BACK ISSUES - JUNE 2001
Frank Leahy was head coach at Notre Dame from1941 through 43, and after time out for service during World War II, from 1946 through 53. A Nebraska native, he was a tackle on Knute Rockne's last three Notre Dame teams, and graduated from Notre Dame in 1931. Following graduation, he worked at Georgetown as line coach and after one year moved to Michigan State to serve in the same capacity. After a year at Michigan State, he moved to Fordham to coach the line under former Notre Dame great - and one of Rockne's famous Four Horsemen - Sleepy Jim Crowley. While at Fordham, he gained a measure of fame as the line coach of the famed Seven Blocks of Granite, during a three-year span (1935-1937) in which the Rams lost only two games.
In 1939, he was hired as head coach at Boston College, taking the Eagles to a 20-2 record and a Sugar Bowl victory in his two years there. But in 1941, Alma Mater called, and, with two years off for military service, Leahy coached the Fighting Irish through the 1953 season.
During his time as head coach at Notre Dame - what many people would consider America's premier football school - he was often referred to by other coaches as "The Master," and considered by many to be the finest coach in the game. He coached four national champions, three Heisman Trophy winners, and All-Americans too numerous to count. He had six undefeated seasons, and had a winning streak that last 39 games.
Leahy's career record at Notre Dame puts him on a level as an Irish coach with only Rockne and a man who would come along some 15 years after him to shake down a little thunder himself, Ara Parseghian.
This story could easily be about pro football players at training camp, or even college football players at pre-season camp, but it's not.
It's about men in South Africa, brought by the thousands from their remote villages to work in gold mines, and housed, far from their families, with other men. They work underground in unbelievably difficult conditions, in 90-degree temperatures and stifling humidity, in places where the ceiling is three to four feet high and the noise of the drills is constant and ear-shattering. It is not unusual for workers to have to walk three miles to and from the work site.
So when the work is through, asks a local doctor, "What would you want when you came up? Beer, food, women and sleep."
The women are available - at a price, of course, because these guys are not pro football players - and the sex is random and careless. And so, it is now estimated by one company employing thousands of men, the HIV rate among its workers is around 30 per cent.
Another doctor, an AIDS researcher with an agency of the South African government, told the Wall Street Journal, "If you wanted to spread a sexually-transmitted disease, you'd take thousands of young men away from their families, isolate them in single-sex hostels, and give them easy access to alcohol and commercial sex. Then, to spread the disease around the country, you'd send them home every once in a while to their wives and girlfriends."
*********** Did I tell you about my career as offensive coordinator with the Packers? You mean you didn't know I coached with Lombardi? Well, I did. Now will you buy my tapes and come to my clinics?
Joseph Ellis, a professor at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, has taught a very popular course on Vietnam and American culture, in which he attacks the American role in the Vietnam War. He has certainly stood on firm ground in his criticism of our efforts, having served in Vietnam himself.
Uh-oh. Turns out he didn't serve there after all, despite having used the lie over and over to strengthen his credentials as a critic.
He was exposed as a phony by a recent Boston Globe article. He has lied, over and over and yet amazingly, many of the creeps in academia, the same ones who give our kids the old liberal brainwash, are rallying to his defense.
He stole. He took for his own the honor that can belong only to those who served, and yet his publisher, Knopf, says that this is a "personal crisis" that doesn't "bleed over" into his believability. A historian who wrote to the New York Times actually had the gall to try the Clinton startegy of turning the attack against the attacker, calling it "the politics of personal destruction."
A Boston Globe editorial cartoon nailed the imposter good, showing a guy at a lunch counter reading a newspaper with a headline "Professor Fabricates Vietnam Service," and remarking, "Thirty years ago, guys were lying to get out of the war!"
*********** For whatever reason, the Minnesota Gophers will not be playing their season opener against Toledo on Friday, August 31 as originally announced, as part of ESPN's opening shot at high school football. Instead, the game will be played the night before, on Thursday, and it probably will not be televised because ESPN already has UNLV-Arkansas scheduled for Thursday night, and ESPN2 follows with Arizona-San Diego State.
It appears that credit for the move belongs to Gophers' coach Glen Mason, who recognized that Friday the 31st is opening night for most Minnesota high school football teams, and sent a letter to every high school coach in the state saying that he objected to college games being played on Friday night and would do everything he could to move the game.
*********** "I'm a OC from Québec , Canada and I plan to use the double-wing. We have 12 men on the field - how can I use the extra player? as an extra slotback on the right side? or as a Wide Receiver? or in the Backfield as a tailback? What would be the best for 12-15 years old players who know almost nothing about football? It was our first year at this level last fall and we lost the final . All our players were rookies . This year we can count on a all-second year OL . Last season we did not pull any OL. Is it a good idea to pull OL in their second season in football?
Last things first: if you do not pull linemen you might as well not run the (at least my) Double-Wing. Much of what we do is based on angle blocking and outnumbering defenses at the point of attack, both of which require you to move linemen from one place to another (pulling).
As to the extra man, I have seen three different approaches by Canadian teams, all of them successful. All of the teams employ the basic 11-man offense exactly as I have shown it, using the 12th man in one of three ways:
(1) As a wide flanker;
(2) As a deep tailback;
(3) As an extra lineman to one side or the other.
*********** If parity is what NFL Europe was hoping for, they've got it.. Only two of the six teams - Barcelona and Berlin - have winning records, Berlin just barely at 6-4. The team with the poorest record, Frankfurt, is 3-7.
*********** "Greetings Coach -- If it feels good do it -- try it you'll like it -- I wonder how many lives have been ruined and graves have been filled by those that bought into this rhetoric of selfish desire?
Respect is hard to give to others when one doesn't respect him/herself. Take Care, Doug Gibson - Naperville, Illinois"
*********** "Coach, The Mayor of Toronto is an IDIOT. I have no idea how the people of Toronto ever voted this guy in. This is not the first time he has done something stupid like this. Now, you have been to our city and so has this mayor, he refered to Edmonton as the "outhouse of Canada". What a dumbass. Kyle Wagner, Edmonton Alberta (Now you Americans see why westerners want to secede from the rest of Canada. Of course, if Minnesota, one of our more enlightened states, can elect Jesse Ventura...)
*********** At a recent interview, when asked about my expectations for my assistant coaches, I handed out my list, starting with the statement that I don't want them to be the players' buddies - I want them to be "Alpha Males."
The AD asked, "what if somebody objects to that?"
I said, "Then I guess I'm in the wrong place."
I explained that more and more boys are growing up in a world in which they have no exposure to strong male figures - not at home, not in school, not on the streets. Church is not even in the picture.
If people disagree with that observation, they can't possibly appreciate the role football can play in a kid's life. And if you're a football coach, you're in the wrong place.
*********** A few weeks ago, I was visiting the school where my wife teaches, and I observed a young teacher who was clearly upset with a couple of young boys. She ordered them into the school off cie and told them to sit down, and informed them that there wouold be no play day (whatever that is) for them. I took a minute to tell her that I admired the way she handled the little miscreants.
My wife told me of the follow-up, in which the little lads did, indeed, miss their play day, but the teacher did not receive the same support from their parents that she'd received from me.
The gist of the parents' argument - this is the approach we hear more and more - was that maybe they did do wrong, but keeping them from play day was "too harsh." Every football coach who tries to discipline a kid nowadays can bet on hearing, "Maybe he does deserve to be punished, but this is too harsh.")
So a 24-year-old California woman surprised her 17-year-old foster daughter - STOP! Before going any further - can somebody please tell me what a 24-year-old is doing as a parent of a 17-year-old? - with male strippers, hired to help her celebrate her birthday. "Mom" supplied alcohol and participated in some of the party games, which don't sound a lot like pin the tail on the donkey, since she was videotaped wearing lingerie.
She was given six to eight years in prison for her unusual parenting, which resulted in charges of unlawful sex with minors (15-year-olds) on the part of one of the strippers, a 26-year-old guy, and charges of lewd acts with a child against the other, a 35-year-old.
Now listen to this B-S. Remember "Maybe he does deserve to be punished, but this is too harsh?"
The daughter, who certainly is in a position to decide what the punishment should be, said, "I'm not saying that she should go scot-free, because she did something wrong, but six to eight years is too much in my eyes." Well, of course she'd say that. After all, she's 17, and in eight years, she'd be... 25.
The defense attorney is another great one. Listen to him: "I think what you're dealing with is not a bad person, but a good person who did a bad thing." My question: at what point is it safe to say that someone is a bad person?
Meantime, in the Columbus, Ohio area, a guy was given 35 years for a rather nasty assault on his former girlfriend and her new, uh, fiance. Out on bail after having been charged with raping her last October, he broke into her house this past February and surprised her and the new bridegroom-to-be in bed.
He began beating the boyfriend about the head with a hammer, but after being disarmed, seemed to calm down, and offered to help the boyfriend clean up. But while the boyfriend was in the shower, our guy slit the boyfriend's throat, then returned to the bedroom to rape and beat his former lady friend.
He then led police on a merry chase, which ended only when he crashed his car.
The new boyfriend needed 48 stitches to the throat and another 18 to the face. Our lady suffered fractured cheekbones and a fractured eye socket.
Now, here's the best. Since the second attack, the woman had resumed seeing the attacker.
I think I know why: he's not a bad person. He's a good person who did a bad thing.
*********** Coach; Thought you might be interested to know that former UT Wishbone quarterback (1972-75) Marty Ray Akins is running for the Democrat Party's nominantion for governor here in Texas.
As I'm sure you know, Marty is the son of legendary former Gregory-Portland Coach Ray Akins whose Wildcat teams just dominated 3A and 4A football in the Coastal Bend region (Corpus Christi) through the 1970s and into the early 1980s. Marty might better be known these days as the uncle of former Purdue QB Drew Breese.
I think Akins is one of the most underrated Wishbone operators in history. Even with guys like Earl Campbell and Rosey Leaks in the backfield, Marty was the catalyst. I idolized him. I still remember going to the Astrodome and watching him play with a brace on his busted knee in the 1975 Bluebonnet Bowl and lead UT to a 38-21 victory over an absoloutely gigantic Colorado team.
Marty injured his knee in a blowout win over TCU that year. He tried to play against A&M a couple of weeks later but the Ags, who said they'd be going for his bad hinge, took him out in the first quarter at Kyle Field. I will never forget the way those Aggies cheered as they carried Akins off the turf (a photo of him, slumped between two trainers as they lifted him to the sidelines, Ags in the stands hooting, had a prominant place in the 1976 Aggieland Yearbook). The Longhorn offense went to hell without him and UT lost to A&M for the first time in seven seasons. It took a tub of guts for Marty to come back and play in the Bluebonnet a few weeks later.
If Akins gets the nomination, he'll go head-to-head with GOP Gov. Rick Perry, a former Aggie yell leader. Man, what an interesting race THAT would be.
Was at the Astros-Rangers baseball game a couple of weeks ago and Gov. Perry was in attendance. They had the nerve to play the Aggie War Hymn that night (" Goodbye to Texas Uni-versity; So long to the orange and the whi-eye-eye-ite..."). Man, did my Orange blood get up.
For the first time in my life, I'll probably be voting for a Democrat for governor.
Whit Snyder, Baytown, Texas (I guess by now you've figured out that Whit is a Texas Longhorn.)
*********** Maurice "Mo" Cheeks is the latest man in the barrel. He is the new coach of the Portland Trail Blazers. He seems to be well-liked and well-respected, and according to NBA people is certainly worthy of a head coaching job. But coaching those guys?
Get this - one of the things in his favor, supposedly, is that he has the respect of Rasheed Wallace. This I gotta see - the world's tallest infant, who respects no one in a position to tell him to do something he doesn't want to do - and there are many, many things he doesn't want to do - respecting a coach.
*********** "About Ken Hall (subject of a coach's question on Monday): Sports Illustrated did a great story on Hall's college and pro career (he played in the CFL, in the AFL with the Oilers and in the NFL with St. Louis). The story is in one of SI's college football issues from the early 1980s, I think. If you're ever in Fredricksburg, TX you can stop in and partake of Hall's BBQ in the restaurant he runs...
"As a kid, I used to buy a copy of Bill McMurray's Greater Houston Football magazine every year and look in the record section where Ken Hall's numbers were and just shake my head: 11,332 career rushing yards; 4,045 yards in his senior season (1953) alone; 520 yards rushing in a single game against Houston Lutheran High (his TOTAL yardage in that game was 687). He scored 899 points in high school and 57 TDs in his senior year. In that same Houston Lutheran game he scored 49 points (He also kicked PATs, 137 of his points were point afters). I mean, there are more numbers I could quote you straight out of McMurray's book on Texas high school ball but it starts to seem like Texas braggin' after awhile.
"Hall was the real deal. He was a 6'-1", 205 pounder with 9.6 speed and often competed in as many as seven individual track events. Bryant later called his mishandling of Hall (whom he tried to make into a fullback and linebacker at A&M) his greatest mistake in football. He also admitted that, with Hall and Crow in the backfield, he'd have won a national title at A&M.
"Gee, whatta shame, ole Bear never really did much after that, did he?"Whit Snyder, Baytown, Texas (I should have thought to ask Whit about Ken Hall sooner. He is a font of knowledge about Texas sports.)
*********** "Coach Wyatt, The MHSAA and the Mississippi Private School Association have agreed to allow public schools to play private schools that meet the Southern Association of Schools standards (About 31 schools). Many private schools have closed in Mississippi over the last decade. The private school association consists of about 60 schools in 4 states (Ms,TN, LA. ARK.).
"The first football game will be played on Aug. 31 when Jackson Prep (private-largest in their association) plays George County. ( We beat GC 21-0 in our spring Jam at Gulfport) George County is the second largest AAAA in the state with 1050 students. This game should draw a lot of interest in these parts. By the way, many of the Private schools have black players on their squads. So it is not about that! Hopefully our two associations will merge in the near future. We have been playing each other in summer competition for years.
*********** The Indy cars and drivers were in town (Portland) for the GI Joe's 200 Sunday. It rained. Average speed was 74 miles and hour.
*********** (A coaching friend who is shopping for a camera asked me what model I use.) Mine is a Sony DCR TRV-7. I have had it for three years now. If you had told me when I bought it that I would have kept it that long I'd havesaid you were nuts because typically something new comes along the day after you buy a piece of electronic gear and it's vastly improved.
But to be honest with you, I have had no reason to buy another.
There are only two things I would change:
I would want to make sure that it had RCA inputs, so I could more easily convert other formats to digital;
The gate for inserting the tape is on the bottom of the camera, which means I can't change tape while it is attached to a tripod.
It is quite small and portable, compared to the Hi8 cameras I had been using, but it has a 4" diagonal screen, which is about as good as it gets.
The bad news is that Sony no longer makes the camera, and from what I have seen, Sony seems to have devoted far more energy to developing the Digital-8 line (which has greater consumer potential) than to improving its MiniDV line.
*********** Is this a great country, or what? That's my grandson, Matt Love, visiting us from North Carolina, proudly wearing a Vikings' jersey I brought back from Minnesota - #11, with the name of Daunte Culpepper - a black quarterback - on the back.
*********** Monday, I wrote about Woodbury, Minnesota, fully aware that I could have given the impression I was working for the Woodbury Chamber of Commerce.
It was important to lay the groundwork, because a friend of mine, Paul Herzog, just took the Woodbury head football coaching job, and I wanted people to understand why a guy like Paul, who put a lot of effort and enthusiasm into his former job at North St. Paul, who had good facilities, a great staff, good kids and good support, who had built a program that had things just the way he wanted, would make such a move.
And a move it is. The Woodbury folks are so proud of their community and so insistent that the people who coach their kids live in it that they persuaded Paul and his wife, Barb, to move to Woodbury, and - in a town that has few places advertised for sale - helped them find a home.
Paul and Barb will be moving during pre-season practices. ("Okay fellas, for this next drill, we're going to pick up these cartons...")
One long-time assistant, Barry Dillard, will accompany Paul to Woodbury, but otherwise, Paul inherits a knowledgeable, veteran staff from a program that won the state championship as recently as 1998. They are positive in accepting the change Paul is bringing to the program: counting school staff, volunteers and youth coaches from the community, there were nearly 30 coaches in attendance at an evening clinic I put on prior to the first day of camp.
Once on the field, the kids proved to be good learners. Instruction went fast, as we'd explain and demonstrate a play, then break into several teams, with Woodbury coaches in charge, to go off and practice that particular play.
To cap off an evening session, we introduced the kids to "Touch Footy," my adaptation of Australian Rules Football, which they enjoyed.
By the time I'd left, after four sessions (one of them indoors in the "bubble"), here are the plays the Woodbury kids had run and repped: 88-99 Power and Super-Power...Red-Red/Blue-Blue... QB Reverse Right/Left... 6-G/7-G... 6-G Pass/7-G Pass... 47-C/56-C... 47-Brown/56-Black... 7-C/6-C... XX 47-C/XX 56-C... 3 Trap 2/2 Trap 3... 3 Trap 4/2 Trap 5... Option 8/9... 58 Black-O/49-Brown-O... 58 Black Throwback... 58 Black Throwback Post... Red/Blue... Thunder/Lightning... Plus assorted special plays. (That list was for the benefit of those of you who write to ask if you can get in a basic set of five or six plays with only three weeks of practice before your first game.)
They ran many of the plays from unbalanced, and because they do have a lot of quick kids with good hands and a good-looking quarterback, we made it a point to run most plays from Spread formation as well as Tight.
Obviously, they couldn't possibly remember all those plays, nor will the Woodbury staff necessarily use them all. But they were exposed to the ease of learning the system and to its versatility and flexibility, and by the end of two days they were fully-armed; if they had had to scrimmage anyone on the third day, I think they'd have kicked some serious ass.
I finally had a chance to meet Paul's dad, Bill, a former high school coach himself, who now lives in Florida during those months when Minnesotans sit on their cold car seats and pray that their cars will start. Bill is a former Big Ten basketball official who still keeps active officiating high school games in Florida.
Even with all that Woodbury has to offer, it was not an easy decision for Paul and Barb. Paul and I discussed it a few times, and it is obvious that it has been painful to leave North St. Paul. But as a detached observer, now that I've spent three days with Paul and his new staff and new team, I would have to say that as much as I liked North St. Paul, as good a situation as it is, I would have made the move Paul did.
*********** After disappointing ratings because of their decision to show the Sydney Olympics on tape delay, rather than letting Americans see events when they really happened, NBC (the official network of the XFL) is about to do it again. To folks on the West Coast, anyhow. Not that I give a big rat's rear end about the fou-fou Winter Olympics ("When doctors told Muriel and Todd Kenworthy that their newborn son had no feet, they refused to believe that he would never skate..."), but the prime time telecast to the East Coast , starting at 7 or 7:30, translates to 4 or 4:30 Pacific, which wipes out the early local news shows. Not only that, but unlike the East Coast, where the Olympics go off at 11, followed immediately by the local news, the West Coast stattions, whose live Olympics telecast would end at 8, would get no such lead-in. (The local news shows are the main moneymakers of most TV stations)
************ And the folks in Parsippany were worried about being called Redskins... Trajan Langdon of the Cleveland Cavaliers is the only player in the NBA to come from Alaska, so needless to say, he is a big, big name in a state that has few other sports heroes and is passionate about its basketball. So it was a big thing in the little town of Aniak when the former Duke star flew in to put on a clinic for its kids, and talk to them about the importance of education. Aniak is far from his hometown of Anchorage, but not only in distance. It is also at least 20 years away, judging by its school's nickname - the Half-breeds. Honest to God. I'm sure the irony was not lost on Langdon, himself the son of a white man and a black woman. He went on to tell USA Today, "They have a two-headed mascot, with a white man looking at a native, and a spear and a gun crossed."
It is a passing competition, with the linemen removed. No doubt some people still refer to it as "passing skeleton" or some such term.
It is played on a full-width field, but since only half the length of the field is needed, it is possible to play two games simultaneously, back-to-back, going toward opposite goal lines on the same field.
The term "7-on-7" is actually a misnomer, because nobody I know of bothers with a center on offense.
That leaves six - a QB and the 5 eligibles - against a defense consisting of seven men, deployed as the defense wishes.
Without dragging out the various rules people use, there are two basic ways of doing it:
(1) a fixed number of downs for each team, in which the offensive team gets points for a completion, additional points for additional yardage, and, of course, points for a TD.
The defense scores points for an incompletion, more for a bat, more still for an interception. Some people award a touchdown if an interception is returned all the way. And, of course, there are points for a "sack." There is no rushing, but from the snap of the ball, it must be thrown by the time someone is able count to "thousand one... thousand two... thousand three" (You've got to get someone to count)
(2) each team starts out at the 40 or 50 and drives until it scores or until stopped by failing to make yardage or by turnover. Three downs until you get inside the 10, then you get four downs. A first down is awarded for gaining 10 yards, and after getting a first down, for ease in measuring, the ball is spotted at the nearest yard stripe.
*********** How can you become mayor of a large, diverse North American city and be as stupid as the mayor of Toronto, whose city is attempting to land the 2008 Olympics. He was asked about a trip to Mombasa, Kenya, and he said something about not particularly relishing the prospect of being bitten by a poisonous snake, or being cooked in a pot of boiling water. While I defend his right to say what he wants about any place, we all have to be prepared to deal with the consequences of what we say - he might have remembered that there are a lot of African delegates on the International Olympic Committee.
*********** Forbes Magazine recently announced its list of the wealthiest people in the world. Washington's own Bill Gates is at the top of the list, but the Portland Trail Blazers' (and Seattle Seahawks') owner Paul Allen, Mr. Gates' partner in starting Microsoft, has fallen from second to third place, nosed out by Omaha's Warren Buffett by the narrowest of margins, $32.3 billion to $30.4 billion (I would like to have the difference.) Positions number seven through eleven (actually, there is a two-way tie for tenth) all owe their fortunes to the success of Wal-Mart.
*********** "Hugh: My mother, of all people, was recently making fun of how stupid and ridiculous this whole craze of "post prom, drug/alchohol-free parties had become. My youngest brother, and her fourth son, just graduated and she was in awe of how the parents association can raise $25,000 for an all night cruise around Lake Michigan, but they had to cut the 4:15 activity bus due to lack of funds!!! My brothers and I were brought up with three rules, B average or no sports, if you drink, don't drive and if you run into problems, call them immediately. This comes from parents who were raised in Bronx, NY and in an environment of an 18 year old drinking age. The funny thing is in my parents' senior prom picture, there are bottles of scotch and vodka on the tables that, oh my god......their high school supplied!!!!!! What would those righteous moms on the PTA say about that??? Alcohol was never taboo in my house, hence, I never felt the need to go drink myself into oblivion. These must be the same parents that force their kids to wear a helmet and body armor when riding their bike with training wheels." Bill Lawlor, Hanover Park, Illinois
*********** Hey, all you wranglers out there - Cowboy Up! Time to head on down to the feed store and throw a few bales of fencing wire and a couple of bags of feed into the back of your new pickup. Your new Lincoln Blackwood. Yeah, you heard me - your new Lincoln, this one an adaptation of the Navigator, the ride made famous by that noted rap cowboy Sean "Puffy" Combs. The Lincoln Blackwood carries a suggested base price of $51,785. It comes with a climate-controlled driver's seat, which quickly heats or cools the rear end on demand. For those farm kids who drive at age 12 or so, there are power adjustable pedals. I suppose Leer will be making a camper cap for the Blackwood. Snuff can holder, gun rack and hound in the bed are optional.
WHILE THEY LAST... 2001 Clinic Tee Shirts (gray), $15 each, including shipping. Specify sizes (L, XL, XXL, XXX)
*********** Hugh, I just finished reading today's web page. First of all, happy birthday a little late! My mothers birthday was last Friday. She was 75. She will be glad to know that you are a Gemini.
This is to the coach who is upset about not being called back about the head coaching job and the cheesy explanation when he finally talked to someone other than the principal. It has been my experience over the last 15 or so years that none of these modern principals ever call you back if you didn't get the job!!
You either wait or call yourself and get the bad news from someone other than the principal. Sometimes you see it in the paper first (that has happened to me). Sometimes a friend calls that has the scoop from a source on the scene(ditto on this one for me also). I even once had a local reporter call me at home to tell me who did get a job and want my reaction about not getting the job!!!! I gave him a few quotes about his journalistic ethics that he could not print!
On the same line of thinking about offense and defense. I was once told in an interview for a top football job in our state that I would have to run the wishbone on offense and a 52 monster on defense!
I asked the superintendent and the AD why that offense and defense.(Both of these guys were former basketball coaches and didn't give a crap if football ever won a game). They said that in years past when the school had been successful that was the offense and defense that was very successful.
I then asked the following question: If you were hiring a basketball coach would you tell him that he had to run the Oglethorp Wheel offense and non-switching man to man defense all the time? Or would you allow him to look at his talent and determine the best offense and defense for his talent level?
Their answer was no and they would let him determine his own offense and defense.
I then said, "Then why do you feel that you can tell a football coach what he can do on offense and defense?" Cheesy answer coming up!
"Basketball is different from football and since you have more boys it is easier to fit them into a fixed football system than a basketball system!!!"
I replied that football and basketball are the same as far as fitting kids into a system that they can win with on a consistent basis. It's the coach's job to decide the systems and you can't tell the football coach what offense to run and not the basketball coach. I also pointed out that it was easier to coach basketball than football(I have coached both). Most basketball coaches only play 6 to 8 kids in a varsity game and it is not hard to find them a system and mold them into it. Football is more complex and takes more skill as a coach to get alot of kids in the right places to have a good program. I finished by saying that I run the wing-t on offense(pre double wing days) and the split 4 or 6 depending on my talent level.
I didn't get a call back for that job as promised. I really wasn't expecting one! Yes, they did hire a wishbone and 52 monster man for the job! Hugh, tell your friend that it is the same in Kentucky! David Crump, Owensboro, Kentucky
*********** I am playing defensive tackle and i keep on getting double teamed and then dragged back. How can I prevent this from happening?
The simplest way is (1) stay low in your charge and (2) recognize ASAP that you are being double-teamed. Once you do, you must hit the deck - a good coaching point is, "grab grass."
Technically, once you're good, I would teach "caving in the knee" on the side the down block is coming from, hitting the ground and turning your shoulder blades to the blocker. Mainly, though, make yourself immovable. If they have to devote two people to you and they can't move you, someone on your defense is going to be unblocked, and you won't be blocking his way.
*********** I spent three days last week in Woodbury, Minnesota, a suburb of Saint Paul. According to the 2000 census, Woodbury is now home to 46,000 people, up from 20,000 in 1990, making it the fastest-growing city in the state. I happen to live in the fastest-growing county in my state, and I can attest to the degradation of living quality that rapid growth is causing in terms of traffic, strip-mall ugliness, pollution, school crowding, crime and a general lack of a sense of community.
This has not happened in Woodbury. I am not normally a great proponent of government regulation of our lives, but Woodbury, which not too long ago was 36 square miles of mostly cornfields, shows what a community can look like when its people have the foresight - and guts - to manage its growth. One example of that foresight is a law requiring developers to donate 10 per cent of the land of their development to the city for parks and trails, and as a result, as you drive around this "city" there is a sense of openness - of not being in a city - as homes are set far back from the roads, and separated from them by grassy berms and trees. And then there are the trails - bike trails in warm weather, cross-country ski trails in smowy weather, which Minnesota has been known to have. There are 21 miles of uninterrupted trails through the city of Woodbury. They are not the "bike trails" of our supposedly bike-friendly towns in the Northwest, consisting mainly of four-foot-wide curb lanes created by the wishful thinking of local parks and recreation people and the striping paint of city road crews. They thread their way through the lush greenways of grass and trees that edge the city's roads.
Woodbury is what every town in America would like to look like if it could only go back and start over.
Another example of Woodbury's foresight is the Bielenberg Sports Center (LEFT), named for a former mayor, and probably the finest example I have yet seen of what a community can do for its kids if it decides to make them a priority. It is a concentration of baseball and softball, football and soccer fields, many of them lighted, on well over 100 acres of prime land; in the middle of the complex is a building containing two year-round hockey rinks and, attached to that building, an air-supported "bubble" containing an 80-yard-long football/soccer field with a field-turf floor, surrounded by a walking track for less-strenuous exercizers. (The field is only 80 yards long - although wider than a normal soccer field - because a resident objected to the height of a dome necessary to go the full 120 yards.)
Much of the vision and follow-through necessary to bring a project of this scope to fruition have come from Bill Hargis, now in his tenth year as Mayor of Woodbury, and John Norris, who works tirelessly as head of the Woodbury Sports Authority, which oversees all youth sports in the city. (Bill - on the left in the photo - and John are both strong supporters of the Woodbury High sports program.)
Bill and John told me of plans already drawn for an expansion of the facility onto an adjoining 60 acres which the city owns. (The new area will also contain a dome, but this one will be 120 yards long - the lone objector to the original dome has since moved.)
Add all this together and you find a highly-liveable community that people want to be a part of - so much so that you simply don't see a "For Sale" sign in Woodbury. Homes sell that fast. (The census showed a 98.6 per cent home occupancy rate.)
With typical foresight, though, Woodbury High School is preparing to absorb the effects of the rapid growth by adding 24 new classrooms this summer. (In Washington, they would merely haul in those architectural warts called portables.) A new field house is part of the expansion.
*********** "Coach- I was reading your news column (a continually excellent job by the way) and saw your piece on the "3 R's " used in your classroom. As a college student within sight of a history/english degree and already subbing off and on, I am quite curious what the other 2 were. I am in complete agreement with your assessment of the importance of respect. As a 22 year old youth coach and part time HS assistant, you would be amazed what my players think is an acceptable manner in which to speak to me. This took me aback, but as soon as I spoke to some of the parents, I knew exactly where the kids got it from. I can correct and instruct players, but when a parent views it as acceptable to speak to me in a condescending and unsatisfactory manner, I get a little upset. Fact of the matter is this....i am a young coach, but a coach nonetheless, and I believe that I should be afforded the respect that would be given to any man in my position, and if not that, the respect deserved another human being. As a football coach, and a student, I would be grateful if you would outline the other 2 R's that you have used....im positive that not only myself, but many others would be interested. Sincerely- Brian Rochon, Livonia, Michigan"
Coach-I am sorry to hear that you run into disrespect, but if you look at it as though the glass is half full, that means somebody's got to teach them, and it might as well be you and me.
I think that respect - the desire for it or the lack of it - is driving our society today. People blow enormous sums on trophy houses, expensive cars, $5,000 watches and trophy wives in the expectation that it will gain them what they perceive to be respect.
People who won't give respect nevertheless crave it themselves and demand it from others. The proliferation of lawsuits by people who claim to have been harassed, insulted, defamed and discriminated against very often has, at its roots, the perception that someone has been disrespected - "dissed", to use popular jargon.
Inner-city kids have killed to avenge what you and I would consider meaningless slights.
Flip your headlights at the guy in front of you at your own risk.
I believe that the erosion of respect for one's fellows pretty much started with "if it feels good, do it," which basically put gratifying your own desires ahead of respecting the guy next to you, and "question authority," which made people think they had the right to decide which laws they'd obey and which ones they'd flout.
"Respect," for any team of mine, means respecting teammates and coaches - and coches respecting players - but also respecting team rules and the rules of football, officials and opponents, people in authority, teachers and school officials, and, yes, parents.
Respect for others is what stands between us and anarchy.
*********** A coaching friend recently went through the pain of losing one of his players. The young man committed suicide, and the coach was upset that the kid hadn't come to him.
That really is too bad. His coach might possibly have been the only person in the kid's life who could have talked to him in terms of sucking it up, dealing with it, and looking ahead to all the games left to play in life.
I can't help thinking that a lot of the rash of teen suicides results from the fact that we make so many non-tragic things seem so tragic that kids can come to feel that they're at the end of the line, when you and I know, from our greater perspective, that all they've done is hit a speed bump.
I think another problem may be that we have so glorified teen culture that many kids really do live in a little world of their own, and the importance of what happens in it is grossly exaggerated.
*********** "Once upon a time, there were very few structured youth leagues. In those days, the kids went out without uniforms, without well-manicured Little League and Pop Warner League fields. All they did was play. Sometimes they played with worn baseballs that had been rewrapped by the kids themselves with electricians' tape. Sometimes they shared gloves and always they shared bats.
"They laid down their jackets or scratched squares in the dirt to serve as bases. They chose up sides. If the worst player was picked last, it didn't matter. He knew he was the worst. They knew he was the worst. And everybody knew that he would get to play.
*********** A youth coach wrote me recently, asking what I thought would be the ideal relationship between the local high school and youth coaches:
I have seen situations where the youth program is pretty much under the control and direction of the high school head coach, and if that is what that community wants, it can be a great situation. But it is more typical for there to be little coordination between a community's high school staff and its youth program. Often, there is no communication whatsoever between them, and in some extreme cases, there is open antagonism.
I personally think that the best situation is one in which the sides respect each other and each other's needs, and understand the ways in which they can be helpful to each other, without stepping on each other's toes.
I think the criteria by which the high school coach ought to judge a youth coach should be whether he teaches sound fundamentals, teaches kids to be coachable, instills good work habits, helps kids to be competitive, and leaves them wanting to play again the next year.
Notice I did not specify what offense or defense the youth coach runs. Assuming he is knowledgeable, he is entitled, I think, to make that decision. That is his reward for making sure he gets the job done with the other criteria.
Speaking as a former high school coach who for years coached in a three-year high school, I didn't get to work with kids until they arrived as sophomores. We drew kids from as many as five different junior high schools, so coordinating what we did with any of the junior high coaches was out of the question. It really didn't matter. The system they ran was immaterial to me. I felt we could teach them our system fast enough. It was in the area of the criteria I outlined above that some kids immediately stood out from others; it was obvious which ones had come from a good program. In fact, we often found that kids who had been back-ups in a strong junior high program were far better prepared than kids who'd been starters in a weak one.
Only 73 per cent of children of never-married mothers graduate from high school, compared with a 96 per cent rate for those raised by both biological parents. In 1999, 33 per cent of births took place out of wedlock.
Do you see where this is headed?
Instead of blaming schools for what they have to deal with, let's do what the liberal media types wanted President Bush to do, and listen to our European friends in high government offices. They would know what to do.
They are great at controlling their citizens' lives. Some of them require people to get a license before they can buy a TV set. I am not kidding).
Here, for example, is how certain European governments might attack our dropout problem:
First, a contraceptive would be added to the water supply of every municipality in the United States. Then, upon approval of a couple's application to have children - including submittal of a packet of evidence of their suitability to be parents and their commitment to look after their kids, antidotes would be provided them.
The application would have to be filled out on the scene by the couple, who would have to appear together, in person, and it would have to be accompanied by:
(1) a high school diploma or GED;
(2) a marriage certificate;
(3) payroll stubs for the last 12 consecutive months (military service may be substituted)
(4) evidence of a home mortgage or a one-year lease
(4) proof of clean drug tests, administered at random, for the last year (for the last three years, in the event of a previous test failure);
(5) physical exam showing no evidence of any STD;
(6) background check showing no less-than-honorable discharge from the service, no felony convictions ever and no arrests for any reason within the past 24 months
(7) signed pledge to support kids' teachers, coaches and others in authority acting in their kids' best interests.
I realize that there are certain problems inherent in my grand scheme, not least of which is that it there will be those who will see in it a resemblance to Nazi Germany, but it is important to understand that no groups would be targeted. There would be no racial, religious or ethnic qualifications.
Hmmm... Come to think of it, maybe those Europeans are on to something.
*********** Speaking of Europeans... "Hello Coach Wyatt! We won the first two games of the new season (55-7 against Kiel Hurricanes and 52-14 against Saarland Hurricanes. The Double Wing still works great for us - and we still play without American Players on Offense !
Our Junior Team is in the Final of the German Youth Football Championship - also playing double wing !
Hope you are well! Michael Krause, Stuttgart Scorpions - Stuttgart, Germany"
WHILE THEY LAST... 2001 Clinic Tee Shirts (gray), $15 each, including shipping. Specify sizes (L, XL, XXL, XXX)
*********** The rating of the Sugar Ray concert at halftime of the final Sixers-Lakers game last Friday: NetZero. Oh. NetZero was the sponsor? Never mind.
*********** From a coaching friend whom I can't identify... I was one of the finalists for a great job at -----------.. Over a period of 3 weeks a paper screening, an interview of 10, and a 1-1/2 hour interview with the Principal on Wednesday, I was told by her that she would call me on Thursday. She never did. I called her this morning (Friday). No call back .At 12 noon I called the assistant principal (who was my contact).. and he gave me the explaination below:
"Bear in mind, I have had numerous conversations with the former Head Coach, and he was very successful throwing the ball but he told me himself that they would not have the talent to do it again this year - their stud QB had put in for a transfer.. I never was asked too much about X's and O's during this process but I did have a few sample pages of my playbook in my portfolio - some runs and some passes, even out of spread!
"But they hired the other of the 2 finalists.. Out of 14 applications it came down to 2. They hired an assistant at ----- .. The reason they told me was that "he did his homework and understood our system - our Offense and our Defense! - and was going to continue and improve on it. "
"I could not believe that they would expect a new Head Coach to run what the former Coach was running! Just goes to show how narrow minded they were.
"My philosophy was to run what I thought the players would be most successful with! I am a passing guy and have done well with it! But I have run the DW with better success vs. more talented teams..
"I'm pretty crushed, not so much about the cheesy explaination as by the fact that they kept me hanging on for 14 hours waiting by the phone! If anyone has ever done that they know how it sucks.. the Principal was acting like I was her best friend during our interview, and then she could not even call me.. These are our Educators! OUR Administrators ! Our whole interview was about how important we both feel about treating students with respect and care.Wow - her true colors came through!
"I really feel bad for my wife - all that she was going through, and my assistants, who were loyal and always there for me. I am working right now to get my DC on at -------..
"Just goes to show you how NFLized HS administrators. can be."
*********** I was over at the Portland Airport Saturday, and a guy a couple of places ahead of me in line was p-o'd about something. He was a really seedy-looking dude, who could easily have passed for homeless, except what was a homeless dude doing with nice-looking luggage that included a golf clubs, and what was he dooing flying first class?
They finally got him staightened out, and as he trudged off to the gate, the woman in front of me turned and said, "that's Alice Cooper."
"No matter what happens here," Mrs. Brooks told them, "don't say anything. Don't do anything. Other families are here, too. So don't act too happy, or too sad. We'll wait until later to figure out what we should feel."
The girls looked at each other, then at her.
"We know," they both said. They are 15 and 12, and they are wise young ladies.
*********** Our local Southwest Washington football officials' association honors a former member, now deceased, by annually awarding a $750 scholarship in his name to a local high schooler. This year's winner plans to attend a small college in Portland, where he will play soccer.
*********** Coach Donnie Hayes, youth coach in Farmington Hills, Michigan, dropped me a line to tell me how excited he was about this year's signups.
P.S. I do want to sign my team up for the Black Lion Award this year. I went to a military college (Norwich University in Vermont) and learned a few things about leadership from some great men (soldiers) who still teach there. Having been brought up the way I was by my parents, I learned the importance of duty, honor, courage, and teamwork. It sure would be nice if more of today's kids got that kind of up-bringing.
*********** Hi Coach, Just finished reading your news. I agree with you on your points about the demonstrations in Europe but I think it is more than just against the US. I think that there is a group of idiots who believe that since it is their "right" they will protest anything anywhere, just for the sake of protesting. In Vancouver last year the Mounties used pepper spray to keep protesters away from the dignitaries for the G7 conference(I think). Then the RCMP had to apologize later for using too much force. Are you kidding me? In many countries they would have been cuffed and stuffed in some whole somewhere. These same people appeared in Quebec City for the Free Trade talks. Now I am not saying that people should not be able to protest but when I see what kind of people are there protesting and more important WHY they are protesting it makes me sick. They live in one of the best countries in the world and they are protesting for something most of them know little about. They even travel around to all these conferences looking for trouble. The right to protest seems to me has become more of a "cool thing to do" rather than fighting for democracy or equal rights. If our countries freedom where challenged by another nation I wonder where they would be. I'll bet not signing up for military service.
Now about the president's defence plan. I have to disagree with you on this one. Where will these missiles fall if they are shot down? Most of the time not in the US. I prefer that they not fall on my head thank-you very much. Kyle Wagner, Edmonton, Alberta
(Actually, I have always assumed that they would fall on Canada. HW)
*********** The elite media types scoffed when Vice-President Dan Quayle deplored the example set by TV's Murphy Brown and her having a baby without benefit of wedlock. We should have stuffed their newspapers into their mouths, because he was right. Now, years later, thanks to TV characters such as Murphy Brown and assorted Hollywood wenches, our young women have been brainwashed to the point where 60 per cent of a large group of 20 year-old women surveyed by the Gallup organization said that if they failed to find the man of their dreams, they wouldn't let that stop them from having a baby.
Why isn't it reasonable to ration the right to vote, and to drink legally, to those minors who show that they are old enough to fight - who elect to serve in our armed forces?
I received a report that one man had been killed and several others wounded, and I called back to Dagger and asked them to send a dustoff (aeromedical evacuation chopper) to our location ASAP. As I looked from my hole I saw someone about 50 meters away holding up a large flashlight.
I didn't think that was very smart. I ran over to the light and shouted, "Hey, you dumb bastard! Shut that light out!"
The reply came back, "F--k you. Who the hell are you?"
I replied, "I'm Major Shelton, Dauntless 3 -who are you?"
He said, "I'm Captain Swink, the battalion surgeon, and I need the light."
I said, "OK" and went back to the radio.
He said that at his recent 25th class reunion at Princeton, a lot of interested classmates were pumping him for details about his enormous mid-life career switch.
I thought right away about numerous guys with successful business careers who tell me from time to time how much they'd like to be teachers and coaches, but...
Having made a move from business to teaching myself, I think they'd be naturals, but...
Mr. (or should I say Reverend?) DeGarmo noted that many of the skills he learned in business are transferrable to the ministry - such as writing a sermon? "A big part of being an investment banker is communicating to others and making complex ideas simple." I would add that that's the essence of good coaching and good teaching. as well.
*********** Hi coach, Just a couple of things to note. We installed the DW this past week at Benilde-St. Margaret's School in Minneapolis. I was thrilled at our turnout, (over 60 players grades 7 through 12) but more importantly, the players picked it up quickly and they're really fired-up about it. The coaching staff can't wait to get going! Your installation tape, and attending the Chicago clinic made the installation that much easier. I'll be in touch with you periodically to let you know how things are going for the "Red Knights".
Also, I'm very interested in the "no-huddle" and "new play" information you described on your website "news" and would greatly appreciate anything you can send. Look forward to hearing from you, and again, thanks for all your help. Joe Gutilla Head Football Coach
*********** Those of you in the Southern California area might want to mark your calendar. The Los Angeles Gay Pride Festival and Parade is this weekend, June 16 and 17.
*********** Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you McDonald's. Thank you for the commercial where the young mom takes her young son to McDonald's, and after prepping the clerk by telling him, "it's his first time, " turns the little guy loose to place his own order. The kid says, "May I have a Happy Meal..." and then, after a little prompting from Mom, adds, "...please?"
*********** Three cheers for Philadelphia's fans. Yes, they may have booed Santa Claus once, but that's because his landing at the Vet didn't live up to their high standards. Philadelphia fans are demanding. They pay to watch a game, and if anything extraneous is foisted on them, it had better be worth their time. So what else could they be expected to do but boo at Wednesday night's Sixers-Lakers game, when Destiny's Child wrapped up its halftime "entertainment?"
*********** Writes humorist Joe Lavin (http://joelavin.com):
Many studies have also shown that a man's testosterone level will rise and fall during a game depending on how his team is performing. Charles Hillman of the University of Illinois even discovered that fans often experience some type of physical arousal during a game.
Dr. Hillman studied the reactions of football fans at the University of Florida. As the New York Times explained in an article last year:
"Among zealous male and female fans, Dr. Hillman's study found, the level of arousal -- measured by heart rate, brain waves and perspiration -- was comparable to what the fans registered when shown erotic photos or pictures of animal attacks."
So, basically, if Fox were to bring back When Animals Attack with a naked woman in a Red Sox cap hosting, they might really be onto something.
At the very least, Dr. Hillman must have been popular at the football games.
*********** Hmmm... As clever as these guys are, imagine what they'd be like if they worked for a living?
The night before the earthquake hit, 75 homeless men slept in the Compass Center in downtown Seattle. Compass Center was severely damaged by the quake, and the men who had stayed there the night before had to find new places to stay. Most of them wound up temporarily in the basement of a nearby church. While there, one of them mentioned having seen a toll-free number on TV for people displaced by the quake to call.
One of them called, and sure enough, the folks from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) stopped by to meet with the men from the Compass Center and get their estimates of the losses they had experienced. Claims adjusters listened to their stories, and within days, checks began arriving, mostly to cover a couple of months' rent - at Seattle rates, which are high.
That quickly, word got out on the street that there was government money being handed out, free for the asking, and claimants began telling government guys that they'd lost such personal items - from their homeless shelter, yet - as laptop computers and aquariums.
Some of the recipients spent their checks - some for as much as $10,000 - on shelter. At least two of them bought used cars. But many, according to the Seattle Times, spent most of their money on drugs, alcohol and sex. They squandered the rest.
*********** From my son Ed, up to his ears in sports Down Under, "Good article in the latest NZ (New Zealand) Rugby magazine about Pacific Islander rugby...I particularly liked the Samoan proverb that says 'A mana'o ile pe'a, talia tiga.' (translated) 'If you want a tattoo, handle the pain.'"
*********** Watching the European wussies on TV, demonstrating against President Bush, makes me think of the Miller High Life guy.
You know - the guy who's raiding the refrigerator at night, making a sandwich. He says something like, "The French - we bail 'em out twice in the same century... but nice job on the mayonnaise, Pierre." He says it with a sneer.
Yet there are the French, whose peace and freedom - including the right to ridicule our president - were bought with the blood of Americans, telling us not to erect a missile defense, for fear we might anger the Russians or the Chinese.
They lecture us on the way we are poisoning the atmosphere, when it is reported that an everage of two people a day are hospitalized in Paris from injuries sustained from slipping on, uh, dog doo on the sidewalks. C'mon, - clean up after FiFi.
And there are the Germans, who gave us two world wars and the Holocaust, and who are so paranoid they ban Nazi propaganda, lecturing us on the cruelty of euthanizing a guy who blows up a government building and kills a couple hundred people inside.
And there is the pompous, overstuffed European Union. No wonder the British didn't want to join. Its nations have been notably reluctant to sign something called the Kyoto Treaty, but that hasn't stopped them from giving President Bush grief because he, like me and a few others like me, doesn't think it's a particularly bright idea for us to "reduce our emissions" (curtail our energy use) just so that the lights can burn 24 hours a day in Chinese sneaker factories and Chinese steel mills.
Hey, over there - you guys ever heard of D-Day? The Marshall Plan? The Berlin Airlift?
Guys - just because we come over and bail your butts out every 20 years or so, that doesn't mean we are interested in being like you or being lectured to by you.
*********** Ever stop for a minute to think that one of the reasons we have school shootings is that we have tried so hard to be diverse - to be tolerant and "non-judgmental" of other cultures - that we have been sucked into a civilian arms race?
When we were kids, it was considered a mark of cowardice for a guy to fight with anything other than his hands. Yes, there were certain groups back then known for their predilection to fight with weapons, but in the general run of American society, it was agreed that a real man fought with his hands. (Of course, it was also important back then to be thought of as a real man.) Only "yellow-bellies" (sorry - I never gave any thought to, I never heard any reference to, any association with any ethnic group) broke the rules.
Or people who were considered effeminate. Unmanly. Take the French. Does anybody remember the poem that began, "The French they are a funny race; they fight with their feet and..." (ask Grandpa, if he served overseas, to finish it for you).
I don't know when our taboo against unconventional fighting began to crumble. Maybe it started with martial-arts movies. But once it became okay to fight with something other than the fists, an arms-race started.
You know judo? I know karate. You know karate? I know kung-fu. (Understand, I don't know squat about any of these things. I just know that back in the mid-80's when I hung a heavy bag outside our weight room for guys to punch, a couple of the class weenies asked me if I could hang it sideways so they could practice kicking it.)
It was judgmental of us to call that wrong. Who were we, after all, to try to impose our thinking on others? All cultures are equal, right? We needed to be more acccepting of other cultures, we were told, even places where unconventional fighting was the norm.
Along came throwing stars. And num-chucks, or however the hell you spell them.
And dogs. You got a german shepherd? I got a doberman. You got a doberman? I got a pit bull. You got a pit bull? I got a rottweiler. You got a rottweiler? I got a komodo dragon. Just kidding. No offense, Ms. Stone.
So, once the rules of civilized fighting had been breached, why wouldn't it have occured to some bright guy to bypass all the time and effort needed to learn a martial art or train an attack animal? Why not just cut right to the chase and get a gun?
An Australian government tourism official said that will be more visitors from the United Kingdom coming to Australia to support the Lions than were in Australia for the Sydney Olympics.
Rabbi Coopersmith says many people deny the existence of God because "many of us view God in ways that can make Him a real turn-off."
He cites a few "common negative associations people may have with God":
1.. God, the Killjoy. (The existence of God presents an unbearably high standard of morality which snuffs out freedom and unadulterated fun.)
2.. God, the Tyrant. (With so much pain and suffering in the world, it seems that God sure has a lot of explaining to do. War, starvation, domestic violence, natural disasters -- what kind of God is this?)
3.. God, the Unknowable. (There's something out there that I can't understand!? I'm supposed to relate to a dimension that is beyond me? We have free will and yet God knows everything? How can I live with paradox? I give up.)
*********** I studied Latin for five years. Homework every night consisted of translating several pages of the writing of some famous guy - Caesar, Cicero, Vergil - from the original Latin into English. And the next day, we could count on being called on in class at some point to read aloud from various places in the assigned work, as the teacher, Mr. Truesdale, listened. He'd appear to be dozing off - he was a World War I vet, up there in years, and he'd probably heard the same translations hundreds of times - yet the instant someone screwed up, he was right there with some sarcastic comment: "Well, now that we've heard what Wyatt said, anybody want to read what Caesar said?" Laughs all around, at Wyatt's expense.
What I couldn't figure out at first was how some of the upperclassmen in our classes did so well, based on the fact that those particular guys had never distinguished themselves academically anyplace else in the school, and didn't seem to be putting in the work the rest of us did. And then would come the day of reckoning, when one of these guys would read something that would send Mr. Truesdale into a laughing fit; turns out they'd read a passage so worded that he recognized it instantly as something that could only have come from a "pony." A "pony," in this case a book known as a "Handy-Dandy Home Companion," was a store-bought translation, a schoolboy-Latin version of Cliff's notes. Mr. Truesdale had heard its translations so many times over the years that he was alert to key words and phrases that betrayed a user. Busted.
Modern-day teachers face their own, higher-tech versions of the pony. One such is a website called Babelfish (http://babelfish.altavista.com) that translates from English into one of five European languages - French, German, Italian, Portugese, Spanish - or from one of those languages back into English. You type in the passage that needs translation, and - voila! ("vwah-lah" - French for "there you are!") - back it comes. Trouble is, just as with the old "ponies," there are giveaways. Fist (you'll see what I mean in a minute), you'd better spell correctly. One kid's French translation started off with the French word poing (fist) followed by a comma. Fist? the teacher wondered. Turned out, the kid meant "first." The machine translators also have trouble with the idiom - the spoken words and phrases of a language that don't mean exactly what they appear to mean to someone who merely looks up the words in the dictionary. A Boston kid wrote that Nomar Garciaparra "wears number five," but when it came back, translated into Spanish, it meant, literally, that he "wears out" number five.
The Wall Street Journal illustrated the perils of depending on machine translation by taking a short line from a movie, translating it into Spanish, and then translating the Spanish back into English. For those of you who are not familiar with the movie, it was "On the Waterfront," in which Marlon Brando plays Terry Malloy, a boxer from a tough waterfront town in New Jersey who has come to the realization that his once-promising career is headed nowhere:
(In the original script): "You don't understand! I coulda had class! I coulda been a contender! I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am. Let's face it."
(Translated by Babelfish, first into Spanish then back into English): "You do not understand! Could've I had class! It could not be a competitor. Could've I be somebody, instead of a bum, what is which I am. Let us do to him in front.")
When you go strictly by the book, you often wind up sounding like one of my outside linebackers in Finland, when he asked me whether to chase the play or stay home: "Coach - stay I home?"
*********** THIS FROM THE AFCA CONVENTION PROCEEDINGS:
"SMASH MOUTH" FOOTBALL, SIMILAR TERMS, SHOULD NOT BE IN A COACH'S VOCABULARY
Hard-nosed, maybe, but "smash-mouth" football is not how competent football coaches refer to their game. Football is a contact game, but terms that reflect brutality and violence do not belong in a coach's vocabulary.
Image is one reason to clean up slange terms like smash-mouth that have become popular in the media, but a more compelling reason comes from a legal standpoint. In a courtroom, dewscriptive terms are used against coaches and the game.
Don't hesistate to ask your fellow coaches, student-athletes and especially the media who cover your team to cooperate and refrain from using overly-descriptive terms that reflect poorly on the game and your profession.
(Personally, I think that "smash-mouth" stops short of the sort of brutality that we need to eliminate from our vocabulary, but in a society in which a jury can be persuaded to award $3 billion to a 56-year-old guy who's been smoking since he was a teenager, I can already hear the gasps in the courtroom when Mr. Slick, the plaintiff's attorney, tells the jury that you told your players to play - are you ready for this? - smash-mouth football.)
"We focus on the fact that a "True Warrior" isn't the bully or the guy that treats a girl like sh--...just the opposite...tough guys, like their dads (and the dads in this program are mostly "real men") treat their wives with respect, aren't afraid to show emotion, honor God, and aren't ashamed of their religious beliefs, respect the laws of the land, etc...it's the "True Wussies" that follow the Mtv way, and we make no bones about it..we focus on accountability and in our mind, anyone that isn't willing to stand up and be accountable is a "True Wussie"....
Anyway, thought I'd let you know that there are still some men out there that are willing to step up and be MEN in regards to parental leadership. You'd LOVE this group of guys..they are guys I'd want next to me in a foxhole or a streetfight, but are all Godly men with strong values/ethics. Getting hooked up with these guys makes the move to Texas worth it..
*********** "Coach, I hate to do this to you for the second straight week, but the first boxer to hold world championships in three different weight classes at the same time was Henry Armstrong, who held the featherweight, lightweight and welterweight titles at the same time briefly in the 1930s. No other man has accomplished that feat and it is doubtful that anyone else ever will. Even though there are twice as many weight classes now (and God knows how many different sanctioning bodies) just about all of the alphabet organizations require a fighter to vacate a title when he wins another one at a different weight. take care, Steve Tobey, Malden, Mass.
"Oh, in case you were wondering, one of the current heavyweight champions, John Ruiz, has been known to do a little coaching with the Pop Warner program in his hometown of Chelsea, Mass. He was a decent football and basketball player at Chelsea High."
*********** "Hi Coach, I was just reading your thoughts on NBA half time shows. I heard the next 2 half time shows will be Destiny's Child and Sugar Ray. (not the boxer, the group). Set your VCR now. Hopefully the remaining games will not start at 9:00 e.d.t. Don't want to fall asleep before the concert." John Signs, Prospect Park, Pennsylvania
*********** Bob Stoops said that in his first two weeks as Oklahoma's head coach, one particular player was late to practice three times. The third time, the coach sent him over to sit on the pole vault porta-pit, telling him "you sit over there, and the entire team is going to run for you." The team, needless to say, was ticked to be running while the problem child sat and watched.
While this was going on, Coach Stoops told the player that there wasn't going to be any getting up at 6 AM to make him run - he wasn't going to ask one of his assistant coaches to do that. He told the player what he was going to have to do, and said, "you're either going to quit or you're going to become one of these guys. It's one or the other."
He said from that day on, the player - who will not be named here - was never late again and was a major factor in OU's winning the national championship this past season.
*********** "I read your piece on Digital filming and was wondering: I have one of the earlier Sony Hi8 camcorders, and we have a bunch of tapes with the family, etc. on that format. It is a good recorder but is a little tough to operate in addition to not having an LCD...for whatever reason after a year or so we bought a recorder with the VHS-C format (I think my in-laws and my parents couldn't view the Hi8mm tapes if we sent them to them, so we made the switch). We had a couple of parents film our games last season and a couple were in Hi8, a couple in VHS and as you can imagine the difference in quality was very very noticeable. Anyway, without wasting too much of your time, I'm thinking about getting one of the newer cameras and was wondering what format you'd suggest. I've read that most of the Digital 8 cameras are "backward compatible", which means that I can play my older Hi8 on it.. Do you think the difference between the Digital 8mm and Mini DV is that appreciable? I really trying to avoid having 4 formats (VHS,VHS-C, Hi8, and Mini DV) laying around the house, but I also want to get good, clear quality."
Since you already have a lot of tapes you've shot in Hi8 format, a good Digital-8 camera would do a number of things for you:
(1) It would record everything you shoot with it in digital format (using conventional Hi8 tapes);
(2) It would play the Hi8 tapes you already have
(3) It would allow you to convert footage that you now have in other formats onto digital tape (provided, of course, that you have the ability to play those other formats)
(4) It would convert footage that you now have into digital signals useable for computer editing by "playing through" the digital-8 camera and into the computer (make sure the camera has "FireWire," although it is almost certain to).
(5) It would serve as a play deck for your digital-8 tapes when you wish to make VHS copies of them; The VHS copy from digital-8 will be almost as good as an original first-generation VHS tape.
For what it is worth, it will NOT be able to play mini-DV tapes.
I personally would prefer a decent-sized swing-out screen, which means nothing smaller than 3 inches. Four inches is best, but screens that size are hard to find.
*********** Education is increasingly becoming a female-dominated profession, but there are still a few men left.
One of them is a principal at an alternative high school in New England. For those of you who aren't familiar with the term, an alternative high school is a school for kids who for various reasons aren't making it at their conventional high school. One of the reasons, often, is a severe lack of social skills, which sometimes means attempting to settle disputes violently.
This particular principal is now in a bit of hot water because when he caught two boys fighting, he did what any old-time principal would have done - he took the two guys into a room, shut the door behind him, and refereed while they boxed each other, bare-knuckle, for three rounds. No one was hurt (although, having boxed a few times myself, I would imagine they were both totally exhausted), and the two boys shook hands afterwards.
But now, the nannies are stepping into the ring. I actually heard some female professor of something-or-other at Fordham University say, on national television, that it was wrong because "It tells people that fighting is okay under certain circumstances." Well, duh, professor. And if you were being attacked, what would you expect your husband - uh, never mind.
Even the mayor of his town has weighed in against the principal. But this particular mayor might regret shooting off his mouth. It could cost him votes in that town.
The town happens to be Brockton, Massachusetts, a town dedicated to the belief that fighting is okay under certain circumstances. Brockton is the home of Rocky Marciano, undefeated heavyweight champ and one of the toughest men to ever lace on gloves, and of another great fighter, Marvelous Marvin Hagler.
Brockton High's teams are nicknamed the Boxers.
*********** I was thinking of running an unbalanced line because I don't think that my guard and tackle will be able to pull effectively at that age (7-8). My reasoning is that I can go with the unbalanced line and already have my extra manpower on the strong side for blocking. I dont know if I should use the weakside wing back in my sweep or power plays to the strong side or leave him there for blocking when I run the counter or bootleg. Or use him on those plays but keep him there when I run the bootleg or counter. I hope that's not too confusing. Please give me your opinion or if I need to clarify it for you I will be glad to. I'm very interested in your input. I will also fax you a diagram to show you what I'm thinking.
I am afraid that the further you get from the basic design, the less good I'm able to do you, because I really can't compare things that I know, that are proven, with things that might or might not work.
There is always room for innovation, but it is important to understand that what we are doing now is the distillation of years and years of trying different things - keeping some but rejecting lots more - and once you start to stray from the basic formula, you begin to give up the things that have been proven to work.
Unbalanced in my scheme of things is meant to provide a momentary advantage over a defense. I would not advise anyone to go unbalanced as a steady diet, because defenses will become highly unpredictable and it will take you years to get a handle on all the things that they can do to you.
*********** I think most of the stuff I hear about bullying is just so much garbage, and once the zero-tolerance crew is finished, kids will be bounced out of school for looking crosseyed at a someone.
I believe it goes to the fact that teachers and coaches all have a responsibility in our classrooms and on our teams to establish an atmosphere of respect, right from day one.
But based on what I have observed, there is a shocking lack of common sense among a great many teachers and a fair number of coaches. I am taken aback by the signs of disrespect for teachers that I see teachers tolerate, because I don't see how teachers can allow kids to be disrespectful to them and at the same expect them to be respectful toward one another.
For years, I have made that the focal point of the "Three R's" that I have drilled into any team I've coached, any class I've taught. I think that before you can start to get serious about teaching lessons or coaching plays, you first have to establish the ground rules of behavior, and so I have customarily spent the first couple of days of school every year - and a minimum of the first couple of hours of practice every season - going over what it is that I expect from kids. I do believe that for the most part kids will give us what we want, but I think too few kids have been taught it at home or by previous teachers, and too few teachers are willing to stand up and state what that is.
The first of my Three R's is Respect. I believe in telling kids that in my classroom they are in a "no put-down zone" - in my classroom, no one will make any show of disrespect to anyone else. There will be no snickers, no unwanted nicknames, no rude gestures, no disparaging remarks, no rolling of the eyes - nothing that might in any way make a kid feel unwelcome in my room. I tell kids that it is my classroom - it's where I work - that I am the one who will decide how I want it to be in there, and I have decided that everyone is welcome there as my guest, and none of them has the right to mess with my working conditions.
We talk about my respecting them and their respecting me. About their respecting each other. About how we can show respect for one another in simple ways, by such seemingly-little things as using peoples' names when we speak to them (you'd be surprised at how many kids don't even know it's impolite to walk into a room and not say "hello" to you), using courtesy titles such as "Mister" and "Coach", and saying "thank you," and "please," "excuse me" and "I'm sorry."
A lot of fights break out, I believe, that could have been avoided if someone hadn't neglected to teach the little courtesies, the little signs of civility, that once used to be commonplace. As a result, we have failed to apply the veneer of civility that used to serve as a cushion in our dealings with one another. Now, without that surface layer, that buffer, kids are a full step closer to violent action.
I have always made it a point to let my players know that we are trying to build a sense of brotherhood on our team, and that means respect flowing in both directions. I expect seniors to lead, and I tell them that I will do everything in my power to support them, but in return I demand that they not haze or harass underclassmen; at the same time, I make sure that the underclassmen understand that in return for protection from hazing, in return for being treated with respect, they had better show deference and respect to the seniors. I tell them that if I hear of one of them giving some lip to a senior, I will be quick to deal with it.
It is well worth my time to make a big deal of establishing an atmosphere of respect in the classroom and on the field.
*********** Hi Coach, I found your 2 cents on kid's clothing interesting. My plan for when (hopefully if) it happens with my boy is this: "So, let me understand this. You are expressing your individuality by dressing like everyone else?" Todd Bross, Sharon, Pennsylvania
*********** Final Standings of the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) Senior Flag Football League: Gastro Boys (8-0), Bananas In Pyjamas (6-1-1) G.O.A.T.S (5-2-1), Vikings (4-4), Buck Rogers (4-4), UC Shooters (4-4), Bar Knights (3-5), Vibrating Chickens (1-7), Spares (0-8).
*********** A youth coach who attended my Sacramento clinic and encounters all sorts of grumbling about his enthusiasm for the Double-Wing from his I-formation mates back home writes, " I had my 'It Takes a Set' shirt on at the All-Star meeting, and sure as sh-- as soon as I walked in the eyes all went "Oh Lord"...just as expected. I didn't even have to utter a word for the audience to start grumbling....Funny as hell when people do what you expect them to do. I just smiled and poured myself a glass of Diet Pepsi.
*********** It's my thinking that we should emulate the concept of the MIRV- the MUltiple Independent Re-entry Vehicle --- it's a series of independent missiles that starts out as one missile, one launch, and then, after it's gone a distance down the line, the several different missiles break off and go their separate, independent ways.
With a football series, it's the idea that every play - power, trap, counter, g, play-action - looks the same for as long as possible, forcing the defense to delay its response.
*********** I laugh at the commercial in which the construction worker falls, and when he gets up, he finds he's been impaled on a piece of re-bar. It's run clean through him, sticking out of his chest and his back.
A fellow worker sees him and says, "Maybe we should get that looked at."
But our guy says, "Maybe we should go get a Mike's Hard Lemonade."
And off they go.
I can hear the complaints already: "Hey, I don't appreciate that! My brother-in-law fell on a steel reinforcing bar and..."
*********** "I enjoyed your talk about the belly series. I ran the straight t belly series one year. That's why I had the belly series in my wing-I set (at Mclean County High) that I sent you a tape of the other year. I never liked the wing t version of the belly. It was too slow and the footwork for the fullback was tough for a kid to learn. When I ran my wing t, I ran the belly series like you have it drawn on your web page except from a wing t set. It worked very well!" David Crump- Owensboro, Kentucky (Coach Crump, who coaches the Middle School at Daviess County, outside Owensboro, ran a wing-I and wing-T and the same Double-Tilt that I like to run defensively when he was head coach at Mclean County High
*********** "Demeaning, negative and/or belittling..." "degrading..." "demoralizing..." "heavy-handed..." "vindictive..." "angry..." "emotionally and verbally abusive..." Sound like the kind of coach you'd pay $520,010 to get rid of?
Those descriptions of deposed University of Oregon women's basketball coach Jody Runge come from the testimony of players, assistants and athletic department co-workers, given to a law firm hired by the University to investigate her program.
I was asked recently by an athletic administrator if I knew any coaches that those terms would apply to, and I had to confess that of the hundreds of coaches I have come in contact with, I couldn't think of one.
So why wasn't Jody Runge fired long ago? It should have been a slam dunk. Was it because she built a winning program? Well, partly.
*********** Coach Wyatt, I just read your section about the middle school dancers and couldn't agree with you more! Since we're dishing out the beatings, let's not forget to smack the producers of Mtv! After all this is where adolescents learn most of the stuff. I don't watch Mtv, but what little I have seen is 100% garbage. Mike Lane, Avon Grove, Pennsylvania
*********** TIMBERS PLAY THUNDER TONIGHT read the headline of a soccer story in Wednesday's Portland Oregonian. There was a time, more than 25 years ago, when I prayed to see that headline. I was new to Portland, and working for a World Football League team that, like the rest of the league, was trying to get up off the mat after a first-season knockdown and come back for a second season. Our team was called the Portland Thunder. Portland's entry the year before had been called the Portland Storm, but our new owners, understandably, were unwilling to pay the unpaid bills left behind by the Storm, hence the name change.
Our whole management team, led by GM Bob Brodhead, was new to Portland, and we thought that getting up and running was a matter of applying the same marketing formula that worked every place in sports. Boy, were we wrong. Portland was - is - a different city. It has heavy industry, and it has hard-working people, but it is not a lunch pail town. It is not a shot-and-a-beer town.
What it is is a boutique town, in love with quaint little shops and cozy little pubs where a person can sit all day at a table by the window and read newspapers. It is almost European in feel, and "European" can mean only one thing - SOCCER!
Arriving on the scene a short time before us, back in the spring of 1975, was a startup soccer team called the Portland Timbers. For some reason - possibly due in part to the lively, personable group of players brought over from the British Isles to play for the Timbers, probably because they began to win right from the outset, and undoubtedly because their tickets were cheap - the Timbers became Portland's darlings.
And, we soon found out, we were Portland's dirt. True, the Storm had badly screwed things up and screwed people over, but we were trying to build a legitimate professional sports enterprise. They, on the other hand, were running what amounted to a semi-pro operation, bringing English soccer players over here during their off-season (and second-rate English soccer players at that), but they hogged the headlines. Following our opening game, the Oregonian showed a shot of our quarterback, Don Horn, getting ready to take the snap. It was taken with a telephoto lens, the better to display right over Horn's shoulders, a large banner left on the outfield wall from the soccer game the day before that read "SOCCER CITY, USA." (Tell me about media bias - it had to be deliberate)
Portland wasn't - isn't - a sophisticated sports town, and everywhere we went, we had the Timbers thrown in our faces. "How come you guys charge so much for your tickets?" (We charged $7. The Timbers charged $1.50. We thought it would be a nice idea to try to pay our players a living wage. ). "How come the Timbers are winning and you're not?" (Uh, we were going up against some decent teams. We struggled at first, while the Timbers continued to win).
We managed to stay afloat financially, and with the arrival, partway into the season, of a new coach named Joe Gardi, got things going on the field, but it was to no avail. We went under when they whole league did, 13 games into the season.
*********** It all started with the story of how Giordano Olivari became Jordan Olivar, but I told Adam Wesoloski, of DePere, Wisconsin, that it was possible, the way immigration officials sometimes aribitrarily changed peoples' names when they entered the United States, that Billy Vessels' name could at one time have been something like Wesoloski (in Polish, the "W" is pronounced like a "V").
So, being the good researcher that he is, he dug into it. He found a book called "Gridiron Greats: A Century of Polish Americans in College Football," by Ben Chestochowski, 1997. He didn't find Billy Vessels, the Oklahoma Heisman Trophy winner in there, but he did find the author's All-Time Polish-American team.
There were a lot of Pennsylvanians on it - Ted Kwalick, Johnny Lujack, Leon Hart, Dick Modzelewski, Lou Michaels, Jack Ham - which made me proud, but there was one old-timer - a giant of the game, from International Falls, Minnesota, whose omission requires some sort an explanation:
His name was Bronko Nagurski. Are you kidding me? Old-timer or not, he belongs on anybody's All-Anything team.
*********** The proponents of dysfunctional familes seemed to gloat as they informed us that the "Ozzie and Harriet Family" was becoming obsolete, disappearing from the American scene. "Why the Traditional Family is Fading Fast" ran a Newsweek headline.
The media types rolled out the stats to show us that only 25 per cent of all American households now contain conventional Mom-and-Dad, Junior and Sis families.
Hey! Not so fast! I've heard it said that statistics are like a bikini - what they reveal is important, but what they conceal is vital.
Yes, we have some strange families. Yes, Heather sometimes has two mommies, and Daddy sometimes has a new boyfriend. Yes, in-vitro fertilization has created some weird arrangements.
But most of the 25-per cent statistic is explained by the simple fact that there is a growing number of people who no longer have kids in their home. One reason is that the population of people 50 and over is growing rapidly. If you hadn't noticed, those people don't have too many little kids of their own running around the house.
In addition, our affluence is making it possible for many younger Americans to move out of the house and live on their own. Every time one of them moves out and rents an apartment, chalk up another "non-Ozzie and Harriet" family.
And more and more young adults are postponing marriage - and children.
But - of the households in which there are children... The vast majority contain two parents - one male and one female.
The fact is that 71 per cent of all American kids live in two-parent, male-female families.
Don't let the media libs beat you down. Don't let them promote the single-parent (what they really mean is "single mom") family as the norm in trying to trivialize fathers. Don't let people browbeat you with their phony statistics and spin into thinking that you are not an important majority of families.
Taking the same statistics they throw at you, and taking what those statistics say about the far greater risk of growing up without a father in the home, it is easy to demonstrate that there is little to be said for promoting the single-mom household.
*********** The Law of Unintended Consequences strikes again!
My daughter Julia, who lives in North Carolina, told me she'd been speaking with a doctor friend, who told her an amazing story about the unintended consequences of our present-day emphasis on tolerance - of making sure we never hurt anyone's feelings.
A speech therapist she knew told her that it has become very difficult for her nowadays to get kids motivated to improve their speech, because now that it's no longer acceptable to make fun of the way they speak, there's no incentive for them to learn to speak properly.
She said that if you had ever told her that this would be the result of a more tolerant society, she would never have believed you.
Trophies for everybody!
*********** Headed for soccer practice? Be sure to leave a little early. Load all the little girls into the mini-van and stop off at Wal-Mart on the way.
Head for the special on Title IX schoolwork folders and pick up one for every little girl you know.
You know which folders I'm talking about - the ones with the track athletes (female, of course) on the front and the martial-arts viragos (vi-RAY-go= a strong, mannish woman) on the back; the ones with the words of Title IX printed on the inside for quick reference (because these days, a girl never knows when those evil old boys will try to discriminate against her).
Next, ask the girls to stand at attention, hold their hands over their hearts and repeat after you: "No person in the United States... shall, on the basis of sex... be excluded from participation in... be denied the benefits of... or be subjected to discrimination under... any program or activity... receiving Federal financial assistance."
Excellent. Indoctrination complete.
Now, go find the manager and thank the good folks at Wal-Mart for all they're doing on behalf of Title IX.
*********** When the Mountain West and Mid-America Conferences and Conference USA announced that they were going to be televising some games on ESPN on Friday nights this fall, I was all over them. Still am. I still can't believe some of the casuistry - the subtle but misleading reasoning - in the arguments of their AD's and commissioners.
One of them said that, after all, the games were not being played in places where high school football is all that big, anyhow. Number one, how big does it have to be to be important as a major event in its community? Number two, the point is not where the college games are being played - it's where they can be seen. And last I checked, ESPN's signal goes all over the country.
Another argument - this one I can't believe - is that some high schools play on Saturday (they're playing on our day, so why shouldn't we be allowed to play on their day?). There is no point in trying to argue with an idiot who would say that. There's no point in bringing up all the inner-city schools that don't dare stage an event bringing together hundreds - maybe thousands - of teenagers together at night. There's no point in mentioning the schools that have no lighted field of their own, or those in multi-school districts with several high schools all using the same stadium.
But given that those people are either stupid or intellectually dishonest, I am beginning to crystallize my thinking on the subject, and it's not necessarily what you might think.
First of all, it is all about greed, but it's not the greed of those little guys in those marginal conferences. They are small potatoes and they are fighting to survive. It is the greed of the Big Six (Big Ten, Pac 10, Big 12, Big East, ACC and SEC) - the ones who grab off all the significant bowl revenue through the insidious BCS, place their fifth-place teams in bowl games ahead of more-worthy teams from minor conferences (remember Toledo last year?) and keep them off most national telecasts. And that's just football. Take a good look the next time they seed the 64 teams in the NCAA basketball tournment. These guys could teach OPEC a thing or two. Maybe that's why we love the Gonzagas.
Other than creating a few scheduling problems, it wouldn't bother them in the slightest if the Mountain West, Conference USA and Mid-America were to fold tomorrow.
I deplore what is being done, but those poor bastards need the money to stay alive. And we are all being tricked into aiming at the wrong targets, because once the initial furor blows over, the instant these Friday night telecasts prove to be profitable, we will see Tennessee, Ohio State, Texas, Washington, Florida, etc. on Friday nights. And not East Carolina and BYU and Toledo.
Of course, there's probably some Texas congressman who can convince some of his colleagues that there's a lot of votes to be gained by championing the rights of high school sports, and can pass a law keeping the colleges off TV on Friday nights.
*********** Tod Bross, of Sharon, Pennsylvania was listening more attentively than I the other night when the hockey announcers on TV mentioned Carl Yastrzemski, John Stockton, Ray Bouque and Gary Anderson. They were mentioned, it turned out, because they were the men of their respective sports who had gone longest without winning a championship.
In Anderson's case, it is not for lack of looking. He is not exactly Dan Marino. He is now with his fourth team. Yastrzemski spent his entire career with one team, and Stockton is likely to. Until moving to Colorado this year, Bourque had been a Boston Bruin lifer.
Nothing against Gary Anderson, you understand - it's the pro game, including its glorification of the place kick, that I despise. Gary Anderson is a very good place kicker and he sounds like a good man, too. If I had his skills I would not turn down the money.
*********** Tuesday was Artie Donovan's 76th birthday. He is a Baltimore civic treasure. As much as anyone - as much as John Unitas, Lenny Moore, Gino Marchetti, Raymond Berry, Jim Parker, Alan Ameche - Artie Donovan symbolized the Colts. He came to town with them, and he was there when they stood atop the world of professional football.
I was not at Memorial Stadium the day he retired, but I heard the broadcast of the cremony, and I remember friends telling me afterwards about seeing people in the stands bawling, especially when he said something about a "little old lady" (his mother) looking down (from heaven) and thanking the people of Baltimore for being so good to her "little boy from the Bronx."
Those Colts belonged to that town. They were well-enough paid, but not so much that they could live in their gated communities, shut off from the working stiffs. Most of them had off-season jobs that helped them trade in one way or another on their fame. And they got out among 'em. There probably wasn't a tavern in town that "Dunnie" hadn't been in. There weren't too many Knights of Columbus dinners or CYO banquets that he hadn't spoken at.
It was only a matter of time before his incredible stories of the old days of pro football, told in his no B-S Bronx accent, made their way out of Baltimore. For the last ten years or so, he has entertained national TV audiences with the same stories Baltimoreans have been hearing for years.
*********** I recently read a letter to the Portland Oregonian written by an man in praise of his 83-year-old grandfather who, he told us, is dying of cancer.
I am sorry for the writer and his grandfather, and for all who love the man. From his grandson's description, he sounds like a heck of a man.
But rather than a tribute to his grandfather, the letter turned out to be a childish whine.
What peeved the writer was that every day, "someone who was famous or wealthy" dies, and there are stories about him or her. Well, duh. That's called "news."
But, he wined, there won't be anything written about his grandfather!
"I wish," he whines, "you didn't have to be wealthy or famous to be recognized when you die."
It's not fair!
So. Equality has even made it to the obituaries. I suggest a maximum of one column-inch per deceased person, even if it's the Pope or the President. Trophies for everybody.
*********** Look, look. Look at Jane. See Jane dance. Dance, Jane, dance. Oh, look, look. See Jane grind her bum against - well, let's call him Fred. But if we called him Dick, you'd get the idea.
USA Today reported Friday that high school and middle-school kids increasingly are "expressing themselves" at teen dance clubs and - even worse - at school dances by performing what amounts to simulated sex acts out on the dance floor.
It's called freak dancing. "Mounting each other, straddling each other, sandwiching one another," is how USA Today describes the way these kids "dance."
The degeneracy of the whole thing doesn't faze them in the slightest. "It's not like we're getting naked," one 16-year-old girl told USA Today. She knows where to draw the line - she doesn't allow boys to put their hands down her pants. "I have morals," she says. "I walk away."
It is almost amusing that this licentious behavior by young women acting like little sluts takes place in the same society that protects their tender sensibilities from "hostile work environments" in which men can be ruined by charges of sexual harassment for making seemingly innocent remarks.
It is also ironic that at the same time promiscuously-spread AIDS threatens to depopulate much of Africa, American young people seem willing to play with the same fire.
The reaction of school officials is not encouraging. It ranges from despair - some schools have put a hold on dances until they can decide how to deal with it - to a shrug of the shoulders and a "kids are kids, what are you gonna do?" resignation.
Obviously, such lascivious behavior - often with complete strangers - takes place because it is allowed to take place - by parents who have abdicated their parental responsibilities or, worse, seem to take pride in showing their kids how "modern" and enlightened they are.
They should be spanked. The parents, that is.
You say the little girls want to feel something against their little bums? How about the smack of an adult's hand?
*********** Just in case you thought it was you - two weeks ago, a parent called John Carver "ignorant, ugly and stupid." Just another day in the life of a high school coach. A week later, his Washougal, Washington High softball team finished third in the state. This past winter, his wrestling team finished first.
*********** Major airlines are losing money. All but one, that is. Southwest Airlines has been profitable for 28 straight years. You might say Southwest runs the Double-Wing.
Well, not exactly. But if Southwest were a football team, I'm sure it would.
Southwest succeeds by being different, by not doing what everyone else does. And by having the discipline to stick with what makes it successful. In Darrell Royal's words, Southwest dances with who brung 'em.
Everyone else flies hub-and-spoke routes, gathering people from all points of the compass into one central hub, then re-assembling them according to their destinations and herding them into planes headed back out to all points of the compass. Southwest flies what the airlines call point-to-point.
Besides being profitable, Southwest has the highest customer-service ratings in the airline industry.
The reason? A coach with stones. A guy named Herb Kelleher. His airline charges less and still makes money.
What Herb Kelleher has done should serve as a lesson to football coaches. He found out what Southwest could do well, and he determined to do just that. And he has stuck to it. Southwest has found a winning formula, and has had the discipline not to change it. (Are you listening, you guys who keep wondering how many different offensive systems you can run?)
While other airlines fly as many as a half-dozen different kinds of planes, all requiring different certification for pilots, all requiring different parts and different mechanics' skills, Southwest flies one plane - the Boeing 737.
Every other airline gets its flight attendants' uniforms wherever the Russian train conductors get theirs, and sends them to the same charm school. Southwest's flight attendants wear polo shirts and shorts and smile a lot, and crack wise whenever they get the chance. They seem to be having fun.
While other airlines serve stupid, tasteless food that always seems to come down to a choice between chicken-something or lasagna, Southwest makes no pretenses, and hands out peanuts and soft drinks.
While other airlines assign seats, Southwest lets you sit wherever you want, boarding the planes 30 people at a time. (Don't like sitting in the middle? Better get there early so you get a low boarding number.)
Southwest has no frequent flier club. Fly 10 round-trips and you get one free. Simple as that.
Southwest doesn't take on the big guys at their own airports; Southwest employs misdirection, and nibbles at the edges of the big boys. For example, Southwest doesn't go into Boston; instead, Southwest offers New Englanders lower fares if they're willing to drive a shot distance and fly out of Manchester, Hartford or Providence.
Southwest expects its employees to think and act like owners. Finding people like that takes some looking. In 2000, Southwest interviewed 33,000 people to find 5,000 it wantd to hire.
The reason why Southwest people are so productive and yet actually seem to enjoy their jobs? Are you listening, football coaches? "Southwest hires for attitude - and trains for skill."
*********** I was reading - or at least trying to read - the comments on a Finnish-language football forum, and came across a word that stumped me at first - "kuupee." It wasn't in any of my Suomi-Englanti (Finnish-English) translation books, but finally, when I figured out the context, I realized that it was a Finn's phonetic way of spelling "QB." (The Finnish alphabet doesn't have a "Q", which the Finns pronounce "Kuu." And they pronounce "B" and "P" almost interchangeably.)
I was reminded of the Oscar-winning graffitti I once saw on the side of a bus-stop shelter in Finland: "FACK JYY!"
Talk about Hooked on Phonics! So that you can appreciate the vandal's artistry, here's a pronunciation guide:
The "A" in "FACK" is pronounced "AH."
The Finnish "J" is pronounced like our "Y." And the Finnish "Y" is pronounced, as close as I can get it in English, the way "EW" would sound without the "W" on the end.
The kid (I assume it was a kid, since I have seen very few 50-year-olds spray-painting on buildings) had done his best to imitate an American vandal, writing it the way it sounded to him: "FAHK YEW!"
*********** Just in case you wondered why the school establishment is opposed to vouchers, which would allow you to spend your kids' portion of the taxpayers' dollars allocated for their education at the school of your choice...
The Portland Public Schools' board of directors has just worked out a deal with their soon-to-be ex-superintendent, whose contract they've decided they 're not going to renew. If he'd been a football coach it would have been "so long, it's been good to know you." But he isn't a football coach. He's a lot slicker than that. So as a going away present, he's going to receive 12 months' severance pay - $171,640 - plus full benefits.
But wait! That's not all! From July 1 through the end of September, he will be paid up to $42,910 for "consulting work," which I imagine will consist mainly of mailing our resumes.
But wait! We're not finished! He will receive a fully-vested and paid-up annuity of $25,000.
But wait! It gets better! He was non-renewed because in the opinion of the school board - and most intelligent observers - he didn't get the job done. That means he won't get the $30,000 performance bonus that his contract called for. But this is, after all, America, where nobody goes away empty-handed, so he'll be given half his bonus - $15,000.
Oh- and one more thing. He was much too busy running (down) the schools to negotiate a settlement that good. For that, you need lawyers. So he'll be given $5,000 to take care of legal fees.
*********** Now that the Bush twins have chosen to complicate their parents' lives by getting busted for drinking law violations - one of them for the second time - President Bush and Mrs. Bush have a rare chance to lead the way for American parents. This could be a turning point in American child-rearing, if they do it right.
Personally, I'd like to see him smack their backsides in public, but I guess some busybody would turn him in to Child Protective Services, so I'll settle for a couple of days picking up trash along a highway out around Midland. It's June now, and I'll bet those day-glo vests will start to get a little warm out there in the sun by mid-morning.
And they ought to be grounded for a while, too. Seems to me if anybody can keep kids in their room, it's the Secret Service. (Although, come to think of it, maybe not. I mean, what's their role in all this? Are they supposed to just stand by while the "children" break the law? What if the little darlings and their buddies were to decide it would be cute to start a meth lab?)
Unfortunately, the Bush family, which has a tradition of trying to keep private things private, will probably deal with these public transgressions in private, and we'll never find out what punishment, if any, the girls received.
Of course, it could be a lot worse. As eager as The Prez is to get along these days, and to show everybody how compassionate a guy he can be, he could try to be a modern dad, and react the way most present-day parents would. In that case, based on my experience as a teacher and a coach, I could almost write his cue cards for him:
It's my state, and what my daughters do in my state is my business.
Are you sure those were my twin daughters?
Did anyone specifically tell them that they were too young to drink in that particular place?
Somebody handed one of them a fake ID and asked her to hold it
Somebody handed the other one an open bottle of beer and asked her to hold it
One of them was away at Yale and forgot that you had to be 21 in Texas
The police officers didn't have to yell at my daughters
My daughters say they didn't do it, and my daughters don't lie
My daughters weren't the only ones doing it
You're picking on my daughters
With all the bad publicity this has generated, haven't my daughters suffered enough?
We've had a tragedy in our family - Jim Jeffords defected
We've moved from Austin to Washington recently and they feel rootless
It's the bartender's fault and I want him fired.
This is all part of a vast, left-wing conspiracy
*********** Coach; I saw a documentary on Memorial Day very similar to the one you saw. It was titled "Prisoners of Hope" and it focused upon how the POWs' Christian faith pulled them through the wretched conditions, inhuman torture and the horrible isolation of captivity under the North Vietnamese. At one point I called my boys into the room and told them to watch and listen to the testimony of the American POWs. I wanted them to know about the inhmanity the communists were/are capable of and how faith in God can literally keep you alive in the face of such barbarity.
It is natural for us to watch these testimonies and wonder how we would hold up under those circumstances but I could not help but wonder if the nation -- if I -- was WORTHY of their sacrifices. That is a very humbling thing to contemplate. Maybe if I can hold that thought in my head and return to it at least once a day as a reminder I can get close. Whit Snyder, Baytown, Texas
*********** Psi.net filed for bankruptcy last week. I don't have the slightest idea what, if anything, they made or did. I only know that they did something that put them in the dot-com category, which s I understand it involved taking very large piles of investors' money and turning them into very small piles. One of the brilliant things that Psi.net did to try to show the world that it really did have a large pile of investors' money was to put its name on the beautiful new stadium in downtown Baltimore where the Ravens play. In exchange for the naming rights for 20 years, the deal called for Psi.net to pay $100 million. I don't know who got the money, but since the taxpayers of Maryland built the stadium, I am assuming that the politicians of Maryland did the only fair thing and gave it all to Art Modell, owner of the Ravens. Now, with all sorts of creditors banging on their doors, how much you wanna bet the folks at Psi.net don't keep up the payments on that there stadium deal?
*********** While watching the Stanley Cup finals, I happened to notice some sort of tribute to the modern-day iron men of their sports - guys who stayed around a long time but still performed at the top level, even at an advanced age. They mentioned the Utah Jazz' John Stockton. Fair enough. Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox - no problem there. The Boston Bruins'/Colorado Avalanche's Ray Bourque - highly deserving. And, finally, football's representative - Gary Anderson.
Gary Anderson? Are you kidding me? A place-kicker? You're going to compare a place-kicker with a basketball player or a hockey player? Why, a place-kicker shouldn't even be compared with a baseball player.
A place kicker is certainly not a football player. Not any more, anyhow. Used to be, though. Back when his name was Groza, or Michaels, or Waterfield, or Hornung.
You want to bring excitement back to pro football? My solution is simple: no player can attempt more than one place kick per game. Kicking specialists? Send them back to the soccer pitch.
*********** While trolling the channels Saturday, I came up with the finals of the Super 12, the international rugby union conference, between the Sharks, from Durban, South Africa, and the ACT Brumbies . "ACT" stands for Australian Capital Territory; a brumby, as kid who's ever seen The Man From Snowy River can tell you, is an Australian wild horse. (Rugby and Australian Football)
The game was tied, 6-6, at the 'alf, but the Brumbies came out in the second 'alf and kicked some bum, winning 33-6, and becoming the first Australian champion in the six-year history of the Super 12.
Boy, would I like to see some of those guys in pads. Depending on positions, they look like NFL linebackers and strong safeties, with an occasional running back or tight end thrown in. There is not an offensive lineman in the bunch.
Afterward the whole scene looked rather un-American, as players who only moments earlier had been committing mayhem took the time to congratulate or console their opponents.
And the post-game TV interview was decidedly un-American. The interviewer congratulated the Brumbies' Joe Roff, who, playing in his last game as a rugby pro, scored 10 of the Brumbies' points, thanked him for the interview, and said, "Now go and 'ave a beer."
*********** Jared Jones and seven or eight of his buddies decided to head for the beach on Memorial Day. Jared never came back.
Jared, 18, due to graduate in a couple of weeks from Camas, Washington High School and set to attend Western Washington University in the fall, was walking along the shoreline near Tillamook, Oregon with two friends when they turned their backs to the ocean. In an instant, a "sneaker wave" caught the three of them and pulled them out to sea. Two managed to grab hold of rocks until they could be rescued, but Jared's body has yet to be found.
For those of you who have never been to the Northwest coast - it ain't Coney Island. It ain't Atlantic City. It is wild and beautiful and uncrowded, an exotic part of our country. But before you start spreading out your beach towel and smearing on the sun block...
It is rarely very warm at the beach. It is often chilly, often overcast, frequently rainy, and there is always a strong wind blowing. It was a record-setting 92 degrees in Portland last Thursday, but less than two hours away, on the Oregon coast, it was only in the 70's.
Then there's the ocean itself. It came as a shock to me, a Philly kid who, like every Philly kid, went "down the shore"- the Jersey shore - in the summertime to swim in 70-degree water, to discover that only the very brave, the terminally foolish and people in wetsuits voluntarily spend much time in the North Pacific.
That's because the water is co-o-o-o-old. In the 40's. You can't last more than a couple of minutes in it. Sailors and fisherman who fall overboard have more to fear from hypothermia than from drowning.
And there are the logs. Over the years, there's been a few billion of them cut in the forests of the Northwest. Most of them made it in and out of the sawmills. But not all of them. Occasionally, those that escaped and made it to sea wash ashore, where they come to rest and people like to climb on them. They are huge. Great for a family picture. Trouble is, as big and as rock-steady as they seem to be, the same ocean that deposited them there can pick them right back up again and roll them and flip them - and you, too, if you happen to be on one at the time. People would run like hell if you told them there were sharks in the water out there. Every year, though, a lot more people are crushed by logs than killed by sharks. And yet people still climb on logs.
There are "stacks", too, huge monoliths that jut up out of the sand. Naturally, when the big rocks are accessible at low tide, people like to climb on them. But they can be slippery and treacherous. And, of course, unwary climbers can sometimes find themselves marooned on the rocks when the tide comes in. When that happens, only idiots try swimming to shore - besides the cold water, there are dangerous rips and currents that can pull them far out to sea.
And finally, there are the sneaker waves. For whatever reason, every so often the monotonous, wave-after-wave action of the ocean is broken by a sneaker wave - a rogue wave that refuses to play the game - that appears out of nowhere, without warning, and engulfs anyone near the shore that didn't see it coming. And drags them back with it.
As I said, it ain't Atlantic City.
*********** Some people have derived pleasure lately from bashing the "wealthiest one per cent." It is mostly a simple matter of applying the age-old political principle that there are votes to be gained from playing on the poor people's envy of the rich.
Apart from the fact that what the politicians are talking about is not really "wealth" but annual income", and apart from the fact that I would personally prefer to be making more than a relief pitcher with a 7.35 earned run average, I am nevertheless grateful to the "wealthiest one per cent". They make up one per cent of all Americans, yet they pay nearly 25 per cent of all income taxes.
I think my wife and I pay enough as it is. I hate to think of what we'd be paying if a neutron bomb were to come along and wipe out the "wealthiest one per cent," and we had to make up the lost taxes.
***********This was passed along to me by Tom Hinger, under the heading BEER MATHEMATICS
(HEY, YOU GUYS IN THE BACK! NO CHEATING! STOP LOOKING FOR THE ANSWER!)
First of all, pick the number of times a week that you would like to have a beer (try for more than once but less than 10)
Multiply this number by 2 (Just to be bold)
Add 5. (for Friday Night)
Multiply that by 50 (being a bit stupid)
(I'll wait while you get the calculator................)
If you have already had your birthday this year add 1751....
If you haven't yet, add 1750 ..........
Now subtract the four digit year that you were born. (if you remember)
You should have a three digit number
The first digit of this was your original number (i.e., how many times you want to have a beer each week).
The next two numbers are your age.
THIS IS THE ONLY YEAR (2001) IT WILL EVER WORK, SO SPREAD IT AROUND WHILE IT LASTS.
*********** A couple of local high schools had exceptional softball teams this spring, thanks largely to great pitching. Of course, in softball, "good pitching" only has to mean one good pitcher, and that was true in both of those cases. And the pitchers in both cases were freshmen, which I guarantee means potential problems down the line for their coaches.
Girls mature earlier than boys; combine that with the intense personal coaching that many young girls are getting, often from dads in every spare moment, and the result is a lot of highly skilled young girls moving up through the pipeline.
Add in another factor - that as they grow older and advance in high school, girls often develop other interests. Maybe their bodies change a little, too. All too often, the result is that girls are not the competitors as seniors that they were as freshmen.
But the trap that coaches find themselves caught in is that parents don't understand that.
I have spoken with a surprising number of high school softball coaches who have had problems with parents of senior girls, parents who think that because their daughters have been starting for two or three years, they are entitled to their positions by seniority. Those parents forget that in order for their own daughters to play as freshmen and sophomores, other upperclassmen had to be moved aside.
And now that it's happening to their own daughters, their response is to go for the coach's jugular.
********** RE: Bob Reade's "Coaching Football Successfully" - Don't just take my word for it...
"Coach, You are right on about the Bob Reade's "Coaching Football Successfully" book. Even if you don't look at a single diagram in the book, the first four chapters are priceless. They discuss building a foundation for success regardless of the level you are at. It should be required reading for any coach who is interviewing for a job or taking over a program. His philosophy is the background of our program at Oregon High School." John Bothe, Oregon, Illinois
"Coach, I have to agree with you on Coach Reade's book. As a new head coach a few years back I bought it and read it. It said a lot of the things that I believed in already, reinforcing and adding to my coaching philosophy. A great resource!" Kyle Wagner, Edmonton, Alberta
"The first book I ever read on coaching football was Coach Bob Reade's book "Coaching Football Successfully". I even quoted from it at a Church youth meeting once.
"I like to write coaches and ask for advice. Some write back, most don't. Today you quoted Dewy Sullivan of Dayton H.S., Oregon. He wrote me back a wonderful letter. Telling me about his offense which your college coach used. Another old coach who wrote me a great letter is Frank McClellan(a wing-t man) of Barton H.S. Arkansas-most school boy wins in Arkansas history. The older coaches write back more often, and are very helpful. Giving me their phone numbers. I get this kind treatment, I know I want to be a football coach. Keep It Strong." John Grimsley, Gaithersburg, Maryland
*********** Coach, Just a note to let you know how spring practice went at Umatilla. I think many people were waiting to see if the new guy would fall on his sword, or if the program would keep going in the right direction. We had an orange and black scrimmage on the 18th of May, and I tried to divide the teams up as evenly as possible, and when you do that it is usually a pretty sloppy game. Well, it was and ended 6-6. I think the team we were to play on the 23rd left there thinking we were not very good, and I probably would have also. They are our biggest rivals (only about 5 miles away) and we had not beaten them in about 10 years. I was not very pleased with our center play that night and on Sunday I called up my senior back-up fullback, and said, "John, I need help at center right now. You'er one of the smartest kids on the team (and in the school for that matter) and I know you are strong enough and I need you to consider moving to center for me." He said, "Coach, whatever will help the team the most I am willing to do."
On Monday, we used him at center and it was our only day in pads since we were playing on Wednesday, and he seemed to do fine. Well, we played on Wednesday and defeated Eustis 26-14 and had 366 yards of total offense. My B-back (5'10", 255 lbs, freshman) had 127 yards, and my C-back (also a freshman) had 106 yards. We threw a screen pass to another freshman running back for a touchdown with 3 seconds left in the first half, and I am sure that pleased all the Spurrier fans that think we ought to throw the ball more. We had gotten the ball back with 27 seconds to go, and ran a trap for 17 yards, a red/red pass for 7 yards, and then threw the red/red pass, A-back screen left for the the TD. In the second half we had a 75 yard drive the first time we had the ball and it was all my B-back, except for two plays for my C-back. We should have scored at least two more touchdowns, but fumbled the ball twice inside the red zone. I used three QBs and about 8 different running backs. The two tight ends I moved in to play guards have sure given us added speed for the 38/29's and it makes it tough for people to defend us on the outside and also the big FB on the inside. My kids are really excited and I am looking forward to the fall. We did all of this with a starting back suspended and a defensive end (leading tackler for losses last year in the entire district) sidelined with a hip injury. Just thought you might like to hear that old coach Timson seems to have them moving in the right direction. If I can keep them out of trouble and eligible in the classroom I think we can have a really good year. It sounded like the clinic circuit went really well, and I am sorry I missed your Atlanta clinic. Maybe next year. Ron Timson, Umatilla, Florida P.S. We want to be included in the Black Lion award.
*********** Thanks to reader Steve Tobey of Malden, Massachusetts for pointing out that I had Joe Clark, to whom today's quote is attributed, depicted in the wrong movie. I originally said Stand and Deliver was based on his story. It was Lean on Me.
At Wisconsin, he played in all 37 games in his four years, including the Badgers' first-ever appearance in the Rose Bowl. He led the Big Ten in rushing all four years, and when he graduated (on time), he was the NCAA's all-time leading rusher. His last two years, when the rules changed to require two-way play, he played linebacker on defense and made All-America both his junior and senior years.
In additon to winning the Heisman, he also won the Walter Camp Trophy, and was named MVP of the Big Ten. In 1975 was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. He is a member of the Academic All-America Hall of Fame, and is one of only four Wisconsin players to have had his jersey retired.
*********** "Coach Wyatt, I just read the May 28th 2001 news of your website. I thought it was beautiful and a job well done." Jim Kuhn, Greeley, Colorado
*********** I heard from a fellow coach who respectfully took exception to my shots at Senator Jim Jeffords and the little weasel named Steve Tyler, who desecrated our national anthem at the Indianapolis 500.
He is, I assured him, certainly entitled to his opinion. We all come at our opinions from different experiences and different perspectives.
As I pointed out, the major difference between his opinion and mine is that I happen to have a web site on which I can express mine.
Two of mine are (1) that when you change from the party that helped you get elected - and you do so for personal gain, at the most opportune time (just after being elected as a Republican, and before Strom Thurmond dies or someone else beats you to it) - you risk being seen by many as an opportunist, and (2) when you decide to alter the star-spangled banner for entertainment purposes, you are dishonoring people who don't remember it that way.
Both of those gentlemen had the right to do what they did - neither will be legally punished for doing so. On the other hand, nowhere in the Constitution is there a right not to be criticized - even harshly.
*********** On Monday night - Memorial Day - PBS ran a documentary entitled "Return With Honor." It was a two-hour special dealing with the imprisonment - sometimes for years - of American fliers shot down over North Vietnam, and the incredible courage and faith - and honor - they displayed during their ordeal.
They were tortured and they were starved. They were kept in isolation in the most gruesome of conditions. They were shown film of anti-war demonstrations taking place back home. They were driven to the point where, in the words of one of them, "the only thing you had left was honor."
They were determined to return. But they would return with honor.
They refused to cooperate with their captors. They refused to accept release until others ahead of them in the prescribed order were released.
And when they finally made it home and were honored, they thought immediately of the millions of others who returned from Vietnam and weren't similarly honored.
They fought a constant battle to maintain their wits. They occupied their minds memorizing the names of every prisoner they knew of, in the event that they might one day be released. Every Sunday, even for those in isolation, there was "church." At a pre-arranged sound made by their senior ranking officer, they would all rise and, each in his own cell, say the Lord's Prayer, following which they would all stand and face the East, in the approximate direction of the United States, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
When they finally were brought together, for security purposes, they amused one another in highly innovative ways. There were "movies" at night: one former prisoner, a great fan of John Wayne, remembered narrating the plots of various of Duke's films. Other prisoners conducted school, teaching lessons in topics in which they were knwledgeable, such as foreign languages and engineering. One of them, an expert golfer, gave lessons, using the only thing resembling a gold club, the "sh-- stick" with which they stirred the latrine.
When release finally came, they talked of the thrill they felt when the wheel of their plan left the ground in Vietnam; a video camera caught them in the cabin, shouting, cheering and shaking hands. They told of how it felt, after years of imprisonment, to arrive at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines, and experience soft mattresses, hot showers and "real soap." They recalled eating foods they'd only dreamed of - as much as they wanted. Of pitchers of water in their rooms - with ice cubes in them! Of finally having a dentist looking at the tooth that had been bothering them for years.
The senior officer speaking for all of them, said, "We're profoundly grateful to our Commander in Chief," (President Nixon) for having made their release possible, and then spontaneously ended his comments with, "God Bless America!"
Back home, though, the return was not always easy. Their wives, brave women who would have made Penelope proud, had had to run their households by themselves, and there was often a struggle for power within the family as Dad tried to regain what he thought was his rightful role.
But most of them made it, and judging from the way they spoke in the show, they are better men for having survived the experience.
"We got through these day-to-day ordeals, these so-called crises, and they're not crises," said one of them. "They're nothing."
Summed up another, "It beats the heck out of being killed in action."
*********** If you were a defensive back and you knew the opposing quarterback had completed 12 straight passes and was only one pass short of the all-time league record for consecutive completions, would you intercept or bat down his next pass, if you could?
If you knew a runner on the other team needed one more yard to break a single-game rushing record, would you tackle him for a loss, if you could?
If the other team was beating you by 21 points and you were on their one-yard line with time for one last play, would you try to score, even if it meant ruining their shutout?
If you answered "yes," to all of those questions, you are probably a football guy. If you started to answer, "well...", you are probably a baseball guy.
On Saturday night, Arizona pitcher Curt Schilling had a perfect game going against San Diego, when the Padres' Ben Davis broke it up in the eighth inning by laying down a bunt and making it to first safely.
Arizona manager Bob Brenly atributed it to Davis' inexperience. "He's got a lot to learn about how the game is played," Brenly said of Davis. "For him to bunt in the eighth inning of a no-hit game is uncalled-for."
Huh? The score was 2-0 at the time. Uh, it was still possible for the Padres to win, Brenly!
But then, I guess that's baseball.
Give me hockey.
Tuesday night, Patrick Roy of the Colorado Avalanche was exactly one minute and 41 seconds shy of the all-time NHL record for the longest time without allowing a goal in Stanley Cup finals play, when the New Jersey Devils scored on him. Nobody said it was "uncalled-for." The Devils went on to win, 2-1.
*********** "Unfortunately too few of us share your views about discipline and patriotism. Yale students, faculty and administration have nothing on those at my former college-Dartmouth." Dave Petrie, Wappingers Falls, New York
*********** "From Gueydan, Louisiana, where he ran the Double-Wing and took Gueydan to its first-even state playoff berth, Coach Ward Courville has moved to Ville Place, a larger school. he writes, "We started putting in the Double-Wing last week. My B-back weighs 245 and runs a 4.8 40. My two wings both run 4.5 or better. My center weighs in at 365. This is really going to be fun running the Double-Wing with this group."
*********** "You want a possible future topic of discussion? Get this, our VP for Fundraising ran off with about $4000 from our coffers. B-----! I hate to say this but out of 5 ball clubs I have been with in the last 15 years, this is the THIRD time this has happened. We are a new ball club and need to get some equipment purchased, and now this. Just venting a bit. We have filed a police report but we will NEVER see that money again." It is astounding to me how frequently I read about this happening in the Portland-Vancouver area alone. I'm sure that we don't have a corner on embezzlers out here, so I am beginning to get the idea that nationwide, running off with funds belonging to youth sports organizations must be as easy as stealing candy from babies. Literally.
*********** Hi Coach,
I enjoyed (if that is the correct sentiment) your Memorial Day news. It really put things in perspective. I'll have to find that book (We Were Soldiers Once, And Young," Hal Moore's book about Vietnam).
Speaking of books, I just read cover to cover in one sitting "Friday Night Lights" by H.G. Bissinger... wow. I had wanted to read it for years, and was lucky enough to get a hard back 1st edition w/ dust jacket on eBay for $5.00. You recently discussed some good books on coaching. I wouldn't hesitate to add this one, especially if you coach football in some of the cradles like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, etc.
Although it was pretty fanatical, I have seen first hand here in Western PA. communities live and die with the high school team. Boosters and former players relive their 3 years in the spotlight and don't see the forest through those trees in their memory. Players who were once icons and idols are now everyday working class people who blend into day-to-day life like the star quarterback or tailback before them. They spend a lot of time downing a few and at the local watering hole and seem to always think that their team would have beaten this current team. Unfortunately very few rarely escape (or ever desire to) the constraints of the local economy. They marry the cheerleader, get a mild (or severe) case of Dunlap's Disease, have some kids, and wait for that boy of theirs to not make the mistakes the old man did...with his "help".
Now not all former players are like this. I could name towns and teams that seem to be far worse than others. Not every former 2nd team all -league player has Heisman hopes for Junior. But it is still alive and kicking and sad to see, primarily for the kids. Just because they are stuck in the "eternal huddle" is no reason for build false expectations about the abilities of Junior, his teammates, and especially the coaches who often work for way below minimum wage by the time you count the hours put in.
As for the book, I still can't believe that in Texas AAAAA a coin toss is the 1st tiebreaker, but one passage grabbed me by the throat:
"It was the sound of teenage boys weeping uncontrollably over a segment of their lives that they knew had just ended forever"
My senior year, not only was it our last game, but that week our coach announced it was his last game. We were playing a team our coach had never beaten. All of the emotion of that last week, the last practice, the Senior Lap, it all came to a head when it was time to take the field that Saturday afternoon.
The seniors gathered rather spontaneously and unplanned before the game for a picture that to me is priceless. I had been playing alongside (and against) most of these guys since I was 11. All that time in the sun, snow, rain and mud, all the sweat and pain, untold hours in the weightroom and hitting a sled and each other, the doubles (and triples) of August, where the feel of cold dew seeping through your pants at 6 AM while you stretched woke you up. The practice jersey standing by itself, stiff with sweat. The time I lost 12 pounds in a 2 hour practice. The thousands and thousands of practiced techniques and plays. The time where I Iooked up on defense and saw 2 Division 1 signees line up across from me guard to tackle to tight end... and then hitting them again and again and again when running into a cement wall would have been as constructive.
The nights with ice bags of my knees, enough cuts, bruises and bumps to last a lifetime. The time I reached to make a tackle in a JV game and 2 helmets collided on my hand, breaking my thumb right before halftime. My dad ran over to the concession stand, bought a Klondike (had the presence to eat it quickly and got a brain freeze) and then busting the stick to use as a makeshift splint which we taped up and I played the 2nd half...all coming down to this.
To say we wanted our last game is an understatement. We gathered in our field house for the last time before a game, a very special moment coach and player share. Coach told us to buckle up. We gathered like sardines at the exit to the field house. He paused at the door, and slowly turned to address us one last time. The faint echo of fans milling, kids yelling, the band playing lingered in the air, muted by bricks and mortar and tempered by a thunderous silence as our helmeted eyes met his.
Tears rolled down his face and he quietly said, "Let's do it."
If he hadn't opened the door at that moment, we would have made a new one.
We beat that team 14-13 with a late 4th quarter touchdown and a 2 point conversion out of a Hollywood script.
I am not ashamed to say a close friend and I walked the length of our field after that last game, our senior year, still in uniform, arms around one another, crying like those boys in Texas.
Todd Bross, Sharon, Pennsylvania
(I am not a great fan of Friday Night Lights and what I thought was the author's betrayal of a community whose hospitality he accepted, but I am impressed by the effect it had on Coach Bross, and undoubtedly there are many others like him.)
*********** Nine-year-old Nathan Walters, on a field trip with his third-grade classmates from Logan Elementary School in Spokane, Washington, carefully picked through the sack lunch he'd been given. He gave away his peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich. He gave away the trail mix. Then he took a bite of his cookie - and within hours, he was dead. Unbeknownst to him, the cookie contained peanut butter, and he was allergic to peanuts.
Like more than six million adults and children in the United States, Nathan had a severe allergy to a food, and his single bite of a peanut butter cookie brought on anaphylaxis, a rapidly-progressing reaction in persons allergic to certain foods, medications - usually injected - and insect stings that in his case killed him. It is estimated that 30,000 people every year receive emergency treatment for anaphylaxis, and that hundreds of them die.
I happen to love peanuts, and like most people, I eat them without any problems. Americans consume an average of seven pounds of peanuts per person every year. But for a person with a peanut allergy, danger can lurk on a carelessly wiped-off cafeteria table. People who are in danger of an anaphylactic reaction to something are normally aware of the danger as a result of a previous allergic response, usually mild, and may even carry an emergency supply of epinephrine, in a special syringe called an epi-pen, in case of an attack.
(I have coached, and carried the epi-pens of, kids who were extremely allergic to insect stings. That can be a scary thing in those warm days of early fall when yellow jackets start stoking up on protein for the winter.)
The majority of cases in which ingestion of food allergens has resulted in death occur away from home. Schools take precautions to see to it that allergic children are kept away from dangerous foods, and food-sharing is often discouraged. Even so, it is difficult to ensure total safety.
Says Amie Rappoport, Administrative Director, Food Allergy Initiative, "the only way to avoid an allerguc reaction is to avoid the food."
According to Ms. Rappoport, the eight most common allergens, in order, are: peanuts, nuts from trees, shellfish, eggs, fish, milk, soy, and wheat.
*********** When Anna Aoki runs in the 10,000 at the NCAA track and field championships at Eugene, Oregon Saturday, it will be her 10th NCAA championship meet (indoor, outdoor and cross-country) since entering the University of Washington four years ago. Anna has done a lot of running since starting as a third-grader at Vancouver, Washington's Lieser Elementary School, where my wife and my daughter, Cathy, first coached her.