2014  Clinics

FRIDAY,   APRIL 18,  2014

*********** The Philadelphia Clinic was held Saturday, March 22 at the Hilton Garden Inn Fort Washington
The Providence Clinic was held Saturday, March 29 at the Sheraton Providence Airport Hotel
The Raleigh-Durham  Clinic will be held Saturday,  April 26 at North Carolina Central University

In the 2014 clinics, I'll show you, based on my experience this past season, ways  you can "Open Up" your Double Wing (or Wing-T)

At last year's clinics, I outlined what I planned to do in 2013 - marry the Double Wing with the Run and Shoot offense that I ran 30 years ago... I said that my aim was to run the Double Wing in such a way that unless you knew what I was doing, you wouldn't recognize it!

A lot of you thought I was crazy.  Some of you no doubt saw me as a turncoat.
But after a season in which our North Beach Hyaks went 7-3 (after winning just 8 games in the previous four years) I think I have something to show you
I'll show you how you can "open up" your Double Wing without sacrificing the things you love about the offense...

I'll show you how, by using your basic knowledge of the Double-Wing (or a Wing-T), you can...

         1. Run the basic double-tight, Double-Wing offense - Power, misdirection, play-action - with zero changes
         2. Run it from Wildcat ("Shotgun" if you prefer)
         3. Run it from Wildcat/Shotgun with one, two, three, four or even five (!) wide outs
         4. Incorporate Run and Shoot principles into your package, giving you a passing game you never had before
         5. Make full use of a running quarterback - including read options!
         6. Make good use of wideouts, even when they're not receivers.
         7. Package your plays - call more than one play in the huddle and let the defense decide for you
         8. Build individual players' assignments right into their wrist cards
 And I'll show you how to get the community know-it-alls and the stage parents off your case, while still staying true to your Double-Wing principles


*********** Boy, after what the NCAA did to Penn State for what has yet to be demonstrated to be a "lack of institutional control," what's going to happen to Florida State after the way FSU officials, um, "did little to determine what had happened" in the Jameis Winston case?  Based on an investigative story in Wednesday's New York Times, it does sound as if there could be sufficient grounds for the NCAA, if what it did to Penn State wasn't enough to satisfy its thirst for blood to shut down the Florida State program:

Wrote the New York Times, "University administrators, in apparent violation of federal law, did not promptly investigate either the rape accusation or the witness’s admission that he had videotaped part of the encounter."

Read on, if you will.  http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/04/16/sports/errors-in-inquiry-on-rape-allegations-against-fsu-jameis-winston.html

It's a pretty sickening indictment of a police department, a university, and a culture (yes, I think that's what they said about Penn State at the time) that places winning football games ahead of the safety and well-being of its students.

And how about this one?

The Times noted that  "the Seminole Boosters, a nonprofit organization, with nearly $150 million in assets, that is the primary financier of Florida State athletics…  paid roughly a quarter of the $602,000 salary of the university president, Eric Barron."

Incredible.  The Seminole Boosters were paying the president of the university $150,000 a year! How in the hell did that pass scrutiny?   Tell me that the football tail doesn't wag the academic dog at Florida State.

You ready for more?  President Barron, smart enough to recognize a bad - a very bad - situation when he sees one coming, got out of Dodge.  And he did such a bang-up job of investigating the Winston affair that he was just named president of… Penn State.

*********** I'm reading a book right now entitled "Their Life's Work," by Gary M. Pomerantz. It's about the Steelers' dynasty of the 1970s, a time I can only compare to the 1960s and Baltimore's obsession with the Colts.

The title comes from a line used by Steelers' coach Chuck Noll, when he had to cut a player - he'd say that now the guy could "get on with his life's work."

Noll got the expression from the great Paul Brown, for whom he'd played in Cleveland.  Brown viewed a pro football player's "career" as a mere interlude between college and "his life's work."

One thing the book has done has been to kill a myth.

We've probably seen the "Immaculate Reception" - Franco Harris' race for a last-minute touchdown after grabbing a ball that ricocheted off either Raider Jack Tatum or Steeler Frenchy Fuqua in an AFC playoff game.  We've probably seen it a thousand times. I saw it when it happened, live, on TV.

But then, facts got lost in the mists of time, and I, like many others, came to remember that as the start of the Steeler Dynasty.

But it wasn't.  They lost the very next week to the Dolphins.

The same Dolphin team that would go on to win the Super Bowl and finish the season 17-0.

*********** A Portland kid who was given a 28-day suspension from his school's lacrosse team has been ordered reinstated by a local judge. 


Seems the kid, a student at one of the more upscale Portland Public Schools (hint: at our Portland Public school, we had grass growing through cracks in the parking lot; at theirs , they have a swimming pool with water slides) admitted giving a friend $10 to buy alcohol for a party,  but since the deal went down outside school hours and off school grounds, the judge said holding an athlete to a rule 24/7 - a higher standard than for ordinary students - was unconstitutional.

Oh - and the kid's parents claimed that the vice-principal had it in for the kid because of another incident a year earlier where the parents intervened and got the kid off. Can't say I blame the vice-principal.  In that case, the kid was in an alcohol-laden limo  headed to a school dance.  All the kids in the limo were disciplined, but our kid's parents appealed, arguing that only those actually seen drinking alcohol (the old "Yes, but did you actually see him swallow the beer?" defense) should be punished - and the principal agreed with them. (How'd you like to be the vice-principal under that one?)

The assistant principal described the kid as “flippant” until he was informed learning that the district-mandated penalty meant no longer playing lacrosse. Undoubtedly, he was thinking, "I beat you once, and I'll beat you again."

Well, maybe, but also, the family's lawyer told the judge, the kid has ADD and is inclined to impulsive behavior.

And then there was the clincher - the lawyer argued that the kid would suffer "irreparable damage" if he wasn't allowed to play the rest of the season.  See, he's been "scouted by college lacrosse coaches."

Yeah, right.  College lacrosse coaches, with only a handful of scholarships to give out, are tripping over themselves to sign this kid.*

So the kid's back on the team.  But he will have to take a little course on the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol.  That's sure to be a life-changer.

My concern - lacrosse, largely a wealthy, suburban white-kid sport,  has the potential to attract more and more kids like this one, wealthy and entitled. Think soccer with sticks.

*Just to make sure I knew WTF I was talking about…

According to sportsscholarship.com - http://sportsscholarship.com/mens-lacrosse-scholarships/

As of 2010-2011 there were 95,683 male lacrosse players at the high school level.

In 2010-2011 there were 60 men's Division I lacrosse teams, with 2,740 players.

By NCAA rule, there are 743 men’s lacrosse scholarships available in Division 1.

Why so few scholarships?  Well, lacrosse - along with every other college sport except men's basketball and, in exceptional cases, women's basketball, wrestling, baseball and men's ice hockey - is a non-revenue sport.  That means, it either doesn't bring in enough money to pay for itself - if it brings in any money at all.

Now, then - let's do the math.

That's one scholarship for every 129 high school players.  An average of approximately 12 scholarships per Division I school.

Since 2740 players divided by 60 D-I programs works out to an average roster size of 45 or so, that means that if a coach simply scholarships the 12 best players - and lets everyone else walk on (i.e., pay their own tuition, room and meals) - 33 guys (and 33 sets of pushy parents) will be paying full freight for the privilege of playing Division I lacrosse.   Not a good plan, in my opinion, for the coach or the parents.

On the other hand, should he divide the 12 scholarships among the 45 players, that's roughly 1/4 of a scholarship for each man on the team.  Given today's inflated tuitions, that  still leaves Mom and Dad with a giant bill.

There are even fewer scholarships available in Division II, and none in Division III.

For what it's worth - although there are more than a million kids playing high school football, there are approximately 20,000 college scholarships available, so a kid's chances of getting a football scholarship - a FULL scholarship - at a D-I school are about one in 50.

Adding in the 16,000 or so scholarships available at D-II schools, and a kid's chance of getting a football scholarship are one in 27.

But keep suing your kid's school, Mom and Dad.  Keep bragging about how the college lacrosse coaches are "scouting him."  Hey - if he's any good, maybe he'll get a scholarship.

And then, after his 1/4 scholarship's deducted from the cost of tuition, you'll only have $30,000 or so left to pay. 

*********** Coach - did you see these?

 The NCAA Legislative Council approved measures that would:
Division I student-athletes can receive unlimited meals and snacks in conjunction with their athletics participation,

Require strength and conditioning coaches to be certified from a nationally accredited certification body,

--You mean, they haven't been?  Our guy has a college degree in it and was the NC Trainer of the Year.

Require someone certified in CPR, first aid and arterial external defibrillation to be present at all countable athletic activities,
--You mean, they haven't been?  Good grief, we have to do that for high school.

Reduce the penalty for a first positive test for street drugs during championships, and
--Nothing says "Let's Get Serious About Drugs" like reducing the penalty for it...

Require football players to rest for at least three hours between practices during the preseason. Film review and team meetings will be allowed during the recovery period.

Dave Potter
Durham, North Carolina

*********** Bear with me a minute…

Crimea, as we all know by now, is once again a part of Russia.  It was a part of Ukraine  but hey - the people there voted to secede from Ukraine and join up with Russia.  Isn't that the democratic way?

So based on language and culture, the majority of the people of Crimea may have technically lived in Ukraine, but they considered themselves Russians.

Take that into consideration, then add thugs from Russia to stir up dissent and oppress the opposition, and how would you have expected the vote to go?

Now then, I invite you to think ahead...

In 20 years or so, given the sieve that is our southern border, how do you think a vote to secede - to return portions of land in  Southern California, or South Texas to Mexico - might turn out?

How about if the vote were to be "influenced" by armed demonstrations against those supporting the governments - of California? Of Texas?  Of the United States?

How about if those armed demonstrations were aided and abetted by foreign thugs - armed agents of a foreign country - who'd slipped across our border?

Okay, okay. Pure fantasy.  Not in our America.  Never happen here. 

*********** A study published Wednesday in the Journal of Neuroscience has found that abnormalities in the brains of young adults who smoke marijuana even occasionally.

Who knew?  Gee - I always thought it was the other way around.  I always thought that the smokers were already dumbsh--s before they ever discovered weed.

Anyhow, the abnormalities were found in the areas of the brain related to emotion, motivation and decision making - key concerns at a critical time in kids' lives.

Although other studies had shown changes in the brains of heavy marijuana users, this is the first to show abnormalities in young, casual users, and it comes at a time when two states have already legalized sale and use of marijuana, and our Attorney General has chosen not to enforce federal law against its sale and use in those states.


*********** There was a strong fear among quite a few NFL people that NFL QBs were cursed.  "Naw, I really don't believe that...".  Then they would get quiet.

The number of children of NFL QBs with disabilities is quite a few standard deviations above the general populace.  No one knows why.

There's always some grouping in a set of data that will show something like this.  But it's KIDS!

One of the best Fathers is the Political Writer George Will.  His son is a Downs child but the thing his son wants you to know is that he loves Baseball.


As for Jim Kelley, I have nothing but admiration.  He was a champion in everything he did.  He has faced enough tragedy as well.

This is just wrong.

Charlie Wilson
Crystal River, Floridas


I mentioned the George Will story to Connie and she said - on somewhat the same topic - that it seemed to her from past experience that in families with a special needs child, the brothers and sisters seemed to be "better," more grounded kids.  Maybe it's because their day-to-day lives are constant lessons that it's not all about them.

*********** Our children often rag my wife and me about the fact that we don't watch movies.  Like we don't have things we'd rather do than sit in a theatre for a couple of hours with a bunch of a$$holes conversion at full volume with each other and on their cell phones, knowing all the while that the some of the money we pay for tickets will work its way back into the pockets of idiot movie stars and eventually into the coffers of the Democratic Party.
And just think - if we'd gone to the movies, we'd never have seen the special on the life of Arnold Palmer that ran for three nights this week on The Golf Channel.

What a wonderful treatment it was, of a person who's always been my example of what a man who's gifted enough to be a great athlete should be.

In all the years since I started following him, at first, I suppose, because he was a Pennsylvania guy, I have NEVER heard or read a bad word about the man.s

He grew up in a steel town Latrobe, a steel town about 50 miles east of Pittsburgh, where his dad was the pro/groundskeeper (they couldn't afford to hire two people) at the local golf club.  His dad was hard and demanding (surprise: in those days, most dads were, because they knew that life was tough, and they knew they had to prepare their sons for a tough life), and taught him many lessons, about golf and about life.

Two of the things his dad taught him have made him the kind of man he is: Never forget where you came from, and always treat other people the way you'd want to be treated.

He's a millionaire many times over, and he's revered and welcomed any place on earth where golf's played, but he's never lost the common touch, always spending part of his year in his boyhood hometown of Latrobe.  Now, if ever there was a place where you'd expect to find someone - just one person - who'd say something negative about a guy, it would be the place where he grew up.  But as my friend Tom Hinger, also a native of Latrobe, often tells me, you could talk to everyone in town and you'd never find a soul to badmouth their "Arnie."

*********** Big Football worms its way into our game.

The following went out to every high school in Washington...


The Seattle Seahawks in conjunction with WIAA, USA Football and the Washington State Football Coaches Association (WSFCA) is offering an opportunity to High School and Middle School football coaches to attend an Introduction to "Heads Up Football".

Where: Seattle Seahawks training facility (VMAC)
When: Wednesday, May 14th - 5:30 to 7:30pm
Registration: No fee to attend
Clock Hours: WIAA will provide three (3) coaching clock hours for attending.
How to Register - Click on this link and submit your registration.


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

I have been using your Double Wing System for my youth football teams in Burnsville MN for the past 15 years.  My old Playbook got wore out so I thought I better get the new updated version.  This past season we went from an “inhouse league” to a traveling league (South Suburban Youth Football League) playing the other schools in our High School conference.  We were 1 of 2 7th grade Burnsville teams.

Utilizing the Double wing Offense we went 12-0 winning the regular season and league tournament.  We averaged 38 points per game and establishing a new record for points scored in a season in the 5 year old SSYFL.  Not bad for a group of 7th graders who had not played together as a team before.

I attribute a great deal  of our success to your Double Wing system and the simplicity with which it can be installed.  We had only 2 weeks to prepare for our first game as compared with our first opponent who had 3 1/2 weeks.  I was coaching a baseball team out in Cooperstown NY the first week of practice and didn’t do any offensive installs until I got back.

We beat our 1st opponent 38-8 and their coach came up to me afterwards and complimented me on how well prepared we were so early in the season.  He mentioned how much faster we played than his kids.  I didn’t tell him why.  But, if you keep the rules simple and the kids know what they are suppose to do then they will play hard and fast.  If they are not sure what to do they will be thinking about what to do and that will slow them down.

Coach, thanks for putting this system together.  I look forward to receiving the new materials in the near future.


Arnie Andreasen
Savage, Minnesota

*********** My wife and I are unable to get away during the fall to see any of Army's regular-season games, so we're doing the next best thing: we're off to West Point this weekend to watch their spring game.

Unlike other programs and other years, Army's is going to be a real game.

The squad will be divided equally, and there will even be kickoffs.

And how's this for letting everyone know that from the top down, winning is a priority at Wesr Point:  coaching one team will be the superintendent, General Robert Caslen (a former Army football player and assistant coach),  and coaching the other will be the commandant, General Richard Clarke (in high school terms, think of the commandant as the vice-principal in charge of administration, discipline and military training).

*********** nfl.com's Mark Sessler writes that Rolando McClain's attempt at a return to football did not go well…

In a scheduled workout with the Ravens, McClain, who has had his share of off-field problems, evidently couldn't finish his conditioning test, and then failed to do any drills.

Sure sign that he's not ready to return?  According to reports, he showed up late.

*********** Written by a contributor to the New York Times:

the purpose of military force is to be so well prepared, overwhelmingly so, that both tin-pot dictators and oil-rich fascists like Putin will never take the risk to invade others. Overwhelming force is the real price of our freedom -- and therefore should never need to be used. But history shows that lack of preparation is a mistake made over and over again. And here we are again. It is laughable that some liberals (and conservatives too) are now calling for "action" to stop Putin. The only action worth taking would have been to prepare years ago. Now Putin can roll while Obama, Kerry and the Euros do what they do best, talk

*********** An MLS (that's soccer) player named Giancarlo Gonzalez was fined by the league for "Embellishment intended to deceive the referee."

Translation:  "acting too much like a soccer player."

american flag TUESDAY,  APRIL 15,  2014"If someone can hit you in the crotch, you are not in position to play football."   Nick Hyder, longtime coach at Valdosta, Georgia High School

*********** Coach,

I really appreciate the quote from the News.

"In my opinion, we are in danger of developing a Cult of the Common Man, which means a cult of mediocrity."  Herbert Hoover

Each week during the season I focus on a topic or theme.  It's usually one of those "life beyond the game" kind of things that shows how football can prepare a young man for life.  This year one of our vocabulary words, and the topic of the week, was "mediocre."

The boys were surprised to hear that it simply means common or average.  In their minds the word means something much less than average.  Somehow "average" has been elevated above "mediocre," even though they are one in the same.  But, put in terms of its true definition, a mediocre team would win half of their games.  A mediocre student would get C's. 

Based on their initial thoughts about the word mediocre we established that if they think mediocre is not a way they want to be described then being a .500 team or getting C's is not something they should be happy with.  It was quite eye opening to our young men.  

Thank you for giving me some material to use when I revisit this topic next year.
Todd Hollis
Head Football Coach
Elmwood High School
Elmwood, Illinois

***********  Hugh,
I have just received notification that Payton Vetter has been chosen as a National Football Foundation scholar-athlete for the 2013-14 school year. This honor is based on his football performance and his academic excellence. Only 11 young men in the state of Kansas will receive this honor, so it is obviously a very special award.  Payton will be honored on April 23 at the scholar-athlete banquet in Lawrence, KS.

Coach Greg Koenig
Beloit High School
Beloit Kansas


That is a very big deal.  I am a member of the National Football Foundation and I see the quality of the kids they honor at the regional level.  To be so honored at the state level is fantastic.

My congratulations to Payton and his folks.  And to you, too.  He would have been a great kid no matter what, but you never know about these things.  Maybe with another coach he would have dropped football and concentrated on other sports.

These are the sorts of things that make you realize why you got into coaching.

*********** Coach,

As a UConn fan I had a pretty good week. Regarding Shabazz Napier's statement about going to bed hungry some nights (didn't we all in college on some nights), the thought occurred to me that the money he spent on tats could have paid for a few cheeseburgers. Just sayin'.

Alan Goodwin
Mooresville, North Carolina

*********** Both Notre Dame and Ohio State spring games were on TV Saturday, and the nice crowds that they drew were a testament to the appeal of the college game. 

I know it was just spring ball, and I hate these so-called spring "game" formats where it's really just a glorified offense-versus-defense scrimmage, the offense scoring in conventional fashion and the defense scoring in assorted contrived ways.  But given the fact that most coaches would gladly do away with their spring game entirely, I enjoyed still being able to watch. 

And it is college football.   (May somebody choke the greedy bastards who run it before they kill the game.)

Notre Dame's Everett Golson is back at QB after missing a year because of academic problems,  but from the looks of another QB, a newcomer named Malik Zaire, he isn't necessarily a lock to start in the fall.  Overall, I came away with the impression that the Irish looked a good bit quicker.

Ohio State's offense looked a bit off, as you might expect with running back Carlos Hyde out of eligibility and QB Braxton Miller sitting out following shoulder surgery.  The defense, on the other hand, looked good. Really good. Take that talented defensive line and add the coaching of newcomer Larry Johnson, long-time Penn State DL coach, and their front looks really powerful.

At halftime, the entire OSU team stayed on the field to watch the "Fastest Student Finalist" competition, a 40-yard-dash among several students and a few of the Buckeye players.

The preliminary heat was won by a student named Malcolm Branson, who in the "final" ran stride-for-stride with the fastest players on the team.


*********** They interviewed former Ohio State coach Earl Bruce at halftime of the Ohio-State spring game, and someone made mention of "that school up north," as Woody Hayes loved to refer to Michigan. Coach Bruce said he never called it that. "I call it 'Michigan,'" he said,  "in honor of the man I coached against.  There's only one Bo Schembechler."

*********** The Pac-12 Network showed Arizona and Stanford, but jumped back and forth between them.  Very disconcerting.

Stanford had no one there.  That'll teach them to schedule it in conflict with a big wind and cheese tasting.

Rich Rod went up in the stands and found fans to call plays.

*********** Penn State's Blue-White Game, the first under new coach James Franklin, drew a crowd announced at over 70,000.  It looked all of that.  QB Christian Hackenberg looked great, but the receivers didn't.  Neither did the offensive line, where the Lions' NCAA-imposed lack of numbers was most apparent.

*********** You've probably already read the story, so I won't get into it, but the funniest deal of the whole Saturday was Nebraska's Bo Pelini leading his team onto the field while carrying a big house cat.


John Urschel, the Penn State All-American guard who claimed the 2013 William V. Campbell Trophy from the National Football Foundation (NFF) as college football’s premier scholar-athlete, has been named the winner of the 84th Sullivan Award, presented by the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) to America’s top amateur athlete. The live announcement occurred during an awards ceremony on Friday, April 11 at the AAU National Headquarters in Orlando, Fla.

Urschel was selected from a pool of 19 semifinalists vying for the honor in 2014, and the Penn State All-American joined two other finalists, University of Florida track and field athlete Cory Ann McGee and University of Nebraska volleyball player Kelsey Robinson, for the live announcement of the winner at the event in Orlando.

First presented in 1930, the Sullivan Award honors an athlete who demonstrates the qualities of leadership, character, sportsmanship, and the ideals of amateurism. Past football recipients of the Sullivan Award include College Football Hall of Fame inductees Felix “Doc” Blanchard (Army, 1945), Arnold Tucker (Army, 1946) and Charlie Ward (Florida State, 1993), and NFF National Scholar-Athletes and William V. Campbell Trophy winners Peyton Manning (Tennessee, 1997), Tim Tebow (Florida, 2007) and Andrew Rodriguez (Army, 2011).

*********** My friend Mike Lude, who'll be 92 in June, is still working on his bucket list.

A few weeks ago, he checked off another item.  He and his daughter, Cynthia, rode mules up and down the south side of the Grand Canyon, with an overnight stay at the bottom.

Mike said that it was pretty hairy in places, sheer walls on one side and steep drops of 700 feet or more on the other, with the trail no more than a couple of feet wide in spots.  Some switchbacks were so sharp, he said, that the mule's head stuck way out into space as his lower body made the turn.

Before setting out, they were given a lengthy set of instructions, the most important of which was, no matter how frightened or insecure you might feel - "Don't get off the mule!"

The mules, you see, are sure-footed, and they'd been over the trail hundreds of times.

I immediately thought of that as a great slogan for a coach who's having a little trouble doing tinges the way he's always done them, and starts to get advice from outsiders, some of them well-meaning outsiders, some of them his own assistants.

The lesson is that no matter how scary things might get, no matter how tempting it might be to desert the things that got you there, no matter what others might be telling you…


*********** Nevada Senator Harry Reid, spoke on the subject of the mini-range war taking place in his state…

"Well, it's not over. We can't have an American people that violate the law and then just walk away from it. So it's not over,"

I can't believe that he really said that, while in the meantime non-American people entire our country illegally -  violate the law and then just walk away from it.

*********** Q. Why do you suppose coaches don't write more specific, comprehensive system books like this anymore? Seems like if they're not presenting at a clinic or a speaking engagement, most coaches' information is relegated to snippets published In combination with other coaches' stuff.

A. Good question. I have the answer. Herman Masin, he longtime editor of Scholastic Coach Magazine  (Now, sadly , defunct), once told me that back when coaches were paid like mere mortals, they wrote books to supplement their incomes. Now, most of them are plutocrats and wouldn't even bother  talking at clinics except their shoe-and-apparel contracts require them to do so.

You can almost trace it back to somewhere in the 1970s. Ara Parseghian's may have been the last coach-written book that actually got into details of his system. (Great book, by the way.)

Herman Masin, by the way, was a giant of the world of sports.  In his long career, he may have  known more of the big names of sports than any man who ever lived.

NEW YORK, N.Y. — June 10, 2010 — Herman Lewis Masin, the longest-serving editor of one magazine in American history, and among the most influential figures in the field of interscholastic athletics and coaching, died on June 8, 2010. He was 96.
After graduating from New York University in 1936, he got his first and only job as editor ofScholastic Coach. He held that job until December 2008 – editing the publication and writing his column, "Here Below," from a mechanical typewriter. Mr. Masin was born in Bronx, NY, on June 21, 1913. He died of natural causes.
Under Mr. Masin's leadership, Scholastic Coach published one of the first articles written on modern strength training in November 1949. In 1972, long before anabolic steroids became a controversial issue, the magazine published an article on its use by European track athletes, written by U.S. discus champion L. Jay Silvester.

Perhaps even more significant was Mr. Masin's campaign for safer blocking rules in football. The use of the head as a battering ram had resulted in numerous catastrophic head and neck injuries over the years, and Herman used his column to raise awareness of this danger. When the National Federation of State High School Associations finally passed a rule prohibiting the use of the top of the head in blocking, the executive director wrote to say that the new regulation should be called, "The Masin Rule."

Throughout his tenure with Scholastic Coach, Mr. Masin also cultivated many young, promising coaches including Al Davis, Jack Ramsay and Ben Schwartzwalder, all of whom had articles published in the magazine. He also corresponded frequently with Coach John Wooden, who passed away at the age of 99 on June 4.


*********** More on the subject of books by coaches…

A friend expressed the wish that Paul Johnson or Ken Niumatololo would write a book.  He complained that he'd bought some clinic notes where the coaches used inside jargon that meant nothing to someone like him who just wanted to learn their system.

I told him that's pretty much the way that clinic notes often go. First, coaches addressing other coaches frequently do use jargon, because they're used to talking with people who understand their every word, and second, you're often at the mercy of the person who transcribes the notes from recordings.

I told him that if he was looking for a book on the flexbone/spread triple option (whatever you want to call it) the best is by Tim Stowers- "Coaching Football's Spread Offense." I understand it's gone up quite a bit in price.

*********** The Player Formerly Known as Ocho Cinco has a workout scheduled for Tuesday with the CFL Montreal Alouettes.  Got to get me one of those QUATRE-VINGT-CINQ jerseys.

***********  Bubba Watson is a multimillionaire.  He's also a southerner to the core.

He won the Masters, and he celebrated like a true southerner - by heading to a Waffle House. (They're all over the South.)

Tsk, tsk, sniffed the food police, accusing him of setting a bad example. One nutritionist, asked by Fox News what he should have eaten instead, answered, "Oat meal."

*********** Headline in the Hagerstown, Maryland Herald-Mail

Person who cut off thumb near Hagerstown transported by police chopper

("Chopper?" After he just lost his thumb? Just doesn't sound right.

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

Not sure if you knew, but I received an email from HUDL advertising the new USA Football (NFL) coaching program called "Heads Up".  The NFL propaganda machine is running in high gear now.  What better way to promote and champion their cause than to get HUDL on their side?  

With all the talk about AAU getting their dirty hands into football, I see this USA Football (NFL) meddling as a much more serious threat to high school football as we have known it.  I can't speak for all coaches, but I've taught the game the right way for years and never placed an additional financial burden on the school, the players, or the parents for my services.  But…here we are.

I know you have been an outspoken critic of this for years, and just want you to know I join you in the criticism.

Joe Gutilla
Austin, Texas


There is no escaping the tentacles of the octopus that is Big Football.

It's amazing that an organization as corrupt and money-grubbing as the NFL can get away with passing itself off as the saviour of our sport, bribing well-known coaches to help promote USA Football's "Heads Up" scam, getting their foot in the door as the Tsar of All Football.

Makes we wonder, though - what's HUDL's angle?

Maybe along with the mandatory USA Football coaching certification that we're headed for (which is when I get out) we'll get a membership discount if we subscribe to HUDL.

(I haven't checked lately.  I wonder if USA Football is still using my terminology - without my permission - in "its" Double Wing materials that it sells to gullible young coaches.)

***********  Coach, I had posted an update on FB about my grandson's ability to make a perfect form tackle without prior instruction.  Looking back I realized that not many kids can really do that.  He has watched football which some of those kids never have done.  I will continue to coach tackling step by step and use visualization methods to help.  Here is a comment I made on my update about tackling.  Thanks for bringing me back down to earth.

This update made it sound like my plan is to let the players just go at it full speed without instruction in tackling. Coach  Hugh Wyatt a long time football and life mentor put me in my place when I informed him of my "epiphany" about natural tackling.  My intention was and is to teach the form tackle step by step and allow the kids visualization over and over to help them make the tackle correctly.  A youth coach's main job is to teach this rough game to the kids in such as manner as to eliminate as many serious injuries as possible.  Actually, looking back over the years there weren't many young kids who could step right up and make a good safe tackle without full instruction.  And if that takes by the numbers that's what I will do.  I was just so pleased that my grandson picked up on in so quickly.  Of course he has watched football which lots of kids his age haven't done.  I still believe some youth coaches go about teaching tackling in a very poor way.  There are coaches that line them up their first day in pads from 10 yards apart and say "go hit him", just to see how tough they are.  I will do nothing close to a live drill until all players are competent doing a fit and freeze and show they are ready.  I do believe watching a perfect tackle or block goes a long way in teaching these kids the right way.


I appreciate your introspection as a result of our exchange.

It's an axiom of teaching that even at risk of boring the brightest kids and holding them back, we have to make every effort not to exclude even the slowest student from the lesson.

It's even more important in football, where a team's success often depends on our ability to make sure there are no weak links in the chain.

I made a point in Safer and Surer Tackling that I first heard from Bud Wilkinson, one of the all-time greats.  He said that we should teach a kid to tackle the way we would teach him to swim.  We should deal with his fears (few kids really want to bang into another kid) and we should proceed very slowly, step-by-step, and not move on until he is very confident in what he is doing.

You have no idea how many times I've watched coaches (at all levels) run drills at full speed before the kids are ready to go at that pace.

Keep coaching!

american flag FRIDAY,  APRIL 11,  2014 "In my opinion, we are in danger of developing a Cult of the Common Man, which means a cult of mediocrity."  Herbert Hoover

*********** I am so bummed.  PowerMacPac, my Apple/Mac store - has closed.

They were only 20 minutes or so away, just across the river in Oregon, where the sales tax has yet to gain a toehold.

Over the past 20 or 25 years that I dealt with them, I bought at least four Macs for myself and two for my wife,  plus two iPads,  and God only knows how many hard drives and assorted devices and connectors.

It's especially sad because the store, a licensed Apple reseller, epitomized what I always thought Apple was all about - when you went there, you sensed a certain esprit de corps, a certain "we're-all-in-this-together-against-PCs" mentality. 

You were dealing with people who really cared about their product.   They provided amazing tech support - the service department was always available to answer questions on the phone, rather than giving you the usual "bring it in and we'll have a look at it" song and dance.  When you did have to "bring it in," as often as not they could fix it on the spot. Yes, maybe I paid more for the hardware, but you can't put a price on backup like that.

I feel really bad for the people who worked there.  I'm sure they'll find other jobs, but I'll bet that unless it's at another Apple store, they'll never again experience the same sense of mission.

*********** Colin Kaepernick is accused of taking part in what sounds like another one of these ugly "drug her and f--k her" incidents that pro athletes seem to enjoy.


While I do hope that nothing bad happened to the woman, other than possibly embarrassment (if a woman drinking and getting stoned in a hotel room with three guys is even capable of being embarrassed), but for better or worse, she may have struck it rich financially.

It could turn out bad for Mr. Kaepernick, the 49ers and the NFL, but I doubt it.  Assuming that her story is true, I have an idea that an attorney has already been "in touch" with her.

For sure,  an attorney for Mr. Kaepernick, the 49ers or the NFL.  Or all three.

I'm not a lawyer, but if I were, this would be my statement:

I think that if I were Colin Kaepernick, a rich, famous young NFL quarterback with tats all over my body, I wouldn't have to drug anyone to go to bed with me. To prove my point, your honor, may I direct your attention to that long line of young women outside the courtroom door waiting to testify to  that under oath?

*********** It's not often that an FBS school's starting QB decides to transfer, but Duke's Brandon Connette has announced his intention to do so.

It has nothing to do with football.  He wants to be nearer his mother, ill with cancer in Corona, California.

He will graduate this spring, which means that he will be eligible to play immediately, a la Russell Wilson at Wisconsin.

Now, I know that Seattle isn't that close to Corona, California, but after watching Washington go through a spring practice session with just two quarterbacks - and inexperienced ones at that -  I'd like to put in a good word for the Huskies.


*********** My hat's off to both UConn teams, men's and women's.

Congratulations to men's coach Kevin Ollie, by all descriptions a true team man as an NBA player, on a masterful job of coaching.

And to Geno Auriemma, UConn's women's coach, whose team really was a pleasure to watch.  Guy can coach. No doubt about it.

But there was this… Exactly ONE MINUTE remained in the game when he began to pull his starters.  Just his two seniors, actually, so that they could get a well-deserved final ovation.

Jeez, Geno - you were ahead by 21 F--KING POINTS!

There were kids on the UConn bench - who I bet had to come to every practice and had to follow the same rules as the stars - who never even got to take their warmups off. 

*********** Give… me… a… break.

Shabazz Napier, the day after being named Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA Final Four, went on Fox News and said that there were nights while in college that he went hungry.

He said, "Student athletes...we do have hungry nights when we don't have enough money to get food," noting that the basketball scholarship doesn't cover everything

"I don't feel student-athletes should get hundreds of thousands of dollars," he said, "but like I said, there are hungry nights that I go to bed and I'm starving."

Well, yeah, there were those nights when the bar would close and we'd stumble out, hungry as hell, the only thing between us and starvation a hamburger at the open-all-night White Tower. Yes, we did have money, but only because hamburgers were  20 cents.  Cheese cost a nickel extra.  Out in Hamden, a new place called McDonald's was supposedly selling hamburgers for 10 cents, but you needed a car to get there.

And only the "student-athletes" at the big-time schools got to have cars.

*********** Hey Coach!

I have an two 8 year old grandsons who want to play football next fall so we've been out playing some fun games.  We've been playing some tag games and doing a couple of drills from your "Practace Without Pads Video".  I bought the boys a set of football gear and I tried it on one of them yesterday.  My son, the proud dad of Connor, told him to takcle him.  Keep in mind that he has had no instruction on how to tackle yet.  He made the best form tackle a coach could ever ask for!  He got close, bent his knees with his butt low, fired his arms up and wrapped up his dad sliding his head to the side, locked him up and thrust his hips up and drove him back!  I've always taught tackling by the numbers but it seems that isn't necessary for all kids.  It's apparently a  natural thing to do.  Next fall when I coach the 8-9 year olds I'm going to tell each boy to make a tackle without taking the ball carrier to the ground and go from there on perfecting the skill.

Actually, I learned this method of teaching when my kids were first on the golf range.  I found they did just fine until I started breaking down the swing into it's many parts.  Paralysis by analysis is a concept that we coaches need to keep in mind at all times.

I personally would suggest that with everything that's at stake here, you not try to invent a new way to teach tackling.  There are plenty of other aspects of the game where a coach can apply his creativity.

Not to refute your theory, but just on the chance that one kid in a hundred might duck his head and close his eyes (which does seem to be an instinctive way of dealing with the unknown), I think I'll stick with teaching it by the numbers.

The word "paralysis" scares me, but I'll take my chances with "paralysis by analysis" until I've done everything I can to reduce the possibility of real, literal paralysis from unsafe tackling.

*********** Bill Widmer, a high school teammate of mine and a long-time labor lawyer in Chicago has a prediction on the way the Northwestern players' union vote will go:

I believe the election will be a no vote runaway. University is running a classic anti-union campaign, speech from Fitz on no need for 3rd parties to come between us, letters to parents (usually it’s sent home to the employee so wife gets to read) and oh by the way team you should know, in the pipeline and completely unrelated to the union, there will be an additional helmet option and everyone will get an ipad next season.

I put the over/under on yes votes at 10.

I disagreed with Bill in that I felt that he failed to note that, considering they are student-athletes,  the iPads will be loaded with the complete works of Shakespeare.

But Coach Fitz can be persuasive.  And so, I bet,  can Mom and Dad, once they check out what the tuition is at Northwestern for ordinary students.

And, apart from the idiocy of walking out on a Northwestern education, in case their sons are considering transferring, Mom and Dad (assuming they're among those few from their generation who actually studied history), may acquaint their sons with something called the Black List.

I can see why Bill is making such a low over/under call.

At most knucklehead schools I would figure on a fairly substantial number of malcontents, but this being Northwestern, many of whose football players realize that without football ability they likely wouldn't have met the high admissions standards, and where they almost certainly have more regular daily contact with ordinary (non-athlete) students than they would at the typical SEC school, I suspect that other than the time demands that prevent them from doing some of the "college things," they realize that they don't have such a bad deal.

*********** The NFL draft is approaching, and with all the talk we'll be hearing about the enormous sums of money draftees will be paid,  I'm disappointed in the colleges for having done such a poor job of explaining tp the public that without having put in time as low-paid college "student-athletes," those guys wouldn't have anywhere close to the same value to an NFL club.

*********** In an article in the July/August 2012 "This is the AFCA" magazine (a real benefit of belonging to the American Football Coaches Association), legendary Mt. Carmel (Chicago) High School coach Frank Lenti mentioned some advice he got as a rookie coach from all-time great Bo Schembechler.

He'd told Schembechler that he planned on running a split-back veer offense, and he said Schembechler told him, "Okay, here's the deal. Whatever you believe in, you sell it and you stick to it. Don't you let anyone talk you out of what you believe in.  There are going o be a lot of naysayers who are going to tell you you can't do that."

Says Lenti now, years later. "He was right. Guys in our conference would tell me I can't run that offense in this conference, that I'm going to be fired in two years.  Well, here we are, 28 years later.  And in that 28 years, we've played in 14 state championship games and we've also won four prep bowls."

He also mentioned something else that I suspect has had more than a lot to do with his success.

"For our kids here," he said, "It's a three-pronged approach.

"Number one, we tell our kids you have to be the best person you can be.

"Number two, be the best student you can be.

"Then, number three, be the best athlete you can be."

But, he went on, If an athlete isn't measuring up on number one and number two, he won't get a chance to be number three at Mt. Carmel.

*********** Since lefties love  to delve into a conservative's past in search of  incriminating things he may have said or written, permit me to  submit this:

In 1994, the "Reverend" Al Sharpton told an audience at New Jersey's Kean College in 1994 "White folks was in caves while we was building empires.... We taught philosophy and astrology and mathematics before Socrates and them Greek homos ever got around to it."

*********** How much sense does it make to pay millions more than his teammates  to a guy in a sport where 0-0 (pronounced "nil-nil") scores are commonplace?

Yeah, I can see starving the rest of the guys on the team in order to pay a great starting pitcher or a great home run hitter.   Or a great scorer/rebounder/defender in basketball.  What the hell - it's all about putting butts in the seats and eyeballs on the screens, and major league baseball and NBA basketball aren't exactly team sports, anyhow.

Actually, you could argue that the game of football has reached the point where it might make sense to break the bank to get a great quarterback.

But soccer? The Seattle Sounders  are going to pay a soccer player named Clint Dempsey  $6.695 million - guaranteed -  this season.  That's more money than the total payrolls of 15  other MLS teams.


american flag TUESDAY,  APRIL 8,  2014"War is God's way of teaching Americans geography."  Ambrose Bierce

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

I truly enjoyed catching up with you. I can't believe it has been 40 years since we were together in Philly.

I loved the blog and the trip down memory lane. We certainly had a unique experience with the Bell. I guess you had to be there to really understand it. 

It was interesting to see you mention Rocky Marciano.  My mother arrived in this country when she was 18 years old. Her father purchased a three family home in Whitman. She recalls Rocky stopping at the house for a break during his roadwork.  Supposedly, he would have a small glass of my grandfather's homemade wine to help him make it back to Brockton. My father heard that he also had his eye on my mother. Who knows, I might have been Dennis Marciano!

Again, it was great seeing you. Hopefully, it won't take 40 years for our paths to cross again.


Dennis Lozzi
Whitman, Massachusetts


*********** Over the next seven months, Mike Viti, former Army captain and Black Lion Award winner pictured above,  will walk across America, starting in Washington State and finishing in Baltimore, the site of the Army-Navy game. He'll have hiked over 7,100 kilometers, one for every US service member who was killed in action during the so-called Global War on Terror.

His personal goal is to raise the awareness of everyday Americans about the sacrifice of our nation's heroes and their families. His message is that these heroes represent the face of freedom. Together, we must rally and honor the legacies of those killed in action and support their families.  

Mike grew up in Berwick, Pennsylvania, a football-crazy town where he was an all-state football player and a state champion wrestler.

Influenced by the events of September 11th, 2001,  he earned an appointment to the United States Military Academy, at West Point, New York, in 2004.

At West Point, as starting fullback for the Army Football team Mike  was a four-time football letter winner, and was voted team captain by his teammates. Following the 2006 season, his junior year, Mike was named Army's Black Lion Award winner for “best exemplifying leadership, courage, devotion to duty, self sacrifice, and above all an unselfish concern for the team ahead of himself."

Being the first junior so honored meant that Mike would become the first Army player to wear the Black Lion patch not just in the Army-Navy game, but for his entire senior season.

Following his senior season, he became the 26th cadet in history to be presented the Army Athletic Association’s Special Award for “achievement and exemplary leadership in athletic competition”.
During his senior year, he was named one of the four Regimental Commanders in the Corps of Cadets, which meant he was responsible for the health, welfare and training requirements of over 1,000 cadets,  and he earned the Lieutenant General Garrison Davidson Award for his military standing.
After graduation from West Point in 2009, Mike was commissioned as a Field Artillery Officer in the Army. He served in several positions with 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado. In 2010-11, Mike was deployed to Arghandab River Valley, Afghanistan as a Platoon Leader and earned a Bronze Star and Combat Action Badge for his exemplary service. While in Afghanistan, he had the honor of personally escorting Secretary of Defense Gates on a visit to the front lines.   Back in the states, Mike then served as an Operations Officer for the 214th Fires Brigade at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and in 2013, Mike he concluded his military service.
As a civilian, Mike assumed a leadership position at a Fortune 100 company, Hospital Corporation of America, and served as Director of Application Services for the Far West Division in Las Vegas, Nevada,  responsible for leading operations in eight facilities across Nevada and California.
He has become active in supporting the legacy of those killed in action during the Global War on Terror and an advocate for their families. Recently, Mike teamed up with Freedom Has A Face, a non-profit organization devoted to honoring the lives of those heroes, and to accomplish his mission, has undertaken Mike’s Hike For Heroes.

It's my hope that anyone who reads this page, anyone who's had a connection with the Black Lion Award, anyone who'd like to support Mike's effort, will consider contacting Mike via the info on this link - http://www.mikeshikeforheroes.com

My wife and I have offered Mike food and lodging when he passes through Portland (ETA May 2), but at the very least, we'll settle for a photo-op.

*********** Coach,

Two questions:

1.Talked recently with the father of a coaching friend-the father was the coach at -----  High during the time of that tape I sent you, running the unbalanced wing t.  Talking about his offense, and thinking about it and the old unbalanced single wing, do you know of any program that still runs a primarily unbalanced line offense?  I can't imagine anyone would let you get away with that nowadays.

There are such teams, and they're usually coached by old guys who've run unbalanced for years, and they "get away with it" because they know their offenses so well - and the things that people might do against them - that they can adjust quickly.

2. Saw some internet discussion some time back about the sidesaddle T offense.  Looking at it, it seems like single wing with someone somewhat under center.  What was the purpose of that offense and how common was it during its' time?

It was not common.  It was a part of General Neyland's unbalanced line single-wing at Tennessee, and John McLaughry ran it against us when I was in college and he was at Brown. General Neyland liked to have his blocking back close enough to take a t-formation snap so he could run a sneak.  I have video of one of his disciples, Phil Dickens, running it at Wyoming.  He could run single wing to one side (with the QB as a blocking back) and t-formation stuff to the other side (with the QB taking the snap from center).  When I was a kid playing on the 90-pound team, I remember playing teams who ran it, and thinking how much easier it must have been for the QB because he could actually see the ball!

*********** Do you suppose the Big Ten might want a mulligan on the addition of Maryland and Rutgers?  On Rutgers, at least?

Those dumb bastards just can't seem to figure out how to act like a big-time athletic program.

It wasn't bad enough that their basketball coach was caught on video berating players and throwing basketballs at them in practice.

It wasn't bad enough that after the incident cost them the coach as well as the AD at the time, they went out and hired an AD who, if her former players are to be believed, left a lot to be desired as a coach.

Now, that AD, Julie Hermann by name, has told a class of journalism students that it "would be great" if the Newark Star-Ledger, which last week laid off 167 workers, would fold.

“I’m going to do all I can," she said,  "to not give them a headline to keep them alive.”

Good luck with that one, Julie.

Look -  I often think that America would be a lot better off if there were no New York Times or the Washington Post or major TV networks acting as adjuncts of the Democratic Party, but if I were in a prominent position in an organization, I sure wouldn't express that opinion publicly.

Two good reasons:

Old country wisdom: "never get into a pissing contest with a skunk."

Benjamin Franklin's wisdom:  "Never argue with a man who buys his ink by the barrel."


*********** While back east for a couple of weeks, we spent a lot of time driving, and on the road we listened to a lot of Sirius radio.  Based on the all the commercials by trucking companies (Walmart, too) looking for drivers, I would have to say that there do seem to be jobs for people willing to work.

*********** I feel sorry for Pat Fitzgerald.  He's got his dream job - coaching at his alma mater - and he's doing a great job there.

From the standpoint of Northwestern, an academically prestigious private college managing somehow to keep its head above water in competition with the Big Ten's giant state schools,  he's the dream coach - an alumnus (a Chicago kid at that) who loves the university and understands its mission, and has made its football program competitive without detriment to the university.

Understandably, he is advising his players to vote against a union.

Yes, yes, I know - you'd expect that from someone who's being paid a couple of million by Northwestern to be their coach. 

But there are those of us who believe that he really does have the best interests of Northwestern foremost. And although you'd think from all the headlines (mostly involving a former Northwestern player and some union guy with a strange name) that the voting is going to go the union's way, but these are, after all, Northwestern kids, which means many (most?) of them are real students who take actual classes, and they might actually believe themselves capable of determining what's in their best interests without help from a union…



Rick Davis*********** Rick Davis, formerly of Duxbury, Massachusetts, never missed a Providence clinic.  Until this year, when a "relocation" made it impossible.  That's because Rick and his wife, Beth, now live New Zealand, and he pulled the tired, old excuse of not being able to fly 20 hours each way just to attend a clinic. Last summer, Rick sent me a photo of his original playbook, covered with name badges from previous clinics he'd attended, so I thought the least I could do was send him a "badge" from this year's clinic to add to the collection.

*********** Well, you mentioned that name again (Larry Coker), so, here's a question for 'ya:

We all know that in any number of "Big Games", it can come down to one play (See: Alabama - Auburn).  Now suppose that in the Miami game against Ohio State, the Referee's Guide Dog didn't bark.

Some short time after the 2nd consecutive undefeated season and second NC, Larry Coker announces that, "I've enjoyed my stay here at the U - the babysitting, the midnight calls from my buddies in the Police Department and my deep and personal commitment to Quest Diagnostics".

"Therefore, it is with some sorrow that I announce my retirement from College Football..."

Would he have had proper claim to being the Greatest Coach Ever?  I know that someone would always say, "Two consecutive undefeated seasons and two NCs are not enough", but still..

Charlie Wilson
Crystal River, Florida


You bring up a great question.

The guy was fired after six years in which he went 12-0, 12-1, 11-2, 9-3, 9-3, 7-6

God Lord, man - that's 60-15.  Even with a 7-6 season thrown in, that's an average of TEN WINS A YEAR.

One national title and, as you say, one visually-impaired  near miss.

But between the crowd in the "OB" demanding national titles, and President Shalala's embarrassment at the near-riot against Florida International (remember that clown in the press box narrating it?), they found their saviour in Randy Shannon, who'd been Coker's defensive coordinator.  How can it ever look good when a school fires a head coach and replaces him with his number one assistant?  Knowing that he got the job because a guy who'd won 60 games in six years didn't win enough,  Randy Shannon had to know that 28-22 in five years, to go along with a lot of off-field turmoil, would get him fired, too.

Hey- if they could count Bobby Bowden's wins at Samford when he was neck-and-neck with Joe Paterno, then Larry Coker ought to be able to count his wins at San Antonio, which means that in another three or four years he'll have 100 wins.  But even if they don't count them, he's still got a national title, two national title game appearances, and an .800 career winning percentage in six years at a major college.

And let them go ahead and say that the first two years were with Butch Davis' recruits - he went 11-2, 9-3 and 9-3 with his own kids.

Like you, I like Larry Coker.

*********** Q. Is it legal for a lineman to cut/shoeshine when you're in the shotgun/pistol?

A. No. For most pistols and shotguns he would have to do it awfully fast - before the ball left the free blocking zone, at which point the free blocking zone dissolves.  In our Wildcat alignment, our QB's heels are at 4 and he is low in his stance and he catches the ball at about 3 (within the free blocking zone) so by our measurements it's still in the free blocking zone and it would take an Einstein with GPS to prove otherwise. But we're prepared for the day when low blocking is outlawed- that's why we teach the Cut-Off/Turn-Back technique.

*********** Spring break meant college choices for two of our grandkids - granddaughter Chrissie, from Denver, becoming the third member of her family to choose Vanderbilt (Yay! Four more years of an excuse to visit Nashville!) and grandson Nick, from Seattle,  deciding to head to his dad's hometown and become a Houston Cougar.

*********** Reporter San Interdonato of the Middletown, New York Times-Herald-Record  tells another New-Sheriff-in-Town anecdote about new Army coach Jeff Monken...

Monken called for a kicker following a scrimmage-like practice on Wednesday. The kicker jogged onto the field without full pads and was sent to the sideline.

Monken asked for another kicker in full pads and only one ran onto the field. The coach told the rest of the special teams to go to the locker room and come back in full pads.

After the period, Monken asked the special-teams group why they thought it was all right to not wear full pads during practice.

"That's what we did last year," one player said.

That's not the answer Monken wanted to hear. Kickers and punters stayed after practice. Monken told them to drop to the turf and roll across most of the field in full pads.

"I want everybody to pay attention to all the little things, every detail, and that's a little detail," Monken said. "When you take the field and you are not properly equipped, you are not allowed to play and it's a penalty on the team. So come out to practice appropriately in the dress of the day, that's easy to do. Just do it right. It wasn't just them, there were some other guys."

*********** Coach,

Reading about Coach Monken and his players traveling to the funeral of the Navy player who died suddenly reminded me that I had not told you of my own player's trip to the Naval Academy two weeks ago.

Sophomore Brad Novak (6'6, 300lbs) has a real interest in going to the Naval Academy.  So much so that his mother wanted to take him there over spring break so he could see it for real (and gauge if he was truly interested after seeing things up close).  They were to attend practice and tour the school on Monday.  When they woke up that morning they saw that Will McKamey had died.  Obviously the family would have understood if things were cancelled for their trip.  Instead, after moving the meeting back a bit, Brad was able to visit the Academy, tour the school and sit in on meetings.  

It was a great experience for Brad.  In an odd way, the circumstances showed he and his family what the Academy is all about. When the coaches talked about family during that tour, they saw it for real.  It was very much out in the open on that emotional day, but obviously handled with the dignity you would expect from the type of men and women who attend the Academy.  

Kudos to the Naval Academy and the men they have chosen to coach their football team.

I was very proud to hear Brad's mother say "so many of the things the coaches talked to us about are the same things you tell your players and parents."  

I have to admit, there's a big part of me hoping this works out and in a few years I will be one of those yelling "Go Navy. Beat Army."  Sorry.

Todd Hollis
Elmwood, Illinois


That's a great story and I'm sure that the USNA people did everything the right way.  To me, Navy has become the program that Army must aim at as the way things need to be done.  I'm especially impressed by their ability to find and recruit players.

Maybe that's why several people on the new Army staff have Navy experience.

(And you might not have to say "Go Navy, Beat Army" once Army gets into the act with Brad.)

Thanks for writing!

todd spencer*********** On our recent visit to West Point, my wife and I were joined after practice by Army line coach Todd Spencer.  Coach Spencer and I go back to the 1980s and Rich Brooks' Oregon football camp. I was a high school coach and he was an Oregon graduate assistant, a grad of Pacific Lutheran University.

We've crossed paths a few times over the years, but he went the college route, and since 1991, he's been one of the absolute best triple option line coaches in football, starting out at Oregon State under Jerry Pettibone.  From there, he caught on with Paul Johnson and Navy and followed Johnson to Georgia Tech.  This is his second year at Army.

*********** An interesting paradox about Our President, the one who was given a Nobel Peace Prize before his bags in the White House were all unpacked, is that his drive to end American exceptionalism, to defang the United States military and deplete our nuclear arsenal, is almost certainly going to result in a more nuclear (and far more dangerous) world.

If you're one of our allies. writes Charles Krauthammer, once it becomes apparent that despite all our promises, the US does NOT have your back, you have just two options:

"Bend your knee, or arm to the teeth.  Either acquiesce to the regional bully or gird your loins, i.e., go nuclear. As surely will the Gulf states. As will, in time, Japan and South Korea."

*********** A New Hampshire high school basketball player forfeited the Player of the Year award he'd been given as well as an invitation to a pair of postseason all-star games - all because he couldn't keep it in his pants.  His cell phone, that is.

Instead, a couple hours after he'd  scored 15 points to lead his school to a second consecutive state title win, he  had to send out a vulgar, taunting tweet to the opponents:

"You may have won in the regular season… but we won the ship you suck #f--kyourself"


*********** You "folks" who think, like me,  that Pfc. Tariqka Sheffey, a United States Army "soldier" ought to be kicked in the ass - hard - for delighting in not saluting the flag - you are so-o-o-o Twentieth Century.


*********** We've reached this point, I'm afraid…

You might be a redneck if: It never occurred to you to be offended by the phrase, 'One nation, under God.'

You might be a redneck if: You've never protested about seeing the Ten Commandments posted in public places.

You might be a redneck if: You still say 'Christmas' instead of 'Winter Festival.'

You might be a redneck if: You bow your head when someone prays.

You might be a redneck if: You stand and place your hand over your heart when they play the National Anthem.

You might be a redneck if: You treat our armed forces veterans with great respect, and always have.

You might be a redneck if: You've never burned an American flag, and don't  intend to.

You might be a redneck if: You know what you believe and you aren't afraid to say so, no matter who is listening.

You might be a redneck if: You respect your elders and raised your kids to do the same.

You might be a redneck if: You'd give your last dollar to a friend.

*********** Hang on, folks… A South Dakota wife and mother writes, "Why My Kids Are NOT the Center of My World"

"Modern parenting," she writes,  "is creating a generation that's not going to be able to function in society."
An example of where this woman is coming from:  

Your child, who you cater to every need, who you shelter from all things "evil."  How will this child react when he or she grows into adulthood?  "Debbie" graduates from high school and goes to college.  She writes her first paper and meets with her professor about that paper and the professor tells her that it's junk and it will get a failing grade.  How will Debbie cope with that if she's always been made to feel that no one should ever make her feel sad, or criticize anything she does?

Her thesis:

Everyone parents differently, and I respect that. The current generation may be one that expects nothing less than everything from this world.  But I know of two gentlemen (her two boys) that are going to be able to accept failure and move on having learned something from it. 

I know of two gentleman who will be hurt emotionally, but who will be able to work through the hurt and carry on with life.  I will cushion the emotional fall as much as a mom can, but I will not completely prevent it from happening. They will not expect whoever hurt them to be punished.  Heck, I might even teach my children the power of forgiveness. 

These two gentlemen will understand the value of hard work, and know that hard work is required to get where one wants to be in life. 

They will, while understanding the need for caution, appreciate that not everyone out there is out to get them.  Not everyone is out to do evil things. 

These gentlemen will understand that there are about a gazillion people in this world.  While they are incredibly special to me and my family, they are not special to the world.  That probably sounds terrible, but people!  It's the harsh truth, and it needs embraced!

I know that I can't change the mindset of modern parents.  That's never been and never will be my goal.  I just want to make sure that I raise my sons to grow into respectable men who can thrive and succeed, due to having been prepared to do so.

My kids are not the center of my world because I love them enough not to allow them to be.


Athens Frittata*********** One of the great attractions to me of an eastern trip is the food.  Hoagies and cheese steaks in Philly… subs in South Jersey…  Italian food of all sorts.

There was Toner's Beef and Ale in Fort Washington, PA… Steak and Hoagie Factory in Abington, PA… Sacco's subs, in Ventnor, New Jersey… DiMarzio's Willow Inn in Willow Grove, PA… Tommy Sullivan's Cafe (fantastic menu!) in Branford, CT...The Parthenon Diner in North Branford, CT (had a souvlaki for breakfast)… The Hotel Thayer bar, in West Point, NY… The South Gate Tavern in Highland Falls, NY… Barnstormer BBQ in Fort Montgomery, NY…  The Shannon View in Warwick, Rhode Island…  The Athens Diner, in Warwick, Rhode Island...

Pictured is the Athens Diner's "Roadkill" Frittata, with a side of home fries and a side of bacon. A Frittata is an Italian dish, an "open-faced" 4-egg omelette, stuffed with ham, bacon, sausage, corned beef hash, potatoes, mushrooms and monterey jack cheese. It's first cooked in a pan, then finished in the oven.  Unbelievable.  (Notice that I used artificial sweeteners.   I'm watching my weight.)

american flagFRIDAY,  APRIL 4,  2014"I thought I knew everything about everything and two years later I realized I didn't know anything about anything." Geno Auriemma, describing his first year as a college head coach

*********** So why might a typical major college need a new, improved, larger "football operations facility?"

Let's let a typical major college AD, in this case Oregon State's Bob DeCarolis, explain, as he did to the Portland Oregonian's John Canzano:

"The original locker space was built for 90 players. We now have 115.

"The original coaches' locker room had 15 lockers. With graduate assistants and support staff, we need 40 there now.

"We used to have two sets of uniforms and one set of helmets.Now we have three sets of helmets and al the different uniforms.

"We've run out of room. Plus (here it comes) you start talking about curb appeal to recruits."

(I'll leave it up to Bob DeCarolis  to explain to the women's sports coaches why they need 115 players… or 40 "graduate assistants and support staff"… or three sets of helmets.  Now  the "curb appeal to recruits" - now, that I'm sure they'll understand.)

*********** It was almost 40 years ago,  in spring, 1974 that I was sitting in my office in Philadelphia when the phone rang and I answered, to hear a voice on the other end say,  "This is Ara Parsgehian."

Right, I thought.  And I'm Vince Lombardi.

Some guy on the other end is playing games with me, I thought, pretending to be the Coach of the Year, the Coach of the National Champion Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

But I was courteous, ("What can I do for you, coach?") and heard him out.

The hoarse voice actually sounded a lot like Ara Parseghian's, and he proceeded to talk about some of his players -  graduating seniors -  urging me, as player personnel director of the Philadelphia Bell, a pro football team that had yet to play a game - didn't even have a roster yet - to give them a look.

One of them was Dennis Lozzi, a big offensive lineman who'd been born in Brockton, Massachusetts - famed as the home of the legendary Rocky Marciano and, later, Marvin Hagler - and grew up in nearby Whitman.

Those were the days before every player had an agent, and  players who hadn't been drafted by the NFL really had to scramble to find a team willing to give them  a shot.  And here was the top college coach in the country, destined to be one of the great college coaches of all time, taking his time to call around on behalf of players who, let's face it, were no longer of any use to him.

Such was the character of Ara Parseghian, on my list of the top ten coaches in my lifetime.

So we invited Dennis Lozzi to attend - at his own expense - a free agent tryout we held in Medford, New Jersey, just across the river from Philly. Between invites, public announcements and word of mouth, we managed to attract at least 300 eager candidates. Some, back in the days when athletes uniformly wore white sox (and only actors in cheap stag films wore black sox), were promptly cut simply because they didn't have enough football savvy to know what real football players wore.

Others were winnowed out on the basis of their conditioning, their size, their 40-yard dash times, or, after we'd broken them up by positions groups, their performance in simple position-specific drills.

Players were identified only by the numbers which they wore. Out of concern for the feelings of guys who'd made considerable effort even to show up, I convinced our head coach, Ron Waller, that as we made our cuts at different points, rather than read off the numbers of the players who'd been cut, we should  instead read off the numbers of those who were invited to remain for the next session.

At one break, one of the guys whose number had not been called approached our running backs' coach, Joe Gardi, and asked why not.  Joe said that evidently he just hadn't measured up.  "I got a gun," the guy told Joe.  "Maybe you should stay," Joe told him.  I never did find out what happened after that.

Another guy, a quarterback from The Citadel named Harry Lynch, was having a tough time throwing.  I'd taken a special interest in the kid because he seemed like  a good kid, and when I picked him up at the airport, it was obvious to me that he, being a small-town South Carolina kid, was a bit intimidated by what he saw as we drove into the city. (Anyone who's flown into Philly knows that only Newark comes close to it in the griminess of the surroundings.)

Whether or not Harry Lynch's throwing problems were of his own doing, I'll never know, but I'll go to my grave believing that it was the football he was throwing.  Remember, the guys who started the WFL were the same guys who started the ABA, and, still giddy over the popularity of the red, white and blue ABA ball, they were determined to come up with a football just as innovative and marketable .  This one certainly was innovative - instead of the usual eight laces, it had ten.  Hell of an idea, except that none of the quarterbacks could consistently put a spiral on the ball.

I was standing near the quarterbacks, and Waller was standing behind me.  Harry Lynch let a wobbler go, and Waller said to me, in a voice that could have been heard 50 yards away, "You can cut that cocks--ker."   I cringed.  I could tell that the kid had heard Mr. Thoughfulness. Thus are shattered a young man's dreams.

At lunch time, several of the local high school coaches we'd invited to help us out in our drills went out to lunch with Waller and his cronies.  They obviously downed a few, because in the afternoon session, it was apparent to me that as we ran the players through additional 40's, they were a bit buzzed, and not exactly precise in their timing.  Nevertheless, their times were accepted as legit, and, right or wrong, thus were shattered other young men's dreams.

At the end of the day (before that cliche was  invented), we "kept" only two players.  We didn't exactly keep them - we didn't sign them to anything - but we invited them back to Philadelphia for a mini-camp the next weekend, where we could evaluate them alongside players we'd already signed, most of them with some NFL or CFL experience, and if we liked what we saw, we'd offer them a contract.

One of the two was a very athletic receiver from the Philadelphia suburbs named Vince Papale.

The other was Dennis Lozzi.

Dennis and Vince both showed us enough at that second workout, in cavernous old JFK stadium, that we offered them contracts.  Dennis remembers signing his in the back seat of our equipment man's Cadillac.  It was for $18,000,  plus $2,000 if he made the team. (In fairness, $18,000 wasn't that bad at that time, but the hard truth was that if he didn't make the team, he got nothing. Vince was signed to the same deal.)

Dennis Lozzi mug shotDennis became our starting left tackle and played there the entire season. Almost. That's his mug shot from our 1974 game program.

Three of our offensive linemen - Dennis, center Bob Paschall from Temple, and right tackle Pete Horoszko from Virginia Tech - were rookies, straight out of college, yet they helped our QB, the notorious Jim "King" Corcoran, finish at or near the top of the WFL in passing.

I used to enjoy hanging with the offensive linemen on road trips because, well, offensive linemen tend to be  good guys.

The last time I recall seeing Dennis was on November 6, in Birmingham, where we played the Americans in what would turn out to be the last regular-season game for the Bell. (With one more game to go, several teams defaulted, and being one of the few teams remaining, we qualified for a hastily-arranged playoff.  But that's another story.)

We played Birmingham in legendary Legion Field.  I have a lot of memories of that trip and that game. One that really stands out was the ferocity of the fans.  As we left the field following our pre-game warmups, we entered our locker room at the end of the field with a cyclone fence between us and the fans that had to be 20 feet high.  I soon saw why it was that high, when fans began climbing  it, shaking it and screaming at us, as if we were a bunch of Yankee soldiers who'd just laid waste to their town. We kept our heads down and minded our business, doing our best to ignore these animals when suddenly, linebacker Tim Rossovitch, well-known for some eccentric behavior while with the Eagles, took off for the fence on a dead run and leaped, grabbing hold of it as he snarled and shook it. As if shocked to encounter someone who acted even crazier than they did, the fans dropped off and fell back, then recovered and charged back. Omigod, I thought. This is not going to be a lot of fun.

We drew a crowd of some 35,000, small by Alabama-Auburn standards, but large enough to make a lot of noise, especially when they started stomping on the floor of the all-steel stadium.

At the start of the game, I was up in the press box as the teams were being introduced, and when Dennis Lozzi was introduced and the announcer said, "from Notre Dame," the booing that emanated from the 35,000 was the loudest I'd ever heard.  Dennis told me on Saturday that King Corcoran, who was standing next to him waiting to be introduced, said, "What the hell did you do?  I'm usually the one that gets booed."

What did he do?  He'd played on the undefeated Notre Dame team that just a year beat Alabama, then ranked #1 and also unbeaten, in the Sugar Bowl, 24-23.  That's all.  That was enough.

We lost the game.  Combine the fact that paychecks were a hit-or-miss deal for players on both teams with the amazing hostility of the crowd, and there was a lot of pent-up anger when Birmingham quarterback Matthew Reed took a knee and one of our players hit him.

And then it was on.  Both benches cleared, and fights - between individuals and small groups - began to break out all over the field. I was down on the sidelines at that point, making sure to stay well back.  Joe Gardi stood next to me shaking his head and saying, "unbelievable."  Joe had come to the WFL from several years as an assistant at Maryland, and he was often appalled by the less-than-professional aspects of the league, and this, for him, was rock-bottom.

And somewhere in the middle of the chaos, Dennis Lozzi went down.  Someone, somehow, had hit him in the knee, and he lay there until cooler heads were able to pick him up and begin to carry him to the locker room, some 50 yards away.  Somehow they were able to make their way past the high chain link fence, with fans hanging on it like so many angry chimpanzees, shouting all manner of incivilities and doing their damnedest to throw whatever they could get their hands on as our wounded player was carried off.

We played one more game after that, a playoff game against the Florida Blazers, and that was that.  Shortly after, most of us were informed that the team could no longer meet the payroll for us office types, and I headed home to Maryland, where my kids were in school.

The next year, with the restart of the WFL, I took a job in Portland, and for me, the rest is history.  After the league went under a second time, I had to face reality and stop chasing my own silly dream. I went back to school and got my teaching credentials and by the next fall I was a high school coach.

Dennis rehabbed the knee and tried coming back for a second year, but he found it tough going, and on the advice of new Bell coach Willie Wood (former Packer great) he decided it wasn't worth it.

He returned home to Massachusetts, where his wife had a teaching job.  After much cadging, he said, she convinced him to try teaching.  His major was business, which qualified him only to teach business - which in that high school meant teaching typing.  Unfortunately, he told me, "I couldn't type."  He was a fast learner, and caught on temporarily.

Dennis Lozzi, Matt Durgin, MeShortly after, his principal said to him, "I have only one opening next year - in math."

Dennis said he didn't know how to respond, so the principal repeated himself.  "I said, 'I have only one opening next year - in math.'"

This time, Dennis caught on to what the principal was saying - wink, wink, nudge, nudge - and spent the summer taking math courses so he could qualify for the job.

He's been teaching math - and coaching - ever  since.

In the early 1980s, he joined the faculty at Xaverian Brothers High School, a prestigious private Catholic prep school in Westwood, Massachusetts.  Xaverian's football teams, like its academics, are top-notch - this past year, Xaverian finished 10-2, making it to the State Class 1 (largest class) final. Dennis coaches the offensive line as well as the defensive interior people.

I saw Dennis Lozzi  for the first time in nearly 40 years Saturday when he stopped by my Providence clinic.  (That's Dennis on the left in the photo, long-time double winger Matt Durgin of Lynn Massachusetts' St. Mary's High, and myself). Based on the way he looks, he's got a lot more coaching in him.

*********** What software do I need to make highlight films from video that's already on DVDs?

Coach,  Talking as a Mac user...

First you have to extract the video from the DVDs.  I do it in one of two ways---

(1) (The method I prefer) A program called Cinematize lets me convert as little as one play at a time to a digital clip, which I can then save and use in any way I want (such as putting a highlights video together).  It is relatively inexpensive.

Here's a home-made "how-to" showing how I extracted a video clip from a DVD using Cinematize...


Unfortunately, while Cinematize recognizes most DVDs, there are some exceptions, which can be frustrating.  I am thinking of upgrading to Cinematize 3, which I believe will solve the problem.

(2) A free program called Handbrake.  It's good, and it will "rip" a DVD into digital format, but that's all it does. Unlike Cinematize, it requires you to rip all or most of the DVD, and then you still have to select and save the clips you want to use in your highlights.

Either way, though, once you've saved the clips in digital format, you can then import them into iMovie (or QuckTime Pro) and edit and assemble them  into your highlight video - adding effects, titles, audio (including voice-over) as you wish - and then you can export the finished video to a variety of formats, including a DVD.

*********** This year's Final Four is going to be easy for me.

UConn over Florida. I went to college in Connecticut, we lived there when we were first married, and our son was born there. We visit there every year and enjoy seeing the ols places. Plus, Huskies' coach Kevin Ollie sounds like a really class act, the kind of guy who enjoyed a long NBA career mainly because teams wanted to keep a guy with his character around. And Shabazz Napier is a SENIOR.  Imagine - a college basketball player staying in college for FOUR YEARS!

Florida? They're good, and Donovan is a heck of a coach, but...

Wisconsin over Kentucky . Easy call.  Very easy call. Bo Ryan, a coach's kid and a Philly Irishman, in the long tradition of Philly Irishmen in the coaching ranks. Actually, he's from Chester, a hard-bitten former industrial town just outside Philly, which has a long basketball tradition. Hall of Fame coach Dr, Jack Ramsay got his first coaching job there,  at St. James High. Jack McKinney, who would go on to coach at St. Joseph's and in the NBA, was the son of the Chester police chief, and he played for Ramsay at St. James and later at St. Joseph's. True fact - in the early 1970's, I coached a game at Sun Valley High in Aston, Pennsylvania (named not for warm sunshine but Sun Oil Company, which had a refinery nearby); turns out that the Sun Valley coach at the time was - Bo Ryan. I rubbed shoulders eight greatness.  I also like the way Wisconsin plays, and I really like Frank Kaminsky, a kid who STAYED IN COLLEGE AND WAITED HIS TURN and worked hard to make himself a really good player.

And then there's Kentucky.  Talented as hell, a real tribute to John Calipari's ability to recruit (I think that's what you call it), but the Wildcats are the poster child for the one-and-done syndrome that makes a mockery of the term "college basketball" and infects both the college and the professional game.

*********** Hi Coach!

It was great to see you and Connie at the Providence Clinic.  You made it very interesting and your information on running the double wing from the spread formations was excellent.  Thank you for inviting me to attend.  I have always said that coaching is teaching and you do an excellent job.  The Brian Flinn & Hyak football CDS were super.  Coaches are lucky to have you offer clinics that give them sound information that they can use to make their programs better. You have that ability to influence and cause actions to take place which is a sound way to motivate.  Keep up the good work.
Youth football and high school football are better when sound principles are followed.
Take care,
Bill Mignault
Ledyard, Connecticut

*********** In a true display of class, new Army football coach Jeff Monken and two of his players, running back Terry Baggest and linebacker Justin Fahn, flew to Knoxville, Tennessee to attend funeral services for Navy running back  Will McKamey.

Coach Monken and Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo go back to  1989,  when Monken was in his first season as a graduate assistant at Hawaii and  Niumatalolo was  in his final year as a player. They were graduate assistants together at Hawaii in 1990 and Navy offensive assistants under Paul Johnson from 2002-07.

"The fact is we are friends," Monken said. "It's a loss for us ,too. We share in their grief."


*********** Hugh,
A large number of juniors and seniors from Beloit High School travelled to Washington, D.C., last week for a school-sponsored trip.  One of their many visits was to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  Today Bryce Black, 4 year starter for us and Shrine Bowl selection, stopped by my classroom to give me the pencil etching that he did at the Wall.  He said that he wanted to look up Major Holleder on the wall because of the Black Lion Award and what it means to our program.  I am so pleased that it has meant so much that one of our players would make it a point to bring me a pencil etching from the wall.  What a legacy you have created through the Black Lion Award!

Coach Greg Koenig
Beloit High School
Beloit Kansas

Holleder Wall Tracing

*********** Just when you thought the NFL had run out of ways to make money… NFL cheerleaders offering lap dances? 

Well, not exactly - but what else comes to mind when Big Football tells you that now, thanks to the magic of cell phone technology,  you can order up a "cheerleader" - have her come and "visit" you up in in the stands?

Gee, what could possibly go wrong when a skimpily-dressed young woman climbs up among all those drunks? This sounds like a story with all sorts of possible bad endings.

Plus, it doesn't seem fair to fans in cold weather places like Green Bay and Buffalo, with all that heavy extra clothing they have to wear.

It's also not fair to gays.


*********** Concerning "Hack a Polack,"  Mark Kaczmarek, of Davenport Iowa, (by way of Green Bay, Wisconsin and the World Football League New York Stars) writes,

At least he didn’t use the term “Bossy!”

*********** Full disclosure - I am a Duke fan, which automatically means that I don't care much for Roy Williams, but even if I were a Tar Heel fan, I'd still call him a sellout…


Guess what, Roy Ole Buddy. In case you were thinking this might help you out on the recruiting trail (which is probably why you got into an area you know nothing about), it might help you to know that Fearless Leader's own brother-in-law, Craig Robinson, is the coach at Oregon State  - and it hasn't been helping him recruit.

*********** Coach

In your dynamics playbook you talk about handling the TNT front, with either a down adjustment where you block the center back and both guard and tackle losing the double teams. You also talk about a GO adjustment where you still double team but now only pull the guard and have the tackle cut off the backside 3 tech. Just wondering what is the techinque for the block by the backside tackle? What are some drills to teach this block? Is this a situation where you'd shoe shine with the tackle?

Ray Dayton
Oxford, New York

Hi Coach-

We can keep the blocking on the frontside intact - including the double-team at the point of attack - by pulling only our backside guard.

Depending on your rules or on your kids' ability, there are two approaches for the backside tackle, but the goal is the same - nothing can run between him and the center's block.

(1) Is the scramble, or "shoeshine" block, which is very effective. There is a cautionary note - if the tackle is lazy and just flops in front of the "3" tech, a good athlete will simply hurdle him; but there is also a chance that if he comes low and hard toward the center, with our tight line splits it could accidentally result in our being called for a chop block -defined as one blocker contacting a defender high and another contacting him low.

(2) More and more, we employ what we call the "Cut Off Turn Back" (abbreviated COTB) which has him take a large slide step toward center, keeping the shoulders square,  to cut off anyone - lineman or linebacker - trying to penetrate between him and the center; We are far enough off the ball that he can close that gap before the defender arrives. If no one threatens, he turns back and blocks anyone coming from the backside.

We don't use any specific drill to teach this, but we do work on the slide step, making sure that the tackle keeps his shoulders square so that he can turn back to the outside if necessary.

Here's an example of our left tackle doing this on a play we call 44-X-O.


We are pulling our left guard around ("O" block) to lead through the hole made by the "X" block of the guard and tackle.  I'd have preferred that the backside tackle's first step be more of a slide, but he's effective. Notice how he first cut off any penetration to his inside, but when it's apparent that he's cut off successfully, he's able to turn out and take care of the chase.

(We're running from Wildcat, with a split end, but the principle is the same).

american flagTUESDAY,  APRIL 1,  2014"If somebody is gracious enough to give me a second chance, I won't need a third." Pete Rose

*********** On Sunday, Pete Rose spoke to the congregation in Royersford, Pennsylvania's Christ's Church of the Valley - more than 2,000 people in three different services.

His theme, not surprisingly, was "second chances."

"If somebody is gracious enough to give me a second chance," he told the worshippers, "I won't need a third." 

He also broke them up when he said that if he could have a conversation with Jesus, "I'd want to ask him who the hell is going to win the game tomorrow, the Cardinals or the Reds… Not that I'm going to bet on it."

*********** Possibly in anticipation of the National Labor Relations Board's approval of the right of college football players to unionize, at least 50 former BCS schools will soon announce that they are divesting themselves of their football programs, which will then operate independently as  Subchapter 501 (b) 1 (non-profit) corporations.

Through the Association of American Universities, the colleges have already agreed on terms that will permit the teams to continue on, bearing the names of  the colleges from which they broke away, as well as  the mascots which the public associates with them.

For example, the Alabama team will still be known as the "Alabama Crimson Tide," although there will no longer be any references to the University of Alabama except as it pertains to the team's history.

The colleges have also agreed to permit teams to use all facilities as before, and the teams have agreed to give seating preference to current ticketholders and alumni.  All college presidents were in agreement that players for the teams, as with any non-student, would not be permitted on campus, although they did agree to give all players for "their" teams the right to qualify through testing for admission, as well as for in-state tuition.

The NCAA would continue to administer all other college sports, but without the revenues from football, colleges would almost certainly cut back on scholarships and other expenses related to non-revenue sports.

By handing off their football programs, the colleges immediately relieve themselves of the need to provide as many as 85 scholarships a year to women, many in such made-for-Title IX sports as equestrian, bowling and rowing.

Said one university athletic director who preferred to remain anonymous, "You have no idea what a relief it is not to have to walk the campus looking for women willing to take athletic scholarships in sports they've never even played. As a matter of fact, we're even considering bringing back wrestling."

The football teams, operating under the tentative brand of College Level Football (CLF), plan to adopt the MLS model in which the teams will be owned by the CLF (although operated separately), with payroll limits, shared expenses and shared profits.  The public will be able to purchase stock.

Said one current conference commissioner, "The beauty is that unlike the previous college football model that we've been working with, with each conference negotiating on its own, we're going to be able to sit down with TV networks as one unified force, the way the NFL does."

Players will sign three-year contracts initially, although either party can buy its way out after one year.  After three years, players' contracts will be renewable annually on a year-to-year basis. When released by a team, a player would first have to clear CLF waivers before becoming a free agent.

When a CLF player signs an NFL contract, the CLF will receive 10 per cent of his first-year's salary.

Plans are already under way to hold a 40-round draft of high school players, after a series of combines to be held nationwide.  Players choosing not to play for the team that drafted them would have the option of attending a non-CLF college, or waiting until the next year's draft.

The CLF business plan calls for a split season, half to be played in the spring and half in the fall.

Still under discussion is the idea of two or three divisions according to anticipated strength, with a "relegation" system similar to that employed by European soccer clubs,  in which the bottom finishers in a division are moved down for the next season, and the top finishers are moved up.

The threat of players' unionizing does not seem to concern the CLF people. Said one of them, "In case you hadn't noticed, most college football powers come from Right-to-Work states."

*********** Not saying where  our society's abandonment of religion is taking us, but...

According to Juliet Macur in the New York Times, Manhattan coach Steve Masiello, who blew his chance to coach at South Florida after it was discovered he'd falsely claimed a bachelor's degree from Kentucky, looked for guidance at tough times to… Rick Pitino (?!?!)

Masiello said when he needed guidance, he looked at a framed photograph of Pitino on his office wall and asked himself, What would he do?

It didn't say whether he has a WWRD tattoo.

*********** What's wrong with college basketball (besides the fact that nobody seems to know what a charge is anymore)…

Kentucky, already  the nation's best U-19 AAU team, is in the Final Four. One or two more games and then, poof - they'll all go their separate ways.

Pretty bad when a college cares less for tradition than an NBA team.

*********** There seems to be a uh, "discrepancy" between the President's recollection of what he and the Pope talked about and the Pope's version.

Hmmm.  Let's see.  Hmmm. Damn.  Who to believe?

Lessee - One of them is considered, by more than a billion people, to be infallible.  The other has no compunctions about telling lies to advance his position.

Me, I'm going with Obama on this one. He gives me more goodies than the Pope.  Free phones and stuff like that.  And all he expects from me is a lousy vote - or two or three -  while the Pope's always telling people to be good  and to give up a lot of fun stuff.

*********** Driving across Connecticut on I-84, I saw the sign, "NEWTOWN," and asked my wife if she was willing to take a swing through town.

Newtown, you will surely remember, is where some demented social misfit with access to a lot of weapons killed 26 people - 20 of them elementary school students.

My wife and I are not what you would call ghouls.  We're not taken by the need to visit disaster scenes.

But this was a part of Connecticut we'd never seen, and we wanted to see what the town looked like.

Well.  I would call it Mayberry with money. Peaceful and prosperous.

You can't get near the school, Sandy Hook Elementary, but no matter.

The town is quaint.   Idyllic.  Almost set back in time.

You look around and even now get the sense that you're isolated - and insulated - from the evils of the outside world.  If ever there was a place where you could raise your kids safely, this was it.

I can only imagine the disillusionment people in the community felt when they discovered to their horror that wherever you are, evil can still find you.

*********** Amazing thing pointed out in the Orlando Sentinel:

Eight college football coaches have won national titles with Florida schools: Bobby Bowden, Larry Coker, Dennis Erickson, Jimbo FIsher, Jimmy Johnson, Urban Meyer, Howard Schnellenberger and Steve Spurrier.  Together, they've won 11 national titles.

But only Billy Donovan has won a basketball national championship at a Florida college.

*********** Jim Tressel has applied to be President of the University of Akron.


Okay, okay.  Laugh if you will.  At the least, I'll bet the guy would be a great fund-raiser.

My personal feeling is that it's time for the NCAA to lift its ban on him and let him back into coaching.  How's this look, NCAA - thanks to you, a guy who isn't deemed fit to coach could be running a university.

The guy is a very good coach who lied to keep his job.  Doesn't that sound like a certain William Jefferson Clinton, who's now less than three years away from a possible return to the White House (even if it does mean sleeping on the couch)?

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

How are you?  My name is Tom Dwyer from East Rockaway, NY.  I attended the clinic in Fort Washington and it was great.  It was extremely helpful and insightful and gave myself and the other coaches I was with in attendance a lot to think about and work with.

I am writing to you to see if it would be possible for you to email me the PowerPoint presentation from the clinic.

I loved the way it was broken down into steps from beginning to end culminating in a video of the full play underneath the responsibilities of each player for the play.

Thank you so much Coach.  Enjoy the weekend.


Tom Dwyer
East Rockaway Football
East Rockaway, New York

Coach Dwyer,

Nice to hear from you.  I'm glad that you found the clinic helpful.

In answer to your request, my longstanding policy has been not to share my clinic PowerPoints.  You can probably imagine the effort and time it took to put them all together.

I have, however, been filming my clinics, and when I return to the Northwest next week (after this Saturday's Providence clinic) I hope to be able to produce a DVD that will provide basically what you are looking for.

You might want to check in on my "NEWS" page to see when it goes on sale.

In the meantime, should you have questions on the material covered, I hope you'll feel free to email me.

*********** Dave Kemmick, new head coach at Eastern York High in Wrightsville, Pennsylvania, wrote to tell me how his first week went.  I really got a kick out of his description of his meeting with the seniors:

"I originally scheduled the meeting for the morning and was informed that the afternoon might be better since Saturday morning was the first day of trout season.  The kids showed up at the meeting and were removing their waders in the parking lot!"

*********** This idea of unionizing college athletes is B-S.

If Kain Coulter and the United Steelworkers Union (anybody seen what a great job they did for the steel industry and steel workers in places like Western Pennsylvania and Northeastern Ohio?) were really  interested in getting the best deal for college football players they'd spend their time organizing - and educating - high school football players.

Just about every grievance I've heard from Mr. Coulter, whose heart is in the right place, I believe, is something that could have been avoided if impressionable young players knew exactly what they were getting into before they signed a grant-in-aid.

There wouldn't be a call for unionizing if the NCAA would set aside a small percentage of what it rakes in from "March Madness," and set up a nationwide network of "grant-in-aid counselors" charged with  making sure high school athletes understand what they're signing.

Then, no more of this "it's taking up too much of my time," or "I don't even have enough money for pizza," or "they won't let me major in pre-med."

*********** Long ago, in my advertising/marketing days, I fought the Anheuser-Busch dragon for the better part of three years.  In the beer business, they were formidable.  Their product (Budweiser, mainly - Bud Light hadn't yet been introduced) was good enough, but it was their nationwide distribution that enabled them to advertise on national media, and to have "Bud" on sale in practically every place in American licensed to sell it.

They charged more for their product and they got it. When "local" beers sold for 25 cents a bottle, Bud sold for a nickel more. But young people especially had no problem spending a nickel more for a bottle of something that implied class and, even more important, something other than what their old man drank.

And with that extra nickel a bottle (multiplied by millions and millions of bottles of Bud sold), Anheuser-BUsch bought more advertising.

As the gobbled up more and more of the American beer market, they crushed smaller "regional" brewers, such as Schmidt's, Schaefer, Lucky Lager, Narragansett, Stroh's, Grain Belt, and, finally, National, the company I worked for.

So there's no chance, after what I saw them do to our industry, that I could ever like them. And when the Busch family decided that they liked money more than they liked making beer, and sold out to a Belgian firm, I hated them for real.

I hate the way they keep hiding bend the American flag in their lame ass attempt to pass themselves off as an American company.

But I really hate them for the deceptive way that they're now going after craft brewers.

Craft brewers are popping up in every corner of the US. There are literally dozens of them in the Portland area alone.  They don't make large quantities of their brews, but what they made is quite good, and they're able to command a decent prize for their product.

And much to the chagrin of the giant white-bread beer guys - AB Inbev and MillerCoors - the craft segment is the only part of the US beer market that isn't shrinking in size.

So what's a giant white-bread beer guy to do?  Why, produce his own "craft" beer under  an alias that would trick 90 per cent of the American beer drinking public.

You know - like WalMart, wanting to kill off all remaining mom-and-pop grocery stores in the US by opening up a nationwide chain of tiny corner grocery stores called "Mom and Pop's Corner Grocery."

In the beer business, there's Blue Moon - made in Canada by Coors-Molson and sold in the US by MillerCoors.


And there's Kona and Redhook, made by a company 35 per cent owned by AB Inbev.

And Goose Island, 100 per cent owned by AB Inbev.

There's Leinenkugel, 100 per cent owned by MillerCoors. In fairness, it spent many years as an independent regional brewer in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, and although it does masquerade as being made by some small-time, small-town brewer instead of a corporate giant, it makes no claim to being a craft beer.

But the one that really galls me is Shock Top. 

Shock Top is made in St. Louis by AB Inbev. but you'd never know it, since the label indicates only that it's made by a company called Shock Top Brewing Company.

One sure sign that it's an industrial beer trying to pass as a craft beer - there's not a craft brewer in American that could have afforded to buy all those Shock Top commercials that have been running during NCAA tournament games.

Craft beer my ass.


***********  My daughter-in-law Michelle, an Aussie born and raised and a huge Australian Rules fan, sent me this.  Said she thought I'd "like" it.

Essentially, the Australian Football League (AFL) has decided to play down the competitive aspects of "Junior Footy." Among the changes it is requiring: no longer keeping score (and, therefore, playing to win).

You may mock, but if you're at all aware of what the NFL is pushing, though its stooge, USA Football, you will recognize a parallel.  USA Football has proudly announced that thanks to a multi-million dollar grant from the NFL, it will be expanding the reach of its "Heads Up" campaign to high schools - and among the aspects of its program is "certification" of coaches. In other words, the day isn't far off when Big Football will decide whether or not you or I are fit to coach.  Doubt me?  Check out the USA Football ads (paid for with NFL money) urging mothers to find out if their little boy's coach is "certified."

By Peter Rolfe - Melbourne Herald …

Thousands of junior footballers in up to 150 leagues will be forced to play with no scoreboard, ladders or match results under the shake-up designed to promote participation rather than competition.

Footy-loving kids will this year also be barred from representative sides, play on smaller grounds, in smaller teams for less time under changes to be unveiled by the AFL in the next fortnight.

The scoring ban, previously restricted to under-8 and, in some cases, under-9 competition in Victoria, will this year be phased into many under-10 competitions.

Other leagues will phase in some changes this year and the remainder next year.

AFL national development manager Josh Vanderloo said the new rules had been drafted in consultation with leagues to give children “an enjoyment philosophy rather than a winning philosophy’’.

“Our research shows that kids play the game to have fun and not just to win,’’ he said.

“This game is for kids and these rules and regulations have been prescribed for kids so it will be better for them.’’

In another shift, strict rules about contact have been relaxed so that “full tackling’’, usually confined to under 13s, will now be acceptable among under 11s.

An AFL guide for the conduct of players aged five to 12, titled “This is Our Game’’, spells out the match-day regulations for under-9 and under-10 players.

“No premiership points, no finals, no ladders, no match result (no score) and no names of players published,’’ it says.

Representative teams will not be allowed at under-11 level, under-9 and under-10 teams will be reduced from 18 to as few as 12 players.

And ground sizes will be restricted to 100m x 80m divided into three equal zones for under-9 and under-10 ­matches.

The Northern Football League will this season apply the no scoring, no ladder, no match result philosophy to its under-10 players.

League chief Peter McDougall admitted the changes would be contentious and said he had ordered 5000 flyers to help explain their ­implementation.

“You’re always going to get some coaches and parents who think their kids should be playing for sheep stations,” he said.

“Some parents will be shocked, no doubt, but our focus is on education and helping them understand the philosophy of the changes.’’

Laurimar Junior Football Club tried the changes on Sunday, putting under-10 player’s through their paces with revised rules.

Club vice president Andrew Jamieson said children were “not very happy”.

The AFL drafted the new guidelines in conjunction with Deakin University research.


Several thoughts...

I thought maybe I'd been had - the article was sent to me on March 31, but in Oz it was already April 1.  But no...

Took it a while, but the wussification of little boys that has overtaken America has finally reached Australia.

It's only a matter of time before girls are playing right alongside boys.

Here in the US, the NFL is attempting to exert the same sort of control through a front organization called USA Football, to which it provides "grants."

On the basis of this questionable "research," a strong, viable league seems willing to put its future at risk.

The soccer people are behind this. Once Aussies grow accustomed to not keeping score, they'll be able to watch games in which nobody scores.

Boys being boys, Australian 10-year-olds will still keep score.

Maybe, having played without keeping score as 8-year-olds and then as 9-year-olds, they'll have forgotten what it is to compete.

Or maybe, having played without keeping score as 8-year-olds and then as 9-year-olds, they've been looking forward to actually competing.

I do see some good coming from this - without keeping score, the win-at-all-costs youth coach will have to find something else to do, and without individual awards, the "daddy coach" will stay home.

And I see great growth potential for other sports, ones that dispense with the social engineering.

Aussies would be speaking Japanese and we would be speaking German if we'd raised boys this way in the 1930s.

*********** Hudson's Bay High, in Vancouver, Washington, is looking for a new head coach.  Again.

Whoever they hire, he'll be their fourth hard coach since 2010.

Lately,  "Bay" goes winless most years except for those years when it defeats its crosstown rival, equally woeful Fort Vancouver High.

I coached at Bay from 1980-1987 and we were pretty competitive.  I had a great bunch of kids.  It was a good place to coach and to teach.

But times have been tough on that part of town, and the Bay demographic isn't the same as it was when I was there.

Now, noted the AD, some of the guys who turn out for football are new to the game.  In a high school of 1,000 kids!

Can you imagine a high school basketball team with players "new to basketball?"  Or a baseball team with players "new to baseball?"

I sense a potentially dangerous situation.

*********** During last Friday night's Gonzaga-Oklahoma State broadcast, CBS Sports play-by-play guy Andrew Catalon  referred to a foul on Conzaga's Przemek Karnowski as "Hack a Polack" strategy.

To Karnowski's credit, he didn't make big deal of it, tweeting  "Mr. ‪@AndrewCatalon‬ has just apologized in my person and I really appreciate it! But the most important thing right now is we have this W!"

And Catalon's broadcast partner, Mike Gminski, helped as well, tweeting:  "My partner, Andrew Catalon apologized to Mr Karnowski. As a man of polish descent, I stand by him."

american flagFRIDAY,  MARCH 28,  2014"A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money."  G. Gordon Liddy

*********** ESPN felt it necessary to apologize for Bob Knight's assessment  of the NBA's drafting of freshmen: "it's as though they've raped college basketball, in my opinion."

Once, we might have said, "gypped," but Coach Knight couldn't say that, for fear of offending America's huge Gypsy -Sorry, I meant Romany - population.

Now, it appears the PC police have taken "rape" from us.

I know that  there are those who will claim that Knight's remark "trivializes" rape, but in my opinion, he used it in that context because he's fully aware of the seriousness of the word.

Hey - was Coach Knight's use of the word any worse than a woman saying "yes," and then, having misgivings the next morning, claiming rape?

*********** In my opinion, last weekend's Philadelphia clinic was one of the best I've ever held, at least in terms of the attendees' enthusiasm.  Whether their intentions were to go all-in and run everything I showed, or just to run a series or two, or just a play or two, I think every coach there went away with a lot of ideas.

Villanova Chair DrillAs always, Coach Brian Flinn, wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at Villanova, was a great contributor to the clinic.   When I decided to split an end or two, he was a great help to me, particularly in teaching those guys how to block.

Coach Flinn showed us a drill that he likes to use to teach stalk blocking, using a folding chair. As shown in the series of stick figures,  first, the receiver "oozes" off the ball in three running strides… he breaks down - feet pounding, never stopping - and, facing the chair,  "oozes" onto it.  He's broken down, in a good football position, straddling the seat.

When that's been mastered, the next step is to approach the chair as before, but now, on command, to pick up the back of the chair and shuffle while holding it.

*********** Small World Society, Villanova Division, Part One.  Following the Wildcats' spring practice Tuesday, a coach introduced himself to me.  His name's Joe Trainer, and he's the new DL coach.  Prior to coming to Nova, he was head coach at Rhode Island. I thought I detected a Philly accent, and asked if he was from the area.  When he said, "Abington," I naturally asked if, like my wife, he was a "Galloping Ghost." (I know I've told the story about how Abington chose to honor the legendary Red Grange.) He said, "No - I went to Germantown Academy."  Bingo.  That's my school, too.  Joe played there for a classmate of mine,  Jack Turner.

Part Two. Another coach came over after practice, too. He was Tony Trisciani, the Wildcats' second-year DB coach.  Prior to Villanova, he was head coach at Whitehall, PA high school, but he's originally from Manchester, New Hampshire.  His older brother, John Trisciani, was a full-blooded Double-Wing coach at Trinity HS in Manchester, and used to be a regular at my Providence clinics until he got a job as defensive line coach at St. Anselm's College.

*********** Jim Geraghty in National Review Online…

Women of the world . . .

I know I'm not the most sensitive man in the world. I have my times where I am particularly insufficiently attuned to your needs, particularly during football season. From time to time, I find your thinking illogical, contradictory, or simply not sensible, and I express that opinion, with usually deeply regrettable consequences.

But to the extent I understand you, I grasp that you've got a lot on your shoulders. You feel like everyone is always counting on you, and you feel that way because usually, everyone really is counting on you. Your husbands and boyfriends may try their best, but there's always more to be done, and it falls to you. You keep track of all the little things. You're not appreciated nearly enough. Toddlers with peanut butter on their fingers hug you when you're heading out the door in your work clothes.

Your bosses expect a lot of you, your kids expect a lot of you, your parents expect a lot of you, your spouses expect a lot of you, you want to be there for your friends when they need you, your siblings fit in somewhere between the friends and the parents, and if you're going to take care of the caretaker, as they recommend, that requires time and energy and attention and mental space, all of which feel like valuable and increasingly rare resource. It feels like there is never, ever, ever enough time.*

So I get that life throws a lot of problems and challenges at you, day after day.

But if I asked you to list the ten, or twenty, or a hundred, or five hundred biggest problems in your life . . . I'm guessing "being called bossy" wouldn't make the list.

It's just not a big enough problem to warrant a celebrity-laden national awareness campaign, compared to everything else. People have been calling you names since kindergarten. The Internet is one giant F-bomb-laden torrent of abuse, assessment of your appearance, and vulgar threats. You get called worse names by the guy trying to cut you off on your morning commute. Compared to all that, being called "bossy" is almost quaint in its passive-aggressiveness. I'm betting you would happily trade a half-hour of being called "bossy" by everyone you know in exchange for two hours of uninterrupted "me time" once a week.

I'm sure someone will call me a jerk for saying this aloud, but trying to ban the word "bossy" sounds whiny. Allegedly, a big part of feminism is celebrating strong women, and encouraging them to express that strength and determination and ability to overcome adversity; a strong woman doesn't crumble in the face of criticism or even nasty names. Nobody ever thought better of someone else because they whined, and if calling a woman "bossy" really could hold her back, no woman would ever run anything. As a criticism, the label "bossy" is pretty impotent, to offer a metaphor that Freudian psychologists will analyze for weeks.

You know who gets called "bossy" a lot? Bosses. And bosses run things. They get stuff done. That's why they became the boss, and why they're still the boss.

***********The Chicago-area regional director of the National Labor Relations Board ruled on Wednesday that Northwestern football players are employees of the university and can unionize.

But in a sense, football players work at different trades, like carpenters and electricians and structural iron workers on the same construction site.  So - Will different position groups form their own unions?



I don't care what you want to do. If you let that running back throw a pass, we're walking out. If you want to throw a pass, you have to use a card-carrying member of the Amalgamated Brotherhood of Quarterbacks.


*********** 19-year-old Navy slotback Will McKamey, who collapsed on the practice field last Saturday, died Wednesday.    Say a prayer for Will McKamey and his family.  His dad was his high school coach.


*********** Budweiser - that All-American beer made by AB Inbev, a Belgian company - continues to masquerade as an American product.  Now, in an effort to show that it's as American as baseball and apple pie, it's pushing a petition to make "Opening Day" a national holiday.  

Right.  I bet there's not a f--king suit at AB Inbev headquarters who knows what the infield fly rule is.

Yeah, good old Belgium-based AB Inbev has such high regard for American traditions. Listen - the minute they think they can get away with it, the Budweiser Clydesdales will be steaks and roasts in European supermarkets


*********** (From a long-time successful youth coach who's taken a few years off and now wants to get back into the game)

Hey Coach!

I'm so frustrated I could have a coronary, so I knew I could vent to you and make myself fee better. I submitted an application and a detailed coaching philosophy with goals and a pretty comprehensive resume explaining things I'd learned over the 20 consecutive years I coached youth football.

One of the interviewers said I see you coached a long time but haven't coached in seven years. He said that football has changed drastically over those seven years and wanted to know what I'd done to keep up with the modern game. I told him I had been to several clinics and watched several coaching DVDs besides watching football on television during the seasons non-stop. I added that football hadn't changed drastically over the last seven years, there was just a new kind of recycled offense which was now in vogue but youth football hadn't changed at all.

He looked at my resume and said you plan to run the Double Wing or Single Wing schemes on offense and my question is how is that going to prepare the players for high school and college? I was astounded! I said coach, 8 & 9 years olds will have plenty of time to learn that offense if it's still around in 7 or 8 years. You don't even know if the present coach will be around then. Besides 8-9 year olds can't run the spread offense. They might run a few plays from the formation but in order to run the spread offense you must be able to develop a consistent passing game, an offensive line that can execute zone blocking which demands better athletes who could execute the double team and resulting combo blocks required of them, and learn pass blocking and a consistent running game. And you must have a QB who can run and execute the read option which a player that age can't do. I told him I had watched several youth teams in our district last year and none of them really ran the read option. They had a predetermined run by the QB at times but there was no read.

I told the panel that I have never been able to run a consistent passing game in youth football and for that matter I've never seen a team in little league run a consistent passing game period. The moderator said he loved to coach against Single and Double Wing teams because he knows where the ball is going; the power play. To which I responded that if he's committing extra personnel to stop the power what if I run counters, reverses, traps, wedges, bootlegs and play action passes? He later qualified his answer to say he loved running against those teams when they weren't well coached. Me too coach! I love to play any team that is not well coached.

I asked the panel if they would rather have a team of 8-9 year olds who were successful running my schemes or have that team tries to run the high school schemes and not be successful. One of them answered it depends on what you mean by successful. If you mean winning then that isn't necessarily the most important thing. I had spelled out In my first paragraph the definition of successful, which is winning isn't everything but trying to win and having fun while doing it and performing to the best of their ability is. If we do that we are winners.

One of the panelist replied that he had run a very successful awesome passing game last year with 11 year olds. You should have seen them. When I cam home I checked their record last year and they went 3-6. Of course to him winning wasn't important but that they were being taught the new way to play football. I really held my own as they tried to turn it into a debate without sounding defensive. You would have been proud of me but I don't think I changed any minds. I have two grandsons who will be 8 year olds this fall and they want their Papa to coach them. They may be disappointed.

I don't know where to begin, other than to say that ignorance is never in short supply.  And the air of self-importance seems to increase as the real importance of a person diminishes.

I guess all I can suggest is to tell them what they want to hear - and then do as you damn please.

Politicians do it all the time and it works for them!

*********** The basketball coach at Manhattan was all set to take the job at South Florida. It would have paid him more than $1 mill a year.  But wait - South Florida requires a bachelor's degree, and an investigation by South Florida's search firm disclosed that the guy attended the University of Kentucky but did not, as he claimed on his resume graduate.

Tsk, tsk.  It's not good to lie, boys and girls.

But if you like your doctor...

*********** My recent stop in Philly was the first time in more than 20 years of visits to my native city that I didn't listen to WIP radio.  Not once. WIP, which for years was my go-to station the minute I started up the rental car, was in-your-face, smart-ass Philly sports talk. But it's been taken over by CBS Sports, and now, with a bunch of non-Philly types trying their damnedest to get Philly people interested in things that don't interest them,  it's virtually unlistenable.  Radio white bread

*********** This is no bullsh--

Our President arrived in Belgium Tuesday night with an entourage of 900 people - that's 900 people - plus 45 armored vehicles and three giant cargo planes.

*********** On our eastern trip, I was fortunate enough to be able to stop off at West Point Tuesday and watch the Army football team's first-ever practice under Coach Jeff Monken.

My overall impression was, "Wow!"  I loved it.

They started at 5 PM.   Outside.  It was maybe 33 degrees and getting colder.  They went past 7, and  stayed outside the entire time.  

Things  were fast-paced.  The hustle was evident.  They made use of both  the artificial turf field next to the Foley Center, and the field at Michie Stadium, and they wasted no time moving between them.  (Some of the players must have run close to a mile just moving between fields.)

in preparation for this day, the coaching staff had been engaged in what they called a "Kamikaze mission," a long stretch of 5 AM to 7 PM days, and once the team hit  the field it showed.  A lot of planning had to go into making a first practice run as smoothly and crisply as this one did.

Out on the field, the coaches were everywhere - active and vocal.  And positive. The players hustled, but probably because everything was so new to them, there wasn't the amount of chatter I'd heard at a practice I'd watched at another college  earlier in the day.  Not that they were dumb cattle, either.  I'd call their approach "enthusiastically businesslike."

I watched mostly offense.  Coach Monken, whose last stop was Georgia Southern and who coached under Paul Johnson at Navy and Georgia Tech, is flexbone - spread triple option - all the way.  As you might expect, they spent a lot of time on fundamentals - the QB steps, the mesh between the QB and the fullback, the steps and fit and drive of the offensive linemen, the stalk blocking of the split ends.  The ball was always carried high and tight.

When they began running the offense, I was impressed by the quickness of everything - not only the players themselves (was it wishful thinking?) but the speed of the overall operation.  There wasn't a lot of standing around between reps.

They sprinted - really sprinted - from the huddle.

Although, as you'd expect,  the major emphasis of the offensive backs' and ends' work was on the triple option, they did throw quite a number of play action passes. Especially in view of the cold, the QB's threw rather well and the receivers caught just about everything thrown to them.

Coach Monken is INVOLVED.  He took a very personal, intense interest in the offense, and coached individuals wherever and whenever he saw the need.  At one point, frustrated by a blown assignment in the perimeter blocking, he said, "You guys act like you've never run this offense before. IT AIN'T THAT HARD!"

That  comment, well-deserved,  was as close anything ever got to being anything other than constructive.

Nothing was allowed to slide.

When a fumble occurred, the ball was covered immediately by the fumbler, who was given instruction on the proper way to cover the ball.  When a throw was clearly off the mark, the quarterback had to go get the ball.   On one occasion, I don't know what went wrong but the entire offensive unit had to do up-downs, not so many that it was punitive or cost precious practice time, but enough to remind that whatever it was wasn't going to be tolerated.  That happened early in the going, and evidently wasn't necessary from then on.  Point made.

Twice, at the end of offense vs defense sessions on the MIchie Stadium field, Coach Monken told the players, "Everybody find a teammate (and shake his hand)!"

At the conclusion, he addressed the players for maybe ten minutes.  All I could hear was the very start - "We've got a lot of work to do."  And I did hear another coach read off the names of several players (perhaps the 13 who didn't practice?) who would be "meeting" at 5 AM the next day.

And then coaches - including Coach Monken - stayed around after practice to work on individual skills.

This is going to be a very well-coached team.  I'm looking forward to the spring game.

*********** Ever notice how often politicians who aren't sports fans - but want us to think that they are - get tripped up?

The latest is Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, whose campaign ran an ad showing a montage of scenes - images of the flag, farmers, guns, horses in the field (this is Kentucky, after all) and - also because it's Kentucky - a quick shot of a basketball team in the beloved Kentucky Wildcats'  blue-and-white uniforms.

Except the team in the blue-and-white uniforms was Duke.  Duke, for God's sake! Years later, Kentuckians have yet to forgive the Blue Devils for Christian Laettner's last-second turnaround jumper.

Tweeted Mr. McConnell’s opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, “KY, as your next senator, I promise to never glorify a Duke championship in a campaign ad."

american flagTUESDAY,  MARCH 25,  2014“Death is nothing, but to live defeated and inglorious is to die daily.” Napoleon Bonaparte

*********** I certainly don't wish anything bad for Jim Irsay, owner of the Colts, who has reportedly been "struggling" with drugs and was picked up last week for DUI.

But it sure sounds as if he's becoming more and more like his old man, the late Bob Irsay, an insufferable drunken ass who, upon seeing a greener pasture in Indianapolis,  made off in the dark of night - literally - with the Baltimore Colts.

So let's all hope that Jim Irsay wins his struggle and doesn't become a reprise of Bastard Bob.

But in the meantime, you Indianapolitans, if I were you I'd be watching out for moving vans pulling up to Colts' headquarters.

Just don't make the mistake the Baltimoreans did: don't let them get out of town with the logos, the name, the colors and the records.  We Baltimore Colts fans will be glad to make you a nice offer.

*********** A week ago, I attended the Washington Huskies' spring clinic, along with 500 other coaches from the Northwest, all of us eager to see the new staff in action.

I personally was excited because as a Washington resident for going on 40 years, I want to root for the Huskies, but first and foremost, I don't root for a college as much as I root for the coach.  I could even root for USC if I liked their coach, as I did when John Robinson was the guy.

I even rooted for Notre Dame when Ara Parseghian was the coach, and again when Tyrone Willingham coached the irish.  But throw Willingham overboard and put Charlie Weis on the ND sidelines, and that was that.

I became a Washington Husky fan shortly after moving to the Northwest, when Don James arrived from Kent State.  Those were wonderful years for us Washingtonians, and Coach James, although not exactly  a back-slapping hail-fellow-well-met, was open and accessible to high school coaches, and I deeply admired his leave-nothing-to-chance approach to coaching.

And then the roof fell in. The University administration, almost certainly motivated by professional jealousy, voluntarily imposed sanctions designed to put the football program - and Don James - in its place.  Coach James, refusing to work for people like that, retired and never coached again.

The Washington AD, Barbara Hedges,  hired to make a show of diversity, actually set back the cause of women in high athletic positions by orchestrating Washington football's dive from the top of the then-Pac-10 to an 0-12 season in 2008, a dive which included her panicked hiring of Rick Neuheisel from Colorado at a highly-inflated salary, when a more experienced, football-savvy AD would have known that Colorado was as eager to dump him as she was to hire him. 

She then found herself forced to fire Neuheisel following a bogus "gambling" scandal related to his involvement in a Final Four pool, but in reality, his days were numbered after he was caught in a major lie - he was at the San Francisco airport, overheard by a Seattle reporter  telling someone on his cell phone how  his interview with the 49ers had gone, when all the while, he was supposedly in Idaho, golfing with some buddies.  Thanks a lot, Barb.

The last Washington coach, Steve Sarkisian, is now The Guy at USC, and although he is a step up from Lane Kiffin - I think - it's by no means a giant step.  Yes, Sarkisian was hailed by PR types when he left Washington as the guy who brought the Huskies back from 0-12, but in truth, it was no great accomplishment - just as he had at Notre Dame,  his predecessor, Tyrone Willingham, had left behind some talent, including a pretty good QB named Jake Locker.

There was always something about Sark that made me uneasy,  and now that it's obvious that he leveraged the Washington job into the USC post, I'll have no problem at all with continuing to dislike USC.

Which brings us to the present, and the new staff of Chris Peterson, whose last post was Boise State.  As many jobs as coach Peterson was rumored to be taking over the years, he turned them all down to stay at Boise, so it's obvious to me that Washington was a job he finally felt was worth leaving Boise for.

The clinic followed a familiar format of a morning practice, a talk by Coach Peterson and the introduction of his staff, and breakout sessions with the various position coaches, one hour devoted to offense, and one hour to defense.  Coach Peterson wrapped up the day with a great presentation on developing leadership.

As a teacher, I was impressed by Coach Peterson's and his staff's "lesson plans" and their emphasis on the teaching of fundamentals.  One of the assistants confided that, as preparation, every coach had to make his presentation to the rest of the staff.

I especially liked what Coach Peterson called their coaching objectives - not unlike what I would call my "Mission Statement."

Washington's 3 Coaching Objectives

    1. Build self-esteem
        Build it through "compassionate interaction" with the players
        Make them feel good about themselves through improvement
        Stress that they are special -
            What we ask of them is tough, and others can't (or won't) do it -
        (Kids appreciate this stuff)

    2. Add VALUE to their lives
        Push them to become their BEST VERSION -  to become REAL MEN
        (What is a "Real Man?" - it's not just being the best athlete - having the most girls)
        So many kids don't know what a Real Man is -
            many of them either don't have any mentors - or they have bad ones
        Set and adhere to high standards ourselves
        CONNECT - touch their hearts - form life-long bonds
            "You're not  coach if you don't connect"
    3. Enjoy the process
        "Why do we coach?" he asked. Most of us would say, "Because I love football!"
        But, he said, there needs to be more: "Just winning games isn't enough."
        Sports are meant to be enjoyed and celebrated
        Keep things in perspective - laugh and smile
        Appreciate this opportunity, even though it's hard

*********** Coach,
(After the Philadelphia clinic) I can not even begin to tell how amped and excited I am for this up coming season.  With the knowledge you have passed on to me regarding your new adaptations I wish the season could begin NOW!
I only have to add the new changes and it shouldn't be too much of a learning curve for me because I picked up and grasped it quickly.  The kids will love it because I do have legit receiver types that physically could never be TE's.
Gazelles don't like smashing into hippos every play, but put them out in space and let them run, they can do wonders.  I admittedly have neglected that phase of the game when it comes to teaching it, because for over a decade my thought process was to Power the opposition into submission and on occasion line my receiver types up in Spread and run All Seams and pray for the best.  :-)
Not any more!!!  As you said, your adaptations now give me that fighting chance that DTDW never could give no matter how greater my athletes were than my opponent.  It's pretty hard to fool a team on a passing down with play action or the quick passing game when they know it's coming.
The clinic saying is that "if you can learn just one thing from a clinic then that's great."  Well, damn that, I learned more than just plays formations, I learned many things that I can easily remember, apply, teach, call and have full belief that will work.  The proof is in your footage.
As always, through you I have become a better coach and mentor and that is in addition to what I learned in Philly, the ONE THING that I took away from your clinic.
My regards always,
Brian Mackell
Glen Burnie, Maryland

*********** Say a prayer for Navy slot back Will McKamey, who was last reported in critical condition after being airlifted to the University of Maryland's Shock Trauma Unit on Saturday following his collapse at spring practice.



LATEST:  http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/ncaaf-dr-saturday/no-change-in-will-mckamey-s-status--family-said-navy-did-nothing-wrong-194325334.html

*********** "I think the NFL is 10 years away from an implosion," Dallas Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban told espn.com's Tim McMahon.

"I'm just telling you, pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. And they're getting hoggy. Just watch. Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. When you try to take it too far, people turn the other way.

"I'm just telling you, when you've got a good thing and you get greedy, it always, always, always, always, always turns on you. That's rule number one of business."

Cuban said that he believes the NFL is making a mistake by playing games on more and more days other than Sunday, putting TV money ahead of the convenience of fans who are used to planning for their NFL teams to play on Sundays (with an occasional Monday night game).

So who's going to take up  Cuban's banner against the colleges and their Thursday and Friday (and Saturday) night games  and the inconveniences they cause their  fans who have to drive long distances, plus those TV-accomodating "TBD" kickoff times that leave people guessing right up until the last possible minute?


*********** F- YOU, CBS,  and your insistence on showing us how distraught Kansas coach Bill Self's little son was after the Jayhawks were upset by Stanford.  It's not the kid's fault, of course, but when we watch a basketball game, who, other than the so-called casual viewers who only look at basketball once or twice a year (in March) gives a rat's ass about watching the tears roll down a little kid's face?

*********** At our dinky little school, the powers that be are so-o-o-o well-versed in the Constitution - a document that our own President blithely ignores - that they instructed us not to pray, before or after games. And after we dared to hold our post-season banquet at a (gasp) church we were forbidden to hold one in the future anywhere but at the school.

But there's still hope for people who still believe in our nation's founding principles (which did not include stifling religion): right after beating Duke to win the ACC tournament, Virginia coach Tony Bennett dared to say - ON NATIONAL TELEVISION -  "I just want to say this first - I'm so thankful for my faith in Christ that kinda sustained us when we struggled..."


*********** David Brenner died recently.  Very funny man.

He once said the way to cure corruption in Washington was to make congressmen wear patches on their suits, the way NASCAR drivers do.  Instead of sponsors, Congressmen's patches would represent all the lobbyists whose money they'd taken.

*********** I've been a Ford guy for years, but after looking at this, a VW is pretty tempting...


*********** Imagine…

The coach of your favorite football  team doesn't wake up in the morning until seven.

He starts every day  working out for 45 minutes in his personal gym, and later he regularly  plays a game of  basketball  with a handful of his buddies.

He finds time to watch a lot of SportsCenter.

Whenever he's in town, he makes it a rule to have dinner  with his daughters.

But he's out of town a lot, often on vacation (although he is in constant touch with his assistants).

With his record - which is kinda shaky -  you'd think he'd be putting in a lot more time on his job.

It's a good thing for you he's not the  coach of your team.

He's only President of the United States.

*********** Longtime Double-Winger and clinic attendee Dave Kemmick has just been named head coach at Eastern York High School in Wrightsville, Pennsylvania.  Coach Kemick and his brother, Dennis, who will be on his staff, were at my Philadelphia clinic on Saturday.


american flagFRIDAY,  MARCH 14,  2014"Perfection is rarely reached. The good news is it's rarely necessary and often subjective."  Andy Bailey business coach

*********** Former test pilot, astronaut and United States Senator John Glenn and his wife, Annie, recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.  They have known each other since they were toddlers - iterally sharing the same playpen (anybody remember when we used those things, and babies somehow survived the ordeal?).

Two years ago at about this time, Bob Greene, in cnn.com, wrote about their remarkable relationship - about Mr. Glenn's devotion to Annie, and her amazing strength in the face of constant difficulty.


(Thanks for the story  tip to Jim Sinnerud, of Omaha, Nebraska)

Formation*********** Hi Coach,

So our numbers look like they are going to be a little lower this year and we will be playing 9 man instead of 12. Just wondering what plays you would run have been running your double tight for 4 years now so am relatively familiar with your Playbook.

Thanks so much,
(A Coach in Canada)

Coach-  Your situation is made to order for something I did this past season.

Take this formation and just eliminate the two wide men.

*********** Ken Hampton, of Raleigh, North Carolina also furnished proof that he, too, identified George Taliaferro.

*********** You wanna see teamwork?  I'll show you teamwork.


(Link thanks to Lou Orlando, Sudbury, Massachusetts)

*********** God help us all…

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) — An independent commission led by a former U.S. surgeon general (that would be that wacko Dr. Joycelyn Elders - HW) has concluded there “is no compelling medical reason” for the U.S. armed forces to prohibit transgender Americans from serving and that President Barack Obama could lift the decades-old ban without approval from Congress, according to a report being released Thursday.

Uh, considering what we expect our military to do for us, my question would be, "Is there a compelling medical reason for us to include 'transgender Americans' in the armed forces?"


*********** Hi Coach Wyatt-
Ran across this article today. Looks like"football's national governing body" has got hold of a few of our state's legislators. Gee, I wonder who will be providing this "safety" training?

Carl Kilburg
Hebron, Indiana

A bill designed to protect high school student-athletes cleared its final passage in the Indiana General Assembly today. The bill now moves to the governor’s desk, where it could be signed into law.

The bill would mandate safety training for football coaches who instruct athletes younger than 20 years of age and who use a state or municipally owned facility. Coaches would be required to complete a training course at least once during a two-year period, which would include content on concussion awareness, equipment fitting, heat emergency preparedness and proper technique.

Under the legislation, a high school athlete who is removed from play because of a suspected concussion or head injury would not be allowed to return to play until at least 24 hours have passed.

“In high-contact sports like football, students are more vulnerable to serious injuries that can have long-term effects,” said Sen. Travis Holdman, the bill’s author. “But this shouldn’t keep them from playing a sport they enjoy. The training and procedures outlined in this bill will give coaches the resources and knowledge they need to keep their athletes safe.”

The bill also provides civil immunity for football coaches who comply with training requirements and act in good faith. Coaches would not be personally liable for a student athlete’s concussion or head injury, except in cases of negligence or misconduct.

Holdman said more than 30 medical and sports organizations have expressed support for a coaches’ training program. These include the Amateur Athletic Union, NCAA, NFL, Big Ten Conference, Indiana Football Coaches Association and Indiana High School Athletic Association. USA Football also supports the bill.

“The Indiana High School Athletic Association applauds the work of Senator Travis Holdman to assist in the ongoing mission of providing safe and healthy sporting experiences to Hoosier youth,” IHSAA Commissioner Bobby Cox said. “In concert with the efforts of the senator, the IHSAA continues to augment educational opportunities for our dedicated adults that choose to work with students in the interscholastic arena.”

Former NFL linebacker Rosevelt Colvin, an Indianapolis native and current resident who helped the New England Patriots win two Super Bowls, also expressed his support for the bill. Colvin has two grade school-age boys who play youth football.

“Speaking as a youth football coach as well as the parent of two boys who love playing football, I can assure you that this is a strong step forward for our kids,” Colvin said. “Every young player’s mom and dad also chalks up a win with this news. Nothing is more important than our children’s health, and until other sports catch up to football, we’ll take the lead in coach education.”

(No mention, of course, of any connection between USA Football and The Octopus, Big Football itself, the NFL)

***********  Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook,  is behind a move to "Ban Bossy."

See, her theory, for which she's gotten a lot of publicity lately, is that little girls are discouraged from becoming leaders by being called "bossy."

And therefore, if we can eliminate the use of that one word, why, presto- we'll have all the leaders we need. (She conveniently overlooks the fact that boys aren't exactly shoving each other aside to step to the head of the group, either.)

(Isn't it "Bossy" of her to try to tell us we can't say "Bossy?")

(Could it be that they're preparing America for a woman who's been sometimes called bossy?  A certain Ms. Clinton?)

(Is her idea possibly to come out with a reverse Webster's full of banned words?)

Let's see… there's queer…retarded… bitchy… niggardly…thug…

TIME: Sometime in the not-too-distant future.

PLACE: A Elementary school. The principal's office.  The principal is on the phone.

PRINCIPAL: Mr. Clark?  Principal Cornhole here.  Please come get Tommy. I've had to  suspend him for calling a girl the B-word.

MR. CLARK: Oh, man.  I'm really surprised. We've been over this.  He knows better than to call anyone a bitch. 

PRINCIPAL: No no, no - it's much worse than that.  He called her "B-B-B-B-B…" I'm sorry - I can't even bring myself to say the word.


*********** As long as Our President is still creating dissatisfaction among the Great Unwashed with his "income inequality" line, it's worth noting that the Saints have agreed on terms with free agent safety Jairus Byrd.  Reportedly he will make $56 million over six-years.

At $9.3 million a year, that's more than 20 times the $420,000 2014 NFL minimum rookie salary.

(Actually, though, it's not as good a deal as it appears to be at first glance.  Only $28 million of it  is guaranteed.)

***********  (You wrote) "Call me old and foolish (get in line) but we're not talking about the Carolina Panthers or Jacksonville Jaguars here. We are talking about the CLEVELAND F--KING BROWNS!    And although it will surprise those who think that "history" started around  2000,  the Browns  have a history that few pro football teams can match."

--And here I thought that the reason Art Modell left the name, colors and uniform to the people of Cleveland is that it was important to them.  I can tell you the people in Baltimore would have loved to have kept the Colts name and uniforms while at the same time getting rid of that jack-ass Irsay.  I guess their history isn't as important to Cleveland as it would have been to Baltimore.

Dave Potter
Cary High School
Cary, North Carolina

Hi Dave-

You make me feel like a guy who's just gotten over something very tragic and traumatic in his life and then somebody has to bring it up - and the pain starts all over again.

I know that there are people in Cleveland who will never forgive Art Modell for moving the Browns to Baltimore, but it's to his great credit that for whatever reason, he left Cleveland with something far more important in the long run, now that they have their Browns back,  than the team that he moved.

I have pretty much gotten over the loss of my beloved Colts - hard to believe that they've been in Indianapolis longer than they were in Baltimore - but I will NEVER get over the callous way that the f--king Irsays not only made off with the team, like thieves in the night, but with it the name, the uniform, the helmet logo AND THE HISTORY AND THE RECORDS!!! Like John Unitas played for the f--king INDIANAPOLIS COLTS!

Frankly, once the Irsays sneaked out of town, I'm just as glad that Baltimore started over fresh with a new name and new unforms, if not a new team.  It was bad enough taking Cleveland's team from them, but I'd never have felt right about the additional insult to Cleveland fans of taking their heritage from them!

"Let's go you Baltimore Colts,
And put that ball across the line..."


************ Google "atheists oppose memorial" some time, and you're going to find a lot of reading material.

It's hard for me to imagine true happiness without a belief in God, but, aided and abetted by sympathetic judges, the Godless gang has been pursuing its version of happiness by attacking symbols of religion wherever possible.


In Lake Elsinore, California a woman erected a cross by an Interstate exit ramp in honor of her 19-year-old son, who was struck and killed nearby. It's been there since 2012. Atheist have sued to have it removed.

In Princeton, New Jersey, atheists are fighting the erection of a memorial cross.

In New York, atheists continue to fight a plan to include a steel cross in the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

And in Ohio, an atheist group is opposing a Holocaust Memorial planned for the grounds of the statehouse in Columbus.

When the Christians (and Jews)  finally nut up and take on these a$$holes physically, it's going to win up in the hands of juries, not judges.

And juries, I suspect, might not be as sympathetic to aggressive atheists as judges.

GT Prayer
***********  Too late atheists...

Photo from the 1955 Georgia Tech pre-season guide

*********** Your tax dollars at work in small-town Washington.

The city of Ocean Shores is updating its six-year transportation plan after receiving a grant to begin concept and design work for sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes and pedestrian lighting on Point Brown Avenue.

Are you kidding me?  A "grant?"  That's politician-speak for "free money,"  also known as taking money out of the pockets of people in Atlanta, Georgia, Beloit, Kansas, Berwick, Louisiana, Albuquerque, New Mexico and God knows where else to design f--king sidewalks and bike lanes for a tiny town on the Washington coast whose citizens would have had those things years ago if they'd been willing to pay for them.  Yeah, yeah, I know - they rest of you will get it back in "grants" of their own. So we reduce our defense spending in order to provide "grants" for sidewalk design in Ocean Shores and assorted "free" goodies for people in Atlanta, Georgia, Beloit, Kansas, Berwick, Louisiana, Albuquerque, New Mexico and God knows where else.

*********** A star football player, referred to by his coach as "our go-to- guy," Michael Anyisake, of Dawson, Minnesota, was one of a number of high school students at an underage drinking party being held in an unoccupied farm house, as has been known to happen in farm communities throughout the heartland.  And then the sheriff's people arrived, and the party broke up, the praters dispersing in all directions.

But Michael went missing, and when he was found several hours later at another farmhouse, he was dead.  The cause of death has yet to be determined.

And now, instead of following Michael as he went on to St. John's University, his family, the little community, the school and his teammates are left to mourn.

Thanks to Coach Chris Davis, of Slayton, Minnesota for the link.


*********** I’ve been a  head coach for about 13 years at the youth (Pop Warner/ local leagues) and Jr High level in the Anchorage Alaska area.  I’m taking the JV head coaching position at Chugiak High School this season.  CHS has a new Varsity HC and it will be the first time in 12 years that I haven’t run your Double Wing.  We will be running a Flex Bone Pistol.  Looking at the FB I see many similarities to the DW but I will miss the luxury of putting extra force at the point of attack.  Once we get our base FB plays installed I’ll have some leeway to flavor the FB with the attributes of your DW methods.  
Coach I have to share a story with you about some “advice” you gave me about 11 years ago.  I was attending one of your clinics in Portland before the second year using the DW.  I was sitting in the middle of the room and the conversation turned to linemen and getting them to pull.  I spoke up and said that I was unable to get my players to pull.  As you continued to talk to the group you walked over to me, reached out and shook my hand and said “Coach Stark, I’ve finally met the only football coach in America who can’t get his guards to pull”.  I took that and your other advice about just assume they will pull and don’t tell them there is another option.   I mention this because I have adhered to that “advice” year after year and when I have coaches (every year) who say “we won’t be able to get the players to do this or that," I say to them…              

Scott Stark
Anchorage, Alaska

*********** Coach,
Once again, it was great to finally meet y'all in person.  Miss Connie is a sweet lady and really knows her sports too!  Meeting the other coaches was very insightful and they are great guys.  Thanks again for dinner and lunch also.
Anyone who may be shying away from this year's clinic slate because of its content is sadly mistaken.  Whether someone coaches true double-tight double wing, or wing t, or any sort of ball control offense, there's something beneficial in this year's information for them.  Whether someone is looking to consistently move people out the box while staying true to the system, or just wants a two-minute package for quick-strike ability, this information is beneficial.  I guarantee there are folks out there busting their ass and thinking of unconventional things to do to stop us, so if we don't do the same to stay ahead of them, we deserve an ass-kicking if we take one.
As I'm sure you anticipated, after processing everything mentally and going back to look at my notes, I have a couple questions.
1.  When ya'll run option, is it typically a double option with the corner as a pitch key?  Against an odd front with their OLBs walked up, would you try to double the OLB with the tackle or end and the back and then pitch from the corner?  How about against even fronts?

Usually we pitch off the end man on the LOS.
2.  Have ya'll looked at a triple option from Husky/Cougar?

Yes.  But there's only so much you can do without opening up those splits, which I'm unwilling to do.
3.  With your ends and wings spread out, and still having a strong running game to keep people honest, do you find you had big play potential with passing to a back releasing out of the backfield?

Oh, yes - in numerous ways.
Again, many thanks, coach.  It was well worth the 8-1/2 hour drive.  Glad the jerky and ale were to ya'lls liking!

Josh Montgomery
Berwick, Louisiana

*********** Tom Walls and his wife, Shandy, have taken on a major project - they're actively working to start a youth football organization (that would be "organ-eye-zation") in their community outside Winnipeg. Tom has been head coach at Churchill High School in Winnipeg for the past three years, but he had to resign that position to devote himself to the demands of the startup.  It's not without its rewards already - the long commute from their rural community to Tom's teaching and coaching job in the city meant time away from his family, including son Tommy, a promising young football player.

american flagTUESDAY,  MARCH 11,  2014"If you think that human beings are always rational, it becomes impossible to explain at least half of history."  Dr. Thomas Sowell

*********** One by one, we're losing the men who fought - and won! - World War II, and with them goes a standard of manhood that I question whether we'll ever again attain.

One of those men, one of the Band of Brothers celebrated by the movie, was Bill "Wild Bill" Guarnere, who died last week at the age of 90.

Mr. Guarnere grew up an Italian kid in heavily-Italian South Philadelphia who chose to become a paratrooper because he wanted "to fight with the best."

His courage in battle was legendary.

I thank my friend Greg Koenig, of Beloit, Kansas, for sending me his story...


*********** I almost missed giving credit to Bill Nelson, of Skyview HS in Thornton, Colorado, who was one of the few readers who correctly identified George Taliaferro.

*********** I LOVE the suggestion that if an NFL team chooses to kick an extra point, the line of scrimmage will be the 25.  (If it chooses to go from two, it can do so from the three.)

Putting the ball on the 25 makes it a 42-yard kick.  But even at that, NFL kickers last season made 80 per cent of their kicks from there.

That's almost automatic.  Almost.

Automatic is 99.6 per cent, which is the actual percentage of extra points made last season.

Adam Vinatieri is opposed to the proposal.  He was quoted by USA Today as saying, "if it's not broke don't fix it."

Uh, Adam, I hate to break this to you - but it is broke.

*********** Legendary Harvard coach Percy Haughton was noted for being intense.  He might have fit right in with some of today's coaches, but for his time, so preoccupied was he with results on the field that he was often considered something of a mad man.

One of his players recalled a mid-week practice: "…we were preparing a series of new plays to be used on that following Saturday. Progress had been slow and P. D. was hurrying things along in his race against time. During the scrimmage a certain player was not giving his best efforts on every play. P. D. noticed it and rushed onto the field, grabbed the offender by the neck and shook him till his teeth rattled. 'Get onto the sidelines. The trouble with you is you perspire. We want men to sweat!'"

*********** Nick Saban is still commenting on the safety aspect to his proposal to slow down offense.  His logic - and it's sound on its face - is that more plays in the same amount of game time mean more collisions,  which simply have to result in more injuries.

Most of us, though,  suspect that he has other motives than player safety (such as perhaps slowing down Auburn's hurry-up/no huddle offense) but if he's really serious about the safety aspect, I have a suggestion:

Why not consider eight-minute quarters?  It'd cut the amount of injury exposure - and therefore the number of injuries - almost in half.  Race-horse guys would still have certain advantages, being able to cram in more plays, but there's something for Nick Saban to like, too:   As youth coaches, who play eight minute quarters,  will attest - one good drive can eat up an entire quarter.

*********** How's this for irony? The opportunity to make it to college - and then to the NFL - without doing any of the heavy lifting has created a large and constantly growing number of young kickers. And as a natural result, in order to help them achieve their goals, kIcking camps have flourished. 

And they've been doing a great job.  So great, in fact, that high schools are full of really good kickers. So full, in fact, that colleges don't bother offering them scholarships.  instead, they bring 'em in as walk-ons and then weed 'em out.

*********** I was reading a column written in the Nashville Tennessean by a sales consultant named Tom Black.  His topic was being inner-directed rather than outer-directed - not to let yourself fail because of things you can't control but can overcome. He said that his company used to hand out tee-shirts with "N.E.A.T." on them - NO EXCUSES ACCEPTED TODAY

*********** I liked Jim Geraghty's take on satire, in National Review Online…

At the heart of satire is the notion that you're poking fun at someone or something that is held in high regard, but really shouldn't be. The satirist is usually saying 'the emperor has no clothes,' but for that to work, the audience has to believe that A) the emperor indeed has no clothes and B) that they always knew that the emperor had no clothes.

I wonder if it's getting harder to do satire because we just don't hold many people or institutions in high regard anymore. Or perhaps the only people or institutions that are still held in high regard are ones that you really would have second thoughts about poking fun at - our men and women in uniform, charities, etc.

Or maybe there are so many things now that are untouchable. (Think of it - other than blondes, who can you make fun of any more? Yes, I suppose you could say, "Rednecks," except that those of, shall we say, a "rural persuasion" seem to take great pride in living up to the elites' attempts to ridicule them. )

*********** Coming the longest distance to this past weekend's Atlanta clinic was Coach Josh Montgomery, who drove eight hours from Berwick, Louisiana.  He might have been able to shorten his trip a bit except that he made a couple of stops along the way - one, to pick up a six-pack of a really good brew from Abita Springs, Lousiana - Restoration Pale Ale, so named because a percentage of its sales has gone to help victims of Hurricane Katrina; and another to pick up some of the absolute best beef jerky I have ever tasted in my life, from a place called Bourgeois' Meat Market in Thibodaux (that's pronounced "TIBB-a-doe"), Louisiana.

*********** The Kansas State High School Activities Association has announced that Jadon Adams of Beloit High School is the recipient of  the 2014 “KSHSAA Spirit of Sport Award.”

This award is meant to recognize "the values inherent in high school sports beyond winning and losing."

Jadon was selected from seven nominees submitted by KSHSAA member senior high schools, and now he will be considered for the NFHS' annual “Spirit of Sport" Award.

Jadon, an outstanding prospect as a running back and linebacker, was almost certainly headed for stardom when he was seriously injured in a football game his sophomore year.  He suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that left doctors unsure whether he would ever walk or talk again.  But after a month in the  Madonna TBI clinic in LIncoln, Nebraska, Jadon began to show signs of progress. His therapy required learning how to walk and talk all over again, and he missed more than 2 months of school.

What kept him going - and the  only thing he talked about during his recovery - was getting returning to school and playing  football again with the pals he'd grown up with.

He finally returned to school, determined to return to once again be a normal high school student - and be on the football team.

Although playing football was out of the question, his coach, Greg Koenig, suggested the next best thing: coaching.  And for the past two seasons, Jadon  served as a student coach.  

Coaching his former positions and serving as a mentor to younger players, at in every practice and game, Jadon played a vital role in the Trojans' phenomenal success. 

Said Coach Koenig, in proudly notifying me of Jadon's award, "What a great award to an outstanding young man."


*********** In the belief that (1) 13-14-15 yards is too much to depend on for a good snap; (2) a blocked punt is the most demoralizing thing that can happen to a team: (3) we should be able to run most of our offense from punt formation...

I punt from "Tight Punt" formation. The punter is 10 yards deep. He is usually my quarterback - the guy who runs my offense.  I know he's got good hands and he's used to handling the ball. And I I can trust him with the ball if anything goes wrong. I also believe, along with the great Bobby Dodd, that any decent athlete can learn to punt adequately. (I am not interested in the punt that makes everyone go "oooh" - I just want to make sure that (1) we get it off and (2) they don't return it.

We start out with the B-Back at 4-yards' depth, offset behind right guard.  He must NOT step back. (Trust me - it is VERY embarrassing to have a kick blocked by a blocker's butt.

The ball is snapped "AFTER Ready."

This means that any point AFTER (but not ON) the "Ready" signal, the center may snap the ball.  It is up to him.

We work on punting the ball with one step.

We mostly practice punting in a worst-case scenario, with the ball on our own one-yard line, with the punter standing a yard from the end line. There. we deal with  what to do with a mishandled snap in the end zone (fall on it or kick it out the back of the end zone) and how to take an intentional safety (run around back and forth as long as you can until you have to step out of bounds or over the end line.)

*********** By any standards, Bruce Larson, of Somerset, Wisconsin, is a winning football coach. He's won at least 10 games in seven of the last ten years.  His worst year in that span was 6-4 in 2006.  HIs 2012 team won the state Division IV title, and this past season finished 12-3.

The interesting thing is, he not only doesn't emphasize winning - he doesn't even talk about it.

Instead, he places his emphasis on character and values, as part of what he calls the "Spartan Creed."

I came across it in an interview he did with  Tim Leighton of the St. Paul Pioneer Press in an interview just prior to winning last year's state championship.

"There are no reasons to talk about winning," he said. "We talk about honor, courage and loyalty, things that are really important. If you do things right in life and make the right decisions, you'll end up where you want to be. The more you talk about winning, I'm telling you, it's the wrong thing to do. It's the wrong thing to focus on. Winning is a byproduct, I guess, of doing things the right way in your life."

"You have to do what you believe will work," he said. "I don't think since 1999 we've had the best athletes in the world, but we do have kids that understand they have to work hard in the classroom, the weight room, in their other sports and to stay away from things that will cause trouble. If you can do those things, you'll be just fine. The people we play against don't do those things.

"In the past 14 years, we haven't put a kid in the NFL, but I think we've made some really good fathers, some great employees, people that will look you in the eye and will do what is right and honest."


*********** The intersection of North Broadway and Lincoln Park Avenue in Los Angeles was named Kenny Washington Square, in honor of College Football Hall of Famer Kenny Washington, who was UCLA’s first All-American and broke the NFL’s color barrier.

*********** The Cleveland Browns, who other than switching  helmet colors from white to orange many, many years ago haven't made drastic changes to their uniforms since they first hit the field in 1946 (and so dominated the All-America Football Conference that they basically put it out of business) have announced a make-over, which they'll unveil before the draft.  Maybe somebody at Nike told them that if it worked for Oregon it'll work for them. Except they're not recruiting teenagers.

Call me old and foolish (get in line) but we're not talking about the Carolina Panthers or Jacksonville Jaguars here. We are talking about the CLEVELAND F--KING BROWNS!    And although it will surprise those who think that "history" started around  2000,  the Browns  have a history that few pro football teams can match.

Yes, they've sucked in recent years, but most would have to agree that the uniforms were not a major reason.  And it's not as if the long-suffering Cleveland fans are going to be fooled if underneath the flashy new duds are the same old Browns.

Nike designers be damned, it seems to me that if that Browns' uniform was good enough for Otto Graham, Marion Motley, Jim Brown, Mike McCormack, Dick Schafrath, Leroy Kelly, Lou Groza, John Wooten, Gary Collins, Horace Gillom, Dub Jones, Bill Willis (I could go on) it's good enough for whatever bunch they call the Browns this year.

american flagFRIDAY,  MARCH 7,  2014"Evil always arrives on earth by means of some man of genius."  Denis Diderot, French philosopher

*********** Just to show Vladimir Putin isn't as smart as everybody's giving him credit for - to justify the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he had to resort to claiming that Russia had to take action in order to stamp out fascists - nazis, even.

Ho-hum.  Who even knows what the hell fascists are? Who gets fired up about Nazis anymore?

If Putin wanted to get the world on his side - certainly to win the hearts and minds of the American people -  he'd have announced he was invading Ukraine to stamp out homophobia there.

Oh,  wait - he'd have a hard time explaining that one to his own people, wouldn't he?

THIS YEAR'S LAST BLACK HISTORY MONTH QUESTION - A native of Gary, Indiana, he was one of the greatest players in the history of the University of Indiana; in 1949, he became the first black man drafted by the NFL; and before Johnny Unitas - and long before Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck - he played quarterback for the Colts.

Identifying George Taliaferro...

Adam Wesoloski
Pulaski, Wisconsin

Adrian Mills
China Grove, North Carolina

Coach Wyatt-
I believe the first black player drafted by the NFL was George Taliaferro. He was drafted by the team I follow, the Bears, but did not sign with them. He signed with the AAFL. Gary, IN is not too far from where I live in our great state. Although the city is a mere shell of what it once was, it has produced it's fair share of pro athletes.
Thanks for the NEWS, always enjoy reading it, and always learn a thing or 2 about our great game.
Carl Kilburg
Hebron, Indiana



Read about his wonderful works, long after his football days were over…


*********** From Tim Brown, in Athens, Alabama…

(1) The US Military Academy does not have any lightweight majors - none of those things ending in "Studies" - where they can hide dummies. So given the rigor of the West Point curriculum,  if West Point has, in fact, been admitting academically unqualified football players, you'd expect them to be dropping out at a scandalous rate.  That hasn't been happening.

Q. How many Army football players spend a year at USMAPS?

USMAPS - The US Military Academy Prep School is designed to prepare kids who qualify for admission but are not prepared for the demands of the classroom. I'd say that maybe 2/3 of recruited football players attend here before moving on to West Point.  The Naval Academy and the Air Force Academy have similar prep schools. The service academies, it should be noted, do not accept junior college transfers and do not permit redshirting. Those admitted to the prep schools are assured admission to the academies upon graduation, but for the purposes of the academies' football staffs they are still considered high school athletes and can only be contacted within the NCAA recruiting rules.  Also, they are not committed to attend the academies, and it is not unusual for certain other colleges to try to poach these athletes.  it should also be pointed out that the costs of sending a student to USMAPS are not borne by the US taxpayer, but by donations.

(2) If 12 straight losses to Navy - and just one (7-6) winning season since 1996 - are what you get from overemphasis, how bad is it going to be if they pull back?

Q. Does this mean a drop to 1-AA?  We can't beat Stony Brook now.  

Bear in mind that all their other sports compete in the Patriot League, which is I-AA (FCS) in football.  Only football plays at the top level.  A drop by Army to FBS would be disastrous to the other 20+ Army sports which depend on football for financial support.  Despite all those losing seasons, Army football is still a revenue-producer, thanks in large part to the TV money from the Army-Navy game. It's hard to believe that that money would still be there if Army were to drop in class.

(3) If I had written something to our local paper questioning my school's policy, without first having gone to leadership with my concerns, I think that my work life would become a little tougher from that point on.  Deservedly so.

Q. Is this guy a part of the TOXIC Army leadership?

People on the inside tell me that there is a VERY strong anti-football element among the West Point faculty, dating all the way back to the Col. Blaik era, when Army football was among the nation's best.  It is as strong as ever, and I suspect that this article was meant to be, if I may use a Navy term, a shot across the bow, warning the new superintendent that his any efforts to help football succeed will be met by faculty resistance.  I'm sure that this guy is a hero among the pseudo-Ivy faculty.

*********** One of the most important ingredients of success, I think, is learning what your limits are.

This, of course, runs counter to the emphasis we place in education on equal outcome.

Without paying the slightest attention to the age-old reality that people have unequal talents and abilities, we plow ahead toward the unattainable goal of equal outcomes, blowing smoke up kids' butts telling them that they can be anything they want to be - emphasis on "want" -  instead of preparing  them for being the best they can be - emphasis on "can."

***********  Coach,  if you have a Friday game what does your practice week look like as far as pads and amount of contact?  Does your state have any regulations on practice contact, etc.


John Bothe
Oregon, Illinois


Our state does not yet regulate our practice times.  But I can see it coming.

Typical week:

MON:  Study table 2:30-3:15 -    Practice 3:30-5:30 - full pads - about 45 minutes of thud scrimmage
TUES:  Practice 3:00 - 5:30  - full pads - about 60 minutes of thud scrimmage
WED: Practice 3:00 - 5:30 - full pads - about 60 minutes of thud srimmage
THURS: Practice 3:00 - 4:30 -  full pads - almost no contact

Contact time is a rough estimate.

We always go out in pads simply to avoid the kind of injury that can happen even in a "non-contact" drill.

*********** John Madden came up with an all-timer when he said who has to go if the 49ers can't resolve the now-public spat between their coach, Jim Harbaugh, and their GM, some guy named Trent Baalke: “It’s a lot easier to get a suit than it is to get a coach.”


circle*********** Coach what do you use to make the circle for the circle drill and how big is it?
Ocie B Johnson
St. Louis, Missouri

Coach Johnson-

I use three 10-foot lengths of PVC pipe.  To connect them I tape a sleeve of slightly larger diameter PVC pipe at end of each one.

You could also use conduit, which will already have a slightly larger end for ease in connecting.

Hope that makes sens

*********** Turning our kids into tolerant environmental activists who know they must never, never fight, even to defend themselves, has been the signature achievement of the Great American Educator.

Actually educating the kids? You can't be serious. You ever seen the way they write?  Ever asked one what Separation of Powers is all?  Ever asked one to do a simple math problem in his head?

Hey - when you're busy expelling kids who point finger guns at each other, who's got time to teach?


*********** Bad enough that a school spends time celebrating Cinco de Mayo - a minor holiday of little importance in Mexico that seems mostly to have been appropriated by the US beer industry, but it's f--king disgraceful when the cowardly school administration sends non-celebratory kids home for wearing attire with the American flag on it, for fear that it might incite violence. 

Surely that school has required its kids to undergo anti-bullying training.  And surely they'd spent hour upon hour teaching the importance of tolerance.  So wouldn't it be "bullying" if some students were so intolerant as to beat up on a kid because he displayed our country's flag?   Nah.

So to protect some bogus "right" to celebrate something - in a school, yet - the school administrators will tread on other students' actual first-amendment rights.  And, this being California, where up so frequently  is down and down so frequently  is up, and judge supported the administration.


*********** Syracuse coach Scott Shafer, in an interview with si.com, told about some of the things Jim Harbaugh's staff did at Stanford to try to make those kids competitive.

When the kids were stretching and warming up. Jim would go out there and start doing some push-ups. He was offense, and I was defense. We used to talk a little junk. We were trying to foster that environment because the Stanford kids were the opposite of a lot of other kids at that time. They were downtrodden and hadn't won many games. They were almost too, "Yes sir, no sir." We were like, Hey, we've got to get these kids to loosen up.

Everything was a competition. Everything. I remember Jim played running back in [an] Oklahoma drill and didn't have any pads on. The kid thudded him and everyone went nuts. Everything turned into such a great competition. I can't tell you how many times we went off script in practice because it turned into a war. They were fighting to win a competition, every single warm-up and practice. He was doing push-ups up there.

One of my players, I don't remember who, said, "Coach are you going to let him do that?"

I said, "What?"

He said, "He's trying to show you up doing push-ups."

I ran right up next to him and said, "I'm in."

We started with, like, 25 push-ups and added one every day. By the end of the season, we're up to the worst 150 push-ups you ever saw. It kind of got the kids going and got 'em fired up. At our banquet, we had a highlight video and they showed us, and (AD) Bob Bowlsby said, "I think those are the worst push-ups I've ever seen."


*********** It may look like the brink of nuclear war to you and me, but if the Russians were worth really worrying about,  would the  guardians of our life and be cross-dressing on a US military base?


*********** Read this article by Tom Oates, a long-time sports writer in Madison, Wisconsin and you'll see why college athletic directors aren't sleeping well these days.


*********** With the discovery of CTE in the brain a soccer player, a rugby player and an Australian Rules Football player, it appears that maybe those kids who stay in their bedrooms playing Madden had the right idea after all.

*********** The National Football foundation reports…

Dr. Richard Diana, a 1981 NFF National Scholar-Athlete from Yale, has penned a groundbreaking book, “Healthy Joints for Life” that offers individuals a proven plan to reduce joint pain and inflammation with the goal of avoiding surgery.

Rich Diana, a running back for College Football Hall of Fame Coach Carmen Cozza at Yale and then for Pro Football Hall of Fame Coach Don Shula with the Miami Dolphins, attended Yale School of Medicine after his playing days. He then combined his unique knowledge of sports and medicine to become one of the nation’s leading orthopedic surgeons.

His experiences and research have led him to develop a scientifically backed program that uses diet, exercise and the supplements to reduce inflammation and increase mobility for those suffering joint pain without surgery, which he now details in his book for everyone, not just elite athletes.

Diana, a clinical instructor at the Yale School of Medicine and attending surgeon at Yale-New Haven Hospital, lays out the plan in the new book. The eight-week regimen has received powerful testimonials from a wide-range of people, including College Football Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow (Missouri), former Yale and NFL player Calvin Hill and Emmy Award-winning MLB broadcaster and World Series champion with the New York Mets Ron Darling.

The book can be ordered on Amazon.com or at Harlequin.com.

*********** College Football Hall of Famers Willie Totten (Mississippi Valley State) and coach Marino Casem (Alabama State, Alcorn State, Southern) were officially inducted into the Black College Football Hall of Fame on March 1.

***********  Dan Jenkins, a native Texan and an all-time great sports writer and story-teller,  sat down with Texas Monthly to discuss his new book, “His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir,” due to  come out later this month.   What I wouldn't give to sit at a bar and listen to him tell stories.  But failing that, I'll settle for the book.

Some exceprts from the interview...

the Darrell Royals, the Bear Bryants, the John McKays. They were fun. You could drink with ’em. My favorite was obviously Darrell Royal. I covered all his great teams. He was smart and funny, and it was just so natural. Now everyone’s so guarded. There’s so much electricity out there, they’re afraid of it.

It started with television. And then it just grew from there, while my back was turned. The athletic directors became CEOs instead of travel agents. Title IX came along and changed a lot of things for the better, but nevertheless, it meant that money became more important. If we gotta send the girl’s archery team to Hawaii, where we gonna get that f—in’ money?


TM: You say in the book that “political correctness is a plot to destroy America.” That’s not a very PC thing to say.

DJ: Good! I take a backseat to no one in my hatred of it. I don’t get it. I don’t know how anybody let it out of the box. If they can’t take a joke, f— ’em. It was the Modern Language Society that did it, and everybody bit on it. The academics loved it because it gave them something to do. The sad thing is that the newspapers fell into it. That was the bad part. I blame teachers. The whole thing about you gotta be liberal or you can’t advance in the profession if you’re not liberal. That may be true, but it’s time it stopped being true. Hell, we had liberal teachers when I was in college. We laughed at ’em. We had one conservative and everybody wanted to take his course because he was funny. It was like taking a course with Hitler. But we didn’t take him seriously either. But now everything’s from one side.


TM: With all the concern over head injuries, people are starting to suggest that football itself is politically incorrect. Do you think the handwringing about concussions is overblown? 

DJ: Yes. It’s a tough game, and they know what they’re getting into. But I do worry about what’s going to result from that. My greatest fear, and I won’t live to see it happen, is for the United States men to win the World Cup [in] soccer. It would start something.


Why he hates the NBA.

Every game’s the same. Every player’s talented. All they do is kick it in and dunk it or kick it out and hit a three. That’s it. I like college basketball and women’s basketball. They’re still coachable. They play below the rim. But they’ll find a way to ruin that too. They’ll go out and get some tall girls from Australia or something. It’s not just the NBA. There’s a certain sameness to pro football too. They’re about to chase me back to being a baseball fan.


*********** Irv Wisniewski passed away a week ago.  He was 89.  Coach Wisniewski, a Michigan grad whose first coaching job was at Hillsdale College, joined Dave Nelson and Mike Lude at Delaware in 1950, just after they'd moved from Maine, which meant he was in on the ground floor of the Wing-T.  At first he coached the ends, but after Mike Lude took the head coaching job at Colorado State, he moved over to coach the offensive line. He coached at Delaware until his retirement in 1976.


*********** New Army head coach Jeff Monken has announced that the Army Football Coaches Clinic will take place at West Point on Friday-Saturday, April 4-5.
For reasons unknown to me (or anyone else I know), there hasn't been an Army Football Coaches Clinic for at least 10 years, so this to me is a big statement that Coach Monken means business.

For anyone who runs a triple option or is giving serious thought to doing so, this ought to be a great opportunity to get to learn the offense from a head coach and a staff that know it inside-out.

Army Clinic

american flagFRIDAY,  FEBRUARY 28,  2014“The battlefield is a scene of constant chaos. The winner will be the one who controls that chaos, both his own and the enemies.”  Napoleon Bonaparte

*********** Have you ever eaten 5 Spanish olives - and stopped?

Likewise 7 Tostitos chips?

A half-cup of ice cream?

A half-cup of Dinty Moore Beef Stew?

A one-inch cube of sharp cheese?

Hey -  if you eat portions that small, you're probably as skinny as Barack Obama.

Nevertheless, those are what their manufacturers call "serving sizes."  No wonder we simpy read the "calories per serving size," without seeing how f--king small the "serving size" is.

But not any more, if the FDA has its way with the labeling of food products.  I'm not a big one for government interference, but I'm with them on this one.  Manufacturers are already required to post nutritional information on their packages, so what the hell - why not make it information that's actually useful?

*********** BLACK HISTORY MONTH QUESTION -  HORACE GILLOM was "discovered" by Paul Brown when he played for Brown in high school in Massillon, Ohio, and then on the freshman team at Ohio State.  Following World War II, Brown signed him to play with the Cleveland Browns in 1948, and he became not only the first black  punter in pro football, but one of the greatest punters in the history of the game.

Horace Gillom

Joe Gutilla, Austin, Texas

Adam Wesoloski, Pulaski, Wisconsin

Bill Nelson, Skyview HS, Thornton, Colorado




*********** What a world this would be with Eric Holder in charge.

Seems our Honorable Attorney General has told state attorneys general that if they disagree with some of their state's laws - specifically those banning same-sex "marriage" - why, they can just do what he's been doing with laws he and his boss don't agree with: just don't bother to enforce them. In other words, just ignore them. 

Hey, who needs legislators, anyhow? 

Just wondering… do cops get the same leeway? 

Uh-oh.  Do referees?


*********** There's going to be a new college football poll next season, a collaboration of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation, the foremost advocate of the college game.  Years ago, the Football Writers Association conducted a poll, but it was overshadowed by the Associated Press and the UPI Polls. 

Interestingly, the poll will list 16 teams - a "Super 16."

Why 16, and not 10, or 25? Think maybe they're anticipating the day when there'll be a 16-team playoff?

Here's the release...

IRVING, Texas (Feb. 25, 2014) – The Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the National Football Foundation (NFF) announced today that they will jointly conduct a weekly  major-college football poll during the 2014 season.

Officially, the poll will be known as the “FWAA-NFF Grantland Rice Super 16” poll, named in honor of the great sportswriter who became an influential leader of the NFF during its early years in the late 1940s. Rice played a key role in the history of both organizations as an FWAA member and NFF president. His name adorns the FWAA national championship trophy that has been presented since 1954, and he helped select the FWAA All-America teams until his death in 1954.

“We are proud to partner with the FWAA on the launch of the Grantland Rice Super 16 poll,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “Objectivity represents a core value for both our organizations, and we hope that by combining the credibility of both our organizations that we’ll provide a fun reference point for fans to follow during the college football season.”

The pollsters will consist of FWAA writers, College Football Hall of Famers and NFF Board Members. The poll aims to draw on the vast knowledge of the nation’s top journalists with extensive experience covering college football in combination with some of the greatest legends to have ever played or coached the game as well as the perspectives of several of the gridiron’s most respected and influential administrators.

“We are extremely excited to announce this first poll in conjunction with the National Football Foundation at a time when major college football is ushering in a new era,” said 2014 FWAA President Kirk Bohls. “I can’t think of a better partner in jointly producing the ‘Grantland Rice Super 16’ poll of the best teams in the nation.

“Our poll will include distinguished past presidents of the FWAA as well as outstanding NFF Hall of Famers who have given so much to the game we all love and who hope to bring more insight to college football and enjoyment of this fine game. We feel we can provide a very valuable poll of some of the best-credentialed voters and most knowledgeable, objective college football minds around.”

The decision to conduct the new poll was made in December and January by the boards of both organizations at the conclusion of the 2013 season. Long-time partners since the formation of the two organizations in the 1940s, the FWAA and NFF will pool 36 voters (26 from the FWAA and 10 from the NFF) ranking the top 16 teams in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision. The poll will be announced on Sundays during the 2014 season, culminating with a final release on Dec. 7, the day after the conference championship games.

The 26 FWAA voters, all current or past writers of national stature, will be selected to ensure balanced-geographical representation. The 10 NFF voters, comprised of Hall of Fame players, coaches and administrators, will also add to the diversity of perspectives, coming from different conferences and regions of the country. The names and affiliations of the voters will be released to the general public in early summer, and their votes will be made public each week during the season.

The FWAA, which possesses a reputation as one of the foremost objective voices in college football, has conducted a pre-season poll for a number of years and has also had a weekly poll in the past. Both organizations have used panels at the conclusion of the college football season to determine the recipients of their respective national championship trophies. Since 1959, the NFF has presented the MacArthur Bowl, named for the famous Army general who was a guiding father of the NFF in the early years, and since 1954, the FWAA has bestowed the Grantland Rice Trophy to its national champion.

*********** From the Internet… "Idiots" by Junius P. Long
If you can get arrested for hunting or fishing with out a license, but not for being in the country illegally ...Then you might live in a country run by idiots.

If you have to get your parents’ permission to go on a field trip or take an aspirin in school, but not to get an abortion ...Then you might live in a country run by idiots.

If you have to show identification to board an airplane,cash a check, buy liquor, or check out a library book,but you don't have to show ID for the right to vote on who runs the government ...Then you might live in a country run by idiots.
If the government wants to ban stable, law-abiding citizens from owning gun magazines with more than ten rounds, but gives 20 F-16 fighter jets to the crazy new leaders in  Egypt ...Then you might live in a country run by idiots.
If, in the largest city of the country, you can buy two 16-ounce sodas,but not a 24-ounce soda because the government says a 24-ounce sugary drink might make you fat ...Then you might live in a country run by idiots.
If an 80-year-old woman can be stripped searched by the TSA but a woman in a hi-jab is only subject to having her neck and head searched because of her religion ... Then you might live in a country run by idiots.
If your government believes that the best way to eradicate trillions of dollars of debt is to spend trillions more ...Then you might live in a country run by idiots.
If a seven year old boy can be thrown out of school for saying his teacher’s "cute," but hosting a sexual exploration or diversity class in grade school is perfectly acceptable ...Then you might live in a country run by idiots.
If hard work and success is rewarded with higher taxes and more government intrusion, while not working is rewarded with EBT cards, WIC checks, Medicaid, subsidized housing, and free cell phones ...Then you might live in a country run by idiots.
If the government's plan for getting people back to work is to reward them with 99 weeks of unemployment checks with no requirement to prove they applied for it ...Then you might live in a country run by idiots.
If being stripped of the ability to defend yourself makes you more "safe" according to the government ...Then you might live in a country run by idiots.
If you are offended by this article, then I'll bet you voted for the idiots who are running and "ruining" our great country!

*********** Thank, Coach!  I love this sort of stuff.  You may know that many Finns emigrated to the UP of Michigan, the "Yoopers." They are also in northern Minnesota.  Who else will endure such a harsh winter?

Jim Franklin
Flora, Indiana


There are pockets of Finns in several parts of the country - mostly in the north.

One reason they can endure the cold is sauna.  Other cultures have their various ways of using hot steam, but in none, so far as I can tell, does it play such a prominent role.

It is also the only Finnish word in our dictionary.

There is also, I am told, a large group of Finns in Lake Worth, Florida.

If you ever get hold of a copy of an English translation of "The Unknown Soldier" (Tuntematon Sotilas) by Väino Linnä, it is well worth the read. Finns all tell me that if you want to understand the Finnish character, it is essential reading.  The film is good, too, but not so easy to understand.  It's in Finnish)

*********** Coach:

I linked to the NYT article on woodpeckers/big horn sheep and as I was reading it, something struck me (but didn't cause a concussion). Let me explain:

On April 1, 2013 I went into the emergency room with extreme abdominal pain due to an intestinal blockage. I had emergency surgery and was laid up for a couple of weeks in recovery. The short of the long is that I weighed in around 300 pounds and needed to make major dietary changes. Of course, the doctors never mentioned diet changes, only medication. Despite the lack of help from the 'experts' I stumbled on the Primal/Paleo diet. I have stuck to that diet for the 10.5 months since then and have lost 85 pounds and have felt great during the entire process all with a minimal amount of exercise.

One of the key observations that proponents of the Primal/Paleo diet make is that the diabetes explosion and Alzheimer's blight have all occurred in the last 30 years or so. The closest correlation between these two factors is the low-fat, high carb diet.

Another important thing that gets pointed out is that the brain needs fat to survive. It is made up of fat for the most part and the sheath that surrounds nerves (called mylien) is made up of fat as well. The thing that turns people off is that the Primal/Paleo approach is by definition a ketogenic diet which is very high in fat (Michelle Obama would be horrified) and very low in carbs (under 50 g per day). Nonetheless, I am leaner, and more clear thinking than I have been in my entire life. This is merely anecdotal, but for literally hundreds more of these kinds of results check this out: www.marksdailyapple.com

Besides the fat loss benefit, I've tried to hunt around the internet for any research that talks about the makeup of the fluid that surrounds the brain and whether a high fat low-carb brain fluid becomes more robust and "sloshes" less than brain fluid that is produced by a government-inspired food pyramid diet.

My basic hypothesis would be that a high-fat/low-carb diet would produce a more firm brain fluid which would prevent the rattling of the brain that inhibits concussions. I recall reading some material involving the development of the original 'air' helmets that were actually tested at the University of Michigan. I don't recall the player who was being quoted, but it was asserted that one of the goals of the test was to make sure that players brain fluid had in their words "gelled" to the point where it was in 'football shape'. If this "gelling" effect can be achieved through diet, and is shown to lessen the internal impact of the brain against the cranium, then it would be a far better solution than the continual to weaponization  (a word I often use to describe what's happened to our helmets over the years) of our helmets.

That's pure speculation on my part, but the more I read about the damage that the hi-carb/hi-grain diet (pushed on us by our all-wise federal overlords) has caused, the more I am convinced that eating the exact opposite of what the FDA recommends would produce better health, brain and even concussion results too boot!

Jeff Degner
Three Oaks, MIchigan


There may or may not be validity to your hypothesis.  The important thing, I think, is that in the absence of absolute scientific proof one way or another, we not reject any reasonable speculation.

What bothers me is that as we retreat from our masculinity and our position of world prominence, we are in danger of shutting down football,  a major masculine  institution that has contributed to our national virility, largely on the basis of scientific claims that have not yet, possibly for political reasons, gone challenged.

It just so happens that the claims of football-caused dementia serve very nicely the agenda of those who hate men, masculine pursuits, and football.

As with what Our President would like us to swallow on the subject of Global Warming, I don't accept that "the science is settled."

I appreciate your writing.

*********** In all the talk about reducing the size of our Army to pre-World War II levels, conveniently overlooked is that fact that there are now 170,000 women in the Army - about 170,000 more than there were in that  pre=World War II Army.  And at any one time, many of them are pregnant.


*********** Agree completely on the makeup of the rules committee.

It looks like Saban messed up when he went the player safety route.  Similar to "if it only helps one person" bull or "it's for the children" malarkey that many politicians and leaders try to spew, he though that player safety was the magic bullet to get what he wanted. As I stated in our previous emails, tweaking the new 2008 clock rules had football merits on its own.

He also has lost the PR battle with the sound bites of "the new rule will force offenses to wait TEN seconds."  As you know, the 40 second clock starts when the previous play ends.  I bet the refs don't even get the ball marked before five seconds later.  Teams then have to line up, the center has to grab the ball and the QB has to make sure everyone is set and snap the ball.  I actually think it might be physically impossible to snap before 9 seconds even if that is the offense's only goal.  Again as stated in an earlier email, offense will be forced to wait no more than possibly ONE second. In reality, they will almost never be forced to wait at all.

So that leads me to revising possibly the best Auburn/Alabama joke ever, "Coach Saban, you got a sec? Or do you need Ten?"  LOL

Robert Johnson
Head Football Coach
Tuscaloosa Academy
Tuscaloosa, Alabama


Seems to me that Saban would have been smarter to have used a surrogate to take up his cause for him.

Great joke.  Bet you have to be careful where you tell that one around Tuscaloosa.

Is it safe for you if I print it?

Yes. It is safe. Tuscaloosa is a great, good-natured town.

Come to think of it, it looks as if Saban found his surrogate.   The Great One seems to have stepped back from the fray, leaving poor old Brett Bielema alone on the point, catching hell all by himself.

*********** Coach Wyatt: Posted your interview on the home page of our website today. It is at


Thanks again.

Chris Park

*********** Not that he wants to make an issue of his gayness or anything, but Jason Collins wears Number 98 because that's the year Matthew Shepherd was killed…

This wouldn't even be an issue if the NBA had stuck with the NCAA rule limiting player's numbers to numbers referees could signal with the five fingers on each hand: 1-5, 10-15, 20-25, 30-35, 40-45, 50-55.

*********** The talk on the Rush Limbaugh show was about the NFL's proposed gag rule that would call for penalties or worse for use of the N-word. Some member of the media was quoted as suggesting that the rule should only apply to white players, since black players frequently use it among themselves as a term of endearment.

We've all heard by now that California judges think it's just fine for little boys to use the little girls' room if they "identify" as girls, right?

So with that in mind, a guy called into the show and posed an interesting question: suppose they pass that rule, anda white guy self-identifies as black?

*********** In my opinion, our society is going to hell in a handbasket and it's taking our country down with it.

I could argue that it all started with the takeover/surrender of our universities back in the 60s.

I could also argue that it started before that, when the Greatest Generation, who'd suffered through the Depression and then World War II finally experienced peace and prosperity - and proceeded to raise a self-centered bunch of brats who never knew the hardship they did and never learned what "no" meant.

And I could argue that the all-volunteer military had something to do with it, too. Because not only did it mean that service would come to be seen as something for the "other guy" to do, while the rest of us went about our pursuit of pleasure, but it relieved the elite from service and gave them a pass on doing masculine things.  Now, years later, almost none of the people making our laws have any idea what's it like to have been in the service.

*********** “I can talk, my team can talk here in Washington, but it’s not going to make as much of a difference as if you are out there making the case. The work you’re doing is God’s work. It is hard work.”

Thus spake the Lord, er, the President, to a bunch of volunteers who've been out trying to sell Obamacare to the public.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/02/barack-obama-organizing-for-action-volunteers-103954.html#ixzz2uT0zhVCm

*********** Tim Glodowski is 25 and he's just been named head coach at Newbury, Ohio High School.

It's a tough assignment.  Newbury has won a total of nine games in the last seven years.

He's ready.

He's been a high school assistant for the past four years.

He started at center in 39 of the 40 games while he was at Hiram College.  And he can tell his players that he knows what they've been gong through - Hiram was 3-37 in his four years. 

He started out young as a water boy for his dad, Mike, a long-time Ohio high school coach and college assistant, who was one of the first high school coaches in the US to adopt my Double-Wing system, in 1998.

Tim is already starting out ahead of the game by bringing in dad as his offensive coordinator.  Hmmm. Maybe some teams in Northeast Ohio will be seeing a little of the Wedge.  Or a lot.


*********** Not so fast, Vladimir…

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned Russia that any military intervention in Ukraine would be a "grave mistake."

*********** The NFL is debating whether to penalize or fine players who use the N-word during games.

It all started with John Wooten, once an All-Pro guard with the Cleveland Browns and now head of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which promotes diversity in the NFL.

"Don't tell me the word is desensitized," he told a group of NFL higher-ups,  "or that it's a term of endearment. The word was used to make black people feel inferior.  If you're using it, it tells me you don't respect yourself."

He's right. But then,  a lot of the stuff that professional athletes do tells me that they can't make the distinction between conceit and self-respect.

I thought, What an opportunity for the NFL to get out front on this.  To do something of value to society, and something for which society would be grateful.

"I'm (well-known black NFL player) and I play football for the (NFL team). I graduated (or I'm studying to graduate) from college. I'm proud to be an American.  I obey the law and I treat women with respect.  I'm a proud black (or African-American) man.  I don't use the N-word and you shouldn't, either."

*********** A lot of people are unaware that the service academies' athletics programs don't get a nickel of taxpayers' money.   From coaches' salaries to equipment to transportation, the money all comes from ticket sales, TV money, and donations. Needless to say, this puts a lot of pressure on the football programs at Army, Navy and Air Force, on which the academies' numerous other programs depend for their revenue.

It is alarming to learn that  Air Force is considering cutting baseball.  And lacrosse.


*********** A West Point assistant professor, himself a graduate of the Academy, has an axe to grind.  He thinks that at Army, football is overemphasized - that academy athletes, especially football players, are being held to a lower admissions standard than other cadets. 

But he didn't take his complaint to the faculty dining room.  Or to the Superintendent.  No, he decided to go nuclear, and on the very day that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced drastic cuts in the size of the Army, this giant of academia chose to pile on, with an op-ed piece in the nearest major newspaper to the Pentagon - the Washington Post, for God's sake.

Seems to me the guy has a serious case of Ivy envy - he wishes he could be living the good life at Harvard or Yale, instead of at some institution where they're also expected to train leaders of our military.

I won't dignify his argument other than to say three things:

(1) The US Military Academy does not have any lightweight majors - none of those things ending in "Studies" - where they can hide dummies. So given the rigor of the West Point curriculum,  if West Point has, in fact, been admitting academically unqualified football players, you'd expect them to be dropping out at a scandalous rate.  That hasn't been happening.

(2) If 12 straight losses to Navy - and just one (7-6) winning season since 1996 - are what you get from overemphasis, how bad is it going to be if they pull back?

(3) If I had written something to our local paper questioning my school's policy, without first having gone to leadership with my concerns, I think that my work life would become a little tougher from that point on.  Deservedly so.


american flagTUESDAY,  FEBRUARY 25,  2014"The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries."   Winston Churchill

*********** Did you happen to check all the f--king American figure skaters who were skating for other countries?

What a thrill it must be to represent "your" country in the Olympics.  Even if you've never been there. But, hey - your grandmother was born there, and they didn't have any figure skaters of their own, and you were available because you weren't good enough to make your own country's team, so...

And then there was the Russkie from right here in Washington state.  It's hard to imagine a person so ambitious, so hungry for f--king Olympic glory, that he'd become a Russian citizen in order to make it happen, but that's what a snowboarder from White Salmon, Washington, a small town about 60 miles to the east of us, did.  And as his reward  for his change of colors, he won a gold medal in some damn event.  Hard to believe that we're coming to blows over citizenship for 19-year-old Hispanic kids who've lived here most of their lives - and want it - when it has so little value to a puke like this guy.

He announced  plans to visit White Salmon in March. Knowing today's America,  they'll probably  have a parade in honor of the local kid who won a gold medal - for the f--king Russians.

*********** Last Black History Month question:  He was... First black man to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame…  First exclusively defensive player to be admitted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame…  First black man to play for the New York Giants.  

He was Emlen Tunnell - identified only by Manny Juncos- Chino, California



*********** NEW BLACK HISTORY MONTH QUESTION -  He was "discovered" by Paul Brown when he played for Brown in high school in Massillon, Ohio, and then on the freshman team at Ohio State.  Following World War II, Brown signed him to play with the Cleveland Browns in 1948, and he became not only the first black  punter in pro football, but one of the greatest punters in the history of the game. email me your answer, making sure to give me your name and the town you're writing from

*********** Watching the NFL combine, I actually heard one of the experts ask another, "What's the significance of the 40-yard dash time?"

The other one suggested that it was probably something the combine guys came up with years ago.

Wow, I thought.  These guys may know everything about what's happening now, but they don't know squat about the history of the game.

Unless and until someone can prove otherwise, the 40-yard dash originated with Paul Brown, founder and legendary coach of the Cleveland Browns (yes, they were named for him, but those combine TV guys probably don't know that, and they probably don't even know that in the late 40s and throughout the 50s the Browns were among the very best teams in pro football).

The Browns had a great punter (look that one up, you Black History Month fans) whose punts consistently averaged over 42 yards - and he was the first punter to stand back 13 yards from scrimmage.  His punts also were unusually high, and Paul Brown's theory was that since his punts travelled at least 40 yards, often more, speed in a 40-yard dash was a way to determine which players he wanted on his punt coverage team.

So the idea of speed in the 40 goes way back before the invention of the combine.  In fact, I can't imagine Paul Brown, who prided himself on being smarter, better-organized and harder-working that his opponents, going in with other teams on something like a combine.
 *********** Mike Emrick may be considered a good hockey broadcaster, but his non-stop chatter and hysterical shouting whenever the US did something noteworthy made even US-Canada very hard to watch with the sound up.

*********** Long ago Sweden dominated Scandinavia. Two generations ago Finland fought the nasty Winter War with the Soviet Union. My guess is this motivates Finland.

Jim Franklin
Flora, Indiana


Your knowledge of history is good.

In the case of both the Swedes and the Russians, Finland is a classic example of a people and a territory that can be ruled, up to a point, but never conquered.  Much of the population is rural, which means that country Finns have guns and love to hunt.   The countryside is heavily wooded, and the climate is harsh.  The Finnish language is spoken no place else on earth, although Estonian, across the Baltic Sea, is fairly close, and Hungarian shares a word or two. The Finns take a certain pride in being hard-headed and not easily dominated.  And, too, there is the Finnish quality known as SISU.  It's not easily translatable, but it's roughly doggedness, determination, hanging in there, not giving up.

Frankly, the Swedes and the Russians had to find the Finns more than they bargained for, and didn't bother venturing into the countryside to try to assert their rule.  I'm reminded of the British occupying Boston while in the surrounding villages the farmers were stockpiling arms - and how the whole damn Revolution got its start when the British headed out into the countryside to try to show them who was boss.

Finland was once part of the far-flung Swedish empire, and the Swedes thought of Finland as the sticks (which it undoubtedly was).  Traces of Swedish rule are still evident. Swedish is still one of the official languages of Finland, and it's still taught (but seldom used) because although Swedish Finns are a small minority, they are generally wealthy and influential.  Overall, Finland and Sweden enjoy a good relationship, and I never saw any trace of bad feelings by Finns toward "Swedish Finns."  

The Russian relationship is different.  For many Russians, until the breakup of the Soviet Union, Finland represented western culture.  Excepting a tiny bit of Norwegian Lapland, Finland was the only free, non-satellite nation on which Russia bordered.

When I lived there, the Finns did not like Russians and definitely looked down on them. They saw a fair number of them, and didn't like what they saw. Those Russians who happened to be in Finland on one type of business or another (usually soldiers and sailors) coveted the things they saw on sale in Finnish stores, but knew that to be able to buy Finnish goods they had to obtain Finnish marks (or American dollars).  Russians rubles were useless.  And the only way they could get Finnish marks was to sell something to a Finn that he might be able to resell.  And that explains how I managed to buy Russian Army and Navy hats and assorted medals and a Russian sailor's wristwatch.  

For four years, I coached in a couple of small cities,  Hamina and Kotka, which were less than an hour's drive from the Russian border.  My first year there, the Iron Curtain had not yet fallen, and that border was one scary-looking place.  Barbed wire, Watch towers, and dogs on patrol.  (Hey - why didn't we think of that?)  And it was all there not to keep Finns out, but to keep Russians in.

When the Soviet Union broke up, and passage across the border became easier, busloads of Russians would arrive in our towns every day, setting up in the open-air markets in the town squares, selling their trinkets and gee-gaws (nesting dolls, of course) and occasional items of some quality such as binoculars. And at the end of the day, they'd reboard the bus, after first giving their boss, Mafia-style, his cut of the day's proceeds) and head back.

At the same time, crime in Hamina and Kotka picked up tremendously.  This really knocked the Finns off-balance, because Finland then had to be one of the most crime-free places on earth.  This is not to say that all Russians are criminals and members of the Mafia, as many Finns believed, but simply that for Russians criminals, there was a lot more worth stealing over on the Finnish side of the border.  We lived in a hotel room in the center of Hamina, and one night I caught a guy trying to come in our window.  Actually, I think maybe he was working his way along the ledge, trying to sneak into the disco on the same floor, but I didn't appreciate his way of entering without knocking so I slammed the window on his arm and held him there while my wife headed to the disco to get Isto, the bouncer.  Isto handled things from there and we never saw the guy again.  Well, we did see him the next day when we had to identify him.  I assume that the Finns sent him back to Russia, and I assume that shortly afterward he was back in Hamina.

The Finnish history with Russia is a complicated one.  There are few signs of Russian rule.  There is a magnificent Orthodox Cathedral in Helsinki,  and the Tsar's summer fishing cottage on the Kemi River - Kemijoki - still stands in Kotka.  And there is the fact that the Finnish national alcoholic drink, Koskenkorva, is somewhat like vodka.  But that's about it.

Every Finnish town has a Lutheran church at its center. (Although Lutheran is the official state religion, the Finns, like other Scandinavians, are not a religious people. A standard joke is that a Finn is inside a church only three times in his life -at baptism, at his wedding, and at his funeral.  Another joke comments on Finns' unfortunate tendency to drink to excess: Q.  What's the difference between a Finnish wedding and a Finnish funeral? A.  There's one less drunk at the funeral.)

In every churchyard is a section of graves set aside for men who died, essentially,  at the hands of Russians. The older graves are those of the Finns who died in the fighting between the Reds and Whites during the Russian Revolution, when Finland was a part of Russia.  

Then there are the graves of those men who died fighting the Russians in the Winter War and the Continuation War (where they convinced the Russians that fighting the Finns wasn't worth the loss of Russian men and materials.

And there are those who died as the Nazis were driven back.

Every year, at graduation time, the towns' high school graduates march to the cemtery and place flowers on the graves of those men who died so that they could live in a free nd independent state.  For us, it would be as if the Revolutionary War had take place in 1940.

So, right up against the Communist giant, one of the most backward nations on earth, the Finnish people managed to build a prosperous nation.

They are a brave people, but they are not stupid.  They know that it is not in their best interests to antagonize Ivan. They have a decent army. All young Finnish men are required to serve for a year on active duty, and then to attend reserve camp thereafter.  ("Alternative service," such as working in a hospital, is an option, but at least when I was there it was frowned on. All the guys I knew had served in the military, and the joke was that there was "some guy" in northern Finland who has chosen alternative service.)  So as not to alarm the Russians, their armed forces are officially called "puolustusvoima" literally, "defense force."

I was once sitting with a group of my players, all of whom had served in the Army, and we got going on the Russians and their enormous superiority, and I asked them what they would do if the Russians were ever to invade.  They all looked at each other, maybe in wonderment that the American coach didn't know them as well as they thought he did, and one of them, as the rest of them nodded, said, "We will fight."

Hyvää  Suomi!

*********** It was, oh, 1993, I think, and I was driving on the outskirts of Tampere, Finland, speeding, I must admit, when a cop on the side of the road waved me over.

Uh-oh.  Radar.

In fairly decent English - most Finns under 50 speak English pretty well - he invited me into the back seat of a cruiser and after looking over my papers informed me that I had been caught exceeding the speed limit, "And now I must give you a fine."

With that he pulled out a book and asked me what my income was.  "In Finland?" I asked.

When he said, "Yes." I was able to answer "Nothing."  It was true.  I had a nice deal - apartment, meals, car, gas, and round-trip tickets for my wife and me.  But no cash.

Opening the book, he looked at a chart, and found where my speed intersected with my income. "Your fine," he informed me, "is three-hundred marks."

Sounds like a lot, and $75 (which is what it was in USD) wasn't trifling, but it could have been a lot worse.

You see, Finland's fines are based on the miscreant's ability to pay.

I was reminded of this when I read that Finnish hockey star Teemu Selanne, whose off-ice hobby is rally (a very popular sport in Finland), was involved in a crash in 1999 while practicing for an event.  He was fined $50,000.

*********** There were two guys on the Finnish hockey team from Jyväskylä.  That's where I coached my first two years over there.  It's a small city of about 75,000, roughly in the middle of the country, in a region of lakes several hours north of the capital, Helsinki.

Like so many Finnish words and names, it is a compound word meaning, "grain village."

(Jyväs: grain, kylä: village)

The name is about as unpronounceable as a name can be.

Several years ago, Kansas had a basketball player from Jyväskylä named Pekka Markkanen, and the PA announcer in presume introductions pronounced it  JYE-viss-KYE-la.

Uh, no. Not even close.   It's  YEW-vass-kew-laa ("a" as it "hat")

*********** If I were younger, wealthier, smarter…

If I had the connections and the know-how…

I'd figure out a way to make money off the recent USA-Canada women's hockey game.

Yeah, the US women lost, blowing a 2-0 lead with only minutes to play.  But they can still come out of this as winners.  Big winners.

Here's my idea - A Barnstorming Tour, over the next couple of months, between Team USA vs Team Canada.  Call it the Revenge Tour.

With no prospects of playing professionally, it's a chance for the women on "Team USA"  to pick up a little money before they disband.

Also a chance to expose little girls to the great sport of ice hockey.  It's not as if this hasn't happened before, with figure skating, gymnastics, soccer. basketball, and tennis. Hey, it helped launch a soccer league.

(And. of course, it's a chance to sell jerseys, sticks, programs, not to mention parking and concessions.)

There might be a problem arranging to get Team Canada on board, but listen - do we really want them, anyhow?  I mean, this is about getting revenge, and there's always the chance that they'll beat us again.

No, what we want is a hockey version of the Washington Generals, those lovable losers who for decades have served as foils for the Harlem Globetrotters.

We'll hire a bunch of ex-college players, with explicit instructions to lose.

We'll dress them in red-and-white uniforms.

To avoid legal and diplomatic problems with our friends to the north, we'll have to change the leaf on the jersey somewhat, and we'll have to work around the issue of the opponents' name.

But I'm excited.

I can see the marquee now:  HOCKEY TONIGHT: TEAM USA VS  TEEM KANADA.

*********** Toward the end of his life, John Wooden said that women's basketball was fundamentally better than the men's game.

Ted Williams once said there was no room in major league baseball for anyone who couldn't hit at least .250.

Last I heard, Chuck Bednarik, the NFL's last two-way player, still thinks today's one-way players are a bit wussified.

Now, I'm sure that such criticism by old-time legends was not universally appreciated by  current players.  But they had the good sense to keep their mouths shut.

And then there's Tony Stewart.

He decided to take on  a John Wooden…  aTed Williams… a Chuck Bednarik.  He took on Richard Petty. King Richard. The King. One of the dudes who helped build NASCAR to the point where now you can become a millionaire without ever winning a race.

The King was asked about of those non-winning millionaires, Danica Patrick, who happens to be a female, telling a Canadian audience,   "If she'd have been a male, nobody would ever know if she'd showed up at a racetrack.  This is a female deal that's driving her."

And then Stewart had to go and play Sir Galahad, and defend the fair lady (who happens to race for his team). He said Richard Petty and Danica should race.

"I think that would pretty much settle it once and for all, maybe get him to shut up a little bit, too," he said.

And if Patrick were to win, Stewart said, "If I were her, I'd take (the checkered flag) over there and cram it up his (rear)."

Damn.  Too bad King Richard's 76 years old.  I'll bet he could still drive.

I'm reminded of the story Chris Berman once told about Red Grange. "I was interviewing George Halas and I asked him who is the greatest running back you ever saw. And he said, 'That would be Red Grange.' And I asked him if Grange was playing today, how many yards do you think he'd gain. And he said, 'About 750, maybe 800 yards.' And I said, 'Well, 800 yards is just okay.' He sat up in his chair and he said, 'Son, you must remember one thing. Red Grange is 75 years old.'"

*********** I had to laugh at the "Medals Count" that the newspapers insisted on printing.

What, exactly did it mean? 

Some sports, such as bobsledding and ski jumping, are dominated by the countries that actually have bobsled runs and ski jumps.

Some sports, such as speed skating and snowboarding, have numerous events - three medals in each one  - that to my untrained eye sure seem to require pretty much the same skills.

Some countries have decided to throw everything they have into  one particular sport, and sometimes their athletes  finish 1-2-3 in some of those events.

Ice hockey, far more popular with spectators and TV viewers (and sponsors) than anything other than perhaps figure skating, awards exactly one set of medals.

*********** The poor NBA.  There they were, coming off their All-Star break, and with the sports pages full of the Winter Olympics, Michael Sam, and the NFL Combine, they might as well have been out of business.

But they're fighters. So what did they do?  They put in a call to Jason Collins.  Told him to dust off his sneaks, and get ready to play.  And "invited" teams to sign him to a 10-day contract.

Well. Up stepped the Brooklyn Nets, and voila - just like that, Jason Collins played in a regular-season game Monday night.  And, much to the chagrin of the NFL, the NBA will forever be known as the first of the four major leagues to employ an openly-gay player. 

In your face, NFL.

Aced out of the historic first, the NFL is now forced to scramble to regain the edge that Michael Sam had given them. Undoubtedly someone in the NFL offices will suggest  cross-dressing cheerleaders.
american flag FRIDAY,  FEBRUARY 21,  2014"I am so old that I can remember when sex was private. 'Don't ask, don't tell' applied to everybody." Dr. Thomas Sowell

*********** The highlight of the Olympics for me was Finland's defeat of Russia in ice hockey. I'm sorry that the Russians disappointed their followers, but Hyvää Suomi!  (Hurray, Finland!)  After seven football seasons in Finland, I'm a Finn at heart.

Now come the Swedes.  Hard to say whether the Finns would rather beat the Russians than the Swedes, with whom they have an interesting relationship.   I compare it to the Minnesota-Wisconsin relationship - the Finns think the Swedes are effete and the Swedes think the Finns are rustic and backward.

If the Finns were to beat the favored Swedes - on top of beating the Russkies - I'd be surprised if they had anything left for the USA or the Canadians.

Yes, the gold would be great, but for Finland, a tiny nation of fewer than 5 million people, beating both the Russians and the Swedes would be almost as good.

*********** Correctly identifying Willie Thrower as the first black man to play quarterback in the NFL...

Adam Wesoloski, Pulaski, Wisconsin - Who adds, Pretty interesting stuff right here: http://deadspin.com/the-big-book-of-black-quarterbacks-1517763742

Manny Juncos, Chino, California

A year before he died, he was featured in an ABC Black History Month special.

Wrote the New York Times in his obituary…
Afterward, he told The Valley News Dispatch of Tarentum, Pa., that even some of his neighbors did not believe his stories.

''A lot of people called me a liar,'' he said. ''Now they say: 'Gee whiz, here's a guy living in our hometown. We didn't know he was the first black quarterback.' Just like they didn't know, the rest of the country didn't know.''

Mr. Thrower died on February 20, 2002.



*********** I used to comment, until I finally grew weary of doing so, about the stuffed-sausage look that today's tiny shoulder pads give NFL offensive linemen. Now, it's the defensive linemen, too. And then there's Johnny Manziel and his Pop Warner attire.

Wrote the New York Times…

As players have grown heavier in the N.F.L., shoulder pads have become lighter by as much as 50 percent over the past 10 to 15 years, manufacturers said. Gone the way of other fashion excesses of the 1980s are enormous pads that once cantilevered out from the shoulders and seemed to engulf a player like a treehouse for the head.


*********** Years ago, my son was a writer-performer for a TV comedy-sketch show in Seattle called "Almost Live." (Many of their pieces can still be seen on YouTube.)   One of his fellow comics was a guy named Bill Nye, who would go on to fame of some sort as "The Science Guy."   Another was Bob Nelson, who you might say has hit it big, having written  the screen play for "Nebraska."  Success is not likely to go to his head.  His roots are in the Midwest, and he's happy living a writer's  life on an island in Puget Sound.


*********** Satire from The Onion… New Poll Finds Most NFL Players Still Not Ready To Date Gay Teammate


*********** Pity the Olympians.

First it was those poor, poor speed skaters, claiming that the much-touted aerodynamic suits created for them by apparel manufacturer (and team sponsor) UnderArmour slowed them down.  (Well, at least the thought that they might affected the skaters psychologically, to the point where they just couldn't do their best.)

And then, there's the matter of the IRS.

See, even when an athlete does medal, the tax man is waiting to take his bite.

Maybe you didn't know that when US athletes medal, they get $25,000 for a gold, $15,000 for a silver, and $10,000 for a bronze. 

So how could you know that they also have to pay taxes on their winnings, just as if they were ordinary schlubs like you and me.

President Obama doesn't think they should have to pay income taxes on the medals they win.

“The president believes we should support efforts to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to honor and support our Olympic athletes who have volunteered to represent our nation at the Olympic Games,” a White House spokesman  told Yahoo News.

I say, screw 'em. Let 'em try real jobs.  They won't, of course, because for all the talk about the "hard work" that goes into their medals, the fact is that they like what they're doing, and the thought that they might have to teach school or drive a bus or wait on tables terrifies them.

And what is this "volunteer" sh--, anyhow?


*********** Richard Cabela died Monday.  If you've never been to a Cabela's outdoor store, you've got to check one out.  A Cabela's is such a draw that wherever one  is built, often in the middle of nowhere, restaurants and hotels always follow, until that one outdoors store has spawned a virtual town.

NRA Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre once asked Mr. Cabela what he would say to a hunter who isn't a member of the NRA.

"I'd say, how are you going to hunt without a gun,"

*********** "I really like the fact that Michael (Sam) did it before the draft, because his attitude was, 'You know what? I know who I am. I know I can play great football and judge me on the merits,'"

So said President Barack Obama (You knew he couldn't pass up the chance to insert himself into this).

Meantime, Kiev is burning, citizens are being shot in the streets  by government snipers,  and the Iron Curtain is about to descend over the Ukrainian people.  It's 1947 all over again.  But who can be bothered with such trifles when there's a courageous gay pioneer to applaud?

*********** Since this is not a scheduled year for college rules changes, the only thing that could have brought about immediate action was an issue of safety, which explains why Alabama's Nick Saban claimed that imposing a ten-second no-snap rule was, in fact, a safety issue.   Trouble is, he had no statistics to prove his point, and in the absence of proof, Rules Committee Chairman Troy Calhoun chose to table the proposal until next year, when Saban won't have to hide behind the safety argument and can just come out and admit he doesn't like playing hurry-up teams.

********** I think the 10 second no snap rule is a good one. I actually thought they should propose this exact rule the last couple of years.  

I don't like the hiding behind player safety issue. I think it is a competitive balance issue.

First, the new clock rules have only been in effect since 2008. I do not know how long the rules were in effect before that, but I am guessing 50 plus years. So it makes sense that the new clock rules might need some tweaking. It used to take the refs 15 seconds to spot and mark the ball and blow it in. The. Even the fastest teams would snap it 2 seconds later. So it used to 17 seconds after the previous play was as fast as you could go.

Second, the ball is hardly ever and maybe never snapped before 10 seconds anyways. I do not think this will affect how the game is played by the players at all. It will affect how the game is called by the coaches. DC's now know they have 10 seconds to send in subs. In reality that means, they have about 2 seconds to decide to send in another group or subs so the others can get off the field.

I just think that offenses have almost been holding defenses hostage by having the threat of snapping the ball.

Something interesting happened with my thought process this past year. They took away loss of down on offensive pass interference. But they also took away the automatic first down for defensive pass interference. One reason the committee sited as doing both  instead of just one or the other was to keep the competitive balance between offense and defense.

I do believe that should be part of the rules committee job. So, I think that this new restriction of waiting 10 seconds before snapping does just that. I look at it as a tweak of the new 2008 rules.  By the way, there will be no real waiting. At most, that means the offense will have to wait 1 to 2 seconds.

Surprisingly, I am an Auburn graduate and an Auburn and Malzahn fan. I just think this is a good rule for all of college football.

PS: Calling it delay of game is stupid. LOL

Robert Johnson
Head Football Coach
Tuscaloosa Academy
Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Coach Johnson-

Good argument.  I must say that the first sentence had me thinking that perhaps Nick Saban had possessed, but your being an Auburn alum disabused me of that suspicion.

This isn't going to affect me one way or the other, because as a small school with little depth and most of our players going both ways I don't think it's in our interest to go the racehorse route.  And even then, as you say, 11 or 12 seconds is plenty fast.  And Lord knows I'd prefer not to have to go up against a good Hurry-Up-No-Huddle offense.

More than this particular rule, though, what alarms me is the qualifications (or lack of same) of the people in whose hands the NCAA has put the overall direction of our game.  

We both agree that the "safety" argument is a sham, but looking at the makeup of that NCAA Rules Oversight Committee, there's a chance that some of those suits (and skirts) will buy it.

Maybe if I could leak a story about research showing that carpal tunnel syndrome in old former offensive linemen has been traced back to blocking with open hands...

Agree with you also that calling an early snap "delay of game" is sure to subject the rules - and the rulesmakers - to well-deserved ridicule.

Nice to hear from you, as always.

***********  Hugh,

Just read your news regarding the NCAA ten second rule proposal.  It used to be a coach was praised for being innovative.  If it wasn't for a plethora of coaches over the years that changed the game through innovation we'd still be playing on a checkerboard field!  And now the almighty NCAA wants to change all that because a couple of big name whiners who represent a small minority of coaches, and who don't have the gumption to come up with something on their own to defend the hurry-up, instead try to use the "safety" card to disguise their failings?

Looking more and more like what we see in the political process of this country every day, doesn't it?.  God help us all.  

Joe Gutilla
Austin, Texas

Hi Joe-

Tell you the truth, this isn't going to affect me as a coach.  And as a fan, I'd just as soon they required everyone to huddle.

But I object to the "player safety" crap.  If that's their worry, why not play 12-minute quarters?

And I am sickened by the knowledge of who is involved in the rulesmaking.

ADs at schools that don't even play football.  Sheesh.

*********** And they wonder why poor people are forced to  defecate on the sidewalks…

Starting in June,  a company called   Posh Stow and Go will offer New Yorkers “clean, safe and soundproof” bathrooms in a midtown location, with other locations planned around the city.

To make sure that the place isn't infested by the kind of roaches who leave drops on airport toilet seats, the company will sell memberships, and promises that memberships will be limited, to "provide the best possible experience.”

It will not be cheap.  After paying the annual membership fee, a three-day pass will go for $24.


american flagTUESDAY,  FEBRUARY 18,  2014“The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government.”   Patrick Henry

*********** Attorney Ted Wells' investigation of the Dolphin Dickheads is complete.  It's 148 pages long.  I'm more than halfway through, and if you don't care to read it all, take it  from me -  it ain't pretty. There is no longer any doubt that there are at least three certified a$$holes on that team, and considering the number of coaches, assistants, assistants to assistants and assorted flunkies floating around the average NFL organization, it sure is hard to believe that no one - no one! - knew WTF was going on.

The NFL is a business, right? (Must be, to pay its commissioner 44 f--king million a year.)

So show me another business  - a legitimate business, that is - where the kind of crap that went on among the Dolphins' offensive linemen would be tolerated.  And where "I didn't know" is an acceptable defense for the people at the top.

***********  As thorough a job as he's done on the  Dolphins' investigation, I'd like to see Ted Wells tackle Fast and Furious. And Benghazi.  And the IRS.  And Penn State.


Q. Who was the first NFL player to come from a Historically Black College? (Played for the Los Angeles Rams.)

A. Tank Younger, from Grambling

Correctly Identifying Tank Younger...

Dennis Metzger - Fountain City, Indiana
Josh Montgomery - Berwick, Louisiana
Manny Juncos - Chino, California

In his four years at Grambling, Tank Younger scored 60 touchdowns. Following his senior season, he was voted Black College Football Player of the Year and named by the Pittsburgh Courier, then the leading reporter on black college football, to its All-America team.

Nevertheless, coming from a small, relatively unknown all-black school, he went undafted by the NFL, and was signed by he Los Angeles Rams as a free agent.

Those Rams of the early 1950s had unbelievable offensive talent.  To go with the passing of Bob Waterfield and Norm Van Brocklin and the receiving of Tom Fears and Elroy "Crazylegs" HIrsch , they had the so-called Bull Elephant Backfield of Younger, Deacon Dan Towler and Dick Horner, all of them sizable and all of them fast. 

In his ten years with the Rams and the Steelers, Tank Younger  rushed for 3640 yards, caught 100 passes for 1167 yards and scored 35 touchdowns. He was named to four Pro Bowls and was  the first black player to play in an NFL All-Star Game.

He later became  the league's first black assistant general manager, serving with the San Diego Chargers from 1975 to 1987.

He is in the College Football Hall of Fame.


In Tank Younger's obituary in the New York Times, legendary publicist Collie Nicholson, the man who helped bring Grambling - and black college football - to the nation's attention, told where the nickname "Tank" came from.

''It was just after World War II,'' remembered Collie Nicholson, who was Grambling's sports information director. ''I was watching him run over everybody he couldn't run around. I'd been a Marine in the South Pacific, and it reminded me of what I saw those tanks doing down there.''

''When Tank made it in pro football, he paved the way for everyone else in the black colleges,'' Nicholson said. ''He made it possible for a lot of young players who had been overlooked before.''

OBIT - http://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/19/sports/tank-younger-73-first-star-from-black-college-to-play-in-nfl-dies.html

Jerry Izenberg of the Newark Star Ledger told of the day Coach Robinson saw Tank Younger off on his trip to the Big Time…

On a day when you could almost see the Louisiana heat shimmering at ground level along the tracks as far as the eye could see, Robinson and Younger went out to flag down the train. You could not help but wonder how out of so desolate a setting would come a player that would change the complexion of professional football forever.

"Now Tank, you understand you got to make this team," Robinson said. "You got to make it for all those who can come after you. If you don’t, it will never happen. Can you make it, Tank?"

There was just the two of them, standing in front of a boarded-up wooden shack that had once passed for the depot. Younger reached down for his cardboard suitcase, looked at the coach and said:

"If they playin’ volleyball, I don’t know. But if they playin’ football, I’ll make it."

Jerry Izenberg  is one of only three men to have covered every single Super Bowl.  He says that Tank Younger belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


Black HIstory Month Question (From the Home Page) :  Who was the first black man to play quarterback in the NFL?   email me your answer, making sure to give me your name and the town you're writing from

*********** Hey - a little anger management and Jayru Campbell's good to go. 


*********** Coach,

I'm contacting for two reasons, one, I just went on News You Can Use and saw that you posted dates for all of the East Coast clinics.  Mark me down for Philly because I will be there to learn the new package and plays.

The second reason I am emailing you is because what are your thoughts about the newest NCAA proposal?

I saw on Sports Center that the NCAA is proposing a rule that needs to be voted on in the attempt to slow down the college football no huddle fast paced up tempo offenses.

The most ignorant part of the proposal is that offenses are NOT allowed to snap the ball prior to TEN seconds running off the 40 second play clock. Their BS reason is that this will help prevent injuries because certain teams are averaging 100+ plays per game.

Are you really serious?

Sorry NCAA but you can't politic injury out of a contact sport (excuse my language but) $×!+ Happens!!!

If my job is being a TNT tester then at some point - BOOM! Why because $×!+ Happens.

If you play football at some point unless you have a four leaf clover in your cleat or a guardian angel watching your every play then unfortunately at some point you will get injured. God willing it's not the career ender.

The NCAA is a joke and whom ever thought this proposal in my opinion is a clown.

Leave the game alone, if it ain't broke...

Play better defense or get blown out. Period.

I love everything Mike Gundy tweeted and agree 100% with Rich Rodriguez's comments.

Saban is a funny man after NOT making an appearance in the BCS Championship. SMGDH!

Why NOW try to slow the game down when the 40 second play clock was installed to speed the game up?

It wasn't the No Huddle that beat Saban and Bama, Sabana beat himself by going for a 99 yard field goal and had Slugs on the field to cover.

But I guess 10 seconds would have a difference in that outcome.

The funny thing about Air Force chiming is is what are they going to do when someone proposes to do away with Cut block because of potential injury to knees? All the schools that run Flex Bone or old school option would be out of business.

Saban is on crack because last I checked Bama has many a defensive player in the NFL from under his watch and his championships (for me) toss his argument out the window because hate the Hurry Up or not it didn't stop those prior championships.

Arkansas is just riding Bama's coat tails because maybe they think by holding up an offense for 10 seconds will help them compete in the SEC, but I thought that was what recruiting and coaching was supposed to do.

These clowns!

Just my venting and thoughts on these fools attempting to mess up the purest football we have going.

My regards,

Brian Mackell
Glen Burnie, Maryland


My, you feel pretty strongly about this, don't you?

I'm not a hurry-up guy, and I don't particularly care to watch Hurry-Up football, but I agree with you on this.

The Hurry-Up-No-Huddle people are not violating either the letter or the spirit of the rules.  They are working their asses off in practice to have their teams ready to play football in a hurry and my hat's off to them for being able to do it so well.

My friend Mike Lude was chairman of the NCAA Football Rules committee for five years, and his feeling is that when you go hurry-up, you've got to be willing to accept that you're going to have more errors and more penalties, but if you can bring it off, it's not up to the rules people to stop you -  it's the defense's job.

The injury argument is a sham.  It's like politicians selling something by saying it's "for the children."

It's clearly an attempt by people who can't/don't play the hurry-up game to give their defense an answer for Hurry-Up-No-Huddle opponents.

So is the idea that it's designed to slow down offenses, because very seldom does even a Hurry-Up-No-Huddle team snap it in less than 10 seconds.

What it's about is allowing defenses a chance to substitute fresh players.

When you're at the line, and able to snap the ball at any time, the defense doesn't dare substitute because you'll snap the ball while they're doing it, and at the least you'll catch them unprepared.  Maybe you'll catch them, coming and going,  with too many men on the field.

But if they can guarantee a 10-second period during which the ball won't be snapped, that's all the defense needs. Until they say they need 15 seconds.

*********** Rich Rod is pissed.


*********** With all the uproar about a proposed rules change that would strike at "Hurry-Up" offenses, it's instructive to take a look at the people who will ultimately make the decision.  Good men all, I have no doubt.  Many of them good football men. But what's interesting to me is that, with all the money that Big-Time football brings in to colleges to support all their non-revenue sports, it's so poorly represented.



Of this group...

Only five of the 11 are active as head coaches
Only two  - Troy Calhoun and Todd Berry - currently coach at the FBS level.
Only one other - Bob Nielson - coaches at the FCS level
Only three represent FBS schools
Six of the members are administrators.
Three of the members have never coached college football




Of the 12 members, seven were active head coaches
Four of the five ADs had significant head coaching experience, and the fifth had been an assistant
Only one person on the committee had never been a college head coach
Five of the members represented major college football

Now, I have two questions:



Now, as if that weren't bad enough, I'm going to give you the scare of your life...

If the proposal should pass the Rules Committee, it then must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel if it's going to take effect this coming fall.

See how much confidence you have in this bunch:

Larry Scott, Commissioner, Pac 12.  Larry Scott is a suit.  He played tennis at Harvard and then professionally.  Before taking the Pac 12 job, he was CEO of the WTA, the Women's Tennis Association.

Dr. Jon Steinbrecher, Commisioner, MAC.  Dr. Steinbrecher played college football at Valparaiso, but since then he's been a career administrator.  He has never coached.

Jeff Hurd, commissioner, WAC. He is a lifelong PR guy. He has never coached.

Still not scared? Then take a look at the rest of the cast entrusted by the NCAA to  make a decision that will drastically affect the type of football that we see, not to mention the careers of dozens of coaches...

Shelley Appelbaum, senior women's administrator, Michigan State.
Derita Ratcliffe, senior women's administrator, UAB.
Noreen Morris, commissioner, Northeast Conference.
Lisa Sweany, AD, Armstrong Atlantic State University. (Raise your hand if you've ever heard of Armstrong Atlantic State. Honestly.)
Kristy Bayer, senior women's administrator, Arkansas Tech.
Doug Zipp, AD, Shenandoah University.
Lynn Oberbillig, AD, Smith College.(Smith is an all-female college.)
Sue Lauder, AD, Fitchburg State University.

Holy sh--.

*********** I was talking recently with Steve Staker, coach at Coe College in Iowa, and a one-time high school coach (who won an Iowa State championship running the Double Wing).  He's not in favor of the proposed rule requiring the offense to refrain from snapping for ten seconds.  We both believe that defenses will soon enough come up with an answer, just as they' have for every other offensive innovation that's come down the pike and threatened to revolutionize the game.

But he also brought up the new targeting rule, and noted something that I hadn't seen discussed anywhere: in Division III football, no one has the video capability to review a play immediately, before a player is unfairly ejected for targeting.  Instead, they'll have to wait until the end of the half, and then review the game video.  In the meantime, though, even if the kid's ejection is ultimately overruled, there'll be no recourse for his team, no matter what harm the 15-yard penalty that accompanied the ejection might have caused.

*********** Online satire…

NCAA Rules Committee

“The NCAA to consider new rules change to insure safety of the quarterback”

A new rule designed to insure the safety of the quarterback called the “# Mississippi Rule” will be instituted during the 2014-15 season. This rule described below is designed to lower the number of concussions sustained by quarterbacks.

Rule 14.204.333

Upon the snap of the ball, a defensive player shall NOT cross the line of scrimmage until said player has counted out loud to three, Example ”One Mississippi, Two Mississippi, Three Mississippi”. At the completion of counting to three the defensive player may proceed across the line of scrimmage and attempt to tackle the quarterback.

We hope the institution of this rule will not change the true meaning of the game and is not intended to give one team a unfair advantage over another team.


NCAA Rules Committee

*********** I asked, "Why is the Federal Government purchasing enormous amounts of ammunition?"

Jim Franklin, of Flora, Indiana answered - "To keep it away from you and me."

*********** What I said: Damn, why didn't somebody tell me how exciting curling was?

What I meant:  Damn, why didn't somebody tell me how foxy those Russian women curlers were?

*********** "I'd rather not be part of a league that sends its scouts and GMs to 10th and 11th grade games so that they can watch high schoolers. It's not something that we're particularly proud of." David Stern, 2004

So what do you think about college football coaches scouting middle school games?


*********** Hi Coach!

My dad would point out an interesting corollary to  "...why so many professors and similar experts in their fields are often so bad at communicating their ideas to others."

He would point out that the best players ("experts") are usually NOT the best coaches - because they did not know how to TEACH what they did.

That's the difference.

Interestingly, a couple of the best "teachers" I had in undergrad were at JC's.

One taught Calculus AND Organic Chemistry - very difficult and disparate disciplines.

The other taught Biology - but graduated from UT (Texas) Medical school Summa Cum Laude - in Radiology! (both were "doctors")

Another interesting tidbit, the word "doctor" is from Latin "docere", meaning - to teach. (docent - the museum guide, or the Dickensian tutor, is another derivative from the Latin)


John Rothwell
Austin, Texas

PS - I think I'll start calling you "Doctor Coach"

John,   Your dad was a wise man.  As you are undoubtedly aware, quarterbacks seldom become coaches.  Maybe it's because they're poor at communicating and maybe that's because they've been students of the game and they can't put what they know into terms that other players will understand.  Jim Harbaugh seems to be one example of a QB who can do it, but he's been coaching at selective colleges, where the players aren't exactly knuckleheads, and now that he's in the NFL, he's in a position where he can control to some extent the intelligence level of the players he coaches.

Another reason why the best players are not usually the best coaches is that during the years when the best players are playing, the not-so-good players (or even non-players, such as David Cutcliffe and Mike Leach) are starting out on the ground floor and working their way up as coaches.

***********"When a politician says, 'The debate is over,' you can be sure of two things:

The debate is raging;

"And he's losing."

George Will

american flagFRIDAY,  FEBRUARY 14,  2014"When people get used to preferential treatment, equal treatment seems like discrimination." Dr. Thomas Sowell

*********** My friend Greg Koenig, in Beloit, Kansas, wrote to tell  me of the death of Jeff Giles, head football and wrestling coach at Minneapolis High School, in Minneapolis, Kansas. Coach Giles suffered a stroke Saturday  while coaching his wrestling team at a tournament in Phillipsburg.  Wrote Coach Koenig, "I believe that he was 54 years old, and he leaves a wife and at least 2 children behind.  Jeff was a great guy who really loved the kids that he coached.  Such a sad day."

Very sad, indeed. Say prayers, if you will, for coach Giles' family and for all the kids whose lives he touched.

*********** Minnesota's Sandy Stephens, from Uniontown, Pennsylvania, was the first black player to be named first-team  All-American.  He led the Gophers to the 1960 national championship, and to Rose Bowls in 1961 and 1962. He finished fourth in the Heisman voting and was named MVP of the Big Ten by the Chicago Tribune.  He is a member of he College Football Hall of Fame.

Correctly identifying Sandy Stephens -

Mick Yanke, Cokato, Minnesota
Nick Mygas, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Greg Koenig, Beloit, Kansas
Thomas Caudill, McDermott, Ohio

The following excerpt from "Autumn Warrior," the biography of Murray Warmath,  Minnesota's all-time great coach, tells how Warmath, a Tennessee native who played his college ball at Tennessee under legendary coach General Robert Neyland, made a conscious effort to recruit "speed," then as now a code word for "black players."

Following the 1957 season Warmath and his staff began to make recruiting moves which would pay enormous dividends three years later. "It always had been evident to us from the time we arrived at Minnesota that we couldn't win consistently with teams comprised almost entirely of homegrown players," he pointed out. "There simply were not the speed players coming out of the upper Midwest."

In late 1957 and early 1958 the staff began to go to places like Pennsylvania, Delaware, North Carolina and Illinois to seek top high school football players. When school started in 1958, Minnesota had secured players who in 1960 and 1961 would lead the school to its finest years since the Bierman era. They included Sandy Stephens, Judge Dixon, John Mulvena, Bob Frisbee and Tom Hall from outside the upper Midwest.

Not only was Warmath flying in the face of tradition by recruiting kids who were non-Minnesotans which irritated a lot of the old guard from the Bierman era, but he recognized the talents of the black athlete and made an effort to land them.

"It's tough enough for any kid to go away to school but if you're black and going to a place like Minnesota with a very small minority population, it's doubly intimidating," said Stephens. "One of the key people who made the transition easier was Carl Rowan, a black columnist for the Minneapolis papers. He impressed upon me and the other black recruits that the Twin Cities was a decent place to live and is a graduate of Minnesota, gave very high marks to the University."

"Rowan was instrumental in making the black athletes feel at ease and telling them that an education from Minnesota and life here was worth the commitment." Warmath added.

I was upfront with Warmath when I first met him," Judge Dixon remembered.  "I told him that I had some doubts. I was black and he was a white Southerner. This was 1958, remember, and the South was still steeped in Jim Crow.  But Coach Warmath was straight with me as he was with everybody. He said if I played by the rules, went to class and put out, he'd treat me fairly and didn't give a damn what color I was.  He always kept his word on that in my four years there."

Both Dixon and Stevens were highly recruited.  As stars out of the very competitive western Pennsylvania prep scene they had schools such as Michigan, USC and Ohio State recruiting them. Minnesota was chosen for a variety of reasons, Warmath being the most important.

"Murray told me from the beginning that he'd give me a shot at quarterback," Stephens remembered. "There were no black quarterbacks to speak of at the major college level in the late 1950s. I was taken by his honesty."

The 1958 incoming class was not only a turning point for Warmath and Minnesota football , it was a major milestone in the development of college football.  That year and in the years that followed, Warmath and his staff were at the vanguard in the advancement of black high school players into the college football scene, particularly when it came to recruiting players out of the South.  It wasn't until nearly 10 years later that Southeastern,  Atlantic Coast and Southwest Conference schools would knock down the segregation barriers. Until then,  it was the northern schools,  while not without their elements of racism, that offered the only chance for the black collegiate players.

Warmath was a force in starting that process.  True,  he needed their athletic abilities to turn his program around.  At the same time, he gave them opportunities they wouldn't have gotten elsewhere.
"Coach Warmath gave us opportunities not just on the football field, but in the classroom and later life that we would otherwise not have had," Stevens added.  "I will always be indebted to him for what he did for me."

(NOTE: "Bierman" was Bernie Bierman, considered the standard by which all Minnesota coaches are judged. In his 16 seasons there,  the Gophers  won FIVE national championships. Carl Rowan would go on to serve in a number of high government positions, including Ambassador to Finland, and to work as a nationally syndicated columnist.)

*********** Hey- how come woodpeckers don't get concusssions? Or bighorn sheep?


*********** A friend who's taken on the task of starting youth football in his town asked me  if I had any advice to offer, and here's what I wrote…

Your biggest assignment, it seems to me, is getting kids to play.

This means getting to the parents. That issue, it seems to me, is two-fold: (1) Some people need to be asked; and (2)  The concussion issue really does have some people worried, and while some of them will never be swung over, many simply need assurance that the publicity relates primarily to professional football players who have played the game for years at a very high-intensity level, and that you will do everything possible to see to it that, while every activity has its dangers,  the game is made as safe as possible.

Either way, you must see people in the home.  Don't attempt to do this in a large-group session, and don't attempt to do it over the phone. It is too important, to them and to you.

You have to get to people face-to-face.  However you get their names - at school, church, in stores, word-of-mouth, you have to see them in their homes.  .

Let them meet you, person-to-person.  As you expand, train others to do this, too.

You can probably see two families in an evening.  Maybe three.  More on weekends.

When you're done, give them your card and ask if they know any other parents who might be interested. (You may also find that there are parents interested in helping, too.)

Stress player safety above all - Tell them that, yes, like so many things that young boys like to do, there is an element of risk in football - but unlike many of the things boys do on their own, when their son plays football he'll be properly supervised and taught.

Go over the five key ingredients of player safety -

1. Conditioning - Assure the parents that no boy will be asked to do something he isn't physically capable of doing. Assure them that no one will be allowed to put on equipment until he is in good physical condition, with  special attention paid  to strengthening the neck muscles.

2. Equipment - Show them what the equipment looks like.  Take it with you.  Show them how it's put on and what it's purpose is.  Assure them that their son will be properly fitted and his equipment will be checked.

3. Techniques - Stress self-protection above all. How to deliver and receive a blow.  How you'll insist that the head and eyes are kept up at all times.

4. Coaching - Have a mission statement and stick to it (I do)   Stress that coaches will be carefully selected and properly trained in working appropriately with young boys. Dismiss any preconception they might have that brutality and verbal abuse will have any place in your organization. I offer you my materials on coaches' qualifications, parents' responsibility, etc.  Practice Without Pads might be helpful.

5. Medical - Explain what first-aid training and medical assistance will apply.

The main thing is that asking people to entrust you with their sons is way too important to be done on any but a person-to-person basis.

*********** I feel sorry for the team that drafts and/or signs Michael Sam. They'll really be under the microscope of world-wide media.

And I feel sorry for him, too, because he does seem like a good kid who's going to have a tough enough time making a pro team as it is, without carrying the tag of The First Openly Gay Pro Football Player, wherever he goes,  for the rest of his life. He's going to have to be damn good for people to think of him in any other way.

Actually, it's a damn shame that all the to-do about his being gay is detracting from the fact that his is really an amazing life story all on its own.


*********** Ray McDonald was a running back for the Redskins - their first-round draft pick in 1967. He was 6-4, weighed 245, and ran like an antelope. And he was gay. But he wasn't "open" about it - although it wasn't exactly a secret - and he kept his position with the team until, a year later, he was arrested for having sex with another man in a Washington, DC park. 


*********** 50 years after the  Beatles' arrival in the US, columnist Leonard Pitts noted that there's something missing from today's pop culture in general, and pop music in particular:

Popular music is about breaking away from the staid normalcy of what came before. But maybe in an era where mom has tattoos and dad has a boyfriend, there's nothing left to break away from.

*********** I am not a conspiracy nut and I have no plans to march on Washington - armed or unarmed - but can someone please tell me why numerous government agencies have been purchasing enormous quantities of ammo?


*********** Some Western Maryland residents want to secede and form their own state. We lived in Western Maryland for nearly ten years and loved it there, and if they pull this off, we're there!


*********** Press Release from the National Football Foundation…

A Proven Path to College

More than 40 colleges - with scholarships in hand - are slated to attend the Sixth Annual Greater Houston Senior Football Showcase, a free event for high school seniors to compete in front of college coaches.

IRVING, Texas (Feb. 13, 2014) – For the past six years, a group of passionate volunteers have staged an impactful event in Houston that annually garners between $10-12 million in scholastic aid for Houston-area high school football players to attend college. The group of approximately 175 volunteers, including high school football coaches from the Houston Independent School District (H.I.S.D.) will join forces Feb. 15 with the National Football Foundation (NFF) Touchdown Club of Houston Chapter for a repeat performance, staging the Sixth Annual Greater Houston Senior Football Showcase.

“Credibility has been fully established with the local high school coaches and colleges,” said Chris Vaughan, a key organizer of the event and a board member of the NFF Touchdown Club of Houston Chapter.  “People were a bit skeptical at first that somebody might be making money at the event, but nobody is making a dime off this. It’s all for the kids, and it’s been fully embraced by the Houston coaches and the college coaches. People really understand it and realize that it’s a heck of a deal for the kids and the colleges.”

The event will take place at the Methodist Training Center, home of the Houston Texans, starting at 6:30 a.m. with recruiters from more than 40 small colleges and 18 states in attendance. The college representatives will have an opportunity to connect with more than 500 high school seniors who will vie for academic and participation scholarships at the Division II, III and the NAIA levels. Open to all academically eligible seniors nationwide, the event attracts a high percentage of students-athletes from disadvantaged backgrounds with 50 percent of the participants on free or reduced lunch plans.

“Inner city kids go to work,” said Milby High School head coach Philip Camp, a driving force behind the event since its inception. “They don’t have a chance to go to college. Everybody knows who the Division I kids are, but what about the kid who was your starting guard who gets overlooked for college. We use football as a tool to give these young men a chance to go to college.”

The Greater Houston Senior Football Showcase distinguishes itself from other camps and combines because the event is entirely free for the participants and colleges. Academic binders (verifying academic eligibility) are the only information distributed. Organizers do not create a database based on athletic performance of a participant at the event. Coaches must make their own athletic assessments, subsequently inviting a participant to the sidelines for a face-to-face meeting.

“This is 99.9 percent the result of volunteers who get up at 5 a.m. in the morning and who are helping put this event on,” said Camp. “We have close to 200 volunteers, including 75 coaches for the drills and 125 people helping with registration, handing out t-shirts, handling the timing, counting the reps at bench press and setting up the college tables.”

In the time of tight budgets, the event allows smaller colleges to see 500 student-athletes at one time while minimizing their travel costs. Recruiters will travel from more than 18 states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.  It could cost as much as $4,000 over multiple weeks to individually recruit all the schools in the Houston area, and the Showcase allows a college to potentially see more than 500 seniors within 24 hours on a budget of $150 to $200 to cover gas and meals with the hotel room covered by the NFF Houston Touchdown Club Chapter.

“I have been going for the past six years,” said Coach Steve Miller, the defensive coordinator at Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kan., who previously coached at William Penn University in Iowa.  “It is great for a small college such as William Penn and Tabor who don’t have big recruiting budgets. You can see more than 500 athletes at one time, and the paper work is already done on their academic eligibility. It helps college coaches like me out a lot.”

Miller estimates that he has recruited more than 100 student-athletes, signing 35-40, during the past six years. He praised the organizers for the comprehensive binders that are shipped to the coaches in advance of the event and videos that are available on Hudl.

“You know who is going to be there before you arrive,” said Miller. “The athletes that we have signed have gone on to be first team and second team all-conference. It has meant three or four wins a year for our program based on the athletes alone. Without this combine, we would not be conference champs. It’s much needed talent to go along with the local talent, and the kids from the Houston graduate with a quality college education and prove to be great citizens and leaders in the community.”

Darrius Jones, who attended the combine in 2009 during his senior year at Sharpstown High School in Houston, credits the event with giving him the opportunity to go to college. Jones had hopes of playing at the Division I level, but when those failed to materialize the Showcase provided him a new set of options.

“I ended up going not expecting much, and I really went to push my teammates to do their best,” said Jones, a wide receiver. “A couple days later, the William Penn coach contacted me. He said he liked my talent and work ethic, and he was going to offer me a scholarship to come play with them… The combine gave me the opportunity to play at the collegiate level and get an education at a private institution.”

Participants, who all have to meet minimum academic standards, compete in a series of athletic events designed to let the college coaches assess each player’s potential, including a 40-yard dash, a bench press and several agility tests. Academically, participants must meet at least one of three benchmarks: an 810 on the SAT (math and verbal score) or an 18 on the ACT; or be accepted to three of the participating schools. Each participant must submit his SAT scores and transcript in advance, ensuring that they meet the minimum requirements.

Organized through the local coaching network, the chapter’s relationships, letters to athletics directors and Website postings, the event now attracts more than 700 applicants each year, but space limitations only allow around 500 to actually attend. The event is not open to student-athletes who have already signed Division I letters of intent, and participants must register in advance.  Coby Rhoden, a counselor at Reagan High School who has worked with Coach Camp since the first event, oversees registration and data collection, which helps measure the event’s impact.

“Coaches are getting the word more and more, and it’s getting easier to run,” said Rhoden.

“We are adding a couple parent seminars that have been very successful to close the gap between 90 percent who receive offers because of the event and the 25 percent who end up on a roster.”

Rhoden explains the main reason for the attrition is that the kids fail to apply to the schools or fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. He said educating parents about the college application and financial aid process should help address the issue.

“Whenever you take an 18 year-old and you take him away from his parents and football, you remove the two biggest elements of structure in his life,” said Rhoden. “We ship him off to college and we wonder why he is not successful. If we can keep football in his life, they are usually more successful…. We use football to further a student’s education. The only way that we’re going to get him out his environment is through football and football provides that structure.”

The cost of the event, approximately $7,500 for the organizers, is offset through sponsors, including Balfour/Dilly, Blue Bell Ice Cream, Bull Shirts, Frenchy's Chicken, Chick-fil-A, The Deck on Fountainview, the Houston Texans and Pinks Pizza. The major costs include t-shirts, insurance, catering, the recruiting binders and hotel rooms. NFF Board Member and College Football Hall of Fame inductee Murry Bowden (Dartmouth) and his real estate firm, the Hanover Corporation, are providing the t-shirts along with the North Shore Rotary Club. College Football Hall of Famer Don Trull (Baylor), who serves as the president of the NFF Houston Touchdown Club, and Houston Texan Minority Owner Javier Loya, who played football at Columbia, also are providing crucial support in staging the event.

Based on the success of the Houston event, the NFF California Showcase, organized by College Football Hall of Fame coach Terry Donahue (UCLA) and hosted by the NFF Newport Beach Chapter, will take place for the second consecutive year at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., on Feb. 22. Organizers anticipate a strong showing with more than 40 college coaches already scheduled to attend. In December, more than 250 student-athletes displayed their skills in front of college recruiters at the El Paso Showcase at the Soccorro Athletic Complex in El Paso, Texas. Camp estimates the combined and six-year cumulative impact of the three events will approach an astounding $100 million in college aid for the participants with the conclusion of the 2014 events.

“We salute the leadership of the NFF chapter in Houston for making this happen,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “They have done this for many years, for many kids, and they have set the tone on how to make a difference in football.”

*********** Hey,  you kids at Durham Academy - I think this means there's no school...


*********** Hi Coach

Hope all is well. Are we headed to no more kickoffs? Onside kick is a big part of our special teams...we do it often.

Targeting rule is no surprise...http://www.nfhs.org/content.aspx?id=10392

John Lambert
LaCenter, Washington

Hi John,

I've said for a long time that the way to eliminate targeting is to require use of the arms in tackling, as rugby does. Amazing how very courageous defenders become when they can  tuck their arms and drive their shoulders into defenseless opponents.  

On the kickoffs, I'm surprised that they stopped where they did . I can see the end of the onside kick before too long.  The injury potential is obvious.

In many ways it's beginning to look like the reincaration of the flying wedge, and I do think it's a good idea for the rules guys to try to get out ahead of it.

Strategically, I don't see this affecting us in any way.

If you want to onside kick, six guys to one side of the kicker is enough. There's nothing to prevent you from packing them tight.  I'm surprised that they didn't say you couldn't have more than four players in any third of the field.

The rules change preventing any coverage guy from starting more than five yards back of the ball won't make a difference in reducing injuries, I don't think.  It may help return teams by  eliminating the confusion in blocking assignments caused by guys crossing.

*********** I'm sure that you recall the big deal that was made when the first black player roomed with a white player.  (Was that Gayle Sayers and Brian Piccolo?)  How big of a deal will be made of the straight player who ends up rooming with Michael Sam?  Tell me that that straight player's rights will not be abused in that situation.  And God forbid that that straight player share his feelings about that room assignment.  And if no one agrees to room with Michael Sam, what an outcry there will be.  What a world we are living in!

Greg Koenig
Beloit High School
Beloit, Kansas

I don't know if  Sayers and Piccolo were the first black-and-white roomies, but that was  the background story of "Brian's Song," that tear-jerker about the way-too-early death of Brian Piccolo. I do know that when Curt Warner (the running back, not the quarterback) and Todd Blackledge (yes, the announcer) roomed together at Penn State in the early 80s' it was considered ground-breaking.  Those were great times - the days when America felt good about the growing racial togetherness in our society that, sadly, never fully came to fruition.

What happens when a homosexual's straight roommate comes back to the room unexpectedly and discovers his roomy has a, um, "visitor?"

*********** Ah, for the good old days, back before Openly Gay Pro Football Players.

It was 1974, and we, the Philadelphia Bell,  were someplace - Orlando, I think - to play a game.

Two of our players, Tim Rossovich and Rick Cash, were NFL vets who still had a little football left in them, but what they really were was first class practical jokers.  They roomed together, which was a blessing to other players, because based on stories of one roommate, Jerry Warren, rooming with Rossovich was an adventure.

Warren was a kicker out of NC State.  He told me that the entire time they roomed together, Rossovich never called him anything other than "Kicker."  Said he went to sleep one night while Rossovich was still reading the papers. Woke up thinking he was seeing stars until he realize that what he was seeing was sparks - Rossovich had placed the paper on his bed and set it on fire, waiting to see what would happen when he woke up.

So there we were in this hotel,  early in the morning.  We had a game that night. Our trainer, Tom Alfieri, was sitting in the lobby, shaking his head.  "Hugh," he said, "You're not going to believe what I just saw."

And then he told me.  On his circuit around the hotel to give players their B-12 shots (whatever the hell good that was supposed to do), he knocked on Rossovich's and Cash's door, and when no one answered, he tried the door. Finding it open, he entered the room.

And there on a bed, Tom said, were Rossovich and Cash,  two large professional football players, bare-ass naked, arms around each other, kissing and whispering sweet nothings.

Tom, as quietly and quickly as he could, backed out the door and headed for the lobby to collect himself.  That's where I found him.

Tom had been punked. Big time. Needless to say, many laughs were had at his expense.

Ah, for the good old days.

***********  SNOW IN 49 STATES was the headline on the Drudge Report

Which means, by his count,  the President's got only  eight states  he can go to to get away from all that white stuff.

*********** I get the idea that Richard Petty doesn't think much of Danica Patrick’s racing ability.

Asked if he thought she'd ever win a Sprint Cup race, King Richard  said, "Only if everybody else stayed home."

american flagTUESDAY,  FEBRUARY 11,  2014 "We can honor the universal virtue of work by making it the prerequisite for government benefits wherever possible. There's a reason Social Security checks are respectable and politically untouchable - unlike food stamps, they only go to Americans who've worked." Author Mickey Kaus

*********** Great story from a friend who is leaving his current coaching spot to take another position...

I announced to the players that I would be resigning as the head coach yesterday. That was harder than I expected. A few tears and a few angry faces.

However, as I was walking out of the school, a young  girl stopped me in the halls and asked if the rumor was true. When I told her it was, she responded. "Damn. You're not taking away the Wedge are you?"

***********  A study published recently in the Journal of Neurosurgery acknowledged that no helmet will ever be able to prevent all concussions, but it does suggest that there are certain helmets that can reduce the concussion risk by 50 percent or more.  One such helmet is the Riddell Revolution.


***********Next time you hear the bleeding hearts whine about how our prisons are overcrowded because of all those young man serving time simply for "drug offenses", next time the politicians tell you that the prisoners they're releasing in order to ease overcrowding are merely "drug offenders,"   try to remember that there's usually more to the story - that those guys are not eagle scouts who got caught while holding a joint someone just handed to them.

Take this little piece from the Vancouver Columbian…

An 18-year-old man was sentenced Thursday in Clark County Superior Court to 366 days in prison for a Dec. 15 drive-by shooting in an apartment complex parking lot in Hazel Dell.

( ------- ------- ) of Vancouver pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and possession of cocaine as part of a plea agreement negotiated by York's attorney, Diane Grecco,and Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kasey Vu. In exchange, Vu dropped charges of drive-by shooting, unlawful discharging of a firearm, unlawful possession of a firearm, obstructing a public servant, third-degree theft and reckless endangerment.

Yeah.  Just a "drug offender."

*********** Joseph Epstein, author of the book "Essays in Biography,"  wrote in The Wall Street Journal about his experiences working among the poor in Pulaski County, Arkansas back in the early days of the so-called War on Poverty.

He recalled that not long after he left the antipoverty program and moved to Chicago,  he heard from a former associate in Arkansas that things weren't working out as planned - that the legal aid that the program had provided the poor people was not being used to sue the city and the school board, but instead was being used mainly to pay for divorces and paternity suits, and that the middle-class had begun sending their children to Head Start programs, which in effect eliminated any "head start" it might have provided the children of the poor.

And he told another little story...

"I remember remarking to a female black schoolteacher, with the heavy irony available to the ignorant, that shabby as these houses were, almost all of them had television sets. "Please don't knock those television sets," she said. "They give these children the only chance they will ever have to hear decent English."

*********** Against my better judgement I agree to watch the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics and what do I get for the first half hour?

A cloying feature on all the marvelous American athletes who have worked so-o-o-o hard (much harder than farmers or fishermen or loggers or steelworkers).  Please spare me all the talk about how hard athletes "work."

And then, a f --king ten-minute interview of Our President by that little over-the-hill weasel Bob (confiscate everybody's guns) Costas.

***********  Oregon, that progressive Utopia, sits near the bottom of the states in almost any measure of student learning.

It's not that nobody cares. The headline at the top of the front page of Sunday's Portland Oregonian was bold: "ATROCIOUS ATTENDANCE PUTS LEARNING AT RISK."

Turns out that in 2013, a typical year, almost one in five students statewide were absent at least 10 per cent of the school year.

Only half of Oregon students were in attendance 95 per cent of the time or better.

At one Portland High School, where the taxpayers have  spent bundles on  practically every educational innovation known to man, the chronically-absent figure was 39 per cent.

At a Eugene-area high school, at least 50 students had missed more than 10 weeks of school each.

What a surprise - the schools with the worst absentee problems were the same ones at the bottom of test results. 

What a surprise - an Illinois study of 21,000 students found that the graduation rate of students who missed 10 per cent of school days their freshman year was under 40 per cent.

Not surprisingly, chronic absenteeism in Oregon increased with each year of school from sixth grade on - the start of middle school - but what's really scary for all concerned is the fact that fully one in six first- and second-graders were chronic absentees, which meant that those children are likely to lag behind for the rest of their school careers.

Absenteeism is both a cause of academic failure, and a corollary, since it often tends to indicate a lack of family concern for education. 

And, to a certain extent, the absentee rate, at the high school level at least,  reflects conflicting state goals: in the much-hyped effort to keep the dropout rate down,  some kids, despite their nonattendance, are kept  on schools' rolls to make the dropout rate look better than it is.

So - those of you out there who say that education should be run like a business, who say that "holding principals and teachers accountable" for their students' results is the answer - would you call it smart business to blame the supervisors and the factory workers for low productivity and poor quality, when the parts they're supposed to assemble into finished products arrive late - if at all - and often in bad condition?

*********** Somebody's not telling the truth…

A. This is the best recruiting class we've ever had…

B. We got exactly what wanted…

C. We filled all of our needs…

D.  If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor…

E.  All of the above

*********** Villanova, a small Catholic college located on Philadelphia's prestigious Main Line,  plays football in FCS and does a great job of it. At one time, though, the Villanova Wildcats played in the Big Time, playing as an independent and taking on all comers. Howie Long is one of the last and best-known products of that era.  But as a small, selective private college, Villanova's leaders determined years ago that playing with the major powers was way too expensive, not to mention inconsistent with its academic mission.

Now, basketball - that's different.  Villanova is as Big-Time as you can get.  Always has been.

This past weekend, Wildcats' coach Jay Wright got his 400th win, and he was very gracious in acknowledging that Villanova is a great place to coach basketball.

"I just feel very fortunate to be able to coach at Villanova," he said. "Whoever coaches at Villanova is going to get a lot of wins."

The quote was in a wire service article  - writer uncertain -  that went on to say that Villanova's winningest coach was "Alexander Severance," who won 413 games in 29 years.

I almost choked.  "Alexander" Severance?  "Alexander?" I wanted to holler, "you mean 'Al' Severance?"

Isn't a little knowledge of sports history a requirement in sports departments anymore? Isn't it possible to do a little research?

Come on - the guy coached through the war years, until 1961. In Philly.  No way in hell a guy named "Alexander" could have made it through those games against those fans from St. Joe's, or LaSalle or Temple.  Those were times, and Philly was certainly the kind of town, where it was considered ultra-stuffy for anyone other than political leaders, academicians, or bankers to go by their long, given names.  Otherwise, you were putting on airs.

Besides, a nickname was a sign that you were accepted.

The first time you stepped onto the playground or the first time you lined up for PE, you were given one.  Didn't matter what you mother wanted you called, the way it is nowadays.  If you were red-headed or left-handed or extremely tall or short, it was almost automatic.  For most of us with no physical distinctions, it was a shortened form of our given name.

I read on in the article.  It said that "John" Kraft won 238 games at Villanova.

John, my ass. That would be Jack Kraft.

*********** It's momentous.  Historic. Not on the order of the first Catholic President. (Only an old-timer like me remembers when that was important.) It's bigger than that.

Or the first black President.

Oh, no.  In today's America, it's  MUCH bigger than that.

We're talking about nothing less than the FIRST OPENLY-GAY PRO FOOTBALL PLAYER!

Hey - We can live with the  story for a week or so until it goes away, right? 

No such luck.  For the news media, this is the Gift That Keeps On Giving.

The first lady has already tweeted the guy, telling him how courageous he is. (I have no idea how she gets involved in this.   Maybe the President was too busy getting to the bottom of the IRS scandal. Oh, wait - that's right - he told Bill O'Reilly there's "not a smidgeon" of evidence that there was any corruption involved there, and he would know.  Okay, so maybe he's digging into Bengazi. Or Fast and Furious. Oh, well. There'll be time enough later to arrange a visit in the Rose Garden.)

But I digress. The draft is coming up, which means we can look forward to interview after interview with GMs, player personnel directors, coaches.  Some of them anonymous.

Diversity experts and well-known gays will weigh in on the subject. GQ will run a four-page feature on him and what he wears to the combine.  At least one NFL veteran will make himself a pariah by tweeting something.

Then the draft itself.  The telecast will draw ratings equal to those of conference championship games, as Americans wait breathlessly to see what team chooses him. If any.  Before he came out, he'd been projected as a mid-round choice, but what if he - gasp! - isn't drafted at all? (If the NFL owners are dumb enough to allow that to happen. They'll duck the charges of "homophobia" by holding a secret lottery beforehand to decide who takes the guy.)

And then, either as a draft choice or a free agent, he'll be going to OTA's and training camp.  Think those won't be media zoos, recording everything the World's First Openly-Gay Pro Football Player does? (Well, on the field, at least.)

It doesn't end there.   As I write, numerous literary agents are undoubtedly  competing for the rights to tell the guy's life story. A major Hollywood studio has probably already obtained the film rights to the story of THE FIRST OPENLY-GAY PRO FOOTBALL PLAYER!.

Okay, okay - enough with the "gay" already.  We get it.  Let it go. We can deal with it.

Actually, it's the "openly" part that I object to.

I don't have the slightest interest in what you do in private with your wife.  Or girlfriend.  I can't remember the last time anyone even started to tell me.  So why should I care to know that you belong to a class that's defined by what you do in privacy with another male?

Years ago, a poet called homosexuality,  "The love that dare not speak its name."

But a more recent writer, up to here with our media's obsession with gayness, called it,  "The love that won't shut the f--k up."


*********** No doubt you've seen highlights of the basketball player from Oklahoma State who flew into the stands at the end of a play and then, apparently in reaction to what a fan said to him, gave the fan a shove. For this, the kid has been suspended by the Big 12 for three games.

Look - the player was dead wrong and he knows it.

But in my opinion equal outrage should be directed at the fan, because he undoubtedly said something out of line to the kid,  in the mistaken belief that the kid wouldn't do anything - in the conceit of the anonymous online poster, who can take shots without fear of retribution.

Yeah, he's probably a season ticket holder - probably a donor, too - and yeah, they need his money, but he's as responsible as the kid was for what happened, and he ought to be suspended for three games, too, same as the kid.

(Guy's lucky all he got was a shove.   He looked like he was 50 or so, which means he's lived long enough to acquire the sense not to holler ANYTHING at a big, strong, young guy  who could probably break his neck with one punch.)

*********** It would be hard to call me a Russophile (a Russia-lover), but I do know my Russian history and I know how much Russians love their native land.  Those men (Did you get that? Men?)  who sang the Russian national anthem at the Olympics' opening ceremonies showed their love of country by singing it way a national anthem is supposed to be sung - boldly and proudly and with vigor.  No, I'm not planning on moving to Russia anytime soon, but I'll give the Russians this - I'm confident that they wouldn't stand idly by, as we do, and allow someone to sully their national anthem.

*********** With David Stern's retirement, sport loses one of its all-time most effective commissioners.  Love him (as they do in Oklahoma City, for allowing the Thunder to move there) or hate him (as they do in Seattle for allowing the Sonics to move to Oklahoma City), you have to admit that he did a fantastic job of taking over a league that was in trouble, perceived as populated by thugs and lowlifes, and steering it to where it is acknowledged to be right alongside  Major League Baseball in fan appeal, and probably ahead of all US sports leagues in international recognition.

He's always been willing to speak his mind on some of the issues affecting his league...

"What I would say to you, as diplomatically as I can, is when somebody invents a painless way to remove tattoos, there is going to be a lineup of players saying, "Good heavens! What was I thinking when I did this to myself?"

*********** Another example of how things are seldom what they seem...

Remember the Super Bowl Bud ad - the surprise parade for the returning serviceman, who sat on the beer wagon as it was pulled (by the Clydesdales) past the welcoming hometown folks?

Turns out,  the whole thing was a LOT less spontaneous than we were led to believe.

I'm glad that the criticism of Bud's blatant exploitation of American patriotism - and the soldier's role in it - comes from fellow service members, and not from me.  


*********** A comment by an online poster...

"Next year Budweiser is going to have a team of puppies pulling an orphan through a street filled with topless college girls."

*********** The sense of impending peril that arises from the weathercasts has a name here in the “snowy” Quad Cities…Weathergasms

Coach K
Davenport, Iowa

Ha- Pretty Good.

We had three inches and it tied up the entire Portland-Vancouver area.

But it's the cold that caught everyone unprepared...

PULLMAN — A Washington State University student was treated for hypothermia after he was found unconscious on campus when the temperature was minus-3 degrees.

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News reports emergency crews responded about 2:30 a.m. Thursday and found the 36-year-old Pullman man highly intoxicated outside the Honors Hall residence building.

He was transported to Pullman Regional Hospital for treatment of hypothermia and detoxification.

*********** Someone asked Dan Ariely ("Ask Ariely") in the Wall Street Journal why so many professors and similar experts in their fields are often so bad at communicating their ideas to others.

His response:

Here's a game I sometimes play with my students. I ask them to think of a song, not tell anyone what it is, and tap its beat on a table.  Next I ask them to predict how many other students in the room will correctly guess the song's name. They usually think that about half will get it.  Then I ask the rest of the students for their predictions - and no one ever gets it right.

The point is that when we know something and know it well, it is hard for us to appreciate what other people understand. This problem is sometimes called "the curse of knowledge." We all suffer from this affliction, but it is particularly severe for my fellow academics. We study things until they seem entirely natural to us and then assume that everyone else easily understands them, too.

(Doesn't that apply to us as coaches, too?)

american flagFRIDAY,  FEBRUARY 7,  2014 "Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good."   Dr. Thomas Sowell

*********** As I write this, we're having a weather episode, right here in Southwest Washington.  We don't have many of them. 

What it is is snow - pretty rare down here in our valley, a trough between two mountain ranges.

It's blowing pretty hard, too. From the East, down the Columbia River Gorge.  East winds are hot in the summer, but cold in the winter,  and our temperatures are down in the teens.  That's pretty rare, too.

The snow results when moist air blowing in off the Pacific collides with the cold air coming out of the Gorge.

My wife and I are like little kids.
The countryside, with all the evergreens covered with snow, is beautiful. We don't have to go anywhere except take the dogs for their walks and watch them romp in the snow, and if we do need to go anywhere we've got a couple of 4X4 rigs.

But the idiot TV weather people - they act as if the snow is the absolute worst thing to ever happen (find a school kid or a school teacher who agrees).  They reassure us by telling us that by Monday, it'll all turn to rain.

Thanks a lot.

*********** I was talking with Coach Pete Porcelli of Troy, New York, and he commented on the quality of offensive football played by the pros.  Said they often looked like semi-pros.

Having seen my share of semi-pro ball, I said I had to agree - that the pro offenses are totally based on having better players. Without a doubt, they have players who are incredible passers and receivers, but otherwise,  there's very little in the way of scheme, and even less in the way of execution.

Doubt me?

Author Nicholas Davidoff spent more than a year inside the Jets' organization (some people would call that an oxymoron) doing research for his book "Collision Low Crossers: A Year Inside the World of NFL Football."

He wrote, in the Wall Street Journal (Nov 30-Dec 1, 2013), "NFL coaches say that plays are performed correctly only 10 per cent of the time."

Watching pro offenses, I can believe it.

Now, if it was that way with us, we'd either have to find another offense or another job.

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

Where do the terms "Belly" and "Veer" come from?

Tom Walls
Winnipeg, Canada

The Belly Series, as it has come to be called, was also called, at the time, the Drive series and the Ride Series.

It was a series - an add-on to the full-house T formation offenses that were common in the 1950s when it caught fire, but for most teams that employed it, it became an option in itself.

It was in many ways a precursor of the wishbone, in that the QB would "ride" the ball in the "belly" of the fullback, sometimes giving it to him, but sometimes pulling it out and keeping or handing - or pitching - to another back.  It was such an innovation that on many occasions in its early going, college teams had touchdowns called back by officials who weren't aware that the QB had not actually given the ball to the fullback.  

In Bobby Dodd's book, "Dodd's Luck," he recalls that at the 1950 College All-Star game, he was coaching the quarterbacks, and little Eddie LeBaron, who would go on to enjoy a nice career in the NFL, showed him something they'd been doing at the College of the Pacific, where he'd played.  "Eddie and I were out there fooling around, which we'd do every once in a while," Dodd said.  "Hiding the ball, talking about different things. And he told me they had this play at Pacific which they got a lot out of, called the belly series. I said, 'Show it to me.'"

Said Dodd, "I immediately knew it was good."

Thanks to the Belly Series and the refinements added by coach Dodd and his offensive assistants, including Frank Broyles, Georgia Tech was consistently among the outstanding teams of the 1950s.

About ten years after the Belly, the "Veer" came along. It was also a T-formation (QB under center) offense, and was so-named because of the way that the dive back would hit straight ahead, just to the outside of a lineman who was being blocked in and to the inside of a lineman who wasn't being blocked at all, and then, once past the line, veer slightly to the outside, away from the linebackers. The veer was run from a "pro-set" backfield - two running backs, with the fourth back set wide as a flanker or a slot.  Although the action of the veer resembled very closely that of the split-T, what made it unusual was the way it expanded on the option.  With the split-T, after faking a halfback dive, the quarterback would approach the defensive end - who wasn't blocked - and, depending on the end's reaction, would either keep and turn upfield, or pitch to a trailing halfback.  What made the veer so radical was that in addition to the defensive end,  the defensive tackle wasn't blocked either, creating a situation where the offense truly didn't know what it was going to do until the defense showed it what to do, and quarterback truly had a triple option: (1) hand off to the dive back (the veer back),(2)  keep and turn upfield, or (3) pitch.

The veer was discovered totally by accident.  I have it on first-hand authority (a Houston assistant)  that as Houston was preparing to play Mississippi State, the Houston scout team ran a dive and by mistake the offensive tackle blocked to the inside instead of blocking the man on him. Although he missed his man, he blocked the linebacker instead. And the dive back was past the unblocked defensive lineman so fast that the defender had no chance. With the linebacker walled off by the offensive tackle,  the play broke for a touchdown.  Houston coach Bill Yeoman was at the other end of the field but he saw what happened and, as coaches are accustomed to doing, insisted on finding out what had gone wrong.  What had accidentally gone wrong - the lack of a block on a defenssive lineman - became the basis of the Houston Veer, which took college football by storm in the 1960s.  (It didn't hurt that Coach Yeoman had some fantastic athletes running his offense.)

In some ways you could make the argument that the Wishbone, which derived from the Veer, was the marriage of the Belly and the Veer.

As for who gave them the names, who knows?  The name "Wishbone" was conferred on Texas' new formation by a Houston sportswriter named Mickey Herskowitz.

*********** My grandson the star…

Sam Wyatt, our youngest grandchild, is the star of an Australian Jeep commercial.

He lives in Melbourne, and his Aussie accent is a delight to my ears.


*********** Just opened up a used copy of the book Offensive Football from Jordan Olivar that I got from Powell.  It cost me $8.95 total for book and shipping.  I evidently put it on a wish list several years ago and they got a used copy.  I followed up on the email and now here it is.  I learned about the book off of your website years ago.
Thanks, John Bothe
Oregon, Illinois


Glad you got it.  I think you'll like it.

Coach Olivar was a very bright man.  When he played at Villanova in the late 1930s, he called the offensive plays - even though he played tackle.

The guys in the photos were our starting backfield my sophomore year.

Thanks for writing!

*********** Q. What was most watched on television after the Super Bowl was over Sunday?

A. The second half

Tim Brown
Athens, Alabama

*********** From one of the nine people charged with upholding our laws…

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, asked about her use of the term “undocumented immigrants” (rather than "illegal aliens")  said calling immigrants criminals seemed insulting to her.


*********** For businesses that pride themselves on their businesslike practices,  pro football franchises come up really short in one area - in the people they employ.

It's probably because of the personnel turnover created by free agency and the salary cap, but one of the areas in which NFl teams show their near-total focus on short-term results at the expense of building an organizational culture is in their tolerance of a$$holes in their midst.

It's a given that  NFL rosters are  full of talented a$$holes. But just think - every single one of them played in college, where he was - a talented a$$hole.  And just about every single one of them played in high school, where he was…. a talented a$$hole.  And so, down through middle school and youth ball back to the day he put on his first helmet.

Yes, we see the a$$holes starring for NFL teams. (How can we miss them?)  In some cases, they actually may make their teams better on the field, but they enact  a high price in team tension, in distractions from the mission at hand, and in the public's perception of the team and of pro football in general.

And other than a handful of really good teams, there are an awful lot of poor-to-mediocre  NFL teams - and they're all harboring a$$holes, too. Those teams serve as the proof that however talented those guys might be, they aren't  enough  by themselves to make their teams winners.  And whatever tensions the a$$holes might cause on better teams, they're even worse on poorer teams.

Yet despite all their known character deficiencies,  there always seems to be  at least one team willing to take even the most insufferable lout,  given a little bit of talent.

I find myself constantly asking the question -  would that bad team be any worse if it just cut the creeps loose?

It seems to me that even in spite of the rules-enforced turnover, successful teams can and should take a longer-term look at the malignant effects on their organization of  a$$holes in their midst.

Finding the right people is so vital to a business that  one highly-successful company, Amazon, puts much of the burden for hiring new workers on its established employees - people who know and value the company's culture.

The main goal:  "Screen out cultural misfits."
To do that, Amazon has what it calls its "bar raisers,"  employees who play a key role in the company's hiring.

They're frequently called on to stop whatever they're doing and interview job candidates for jobs in other departments, even those far removed from their areas of expertise.

Writes Greg Bensinger in the Wall Street Journal,

To become a bar raiser, a worker generally must have conducted dozens or hundreds of interviews, and gained a reputation for asking tough questions and identifying candidates who go on to be stars.

Bar raisers typically interview candidates in another part of the company, posing unexpected or challenging questions to gauge an applicant's analytical skills.
Amazon's hiring process is long and drawn-out, and that in itself can help screen out some applicants. Says John Sullivan, a San Francisco State University management professor, "If a job seeker feels like they want to run away from the building screaming after the interview, that's a probably a good sign that they don't belong there."

Amazon believes it's worth the effort.

Says a former Amazon HR executive,  "It can be an expensive process because it takes longer, but think of how expensive it is to hire the wrong person."


*********** The NFL office has proudly announced that 25,000 people slid down the toboggan set up on Broadway during Super Bowl week.

If what's taken place in our community, on our playgrounds - tall, slippery, stainless steel slides torn down and replaced by lower and slower (but much, much safer) fiberglass versions - is any indication of what it's like everywhere, it was probably the first time down a real slide for a lot of those people.

*********** I have to admit that I hadn't even heard of Philip Seymour Hoffman until this past weekend, but I was still sorry to hear of his death by drug overdose.

Nevertheless, in view of our society's unwillingness to hold anybody responsible for his own actions, I find it almost amusing to hear how relentless the search will be to find the culprits who sold him the drugs - as if they'd broken into his apartment and filled him full of bullets.

*********** Just in case you thought today's coaches invented everything -  this, from "Tales From the Iowa Sidelines," by Ron Maly…

"The Ironmen (Iowa's 1939 team, so-named because so many of its members played the full 60 minutes of every game) usually employed a  no-huddle offense, with quarterback Al Coupee calling the plays at the line of scrimmage."

(Coupee was a single-wing quarterback, aka the blocking back. He set up roughly back of the B-gap, near the line of scrimmage; the ball was not snapped to him, but to the tailback.)

"Coupee would call numbers like 43 and 82," end Erwin Prasse said. "We'd pick out the first digit of the first number and the second digit of the second number, and that was the number of the play. Whatever came after that was a little diversion from it."

(Coupee's job was made a lot easier for him by the fact that the tailback on that team was Nile Kinnick, who won the Heisman trophy that year. Iowa's stadium is named in his honor, and his head is on the coin tossed before every Big Ten game.)

Learn more about Nile Kinnick (the un-Manziel)




*********** Jim Geraghty writes, in the National Review

Dear International Olympic Committee: You Had ONE JOB!

When Charles Lane wrote this piece (in the Washington Post) calling for an end to the Olympic tradition last month, it seemed hyperbolic: "Any benefits have to be weighed against the Olympics' costs, which are political, financial, moral and — for athletes ravaged by steroid abuse — human. . . . Supporters speak of the Olympics as a 'movement,' as if the Games were some sort of insurgent force for good, not the leviathan they are. What we really need is a movement to get rid of them."

Now, as we look at the worsening mess that is the Sochi Winter Olympics, we have to wonder whether the International Olympic Committee can be stopped before they run the games into the ground. Next stop, Brazil, where they're not sure they'll be ready in time, part of a stadium collapsed during construction, and the locals are protesting the billions going to stadium construction and other costs instead of helping the poor. Did I mention the drug traffickers shooting down police helicopters in Rio?

I know you're wondering how the IOC picked that city, but they had to; Mogadishu, Somalia, was already booked those weeks.

Russia was an astonishingly bad choice to host the games for so many different reasons: Putin's authoritarian tendencies, the country's ludicrous anti-gay law, and the massive threat of terrorism are three big reasons. But recent days have shown us so much more.

For starters, some of the basic structures and facilities aren't finished yet:

From the Black Sea resort of Sochi to the snow-draped peaks dwarfing the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, Olympic fervor is mounting as thousands of workers scramble to finish grandiose projects. This isn't polishing the silver or closing out a punch list. This is full- blown construction, with the Opening Ceremonies on Friday and the first full day of competition Saturday.

Backhoes and dump trucks weave between buses full of reporters. Hotels seem weeks away from opening. Tile saws send dust spewing from restaurant doors draped in "Coming Soon!" posters. Roadways are clogged with cranes erecting street lights alongside crews installing guard rails.

Wait, there's more! "The Olympic Village in Sochi still looks very much like a work-in-progress. Sidewalks are half built; wiring is still unfinished; and piles of trash are collecting within a short distance from the Olympic Park. Of the nine media hotels planned for the Games, only six have been built with a last minute sprint to get the others finished before the Olympics officially commence."

Or how about the brutal approach to stray dogs? "The city of Sochi has hired a pest-control company to kill homeless animals by the hundreds, all in an effort to clean up the streets in advance of the Winter Games."

And apparently "hacking" is now an Olympic sport this year:

According to an NBC News report, unprepared Olympics attendees are being hacked the second they fire up their electronic devices.

NBC reporter Richard Engel worked with a security expert to set up two test computers in order to see just how quickly he'd be attacked when logging onto Russian networks. But, he reported, when sitting down at a cafe with the expert, "before we even finished our coffee" the bad actors had hit, downloading malware and "stealing my information and giving hackers the option to tap or even record my phone calls."

Once the two test computers went online, the hacking happened just as fast, Engel said. It took "less than 1 minute [for hackers] to pounce, and in less than 24 hours, they had broken into both of my computers.

But the story of the Sochi Olympics is one that must be seen, not told. From various reporters' Twitter feeds, we can see what we're missing by not shelling out the money to go.

For starters, you can't  drink the water in the Sochi hotels! Or even use it on your face!

(Hey, America -  considering that Vladimir Putin, who has powers that Barack Obama can only dream of having, may not bring this off - it ought to give you a lot more respect for what Mitt Romney did in Salt Lake City.)

*********** "I totally believe those involved in the leadership of intercollegiate athletics are held to a higher standard. They should be held to a higher standard and conduct themselves with the knowledge of that standard.

"In my view, anybody who says he or she shouldn't be or doesn't want to be a role model shouldn't be  a teacher.

"When I was athletic director at Kent State, Washington and Auburn, I made a point of meeting personally with each squad and their coaches in every sport once a year and talked about this responsibility. I made it an absolute must to go over the rules and regulations and the forms the student-athletes had to sign for the NCAA,  I would read the rules and emphasize my philosophy and beliefs. I emphasized that each of them would be identified as an athlete the rest of their lives.  I told them, 'Good or bad, you will carry that label.'

"Right now I may be retired, but if I go out and misbehave - whatever way - the media will refer to me as 'former athletic director at the University of Washington.'

"When coaches and athletes said they didn't want to be considered role models, and protested, 'I'm on my own time,' I had a standard response: 'You are until you get into trouble.'"

Mike Lude, from his autobiography, "Walking the Line," 2004

*********** Bob Novogratz is a member of the Black Lion Award Board of Advisors.

Bob was a high-school All-American wrestler who went to West Point and while wrestling for Army was persuaded by Army coach Earl "Red" Blaik to turn out for football. By his senior year, he was an All-American as a two-way guard and linebacker on Army's unbeaten 1958 team.

After a brief tryout with the Baltimore Colts, the Army called, and he went on to a career in the military which included a tour in Vietnam. After that came a successful career in business.  But Bob will probably agree that his greatest accomplishment has been raising, with his wife Barb, some remarkable children.

Son MIchael, a former All-American wrestler at Princeton, runs an investment firm and has promoted the sport of wrestling worldwide, spearheading the successful fight to keep it in the Olympics.

Son Robert and his wife, Courtney are featured on the HGTV series "Homes by Novogratz."

And then there's daughter Jacqueline, who through her founding and management of the Acumen Fund has raised millions to help build and  improve infrastructure in Third World Countries.

She's described in The Daily Good… http://www.dailygood.org/story/638/the-marriage-of-love-and-power-gina-murdock/

Jacqueline Novogratz is the founder and CEO of Acumen Fund, a non-profit that raises charitable donations to invest in companies, leaders, and ideas that are changing the way the world tackles poverty. In this interview, she talks about her revolutionary approach to philanthropy that has impacted the lives of over 100 million people, what moved her to leave her safe world of banking to work with the poor, and the importance of humility and deep listening for anyone hoping to create deep change. Read on to learn about the journey of this self-proclaimed "relentless, pragmatic, determined optimist" who deeply believes in people and in human potential.

Listen to her describe her approach to helping people help themselves...

When I first went to Africa, I thought that I was personally going to save the continent, if not the world. The only way we really create change is to enter any situation with the humility to listen and to recognize the world as it is, and then the audacity to dream what it could be, to have the patience to start and let the work teach you, to be willing to lead when you need to lead, and to listen. To have a sense of generosity and empathy, but not over-empathy, because accountability is so critical to building solutions that work. If there’s one value that is immutable, it’s integrity or respect, for others and for yourself. The best change that comes to the world is when all parties are seeing each other as equal, and all parties have the opportunity to be transformed. That really goes back to the idea of dignity.

*********** I'm not a Beatles' historian by any means, but I was alive and breathing when they first arrived on the scene.  It was  February 9, 1964 - 50 years ago this Sunday - that they appeared on national television on The Ed Sullivan Show.  To be on The Ed Sullivan Show was to be in The Big Time. Now, though, 50 years later, few people have even heard of Ed Sullivan - but it's hard to find anyone, of any age, who hasn't heard of the Beatles.

For what it's worth, here are the songs they performed on that first-ever appearance in the US (great trivia question):

1. "All My Loving"
2. "Till There Was You," from the Broadway Musical "The Music Man, " in the words of Joe Fusilli, the Wall Street Journal's rock and pop music critic "a bone thrown to Sulivan's traditional viewership."
3. "She Loves You"
4. "I Saw Her Standing There"
5. "I Want to Hold Your Hand."

Songs 1, 3, 4 and 5 were their own.

The Beatles, wrote Fusilli,  believed that their future lay in songwriting as much as in performing -  that their own original music would enhance their prospects of success. 

Good thinking, fellas.   Every one of their own songs that they performed that night, 50 years ago,  are considered  standards - all over the world.

*********** Attention Richard Sherman:  I'm reading a book given me some time ago by my son, entitled, "Among the Thugs," by Bill Buford. Fascinating. It was published in 1990, and it tells of the author's adventures among England's thuggish football (soccer) fans.  Believe me, the word "thug" is code for nothing.  It means what it's meant to mean. These guys were as rough and rowdy and nasty and, yes, criminal  as they come.  And,  with one or two notable exceptions, all-white.

american flagTUESDAY,  FEBRUARY 4,  2014 “The fool has one great advantage over a man of sense — he is always satisfied with himself.” Napoleon Bonaparte

*********** As the score mounted in Sunday's Super Bowl, the excitement I felt with every big Seattle play and every Broncos' screwup began to be tinged with more than a bit of sadness, not only for Peyton Manning, whose dismal performance took me back to the last days of John Unitas' career, but also for Denver's fans, as passionate a bunch as there is in the NFL.

And I did feel a bit of pity for the Fox network, because as the rout went on, fans everywhere tuned out.  I'm pinpointing  Percy Harvin's return of the second-half kickoff as the point where the TV ratings began to plummet.

Here's how it costs Fox money: advertisers are charged a certain fee - in the millions in this case - for time in the broadcast during which they run their commercials.  They are paying for an audience of a certain size, which the network guarantees. 

Should the audience fall below a certain size, as it undoubtedly did in the second half Sunday night, the network, rather than issue refunds, has to "make good" on the audience size it guaranteed. In this case it will do so by issuing what are called in the trade "make-goods" - free commercial time in other Fox broadcasts. This costs Fox money because when it gives away time in the form of make-goods, it's not able to sell that time to anyone else.

Dear Seahawks:  Thanks a lot.

Signed: Your friends at Fox

*********** That guy who ran the offense beautifully, without a single mishandling of the ball?  That was Russell Wilson, the Seahawks' quarterback.  Supposedly, if his team's good enough to make it to the Super Bowl, all a QB has to do is be a "caretaker."  To "manage the game." 

But Russell Wilson did more than manage. He completed 18 of 25 passes for 206 yards and 2 TDS.  No interceptions, no sacks. At one point, he completed 11 straight.  Some caretaker.  Many of the completions were thread-the-needle, third-down jobs that kept drives alive. Oh - he was never sacked, and he ran for 26 yards.  That's more than Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball combined.

Yet the Super Bowl MVP is a linebacker?

Yes, yes - I know - he recovered a fumble and returned an interception for a TD.

Yes, yes - I know - the play of Seahawks' defense was the main reason they won the game.  But he was just one member of that unit.

And very term "MVP" means Most Valuable PLAYER - one player, singular - and it seems to me that the single guy most responsible for Seattle's win, other than Peyton Manning (sorry about that cheap shot, but it's true) had to be Russell Wilson.

Oh, well.  Life's not fair.  So they tell me.

*********** Give someone in Seattle credit.  In a league where money talks, it's not unusual for the money side of the organization to decree that solid veteran be benched and the high-priced rookie sent out to play, ready or not.

By the same token, what organization would spend a lot of money on a veteran quarterback, and then give the job to a 5-11 rookie, drafted in the third round?

I doubt that many organizations would have given Russell Wilson, the rookie, the job ahead of Matt Flynn, the veteran.

But the Seahawks did. And there they are.

*********** Tripping is really a chickensh-- act, unbecoming a football player.  I can't believe the penalty for it is only 10 yards.

*********** The NFL keeps telling us that player safety comes before anything else. So why, I can hear the lawyer for the injured player asking the NFL lawyer,  do you permit players to take part in this dangerous sport, without making sure they've fastened their chin straps?

Why, since you assure mothers of young players that you're seeing to it that their little boys' coaches are
trained in the proper fitting of helmets - by your designates - don't you afford that same protection to your own players?

*********** "It's not embarrassing at all. I would never use that word," said Peyton Manning, after some twerp asked him if it was. "There's a lot of professional football players in that locker room that put in a lot of work into being here, playing in that game. That word 'embarrassing' is an insulting word, to tell you the truth."

Spoken like a man who knows how to handle life's highs and lows better than most.

*********** Jeez, Joe Namath's a pain in the ass.

Full disclosure: I didn't like him when he played. I thought he was a jerk.  Yes, he was good.  But he wasn't that good.  In Detroit or Cleveland, he'd have been just another guy with a good arm.  They would never have understood full-length mink coats. But he played in New York, where the media swallowed his act whole.  (I also didn't like him because he and the Jets beat the Colts in that  %$#@#$^ Super Bowl.)

To say the least, he hasn't aged well. And as happens so often to young playboys grown into old rakes, he comes across as a dirty old man.  And no one seems to have the heart to tell him.  I mean, please - wearing a fur coat out to the coin toss?  For once, I found myself rooting for PETA - wishing an activist could break through security and come rushing onto the field with a bucket of red paint.

Anyhow, in the days leading up to the game, he reveled in all the attention, talking about his many ailments to media dwarfs who've only recently discovered that football results in injuries.  And one of the things he said was that he couldn't blame parents for not wanting their little boys to play football.

This from a guy completely oblivious to the irony that instead of begin adored by the New York media, without football he'd have been sitting on a park bench back in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania drinking cheap wine and feeding pigeons.

*********** I have to admit that after all my complaining about how tired I was of the TV peoples' infatuation with  Peyton's actions at the line, I laughed  when the first snap went flying past his ear and into the end zone.

*********** The Denver defense looked absolutely befuddled by a couple of fly sweeps.  Laughed my ass off.

These, remember, are the pros,  the people who like to use terms like "high school offense" to deride something like - a fly sweep.

The TV guys kept referring to it as a "reverse."

*********** That opera singer who sang the national anthem? I imagine they paid her by the hour.


If I should return to this world - if that's the Lord's will - I will request that it be to some land with a stirring national anthem that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stick out.

*********** It was Super Bowl Sunday, and I bet you thought you could get away from Washington bullsh-- for a while, didn't you?

Yeah, right. Think again.

There's an interview with His Worship, on Fox.

There's a recitation of the Declaration of Independence - for what reason I have no idea, unless the NFL is trying to turn Super Bowl Sunday into the winter version of July 4 - by various NFL types… with, batting cleanup,  the wives of Biden and Obama.

And - to show that even in Puppy Bowl there's no escaping it, there's Mrs. Obama and the first dogs, enjoying a romp on the White House lawn. (White House. You know - that place that belongs to you that you can't visit.)

*********** I thought the commercials were a bit lame this year.

There was the usual potty humor,  to go with the requisite shot or two to a guy's crotch (why is it usually an older guy?)

And there was the commercial in which some guy was eating Greek yogurt and left some on his lips.  A pretty girl swipes it off with her finger and licks the finger; then - he's very clever - he informs her that he's got some more on his lips, and this time, she kisses it off.

Not one to stop there - I told you he was clever - now he informs her that's he's spilled some more, and indicates that this time it's down in the nether regions.

Now granted, my vision of a woman smacks the guy and/or says, what do you think I am, anyhow?  But this one, as if to confirm the unfortunate image of today's woman as being, um, "sexually loose," looks as if she's giving the idea of a BJ serious consideration.

Better watch out, fella -  tomorrow she'll claim you forced her to do it.

But generally speaking, they were at least watchable by kids.

There was the usual Budweiser horse spot, aimed mostly at people who don't drink beer, but at least this year they didn't  insinuate that they were an American company.  No, patriotism being the last refuge of a scoundrel, this year AbInbev, the Belgian corporation that owns Budweiser, went the patriotic route, featuring a soldier just returned from overseas being given  a parade in his honor - incuding the famous Clydesdales.

The horses were the pride of the late August "Gussie" Busch, one-time owner of Anheuser-Busch (and the St. Louis Cardinls), back when A-B was a real American company.  It costs AbInbev a lot to keep them. My prediction is that most of you will live to see the day when those magnificent animals wind up on the menus of European restaurants.

*********** Creepy. David  Beckham romping around in his skivvies.  Didin't he used to play soccer or some damn thing?  Are washed-up soccer players really that good at selling things?

Are women really turned on by all those tattoos?  What sort of women would they be, anyhow?

*********** Love the GEICO pig at the DMV counter.  The woman is really good.  I swear she's the one who  once told me to get back behind the red line.

*********** The Tim Tebow ("Having a contract holds you back") T-Mobile ads are really good.  They used the fact that he is highly recognizable and that everyone knows his contractual situation to make their point (T-Mobile doesn't require a contract), and with it all, he does a pretty good job of acting.

*********** I'm a Ford guy but I really liked the Chevy truck commercials.  The one with the bull being hauled in the trrailer en route to a romantic assignment with some lovely females was pretty funny.

And the one showing the farm/ranch couple driving through a western scene is very touching.  The woman looks out the window, pensive, and then reaches over the console for her husband's hand.   He's a man's man, and salt-of-the-earth pickup-driving kind of guy, and he holds it reassuringly. She's wearing a wedding ring.  You get the idea they've been through things together, and then at the end we're told to support this or that cancer fund.  The only negative - for me - was the music.  It really sucked, and I almost didn't stay to the end.  The second time I saw it, I muted the set and really enoyed the spot.

*********** Liked the Toyota Highlander commercial with the guy being abducted by Muppets - "Singing Vegetables!"

*********** Chrysler's ad - Bob Dylan or not - was some POS saying that you don't want you beer made in Germany and you don't want your phone made in Asia, so we Americans will build you car.  I suppose they're banking on the fact that most Americans don't know that Chrysler is 100 per cent owned by Fiat - an Italian company - making this commercial just as suitable for any Japanese, Korean or German car made someplace in America by Americans.

*********** Liked the Radio Shack commercial introducing the New Radio Shack - "The 80's are calling and they want their store back."

*********** I think Bank of America wants you to buy some music and they'll contribute money to fight AIDS or some damn thing.

*********** I was shocked and appalled by the Coca-Cola spot in which "America the Beautiful" is sung - in several different languages.

Shocked that the people at Coke have so little respect for those of us old farts who've lived here long enough that we can remember a country where being American and speaking English were one and the same. No, we weren't perfect.  Our President has been pleased to make that clear to other nations.   But I have to tell you that, with a few exceptions, it was a better America than the one we live in today.

Appalled that the Forces of Those Who Know What's Best For Us (those folks who gave us gay "marriage" and took away trans-fats) continue to hammer away at their "our diversity is our strength" message, as if it's an indisputable truth.

Yes, perhaps anticipating the anger of people like me, the Coca-Cola people did include an American Indian speaking a native tongue. You got me there.  Those people speak English, but they go to great pains to keep their ancestral languages alive.

I wouldn't have had a problem, either,  if the Spanish singers were  people from New Mexico.  There were Spanish people living in that area before English speakers settled in Jamestown. Their descendants still live in the area. They are proud Americans.  And they speak English.

Nor would I have objected to having some people from South Louisiana singing in French.  Twenty years before there was a United States, their ancestors, driven from Canada ("Acadia") by the British, settled in the swamps and bayous and continued living as French.  (It's not hard to see how "Acadians" eventually became "Cajuns".) In the twentieth century, the children of their descendants were punished for speaking French in school.  Today, English is the majority language by far, but if you doubt the influence of French, you have only to listen to the accented English spoken by the characters in "Swamp People." The state of Lousiana, through an office called CODOFIL,  strives to keep French culture alive in the state.

In both of those cases, those people prove the truth that America is a melting pot.  They hold fast to many of their old ways, but they are American.  (Ask any guy in Cajun Country how he t'inks dem LSU Tigahs gonna do dis season.)

They're Americans. They don't march for their "rights" waving flags of a foreign country.

We should welcome people who come here really wanting to be Americans - people willing to do what it takes to be a part of what we are. To be one of us.  To change, if need be.  To speak English.

I sure don't want a new guy joining our football team who resists following our rules and procedures and expects us to accommodate him.  I figure we must have something that made him want to be a part of us.  Why would we want to change?  Why would he want us to?

I'm sick to here of the implied message to newcomers that they're fine just the way they are - that now that they're in Rome, we Romans will be glad to change our ways to suit them.

Even if it means destroying our culture.

You diversity pimps? I suggest that you look around the world and find me a nation that isn't either having problems with "diversity" or going to great lengths to avoid it and the problems it can cause

*********** Long-time double-winger Rick Davis and his wife, Beth, have relocated from Massachusetts to Auckland, New Zealand, and he's in hopes of finding a "gridiron" (that's what they call it there) team that he can hook up with. If you're "down there," and you happen to be reading this, e-mail me and I'll send you Rick's address.

*********** Payton Vetter, of Beloit, Kansas, is a special kid.  He was a four-year starter at quarterback for the Beloit Trojans - that's special enough -  and in his four years as the QB, he helped take the Trojans to the state quarterfinals as a freshman, to the state semi-finals as a sophomore and junior, and to the state final game as a senior. A multi-sport star, Payton plans to concentrate on football, and has signed with Butler Community College, where he'll likely play in the secondary (he's 6-2, 190 and fast.)  His ultimate goal is to play for the Kansas State Wildcats.  I believe he will.


*********** This is what you get when enough transplants move into your state  from California and bring the Golden State's  values with them:

1. Gay "Marriage" in Washington and Utah

2. Legalized sale, possession and use of marijuana in Washington and Colorado.

3. A guy named Harry Hempy running for Governor of Colorado.


*********** As  if the NFL doesn't have enough problems,  It's no secret that The League is worried to death about what the TV-at-home experience is doing to it at the gate.

So after all that the NFL did to put on its biggest show in New York (almost totally disrespecting New Jersey, where the game was actually played) the city's newly-elected mayor was gracious enough to announce to one and all that he wouldn't be attending the game - he'd be watching it at home, on TV. 

american flagFRIDAY,  JANUARY 31,  2014 “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”  Bill Gates

*********** Not long after Richard Sherman reacted to being called a thug by saying that "thug" could very well be code for the N-word, I found myself tuned in to one of those low-rent channels,  watching reruns of my favorite show, COPS. 

As usual, I heard the police officers on the show constantly address all manner of losers  as "Sir": "Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to get out of the car," "Sir, would you please put your hands behind your back?," "Sir, you're under arrest," etc.

But after thinking about what Richard Sherman said, I found myself wondering whether "Sir" is actually police code for "You worthless piece of sh--."

*********** I have a sort of connection with the Broncos and the Super Bowl - a loose, remote, and most definitely  improbable one.

Today, Dr. Jack Dolbin is a chiropractor in Pottsville, Pennaylvania.

But 40 years ago, he was my nemesis, as he played for his hometown Schuylkill County Coal Crackers against my Hagerstown Bears.  Damn, that sucker was fast.

He'd already knocked around a bit by the time he got to the Coal Crackers.

He'd been an all-state running back at Pottsville High, and played in the state's famous Big 33 All-Star game.  He played four years at Wake Forest, and then, unable to make it in the NFL, hooked up with the Pottstown (that's right, in Pennsylvania there's a PottsVILLE and a PottsTOWN) Firebirds.  Those were the days before the NFL rosters expanded - before the league itself expanded - and the Firebirds were very talented, perhaps the best minor league team ever fielded.

But after their league, the Atlantic Coast Football League, folded,  Jack Dolbin stayed in the game by playing closer to home with the Coal Crackers in the Seaboard Football League. He played with them for two seasons - 1971 and 1972 - and then hung it up to pursue chiropractic studies.

In 1974, the World Football League got under way, and, working for Philadelphia, I tried signing Jack Dolbin, but it was no use.  The Chicago Fire offered real money, not promises, and he wisely signed with them.

With the Fire, he caught 54 passes, mostly from Virgil Carter, for 942 yards and 7 touchdowns, and when the WFL folded (for the first time) after that  season, he was signed by the Broncos.

He enjoyed a nice career in Denver. He played five seasons and caught 94 passes for 1576 yards. And he started for the Broncos in their first Super Bowl ever - Super Bowl XII.

(It was the one in 1978 when Red Grange tossed the coin.)

It was a horrendous offensive performance by the Broncos - the Cowboys beat them, 27-10, and their two quarterbacks, Craig Morton and Norris Weese, in relief, combined to complete just eight of 25 passes.

But Jack Dolbin,  of Pottsville, Pennsylvania and the Schuylkill Coal Crackers, was the Broncos' leading receiver.



***********  Isn't  this sort of unusual?

According to New York Magazine, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been to  128 Bruce Springsteen concerts in the last 10 years.

That's an average of one a month for ten f--king years.

Draw your own conclusions.


*********** Good morning, Coach.
Hope things are well with you and Mrs. Wyatt.
Did you see this article in the paper this morning?    http://www.columbian.com/news/2014/jan/27/seahawks-chancellor-seattle-enforcer-minus-flags/
You just have to shake your head after reading Chancellor’s first quote in the article – the one about “learning proper tackling technique”. How did he make it to the NFL if he didn’t know how to tackle???
DJ Millay
Vancouver, Washington


It seems to me that when they get to the NFL the first thing they do is learn how NOT to tackle.

Hate to say this, but if they weren't the "local" team I could have a hard time liking the Seahawks.  

*********** When colleges start looking for money to pay their football players, I can tell them where to start.

They can start by bringing their well-paid college female soccer and lacrosse coaches in off the recruiting trail.  If that's what they call it.

I barely made it through a New York Time article describing how these coaches - whose sports don't make a f--king dime - travel all over the country - on football's dime, because where else does the money come from? - watching "elite" tournaments and getting commitments.  From - get this -  f--king eighth graders!

See, the problem is, there are just too many schools playing those sports - thanks a lot, Title IX - and not enough players with the skills to fill the scholarships available, so the coaches have to fight to get there first.  Before they're even in high school. Because you know how it goes - if you don't get a commitment from that eighth grader, someone else will. 


*********** This is old and dated.   It was  from an email forwarded to me  that   originated in July of 1996 with longtime LSU equipment manager Jeff Boss, who died of cancer in 2003.

In this time of helmets flying off, it's hard to believe that there was a time not so long ago when football people actually cared enough  about keeping the helmet on to argue about which chin strap position - high hookup or low hookup - did the best job.

Here's what he wrote:

I do not use the high hookup chin strap. Several years ago, Jon Falk at MIchigan had a player get a broken jaw because his helmet came off.   Not long after that, Jon and I visited Schutt (helmet manufacturer) and we were able to do extensive testing with David Halstead (of Southern Impact Research Center, in Tennessee) and were able to determine that the angles created by the low hookup were more conducive to holding the helmet on the head (best way to explain this is when a person wants to take his helmet off with the high hookup all he has to do is unhook the back snaps and the helmet comes right off, but with the low hookup he has to undo the entire side.)

Also, the high hookups on the top are in the hitting area and are much more likely to be knocked off or damaged.

Before I switched to all low hookups I would have approximately 10 helmets come off per year during practice and games.  In the four years that I have been completely low hookup, I can name only two times that a helmet has come off.

The low hookup is a great deal safer in my opinion.

*********** It is impossible to describe how big Tom Gola was.  Not 6-6 big, which he was, but BIG.  A great basketball player in a city, Philadelphia, that worshipped its basketball players.

"When I was growing up," Philadelphian Wilt Chamberlain once said,  you whispered the name Tom Gola. He was like a saint."

Tom Gola, who died this week,  was Philadelphia sports royalty.  A Polish kid from a rowhouse in a working-class neighborhood (his dad was a cop) he turned down offers from the biggest names in college basketball  stayed home and attend LaSalle just a short distance from the neighborhood. In his four years there, he put the tiny Catholic college on the map. 

At that time, I was in junior high, and a real sports nut. Philly then was hugely Catholic, and so was a lot of its basketball - three of its "Big Five" schools are Catholic institutions, and their players and fans had been rivals since they were little kids playing CYO basketball. Maybe because the other sports were nothing special - the Eagles were between their titles in 1949 and 1960, the Phillies had begun their fade after winning the pennant in 1950 and then being swept by the Yankees, the A's were on their way out of town, and Penn, about to enter the Ivy League,  was honoring its Top-Ten schedule with Ivy-League players. That left college basketball.  Philly was a big college basketball town, much bigger than the NBA, and I can't recall in my lifetime a bigger Philly sports figure than Tom Gola in his glory days at LaSalle. 

I do have to admit that at the time I didn't understand basketball, so I couldn't see what the insiders saw, and I didn't appreciate how great he was.  I was still at the stage when I thought the best player was the guy who scored the most points, and Tom Gola wasn't always that guy.  Nor was he flashy, either.  He was just smooth - years before Magic Johnson, he was one of those rare guys who  do everything well and seem to do it effortlessly. 

UCLA coach John Wooden once called him the "greatest all-around basketball player" he had ever seen.

He set a four-year record for rebounds - 2201 (an 18 per game average) - that, in this day of one-and-done players, may never be broken. But despite his size (6-6), he was a good enough dribbler and ball-handler to  bring the ball up court.  Unselfishly, he dished it off more than he shot, and although he averaged 20 points a game,  experts agreed he could have scored far more.  His defense may have been his strongest suit -  typically he was assigned to guard the opponent's best scorer.

His impact on LaSalle - and Philadelphia - basketball was enormous.  In his four years at LaSalle, the Explorers were 102-19.  Largely because of his drawing power,  in his four years there, LaSalle played in "the Garden"  - Madison Square Garden, then the unquestioned  hub of college basketball - 23 times.

In 1952, his freshman year, LaSalle won the NIT title (the NIT was then on a par with the NCAA in terms of prestige) and Gola was named the tournament MVP.

In 1954, LaSalle won the NCAA title, and he was named tournament MVP.

In 1955, Gola was named the College Player of the Year, but in his last college game, LaSalle lost the NCAA title to San Francisco.  (Lord how I hated the names Bill Russell and K.C. Jones!)

Gola was a first-team All-American all four of his college seasons.

He played ten years in the NBA.  He was drafted first by the hometown Philadelphia Warriors thanks to something the NBA called the Territorial Pick, designed to help attendance by giving teams the right to forego their first draft pick in order to take a local college star.

(So good was Philadelphia college basketball at that time - and so astute a businessman was Warriors' owner Eddie Gottlieb - that in a ten-year span, from 1950 through 1959, the Warriors chose six Philadelphia-area players: Paul Ariizin, Bill Mlkvy, Ernie Beck, Gola, Guy Rodgers and Wilt Chamberlain. Arizin, Gola, Rodgers and Chamberlain are in the Hall of Fame. Although Chamberlain didn't go to college in the Philadelphia area, Gottlieb argued that since he only played one year of varsity ball at Kansas, he had played far more basketball in the Philadelphia area, and the league went along.)

As a professional, Gola concentrated on defense, rebounding, and assisting, because they didn't need him to score.

"We had (Paul) Arizin and (Neil) Johnston when I got there," Gola said. "They were like the top two scorers in the league. Then Wilt came along. My job was to guard the opponents' best guard - Jerry West, Oscar Robertson, Bill Sharman - and be a playmaker."

He did his job well. He averaged a little over 11 points in his 10 seasons but he did so many things so well that he made five NBA  all-star teams.

To give you an idea of how different the times were then - I'd love to find the clipping that I remember from the sports pages years ago when Gola scored maybe 30 points on night and the story line the next morning was:  good shooting runs in the family. His father, Ike, had shot and killed a bad guy that same night.

Today, of course, Officer Gola would be placed on administrative leave while a panel decided whether his use of force was justified.  And how much money to pay to the crook's family.

Great story - one year Tom Gola was notified that he'd been named to the All-Italian-American team.  He had to inform them, as diplomatically as possible, that he had to decline the honor - because he was Polish.  (It was not unusual, years ago,  for immigrants to adopt simpler, easier-to-spell names; originally, the family name was Galinsky.)


*********** An Army player from the days of long ago was reminded by the stories coming out of West Point about the new coach, Jeff Monken of what it was like to play for legendary Army coach Earl Blaik:

Back in the days when we dressed in the old gym and practiced on the field across from the plain and next to the baseball field: I was running late for practice and dressing in a hurry. I decided my pants were too loose and I strapped a piece of tape around my right thigh.  I was met on the edge of the practice field by Colonel Blaik himself who asked  me where I was going. “To practice,” I said. “Not dressed like that, you’re not!”  he said, pointing to the tape on my pant leg. I raced back to the gym and corrected the error.

*********** So now it's protective caps for pitchers. Caps capable of withstanding a 90 mph line drive.

But will pitchers wear them? 

Eventually, yes.  But don't expect pitchers to line up for them right away.  As I understand it, the cap is going to be an inch wider than normal on each side.  That could look a little goofy. And knowing how self-conscious pro athletes are about their appearance - not to mention the questions about their manhood that they're likely to hear from opponents -  I think it's going to take a while.

I'm not familiar enough with the history of baseball to know whether there was resistance from catchers to the idea of wearing shin guards… chest protectors… face masks.  But I doubt that they appeared on everyone, overnight.

Years later, the batting helmet was certainly slow to catch on.  It really took a generation of kids growing up thinking that batting helmets were just part of the game. 

I can show you photos from the late 1940s of football players wearing face masks (or whatever they called them then). So they had them. But very few players wore them - only those who'd suffered some sort of facial injury.  Only then was it okay. 

There had to be something keeping the rest of the players from wearing masks.  Life Magazine once ran a photo spread of mug shots of Notre Dame players one thing they all had in common was missing teeth.  None of them wore face masks.  Why not?

I suspect that it had something to do with our concept of masculinity. Of toughness.   World War II, remember, was less than 10 years in the past.

I remember when hockey goalies played without masks.  I saw the very first one to wear a mask, Jacques Plante, play in his first game as a New York Ranger.  That was in 1963 or 64.  Other goalies around the NHL were not exactly quick copy him.  They continued to take stitches to the face rather than buck the hockey culture.

Helmets for the rest of the  team?  Don't make me laugh.  Hey - we're Canadians (99 per cent of the NFL of that time was)! And we're hockey players!  What do you think we are - a bunch of  college kids?   Europeans?

Again, it was an upwardly mobile thing.  Little kids who started out playing with helmets on simply continued to do so, until now it'd hard to imagine a hockey game without helmets.

So, yes.  Pitchers will wear those protective caps.  Eventually.

*********** It made the front pages of our local sports sections... It's been hyped as a breakthrough for tolerance... the "first college football player to come out publicly while still playing."

I call it much ado about nothing.  B. F. D.

Okay.  A 19-year-old freshman at Willamette University, a Division III school in Salem, Oregon, saying he was tired of pretending to be straight, has announced to his coach, his teammates and the American public that he is a switch-hitter. (I can't say that? ) Okay, then -  a  bisexual.

Only one problem.  Until proven otherwise, the guy is NOT a "college football player."

He hasn't so much as stepped on the field in a college game.  He's a freshman who missed all of last season recovering from a knee injury.   He faces competition to be next year's  kicker for Willamette - a nice little school with a competitive football program.

And even if he does become the kicker, so what?  It's not as if he'll be  actually "playing football." Nothing against women, you understand, but  a woman has already kicked successfully in college football - at the Division One level yet - and no one claimed that she was a "football player."

But so eager is the national media for the Big One - the announcement that a real, honest-to-God football player at a major college is gay (or something along those lines) that they're willing to settle in the meantime  for a non-story.

I they'd acted on my rules proposal years ago - no one can kick the ball in any way more than once in a game -  there wouldn't be a position on a team for a "football player" who isn't a football player.

*********** Jim Geraghty's review of the President's State of the Union Message...

In a development that surprises no one, his fans liked it, his critics largely hated it, and millions upon millions of Americans wondered what happened to their favorite shows that usually air at 9 p.m. Eastern.

*********** If the Broncos win the Super Bowl, Peyton Manning will earn the  winners' share - $92,000. He'll earn $46,000 if they lose.

Now, get this, America - if he comes back for another season, he'll owe New Jersey roughly $46,000, win or lose.

In other words, if the Broncos should lose, he'll have played Sunday for zip. That's because New Jersey will compute his taxes at a rate based not on what he'll earn just while he's in New Jersey for the Super Bowl, but on his TOTAL 2014 INCOME - what he'll make this entire year. Salary, bonuses, appearances, endorsements - everything.  Money he hasn't even made yet. Money that he'll make in Colorado, California, Louisiana, Texas, Florida and assorted other places that aren't named New Jersey.

Hmmm.  I can't believe the NFLPA knew about this when the bright idea of a game in New Jersey was being kicked around.

*********** Yes, yes, I know - New York is the self-styled Capitol of the World. And the Super Bowl is the self-styled World's Biggest Event.  Nevertheless, as of Wednesday morning, there were 18,000 tickets still unsold.  Good luck peddling them at this late date.Yes, there are millions of NFL fans within 100 miles of MetLife Stadium, but with neither the Giants nor Jets  playing in the game, few of them are going to (1) pay an outrageous price  for a ticket (even a deeply discounted one) and then (2) deal with the twisted logistics of a sports event that they can't drive to, walk to, or tailgate prior to, when they could spend the same money and buy a 60"  TV and watch the game in the comfort of home. Game after game after game.


american flagTUESDAY,  JANUARY 28,  2014 “The first virtue in a soldier is endurance of fatigue; courage is only the second virtue.”  Napoleon Bonaparte

************ The  first person other than the game referee to toss the coin at a Super Bowl was the immortal Red Grange of Illinois and the Chicago Bears, before the 1978 game. 

Grange,  the “Galloping Ghost,” scored 31 touchdowns and ran for 3,362 yards in his 20-game  college career, and his signing with the Bears put the NFL on the map. He was a charter member of both the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame.

Besides being one of the greatest football players ever to play the game, one whose impact on the game has never been equalled, Red Grange is special to our family.

In 1930, when the Bears were in Philadelphia to play the Frankford Yellow Jackets, Grange paid a visit to an old Illinois teammate who was then coaching the high school team in suburban Abington, Pennsylvania.

In his honor, Abington' chose The Galloping Ghost as its mascot, and ever since, its teams  have been nicknamed the Galloping Ghosts.

Abington High was the first team (other than Ridgefield, Washington) to run my Double Wing system.

Abington is my wife's hometown and Abington High is her alma mater. She's proud to be a Galloping Ghost.

***********  I don't know whether you know this or not, but I won two national championships. Not one, but two. Ahem.

Okay, okay. There was a trick to it.

Make sure, I always tell people, to find yourself a small enough nation.

In my case, the nation was Finland, with fewer people than my own state of Washington, and fewer football teams than the state of Rhode Island.

My feat was roughly comparable to your finishing first in your league.

Nothing wrong with that,  but it's going to get me a seat at the head table next to  Nick Saban.

If you harbor ambitions to win a state title here in the US, you might want to learn more about the different ways people have proposed to break up various states and create 124 of them.


*********** It ought to be interesting to see how K. C. Keeler , a Pennsylvanian by way of Delaware, does deep in the heart of Texas, as the new head coach at  Sam Houston State.

*********** There's no getting around the fact that the NFL is a marketing Goliath.

The Seahawks-49ers game last Sunday had an average audience of 55.9 million viewers, an increase of 33 per cent over last year's NFC championship game between the 49ers and the Falcons.

No telling how many of those 55.9 million viewers were young males, but suffice it to say it was a lot,  if you're an advertiser, there's simply no other way you can reach that many of them at one time.

The game opened with 47.4 million viewers tuning in and grew to 60.3 million by the time Richard Sherman tipped the pass intended for Michael Crabtree. 

The Seattle-Tacoma market was tops, with a 54.3 rating and an 85 share - in other words, 54.3 per cent of all TV sets in the market - on or off -  and 85 per cent of those sets actually turned on, were tuned to the game. The San Francisco Bay Area market was second with a 47.5 rating and a 78 share. Third was Sacramento (46.7 rating, 72 share) and fourth was Portland (39.5 rating, 63 share).


*********** Based on the way TV ratings spike whenever there's a weather "event," I'm thinking that if the weather in New York is really bad on Super Bowl Sunday, there could be as many people watching the Super Bowl pre-game shows as the game itself.

I can see it now: the weather gal standing on the overpasses, gripping her mic in her right hand while using the other to hold her hat on in the fierce wind.

Tell me that's not more interesting than watching assorted former players and coaches tell us that the game could come down to special teams. Or turnovers. Or the breaks.  Or who wants it more.

Down below,  on the  Jersey Turnpike, stretch limos have piled up in both directions.  The team buses are in there somewhere, and military helicopters have been dispatched to find them and airlift the players to the stadium.

Some fans abandon their cars and try slogging through deep snow to the stadium, visible in the distance. Enterprising locals with snowmobiles offer them rides to the stadium. The going rate  is $500 a person - cash - and business is brisk. To the great dismay of those delivered to the stadium, though, they're informed that  NFL policy prohibits "pedestrians" from entering stadium grounds, and they're turned away.

Other fans, lucky enough to hold parking passes and to have made it into the stadium parking lot before the snow accumulated, try warming themselves by lighting their charcoal grills - only to be told that anything remotely resembling tailgating is strictly prohibited, (perhaps for fear that some fans might think that they're attending a real football game).

Commissioner Goodell's limo is believed to be somewhere in the traffic jame.  In his absence, one of the 17 NFL Vice-Presidents already on hand at the stadium (having stayed there overnight) continues to deny reports that in the event the game can't go on as scheduled the NFL has been negotiating with Russian President Putin to move the Winter Olympics' opening ceremonies to MetLife Stadium.

Is this great TV, or what?

A nightmare for the NFL, maybe, but certainly  not for the folks at home, riveted to their sets. 

Nor for all those advertisers who couldn't afford the price of a Super Bowl TV spot and bought time in the pre-game shows instead.

Combine a major weather event with the biggest sporting event of the year, and you're talking about TV ratings through the roof.

*********** Love that Geico "Oldest trick in the book" commercial - the aged wizard going into his dusty book and instructing his apprentice to look in the direction he points, than saying, "Ha-HA! Madest thou look! Here endeth the trick."

*********** In a great Jack in the Box commercial, Jack's personal assistant comments on  the "Clock bracelet" he always wears.

"My watch?" he asks.   "These were invented a lo-o-ong time ago."

"Like…" the young lady says,  "in the… 80s?"


*********** I watch a fair amount of Fox News, and I'm getting REALLY, REALLY tired of the Dell commercial that takes a classic 1960s song ("Beginnings," aka "This Magic Moment") and makes it sound as if the singer just got neutered.  Worst of all, it seems to run every 15 minutes.


*********** Senior Bowl-

*** Tajh Boyd (Clemson), Logan Thomas (Virginia Tech) and Stephen Morris (Miami)  played for the North… Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois) played for the South

*** The tackling was really, really good. Obviously, those guys had been well coached.

I wonder how long it'll take NFL coaching to break all those good habits and turn them into "pro" tacklers

*** If they run a play on the field while the guys in the booth are talking about something else… did it really happen?

*** Auburn's Dee Ford is a beast.  Pretty funny story - An Englishwoman, also named Dee Ford, has a Twitter handle very similar to his, and she hasn't the foggiest idea why she keeps receiving all these WAR DAMN EAGLE messages - or what they mean.


*********** The Pro Bowl. What a joke.

To me, it was SOS, but that's because I didn't get the memo from Headquarters. You know, the one that went out to Al and Chris and all the  media sycophants enjoying the sun and the NFL's hospitality:

Be sure to tell everyone:

This game is GREAT.


Things sure have turned around since COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL questioned whether the game could be justified.

Yessir, that was a Pro Bowl game on a par with an NBA All-Star game.

Funny how Our President can get such mileage out of railing against "the rich", and then Chris and Al let slip that for their "efforts" each member of the winning team received $53,000, while each member of the losing team got "only" $26,000.

One of the teams won, 22-12 when they scored with a little over a minute to play and went for two.  Well, duh.

The announcers called coach Ron Rivera a "riverboat gambler" for making the decision.  Yeah, right. No way was that thing going to end 21-21.

A tie would have been a PR disaster for the League, but I couldn't see those players sticking around long enough to play overtime  for a lousy $14,000 - the difference between a winner's share and the even split that they'd settle for in the event of a tie.

The biggest thrill of the day for me came when both field goals attempted were missed. For their troubles, both of the kickers got all-expenses paid vacations in Hawaii. On top of that, one of them went home $53,000 richer, while the  other had to settle for $26,000.

*********** A gentleman named Robley Taylor died recently.  Mr. Taylor was 91, a World War II vet, and an ardent Georgia Tech fan.  To see just how ardent a Tech fan he was, check out this excerpt from his obituary…

He loved his family, his neighbors, Georgia Tech, the Atlanta Braves, bowling (he was a great bowler), the Atlanta Journal/Constitution (where his dad had worked), Waffle House, Hickory House and the Picadilly Cafeteria, and Little Debbie. He didn't get his final wish for Tech, which was to see Paul Johnson get fired, but hey, there's still time.


american flagFRIDAY,  JANUARY 24,  2014 - "My management style is characterized by worry."   NBA Commissioner David Stern

********** A reader who makes his living as a sports reporter - and asks that I not use his name - writes,

Don't publish my name with this ...but I wonder how much Fox pulling the plug on Sherman had to do with the fact that Erin Andrews looked completely scared/befuddled/clueless when Sherman went off.  I can't think of any sideline reporter more ill-prepared for something like that than the highly-overrated Ms Andrews.

She really did look flustered, didn't she?

I think it's important that we give the devil his due. That would be Fox.  Fox used Sherman and they got what they wanted - an interview that people are still talking about.  Even on the straight news shows.

And Sherman's future is set. If there's a place on TV for Michael Irvin or Deion Sanders, there's certainly one for Richard Sherman.

*********** A lot of people are unaware of this, but although the 32 individual NFL franchises are run as for-profit businesses, the NFL itself is not.

The NFL is a non-profit. It is - get ready for this - a charitable foundation!

In 2012, its commissioner, Roger Goodell, was paid $29.5 million.

Charity?   In 2012, Big Football gave away just $2.3 million, most of which ($2.1 million) went to its favorite charity - the NFL Hall of Fame.

The lengths to which Big Football will go to preserve this highly-favored status (neither MLB or the NBA have it) naturally include seeing to it that many of the people who make our laws will be at the Super Bowl on the NFL's (or a lobbyist's) dime,  but both the NFL and the lawmakers will go to great lengths to make sure you don't know about that.


*********** Got a player that you can't get any schools to take a look at?  Check this out...

The National Football Foundation is partnering to host two "showcases," one in Houston and one in Southern California, in February for high school seniors who haven't signed with a Division I football program.

The Houston Showcase, run by the NFF Touchdown Club of Houston, is on February  15 at the Houston Texans’ practice facility.

The California Showcase, organized by College Football Hall of Fame coach Terry Donahue (UCLA) and the NFF Newport Beach Chapter, is on February 22 at the Stub Hub Center in Carson, California.

The events are free, with both locations having between 30-40 colleges from Divisions II and III and the NAIA.

All partipants must be registered in advance. There will be no walk-ups on the day of the event.

To attend the Houston Showcase (on February 15) register here:


To attend the California Showcase (on February 22) register here:


Players will go through a series of position-specific workouts and can sign with colleges on the spot.

Those wishing to participate in the Showcases must

(1) be a graduating high school senior
(2) not have accepted a scholarship offer from a Division I football program.
(3) meet one of the three following academic requirements:
Have a 2.5 GPA or higher (4 point scale, unweighted)
Be in the top half of their graduating class
Have an SAT score of 1000 (math and verbal only) or higher, or ACT of 18 or higher

********** Sure sounds like she'd be a lot of fun to talk to…

A local businesswoman was interviewed in our paper, and, asked to name the most interesting book she'd read in the last 12 months, answered...

"I became a vegetarian about a year ago and since then most of my reading has been books about food and healthy eating."

*********** Whatever happened to the 10 minute cooling off period before the media could conduct interviews?  I believe that was an NCAA post season policy at one point in history.  Coaches and players had a ten minute period before they have to arrive at the press conference or be approached by the media.
John Bothe
Oregon, Illinois


I imagine the colleges still have such a rule - or at least most coaches do.  It's certainly good policy for any high school coach.  There are way too many 22-year-old journalism majors looking for the big story that'll get them out of Podunk and launch them on their path to the Big City, and the last thing they want to hear is "It was a good game.  Both teams played hard."

More and more coaches (Chip Kelly at Oregon was a pioneer) run totally closed operations and the news media have very little access to anyone in the program.

That's impossible in the pros, where you're not only dealing with the league office, but with unionized players, many of whom have their own radio shows and write their own blogs and scoff at the idea that any coach would think he could muzzle them.

*********** Hi Coach , hope the world is treating you and yours well.I have not written in a while [ sorry]  I am compelled to write today in response to some of our  fellow coaches response to that worse than idiotic show FRIDAY NIGHT TYKES. It saddens me to see youth football smeared in this fashion. I coached for years in youth ball before moving on to high school ball and I have witnessed my share of  bad Coaching and stupidity. [ AT EVERY LEVEL } 

But this is a straight up smear job that contributes to the deliberate destruction of our game. It is reality TV at its worst and no more real than "Survivor"  or Storage Wars". It does a lot of organizations, coaches and leagues a real disservice and could have been done to any of us at ANY level. I have coached in a few different leagues and NONE of them would tolerate the kind of crap that goes on on that show . Plenty of teaching goes on in most youth organizations and while few are even close to perfect, most are well intended , have minimum play rules , behaviour standards for coaches and players , training requirements for coaches and a whole lot of caring people.

You should go out and see who is coaching your son but you should not prevent him from playing unless it is called for. Just like you should make an effort to see who is teaching your kid in the classroom. Most of the guys I have known are good role models , good coaches and better teachers than a lot of people the high school tolerates. My 2 cents from a guy that spent more than 10 years in youth ball .

Contact the jack..s's that advertise on this show and boycott them. [ sadly we will have to watch it once to pull this off ]

Sincerely ,

Kirk Melton
LaConner, Washington


Can't disagree with you.  As I've said, this is just one small step short of "Dog Fighting Gangs of Appalachia," but truthfully, I've seen this coming for a long time.

For years, I've railed against the drooling neanderthals of the youth game who get their jollies by pitting two little kids (often mismatched)  against each other and snarling, "Let's see who wants to hit! Nyuk, nyuk."

Sure is a good thing those guys don't teach swimming.

Now comes a "Reality TV" show that paints all youth coaches with the same broad brush. (Think it didn't bother me as a teacher or coach when I'd hear that some teacher someplace got caught messing around with a student?  I'm sure that every time that happens there are parents out there who'll never look at a teacher or a coach the same way again.  This same guilt-by-association is sure to affect the far more numerous good youth coaches.)

The only reason it took the TV people this long, and the only reason the show's getting all this publicity, is that now, thanks to our friends in Big Football,  football is under attack at all levels.  

I'm not sure how we could have prevented it, but I do know that many of us, starstruck,  were willing to stand by while the NFL (and its tentacle, USA Football)  positioned itself as the spokesman for all of football;  and now, as Big Football chugs along with its astronomical TV ratings, a lot of the anger that rightfully should be directed at it is instead being directed at us.

And if you think this show is bad, wait until the public tires of funding school sports, and we have to go with club sports - and guys like these Friday Night Tykes coaches wind up coaching high-school-age kids.

*********** Assuming that the NFL approves my proposal, this Sunday's Pro Bowl will be the last of its kind - that is, one in which actual pros play the game.

And I predict that approval will come fast after watching what results from team captains Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders (who obviously has compromising pictures of some high-ranking network exec)  playing rock-paper-scissors (in the absence of a baseball bat) and then choosing up sides that make no sense whatsoever, so that players - well, those who don't play on one of the Super Bowl teams and those who haven't come down with some mysterious ailment that prevents them from playing - can (yawn) play a game of football only slightly rougher than two-hand touch.

Here's my proposal:

From all over America, we'll compile two teams of halfway-decent football players, and those guys will actually play the "Pro Bowl" game.

The real Pro Bowl players will still receive the honor, of course, and they'll still get to spend a week in Hawaii, doing whatever it is that seems to make them want to spend a week there.  But - here's the big selling point for them - they won't have to play in the f--king game!

Now, to get the players.

At first, I gave some thought to conducting the whole thing like an adult fantasy camp - selling, or even auctioning off, positions, with the money being shared among the actual Pro Bowl selectees. What NFL player wouldn't like that? (Of course, in the true spirit of the NFL itself, they'd all make a big show of donating  trifling sums to some politically-correct charity.) 

But naah. Who'd watch a game played by a bunch of rich 50-year-old investment managers?  

Instead - the slick marketing guys at the NFL will have to flesh out the details -  we'll select the players - and pay for the whole deal - with a reality TV show.  It's ratings will go through the roof. 

We'll winnow out the tens of thousands of applicants at several  tryout camps (sponsored, of course) to be held around the country.   (One stipulation is that these guys must not have ever appeared in an NFL game.)

Those deemed to have potential and - this is important - personality will be invited to appear on the show.

Then, over a period of several weeks, the players will be chosen, position by position. (First week, offensive linemen, second week defensive linemen, etc.)

First, a panel of retired coaches and players as well as popular figures from the world of entertainment will interview the candidates, always making sure to ask the key question, "Why do you want to play in the Pro Bowl Game?"  (Their stories are sure to  draw in the female audience.)

Next, the  panelists will review and discuss video of the players  from the on-field tryouts  and then select the top players and the top reserves at each position.

Following their  selection, all players would attend a (sponsored, of course) four-week camp conducted by retired NFL coaches.

At some point, players would have to be separated into teams. My initial thought was red states vs. blue states, with "battleground"  states up for grabs, but it might be more interesting (and commercially viable) if the panelists "drafted" players on the show, or if viewers voted for players, along the lines of American Idol.

At the game itself, players would play as surrogates for the real Pro Bowl selectees. For example, one of the running backs would  wear a jersey with "PETERSON" on the back.

And the real Adrian Peterson, as well as all the other Pro Bowl selectees,  would cap off their week of R & R by standing  on the sidelines, providing tips and encouragement to their stand-ins.

For those who might complain that under my proposal what you'll see won't look like real football, I answer - Have you seen a "real"  Pro Bowl game lately?

*********** Back in the early 80s or thereabouts,  high school rules were changed to outlaw all blocking below the waist except in the free-blocking zone, and only under certain conditions.

The intent, a good one, was to cut down on knee injuries.

I remember objecting at the time because it seemed unfair to smaller players, whose only recourse in blocking bigger guys had been to block them low.

Now,  to comply with the rules,  we had to teach  them to block higher - against bigger, stronger defensive guys who could clean their clocks.

Perhaps in the years since the change those bigger, stronger defensive guys have experienced fewer knee injuries.  There's no possible way of knowing for sure.

And there's also no way of knowing whether, in that same time span,   the smaller guys  have suffered more concussions.

But in this concussion-crazed age, it's something to think about..

*********** Wrote Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal...

Mississippi's Gov. Frank "Boo" Burnham, the conservative who won a 2011 landslide, gave an interview Friday in which he demonstrated all that is wrong in American politics - all its division, its intolerance, its ignorance and sickness. Burnham damned and removed from the rolls of the respectable everyone in his state who is pro-choice, who is for some form of gun control, and who supports gay marriage. In a radio interview marked by a tone of smug indignation and self-righteousness, Burnham said "extreme liberals" who are "for abortion, who hate guns, who want homosexuals to marry - if that's who they are they're the extreme liberals, they have no place in the state of Mississippi because that's not who Mississippians are."

"Boo Burnham" is fictional. So is the article.

But substitute "Andrew Cuomo" for "Boo Burnham," and New York for Mississippi, then switch positions on all the issues - choice, gun control, gay marriage -  and  ask yourself if a conservative Republican could have said the damnfool things New York's left-wing governor Cuomo did, and an attack by the leftist media.

*********** Hugh,
Perhaps the end is nearing for the "keekers" in the NFL?  This would be a great opportunity for the NFL to move to your proposal of not allowing a player to kick the ball more than once per game.

Coach Greg Koenig
Beloit, Kansas

Good point.

This sounds a lot like the old WFL "Action" point - TD worth seven points, run or pass for the extra point.

Trouble with Goodell's "idea" is that most coaches will not take a chance on winding up with only six points.

My concern is that now that they're actually talking about doing something, they'll stop way short of what's needed.

If they don't go for my (admittedly wacko) idea, they should at least devalue the field goal to two points.  Then maybe teams won't give up so easily on gong for touchdowns.

One reason they're not likely to devalue the FG is that as long as its value is nearly half that of a touchdown and the nearly-automatic extra point, there will continue to be lots of "thrilling" endings thanks to lots of "thrilling" last second field goals.

(Some thrill - field goals are becoming nearly automatic, too. NFL kickers made over 80 per cent this past season, and roughly 67 per cent on kicks over 50 yards.  Last Sunday,keekers were 9 for 9 on field goals.)

american flagTUESDAY,  JANUARY 21,  2014 - "To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical."   Thomas Jefferson

*********** Saturday, in hopes that because I'd been good they'd bring back college football, I turned on the TV and stumbled upon this thing called the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.

From the looks of the smallish crowd at the smallish stadium in Carson, California, it appeared as if some people in the neighborhood had stumbled across the game, too.

It was very difficult to watch, mainly because very few of the players, many of them from smaller collegs,  were known - or even identifiable in any way.  Their helmets weren't much of a help, because this was one of those "swapping stickers" games, with many of the players wearing collages of decals on their helmets; and the NFLPA, a union of millionaires, evidently was too strapped for funds to put players' names on the backs of the jerseys.

It was an "East" vs "West" deal, but as usual with that sort of game, the people who decided who played on what team would never have passed my freshman geography class.

Worst of all, as the unknown (and unidentified) players ran around down on the field, the announcers spent the entire fourth quarter talking about the f--king draft (!) without calling a single play.

*********** Seattle Seahawks' cornerback Richard Sherman can be a loudmouth and a braggart.  He can act the fool.   But at the same time, he's also capable of real eloquence.  That's because he's a kid from the streets of L.A., but he's Stanford-educated.   He's a bright guy but he's also  a pro football player,   capable of getting down and dirty with the downest and dirtiest of a down-and-dirty game, and to someone like me who admires Stanford and Stanford football, his frequent lack of sportsmanship can be an embarrassment.

For those who didn't know who he was before Sunday's Seahawks-49ers game, he's that guy who made the spectacular, game-saving play in his own end zone with mere seconds remaining, then engaged in a nasty little cat fight with the 49ers' Michael Crabtree, and then drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for directing a "choke" sign at 49ers' quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Tsk, tsk.  Damn shame, wasn't it,  to spoil such a great play by following it up with such trashy conduct?

Well, yes. And that  should have been that.

Except that somebody at CBS evidently  thought it would be "great TV" to get Sherman in a post-game interview immediately -  before the two teams had even finished their handshakes.

Normally, they'd interview a quarterback.  Or a running back. And they'd get bland platitudes.

But instead, they went for the belligerent defensive back, and just as they'd hoped, Sherman was still pissed.   And he went off, on national television, changing in an instant his public image from "Richard's very smart and never at a loss for words" to "what kind of a raving maniac is this guy?"

Okay, okay. Yes, I said  the guy can be a loudmouth and a braggart.

But let's be fair - he was ambushed.

We all know it  can take a guy - coaches included - a little while after a game  to change from his fiery, on-the-field persona back to his more civil, real-world character, especially if he's ended the game in a heated spat, as Sherman did. 

The network guys knew that.

They also knew Sherman, and they knew that once he  had a microphone thrust at him, he would go all motormouth.  Indignant, pro wrestling  motormouth at that.

Which he did, in a manner certainly more reflective of his street upbringing than of his Stanford education.

This should never have happened.

Years and years ago, coaches knew that  it could. Their concern then was mostly that one of their players, not carefully trained in speaking with the "press" (as it was then called), might  say something that would inflame an upcoming opponent - something they'd then post on their bulletin board.

So most coaches prohibited their players  from speaking with the press, other than when some representative of management was present to serve as a filter (or muzzle).

But then along came the NFL office, putting PR and marketing ahead of everything,  insisting that players WILL be available to speak to the media. And,  players' right to privacy notwithstanding, they WILL, under penalty of heavy fine, speak to the media when called upon (see Marshawn Lynch.)

An immediate post-game interview  is tough enough for coaches, even  as we've become  experienced in dealing with the media. Who among us has not at least once in his career been caught at a bad moment - been interviewed immediately after a tough loss, say - and gone ballistic?  Who among us,  given the benefit of a  little more time to reflect and compose ourselves, wouldn't have said things differently?

Most players don't have the benefit of that experience, and it's unreasonable to expect them, especially defensive players,  to come fresh from the field of battle and  interview like clones of Tom Brady or Peyton Manning.

Let's face it - Richard Sherman got caught in their game of gotcha.

I'm not much of a victimhood advocate, but if I were a judge, I would instruct the American people to strike that interview from the record.

*********** I wrote that Richard Sherman is eloquent, but  I'll print a link to the latest entry to his blog and let you decide for yourself.

Let's just say that if, indeed, he wrote this himself (and I have no reason to believe he didn't), he could certainly do most sports reporters' jobs a whole lot better than they could do his...


********* Noted Sportswriter Joe Posnanski has a take on Richard Sherman's post-game rant that's somewhat similar to mine…


But to the point: Why do we ask these players (and coaches) questions so soon after they were under fiery hypnosis, so soon after they were smashing into each other and breaking bones, right as the adrenaline is draining and the pain is beginning to surface? And, more, why do we expect their answers to fit our expectations? I’m certainly not saying that Sherman acted admirably after his interception, the choke sign he made toward quarterback Colin Kaepernick the taunt, then the “Don’t open your mouth about the best” soliloquy. Of course it wasn’t admirable.

But I have no idea what Richard Sherman has to do to himself to play professional football at the level he plays it. I have no idea what his state of mind must be like when he’s trying to match up to the violence of the moment. When Priest Holmes would finish games, he would almost never come out to his locker to talk. Sometimes, though, I would wait for him. An hour, An hour and a half. Sometimes two. The locker room would be empty. The equipment guys would ask me to turn out the lights when I left. Finally, he would limp out, and he would walk over to his locker, and he would slowly put on his clothes. And we would talk.

“I don’t see how those guys do it,” he would say of the players who had already spoken to the press. “If I had to talk right after the game, I’d say the craziest things you’ve ever heard.”

*********** My unsolicited tip to the Seahawks' offensive staff: Russell Wilson does a lot of things well, but he is 5-11 and does not do well in the pocket. (If you hadn't noticed.)

*********** Hugh, that was a very interesting article on Steve van Buren.  As a side note, I have always enjoyed that old-fashioned school of sports cartooning exemplified by the Wheaties ad.  Do you happen to know anything about the artist(s) who drew in that style?  If there was some sort of an anthology of those cartoons I would put my Scottish ethnicity in a chokehold and actually purchase it!

Shep Clarke
Puyallup, Washington


The best of all sports cartoonists was the great Willard Mullin.  He did all sports but mostly baseball - that was the only really big professional team sport in his era.

I checked with Amazon and there is a collection of his drawings...


*********** Last year: "I'm a big football fan, but I have to tell you, if I had a son, I'd have to think long and hard before I let him play football."

This year: "I would not let my son play pro football."

What a stupid thing to say:

(1) His son would probably be a dope smoker like his old man, anyhow

(2) If you've ever seen the old man throw, baseball's out of the question. So's bowling.

(3) We're making progress.  This year he said "pro football." Maybe that means that he'd at least let him play youth football. If it was okay with his wife.

(4) He's safe: he knows that the chances of any American boy growing up to play NFL football are no better than 10,000 to one anyhow.

(5) In the history of the NFL there is no record of any player good enough to play pro football whose father wouldn't let him.

(6) There's no chance that his son would ever make it that far anyhow, because, as with way too many of today's American marriages, Mom wears the pants in his family, and she would have had that kid playing soccer. 


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

I had to write.  Have you watched a program on youth football in San Antonio, Texas called "Friday Night Tykes".  It made me want to puke.  It virtually validated why if I would have had a son I woultdn't have let him play youth football unless I coached him!!   Those coaches were neanderthals beating their chests and flapping their gums about how they made those kids tough.  I didn't see any of them TEACHING those boys the fundamental skills of HOW to play the game, and play it CORRECTLY!!  Actually HEARD them SAY they have those kids play like the "pros" and "NCAA".  I heard one of them say they smack talk, and allow them to fight.  I saw a live angle one-on-one tackling drill that had the kids making full-speed contact at 15 yards!!  And some of them leading with their heads!  It was sickening to watch.  My wife commented saying it is little wonder why so many moms are afraid to let their boys play football.  I told her it's the AAU basketball mentality, and now it has reared its ugly head in football.   I wonder how many really good youth football coaches saw that film, and wonder what they thought about it?  I can't wait to hear your take on it!

Joe Gutilla
Austin, Texas


I've received a lot of mail about this topic, and like you, everyone deplores what passes on the show for "coaching."

It's something I've written about for years, and now,  the cure is in sight.

Unfortunately, the cure takes the form either of NFL control (via its puppet organization, USA Football, the self-anointed "governing body" of US football or government control (including proposals to outlaw tackle football below a certain age).

That the NFL, which is not without some serious problems of its own, would try to run youth sports reflects the sort of arrogant belief in its ability to step outside its area of competence that we've seen lately in our government's attempted seizure of our health care system.

There's a bill in the New York legislature  that would outlaw tackle football by youngsters... will this drive youth football underground?  indoors?  Off-shore?  Will 10-year-old games take place like cock fights, in the dark of night, in remote locations?

Psst.  Game tonight.  Miller's barn.  The password's "Barack's son."

*********** According to info reported to the Austin Statesman, new Texas coach Charlie Strong's first meeting with his players definitely sounded as if there's a new sheriff in town...


Strong expectations:

Players will attend all of their classes and sit in the front two rows of all of their classes.  GAs, academic folks, position coaches will be checking constantly now.

No headphones in class.  No texting in class.  Sit up and take notes.

If a player misses a class, he runs until it hurts.  If he misses two classes, his entire position unit runs.  If he misses three, the position coach runs.  The position coaches don't want to run.

No earrings in the football building.  No drugs.  No stealing.  No guns.  Treat women with respect.
Players may not live off campus anymore, unless they're a senior who hits certain academic standards. The University will buy out the leases for every player currently living off campus and put them in the athletic dorm.

The team will all live together, eat together, suffer together, and hang out together.  They will become a true team and learn to impose accountability on each other.  The cliques are over.

There's no time for a rebuild.  "I don't have time for that."  The expectation is that Texas wins now.

Players will learn that they would rather practice than milk a minor injury.

The focus is on winning and graduating.  Anything extraneous to that is a distraction and will be stamped out or removed.

Strong met individually with seniors and key leaders and re-emphasized that the plan is to win now. They can lead the new culture or be run over by it.

"I don't want to talk about things.  I'd rather do things.  We just talked.  Now it's time to do."

*********** For years now, the Portland Oregonian - one of the world's most left-leaning papers - has refused to employ "racial" nicknames in its sports stories.  (I found it hilarious several years ago when it reported on the World Series between "the Cleveland team" and "the  Atlanta team.")

Now it's been disclosed by ESPN's ombudsman that at one point, the network considered discontinuing the use of the name "Redskins" in its programming.

The official explanation of why it didn't happen:  because of the "news" that it would make.

Yeah, right.  ESPN has always shied away from publicity.

Um, you don't suppose, do you, that the possibility of legal action by the  Washington Redskins - and the NFL itself - might have come up in ESPN's deliberations?


*********** Hugh-
You predicted the hysteria created by the “concussion” police would soon begin to hurt the high school game…well here it is.
Just a year ago Connecticut’s governing body the CIAC expanded the playoffs to include more teams (so that more kids would get the “playoff experience).

Now this article: http://theday.com/article/20140117/SPORT03/301179943/1044- Basically bemoaning the fact that in order to win a State Championship kids must play 15 football games in 14 weeks and in order to get to the finals two games are played (Tues & Sat) after Thanksgiving.
One of the not so popular solutions of course is to eliminate the traditional Thanksgiving Day games…
Of course no one would think to reduce the number of teams eligible for the State playoffs. (everybody gets a trophy mentality)  Additionally the  current qualifying format allow teams who don’t win their conference to advance while teams that do win the  conference stay home??? ( in other words you win the conference and the team you defeated goes to the state tournament due to some convoluted point system).
The best part is one of the coaches mentioned several times in the article was the lead champion for adding games and teams to the playoff schedule, so that “more kids get the playoff experience”.
It is amazing that based upon an observed and not yet qualified  1/10th of one percent increase in dementia of former NFL players with more than 10 years playing time as compared to the general population, we are now going to revamp High School Football.  You know the same NFL that is so  concerned about player safety that they would allow a game to go in in -20 degree temperatures as was predicted for but did not happen in Green Bay this year, and wants to add two more games per season.
By the way, who got hit in the head more than Dick Butkis and Mike Ditka?
Rich Golden
Montville, Connecticut


Couple of things to consider...

(1)  I'll wager that the state association gets at least a piece of the gate at playoff games. In most states, the revenue they get from football and boys' basketball helps pay for all the other tournaments they put on in all the other sports. So of course the state would prefer to eliminate the Thanksgiving Day games.  "Playoff Experience?"  Take it from someone who's taken a low-ranked seed against a high-ranked seed in an opening-round game of a nearly-everybody-goes format - Unless you have a reasonable chance of winning at least your first-round game, "Playoff Experience" is a crock.  It's no fun practicing another week to travel 2-3 hours to receive a beating.  It would be a lot better to end the season in a rivalry game - on Thanksgiving.

(2) According to an article in the Portland Oregonian, there were a number of forfeits among Oregon's small schools resulting from the state's concussion protocol.  Schools with low roster numbers have found themselves unable to field a team after a number of their players were deemed unable to play after displaying concussion-like symptoms. The problem is compounded by the fact that many of these are rural schools without convenient access to the health-care professionals who are the only ones empowered to clear the kids to return to play.

I refer to all this as the NFL devouring its young.  When we needed help financing programs, they were nowhere to be found.  We had to institute "participation fees,' and we helped build an entire fund-raising industry. What did the mighty NFL do?  They selected "high school coaches of the month," and hosted national conventions for select coaches.  Thanks, guys.  My players get by with hand-me-down shoes.

But now that they're under fire, the NFL tries to buy Kevlar for itself by posing as the saviour of youth football, using its USA Football front to teach tackling and show coaches how to fit helmets.

There, Mom.  Now that you've been scared out of your wits by stories of dementia among players who played football for years at an intense level, don't you feel a whole lot better, knowing that your little boy's coach is USA Football-certified?

Personally, I would have liked to see the NFL players' suit go to trial.  It could have gotten ugly, of course, with the NFL's lawyers delving into the private lives of some of those plaintiffs and their different ways of "recreating" and self-medicating, but it might have shown that more factors than football were to blame for their sad conditions.

Stay tuned.

american flagFRIDAY,  JANUARY 17,  2014 - "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right." Tom Paine

*********** Worth getting?

1. Attacking Modern Defenses With Belly Option Football, Black and Manlove
2. Modern Belly T Football, A Allen Black

I think the Big One is #1 and it has recently come down from stratospheric heights on Amazon.


Charlie Wilson
Crystal River, Florida

Al Black was a longtime high school coach in Eastern Pennsylvania. Very successful.

Last stop was Widener Univ in Chester, PA. (where he assisted Bill Manlove).

There, he ran run & shoot
-  and wrote a GREAT book on it.

In short - if it's by Al Black it's probably good.

*********** It's always sad when a coach gets fired and the staff breaks up.  It's tough on the guys, and it's tough on their families.

I've been out of work - twice when an entire league folded on me - and I feel bad for the guys.  I feel really bad when it's guys I know.

After the Army staff got fired,  I felt especially bad, so it was with a great sense of excitement and happiness that I learned of Ian Shields' hiring as the new head coach at Lenoir Rhyne, in Hickory, North Carolina.   (Been there.  Nice little town, nice little college.)

Ian spent five years as OC at Army, and under him the Cadets consistently  finished at or near the top of all FBS schools in rushing.

He's a triple option guy, going all the way back to when he was a wishbone QB at Oregon State under Jerry Pettibone.

He's following a tough act.  He replaces Mike Houston, who took the Lenoir Rhyne Bears to this year's Division II final against Northwest Missouri, and was just named head coach at The Citadel.

If you're a coach in the Carolinas and you're in the area, stop in and introduce yourself.


*********** I was reminded of the Book of Chronicles in the Bible - a long list of who begat whom.  This one begat this one, who begat that one, who begat that one, etc., etc.

I was talking about Baylor with Christopher Anderson, of Arlington, Virginia, and he noted that Baylor DC Phil Bennett was a Bill Snyder guy… and Bill Snyder was a Hayden Fry guy… and Hayden Fry was a Frank Broyles guy…

Yes, I added - Bill Snyder worked under Hayden Fry at Iowa, and Hayden Fry played for Frank Broyles at Baylor and worked under him at Arkansas…

and Frank Broyles learned his football at Georgia Tech as a QB for Bobby Dodd, who learned his football as a QB at Tennessee for General Robert Neyland, who learned his football playing  QB for (and later coaching under) Charlie Daly at West Point...

*********** (You wrote)  *********** When the Pats' punter raced back for the bad snap, and then picked it up on his own three - is it  possible that he was trying to pass? There was a teammate near him, and at that point, an incomplete pass would have been the least bad of all his alternatives.

I did have a hard time with Dan Dierdorff's saying that his falling on the ball on the three ("Make them work for their points!") would have preferable to giving up a safety.
Dan Dierdorff should never be allowed to commentate another live game on the youth level let alone the NFL.  His statement was beyond ignorant in my opinion, and being that I lost a youth game many years ago almost in that same exact way the lesson learned is always give up the damn SAFETY and 2 points not give the opposition the ball on the three and HOPE your defense holds 3 or 4 downs (because for some that's four down territory) and at worst they kick a field goal.
Simple match had Dan Dierdorff thought about it before opening his mouth, giving up 2 points is better than giving up 3 and a whole lot better than 6 (or 7).
I was floored by his comment and the fact that he kept repeating it as if it was football law, idiot.  (Just my 2 cents.)
Good morning sir.  :-)
Brian Mackell
Glen Burnie, Maryland


I actually like Dierdorff for the most part - maybe because I go back to when he played.

But that was just dead wrong.

My senior year in high school, we were playing our arch-rivals.  We were both unbeaten, and well into the fourth quarter we led, 7-0.

But they punted inside our five, and we couldn't gain a yard.

On fourth down, our punter, a very talented kid, but just a freshman, stood back in our end zone - and bobbled the snap.

Flustered, and untrained in what to do in such a scase, he scooped up the ball and ran.

He fought like a tiger to get across the goal line.  He broke a tackle or two and got it out to - our two-yard-line, where it was their ball, first and goal.

Three plays later, they punched it in and kicked the extra point.  No overtime in those days, and the game ended 7-7.

One of the first things I tell a punter when he's standing in the end zone: "Never be afraid to take a safety."

The Patriots' punter clearly wasn't prepared for what happened.  I would have instructed him simply to soccer-kick the SOB right out of the end zone.

*********** Somebody went back and actually counted the number of times Peyton Manning shouted "Omaha!" during last Sunday's game against the Chargers.

Wednesday, pressed at a news conference to explain what it meant, he very cleverly gave a non-answer that indicated he may have plans to enter politics once his football days are done…

"I know a lot of people ask what Omaha means, and it's -- Omaha is a run play, but it could be a pass play or a play-action pass depending on a couple things: the wind, which way we're going, the quarter and the jerseys that we're wearing. So it varies, really, play to play, so, that's -- there's your answer to that one."

*********** The NCAA loves to use the term "Student-athletes." Mainly, it's to deceive the public,  lest they get the idea that they're really employees, and consequently deserving of compensation.

But come on, guys -  student-athletes who read at a fourth-grade level?


*********** One of the principles of  alchemy was the idea that you could turn a base metal into gold.

Today's version of alchemy is the idea that we can lift people out of poverty by raising the minimum wage.

We  have a governor in Washington who actually claims that raising the minimum wage will help the economy  by giving low-wage workers more money to spend, seemingly unaware of all those workers who'll wind up being laid off, becoming drags on the taxpayers.

A letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal responded to a Ms. Kramer who argued, basically, that the big, rich, fast-food corporations could afford to pay their employees more.

What Ms Kramer and those who share her opinion don't seem to comprehend is that businesses need to make a profit, even if it is negligibly small, or else the business fails and those jobs are lost.

The unfortunate part of that reality is that consumers are either unwilling or unable to overpay for anything. I suspect Ms. Kramer looks for the best bargain she can for everything she buys, rather than happily paying full price just so the local merchants can pay their employees better.

*********** Andy Staples - si.com, writes...

Why (Louisville AD Tom) Jurich felt the need to sell Petrino as anything other than a guy who wins football games is mystifying. Yet he tried on Thursday. "Has anybody been through more adversity than him?" Jurich asked rhetorically. "I can't imagine. I can't imagine." Let's try to imagine. Off the top of the head, here are a few people who have been through more adversity than Bobby Petrino: soldiers, orphans, cancer survivors, victims of violent crime and, of course, Bobby Petrino's wife and children. Or maybe Jurich just meant within the world of sports. Even still, there are thousands who faced more adversity, and their adversity wasn't caused by their own dishonesty and stupidity.


*********** Coach,

The rule at the high school level about tripping changed a few years back.  It is now legal to trip ONLY the ball carrier.  Any idea if that is the same for the NFL?  If not, I feel like an idiot for yelling at the TV during the game that the announcers should know the rules.  Fortunately, I was only watching with my family and they will forgive me if I have to admit my mistake.

Todd Hollis
Elmwood High School


We're both wrong and both right.  I was right in knowing that tripping of anyone is illegal in the NFL, and you were wrong.

Rule 12 Section 1 Article 8: Tripping by Defensive Player. A defensive player is prohibited from tripping an opponent, including the runner.

The NCAA and CFL rules are similar, except that the CFL includes the word "intentionally"

But I was wrong in "knowing" that it is illegal to trip a runner in high school ball, and you were right in knowing that it is not.

Rule 3 Article 1 Section 45: Tripping is the use of the lower leg or foot to obstruct an opponent, who is not the runner, below the knee.

I can't believe that rule has been in the NFHS book for at least 10 years.  And I can't imagine why such a cowardly act is actually permitted.

Come to think of it, maybe this is the answer we've all been looking for to save our game from concussion hysteria -  all we need to do is bring in soccer people to teach our kids how to "tackle."

*********** Hello my friend;
Just wanted to say hello. World and the US is becoming less and less understandable to me. But I know and care about the god people in my life and reaching out to one right now. I did apply for HC job at Washington,Detroit,Cleveland. I will attach one of the intro.letters. If I do not get one of the jobs I will probably this year contact YMCA (Inner City) and see if I can HC little league or junior league. Will see I 'm getting the bug again. But we will see where the good Lord leads me.
Hope to catch up with you in 2014. All is well down my way thank God and hope the same for you guys. Growing spiritually. I like to share with you an interesting story. There was a guy named Cristobal Carreno down in Miami that had a team called Falcons. The only thing I found about him on line is a picture for sale on eBay. This guy for way over 20 years used to have a little league football team. Used to pick the kids up in a school bus. Take them to games with whoever he could get to play them all over the city and sometimes he would even set up scrimmages with us that we had a neighborhood football team. Full pads but pants optional. He was not part of any organization just his own. Always had a team and fielded and had some of the best players coming up thru little league. His teams were always well coached, disciplined and with good sportsmanship. It was a heck of a football story I wish I can find more on it. Never seen anything like that since. Just was thinking about interesting football stories.Take care.
Armando Castro
Roanoke, Virginia


Looks as if you didn't get the Washington, Detroit or Cleveland jobs this time around.  Unless your name is Armando Gruden.

You wouldn't enjoy coaching those guys anyhow.  There, you don't deal with parents - you deal with agents.  And entourages.

Which means you need to get back into it where you can still make a difference - in Roanoke.

We had a few teams in the Philly area like that Mr. Carreno's.  One near us was called the Mohican Indians (because they started out with a bunch of kids from Mohican Street in East Germantown).  No Pop Warner.  No league.  They found games wherever they could.  Even back in the 50s they were playing teams all over the East Coast.

There's another Philly-area elite youth team, the Little Quakers,  started by a rich guy named Bob Levy.  They're still going strong, as far as I know.

Maryland UA uniform*********** Is the body language on the left really what the NCAA wants the public to envision when they think "student-athlete?" Do the apparel people really think it's smart business to have the guys modeling their basketball (or football) uniforms looking like they're blocking the sidewalk?

*********** And in late-breaking news, Under Armour has signed a contract with - NAVY!

*********** Evidently, to hear Matt Leinart tell it,  the Titans made a mistake in hiring Ken Whisenhunt.

"I don't think it's a great fit, and I don't think it's great timing, and here's why," Matt Leinart told Fox Sports Live this week. "You look at his tenure in Arizona -- only two years, he had success, and in those two years, Kurt Warner ran that football team - I was a part of it.

"Every single Monday, Kurt Warner would come in and implement 20 to 30 new plays, which he would say, 'I want these in my game plan.' We became a spread offense and we became Kurt Warner's offense. Then Kurt Warner retires, they go 5-11 twice and they go 8-8."

Hmmm...  Matt Leinart… Matt Leinart… Somebody help me.  I know I should know that  name…

*********** Forner Penn State coach Bill O'Brien and recently-named Penn State head coach James Franklin actually go back a ways - they worked together on Ralph Friedgen's Maryland staff 10 years ago…


*********** Pay up, Terps.  And then just go.

But, no.   Instead, Maryland is suing the ACC…


*********** I was cleaning it when it went off…

A Portland Pimp (sound like an idea for a TV series?) who's serving a 100-year sentence for stomping a john  is now suing Nike for not warning customers that shoes can be dangerous when used that way.

Sounds like a joke, right?  Except that in order to give this guy the longest sentence possible, the shoes were classified as a "dangerous weapon."

I didn't read anything about whether the guy has a lawyer, but surely somewhere in this great land of ours, there's a noble individual able to keep a straight face while he makes the guy's  argument.


*********** Dr. Sandra Chapman, the founder and chief director of the Center for Brain Health at The University of Texas at Dallas, spoke at the American Football Coaches Association convention this week about the benefits of football far outweighing any of the risks.

Problem is, of course, that the Football is Evil gang has a big head start, while the NFL, which might have been of some help, has been off fighting its own fires.


*********** Distributors (cable companies) in the 11 states that make up SEC country can expect pay a fee of  $1.30 per subscriber, per month for the right  to carry the upcoming SEC Network, owned jointly with ESPN.

This compares with the $1 fee charged by the Big Ten Network. (Outside the SEC area, where interest is presumed to be less intense, the fee will drop to $.25.)

Cable systems can balk, if they wish, but they do so at their own risk: Dish Network, with 14 million subscribers, has already agreed to carry the SEC Network.

To put pressure on the two largest cable companies, (Time Warner and Comcast), the network’s first football game, will be between South Carolina vs. Texas A&M. Both schools are located in Time Warner markets: South Carolina and Texas A&M. The second game will pit Vanderbilt (Nashville's a Comcast market) against Temple -  in Philadelphia, Comcast’s headquarters.

(Hey - they won't swallow the cost anyhow, boys and girls.  Look at your every-increasing cable bills to see who's really paying.)

*********** It appears that  Obamacare is going to require vending-machine manufacturers to display calorie information - not just on the packaging of the food inside the machine, but on the machine itself.

There are roughly 5 million food vending machines in the US.

*********** This is an interesting article I ran across speculating about whether Steve Van Buren was the first black player in the SEC.


Don Shipley
Falls Church, Virginia

It's plausible, but...

Whether we use the sociological jargon of today ("he chose to identify as white") or of the time ("he passed as  white"), even if someone were to provide conclusive proof of Van Buren's having sufficient black blood to classify him as "black" (or, as they would have said then, "negro"), what would we do with the information?

Would this also make him a pro football  pioneer?  Unlike him,  guys like  Kenny Washington, Woody Strode, Bill Willis and Marion Motley all underwent the "black experience" in America in their breaking of pro football's color line, and the belated "discovery,"  should it occur, that a man who lived his entire life as a white actually contained black blood ought in no way to diminish their importance to the history of the game.

Supposing, though,  that the theory is proven. Since it was then illegal for LSU to use a black player, and equally illegal for LSU and any of its southern opponents to play against a black player,  does that mean that they'd vacate all the games he played in? 

Not enough white southerners from those earlier times are alive now to create much of a stir, but there would have been considerable uproar had this claim been made 40 or 50 years ago.  The author of the article might have had to go into hiding, a la Salmon Rushdie.

We sure have come a long way, haven't we?

PS- One mistake made by the writer - brother's name was EBERT (not Elbert).  He played briefly for the Iggles, too.

PPS - Trivia question - who was the LSU's single wing tailback who was so good that Steve Van Buren, who would go on to become one of the NFL's greatest runners, played blocking back for him?

Answer: Baseball great  and manager Alvin Dark - "In 1942, Dark led LSU in both rushing and passing yardage - the last Tiger to accomplish this feat."   Van Buren became  the tailback in 1943 only because Dark had transferred - because of the War - to Southwest Louisiana (now Louisiana Lafayette).


*********** You may not like the way Bill Belichick dresses on the sidelines (although he has appeared a bit more dapper recently).

You may think he ought to smile more in news conferences.

And you may still be seething about those illegal videos (that Commissioner Goodell conveniently  destroyed).

But, damn - the guy can coach.

In Thursday's Wall Street Journal, Jonathan Clegg and Kevin Clark tell about the extremes to which he takes the concept of the "practice squad."

The practice squad is made up of eight players - in addition to the 53-man squad permitted by the NFL - who aren't allowed to suit up for games, but  can take part in practices.

Typically, they're familiar with the team's systems, and they're kept around (paid of course) in case they should ever be needed on short notice, should a regular go down. 

But Belichick, faced  with the NFL's severe limits on practice time, has taken a different approach to practice players.

Consistent with his well-known strategy of trying to take away an opponent's most valuable player, Belichick brings in a clone.

You may recall the TV guys last weekend, wondering where the Colts' key receiver, T. Y. Hilton, had disappeared to?  Interesting story.  To help his defenders prepare for Hilton, Belichick went out and signed a player named Reggie Dunn, who is approximately the same height and weight as Hilton and about as fast, to play the Colts' star.

Hilton caught 13 passes for 224 yards against the Chiefs the week before; the Pats held him to four catches for 104.

This week, to prepare for the Broncos' 6-3 Demaryus Thomas, Belichick brought in 6-3 Greg Orton.

He's done this numerous times in the past.

A few weeks ago, just in case the Pats might have to play the Chiefs, he brought in a running back named Sam McGuffie the same side (5-10) and weight (200) as the Chiefs'  Jamaal Charles, and only a step slower.

It's not a bad deal for the player or the team.  A practice squad gig goes for $6,000 or so - an unexpected payday for a guy with no place else to play, chicken feed for an NFL team.

The measure of Belichick's brilliance is that he knows where to get  these players. He obviously has quite a database. Where most teams cut guys and that's that,  Belichick not only keeps track of the guys he's cut - he keeps track of the guys you've cut, too.

"I don't know where he finds these guys," former Cowboys personnel whiz Gil Brandt told the writers. "Every week they bring in someone. Same height, same speed. It's like they practice against your twin brother."

american flagTUESDAY,  JANUARY 14, 2014 "My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government."  Thomas Jefferson

*********** Wow. Lane Kiffin's  going to Alabama as OC.  What could possibly go wrong?

Maybe, because Bama's working on a two-game losing streak as it is,  if things begin to tail off they can  blame it all on Kiffin.

Meantime, my nomination for Toughest Ticket of 2014:  Alabama at Tennessee

I know that Tennessee's stadium seats over 10,000, but still…

This year, that "fourth Saturday in October" game will have special meaning when the Tide rolls in to Knoxville on October 25.  They may have to transport Kiffin to and from the stadium in an Army

*********** So Penn State has hired James Franklin.  I'm hopeful.  He's not a Penn State guy, but he's as close as you can get. He's a native of Langhorne, Pennsylvania, a blue-collar suburb of Philly, where he went to  Neshaminy High (which you may remember from an article I wrote a few weeks back about about a writer from the student newspaper who refused the principal's order that she use the school's nickname - Redskins).

By his own  admission he wasn't  good enough to play for Penn State, so he played his his college football at Division II East Stroudsburg.

His coaching resume is solid.

Tweeted Paul Finebaum, “The hiring of James Franklin at Penn State is the best of any school since the season ended.”


*********** A female faculty member at Penn State was not happy with James Franklin's hire.

Of course, she's probably not happy with football, either.

Or men.

She's "an affiliate faculty member" in Penn State's Department of Women's Studies, which ought to tell you all you need to know.


*********** The Colts need a first down and Luck runs out of the pocket - and he's tripped by a defensive lineman. With the tripping penalty, it's a Colts' first down.  Without the trip, he makes the first down on his own.  But no one sees it. This, in a league that all but puts quarterbacks in a bubble.

*********** A Wall Street Journal article last Friday stipulated that a major reason for the Seahawks' defensive success is that they cheat.  No, the WSJ didn't exactly say that, but apparently it's the belief around the league that the Hawks skillfully cross the line between  legal pass coverage and pass interference, quite willing to take the occasional pass interference call as a cost of doing business, in th belief that the officials don't dare call it on every play. (Isn't this how offensive holding got to the point where "blocking" is a joke?)

*********** When the Pats' punter raced back for the bad snap, and then picked it up on his own three - is it  possible that he was trying to pass? There was a teammate near him, and at that point, an incomplete pass would have been the least bad of all his alternatives.

I did have a hard time with Dan Dierdorff's saying that his falling on the ball on the three ("Make them work for their points!") would have been preferable to giving up a safety.

*********** Are you tired yet of hearing all the Payton Manning mumbo-jumbo at the line of scrimmage?  Or  when  you hear him holler "Hurry, Hurry!" and "Omaha!" do you feel a thrill going up and down your leg at the thought that you're being let in on real inside stuff?

It did drive me nuts, but it delighted a lot of  people in Omaha:


*********** Not sure who it was,  but after the Chargers committed yet another of their long line of stupid penalties, one of the guys in the booth - a man after my own heart -  said, "You gotta stop the game and make them all do up-downs."

*********** I'm sorry, Cam, but in my book, a doo-rag is "head wear," and it needs to come off for the National Anthem.

*********** There's an old saying that goes "What's everybody's business  comes to be nobody's business."

Which explains why,  although there may be twenty or more coaches on an NFL staff,  it's possible that everybody on the Saints' staff  thought somebody else   on the Saints' staff had reminded the receivers  that you're only allowed one forward pass per play.  (Yes, yes, I know - your ten-year-olds all know the rule. But these pros have a lot on their minds.)

*********** Between the calls they do make that they shouldn't, and the calls they don't make that they should,  NFL officials bring unwanted suspicion on themselves as the obvious targets of anyone wanting to fix an NFL game.

*********** God, I miss college football. There were, oh, maybe 20 bowl games better than any of the  games the NFL foisted off on us over the weekend.

*********** Uh-oh.  It's not enough that Brady is as accurate as he is, but the Patriots can run, too.

*********** A. Colin Kaepernick sits on the bus wearing  Beats ("by Dr. Dre") headphones while outside (unheard by him, is the point) a mob of raving cretins screams and rages and rocks the bus and throws all manner of things at it, looking for all the world like displaced English "football" hooligans.

Q. Why don't you  look forward to the day when you can take your young son to an NFL game?

*********** To show you what an NFL coach is up against, the TV guys suggested why Panthers' management and fans might not be happy with  Ron Rivera : "When you go 12-4 and you lose your first playoff game…" 

Geez - would it have been better if they'd gone 7-5 and lost their first playoff game?

*********** That Old Spice commercial is kinda creepy - the one about mothers spying on their adolescent sons  now that they're in the clutches of teenage  girls…
Their sad refrain: "Now he smells like a man - and they treat him like one."

Tsk, tsk. I coulda told you some of the things he'd be doing after school, Mom, back when you told him he couldn't play football.

*********** Ohio State defensive end Noah Spence was suspended for three games - the Orange Bowl game against Clemson and the first two games of next season - after testing positive for Ecstasy.

According to his family, it was in a drink handed to him at a party by someone he didn't know.

Originally, the Big Ten wanted to suspend him for an entire season, but after the family appealed, the suspension was reduced.

Still not pleased, the family now plans on suing the Big Ten.


*********** Coming soon to a school near you…

1. Suppose I were to tell you that a "transgender" (I really have trouble with that word) student who fought back against a bunch of bullies was then  charged with battery…

2. Suppose I were to also tell you that the "transgender" student was a boy in a dress who fought with some girls?


*********** Dear Coach Wyatt,   I have been researching the Delaware Wing T. I would like to know what specific plays a youth team should learn first.

George Carroll
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

The essence of the Wing-T offense is the three-plays-in-one action of the buck sweep series.

(1) The Buck Sweep itself
(2) Fullback Buck - preferably with trap blocking but otherwise a fullback dive with base blocking or wedge blocking
(3) Waggle (bootleg away,  to the side opposite the buck sweep)

If you can run those three plays - to the right and to the left -  you will have enough offense to win most games.

*********** A recent ESPN article on the "Heads Up" program suggests that it is a cynical ploy by the NFL to try to halt the decline in  participation in youth football, which is certainly related to concussion hysteria.

One thing, in the fourth paragraph, jumped out at me right away:

Introduced in 2012 by the NFL's youth development arm, USA Football, and funded entirely by the league, Heads Up is now employed by 2,700 youth leagues.

You got that?  "The NFL's youth development arm?" For years, I've been arguing that USA Football - which arrogantly promotes itself as "Football's National Governing Body" -  is just a front for the NFL in its drive to grab control of our sport, from top to bottom, and there it is - the NFL's Youth Development Arm! (Actually, "tentacle" would be more like it)

Yeah, "Youth development arm."  They don't have enough problems with their own product.  They can't even teach their own players how to tackle properly, or to keep their helmets on - and they're telling you how to do it?

And did you notice that  other part - that  "Heads Up Football is  funded entirely by the league?

You got that? Forget all those "USA Football" logos all over the fields this past season.  This has the League's fingerprints all over it.

The NFL, heeding Rahm Emmanuel's advice,  is not about to let  a good crisis go to waste. Through its front, USA Football, it's telling parents - mothers, mainly - to make sure that their little boys' coaches are properly certified.  By, um, the NFL, oops - sorry - I meant to say "by USA Football."

Excerpts from the article…

critics view Heads Up as a cynical marketing ploy -- a repackaging of old terminology to reassure parents at a time the sport is confronting a widening health crisis. Participation in Pop Warner dropped nearly 10 percent between 2010-12, "Outside the Lines" reported last November. According to an HBO Real Sports/Marist poll published last fall, one in three Americans would be less likely to let their child play football because of concussion risks.

NFL and USA Football officials sought to downplay the NFL's role in the program to "Outside the Lines." The league initially referred all questions about Heads Up to USA Football. A USA Football spokesman repeatedly declined requests to provide a copy of a video showing Goodell visiting a Heads Up pilot program in 2012; after finally agreeing, the spokesman explained that one of his concerns is that people would be confused and conflate the NFL's role. Scott Hallenbeck, USA Football's executive director, described Heads Up as "a USA Football program that the NFL has helped fund. It has taken the media a long time to say that accurately."


*********** Time to forget about all the a$$holes for a moment and reflect on all the really good people in this country…

People like Ray and Sue Reich, of Washington, Connecticut, and their late son, Steven.

Major Steven Reich, a West Point graduate and US Army helicopter pilot,  was killed in Afghanistan in 2005, on the mission on which Mark Wahlberg's recently released  film, "Lone Survivor" is based.

Steven Reich, one of the best pitchers in the history of Army baseball, graduated from West Point in 1993 and became a helicopter pilot with the Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne),  aka the 160th. Aka The Night Stalkers, so-called because they're the only special operations unit that flies night missions.

Their creed is,  “When the impossible has been accomplished the only reward is another mission that no one else will try.’’

According to the New York Post, "If it’s SEALs, Rangers, CIA or Delta Force, any Special Ops, the Night Stalkers are involved. They were in the middle of bringing down Osama Bin Laden. You can only imagine the number of missions Reich flew since 9/11 during his four tours."

The creed of the 160th ends,  “I serve with the memory and pride of those who have gone before me for they loved to fight, fought to win and would rather die than quit.’’

Steven Reich's  mother, Sue, told the New York Post, “Stephen loved the 160th and so many of the men still stay in touch with us.  We lost Stephen but we gained so many wonderful young men in our lives. They’re a brotherhood. They know that their family could be our family so they are so supportive.’


*********** There's been a lot in the news about sexual assaults at our three service academies (including a highly-publicized gang-rape accusation against Navy football players at an off-post party). This is not in any way to make light of sexual assault , but lest you get the idea that those institutions  are crawling with sickos, lurking behind bushes until unsuspecting young women wander by, it might be instructive to read this post on one of the academies' forums…

After serving 10 years as a state prosecutor and 9 years as a criminal defense attorney, I absolutely concur with your assessment.  Traditionally, criminal rape required an element of Force to be proven.  For better & worse, Rape Law reform eradicated the Force element, resulting in Sex Assault & Sex Abuse crimes in most states.  Without the Force element, these cases turn on "He said/She said" evidence regarding verbal consent/non-consent with little corroborating evidence or witnesses to what occurred in the bedroom.  Throw in some alcohol at a party and good luck with what really happened.

I think there is another difference between service academies and other schools that doesn't get mentioned. Let's say the incidence of false rape accusations at a generic college is x% (I won't editorialize about how high or low that might be). Those false accusations have certain motivations, all of which exist at a service academy. But there is an additional motivation to falsely claim rape at a service academy. At most colleges, consensual sex is almost never illicit. At service academies, consensual sex is often illicit, either because of location or the participants (fraternization). And the punishment for this illicit consensual sex is very high (often separation).

This provides an extremely high incentive, when the illicit sex is discovered, to claim that it was not consensual. Therefore, I would guess that false rape claims at SAs are somewhat higher than X%.

And politics being what they are, service  academy administration is highly incentivized to not be too diligent in flushing out false rape claims.

*********** Yes, Jameis may have made off with the Heisman, and yes,  the Seminoles may have their National Championshp, but otherwise, this'n ain't over yet, guys…


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

Did you catch the new uniform design the basketball players at Northwestern came up with in collaboration with UA?  The article mentioned it won't be long before we start seeing the same thing done in football.  God help us all.


Joe Gutilla
Austin Texas

Hi Joe-

Wow. Human Facebook pages.  "Favorite Meal: Pepperoni Pizza"  "Dream Destination: Maui"  

What's next - photos of their favorite NBA players?

Maybe instead of selling names of bricks in outdoor plazas, schools could sell spaces about the size of business cards on players' uniforms.

I love the bit about "giving players ownership."

Considering the way colleges gouge their fans and donors, maybe it's time they remember where the money's coming from.

*********** Notre Dame's going with Under Armour. Could it be because they saw those cool Northwestern basketball uni's?



*********** I was corresponding with my friend Charlie Wilson, in Crystal River, Florida, and he happened to note that legendary Pitt (and Steelers') coach Jock Sutherland, who was also a dentist, played at Pitt on a team that had so many dental students on it that it was nicknamed "The Fighting Dentists."

Sutherland was famous, among other things, for  his "Dream Backfield" of John Chickerneo, Dick Cassiano,  Curly Stebbins, and Marshall Goldberg

Goldberg's story is one of those "only in America" deals.   A Jewish kid from a small town in West Virginia whose father, a Romanian immigrant, owned a clothing store there, he went on to win All-America honors at Pitt, and played eight years - interrupted by service in World War II - in the NFL with the Chicago Cardinals.

But now, in Wikipedia, how about THIS?????

"Goldberg died in 2006 at age 88 at a nursing home in Chicago. Following his death, his daughter, Ellen Tullos, and his widow, Rita Goldberg, helped to set up The Marshall Goldberg Traumatic Brain Injury Fund at The University of Illinois at Chicago. Goldberg had sustained a number of concussions during his career, which the family felt contributed to difficulties later in his life. This fund has been instrumental in bringing attention to the problem of head injury in athletes."

*********** Given the insatiable appetite of cable TV for "reality" shows, I figure it's only a matter of time before we see "Dog Fighting Gangs of Appalachia."

Until then, we'll have to settle for a premise that's almost as revolting -  "FRIDAY NIGHT TYKES"

It's an HBO documentary about something called the Texas Youth Football Association, whose players are under 10, and,  based on the trailer,  it's not reassuring to see some of the "coaching" the kids get. (If  "rip their freaking heads off and let them bleed" is your idea of coaching.)



*********** The Reality That Awaits Women in Combat…

With the Obama Administration's goal of women in combat by 2016 less than two years away and counting,  a year-old Wall Street Journal article by Ryan Smith, a lawyer and former Marine infantryman in Iraq, is worth reading….

I served in the 2003 invasion of Iraq as a Marine infantry squad leader. We rode into war crammed in the back of amphibious assault vehicles. They are designed to hold roughly 15 Marines snugly; due to maintenance issues, by the end of the invasion we had as many as 25 men stuffed into the back. Marines were forced to sit, in full gear, on each other's laps and in contorted positions for hours on end. That was the least of our problems.

The invasion was a blitzkrieg. The goal was to move as fast to Baghdad as possible. The column would not stop for a lance corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, or even a company commander to go to the restroom. Sometimes we spent over 48 hours on the move without exiting the vehicles. We were forced to urinate in empty water bottles inches from our comrades.

Many Marines developed dysentery from the complete lack of sanitary conditions. When an uncontrollable urge hit a Marine, he would be forced to stand, as best he could, hold an MRE bag up to his rear, and defecate inches from his seated comrade's face.

Yes, a woman is as capable as a man of pulling a trigger. But the goal of our nation's military is to fight and win wars. Before taking the drastic step of allowing women to serve in combat units, has the government considered whether introducing women into the above-described situation would have made my unit more or less combat effective?

Societal norms are a reality, and their maintenance is important to most members of a society. It is humiliating enough to relieve yourself in front of your male comrades; one can only imagine the humiliation of being forced to relieve yourself in front of the opposite sex.

Despite the professionalism of Marines, it would be distracting and potentially traumatizing to be forced to be naked in front of the opposite sex, particularly when your body has been ravaged by lack of hygiene. In the reverse, it would be painful to witness a member of the opposite sex in such an uncomfortable and awkward position. Combat effectiveness is based in large part on unit cohesion. The relationships among members of a unit can be irreparably harmed by forcing them to violate societal norms.


*********** The Oregon State women ("Lady Beavers" just doesn't sound right) beat Oregon on Saturday night in front of an announced "crowd" of 1,591.  This a major college sport, guys - scholarships, flights and everything -  one of major college sports subsidized by football and men's basketball.  And it's mostly ignored.

Back in early 2013, Val Ackerman, currently commissioner of the Big East Conference and a former president the WNBA,  spent   six months studying ways to kindle interest in women’s college basketball.

A couple of interesting points, from a New York Times article by Jere Longman…

"She also called for a serious exploration of a proposal by UConn Coach Geno Auriemma to lower the rim to 9 or 9 ½ feet from 10 feet. Some purists reject the idea, saying it would suggest that women play a lesser game."

"Some coaches and officials believe the proliferation of tattoos and baggy uniforms has hurt the appeal of the women’s game. Ackerman said some have proposed allowing no new tattoos or no new visible tattoos once players join college teams."

"Some important matters were not explored, like how to address lesbianism more openly."


american flagFRIDAY,  JANUARY 10, 2014 -   “You cannot be disciplined in great things and undisciplined in small things. Brave, undisciplined men have no chance against the discipline and valour of other men.”  General George S. Patton

*********** From the National Football Foundation…

The final BCS Championship game had the third largest audience of any program in cable TV history, averaging nearly 25.6 million viewers and a 14.4 U.S. household fast national Nielsen rating.

The combined BCS “Megacast” pushed viewership over 26 million/14.8 rating…

The five BCS games averaged 16.5 million viewers and a 9.4 household score, up 9 percent and 7 percent respectively over last year’s games...

Ratings for the 100th Rose Bowl Game were up 17 percent over last year’s game…

The Allstate Sugar Bowl averaged 16,339,000 viewers (a 9.3 household rating for ESPN), making Alabama vs. Oklahoma the most-viewed Sugar Bowl since 2004. These numbers translate into a 61 percent increase in viewership and 50 percent increase in rating over last year’s game…

ESPN’s coverage of the Discover Orange Bowl on Jan. 3 averaged 11,400,000 viewers and a 6.7 US HH rating, making it the most-viewed Discover Orange Bowl since 2008…

The 2013 Chick-fil-A Bowl between No. 21 Texas A&M and No. 24 Duke was the most-viewed non-BCS bowl game in ESPN history…

The SEC on CBS averaged 7.4 million viewers in 2013, up 20 percent from 2012.  CBS had its best college football season since 2001… FOX averaged 3.1 million viewers for its College Football games in 2013, up 10 percent from last season…

************ In and around Seattle, it's Seahawks mania. Outside Seattle, though,  a study by two Emory University professors shows the Seahawks surpassing even the Cowboys as the team people love to hate.


***********  Hi Coach Wyatt,

Happy New Year to you.  I hope the New Year will be happy and healthy for you and Connie. 

I find it strange that during the bowl games, especially during the Central Florida vs. Baylor Fiesta Bowl game, many of the kids were loosing their helmets during the plays.  And when you see the kids put their helmets on, they seem to just pop them on their heads and the helmet slides right on.  This may be telling my age, but I remember having to use deliberate force to pull the sides of the helmet open so as to not loose your ears when the helmet was applied and reverse effort was just as critical during removal.  When the helmet was removed, you always had a temporary "birthmark" in the middle of your forehead for several hours after practice or a game until the skin returned to normal.  I also remember when you received your helmet, you had to be checked by a coach before you were released with your new piece of equipment.  And invariably, when the first helmet choice was tested, a coach would grab the facemask and try to move it up and down, side to side, and it was always too loose, so coach said go back and get the next size smaller.  And after the second day and your head was throbbing from a helmet that was "too tight," coach would tell you that less hair would relieve the pressure if you don't get used to it.  It doesn't seem that all the players of today have a helmet check like times past.  Have you similarly noticed this "loose helmet syndrome"? 
Best regards,

Ken Hampton
Raleigh, North Carolina


I've noticed this and commented on it numerous times, especially in view of USA Football's insisting that moms make sure that their little boys' coaches are USA Football-certified, including knowing how to properly fit a helmet (something the NFL doesn't seem to think necessary for safeguarding their own valuable players).

*********** Bill Belichick and I certainly agree on this…

The Extra Point is a waste of time.


Seeing a pro kicker miss an extra point is as likely as seeing a major league baseball player strike out when he's being given an intentional pass.

For what it's worth, in the World Football League (1974-1975) there was no extra point kick.  Touchdowns were worth seven points,  followed by an
    attempt at "Action Point" - a single point by  either running or passing it in  from 2-1/2 yards out.

***********  With the departure of Bill O'Brien, Penn State is said to have lost a commitment - a QB from… IMG Academy???

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?


*********** After seeing how Amazon uses robots to fill orders,  I can see the day when a bunch of the guys get together in an empty warehouse with some Bud Light to play a little Robo Football.


*********** Camille Paglia is a brilliant, highly-informed, outspoken woman.  She happens to be a lesbian, which is her personal business, and to my mind in no way detracts from  the common-sense things she has to say.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article by Bari Weiss, Ms. Paglia's topic was the sissification - the neutering -  of American males, something that she's convinced is intentional.  (If you're a schoolteacher or the parent of a young boy, you will probably nod your head in vigorous agreement.)

"The entire elite class now, in finance, in politics and so on, none of them have military service—hardly anyone, there are a few. But there is no prestige attached to it anymore. That is a recipe for disaster," she says. "These people don't think in military ways, so there's this illusion out there that people are basically nice, people are basically kind, if we're just nice and benevolent to everyone they'll be nice too. They literally don't have any sense of evil or criminality."

"Primary-school education is a crock, basically. It's oppressive to anyone with physical energy, especially guys," she says, pointing to the most obvious example: the way many schools have cut recess. "They're making a toxic environment for boys. Primary education does everything in its power to turn boys into neuters."

She sees the tacit elevation of "female values"—such as sensitivity, socialization and cooperation—as the main aim of teachers, rather than fostering creative energy and teaching hard geographical and historical facts.

By her lights, things only get worse in higher education. "This PC gender politics thing - the way gender is being taught in the universities - in a very anti-male way, it's all about neutralization of maleness." The result: Upper-middle-class men who are "intimidated" and "can't say anything. . . . They understand the agenda." In other words: They avoid goring certain sacred cows by "never telling the truth to women" about sex, and by keeping "raunchy" thoughts and sexual fantasies to themselves and their laptops.

Politically correct, inadequate education, along with the decline of America's brawny industrial base, leaves many men with "no models of manhood," she says. "Masculinity is just becoming something that is imitated from the movies. There's nothing left. There's no room for anything manly right now." The only place you can hear what men really feel these days, she claims, is on sports radio. No surprise, she is an avid listener.

The energy and enthusiasm "inspires me as a writer," she says, adding: "If we had to go to war," the callers "are the men that would save the nation."


*********** A Washington legislator proposed to charge engineering majors at UW higher tuition than English majors because they'll earn more.

But Dude - we should charge them less. They're going to pay more in taxes.

*********** Cliches- "Setting the edge"    "more questions than answers"

*********** Louisville's going to  Bobby Petrino  for a second go-round.  Surely someone there remembers his sneaky late-night talks at the Louisville airport with Auburn people at a time Auburn still had a head coach (Tommy Tuberville).

And Gus Malzahn -  great job this season.  I hope you stay there as long as you like. Just have one of your trusted friends keep a close eye on that Auburn Air Force. 

*********** I'm sorry to see Al Borges gone at Michigan.  I got to know him years ago - 1988, to be exact, when I was doing play-by-play for Portland State telecasts, and he was the Vikings' offensive coordinator.  He was totally absorbed in the game, and his offense was way ahead of its time. I do know that i wasn't easy for him to step in at Michigan and have to take Denard Robinson, who had been recruited to run Rich Rodriguez' offense, and build an offense around him.

*********** James Franklin would be a great fit at Penn State - but what about Vanderbilt?

*********** Georgia Tech's Vad Lee says he's transferring. Says, "The triple option was never my thing." 

And yet he knew that and went to Georgia Tech anyhow?  And you made him your quarterback?  

Actually, after what I've seen of him at G-T, it's going to take a LOT of work to get him to the point where he can throw well enough to play quarterback in another offense.

*********** As 2016 nears, expect to see more of General Wesley Clark.

While watching him on TV, bear this in mind:

This telegenic, immaculately-groomed Little General, who briefly ran for president himself and is now getting involved in Hillary's campaign, recently divorced his wife of 46 years for "general indignities."

Under Arkansas law, that can include "rudeness, vulgarity, unmerited reproach, haughtiness, contempt, contumeliousness, studied neglect, intentional incivility, injury, manifest disdain, abusive language, malignant ridicule and every other plain manifestation of settled hate, alienation, and estrangement."

Wow. What a soldier. Indignities.  She probably called him nasty names after he ordered her to shine his medals. Probably didn't salute him.

Not to be outdone by General David Petraeus, the 68 year old Clark is now hanging with a 30-year-old woman.


*********** When I come back as king, this will be the only version of the National Anthem permitted at sports events - it's by "Pershing's Own," name given to the US Army Band in honor of General John J. Pershing, who commanded all US troops in World War I.


for a nice selection of Army marches, which you can listen to or download...


*********** That Nutrisystem ad featuring Dan Marino - anybody notice the play diagram in the background?

Look, I know he's just an endorser, but all they had to do was show him the finished commercial, and I know he'd have told them you can't have  five men in the backfield.

********** Since I haven't seen or heard anyone else say it,  let me be the first - in the biggest game of his life, against Auburn for the so-called "Naitonal Championship, Jameis Winston did not measure up to our expectations of a Heisman Trophy winner.

Most of what I read were breathless reports of how he engineering a thrilling comeback effort, throwing a last-minute touchdown pass to enable the Seminoles to win.

Bucky Brooks of nfl.com was almost apologetic in his praise, as if to say, "Yes, he sucked, but…"

The mark of a great player isn't how well he performs when things are going well, but the championship traits that he displays when he doesn't have his "A" game. While most focus on physical characteristics when evaluating players, it is the grit, determination and leadership skills that an elite player shows in critical moments that typically translates to success at the next level.

Enough, I say.  After  weeks of watching bowl games, and watching quarterbacks step up and perform far better than Mr. Winston did, I call bullsh--  on the Winston-worship.

Look - A Heisman Trophy winner is expected  to bring his A game.   When he goes on a national stage, he is expected to put on a performance reflecting his stature as the best player of the college football season.

And  using just quarterback ratings,  the Emperor isn't wearing any clothes.

It took me a bit of work, but the cold, hard fact is that Winston's  performance ranked no better than 31st among bowl-season quarterbacks.

I'm not adding in the spectacular running stats of some of the quarterbacks, and I'm not including performances of such non-quarterbacks as Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins (16 catches, 227 yards, 2 TDs) or Pitt running back James Conner (26 carries for 229 yards) 

Take a look at this (QB ratings in parentheses)...

(232.4) Connor Shaw, South Carolina vs Wisconsin - 22 of 25 for 312, 3 TDs - 16 rushes for 47, 1 TD
(207.3)  Cody Kessler, USC vs Fresno State - 22 of 30 for 345, 4 TDs
(198.8) Jake Waters, Kansas State vs Michigan - 21 of 27 for 271, 3 TDs - 12 rushes for 42
(198.1) Johnny Manziel, Texas A & M vs Duke  - 30 of 38 for 382, 4 TDs - 11 rushes for 73, 1 TD
(194.6) B. J. Denker, Arizona vs Boston College  - 17 of 24 for 275, 2 TDs - 14 rushes for 51, 1 TD
(188.1) Tajh Boyd, Clemson vs Ohio State - 31 of 40 for 378, 5 TDs - 20 rushes for 127, 1 TD
(183.2) Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville vs MIami - 35 of 45 for 447, 3 TDs - 6 rushes for 24, 1 TD
(183.1) Davis Webb,  Texas Tech vs Arizona State - 28 of 41 for 403, 4 TDS
(181.0) Dak Prescott,  Mississippi State vs Rice - 17 of 28 for 283, 3 TDs - 14 rushes for 78, 2 TDs
(180.4) AJ McCarron, Alabama vs Oklahoma - 19 of 30 for 387, 2 TDs
(165.1) Blake Bortles,  Central Florida vs Baylor - 20 of 31 for 301, 3 TDs - 8 rushes for 93, 1 TD
(164.6) Trevor Knight,  Oklahoma vs Alabama - 32 of 48 for 344, 4 TDs
(163.7) Marcus Mariota, Oregon vs Texas - 18 of 26 for 253, 1 TD - 15 rushes for 133
(163.7) Derek Thompson, North Texas vs UNLV - 21 of 30 for 256, 2 TDs
(159.4) Braxton MIller, Ohio State vs Clemson - 16 of 24 for 234, 2 TDs - 18 rushes for 35, 2 TDs
(158.3) Mitch Leidner, Minnesota vs Syracuse - 11 of 22 for 205, 2 TDs
(157.3) Anthony Boone, Duke vs Texas A & M - 29 of 45 for 427, 3 TDs - 5 rushes for 27, 1 TD
(154.5) Matt Johnson, Bowling Green vs  Pitt- 20 of 32 for 272, 2 TDs
(153.9) Connor Halliday, Washington State vs Colorado State - 37 of 58 for 410, 6 TDs
(153.2) Grant Hedrick, Boise State vs Oregon State - 32 of 44 for 382, 1 TD
(151.4) Connor Cook,  Michigan State vs Stanford - 22 of 36 for 332, 2 TDs
(150.5) Rakeem Cato,  Marshall vs Maryland - 28 of 44 for 337, 3 TDs
(146.5) C.J. Brown, Maryland vs Marshall - 14 of 24 for 197, 2 TDs
(143.4) Brett Hundley, UCLA vs Virginia Tech - 16 of 29 for 226, 2 TDs - 10 rushes for 161, 2 TDs
(142.6) Sean Mannion, Oregon State vs Boise State - 24 of 33 for 259, 1 TD
(140.4) Quinn Kaehler, San Diego State vs  Buffalo- 15 of 28 for 211, 2 TDs
(140.0) Bo Wallace, Ole Miss vs Georgia Tech - 22 of 32 for 256, 1 TD - 13 rushes for 86, 3 TDs
(137.2) Bryce Petty, Baylor vs Central Florida - 30 of 47 for 356, 2 TDs - 11 rushes for 17, 3 TDs
(136.4) Nick Marshall, Auburn vs Florida State -  14 of 27 for 217, 2 TDs -  (136.4) - 16 rushes for 35, 1 TD
(133.2)  Garrett Grayson, Colorado State vs Washington State - 31 of 50 for 369, 2 TDs
(132.9) Jameis Winston, Florida State vs Auburn - 20 of 35 for 237, 2 TDs - 11 rushes for 26

Sorry, but let any one of those guys ahead of Winston have a game like that during the regular season and the geniuses at ESPN scratch him from "the Heisman Race."

This could  have been avoided, simply by selecting the Heisman
after the bowls.

Back in football's Dark Ages, the major news services - the AP and UPI - both selected their national champions well before the bowl games.

Any fool could see that this could lead to problems, and it did.

The 1953 AP and UPI National Champion Maryland Terps lost to Oklahoma, 7-0 in the Orange Bowl. Oops.

And the 1959 AP and UPI National Champion Minnesota Golden Gophers lost in the Rose Bowl to Washington, 17-7.  Oops.

Say what you will about the current system, we never saw the national champion beaten in a bowl game.

But we still see the kind of individual performances by Heisman winners that, had they occurred during the season, would have hurt their Heisman chances.

It's time to come out of the Dark Ages and admit that the bowl games count. Determine five finalists and hold the final voting after the final game is played, and conduct the final vote online.

If we'd gone into the bowls with, say, five finalists, it would have been a fairly straightforward choice - which of the finalists made the greatest contribution in his team's winning effort?

On that basis, taking a look at this year's finalists and their performances,  it would have been - tada! -  Johnny Manziel in a runaway.

In his last college game, he put on a performance for the ages.

Now for the deal killer: ESPN has been using the "Heisman Show" to pull in a big audience late in the regular season, right after the Army-Navy game.

Making the selection after the bowl games means (1) giving up that important spot in the schedule when there aren't any other games to fill it; and (2) going up against the NFL playoffs.

ESPN has smarter guys than me.  If they really wanted it to happen they could move mountains.

*********** Steve Paterson, the Texas AD, is finding out fast that the UNiversity of Texas is not the Portland Trail Blazers, where he once served as president.

No, Steve, you're not in the NBA any more, working for one rich guy who owns the team.

You're now working for dozens of rich guys. They write checks - big checks - and they all want a say in the football program.

One of those rich guys - I'd call a billionaire a rich guy, wouldn't you? - is a fellow named Red McCombs.  He once owned the Minnesota Vikings.  And the San Antonio Spurs. He's donated so much money to UT that its business school bears his name.

And he's not happy with your choice of Charlie Strong as your football coach.  The day after Coach Strong was hired, he went public with his unhappiness.

He says he wanted Jon Gruden.  (Wouldn't surprise me, knowing the egos of some of those guys, if he'd promised Gruden he'd get him the job.)

Naturally, there are people accusing Mr. McCombs of racism (Charlie Strong being black).

I don't buy that.  I think it's a simple matter of a powerful person not getting  stroked.

I think that Mr. McCombs is used to having people at UT cater to him and consult him, and it appears  that he was bypassed.

Steve, in the NBA you only had to kiss one tuchus.  But at UT, there are a lot to kiss, and it's obvious that you haven't been on the job long enough to understand that, and to know which ones to kiss. Surely you understand that those people who write those checks want  something in return.

Your predecessor, DeLoss Dodds understood.  He knew how to work with those guys. He was  the interface between them and the football coach. That's why, when he announced his retirement, everybody knew Mack Brown's days as a Longhorn were winding down.

Steve, before announcing Charlie Strong's hire, you should have sat down with Mr. McCombs and told him how much you appreciate his support, and sold him on all Charlie Strong's good points.  If that wasn't good enough for him, at least you offered to bring  him in on the deal.

A guy like that wants to be able to tell people that he hired Charlie Strong.

Now, before it's too late, I suggest that you get together with Mr. McCombs and Coach Strong  for lunch - ASAP.

*********** I like some of the things I'm reading about new Army coach Jeff Monken, who comes to West Point from Georgia Southern.  I really don't know about the authenticity of the following email that's been published on an Army forum, but I sure hope it's true...

“One of the first things Coach Monken did was go through the locker room, and he saw that it was in disarray (a staple of how little care/pride Ellerson instilled). He asked if there was a locker SOP, which there is. So, he had the equipment staff empty every locker that wasn’t in accordance with that SOP into trash bags, and had those bags put in the visitors locker room, which doesn’t have heat. Those players have to use that locker room until Coach decides they earn the privilege of being back in the home locker room. Discipline, thy name is Monken. I’d be willing to bet we have a much better turnover differential next season.”

*********** If you're a bettor…

Starting with Georgia and 9 points vs Nebraska (Final: Nebraska 24, Georgia 19)

And ending with Auburn and 10 points vs Florida State (Final: FSU 34, Auburn 31)

Ten of the  final 12 bowl games were won betting  the underdog with the points.

american flagTUESDAY,  JANUARY 7, 2014 -   "When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty." Thomas Jefferson

*********** Did you see the condition of the field at the FCS title game between North Dakota State and Towson? Deplorable.

The game was played in Frisco, Texas, in a soccer stadium, which means natural grass. The footing was bad, the turf kept coming up in clumps, and puffs of what looked like dust kicked up whenever feet pounded the ground.

Just another example of the NCAA's whorish hand, taking the game from Chattanooga, Tennessee, a place that knew how to put on a football game,  and selling it to a higher bidder.

*********** The Big Game had just kicked off when I got a text from Christopher Anderson telling me about "BCS Megacast" on ESPNEWS.

I immediately turned it on - I put the "live" broadcast (without audio) on one set, and put "BCS Megacast" (with audio) on the other. 

Gathered around a large screen showing the game and, as we soon saw, also capable of showing replays, were three big-time college coaches - Steve Addazio of Boston College, Paul Chryst of Pitt and Kevin Sumlin of Texas A & M and  tthree ESPN game analysts -
Tom Luginbill, Matt Millen and Chris Spielman.

My one word review: sensational.

It was a blast listening to those guys discus plays that just happened, and plays coming up, to hear them talk about how they'd handle various situations. And, occasionally, crack wise. My wife was as interested as I was.  She especially enjoyed the banter and the obvious camaraderie.

If the NFL "broadcasting partners" weren't so smug about the ratings they're pulling down right now, they'd see the beauty in what just ESPN did and at Super Bowl time, take some of those coaches like Bill Cowher and Brian Billick and Tony Dungy out of those "studios" and put them in front of a screen. (I left Gruden out of it because he'd dominate the discussion.)

***********   NOW  do you see why I've said for years  I don't believe in kicking off deep?

*********** Dad

Check Oklahoma's right tackle - at times he's two yards behind the center.


This one really galls me.

The rule specifies that there must be seven men on the line of scrimmage (a safety rule, going all the way back to the days when teams would line up in a "guard back" formation and run flying wedges), and it quite clearly states what being "on the line of scrimmage" means: The top of a lineman's helmet must penetrate an imagine line drawn through the center's waistline.

No matter.  You see it in the NFL all the time and, with more and more college teams throwing the ball and fewer and fewer of them using tight ends, any time you see a tackle without anyone on his outside to help him, you'll see them back off the line as far as they're allowed, to get the jump on speed rushers from the outside

Officials rarely call it.

It bugs me because as if there aren't enough rules favoring the passing game as it is, officials give them this little extra favor.


*********** Winter Storm Hercules?  WTF? Gimme a break.

Hey - how about us, out here in the Pacific Northwest, where we never get tornadoes, or hurricanes, or blizzards worthy of a name?

Can't we have something? How about  Ten Straight Rainy Days   Carlos?

*********** Writes Jim Geraghty in National Review...

Next time some lefty tells you how uninformed Fox News viewers are, remind them of  this:

81: Percentage of young Democrats who approve of the Affordable Care Act, according to December poll by Harvard's Institute of Politics.

58: Percentage of young Democrats who approve of "Obamacare."

Ahem. "Obamacare" and the "Affordable Care Act" are the same thing.

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

New, More Realistic ‘NFL Play 60’ Campaign Encourages Kids To Be Active For 60 Seconds A Week

NEW YORK—Admitting that the previous incarnation of its program may have set unrealistically high expectations for the nation’s youth, the NFL unveiled Thursday its newly downscaled “Play 60” campaign, in which the league is encouraging children to be physically active for 60 seconds per week. “In hindsight, hoping that kids would be able to get out there and move around for an entire hour every single day was wildly optimistic, but we’re hoping that a solid minute of motion every week or so is a bit more attainable,” NFL spokesperson Clare Graff said of the more reasonable health and fitness campaign, which urges children to make an effort to engage in such activities as standing, waddling, and holding a “semi-vertical” pose to whatever extent they are capable. “And keep in mind that those 60 seconds don’t all have to come at once. No need to overdo it. You can split it up into five- or 10-second chunks, and you don’t have to start with a full minute at first. Just, you know, try your best.” Graff added that in an effort to spread word about the revised exercise program, the NFL is planning on airing a new Play 60 commercial featuring a group of panting, red-faced children shifting around on a couch with Green Bay Packers defensive tackle B.J. Raji.


*********** Coach Wyatt, I would add the word "branding" to the "sports terms" list.

Dave Potter
Cary, North Carolina

Amen!  More blurring of the line between sports and business!

*********** With Missouri's Cotton Bowl win over Oklahoma State, Gary Pinkel became the winningest head coach in Mizzou history, surpassing the win total of Don Faurot. Coach Faurot will be forever known as the inventor of the split-T, an offensive system that in the post-war years won national titles for Maryland and Oklahoma.

"What a great way to finish the season," he said, after the 41-31 Missouri win, in a game in which the two teams combined to score 41 points in the fourth quarter.

Coach Pinkel, an Ohio native, played for legendary coach Don James at Kent State, and then coached under him at Washington.  He's done a wonderful job at Missouri, but although the Tigers finished 12-2, and made it to the SEC title game in just their second year in the conference, 2014  wasn't all roses for their coach.

The weekend of October 27-28 had to be one of the toughest  of his life. First, Don James, his mentor,  passed away early in the week,  then on Saturday the Tigers lost to South Carolina in double overtime, and then, still agonizing over the loss, he had to fly to Seattle to attend Coach James' memorial service on Sunday.

*********** It's always sad to see the traces of your youth vanishing.  So it was sad, indeed, to hear of the death of Phil Everly. The Everly Brothers' songs were the kind you actually could sing. With your girl. Or your friends.  When I was in college and one of their songs came on the car radio, you'd immediately turn up the volume, and everybody would sing along. (These days, I just don't picture a guy and his girl rapping together.)

It was a thrill to be in Shenandoah, Iowa, years after my college days, and discover that that was where the Everly Brothers  got their start, singing on the local radio station. 

*********** Last May, Oklahoma's Bob Stoops had the effrontery to say that a lot of the SEC's reputation was based on "propaganda."

Alabama's Nick Saban dismissed Stoops' comments rather curtly, saying, “I’ve got more important things to do than sit around and read what Bob Stoops has to say about anything.”

Fast forward to last  Friday.  His Sooners having convincingly dispatched Alabama, Stoops told Colin Cowherd,

“When I made the comment, the bottom half of the SEC was like 0-36 against the top half of the SEC. You realize that? A year ago … nobody talks about that. My point was, don’t say SEC like they’re all doing that (beating everyone). One or two or three top teams … sure, you give them the credit. Alabama … I’ve got the utmost respect for them. Are you kidding me? How could you not? But in the end, don’t talk about the entire conference that way. It’s just not true.

“Hey, I’ve got total respect for Alabama, but you can’t deny what we did last night. Obviously, we can play with anybody, whether it’s the SEC or anyone else. And to say we can’t … well, Alabama’s been rolling the SEC for the last three years and we didn’t seem to be overwhelmed last night. I’m done with that talk.”


*********** Auburn coach Gus Malzahn attributes a lot of his offensive inspiration to the Delaware Wing-T, but in the way he uses his "fullback," he is going even further back - to the single wing. I hope you had a chance to watch Auburn's #35, Jay Prosch, and the role he plays in their offense.  He is one of a vanishing breed in today's spread offenses - a  fullback. At least that's what Auburn calls him.  But if you watch him closely, you'll realize that he's not a fullback at all. What he is is a single wing blocking back - he never carries the ball, he seldom catches a pass, but he's nearly always throwing a key block. He traps, he kicks out, he leads. I guess calling him a fullback is good salesmanship, because not many kids would want to be something called a "blocking back." That doesn't seem to bother Prosch a bit. He loves to hit. And at 6-2, 260 - he can.  He is a real key to what Auburn does.


*********** Coach,

I was reading your "News" page, and I agree with the thoughts on the national anthem debacle at the Rose Bowl.

At the risk of sounding non-PC, why is it that singers of this country's song, often African-American singers, think they have to try and belt out all these long "runs" of notes? Maybe these "singers" think it makes the song sound better?
I often wonder if they even understand what they are singing.

The Star-Spangled Banner's lyrics come from "Defence of the Fort McHenry", a poem written in 1814 by the 35 year old lawyer and amateur poet, Francis Scott Key, after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy ships in Chesapeake Bay during the battle of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812.
The poem was set to the tune of a popular British song written by John Stafford Smith. 

I guess the composer didn't know what he was doing, huh? What did he know, it has only lasted the test of time for 200 years.

Unfortunately, it also gets weird. At the Tostito's Fiesta bowl performer Ben Vereen gave a disturbing rendition in "song-speak", where he cut of all the high notes, save for the last note. At the end of the song, I thought he was going to have a dang heart attack or stroke or something. He definitely looked like he as going to blow a gasket. Reminded me of Joe Cocker.


My two favorite National Anthem rendition:

These five little girls, The Cactus Cuties, singing our county's song at a basketball game:


Richard Scott
Stevenson Ranch, California


I missed the Ben Vereen debacle.  After seeing the video, I'm very glad I did.

Yes, we often see black singers rearranging our national anthem, but I see whites doing it as well.   It appears that showing disrespect for our national anthem by adding personal touches is multi-racial.

Part of the problem is that no entertainer can pass up a chance to be seen and heard - and remembered.by a national TV audience.    And the best way to be remembered is to do something memorable - even if it's nauseating.

And part of the problem is that it is always "performed."  Never simply "Sung," or "played."

And part of it is that it's gone on so long, with nobody in a position to say "whoa,"  that it's accepted, at least by the "performers," as appropriate.

I always laugh when the pompous announcer asks us all to "please rise and honor our country" and then introduces the multi-platinum, Grammy-award winning "artist" who's going to be "performing" our national anthem.

"Honor?" I really doubt that any of them sees the "performing" of the national anthem as a patriotic moment, and as a result it's becoming less of one for the rest of us.

The little girls are cute, but personally, I don't trust singers. Kate Smith's "God Bless America" and Ray Charles' "American the Beautiful" (although admittedly an interpretation) are as far as I go.  I'm a marching band guy all the way.

Ever been to a high school game where it's sung by some teenage girl who's been told by everybody how good she is (either because nobody has the guts to tell her the truth or because nobody knows what good sounds like)?

Even a bad band is better.  At least you can sing along if you want.

Actually, I'm a proponent of doing away with it entirely before games, and doing it soon, before all the old farts like me die off and we're left with a nation that thinks the way it's being treated is the way things are supposed to be. Given surveys that show how few of them know the words, it's likely that most of them have never heard it played at proper tempo. (Who of them would ever suspect that, as it was written,  it's only supposed to take a little over a minute and a half?)


*********** Don't try playing the Knockout Game with this Southern Lady…


*********** Who ever thought he'd see that day that NIck Saban and Urban Meyer would both end the season with two-game losing streaks?
Well. We'll know for sure whether the pre-season polls are on the up-and-up if Alabama and Ohio State start out at the top.

For what it's worth - Ohio State opens at Navy
Alabama opens against West Virginia in the Georgia Dome

*********** If you watched the Vanderbilt game, you saw the Commodores go out in front of Houston, 24-0, then blow the lead in the third quarter, then roar back to win.

The geniuses noted that Vandy had three tight ends in the game, but not that they were alternating between a single wing with a flanker and a direct-snap double-wing Wildcat.

*********** James Franklin has pulled a Bill Snyder and won where nobody thought you could win, leading the Vanderbilt Commodores to two straight 9-win seasons.

As a Vanderbilt granddad (x2) I guess it's too much to ask of him to pull yet another Bill Snyder and stay around a while.

*********** Cliche of the season: "They're playing with house money."

*********** Was that the NFL I was watching, or was it kiddie soccer?

I may have heard incorrectly, but I swear somebody connected with the Colts said, "Game balls for everybody!"

*********** After a couple of weeks of intense, non-stop college football, it's really quite an adjustment to watch an NFL game.

First of all, there's absolutely no subtlety, no imagination, to the NFL's running game.  It's almost as if they only run because the running backs' union requires it every third or fourth play.

The holding by the pro linemen is far more blatant.

It may only be five more seconds, but it seems like the pros take forever between plays, which the TV people take as their invitation to show us close-up after closeup, one quick cut after another, until - whaddaya know? - it's time for another play. There is no sense of continuity.  Other than the fact that NFL players would never stand for it, a no-huddle, hurry-up college-type offense would drive the TV people crazy.

*********** It wasn't so long ago that the few black men in big-college coaching were buried in places where it's very hard for anybody to win - places like New Mexico State. 

Now, a black man has been hired to fill one of the highest-profile jobs in college sports, and black men hold the top spots at the two premier college programs  in the state of Texas.

Interestingly, I have yet to read anywhere that the Texas Longhorns' new coach, Charlie Strong, is a black man, which is good in the sense that his color shouldn't matter, but unfortunate if it means that many people are unaware of this   major milestone in sports.

Whether or not Coach Strong is up to the highly-political aspects of the job remains to be seen, but there's no doubt about his coaching credentials.  
He has paid his dues, and has done so with distinction.

He spent 25 years as an assistant, frequently mentioned as a candidate for various head coaching jobs, until he finally landed the right one, at Louisville.    In his four years there, he proved that he could run a successful major college program.

*********** I someone say that Charlie Strong was Texas' third choice, on no better grounds than the reports that Jim Mora of UCLA and Art Briles of Texas had supposedly withdrawn their names from contention.

First of all, it's quite likely that coaches Mora and Briles had no personal contact with Texas people, leaving that up to their agents.

Second of all, it's entirely possible that they  (or their agents) "withdrew" after it became apparent that someone else (Charlie Strong, maybe?) was the front-runner.

*********** I wonder how many people who watch glib, smooth-talking  "Coach-T" in the Toyota commercials appreciate what a wonderful job the producers have done to show the similarity of  snake-oil-peddling football recruiters and stereotypical old-style car salesmen.

*********** Surely someone in the NFL offices realized that there are many, many sports fans who, like me, detest Alec Baldwin, and yet - perhaps in another of their never-ending attempts to reel in the non-sports fan,  they went ahead anyhow and allowed let him host some upcoming show being called "NFL Honors." ("3rd Annual," the promotion said.  How did I ever miss the first two?)

*********** When Packers' lineman David Bakhtiari put himself back in the game Sunday despite the wishes of team doctors (and league protocol) I was struck by his name.  It has to be Persian (Iranian) and it immediately brought to mind a name strikingly similar: Bakhtiar.  Jim Bakhtiar.

Jim Bakhtiar was a fullback in the mid-50s for the University of Virginia. A native of Iran, he was nicknamed the "Plungin Persian" for the reckless way he threw his 200+ pounds into opposing lines, and he did so with such success that in his senior year (1957) he was named to several All-America teams.

After graduation from UVa, he went to medical school, and after becoming a doctor, he returned to Iran to practice medicine.

And then came the revolution that gave the world the Ayatollah Khomeini and  Iran that we have to deal with today, and Dr. Bakhtiar fled with his children. Eventually, he made his way back to Charlottesville, where he began to rebuild his life in the US.

In 2009, Virginia retired his number.


Read his amazing  story…


*********** When will producers quit trying to show so many angles and just show the game? It was frustrating watching Missouri game and missing parts of the play because they wanted to show me the head coach instead of the play.  If teams have a fast tempo just stick to one angle so I don't miss anything.  It was nice to see a former player, ej Gaines, get a pick in his final game though.

Caught the tail end of the Arkansas State and Ball State game and was thinking to myself that Ball State should have killed more clock on their final drive.  Sure enough they left a minute and a half on the clock and Arkansas State took the lead with 32 seconds left. Had ball state taken just 5 to 8 seconds more off the clock per snap they could have won their first bowl game.

Joel Mathews
Independence, Missouri


Agree on the artsy-fartsy camera work. Sure wish more teams would run the fast tempo, if only to screw up the TV people, who must go to bed at night dreaming of the new, clever things they plan on doing between plays.

The most amazing thing to me about the Arkansas State-Ball State game was the way Ball State almost pulled it out. With six seconds left and, faced with a 63-yard field goal, they threw complete 10 yards downfield on the left sideline, and the receiver made it out of bounds, with two seconds showing on the clock. They were still looking at a 53 yard field goal, but damned if some knucklehead Arkansas State defensive back didn't hit the receiver when he was at least a yard, maybe two, out of bounds - launch himself to do it.

It was anticlimactic when the now 38-yard field goal attempt was blocked, but if it had been good, that Arkansas State kid would have been the goat of the entire bowl season!

Not a good bowl season for the MAC, I'm afraid - Bowling Green, Buffalo, Northern Illinois, Ohio and Ball State, all good teams, went down.

*********** Didja see how the Packers blew the game?

3rd and 8 for the 49ers, 1:13 left and the Packers have to stop them. So some Green Bay millionaire, blitzing from the outside, ducks inside the blocker - and gives Kaepernick the outside. Bingo.  First down.  Game over.

Remember that the next time you contemplate  kicking some poor high school kid in the ass for doing the same thing.

*********** Curious as to how Philadelphia took the Eagles' loss to the Saints, I went to philly.com

Wrote Jeff McLane, of the Philadelphia Inquirer,

As Kelly and his players left the field after a devastating 26-24 loss to New Orleans, fans at Lincoln Financial Field cheered them into the tunnel. When was the last time that happened after an Eagles playoff defeat?



*********** The Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch was fined $50,000 by the NFL for his season-long  failure to comply with league procotol and, in the interest of good PR, talk to the news media.

If Marshawn had only asked me earlier, I could have saved him some money.  I'd have told him about 'Sheed.

When he played for the Portland Trail Blazers, Sheed - Rasheed Wallace - was the epitome of the spoiled, over[aid professional athlete.  But in retrospect, I have to give him credit for being pretty wily.  He knew good and well what a farce the whole PR thing  was -  the same people asking the same questions, and getting the same answers, from the same athletes.  Over and over.

Faced with a similar fine for a similar failure to cooperate, Sheed would simply came to the interview table and, game after game, deadpan, "It was a good game. Both teams played hard."

*********** How do you suppose 49ers' tackle Anthony Davis would react if someone were to refer to his hometown as a sh--hole?

That's how he described Appleton, Wisconsin, where the 49ers were staying prior to their game against Green Bay, in a twitter message.

I will tell you that Anthony Davis is from Piscataway, New jersey, and let you come to your own conclusions.

*********** I guess that by now you've all seen the Youtube video from the Sugar Bowl - the Bama fan - a slim, rather attractive blond woman - who piled on some Oklahoma fans  who she claimed had insulted her son. I don't know what was said, but she really put up quite a fight. It must have been toward the end of the game, when it was apparent that Bama was going to lose.

I'm going to be very careful about what I say here, considering that one Alabama "fan" shot another one after the Auburn loss a few weeks ago because she didn't think the victim was taking the loss hard enough, and another Alabama "fan" poisoned the trees at Auburn's Toomer's Corner - the trees the Auburn fans liked to "T-P" after a win. 

All I will say is if I ever wind up coaching a son of hers, (1) he can play as much as he wants, at any position he (or she) desires; and (2) at the end of the season, I quit.

*********** Those who don't understand the ferocity of the rivalry between Clemson and South Carolina might not have realized how sharp the barb was when Clemson's Dabo Swinney, in his post-Orange Bowl conference, said "We're the first team from the state of South Carolina to ever win a BCS game."

*********** Whew. Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins.  Clemson.  What a pair.  What a shame that early in the season Clemson lost by such a wide margin to Florida State, because Tajh Boyd could easily have been in the Heisman mix. And what a shame that we didn't see enough of Sammy Watkins to realize that he is - at least - this season's Percy Harvin.

And, biggest shame of all, while college football enables guys like that to shine,  the NFL usually relegates them to spot duty.

Boyd really handled himself well in his post-game interview.  Asked what he thought his "legacy" was, he answered, "I wasn't playing for my legacy.  I was playing for the guy next to me."

*********** The surest sign that the NFL insists on eating its young is that - other than the Auburn-Florida State game hype - the biggest news about "college football" these days is about one player or another declaring himself eligible for the draft.

american flagFRIDAY,  JANUARY 3, 2014 -   "I prefer peace. But if trouble must come, let it come in my time, so that my children can live in peace." Tom Paine


Really came to play:  Washington, Oregon, Colorado State, Mississippi State, Kansas State, Louisville, Texas Tech, USC, Utah State, East Carolina, Pitt, UCLA, Nebraska, Arizona, South Carolina, Michigan State, Central Florida

Left something at home:  Washington State, Georgia Tech, Michigan, Texas, Northern Illinois, Rice, Fresno State, Maryland, Arizona State, Miami, Rutgers, BYU, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Stanford

Among the very few good games: Texas A & M-Duke…  LSU-Iowa… Louisiana Lafayette-Tulane… Central Florida-Baylor.  (And, if you weren't a Stanford fan, Michigan State-Stanford)

Sensational performance by Oklahoma and their redshirt freshman QB Trevor Knight. And on defense, with Bama playing catchup most of the way, the Alabama left tackle simply couldn't handle the rush of OU rush end Eric Striker. Written off most of the season, Oklahoma would be a serious contender if there were a playoff - and they could somehow get in it.

Very tough way for Alabama to end the season. If there were any Alabama guys who were mailing it in after the bitter Auburn loss, I sure couldn't see it.  Bama played hard, but OU played better.

Lost in the clutter of too many games going on at the same time - UNLV-North Texas

***********  I'll bet I could put together a decent all-star team of guys left - or sent - home from the bowls for breaking team rules.

*********** Lou Holtz on Virginia Tech - "they used to be feared...now, they're just another team in the ACC."

*********** The play-by-play guy after a Georgia Tech runner was flagged for putting on a little show: "I think they're just trying to make these kids into robots."

*********** As exciting as it was to watch Navy stick to its triple option and win, it was just as disappointing to watch Georgia Tech get away from its triple option and lose.

*********** Down on the Kansas State sideline, the game was under control, but Bill Snyder was pissed.  He's been around long enough to know that in a football game anything can happen - and besides, it's bad form to be giving the coach  the ice bath treatment with two minutes still left to play.

*********** One of the real heroes of the bowl season has to be Marathon Oil, which is among the leading TV sponsors, without whom we wouldn't have a game every night.

I can't get their jingle out of my head:

"No matter when, no matter where,

Marathon will take you there…"

Takes me back to the days when every commercial had a jingle. Makes me want to drive to the nearest Marathon station - 1500 miles or so away - and fill up.

*********** I hope Middle Tennessee's coach has a lifetime contract, because after the way some of his players conducted themselves against Navy  in the Bell Helicopter Bowl, I don't see how he's ever going to get hired by a bigger school that even pays lip service to the concept of the student-athlete.

No, I'm sure his players aren't all a$$holes, but a sufficient number of them are certifiable, and their actions were so flagrant and frequent that it's not possible that they came as a surprise to their coaching staff.

Play after play, it was one outrage or another.

Without naming names, one  player was ejected for two unsportsmanlikes - once for taking a shot at Navy QB Keenan Reynolds' head while he lay on the ground, once for sticking his fingers in Reynolds' face. Reynolds, his vision briefly impaired, had to remain on the sidelines until they could affix a visor to his helmet.

Another clown stood  in front of the Navy bench following a play, his back turned to the field,  and played the fool for the benefit of the Navy coaches and players.

One bonus for the fans watching a team like that  is they get double their money's worth - they not only see the play from the snap to the whistle, but they get all that extra action after the whistle.

To the Navy kids' credit, they didn't respond to the many provocations. They just pounded.

The irony of it all is that if it had come down to an actual hand-to-hand fight, those combat-trained Navy kids would have destroyed that pack of wannabe tough guys.

*********** Interviewed at the Navy-Middle Tennessee bowl game. Roger Staubach, who won the Heisman Trophy, was an All-Pro quarterback for the Cowboys, and now owns one of the most successful commercial real estate firms in the world,  said what playing at the Naval Academy had meant to him: "The Naval Academy formed the foundation for everything that I've done. You learn about hard work, perseverance, teamwork, caring about someone other than yourself…"

*********** They had to go and spoil the Navy telecast by assigning Beth Mowins to do the play-by-play.  Aarrrrrgh.

*********** It was 1915, at Gallipoli, and as Anzac (Australian and New Zealand) troops were being slaughtered  by Turkish machine gun fire, British Admiral John de Robeck, watching from his ship, observed, "Gallant fellows, these soldiers;  they always go for the thickest place in the fence."

I thought of that after Stanford, with the game on the line,  lined up on fourth and one and ran right into the thickest part of the Michigan State defense, one of the nation's toughest.

Stanford's David Shaw, whom I like and admire, seemed to think he was playing against the typical set-up-to-stop-the-spread  Pac 12 defense.

Look - Stanford didn't see a defense like that all season (true, not many teams anywhere else did, either), while in the Big Ten  MSU had seen a couple of offenses like Stanford's.

And to top it off, out of nowhere, Michigan State surprised them with a passing game to go with that great defense.

*********** Fortunately, Central Florida helped me get over my Stanford-induced funk by doing an exceptional job of throttling the Baylor offense, and then putting on a tremendous show of offense themselves. 

Makes you wonder what would have happened if the same Notre Dame that went right along with a star linebacker's fable about an imaginary girlfriend in promoting him for the Heisman Trophy had chosen to overlook George O'Leary's resume enhancement.

*********** He's blown clear across the parking lot when lighter fluid in the car explodes…

He's hit by a semi and knocked ass over teakettle…

The Mayhem campaign has jumped the shark.

*********** Nebraska's facing third down on their own one foot line, having just narrowly escaped a safety.  But instead of playing it safe, the Huskers drop back and throw - and damned if they don't catch the Georgia secondary asleep.

The pass is complete out near midfield and then, to compound the felony, a Georgia defender goes for the sensational hit, and slips off the receiver.

Touchdown.   99 yards.   A record that can never be broken.

*********** Well, at least Georgia has finally run out of games it can lose in heartbreaking fashion.

*********** A UCLA linebacker laid a dirty hit on Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas - a hit with the arms tucked in, after the ball was gone. In fact, the blocker's - er, tackler's - forearm came up and away from his body AFTER the hit.

The TV guys, as they all seem to be doing now, were all about excusing the "tackler."

"I don't know what the message is to the defense," said Terry Danielson.

Well, Terr, neither do I, but I know what it should be:

"If you're not using your arms to wrap, it isn't a tackle.  It's a dirty shot, and you're done for the day."

*********** BILL O'BRIEN, CON: The lesson (if Penn State isn't too stubborn to recognize it) is that the Penn State lettermen (an influential bunch) were right at the time he was hired - they should have hired a Penn State guy.  Instead, for the first time since 1915, the once-impossible has happened - a Penn State coach has left to coach someplace else.

It's sad to think that his predecessor  twice turned down NFL offers.

Jeez - to hear all the ESPN guys tell it, O'Brien saved Penn State football.  

Yeah, maybe he did.  But he did it by conning a bunch of 19, 20 and 21-year-olds into staying at Penn State back when they had their one chance to bail - no questions asked, no sitting out a year.  He did it by stressing commitment.  And to show what he meant by commitment, after one year he renegotiated his contract to lower its buyout, and then, after two years, headed for the NFL once the numbers were right.  (You don't suppose he'd been telling recruits that he was planning on staying at Penn State until they graduated, do you?  Nah.)

*********** BILL O'BRIEN, PRO: In O'Brien's behalf, there do appear to be systemic problems at Penn State that complicate a coach's job - a president who took the job on an interim basis and then seemed to grow fond of the power and position; an "interim" athletic director with no prior coaching or athletic administration experience who had been serving on the board of trustees; and a large, unwieldy board of trustees, few of whom are accountable to anyone. 

With all-powerful Joe Paterno out of their way, there was nothing to restrain those powerful, ego-driven people and their often-clashing agendas. 

O'Brien was already on the job when that bunch, which had evidently assured him that the NCAA would not get involved in a case that was already in the hands of the justice system, took a look at the cruel and uncalled-for punishment handed down by the NCAA (which didn't even bother conducting its own investigation)  and, thankful that they hadn't been given the death penalty, said, "Thank you, Sir. May I have another, please?."

This was followed by the so-called Freeh Report, which was supposed to get to the bottom of the whole Jerry Sandusky mess but served primarily to rubber-stamp the actions of the board.

After all that, the realization that within the next year Penn State is likely to have a new president - and a new AD - may have been enough to convince Bill O'Brien that his chances of a long, happy stay in State College were slim.

*********** So female Marines will be able to engage in combat in 2016. Great.  I already feel safer.

Realistically, though,  there are some things generally considered essential to combat that women are - generally - lacking.

One of those is strength - the strength to get over obstacles; to carry a heavy pack (weighing 90 pounds or more) of supplies, weapons and ammunition; to lift and carry wounded comrades.

And one simple way of measuring strength is pull-ups.  For more than 40 years, the Marines have required men to do a minimum of three.  Few women can do even that, and since that deficiency stands in the way of the Corps' (read "the administration's") goal of inclusiveness, the Marines have decided to postpone for a year their deadline for women to meet the standard.


********** A few years ago,  I heard Lou Holtz, in wordy mode, say, "The University of Naval Academy."  He really did.

New Year's Day, he did it again: "I don't believe Mark Dantonio gets enough credit for the job he's done at The University of Michigan State."

(Or is that what you say when you're not sure whether you mean the Wolverines or the Spartans?)

*********** Johnny Phootball: I can't stand the little pr--k, but I've never seen a guy take over a game like that.

*********** In the Pinstripe Bowl, Notre Dame and Rutgers looked, in one way at least, as if they were playing at the next level - between them, they kicked eight field goals.

*********** There's a reason why kickers are given protection, and it makes sense - but nothing angers me more than when a kicker takes advantage of the protection by faking being roughed.  That's what the Notre Dame placekicker did when he missed a kick, then flopped over a Rutgers defender who lay on the ground after failing to block the kick.  Having fraudulently earning a re-do, he made it.

*********** After getting the necessary yardage, the Marshall QB slid - and then had the gall to jump up and and signal a first down.

*********** Jadeveon Clowney was picked up a $445 speeding ticket last week after being caught going almost 30 miles over the speed limit.

Said Steve "Mister Disciplinarian" Spurrier, "I tell you - he needs to go to driving school."

*********** Comparing my thoughts with those of my son...

1 Ducks played poorly. Could have won 50-7.

Should have.  See #3.  Actually, their defense played quite well, after all the talk about Texas running right over them.  I thought the Ducks' play-calling was uninspired.  But still, they had 469 yards of offense.

2 That Texas team (the one that played tonight) would have finished 8th or 9th in the Pac 12.

Agreed.  Whoever gets the Texas job has his work cut out for him.  Give the Longhorns' defense credit for a decent job, but on the offensive side, although I can't evaluate their linemen, I didn't see any skill people who could play for any decent Pac-12 team.  Even their running backs, although big and tough,  lacked the killer burst.

3 Hope Helfrich didn't pull an RGIII playing Mariota with an injury. And why was he in on the last series just to hand off?

I'm not sure that Mariota isn't suffering from an injury that could require surgery.  This might explain his returning next year, because with a bad wheel he wouldn't do well at the combine. Stay tuned.

I thought the "cramp" business looked a bit fishy, and although he seems to be very honorable and honest, I had a hard time buying his post-game explanation that he was out of shape.

I also was surprised that they didn't have an acceptable backup ready. One of the things that always impressed me about Chip Kelly was his ability to have a replacement QB ready on very short notice when a starter went down.

Maybe Mark Helfrich watches too many NFL games, where for some unexplained reason they leave their most valuable asset - their starting quarterback - in the game even when it's a blowout.

And a bit of unsolicited advice to Coach Helfrich:  If you don't have a backup, better make damn sure  your equipment man makes damn sure your quarterback's helmet is properly fitted. Granted, my teams I've never played against the likes of the University of Texas, but I have NEVER had a kid's helmet come off during a game!

*********** In the Alamo Bowl, Marcus Mariota showed why he'd have been Heisman material if he hadn't injured his knee, carrying 15 times for 133 yards and completing 18 of 26 passes for 253 yards and a TD (granted, it was a shuffle pass).

The good news for Ducks' fans is he's coming back for another year.  Now, if Phil Knight can just figure out a way for the Ducks to play at times when easterners can see him…

*********** Pity the Michigan Wolverines' fans. 

Maybe, if you believe in karma, they're still paying the price for their school's unseemly courting of Rich Rodriguez back in 2008.  ("Courting" is an overly dignified term for  what cops call "soliciting.")

A few weeks ago, the Wolverines played unbeaten Ohio State to a standstill only to have their coach pass on the chance to go to overtime and instead put all the chips on a  two-point conversion attempt - an unsuccessful one, as it turned out.

Don't know if there was any carry-over, but in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl against Kansas State, MIchigan appeared to be a shell of the team that nearly beat the Buckeyes.

And, insult of insults, many of those who didn't go to the game itself had to squint to watch it in a restaurant. Without sound.

Seems a number of Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants nationwide, despite their parent company's being the title sponsor of the bowl game, elected to relegate the  game to smaller TVs - with no audio - featuring instead a UFC event on their large screens.

Shame on Buffalo Wild Wings.  And to think that at several points in the game telecast, their CEO looked us right in the eye and told us what an honor it was to sponsor the game and bring it to us.  Damn good thing all those Michigan people couldn't hear her.


*********** Concerning that "song" before the Rose Bowl - the National Anthem (allegedly).

In their behalf, perhaps the "performers" had never actually heard the song before having to "perform" it.

No matter. That does it. Time to do away with the national anthem before sporting events.

"What?" I can hear you say. "And  dishonor our nation?"

Bullsh--, I say.  We dishonor our nation by allowing assorted personalities to "perform" our national anthem as they see fit in hopes of advancing their careers.

If you don't understand what I'm talking about  - take a look at what we  sat through.  (I dare you to watch the whole thing.)


Interestingly, I came across this passage in "Dodd's Luck," famed Georgia Tech coach Bobby Dodd's autobiography, written with Jack Wilkinson:

(Following a thrilling fourth-quarter 1946 win over Navy) "Not everybody was able to stand as the band played the national anthem (then a post-game tradition)"

Did you catch that?   At least at Georgia Tech, the national anthem was played following the game.  (And believe me, barely a year after the end of World War II, with college rosters studded with veterans, that was no time to be disrespecting our country, our national anthem, or our flag.)

We couldn't do that now, of course.  Because that's when the bimbos have to ask coaches what it meant to win the game, and star players whether or not they've decided to enter the draft.

*********** One of the most tired cliches in sports is "he just wanted it more."  As if wanting something was all there was to it. No preparation, no brains, no physical talent.

So a kid from Texas A & M makes a great play - anticipates a Duke pass, gets a jump on the ball, cuts in front of the receiver, intercepts and returns for a touchdown, giving the Aggies their first lead of the game.

And despite all that, Jesse Palmer says he "just wanted the ball more."

*********** Speaking of cliches-

As it has done every year for 39 years, Michigan's Lake Superior State University has just released  its   2014 "List of Words to be Banished from the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness."

This year's list is headed by "selfie," followed by "twerking" and "hashtag."

Sports terms  making the  list of things people are tired of hearing are the "adversity" overcome by  teams, and  the "fan base" that supports them.

To which I would add "(Fill in the nickname) Nation."

*********** According to the papers, the Boston Marathon Bombing was 2013's "Top Sports Story."

Say, "Sports story?"

Was the Aurora Theatre Shooting 2012's Top Entertainment Story?

*********** From The New York Times:

A salute created by a French comedian known for his anti-Semitic views is causing some problems for athletes who've used it…


*********** An Augusta, Georgia VA hospital told a group of high school students that they couldn't sing traditional Christmas carols to hospitalized veterans.

Said the hospital's spokesman (which I think means he/she is on the government payroll) to the Athens-Banner Herald, “Military service veterans, male and female, represent people of all faiths.  It is out of respect for every faith that The Veterans Administration gives clear guidance on what ‘spiritual care’ is to be given and who is to give it.”
*********** On December 23 - in the spirit of Christmas - our local courthouse issued 34 marriage licenses…

15 were issued to two-female couples, 7 to two-males couples… 18  of the same-sex couples were from out of state- Oregon, mostly, but also Arizona, Colorado, Michigan and Wyoming

************* It's getting harder and harder to be normal in California, where new laws went into effect on January 1:

Students in grades K-12 who "identify as transgender" will be able to use the school restrooms of their choice so long as their choice is “consistent with their gender identity” - which need not be their gender at birth.

Here's one that coaches will like: Students will  be able to choose, based on their “gender identity,”  whether to play on the boys team or the girls team. ("Today, I feel pretty.  I think I'll go practice with the girls' team.")

Tough talk from West Point's new superintendent, Lieutenant Robert Caslen, on the subject of Army football:

(As reported by  Kevin Gleason of the Middletown, New York Times Herald Record)

“What Army football needed is we needed discipline because we were making too many mistakes.  We were in the bottom-third of all Division I football teams in the country in turnover percentage. This is West Point. These cadets are disciplined. We were one of the most ill-disciplined teams in America. You can’t have that. You get the ball 10-12 times a game. To win you have to put 30 points on the board which means you better score more than half of the times you get the ball. If we are turning the ball over six to eight times a game, that’s more than half the times we have the ball. We are just eliminating our percentages and odds to win. We have to teach discipline. We have to coach discipline. We have to hold ourselves accountable. He (new coach Jeff Monken) will bring discipline.”

“The second thing (Monken) is going to bring is mental and physical toughness. You know how you measure toughness? Look at the fourth quarter and see how many fourth quarters Army won this year. The answer is two. Go back and look at last year and look at how many fourth quarter Army won. The answer is two…What happened to the great Army, the fourth quarter is ours. What happened to that? You need mental toughness first so you will pay the price physically. That you can pound and beat and pound and beat and be in a fight and then the fourth quarter doesn’t flatten you out it becomes a great equalizer. So that no longer it is ‘They are bigger, stronger, faster.’ Now, they’ve been beaten so it becomes a great equalizer and when the fourth quarter becomes an equalizer then the team that plays as a team with the greatest will is the team that will win the fourth quarter and I bet if you win the fourth quarter more times than not (you win the game).”

When asked if one of his main tasks as superintendent is to fix the football program, Caslen said, “A lot of people asked that question. (They say), ‘You are putting too much emphasis on winning,’ and all of that. My response is first of all there’s other people before me like Douglas MacArthur who understood the importance of winning here. But, it goes way beyond West Point. It goes to our Army and its relationship with the American people. When the American people make the decision to put boots on the ground, they don’t expect us to go out there and do our best. They expect us to win. They expect us to be fighters that will go out tooth and nail to do whatever it takes honorably in order to win.  That’s what they expect.

“When the American people see the Army, they see the Army exemplified through West Point and the best way they see West Point is the Army-Navy game and what have they’ve seen from Army over the last 12 years. We’ve developed a habit of losing to the point where we have developed a culture of losing. That’s wrong. In my opinion, that’s wrong. That’s something as a superintendent I got to reverse. I don’t care if it’s football, or lacrosse or soccer. I don’t care if it’s academics. If you develop a culture of losing and become in the habit of losing, we, the United States Army, are in the wrong business. We’ve got to turn that around. Our Warrior Ethos says, ‘We never quit. We will pay the price in whatever is necessary, honorably to be successful. So winning is important. It’s important for a lot of reasons.”

He went on,

"General Odierno (the Army Chief of Staff) told me that he was near the Navy coach (Ken Niumatalolo) as he was coming out of the locker room after halftime,'' Caslen said of Navy's 34-7 win, "and CBS interviewed him and asked, 'Are you worried about the weather going into the second half?' The coach said, according to General Odierno, 'Absolutely not. We've been practicing outside all week getting ready for the conditions because we knew they were going to be bad.'

"And that's the leadership that you need,'' Caslen said. "The toughness to be able to play in those conditions. You look at the Army side, we were huddled around heaters. There was not a single Navy guy around a heater. You ought to take that picture and post it in the Army locker room and let the Army football players look at that and understand what it takes to win football games.'"

Wrote Gleason

"When asked about Army's hard-to-imagine run of football failure, Caslen skipped the King's English version in sharing his feelings.

Said Lieutenant General Robert M. Caslen,  Jr., Superintendent of the United States Military Academy, "I'm pissed."

american flagFRIDAY,  DECEMBER 27, 2013 -   "Once you learn how good you really are, you never settle for anything less than your very best."   Andy Talley, Villanova coach


***********  Taysom Hill was in Australia serving an LDS church mission, preparing to attend Stanford when he returned to the US.

But Stanford, whose head coach Jim Harbaugh saw Hill as his QB, wanted him to enroll in the fall and redshirt, which would mean Hill's having to leave his mission four months early.

Hill proposed postponing his enrollment until January, and then taking part in spring drills, but Stanford's administration said no go.

On his return to the US, he spoke to his mission president, who contacted BYU to see if there was interest.

BYU cleared it with the NCAA and the rest is history. 

Kid's pretty good. Watch him against Washington Friday night.


*********** Since I first got seriously involved in Army football, back in 2000,  it's been rough sledding. In that relatively short stretch of time, I've seen one winning season (7-6). And I've seen four coaches go.

Now, Army has a new coach.

He's Jeff Monken, who's been at Georgia Southern.

I am excited.

Coach Monken is a triple option guy:  he  worked under Paul Johnson at Navy, and moved with Coach Johnson to Georgia Tech before taking over at Geogia Southern.

I am excited.

Word is that the Army Chief of Staff, General Ray Odierno, was instrumental in the hiring process.

If I had my way, Coach Monken would retain some of the current staff, but it's his deal.

I am excited.

*********** As a career sailor I have to take some exception to the notion put forth;” Beyond that, there is the suspicion - hard to prove, but easy to suppose - that recruits who qualify for a service academy would choose the sexier, some would say "safer" services over the  life of an infantryman. “
First of all, the Naval Academy also has a portion of the class going into the Marine Corps…( of course I have always thought the Marines were sexier than the Army LOL)…

But seriously, I think the majority of folks entering those academies make the decision based on the purest of intention…I know when my son was considering that route the Navy Blue and Gold Officers spoke to him about a career based upon the desire to command ships warships at sea, or a career as a Marine Corps officer, and cautioned that few get to “fly jets”…The West Point guys spoke in terms of deep tradition, team work and a career in many fields within the Army-not just infantry….
All that said- I don’t think 18 year olds really consider sea duty as sexy or safe and infantry as unsafe…as I recall when I was 18 I was indestructible, I joined the Navy because I wanted to ride submarines from the time I saw the Nautilus return from the North Pole….why, I don’t know…but I am still working on the darn things and am still infatuated with them.  So my guess is that a kid being offered an appointment to any of the academies are not going there primarily to play football,  and additionally are not thinking much past graduation or the ramifications of the career choices available afterwards.  
As for the salary factor. Not certain how that happens, I am sure those salaries are all part of discretionary spending and budgeted for; not certain if an academy coach is a GS position or a contracted position…but in either case if Navy can pay, Army could do the same I’m sure.
All good things to ponder and I will in fact ask around here at work, as I am surrounded by many “ring knockers” from all the academies.  I will let you know what I find out.
Enjoy the holidays…and thanks for doing all the work you do to keep your blog running…It is one of the few things I get to read that I enjoy and look forward to.
Rich Golden
Montville, Connecticut

With you all the way on that one.

A lot of Navy players are branching USMC, and having a son-in-law who served on the USS Alaska (and got his college degree pretty much while at sea (and underwater), I don't subscribe to it.

But the belief is there in some quarters that there are more attractive offerings at the other two academies, and that perhaps some rival recruiters might not be above pointing out the chances of a West Point grad finding himself in Afghanistan.

Not that Army football players can't "branch" into something other than Infantry, anyhow - but the vast majority of them choose infantry or on of the other "combat arms" - armored or artillery.

A really interesting point that I saw on an Army board not so long ago was that you could plausibly date the decline of Army football to the opening of the Air Force Academy.  Air Force's first season was 1956, and the first meeting between Army and Air Force was in 1959.

1959 was the first year following the retirement of Army's all-time great coach Earl Blaik.   In his 18 years there, he'd had only two losing seasons, and those were when his ranks had been depleted by an academic scandal that resulted in the dismissals of most of his starting players.

In the 55 seasons since Air Force first stepped on the field against  Army, Army has had only 18 winning seasons.  (The last one was 2010, and that was just a 6-6 season capped off by a bowl win over SMU.)

An important point to remember is that before the Air Force became a separate branch of the Army (the Army Air Corps), it was common for many of Army's top players (such as Heisman Trophy winner Doc Blanchard) to elect to serve in the Air Corps.

Glad you like my page.

*********** My son's friend, Mike "Gas Man" Gastineau, a long-time Seattle sports radio guy, is a native of Indiana who closely follows Midwest sports. He says you've got to love the MAC - they send Bowling Green, their champion, to Detroit, and their runner-up, Northern Illinois, to San Diego.
*********** I've mentioned before that out here in the Northwest,  "Cougin' it" describes the Washington State Cougars' well-known propensity to disappoint their faithful - to lose games they should have won, and in an agonizing fashion.

That they did, in spades, by blowing a big lead in the New Mexico Bowl and losing to Colorado State.

Like irony? Mike Leach, the Ole Pirate who's probably done as much as anyone in the history of the game to make the running game irrelevant, demonstrated for all to see the passing team's achilles heel, when he needed a running game to run out the clock and go home with the win - and he didn't have one!

Listen - we've all heard that a running team needs a passing game. But the opposite is just as true -  a passing team needs a running game.

Not that that was the Leach staff's only problem.

With his Washington State Cougars needing to take some time off the clock,  they came back from a play review and instead of letting the clock run down, snapped it within seconds.

After the review had shown that the Cougars hadn't lost a fumble, damned if they didn't fumble again - and lose the ball - on the very next play.  Great personnel decision - it was the fumbler's first carry of the day.

Following a Colorado State score, the WSU return man deliberately went to the ground, so as not to fumble.  I argued with my wife that it was a smart thing to do.  But following the next CSU score, which tied the game, the guy didn't go to the ground - instead, he fumbled.  CSU recovered and - to make the story short, - although outplayed most of the day, wound up winning. 

See, they still knew how to run the ball.

Mike Leach, meanwhile, is probably back in Pullman drawing up some more pass plays.

*********** It's officially  the off-season in Washington, a state whose restrictions on off-season coaching/instruction are becoming more and more hard to defend.

Essentially, they state that during the school year, none of a school's coaches - head or assistant, paid or volunteer - may provide instruction to any of that school's athletes  in any sport that's out of season. 

The intent, I suppose, is to keep some basketball coach from organizing a fall-league team, discouraging "his" players from playing football, or a baseball coach from holding BP after basketball practice.

The result, in my experience, is mainly to cheat poor kids and country kids out of the kind of skill-development that could make a difference in their lives.

Other kids' families can hire private coaches, but not poor kids.  If they even live near a private coach.  What they do have is their own school's coaches - who aren't allowed to work with them.

My town, Camas,  is one of the most affluent communities in Southwest Washington.  Camas has undergone staggering growth - from 7,000 when we moved here in 1989 to over 20,000 today.  Camas, once a blue-collar paper mill town, is now an upscale suburb of Portland, Oregon.

As a result of the town's new-found prosperity, Camas schools want for nothing. The Camas High football team is one of the best in the state,  a matter of community pride.  Its athletes are well-coached.  Most of them receive outside instruction in skills and strength and speed training, and they attend expensive camps.  

Good for them.

But I happen to coach in a remote location called Ocean Shores, in a school district  70 per cent of whose students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

While the kids in wealthier areas get around the state's restrictions on off-season  skills instruction by going to outside coaches and trainers, few of our student-athletes have the financial wherewithal to afford private instruction.

And, because of our location,  those with the means to afford private coaches are 2-3 hours' drive from the metro areas where the instructors are located.

I'm no socialist, but it does seem odd to me that state associations which pride themselves on promoting fairness in competition can turn a blind eye to the fact that their rules prevent poor kids from receiving out-of-season  instruction in the skills of a sport from their own school's coaches, while the children of the well-to-do develop their skills at the hands of  private instructors.

It does seem ridiculous to me that I can work with some other coach's quarterback, but not with my own.

They are helping create a have/have not divide that disserves lower-income kids (many of who are - ahem! - minorities) and those who live a distance from metro areas, and at the very least, I think that there ought to be some sort of waiver of the out-of-season rule for students and schools that qualify on one of those bases.

*********** You've got to like some of the things Eagles' coach Chip Kelly saud in a press conference last week:


Q. There is a woman down the shore (that's a Philly exprression meaning "down at the Jersey Shore" HW)  that sent you a device that you use on the sidelines for signal calling. What were your thoughts immediately when you were looking at it?

COACH KELLY: That this could help us.

Q. You guys are professionals here. You do what you do. So to have someone off the street in a sense, a fan just send you something --

COACH KELLY: Yeah, if they send us something that's going to work, we're going to use it. I think you can learn from any person in this world, and I think if your mind is so closed that you're going to say, ‘We've got all the answers,’ then shame on you. But I opened it. It looked like a good suggestion, so we used it.

Q. Given that you do control your own destiny now --

COACH KELLY: You know you can't control destiny? Destiny is a predetermined set of events, therefore if it's predetermined, you can't control it.

Q. 14 games in, is there anything that surprised you about the difference from the college game to the NFL?

COACH KELLY: No, I had a good understanding of what the league was all about, was prepared for it. I think the difference between the college and the pros is that every single week is a challenge. You can look at some of the games you've played in college and you may hype them up that way. But in the back of your mind, you know what the outcome of the game will be before it's played because there is such a big discrepancy. In this league, there is no discrepancy. You've got to come to play every week. The team that executes the best usually ends up the team that's on top. But in terms of a surprise, nothing that's really come out that's been like, well, I didn't think that was ever going to be that way.

*********** "What did you do over break, Mister Kitna?"

Surely there will be one student at Lincoln High in Tacoma, Washington who'll ask that question when the students return to school on Monday.

Surely there will one dimwit who'll be unaware that only the day before, Mr. Kitna, their math teacher and the school's head football coach (the Lincoln Abes were 8-2 this past season), was the Dallas Cowboys' Number two quarterback as they faced the Philadelphia Eagles.

Jon Kitna, who's 41 now, spent 14 years in the NFL, a sometime starter for the Seahawks, Lions and Bengals. A three-year backup to Tony Romo in Dallas, he was signed this week to take his place in the Cowboys' batting order behind Kyle Orton should (as seems likely) Tony Romo be unable to play.

Now get this - Orton says he'll donate his game check - about $53,000 to Lincoln High.

(The cynic in me sees all sorts of non-football types at Lincoln just waiting to get their piece of that pie.)


*********** I can't see how it can be good for college football for there to be bowls like the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl and the Beef O'Brady Bowl, played in front of virtually empty stands.

The Hawaii Bowl people "announced" ticket sales of 29,000, but I don't think even the NSA could have found 25,000 of the phantom ticket holders. Hawaii is a wonderful place, and I'm sure that the players enjoy going there, but it does seem to me that if the idea is to promote Hawaii, a backdrop of empty seats doesn't help the cause.

St. Petersburg, Florida, where the Beef Whatever Bowl was played, is also nice. The promos they showed us were enough to make anybody want to check the place out.   But the game was played indoors on a bright, sunny day.  Now, really - unless you had a son playing in the game, wouldn't you be outside?

I won't even get into the dingy appearance of the stadium, with the slapped-together bleacher seating on one side, and the artificial-turf field  which looked on TV  as if the roof had leaked.  Or maybe a herd of goats had been tricked into grazing on it and then been shooed away when they were only half done.

On the heels of an off-season for Boise State, followed by the loss of their coach to Washington, The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl couldn't have done much to cheer up the locals.

As predicted, nobody wanted to leave the sun and surf of San Diego to go frolic in the cold and snow of Idaho, and few people in Buffalo saw any sense in spending good money to leave their own cold and snow to go sit in somebody else's.

*********** Here in Washington, a state whose economy was partly built on the availability of the cheap power produced by our dams, our electric bills continue to rise.

Why? Because when we weren't looking,  environmentalists shoved through our legislature a law that stipulates that our power companies must obtain increasing percentages of their power from "renewable" sources.

You know - wind and solar.  Very expensive sources, even with the government subsidies rehired to try to bring their costs down.  And very unreliable.

But get this - not hydro.  Not water turning turbines.  WTF?

So paying higher prices for the show that is "renewable energy" is bad enough, but then there's this:

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new study by government scientists says wind energy facilities have killed at least 67 golden and bald eagles in the last five years, but the number could be much higher.

The research represents one of the first tallies of eagle deaths attributed to the nation’s growing wind energy industry. A total of 85 eagles were killed at wind farms since 1997, the study concludes, but most of those occurred in 2008-2012. Most deaths - 79 - were golden eagles.

While the birds are protected by federal law, the Obama administration has yet to file criminal charges against a wind energy company for killing any eagles.

Ha.  Find yourself in possession of so much as one eagle feather and wait till you see what happens to you.


*********** It doesn't bode well for Texas' search for a new coach  that one of the first acts of  their new AD, Steve Paterson, was to appoint a search committee - an EIGHT-PERSON  committee.

    •    Steve Hicks, vice chair of the Board of Regents, one of the board’s athletics liaisons, and owner and executive chairman of a private investment firm.

    •    Robert Stillwell, member of the Board of Regents, one of the board’s athletics liaisons, retired partner at Baker Botts LLP and an original director of Mesa Petroleum Co.

    •    Michael Clement, accounting professor in the School of Business, and faculty representative to the Men’s and Women’s Athletics Councils.

    •    Ricardo Hinojosa, United States federal judge for the Southern District of Texas, former member of the university’s Commission of 125.

    •    Charles Matthews, former vice president and general counsel of Exxon Mobil and president of the Texas Exes (Alumni)

    •    Robert Rowling, former member of the Board of Regents and owner and chairman of TRT Holdings Inc.

    •    Charles Tate, chairman of Capital Royalty, former member of the executive committee of the university’s Commission of 125.

    •    Pamela Willeford, former U.S. ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein and former chair of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

If I really cared about Texas football, I might have a few questions about their qualifications for choosing a coach.

But then, it's fair to say, as I once heard an old  southern gentleman describe someone's wealth, "they don't cut their own grass,"  and if their role is limited to providing the means to acquire the coach that the AD chooses, Patterson has chosen well.

In case you might be wondering how high Texas might be willing to go in landing a new coach, consider what it's got to work with:  according to the  most recent NCAA figures, for the 2012 season, Texas football brought in over $100 million in revenue, and showed a profit of $78 million.  

That means that theoretically, the Longhorns could pay Bill Belichick $10 million a year and still have enough left over to add a dozen women's sports if they so desired.


*********** Apparently there are a few people who think football will still be around ten years from now…

Washington State and Wisconsin have agreed to move their originally-scheduled 2014-2015 home-and-home series to 2022-2023

american flagTUESDAY,  DECEMBER 24, 2013 -   “Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

MY ANNUAL CHRISTMAS WISH FOR FOOTBALL COACHES EVERYWHERE (First printed in 2000, and printed every Christmas since): May you have.... Parents who recognize that you are the football expert; who stand back and let you coach their kids; who know their kids' limitations and don't expect them to start unless in your opinion they are better than the other kids; who don't sit in the stands and openly criticize their kids' teammates; who don't think it's your job to get their kid an athletic scholarship; who schedule their vacations so their kids won't miss any practices; who know that your rules apply to everybody, and are not designed just to pick on their kid...

... A community that can recognize a year when even Vince Lombardi himself would have trouble getting those kids to line up straight... Opponents who are fun to play against; who love and respect the game and its rules as much as you do, and refuse to let their kids act like jerks... Students who want to be in your class and want to learn; who laugh at your jokes and turn their work in on time... Freshmen who listen carefully, hear everything you say and understand all instructions the first time... Officials who will address you and your kids respectfully; who know and respect the rulebook; who will have as little effect on the game as possible; who will let you step a yard onto the playing field without snarling at you... Newspaper reporters who understand the game, always quote you accurately, and know when not to quote you at all... 

A school district that provides you with a budget sufficient to run a competitive program... A superintendent who schedules teachers' workdays so that coaches don't have to miss any practices... An athletic director who has been a coach himself and knows what you need to be successful and knows that one of those things is not another head coach in the AD's office; who can say "No" to the bigger schools that want you on their schedules; who understands deep down that despite Title IX, all sports are not equal... Assistants who love the game as much as you do, buy completely into your philosophy, put in the time in the off-season, and are eager to learn everything they can about what you are doing. And if they disagree with you, will tell you and nobody else.. A booster club that puts its money back into the sports that earn it, and doesn't demand a voice in your team's operation... A principal who figures that when there is a teachers' position open, the applicant who is qualified to be an assistant coach deserves extra consideration; who doesn't come in to evaluate you on game day; who makes weight-training classes available to football players first, before opening them up to the general student body; who knows that during the season you are very busy, and heads off parent complaints so that you don't have to waste your time dealing with them; who can tell you in the morning in five minutes what took place in yesterday afternoon's two-hour-long faculty meeting that you missed because you had practice... A faculty that will notify you as soon as a player starts screwing off or causing problems in class, and will trust you to handle it without having to notify the administration... A basketball coach who encourages kids to play football and doesn't discourage them from lifting, and doesn't hold "open gym" every night after football practice... A baseball coach who encourages kids to play football and doesn't have them involved in tournaments that are still going on into late August... A wrestling coach who encourages kids to play football and doesn't ask your promising 215-pound sophomore guard to wrestle at 178... A class schedule that gives you and at least your top assistant the same prep period... Doctors that don't automatically tell kids with little aches and pains to stay out of football for two weeks, even when there's nothing seriously wrong with them... Cheerleaders who occasionally turn their backs to the crowd and actually watch the game; who understand the game - and like it... A couple of transfers who play just the positions where you need help... A country that appreciates the good that football - and football coaches - can do for its young men... A chance, like the one I've had, to get to know coaches and friends of football all over the country and find out what great people they are... The wisdom to "Make the Big Time Where You Are" - to stop worrying about the next job and appreciate the one you have -... Children of your own who love, respect and try to bring honor to their family in everything they do... A wife like mine, who understands how much football means to you... Motivated, disciplined, coachable players who love the game of football and love being around other guys who do, too - players like the ones I've been blessed with. A nation at peace - a peace that exists thanks to a strong and dedicated military that defends us while we sleep. Merry Christmas.

For all assistants - A head coach whose values and philosophy you can espouse

Sounds like the things I have - may you be blessed to have them, too.

And one special wish for those coaching brothers who find themselves "between positions" at this time of year - May your Christmas joy not be dimmed by the fact that you are temporarily without a team, and instead brightened by the belief that your next job is just around the corner. (And if my experience is any indicator, it will be a far better one than the last one, anyhow!)


american flagFRIDAY,  DECEMBER 20, 2013 -   "In the war of ideas, there is no room for pacifists."  Ed Feulner, founder and former president of the Heritage Foundation

*********** The release read, "San Diego State has teamed up with the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl to donate tickets to Boise-area military and youth groups for its game against Buffalo on Dec. 21 in Boise, Idaho…"

Well. Not to say that it isn't a gracious gesture, which it most certainly is, but part of the deal when a school gets invited to a bowl game is that it's required to purchase a fairly substantial number of tickets. In many cases, it's able to  sell those tickets to  its fans who want to attend the game. 

In other cases, however, when not enough fans want to attend - as I suspect just might be the case when you're trying to lure San Diegans into flying north and sit ting outside in a football stadium in the dead of winter - the school is stuck with a lot of unsold  tickets, so it might as well do something nice with them.

*********** Pastor Ken Hutcherson of the Antioch Bible Church in Redmond, Washington, a Seattle suburb, died Wednesday  after a 12-year bout with cancer.

After a brief NFL career,  remained in the Seattle area after his last stop, with the Seahawks, and chose to pursue the ministry, and as his ministry grew, his conservative views came to the attention of such radio talk show hosts as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.

Pastor Hutcherson took strong stands.   Having grown up in Alabama, a black man exposed to the racial divide that once occupied the Deep South, he scoffed at the idea that the gay rights movement was the reincarnation of the 1960s Civil Rights movement.

In an opinion piece published in The Seattle Times in 2004, he wrote, "It has been said loudly and proudly that gay marriage is a civil rights issue. If that's the case, then gays would be the new African Americans. I'm here to tell you now, and hopefully for the last time, that the gay community is not the new African-American community."

Needless to say,  he was opposed to gay marriage, which meant that in the gay haven of Seattle, the word "controversial" always preceded his name ("controversial Pastor Ken Hutcherson").

I publish the following link to the story of his death for a couple of reasons, one of which is to show my readers the vile, hateful reactions to his passing expressed by certain sodomists, who, ironically, seem to believe that anyone (Duck Dynasty?) who objects to their type of sex is vile and hateful.


*********** Speaking of "Duck Dynasty," surely you know by now that a member of the cast has been suspended from the highly-rated show by the A & E Network for expressing the opinion in a magazine interview (and making it clear that it was nothing more than his personal opinion) that homosexuality was not for him - that for him at least, a woman's reproductive canal was superior for lovemaking purposes to a man's, uh, "anal cavity."

Well, duh. You'd have to be gay - literally -  to disagree with that.

As you might expect, the reaction from the "gay community" to a straight person's right to voice his opinion was swift and fierce -  and A & E caved.

This one ain't over, though. Not just yet.  At the time of this writing, well over  500,000 (presumably straight) people had gone on Facebook and called for a boycott of the A & E Network.


*********** The letter from the Army admin sounds great - I am just afraid that it is easier said than done. The only thing that gives any hope at all in that letter is the “institutional changes” part of it.
I’m afraid it is going to continue to be tough sledding. I am also afraid that they might hire someone that gets away from the option.
John Bothe
Oregon Illinois


Agree with you on all points.  It is going to be very tough to get a good coach with the vigor and drive to do what's necessary - and to give him the tools to succeed.

An important  point is that the head coaching job at Army has not been a career-enhancer: when Paul Dietzel left West Point to become head coach and AD at South Carolina, it was the last time an Army coach left to take another coaching job.  That was spring of 1966!

The main reason for optimism now is that the Superintendent  is the real deal, unlike certain of his predecessors who didn't seem to care much for sports, and whose goal appeared to be to turn West Point into an Ivy League school - a sort of Yale On The Hudson.  

Frankly, I think that an argument can be made for lessening the academic requirements in the case of good athletes who otherwise show an aptitude to become Army officers.  The purpose of the Academy is to train officers after all, not Rhodes Scholars and, not to disparage academics, I have yet to see a study that shows a correlation between high grades and effective military leadership.  Wesley Clark, the epitome of the soldier-politician, graduated first in his class.  George Patton, the epitome of the warrior, graduated last in his.

Unfortunately, regardess of whatever changes LTG Caslen might be able to effect, West Point superintendents normally serve just a couple of years on the job, and then they retire, to be succeeded by... who knows?

*********** Joe Drape, a writer for the New York Times, spent the better part of a year among West Point cadets - particularly Army football players -  in doing research for his book,  “Soldiers First: Duty, Honor, Country and Football at West Point.”

In this week's New York Times, he wrote about the search for a new coach for players so disadvantaged by the demands on cadets that they "were essentially trailing by two touchdowns before they ever stepped on the football field."

Drape writes...

They balance the rigors of an Ivy League-quality education, taking 17 to 20 hours of classes a semester, with year-round physical and tactical training to maintain the discipline the military demands. Playing football is at once the easiest, most fun and least important thing they do over the course of their 47 months as an officer in training.

There is no summer vacation, or even much opportunity to take a course over the summer to lighten the academic load in season. The incoming freshmen start Beast Barracks - or basic training - in late June, and upperclassmen must take part in leadership training that can include simulated combat missions and Ranger School and can take cadets to places like Fort Benning, Ga., and Germany.

“We’ve got to do a better job in sequencing,” Athletic Director Boo Corrigan said. “These guys come out of training all beat up and then go right into football camp. We’re not looking to get them out of it, but for a better way.”

Bobby Ross won a share of a national championship while the coach at Georgia Tech, and he took the San Diego Chargers to the Super Bowl. But in January 2007, after going 9-25 in three seasons at Army, he retired, frustrated that he could not persuade West Point administration to ease admission and training policies. He wanted better and bigger players, but he could not get them in or keep them big.

I saw that myself in 2011, when I watched Steve Erzinger, already undersize as a 210-pound linebacker, shrink to 190 pounds. He was hardly alone.

On any given Saturday, the Black Knights are outweighed by 50 pounds along the line, and after the game, the training room is standing room only.

Nagging injuries become chronic ones because cadets still must attend to their military duties, go to class and visit the library. There is no rest or recovery.

As I've argued for some time, it's time to stop thinking of West Point as Yale-On-The-Hudson and getting back to the idea of preparing men to lead men.  People more knowledgeable and influential than I agree, as Drape notes...

There is a sizable and prominent group of West Point graduates willing to push at least a little harder to win, including Pete Dawkins, the 1958 Heisman Trophy winner and a member of Army’s last undefeated team. He played for Coach Earl Blaik, who was known as Red and won 121 games over 18 seasons, winning at least a share of three national titles. Dawkins has also been a member of three study groups formed over the last 12 years to assess the prospects of Army football.

“You can tell if a young person has the core qualities to be very able Army officers,” Dawkins said. “It’s entirely fair to accept some risks and then tutor them and make them successful. I think it’s something we can do without compromising the standards and culture of the place.”

Are beating Navy and winning a few more football games worth, if not lowering academic standards, perhaps bringing in a young man whose focus is first on football and second on becoming an Army officer?

“We’re a national institution that should play against other colleges and institutions and all over the country,” Dawkins said. “I think it’s crucial that West Point stand out as a place of winners. We owe it to the country. They deserve to have a winning Army football team.”


*********** Hello Coach,

One follow-up question about the GOAL blocking scheme : how do you address a shaded DL? Is he considered "On"?

Enjoyed the NEWS today as usual. The Youngstown Boys was aired last night and I thought it may be about Bo Pelini, the Stoops, etc. as well. I thought they were from Youngstown, no? I didn't stick with it when it was only about Clarett. The little bit I watch it did seem interesting. Maybe I'll watch the entire thing. I thought I heard Maurice was into rugby now too?

Thanks again.


At risk of sounding like a weasel, "it depends."

Normally, with our tight splits, a "5" technique on a tackle is also "7" technique on a tight end, and we want to double-team that guy. The tackle's "angle late "instruction  practically  assures that by coming off with a slight delay he will find it almost impossible to avoid doubling that "5" technique.

If it's an open-side tackle, with no tight end there, as we often find on counters, we usually game-plan it or we may even adjust as the game goes on.

But as a rule, if a guy is lined up outside, not touching any part of our tackle, he is definitely NOT "on." We leave him alone and kick him out.  But if he is in a "5" tech and touching on our tackle, and we believe that our tackle can drive him (assuming that there is no one in the tackle's inside gap), we will probably have our tackle do so.

Yes, last I heard, Maurice Clarett was playing rugby  (Rugby Sevens, that is.)

Yale Double Wing
*********** If you can show me an older photo of a team running a balanced-line T-formation Double Wing, I'd love to see it.  Otherwise, this (on the left)  will be the standard.  It's the undefeated 1960 Yale team, which finished the season 14th in the AP final rankings.

*********** What do you say to someone who refers to the Wing-T as a "gimmick offense",  and says it's wrong for them to teach pad-on-pad blocking?

Sorry to tell you this, but you're dealing with prejudice, and that's not easily overcome.

I guess if he and I were sitting around over a beer, I'd ask him which is most important to him - winning where he is right now,  or preparing players for the "next level." And he'd tell me, unless he's suicidal where his career is concerned,  that his job is to win where he is right now, with the people he has.  And that he keeps his job by winning.

Touche', I would tell him.  That's why high school coaches who run the Wing-T do so.  It's their job to win, too.  And to win  right where they are, with the people they have. Using the most modern and up-to-date techniques in order to prepare players for the "next level" won't save their jobs if they're losing. So some high school coaches have decided that for them, the best way to win (and keep their jobs) is to run the Wing-T. And to do that most effectively, they discover (if they didn't know already) that their linemen need to block with their pads.

I will grant that there are places where hand-punch blocking works best: pass-blocking, out on the edge, and in the open field. Those are all cases where we either don't want to get into a guy, or we can't.

But inside the tight ends, when you're down-blocking, trapping, and double-teaming, I don't see how anyone can argue that hands-on is more effective, especially with Wing-T blocking that specifies blocking with shoulders,  than pads-on-pads.  I know for sure that it's not more physical.

(I would also ask him if he really does consider an offense that's been in existence since at least 1950, as the Wing-T has, as any more of a "gimmick" offense than the stuff people are running today, and whether he thinks any of it will be around in 60 years.)

*********** The headline asked if the block that broke the Bengals' punter's jaw was illegal. 

I don't know about illegal, but it sure was cowardly, a vicious ambush of a defenseless player  by a blocker who had so braced himself for the hit that he had absolutely nothing at stake.


*********** NBA pioneer Vern Mikkelsen, a key member of the long-ago powerhouse Minneapolis Lakers, died a few weeks ago. 

Those Lakers were among the most dominant teams in any professional sport, winning NBA titles in 1950, 1952, 1953, and 1954 -  a three-peat long before Pat Riley arrogantly trademarked the term.

With three of his teammates - George Mikan, Jim Pollard and Slater Martin - already in the Basketball Hall of Fame, it wasn't until  36 years after his retirement that Vern Mikkelson was inducted.

At the time of his induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame, he told the St. Paul Pioneer Press,  “We are a laid-back people in Minnesota. My barber told me my haircuts will still be $11. My wife told me I still have to take out the garbage. Minnesota humble is a state of mind that doesn’t allow for a big head.”

A year after he retired, the Lakers moved to Los Angeles, and the team owner offered him the head coaching job.  Mikkelsen asked for $50,000 a year. The owner offered him $25,000  and 25 per cent of the team, and  Mikkelsen turned him down.

“The team wasn’t worth anything,” he said years later.  “I didn’t think they’d get to Sioux Falls, much less Los Angeles.”

(Forbes Magazine estimates the Lakers' current worth to be $1 billion.)


*********** When Southern Illinois coach Barry Hinson berated his team at a post-game news conference  following a loss to Murray State, it wouldn't normally have been much of a story.  I mean, really - except for passionate followers of Southern Illinois basketball, no-lifers who spend all their waking hours camped in front of SportsCenter, and  reporters whose job it is to sit in - who gives a big rat's ass what the coach of Southern Illinois has to say about his team's loss to anybody?

Unless, that is, he attracts the attention of the national media by going off on what headlines  call an "epic rant,"  referring to his players as "uncoachable," calling them "Mama's boys."

(On his behalf, he did not suggest they might be gay.)

Not necessarily an epic rant, but dumb.

Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Criticize the players' effort, yes.  Criticize their performance.

But don't attack their character.  And don't name names.

Don't betray your players' trust in you.

Never point the finger in public, and be careful doing it even in the locker room.

(You can't call out a player in front of his teammates and then expect him to be a leader.)

Coach Hinson may or may no lose his job over it.  He will almost certainly lose his team. 

Of course, there's always the possibility that was his intention.

For what it's worth, this is his second year at SIU, and seven of the 15 players on his squad are juniors or seniors - in other words, he didn't recruit them.  Hmmm.


Bowe Behymer Black Lion*********** In the photo at left  are Bowe Behymer, Beloit, Kansas' Black Lion, his parents, Angie and Eldon, and his coach, Greg Koenig, at Beloit's awards ceremony.

I first met Bowe when he was a freshman. At the time since there was no one to back up the starting quarterback, he was asked to give it a shot. It was a challenging assignment for someone unfamiliar with the position, and I was  impressed by his dedication and determination in taking it on.

The quarterback experiment, as it turned out, was short-lived, once it was discovered that Bowe could run the ball. 

Oh, could he run the ball.

This past season, as a senior, he helped lead Beloit to a 13-1 record and an appearance in the state Class 3A final game.

In its 14 games, Beloit set three all-time, all-class  state records-

Most offensive plays, season: 881
Most total yards, season: 6993
Most total yards per game: 499.5

And in Beloit's winning 13 games and setting those state records, Bowe Behymer played a major role. How's this for a season's work?

Rushing: 251 carries for 2113 yards and 30 TDs (8.4 yards per carry)
Passing: 1/1 passing for 13 yards and 1 TD
Receiving: 23 receptions for 520 yards and 9 TDs (22.6 yards per catch)
Returns: 6 punt returns for 187 yards and 1 TD (31.2 ave)/14 kick returns for 517 yards and 3 TDs (36.9 ave)
Defense: 112 solo tackles, 18 assists, 3 fumble recoveries, 1 int

Bowe is definitely a good football player, but I've seen personally what else he means to his team. 

Wrote Coach Koenig in nominating him, "He knows no fear; and while he never said a great deal, when he did speak, everyone listened.  He knew everyone’s responsibilities on both sides of the ball, and he led by example by setting the tone in every drill at practice."

As a testament to his unselfishness and his desire to win, Coach Koenig wrote,  "While Bowe put up incredible statistics this year, I truly believe that he would trade them all for just one more win." 

american flagTUESDAY,  DECEMBER 17, 2013"We've been looking for the enemy for several days now.  We've finally found them.  We're surrounded. That simplifies our problem of finding these people and killing them."  US Marine Corps Lieutenant General Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, Chosin Reservoir, Korea, November, 1953

*********** The main reason why I am not coaching in the NFL is guys like the Cowboys' Dez Bryant.

Well, actually, there are a few other minor reasons such as know-how, coaching ability, etc., but even if I were otherwise qualified, you couldn't pay me enough to coach the kind of jerk who would simply walk off and leave the field before the game was over.

A poster on the CBS DFW page said it best:

That's today's candyass athlete for you, and, of course, the team covers for him and makes excuses. Can you imagine what would have happened to crybabies like Bryant on the Ray Nitschke era Packers or the Butkus era Bears? I would not want to be the guy who punked out and turned his back on one of those teams. Not if I wanted to keep my limbs in working order. We've gone from a nation of men to a nation of spoiled brats in a generation.

***********On Sunday,  less than 24 hours after Army's dismal loss to Navy, Lieutenant General (that's three stars) Robert Caslen, who's only been Superintendent at West Point since July, made the decision to let head coach Rich Ellerson go.

Coach Ellerson went 20-41 in his 5 seasons at Army, but  one of the problems was that 12 of those wins came in his first two seasons, and after going 7-6 (with a bowl win) in his second year, he went 8-29 in the last three. Another, much bigger, problem, was his failure, in five tries,  to beat Navy.

LTG Caslen, the "Supe,"  is not your typical college president.  He's played football at Army, he's served as a graduate assistant at Army, and he's been an assistant coach there under head coach Homer Smith.  And he's led troops in combat. 

And he thinks football is pretty important to the academy's mission:

"I would probably say of all of the things that helped me be an officer in the United States Army, playing Division I college football and learning teamwork and discipline were the things that helped me get ready for a career in the Army."

He also thinks winning is important, too:

"When America puts its sons and daughters in harm's way, they do not expect us to just "do our best"... but to win. Nothing short of victory is acceptable. That fundamental ethos is at the heart of this Academy. It must be ingrained in every one of our athletic programs. Our core values are Duty, Honor, Country. Winning makes them real."

That's from the letter he sent announcing his decision to fire Rich Ellerson:

To our West Point Graduates:

I share with you the disappointment of the Army Football Team's continued losses to Navy - the 12th in a row occurring last Saturday, 14 December, in Philadelphia. The players had worked too hard, the Corps had laid it all out all year in support, our graduates were watching with great anticipation, and our Soldiers across the globe expected a different outcome. But they did not get it this year. They deserve better and you deserve better. I accept full responsibility to get us moving immediately in that direction.

At West Point, we continue to attract the right young men and women from across America to develop the world's best leaders on and off the field. We must surround our cadets with staff, faculty and coaches who will develop them and toughen them for the world we know they'll face when they graduate. They must connect, challenge, and inspire them, or we will cause harm beyond the playing field.

To that end, our Athletic Director Boo Corrigan and I have decided to terminate our football coach, Rich Ellerson's contract, and to immediately begin a search for the coach who will provide the leadership that will quickly build a winning program here at Army. In preparation for a possible move, we have and will continue to consult with former coaches and players who participated in winning programs, and have also carefully reviewed the input of many graduates whose recommendations and observations have been appreciated. Substantive work has already begun on a comprehensive, national basis to identify a pool of very impressive candidates.

Leadership must come from the Institution, the coach, and the players. We are also reviewing previous football studies and looking at institutional changes that are necessary to support winning programs, but fully integrated with our intellectual, military, physical and character developmental programs.

Thank you for your continued support of West Point. When America puts its sons and daughters in harm's way, they do not expect us to just "do our best"... but to win. Nothing short of victory is acceptable. That fundamental ethos is at the heart of this Academy. It must be ingrained in every one of our athletic programs. Our core values are Duty, Honor, Country. Winning makes them real.

Go Army - Beat Navy!

Robert L. Caslen, Jr.
LTG, U.S. Army
59th Superintendent

*********** Navy captain Matt Aiken showed the nation what kind of  leader he was when he walked out to the middle of the field for the coin toss before the Army-Navy game.

Weeks earlier, he'd injured his knee - the fourth serious knee injury since he'd been playing at Navy, and doctors recommended immediate surgery.

But Matt insisted on postponing the surgery until after the Army-Navy game so that, although he was no longer able to play, he could represent his teammates at the coin toss.

I've "known" Matt Aiken a long time.  Not known him actually, but I've known his dad, Doug. Doug Aiken and his friend, Armando Castro, coached their boys, Matt Aiken and Alan Castro, in youth football in Roanoke, Virginia, and became early converts to my Double Wing.  Doug and Armando were good coaches and their boys were good football players, and so they dominated their competition.

Here's a nice article on Doug and his brother, Danny, who plays for the New England Patriots.


*********** "Unbelievable!" gushed Mike Tirico, as the Ravens' Justin Tucker kicked a 60-yard field goal with seconds to play to beat the Lions, 18-16.

Yeah, unbelievable. What a shock.

It was his 33rd straight field goal -  and his sixth of the f--king night.Football in the Olympics?  Yeah, right. 

*********** I can see the headlines: USA Wins Olympic Gold in Football; Canada Wins Silver; Twelve-way Tie for Bronze.

The only way they're going to get enough other countries to join in - so we can whip their asses - is to do what they've done in rugby: seven-man teams, seven minute halves.  Sounds like 8-man football to me.

Actually, according to a Fox Sports article, it's even worse than that:

Because of logistics and a cap on the number of overall athletes invited to participate, the most likely style of American football that would potentially gain acceptance is of the seven-on-seven variety already played by some U.S. high schools and youth programs. Having both men’s and women’s competitions also would likely be required for selection as an Olympic sport.


*********** I was reading an article in the Wall Street Journal about Jon Waters, Ohio State's Band Director, and he happened to mention some iPad apps that he uses in preparing the band's precision marching arrangements.


One that caught my attention was called "Coach's Eye," which he said enables him to capture and analyze video - to  slow it down, to stop it, and draw on it.

As someone who works with QBs, I was on it! Check it out - it's pretty cool


And if you've got the money, and you want to make a friend of your band director, check out this


*********** If you feel like you're stuck in a dead-end high school job, take heart - there's a job opening at the University of North Dakota.

I suggest you apply ASAP.

At the very least, you can always tell people you finished ahead of this guy...


*********** On Arsenio Hall's show recently, Jim Brown said that Kobe Bryant  “is somewhat confused about culture because he was brought up in another country. So he doesn’t quite fit what’s happening in America.”

Careful, Jim.  If the NSA was listening in, they might think you were talking about a certain occupant of the White House.

*********** Your town may not have enough money to hire all the police it needs, but it may soon  be buying new fire hydrants.  Bet you thought those suckers never wore out, right?  Well, no, they don't, but see - the EPA, which seems determined to wreck our economy, is banning all  fire hydrants with brass parts (which might contain lead)…


*********** Hi Coach Wyatt,
I hope all is well for you and your family this holiday season.

The play by play guy for the Army Navy game mentioned Army defensive line practice stunts etc using a hula hoop

Have you any information or ideas where I could go to learn more about this ?

Is there some system out there I should be looking at ?

DW does the job on offense but we are struggling on Defense

Our only success last year was when we hit the gaps- we are way too small to take on people.

We will have to hit gaps and stunt with the defensive line to survive.


First of all, it's hard to find a "system" that will work if you don't have good players.  You can sometimes hide bad players on offense, but not on defense.

I saw Army use the hoops a few years ago at spring ball.

It isn't unlike what we do in our "circle drill"  to train our pulling linemen to look inside when they pull opposite.

It's a good way to train your defensive linemen to come off the ball and pursue without over-penetrating.

(And that, if you play a gap defense, will prove to be a major challenge.)

*********** Noticed lately now many "student-athletes" in interviews seem unaware that  there's a place for proper English?

What is with the sudden use of "man" in addressing the interviewer - even when it's a female ?

The topper for me was Jameis Winston on national TV, telling  Chris Fowler about winning the Heisman:  "It's amazing, man…"

*********** I was really interested in "Youngstown Boys,"  the ESPN "30 for 30" show that followed the Heisman presentation.

It was hyped as the show that would weave together the stories of Maurice Clarett and Jim Tressel - and the town they came from, Youngstown, Ohio.

The f--king Heisman ceremony ran 9 minutes over, and so my recording of the show, which started on the hour, stopped two hours later - with nine minutes to go.

Shut off abruptly, I remember thinking at the time - "How are they going to wrap this up in nine minutes?"

I did sees the conclusion on a re-broadcast, and I can tell you - they didn't.

The show, to put it mildly, rambled.  Maybe it's because they tried to take on too much: there was, obviously, the story of …

Maurice Clarett,  who becomes a phenomenal high school running back  in football-mad Northeast Ohio, and chooses to go to Ohio State largely because of its new head coach,  a guy named…

Jim Tressel, himself the son of a college coach, who builds a D-IAA powerhouse at Youngstown State and a near god-like reputation among the people of…

Youngstown, a once-bustling city sent on a near-death spiral by the closing of its steel mill.

It's impossible to tell the Clarett story without bringing in Youngstown, but in my opinion they did a scanty job of showing us just how tough things were for him growing up.  The two people they interviewed - his mother, a dignified, well-spoken woman - and his high school coach - an impressive, well-spoken guy - didn't  shout "inner city" to me.  Neither did his brother or the childhood friend who's now a school teacher.

And they can't tell the story without bringing Coach Tressell into it.  But they failed to ask a few questions of him that I think most viewers would have wanted answered, including, "Why, after he was basically kicked off the team, did you, the mentor to whom he constantly turned, cut off ties with him?"

And they can't tell the story without dealing with the way young football stars from time immemorial have been lionized by adoring fans and then, their usefulness at an end, discarded.  Even worse, there are those like Maurice Clarett who are  denounced and defiled for betraying the sacred cause.

The show veers off into Evil-NCAA-and-Deceitful-Ohio-State-Athletic-Director-Against-Poor-Misguided-Kid-From-The-Streets with barely a nod at the "bad judgment" that got him time in the slammer.

There is a bit about how, Malcolm X-like, he chooses to use prison time to develop his mind.

And there's the reunion, after his release, with Coach Tressell, who's now, following his firing by Ohio State for being less than forthcoming to the NCAA,  on the outs himself..

But there are only hints at Clarett's attempts at life after football, and this, to me, is a story in itself.

He's going back to Ohio State - and this time actually studying - and he's in what appears to be a stable relationship with what appears to be a nice young women.  It's hard not to pull for the guy.

But where's he headed?  
Is he going to be a solid, productive citizen?  Is he even going to be able to support himself?  

Come on "30 for 30." You've got me hooked.

american flagFRIDAY,  DECEMBER 13, 2013“Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere.” G.K. Chesterton

*********** In his book "What's Right," author David Frum comments on our protect-our-kids-from-everything culture…

Our children are soaked with the cult of safety the way they would once have imbibed religion or patriotism. At school, teachers 'street-proof' children—that is, they teach them that kidnappers and child molesters lurk in every playground. Television excites children with environmentalist fears that the air and water they breathe and drink teem with toxins, that the food they eat is saturated with deadly pesticides, and that the juice bottles they discard will soon cover the entire surface of the earth.

In a culture like this, the future of football is not promising.

Your chances of seeing the Black Lion patch on an Army player in tomorrow's Army-Navy game are pretty good.  That's because FIVE Army players will be wearing one!  Rather than choose one player, as is customary, Army coach Rich Ellerson decided to honor his five "finalists," choosing his Black Lion on the strength of what he shows in the game.

north beach black lions***********North Beach High School's Black Lion for the 2013 season is Pedro Gonzalez.  That's Pedro on the left, and last year's Black Lion Award winner, Carson Ketter, on the right.  Because of our non-repeat policy, Carson, our quarterback,  was not under consideration this year, although he more than upheld the honor of the award in his play and in his conduct and leadershp.

Pedro has played in the North Beach program for all four years, and for the last three years he's been our starting fullback on offense and our starting outside linebacker on defense. 

Originally, because we noticed how good his hands were, Pedro was pencilled in as an end.  But when we realized that the senior we'd had at fullback was needed on the offensive line, we had to ask Pedro to make the switch to fullback.  Although I doubt that he knew what he was getting into, he was quite willing to make the change.  Initially, it was tough going, but he grew in confidence and toughness, and grew into the position.

On defense, we had to ask him to do the same sort of thing - to switch from a low-impact position (corner) to a high-impact one (outside linebacker).  Again, after initial tough growing, he grew into that position, too.

On both sides of the ball, he was a major force in helping turn our program around.   In the two years prior to his becoming a starter, the team won only one game; in his three years as a starter, we have gone from three wins, to four wins, to this year's seven wins.

Pedro has grown in those three years from an uncertain youngster to a fierce competitor, a hard hitter on defense and a slashing runner and hard-nosed blocker on offense.  Pedro was the man we went to for tough yardage, but Pedro also had to his credit a 93-yard run and a 70-yard punt return.

In addition to his ball-carrying, receiving and blocking ability, Pedro's intelligence and quick grasp of football concepts was a huge help to us in implementing our new offensive scheme this season.   It never took more than a brief explanation of something new to bring Pedro up to speed.

Pedro seldom played free from pain and his teammates knew that and were inspired by him.  For the past two seasons he had to deal with a persistent ankle sprain, and through most of this past season he had to pay regular visits to the chiropractor to deal with hip and lower back pain.  But regardless of discomfort, Pedro remained positive at all times, and refused to be held out of practice or drills..

On one occasion when we knew Pedro's play in the coming game would have to be limited, we charged him with preparing his replacements on both sides of the ball.  The way in which Pedro "coached up" his teammates showed us that he has the makings of a great coach.

As further evidence of his coaching potential, by the time he was a senior he wasn't hesitant  to call out a teammate when necessary. Yet so great was his teammates' respect for him that no one ever resented it.

On  other occasions, when we were giving his backup some practice reps,  Pedro would go over to "the other side," jumping in on the scout team. On the defensive line.  (Nobody could block him.)

Pedro is mature and responsible beyond his years.  As the oldest son in the family, he has been a great help to his parents, hard-working people whose English is limited. (To his parents' great credit, despite their living 45 minutes from school, Pedro and his younger brother, Saul, never missed an off-season workout.)

********************** No tailgating at this year's Super Bowl.  Hell, no parking for that matter.  But don't get the idea you can go park  someplace off-site and just walk in, either. 

Sounds like the NFL's got a wonderful game-day experience all planned for those lucky folks who've shelled out their big bucks to watch the game live.

Me, I'm going to kick back in front of the TV.  Now,  if it would just snow in New York…


*********** Good morning, Coach Wyatt!

Our major issue was leadership and character from a few of our skill players but especially at QB (and his pushy dad). I've heard you say how highly you value character and leadership in your QB. How would you deal with a kid at this age level? His dad was publicly critical of the offense all season (even brought us a playbook of the offense we should be running, featuring his son, and how each player fit in; defense, too!). Am I wrong for wanting to jettison this kid and find a more enjoyable kid to work with at QB? I'm getting less tolerant of this sort of thing the older I get. Thanks for any advice you may have.

I hope you and your family have a great holiday season together. Looking forward to the clinic!

Take care!

Hi Coach,

As I get older, life becomes more and more precious, which means I will spend it with people I want to be with and people I can help - especially people who want to be with me and people who want to be helped.

I choose to work with people who care about their team and their teammates.  The major thing I believe I have to get across to players is: "The Team Comes First - you must never put yourself ahead of the team.  And when you show me by your actions or words that you think you're more important than the team or your teammates, it's time for you to find another team or another sport."

I don't know how you deal with this kid and his father.  I would suggest that you first talk to the high school head coach about it, because ultimately he's the one who will have to deal with them should you somehow decide you can live with the problem for another year.  If the high school coach doesn't see a problem, I guess there's not a lot you can do.  Shame on him and he's welcome to them.

But if he can see where this is headed, you and he should meet with dad and son and lay it out.  You might want the AD on hand, too.

Assuming that you have their approval of this course of action, here's how I'd proceed:

First, I'd go over the business about the team coming first, as I've described above.

Then, I'd let them know that I expect the quarterback to exemplify that.

I'd tell them that there's a whole lot more to quarterbacking than athletic ability:

I tell all aspiring QB's that there are three questions I'm going to  have to answer to my satisfaction, and if the answer to any of them is wrong, it's a knockout.

1. Does he want to be the quarterback?  (Really, really want to be the quarterback?) Will he put in the time?  Will he do the work?  Will he make the sacrifices?  Will he be the team leader?  Will he conduct himself in exemplary fashion in the classroom and in the community?  Can he take the criticism and the heat?   Can he deal with failure and put it behind him?

2. Is he coachable?  Does he want to please me?  Can he take correction positively?  Will he make my corrections?

3. Can I trust him?  Can I turn my back on him and count on him to do the right thing? Will he support what we're doing, just as if he's my assistant? Will he get good grades?  Will he stay out of trouble? Will he associate with winners and not losers?

I would let them know that this is how he'll be judged, and at the first sign of backsliding, he'll be given a choice: accept another position, or leave the team.  But either way, quarterbacking will be out of the question.

I would explain to Dad that it's not in his son's best interest for him to be critical of his coaches, and that this is a pattern of behavior that, if not corrected right now, is sure to cause problems for thm both down the line.  Having the high school coach present would (I would hope) verify this.

I would tell Dad that he is considered  part of the team, and that his support is welcome, but that if he is publicly critical of what we are doing, he is working against us, and I'll have to cut him (and Junior) loose.

Please let me know how this plays out.

*********** Back on Pearl Harbor Day (that would be December 7, in case you've forgotten) , Shep Clarke, of Puyallup, Washington, sent me this beautiful video of the US Naval Academy Men's Glee Club at the USS Arizona memorial, singing the Navy hymn, "Eternal Father, Strong to Save." 


It's beautifully done, and it's one of my favorite hymns.

It was sung at the secret meeting before World War II between Churchill and Roosevelt on a battleship in the North Atlantic.

(Back when our nation still believed in God.  And fathers.)

***********  At the National Football Foundation's Annual Awards Dinner Monday night in New York, Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno and former Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel had some important things to say about our sport.

In receiving the Foundation's Distinguished American Award, General Odierno said,  “If it wasn’t for college football I wouldn’t be here today. Football gave me the opportunity to get an education I wouldn’t have been able to get otherwise, because it allowed me the opportunity to attend the United States Military Academy. I think that is important, because football grants so many kids the opportunity to get an education they otherwise wouldn’t receive. In order to be in the military, you have to be physically and mentally resilient, and football promotes that. The other part is being part of something bigger than yourself.”

And on his being inducted onto the College Football Hall of Fame, Danny Wuerffel  said, “I recently read that each culture in the history of the world had a ritual for initiating boys from ages 13-16 into manhood, in a very specific way. The story said we don’t do that very often anymore in this country, but as I read that, the sport of football is one of the few ways in which we instill specific principles into young men, very tough life lessons and I’m thankful for the sport of football for that.”

*********** Next time you consider spending a buck on something being sold by Disney, remember that Disney-owned ESPN refused to run a commercial for a St. Louis children's hospital because it used the phrases “celebrate the birth of Jesus” and “God’s healing presence,” which the tools at ESPN considered "problematic."


*********** I was reading an editorial in the Wall Street Journal about the protests in Ukraine and came across this sentence:

"The protests show that Ukrainians are fed up with their rapacious political system and aspire to live under the rule of law."

I immediately fired off a letter to the Editor, saying,

Save that sentence.  

We're rapidly approaching the day when you'll only have to change the word "Ukrainians" to  "Americans."

*********** So instead of hitting Rob Grontkowski in the head, a defensive back rolled into his knee, inflicting an injury so severe it may end his career.

Defensive backs - the main perpetrators of illegal hits -  are wising up.  Realizing that hits to the head are costly, they're lowering their targets.

They're still launching, of course.  They're still tucking their arms at their sides.  (Hey- a guy could get hurt using his arms to make a tackle.) They're just launching lower.

Now, instead of targeting an opponent's head,  they're throwing their bodies (arms tucked in , in self-protective mode) at the opponents' knees.

Launch high? Possibly inflict an injury whose full effects won't become apparent for another 20 years. Bad.  Launch low? Cost a man his career.  Right now. Bad.

Look - something's got to be done.

The answer, as I've said for some time, is simple - make the defenders tackle. Actually tackle.

Require the hands to be in advance of the shoulders at contact.  If they're not, the "tackler" is not making a  bona fide attempt to tackle. 

Make the penalty severe.  Forget the fines.  Start to sit people down.  Take their playing time away. That's what really hurts them.

Want to make sure the coaches get the message? Send the violator off and make his team play shorthanded for the next four or five defensive plays. 

*********** Take a look at USA Today's database of college assistant coaches' salaries.  Whew.  With that kind of money on the line, it would be hard to resist the temptation to cheat.


*********** After Josh McCown's big game Monday night against the mighty Dallas Cowboys defense,  I've heard a lot of talk about what happens when Jay Cutler returns.  McCown, the argument goes, has done so well as Cutler's backup that he's earned the starting job.

Uh, isn't "playing well" what we expect a backup quarterback to do when he's finally called on? Or are we only paying him all that  money to wear a baseball cap and hold a clipboard on the sidelines?

Good for McCown.  He's earned his money.

But then,  if he had come in and stunk out the joint, he wouldn't have been much of a backup quarterback, now, would he?

*********** A couple of months ago, Coach Gary Baldonado, of Albuquerque, New Mexico asked for permission for  their All-Star team to play as the Black Lions, first in their state tournament, and then in a national tournament in Las Vegas.

Permission granted. Coach Baldonado has been a long-time supporter of the Black Lion Award, and we knew that he and his staff and kids would wear the name proudly.

That they did, winning their age group championship.

ABQ Black Lions

american flagTUESDAY,  DECEMBER 10, 2013"It's easier to repent than to regret."  Yip Harburg, famed songwriter ("Over the Rainbow")

*********** So here they are...

Jameis Winston (Jeez. Sure wish FSU could enroll the kid in a basic speech class before he has to accept the Heisman);

Johnny Mansiel (The air's pretty much been let out of Johnny Football);

Jordan Lynch (Great kid and super player who might have had a chance if Northern Illinois had beaten Bowling Green);

A.J. McCarron (still my favorite. Are Heisman voters really so shallow that one loss, thanks to his coach's dumbass decision,  in the final game of his final regular season, has taken him out of the running?);

Tre Mason of Auburn (since we place so much emphasis on the so-called  "Heisman Moment," wouldn't it make sense to wait until after the bowl games are over so we can see him in the BCS title game?) and…

Andre Williams of Boston College. Say, Andre Williams? A running back, from a 7-5 team?  Where did that one come from?

*********** Against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State players wore solid orange socks straight down to the shoetops, with no white sox in between.  I had to laugh because it reminded me of my days coaching in Europe, when "American football" over  there was in its infancy and an awful lot of those guys just didn't understand how an American football player dressed.   Now,  years later, I  find myself questioning whether a lot of American football players know how an American  football player dresses.

*********** So you're down, 52-42.  There's 4:30 left in the game.  You're on your own 13 yard line and it's fourth and one.

(1) Do you go for it?

If you answered "NO!", you probably weren't watching the Missouri-Auburn game.  That's how little confidence Missouri had in its ability to punt it away  and stop the Auburn offense. (Can't say I blame them.)

So Missouri went for it and failed to make it - threw a slant, for some reason, and threw it incomplete.  (Evidently they also lacked confidence in their own running game.)

End of story.

On the next play, Auburn ran it in, and made the final score 59-42. 

*********** Ever heard of "Hick-Hop?"


*********** Damn shame that what looked like an Oklahoma State interception - but was ruled otherwise - couldn't be reviewed before Oklahoma hurriedly snapped the ball.

This whole deal of allowing one party in a dispute to deprive the other party of what shoal be its right  runs totally counter to our society's trust in justice in our court rooms and fair play on our playing fields.

Why should Oklahoma be able to deprive Oklahoma State of its right to a review?

Why, for that matter, should the burden be on Oklahoma State to ask for a review?

Hey - if you have to, take one of those striped shirts  off the field and put a guy up in the box with the power to stop play and review any call at any time. But - and here's the biggest thing - he can't be connected with the crew on the field in any way. Not even from the same conference.

*********** Last year,  the Dr. Pepper Challenge was "won" by a young woman who "threw" more footballs than her competitor  into a hole in a large Dr. Pepper can.  Yeah, throw.  She used a two-handed chest pass, familiar to anyone who's ever played basketball.

Since then, the folks at Dr. Pepper have spent a lot of money on commercials telling us what a difference the money she "earned" has made in her life.

This year, at the SEC championship game it was some dweeb who held the ball sideways and pushed it as if he were shooting a free throw, defeating  a woman who had obviously practiced throwing the ball the way you and I would throw a real football.   She was pretty good, but unfortunately, she wasn't good enough to beat that, um, guy.

At halftime of the Big 10 championship it was more of the same.  This time it was a woman winning with the old two-handed chest pass technique.

I can't believe that Dr. Pepper thinks it's winning over drinkers this way.  As for me, if they have enough money to give away $100,000 checks to people who "win" their bogus "football throwing" contests, they don't need my business.

Meantime,  why don't they just let the contestants throw basketballs?

*********** They called what Baylor was wearing "retro uniforms."  Funny. After all the clown suits I see teams wearing nowadays, I thoughT they looked like football uniforms.

*********** Boy, did Washington trade in Steve Sarkisian for an upgrade or what?

*********** Hi Coach! Happy Holidays! Hope you and your family are doing well. J
Got a question for you.
The Head Football Coaching position just opened up here at (----------) High School, where I happen to be a teacher in the building, and I have applied for the job. I’m obviously very qualified for the job and I anticipate doing very well with their interview, as I do with most.
However, there has been a very long losing culture here. In fact, it’s to the point where the program, and the kids, have simply accepted losing. Sad, but true.
The program is in very bad shape. Everything from top to bottom is awful and is in need of major repair. In the past 9 years, the program has averaged about 2 wins per season. Not good, obviously. The parents are very tough around here and they have gone to great lengths to voice their displeasure with everything having to do with the football program.
Having said that, I am almost sure that I will get a question in the interview (which I have been told I will be granted) having to do with how one goes about changing such a “losing culture.”
While I have my own thoughts and opinions about how to successfully answer the question, I’d like to get your thoughts as to how to field such a question since you have actually experienced situations  and programs several times in several places where there was a losing culture.
How would you answer a question like that in an interview?
Your thoughts…..???

We're doing well and I hope you and your family are, too.

I've addressed this topic at considerable length in past clinics.   Having been through several such situations - two in the last five years at the same school - I can speak with some authority.

You have to have a plan, and you have to be strong enough to stick to your plan unwaveringly.

(1) In brief, everything starts with your personal mission statement - what you stand for as a coach.  You have have one and you have to share it with everyone associated with the program.  It has to be short and concise so that you can tell it to someone at the drop of a hat.

Mine, very simply, is:

I'm going to treat kids right.

I'm going to set high standards and hold the kids to them.

I'm going to teach them more football than they ever thought possible

I'm going to give them an experience they'll be proud of the rest of their lives

Notice that there's nothing in there about winning?

(2) Possibly the most important step in the process - I'm going to make a list of my expectations and I'm going to share them with everyone

The interview committee

The administration  (you have to have their support and they need to know what you expect of them. One is that you have to be able to hire and fire assistants.)

Assistants (they won't be hired until and unless you are convinced they can meet your expectations)

Players (no one steps onto the field until knows your expectations and he's signed off on them)

Parents (they have to understand that your assignment is to build a team, and that their role is to support all of the kids - not to advocate for one or two of them)

(3) Base all of your dealings with your players - and their dealings with each other - on the 3 R's - Respect, Responsibility, Resilience

(4) Set a price for membership - let them know what you expect from them in terms of off-season condiitoning

(5) First stop the sucking - be basic and solid and sound in what you do.

(6) Have a system.   Know it inside and out.  

(7) Teach it.  Good coaching is not clever schemes.  Good coaching is good teaching.

           Know how you're going to teach it and how you're going to measure whether they've learned it.

          Start out slowly.  Don't confuse teaching and testing.  Don't give the test before you've taught the lesson.

          Be positive.  Be patient but be persistent.  Rep, rep, rep.

         Develop a reputation as a stickler for detail. Let nothing escape your notice.  If something's wrong, find out what the problem is and correct it immediately

         If something repeatedly goes wrong - either the kid can't do it or you didn't teach it right

One further thing - don't look back.  Make NO disparaging references to what's been going on - to the way things have been done.  You have nothing to gain from it.  No "new sheriff in town" crap.   Definitely no statements to the kids that you're going to change the culture and certainly no suggestion that they "accept losing."

*********** In a Louisiana state high school semifinal, it was East Jefferson against Neville.

When Neville scored on the second play of the game, I said, "O sh--.  Here we go.")

Going into the fourth quarter, East Jeff didn't have 100 yards of offense.

But they ran a nice little triple option and they finally got it going.

They tied it up, 15-15, and with :02 left, they brought in their kicker and he made it.  Surprise - kid was 68 of 69 on PAT's this past season, and that was all the short field goal was.  Final: East Jefferson 18, Neville 15.

Until this past season,  East Jeff hadn't made a field goal in five years.

No, but this year they had Isaac Espinosa,   a native Honduran who's been in the country for two years and still, we were told, doesn't understand the game.  But he can keek.

*********** Hello Coach what an amazing season!  Coach hope the Holiday was a good one for you and Connie don’t know if you are still playing football or if you are done, Please let how your season went?  As for us Coach this season was amazing and a huge success.  Well to be honest it was like 2 seasons in one.  Winning the NMYAFL Super bowl in the final season was just an awesome feeling, these young men deserved it by staying focused and their courage, loyalty, dedication and being a true “Black Lion” Team made them true Champions!  This was a great moment for all that have been involved for the past 7 years, to include some awesome parents. Attached is a nomination for Jordon Brewer Monarch Black Lion.
Coach thank you for allowing us to use the Black Lions as our tournament team, it was once in a life time situation.   We formed the “Black Lion” Team with 19 of our Monarch Team and with 7 others from 3 different Senior YAFL teams, like I said It was like playing two seasons in one.  This Black Lions are a group of amazing football players with talent that New Mexico can be proud of and hoping will be New Mexico’s future football prospects.
The Black Lions won the 2013 Desert Championship in Albuquerque New Mexico.  We went on to the National Youth Football Championships in Las Vegas Nevada on Thanksgiving were we won the 6 time defending Champions from Colorado to win National Championship for 2013.    It was so exciting and a once in a life time experience that these boys will never forget. 
I don’t know if you saw on the National news that over 90 players had flu like symptoms at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas.  That is where we stay and it did effect several of you players and staff.  Never the less it was a great trip.  Attached is a nomination for Louis Bush for the Black Lions.  This young man is one of the most respectful and outstanding young man I have ever coached.
Coach I will be contacting you by phone so we can talk.  Thank you for all that you have done for my team and the teams around our great nation!
Gary  Baldonado
Albuquerque, New Mexico


That is wonderful what you've achieved this season.  But actually, it's an accumulation of all the things you've learned over a lot of years of coaching and working with kids.

Our season is done.  We went 7-3, which was about as good as we were capable of.  We did lose one game that we should have won, but those things happen.  Overall, our kids played very well and they were a joy to work with.

Congratulations on representing the Black Lions so well.

I look forward to talking with you soon.

My best to Yvette and your family - and have a great  Christmas.    Connie sends her best,

*********** From an applicant for an open coaching position…
What do you do about an Assistant Coach, who was from the last staff, and that is currently running the off season conditioning program until the new coach is hired and who has applied for the job and  who is basically acting & assuming like he will be the next coach and who is conducting player meetings with seniors (and other players) to establish goals for themselves and the team for next season?????
I get having someone in charge for weight room purposes until the new coach is hired. Understood. But holding meetings for the purpose of establishing team goals and the like???  
Call me crazy…… but isn’t that what the head coach should do???
Why he is doing this at this time, without a head coach in place, is beyond me.
I mean, are all applicants allowed to host meetings with the players for their own personal purposes too????
He is doing this because he is auditioning for the job, and - trust me -  by ingratiating himself with the kids and maybe their parents this sort of thing can trump your superior resume.

Surely someone in control there ought to be able to see the conflict of interest here where an applicant is leveraging his current position on the staff into a favorable position in the job search.

This, it seems to me, is strong evidence of the fact that the people who run that  don't understand how an athletic program should be run.  This is why their football program sucks.

Keeping the kids in shape is one thing, but it is only December, and  making sure that no one muddies the waters before a new coach comes on should be a top priority.

What's the deal?  Are any of those kids involved in basketball or wrestling?  Is he holding "players' meetings" with the approval (or, for that matter, knowledge) of the basketball and wrestling coaches?

First of all, it would seem to me that if the school has been as bad as you say it has been, for as long as it has been, there's not likely to be anyone on that previous staff who has the slightest clue what it takes to win.

I would say that even if you get the job,   you'd better bring a couple of strong assistants with you, because on your staff or off it,  this guy could be a problem.

***********  The top team in Washington doesn't even play in the top classification.

Bellevue - a Wing-T team - plays in Class 3A, the second-largest, but in addition winning six straight 3A titles, and 11 in the last 13 years, Bellevue has taken on all comers in its non-league games.  That has included national powers DeLaSalle, Long Bech Poly, Euless Trinity (Texas) and St. Louis Prep (Hawaii). Oh - and defending Washington 4A champions.

They execute really well, and they aren't exactly shy on talent. This time last year, UCLA's two-way star Myles jack was starring for them.

This year, they swept through their schedule unbeaten in 14 games, winning the state championship - and its 54th straight game - over Eastside Catholic, 52-20.

In a rarity for a Wing-T team, Bellevue's star was its quarterback, senior Timmy Haehl.

Haehl, who's committed to play at Harvard, was 7 for 7 passing, threw or ran for four touchdowns, and on defense intercepted two passes.

“For my class, this is 56-0," he told the Seattle Times afterward.  "We didn’t lose a single game in high school (counting freshman and JV games), and that’s one feat that probably won’t ever be broken.   It’s a team victory. It’s no one person or no two guys, no class in general. It’s everyone.”

*********** The crowd was so sparse at the SMU-Central Florida game that it looked like one of those high school championship games when they play in an NFL stadium.

*********** Kirk Herbstreit told us why Florida State's super-receiver Kelvin Benjamin's  better this year:  "He's more committed to understanding how important practice is."

Translation:  This guy is a handful.

*********** Camas High, our local high school, spent most of the season atop Washington Class 4A, the latest classification in the state.  Right down until there was no time left on the clock.

The Papermakers (did I tell you we have a large mill in the heart of town?) averaged 56 points a game on the way to the state championship game against Chiawana High of Pasco.  They were 13-0 and had never been behind.

They opened the season against Oregon power Jesuit, of Portland. Jesuit would make it to the Oregon 6A final game. Camas beat Jesuit, 47-14.

They defeated their first four playoff opponents 55-20, 63-28, 47-28 and 49-21.

In the championship game they got off to an uncharacteristically slow start. They actually trailed for the first time all year at 7-0, and went in at the half behind 13-6.  With their high-powered offense  held to just 38 yards, their only score came on a fumble return.

But they came alive in the third quarter,  and with 1:05 remaining in the game they led, 26-13.  They were on the Chiawana 43 yard line, facing a fourth and short.

They went for it and didn't get it, and Chiawana scored on the next play.

With 55 seconds left, Chiawana recovered the onside kick.

And with 0:00 left on the clock, the Chiawana QB found a receiver wide open in the corner of the end zone, and the point after (Camas' kicker had missed three of them) gave Chiawana the 27-26 win and the state championship.


*********** The German word for it is "schadenfreude."  It means the satisfaction we get from someone else's misfortune.

It perfectly describes the feeling I got from Morton-White Pass' 7-0 loss on the state Class 2-B championship game. It was Morton-White Pass' third straight appearance - and third straight loss - in the state final.

We've played Morton-White Pass the last three years, and even though they were much, much better than we were, we respected them for being good and being pretty classy.

This year,  they were a**holes.

They beat us bad, just as they beat everyone bad all season. Maybe they were upset because we had the effrontery to score the first offensive touchdown anyone had scored on them all season.  (When we made the extra point, we actually led briefly.  Very briefly.)

With the game out of reach and the clock running, we put on a drive  and, with seconds left on the clock and the ball on their two yard line, we called time out.  (How else you gonna stop the clock?) Their coach came unglued. He was so incensed that he sent his starting defense back into the game, and they stuffed us to preserve the glory of a 55-14 win.

After the game, their coach gave our coach an earful.  We had no right to call that time out, see? Guess we should have taken a knee.  Somehow, I have a feeling that if he'd been the one on the two-yard line, with a 55-14 lead, he'd have moved heaven and earth to get the score.

Anyhow, they went their ways  before things went any further, which was almost too bad, because our coach, a former Washington Huskies' offensive lineman, is 6-5, 290, and theirs is almost as tall and a bit heavier. We could have paid for a new set of uniforms selling tickets to the fight.

But then,  as our thoroughly-whipped kids went through the motions of singing our alma mater, one of their players, a running back, very graciously shouted over at us that the next time they'd beat us by 80.

Every river has a bend, fellas. Lose in the state championship for the third year in a row, did you?


*********** Like a coaching challenge? How about taking a team from the warmth of the South Carolina coast to the frigid Rocky Mountains of Montana? That's what Coastal Carolina had to do in the FCS playoffs, flying  from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to Missoula, Montana (not the easiest place in the world to get to). I know how rabid those Montana fans are, but in sub-freezing weather Coastal Carolina beat the Montana Grizzlies.

*********** Coach,

If my QB is not under center & the A-back receives the hand off in front of the QB can the back throw a pass or is the hand off in front of the QB considered a pass?

A forward handoff to a back is not a forward pass and the back can then throw the ball.

*********** Man, after seeing highlights of the Eagles-Lions game, I want to go where there's always snow on the field, if that's what it takes  to eliminate place kicks.

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

Enjoyed reading your "News" and I had to laugh at the irony of Jim Tressel teaching a class called, "Principles of Coaching.”  I guess the sweater vest and glasses has fooled the collegiates at the University of Akron.  Why the school would allow someone who is BANNED from college coaching until 2017 to teach a class on coaching is beyond me.

Dave Potter
Cary High School
Cary, North Carolina


And based on his record at Florida and some of the stuff that's gone on at Ohio State since he got there, the guy they replaced him with isn't any better.  Unless you're an alum or from the state of Ohio, Urban Meyer makes it hard to root for Ohio State.

*********** Hi Coach!
There was a small detail in the Coach Kehres story that touched me personally. I might be the only one who noticed...who knows?

When he arrived (early!) for his interview with Coach Nehlen he was wearing "...my one good sportcoat, a Harris tweed."

I inherited my father's Harris tweed - they are often passed down - they're that good. I love to wear it when it is occasionally cold down here, it reminds me of Dad, and I don't think I've ever been cold while wearing it.

For his one "good" sportcoat, Coach Kehres has one helluva coat. (I wonder if he still has it - I'd love to ask him!)

John Rothwell
Austin, Texas

Coach, Having gone to an Ivy League school in the 1950s, I am well aware of the mystique (and quality) of Harris Tweed.

In the words of the Harris Tweed people, You may pay a little more for your Harris Tweed but it pays you back by standing the test of time. The cloth never goes out of style and simply gets better with age.

There was even a term back then - "Tweedy" - that referred to something or someone upper crust - to a level of society where people of great wealth acted very casual about it. There were lots of people like that where I went to college.  They were "old money" -  they were wealthy and they knew it, and the people they associated with knew it, but they never made a big show of it. That was poor form. To the extent that they even associated with the likes of you and me, they didn't show off. Or, more likely, they simply assumed that we were wealthy too ("Everybody plays polo."). They were brought up to be careful about money, and they looked down their noses at those who did. ) That was "new rich," about as strong a condemnation as they could muster, because it said that for all your money, you could never be one of them.   

Tweed - Harris Tweed, of course - was perfect for their casual side.  Yes, it was expensive, but it lasted forever and it was always in fashion.  It was not at all uncommon to see a well-to-do gentleman with leather patches covering the worn elbows of his decades-old tweed sport coat, his way of saying, "Yes, of course I can afford a new jacket.  But why, when this one's perfectly good?"  (Interestingly, there was a time when modern fashion dictators, first with "Ivy League" and then with "Preppy" tried to copy the dress of the Old Rich.  Ivy League came close failed.  Preppy failed miserably. You can't copy style.)

About Harris Tweed - http://www.harristweed.org/about-us/index.php

Why it's special - http://www.harristweed.org/harris-tweed/love-harris-tweed.php

*********** All those college basketball games whose scores crawl endlessly across the bottom of our football broadcasts?  Who needs 'em?

Strongest argument yet against even bothering to play them : Before he'd actually played a game of college basketball, Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins was named to the AP pre-season All-America team.

***********  Remember Nancy Pelosi saying that we had to pass the Affordable Health Care Bill (aka Obamacare) "So that we can find out what's in it?"

She wasn't kidding, because  every day brings a new surprise.

Now, Obamacare could be threatening volunteer fire departments.

As we all know by now,  Obamacare requires "employers" with more than 50 full-time employees to  provide health insurance or pay a fine.

And at the present time the IRS for some reason considers volunteer firemen to be "employees."

If this comes about, with cities and towns strapped for money and unable to pay professional firefighters, maybe we'll have to go back to colonial days, when commercial fire companies competed for peoples' business, identifying  their customers with distinctive badges above their doors.

If your house caught fire, only the company whose badge was displayed over your door would show up to fight your fire.

american flag
FRIDAY,  DECEMBER 6, 2013"I think coaches should lead by example.  Our young people don't need more sermons. They need more adults to look up to."  Don James, legendary Washington Huskies' coach


*********** It's not Ivy League football that I dislike.  it's Ivy League schools and the PC fools that infest them.

It's been some time since Princeton won the Big Three, beating both Harvard and Yale in the same season, but this season the Tigers did just that.

Traditionally, Princetonians have celebrated the feat with a big bonfire in which they would roast effigies of John Harvard (a guy dressed  in pilgrim attire) and the Yale Bulldog.

Not this year, though.  Not in today's Ivy League.

In response to student concerns regarding the burning of a "human figure," fuel for Sunday’s bonfire will not include an effigy of John Harvard and likely will not include a Yale bulldog. The bonfire celebrating the University football team’s victories over both Harvard and Yale will take place Sunday evening at 7 p.m. on Cannon Green.

“We have yet to figure out what will replace [the figures], but it will not be anything that represents a human,” USG social chair Carla Javier ’15 said. Javier is a senior writer for The Daily Princetonian.

The decision was made after various students expressed their distaste for the burning of a human-like figure. Although at this time it is not clear what will be placed on the bonfire instead, there are proposals to burn a large “Y” and “H” instead, Javier said.

But that's not all...

In previous years, only the football team captains have participated in lighting the pyre. This year, other members of the athletics program will pass the torch around the ring surrounding the bonfire before the fire is ultimately lit by football team captains.

See, it's all about sharing the wealth. Yes, yes, I know - we're only celebrating because of something the football team did, but how does it make  the other sports feel if they're left out?


*********** Coach,
I’ve been absorbing the DVD’s I’ve purchased.  Great stuff; can’t wait until next season.  I coach youth football.  .  I’ve been reading your tips page and have two questions of my own:
1.       I like the hockey-stick track for the QB.  How do you now block the corner on Super Power?  Do you rely on the QB track to take the CB out of the picture?

2.       How does the line notify the QB they are done making their calls, especially for those plays snapping on Go?
Thanks for your help.  Will you be running any clinics in California this spring?


Good questions.

1. You have to show defenses an occasional QB keep and roll-out. You don't have to overdo it. It's something for one of the coaches to keep an eye on.  The corner is the QB's responsibility if we lead the QB through the hole, and he's the QB's responsibility if we have him  roll out.  It keeps your QB involved instead of just tossing and looking back at the play.

A key coaching point on running Super Power is to make sure everything is run tight to the playside Double team so that the corner will not make a tackle unless he makes a deliberate move to the inside.

2. We come right up to the line and get down and set.  No flexing. Any calls we make are made by the time the QB is under center.  On rare occasions - depending on the intelligence and experience of the QB - we have the QB make certain calls.

I haven't yet planned any clinics this year, but after a year off I am due for one in SC as soon as I can get a date and location set.

Please feel free to ask me questions as they arise.

Thanks for the info.  If I may ask a couple of additional questions about the wedge.
1.       When the defense is in a T-N-T setup covering your center and guards, on the wedge the point is still on the nose and one of the tackles, correct?

2.       If the defense has their tackles in the A gaps, who forms the point, the center or the guard?
I can’t believe I’m already talking about 2014….  :0)

1. We are looking for a 3-on-1 and our base rule is to triple-team the nose or if there isn't one, the first down lineman to playside.

2. If the first down lineman to playside is in the A-Gap, we settle for a double-team with the center and the playside guard.

It's not too early to start planning for next year.  The single biggest reason why guys fail to get the most out of the double wing (or most offenses, for that matter) is failure to do the homework.

*********** Did Saban throw his kids under the bus?


*********** Coach,

I know that on a pass play the O-line can't go past 3 yards until the ball is thrown.  My question is, if we have twins to one side and we throw a tunnel screen to the outside split end & the slot man goes to block, can he do it past the LOS especially if the it's a forward pass?

Roger Calder


Anyone can go downfield - and block - so long as it is not a forward pass.

For purposes of ineligibles going downfield or anyone blocking downfield, it is not considered a forward pass until and unless the ball  CROSSES THE NEUTRAL ZONE, regardless of the direction of the pass.

Although this definition of a forward pass took place about 1980, it wasn't until a few years later that someone realized that this permitted what we now call bubble screens, tunnel screens, jailbreak screens, etc.

The key here is that when your split end touches the ball, he must be on your side of the neutral zone.  Just to be safe, you will want him to be clearly on your side.

*********** The new 49ers' stadium in Santa Clara has everything - everything, it appears to me, except a lot of seats between the the goal lines on one entire side of the field.  It sure does look as if that side is mostly dedicated to luxury suites.


*********** Every so often, I get a magazine called "Build: The Catalog of Ideas."  I have no "idea" why.

But I look through it anyhow, and from time to time, it really does contain some useful, interesting ideas.

Here's one, relating to the concept of collaboration, but certainly applicable to anyone who coaches a team:

In his book, "Not So Smart," author David McRaney "describes a 1974 experiment conduced by psychologist Alan Ingham: people were blindfolded and then instructed to grab a rope, which was attached to a device that simulated the resistance of an opposing team.  The subjects were told they were part of a large team engaged in a tug of war. They tugged, and Ingham measured their effort.

Next,  they were told they would be pulling alone, and again Ingham measured.

Actually, they were pulling alone in both cases - the reason for the blindfold - but when they thought they were pulling as part of a team, they pulled, on average, 18 per cent less hard.

Not that that's necessarily how the subjects see it. In  his book "Thinking, Fast and Slow," Daniel Kahneman elaborates: "Many members of a collaborative team feel they have done more than their share," and when asked to estimate  their contribution as a percentage of the team's effort, the sum total of their estimates normally exceeds 100 per cent.

*********** Larry Kehres retired from coaching after last season but he remains the athletic director at Ohio's Mount Union, where in 27 years as coach  he won 11 Division III national championships and 23 Ohio Athletic Conference titles.

Recently, he was a guest at Jim Tressel’s and Jim Dennison’s “Principles of Coaching” class at the University of Akron.

Don Horn*********** You think maybe this would be called roughing the passer these days?

That's Don Horn's new Facebook photo.   Don, an outstanding college quarterback at San Diego State,  ended his career with us in Portland in the World Football League, after spending a number of years in Green Bay backing up Bart Starr on Vince Lombardi's great Packers teams.

I'm sure that nowadays, this would be called an "illegal blow to the head."  It's being delivered by the Bears' Dick Evey.  I'm betting that he wasn't penalized.

(Dick Evey died last May, after suffering from dementia.  Interestingly, his daughter said that she thought he received excellent care through the NFL's plan to help men such as her father: "It's been a tragic situation, but I don't think my dad would have changed anything. That's just the way I feel. My dad played at a time when I guess you could say football was football, and the NFL really stepped up and took great care of my father.")

*********** I saw your NEWS column this week. I like the article about long hair, especially the part about the hair extensions.

Wish I'd had one during one high school practice back in the day. (Hard to believe I am referring to the early 1970's as 'back in the day").

Yes, you see I was one of those rocker-type kids with long hair well past my shoulders, and my helmet line. I am not sure now why I had my hair so long at that time, probably to rebel against all those buzz cuts and flat tops my dad had me sporting until I was old enough to fight back. I guess I was making a statement.

At one particularly grueling scrimmage period during late summer high school football practice, we were running one particular play where I was lucky enough to be the one carrying the ball. A nice change from my usual duties; blocking from the fullback or Guard position. Since I usually got the ball during games only on short yardage situations, this particular practice period was much appreciated, yet very intense.

Luckily, my O-Line was blocking well that day and we were blowing through the defense on almost every play.  One of our linebackers was none too happy about it. I guess he was tired of getting hammered by our Guards, or perhaps he was sick of getting verbally lambasted by our defensive coaches. What ever the reason, the next time I ran through the hole and past the linebackers, with my wavy brown locks flowing majestically behind me, our middle linebacker slipped his block and reached out, grabbed a handful of hair... and pulled.

I remember looking up form the flat of my back at a bunch laughing defensive players. My offensive teammates helped me up.

I got my hair cut into a flat top the next day. I have had that cut, or one similar to it, ever since. 

Funny thing, I noticed how much cooler practices were after that.  My dad must have know a little something.

Thanks Hugh.

Richard Scott
Stevenson Ranch, California

*********** The Farmer and the Snake

ONE WINTER a Farmer found a Snake stiff and frozen with cold.
The snake said to the Farmer:
    "If you pick me up and hold me to your stomach, your body will make me warm."
The Farmer said:
   "If I do that you will bite me."
The Snake answered:
   "Why would I do that if you save me?"
The Farmer had compassion on the Snake, and taking it up, placed it in his bosom.
The Snake was quickly revived by the warmth, and resuming its natural instincts, bit its benefactor, inflicting on him a mortal wound.
   "Oh," cried the Farmer, "Why did you bite me after I saved you?"
 Answered the Snake,  "You knew I was a snake when you picked me up."

There's a heck of a story coming out of Oregon involving Tom Smythe, a highly respected coach who's won state titles at three different high schools.

Coach Smythe has never denied  that he doesn't do much out-of-season work. In fact, for several years, he's coached in Europe from March until August.

He coaches in Lake Oswego, one of the Northwest's most affluent communities - with all that that entails in terms of parental expectations -  and  this past winter, possibly because under pressure from parents, he hired an assistant to serve as his offensive coordinator and run things while he was away.

Now, he claims that while he was gone, the assistant essentially "hijacked" the program, acting the part  of head coach to the point where the staff and players no longer listened to Tom when he returned.

Tom, unhappy with the direction the program seemed to be headed - in one game,  the team was penalized 18 times for 221 yards,  and  complaints about players' and coaches' conduct were coming in weekly from officials  - confronted administrators,  but was told by  that he could not fire the offensive coordinator.  When he said that in that case, since he was no longer the real head coach, he'd have to resign, they gave him old ,"Oh, no - we don't want you to do that" routine.

Finally, partway through the season, Tom simply washed his hands of the matter and went up into the press box on game nights.

The team finished with an excellent record, but success on the field came at a price:  in a state quarterfinal game, the team had  21 penalties (14 personal fouls) called against it for 229 yards.  With the game in hand, the opposing coach had his team take a knee for two entire series to avoid any end-of-game incidents.  The officials ordered the two teams to dispense with the customary post-game handshake.

Now, here's the best part - the offensive coordinator had played for Tom when he coached at nearby Lewis and Clark College.  A few years ago, that offensive coordinator, then a successful head coach at a Portland city school, lost his job after his arrest for disorderly conduct and his guilty plea to interfering with police.   Since then, he'd been on the outs, a winning coach basically seen by other schools as untouchable - until Tom Smythe gave him a chance.  Tom even had to go to considerable lengths in convincing the superintendent at Lake Oswego that the assistant was deserving of the chance.

And here's the worst part - the parents in Lake Oswego are pleased as punch with the direction the program has taken under the "new" head coach.. As one parent told the Portland Oregonian, "My son loves Tom. But Tom's type was, (the high school)  was a softer program. We were so much softer than the other teams we played. We are a lot more physical and that's because of  (the new coach's) mentality.  I'll speak for my son: he loves it. That's how he wants to play."

So there you are.

For background, take the time to listen to an interview with Coach Smythe on Hillsboro, Oregon radio station KUIK...


A sign that the winning was coming at  a price…


The general timeline of the whole story…


One knowledgeable Portland columnist's take…


american flagTUESDAY,  DECEMBER 3, 2013 - “The eternal difference between right and wrong does not fluctuate, it is immutable.”  Patrick Henry

*********** John Feinstein, in the Washington Post, told of Paul Johnson's hiring at Navy...

Johnson had been Weatherbie’s offensive coordinator for two seasons and, in 1996, had played a key role in the Mids’ first winning season since 1982. That team went 9-3 and won the Aloha Bowl. Johnson then left to become the head coach at Georgia Southern, where he won two national championships in what was then known as Division I-AA while Navy was spiraling.

Johnson knew how difficult the Navy job was and how far the program had fallen when Gladchuk and Vice Admiral John R. Ryan, the academy’s superintendent at the time, came to interview him for the opening.

“What it’s going to take, Coach?” Ryan asked when negotiations stalled. “What do I have to pay you to get you to coach my football team.”

Johnson told him. Ryan was stunned. “Young man,” he said. “I’m a three-star admiral in the United States Navy and I don’t make anywhere close to that kind of money.”

“Well, Admiral,” Johnson replied, “I guess you got into the wrong business.”

*********** What a long, fantastic weekend of football.

Duke-North Carolina…Duke? 10 wins? Are you kidding me?  They're not likely to beat Florida State, but they're not a fluke.

Oregon State-Oregon… Beavers looked like hell in blazing orange uniforms, but they played like they were on fire and damn near beat the Ducks.  Too bad it was too late for most of you.

Penn State went into Madison and blew up the Badgers' shot at a BCS bowl.

Stanford -Notre Dame… Irish had 64 yards rushing.   Tommy Rees was 16 of 34 for 199 with 2 INTs.  If Stanford didn't believe that their QB is the guy to be running the ball on fourth down it could have been worse.

Mississippi State-Ole Miss… Dan Mullens' job may be safe. Bulldogs score in OT. Ole Miss QB nearly does the same, but fumbles into the end zone - where a Bulldog recovers it.

Nebraska-Iowa… "Go ahead and fire me," says a defiant Bo Pelini.  What an embarrassment.

ASU-Arizona… Los Diablos el Sol are tough and the win means the Stanford must come to Tempe for the championship.  Could it be Todd Graham's last game before leaving for Texas?

South Carolina-Clemson… Give Spurrier the credit none of his legion of haters gives him - he has beaten Clemson five straight times.

K-State - Kansas… Does Charlie Weis have respect for college coaches yet?

Florida State-Florida… Florida kids played hard on defense. Looked pretty helpless on offense. FSU is just too good.

Missouri-Texas A & M… Johnny Football (haven't heard that lately) wasn't enough to beat the Tigers. How about that Heisman repeat? Let's look: 24 of 35 passing for 195? Nothing spectacular. 11 carries for 21 yards rushing?  Time to move on.  Mizzou could win the SEC.

Vanderbilt-Wake Forest… Vandy kicked a field goal with 39 second left to get their first back-to-back eight-win seasons since 1927-1928.  The loss, Wake's fourth in a row, cost coach Jim Grobe, the Deacons' all-time winningest coach, his job.

LSU-Arkansas… Down 27-24 late in the fourth quarter, their starting QB out with a knee injury, the Tigers took over on their own one hoping to drive deep enough for the tying field goal. With a true freshman QB, they went all 99 yards, the last 49 on a pass to a wide open receiver down the left side, to defeat the Hogs 31-27.

Ohio State-Michigan… After scoring with :32 left to play to pull within a point of unbeaten Ohio State, Michigan blew off overtime and went for two.  They lined up, and OSU's Urban Meyer called a timeout, presumably to prepare for what they'd just seen.  After the timeout, Michigan came out in the same alignment and - Buckeyes win.  So please tell me how Ohio State can give up 603 yards total offense (451 passing, 152 rushing) to an unranked team, and rank ahead of the team that beat the nation's number one?

Alabama-Auburn… A game for the ages. A game you couldn't take your eyes off. 495 yards offense for the Tide, 393 for Auburn.

*********** Another plug for A. J. McCarron for Heisman.  Forget his three years' body of work (which no one else can match) and just consider his stats in this sensational game: 17 of 25 for 277 and three touchdown passes with no interceptions. Yes, Bama lost - but don't blame the kid for a numbass decision by his coach.

*********** Can't disagree more with the "gutsy" call to go for two by Hoke. You're in the game against an undefeated team. Tie it up and give your kids a chance. Ed Wyatt, Melbourne, Australia


I think that Brady Hoke will bear the mark of this one for a long time.

It's not as if kicking it would have been playing for a tie.

The last time to try something like that is when you're on shaky ground with your fans as it is, and your players have just played the game of their lives...

PLUS - one man's irrational decision may have put Ohio State in the national championship game.

***********So which coach made the bigger bonehead move?

NIck Saban.  Easily.

Brady Hoke's decision, although it allowed Ohio State to come away with a one-point win over an unranked team,  can be defended.  I guess.

Let's just say he has his defenders.

But unless your last name is Saban, I can't imagine anyone defending the Alabama decision.

To think that he argued to have a second put back on the clock, and then  used the one last second granted him to send out a freshman kicker to attempt a nearly-unmakeable field goal - because, we were told,  he'd made them from that distance in practice.

Saban had a quarterback with a strong arm and a stableful of big, fast receivers.  A Hail Mary had almost no downside to it.  At the very least, overtime lay ahead.

Shame on Saban,  Mister Anal Retentive,  for not thinking fast enough to realize that when you try an impossibly long field goal, there is the chance of a  return - and you're not set up to cover it . Unlike a punt,  you can't release "gunners"  downfield, and unlike a punt, you have a bunch of  wide bodies in there to protect who are probable the last guys on the team you'd want out there if coverage were a priority.

I swear I heard him say something afterward like "They didn't cover."

I sure hope I didn't hear that.  Nothing could have been more unlike Bear Bryant than to duck responsibility.

*********** Speaking of Bear Bryant, there's a documentary set to play on Alabama's public television network called Documentary "Mama Called."  The title derives from Coach Bryant's reason for leaving Texas A & M to go coach at his alma mater.


*********** I'm really sorry to see Jim Grobe resign at Wake Forest.  He's a good man, and unless he got stupid over the last couple of  years, a heck of a coach.  It wasn't more than three or four years ago that he was turning down offers to leave Wake because he and his staff loved the place. Now, he's a casualty of the football war in which Wake, the smallest college in a BCS conference,  will always struggle.

*********** They told Bill Moos that the Cougars sucked. And, they told him, so did their coach - the guy he hired, Mike Leach. Some of them, if you can believe this, used foul language in their emails, notes and phone calls.

But the joke's on them.  Bill Moos, the Washington State AD, was taking names.

And now, a year later, the Cougs are going to a bowl game - and guess who won't be going.


Bill Moos is real old school.  He's the guy who, when asked who was on the search committee that hired Leach said, "You're looking at him."

*********** Lou Brissie died last week in Augusta, Georgia. He was 89.

I remember Lou Brissie.

He first came to the majors and pitched for the Philadelphia A's in 1948.  I was old enough then to know the game and  I followed both Philadelphia teams closely.  I seldom missed a game on the radio, and my dad took me to several games at old Shibe Park.

Lou Brissie had been seriously wounded in "The War" (that's how everyone referred to World War II) when he stepped on a mine, and as a result, after persuading a doctor not to amputate his leg, he made it to the major leagues wearing a brace on his leg. He walked with a pronounced limp and could barely run.

But he could pitch. In 1948, he was 14-10 on a bad A's team (many years earlier, they had been the best team in baseball, but by the time I was old enough to follow them, they were terrible), and in 1949 he was 16-11, and pitched in the All-Star game.

Richard Goldstein wrote in the New York Times about the first time he faced the Red Sox: 

he endured a frightening moment when Ted Williams hit a line drive that caromed off his brace.

“I hit a ball back to the box, a real shot, whack, like a rifle clap,” Williams recalled in his memoir “My Turn at Bat” (1969), written with John Underwood. “Down he goes, and everybody rushes out there, and I go over from first base with this awful feeling I’ve really hurt him. Here’s this war hero, pitching a great game. He sees me in the crowd, looking down at him, my face like a haunt. He says, ‘For chrissakes, Williams, pull the damn ball.’ ”


*********** "The end of the Iron Bowl looked like a Canadian football game."

Tom Walls
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Roger Kelly, a friend from Vancouver, BC has pointed out on several occasions that in Canadian football it's possible for either team to score on every single play.  But who would have thought that Auburn was going to score on that particular play?

*********** There were actually eight  NFL games - out of the 14 played from Thursday thru Sunday - in which offensive touchdowns outnumbered field goals.

One  was the Miracle at Arrowhead - Broncos 35, Chiefs 28.  Do the math - that's nine touchdowns and nine extra points. Period (to quote Our President). Not a single field goal even attempted.

How long since that last happened?

*********** Had a chance to watch the Chiefs and Broncos in person at Arrowhead.  There were 9 touchdowns scored and not a single field goal attempted!  It was actually pretty fun.  Peyton Manning is a great quarterback.  The touch he has, especially on the long ball is incredible.  The best thing about the game was I got to watch it without any annoying commentators or some producer choosing 18 different camera angles on one play.  I could see the personnel packages coming on and off and see the whole play from start to finish.

Joel Mathews
Independence, Missouri


Interesting that you should write.  That game was unique for the scoring.

And, yes, you are not at the mercy of the TV people.

Glad you got to see a good game.

***********Will an apology from Commissioner Goodell for the officials' incompetence that tricked the Redskins (er, "Washington Pro Football Team") out of  a down be enough? Will it save MIke Shanahan's job?

***********My first reaction to the news that Steve Sarkisian is headed to USC:


My sentiments are shared by a large number of Washington fans, many of whom thought, when they heard the news that he was leaving,  that he'd been fired.

Stewart Mandel of si.com, showing that he obviously understands the Washington fan base, wrote,  "It's never a good sign when the fan base of the school Sarkisian bolted is less upset about his departure than it is excited about a possible upgrade."

True that.  I don't think he got the most out of his talent (34-29 overall, 24-21 in the Pac 12), and if Washington had lost to Washington State Friday, there's a good chance he'd have been out of work Saturday morning.

And, too, although I had no real reason not to trust the guy, there was something about him, something I can't put my finger on. I root for coaches more than teams, and I just couldn't warm up to the Huskies with him on their sideline.

My secondary reactions:

(1) He just saved the UW the money it would have cost to fire him. In fact, now he'll be the one doing the paying - a $1,500,000 buyout.

(2) Back to hating USC again;

(3) USC's standards sure aren't what they used to be;

(4) With the Huskies' men's soccer team in the Elite Eight… who cares about football, anyhow?

*********** Bud Withers in the Seattle Times on Sark's leaving…

A storied football colossus that uses national-championship and Heisman Trophies for doorstops and paperweights just hired a guy whose conference head-coaching record at a highly respected school was exactly 24-21.


*********** When an Ohio State lineman was thrown out of the game and in departing the stadium shot both middle fingers skyward at the 110,000 people in the stands, the announcers observed, in all seriousness, that it would be up to Urban Meyer to determine whether he'd held out of any of next week's game.

I almost choked.

Listen - that kid could have flipped off a jury that had just sentenced him to life in prison and Urban Meyer would have found a way for him to play on Saturday.

*********** Sorry, but this trend of putting  "Junior" and "JR",  "II" and "III" after players' names on their jerseys is just another dose  look-at-me  bullsh--.

*********** Speaking of which, Pierre Garcon told Sunday night's TV audience during player introductions  that his college was "Haiti."   Maybe with some real college coaching he could have caught one or two of the passes  thrown to him.

*********** Next time you see a gruesome movie or video game advertised on an NFL game… next time you see a Super Bowl halftime show that belongs more in a "gentleman's club" than on a football field…

Be grateful to the NFL for at least protecting your children by refusing to sell Super Bowl commercial time to a gun manufacturer…


*********** Author and producer Mark Joseph, in USA Today:

"I have a parlor game I play with my white conservative friends that tells me everything I need to know about race relations in America.

"'If your daughter were thinking of marrying a man like Clarence Thomas or one like Chris Matthews, which would you choose?' I ask.

"The answer is quick and unanimous: they'd choose to spend their holidays with a son-in-law who shares their values rather than one who merely shares their skin color."

*********** This is no lie… A New York Times article about the upcoming Super Bowl, to be held in New York - well, New Jersey, actually, if you mean the game itself, and not the festivities, which will take place mostly in New York - told of attempts by New Jersey officials to make their state, not noted for its cordiality,  a bit more welcoming to outsiders.

"An image-conscious regional chamber of commerce and Bergen Community College are giving one-day classes to teach ways to give Super Bowl fans a warm welcome.

"But the classes were canceled after no one signed up."


We did it.  Queensbury won the state championship beating Williamsville North of the Buffalo section 36-7.  13-0. Great bunch of kids who were very determined and business-like.   Actually passed for 74 yards on 3 passes.  Almost 300 yards rushing but defense and special teams gave us great field position.  They ran a 4-6 but our kids did a great job assignment-wise.  First state championship in our school's 50 years of football history.    Obviously my years with your influence and double wing were (are) a huge factor,


John Irion
Queensbury, New York


I am very pleased and proud.  I know your philosophy and I know how hard you've worked.  You've done it the right way and the victory is richly deserved.

My congratulations to you, your staff and your kids!

Thanks coach.  It seems a bit unreal now.  The community has gone crazy with support.   Firetrucks, parade,.....  Not used to the attention.   Not going to argue with it though, kids deserve some attention sometimes in their lives, especially when they paid their dues towards something good.

*********** Congratulations also to Elmira, New York HS and especially its offensive coordinator, Mike Johnston, a long-time double-winger.  The Elmira Express made it to the New York State Class AA (largest class) semifinals before falling to perennial power Aquinas Insititute of Rochester (Don Holleder's school), 19-6.

*********** In Kansas, Beloit's dream season came to an end against Silver Lake, which handed the Trojans (13-1) their first loss, 82-38.

***********  Coach,

Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving.  Mine was great - so nice to be home with my wife and kids after football season.  Of course I was also able to watch Queensbury play the day after since they televise all the games on our Cable Sports network.  It was great to see them win a state title.  What was even better was seeing a classic double wing game.  They were not fancy (I remember hearing John Irion speak at your clinic one time about running a play 1000 times in practice before he would in a game).  I don't think he was kidding.  Here are all the plays I saw
All from Tight (except 2 or three from Uptight / Wing ON)
88 G reach toss (with QB leading out in front)
Wedge reverse (twice)
HB pass
58 Black throwback
One more pass can't remember what
That was it and they won 38-7.  So great to see a well run double wing win it all in our classification.  You can bet I will discuss Elmira and Queensbury's success running our offense in our state with my kids. Good stuff.

John Dowd
Spencerport, New York

John Irion has stayed true to his beliefs and his philosophy.  I know there were times when it wasn't easy, but there he is, on top.

Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

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

I just heard Dan Dierdorf talking about today's Denver-Kansas City game. He said it was going to be very loud in KC, especially with Peyton Manning coming to town. "That's as close to a college environment as you'll find anywhere in the NFL."

I'm not sure he realized how that comparison is an indictment of the NFL game experience.

Christopher Anderson
Alexandria, Virginia

It really was a telling slip of the tongue, wasn't it?  Dierdorf can expect a note from someone at CBS headquarters telling him that Commissioner Goodell didn't appreciate the comment.

The shame of it is that there are college stadia that, I'm told, are becoming more like the "NFL environment" in terms of hostility to visiting fans. Autzen (Oregon) has been mentioned.

The longtime problem of televised football, particularly pro football, has been that unless you're talking about the playoffs being at the game rarely outweighs watching it at home, what with other games to watch and cheaper concessions and no dumb drunk fans you haven't positively decided to bring into your kids' lives.

I believe smartphones have really enhanced the in-stadium experience because people can follow other ballgames and communicate with friends during commercial breaks. Problem is that the towers are often overloaded with tens of thousands of users, so stadiums are starting to add wifi.

Another way college stadiums are approaching the pros: more drunken, unwashed fools jeering in the crowd. It's like a casting call for a Bud Light ad. Not going to make Mommy want her son to play youth football. That goes double if you're wearing opponent colors - Stanford, Minnesota and Notre Dame are genial places for visiting fans. Madison and Columbus, not so much, and I'm sure there are plenty of others. I don't envy parents trying to take their children to ballgames.

*********** Jeez, talk about a conflict - I wanted to watch  Duke-North Carolina. And listen.  But that meant having to listen to Beth Mowins, who pronounces "yarrrrd" as if it's National Talk Like a Pirate Day.

The color guy on KSU-Kansas was really bad… talked way too fast, used a lot jargon, enunciated poorly, as if were sitting in the locker room jabbering away while he put his sox on.  I think his name is James Bates.

***********  While negotiating Maryland's entry into the Big Ten,  Maryland’s president mentioned to Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney the relatively small size of the Terps' stadium. 

"It’s no longer butts on seats,” Delany told him.  “It's eyeballs on screens.”

american flag
TUESDAY,  NOVEMBER 26, 2013 "The guy who is anxious for a deal will get his head handed to him."  George Shultz, Secretary of State under President Ronald Reagan

HAPPY THANKSGIVING... I'm going to thank the Lord for my wonderful family, for the country I was lucky enough to be born in, for the game of football and the health that's enabled me to coach it, and for all the people football's enabled me to meet and all the places it's enabled me to visit...

*********** Time to unsuck the NFL...

In basketball, you have to shoot the ball.

In baseball, you have the throw it over the plate.

In hockey, they'll come after you and knock you on your ass.

But in football, you hold onto the ball and inch forward, running down the clock, until it's time to administer the cup de grace - to bring in the kicker. And there's not a damn thing the other team can do.

There's no other major professional sport in which a team can waste the last two or three minutes of game action on what amounts to inaction - prolonging the inevitable by running aimless plays until mere seconds remain and it can finally kick a field goal.

*********** A long-time Boston sports writer who covered the NFL for years predicts a dark future for our game.

Before you reflexively say, "this guy is f--ked up," read the article carefully.


And if you don't want to read it, let me summarize...

Football should be pretty much exclusively ours for generations to come.

Well, maybe.

For that to happen, we will need players, and there is one thing Roger Goodell may not have considered.

The mothers of America could shut down football today.

I’m not saying they’re going to, but they could. The mothers of America could band together and say, “Uh-uh, no way. My boy’s not playing football. And that’s all there is to it.”

TRUE.  Mothers, with or without husbands,  are increasingly making the big decisions about raising boys. But they don't need to band together. They're quite capable of reading the kind of crap this guy writes and deciding for themselves - whether or not there's a man in the house - that their little boys aren't going to play football.

Football is a brutal, almost barbaric game. It is a game in which ridiculously large men, pumped up or drugged up or gorged upward of 30 percent more than the weight they should be safely carrying, smash into each other upward of 80 times a game at a point in the field known as the “line of scrimmage.”

FALSE. Have you actually taken the time to watch the way these "ridiculously large men" on the line "smash" into each other? It's a myth. Most of the "contact" is with the hands.  Take a look some time at their shoulder pads - they don't even need them, but since they're required to wear them, they favor pads designed for much smaller players, simply to comply with the rules.

Were any of these supposed football players ever taught to tackle? All half these guys know is how to launch themselves at somebody or shoulder-roll someone. I’ll bet Pat Fischer never launched himself or shoulder-rolled anyone in his life.

Fischer was a great 170-pound safety who actually put his shoulder into a ballcarrier and hit him in the midsection. In other words, he actually tackled someone. Perhaps Roger Goodell should send him around to conduct a few clinics.

TRUE.  Can't argue with that. But last I heard, Commissioner Goodell's army of USA Football-certified coaches was too busy teaching 10-year-olds to find  the time to teach the pros.

Football has an enormous appeal to many people who are borderline psychopaths in a manner that no other sport - and this includes the very virile sport of hockey - does not.

FALSE - (1) This is an absurd claim that's absolutely impossible to support with research; (2) No other sport?  Not boxing? Automobile racing? MMA? Dog fighting?

*********** Lord, the NFL's palming off a lot of bad football - and a lot of bad football teams - on the American public.

Don't agree?

You mean you think it's good football when  seven of the 13 games played, Thursday night though Monday night, featured more field goals kicked than touchdowns scored?

How about the Ravens-Jets classic: Five field goals, one touchdown.

Jaguars-Texans?  Four field goals, one touchdown.

Titans-Raiders: Seven field gold, three touchdowns.

The Monday night 49ers-Redskins thriller produced three TDs (all 49ers) and four field goals. (The Redskins looked really, really bad.)

*********** MLS is said to be considering  moving formats current March-to-November schedule to an August-to-May one, like many European leagues.

Now, my giving them advice is like the libs who write for the New York Times telling the Republican Party what it has to do if it wants to win the White House, but here's what I'd tell them if they were to ask…

Fellas, it can get pretty damn cold in the dead of winter  some of the places where you play: Salt Lake City, Chicago, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Denver, Montreal, Boston, Toronto, DC.  

Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, while not frigid, can be a bit chilly and blustery when those winter storms roll in off the Pacific.

And then, there's the simple fact that in places where soccer rules, there is no other sport of any importance. As it is now, you go mostly against baseball, and even so your TV ratings are so bad that the WNBA beats you.  If you go up against the NFL, and college bowl games, and the four-team college football playoff, your ratings are toast.

*********** Beloit, Kansas is in the state final!

by Brett Marshall, of the Garden City Telegram…

SCOTT CITY — Payton Vetter ran for two touchdowns and passed for another while running back Bowe Behymer scored twice, one on a game-changing 88-yard fumble recovery return early in the third quarter to power the Beloit Trojans to a 36-13 victory here Saturday night over the Scott City Beavers in a Class 3A semifinal football game.

Vetter, a four-year starter, had TD runs of 6 and 13 yards, passed 55 yards to RJ Jackson for another while Behymer, who had a game-high 165 yards rushing, also scored on a 4-yard run for the unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Trojans.

Scott City got two first-half touchdowns, both on passes from junior quarterback Trey O'Neil. His first was 4-yards to Chris Pounds in the first quarter and the second was a 68-yard strike to Brayden Strine midway through the second quarter.

Beloit's defense, though, held the Beavers scoreless in the final 24 minutes, denying Scott City scoring opportunities three times inside the 15-yard line in that stretch.
Beloit, 13-0, now faces Silver Lake (12-1), last year's runner-up to Scott City, in the state title game at Hutchinson's Gowans Stadium next Saturday at 1 p.m. The Beavers, meanwhile, see their season end at 11-2.

- See more at: http://gctelegram.com/news/Scott-City-Beloit-3A-football-11-23-13#sthash.NVJcb01Z.dpuf

The game's over, and Beloit is advancing to the state's final game, but you'll still enjoy the "scouting report" written prior to Saturday's semi-final:



and you'll also  this nice interview with Beloit QB Payton Vetter, a great kid and a super athlete:


*********** Hey Iran: "If you like your nuclear weapons program, you can keep it."

*********** Florida will not be going to a bowl game this year.  That's Florida, guys. The Gators.  The Swamp.

Florida has now lost six straight  since opening the season 4-1, hitting rock bottom Saturday with a 26-20  loss to the FCS Georgia Southern Eagles .

The Eagles  didn't complete a pass, but then, they didn't need to - their triple-option offense amassed 429 yards on the ground.

Gator fans should be grateful that this is not as good as most Georgia Southern teams: the win gives them a 7-4 record, but they're still only 4-4 in the Southern Conference.  (Florida is only 3-5 in the SEC.)

Maybe this explains the "illness" that caused Urban Meyer to bail on the Gators.

Now, the only thing left for the Gators is a chance to beat the hated Seminoles, who tuned up by defeating mighty Idaho, 80-something to I-don't-know-what.

********** Christopher Anderson, of Arlington, Virginia, notes that last weekend's "Coach of the Weekend" had to be Paul Johnson of Georgia Tech, based on wins by three teams where he initially installed his triple option: Navy, Georgia Southern, and Georgia Tech.

(The Navy OT win over San Jose State was one of the great games of the year. Thanks to my living in the Pacific Time Zone, I was able t0 stay up to watch it all. Navy QB Keenan Reynolds scored seven TDs, debunking any notion that defenses have caught up with the triple option.)
*********** As many of you know, in "opening things up," I've had a lot of help from Brian Flinn, wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at Villanova, and he and Andy Talley, Wildcats' head coach, have been most hospitable to me in allowing me to observe their practices.  Many of you have heard coach Flinn speak at my clinics.

That, combined with the fact that I have a grandson who's going to be a senior at Villanova, assures that I'm a Wildcat fan.

I'll let Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer describe Villanova's incredible win over Delaware Saturday (the schools are no more than 30 mile apart, and they are serious rivals.)

A season of frustration marked by injuries and some close losses ended with a startling comeback by Villanova's football team.

Trailing by 34-12 after three quarters, the Wildcats scored 23 fourth-quarter points to stun Delaware, 35-34, in the regular-season Colonial Athletic Association finale for both teams Saturday at PPL Park.

 Mark Hamilton's 24-yard field goal with a second remaining was the game-winner. Holder Cody Pittman did a nice job fielding a low snap.
Hamilton said he didn't want to make things too complicated.

"I wasn't thinking too much," Hamilton said. "I don't even know how far it was."

Villanova finished 6-5 (5-3 CAA). The Wildcats are not expected to receive a bid Sunday to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

 Delaware, which needed the game to stay in realistic contention for a bid, dropped to 7-5, 4-4

When Delaware's Andrew Pierce scored on a 10-yard run to extend the Blue Hens' lead to 34-12 with just 1 minute, 24 seconds left in the third quarter, the Wildcats looked finished. After Pierce's score, the conversion kick was blocked, and that turned out to be a huge play.

In the fourth quarter, Villanova quarterback John Robertson completed 11 of 13 passes for 146 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran 13 times for 95 yards in the final period.

"After three quarters it had been getting quiet on the sideline," Robertson said.

It got noisy after he hit Joe Price on scoring passes of 11 and 21 yards. Price had missed the previous five games with two fractures in his vertebrae.

"I felt great out there," Price said.

Robertson hit a wide- open Gary Underwood on a 25-yard scoring pass to get the Wildcats within 34-32 with 1:45 left.

On the two-point conversion attempt, Robertson threw an incomplete pass.

 Villanova kicker Chris Gough then recovered his own onside kick, giving the Wildcats the ball on their own 46.

"The guys immediately next to me are supposed to blow up the guys that are head up on us and hopefully there is a gap in there and I can get to fall on it, and that is what happened," Gough said.

Robertson marched the Wildcats into field-goal range and Hamilton kicked the first game-winner of his career.

Villanova set a school record with 34 first downs. The Wildcats' 626 yards of total offense were second most in school history.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/colleges/villanova/20131124_Villanova_stuns_Delaware_with_huge_comeback.html#BvusfDuyLmRiAXVA.99

*********** Coach,
Reading the news just now about the MAC and their November weekday games.  I really hope they are making it also and I think the weekday MACtion games have made a difference for the entire league.
On a related note I think that Northern Illinois University has a chance to become the next Boise State in football.  They are recruiting well, making the transition from coach to coach seamlessly (Rod Carey is 11-0 right now) and just opened a new indoor practice facility that is really nice. They have a real nice mix of local talent and out of state recruits.  I think they are poised to dominate the MAC for a while.
John Bothe
Oregon IL


Northern Illinois is really good.  

What they need, though - what put Boise State where it is today - is a win over a big-time opponent in a high-profile game.  If Boise State hadn't won that Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma, they'd be back laboring in (relative) anonymity.

(I should also add the impact that Boise State's ballsy play-calling had on a national TV audience - a hook-and-ladder and a statue-of-liberty on the same final drive.)

Northern Illinois had a chance in last year's Orange Bowl but, sadly, they confirmed the conventional wisdom that a mid-major can't compete.

Northern Illinois has one big advantage that Boise doesn't have, and that is its location in the

Maybe this year.  I'll be pulling for them.

*********** Coach,
Queensbury won our state semi and will play Williamsville North in the Carrier Dome Friday for the state championship.  @415 yards rushing and 11 passing to put Cornwall away 36 to 27.  They had a very good offense (even though it was spread :)  ) but their large defensive line could not stop our O.  They played the first half in a 7 front and then 2nd half went to an 8 man front.  People called our O  "precision" which was very flattering.  9 backs shared the rushing load.  (2 B backs and 7  A and C's)    Over 4000 yards rushing so far this year in 12 games. Only about 400 passing this year.  Could have passed more but usually didn't need to.   Shooting for 13-0.
John V. Irion
Queensbury, New York

Thanks to fellow Double-Winger Pete Porcelli, of Troy, New York for sending me the following nice article written before the game:


*********** Only team captains are allowed to talk to officials, right?  So explain to me why I see so many receivers bellyaching to officials when they think they've been interfered with?

Personally,  I'd like to see the rulesmakers  crack down on all the whiny "throw the flag" gestures from diva receivers.

*********** The Yale-Harvard game was late coming on the NBC Sports Network because that All-American channel was busy broadcasting a f--king English soccer game.

I'm sorry, but Ivy League football isn't that bad.

Harvard has beaten Yale seven years in a row now, and the Crimson has won  12 of their last 13 meetings.

A recent Yale president said something about Yale's goal being to win "our share" of Ivy League championships.

Screw that. That's one of our problems in America today - a shortage of leaders who want to win them all.

Oh, well - the loss means Yale finished 5-5.  I guess we should all be happy that we won our share of games. 

*********** The crowd was a bit sparse at Thursday night's game between Air Force and UNLV game in Colorado Springs.

The temperature at kickoff was 9 degrees, with winds up to 20 miles per hour creating a sub-zero  wind chill.

Although 29,000+ tickets were sold, actual attendance was estimated at "well under 10,000," according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.

Game attendance is mandatory for the approximately 4,000 cadets, but in view of the fact that it was a weeknight, Cadets with tests on Friday were permitted to skip the game. 

A "warming bus" was provided for those who did attend. (Just one?)

Read more at http://gazette.com/air-force-notes-future-changes-discussed/article/1509787#PIa8ReeBiIbZvbrP.99

*********** The White House is urging  people to "have that talk" at Thanksgiving dinner. You know - the talk about how wonderful Obamacare is.

I guess it beats arguing over whether there should be a college  football playoff.

Check the video one group has put out.

(And since it's Thanksgiving, be sure to notice what they call "dinner.")


*********** Oregon took it on the chin Saturday, 42-16 at the hands of Arizona, and while I'll be the first to say that they have a bunch of very spoiled kids who've never had to take a punch, it's only fair to give credit to Arizona.

Kadeem Carey carried 48 times for 206 yards for the Wildcats, earning Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week honors.  It was not a  fluke.  Carey led the nation in rushing last year, and he has now rushed for more than 100 yards in 14 straight games.

*********** Baylor made two inexcusable errors down close that could have made the difference - if the game had been closer.

In one of those too-clever attempts to reach out for another foot or so, a Baylor runner reached out and exposed the ball - on the ONE YARD LINE!  It was batted loose and recovered by Oklahoma State. So what is an extra foot worth, anyhow?

Later, Baylor got down to the OSU two - and a low center snap went through the QB's legs.  (Which is why my Wildcat QB crouches like a shortstop.)

So much for all those articles about the unstoppable Baylor offense. We were a minute into the fourth quarter before Baylor finally scored a TD. 

*********** My personal Heisman Watch
Mariota?  Nah
Petty?  Nah
Mansiel?  Nah
Winston?  Better give him a photograph of the real thing until/unless he's cleared
McCarron? My choice. What's holding him back? Not enough highlights  to suit ESPN?

*********** Neshaminy (Pennsylvania) High - still the Redskins - defeated Abington, 35-14 to advance to the District 1 AAAA Finals against North Penn.

*********** Vanderbilt's winning touchdown against Tennessee came with just 18 seconds left when Patton Robinette took a shotgun snap, ran to the line and jumped as if to throw a jump pass, the landed and ran around a befuddled Tennessee team.

The Vols have owned Vandy over the years - the Vanderbilt win marked the first time that Vandy had won games in consecutive seasons since 1925-26.

*********** Oregon receiver Josh Huff  tweeted, "I don’t mind playing in the Rose Bowl, playing for the fans and my teammates. But deep down I don’t wanna be a prep game for the national championship game."

Oregon running back De'Anthony Thomas seconded it, saying that playing in the Rose Bowl again this year was "not a big deal.

That was last week,  before the Ducks were crushed by Arizona.

Stupid, stupid, stupid,  But then, kids that age say - and do - stupid things.  All abetted by Twitter.  I wonder if the great John Wooden, who was noted for keeping a bubble around his players, could have survived in today's tell-all, say-all climate.

But let's be serious here - kids in top-notch programs focus on getting to the Big Game, and to them anything short of that - even the Rose Bowl - represents failure.

This, it seems to me, is a fault of our society - this whole bunch of garbage that if you ain't number one, you ain't sh--.

This wouldn't even have happened if we had, say, an eight-team  post-season playoff. 

What's that, you say?  Oregon is ranked only 13th in this week's BCS ratings?

Never mind.

american flagFRIDAY,  NOVEMBER 22, 2013 “A critic is a man who knows the way but can't drive the car.”  Kenneth Tynan, English theatre critic and writer

*********** Should the allegations against Jameis Winston prove true, among my regrets will be that the whole deal couldn't have come down a day or two before  the Heisman presentation, and blow up that overhyped farce beyond all recognition. 

What an opportunity that would be for the President of the United States to save his presidency by  stepping in and announcing a new award -   the Presidential Medal of Football Excellence, aka The Obamaward.

It would be presented annually to a select number of players chosen by a blue ribbon presidential committee made up of major Democratic Party donors.

*********** It's been 50 years,  and like anyone else who was old enough at the time, my memories of Friday, November 22, 1963 - and the weekend that followed - have never gone away. They are a permanent part of me.

What a dreadful, horrifying time.

In so many ways, it is as if it happened just yesterday (actually, it seems that once you get to a certain age, all events of the past seem to have occurred more recently than the facts insist).

In another way, though, it's as if the assassination of President John F. Kennedy  took place in another lifetime.

*********** I know, I know… it's very possible that a young woman was raped, and also the law-enforcement guys in Tallahassee tried to cover things up so it wouldn't hurt Florida State football, and that's the most important thing. 


I hope that I can still comment on the football aspect of what may or may not turn out to be a crime.

The purpose of the BCS was to bring together the two best teams in the country in an attempt to provide us with an argument-settling "true national champion."  Despite occasional complaints about alleged unfairness, no one can dispute that for the most part it's achieved its goal.

So….. supposing the circumstances surrounding Jameis Winston prevent him from playing for Florida State… is there anyone who can credibly claim that the Seminoles would stillbe still the Number Two team in the nation? Number Three?  Number Four? Number Five?

Would there be anyone outside the state of Florida who'd want to see a game between the number one team and a team playing without the star player whose performance was the major reason for their high ranking?

*********** A dad whose son plays for an "underachieving" high school team pondered the idea of proposing running the double wing to his son's coach.

I wrote,

I've learned through my years of teaching an offense to other coaches that it isn't something that can be sold to someone.

It has to be bought.

They have to buy it.  They have to come to me.  Then, provided there is complete buy-in by the staff, there is a chance they'll be successful.

I've seen all sorts of attempts by well-intentioned dads, boosters, and administrators come to naught -   because it wasn't bought.

I also think that you ought to be very careful for fear that your sincere interest might be seen as "pushy dad syndrome."

***********  Jason Whitlock, often a voice of reason, takes on the likes of Charles Barkley and Michael Wilbon, who seem to think it's an act of liberation to toss around the N-word.



It's impossible to pinpoint when the N-word became black America's most cherished possession. But that fact is now impossible to deny.

We have reached the point where it wouldn't surprise me to see Jay Z or another prominent black celebrity call for a Million N-word March on Washington to stop the tepid, informal debate regarding the appropriateness of black people using the slur. Black people's right to call each other the N-word is now akin to protecting our rights to vote and to sit anywhere on a bus.

The N-word is a not a generational issue. The N-word was never a fad. It was a primary tool in the enslavement, disenfranchisement and cultural destruction of a race of people.

The current generation of young people, the children and grandchildren of baby boomers, is not rebelling against anything. It is rebelling from neglect, a lack of attention and America's overdose on materialism. This generation doesn't reflect its parents' values because its parents were too busy chasing bigger homes and second cars to teach it any values, or its parents were simply absent for a multitude of reasons.

My point is that the young people, from Jay Z to the kids in the Dolphins locker room to Matt Barnes, who think the N-word is a term of endearment or a word now devoid of its negative impact because of its popularity, are misguided in a way no previous American generation has been misguided.

Can you misguide a generation that has never been guided?

The values and perspectives pervasive in youth culture are not rooted in family. They're rooted in neglect, dysfunction and irresponsibility. The new normal should be rejected. Hearing the N-word, bitch, ho and other pejoratives tossed around inside public gathering spots should be disconcerting. The N-word's ascension to black America's favorite word in the dictionary is alarming. How a person defines himself or herself determines how he or she will be treated by the world.

Advice to white guys from another white guy who's been one a lot longer than most of you: Don't use it. Period. It's still an ugly word, no matter who uses it.  And using it, whether you think it's spelled with an "a" or an "er" (a nuance I find deliciously ironic in a generation that never has previously acknowledged the importance of spelling), could cost you dearly.

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

Excerpt from an article in The Daily Tar Heel about a football player and his long hair:

"By and large, though, Schoettmer said he’s maintained the hair because he believes it makes him more noticeable. Unique.

“I think of it as a branding issue, a marketing issue for Jeff that kind of distinguishes him,” said Steve Schoettmer, Jeff’s father.

“The people kind of recognize him not only for his good play but for the kid that has the blonde hair sticking out of the helmet. In today’s branding world, Jeff has set himself apart.”

Just shaking my head at Dad's remarks.  "Branding issue."  Good grief.

Dave Potter
Cary High School
Cary, North Carolina

Branding, is it? Maybe there's no "I" in team.  But there sure is "ME."

Well, at least dad's honest about it and doesn't play the "cultural heritage" card.

My wife says that the NFL missed its chance when it failed to write a rule making it illegal to cover up the name on the back of the jersey.

"Cultural?" I didn't know whether to laugh or throw up when I read that an NFL player grabbed a runner's dreadlocks and came away with a handful of - hair extensions.

*********** One explanation for the multi-costume craze among colleges is the short attention spans of today's overstimulated youngsters…

From an article in Wednesday's New York Times...

“It used to be your uniform lasted for a generation or a decade, and now it’s once a week,” said Paul Lukas, the creator of the Uni Watch blog, who believes the uniform buffet represents a broader cultural shift. “This mirrors the notion of having to check your email and Twitter feed every few minutes because people need a fresh jolt of stimulation."


*********** A Missouri high school football player was charged with assault after ripping off another player’s helmet during a game and hitting him in the head with it.

Said the county prosecutor, “Football players consent to physical contact and the possibility of injury every time they walk onto the field. And even conduct that draws a penalty is almost never criminal. In this case, however, we allege what happened that night was not football.”

He said that the victim. has not yet been able to return to school and continues to deal concussion symptoms.

“The official told investigators he had been officiating football games for more than 20 years and had never seen anything like it.

I have yet to see one of our kids' helmets come off, and frankly, I think that an opponent would have a hell of a time pulling one off one of our kids' heads.

According to the probable cause statement, the kid told investigators that the victim's helmet “ended up in my hand and I just went back to throw it behind me and ended up hitting him.”



*********** The Pac-12 reprimanded Washington coach Steve Sarkisian, first for complaining about the officiating in the UCLA game, and then for revealing publicly that they'd apologized to him for it.

Hi Steve.  We know we suck.  But don't tell anybody.

Unbelievable how the league rakes in millions for the rights to its product, but then, because its officiating is so terrible, provides the public with an inferior product.

Oops. Can I say that?

*********** When Harvard plays at Yale this weekend it will be the 600th Yale football game to be played Yale Bowl. Now 99 years old, the Yale Bowl was for many years the nation's largest football stadium.

From Wikipedia: It was the first bowl-shaped stadium in the country, and provided inspiration for the design of such stadiums as the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Rose Bowl, and Michigan Stadium.

Through its inspiration of the design and naming of the Rose Bowl, its name is the origin of the name of college football's post-season games ("bowl games") and, by extension, of the NFL's "Super Bowl".


*********** His mother is white and his father is half-black, and as a result, a freshman football player in Massachusetts, that most liberal of all states, has been subject to harassment all season long.

Now, the high school has cancelled the rest of its football season after someone painted a racial slur on his family's house.

The graffiti is reprehensible enough, but to make matters even worse, it's quite likely were the work of members of the Lunenburg team.


*********** Life in LaLa LandNorth...

Seattle KIRO TV reports on the latest escapade of Seattle newest City Council member, an avowed  socialist named Ksahem Sawant...:

Seattle City Councilmember-elect Kshama Sawant told Boeing machinists her idea of a radical option, should their jobs be moved out of state
“The workers should take over the factories, and shut down Boeing’s profit-making machine,” Sawant announced to a cheering crowd of union supporters in Seattle’s Westlake Park Monday night.

This week, Sawant became Seattle’s first elected Socialist council member. She ran on a platform of anti-capitalism, workers’ rights, and a $15 per-hour minimum wage for Seattle workers[..]Sawant is calling for machinists to literally take-possession of the Everett airplane-building factory, if Boeing moves out. She calls that "democratic ownership."

“The only response we can have if Boeing executives do not agree to keep the plant here is for the machinists to say the machines are here, the workers are here, we will do the job, we don't need the executives. The executives don’t do the work, the machinists do,” she said.

Sawant says after workers “take-over” the Everett Boeing plant; they could build things everyone can use.
“We can re-tool the machines to produce mass transit like buses, instead of destructive, you know, war machines,” she told KIRO 7.

Nothing a Seattle politician says should surprise anyone. Unfortunately, Seattle, that liberal paradise, is the tail that wags the Washington dog. 

The bigger problem here is that the machinists, like most Americans, are so economically ignorant that they actually believe this socialist claptrap.  Otherwise,  they wouldn't have voted 2 to 1 to tell Boeing to shove it.

*********** Do you suppose Navy uses this video to recruit football players away from Army? 


*********** Not to say that USC would have hired Ed Ogeron in the first place, but any chance he had of being hired probably went out the window when Lane Kiffin went on an LA radio talk show and endorsed him:

*********** His kicker had missed three field goals in the first half.

"What're you gonna tell your kicker, coach?" Rod Carey, Northern Illinois coach was asked.

His answer? "Nothing. He's a kicker. He'll figure it out."

*********** The MAC is great to watch.  It's really fun to watch them on weeknights. Sure hope they're making it financially.

*********** "Hey Coach, to counterbalance (the Virginia State story)…" wrote Will Hawthorne, of Lexington, South Carolina…

and he sent me a link to a photo of two North Carolina State players who sat down to lunch with a sudden who'd been sitting alone...


*********** Any railroader knows that to go from Philadelphia to New York, you  head northeast.  Actually, you don't even need a compass.  Just stay on the right track.

But a New York-bound Amtrak train left Philadelphia Tuesday and somehow got, literally, on the wrong track -  and headed west, toward Pittsburgh.

Not to worry. About ten miles down the line, somebody (maybe the engineer?) realized something was wrong, and the train came to a stop.

The 130 passengers were bussed back to Philadelphia, where Amtrak could take another shot at finding the nation's lagest city.

From the same folks who gave you the Affordable Health Care Act.


american flag
TUESDAY,  NOVEMBER 19, 2013 “If you love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.” Samuel Adams

*********** Four quarters of football Saturday ended 9-9 on a last-second field goal.  Not a touchdown scored in regulation.

That was Michigan-Northwestern. But despite the lack of touchdowns, it wasn't a snoozefest.

(Michigan finally won in Triple Overtime.)

The Wolverines' incredible comeback from the dead - converting two fourth-and-fours on a last-minute drive before making a 44-yard field goal with 0:00 on the clock - was heroic, but the snakebit Wildcats may have to be put on suicide watch when they look at the video and see how many near-interceptions they dropped.

By the way, whatever Michigan people may think about Brady Hoke as their coach, no poorly-coached team could have managed to get a field goal team onto the field and get that kick off in the little time they had.

*********** Monday Night Football was the NFL at its worst.  On the last play of the game, a Carolina player cheated - wrapped his arms around a New England receiver in the end zone - and got away with it.  And so we were treated to yet another game decided by officials, rather than by players.

See,  we were told, it wasn't pass interference, because the ball was intercepted…

True. But as any fool could see, it was intercepted because the receiver couldn't get to the ball…


Well, actually one official (the one closest to the play) thought it was pass interference, and threw a flag. 

But what did he know?  After a short - very short - conference, the referee picked up the flag.  Said there was no penalty. And that was that.

And off the officials trotted.  Hard to believe, but an NFL referee, the kind who's normally able to turn the explanation for a five-yard penalty into a state of the union address, had nothing further to say.

Nothing to see here, folks.  Move right along.

See you next Sunday.

*********** Remember those comical Maryland-flag helmets that the Terps wore a couple of years ago? 

Hey - good joke, right? We all laughed and went on with our lives. Hey, the founder of UnderArmour, the outfit responsible for the wacky getups,  is a former Maryland football player, and if he and the Terp athletic department wanted to have a little fun with the uniforms, that's their business. I suppose. (As a former Marylander, I love that flag, and I thought it was a desecration, but the main thing about college uniforms is pleasing teenage males, right?)

But messing with the American flag - that's  something else.

UnderArmour went way too far Saturday,  "honoring the military" as the current cliche goes, by creating helmets using an American flag design - helmets worn, I might add,  by football players representing Northwestern, a school no more noted for its patriotism or support of the military venture than your typical Ivy League school.

Look - I see flags flying day and night, even in the rain, and I see flags being allowed to touch the ground, so I know that no one pays any attention to flag etiquette anymore.  But proper respect for the flag was taught to me as a kid, in school and in scouting, and it sticks with me. And it wouldn't be such a bad idea to observe just one part of it:

The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, fireman, policeman and members of patriotic organizations.

Yes, yes, I know. Northwestern was "honoring the troops." Blah, blah, blah.  Yes, yes, proceeds from sales of the faux-patriotic uniforms will go to some worthy charity benefiting veterans.  Blah, blah, blah.

(The jerseys, also products of UnderArmour's designers, displayed key values, instead of players' names, on the backs: FREEDOM… COURAGE… COUNTRY… SERVICE… COMMITMENT.  Words, fellas.  Mere words.)

Stop. Time to put a halt to this phoniness of dressing up college football players as if they were real soldiers. If they're so excited about wearing military-style duds, I'd be happy to direct them to the nearest recruiter. Military, that is.

The Washington Post interviewed a few vets about this phenomenon.

“I’m as patriotic as anyone, but to me all this excessive flag waving, ‘Thank you for your service,’ and stuff like that is just over the top,” said Norm Linden, a Vietnam veteran and 1969 graduate of Norwich University, the oldest private military college in the country. “Does every sporting event these days have to become a mini-Nuremburg rally? Honor the vets by giving them a discounted ticket or a free replica game jersey or something like that, but please stop dressing like clowns out there.”

Retired Army veteran Jose Lachapel figures all this flag waving is about the bottom line, not the front line.

“Both private and public entities have jumped on the support-our-troops bandwagon. Colleges and sports teams that go overboard with the salute to the troops are doing it for economic reasons — sponsors, TV, etc.,” said Lachapel, who retired from the Army Corps of Engineers after 23 years, including a one-year tour in the Middle East, and now serves as a project manager for the Social Security Administration. “Donate tickets to lower enlisted, donate to armed services charities like USO and official services charities, but the rest are started and are still in it for the money and continue to ride the tidal wave of military patriotism nationwide.”

Uniforms represent something special to those who serve, which is why Mark Cunningham isn’t too fond of the military surge on the gridiron.

“As a former Marine, I think all this over-the-top stuff is superficial and, in many regards, an insult to the troops,” said the 48-year-old Cunningham, a former combat engineer who served in Operation Desert Storm. “Wearing camouflage football uniforms and sticking flags everywhere does not mean that you understand what any Marine, sailor, airman or soldier has experienced in war or in garrison during peacetime.

“In fact, I would even argue that it takes away from the intended purpose because you did not earn the right to wear the uniform. Uniforms have a deeper meaning to those who served than just an article of clothing.”

*********** Myles Jack is a Washington kid who got away.  He's from Bellevue - the noted Wing-T program -  and he left the Northwest to go to UCLA.

The story goes that Washington - and just about everybody else - wanted him as a running back.   But the kid didn't want to run the ball. He wanted to play defense.  And UCLA told him he could play linebacker.

Now a true freshman, he's doing just that. He's a heck of a linebacker. The TV guys  were raving about him when the Bruins played Oregon earlier this year. 

But the  last two games,  he's also been exciting UCLA fans - and terrifying opponents - with his running. Last week against Arizona, he rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown, and Saturday night, against Washington, he ran people over, plowed them out of the way, and pushed piles of them into the end zone as he e scored four touchdowns - and, yes,   played just about every down on defense.

He was asked after the game whether he now preferred offense.  He'd just scored those four touchdowns against Washington, but his answer? "Defense. Always."

Kid's a stud.   Myles Jack for Heisman. 



*********** Gary Namie, of something called the Workplace Bullying Institute, http://www.workplacebullying.org/ says that the worst thing an employer (or a coach) can do is to ignore the issue of bullying, as if it couldn't happen there:   

"The number one leadership style that enables bullying is laissez-faire. What will emerge is a tribal set of rules where those who are most vicious will prevail."

November 14th, 2013

10 Steps to Ensure an Abuse-Free NFL Workplace

1.  The change must be at the NFL level and not remain buried within the Dolphins organization alone.

2.  Be careful to not move from zero awareness to zero tolerance. The most extreme swing will make compliance officers of all coaches and compel snitching among players. Resentment would ensue. Allow time to learn new ways to interact. Tolerate up to two offenses prior to termination.

3.  Create a policy to draw “the line in the sand.” Unacceptable conduct must be specified. Behavioral standards must exist for comparison’s sake.

4.  Demand that the policy pertain to all employees — owners to rookie players and all coaches in between. Apply the standards consistently. Do not resolve on a “case-by-case” basis that allows for exemptions for favorites.

5.  Before formal complaints can be filed, require that bullied players first consult with a member of an Expert Peers Team trained in the nuances of workplace bullying so that the ambiguous experiences can be clarified, strategies provided and information about the policy and procedures explained safely and confidentially.

6.  Write the policy or code to address only the most severe, health-harming forms of abusive conduct that has absolutely nothing to do with performance (playing the game successfully).

7.  Allow non-humiliating rituals to continue (such as rookies gathering helmets at the end of games … see coach Pete Carroll). Render extinct hazing, intimidation, financial extortion, and other non-physical forms of abuse.

8.  Devise safe, non-retaliatory, non-stigmatizing procedures that enable complaint filing and 3rd party investigations.

9.  Provide healing, restorative justice solutions for affected targets, bullies and witnessing coworkers.

10.  Identify veteran & retired players known for toughness (e.g., Ray Lewis) who can be league ambassadors on the topic.

Roger Goodell, call me at 360-656-6630.

Gary Namie, PhD

*********** "I'm somebody who, if I fumbled the ball, I'm going to wait until I get the next play, and then I'm going to try to run as hard as I can and do right by the team." 

That was Our First Signal Caller, trying to explain away the Obamacare train wreck.   Amazing how handy football can be to people who have no use for it other than the handy metaphors it provides them.

*********** Real good segment responding to the coach about numbers and standards when building a team. And resisting the calls to get the kids out that are "walking the halls."

I think a lot of coaches need to hear that and feel they have permission to run the program that deep inside they really want to run. Those kids walking the halls really dont want to be coached anyway.

John Bothe
Oregon, Illinois

Thanks, Coach-

I think it takes guys who've made it though the wars to explain why you won't make it unless you put values first.

*********** From a coach whom I really respect:

I could really relate to that guy at the "Big small school" in the news Friday.  Our situation is the same.  You can tell him we have built our program on character first and winning second.  I would never do it differently.  Parents appreciate that and so does the admin.  Kids want to play for coaches who are fair and whose teams don't have a ton of jerks.  You may not win a ton, but you will be able to enjoy the kids.  We are 14-18 in year 4.  I don't like to lose, but I can live with the job I have done.  The kids I coach will be better men and thats my first job.

*********** Neshaminy High, outside Philadelphia, plays in the tough Suburban One conference.  Neshaminy is good - they're 11-1 this year, and on Friday night they face my wife's alma mater, Abington, in the District One AAAA (largest class) semi-finals.

Neshaminy (neh-SHAM-in-nee) is an Indian name (probably Delaware), and Neshaminy  high school teams have been the Redskins as long as the school has existed.  The nickname and the Indian-head logo are a matter of great pride to Neshaminy people, but no matter.  The 16-year-old editor of the school newspaper, perhaps with good intentions but perhaps seizing  on the opportunity to make national headlines, has turned the concept of censorship on its head, refusing to use the term "Redskins" in the paper despite the principal's order to do so.  (That bugle you hear in the background, playing "Charge?" That's the ACLU, riding to the kid's rescue.)


Check out the team's site - highlights of every game. And no shortages of references to the nickname.


*********** It bothers me having Ed Orgeron coaching USC, because there's something about the guy I have to  like (even though an Ole Miss fan of my acquaintance once told me, in a classic bit of southern understatement, "he verges on the uncouth"), and I really admire what's happened at USC since he took over.  It's a great story.

It bothers me because USC is a place that as a Northwesterner you simply love to hate. 

No worries - to satisfy their starstruck alumni, they'll  go for the spectacular hire and replace Ed Orgeron with somebody better known, and then they can go back on my sh-- list  again.

*********** Civility took a big step backward last Friday when the CIAA  cancelled its championship game after a group of Virginia State players "viciously" attacked the Winston-Salem State quarterback in the bathroom of a Charlotte restaurant during a luncheon honoring both teams.


*********** Storm warnings caused a delay in Sunday's Bears'-Ravens' game and the evacuation of Soldier Field.

Get this: the evacuation order was given at 12:31 Central Time, but what with clogged aisles and jammed concourses under the stands, the upper deck wasn't completely emptied  until 1:20.


*********** With four minutes left and the score 45-30, the stands looked the way they've always  looked - half-empty. Such was Duke football.

But this time, Duke was winning, and all those just-emptied seats belonged to disgusted Miami fans.

*********** Because the Cowboys' DeMarcus Ware didn't play football until his junior year in high school, he was overlooked by major colleges.  He wound up at Troy.

He reflected on how being a late-bloomer and  coming from a low-profile school has helped his personal growth:

Where there is slow growth there is also humility.  It was the best thing for me that I never got star treatment from the time I was young.  It helped me realize that, when you've had to work for something,  you feel like you deserve it more. You have to know what second feels like to appreciate first.

*********** Out on the Left Coast we don't many chances to watch the Eagles. Or the Redskins.  So I was pretty excited to learn that Fox would be carrying the Eagles-Redskins game Sunday.

But the Eagles had to go and build a 24-point lead, and damned if Fox, in the best "we know what's good for you" government tradition, told us that it was going to take us to "a closer game" - and switched us to the Steelers-Lions game...

aka the Ugliest Football Game Ever Played. 

The Lions were very disappointing.  They looked drab and played worse.

The Steelers?  Some marketing genius sent that struggling team out onto the field in the kind of idiotic bumble-bee costumes that it (supposedly) wore back in the dark days of the franchise, when they really, really sucked.

Even back in those days, though, when when the Steelers were the joke of the NFL, their fans still packed old Forbes Field.  But just after halftime Sunday, in much-nicer Heinz Field,  there were more empty seats than occupied seats.  Yes, it was raining, and the Steelers haven't been winning, but still…

At one point, down 27-20 to the Lions, the Steelers had first-and-goal on the Detroit one, and  wound up kicking a field goal, to a chorus of boos.

In the words of one of the TV guys, "Where are the days of Steeler power football?"

Very, very hard to watch, even if, like me,  just sitting in front of a TV, and hadn't forked over a king's ransom for tickets, parking, food, etc.

Meantime, we were informed that the Redskins had just pulled within a touchdown of the Eagles.

*********** The Beloit Trojans, down 28-14 less than halfway through the second quarter of their Kansas 3A playoff game against Sedgwick,  went on a 52-6 run to win decisively, 66-41.

With the win, the Trojans (12-0) advance to the state 3A semi-finals next Saturday against Scott City (11-1).

The Beloit stats were staggering - 486 yards rushing on 76 carries, and 211 yards passing.

A-Back Bowe Behymer carries 32 times for 228 yards and three TDs and caught two passes - both for touchdowns - good for 68 yards. Quarterback Payton Vetter, who completed 8 of 15 for 211 yards and three TDs, ran for 150 yards and two TDs on 20 carries.


1. Alabama (10-0) .9914 Did anybody else watch the way they struggled against Mississippi State?

2. Florida State (10-0) .9661 They're good, but they're sure getting a lot of mileage out of that one big win

3. Ohio State (10-0) .8869 How can a team that hasn't lost in two years be that far behind Florida State?

4. Baylor (9-0) .8856 A win over Oklahoma State next week should move them ahead of Ohio State AND FSU

5. Oregon (9-1) .7917 Not convinced they belong this high when their QB has a bad wheel

6. Auburn (10-1) .7860 Hmmm. Only a freak touchdown kept them from blowing the Georgia game. But they'll get their chance against  Bama in two weeks.

7. Clemson (9-1) .7681 I'd rank 'em above both Auburn and Oregon

8. Missouri (9-1) .7231 If they can beat both Ole Miss and Texas A & M, they should move up

9. Stanford (8-2) .6238 That loss to USC cost them all the love they gained from the big win over Oregon

10. Oklahoma State (9-1) .5890 There are still points on the table: Cowboys get Baylor next week, then OU

11. South Carolina (8-2) .5883 I can't see a team that's lost to Georgia and Tennessee being ranked this high

12. Texas A&M (8-2) .5394 With LSU and Missouri left, Aggies can move up

13. Michigan State (9-1) .4646 The Spartans' ranking suffers from prejudice against the Big Ten

14. UCLA (8-2) .4615 Maybe the best in the Pac 12 right now. Unless it's USC. Or Arizona State.  We'll see: Bruins play them both.

15. Fresno State (9-0) .4134 Good team, good record - but this is about where they belong

16. Northern Illinois (10-0) .3729 Great QB.  They should have to play Fresno State - or Central Florida -  for the BCS berth

17. Arizona State (8-2) .3414 Possibly the third-best Pac-12 team right now; they play UCLA Saturday

18. Central Florida (8-1) .3033 They're really good, even though they barely beat  Temple Saturday

19. Wisconsin (8-2) .2907 Should be ranked higher. Got screwed at Arizona State, lost by seven to Ohio State

20. Oklahoma (8-2) .2760 They're still OU, and they still have Oklahoma State left

21. Louisville (9-1) .2664  If they beat Cincinnati in 2 weeks it'll be their first quality win

22. LSU (7-3) .2645 This is about as high as any three-loss team has a right to be this season

23. Southern California (8-3) .1070 Put them in the Coliseum and dress the opposition in Stanford uniforms and they can beat anybody

24. Mississippi (7-3) .1048 Rebs would move up with a win over Missouri Saturday

25. Minnesota (8-2) .0604 Nice to see the Gophers ranked, but with games remaining against Wisconsin and Michigan State…

26. (MY SELECTION) - (8-2) Duke

*********** I'm not saying Ohio State is explosive, but the game was just under way and ESPN was giving us a full-face interview with Tom Lugenbiel - and barely managed to  switch cameras in time for us to catch the last 30 or so yards of Braxton Miller's 70+ yard touchdown run.

*********** I did a double-take when I heard the announcer on the Penn-Harvard telecast refer to Al Bagnoli, the Penn head coach and I thought I heard "Al Bagnoli, the pinhead coach."

*********** Yale scored to pull with a point of Princeton at 14-13, and then tried an onside kick.  But the kick was short and a Princeton player picked it up and ran 45 yards untouched for a touchdown.  Remember that.

*********** Utah's Jake Murphy caught a touchdown pass against Oregon. He's the son of baseball great Dale Murphy, one of the best players not yet a member of the Hall of Fame.

*********** Are you getting as sick as I am of quarterbacks taking advantage of the rules allowing what used to be intentionally throwing the ball away?

*********** I am conflicted right now between David Cutcliffe of Duke and Gus Malzahn of Auburn as my Coach of the Year.

It's a tough call, but I give the nod to Coach Cut,  who built the program from the ground up.

*********** You want a chuckle or two? Go to Coaches Cabana.


Sit at home next Saturday and watch, say,  Barry Switzer and a couple of the guys  as they watch the Oklahoma game. You don't see the game action - there are rights involved. The idea is to listen in - to watch the video on your TV and use Barry and the boys  as your audio. 

If you're a Texas fan, you can do the same with Freddie Akers. A & M? Jackie Sherill.  Tennessee? Johnny Majors. Florida? Galen Hall.  Clemson? Danny Ford.  Penn State? (You ready for this?)  Jay Paterno.

*********** I dearly miss my late friend, Frank "Pope Franjo" Lovinski, who passed away a little over a year ago. But Franjo, a native of Wheeling, West Virginia, would not have been pleased at the West Virginia Mountaineers' loss Saturday, one that enabled the Kansas Jayhawks to end their 27-game conference losing streak.

I'm not even sure how he felt about the Mountaineers' joining the Big 12.  I know that  as the Big East began to crumble it was a matter of finding the best port in a storm, and the "Eers" had few options available to them, but if there's a worse fit than West Virginia and the Big 12, I'd like to know what it is. 

I doubt that it was West Virginia's call to make, but the ACC, with such natural rivals as Pitt, Syracuse and Virginia Tech, would have made such good sense. 

And, too, purely from a  sports standpoint, West Virginia would have been far better for the Big Ten than Rutgers.  But then, there was that little matter of all those cable homes in North Jersey…

***********  Hi Coach,
We upset Syracuse CBA (Christian Brothers Academy) 24-18 this past Saturday to move on to the NYS Semi-Finals.  Our reward for beating #2 in NYS Class Syracuse CBA is to play #1 in NYS, Rochester Aquinas Institute.  As you are aware they are both perennial powerhouses and get the best of the best in their surrounding areas.  Our kids just keep plugging along and believing in the system.  They continue to prove that Technique and Attentiveness to detail beats size any day.  I see that Coach Irion at Queensbury won big again, Congrats to him.  I actually first saw the Double Wing the year before I implemented your system, when Coach Irion and his Queensbury program ran the Double Wing when they played Rochester Aquinas in the State Championship in the Carrier Dome back in 1997.  I filmed the game and then purchased your materials.  We ended up winning the Sectional Championship when we were at Corning West HS at the time the very first year.  We have been fortunate enough to win a couple of other league and sectional titles when at Corning West and a State Final Four run losing to eventual state champion Buffalo Sweet Home.  Along the way, I have had the privilege of working with some pretty good double wing guys, John Dowd, who was at Oakfield-Alabama (Several Sectional, Regional, Final Four, and State Championship Appearances) and now Spencerport in the Rochester area, was first starting out and was one of my assistant’s.  Jeff Matthews who was also a former assistant at Corning West has won a State Championship and numerous league and Sectional Titles at Sidney HS.  We have since merged HS’s in the Corning area and the majority of our staff at Corning West went Elsewhere. I have found a home, as the Assistant Coach and Offensive Coordinator in Elmira in the last 4 years as we have won 2 league titles (One at EFA and one as the newly merged Elmira) and a Sectional Championship, have been in 3 Sectional Championships in 4 years here…This is the first time in 12 years that an Elmira team has advanced to the State Playoffs.  We are really proud of our kids and the community has really embraced the team and rallied around them…Great to be a part of and help build Pride in the City that I originate from.  Again, Thank You for making the difference as an advisor, clinician, Coach, and Friend. 

Here are some highlights from our game against Syracuse CBA  http://www.weny.com/sports/sports-news/11-16-el

and the newspaper links from the various media.

Mike Johnston
Elmira HS
Elmira Express Football
Elmira, New York


That is wonderful news.  I really enjoyed the video clip.

You deserve a lot of credit - through thick and think you've stuck with it, and this to me is validation of everything you've done to get here.

I'm very proud of our association.

Best of luck against Aquinas.  Yes. I know the place well.  I've been there, to see the place where Don Holleder played as a high schooler.

It would be a great accomplishment to beat Aquinas and move on to the final!

Best of luck!

american flagFRIDAY,  NOVEMBER 15, 2013 "No coach has ever won a game by what he knows; it's what his players know that counts." Bear Bryant

*********** It defies belief, the things some teams will do on fourth-and-short.

Going toe-to-toe with unbeaten Northern Ilinois and the game on the line, the Ball State Cardinals went for it on fourth and one.

They lined up with a single back - no lead blocker - eight, maybe nine yards deep.  And, no surprise, handed him the ball.  On what was little more than a dive from deep in the backfield.

Good luck sustaining those blocks until he gets to the line. 

Loss of a yard.  Loss of game.

I like Ball State coach Pete Lembo at lot.  Heck of a coach.  But holy sh---


*********** Shame the Dolphins didn't know about Kellogg's Apple Jacks…

Remember the jingle? Remember the tag line?  "A Bowl a Day Keeps the Bullies Away"


Hmmm.  Maybe it didn't work, because at some point Kellogg's changed the line to "A bowl a day gives you energy to play." 

*********** ESPN's Dan LeBetard on World Cup Soccer qualifying… "You have to love a sport that plays best-of-two."

*********** A really nice article on my head coach, Todd Bridge, in the Aberdeen Daily World...…


***********  Greetings Coach Wyatt, I had a question for you. I was watching a team run the DW from Shotgun, I guess like Wildcat, and they were pulling the guard and T.E., not the G and T.  Can you explain why this would take place? They have had success doing it and I was just wondering if you have tried this and your thoughts when your QB is in shotgun/wildcat... why they were pull those two guys instead of the normal G/T pulling?  Thanks coach and good luck this week in the playoffs!  Sincerely, Kay  Hughes, Orange County, California


It's a basic part of the Delaware Wing-T system to pull the guard and the tight end on a counter. Nothing wrong with that, obviously.  One benefit is that it eliminates the potential problem of a defensive lineman chasing a pulling tackle. (It is very rare to see someone chasing a pulling tight end because it would be pretty unsound for a defensive end or linebacker to do so.)

There is just one drawback - it requires a tight end.

When I first started coaching in the Portland area, the influence of Mouse Davis, then coaching at Portland State, was tremendous, and it seemed like every high school was running his run-and-shoot offense.  I attended lots of run and shoot clinics, and I finally went to it myself because I liked the counter play so much.  But because the run and shoot did (does) not employ tight ends, the counter required a pulling tackle along with the guard.

That was 1982. That's the way I ran it then, and that's the way I've run it since.  Even when I ran the Wing-T,  my one departure from the the Delaware playbook was pulling my backside tackle instead of the tight end.  

It doesn't serve my purposes to pull a tight end because I don't always have a tight end, but I'll always have a counter -  whether my QB is under center or taking a direct snap.

*********** Wrote Jim Franklin, of Flora, Indiana -


You just knew this was coming:


In the article, entitled "A Modest Proposal: NFL Teams Should Stop Running the Football," the writer calls for the NFL to eliminate the run.

He will undoubtedly stir up the masses with this one.

But, based on the title, it's just satire…  I think…

In a famous and marvelous satirical piece  which he called "A Modest Proposal,"  the English/Irish writer Jonathan Swift proposed to relieve the severe poverty of the Irish by using them as breeding stock, buying their babies from them to be served as meat on the tables of the rich.

Some excerpts (remember, guys - this is satire. He's not serious) ...

I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.

I do therefore humbly offer it to public consideration that of the hundred and twenty thousand children already computed, twenty thousand may be reserved for breed, whereof only one-fourth part to be males; which is more than we allow to sheep, black cattle or swine; and my reason is, that these children are seldom the fruits of marriage, a circumstance not much regarded by our savages, therefore one male will be sufficient to serve four females. That the remaining hundred thousand may, at a year old, be offered in the sale to the persons of quality and fortune through the kingdom; always advising the mother to let them suck plentifully in the last month, so as to render them plump and fat for a good table. A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends; and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and seasoned with a little pepper or salt will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter.

I profess, in the sincerity of my heart, that I have not the least personal interest in endeavoring to promote this necessary work, having no other motive than the public good of my country, by advancing our trade, providing for infants, relieving the poor, and giving some pleasure to the rich. I have no children by which I can propose to get a single penny; the youngest being nine years old, and my wife past child-bearing.


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

Hope all is well with you.  Well I got the head coaching job that I applied for...be careful what you wish for.  Needless to say it was a struggle, kept somethings in place that they had done previously...mistake spread offense.

I know you have worked at smaller schools, so I know that experience will help me, We are a school that is 1000 students, but  our diversity and socio-economic levels make it much smaller in terms of athlete base.  We are also the smallest school in a very competitive conference. So I need to adjust my way of thinking.

Do you have any suggestions to help?

 I guess bottom line is I am disappointed in the job I did this past season.  Compromised on some things I believed in and of course I am the one who felt like crud, at the end of the season.

I do need some of your experience help, need to figure out small school mentality in a bigger school.  I have been rereading your double wing book and will review all the dynamics tapes I have, because I think your offense will fit and answer our depth problems, especially at QB, and lack of run game.  We have tough kids and the spread does not fit the toughness we can put on the field.

Any suggestions you can provide would be helpful.

Thanks again for all your help in the past and I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Coaching at a small school is tough as it is, but coaching at a "virtual" small school - a large school with few kids to draw from - while having to play other large schools can be especially difficult.

I've had a lot of experience coaching small schools, and one school such as you describe, and your situation is much tougher.

I would say that the number one issue in either case is numbers.  The need to have numbers - to scrimmage, to have competition for position, or just to have enough kids to field a team - creates a constant struggle of standards, between providing the kind of program you believe in, for the good kids, and the extent to which your standards keep marginal players away.

In the first case, you'll have a group of kids whom you can live and die with, but you'll lack numbers and probably talent.  In the second, you may have greater numbers and talent, but those marginal kids that you've opened the doors to can crate enormous problems for your program - on the field, in the school, and in the community.

I'll go the first route every time, because when all is said and done, you're in this game to have a good experience and to provide a good experience for your players. To do the former, you have to be true to your values.  Otherwise, at some point, your good kids will spot the hypocrisy of your talking about having high standards and at the same time looking the other away when one of your talented newcomers challenges our standards.  I think that you have to honor the good kids and what they represent.  I think it is a betrayal to ask them to sacrifice the quality of their football experience by accommodating people who do not share their values.  

You may win a few more games, but you will not enjoy the experience as much.

So we've made our decision. We are at peace with the understanding that this is America in the Twenty-first Century, and not every boy is going to be a football player.   We welcome every kid who wants to give it a try, and we provide ample opportunities to get on board, but we will not get every kid out for football who ought to be playing.  The societal forces we're up against are too numerous to deal with now.  We do the best we can, but at some point we have to coach the kids who are there.

The worst part of this is that even when you make this decision, and you make it work, there will still be pressure on you from community members and administrators to get those kids "who are walking the halls" out for football.  It never occurs to those people that maybe those kids prefer walking the halls rather than have to practice very day and take orders from coaches.   In the case of the administrators, they know full well the nature of the kids that they're pushing on you, and they know that those kids are lazy, selfish and rebellious - and yet they want you to open your arms to them.  

Our approach is, "Through hard work and adherence to our values, we have built a family that our kids are proud of. Everyone can benefit from being a part of our family, and everyone is invited to be a part of it. But here's the key -  they have between now and the start of football to show us - in the classroom, in the school and in the weight room - that they're the kind of person who can make the family better."  

Thanks for taking the time to write a detailed response.

 I understand completely the point you are making.  Your second example is what hurt us as we had some players whom I would have cut loose in the past because they did not do what we asked or make sacrifices for the good of the team, and of course they were cancers the entire year (of course they were talented).  We were always doing damage control to keep those players out and wasted the time getting the ones who did what we asked ready to play.  And at the end of the day I the coach was the only one who was bothered and felt I compromised my principles.

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

Congrats on a great season this year! I can see the influence you are having on those young men is paying off!
Portland Christian is now  11-0 this  season and we are blessed to be ranked #1 in Oregon 2A football. We have outscored opponents 438-67 with 6 shutouts (even though we put in younger players late in the games). We have rushed for 1977 yards and thrown for 2000 yards this year. Teams really struggle when we run pitch and wedge out of unbalanced. We are now 23-2 the last two years, with those two losses being the only games where we threw more times than we ran. Never can over emphasize the importance of running the football, even when you have an all-state QB and Receiver. Best part is they agree with it (as does their dad). That is rare. Taking on Knappa for the 2nd time this year, as we host them in the quarterfinals (at David Douglas High School on Friday). We beat them in a physical game 33-6 a month ago. Should be a challenge for us.
I was able to join John Lambert in the 100 win club a month ago (never thought I would get there after being at Fort Vancouver. What a great coach John is! Hope to hear what the future holds for you!
Take care.
Cal Szueber
Portland Christian  HS
Portland, Oregon

Hi Cal,


And congratulations to you, too!  I've followed your season and enjoyed seeing the scores.

Congratulations, also, on hitting the 100 mark.  No offense, but you never would have made it at Fort.  You are in a much better place.

Best of luck against Knappa. 

We run "Double Wing" but we ran only two plays all year from double tight, QB under center: both of them were "take-a-knee."

*********** Joe Tiller, who once coached at Wyoming and now lives there in retirement, was a guest in the booth at the Fresno State - Wyoming game last weekend, and he got to talking about his offense, considered pretty out there when he coached at Purdue.

He mentioned that he and Jack Elway had coached together at Washington State, and said that years later (this would have been the early 80s or so)  he sat down with Elway, who was then head coach at San Jose State, at Elway's favorite watering hole (that was the term Tiller used).

He said that he had great respect for Elway's knowledge of offense, and asked him what he thought the perfect offense would be.

He said that Elway's answer was "one that combines  the spread and the option."

*********** Suppose, three years ago,  you'd instructed your offensive coordinator to have  a certain offense up and running  by the 2013 season…

And suppose that in the time since then, you'd been traveling all over, telling everyone who'd listen how great the new offense was going to work…

With all that's at stake...

How often would you have been checking on his progress during that time?  Wouldn't you have had him reporting to you, say, weekly?  Daily?  Hourly?

Wouldn't you have paid frequent visits to the practice field?  Wouldn't you have expected to see video?  Wouldn't you have wanted to see how it performed in live scrimmages?

Is there any chance you'd have waited until the opening game to see for yourself how it worked?

And, if it didn't work as you'd promised, would you have sent the offensive coordinator out there all alone to face the reporters, while you sat up in the stands and told  the fans that you're as angry as they are about the way things turned out?

That, folks, is the difference between being a mere football coach, responsible for everything on you watch, and President of the United States.

*********** Whew.  $11 million for Louisville to join the ACC next season.  I'm surprised.

As crummy as the ACC is in football this year (ya think that doesn't have a little something to do with Florida State's high ranking?), maybe if they'd offered Louisville a little more they could have started play this weekend.

What's that? You say  Lousville is paying the ACC $11,000,000? 

Never mind.

*********** A Clemson player launched into a Georgia Tech runner and was called for targeting.  Good call. 

But while awaiting the verdict - which resulted in his ejection - down on the Clemson sideline the kid,  shockingly,  strutted and joked and celebrated his "big hit." 

Interestingly, I doubt that the kid's antics would have been tolerated if he'd just been called for pass interference, but somehow this penalty was a cause for self-congratulation. Break out the cigars.

Yes, the rule may be poorly written, but its intent is good, and it shows horrible judgment to appear to take pride in  essentially a cowardly  attempt to injure a defenseless opponent. It feeds  all the negative stereotypes of football as a thug game.

Had the illegal hit resulted in serious injury to the Georgia Tech player - as well it could have -  the fact that a Clemson player thought it cause for merriment would have brought  great shame and embarrasment to a Clemson program that doesn't deserve that.    

*********** Old friend John Torres, after spending several years "living" in Southern California while working in Washington, DC (and I think it's unusual for me to live 175 miles from where I coach) is back living and working in the 'Southland," and he sent me a great article in the LA Times about a coach in the LA area who realizes a coach's job nowadays entails a lot more than just teaching football...


*********** I heard Detroit sports writer Mitch Albom on his favorite athletes: "Hockey is the only sport where the athletes say 'hello' to the sportswriters first."

*********** We are going to hell in a hand basket, fellows...

Two days after Veterans' Day, the unpatriotic, unappreciative pukes who run the school district in Sioux Falls, South Dakota - South Dakota, for God's sake! - voted to do away with reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in their high schools because there simply wasn't time for it in their oh, so busy day.

*********** In refusing to let a kid make up a test, a rookie teacher at our school wrote, "The tests are what are really bringing him down but since I have not offered that to the rest of the class I am not really willing to open up that option." 

There is something about the teacher's attitude that concerns me as a former teacher.  (Once a teacher, always a teacher.) He is not teaching at Harvard or Yale or MIT.  He is teaching high school kids, many of whom have minimal learning abilities or study skills.  It's our job to take them from where they are now to where they need to be, not to dump them off along the way.

What exactly is wrong with offering a re-test option to other kids? To all kids?  Is it essential that they know the work at one particular moment in time, or that they know the work?  Do we want kids to graduate or to flunk out?

I believe that I was a very good teacher. My evaluations confirmed it.  My academic credentials are solid. I never lowered my standards.   But I saw my job as doing my level best to make sure that kids - at the very least - did the work and passed my class.  That meant that a failed test was not the end of it for the student - or for me. Students could take the test over and over to improve a grade. If they were willing to put in the time and effort, I was willing to meet them halfway.   My only stipulation was that you couldn't earn an "A" through a re-test.   An "A" was golden.

The SAT allows students multiple retakes, and allows them to use their highest score.  What does he know that they don't know?

*********** Funny how atheists deride religion, and claim that atheism itself is not a religion, yet now, many of them are now forming what are being called Atheist "Megachurches."


Next thing you know they'll be offering absolution from sin.  For a price.

*********** Look - Our last opponent, Toutle Lake,  beat us.  Their kids and coaches deserve credit for being well-prepared.

But it's well-documented that even at the highest levels of football officiating incompetence exists, and the farther you go down the food chain, the worse it gets.  
(Also, unfortunately, the less likely it is that there will ever be any consequences for the incompetence.)


It's pretty hard to imagine a scenario in which a 5-6 linebacker could be guilty of helmet-to-helmet contact with anybody, without using a stepladder or stilts, but it happened to us.  Although it defies logic, the call went against us.  As you might expect, video clearly shows that the helmet-to-helmet contact occurred only because the runner lowered his head in an attempt to bowl over our man.

A fourth-and-one play just before half left us less than a yard short of the goal line, although the ball was never spotted because not one official was within 10 yards of the spot (and none of them was in a hurry to get there), and our runner, thinking he'd scored, simply stood up, holding  the ball, and casually tossed it to the referee.  The official on our side of the field ran out and at first threw his hands in the air to signal "touchdown," then quickly pulled them down, possibly intimidated when he saw that no one else had.  Well, I guess not. None of them could even see what had happened. None of them was within 10 yards - 10 f--king yards! - of the ball.  The Confederation of Dunces (to borrow from the title of one of my all-time favorite books) then conferred, and after considerable debate decided that it was not a touchdown. I'd love to hear "our" official explain why, if it wasn't a touchdown, he signalled it in the first place?

That same official brought back another score, a long, fourth-quarter run by our quarterback, for his allegedly stepping out of bounds - on our sideline, in full view of two coaches.  Video of the play shows the runner's every step, and does not confirm the call.

We were denied a fumble recovery despite the fact that as the umpire casually looked down at the pile, as if hoping somehow to find the ball without getting his hands dirty,  unbeknownst to him it was already in the possession of  our middle linebacker,  standing behind him with the ball in his hand and  handing it to the back judge.  After one of their many conferences, the officials gave the ball to our opponents.

Two plays later, we were denied another  fumble recovery because, we were told,  the ball had  been blown dead. Yet the pile was still moving, no one heard a whistle, and video replay shows the ball popping out of the scrum and into the air as one of our players - the 5-6 linebacker, as a matter of fact - grabs it and runs toward our bench, displaying it for all to see - before the umpire has even put his whistle to his mouth.  This all happens right in front of the referee, who seems not even to notice what's happened.

To be fair, this was not typical.  By and large, our games have been well officiated. But sadly, bad officiating is a part of the game that's out of our control, and it can pop up when you least expect it, and leave a bitter taste in your mouth.

american flagTUESDAY,  NOVEMBER 12, 2013 “It is when a people forget God, that tyrants forge their chains.”  Patrick Henry

*********** Duke gave up a long fourth quarter TD to fall behind NC State 20-17, then roared back with three TDs within  minutes of each other to win, 38-20.

Although Duke head coach David Cutcliffe is so highly thought of as an offensive coach that he remains Payton Manning's personal passing coach, for the second week in a row the Blue Devils won without an overpowering passing game.

Two of the Devils' fourth-period scores were nearly back-to-back interception returns by Devon Edwards, who earlier had returned a kickoff for a touchdown.

The win assured the Blue Devils of their first winning season since 1994.

Duke, the perennial weak sister in the Tarheel State (football, that is),  now has as many wins as UNC and NC State combined

*********** The North Beach Hyaks came alive too late Friday night, falling to the Toutle Lake Ducks,  20-14.

We're done.   

Overall, we ran nearly twice as many plays as the Ducks - 71 to 36 - and outgained them by almost 200 yards - 432 to 233 - but they had it when it counted.  We fell asleep on three plays - TD runs  of 40, 39 and 39 - and that was enough.  118 yards on three plays - more than half their total yardage.

Although we played decent defense overall - and exceptional defense in the second half -  those three long runs  proved fatal.

That, and the fact that on four different occasions we got inside their ten-yard line and failed to score!

Behind 14-6 at the half, we held Toutle Lake to 66 second-half yards in 14 plays, while we ran 38 plays and  outgained them by 178 yards. Unfortunately,  one of their second half plays was a fourth period off-tackle play out of an unbalanced-I that bounced outside  for a 39 yard touchdown that turned out to be the winning margin.

Down 20-14 with 2:40 to play,  senior QB Carson Ketter led the Hyaks on an 88-yard drive that started on our one and fell short on the Toutle Lake 11 with an interception in the end zone with 33 seconds to play.

Coming up with his biggest game in the final game of his high school career,  Ketter had 316 yards in total offense - running for 191 yards and throwing for 125 more.

In the fourth quarter alone, he accounted for 127 yards - 93 rushing and 34 passing - as we fought back from a 20-6 deficit.

Because we had no backup for Carson, and because he was so valuable to our offense, for most of the season we didn't dare risk it all by letting him run, but in the last  four weeks we began to take off his shackles.  Four weeks ago, against a weak opponent, he carried just twice - for 91 yards and 2 TDs.  The next week, against the number one team in the state, he carried four times for 88 yards. He showed his speed on a 77-yard touchdown gallop,  the first offensive score against them all season. In that game, we lost two of our best running backs, and we decided it was pointless not to make full use of all of his talents, so fin his last two games, we cut him loose: in the next-to-last contest, he carried 15 times for 128 yards and three TDs, and on Friday night, he carried 25 times for 191 yards. All told, over the last four games of the season, he carried 46 times for 498 yards and six TDs.

If you didn't make it to one of last year's clinics: we were NOT in double-tight.  If we were, we wouldn't have been able to make full use of Carson's talents. And we almost certainly wouldn't have been able to drive 88 yards in two minutes.

*********** We're barely a week into November, and already f--king basketball games are crowding onto the TV schedules. Who wants to be watching a football game and see scores of colleges you never even heard of crawling across the bottom of the TV screen, only to find out that they're f-king basketball scores?

Tommy Walls*********** Number seven from Notre Dame is not ejected if he wraps up.

Tom Walls
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Couldn't agree with you more!

The rule would be fairly simple to write and enforce: any hit above the waist must involve a clear  attempt to wrap the arms around the runner.

If the officials' eysight is so good that they can spot "helmet-to-helmet" hits when they happen, as they do quite frequently, then surely they can determine whether a defender used his arms to make a tackle.

That's Coach Walls' son's trading card. Tommy Walls, a 4-10, 75-pounder who'll be ten years old on December 7, played quarterback and defensive back.  His favorite (sorry - in Canada that would be "favourite")  pro team is the Philadelphia Eagles.

*********** A reminder to all coaches: you simply can't be calling your players "quitting ass b-tches" and "fa--ot ass motherf---ers."

Certainly not if you're 1-8.


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

We finished the regular season at 7-4. We start play-offs this Friday versus #2 ranked team in the state Brandon. We lost our 4 games by a total of 13 points.
Hope everything is going well.  See you in Atlanta!       ROOOOOLLLLLLLLL TIDE!! ROLL!

Steve Jones
Harrison Central HS
Gulfport, Mississippi

*********** The interesting thing to me about Alabama is that I find them most enjoyable to watch when they're playing a good team.

*********** My contribution to LSU football is a few words that evidently haven't been said enough out on their practice field: TWO HANDS ON THE F--KING BALL!

*********** What more appropriate way to honor our veterans than NFL cheerleaders wearing camouflage bikinis?

*********** A legally blind football fan loves college football so much that he's on a quest to attend a game in every one of the  127 FBS stadia. He's now at 125.


*********** Brian Billick on coaching stress…


*********** My daughter Vicky sent me a link to a very nice story, and wrote,  "Maybe you saw this - I was really impressed and touched by these middle school boys!"

It's a story about a middle school football team in Michigan that arranged to let a teammate with special needs score a touchdown in a game.

The headline read, This Middle School Football Team Went Behind Their Coaches’ Backs To Do Something Incredible

And the story went on...

"The Olivet Eagles football team at Olivet Middle School in Olivet, Michigan, decided to run a play and intentionally not score, all without their coaches knowing."


I told Vicky that  I agreed with her that this was a very touching and impressive gesture by those boys, especially at a time when we're hearing a lot about the vile business going on in Miami.

It was very thoughtful of them to think of their teammate like that.

HOWEVER - in the litigious climate we live in, I can't approve of the notion (if true) that it was done "behind the coaches' back." At the very least, there's a question of liability should that boy be placed in harm's way unbeknownst to his coaches.  

But mainly, adult supervision of a school activity such as football is required AT ALL TIMES.   Otherwise, even the most upright of kids can get pulled into bullying and hazing.  The fact that in this case the result was a wonderful thing for that young man obscures the fact that some very ugly activities are planned and carried out in the same fashion, always "behind the coaches' back."

I'm all for the kids' planning something like that.  Great idea. 

But the emphasis is on the word "planning."  Because in our world, workers don't simply plan and carry out a project "behind their bosses' back."   

One of the things we're trying to teach kids - part of their learning good work habits and job skills - is that there is a always a chain of command that has to be acknowdedged respected.  

Besides,  had they proposed their plan to the coaches if in fact they didn't)  I feel pretty certain it would have been approved.  
Anyhow, great story.

*********** Richie Incognito, in a $4 million performance, says it was all a mistake. "I'm a good guy,"  he says in an interview. "I'm not a racist." 

Oh, and it seems there's a misunderstanding, one and it's least partly Jonathan Martin's fault: "I never meant it that way." (Really clever, Richie. The old "I'm sorry you took it that way" pseudo-apology.)

And, the best of all -  "My actions were coming from a place of love."

Right. A… place… of… love. Beautiful.

Watch and try to contain yourself  as Incognito, wearing a blue dress shirt much as  an accused gang leader would wear a dark business suit to the courtroom, says in the interview that if Jonathan Martin there were right then, he'd probably give him a hug.


*********** Perhaps Mike Ditka should recuse himself from commenting on the Richie Incognito case. His New Orleans Saints carried out one of the ugliest of all hazing incidents.

Ditka's Saints were 6-10, 6-10, 3-13 - He had a good staff.  One of his assistants was Willie Shaw,  father of Stanford coach David Shaw.  His assistant strength coach was a guy named Jack Del Rio.  Tom Clements was his quarterbacks' coach, and Tom Moore was the running backs' coach. John Pagano, brother of the Colts' Chuck,  was a defensive assistant.

But he didn't have very good players, and their character was questionable, too -  they made rookies run a "gantlet" so barbaric  that it cost rookie tight end  Cam Cleeland the sight in one eye.


Another player sued the Saints and the NFL as a result of the same incident

*********** The Beloit Trojans are now 11-0 after defeating Holcomb, 57-30, to advance to the state 3A quarterfinals for the fourth straight year.

After Beloit jumped out to a 16-0 first quarter lead, Holcomb pulled to within two points at 16-14, then made the mistake of kicking off to Beloit's leading rusher, Bowe Behymer.  Behymer, whom opposing kickers had been avoiding since he returned two kickoffs for touchdowns earlier in the season, returned this one 92 yards for a score, and the rout was on. By halftime, it was 41-14.

(Thanks to Hudl, I saw the return, and the most impressive thing to me was how well the Beloit kids blocked it, considering that they so seldom get the chance to do so.  When their chance came, they were prepared.) 

Beloit's opponents next Saturday will be the Sedgwick Cardinals.

The two teams are very close statistically: Sedgwick (10-1) has scored 534 points and allowed 196, while Beloit had scored 591 points and yielded 171.

They've had one mutual opponent, and that opponent happens to be the one team to have beaten the Cardinals. Back in September, Sacred Heart of Salina defeated Sedgwick, 62-48. Just a week later, Beloit gave  Sacred Heart its only regular-season loss, 56-44.

*********** Leading 9-7 with 1:11 to play, The Carolina Panthers needed a yard on third and one to ice the game.  But they couldn't even snap the ball to the quarterback, and they lost yardage. Almost lost the ball.  Had to punt the ball away. 

Not to worry.  Two plays later, Collin Kaepernick, who may not yet be the Quarterback of the Future that so many of the experts assured us that he was, threw an interception.  Game over.

*********** Hi Coach,

We defeated Binghamton for the second time in two weeks 42-22 to win the Sectional Championship.  There are only 7 teams left in NYS Class AA.  We play Syracuse CBA in the State Quarterfinals next Saturday.  They are #2 in NYS and 10-0, we are now 9-0 and #20 prior to rankings coming out Tuesday of this week.  . Thanks Again for all of your help.

Mike Johnston
Elmira Express Football
Elmira, New York


*********** Hello Coach,

I'm just getting around to emailing you after the sting of last week has finally worn off.

Last Thursday, we lost in the Championship game 28 to 8 after trailing at the end of the first quarter 21 to 0.  

The kids fought hard for the remaining three quarters and we outscored them 8 to 7 but that wasn't the final and a moral victory is like kissing your sister; I wants no part of that.


I'm sorry that your kids didn't win.

But I really urge you to reflect on what you and they accomplished, because if you really do believe that cliche about kissing your sister, then all of your efforts were for naught, and that means that you and your kids didn't accomplish anything.  And you know that that's just not so.

Only one team can win it all, and because there are things beyond our control that dictate what we're capable of achieving, that one team is not always going to be us.

So why coach?

You coach because what's really important is what your team accomplished when compared with what its potential was, and what kind of a positive impact the experience had on the kids.  Long after all the scores are forgotten, they'll remember that.

With all due respect, if you coach by the creed that anything less than "winning it all" is unsatisfactory, you will burn out, and that would be a shame for you and for the game.

Your friend,

Hugh Wyatt

*********** I almost gagged when I saw Vontaze Burfict, who never saw a cheap shot he could pass up, dive and hit a guy in the back clearly out of bounds, and then heard Dan Dierdorff, whom I respect, come to his defense.

"It's hard to get upset with Vontaze Burfict," he said. "When he leaves his feet to hit a guy who's still in the field of play, what's he supposed to do?"

Uh, Dan… "when he leaves his feet to hit a guy" -  he's launching.

And "a guy who's still in the field of play" -  but is barely in bounds and on his way out of bounds when you launch -  is pretty likely to be in foul territory when the missile hits him.

*********** A friend asked me if I'd be willing to help him try to convince his wife that he oughtn't to retire from coaching just yet.

I wrote,  I'd be glad to help  convince her, but I need to respect her position, too.  Remember that I don't know all the facts, and if she is to be convinced, she has to believe that it's best for all concerned.

I would start by saying that (1) It's very difficult for you to even think of giving up something that has meant so much to you, something that in many ways identifies you and does so much for your self-respect; (2) It's very important that young boys have quality men in their lives, especially - since so many of them live with single mothers - married men who can demonstrate to them how real men act and how real men treat women.

The trick, it seems to me, is to find a way to convince her that the sacrifice is worth it to her.

*********** It might not have come to the attention of the New York Times if the Fresno State Bulldogs hadn't been having the great season they're having,  but a huge article in the Times tells a disturbing story about how a large and particularly vicious Central California gang - the Bulldogs -  has appropriated the school's colors, nickname and logo. 


*********** I have to admit that I didn't call the result of the Stanford-Oregon game, but in retrospect that was what I was doing when I wrote this a week ago:

Oregon has blazing speed and all that, but I come away with the sense that Oregon is playing a real-life version of Madden, while Florida State is playing a man's game.

All I had to do was substitute "Stanford" for "Florida State."

*********** Queensbury, New York drove 81 yards in a little over three minutes to score its first offensive touchdown of the night  with 1:16 remaining,  winning its District championship with a 14-7 win over perennial power Burnt Hills.  Queensbury, now 10-0 and ranked Number 2 in the state Class A rankings, advances to the state quarterfinals.  Best wishes to Coach John Irion, a long-time double-winger.


***********  Coach,

The Elmwood/Brimfield Trojans fell to the Farmington Farmers in the second round of the IHSA Class 2A playoffs on Saturday.  It was the second time the Farmers beat us this season.  The first was 14-16.  This time it was 12-22.  Again it was close, but in the end they are just a bit better than us.  

And it comes down to what happened up front.  They have nine senior offensive (and defensive) starters, some of whom have started since they were freshmen and most since they were sophomores.  We were big up front, but they were REALLY  big up front.  Along with that, they have a 6'2, 215lb quarterback and an all-state 6'3, 245lb fullback.  The pile moved more often and further for them than it did for us unfortunately.

Our kids performed well this year.  Given the injuries we endured, I can't be too disappointed.  On the third carry of the year three-year started (and all-stater in my opinion) Joey DePalma went down with a non-contact ACT tear.  So we lost talent and experience at wing and safety.  The next game we lost two-year starter at right tackle Andrew Jordan to an ACL (that he somehow played on since the summer we think).  His replacement, a first-year senior played well the rest of the season until we lost him in week 9 (health issues).  So we started our third-string left tackle at right tackle the last three games because our second string left tackle is a great defensive end and he was nursing an MCL sprain and we could not take the chance of losing him on that side of the ball.  Our depth paid off and our kids played well but in the end we sort of ran out of bullets and options.

The sickness that is coaching is that we have already started working on depth charts for next year.  The good thing is, we return 9 of 11 on offense and 6 of 11 on defense.  And now it's time to get back to work and our kids can't wait!


Todd Hollis
Chemistry/Physical Science
Head Football Coach
Elmwood High School
Elmwood, Illinois


I'm sorry that victory eluded you.  A loss is never easy, but when your kids give it all they've got and they lose to a worthy opponent, you've been successful.

And as for the "sickness,"  I'd be more worried about you if you weren't already thinking about next season!

Congratulations on another great season.

american flagFRIDAY,  NOVEMBER 8, 2013 “Faith is different from proof; the latter is human, the former is a Gift from God.”  Blaise Pascal

*********** Which coach is going to be successful - the one who has to please his players?  Or the one whose players have to please him?

Bill Belichick - whatever you may think of his personality - is one of the great coaches in the history of the NFL.   Belichick's players have to please him.  Bill Belichick is opposed to hazing. 

Coaches who get it backward - who allow an anything-goes "locker room" - are a dime a dozen. They put in their two or three losing seasons, and then move on to spend the rest of their careers as NFL assistants.

It won't be long before the NFL is like the NBA,  an entire league that gets it backward: the NBA started this season with 12 (TWELVE) first-year coaches.   Lotsa luck fellas.  As anybody knows, the surefire formula for failure in the NBA is to displease your players.

*********** Yeah, yeah, I know.  The future of football is Baylor.  Oregon.  Clemson.  It's wide open, and it's racehorse.  It's 7-on-7 with linemen.

Except that anyone who watched what Stanford did to Oregon - some 45 minutes of offensive possession while their I-formation pounded the Ducks into submission - would have to say,

Not… just… yet.

Take away two fourth-quarter Oregon touchdowns directly attributable to a blocked Stanford field goal attempt, followed by a successful onside kick and Stanford gave the Ducks  an old-fashioned ass-kicking.

*********** The Beloit Trojans downed Southeast of Saline, 50-7 Tuesday night to advance in the Kansas Class 3A playoffs. RJ Jackson, in only his third game at B-Back after being moved from tight end, carried 11 times for 145 yards and two touchdowns.  According to Beloit coach Greg Koenig, the 6-4, 210 pound Jackson "is a CREATURE at B-Back."

On Saturday, the Trojans travel four hours to Southwest Kansas to play Holcomb, 7-3 and boasting a 4-game win streak.

*********** It's not a secret that not all people in our armed forces are brave warriors fighting to defend our freedoms.  In the highest ranks,  given the watering-down of our military by the current administration,  many of them are fighting to keep their jobs.  And the best way to keep  your job is to carry out the wishes of the people in power…


*********** Not everyone appreciates the job of equipment managers in a college program.  Here's a Flipcam look at Army equipment's recent trip to Air Force and back.


*********** An Oregon middle school coach is looking for a job.

Seems his bosses at his now-former school didn't think it was a good idea for him to hold his team's post-season banquet at - Hooter's.

He said he came up with the bright idea after asking the 12- and 13-year-olds where they wanted to hold it.  That's leadership for you.

Now that he's no longer the coach, he's planning on having the team banquet anyhow.  At Hooter's. 

Hooter's management has offered to pick up the tab.



*********** What's really enlightening to me about the whole Richie Incognito incident is the extent to which, on many teams, there exists a so-called "locker room" culture,  totally independent of coaching or management.  It seems almost tribal, and the power that it wields is certainly capable of working counter to the wishes of coaching or management.

It may explain why, along with such obvious factors  as a lack of talent, some franchises will never be successful without a total housecleaning.

Any time a new coach arrives (usually on a losing team),  the "locker room" knows that his chances of still being there in three years are slim.  There's a very real possibility that he has much greater incentive to win than they do. The size of NFL rosters being what they are,  the chance that they'll find jobs somewhere else in the league are far greater  than his chances of succeeding.

As one NFL veteran said, "The inmates are running the asylum."

It reminds me of my college summers working at union jobs where I was surprised to learn that the workers thought of themselves as working for the union, and not for the company.

*********** I keep hearing that Richie Incognito's teammates on the Dolphins speak well of him.  Great guy and all that.

Actually, that says as much about the teammates as it does about Richie.  The more they defend him, the more they incriminate themselves.

But then, you'd have expected members of the Chicago Mob to speak highly of Al Capone.  And good luck finding anybody in Soviet Russia who'd say a bad word about Stalin.

The scary thing about this all is that you wonder if there's any room in the snake pit that is the Dolphins'  "locker room" for any intelligent, cultured human being.
*********** Boy,  if anybody's willing to sign Richie Incognito, it'll sure tell you all that you a lot about that team.

*********** Take a look at various aspects of our culture and what's happened to "limits" in the last twenty years…

Fighting? You were considered less than a man if you fought with anything other than your hands,  and now - don't bring a knife to a gunfight.

Music? Lyrics are so crude that most "songs" now have two versions.

Movies?  There are no longer any limits to the crudeness, the violence, the explicit sex.

Video games? We've gone from Pong to blowing people's brains out.

Sexual conduct? 13-year-old suburban girls engage in acts that once could only be seen in illicit "stag" films.  And they they brag about it on Facebook.

Language?  The "F" word, once taboo,  is tossed around routinely in high school hallways.  By girls.

And that's why hazing, even the good-natured "initiation" process that we all willingly went through,  has to be eliminated.

***********  "Mass incarceration has turned segments of Black America so upside down that a tatted-up, N-word-tossing white goon is more respected and accepted than a soft-spoken, highly intelligent black Stanford graduate."

Those are not my words. Those are the words of Jason Whitlock, an excellent writer and a highly intelligent man.  He happens to be a black man, which means that he is qualified to say things on racial issues that I can only think.  He has a very interesting take on the ugliness of the Incognito mess.

Read the article and listen to Jason Whitlock's interview with Colin Cowherd.


*********** Stanford's David Shaw is a heck of a coach.  He's the perfect guy for Stanford. He's a Stanford graduate. He's intelligent, dignified and well-spoken. He's poised and at home in any setting. He's addressed a Silicon Valley TED Conference. Oh - and he's black. 

Let's see... Black.
Intelligent.  Dignified.  Well-spoken. Poised and at home in any setting. Able to address a  TED Conference.

Yup.  In the Miami Dolphins' world,  that makes him soft.

Do you really want to live in a world like that?

*********** Incognitogate has the NFL on Red Alert, and Troy Vincent, former NFL player and now NFL Senior Vice-President, Player Engagement, has sent out a letter debunking Top Five Myths About NFL PLayers (I'll save you the trouble of reading it: they're not ALL bums.):


*********** After coming across the field and making a catch, an Oklahoma recover lay motionless on the ground. 

A Baylor defender, making NO attempt to tackle the receiver,  instead had ducked his shoulder into the receiver's shoulder and laid the wood to him.

Baylor was called for targeting - but the Oklahoma receiver was NOT defenseless.  In fact, HE ducked HIS head prior to the collision.

Nevertheless, they've got to change the rules to REQUIRE players to actually  TACKLE -  to actually  use of arms to wrap, rather than tucking them against the body, which protects the tackler and makes him into a human missile. You'd be surprised at how passive some of these tough guy defensive backs will become when their safety is on the line, too.

*********** A Sedalia, Missouri youth football player is caught on camera kicking an opponent in the head as he lay on the ground.   At first, he was given a one-game suspension. But then, the media got involved and showed the league officials the video - and the kid was suspended for the rest of season. (My guess is that there  were at most two games left in the season.)


*********** I wonder if Sonny Dykes wonders why he made the move to Cal.

There is something about that team that I don't like.  It's not that they aren't very good, or that they appear to talk trash. There's just something about them that I can't… quite… put… my… finger… on.

Most recently, a locker room brawl Friday resulted in a Cal running back being sent to the hospital


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

I am in my second year at Northside High School. We achieved our second winning season in a row and made the AHSAA playoffs. The last time this happened here was 1994.  I am very grateful for this system. This is my 10th year running the DW and it just seems to be getting better and better. Had success at 2 other schools with it and brought it here and it has caught on quickly. Thanks again Hope to see you in Atlanta.
Chris Hilliker
Northside High School
Northport, Alabama

Coach Hilliker,

Congratulations on back-to-back winning seasons at Northport.  As with most offenses, if you stick with it and continue to learn about it and  get better at teaching it and running it, you will get to the point where you become an expert at it.  Over the years, I can remember old-timers who had been running the same  offense for years and years, resisting all the fads that came along,  until finally they were the only ones left running it. They knew their stuff inside and out, and worst of all for the rest of us, because they were unique, they were hell to prepare for.

*********** Hey Coach, I hope all is well.  I decided before the season to step down as coach after a very successful 12 year run  of  80-4.  I just needed to get my summer back and spent more time with the family.  The high school had been hinting through my assistant coaches that they wanted us to change to match what they are doing.  They run the Spread.  I have a former assistant on staff out there that admitted to me that they run it because they were board in the summer competing in 7 on 7. (they previously had a run oriented offense).  They have yet to have a winning season on varsity but their JV does at least have a winning record.

I have actually heard them tell their rising 9th graders.  "This ain't middle school you can't just show up and win"  As if we have so much talent it doesn't matter what we run, we will win.  I took the high road and didn't say a word.  So we hired a coach willing to run their system.  What happens, they finish the middle school season in 6th place with a 3-4 record.  In the coaches defense I guess he is getting them ready for high school.  He is at least getting the use to losing, I guess that is something.

I understand exactly what you're saying.

It's one of the reasons why I dedicated my off-season clinics to a description of what I planned to do to - and with - the Double Wing to make it easier for "double wing" coaches to get a job (there's a lot of prejudice against it), give them things they can work on during 7-on-7, give them ways to employ gifted QBs and receivers, and keep parents and community "experts" at bay -  while continuing to employ basic double wing strategy and tactics.

I think I've been able to do that this season.  We are doing things that only a double-wing guy would recognize as double-wing in disguise.

If you want to run, fine.  If you want to pass, fine.  But you won't have to listen to the fools in the stands accusing you of running a Pop Warner offense and failing to prepare kids for the next level.

You need to get back into it!

*********** My friend Tom "Doc" Hinger writes from Winter Haven (in Central Florida) with a correction:

"Florida is number FOUR in the state-after FSU, Miami, and Central Florida."

*********** New Texas AD Steve Patterson?  Good luck, Longhorns.  In my opinion, he is a front office slickster.  A suit.

After his tenure as President of the Portland Trail Blazers, count me as unimpressed. 

People who see the job that Todd Graham, his hire at Arizona State, has been doing with Dennis Erickson's recruits may have forgotten what a clusterf--k Patterson made of the whole hiring process, which included the embarrassment of offering the job to Kevin Sumlin - and being turned down.


*********** Ace Parker died Wednesday in Portsmouth, Virginia.  He was 101, and until his death had been the oldest living member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

He played his college football at Duke, and then had a long and distinguished pro career interrupted by service in World War II.

He also played baseball at Duke, where he was a teammate of my wife's uncle, Wayne Ambler.  He also played with Uncle Wayne with the Connie Mack's Philadelphia A's (like Uncle Wayne, Ace Parker probably had his tuition paid by Mr. Mack on the condition that he sign with the A's after graduation).

He tried playing both sports professionally, but after two years of weak hitting in the major leagues,  he switched over to pro football. 

He was a single wing tailback with the Brooklyn Dodgers under legendary coach Jock Sutherland.  That should be all that's necessary in describing his toughness. Sutherland  was one of the toughest coaches who ever lived, a take-no-prisoners guy whose long, full-contact practices would have driven today's NFL locker room malcontents out into the World of Work.  Anyone who played tailback in Sutherland's ground-pounding single wing had to be very tough.

Sutherland, who coached some great ones, called Ace Parker “the greatest competitor I have ever seen.”

His pro career was distinguished enough for him to be installed in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1972.  He was inducted into the College Football hall of Fame in 1955.

Funny - he played one of the most-contacted positions in football, a magnet for tacklers.  And he never wore a plastic helmet with air cells and a facemask.  And he lived to 101.  Hmmm. Could the real problem with CTE be the way the game is played nowadays?


*********** Coach,
Thanks again for your blog- I always enjoy reading it.
Some thoughts on the BCS, the upcoming ‘Play-off’ and the season.
A playoff is NOT the answer.  Please, NCAA, college presidents or whoever, don’t create a situation that makes the Division I (is it still going to be the ‘Bowl Subdivision’ next year when we have a 4 team ‘playoff?’) season one that is relegated to what we see in the NFL, NBA, NHL, Division IAA etc.  Is that better?

Regular season in those sports- Who cares?

A ‘playoff’ of any size is NOT the answer be it 4 teams, 8 teams, 16 – whatever.
A 4 team playoff by selection committee is not going to solve problems we see with complaints about the BCS.  In fact, the BCS has done a good job in trying to salvage the excitement of the regular season and the tradition of bowls while attempting to take ‘style points’, politics or soft scheduling out of the mix.  The use of several polls and a computer has taken as much bias out of the process as is humanly possible I believe.   How can a committee that includes Condoleezza Rice be more unbiased, competent and proficient than what the BCS has offered? (“I used to watch football with my dad?”  Come on!)
I think we will see more politicking, territorial bias and schmoozing than can ever be imagined.  And the 5th team that is left out will howl!
Currently the season matters.  As much as it could ever matter.  Just this morning, during my morning workout at the local gym I overheard two guys talking about tonight’s Oregon vs. Stanford game.  One said he was going to skip an event to watch the game and the other guy was going to try to get off work early.  Both of these guys are Auburn fans I believe and they know that the outcome of this game could affect Auburn’s eventual long shot  at playing for a national championship.  If there were a 16 team playoff would that conversation have taken place?  No way.
The SEASON is a playoff.  EVERY game matters, even when the big teams play weaker teams.  I don’t want another NFL.
Just my humble opinion.
The DW in Alabama still lives!
Emory Latta
Providence Christian School
Jr High OLine Coach
Dothan, Alabama


I'm in agreement with you.  I'm afraid that the money will lead the way to more teams, which won't necessarily give us a "True National Champion."

I have my issues with what I consider to be a certain prejudice in favor of the SEC, but you have to admit that the BCS carried out its mission - to bring together the two best teams identified in the best possible method to determine a national champion.

I have been bothered by  the commercialization and over-the-top hype of the Big Game and by the disruption of the Rose Bowl's tradition of matching the Pac 12 and Big Ten champion, and I suspect that minor bowls have suffered as a result of the BCS, but there may be other reasons.  Overall, the BCS has worked.

There have been some arguments that deserving teams were left out (Auburn one year, as I recall) but by and large, there hasn't been a lot of uproar about the worthiness of the eventual champion.

I agree that the entire season should not be sacrificed for the sake of an extended one-and-out playoff.  Let's say, for example, that in a 16-team playoff, a 2-loss Texas A & M team were to get got and make it into the finals against an unbeaten Florida A & M - and win.  That would put the playoff at least on a par with the regular season.

One more thing that hasn't been mentioned - I haven't seen anywhere a survey of players to see whether they would be willing to undergo the grind of practice and meetings for four or five more weeks - for what?  While the coaches pad their pockets with bonuses, the players get a gym bag, a free pair of shoes, and a $500 shopping spree at Best Buy.

Always great to hear from you.  Glad to see you're still coaching!

Please give my regards to Coach Keith.

You'd be surprised to see what we've done with the "old double wing!"

(Coach Latta  built Providence Christian football from the ground up, as  a middle school program. Two years ago, he became principal, and turned over the coaching assignment to his longtime assistant, Kenny Keith.)

*********** A 16-team playoff, eh?

Based on the latest BCS ratings, here's how it would look…

Upper Bracket
1. Alabama
16. Fresno State
vs winner of
8. Missouri
9. Auburn

4. Ohio State
13. LSU
vs winner of
5. Stanford
12. South Carolina

Lower Bracket
2. Florida State
15. Texas A & M
vs. winner of
7. Clemson
10. Oklahoma

3. Oregon
14. Oklahoma. State
vs. winner of
6. Baylor
11. Miami

This would eliminate most of the controversy over who gets selected!  Except for me. I would be screaming bloody murder over the way Michigan State got left out.

Ohio Safety*********** Buffalo-Ohio game - Buffalo led, 7-3.  The Ohio QB, chased way back from the LOS, threw the ball away.

He was so deep that the ball didn't reach the LOS.

The officials debated, and finally came up with their ruling - intentional grounding. And a safety!

The safety was because the Intentonal grounding occurred in the end zone.

Really?  Endless TV replays confirmed that when he threw the ball, the QB was on the four yard line. (See photo at left.)

Well. Thank goodness for instant replay.  It was designed to correct just such officating errors as this one, wasn't it?

Or was it?  

The official ruling, after review?  SAFETY.

The official explanation? "The spot of the foul can't be appealed."


One of the announcers informed us that  something in the rule book permits the replay official to correct an "egregious error." 

Sure enough, NCAA Football Rule 12 Section 3 Article 6 says, in part, "...the replay official may correct egregious errors, including those  involving the game clock, whether or not a play is reviewable…"

If that wasn't any egregious error, I've never seen one.

Edmonton Youth*********** We did it Coach!

We won the Capital District Minor Football (Edmonton, AB) Atom Tier 3 Championship today defeating the team we lost to earlier in the season by one point.  Today the boys executed extremely well and we won 51-0!  Thank you for the advice and support through the season.  The offence was unstoppable! I just can't get over how these little guys took in the system so well.  Here are our season total stats and a picture.  Hope your season is going equally as well!  

TOTAL YDS: 3468      YDS  PER GAME  385

Kyle Wagner
Edmonton, Alberta

*********** Coach,

Just reading your commentary on Don James while having coffee. Three thoughts came to my mind simultaneously (it helps being schizophrenic).

First, I told you earlier in the year of my son's pee-wee coach (the guy who fired me) and how in the beginning of the season I helped him teach how to diagram and call plays- formation, motion, hole, blocking, count. When we discussed blocking he told me that his friend, who had played in high school, will be teaching the "thumbs up" method of punching the chest of the opponent and grabbing their chest plate. I replied, "But that's holding." He stated, "How? No one is being wrapped up?" I explained the rule included "grasping" and that no one, except the ball carrier, may be grasped or encircled by an opponent. He replied "yeah, I guess technically, your correct, but that's how they do it at the next level." I was then worried about the rest of the season.

Second, last year at the end of the year meeting, I was told by an assistant coach that we need to teach how to hold like everyone else. I just stared him and shook my head.

Third, I think the prominence of the "Thumbs-up" method is encouraged by the popularity of the Zone-Read, or, as they like to call it up, here Search. As there are 30 teams in our league, and we are one of two teams that do not run this, I have had a lot of opportunities to watch this offense and reflect on ours. In the Zone, Oline men seem to chase an opponent and push him the way he wants to go. This technique will not disappear as long as this is a popular offence. For what we do, trying to create "tunnels," it is counter productive. Why would we want to create space between my o-lineman and a d-lineman? Also, do you really think a high school o-lineman is strong enough to bench press a d-lineman off his feet? I do not have Larry Allen playing for me. Finally, I do not think it teaches players to be aggressive enough. I was taught this technique in university and hated it then and hate it now. By putting my hands in front of me, I am lessening the speed in which I will get my "hard stuff" on his and it takes me out of my power position.  

If I was running the Zone-read and I had a group of big, strong o-linemen with fast feet (as holding will only be called when the d-lineman moves away after engagement) I might use it, but how about we keep it simple and have our boys learn how to hit?

Tom Walls
Winnipeg, Manitoba

*********** Well coach , the East Jordan football team ended 5-4 and just missed an at large bid for the playoffs. But our 8th game saw the Devils take league champs to the end of the game with a chance for victory.  Grayling has 180 more students in their high school than us , and we were within a point of them with 4:30 left, 26-27, and forced the punt.  I figured just enough time to k-chunck down the field and score. We roughed the punter!!   Kid got excited , came free up the middle and should have had the block, but the ball went through his hands and he destroyed the punter. They went in to score after that but missed the conversion , we still had a chance , but fell short.  Near miss for the league champs because they struggled with the d.w.   We've made a huge stride in our program and for the first install of the d.w. , I think very successful!   It’s been 10 years since EJ has had a winning record and the last 7 together  adds to 5 wins.  Our JV's ended 7-2 with 13 kids playing teams with 2 and 3 times more kids. A bunch of raggedy a-- winners. They are all drinking the Koolaid,  coach.  Hope your team takes it right to the Dome. Thanks again for all the help and encouragement.  Also Noah Raymond is healthy and ready for the weight room.  Thanks for your prayers and all your readers’ prayers.   Go Devils     

Allan Peterson 
East Jordan, Michigan


Thanks for all the updates.

I'm very pleased and proud to hear how well you did.

We are a long way from the Dome, and Friday night we start the climb.

american flagTUESDAY,  NOVEMBER 5, 2013 “Character is much easier kept than recovered.”  Thomas Paine

*********** The MIchigan State Spartans really pounded Michigan Saturday, but the real loser was Ohio State.

The Buckeyes have only three games remaining on an overall soft schedule (Buffalo?  Cal?  San Diego State? Florida A & M?), and their only hope of picking up any BCS points was a convincing win over a ranked Michigan team in their final regular season game. 

Ain't gonna happen now.  The win, maybe, but the Michigan ranking?  No chance.

*********** Saturday was Fort Riley Day at Kansas State, where Kansas State football and the Black Lions get together to support each other. (See the back of the helmet.)

KSU HelmetThe unique association between the two organizations came about largely through the efforts of Colonel Pat Frank, who at the time was Battalion Commander of the Black Lions. 

Excerpts from a Kansas State news release explain...

From a pregame tailgate for more than 1,000 soldiers and their families to the Big Red One's 1st Infantry Division Band performing a special medley of patriotic music at halftime, the day's festivities are one of a kind.

"I've been to some military appreciation games before, but none were as big as this one," Command Sergeant Major Todd Nibarger of the 1st Battalion 28th infantry (Black Lions) regiment said. "They're helping soldiers out, and it's a morale builder for these guys to go down there and see the football game. We're all pretty fired up about it."

"What does it mean to me?" K-State football head coach Bill Snyder said as he spoke about the sacrifices of the men and women in the Armed Forces. "We're talking about an awful lot of youngsters who volunteer to serve their country and defend all of us in this day in age. They're always going to be in a position, or they will be at some point in time in their career, to put their lives in jeopardy and they understand that. I don't know how many of us would step up and volunteer our services to do that so you have to have a special appreciation for them. I do and our players do as well."

While Fort Riley Day has been a long-time event in Manhattan, partnerships between K-State's athletics teams and units stationed on the fort began in 2006 between Col. Patrick Frank, former commander of the 1-28 Infantry Regiment, and the K-State football program.

"They saw that they had this community outside of Manhattan and the players and many of our soldiers really are the same age bracket, so developing relationships between these two groups we thought would be relatively easy," Col. Frank explained. "We thought this partnership would give us the opportunity to do that, and they got along great."

K-State student-athletes attend deployment ceremonies, train with soldiers and have even checked out what it would feel like to soar in an apache while visiting the Fort Riley helicopter simulators. When the 1-28 Infantry Regiment, the Black Lions, were deployed, K-State football held a special "Black Lion Cub" day at the stadium for children who had a parent overseas.

"The support that they have provided to the First Infantry, to our soldiers and families, not only at the annual Fort Riley Day at K-State, but they've also been great supporters of our families and units when our soldiers were deployed," Col. Frank explained. "To me, that was one of the most important aspects from our units perspective. To see that support when our units were deployed, I thought was a very special part of the relationship."

Though Col. Frank's duty as a commander on Fort Riley came to an end and a new commander has taken over the role, K-State football has continued its partnership with the Black Lions. The bond between the two has recently caught national attention, and on Oct. 31, the National Football Writers of American nominated K-State Football as one of seven nominees for the 2013 Armed Forces Merit Award.

"It's a two-way street, it's not us reaching out to K-State or K-State reaching out to us, it is a partnership, a meaningful one too," Lieutenant Colonel David Lander, current commander of the Black Lions explained. "It's not just lip service or getting bare minimum effort. I don't even know what bare minimum is because K-State football goes so far above and beyond that. They really do reach out to us regularly, not just during football season."

The award, presented to an "individual and/or a group who has created, developed and produced a program within the realm of the sport of football that provides care, concern and support for past or present members of the Unites States Armed Forces and/or their families" according to its website, will be announced on Monday, Nov. 11, Veteran's Day.


The K-State team takes the field...


Pat Frank sent me this great photo of JIm and Lisa Champagne, both retired military and, in Pat's words, "both tremendous leaders and great friends of ours."  (The Black Lion/K-State hat was given to all soldiers at the game. I would almost kill for one).
Jim & Lisa Champagne

*********** About this time five years ago, Will Muschamp's pay as  Texas' defensive coordinator was boosted to $900,000 - more than most FBS head coaches make. More to the point, though, he was named successor to Texas head coach Mack Brown when Brown's current contract expired in 2016.

And then, two years later, Muschamp, who'd been mentioned as a possible head coach at a number of big-time programs before Texas seemingly locked him up, jumped at the Florida job when it was offered.

So, how's it worked out?

For Texas… With the announced retirement of long-time Texas AD DeLoss Dodd, it's quite possible that Brown's retirement could take place after this season, and instead of having his successor ready to go, the Longhorns could find themselves conducting highly-politicized searches for both AD and head coach.

For Will Muschamp… With the Gators now at 4-4 after Saturday's loss to Georgia, his has to be the hottest of all coaching hot seats.  It would seem safe to say that he will not be in the running for the Texas job.

For Florida… With Florida State in the running for a national title and Miami on the upswing, the Gators are now Number Three in their own state.  Even worse, the Muschamp era, should it come to an end, will have wound up looking less like that of his predecessor, Urban Meyer, and more like that of the much-derided Ron Zook, who preceded Meyer.


Muschamp overall:  22-12
Zook overall:     23-14

Muschamp SEC:   14-10
Zook SEC:    16-8

Florida has four regular-season games remaining, against Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Georgia Southern and Florida State.

It is likely that the Gators will defeat Georgia Southern and lose to Florida State. Let's just suppose that they split with Vandy and Carolina.  That would mean a 2-2 finish, 6-6 on the season.

That would make Muschamp's overall record 24-13, exactly one game better than Zook's, and it would make his record against SEC opponents 14-10, exactly two games worse than Zook's.

*********** Hi Coach,

I've been a long time reader of your site and have enjoyed every minute! I appreciate you taking the time weekly to write the blog and answer the questions coaches send to you.

We have been a Double Wing team for a long time, but I am writing to you instead of our long time defense, the Slant 50.

We have ran the Slant 50 for quite some time and unfortunately, no one really writes about it any more. I have accumulated a lot of books over the years relating to the defense, but I was hoping there was more. Do you know of any outstanding books on Slant 50 play? I have always looked for work on Schembechler since he ran the 50, but have never found anything. Do you know of any film or old instructional videos out there?

I appreciate your help and best of luck the rest of the season.

Go Proctor!

Ben Rulli
Head Football Coach
Proctor Academy
Andover, New Hampshire

Hi Coach,

Nice to hear from you and nice to know you're a reader.

Years ago I purchased a short film clip (actual 16 mm) of Bo Schembechler explaining how he taught the line and linebackers in his slant 50.

The best book I can find is Ray Graves' "Guide to Modern Football Defense" (1966).

He's the coach credited with the invention of the Monster concept.  He wrote that in 1950 when he was at Georgia Tech,  head coach Bobby Dodd wanted to employ Oklahoma's 5-4 scheme as the way to combat the split-T that everyone was running.  They went out to Oklahoma to learn all they could, but they realized that they believed too strongly in their cover 3 - and more importantly, so did their players - to adopt the 4-deep principles of the Oklahoma defense.  So they had their fullback move from side to side depending on the strength of the offensive formation, the location on the field, or offensive tendencies, and so the principle of the Monster was born.

I did quite a bit of research on the monster/slant last year, and we ran it for most of the season before concluding that we simply didn't have the ability to run it.  We were young and inexperienced and slow.  Nothing wrong with the defense itself - we didn't have the ability to run anything well.

One asset that I was fortunate to have in my research was an old friend named Mike Lude, who worked with Frank Broyles when he was head coach at Arkansas.  He was helping Coach Broyles install the Wing-T, but at the same time, Broyles, a Georgia Tech guy,  was coaching the Monster that they'd been running at GT.  

Hope that helps.

*********** An article in the latest Rolling Stone by Paul Solotaroff includes some sordid details about Aaron Hernandez, some of them new.

Six items of special interest…

Hernandez was a heavy user of angel dust, and had become so paranoid over the last year that he carried a gun wherever he went.

He surrounded himself with a cohort of gangsters, and cut himself off from his family and teammates.

Hernandez had so infuriated his head coach, Bill Belichick, with missed practices and thug-life stunts, that he was one misstep from being cut.

Both his parents, Dennis and Terri, had criminal records, as did much of his extended family.

Terri allegedly cheated on Dennis before his death with a violent drug dealer named Jeffrey Cummings, then married Cummings after Dennis died and moved him into the house she shared with Aaron.

And, the topper...

In college his coach (then-University of Florida head coach Urban Meyer) may have helped cover up failed drug tests, along with two violent incidents — an assault and a drive-by shootout outside a local bar.


*********** A recent Wall Street Journal article by Matthew Futterman notes that baseball, more than any other major sport, is losing the interest of kids.

Fo this year's league championship series games, the percentage of the TV audience aged 6 to 17 was 4.3, down from 7.4 just ten years ago. for th first five World Series games this year it was 4.6 per cent of the total audience.

Kids were 9.4 per cent of the audience watching the NBA conference finals and 9 per cent of the audience watching the NHL conference finals.

Futterman notes that even English Premier League soccer does better than baseball with that age group.

He gives lots of reasons, including all the time wasted while pitchers shake off signs and batters step out of the box, but one point seemed to me to stand out as problematic for baseball:

"Only rarely does baseball feel like you can't leave your seat something big is about to happen. If the game doesn't feel that way, a lot of kids will find something that does."

*********** When Jonathan Martin left the Dolphins, it was said that he was upset about a prank.

Yeah, prank. My ass. 

It sure sounds as if there's an underworld in the NFL, if stories about Dolphins' vets'  shaking down lesser-paid rookies are true.

Stories out of Miami have millionaire team veterans requiring rookies to pay for "team meals" as expensive as any state dinner ever served in Buckingham Palace, as well as "team-building trips" to Las vegas.

You telling me they're forcing people to pay tribute to the veterans in order to make your f--king team? Uh, that's extortion. 

You Dolphins' execs - this is likely to cost you.  Big time.  I'm betting that if you didn't know what  a "hostile work environment" was before this story broke, you do now.

Martin is said to have feared retribution from one of the extorters, the notorious Richie Incognito. Incognito(who is white)  left a voice mail for Martin (who is black) that is disturbing both for its vulgarity and its racism and frightening for the death threat it contained.

WTF is wrong with the Dolphins' coaching staff? Didn't somebody know?  I mean, hell,  the head coach has 19 (NINETEEN!) assistant coaches of varying degrees of responsibility.  Two of them work with the offensive line.

Now, maybe it's possible that no one on the staff knew WTF was going on, but...

If they didn't know about this, surely their team leaders did.

But wait -  Incognito, if you can believe this, was a team leader. A captain.   Good call, coach!

Which brings us to the poisonous atmosphere on what is a truly sorry football team.

You mean to tell me there wasn't one player - one real man - on that team who knew the way a sadistic team member was treating another human being - one of their f--king teammates, for God's sake! - and did nothing about it?

And the NFL thought it already had problems. After this ugliness, they're already thinking about what might have happened if Jonathan Martin had been gay.  Wait… you don't suppose...

*********** Wow. Two NFL coaches - John Fox and Gary Kubiak - had health issues on the same weekend.

I can see the USA Today headline now: 


(You'd know that this is a put-on, of course, because  Our President doesn't need legislation when all he has to do is issue an executive order.)

*********** Rough day Saturday.  First, Army loses to  Air Force, and then…


*********** The BCS weekly standings are out, and simply on the subjective basis of watching both Florida State and Oregon on TV, I have to give the edge to the Seminoles.

In fact, based on the fact they've they've been tested twice - by Clemson and Miami - I'll go out on a limb and say that other than Alabama's being the defending national champion, Florida State should be Number One.

Oregon has blazing speed and all that, but I come away with the sense that Oregon is playing a real-life version of Madden, while Florida State is playing a man's game.  Jameis Winston and Kelvin Benjamin are the real deal.

american flagFRIDAY,  NOVEMBER 1, 2013 "I never let anybody change my faith in this country. All I want is for my story to be an story - not black and not white,  just AmericanAmerican. I want it to belong to everybody." Eddie Robinson, legendary Grambling coach

*********** In  my old stomping ground of Hagerstown, Maryland, a guy got into an argument with a woman at her home,  and when the woman's daughter tried to intervene, he stabbed her - the daughter - with a 6-inch kitchen knife.

Police arrived to find the girl with the knife handle sticking out of her chest.

According to court records, the knife lacerated her diaphragm, liver and peritoneum.

The fact that no one removed the knife until emergency medical personnel were able to get her to the hospital “probably saved her life,” the prosecutor said.

Thankfully, the girl has made a full recovery.

The prosecutor asked the judge to sentence the guy to 40 years.

The Public Defender, on the other hand, called for leniency, saying during the sentencing hearing that the guy's alcohol abuse had a lot to do with the crime..

"I think alcohol was a part of his huge lapse in judgment,” he said.

Say, "lapse in judgment?"

Yeah, and the girl suffered "a mere flesh wound."

*********** Okay, okay -  you can put  all the pink sh-- away for another year.

A coaching friend  writes (anonymously - he's no fool),

It seems that at the school I'm coaching at the kids are more worried about wearing enough pink than  about winning, blocking, and tackling.

Hyak Seniors*********** The North Beach Hyaks qualified for a state preliminary round playoff spot  with a 50-6 win over the Ocosta  Wildcats Thursday night.

It was Hallowe'en, Senior Night and Homecoming at Ocosta, and the locals were treated to a great halftime fireworks show - but not much else.

We led 24-0 at the end of one period, and 30-0 at the half.

We rushed for 339 yards on 51 carries, as QB Carson Ketter led the way with 128 yards and three TDs on 15 carries, while completing five of nine passes for 80 yards and another TD.  B-Back Pedro Gonzalez rushed 20 times for 80 yards and  three TDs.

Finishing with ith a 7-2 regular season record, we host Toutle Lake next Friday. We beat them in the season opener, 34-13, but they have improved since then while we, on the other hand, are pretty banged up.

A win Friday night would send us on the road the following weekend, most likely 4-5 hours to the north to play at LaConner.

(Those aren't gang signs our seniors are flashing.  They're signifying their team's seventh win of the season. From Left to right, they're Pedro Gonzalez, Justin Chong, Carson Ketter, Josh Takagi and Jake Brown.)

*********** My very best wishes to new Grambling head coach Dennis "Dirt" Winston.  He's just the interim head coach right now, but I hope he can earn the job full-time.

Believe it or not, back in 1996, we spoke a few times after he bought a copy of "Dynamics of the Double Wing."  I wouldn't look for Grambling to roll out Super Power any time soon, but I do know that Coach Winston is a good guy.

Greg Koenig and Payton Vetter*********** I have known Greg Koenig for over ten years.  My wife and I have  been guests in his home and he and his wife, Rhonda have been guests in ours. I've helped coach his kids, and he's helped coach mine. So I guess you could say I know Greg Koenig.  He's a heck of a coach - his Beloit, Kansas team is now the top-ranked team in Class 3A, with a decent shot at a state title. And he's also a heck of a person who treats his kids right but also holds them to high standards.

For the past several years, every week during football season his kids have named a different member of the school staff to be an "Honorary Trojan."  The Honorary Trojan is treated like a member of the coaching staff, eating at the team meal with the players, sitting in on team and coaches' meetings, and standing in the team area during the game.

This year, Greg writes, he's chosen to do things a little differently and, well, I'll let him tell it...