american flagTUESDAY, JANUARY 29, 2008- "Always do right - it will gratify some people and astonish the rest." Mark Twain

*********** If you've enjoyed the soap opera now coming out of Oakland, in which Al Davis is said to be unhappy (after one year) with his choice of head coach, Lane Kiffin, and seems to be daring Kiffin to resign, thereby relieving Davis of having to cut Kiffin a large severance check, you'll like the late Gene Klein's description of Davis in his book "First Down and a Billion":

There is a substantial difference between laughing with someone, as we do with Art Modell, and laughing at someone. Which brings us to my very good friend Allen Davis of the Los Angeles (now Oakland) Raiders. Every tale must have its villain. Every Peter Pan must have his Captain Hook. Every tenant must have a landlord. Every divorced man must have his ex-wife's attorney. The National Football League has Al Davis. Davis has a reputation as a rebel, and he is certainly respected for his football knowledge, but I've found him to be one of the truly dislikable human beings I've ever known. And when you've been in as many businesses as I have, for as long as I have, that covers considerable dirty ground, coach.

*********** Crank up the printing presses... time to start printing money.

WASHINGTON — Hoping to give a shot of adrenaline to the economy, President Bush and Democratic House leaders cut a deal on a "fiscal stimulus" package, calling for "tax rebates" up to $600 for individuals, $1,200 for couples. (Whether or not those people have actually paid taxes.) Oh- and for families, an additional $300 a child. The "fiscal stimulus" is predicted to cost those of us who actually pay taxes (and our kids, and our kids' kids) $150 billion.

I read this and shook my head until I realized that President Bush is way too smart to take part in such economic idiocy, not with a Presidential campaign coming up and the Republicans teeing it up to go after the Democrats for their wastefulness. No, sir - he's way too smart for that. There has to be something else going on.

I suspect a sting.

See, I think they're very subtly putting out the word that you don't have to be a citizen to collect, so that when "undocumented workers" show up with their hands out, why, the Feds will be waiting with handcuffs to lock em up, load them on buses, and ship their asses back to Mexico. Tell me George Bush isn't clever!

Except for one unforeseen problem: on their way to the border, those buses will be passed by millions of, uh, "new arrivals," headed north to collect their checks.

*********** Tired of all the NFL dancing? You know - dances after touchdowns... sacks... big hits... routine tackles when your team's hopelessly behind in the fourth quarter?

The celebrations of me?

Thanks to KFC, we may have seen the end of it all.

The chicken guys are offering to pay $260,000 to the first player who does a chicken dance after scoring a touchdown in the Super Bowl. Sounds like a lot of money, except that compared with the cost of a 30-second spot - around $2.6 million - it's chicken feed (something the KFC people ought to know a little about).

And if KFC can actually get somebody to do the chicken dance, and enough other people (including the announcers) know what's going on, the act could be worth at least ten times $260,000 to KFC. Wait - ten times $260,000 would be around $2.6 million, the very cost of a 30-second spot. Hmmmm.

This, boys and girls, is called guerilla marketing - saving marketing dollars by by-passing official sponsorship arrangements, while getting the same impac.

For example, Coors may be the official beer sponsor of the NFL, having paid the league a sizeable sum for the right to say so, but you sure see a lot of Budweiser signs on scoreboards and stadium walls, confusing consumers to the point where surveys show a majority believing that Budweiser, not Coors, is the official beer sponsor.

In the KFC case, it's not all bad. There's always that chance that the NFL suits may anticipate the KFC deal and order TV cameras not to show any end-zone tomfoolery. Good riddance.

But wait - the NFL didn't get where they are by being stupid. If they see that there's a buck to be made here, they'll make their own deals with sponsors, who will then go out and teach the players all the appropriate moves to use after they score. Or sack.

And only those players agreeing to take part in the program - call it Operation Dancin' Fool - will be authorized to perform on camera.

Which means that for those who don't agree, the touchdown celebrating will have to start out at, oh, the ten yard line or so. Which shouldn't be a difficult adjustment for a lot of NFL players.

safer & surer tackling

*********** Coach, We are on the verge of changing into the DblWng but we have one more year with our 6'5" 210lbs "Arm" at QB who will be a 3 yr stater(and 2 good rec) and would like to keep the passing game wide open. Is it practical to intro the DblWng and use spread a lot in the 1st year? We don't want to burn a year with our JV kids and juniors, when they will be a DblWng but we also need to use our QB's talent? (we are 3A school 352 students, not many 6'5" arms come through here...lol)

Can you run a an effective DblWng core series from spread?

What you suggest is possible, but to be blunt, you can't begin to run the Double Wing unless you are prepared to make the necessary changes in line play and terminology.  

I don't think you can run two different offenses in a small school program, even for one year.   Having coached at small schools myself, it seems to me that at a small school with a small coaching staff, and with some kids who might go back and forth from varsity to JV over the course of a season, it is extremely difficult to run one system at the varsity level and another one, with different terminology, at the JV level.  

So, depending on how good you expect to be running your same system, you might want to postpone things a year.

Or, if you are willing to make those changes in the line and in your terminology,   you could run "Double Wing" on the varsity from a spread formation, retaining some of your present passing game, while running from conventional double-tight formation on the JVs.

But you would have to be prepared to pull back at little bit on the passing, because the running game and the blocking schemes do take work.  There is nothing worse than a Double Wing team that doesn't pay attention to detail and get plenty of reps. And you'd have to make those changes up front.  There is a huge difference on the line between being a passing team and being a double wing (or wing-T)  team.

***********I was at the Gator Bowl.  If there were 59,999 other people there I will eat your hat.
38,000 and a just a few more tops.  Could have bought a lower concourse ticket for 10 bucks at game time.  We sold 2 tickets (50 dollar face value) for 25 bucks for the pair.  Dead end game with no home team.  Someone is not telling us the truth on that one....

Brad Knight
Athletic Director/Head FB Coach
Clarinda Academy, Clarinda, Iowa

*********** Coach Wyatt,

A couple interesting stories from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette's high school sports section:

Parents at Penn Hills apparently pressured the school board to fire football HC Neil Gordon;
it seems they're upset at the lack of championship production. All the man has done for them is compile a 156-74-2 record in 21 seasons,  win five conference championships, and make the playoffs 10 years in a row.

Oh, wait - he hasn't been fired, his job as been "opened up" for interviews so at least he has the "right" to interview for his job!


Prize 2-sport (football and basketball) recruit Terrelle Pryor is doing a "Recruiting Diary" for the paper.


I know he's a tremendous athlete, and from what little I know about him, he seems to be a fine young man.

He's even got himself an advisor to help guide him through the recruiting process
and accompany him on his official visits (Charlie Batch of the Steelers). Good for both of them.

But then I noticed that his "diary" is reported "as told to staff writer Mike White".

While I'm sure he is a busy guy, with basketball in full swing, school assignments, and football recruiting visits, I just hope he is not planning on dictating his term papers in college.

Then again, it's possible that the PPG is just more honest than all the rest of the sports media; perhaps many of the diaries, blogs, and insider columns printed today are all "phoned in"!


Matt Oravetz
Milford, Connecticut (I am flabbergasted by the inane things the superintendent and school board members had to say about the disgraceful firing of the long-time head coach at Penn Hills High. Actually, he wasn't fired. You know how it goes when you're dealing with educators - a guy's been a coach for 21 years, but a parent complains and his position is "opened up." This crap won't come to an end as long as there are other coaches willing to play their silly game and apply for that man's job. I wrote years ago that school districts like this one make me wish that we were all members of the Teamsters Union. As for Terelle Pryor and "his" diary, good for him - and I hope Oregon can somehow land him. And at least the paper is honest about it beiong an ATT piece, meaning both "As Told To," and "ATT" the phone company. HW)

*********** If you think the BCS is hard to figure, try the WTA...

Maria Sharapova beat Ana Ivanovic 7-5, 6-3 to win the Australian Open.

Before the match, Sharapova was ranked Number 5 in the world, but following this big win, her new ranking is - Number 5.

Ivanovic was ranked Number 3 going into the match. Now, following her loss, she's ranked - Number 2.


*********** Anybody see anything strange here?

The Washington Redskins just hired Jim Zorn, former Seattle QB and until recently the Seahawks' quarterbacks coach, as their new offensive coordinator. I wish him well. From all reports, he is a good man and a good coach.

And then, the Skins went out and hired a defensive coordinator, too.

But, uh - the Redskins still haven't hired a head coach.

*********** Somehow, I can't think that the people at Michigan a altogether pleased about the conduct of their new head coach, who appears to be playing the weasel in trying to dodge paying the buyout called for in a contract that he entered into freely, being of sound mind and having the benefit of counsel. The whole thing appears headed for a very nasty trial.

Very un-Michiganly.

Michigan has always taken justifiable pride in having avoided the sort of scandals that can strike even the most careful of programs, and has acted quickly in the one case in its recent history in which the actions of a coach brought unwanted attention to the school.

The coach was Gary Moeller, who was released, back in the spring of 1995, after it became public that he was involved in an alcohol-related incident at a suburban Detroit restaurant and arrested for disorderly conduct.

Gary Moeller's record at the time, after five years as head coach, was 44-13-3. That ain't bad, folks.

He took the Wolverines to two Rose Bowls and three top-ten finishes. Michigan was in the top 20 all five years and never finished worse than 8-4.

He was 3-1-1 against Ohio State, although he did lose to the Buckeyes in his last season. That final season, in which Michigan went "only" 8-4, the four losses were to Colorado (11-1), Penn State (12-0), Wisconsin (7-4-1) and Ohio State (9-4).

Nevertheless, they cut him loose. Because of an impropriety.

This is the standard that Michigan has set, and I can't believe that everyone there is happy with a coach who has made such an ugly issue of leaving his last employer.

*********** Wow. Win a state championships and get a job in the NFL. Cool.

It happened to a high school coach in Syracuse named Steve Bush, who inherited a West Genesee High program that had been 1-13 in the two years prior to his arrival, and in three years took them to the state Class AA championship.

But, uh, there's a little more to it than just doing a great job at a high school.

Coach Bush was on Paul Pasqualoni's staff at Syracuse U when they were all fired following the 2004 season.

Pasqualoni was hired by Bill Parcells as an assistant with the Dallas Cowboys, and stayed on after Wade Phillips was hired.

When Tony Sparano, who'd been Cowboys assistant head coach, was hired as head coach of the Dolphins, Pasqualoni was one of his first hires.

And thanks to some extent to his Pasqualoni connection, Steve Bush is now a Dolphin.

Well, actually, there's more:From 1994 through 1998, Tony Sparano was head coach at Division II New Haven, and Steve Bush was his defensive coordinator.

Just a thought... when things play out at Syracuse as they almost certainly will, watch for Steve Bush's name among the candidates to replace Greg Robinson.

*********** Did you notice the UnderArmour commercial where the kid - a Ray Lewis wannabe - is standing in the aisle of the school bus, getting his teammates fired up on the way to a game? Did you find it believable? Not me. That bus was moving. You could tell by looking out the windows. I've lost count of the number of school buses I've ridden on, and the number of times the driver looked in the mirror and then shouted "Hey! Sit down back there!"

TO GET YOUR COPY OF MY FREE "OLD SCHOOL FOOTBALL" NEWSLETTER... e-mail me with your name and address: oldschoolfootball@mac.com


american flagFRIDAY, JANUARY 25, 2008- "The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it." General H. Norman Schwarzkopf

*********** I mentioned earlier that Gene Klein's book, "First Down and a Billion", was a hilarious look at his life as owner of the San Diego Chargers. Not that Klein didn't have a great sense of humor, but given the material his fellow owners provided him, free for the taking, the book often seemed to write itself...

On numerous occasions, owners' meetings threatened to dissolve into playground fights. The NFL is a multibillion-dollar business and practically every decision made at these meetings affects that business. People often hold strong, opposing views on issues, voices get raised, and attroneys begin consulting their fee schedules. And at those times, Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell, a very funny man, could always be counted on to put everything in perspective. What sets him apart from other owners who say funny things is that he does it intentionally. At one meeting, for example, we were discussing a serious, somewhat complicated financial metter, and tempers were just beginning to warm up. "Gentlemen, gentleman," Art said softly, and the room quieted. "Before we make a decision, I think we should remember that the most important thing the National Football League jas going for it is its integrity. We've built this league on integrity, we preach integrity, and every action we take has a bearing on the way people perceive professional football. I don't think I can overestimate the importance of having people continue to believe that we conduct our business with integrity, because once we have them fooled on that, we can get away with anything we want to!"

*********** The Bowl Wrap-up, courtesy of the National Football Foundation (www.footballfoundation.com)

Bowl Attendance and Ticket Sales
Final attendance for all bowls in '07-08 was 1,733,499 for a game average of 54,172. Of the 64 teams competing, 28 sold out their allotment of tickets, 11 bowls sported record attendance figures, eight postseason games drew 65,000-plus fans, and eight bowls were proclaimed sellouts within 24 hours of their matchup announcements.

The Allstate BCS National Championship Game produced the largest crowd (79,651) ever in Louisiana Superdome history with the venue playing host to three bowl tussles (for the first time in city history) from Dec. 21, 2007-Jan. 7, 2008. Allstate Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan and his staff pulled off the staging of two of those games with aplomb and panache, winning universal praise from the fans and the media alike while the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation hosted the The R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, posting high water marks as most-viewed New Orleans Bowl dating back to 2001. The Allstate BCS National Championship Game also became the top- selling event in StubHub's history, surpassing last year's Super Bowl and the Tostitos BCS National Championship game.

The Capital One Bowl in Orlando drew 69,748 fans, selling out within 13 hours. Organizers had to add 4,000 extra bleacher seats to accommodate the overflow crowds. En route to producing its quickest sellout ever, The Valero Alamo Bowl attracted its largest crowd in history with 66,166 fans in attendance.

The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl continued its record of 23 sellouts in the last 24 games while the FedEx Orange Bowl sold out for the eighth consecutive year. The Chick-fil-A Bowl sold out for the 11th straight year in less than 48 hours, and The Cotton Bowl was sold out in less than 24 hours. The Poinsettia Bowl had the largest crowd in game history with 39,129, an increase of 24% over last year's game while the Holiday Bowl had its third largest crowd in history, while recording its fifth straight sell out.

The '07 Houston Bowl recorded an event-record of 62,907 tickets sold at Reliant Stadium. It was the third- largest crown to watch a college contest in the city of Houston. The Armed Forces Bell Helicopter Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, smashed its previous turnout highs with 40,905 in attendance. Alabama and Colorado had the most tickets sold (47,043) for the PetroSun Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., since Arkansas-Missouri attracted 49,625 in 2003.

2007-08 Notable Bowl Facts and Milestones:
• Joe Paterno won his NCAA record 23rd bowl game in his 500th game on the sidelines.
• Missouri' Tony Temple (281 yards) and Rutgers's Ray Rice (280 yards) produced two of the three highest rushing totals in bowl history.
• Boston College won their eighth straight bowl while Utah won their seventh straight.
• New Mexico won their first bowl game in 46 years, last win in 1961 Aviation Bowl.
• The Mountain West had the best winning percentage (4-1, .800), while the SEC seven bowl wins (7-2 overall) was an all-time high for any conference in NCAA history.
• Humanitarian Bowl celebrated his 10th anniversary, flourishing as one of the premier events in Boise, Idaho.
• The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl hosted the 2007 College Football Hall of Fame Class with its Third Annual National Hall of Fame Salute at the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
• Both the FedEx Orange Bowl and the AllState Sugar Bowl will celebrate their 75th games next season.
• The Brut Sun Bowl just celebrated its 40th straight year on CBS and will celebrate its 75th Anniversary this year.
• FedEx has served as title sponsor of the Orange Bowl for the 19th straight year, the longest consecutive bowl title sponsor.
• Alabama (55 bowl appearances), Tennessee (47), Texas (47), Southern California (46), and Nebraska (44) kept the all-time top five positions in bowl appearances.
• Scoring reached all-time highs of 28.4 points per game and 392 total offense yards up 45.1 yards per game from '06 to '07.
• Games averaged eight more plays this year than last and produced an average of 379.8 yards of total offense.
• Vendors in both New Orleans and Honolulu virtually ran out of Hawaii gear and accessories with Allstate Sugar Bowl logos.
• During the week surrounding the Allstate BCS National Championship game LSU recorded its largest weekly sale of licensed football merchandise in history.

Bowl Ratings Highlights:
2007-08 produced another banner year for bowl game viewing. Especially noteworthy, all of the pre- Christmas Bowl game ratings increased this year, and all the games continued to produce strong interest from the powerful demographic of 18-49 year- old males. For the bowl season, ESPN delivered an average of 2,866,410 households while ESPN2 delivered its most-viewed bowl season ever with 1,502,134 households and 1,950,490 viewers, posting an 11 percent increase with males 18-49 and a 17 percent increase with males 25-54. The Allstate BCS National Championship Game came in second overall in the Neilsen ratings, posting at the No. 2 most watch program among 18-49 year olds and the No. 3 most watch program among males teens between 12-17 year olds. Other highlights include:

ESPN on ABC Bowl Rating Highlights:
• The Rose Bowl and Capital One Bowl averaged 11.4 million households, up 2% from last year.
• The Capital One Bowl recorded 9.1 household rating, making it the highest-rated Capital One Bowl in a since the 1998 Florida-Penn State game, which drew 9.2 million households.

ESPN Bowl Rating Highlights:
• The Chick-fil-A Bowl between Auburn and Clemson captured 4.9 million households, the second most- viewed bowl game on ESPN since 1990 behind only the 2006 Alamo Bowl, which attracted 5.5 million households.
• The Pacific Life Holiday Bowl drew 4.2 million households, a 7% increase over 2006 and the 2nd most watched bowl game on ESPN in 2007.
• The Music City Bowl attracted 3.9 million households, becoming the highest-rated and most viewed dating back to 1998.
• The Motor City Bowl engaged 2.6 million households, the most-viewed since 2001.
• The Las Vegas Bowl captured 2.4 million households, the highest rated since 2002.
• The Champs Sports Bowl won 3.6 million households, its highest rated and most viewed ever.
• The San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl also doubled its ratings from a year ago with a 2.00 adjusted Nielsen number.
• The 2007 Meineke Car Care Bowl garnered its highest ever, drawing 3.6 million households.

ESPN2 Bowl Rating Highlights:
• The Papajohns.com Bowl drew 2.2 million households, the most-viewed bowl game on ESPN2 this season and the second highest-rated bowl game on ESPN2, behind only the 2002 GMAC Bowl, which attracted 2.3 million households.
• The R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl attracted 1.6 million households, becoming the highest-rated and most-viewed New Orleans Bowl dating back to 2001.

FOX Bowl Rating Highlights:
• Drawing 23.1 million viewers and with a total of 52 million Americans tuning in to see at least part of the game, The Allstate BCS National Championship Game delivered FOX the second highest-rated and most-watched night of television of the season-to-date, only behind an NFL Wildcard game on NBC.
• All four 2008 BCS on FOX pre- games/games won their nightly ratings among the powerful 18-49 demographic. It was the first time that the Bowl Championship Series has delivered a network four nightly "highs" in the key prime time demographic.
• The 14.4/22 rating for the Allstate BCS Championship Game topped the season-to-date household average of every show in prime time. The current top-ranked show (through Jan. 14, 2008) for the season-to-date is Dancing with the Stars (14.0/20). The game beat all season-to-date prime time shows among all adults 18-49 as well. The 8.2 number among adults 18-49 topped ABC's Desperate Housewives (7.3), which is currently prime time's No. 1 show.

2007-08 Chronological Bowl Results:
(Attendance) & [Household Impressions]:
• San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl: Utah 35, Navy 32, ESPN:
(39,129) & [1,932,246]
• R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Florida Atlantic 44, Memphis 27, ESPN2:
(25,146) & [1,561,000]
• Papajohns.com Bowl: Cincinnati 31, Southern Miss 21, ESPN2:
(35,258) & [2,167,420]
• New Mexico Bowl: New Mexico 23, Nevada 0, ESPN:
(30,233) & [1,888,695]
• Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl: Brigham Young 17, UCLA 16, ESPN:
(40,712) & [2,390,098]
• Sheraton Hawaii Bowl: East Carolina 41, Boise State 38, ESPN:
(30,467) & [1,415,395]
• Motor City Bowl: Purdue 51, Central Michigan 48, ESPN:
(60,624) & [2,584,994]
• Pacific Life Holiday Bowl: Texas 52, Arizona State 34, ESPN:
(64,020) & [4,223,682]
• Champs Sports Bowl: Boston College 24, Michigan State 21, ESPN:
(46,554) & [3,561,309]
• Texas Bowl: TCU 20, Houston 13, NFL Network:
(62,097) & [326,650]
• Emerald Bowl: Oregon State 21, Maryland 14, ESPN:
(32,517) & [3,463,061]
• Meineke Car Care Bowl: Wake Forest 24, Connecticut 10, ESPN:
(53,126) & [3,607,429]
• AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Mississippi State 10, UCF 3, ESPN:
(63,816) & [3,986,674]
• Valero Alamo Bowl: Penn State 24, Texas A&M 17, ESPN:
(66,166) & [2,568,881]
• PetroSun Independence Bowl: Alabama 30, Colorado 24, ESPN:
(47,043) & [1,828,965]
• Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl: California 42, Air Force 36, ESPN:
(40,975) & [1,928,556]
• Roady's Humanitarian Bowl: Fresno State 40, Georgia Tech 28, ESPN2:
(27,062) & [745,082]
• Brut Sun Bowl: Oregon 56, USF 21, CBS:
(49,867) & [2,554,678]
• Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl: Kentucky 35, Florida State 28, ESPN:
(68,681) & [3,883,875]
• Insight Bowl: Oklahoma State 49, Indiana 33, NFL Network:
(48,892) & [458,918]
• Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Auburn 23, Clemson 20 (OT), ESPN:
(74,413) & [4,919,331]
• Outback Bowl: Tennessee 21, Wisconsin 17, ESPN:
(60,121) & [3,260,313]
• AT&T Cotton Bowl: Missouri 38, Arkansas 7, Fox:
(73,114) & [3,974,484]
• Konica Minolta Gator Bowl: Texas Tech 31, Virginia 28, CBS:
(60,243) & [2,960,799]
• Capital One Bowl: Michigan 41, Florida 35, ABC:
(69,748) & [10,301,679]
• Rose Bowl presented by Citi: Southern California 49, Illinois 17, ABC:
(93,923) & [12,531,880]
• Allstate Sugar Bowl: Georgia 41, Hawai'i 10, Fox:
(74,383) & [7,850,519]
• Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: West Virginia 48, Oklahoma 28, Fox:
(70,016) & [8,736,935]
• FedEx Orange Bowl: Kansas 24, Virginia Tech 21, Fox:
(74,111) & [8,345,715]
• International Bowl: Rutgers 52, Ball State 30, ESPN:
(31,455) & [1,528,141]
• GMAC Bowl: Tulsa 63, Bowling Green 7, ESPN:
(36,932) & [1,096,521]
• Allstate BCS National Championship: LSU 38, Ohio State 24, Fox:
(79,651) & [16,291,263]

*********** Dear Hugh,

I want to talk to you about a coach that was talked about a lot during the Giants vs Packer game.

His name is Steve Spagnola, I had the great honor of working with him back 1991 at the University of Connecticut where he was the DC. I was young and nervous working with these D-1 coaches. Coach Spags was one of the most positive people I ever met. He never acted as if there was a caste system. Although I was on the offensive side of the ball he would come and ask how things are going - never Big timed me!

Great story, we were flying as a team to Richmond Virginia to play the Spiders. On the way down the offensive staff sat in the first class seats. When I went to sit down the LB coach big-timed me and told me to go sit in coach. I am not one to argue with the guy, but Coach Spags asked me why I sat in coach and I told him only five coaches were allowed in First Class because the AD, Big Al, and other people of power had the other seats. Coach Spags later jumped that Coach, whom he had worked with for years and asked him why he would big-time me ("Dougie", my name back east). I tell you what - some things you never forget about a guy - and his story gets better.

Uconn was 0-4 going into the week against Yale and Big Al came by on Monday with donuts, heck I was glad to eat but then I was told that was a last supper - beat Yale or get your resume ready. What I saw was Coach Spags never saw anything negative about what was said or what could happen. Many others started to eat each other, pointing the finger at the head guy, but Coach Spags continued to work his butt off and stay positive.

We beat Yale and three other teams and when the season was over I went to visit my future wife (Nicole) in Oregon and look for jobs because I was moving out here.

The head Coach fired the whole staff, and Coach Spags went to the Barcelona Dragons. Fired on Friday, on a plane on Sunday heading to Spain. I am not writing to name drop or talk big-time but to tell you a story about a guy with class who is said to be interiewing for the Atlanta job. There many other guys on the Uconn staff that I wonder how they are doing today but I saw Coach Spags on TV and I'm sure he is doing a great job. He is an outstanding individual.

Doug Bilodeau
Benson High School
Portland, Oregon

*********** From Character Counts...

I’ve spent lots of time with some of the world’s most successful coaches. I discovered that many of them think about character a lot, especially traits that are important to winning -- like self-discipline, perseverance, resiliency, and courage.

Unfortunately, they pay less attention to virtues like honesty, integrity, responsibility, compassion, respect, and fairness -- aspects of character that make a good person, citizen, spouse, or parent.

The problem is, even at the amateur level many coaches are hired and paid to win, not to build character. Unless it interferes with performance, worrying about the kind of person an athlete is on or off the field is a waste of time.

Coaches who seek to hone the mental and physical skills of winning while ignoring moral virtues of honor and decency too often produce magnificent competitors who are menaces to society.

Perhaps coaches of elite athletes not connected with educational or youth-serving institutions can operate in this moral vacuum, but all others have a responsibility to teach, enforce, advocate, and model all aspects of good character, including trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship.

Whether it’s sports, business, or politics, whenever we divorce issues of competence from issues of character, we create a class of amoral professionals who think they’re exempt from common standards of honor and decency.

This discredits and demeans the moral standing of everyone involved.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts. www.charactercounts.org

*********** In case you were looking for an excuse to root for one of the teams in the Super Bowl...


Lieutenant colonel Greg Gadson is Giants' inspirational co-captain

Mike Lupica, New York Daily News

Tuesday, January 22nd 2008

His name is Lt. Col. Greg Gadson and he used to wear No. 98 for the Army football team and was with the Second Battalion and 32nd Field Artillery, on his way back from a memorial service for two soldiers from his brigade when he lost both his legs to a roadside bomb in Bahgdad. It was the night of May 7, 2007, and Lt. Col. Gadson didn't know it at the time because he couldn't possibly have known, but it was the beginning of a journey that brought him to Lambeau Field Sunday night.

He was there as an honorary co-captain of the Giants, there on the sideline at Lambeau because this Giants' season has become his season now and he wasn't going to watch from some box. This is a Giant at the Super Bowl worth knowing about, as much as any of them.

"Me being a part of this team," Gadson was saying Monday night from his home in Virginia, having made it back there from Green Bay, "really starts with the team I played on at West Point."

He played at West Point between 1985 and 1988, and one of his teammates was Mike Sullivan, who played cornerback and some safety and is now one of Tom Coughlin's assistants with the Giants. When Sullivan and so many other of Gadson's teammates found out what had happened on the night of May 7, found that Gadson had first lost his left leg to arterial infections and then his right, it brought that old Army team back together.

"My injury turned out to be a catalyst event," Gadson said. "These were guys who hadn't talked in years, but now were rallying around me, and my family. Some of us had stayed in contact, but not to any great degree. But now an incident in a war reminded us that we were still brothers."

Sullivan visited Gadson at Walter Reed, came back in June, this time with a No. 98 Giants jersey, Gadson's own name on the back, signed by several Giants players. When Sullivan left that day in June, he said to Gadson, "What else can we do?"

Greg Gadson said he'd love to take his family to a Giants game.

It was the Giants-Redskins game, in Washington, third Sunday of the season, Giants 0-2 by then. The tickets were arranged and then the Friday before the game Mike Sullivan called and asked if Gadson would be interested in addressing the team on Saturday night.

Gadson's wife Kim drove him to the Giants' hotel. Lt. Col. Greg Gadson, Second Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery, old outside linebacker from Army, spoke to the Giants. And just as no one knew that the Giants would begin a 10-game road winning streak the next day, just as no one knew this could ever become a Super Bowl season, no one in that room including Gadson himself knew that the soldier in the wheelchair was joining the season that night.

"I just spoke from the heart, as a soldier and as a former football player," he said, "for about 10 or 15 minutes. I talked to them about appreciating the opportunities in their lives, how special and privileged they were, how everybody needs to understand what they truly have. And I talked to them about the power of sports in people's lives, especially soldiers' lives, how many times I'd watched soldiers get up in the middle of the night after a 12-hour shift if there is a chance to watch a game, or how soldiers would do anything to watch a game before they went on that kind of shift.

"I told them that of course after all the exteriors had been stripped away, they played the game for themselves. But that they had to play the game for each other. Then I talked about myself, how my old teammates came to my need, and how I was reminded again the power of a team, the emotional commitment teammates have for each other, that when a team finds a way to do things greater than they thought they could do, that they couldn't have done individually, that a bond is formed that can live forever.

"I told them that truly great teams usually form that bond by going through something together, and how whatever they were going through at that point in the season that no success ever came easy. And finally I reminded them that nothing is promised to anybody in this life, starting with tomorrow."

The Giants won the next day against the Redskins, and began a six-game winning streak, and began that road winning streak that now takes them on the road to Super Bowl XLII. It began Greg Gadson's road to Lambeau, and being wheeled out by his 13-year old son Jaelen as an honorary co-captain of the Giants along with the great Harry Carson.

"I can't even remember the last time I was actually out on the field," he said. "Maybe when I played."

Gadson had been on the sidelines when the Giants won their first playoff game against the Bucs. The team wanted him in Dallas, but he was having more surgery, on what is left of his right leg, and his right arm, which had also been damaged by the IED. But he was well enough to travel to Green Bay, and strong enough to spend the whole game on the sideline with his son, the players calling him what they have all along: Sir.

"I wouldn't say I was warm," he said. "But I was comfortable enough not to be hugging one of those heaters all day."

He watched from the sidelines at Lambeau as the team he met at 0-2 played the way it played against the Packers and played itself to the Super Bowl, watched as the Giants came back from that missed field goal at the end of regulation, finally saw Lawrence Tynes kick it through from 47 yards out.

"When the ball went through, you could feel the elation on our sidelines, and hear the stadium go quiet at the same time," Gadson said. "It was like the air being let out of a whole state's soul. And then the next thing I saw was my son jumping in the air and running on that field."

The boy ran for both of them.

Thanks to several readers for sending me the article. Wrote one of them, Scott Wendel, of Woodstock, Connecticut, "I had the privilege to meet Mr Gadson last summer at West Point when I was dropping my son off for an Army wrestling camp."

*********** It was a roast in Atlantic City for ESPN's Mike & MIke, and by all accounts, ESPN anchor Dana Jacobson, who went to Michigan, was at her wittiest in roasting Mike Golic, who went to Notre Dame. Vodka-powered, she hollered, "F--k Notre Dame!" followed by "F--k Touchdown Jesus!" and, for her grand finale, "F--k Jesus!"

According to Scott Cronick in the Press of Atlantic City, "Mike & Mike rested their heads in their hands in embarrassment. Griffin (comedian Eddie Griffin) came to the podium to defend her after she was booed by the crowd. (Host Jeffrey) Ross eventually had to pull her off stage, too."

Initially, ESPN did nothing, acting as if the worst thing the drunk did was to insult Notre Dame.

I mean, "F--k Jesus?" we're only talking about Christians, right? It's not as if we've offended some protected group.

But then a few Christian groups did complain, so she did get smacked. With a one-week suspension. Whoa. Harsh.

Wonder what would have happened if she'd said, "Lynch Jesus..."

*********** Maybe it was the combined star power or Tom Brady and Brett Favre... Maybe it was the Patriots and The Streak... Maybe it was the fact that New York, the nation's largest media market, was represented... Maybe it was the fact that in most parts of the country it was too cold to go outside.

Or maybe it's just that football - even pro football - is more fun to watch than baseball or basketball.

Whatever - the TV ratings for NFL playoff games so far are nearly twice those of this past World Series, and more than three times those of last season's NBA Finals.

*********** Shortly behind the announcement that the halftime show of this year's Super Bowl will be brought to us by Bridgestone-Firestone came charges that the giant tire manufacturer pays the workers at its Liberian rubber plantations something like $3 a day.

Well. I'm not into social causes like some of you out there, but this time, I'm going to take a stand.

I'm not going to watch the halftime show.

Wait till Bridgestone-Firestone hears about that. That'll bring 'em to their senses.

*********** Still looking for a job is Al Borges, rudely dumped back in December by Auburn's Tommy Tuberville before the Tigers' bowl game after helping Auburn go 8-4.

But wait - he was the offensive coordinator. Didn't LSU beat Auburn by throwing for a touchdown on the last play of the game? Didn't Georgia score 45 against Tuberville's defense? So for that, you fire the offensive coordinator?

I got to know Al Borges when he was Pokey Allen's OC at Portland State and I was broadcasting the PSU games. He impressed me as one bright son of a gun, a real student of the game, and headed some day for bigger things. Since then, his career took a decidedly upward path. From Portland State, he went with Allen to Boise State, then moved to Oregon, UCLA, Cal and Indiana before going to Auburn. While at UCLA, he was a finalist for the Frank Broyles Assistant Coach of the Year Award in both 1997 and 1998.

His problem seems to be that while he is a very good coach, he is a West Coast offense guy, and you now how it is in the monkey-see, monkey-do world of coaching - in these days of spread offenses, the West Coast is so-o-o-o-o yesterday.

*********** Hi Coach, I should have signed up for your newsletter long before now, it shocks me how quickly time goes by. One of my assistants is planning on attending the Providence clinic this year. Unfortunately, I my wife is attending a conference that weekend for school so I will not be able to make it. It remains one of the best clinics I have had the pleasure of attending. I hope all is well with you and your family.
Best Regards,

Chuck Reid
Head Football Coach
Proctor Academy, Andover, New Hampshire

*********** A coach in the Central Valley of California sent me an article from the Fresno Bee telling of a coach who went 9-4-1 in his first year at a school - and got fired. Here's what he wrote:

Short version:  

A very successful football program with parents and community used to winning has HC leave suddenly in May.  School decides to hire a head coach pretty late in the process instead of going with an interim HC from within.  Many boosters and parents are still convinced that school is destined for a state championship this season (this despite the fact that CIF will never select a central valley team over a southern CA team - which was proven last year with Clovis East not being selected and again this year in DII).

HC from a good small school team from So Cal is selected, moves up.

 (BTW, apparently HC is a "fly" offense guy, but was pretty much forced to run a spread option-type game for continuity as he is basically told to wait to implement his system for next year <- speculation but I've heard it from several people)

Head Coach has to keep the assistants he has due to timing.  Perception is many have his back in his sights from word go.

Head Coach's OC is forced out within the first few weeks.

Head Coach has playcalling TAKEN AWAY FROM HIM by administration during the season

BTW, team has 3 losses in the regular and one tie (lights went out in OT or its probably a W as they were on the 1 moving in).  One of the losses was to a southern section power (close game), and in many of the other games key players were suspended and/or injured.

Team perseveres and goes 9-4-1 and makes the CS DIV I finals.  Coach is widely considered a good man and good with the kids.  But, some parents, boosters, and assistants aren't happy.

Coach gets fired!

There are lessons to be learned here.


It's always "about the kids" - except that when it comes time to hand some parents a coach's head on a platter, who cares what the kids think?

Not to say that this is anything more than coincidental but: the principal's name is Jeanne and the AD's name is Karen.

*********** Who knew that his parents' divorce might actually work to a kid's advantage?

Less than two weeks ago - in midseason - a kid in our area was kicked off his high school basketball team.

The kid really missed basketball, and, the story goes, he happened to discover a Washington high school rule (he must be a very bright student), which permits a kid to make a move at any time for any reason and be immediately eligible provided he moves in with a parent who shares custody.

It didn't take him long to research the rule, and it took him even less time to decide on a course of action.

Hi, Mom. Mind if I move in with you?

Bingo. A week later, he was enrolled in a new school, and playing for another team in the same league as his old school. Apparently the kid's a pretty good player - in his first game, he was his (new) team's top scorer.

Moral: combine today's "it's all about the children" permissiveness with the increasing disfunctionality of the American family, and anything's possible.

*********** Satire from The Onion:

NEW YORK—In an attempt to invigorate interest in what many see as a niche or novelty sport and thereby broaden their fanbase, Arena Football League Commissioner David Baker announced last Saturday that the March 17 contest between the Colorado Crush and the Dallas Desperados will be held at an outdoor facility. "Once again, the Arena League is on the cutting edge of sport with its newest innovation—football played on an outdoor field with a natural grass surface," said Baker, adding that he hopes the game being broadcast on ESPN2 will raise public awareness for the league. "This is the way arena football was meant to be played." Since they went on sale Monday, a total of three tickets have been sold for the game.

*********** How'd you like to be out there recruiting right now, and dealingwith this kind of crap...

From a Web site called coacheshotseat.com -

Coaches most likely to be fired

1. Tyrone Willingham, Washington
2. Joe Glenn, Wyoming
3. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
4. Mike Stoops, Arizona
5. Greg Robinson, Syracuse
6.Chuck Long, San Diego State
7. Mike Sanford, UNLV
8. Tim Brewster, Minnesota
9. Mike Price, UTEP
10. Hal Mumme, New Mexico State

At the other end of the scale, those least likely to be fired (excluding, of course, coaches who've just been hired)
1. Les Miles, LSU
2. Mark Richt, Georgia
3. Pete Carroll, USC
4. Gary Pinkel, Missouri
5. Bronco Mendenhall, BYU
6. Jim Tressel, Ohio State
7. Urban Meyer, Florida
8. Mike Leach, Texas Tech
9. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
10. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma

*********** It's amazing to me that in spite of the non-stop, full-court press by the national media in favor of a college football playoff, a recent Nielsen Sports poll found that only 51 per cent of its respondents thought a playoff was needed. Not that they necessarily accepted the outcome arranged for them by the BCS system: only 42 per cent of them thought LSU and Ohio State were the two best teams.

*********** Nobody can accuse new UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel of being gutless. Both of his coordinators wanted - and interviewed for - the same job he now holds. First there was defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker, reportedly a favorite of the players and the man who kept recruiting going while the school hired the head coach, and then there was legendary offensive coordinator Norm Chow, who once worked at crosstown rival USC. These are two very good coaches, and their hiring gives Neuheisel the potential to be an immediate force. You might think that there would be the potential for certain, uh, tensions on staff, but Walker and Chow have worked together before, at BYU. So basically, if Neuheisel can keep the team focused, and take maximum advantage of the talent on his staff, and stay the hell out of his coordinators' way, and somehow not cheat, I'll be forced to take back all the things I've ever said about him. Well... maybe not all of them.


american flagTUESDAY, JANUARY 22, 2008- "Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful." Samuel Johnson

*********** Sometime around February 1, look for a Bayer Aspirin commercial on CNN showing a school teacher socializing in the halls with high school kids. It'll be my friend Kevin Latham, head coach at Columbia High School in Decatur, Georgia, showing how Bayer Aspirin helps him lead an active life. Coach Latham suffered a near-fatal heart attack a few years ago, and since then, he's been on a regimen of aspirin therapy. (No, there is no need to worry about his going Hollywood on us. He was chosen because he actually is a user of Bayer Aspirin, not for his good looks.)

*********** Let no one say that Bob Huggins doesn't have a magic touch.

Hes always been considered a winner, but Huggins, who built his coaching rep at Cincinnati and is now coaching at his alma mater, West Virginia, is also considered by some to be a bit, uh, shady.

Before coming to Morgantown, he spent a year at Kansas State.

That's all. Just one year.

There were those who warned the KSU people that nothing good would come of their hiring him, but now that he's gone - consider the effect his presence had:

This past November, the Wildcats played in the Old Spice Classic, their first shot at a nationally-televised pre-season tournament in anyone's memory...

In December, KSU played in the Jimmy V Basketball Classic.

K-State, whose total athletic budget was $38 million, instantly acquired a $10 million shoe and apparel contract with Nike. Prior to Huggins' arrival, they'd been trying unsuccessfully for years to land such a deal...

Sales of K-State apparel have increased more than 30 per cent, moving the Wildcats into the top 35 in sales, according to the Collegiate Licensing Company...

Before Huggins' arrival, the Wildcats were averaging 5,800 season ticket holders, and hadn't sold out for a basketball game in 25 years. After Huggins? 11,000 season tickets sold, increasing revenue from $1.2 million to $2.7 million. And complete season sellouts (12,528) last year and this year, too...

Alumni donations to the basketball program alone increased by $3 million...

Many more K-State appearances on national television, which, because of the way the Big 12 shares its TV money, has meant more money for KSU...

Oh - and if that wasn't enough, he left behind a recruiting class which included potential Player of the Year Michael Beasley...

And just think - he didn't stay around long enough to harm K-State's basketball players' graduation rate (which at Cincinnati was zero).

*********** If you're not receiving my free "Old School Football" newsletter, shoot me an e-mail at oldschoolfootball@mac.com with your name and address.

*********** Not to say that there aren't strong arguments for keeping the bowl system, but people looking for arguments against them might start here: a guy named Gary Cavalli, who is executive director of the Emerald Bowl, was paid $362,018 in 2006. The Emerald Bowl, for God's sake!

This year's Emerald Bowl featured a Pac-10 team - Oregon State - against an ACC team - Maryland. The Emerald Bowl payout to the entire ACC was just $750,000, so after figuring out Maryland's take, and then subtracting the costs of bringing their football team clear across the country, it's almost certain that Mr. Cavalli cleared more from the game than the Terps did.

*********** Back in the 1970s, Rich Stinner played basketball for Coach Mike Krzyzewski at the US Military Academy prep school. Rich, who went on to graduate from West Point in 1977, now lives near Philadelphia and is seriously ill, and when Coach K heard about it, he sent  tickets for Rich and his family to sit behind the Duke bench during Duke’s game at Temple last week.  A group of Rich's West Point classmates got word of the event and arranged to attend the game and later hold a surprise party for Rich at a nearby hotel.  Coach K introduced Rich to the Duke team, and after the game Coach K and his wife Mickey attended the party for his former player.

*********** After one year as Alabama's offensive coordinator, Major Applewhite is back at his alma mater, Texas, as assistant head coach and running backs coach.

Applewhite, youngest coordinator in D-IA, was making $250,000 at Alabama, and his being named assistant head coach allows Texas to pay him in the same range. Former Texas running backs coach Ken Rucker was making "only" $180,000.

In addition, Texas has to pay Alabama $50,000 to buy out the remaining year of Applewhite's contract.

Applewhite had visited Texas earlier this month, but on his return told Alabama officials that there was no truth to rumors of his interviewing for a job while in Austin.


And according to a high school quarterback whom he'd recruited for Alabama, Applewhite told the young man that he'd only leave Tuscaloosa if he was fired.


If true, it sounds like that there young fella's gonna make somebody a mighty fine head coach one of these days, and then he'll be able to teach other young fellas all about things like character and integrity and such. And he'll stay there until your son graduates. You'll have his word for it.

*********** Anthony Noto, a West Point grad and a three-year letterman at linebacker for Army, has just been named Chief Financial Officer for the National Football League.

*********** In a recent article in the Portland Oregonian, area high school wrestling coaches sounded very excited about the interest that the increasing popularity of Mixed Martial Arts seems to be generating in their wrestling programs, and noted how, with more and more colleges are dropping wrestling, MMA does at least give many of their kids something to aspire to.

Says Troy Mora of Hillsboro, Oregon, High School, currently ranked first among Oregon high school heavyweights, "I may want to try it during or after college. You almost have to have some wrestling to be good at it. All of the top guys are wrestlers."

Adds teammate Jacob Kociemba, ranked fifth in state in his class, "We talk about it a lot. The fighters show a lot of heart. You will see all these judo guys or guys that are martial arts students, and they may be more skilled, but they get worked over by wrestlers. Wrestlers learn to never give up."

Cory VomBaur, a redshirt sophomore at the University of Wyoming, won a Washington state title at Vancouver's Evergreen High and is now 3-0 in MMA competition. "It's a mind-set that prepares you for fighting," he says. "Also, shooting for takedowns and defending takedowns are not easy things to learn. They aren't natural movements. Wrestlers usually learn those things at a young age."

Adds VomBaur's high school coach, Mark Castle, who has himself competed in eight MMA bouts, "Wrestling makes it easy to pick things up. MMA has only been in the mainstream for about two years. So I am thinking four or five years from now, you will really see kids that want to go into MMA and realize they need to wrestle first."


*********** From a Mac users' newsletter I receive, a guy writes about how to make e-mail better for you and your correspondents:

I've come up with a top-ten list with the hopes that at least a couple of them might be useful even to e-mail power users:

1. Do everyone a favor and NEVER buy anything from a spammer, no matter how size-challenged you feel some of your body parts are (those products don't work anyway, at least from what I hear), or how great that stock offer is, or how sorry you feel for that lonely gal in your area. If no one ever buys anything, eventually some of these guys will stop. Unfortunately it only takes a few purchasers to make it worthwhile. Just don't be one of them. And don't reply to any of them either. That just confirms that your e-mail address is live.

2. Carefully reconsider sending jokes or quizzes and the like to a large number of people. Perhaps you have a few friends who might appreciate them, but the few seconds it takes to forward multiplies into many wasted minutes when you send it to a lot of people. Besides, so many of those are recycled that it's becoming rare to find one that's really interesting or funny.

Also, most people now understand this, but there is no reward for forwarding any e-mails to anyone. Microsoft never had a program that tracked e-mail forwards, and your luck will not change no matter how strongly the e-mail implores you otherwise. If you wouldn't get on the phone to a friend to read the e-mail, you probably don't need to forward it. I think I'll punch the next person who starts their e-mail with something like, "Just in case this is true…" If you simply must forward some astonishing fact, consider looking up the issue on http://hoaxbusters.ciac.org/ or http://www.snopes.com/ first. Both of those are great resources on what's really true and what's probably made up or exaggerated.

3. Remember that the written word naturally reads much more seriously and mono-toned than intended. The liberal use of smiley faces helps convey a more upbeat tone, but that's not always appropriate in business communications. Mostly, think about what you're saying, and assume the reader will take it more seriously than you might have meant.

4. Even if you're a good speller, make sure your spell checker is on. No matter how smart you are, you'll look a bit dummer to the reader if you're speling and grammer has mistakes init.

5. Keep your e-mail organized and the finished stuff deleted. As e-mail volume increases, anyone who treats his or her in-box like a messy desk is likely to annoy someone with a lack of reply, or a reply two weeks too late.

6. Read your message before you hit "send." Both to correct any mistakes, as well as to monitor the tone. You can't ever forget that e-mail will always be taken more seriously than you intend.

7. Automatically attached signatures, logos, vCards, etc. are generally annoying.

8. Always reply with the original message or thread copied below it. When someone is reading 200 e-mails a day, a response from one of them without the original message is only confusing.

9. Pick up the phone once in a while, especially if you get involved in a back-and-forth e-mail exchange. E-mail is terrific for communicating with multiple people, but if you end up with any emotion or confusion whatsoever, get on the phone or get in person.

10. Lastly, if you're a spammer, or work for a spammer, I hope you realize that you're about as useful to society as the flu. One of these days we'll conquer you guys, and we'll gain back those precious minutes you're stealing from us.


*********** If it had been Art Rooney... or Wellington Mara... or Robert Kraft... or even Jerry Jones who'd died, there would have been a moment of silence before Sunday's games to acknowledge the death of a team owner.

But it wasn't. Instead, it was Georgia Rosenbloom Frontiere, whose death was given about 10 seconds of time on the broadcast, and then they went back to more important things.

Without my stating the obvious, Mrs. Frontiere acquired a pro football team - the Los Angeles (now St. Louis) Rams - the, er, "old-fashioned way." (If you know what I mean.)

Let's just put it this way- Carroll Rosenbloom, who owned the Rams, was Georgia's sixth husband. Sixth. Now, one - or even two - bad marriages, you might chalk up to bad luck. You know - the poor girl who just can't help herself and keeps falling for losers. But, Carroll - number six ????

The best way I can eulogize Georgia Rosenbloom Frontiere is to include an excerpt from "First Down and a Billion," by Gene Klein and David Fisher, 1987, the hilarious autobiography of Klein, the one-time San Diego Chargers' owner, who knew Mr. and Mrs. Rosenbloom well...

Officially, he drowned while swimming in the ocean. I don't believe it. I knew Carroll reasonably well. He had had open-heart surgery and was told to swim for exercise, but he was a very poor swimmer. Even when he swam in his pool he always, absolutely always, had an aide by the side of the pool watching him just in case he got in trouble. So the possibility that he would go swimming alone in the ocean, on a day when storm warnings had been posted, in treacherous surf, is difficult for me to believe...

(Klein described Rosenbloom as "very smart, very tough, often very nasty. Carroll always gave you the feeling that if you crossed him, he was capable of slitting your throat, then donating your blood to the Red Cross blood drive.")

Rosenbloom's funeral was produced and staged as if it were a play. Actually, it was closer to a variety show. It took place in a large tent erected in his backyard. People entertained. Jonathan Winters was the master of ceremonies, host, conductor, director. Can you imagine how excited Winters must have been when his agent called and told him he'd been booked into a major Hollywood funeral? Winters began the funeral by saying that he knew Carroll would want the day to be funny. Carroll Rosenbloom? Winters must have been hallucinating. Funny? Carroll Rosenbloom? Then Winters started telling jokes.

I don't believe he was as funny as Howard Cosell. Howard gave a passionate eulogy, speaking with great warmth about his good and close friend Carroll Rosenbloom. However, he somehow neglected to mention that at a dinner at my home maybe three weeks earlier, Carroll had almost ripped out Howard's heart and fed it to him on a platter. They were vicious with each other. Of course, it would have been interesting to see Carroll trying to find Howard's heart.

Carroll's wife, Georgia, showed up late for the funeral. There was a good reason she was late, she explained to the mourners - she had been detained in the house talking to Carroll.

Georgia inherited the team, becoming the first female owner of an NFL team. This put a great deal of pressure on Leonard Tose (then owner of the Eagles), who could not open his mouth without cursing. At the first meeting of the executive committee that Georgia attended Leonard didn't even flinch. In response to a remark made by another owner, Leonard suggested he "Go f--- yourself," then immediately turned to Georgia and said, "Pardon me." And that is the way he continued - every time he cursed, he stopped, looked at Georgia, said "Pardon me," then continued. Eventually, though, Georgia became one of the boys.

I first met her at a league meeting in Arizona while Carroll was still alive. Many of the owners were attending a tennis-and-dinner party. During cocktails, I was standing in a small room when I heard this somewhat pleasant singing coming from the next room. How nice, I thought. Live entertainment. I went inside and there was Georgia, standing in front of Carroll, and to the tune of "Mr. Wonderful," she was singing the immortal song "Mr. Rosenbloom."

Carroll, this gruff, at times vicious, man, was sitting there transfixed. That was the best argument ever made for choreographing owners' meetings.

Later I found out that Georgia would perform anywhere, anytime. When she opened the refrigerator and the light went on, she started singing. I like Georgia, and after she inherited the team she worked to become quite knowledgeable about football. The fact that she was the first woman in what had been exclusively a men's club did cause a few minor problems. For example, she did suggest giving her players ballet lessons because she thought it would help their movement and dexterity. And her new husband, Dominic Frontiere, insisted on playing in the NFL spouses' tennis tournament, threatening to charge the league with discrimination if we didn't let him play. "I'm the spouse of an owner," he claimed, correctly, and eventually won the tournament.

My relationship with Georgia could best be summed up by a statement I made while testifying in the (Al) Davis versus NFL trial. Georgia's attorney, Joseph Cotchett, asked me about a statement Georgia had admitted making to me. "I absolutely do not remember such a statement," I said under oath, then added, "Not to be disrespectful, counselor, and to be perfectly frank, there are times when I do not pay too much attention to what your client says."

*********** Kentucky joined a growing trend when it named Rich Brooks' offensive coordinator as the heir apparent to Coach Brooks when he retires, whenever that will be.

The trend, colleges' naming in advance the successor to their current head coach, is being questioned - perhaps with good reason - by the Black Coaches Association as a possible means of getting around having to conduct a coaching search and, therefore, having to give black candidates proper consideration.

Not to excuse any scheme whose design is intended to get around interviewing qualified black candidates, but on the other hands, if designating a successor in advance can send the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons elsewhere...

Anyhow, no one can accuse Kentucky of dodging the issue. Joker Phillips, the next Wildcats' head coach, is a black man.

*********** Belichick vs Coughlin. Now there's a tossup. Maybe they should call this one the Congeniality Bowl.

If by some chance you aren't committed to the Pats or the Giants, and you need a reason to root...

Reported in the New York Times...

“Man, I wish I could do that over,” Michael Strahan said he told Amani Toomer on the plane ride back to New York after beating Dallas.

He was talking about the Giants' Super Bowl loss to the Ravens in 2000. Strahan, 33 and Toomer, 36, are the only Giants left from that Super Bowl squad.

“It went so fast, it was surreal. You didn’t know how to handle it, all the breaks and the time that you had. And just the game went so fast that you wish you could get back and just experience it again and have a chance to slow it down and really enjoy it a little bit more and, hopefully, have better results.”

*********** Call it the Boy Who Cried Wolf Effect:

As many times as those screaming geeks who do the voice-overs shout "UNBELIEVABLE!" - does anybody really believe that?

*********** Coach, Interestingly enough, 3 of the last 6 New York State Class A Players of the Year have been backs from Double Wing teams.  1 from Queensbury and 2 from Lansingburgh. John Irion, Queensbury, New York (Maybe that's the clincher we've been looking for - Why do we run the Double Wing?  Simple - it  increases  your son's chances of being named state Player of the Year! HW)

*********** This year, NFL teams threw the ball more than 48.5 per cent of the time. On first down. (The Chargers, throwing the ball on "only" 38.7 per cent of first downs, were the league's lowest.)

Seven NFL quarterbacks - an all-time high - threw for more than 4,000 yards. True, two of them, Brady and Favre, are among the best passers ever to play the game, but there's more to it - mostly it's because the rules have been deliberately skewed to aid the passing game, but partly it's because of a glaring lack of football fundamentals.

This year's "sacks per pass attempt" was only 6.1 per cent, tied for second lowest since 1961, when the statistic was first kept.

Partly that's because, as the Patriots' Richard Seymour told the New York Times, “The rules are set up for the offense. It’s that simple. They can stiff-arm us, they can do hands to the face, whatever they want to do to us. They can chop-block us, but it’s going to come a time where we’re going to have to put a flag on a quarterback. That’s what sells this game — points on the board.”

And, too, with the NFL's commitment to protect its passers, there is a growing perception that the roughing-the-passer penalty is increasingly being called for ticky-tack, less-than-violent contact that quarterbacks once could expect as part of the game. And the penalty is so draconian - awarding the offense a generous 15 yard gain regardless of the play's outcome - that it arguably could be having a deterrent effect on pass rushers by causing them to pull up sooner.

Certainly, there is less risk to attempting a pass play than there ever was.

If the quarterback is even the slightest bit mobile, there is little danger of a sack, because he can simply take a few steps and he is "out of the tackle box," thereby acquiring license to throw the ball away with impunity. Presto. No harm, no foul. And best of all, no skin off the QB.

And if the quarterback should be the slightlest bit mobile, he can actually run and gain a few yards at little risk to his body, since the rules permit him to surrender in a "hook slide," with all the protections accorded a touch football player.

Even a failure - an incomplete pass - has its uses, as a staple of a team's clock-management strategy. The most casual of fans knows to "spike the ball" when you're out of timeouts.

When you throw the ball, the restrictions on pass defenders are now such that the better they defend, the greater the chance that they will be called for an interference penalty.

Running the ball? For the most part, that now refers less to what backs do after a handoff than to what receivers do after making a catch. This year, NFL receivers racked up the highest Yards After Catch numbers in the 15 years they've been keeping the stat (undoubtedly a contributing factor has been poor tackling, stemming from the growing habit of secondary players to go for the Big Hit rather than the sure tackle).

So watch what Tom Brady does on first and goal from the one - the lone quarterback in shotgun, five eligibles out in the pattern - and get used to it.

Expect to see more and more teams doing the same.

But flags on the quarterbacks? Come on. Get serious. Not for at least another two or three years.

*********** “Every January, we write about what the Lions are saying, possibly because the Lions are never actually doing anything in January,” writes Michael Rosenberg in the Detroit Free Press. “Two years ago, the Lions were talking about Rod Marinelli and Mike Martz. Last year, the talk was new defensive coordinator Joe Barry. This time, the Lions are selling two reasons for hope. One is that Martz is gone. That’s how good Mike Martz is, ladies and gentlemen: He can fix the Lions by showing up or by leaving. The other reason is that Millen (GM Matt Millen) already has brought in all the required offensive talent. Who knew? It was here the whole time, under Martz’s nose.”

*********** Writes the Denver Post's John Henderson, "The difference between college football and college basketball is football has the greatest regular season of all sports and the most inane postseason. Basketball has the most meaningless regular season in all sports and the greatest postseason.”

*********** Good Afternoon Hugh,

I have had the opportunity to speak some on throwing the ball out of the DW and it really is a very successful part of the offense and should not be discounted. We averaged one TD pass per game for 12 years- with good
QB's and bad.

We have always followed what you taught all those years ago:

1. throw to score
2. throw to the kid who can catch (We usually told the Qb who that was and insisted he throw it to him)
3. throw on run downs and run on pass downs
4. throw using play action -- for us it has been 47 Brown and Red-Red with variations.

Simplistic perhaps but it works.

We joke about the DW being a running offense and those who pass will lose their membership in our secret society but coaches who are dogmatic in this area are losing a great opportunity.

Jack Tourtillotte, Boothbay Harbor, Maine


american flagFRIDAY, JANUARY 18, 2008- "The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it. Ignorance may deride it. But in the end, there it is." Winston Churchill

*********** Good Morning Hugh!!

Here we are buried in another foot of snow -- the damn stuff just keeps coming.

I got a chuckle out of your response to the question about combining the DW with the spread zone option offense. Over the years I have seen you respond to that question -- well let me say fairly vociferously- I thought
your response to the question in today's News was quite mild for you. Are you getting kinder, gentler in your old age? --Ha Ha Ha

Jack Tourtillotte, Boothbay Harbor, Maine (Guilty as charged. I think I am mellowing. HW)

*********** I think the next time a youth or high school coach tells a kid not to do something and the kid says, "But the pros do it!" the proper answer  is, "Yes, but they're not as old as you are."

*********** The University of Colorado's buffalo mascot, "Chip" - not Ralphie, the real buffalo, but a guy in costume - went a little over the top this past weekend, in an apparent attempt to play to an audience of kids at a CU sports event.

Reasoning that there's nothing like gangster attire to appeal to kids, Chip dressed up in a do-rag, baggy pants and an oversized tee-shirt, with gold-capped teeth and a tear drop tattooed under one eye.


*********** The Denver Broncos have set up a ticket exchange program so that (they tell us) people who won't be using their tickets will have a means of selling them, and people needing tickets won't have to pay the outrageous prices asked by scalpers.

"The bottom line," said the Broncos' ticket manager, "is that we don't want to see our fans pay more than the ticket is worth. We want people to pay a fair price."

My. Such concern for the "people."

This from an NFL franchise, which like all league members forces its season ticket holders to pay full price for tickets to meaningless, desultory exhibition (sorry - "preseason") games, in which starters now make only cameo appearances, while charging premium prices for playoff tickets.

*********** Hugh, you wrote...

Your memory regarding my defensive philosophy is good.  I haven't changed my mind. I don't agree with Coach Reade on that one.  I believe that sound, solid, low-risk football on both sides of the ball complement each other. Now,  if an opponent was a ball-control team and, in my opinion, as disciplined and capable of putting on a long drive as we were, I would mix in more blitzes,  but I still believe in the concept of first don't lose -  win.  I'd rather win a 7-6 game than lose one 45-44.

Keep them in front of you and force the turn-overs.  "don't give them the big play",
And also...

The Double Wing is a VERY good passing offense and when I have kids who can catch (that, I have found, is more important than having the great passer) I like to be able to catch people off guard.
I think that most people who run the Double Wing refrain from passing because (1) they are stubborn; (2) they don't have the kids who can catch; (3) they don't understand how to throw from the Double Wing; (4) they are having enough success running the ball that they don't think they need do.
Or all of the above.

This should be etched in "Stones."

Frank Simonsen, Cape May, New Jersey


*********** Coach, I don’t claim to be a football expert, but I found myself screaming at the TV the other day during the Jacksonville v Patriots Game. Was it me  or was I just imagining things when it appeared to me that the Jags just didn’t have their hearts in the game. Soft running, receivers dropping balls, players trying not to tackle and strip it instead. But the ultimate thing that made me scream at the TV was watching QB David Garrard on a critical series (2 times in the game mind you) make the dreaded QB hook slide and NOT get the stinking first down. This was in the 2nd half. It’s the Flippin PLAYOFFS, and he is not some little skinny QB who could get hurt out there. This guy is 6-2 , 240lbs and as stocky as any fullback or linebacker on his team. He can reach out and stick his shoulder in there and get 2 yards and take a hit now and then.
Now my only proof of this is when I did yell out loud, my wife came in the room asking me what the heck was wrong. All I had to do was tell her to watch the Jags QB the remainder of the game. After the second hook slide she was also screaming at the TV and quote (What is he? Some kind of P^^$y! Get the STINKING FRST DOWN!) …..This from a gal that is 5’2, 110 and gave birth to 5 boys the natural way. My opinion was validated. Finally.
Coach Mike Watts, Yukon, Oklahoma (Ouch. I do like David Garrard, and I saw him in college where he ran the ball a bit, so I expect that he's possibly under some orders not to expose himself. At least that's what I want to believe. But I have to admit that you're married to a true football wife, and women like her help explain why Oklahoma is such a good football state! HW)

Kenny Youngs*********** Kenny Youngs, my 4 year starter and A back throughout his career finished his career with 5,404 yards rushing and just claimed first team All-State honors and New York state Class a Player of the Year.
Thanks for everything Coach Wyatt!!
Pete Porcelli, Lansingburgh

(Kenny Youngs, who was named Albany Times Union Large School Offensive Player of the Year in December, led his section with 1,991 yards rushing and helped Lansinsburgh make it to the 2007 state Class A title game. He becomes the second Lansingburgh Knight to be named state Player of the Year, joining former teammate Kareem Jones. HW)

*********** Portland is a city so tolerant that it coddles panhandling as free speech, and would probably consider copulation in the middle of a city street (at least by liberals) to be a first amendment right. But even in Portland, free speech has its limits, as we saw in a recent "heated" exchange between city council members, one of them telling another, "You are heck bent on killing this any way you can."

*********** Coach, I know I'm a little slower than some of the other coaches in my response to the newsletter and the great notes on Coach Reade, but I had did dig deep in the attic to find what I needed. I have had an experience with Coach Reade and his Augustana team and its system. In 1986, the last of the four year run of championships, I had the dubious honor of playing defense against his offense in the first round of the playoffs during my senior year at Hope College. We did not fare too well that day, however they never scored when I was on the field. I do remember our coaching staff having a real hard time trying to explain to us what we would be up against that day. Years later in my mind, I was thinking it was the Wing-t like you and I had both run early in our coaching careers. It was probably ten years after leaving Hope that former players were offered copies of old game tapes. The Hope-Augustana game was one that I purchased. I was almost angry after watching it and realizing the errors in what we were taught to expect that day when we played them. I do have two very nice pictures of that day. They depict the last down of football I ever played. They show me making a tackle for a one yard loss against Augustana's all-American running back. I know the form is rather poor compared to what you and I teach now, but that is how I was taught then. I did in fact lift him up off the ground in the process of making the tackle. The interesting thing about the pictures really, is I believe that it is Coach Reade in the background right behind me. 
Keep Coaching,
Roger Doorn
Climax, Michigan


*********** Coach,  Let me start off by saying that I love your website!  

I'm a middle school AD in ------- and my school district currently uses weight limits to divide our students into 3 categories: under 105 lbs., 106-135lbs, and 135 and over.  These weight limits are not rigid, that is, we adjust them to create workable numbers of kids in our 6 school district.  We also have several special rules to limit the competiveness of the league.

I am urging our district to switch to a more competitive style of football which would divide kids by ability and not by weight.  Is this, in your opinion, a good idea for 7th and 8th graders?  I'm just curious what you think about this issue. I read your article on the Mayo clinic results.

Coach, In the course of my dealing with coaches, the topic you're asking about comes up quite a bit.

Although the idea of weight limits must have its proponents, most of the people I know who have to deal with them don't seem to support them so much as they  simply accept them as something imposed on them by a larger body (such as Pop Warner).  I don't  recall hearing anybody speak out  strongly in support of them.

Those who operate without weight constraints argue along several lines: 

1. Among youngsters, the bigger kids are usually less athletic and less aggressive. It is unusual for the bigger kid also to be athletic, to the point where he is dominant or even dangerous to other kids; 

2. Requiring bigger kids to play with older boys puts them in danger because there is the chance that they will be matched up against older players of similar size but greater ability and maturity; this can be discouraging to those bigger, less athletic kids for whom football may turn out to be the only sport they'll be able to play 

3. It is common for kids to want to play with their friends.  It seems to me that a pudgy fourth-grader might decide not to play football at all rather than have to leave his age group to play with older kids. 

4. A bigger kid who is also talented is likely to be looked at by his peers as a leader.  But if he is playing with older kids he is less likely to develop as a leader.

5. We all know of instances where youngsters lose weight so that they can play on a certain team.  Or so that they can run the ball. Obesity is certainly a problem with a lot of our younger boys, but losing weight solely for the purpose of playing on a team or playing a position is not, in my judgment, something that ought to be encouraged.

6. By middle school, the argument should be academic, anyhow. Most middle school programs that I'm aware of provide for a 7th grade team and an 8th grade team, without weight limits.

Hope that helps.

WazzuPlane*********** (Left) Fresh out of the paint shop, the first of four Horizon Air jets to be done in the colors of the Pacific Northwest schools. (It takes 10 days to paint one of these things.) After Wazzu will come Oregon, followed by Oregon State and then Washington. I suspect this idea might not be so well-received in other parts of the country where rivalries are a bit more, shall we say, intense. As just one example, I can't picture Auburn fans getting onto an Alabama plane. Or the converse. (I can hear them now: "F--k it. I'll walk.")

*********** Remember last year when Jim Mora, Jr. wore out his welcome with the Falcons by saying he'd be interested in the "Washington job?" Back then, everybody thought he meant the Washington Huskies, not the Washington Redskins.

*********** Just in case you were worried that Paul Johnson might have had to sell his soul to get the job at Georgia Tech, fear not - according to ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach, Coach Johnson has no intentions of changing the triple option offense that made him successful at Navy, and at Georgia Southern before that.

As you know, a major reason for his offense's success is the line play, and Coach Johnson brought his line coach, Todd Spencer, with him from Navy. Todd is a Pacific Northwest guy who coached the line at Oregon State when Jerry Pettibone was running the wishbone so successfully. He and I first met back in the 1980s while working at Rich Brooks' Oregon camp, and I'm trying to get him to come to my Atlanta clinic.

*********** Congratulations, you LSU Tiger fans! You won the national championship! Enjoy! But get ready to pay for it. To help pay the enormous sum that it took to keep Les Miles (and win the title) your 2008 season tickets are going to cost you $5 more a game. Assuming they sell 80,000 season tickets (dey could prob'ly sell twice dat!) times 6 games, that's 480,000 tickets at $5 per, or $2.4 million more in revenue.

*********** LSU AD Skip Bertman has been proactive in making sure that visitors to LSU games are not harassed by the hometown fans, going so far as to hire police to wear visiting teams' apparel and circulate through the tailgaters in the parking lots. He said that not only have there been no unpleasant incidents, but that he has no trouble getting volunteers for duty - because the LSU fans feed the "visitors" so well!

*********** The founder of Wham-O died Wednesday. His company popularized the Hula Hoop, and Silly String, and the Frisbee. But I wonder how many kids from my generation had their eyes put out by Wham-O slingshots. Considering that the nannies in Washington are atworking to require helmets on all kids riding bikes or using roller skates, I would imagine that in California, which leads the way in nanny-statism, you need a license to carry a slingshot.

*********** Whew. How'd you like to be Tyrone Willingham these days?

Under considerable pressure to fire Coach Willingham, Washington AD Todd Turner stood fast and decided to bring him back - then abruptly "resigned" himself.

A subsequent investigation of internal UW e-mail has revealed that a wealthy booster promised the university president that he'd donate $200,000 - for academic purposes - if he'd get rid of both Turner and Willingham ($100,000 each).

Although the guy's offer didn't have anything to do with Turner's leaving, the last I heard the guy was mulling over whether to make the donation anyhow.

But evidently the price on Coach Willingham's head remains. What a creepy arrangement.

It certainly can't help his recruiting, can it? Not that any of his rivals would even think of suggesting to Husky recruits that Coach Willingham might not be around to see them graduate. Oh, no. College coaches have way too much respect for each other to do that!

That's one advantage to being a basketball coach. True, every year they have to keep replacing the kids who leave early for the NBA draft, but nobody will ever use the "he won't be around" argument against them. Not with the super recruits, anyhow..

Those kids will simply say, "I don't give a sh--. I'm only going to be there one year anyhow."

Come to think of it, if I'm Tyrone Willingham and I'm making as much as he's making, I'd consider telling the president, "I'll donate $100,000 to the department of your choice - if you'll block that guy's e-mail."


american flagTUESDAY, JANUARY 15, 2008- "No nation that placed its faith in parchment or paper, while at the same time it gave up its protective hardware, ever lasted long enough to write many pages in history." President Ronald Reagan, at the West Point commencement, 1981

Falcon Stadium... Is there a more spectacular setting anywhere?
Monday, I visited Falcon Stadium, home of the Air Force Academy Falcons, at the base of Colorado's Rampart Range
The intimidation begins as visiting teams enter the tunnel...
And just in case they didn't get the first message...

*********** Hugh, First - I have two thoughts regarding your News today. 1. I agree about how a lot of coaches don't seem to get what it is really all about (in regards to coach Reade's message on working with young men).  I know that I have read the book 2 or 3 times, not to find anything new or cute, but to reinforce what I already believe in.   I think that the problem is not just with inexperienced young coaches though - although perhaps more obvious.  There just seem to be more and more coaches who are all about winning etc., rather than teaching character etc (which is what is necessary to win in the long haul anyway).  The inexperienced guys copy what they see - and this is the model that has been set for them.  I feel lucky in that I understand what coaching is truly about.  I was luck as my HS coaches were great guys,my parents and family always supported and enforced those same ideas, and my early coaching influences (including one Coach Wyatt) helped to confirm what I believed about molding young men etc.  Point 2.  I agree on the Ryan Mallett issue.  He may or may not be a prima donna, but how flawed is the system where coaches can leave, but the kids can't after the fact.  I mean if Im a double wing lineman and then coach spread throw zone block comes in - IM OUTTA THERE.  

John Dowd, Caledonia, New York

*********** Sign that the End Times are near: "POCKET SHOTS", little plastic bags containing 1-1/2 ounces of one or another spirit (gin, vodka, tequila, whiskey). No doubt many of you have seen them by now.

*********** Is there anything so immature, so unprofessional, that there isn't at least one NFL player who'll do it?

*********** How'd you like to be Wade Phillips with Super Owner Jerry Jones standing right next to you on the sidelines at crunch time?

*********** Here's one person who hopes Tony Dungy stays in. But if he doesn't, I understand.

*********** After watching teammates rally round the likes of Rasheed Wallace, Latrell Sprewell and Zach Randolph, I can only imagine what a total jerk Joakim Noah must be to have his teammates ask their coach to add to his suspension.

***********It must be hell being an NFL owner. Here they are, with all those jobs to fill, and not a single big name to fill them with. It must kill them to have to hire a guy merely because he might be a good coach. Here they are with big mansions, large yachts, many, many expensive vehicles, and trophy wives, and they're being asked to pay enormous sums of money to guys that nobody's heard of.

*********** Who would have thought that Eli would be the Manning left standing?

Wrote Woody Paige in the Denver Post, "When does Eli start doing all the commercials now?"

*********** Hugh, I spotted this on the NYT op-ed page or blog or some damn thing. It reminds me
of a Terry Bowden column a couple years back, where he said "when I was coaching we had one punt formation. Now there are a whole bunch, and I see more blocked punts than ever before.)

Christopher Anderson, Palo Alto, California

"It's much easier to write a screenplay on a computer than on a typewriter. Years ago, when you wrote a screenplay on a typewriter, you had to retype the entire page just to make the smallest change; now, on the computer, you can make large and small changes effortlessly, you can fiddle with dialogue, you can change names and places with a keystroke. And yet movies are nowhere near as good as they used to be. In 1939, when screenwriters were practically still using quill pens, the following movies were among those nominated for best picture: "Gone With the Wind," "The Wizard of Oz," "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," "Wuthering Heights" and "Stagecoach," and that's not even the whole list. So: is it possible that computers are responsible for the decline of movies?"

Paralysis by analysis. At some point you have to say, "Print it."

Makes sense. I would relate that to the idea of pro staffs having so many coaches. They brag about having playbooks four inches thick, yet free agency accounts for an average 33 per cent roster turnover every year, so is it any wonder that few pro offenses are effective?

And then with these no huddle offenses you see the entire team line up ready to run a play, then turn and look at the sidelines, then get ready to run a play, then turn and look at the sidelines, etc., and you find yourself saying, "JUST RUN THE G-D PLAY!"

*********** Coach, I hope all is well. I just wanted to let you know our junior RB made 3rd team All-state. Thx for your system and vidoes. Sean Keenan, Millbrook HS, Millbrook, New York

*********** Baseball says good-bye to Johnny Podres, who died Sunday in Queensbury, New York. Mr. Podres was the pitching star of the Brooklyn Dodgers' 1955 World Series win over the Yankees.

*********** VIZIO, which makes flat screen TVs, is sponsoring a contest to honor the NFL's "Top Value Performer" - in other words, the guy who gave the most in return for the least pay. (Example: the Broncos' Brandon Marshall, who was paid a "measly" $465,000 and had 102 receptions, for $4,559 per catch. That's "value." By comparison, the Eagles' Kevin Curtis was paid $6 million to make 77 catches - or $77,922 per catch. That's, uh, Highway Robbery.

Marshall happens to be one of the six finalists. The others are Jacksonville QB David Garrard, Cleveland QB Derek Anderson, Green Bay WR David Jennings, Chicago return man Devin Hester, and Giants' running back Brandon Jacobs.

Needless to say, none of those guys is likely to be a repeat winner next year.

*********** Q. We have been running the spread zone option. We feel that our  personnel for next year may best fit  the DW. What do you think  about combining both?  What fits together and what does not?

A. Just my opinion, but I think that it is going to be a rocky marriage.

You can certainly run the Double Wing from spread.  I have done it  plenty, as have numerous other Double Wing coaches.  But we're still  running the Double Wing - without compromising any of the  Double  Wing principles.

Running the Double Wing effectively requires doing things vastly  different from what a spread zone option requires.

For one thing, I think that without zero line splits, you aren't  going to run a very good Double-Wing, at least my system.

And for sure,  your linemen (and your line coach) are going to have a  difficult time accepting and employing our blocking.

Q. Coach: THANKS for your reply; it  supports what I thought. What plays have you been more successful using  combining the DW and the spread?

A. Coach, It's not "combining."  It's the same system.

We are able to run all of our plays from spread formation except our belly-off-tackle, which we call 6-G to the right and 7-G to the left.

But this is because no matter what we do with our backs and ends, our line play remains constant.

*********** It could have happened in Baltimore. Or Boston. Or Buffalo. Or Pittsburgh. Or Cleveland. You got the idea - in a town with plenty of hard-core guys, who like to eat. And eat. And eat.

But it's not going to happen in any of those places. It's going to happen in Philadelphia. Again.

Yes, it could be another down year in Philly for some of the most rabid all-round sports fans in all Christendom, but thankfully, deep in the darkness of winter, there's Wing Bowl, probably the biggest, wildest "Competitive Eating" event held anywhere in the world.

Called - accurately - an "annual carnival of gluttony, strippers, and early-morning boozing," Wing Bowl 16 gets under way February 1 in the Wachovia Center. Tickets went on sale December 12, and within 45 minutes, all 15,000 were gone.

The competition gets under way at 6 AM - that's right, 6 AM. The early start, to accomodate the morning talk show of radio station WIP host Angelo Cataldi, who first dreamed up the event 15 years ago, doesn't seem to faze Philly guys and girls, many of whom stay at their favorite tappie (short for tap room, an old Philly term) until closing, then head to the Wachovia Center to party until the doors open.

Last year, the Wachovia Center ran out of beer at 8:30 in the morning.

In order to compete, you must first qualify - in the WIP studios, on air - by eating a prodigious amount - of something. Creativity is a plus.

There also is competition among some rather lovely and voluptuous females to qualify as "Wingettes."

I won't go any further with this - I'll let you check out the contestants - men and women - and what they did to qualify (or what they failed at), go here---


or here


And remember the Wing Bowl slogan - "IF YOU HEAVE - YOU LEAVE"


american flagFRIDAY, JANUARY 11, 2008- "Well, George, we knocked the bastard off." Sir Edmund Hillary to fellow climber George Lowe after conquering Mt. Everest. (Sir Edmund Hillary died on Thursday)

*********** Sir Edmund Hillary, the first mountaineer to climb Mt. Everest, died Thursday in his native New Zealand (actually, it was Friday there). He was a modest man, totally unlike today's exhibitionists who flaunt their meagre athletic accomplishments and post nude photos of themselves on Web sites, and shared credit for his accomplishment with Tenzing Norgay, the Sherpa guide who accompanied him. He pooh-poohed his signature achievement by saying once, "I was just an enthusiastic mountaineer of modest abilities who was willing to work quite hard and had the necessary imagination and determination. I was just an average bloke; it was the media that transformed me into a heroic figure. And try as I did, there was no way to destroy my heroic image. But as I learned through the years, as long as you didn’t believe all that rubbish about yourself, you wouldn’t come to much harm."

***********I’ve always loved the following, attributed to Churchill on Socialism
“Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”
Mark Kaczmarek, Davenport, Iowa

*********** LSU-Ohio State? It seemed to me that in the early going Ohio State kept trying to deliver a knockout blow - or maybe they were just trying to play down the idea of the big, stodgy Big Ten team.  Either way, they let LSU come back and build a big lead.

But by the time they got the idea to get serious and play Big Ten football, it was halftime, and when LSU took the second half kickoff and drove it on them, panic began to set in.

The roughing the kicker penalty was probably the end for them. If not that, it was that stupid swing by the OSU defender that drew a 15-yard personal foul penalty.  He should have been thrown out. If not by the officials, then by Jim Tressel.

************ The BCS guys are happy because LSU-Ohio State was a clean knockout, so in their minds they have given us a "True National Champion."

Not that there can ever really be such a thing, but now comes some idiot proposal for a 16-team playoff based on giving spots to the "11 league champions" plus five at-large teams.  (Well, four, actually, since pet horse Notre Dame will have to be given its own special place in any playoff, the same as it is virtually assured a place in the BCS format except in years when Charlie Weis is coaching Jimmy Clausen.)

For what that's worth,  this suggested playoff means that automatic berths would go to the champions of such as the Sun Belt Conference,  Conference USA ,  the WAC and the MAC - while a couple of  second-place BCS conference teams would stay home.

Under such an arrangement, this year's opening round games would have included such matches made in heaven as  LSU-Hawaii (you thought Georgia beat them up), USC-Troy (the Men of Troy pound the Men of Troy), Oklahoma-Central Florida (are you kidding me?), Ohio State-Central Michigan (The Buckeyes may have their problems in BCS title games, but not against teams from "that state up north," as Woody Hayes once referred to Michigan).

Second-place BCS-conference teams possibly left out so as to make room for the Hawaiis, the Troys, the Central Floridas and the Central Michigans would include Tennessee, Missouri,  Arizona State, UConn, Boston College, Michigan and Illinois (which tied for second).

Michigan and Illinois can't both go.  Actually, m aybe they both get left out.  And then there's Georgia and Kansas, both very good teams which didn't even make it into their conference championship games, but showed well in bowl games. Maybe, to make room for them, they'd screw Missouri (but they couldn't do that, could they?) and Tennessee.

No worries. Ain't gonna happen. Like after what happened in this year's Georgia-Hawaii game the BCS conferences are going to throw a team overboard to make room for the champion of the Sun Belt.

*********** I am not a believer in "True Champion" theology. No one is bulletproof; all we can get is a worthy team that showed it for 13 games. A single-elimination playoff (the NCAA hoops tournament is always pumped up as a model) creates the illusion that one team has proven itself over everyone else. But the winner only beats six of the 64 other teams, and often they get the long straw in that another team will upset a tough team the winner was slated to play, and then regress to the mean when they play the eventual champion.

There's a point of dimishing returns as they play more games; we just stop getting worthwhile data. The injury factor is critical, as a would-be contender that loses a Dennis Dixon in the first round will become a walkover real quick.

There is one ambiguity I wish the BCS would eliminate to clear up some credibility: no non-conference champions in the title game. They won't agree to it, since no conference will let itself lose the shot at a title even with a bogus participant. And I'd like to see a no-rematch rule put in to the selection process unless it's absolutely impossible to avoid; I think each BCS game should give us new information. Christopher Anderson, Palo Alto, California

*********** In Old School Football issue 5 you mentioned Bob Reade didn't think a ball control offense and bend but don't break defense don't mix.  However, at one of your clinics you said that you felt in our case they went together okay b/c we can put on drives.   What is your thought on this now???  I have read Coaching Football Successfully and it is a great read from a philosophy of coaching perspective. John Dowd, Caledonia, New York

Your memory regarding my defensive philosophy is good.  I haven't changed my mind. I don't agree with Coach Reade on that one.  I believe that sound, solid, low-risk football on both sides of the ball complement each other. Now,  if an opponent was a ball-control team and, in my opinion, as disciplined and capable of putting on a long drive as we were, I would mix in more blitzes,  but I still believe in the concept of first don't lose - then win.  I'd rather win a 7-6 game than lose one 45-44.

*********** As a WVU fan, I was really pleased that they hired a down-to-earth, in-state guy like Bill Stewart to take the headcoaching job. I heard an interesting story about Stewart's hiring...

The story is this, When they were talking to Stewart about the job at WVU they offered him 1.5 Million to take the job. He said I can not do it for that. They came back figuring he wanted more money.

He said, "(WVU Men's Basketball Coach) Coach Huggins is getting $800,000 and he is a proven winner, you can not pay me more than what you pay him. I will take it for $800,000, spend the rest to give the assistant coaches a raise in pay."

If that is indeed true, that makes Bill Stewart the classiest coach in America.

Regarding the BCS title game: was it me, or did the Buckeyes start out the game doing interesting things with formations (unbalanced, motion into overloads) and then forget to keep doing it about the middle of the first half?

Dan Polcyn
Gallipolis Ohio

***********Anybody check the Allstate commercial where this weenie tells his female laboratory partner that he's on the football team, and she scoffs because he's such a pencil neck? And it turns out that he's really on the team - but he's a kicker? And his teammates also treat him as if he's invisible? And then he's called on to kick a field goal - and the coach doesn't even know his name? And he winds up kicking the game-winner through the uprights, and gets carried off the field by his teammates?

Don't laugh so hard at the 1960's style bar on his helmet that you don't realize how true-to-life the story is.

I've been saying for years that placekicking, especially done by people who otherwise have nothing to do with the sport, has become way too big a part of football, and if you doubted me before, you had only to watch the so-called National Championship Game Brought To You By Some Damned Company Or Other to become a believer.

At halftime, sandwiched between the performances of the two bands, we got to watch a sort of Masters Field Goal Competition between former LSU and Ohio State placekickers.

That would have been enough, but the ultimate perversion of the game was Ohio State's actual placekicker - a 28-year-old South African.

Nothing against 28-year-old South Africans, except that this guy came here for no other reason than that he was a rugby player who was told that he could game the system over here by becoming a college placekicker.

Once again, it's the Law of Unintended Results. The idea of this year's move of the kickoff to the 30 yard line was to shorten games by reducing touchbacks. But the unintended result has been that college coaches, realizing that instead of worrying about covering kicks, it's smarter to go out and find better kickers. Which means giving kickers scholarships. Which means more and more soccer players will come in the back door, saying, "screw blocking and tackling - I'm going to be a kicker."

*********** "We're not entirely clear what, exactly, waterboarding is, but if it doesn't involve Fox's college football coverage, it's not as cruel and unusual as it could be." Ryan White, Portland Oregonian

*********** Great Newsletter Coach. They are getting better and better. Great service. Oh.COACH HUGH WYATT FOR HAWAII HEAD COACH. Count me in at whatever you want me in as. Cigar provider or minority rep anything. Heck if you pay me what I make now I m sure you will stay within budget. I ll strap the 60 and prowl the hood for a couple recruits from Miami on my visits there. I ve seen them warm up. We can do some wicked double wing there I m sure. What do you think? I will take Matt and Alan with me. Armando Castro, Roanoke, Virginia

Hahaha. Now, here's one guy who won't be coaching the Rainbows. Sure would be bad news for all those wide receivers, though, huh? But man, couldn't you put together some running game with those big Polynesian kids? HW

*********** Not that I wish to enter into a discussion of presidential politics - yet - but a recent statement by one of the candidates simply can't go unchallenged.

"All are patriots, who served their country," said Barack Obama, referring to the people still running for President. With all due respect for Mr. Obama - Oh, no, you don't, Senator. None of this Stolen Valor crap. There are way too many a**holes as it is, going around posing as medal winners of one form or another. No way are you going to equate anything that you or the candidates have done with what Senator John McCain has done. He served his country honorably in the US Navy, and not only did he spend years as a prisoner of war, undergoing unspeakable torture at the hands of his North Vietnamese captors, but he's the only one of the candidates who has spent a single day in uniform.

It's like the kids in the band expecting varsity football letters.

*********** Got to like Debra Stevens, the newest member of the state of Washington's Supreme Court. Among the things she said at her installation: "I am reminded of the cowboy poet who said, 'The courts are the place where the smallest dog can lift its leg against the highest tree.'"

*********** I swear I saw a guy in New Hampshire wearing a sweatshirt that said "HILLARY." What kind of man wears a sweatshirt like that?

*********** I first heard it said by Bud Wilkinson - you don't worry about the other team; you worry about your team. That other team's just over there to help us find out what we have to do to be very good.

I've heard many other successful coaches put it in different ways, and I was reminded of it when Willie Hoppe's name came up.

The name's pronounced "Hoppy," and you'll be excused if you never heard of him, because he's been dead almost 50 years.

He's the greatest billiards player who ever lived. Not pool, you understand. Not eight ball or nine ball. Billiards.

Billiards is to pool as New Orleans cuisine is to ramen. You can't even play if you aren't very, very good.

And Willie Hoppe was very, very good - so good that by the time he hung up his stick at age 65, he'd won more than 50 world championships.

When asked the secret to his success, his manager once said, "Simple. His opponent's always playing Willie. And Willie's always playing billiards."

*********** Coach, I thought that you did a great job on the newsletter. Judging by the comments from other readers on Tuesday they understood that it is not the X's and O's that make the difference.

You would be surprised at the number of coaches that I have heard from in the past that look past the "wisdom" of Coach Reade. They do not like his style of offense so they figure that they do not have anything else to gain from him. I have seen a lot of guys fall by the wayside that way.

John Bothe
Oregon, Illinois (Thanks.  Although I do espouse a certain offense, you and I know that  coaching makes the difference no matter what offense or defense you run. But far too many inexperienced guys think it's all about system. They all want to be in on the cutting-edge stuff, and only the survivors among them will stick around the game long enough to appreciate the real value of what Coach Reade had to say. HW)

*********** (Newsletter #5) Coach Wyatt, Thanks a lot. I really enjoyed it.  I was a freshman when Coach Bothe was a Senior.  What a great person.  He was an All-American center and I was a freshman quarterback who was never good enough to play much, but he was one of the first upper classman to talk to me and treat me like I belonged there.  My background is pretty unique in that I only played in one offense my entire career.  We ran Coach Reade's Wing-T in Jr. High, High School and College.  As an offensive coordinator it was all I ever ran also.  Again thanks for the newsletter and signing me up for future ones.  If it is ok I would like to send it on to my dad, he would enjoy reading it.

Eric Vroman, Cambridge, Illinois


*********** By the way, I recently ordered and received the Dynamics video and playbook and really like them.  You also included the "season of the double wing".  Thanks.  One question:  It looks like you passed a lot more than I would expect.  Was there a reason (personnel?).
You are very observant. The Double Wing is a VERY good passing offense and when I have kids who can catch (that, I have found, is more important than having the great passer) I like to be able to catch people off guard.

I think that most people who run the Double Wing refrain from passing because (1) they are stubborn; (2) they don't have the kids who can catch; (3) they don't understand how to throw from the Double Wing; (4) they are having enough success running the ball that they don't think they need do.

Or all of the above.

*********** Wanna see a great site? www.halcyon.com/marcs/mascot.html

If your school's got a distinctive nickname, it's probably on here. If it's not, maybe you should e-mail it to the Webmaster.

He's a Washington guy, so 50 or so of his more than 700 nicknames represent the Evergreen State. He said that he was inspired to put up his site by the state championship won by the Ridgefield Spudders, the orange-and-blue team shown on Dynamics of the Double Wing.

*********** Ohio State has caught so much heat since Monday night that people have stopped beating up on Oklahoma. Just as well. Time to cut Bob Stoops a break.

Unfortunately for him, the guy's done such a good job that anything less than a national championship is now a letdown to most Oklahomans and a lot of yahoos nationwide.

A couple of years ago Stoops told USA Today, "I can remember coming back from Texas A & M, coming back from Kansas State, coming back from all our road games, all the people that would be there at the bus or at the airport, waving us on or cheering us on.

"We chuckled the other day that (now) we get back from Texas A & M, and there's nobody there. We're supposed to win. When you've won a lot, people expect you to do it all the time, and when you do, they yawn. And when you have a tight game, everybody wants to make an issue of it, when it's not easy to win."

*********** Hugh, As you may recall I did some time in the People's Republik of Cambridge, in the
process acquiring a love of the Patriots as a different kind of NFL team. Some observations years later:

1. I think Bill Belichick is the ultimate modern NFL coach, exhibiting all its quintissential tendecies - rank paranoia, secrecy, a colorless existence, endless scheming for advantage, workaholism, a willingness to break rules, an absence of sentimentality with regard to roster moves, a sublimely arrogant nature and a contempt of the press. He does eschew conventional mores, as shown by his ragged on-field appearance, and he doesn't necessarily follow the NFL coaching crowd. By playing the NFL's game against itself, he's built a mini-dynasty in an era of mediocrity (I won't say parity), and now in a down year for the league has a chance to do the unthinkable.

That being said, he is in an organization that's on the same page, an insular outfit fitting of New England, that scouts extremely well for its own needs (both in terms of drafting and game preparation.)

2. There is something not quite as fun this time around. (I will leave open that maybe it is the dishonesty). Back in the day the Pats were out-gunned by many opponents in various matchups, but always seemed to make the Steelers and Colts, two radically different styles, both look silly. They didn't beat themselves, and you could bank that SOMEone was going to win it for NE - you just didn't know who. That is gone now, with all the firepower and the Pats pushing hard for big plays instead of bleeding the opposition. Who likes a movie where the golden boy wins the game and gets the girl without some kind of struggle?


Michigan's heir apparent quarterback is transferring after, he suggests, Rich Rodriguez refused to guarantee him a starting job or playing time.

This is apparently framed by panic about the super-stud Pittsburgh QB recruit; this guy sounds like a real prima donna. Word on the street is RR told him there was a place in the offense for him if he won the job but wasn't going to make any guarantees.

His mother: "I don't think it's the things Coach Rodriguez said, it was what he didn't say. You know how you watch someone, it's the things he didn't say, watching his body language ... that's the kind of impression Ryan got."

"First of all, I have to get along with the coach," he said. "The second thing is I'm not going where they have the spread-option (offense.) I need to maximize my potential and I don't think I've done that yet."

I consider the entire Mallett tenure - with multiple homesickness bouts and sideline spats - to be a casualty of early enrollment (Mallet entered last January.) I don't really care if he leaves UM, but he might have handled it
differently had he not had six months to brood about his decision while his pals were ending high school with a bang. Christopher Anderson, Palo Alto, California

I do believe that as a diehard Michigan fan, you are implying that the kid owes some sort of loyalty to a school that went out and hired a coach  who never would have recruited the kid had he been Michigan's coach a year ago.

This is not to say that the kid may not be one of the large and growing generation of pampered, overprepared, quarterback brats, but I will take the other side on this one.   Michigan is reaping what it has sown.  You seem to talk in terms of his owing Michigan something, but the kid was a good enough player to start at least one game this past season when Michigan needed him. Badly. Doesn't Michigan owe him anything? 

"If he won the job?"   Who's kidding who?

Knowing full well what Rodriguez looks for in a QB, I think it's perfectly reasonable for the kid to look elsewhere.

Or should he stay and sit the bench for three (or four) more years?

Furthermore, I think it is a gross injustice that he (or any other kid)  has to sit out a year before being able to play at another D-IA school. HW


american flagTUESDAY, JANUARY 8, 2008- "The reaction of the defense is the test of any play." Steve Owen, long-time (1931-1953) New York Giants' coach

*********** So June Jones is off to SMU, and Hawai'i is the poorer for it.

Damn shame that the people in Hawai'i never read about the Goose That Laid The Golden Eggs.

When I was in Hawai'i a couple of weeks ago, the papers were full of stories about Coach Jones and the Rainbows. I'm telling you - those people were pumped.

But one of the newspaper articles was about the BCS bowl payout - and who was going to get their hands on it.

See, by the time all the WAC conference teams got their share and all Hawai'i's bowl expenses were paid, Hawai'i's payout figured to be about $3.5 million.

Now, June Jones really has done wonders there with his meagre budget, and I'm sure that he was figuring on doing a lot for his program with some of the bowl money. QB Colt Brennan caught hell because he was quoted in the Honolulu Advertiser complaining about the ratty condition of the lockers. Said they didn't even have soap in the showers. And by now everyone knows that Coach Jones' recruiting budget was a measly $50,000 a year. By comparison, Tennessee's 2006-2007 budget was $900,000. And Tennessee doesn't have to fly recruits in from the mainland.

But not so fast, football guys - right up there in the front of the line with their hands out were faculty people, politicians, and assorted other interest groups. They had their own plans for the money. Money that someone else had earned.

It was enough to make you sick.

And I'm willing to bet that when June Jones got back from the bowl trip and asked how the bowl money was going to be spent, he had trouble getting answers, and when he realized that he probably wasn't going to get back to a BCS bowl anytime soon, and that once he committed to a contract extension he was at the mercy of the administrators, he realized that he had no future at Hawai'i.

Socialism: From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need.

*********** The unsung hero of LSU's national championship is an ex-baseball coach named Skip Bertman. Skip's the AD at LSU, and he's the guy who put a fast halt to Michigan's attempt to steal his coach. Of course, it's going to cost Skip - LSU, actually - because Miles has got all sorts of contingency bonuses in his contract, but if he'd let Miles get away and LSU had somehow missed out on the championship, Skip probably wouldn't have enjoyed life around Baton Rouge, anyhow.

*********** Did I hear correctly? Tell me that wasn't former Buckeye Eddie George saying that Ohio State got outcoached.

*********** You may remember Ken Kendrick, the rich donor who first accused West Virginia of bait-and-switch tactics in supposedly not honoring their promises to Rich Rodriguez, and then, from the opulence of his million-dollar home in Aspen, harshly criticized their hiring of Bill Stewart.

"I don't really know him," was really the worst thing he could say about the man who had just picked up the pieces left by Mr. Kendrick's boy Rodriguez and coached the Mountaineers to a win over Oklahoma.

And therein lies the problem: he doesn't know Coach Stewart, which means he doesn't have access to him. Access is the main thing money people want when they donate to politicians, and the same holds true for big donors to college football programs.

Pure guy. Now he's on the outs.

I suggest that West Virginia schoolchildren start a "Pennies for Ken" campaign, to repay the money Mr. Kendrick donated to the University of West Virginia in the belief they'd let him run the place. Or at the very least, name the new head coach.

*********** For the second straight year, Mike Viti, Army's fullback, captain, and Black Lion has been named by ESPN sportscaster Mark May to his All-Mayday Team. Cadet Viti was the only repeat selection.

May began selecting the All-Mayday team three years ago to recognize some of the nation’s “toughest” football players, those whohave displayed “a tremendous amount of toughness and determination throughout the season.”

Viti overcame a series of injuries during his Army career, including several operations on both knees. He suffered a severe ankle injury that appeared to be a career-ender in Army's last home game against Tulsa, but after spending several days on crutches, he was back on the practice field less than a week later, and was able to play the entire game against Navy two weeks later.

*********** The end of the so-called "National Anthem" at the Superdome was definitely a "shoot the bastard" moment.

*********** I think that Tulsa's Paul Smith is a really good football player. Really good. And from everything I read about him, he is also an outstanding young man.

He is also deserving of any honors that come his way, even if it means keeping him in a game down to the last three minutes or so, with his team ahead, 56-7. I guess.

So he finally got his record - 5,000 yards or some damn thing. Good for him, although you and I both know that while the coach says he's doing it for the kid, it's more about the coach's ego.

So n ow, it's 56-7, 3:23 to play, and he's got his record. Now can I play, Coach?

Not a chance, son. Paul Smith has got his record, sure, but still he stays in the game. And throws. Again. Touchdown! 63-7! How exciting is that?

Now, I'm not bitching for Bowling Green's sake. They couldn't stop Tulsa, so shame on 'em.

But from the standpoint of the Tulsa backup, who sat the bench while the coach stuffed his fat ego, it sucks.

*********** Hi Coach.

Wonderful NEWS today. We've been complaining that Brent Musburger has been saying "Wesconsin" since he started broadcasting the Badgers games. Also hate the "playing on Sunday" comments. Why does it always come back to the NFL?  (Because at heart most media guys are  toadies for Big Football. It's understandable, because of the stranglehold they have on the mass media.)

Also you wrote: "Mark Mangino is my Coach of the Year. Finally - a coach with assistants with the good sense to put an end to that Gatorade bath bullsh--." --- YES, finally!!!!

I was also thinking about your comments about FOX and the college games and agree. One thing they did in the Orange Bowl was after every single play they cut to each team's band from the same camera angle. I swear it was on a loop. Boring production.

What did you think of coach Alvarez on the broadcast? (He's okay, but he really didn't get to say much because of the way Moose dominated the analyst's role.  Johnson even spoke through a referee's explanation, which used to be a REAL no-no.)

Owen Schmitt played at UW-River Falls here in WI. Wonder how he got out here? I checked and he is from VA, not that they tell you that anymore during a game.  (I happen to be fascinated with where guys come from, and based on the near-obsessive interest in recruiting, I think that others do, too.)

Also thought it was disrespectful for the Rich Ridriguez to be interviewed during MI's game. Disrespectful of Lloyd Carr.  (I really  think that it was classless of Rodriguez to consent to doing the interview, but he wasn't thinking about that coach or team down on the field.  His concern was getting free recruiting exposure for HIS program, and screw Lloyd Carr.)

DeBartolo Sports University -- is that the same game who used to run the 49ers? (The same. Mr. DeBartolo has a lot of money and a good name.  The guy behind this is Steve Clarkson, whose chief claim to fame at this point is being the guru who developed and gave the world - tada! - Jimmy Clausen.)

"Friend Tom Hinger suggests that the best way to end this obnoxious form of look-at-me exhibitionism is to penalize the act from the spot of the foul. He makes a great point - check out where the takeoff point of the flip was, mark the spot where the guy started to strut or turn and hold the ball back toward the opponents - then march off 15 yards. No touchdown. Watch how fast it stops." -- Great idea!!  (Keep pushing!  The kid from Kansas who strutted in against VaTech admitted that his inspiration was Deion. Yuk.)

Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin

*********** Took our drumline and colorguard to the Gator Bowl.

43 people in total (adults and students) left Sunday from Kansas City (flew SW Airlines) charters everywhere we needed to go while there flew back on Thursday

1 stop at Universal Studios.

Total cost for trip was in the 60 thousand dollar range.   about 1400 bucks a person how we did it.

1400 x 350 (for Texas Tech's band) would be 490 grand.  Plus drive the horse down....although they did bring there own charter.  Did see them at Universal Studios though. (88 bucks a ticket)

Brad Knight. Athletic Director/Head FB Coach
Clarinda Academy
Clarinda, Iowa

*********** Good for Jason Taylor for doing an anti-animal cruelty spot for the ASPCA with his dog, Bear. Very believable.

*********** Speaking of dogs... You've got to see this guy Cesar Millan, "The Dog Whisperer,"  on the National Geographic Channel. He is great.

*********** Reading may be my most enjoyable activity (if you can call it an activity).

Every day I read our two local papers - Vancouver and Portland - plus USA Today and the Wall Street Journal. Add to that several sports magazines and periodicals and I take personal responsibility for the destruction of a major portion of our nation's forests (although if you have kids in your classes who refuse to read, it's possible that they're some of the ones I've paid not to use books, thereby providing me with pulpwood offsets).

My last two books were "My Grandfather's Son" and "Tales of the South Pacific."

"My Grandfather's Son"is the autobiography of Justice Clarence Thomas, in my estimation a great American. To an extent, it's an inspirational, only-in-America story. Justice Thomas grew up poor and black in the segregated South, yet he now sits on the highest court in the land. Much of the credit belongs to the tough old man - his grandfather - who raised him. But inspirational though it may be, it is also a story of the lengths to which political partsans will go in attempting to destroy their enemies. For any of you whose immediate reaction when you hear Justice Thomas' name is that he is evil personified, or at the least the sworn enemy of every "real" black person in America, I suggest unless you are very well-read on the topic and have carefully weighed all the evidence, you have quite possibly been taken in by people whose careers depend on promoting the idea that a black man can't think for himself..

"Tales of the South Pacific," by James Michener, was first published in 1946, shortly after World War II, and it consists of the author's reminiscences of his wartime service in the South Pacific. It is Michener at his best, and his depiction of the characters he encountered - his fellow American servicepeople as well as the Pacific Islanders - was the inspiration of the hit Broadway musical "South Pacific."

At the current time, I've got two going.

One is "An Army at Dawn." by Rick Atkinson. The first in a planned three-book story of the US at war in Europe, it deals with the Allied invasion of North Africa. I'm barely into it, but I'm already in awe of Atkinson's research and writing, comparable to that of his friend and Washington Post co-worker, David Maraniss.

The other is "Meat Market." It's a look at college football recruiting from the inside, and it's a pretty fast read. Author Bruce Feldman was given unusual access to the inner workings of the Ole Miss program by then-head coach Ed Orgeron. Inside? How about this one: "At Notre Dame, a program that used to lament not being able to pursue many of the nation's top prospects because of its stern admissions policy, Charley Weis was suddenly getting the green light on some players Clemson couldn't take." Sounds like they listened to Paul Hornung after all.

*********** "Linebacker. Leader. Husband. Father."

For the past four years, South Florida's Ben Moffitt was portrayed as not only a standout linebacker but a family man as well.

It was a real feel-good story, reported on ESPN and in the New York Times.

But for nearly two months now, it’s appears he's been a deadbeat dad.

On November 11, his wife says, he left her and their two children, ages 5 and 3, and has had little contact with them since. His scholarship checks had helped pay the rent, and since leaving, she said, he hasn't been supporting his family financially.

The story, if true, is just another in long, sad litany of the bums that infest college football.

But here's where this story gets interesting: his wife said that she had taken numerous online courses for him, and written papers for his classes, all so that he could stay eligible to play football.

"I have written every single paper he has ever written in five years at USF," she said.

Uh-oh. USF got some 'splainin' to do.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

*********** Hated to see the Steelers go down, but I sure do like David Garrard - as a player and, from what I see of him, as a person. Maurice Jones-Drew impresses me similarly. Hope I'm not wrong.

*********** Was that really the Steelers - the Pittsburgh Steelers - down there inside the five and throwing the ball - four straight times? What's next for them - a float in this year's Allegheny County Gay Pride Parade?

*********** Speaking of the Steelers... if you're 45 or older you will remember the flack that Franco Harris would catch when he would step out of bounds at the end of a run, rather than duck his shoulder and deliver a blow and maybe pick up another yard or two. Oooh-whee! Good as Franco was, this was a defnite strike against him, as if he were, uh, unmanly. (People tended to overlook the fact that more often than not, a long gain had preceded his stepping out of bounds.)

Now, of course, as elements of the pro game increasingly resemble flag football, and players doff protective padding in the interest of looking sleek (they say it's for speed, but don't believe them), ball carriers and receivers routinely step out of bounds to avoid contact.

I won't even get into that ultimate perversion of the game, the quarterback's hookslide.

So at the very least, every football fan in America over the age of 45 should make a pilgrimage to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and march right up to Franco Harris' bust and personally apologize.

***********Feedback on my latest Old School Football Newsletter (#5)

*********** Hugh, What a great, great article. That is exactly the kind of stuff anyone that wants to coach should read and try to apply in their coaching. To many coaches simply think it's all about Xs and Os, and that may be the least important thing in coaching. If they can't understand and practice the points he was trying to get across. They will never be successful coaches.
I was about to drop you a line to thank you for sending the Black Lion award. We are having our banquet in a couple of weeks.

Thanks for everything and you also have a great year,

Frank Simonsen, Cape May, New Jersey

*********** Coach Hugh,
I was very impressed with your notes from a clinic you had back in 1986 with Bob Reade.  I had the very same feeling about him after reading his book "Coaching Football Successfully". It was a great book!.  I didn't buy in to his x's and o's, and never ran his offense, but I bought 100% into his philosophy about coaching the game.  Many times during my coaching career I referred to his teachings, especially since I coached youth football, and his teachings were directed to high school and small college coaching.  All coaches in the NFL could learn a lot by reading his book!  No individual awards, except the "Black Lion", which is for the unselfish player.

Alan Andrus, Salt Lake City, Utah

*********** Coach, OUTSTANDING newsletter.    Absolutely made my day.   It will be unbelievably helpful to reinforce to my staff what we are trying to do.    Looking forward to Providence!!!!
Hope all is well.

John Irion, Queensbury, New York

*********** Awesome stuff!! Thank you!

Greg Hansen, Stanton High School, Stanton, Nebraska

*********** Thanks for sharing this, coach! I found more than a few nuggets I would like to implement within our franchise and ethics to live by. Thanks to Coach Reade also.
Mark Rangel
Lathrop Titans A.D, Lathrop, California

*********** Coach, This is great stuff!

Jeff Murdock, Ware Shoals, South Carolina

*********** Hugh,

Great article. I love the philosophy. Not too many young coaches sticking by that today. I would love to get to one of your clinics one of these days.

Happy New Year,

Eric Bernstein, Braidwood, Illinois

*********** Hugh,

Great wisdom from Bob Reade.  His book is invaluable.  Thanks for sharing your transcribed clinic notes.  Very enjoyable.

Greg Koenig, Beloit, Kansas

*********** Thank you so much Coach Wyatt!!! I always appreciate reading your thoughts on football and life. I hope you had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Coach I must admit that I am an addict to "News You Can Use", if that 'drug' were ever to stop being available I am not sure what I would do. So please don't ever stop. One last note for some reason I did not get the 3rd and 4th Newsletter so if you could resend those I would appreciate it.

Ty Franklin, Roseville, California

*********** Coach, How interesting as I just purchased Coach Reade's book. Now I will look
forward to reading it!

Gabe McCown, Piedmont, Oklahoma

*********** Hugh,

Great newsletter; the wisdom of the elders is especially valuable today . I have Reade's book on the 4-3; it's kind of dense, or it was when I started reading it, so I never got through it.

I couldn't believe what I was seeing last night, watching quarterbacks (including a pro bowler) hang around in the pocket, then get pressured and heave the ball deep. I think I saw all four of them do this at least once,
resulting in several turnovers.

This wasn't helped by Santana Moss appearing to quit on the Seahawks' game-clinching interception return (I thought all these Miami guys were supposedly possessed by Sean Taylor's memory to play all-out).

C A (Yeah, he could have gone all-out. But why? What was the point? See, he was being covered. HW)

*********** Santana Moss quits on a route because he didn't think Collins would throw it his way because the corner didn't bite on his fake? 

Pardon me, but WTF is that?

Patrick Cox, Tolland HS, Tolland, Connecticut (As you probably know, Moss is from "the U" - so-called because every time a football player graduates, they add a letter -  and considering all the noise those Miami guys were making about honoring the memory of the late #21... HW)


*********** I first met Coach Lee Dugas, a Louisiana native and an LSU grad, last spring at my Raleigh-Durham clinic. Although at that time he lived in Raleigh, he has since move to - OHIO!

He wrote to thank me for the newsletter, then signed off with the mandatory "GEAUX TIGERS!" ("Geaux", a French constuction meant to a reflect the French influence in South Louisiana, is of course pronounced "GO!"

He added a further signoff, describing himself as "One lost Coonass...here in Buckeye Country!" ("Coonass" is an affectionate term applied by a Cajun to himself and other Cajuns. Not sure I'd use it unless I knew the person - and he knew me - really well. A Cajun is a descendant of the French people driven from their homes in Acadia, what is now Maritime Canada, in the 1700s, who settled in the swamps and forests and prairies of South Louisiana. There, in relative isolation from mainstream English influences, they have been able, to varying extents, to maintain their culture - their speech, their music and dance, and, most certainly, their food. Say "Acadian" really fast and you'll understand where the term "Cajun" comes from.)

And he included this great article from the New Orleans Times-Picayune...

Saturday, January 05, 2008
By Ron Thibodeaux
Staff writer

GROVE CITY, OHIO -- Terry Curtis was minding his own business one recent day, driving to his job at the power company, when some nut started honking at him.

The guy was manic, gesturing wildly with a cloth and blowing his horn, trying to get Curtis to pull over.

Curtis, a recent transplant from Slidell, had never seen this guy before and certainly didn't like the looks of him. He reluctantly eased his pickup truck onto the shoulder but stayed inside the cab, cracking the driver's window just slightly as the guy with the bulging eyes and shaved head ran toward him.

"I didn't know what to think," Curtis said as he recalled the incident this week. "I thought he wanted to fight me."

When Mr. Wild-and-Crazy reached the skeptical driver of the Toyota Tacoma pickup, he couldn't get his words out fast enough.

"I saw your license plate. I saw the sticker on your bumper," a near-breathless Lee Dugas blurted out. "Are you from Louisiana? DID YOU GO TO LSU?!?"

With that, Curtis immediately let his guard down and clambered out of his truck. A solid friendship was formed on the spot.

"I'd been here six months, and he's the first person I met from LSU," Curtis said. "I was so happy, I hugged him. I almost kissed him."

For his part, Dugas couldn't believe his good fortune when he spotted the LSU sticker and Louisiana license plate on the black pickup ahead of him in traffic that day.

"I carry this LSU flag in my car, and I was waving it at him and pointing to it as I was driving," said Dugas, a registered nurse. "I've been looking so hard for LSU people up here, I wasn't going to let him get away."

In a state of 11.5 million people, with several major cities such as Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo and Columbus, it shouldn't be that hard to find alumni of one of the largest public universities in the South. But in this place where all fandom seems to revolve around the enormous, and enormously popular, Ohio State University, members of the LSU faithful are relatively few and far between.

That hasn't stopped Dugas from trying to track them down and link them together.

Dugas is a native of Loreauville, a small town along Bayou Teche near New Iberia. His wife, Alicia, spent part of her youth in Baton Rouge. For much of their adult lives, they have moved around because of military postings and opportunities in their careers.

After several years in North Carolina, where Dugas was active in the LSU alumni chapter serving the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill triangle, the couple moved last year to Mount Vernon, Ohio, where Alicia Dugas took a job as an administrator at Kenyon College.

For a 42-year-old man who still considers himself a Cajun boy at heart, Lee Dugas found this a particularly traumatic adjustment.

There are certain incongruities to everyday life in central Ohio. Every so often, he'll be struck by the oddity of an Amish buggy parked amid the minivans and SUVs outside the Wal-Mart. He can't seem to get anyone this far north to pronounce his last name the Iberia Parish way ("DOO-gah").

Mostly, though, he's struggling with the sports thing.

When the couple were house-hunting, Dugas asked their real estate agent point-blank if he had to become an Ohio State fan once they moved here.

The broker pondered that query for what seemed like several minutes, then offered up a delicately worded response that Dugas could accept: "No," the agent told him, "but you just can't root for Michigan."

These days, the couple have four LSU flags flying at their home, and they're not convinced that's enough.

"Our next-door neighbors are big Ohio State fans," said Alicia Dugas, who did not attend LSU but is just as big a fan as her husband. "That's a problem between us and them, but our dogs love each other."

The couple named their basset hound Boudreaux. Needless to say, the neighbors don't get it.

What Lee Dugas doesn't get is why there is no LSU alumni chapter in Ohio.

Since moving to Ohio, he has been a man on a mission, beating the bushes to try to generate interest in LSU and Louisiana-themed events among expatriates in the Buckeye State.

After a few false starts earlier in the football season, he was able to use the approaching LSU-Ohio State clash for the national championship to his advantage, parlaying the anticipation of Monday's BCS game into a gathering of purple-and-gold-clad exiles one night last week.

After gathering for get-acquainted drinks at The Varsity Club, a Buckeye bar near Ohio State's football stadium, the group moved on to dinner at the Creole Kitchen, a cozy spot where chef Henry Butcher, a Shreveport native, served up an array of Louisiana specialties as close to authentic as anyone this far up in the Midwest could hope to expect.

It was a cheery, raucous night, with every conversation involving one of two themes: Louisiana food or LSU football.

There was John Raphael, a hotel official from New Iberia who lived in the nasty old men's dormitory built into Tiger Stadium, circa 1980.

Like many of us, he can quote chapter and verse about the biggest games he saw there as a student: LSU 55, Florida State 21; USC 17, LSU 12; LSU 45, Ole Miss 8; Alabama 3, LSU 0.

Raphael said he finds Tiger fans and Buckeye fans share certain key characteristics: "We both are very passionate about our team, we're both good-natured, and we both hate Florida."

As for life in Ohio? "The No. 1 thing I miss is fresh seafood," Raphael said. "I have to boil some shrimp every so often, just to keep my hand in. Whenever I get back down there, I have to bring back bottles of Zatarain's."

There was Meredith Howard, a New Orleans native who went from Ben Franklin High School to LSU and now is closing in on a Ph.D. in physics from, ahem, Ohio State.

There was Herschell O'Dell, class of '68, who drove in with his wife, Jeri, from Dayton. O'Dell grew up in Crowley and retired to Dayton after a career with the DuPont chemical company. He'll scoot down to Cincinnati periodically, he said, just to get fried oysters at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen.

There was Sidney Brown Jr. of Baldwin, who earned two degrees at LSU, in 1996 and 1998, then was recruited to Columbus as a teacher. He has been here ever since.

Brown has grown accustomed to colder weather, and he makes any LSU away game that's within driving distance -- like the Kentucky game this year, he acknowledged with a wince.

And there was Terry Curtis, St. Bernard Parish native and longtime Slidell resident. "I like it here, but it's not home," he said, between bites of seafood gumbo. "They don't know what food is up here. You know what I miss? Hogshead cheese. Try finding that in Ohio."

His wife indulges his devotion to the Tigers, but she doesn't share the passion, Curtis said.

"The people who haven't gone to LSU," he said, patting the front of his gray hoodie proclaiming LSU 2007 SEC Champions, "they don't understand."

And as for his new best friend, Lee Dugas?

"That day when we first met, I told him I had just lost my one LSU hat," Curtis said. "He went back to his car and got his and gave it to me."

Lee Dugas understands.

Ron Thibodeaux is the St. Tammany bureau chief and a 1979 graduate of LSU. His wife is an LSU graduate, as are his daughter and son-in-law. And if his grandchildren don't end up there, someone's going to have a lot of explaining to do. He can be reached at rthibodeaux@timespicayune.com

*********** Hugh, The NFL has sent three Wisconsin entertainment complexes cease-and-desist letters ordering them to stop showing NFL games on theater-sized screens, ostensibly to protect the value of the TV contracts.

I understand the "private, noncommercial audience" provisions of the network license and all that, but this seems particularly corporate, maybe even antitrust. (Ironically, the NFL will order TV affiliates to not show games if not enough tickets are sold.)

An NFL spokesman said theaters were showing games on "huge, huge screens that can attract 50 to 500 people watching the games. Talk to your local TV affiliates, who will say those types of events take away from their ratings. That's what this is about," he said.

The NFL runs an interesting business. I never thought a large group of people enjoying your product, engendering brand loyalty, would be something to be avoided. Christopher Anderson, Palo Alto, California

This is not necessarily  the NFL's wishes.  It IS being done to honor their contracts with the networks, which require them to protect local markets and not compete with local network affiliates.   The NFL is in the position of a manufacturer that has to protect its  retailers. And in a sense, by allowing someone to provide its games to a large audience in a theatre-like setting, the NFL would be promoting competition with its key retailers (the network affiliates).  

If this competition should reduce in-home viewership, it would be reflected in lower ratings for the local network affiliates, who would then have to charge less for the local commercials they show during NFL games.

The NFL is also protecting itself to this extent: if it were not to come down on these casinos, it envisions the day when someone might rent an even larger venue and charge people money to watch a blacked-out NFL game.

Hmmm.  Come to think of it... I get the NFL Network because I get the Dish network.  Maybe I could hang out a sign inviting people to watch games at my place, and then charge them less than they'd have to pay their cable system to get it.   Yeah, right.  Just what I need.  A houseful of drunken, shirtless NFL bozos with painted faces.  Never mind.

*********** How much shorter can NFL football pants get before they resemble those all-in-one girdles that come down far enough for thigh pads, too? But wait - a lot of these guys don't wear thigh pads, either.

*********** Compliments of Jason Clarke, Glen Burnie, Maryland

A mother was making breakfast for her young son when he suddenly burst into the kitchen...

"Careful!! Careful!!" he shouted. "Put in some more butter! Oh my goodness! You're cooking too many at once! TOO MANY! Turn them! TURN THEM NOW! We need more butter. Oh My! WHERE are we going to get MORE BUTTER? They're going to STICK! Careful!...CAREFUL! I said CAREFUL! You NEVER listen to me when you're cooking! Never! Turn them! Hurry up! Are you crazy! Have you lost your mind? Don't forget to salt them. You know you always forget to salt them. Use the salt. USE THE SALT! THE SALT!!"

His mother turned, and staring at him, said, "What's wrong with you? You think I don't now how to fry a couple of eggs?" she asked.

The boy replied, "I just wanted to show you what it feels like when I'm trying to play soccer."

*********** Compliments of loyal reader John Muckian, of Lynn, Massachusetts -

"The Guy From Boston" (from what I know about Boston, he's as East Boston as you can get) pays a visit to Ground Zero of the Cheesesteak Capital of America --- FAIR WARNING: if the "F-word" offends you, go no further...



american flagFRIDAY, JANUARY 4, 2008- "It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link of the chain of destiny can be handled at a time." Winston Churchill

*********** As the college football season draws to an end, one thing that helps me deal with the onset of depression is the knowledge that I've seen the last of Lou Holtz's pep talks.

*********** For those who wondered what that bowl was that Fresno State and Georgia Tech were playing in, Roady's is a large truck stop chain. There may even be one near you, except that it probably goes by some name other than "Roady's."

*********** Forget the bowl games. Throw away all the Buffalo jokes. Buffalo was the capital of the sports world on New Year's Day.That outdoor hockey game in Ralph Wilson Stadium was so-o-o-o-o-o cool.

I had two TV sets side-by-side with plans to switch back and forth among four different bowl games, but I just couldn't switch away from that hockey game.

Talk about an arresting scene. The huge crowd (71,000). The tiny rink on the floor of the stadium. The snow falling (they had hoped it would snow, and damned if it didn't). It was must-see TV.

Of course, for me, so is a football game played in snow. Maybe it's the unpredictability of it all.

*********** There were only two goals, and very few shots on goal, but by the same token, it was hard to take your eyes away because for whatever reason, except when they had to repair the playing surface, the action was non-stop. It was hockey at its very best.

*********** One of the reasons why play was continuous was that there were so few penalties. Probably no one wanted to have to go sit in the penalty box in that cold.

*********** Somehow, the puck seemed easier to follow. Possibly it was because this was the first time I'd ever seen an outdoor hockey game on TV. Possibly because the ice was so bumpy it was moving slower than usual.

*********** Supposedly the two teams were wearing "throwback" jerseys, but to me they looked like hockey players are supposed to look.

*********** Just wondering --- Why don't singers ever screw around with Canada's National Anthem?

***********Sick as I am of all the NFL jackasses who insist that they're not having fun unless they're doing touchdown dances or celebrating sacks, who complain that NFL really stands for "No Fun League," it was great to hear a professional athlete say that he's having fun playing the game he's being paid to play.

When they asked Sidney Crosby of the Penguins if he was having fun playing outdoors, he said, "This is unbelievable."

You want to do this again? he was asked afterward.

"Oh, for sure!" he said. "This was a great experience."

*********** Crosby, by the way, is sort of unbelievable himself, scoring the winning goal in shootout.

*********** And then those poor, long-suffering Buffalo fans. First the Bills, then this. Losing the game in a shootout. As a Buffalo-area coach named Randy Zak said to me several years ago, "We can't catch a break."

*********** Lloyd Carr gets this bowl season's "Keep Coaching" Award. It may have been his last game, but when a kid committed a stupid personal foul (come to think of it, is there a bright one?), there was Lloyd, going right over to the kid on the sideline and getting up real close and giving him a little, uh, "tough love."

*********** Florida let Michigan's second half kickoff - a short, high one - bounce on the ground, and the Wolverines recovered. Rule number one, Gators: first - before you set up to block - see the ball kicked.

*********** Let Michigan be a lesson to you ADs out there... if it's at all possible, let your outgoing coach lead your team in the bowl game. Let West Virginia be a lesson as well... if your team puts on the sort of performance that West Virginia did under an interim coach - hire his ass.

*********** In case you wondered what the Rose Bowl people were getting at with all those old clips narrated by Brent Musburger in the week prior to the game, it was a very clever way of trying to sell you the idea that the Granddaddy of The All they were hoping you would watch would be the latest one in a long line of classic Rose Bowl matchups between the best of the Big Ten and Pac-10. What a crock.

Wrote Ryan White in the Portland Oregonian, "Brent Musburger arrived on the screen over and over this past week to tell us this is the Rose Bowl as it was meant to be, and we can't help but hope Mr. Musburger is being paid well to spread such lies (unless the Rose Bowl was designed to match the Pacific-10 Conference champion against a team that tied for second in the Big Ten Conference, which it wasn't)."

*********** Brett Musburger kept cheapening the Rose Bowl by making at least a dozen references to this player or that "playing on Sunday" sometime in the near future.

And Mr. Musburger showed his disrespect for the college game after a USC player drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for doing a phabulous phorward phlip over the goal line, and he wondered aloud why Clinton Portis can get away with it on Sunday but this kid can't.

Why see, Brett, it's like this - all those old fogies in college and high school football just don't want the kids to have any fun out there.

Then there was the kid from Kansas who started his strut out at about the five-yard line as he scored against Virginia Tech. (The NFL guys on Fox said it ws because he was "so excited.")

The real obstacle to dealing with the problem is that the team gets penalized, but the me-guy, the exhibitionist, gets at most an ass-chewing from his coach, while deep down inside he's chuckling, because he still got his touchdown. And his celebration.

Friend Tom Hinger suggests that the best way to end this obnoxious form of look-at-me exhibitionism is to penalize the act from the spot of the foul. He makes a great point - check out where the takeoff point of the flip was, mark the spot where the guy started to strut or turn and hold the ball back toward the opponents - then march off 15 yards. No touchdown.

Watch how fast it stops.


*********** Wait a minute... So USC earns the right to play in the Rose Bowl, but while they're going at it down on the field, the TV folks are up in the stands interviewing Rick Neuheisel, the new coach of their crosstown rivals?

*********** On the subject of "Coach Sweatervest," as he calls him, Nick Daschel writes in the Vancouver Columbian, "If Neuheisel, who coordinated an offense at Baltimore that ultimately got Brian Billick fired as Ravens' coach, can get a high-profile college job, where does that leave Dirk Koetter?"

Koetter, you may recall, was let go at Arizona State after last season, but he has done a fantastic job in the NFL this season as the OC at Jacksonville, and his overall college record (Boise State and ASU) is 66-44.

*********** In my opinion USC may be the best team in the country, and if they hadn't been forced for old time's sake (plus the supposed Chicago TV market) to play a so-so Big Ten runner-up, I do believe that the Trojans would have been able to make a plausible claim on a split of the national title.

*********** There's Illinois getting waxed, and an Illinois receiver scores to close the gap to 32 points (49-17) and the guy goes out of his way to mouth off to the USC fans in the end zone.

Send him to the NFL. Right now. With that kind of ability to celebrate meaningless accomplishments, he's ready.

*********** As the NFL begins its playoff season, the kind that all the media think the colleges should have, it's worth recalling the phoniness of that last regular season NFL weekend, when so many playoff teams rested their starters. As a result, Tennessee was able to snatch a playoff spot from Cleveland by beating an Indianapolis team that went with its backups.

*********** It was nice to see the Last Michigan Team Coached by a Michigan Man go out in a blaze of glory.

*********** Boy, is Fox out of their element when it comes to televising college games. They disserve college football by thinking they can impose their NFL style on the bowl telecasts. Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer? I guess I can understand, although I'd have much preferred seeing the ESPN guys. Moose Johnson? (Excuse me, he goes by "Daryl" now.) Loved him as a football player, but he's turned into a motormouth on NFL telecasts, and he was at his talkative - and negative - worst Thursday night.

John Riggins? Fran Tarkenton? Where did they find them? With that long, white hair of his, Tarkenton looked like the reincarnation of John C. Calhoun or one of those other other pre-Civil War Southern politicians.

*********** Help me. Why do so many people say "Ellinois," and "Wesconsin?"

And how did the McAnderson kid from Kansas become "Muh-Kanderson?"

*********** Todd Blackledge must run ten miles a day to be able to eat the stuff we see him eating on TV and still stay trim.

*********** Matt Leinert seemed to be a strange choice to introduce the Trojans. Shouldn't he have been endorsing them?

*********** Georgia thumps Hawai'i? Missouri thumps Arkansas? USC thumps Illinois? Welcome to what the first round games of a 16-team playoff will look like.

*********** Can there be any award less called-for than this "Joe Montana Quarterback of the Year Award," which supposedly goes to the top high school quarterback in America? Are you kidding me?

DeBartolo Sports University

Now, look - there are only 32 NFL teams, and only a handful of them have quality quarterbacks, and those are the ones we see over and over, but it's still difficult to choose the "best." Most will probably say Brady, but I could make a strong argument for Manning (Peyton) or Favre. Romo, even.

In college, where there are 60-some bowl teams, and even some so-called mid-major teams have excellent quarterbacks, it's even tougher. I mean, come on - there's a guy from Alabama State starting at QB for the Vikings. Tony Romo is from Eastern Illinois. And who knew how good Favre would become?

In high school? Gimme a break. There are thousands of teams playing, and although there are dozens of elite QBs making their way through various evaluating camps and combines, there are even more good ones who may be overlooked in the recruiting process but could still work their way to the top, in college and even in the NFL.

Remember Jimmy Clausen, who could be destined to spend an entire career as Notre Dame's Quarterback of the Future? A couple of years ago, if only they'd had the Joe Montana Award then, he'd have been the hands-down winner.

But this is now, and on Monday, a couple of Clausen's contemporaries, who didn't get nearly the national pub as high schoolers that he did (and who didn't arrive at the College Football Hall of Fame in a limousine to sign their letters of intent), stepped out of backup roles to put on the kind of performance Mr. Clausen has yet to do, and lead their teams to bowl wins.

I'm talking about Cal's redshirt freshman QB Kevin Riley, who completed 16 of 19 for 269 yards and three TDs to defeat Air Force, and I'm talking about Oregon's Justin Roper, who at the start of the season was oh, maybe fifth string, but helped the Ducks defeat South Florida in the Sun Bowl with four TD passes.

There are plenty of other guys who were not recruited as heavily as Jimmy Clausen but are already making their marks in college ball, while he struggles. There are so many good high school quarterbacks with the ability to play major college football that it's absurd to try to single out one of them.

But wait - there's a way! If you want to have a shot at next year's Joe Montana Quarterback of the Year Award, you can still sign up. See, the Joe Montana Quarterback of the Year award, it turns out, is presented by something called the DeBartolo Sports University, and actually serves as a promotional vehicle for this organization which, if you check out its Web site, is all about development of - quarterbacks.

*********** You have to hand it to college recruiters for being able to find guys with eyes in the back of their heads. Those are the ones who are blocking downfield whenever you see a runner, ten yards behind them, pointing out people for them to block.

*********** If you're a high school coach and you've ever been fired (or given the option of "resigning"), you might have trouble generating a lot of sympathy for Brian Billick, out as the Ravens' coach.

True, he's out of work, just as you once were. That's no fun. And he's no longer got a team to coach. You know what an empty feeling that can be.

But otherwise, put the hankies away - he had three years left on his contract. At $5 million per.

*********** Grrr. Can't watch Michigan-Florida because they're interviewing Rodriguez. Zap. Switch to Missouri-Arkansas and damned if they're not interviewing Petrino.

Rodriguez certainly was thoughtful of other programs. Said he had some assistants he was interested in but they were involved in bowls and he "didn't want to disrupt their bowl preparations."

Ironic that he wasn't that considerate of West Virginia.

*********** West Virginia's win was thrilling because of the way those West Virginia kids, abandoned by their runaway father, played their tails off and brightened the outlook of an entire state.

There were exciting plays galore, but to me, none more exciting than WVU's 260-pound Owen Schmitt - a fullback, no less - breaking away for a 57-yard touchdown run. (Isn't it great to see a fullback actually get to carry the ball occasionally?)

*********** Bob Stoops was catching hell on ESPN radio because he'd lost four straight BCS bowl games. They were calling the Sooners "Choke-lahoma."

Give me a break.

I used to hear the same sort of nonsense about Bud Grant, too - sure, he could get the Vikings to the Super Bowl, but - he couldn't win the big one.

Ditto Marv Levy.

Uh - Didn't somebody say four straight BCS bowl games? Uh - how many BCS games has your favorite team been in?

*********** Wow, did anyone get a chance to see the new high powered  offense of Auburn? I mean they really hired this new  offensive coordinator  Dec.12th and his magical spread read  offense was amazing wasn't it? NOT!  both teams never had a qb under center the entire night. Clemson's coaching staff(all 15 of them) were doing hand  signals with diversions to try to keep  Auburn off balance and they would have their entire offense  look to the sidelines to see what these bozos were doing. Is this the way football is headed?  I figured out as a high school coach and getting a team to astate title game this past season it  worked out to about 11 bucks an hour! And just think -these fine institutions have the money to pay 6  figure contracts to coordinators while other kids are taking out 100,000 dollar loans! 10  grown men looking like 3rd base coaches giving signals? I mean who are we kidding here? why are we constantly trying to re invent the wheel?
Pete Porcelli (And isn't it amazing what copycats these guys are? There wasn't a single game in which one of the teams didn't run a shotgun spread attack of some sort.

But to me, the three toughest teams I've seen so far - USC, Georgia and Michigan - mostly just lined up and gave the ball to a tailback and stuffed it down people's throats. HW)

*********** What's it cost to take one of those bands to a bowl game? 200-some people? At a cost - room, meals, air travel - of at least $500 a head? Maybe double that?

So why, when they have perfectly good bands on hand, do they feel they have to bring in high-paid acts to "perform" the national anthem?

Did you catch that lameass "national anthem" by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons before the Fiesta Bowl?

And what about the skank who looked like she just climbed out of bed long enough to trash it at the Orange Bowl?

That's what they call "honoring America?"


How can a guy that got caught cheating be coach of the year? 

Arnold Wardwell, The Dalles, Oregon

In today's America, cheating will be forgiven if it helps you succeed. All that matters is results.

What a damn shame that Belichick is such a good coach but so unscrupulous.

*********** Answer me this - if you threw as poorly - and ran as well - as Virginia Tech, would you have spent most of the night throwing the f--king ball?

*********** Mark Mangino is my Coach of the Year. Finally - a coach with assistants with the good sense to put an end to that Gatorade bath bullsh--.


A Couple of Ernie Wright Stories!

"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)

american flagTUESDAY, JANUARY 1, 2008- - "What would be the use of immortality to a person who cannot use well a half an hour?" Ralph Waldo Emerson

*********** If you think that Hawai'i coach June Jones is lucky to have his team in a BCS Bowl, consider that actually, he's lucky to be alive.

He's a Portland guy, who played his football at Portland's Grant High, and finished his college career in a blaze of glory at Portland State, as the quarterback who first put Mouse Davis' run and shoot on the football map.

We local folks followed him through his five years as a quarterback with the Falcons, and to the extent that it's possible in the states to do so, his year with the Toronto Argonauts.

We followed his climb up the coaching ladder, first as quarterback coach at Hawai'i, then in a succession of stops in the USFL and the CFL before winding up back in the NFL and, in 1994, being named head coach of the Falcons. Let go after three years in Atlanta, he caught on in 1998 as quarterback coach in San Diego, and wound up the season as the Chargers' interim head coach.

In 1999, he took on the job of ending the nation's longest losing streak as head coach at the University of Hawai'i. His opening game was a 62-7 hammering by USC, but a week later, the streak came to an end with a 31-27 defeat of Eastern Illinois, and two weeks after that, the Warriors defeated SMU to end a 24-game WAC road losing streak. They finished the regular season 8-4, and their defeat of Oregon State in the O'ahu Bowl made it 9-4.Coming after the 0-12 1998 season, it is still the greatest one-season turnaround in NCAA history.

Those who only started following Hawai'i football in the last year or two may not remember that. Nor are they likely to remember that in February of 2001, he was all but given up for dead after a horrendous single-car crash on a Hawai'i freeway - paramedics who were first to respond called in a DOA - and spent a week in a coma before undertaking a grueling rehabilitation program. By August he was back coaching - not without pain - and he led the Warriors to a 9-3 record and a season-ending 72-45 defeat of BYU.

The accident affected him physically, but spiritually as well. It deepened a faith that he said has been a major part of his life since he was a teenager. "I made a decision," he told the Honolulu Advertiser, "that affected my whole life at that time. God's blessed me. I don't have any anxiety about anything. God's blessed me with a peace. I learned that at a young age."

So when you watch Hawai'i play Georgia and you see him, regardless of the situatioj, emotionless... don't wonder how any coach could be such a stoic.. don't think that it's just a front, and that under the surface he's a man in turmoil...

Jones says that since he was a teenager, he's never worried about games.. or job security... or money.

He said it was during a chapel service that he first heard the Bible passage (Philippians 4:6-7)...

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ.

(I learned the King James version: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”)

Said Jones, "It's the only place in the Bible where God promises you, the secord you pray, he will grant you this peace and humility. He doesn't say that He will grant you what you pray for, but He will grant you peace. And the bottom line is, if you have peace, you don't care of you get your wish or not."

But there's always the accident.

Said Jones to the Advertiser, "I think about the accident. I always wonder why God chose to let me live, and someone else wasn;t so lucky. I always think about that."

*********** In addition to being a spiritual man, Hawai'i's June Jones is also thoughtful.

Case in point: A few years ago, he learned that an 85-year-old man named Mun Kim Wong, the lone living survivor of the 1941 Hawai'i team, had never received his letter (World War II got in the way of a lot of things). So at a charity dinner, Jones showed a video of the 1941 team, then introduced Mr. Wong and awarded him his varsity letter and jersey.

Case in point: His defensive coordinator from 2006, Jerry Glanville, and his offensive coordinator, Mouse Davis, are now at Portland State, but Jones announced that he's giving them both Sugar Bowl rings. (He said Glanville told him, "If we'd stayed, you'd have won seven games!")

*********** Watching Oregon hammer South Florida was a bit of a surprise to me, because after Dennis Dixon went down, the Ducks pretty much went to pieces. But in the time that's passed since the end of the regular season, Oregon OC Chip Kelly turned Justin Roper, a stringbean redshirt QB from Buford, Georgia, into the nearest thing to Dixon. And between Roper and Jonathan Stewart, who ran for 253 yards (a tribute to Ducks' line coach Steve Greatwood), Orego on Monday looked like the Oregon team that was ranked number two in the nation nine weeks into the season before things fell apart. If things hadn't gone awry, Oregon would be playing next weekfor the national title, and Dixon would have won the Heisman Trophy.

*********** Remember how on Alabama's first touchdown against Colorado, Bama's ball carrier did a front flip while crossing the goal line and mysteriously, the officiating crew turned coward and did nothing about it?

A couple of days later, a kid from Florida State scored a touchdown against Kentucky, and did a similar front flip. But he got nailed. Cost the 'Noles 15 yards on the following kickoff.

Well. Was Good Ole Bobby pissed. See, everybody else does it, but let Florida State do it, and then, why - they're out to get Florida State, that's what!

Listen to what Good Ole Bobby had to say to Jack Arute at halftime.

"I look at television every game and kids dive in the end zone all day long - never get it called. We dive out there and they called it on us. That irritates the crap out of me. If other people can do it, by golly we can do it!"

Can you believe that crap? "We're not the only ones doing it." Sure, it's against the rules, but other people do it, so why can't we?

What - you were expecting me to teach my players that it's wrong?

Actually, Bobby, our kids see that crap on TV, too, and the main reason is people like you, who don't seem to think that your players' behavior - on the field and (ahem!) in the classroom - is your responsbility.

(And while you're at it, media guys... No way Ole Bobby's wins at Samford - Samford, for God's sake - can count toward his total when comparing him with Joe Paterno, all of whose wins came at Penn State. Samford? Penn State? Gimme a break.)

*********** Harry Truman has been dead for years, yet somehow you feel he had Ed Cunningham in mind when he said, "Have something to say. Say it. Shut up."

*********** Suffice it to say that feminists and others who decry the idea of women being treated as sexual objects would have loved the miniskirted halftime show at the Sun Bowl.

***********Lansingburgh, New York made it to the state final game, and the Albany Times Union added to the team's achievements by honoring coach Pete Porcelli as its Large School Coach of the Year, and Kenny Youngs and Chris Sawyer as Large School Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, respectively.

*********** On our recent visit to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial, it was apparent that the people on charge have had plenty of experience with today's Americans. Before anyone set foot inside the memorial, everyone was instructed to turn off all cell phones, and to keep voices down. And gentlemen were instructed to remove hats. There was a time when you wouldn't have had to tell people these things. Of course, there was also a time when people weren't able to talk publicly on the phone and inflict their personal business on others.

*********** With all the easy courses and light course loads and  "academic counseling" available to them, it's hard to believe that so many big-time college players can still be ineligible for bowl games.  Would those guys have lasted even a semester as real students?

*********** Is nothing sacred? (Rhetorical question - we all know the answer is, "NO!")

The Dec 24-30 issue of Sports Business Weekly notes that the Army-Navy game may be going the way of the bowl games...

The two academies have taken tentative steps in the last nine months to find a company that would sign on as presenting sponsor for their annual football game.

"We've been proceeding very slowly and very carefully," said Jon Starrett, senior associate athletic director for the Naval Academy.

Fewer than a dozen businesses have seen a presentation of the plan, which likely would result in the game being billed along the lines of "The Army-Navy Game, presented by..."

I told my friend Tom Hinger about this and we started speculating on who the "presenting sponsor" might be. Boeing came to mind. Maybe Lockheed Martin. Somebody who does a lot of business with the armed services.

I suggested maybe one of the political parties, in view of the fact that the game would be right before election.

But Tom reminded me that the election will be held before the game, and aftet that, depending on who won the election, "there might not even be an Army and a Navy."

*********** All these guys who've been suspended or ruled ineligible for their bowl games... do they still get their free Wii's?

*********** You don't suppose that Neuheisel knew in advance that Brian Billick was going to be fired and he'd be needing a job anyhow, do you?

*********** So if you're DeWayne Walker, UCLA defensive coordinator, and you've been passed over for the head job there, do you stay with Neuheisel, or do you go to Washington, where Tyrone Willingham has one more year to get things turned around?

*********** Oklahoma's DeMarcus Grange won't be playing in the Fiesta Bowl (Or did they say he'd just be sitting out the first quarter?) after being caught shoplifting a coat at a Burlington Coat Factory. With all the coaches and GAs and assistant ADs and such, you'd think they'd put somebody in charge of telling the players that when they go on the road, they're expected to pay for things.

*********** Hello Coach Wyatt:
Today, as is my habit, as soon as I logged on, I read your news to get my Friday fix. I see that the A-11 offense has prompted at least one reader to weigh in.  Mr. Anderson of Palo Alto writes:
"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."

The answer is that all 11 players are only potentially-eligible  receivers up to one second before the snap by virtue of their eligible numbers.  After the final shift, only the 4 backs and two ends are eligible, just as in a normal scrimmage formation.  It is the last minute shifting which causes defenses to have to make a last-second diagnosis of the formation to determine who the eligble receivers on that particular play will be.

This abomination has been the topic of heated debate on several of the football forums I frequent, including "Dum Coach".  Most agree that if this system spreads and catches on with a lot of teams, the tactic will be made illegal through a simple rules change.

Have a safe and prosperous new year!

Mark Rice
Beaver, Pa.

It isn't going to last long.

It's a perversion of the rule's intent, because except for "scrimmage kick formation," what the guy is doing is impossible.

I think that having a man seven yards deep scarcely puts him in "scrimmage kick formation" as the rule defines it.  He's just in what's called  "short punt" formation, which is still used as an offensive formation by a few teams around the country. But not many people actually punts out of a formation with the punter seven yards deep.  

One way to put this guy out of business would be to require the "kicker" to be ten yards'deep for it to qualifiy as a "scrimmage kick formation."

Simpler yet would be to  restore to kick formation the basic requirement that there must be at least five men on the line of scrimmage with ineligible numbers on all plays,. Then, either those big, out of shape offensive linemen will have to run downfield on punts, or the faster kids who substitute for them will have to pull on ineligible-numbered vests when they go in on kicking plays, as was the case 20 or so years ago.

*********** Hey Coach Wyatt,

The last update I gave you was back in November 2002. That year was our first official year of running the Double Wing. I updated you in 2002 after our first round playoff win and I thought would drop you a quick note and bring you up to date. We have been running the Double Wing since the 2002 season. Six straight seasons of running the double wing and we have six straight Super Bowl appearances. We also have two undefeated seasons and two regional bowl game appearances which are invitation based only. I have coached for 17 years at both the high school level and at the youth league level. I have never been around an offensive system that is so easy to teach year in and year out and still have the same success. Doesn’t matter what kind of personnel we have the system still works. It is the system and not the caliber of players that make this work. Obviously if you have some gifted athletes that can run the system works even better.
This year my oldest son moved on to high school ball. His team recently played in the 2A State Championship game here in Florida. His high school runs the spread option offense and they have the personnel to run that offense. However the team they faced in the State Championship game ran the Wing T and the Double Wing. Our defense was able to stop their Wing T formation plays, but when that team lined up in the double wing and ran 88 Power there was no stopping them. It was interesting in the fact that, my son played for me and was our QB for our youth league double wing team. He plays safety for his high school team and said he knew what was coming, knew where he needed to be as did the rest of the defense. But they still couldn’t stop the double wing!
Again, amazing results with the Double Wing no matter what level the double wing is run at. One side note for all those pass happy coaches out there, you have to have a running game first before you can think about passing the ball. That is true whether it is in the spread option offense or any other offense. A team has to be able to run the ball. The double wing is perfect for running and passing. Install it and enjoy the success of a truly great system.
Coach I hope you have had a great Christmas and you have had a great year this year. I also wish you a Happy New year in 2008.
Burke Bomar, Brandon Lions, Brandon, Florida

*********** Coach,
I think I blushed when I saw the head line on your "NEWS" page. I know I blushed when I scrolled down and saw that the New Haven Register announcement - picture and all - was your lead in story.

As you know, there are so many people that are involved in a successful program and without any one of them the whole thing can stink. To be awarded this honor has left me speechless, yet at the same time thinking of all of the kids, coaches, and one certain "email coach" who all contributed so much to this season.

Thanks for everything.

See you in Rhode Island.

Yours in football,
Patrick Cox
Tolland High School Football
Tolland CT

P.S. Love the Emerson quote from Tuesday.

*********** Hey Coach,
Hope your Christmas was Great. I have always wondered how the QB/FB exchanged worked in a veer offense or any option offense, meaning How does the FB know not to grab the ball away from the qb or when to take from him. If you can give so insight it would be good. on another note, I don't think I ever updated you on the end of our season, we went undefeated in league and lost in the first round of the playoffs.

Kevin Rivas, Montebello, California

Here's is an explanation of the wishbone's QB-fullback exchange...

The quarterback holds the ball in both hands as he extends his arms to engage the fullback. One hand is on the front of the ball, one in back. (His hands face each other, with the ball in between.)

The following is excerpted from "Installing Football's Wishbone T Attack," by Pepper Rodgers and Homer Smith (1973)

"Ideally the ball would be fitted into the pocket with the fullback feeling it with his arms but with only the back of a (quarterback's) wrist touching his belly six inches from the center of the pocket. While the ride takes place the fullback folds his arms and hands softly over the ball but he should not be aware of pressure on his stomach until the decision is made by the quarterback to give...

To give, the (quarterback's) back hand is pulled away, the front hand presses the ball, and the arm follows the fullback slightly farther than it does on the disconnect. The hands are then brought together for the fake. To disconnect, the ball is snapped away with the back of (the quarterback's) wrist keeping the fullback from feeling any pressure. The grip on the ball must be secure because it is often pulled through the hands of the fullback...

The ball carrier's elbow must be up and not out. The fingers have a taut, reaching appearance just before the exchange is made. Palms are up and down; the little finger of the bottom hand touches just below the belt level and the thumb of the top hand right at the breast bone. At the time of exchange the arms are completely disengaged from the running action of the legs...

The close over the ball brings the fingers over both ends as the hands turn to cover it. The most common fault is coming down hard with the inside elbow, making it difficult for the quarterback to remove his hands. The ball should be pressed on the belly button until the runner has closed his hands over it...

A slow motion picture of a perfect exchange would show the ball going across the ball carrier's belly with both hands on it, the ball being pressed to the belly as the inside hand slips out and waits, the outside hand level with the palm turned directly toward the belly, and a definite press of the ball while the ball carrier closes his arms over it. As the outside hand comes off the ball it rejoins the inside hand so they can stay together as they would if they still had the ball.

*********** (Regarding the Emerald Bowl, played in a baseball stadium, with both teams on the same sideline) I didn't understand the sideline thing. It makes sense to have the teams on the same sideline in lacrosse, when they share a common subbing box and have fewer players. But FOOTBALL? What were they thinking? It looked dumb, was unfair to both teams, and seemed unnecessary. How did they get away with that?
Julia Love, Durham, North Carolina (Full disclosure - Julia Love is my daughter.)

Several years ago I watched Stanford play Georgia Tech in something called the Seattle Bowl, and they played it in Safeco field (where the Mariners play).

In that case, too, they put both teams on the same sideline.  It was really sort of unfair at one point, because as one of the teams (I forget which) was driving, its opponents  - since their team box essentially went from midfield to near the goal line - were raising all kinds of hell and causing quite a bit of distraction.

I can only assume that there was only one way to fit a regulation football field into those baseball-only stadiums, and that required putting both teams on the same sideline.

I had to go through that in a high school game one time, and two things I remember were (1) the opposing coach flipping us off as he walked past us to tend to an injured played, and (2) our inability to communicate with our kids on an important two-point conversion because they were 50 yards away, with the opponents' bench between us and them, and making all kinds of noise (3) At least 50 per cent of the time, when you make substitutions your players and their players have to make their way past each other on their way to and from their sidelines.

I would never want to do it again.

The potential for a brawl is scary. Imagine being on the same sideline as Miami.

************ Notice how careful the TV cameras were to keep us from seeing all those empty upper decks in all those undercard bowls?

*********** I'm shocked no one on ESPN has taken Texas to task for having at least five people on the field with the ball in play. To the studio guys, it's all a big joke.
Christopher Anderson, Palo Alto, California (Officials can really be bullies. They would have slammed a high school coach the first time he stepped onto the field, but not Ole Mack. He is a coaching icon, so he first gets a sideline warning, and then, when his team displays a total lack of sideline discipline, he gets a tap on the wrist.

What was next - a yellow card?

Not a soul on TV said anything about his responsibility to maintain that sideline discipline.

I always thought that keeping everybody except a handful of coaches back behind the restraining line - and having a "Get Back!" Coach to enforce it - was supposed to be as much about officials' safety as effective officiating.

Obviously, with all those clowns out on the field during a liveplay, it was obvous that Texas already had way too many people in the box. HW)

*********** Don't know about the rest of you, but I think that a coach has earned the right to be addressed by his title when approached by a sideline reporter, and as one example, it irks me no end when I hear ditzy Sam call Coach Leavitt "Jim," and ditzy Erin call coach Paterno "Joe."

*********** Our head coach has been asked not to return. I will be returning as offensive coordinator, with full control of the direction we will take, and while I know this team was very successful running the system they had last season, I want to  expose them (and myself to coaching the system) to the Double Wing. Any suggestions you might have  - exclusively for short yardage situations, or that I'm wasting my time to try and implement the system as a partial package - would be appreciated.
Because what we do is so dependent on an interrelated group of factors and techniques not applicable to other systems, I generally feel that you need to go all in. 

I think that what you propose could be done by a pro team, by a large college team, or even a large high school.  But only if you had their coaching expertise , their talent, their numbers and their time would it be advisable to try running "some" Double-Wing, merely as an adjunct to your base offense.

I think what a youth progam  would get, because you simply couldn't be as attentive as you need to be to the details of a good Double-Wing,  would be a less than ideal Double-Wing, at the expense of your base offense.

My belief is that if you can run only one offense well,  and if your base offense isn't good enough to run on the goal line, you probably should be looking at something else anyhow - and  possibly spending a lesser amount of your practice time on some sort of desperation package for an occasion when you have nothing to lose.

Hope that helps.

Ernie Wright*********** I was looking through one of those "People Who Died in 2007" features, and I came across Ernie Wright's name. Ernie, unbeknownst to me, had died back in March at the age of 67.

Ernie Wright came out of Toledo's Scott High and made All Big Ten at Ohio State before going on to a 13-year pro career as an outstanding offensive tackle first for the Los Angeles-then-San Diego Chargers, then for the Cincinnati Bengals.

In 1974, Ernie was our offensive line coach when I worked with the Philadelphia Bell, and I thought he did an exceptional job.

Later, in his adopted city of San Diego, he established a youth golf program for inner-city kids, and devoted most of time to it. Thnks to him, thousands of kids were given the opportunity to learn and play the game.

“He knew that golf is a game where you must call a foul on yourself,” his son Ernie Wright II said. “He knew that through golf you learn about respect and integrity, and it was hard for these disadvantaged kids to learn that on the street.

“His goal was not to create the next Tiger Woods, but it was to create people who would have good values, appreciate education and go on to become lawyers, accountants and businesspeople.”

When I think of Ernie, I immediately think of two stories.

The first involved an offensive linemen whose name I'd better not say, because, well - he may still be alive, and he was one mean motherf--ker. Ernie Wright was a big man, but this guy was even bigger. He had arms and fists like Popeye. Nasty? He was a former professional boxer who brought one of Ernie's one-on-one drills to an end by delivering a vicious punch to the solar plexus of the defensive lineman he was going against. There was nothing subtle about it. He didn't even make an attempt at blocking. He simply dug his fist into the guy's labonza, and down the guy fell, like a stuck pig. While the defensive lineman lay on the ground, motionless, our guy just stood over him. All that was missing was the referee telling him to get to a neutral corner.

There were a few other incidents at camp, including the time he threatened bodily injury - or worse - to a teammate who had attempted to change the channel on the TV in the lounge. Nobody thought for a minute that the guy wasn't serious.

It soon became apparent that the guy wasn't as good as the offensive linemen we had, and as we sat in one of our nightly personnel meetings, it was decided that it was time to cut him, which everyone knew had the potential to cause an ugly scene.

That's when Ernie spoke up and said, "I think we ought to take a look at him on the defensive side of the ball!"

Nick Cutro, our defensive line coach, was a Jersey guy, from Bayonne, and very quick on the uptake. He could see what Ernie was trying to do, and he stood up and said, "Oh, no, Ernie! I'm not taking him! You're gonna have to cut him yourself!"

Then there was the time that Ernie was in our main office, which was in the heart of downtown ("Center City" as they say in Philly). Somebody had dropped him off, and now he needed to get back to our practice facility at JFK Stadium, about five miles away in South Philly.

He asked how to get there without a car, and I said that his best bet was just to take the subway, which would leave him off almost at the door.

"Subway?" He asked, with an astonished look on his face. "Subway? I don't even like what I see in this city above the ground!"