasons with the Browns. He often played as a middle or nose guard on our five-man defensive line, but we began dropping him off the line of scrimmage a yard or two because his great speed and pursuit carried him to the point of attack before anyone could block him. This technique and theory was the beginning of the modern 4-3 defense, and Bill was the forerunner of the modern middle linebacker.
*********** Dr. Cade, the inventor of Gatorade, died last week.
Back in 1968, I was playing semipro ball for a team called the Frederick (Maryland) Falcons, and also traveling for my job with a Baltimore brewery (I won't mention all the practices I missed because I was out of town). At some point in the season an article appeared in Sports Illustrated telling of this new drink called Gatorade, and its near-miraculous ability to fend off fatigue, and shortly afterward I was checking out the beer displays in a supermarket someplace when I saw - Gatorade!!! Holy sh--! I thought. I got to get some and take it back to the team! I was collecting beer cans in my travels, so I always took an extra suitcase with me, and this time I filled it with cans (large, #10 cans) of Gatorade. When I got home, I chilled the cans, and took them to our next game. None of my teammates had ever heard of Gatorade, but I was able to fill them in on its magical properties. At halftime, I broke out the Gatorade, and everyone had a cup of it. And we went out and blew a big lead and almost lost. I never lived it down, and that was the end of Gatorade for the Frederick Falcons.
Follow-up:I played for the Falcons in 1969, too. By then, the idea of thirst quenchers was beginning to catch on, but our team bought something called Bike Halftime Punch. At that time, the only other thing that Bike sold - and the main thing it was know for - was jock straps. I never touched the stuff.
*********** As the single wing revolution continues unabated, college teams continue to learn why the old-timers deserted the single wing - there are only so many true run-and-pass tailback types out there, and when you lose yours, you could be screwed. As Exhibit A, I introduce Oregon and what happened when Dennis Dixon went down. As Exhibit B, I introduce West Virginia, when Pat White went out.
You high school coaches who've been spending time at West Virginia, trying to learn what they've been doing - great stuff the Mountaineers have been running, eh, guys? Er, did you check it out without Pat White?
************ Remember a few weeks back, against Arizona, when Oregon was unbeaten and Oregon's Dennis Dixon was the leading Heisman candidate? Remember when Dixon crumpled to the turf without even being hit, and went off with a knee inury and never returned? Remember when word got out that he'd actually injured the knee in the previous game, a couple of weeks earlier, against Arizona State?
So why was he playing, then. Turned out team doctors determined that if he could handle it, he couldn't do any further damage to his knee. And, armed with that knowledge, Dixon and his father agreed that he should play. Oregon coach Mike Bellotti and the decision to let Dixon play? He said that he'd "taken himself out of it."
Well. A certain Portland newspaper columnist named John Canzano, a venomous type who isn't happy unless he's got a coach to crucify, saw his chance, and got all over Bellotti. How dare he let the kid play, blah blah, blah. How could he remove himself from the decision, blah, blah, blah. He was placing winning ahead of the player's welfare, blah, blah, blah. Would you want your son to play for a coach like that, blah, blah, blah.
But then an orthopedic surgeon wrote it to the Oregonian and said that he didn't see anything wrong with the way things were handled.
And then a certain Coach Wyatt stepped up and noted - right here, in fact - that if the team doctors had cleared Dennis Dixon to play, and the kid and his father had both said they wanted him to play, and then a certain Coach Bellotti had refused to let him play, the coach would have been severely criticized - maybe even sued - for depriving a kid of a once-in-a-lifetime chance to win the Heisman Trophy.
*********** To say that Army grads are unhappy with the state of their football program is putting it mildly. Withotu getting into details, the major source of their unhappiness lies with the ineffectiveness of the offense, which for the last four years has been a pro-I, which as we all know is heavily dependent on having a great tailback, and linemen strong enough to sustain their blocks until the tailback can get to the line of scrimmage.
For three years, the Pro-I didn't work, and when Stan Brock was hired following the 2006 season, there were hopes that Army might try something else. (For what it's worth, in the last 25 years, the only offenses that have been successful at any service academy have been the triple option (at Army, Navy and Air Force), and the Wing-T (at Navy, under George Welsh).
You could almost hear the grads chanting, "OPTION! OPTION! OPTION!"
But Brock, new to head coaching, hired as his offensive coordinator anything but an option guy, choosing Tim Walsh, who for 11 years had been head coach at Portland State - where he ran what amounted to a Pro-I offense.
Spring ball came and no one saw anything different from what had been run (unsuccessfuly) for the previous three years, and when the grads returned to West Point for the spring game and the offense laid an egg, there were rumblings.
Fast forward to mid-season, and Brock's revelation that he had decided to stick with the Pro-I (despite any evidence that it was evergoing to work at a service academy) because he wanted to give his new offensive coordinator a chance to get to know the personnel before deciding what approach to take! WTF?
Brock said he intended, as soon as the season was over, to take the staff on a retreat and investigate what needed to be done offensively.
In other words, this new coach, hired to turn a losing situation around, had made a conscious decision to stick with the proven losing formula - to throw away this year's seniors' final season - and then see if there was maybe a better way!
And now, the Army staff is going on a "retreat."
Retreat. Not exactly the best choice of words when you're coaching at the United States Military Academy.
*********** There's an old truism - what's everybody's business soon becomes nobody's business. In other words, the more people who are responsible for the same job, the greater the likelihood that at some point the job will not get done.
A couple of serious communication breakdowns in key Northwest football games pose the question of whether that truism might be applying more and more to college football, with its inflated coaching staffs and micro-delegation creating some who's-in-charge-here situations.
There was Washington State coming from out of nowhere to beat Washington on a last-minute pass to a completely, totally, unbelievably wide-open receiver, straight up the pipe. Asked about it afterwards, Washington coach Tyrone Willingham said a communications breakdown had occured. Evidently two different guys were responsible for calling the defense. Or some such. (There are tings to be said for doing it all yourself. I guarantee your ass, when I coached overseas without an assistant, I found ways to lose games, but calling two different coverages was not one of them.)
And then there was Oregon, tied up with Oregon State and driving into field goal range. A lo-o-o-o-ng fourth down attempt fell short, but I'll be damned if an OSU defender hadn't laped high in the air and landed on an Oregon blocker. A march-off of fifteen yards and Oregon was back in business, but time was short. So the Ducks' QB took the snap and shuffled sideways to get the ball off the hash. Now the clock was running, and, out of timeouts, (and apparently not hearing me in my kitchen, screaming "SPIKE THE G-D BALL!") they sent their field goal team back out onto the field. Forced to rush things as the clock ran down, they missed the attempt. The game went into OT, and Oregon State won. The explanation? You guessed it - a breakdown in communications.
*********** Hey, Pitt - great job against West Virginia, despite the officials' appearing to have been under orders from the Big East office not to let you win and ruin everything (you only cost the conference, oh, three or four million, but what the hell).
But now, you'd better watch out, because Steve Pederson is back. He's the genius AD who got fired at Nebraska because it was his bright idea to fire Frank Solich and hire Bill Callahan. But before that, he was your AD. He was the guy who put those dingy uniforms on your football teams (maybe to save on laundry bills), and then tried to put on the dog by telling the national media that henceforth, you were no longer to be called, "Pitt," but the much more dignified, "Pittsburgh."
Whatever, if it was his idea to extend Dave Wannstedt's contract, Wannstedt certainly repaid him with interest by beating West Virginia.
*********** Remember how all the bright guys in the booth used to call a simple jet sweep an "End Around?"
Now, it's the "Double Reverse."You know - when the QB hands off to a guy and he hands off to someone else. Just a simple reverse.
I heard Bill Curry say, "Analysts all call it a double reverse but it's really just a reverse."
The very next day, Missouri ran one and Herbstreit jumped right on it and called it a "Double Reverse," and Brett Musburger (who must have heard Curry), jumped right in and added that it was a nice gain, "off the reverse."
*********** Did you catch the Tom-Tom ad where the woman says, "Let's call it an early 'Holiday Present?'" What, she's some pagan whocan't say "Christmas Present?"
*********** In making his pitch to Les Miles to stay, I wonder if LSU AD Skip Bertman had to spill the beans that he'd arranged for Missouri and West Virginia to both lose so Miles could coach in a national championship game.
*********** If I'm ever a head coach, I may try to find an older/more experienced guy who for whatever reason has gotten out of the day to day coaching furnace, and use him as an idiot-proofer. The guy who says into the headset "are you SURE you want to go for it on your own 25?" and "didn't you say something about running a sweep sometime?"
I've seen you suggest as much on your website.
I'm amazed that more guys don't do it.
I think there's a basic insecurity in most younger head coaches that creates a reluctance to give anybody the impression that they're not totally in charge.
Please add me to your email newsletter list.
I ran into youR article on Dutch Meyer in a ‘Direct Snap Football’ blog (Adam Wesoloski of course).
This subject intrigues me – old school football. I had an idea that I think would make a great documentary for TV. Do a story on the evolution of football from the start to the present day – showing the Xs & Os and the personalities that shaped the game. Dutch Meyer is an obvious example.
I’ve talked about this with some of the coaches at our annual DW Symposium in Dallas for a few years now. My only fear is that such a production might not be commercially attractive enough to interest networks.
Coach, I met you a few years ago in Houston at a small school there at a clinic you held. I flew in from New Orleans and flew back that same day. We talked some about your experience with Sony camcorders and taking and making game film.
I certainly remember you from the clinic - Cypress Christian, it was - and I'm glad to sign you up.
I also seem to recall that you were a Mac user, back when it wasn't so fashionable!
The Evolution of Football is a massive project, because football has been much more widespread for much longer than baseball. Football was big in the South and West when baseball was only being played east of St. Louis and north of D.C.
I think it could be done, but it's highly susceptible to being done wrong. And another danger is that the NFL might get onto it first. With the great resources of NFL Films, they will do a great job, but they'll make it look as if college football never existed, when college football, as we all know, is where nearly all football innovations have taken place.
I think the best chance for it to be done right would be for Ken Burns to take it on.
Now that you mention it, I have on my shelf a 10-video (VHS) series called The Rites of Autumn.
*********** Hi Coach,
I have been researching the SW, DW, A, and Wildcat offenses. In doing so I came across you "TIPS" page.
If you could I would appreciate a reply to the following:
I will be taking over as HC at --------- The AD loves sports and is fully supportive.
I have one concern. He allows students and athletes to address him by his first name. Not even a Mister.
This drives me crazy. The kids even try to call other coaches by their first names.
One of my young assistants alllows this practice. To me this is unacceptable.
During my initial meeting with the players I will be making it clear that all coaches will be addressed as either:
I also expect them to address the AD or any adult as Mr. or Mrs. So-n-So.
What do you think?
I think your intentions are perfectly reasonable and defensible.
I am not a first-name guy, and I don't personally know many coaches who don't expect their players to address them as "coach."
If I were a general, I'd expect to be called "General." If I were a doctor, I'd expect to be called "Doctor."
I'm not, but I am a coach, and I'm proud of that. Call it vanity, but I've paid some serious dues to earn that title, and I wear it with pride.
Actually, I believe it teaches the kids something extremely useful to them in the world of work. I believe that one of the things that we need to teach kids, especially in this day and age when parents brag that "we're more like best friends" (than parent and child), is that there is such a thing as rank, and that it is important to learn to show respect to your superiors.
(A college coach I once worked with was sitting at his office at a new job when a player walked in and sat down and put his feet up on the desk and said, "Hey, Buddy!"
The coach looked him in the eye and said, very slowly, "I am NOT your f--king buddy!")
*********** Finished the season 10-3. Lost to the defending State Champions last week. Finished the season 2nd in the nation in rushing offense - 5244 yds, finished 1st in Texas. Had two rushers over 2000 yds rushing. Patrick Gandy (C-back) had 206 attempts for 2062 yds 31 Td's, Eric Permenter (A back) had 175 attempts for 2009 yds, and 29 td's.
************ Bill MIgnault, Connecticut's winningest coach, has been a regular attendee at my Providence clinics. Bill isn't a true Double-Winger - he runs his own version of a wing-T - but he's stayed in the game and stayed current by always being open to new ideas. He saus he's gotten a few from us Double-Wingers, and some of us, in turn, have gotten some good ideas from Bill.
Bill is the only coach Ledyard High School has ever had in the 42 years of its existence, and last weekend he coached the Colonels to their fourth state championship, their first since 1993, with a 21-14 win over Berlin.
It took a fourth-quarter reverse-pass throwback to the QB - Bill's grandson, Marc - to give the Colonels their winning edge, and it took a Berlin fumble on the Ledyard one-yard-line with ten seconds to play to seal the deal.
It was Bill's 320nd career victory, and it could have been his final game, but when he said back in April at Providence that this might be his last year, his wife, Pat, said she didn't think he was serious.
I wrote Bill to congratulate him and he wrote back,
Get that- Bill Mignault is thanking me! Typical of him.
*********** Hello Coach
Click here: Division 4: Brighton 16, West Bridgewater 8 - Boston.com