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Published continually since 1998, "NEWS YOU CAN USE" was a Blog before  "Blog" was  even a word! It's intention has been to help inform the football coach and the interested football observer on a wide variety of to
pics, usually - but not always - related in some way to coaching or leadership.  It contains news and views often (trigger alert!) highly opinionated but intended to be  thought-provoking.  Subjects cover but aren't limited to coaching, leadership, character, football history and current football happenings, education, parenting, citizenship and patriotism, other sports, and even, sometimes, my offense.)

american flag FRIDAY,  MARCH 24,  2017  “Our Constitution  was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.”  John Adams

"OPEN WING VIRTUAL CLINIC" -  5-DVD SET -  Priced as a set so that you can purchase all five DVDs for less than the cost of buying four  separately.    THE DVDS ARE $39.95 EACH, BUT $150 FOR ALL FIVE - A SAVINGS OF $49.75! TO BUY -












For the second straight year, we'll be at the Quality Inn and Suites in Platte City, Missouri,
(816-858-5430)  close  to the Kansas City Airport for anyone flying in.  Kansas City is easy to get to from all major US cities, and the hotel provides free shuttle service to and from the airport.

I've been able to set aside a small number of rooms at a guaranteed rate of $79.95 for Friday night and/or Saturday night. Call and ask for the Coach Wyatt Clinic rate.  The rooms will be held until April 20.  After that, you might have to find a room elsewhere.  There are other hotels in the area, but you can't match the convenience or the rate at the Quality Inn. (816-858-5430)

Registration fee is $100, seat guaranteed - $150 at the door

As always, the staff discount - "Pay for three and the fourth is free" - applies
Payment must be in advance, with the same PayPal, Purchase Order or Check


***********  Coach,

I need a little advice, and your experience is gold when it comes to this.

The coach I listened to at that clinic that had gone open wing from traditional Wing-T said that if they could do it all over again they would jump in with both feet that first year.  They didn't, running a mix of both traditional and gun.  He felt that some of the mesh points, QB (and RB) footwork, etc., were affected because they are different depending.  

My initial feeling was, "yes, that sounds reasonable."  But now I find myself thinking that my guy, the coach that I know myself to be, wants to be able to line up in double wing and slam the ball down some guy's throat.  Not that I can't change, but I'm not sure if I don't want to always have that in my hip pocket.

I remember you saying that you went open wing for a full season. And then one season you brought double wing out part way through and just destroyed teams (who had seen you on film all year in open wing).  Sounds like now you do a bit of both.

Jump all in?  Be able to do both?  Pare down the double wing stuff if I think we will be in open the majority of the time but still have a 'package' so that when the time comes (like Coach Koenig says) we can DO WHAT WE DO?


In looking back, I think it’s been important to me never to get far from the Double Wing.  

I’ve come to think of it as “majoring" in Open Wing and “minoring” in Double Wing.  It could just as easily be the other way.

They may seem like two vastly different offenses, but they’re not, really.  The main reason why we can run both and still think among the same lines is that I believe I’ve been able to do so without taking the toughness out of our linemen.  There is very little difference for them.

Open Wing has been our major mainly because that’s what I've spent the summers teaching my QB’s and receivers to do.  I've found it a lot easier to go from the Open Wing to the Double Wing because if you start out running the Double Wing and want to “open it up” you’re just not going to have enough time during in-season practices to introduce the Open Wing passing game and the QB reads and - this is very important - the wide receivers’ blocking.  That’s what the off-season (in our state, that means the summer) is for.

Interestingly, just from the kids’  comments and reactions, it seemed that when we started out running Open Wing and the Double Wing was our change-up package (our minor), they really seemed excited about getting into it and they seemed to like it more than they did back when it was the only thing we ran.

I kept the Double Wing package very simple.  At first, it was simply Super Power Right, Super Power Left, and Wedge.  We often ran it right from the line, simply calling out “RICKY,”  “LUCY,” and “WILLIE.”  (Very high-tech.)

As we expanded, we added Super Criss-Cross both ways, and a simple pass both ways.

And because I had two very good wingbacks, we got a lot out of running that package from Tight Stack.  The important that there is that there was absolutely nothing additional for the linemen to learn.

By keeping it VERY simple, it didn’t take up as much practice time as I’d thought it would.  Part of that is owing to the fact that we can rep a lot of plays in our team period because we always go no-huddle in practice, and because I’ve done it enough that I know what to look for.  I imagine that that applies to you, too.

I must confess that except in obvious situations - needing long yardage, needing to score quickly, needing to hold onto the ball, needing to power it - I still haven’t determined a right time or reason to go from one to the other.  My tendency (the Double Winger in me)  is to stick with what’s working.  And in my case, I found that when we were pounding people with the simple Double Wing package, the Double Winger in me stayed with it, and left that beautiful Open Wing on the table.

I’d say that it’s important, whichever you consider to be your “major,” to make sure that you give your “minor” some work every game. You never know when it’ll come in handy.

If you’re an exclusively Double Wing team, I guarantee you that there will come a time when you’ll wish you could open it up, or when you’ll lose a good player or two because they (or their dads) don’t like your offense, or when people will get on your ass for running “that damned Pop Warner offense.”  (Or pass you up for a job because of it.)

And if you’re a total spread team, you’re crazy if you don’t ever wish that you could play power football in certain situations. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to drive it in from the five - or take five minutes off the clock?   If you’re at a small school, you may only be running from spread because that once-in-a-career quarterback came along.  What are you going to do when he graduates? (Or when he goes down?)

I look at running both packages as being better prepared for the hand you’re dealt. You never know when that minor will save your bacon.
When they’re interviewing you for that great coaching job and and they ask if you’ve ever taught health, it’s always helpful to be able to say that you had a minor in health.  And if you get the job, you’ll wind up teaching health and you’ll be glad you knew what to do.

Long-winded answer.  Great question.

*********** Not so long ago, I mentioned the Wing-T Bible, “Scoring Power with the Winged T Offense,” by Forest Evashevski and Dave Nelson, published in 1957 after Evashevski’s Iowa team introduced the explosiveness of the offense to a nation TB audience in the 1957 Rose Bowl.

I thought you might enjoy reading some of Coach Nelson’s introduction  (he’s the inventor of the offense, now known as the “Delaware Wing T”, and he’s the guy who actually wrote the book).

The authors had the good fortune to learn their football from one of the greatest teachers the game has ever known,  H. O.  Fritz Crisler. Having played for Mr. Crisler, it gave us the opportunity to have a direct line to the teachings of Amos Alonzo Stagg, the grand old man of football who was Crisler's coach. The soundness of the teaching we received from our coach is demonstrated by the fact that many of the principles taught us in 1940 are the basis for the attack that won in the Rose Bowl in 1957. The debt to Coach Crisler is not only for the technical knowledge of the game he passed on, but the skill of organization, the art of coaching psychology and the concept that the game of football is the greatest experience possible for a young man.

Many people have contributed to the development of the winged T offense, both directly and indirectly. Members of the University of Michigan coaching staff from 1939 to 1948 contributed a basic foundation for the system. The staff at the University of Iowa, Elliott, Flora, Piro, Kodros, Burns, and Hilgenberg, made the success of the 1956 team possible; and the coaching staffs from 1950 to 1956 at the universities of Maine and Delaware laid the foundation for the offense. Harold Westerman, head coach at the University of Maine, and Milo (Mike) Lude, present line coach at the University of Delaware, were two of the people who helped originate the system in 1950.    Since 1952, Irvin Wisniewski and Harold Raymond have made contributions which have helped develop the offense to its present status.  Tad Weiman, athletic director at Maine, was a great help in the development of a football philosophy because of his reservoir of knowledge concerning the game in all its aspects.

Since 1950 the coaching staffs have had to solve many problems in order to keep the offense productive. As we moved from year-to-year, we discovered many mistakes we had made and in most cases our opponents discovered them before we did.We know there will be many more problems that will need solving and that there is no such thing as a perfect offense. When the problems become too great and we are not able to remedy our ailments, we will then reach a decision to operate offensively with some other system. However, we are well aware that this is a total offense and that there is the possibility that any phase of it can be defenses convincingly. We know this to be true as the offense has been defensed in one or more phases. Despite the defensing of one phase or another, we do not lose confidence in the offense because we rely on the multiplicity of it to carry us through.

At this stage we would like to state that we are not salesmen attempting to sell an offense and our only objective is an explanation of what we have been doing offensively.

Most all parts of this offense have been borrowed over the last ten years but the basis for the majority of the principles is the offensive system developed and taught by the football staff at the University of Michigan ten years ago. Consequently, this offense represents 80 per cent single wing and 20 per cent T-formation.

A fair question to be answered at this time is why do we prefer this offense over others in use today? The six reasons we give are not restricted to our system. Most everyone has the same opinion of their mode of attack or they would not be using it.

Number one and most important, we feel that we get maximum utilization of the talent available. Second, the offense gives us an adequate method of ball control. Third, the offense has an ability to score as evidenced by the fact that Delaware has scored in the last 57 games and only twice since 1951 has scored only one touchdown. Iowa scored in every game in the 1956 season while winning the championship. Fourth, we feel we have adequate balance between passing and rushing with the passing game camouflaged by the run because the basic internal rushing game with lead post and trap blocking aids protection. During the fall of 1956, Delaware ate one pass of 125 thrown.  Of course there were ten interceptions and we wish the ball had been eaten on those occasions. Fifth,  it is our belief that it is possible to have a flexible attack that is able to adjust to a multiplicity of defense. Last, it is been our experience that the system is simple to teach and more important, easy for the squad to learn.

There have been many discussions about the advantages and disadvantages of one offense versus another in regard to inclement weather. We have no arguments to substantiate the belief that has become fairly common that this offense because of a combined single wing and T philosophy has an advantage in weather that limits offensive  play. However, during the last five years, seven games have been played in heavy rains or snow and all seven resulted in victories.  At least three of these contests should be classified as major upsets. A minimum of fumbles, because the ball is exchanged a fair distance from the line of scrimmage,  coupled with power blocking could be the reason for these results. Added to this is the continually growing myth among our personnel that bad weather is to their advantage.

*********** God, I hope this is all made up…

A high school football coach in Spokane is in some deep sh—.

Let’s see…  he’s been accused of exposing himself; of defaming a high school girl; of - at the least - being unaware of a form of hazing that sure sounds like sexual assault.

Remember, at this point, these are all charges.  Nothing more.  I don’t know the guy, but I coached against him a long time ago, but not long after that he moved to the other end of the state, and he’s had some success there.  He won the state title in 2010.

What brought this to a head was an incident that occurred at a “leadership camp” he held for some 45 kids last summer.  (I'm wondering if I'd ever have  45 kids on a team worth taking to a "leadership camp,"  but that’s neither here nor there.)  There, one of the kids reported, the coach, while standing at the grill cooking hotdogs, put his joint in a hot dog bun and made some comment about the size of the wiener. 

The school handled the discipline internally and he was allowed to coach this past season.  (They went 5-5, for what that’s worth.)

But then, following the season - perhaps because some people thought that the punishment was insufficient - there came new accusations.

In one case, he was heard to refer to a female student, who evidently preferred the company of the school’s hockey players,   as a “puck slut.”  (The school doesn’t have a hockey team, but as is the custom in Junior A hockey, many of the Spokane Chiefs hockey team are out-of-towners who live with local families and attend local high schools.)

And then it surfaced that it has been the custom among team members to “celebrate” a player’s birthday by - there’s no way I can delicately describe such a disgusting act - penetrating him with their fingers.  Yes, “penetration,” if you doubt that this is sexual assault.  They call this gruesome practice “juicing,” and although the coach denied any awareness of the existence of the practice on his team, he was, to my surprise, familiar with the term and used it in his denial.

On a side note, I do find it interesting that these ostensibly virile young men would gang up on a (same-sex) teammate and engage in  a creepy homoerotic act eerily resembling prison rape. 

I hope that this is not true.

If true, this is some sick sh— and - like it or not - it gives all football coaches a bad name.

He has denied everything except the statement about the girl, which he claims was taken out of context.

According to materials obtained by the Spokane Spokesman-Review, he has said,  “I do a lot for this school. It is going to be difficult to replace me at this time.”

Mais non, mon ami.  I find French (“Of course not, my friend”)  appropriate because not so long ago on these very pages I quoted Charles deGaulle: ’The graveyards are full of indispensible men.”

*********** After watching the interrogation of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, I've found the alternative to waterboarding:

Strap bad guys in a chair and force them listen to questioning by Patrick Leahy and Al Franken.

I would confess to dozens of crimes I never committed.

***********  When you hear a name like George Hunter III,  you think of a kid playing soccer for an elite New England prep school.

Instead, he’s a Florida high school junior whose reckless disregard for the law is likely to cost him an opportunity most high school football players would die for.

An outstanding defensive back, he’d already been offered by Maryland, Virginia and Florida Atlantic when he was charged last Friday with possession of marijuana with intent to sell.  Well, yeah, I guess he was going to try to sell it  - he had 590 grams of the sh--. 
(20 grams is all it takes to be charged with possession with intent to sell)  If he was planning on smoking all that by himself, evern with a little help from his homies,  he’d have been too busy smoking to play football.

And this wasn’t a one-time “mistake,” as a defender would otherwise try to frame it.

Only a month ago, he was arrested trying to sell stolen phones.  Big mistake. The prospective customer  was an undercover police officer.

In a better world, he’d have been serving a bit of time in Juvy for that first offense, but instead, he was on some sort of probation, one of the terms of which was that he attend school every day.   Why do I think that teachers at the school were not pleased with the court for that part of the sentence?

Meantime, the kid may have a “III” after his name, but I have a hard time believing that there’s a father in his house.

*********** I no sooner say that what ails way too many boys nowadays is a lack of fathers in the homes, than a story comes along to make me want to take it all back.

You get a new kid on your team.  He's good.  He could help you win a state title.  But it's that damn pet of his:  it's a king cobra that he insists on keeping in his locker -  and he’s not very careful about locking it.

Okay, just joking.  Purely hypothetical.

But here’s a case almost as bad. Heard of Lonzo Ball?  How about brothers LiAngelo and LaMelo?   Pretty good basketball players.

Meet Dad Lavar Ball (if you haven’t already).  LeBron James has, and it didn’t go well.

***********  Man, if I had $3 million to throw away, here’s where I’d throw it.

And from the sound of the narrator, I bet he’d throw in a case of Coors Banquet Beer.

***********  Correctly Identifying JACKIE JENSEN -

TWO-SPORT STARK.C. Smith - Walpole, Massachusetts

Tim Brown - Athens, Alabama

Mark Kaczmarek - Davenport, Iowa - My remembrance is hazy, but my Dad either played with or against him when he was on a team that won their (Navy) fleet football championship…since they won, I’m guessing with!

Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconson

Ken Hampton - Raleigh, North Carolina

Joe Gutilla - Austin, Texas

Kevin McCullough - Lakeville, Indiana

Tracy Jackson - Dallas, Oregon


In a time when Americans read magazines,  the Saturday Evening Post was one of the biggest, and many of its covers were done by legendary illustrator Norman Rockwell. This was sent in by KC Smith and Mark Kaczmarek.  As the green rookie up from the sticks stands in the Bosox locker room, veteran Jackie Jensen stops tying his shoes and looks up at him.

Jackie Jensen is the only athlete to play in an East-West game (selection to which was once a great honor), a Rose Bowl, a World Series and a baseball All-Star Game.

He was married to an Olympic diver.

He died of a heart attack at a very young age. At the time, he was coaching at a prep school in Virginia.

Mystery coach and QB*********** QUIZ:  A native Tennesseean, he played quarterback for his hometown college, and went on to coach there before and after World War II.

From there, he moved west, taking his balanced-line single wing with him.  He took his new school to two Rose Bowls and its only national title.   HIs overall record there was 66-19-1 (.773) and he was 6-3 against the cross-town rival.

The jersey color that he introduced (to make it harder, in a time of black and white film,  for opponents to see the player numbers) has become a school trademark, and the distinctive shoulder stripes that he added became known by the school’s name.

One August, just before the start of fall practice, he died of a heart attack in a hotel room.  It’s hard to get to the truth after all these years, but it’s football lore that he died in the company of a “woman of ill repute.”

(On hearing this, my wife said, “I’d kill you.”)

In those days, such news was kept suppressed.  Nowadays, it would have dominated the media - mainstream and social - for days.

It was a terribly sad and sordid end to the life of a man who was greatly admired in his adopted town and remains the best coach the school has ever had.  

american flag TUESDAY,  MARCH 21,  2017  "Four brave men who do not know each other will not dare to attack a lion.  Four less brave, but knowing each other well, sure of their reliability and consequently of mutual aid, will attack resolutely." Ardant du Picq, 19th Century French Colonel


*********** The slick marketing guys who run more and more college athletic departments insist on telling us how important “branding” is.

Uh, I spent a little time in advertising and marketing, and although that was a few years ago, certain principles of marketing haven’t changed and never will.

One of them is that if you want the public to buy your product, packaging matters.   Does it ever.  It’s how your brand stands out - how it’s recognized.  There are dozens of well-known products that you’d identify by their packages alone, even if they left off the name. 

I can’t imagine a successful consumer products company  playing hide-and-go-seek with their customers by changing packaging once a week, yet that's what today's colleges insist on doing.

I'm talking about “alternate uniforms.”

Colleges have already sold you the tickets, and there’s only so much you’re going to spend on their high-priced food and drink.  So what’s left?  Sell you the packaging.  The uniform.  The colleges and their apparel suppliers are so into all those Saturday afternoon disguises that it’s obviously a major goal of the athletic department to sell you the uniform.   “Welcome to Fightin’ Warthogs football and Military Appreciation Day! And how about those camo jerseys that your ‘Hogs are wearing?  You can get one for yourself!  And what a great gift!  Go to and get the same authentic camouflage jersey that your Warthogs are wearing today!”

Alternate uniforms lead, inevitably, to alternate colors.  Bet you never knew that black was one of your school colors. Or gray. (How many times has your beloved team run out onto the field in all-gray?)  And quick: name Oregon’s colors.  All of them.

Alternate nicknames?  “Indians,” “Red Men” and (gasp!) “Redskins” are out.   Geez - how many different mutations of Hawks or Wolves can they keep coming up with in the never-ending search for new, more politically-acceptable nicknames?

Alternate fight songs?  More Washington fans know “Tequila”  (the song, I think) than “Bow Down to Washington.”  Stanford  dumped its distinctive fight song, which had served well for decades, in favor of the immortal “All Right Now.”  Iowa and Wyoming fans get fired up when their bands play “In Heaven There is No Beer.”

Alternate school names?  Money helps.  Thanks to a rich guy (try to guess his name), Glassboro State is now Rowan.  Western Maryland is McDaniel.  If you've got the money, you can probably get Yale to listen to you.

But there’s a far more common reason why dozens of schools have changed their name: check out how many small state colleges  have excised the word  “State” from their name.  ("State" evidently recalls their earlier days as state teachers’ colleges.)  And, of course, “university” is a must - an essential show of status.  Colleges that may not even be known outside their own county,  colleges no bigger than your high school, now insist on having “University” at the end of their name. 

And what’s with all the branch campuses, anyhow?  How did we wind up with Texas Austin?  North Carolina Chapel Hill?  Nebraska Lincoln? 

Don’t even get me started on “Army West Point.”

***********  You can’t make this up…

It probably never occurred to girls who decided to “identify” as boys that that didn’t mean an escape from what, in gentler times, girls used to refer to as their “visitor,” or “the curse.”

Their period, guys.  We’re talking menstruating.  Something that’s perfectly normal for biological women.

This does present some challenges for “transgender females,” (and the people who associate with them), so just to let  impressionable school children know that it’s perfectly normal for boys and men to menstruate,  along comes a character called “Toni the Tampon,” (Toni with an “i”).

No jokes, please, about your next Hallowe'en's costume.

*********** Hello Coach, I am really enjoying your coaching material.  There is no doubt I will do a better job coaching the wing this year.  I was looking at some of your other videos and I know I would like to get your Safer and Surer tackling video, and unless the camp video your sent me is similar, I think I would benefit from the practice with/out pads video also...... 

I do have a couple question from the videos.   1) The Beloit camp video shows them pitching in G-reach, while your videos show your handing off in rocket.  Have you changed or is this a Beloit preference? Handing off seems safer but the pitch looks like it gets you to the outside faster.  2) Also, In the Beloit video the quarterback starts motion by moving his foot instead of the ready cadence, and it appears they typically go on Go.  I liked the looks of that and wondered if there is a disadvantage to going that route. 


Good observations.  The Safer and Surer Tackling video and the Practice Without Pads are not duplicative.

There are lots of ways of running a sweep and in fact Beloit is back to handing off (although it’s not Rocket motion - which goes in front of the QB - but “Rip” motion)

For quite some time, I - and the Beloit coach, Greg Koenig - have determined that starting motion with the foot and snapping on “GO” eliminates a lot of teaching time and a lot of potential errors.  I don’t believe that we’ve had a false start in five years.

*********** Good morning, Coach!

Trust you and Mrs. Wyatt are doing well. All good here with the family...both Caleb and Jacob recently ended their first seasons coaching High School basketball. Caleb at Kuna High in Idaho (Girls basketball assistant) and Jacob at Orting High (Boys Frosh Coach). At LC, we ended up going to the tournament and placing 4th. Only loss over there was to Kings by 3 - thought we had them!

Anyway, I read you News from Tuesday and enjoyed your thought about Coach Rueck of OSU. When I was officiating college basketball, I worked a LOT of his George Fox games - including a number of D-III playoff games. But I will never forget the first game I ever worked was my first season of working college basketball, and so the first time I had worked one of his games. They lost to an NAIA team from (then) Western Baptist. I called a foul on one of his players with less than 20 seconds to go, and the made free throws ended up being the winning margin.

After the game, as I got to my car in the parking lot, I realized I had a flat tire! So I began the process of changing the tire. It was, of course, pouring down rain. A few minutes into the job, I hear a voice ask me "Hey, you need a hand with that?" I looked up, and it was Coach Rueck! He stood there in the pouring rain and helped me change my tire, and when we were done he shook my hand and said "I hated that call you made, but it was the right one. Nice job tonight."

I have nothing but respect for that man.
DJ Millay
Vancouver, Washington

Wow - that’s a lot like a TV commercial I’ve seen - for Toyota, I think.

***********  Good morning Hugh,

Just finished reading your News this good St. Patrick's Day morning.  I wish you and Connie the very best, and will lift a shot of Jameson for the both of you!

Did I ever tell you that my wife and I spent a week in County Cork?  No blarney (actually we visited the old castle, but unfortunately my health at the time wouldn't permit me to climb the narrow winding steps to the top to kiss the stone).  I also made a short stop to the Jameson distillery (not quite sure how I got back to the hotel though...train?). wife introduced me to her counterpart over there and her husband, who was the local "football" coach!  Gaelic football.  He invited me to speak at his club on American football that evening.  So...there I was in front of about 25 guys (players and coaches) giving them an impromptu 20 minute speech on the American game, and then must have fielded about 30 minutes of questions!  Great group of guys who invited me to share a "pint" (Guinness of course) with them at their club bar.  Yes, most of the sports clubs over there have a bar on their property.  Those boys know how to do it up right!  Next day they picked me up at the hotel to take in a Gaelic football game between their club and a club from County Kerry.  Now there's a game that is testament to what hard-nosed, tough, Irish sportsmen are.  Had a great time.

Have a great day my friend!

Joe Gutilla
Austin, Texas


Great hearing from you.

Great St. Patrick’s Day story.  Sure wish I could drink the beer that I once could!

But I’ll have me a pint o' Guiness with me dinner.

Two of the most memorable games in my life were rugby matches while in college  - against the Montreal Irish club.  Once at our place, once at theirs.  They introduced me to the quaint rugby tradition of beating the snot out of each other and then drinking and singing together afterwards.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you.  I hope you and Bernadette are well!

*********** Greg Gutfeld said it back in October of 2015, when there were 17 candidates hoping to get the Republican nomination - “It’s like Trump’s football and all the other candidates are soccer.”

*********** Remember some time back, when ammunition was hard to get, and there were all sorts of stories about federal agencies stocking up on ammo?

A lot of people were saying at the time that it was the administration’s method of controlling guns when it couldn’t get legally:  let the deplorable have their guns - just don’t let ‘em have any ammo to shoot.

I hope that it won’t be long before our new president and his appointees  look into an astonishing fact brought out last June in the Wall Street Journal by Dr. Tom Coburn, a former Senator from Oklahoma and Adam Andrzejewski, CEO of

The number of non-Defense Department federal officers authorized to make arrests and carry firearms (200,000) now exceeds the number of US Marines (182,000).  In its escalating arms and ammo stockpiling, this federal arms race is unlike anything in history.  Over the last 20 years, the number of these federal officers with arrest-and-firearms authority has nearly tripled to over 200,000 today from 74,500 in 1996.

For example, the IRS has 2,316 special agents.  From 2005 through 2014 the IRS spent nearly $11 million on guns, ammo and “military-style equipment.”

The Department of Veteran Affairs has a force of 3,700 law-enforcement officers guarding VA medical centers.  As recently as 1995, the VA had exactly zero officers with firearms authorization.   It spent more than $8 million on guns, ammunition, body armor and - night-vision equipment(?)

The Environmental Protection Agency has spent nearly $800 million since 2005 on its “Criminal Enforcement Division.”  Think about that next time you get ready to dump grass clippings down the drain.

Here’s the best: Cal-Berkeley acquired 14 (fourteen!) 5.56 mm assault rifles, and Yale 20 of them from the Defense Department.

Can you believe it?  Arsenals like that, and they let protestors run wild!

*********** To show how far women’s basketball has come - overall - in the age of  Title IX…

Baylor beat Texas Southern, 119-30.  No matter how good you are, you can’t beat ANYBODY that bad unless they are REALLY bad. And that’s a college program, with scholarship athletes.

I wrote this over a year ago…

 Title IX has been around since 1972, but here it is, 42 years later, and when you open up your morning paper, there they are:   65-12, 56-6, 72-26.

They’re the scores of girls’ high school basketball games.

42 years!    WTF has been going on all this time?

Bobbie Kelsey, the coach of the Wisconsin women’s basketball team, had an answer for what ails her sport.

    Women’s basketball, can you hear me? Get your butt in the gym. You’ve got people throwing the ball over the basket. Nobody wants to watch that. I don’t. I enjoy watching good, solid basketball that people make their shots, whether I’m coaching against them or it’s my team doing it.

    You can’t nap your way to being a great shooter, and Facebooking it, and all these things teenagers do. You need to put the phone down, stop Face-timing, stop tweeting, and get your butt in the gym.

Got that, girls?  Get your butt in the gym.

***********  Cael Sanderson’s hiring by Penn State as its head wrestling coach may be one of the great coaching hires of all time.

In St. Louis last weekend, the Lions won individual titles at  149, 157, 165, 174 and 184 to take the NCAA championship for the sixth time in the last seven years.

Since his hiring, he missed a national title in his first year, 2010, but in his second year, 2011, the Lions won the national title - their first since 1953.

To prove they were for real, they won again in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

They missed in 2015, but they won it again in 2016 and this year.

In addition to six national titles at Penn State, Sanderson has a second-place finish to his credit while coaching at Iowa State.

Not to diminish his accomplishments in any way, but he still has a ways to go to catch the legendary Dan Gable, whose 15 titles while at Iowa may never be matched.

On the other hand, as a wrestler, his record was 159-0, with four D-I national titles, only the second person ever to accomplish that.  Gable, incredibly, was not the other one.  Gable, possibly the greatest wrestler of all time, lost the final match of his career, and with it the national championship.

*********** The body isn’t even cold yet.  Less than a week after the University of Washington fired its basketball coach, Lorenzo Romar, it went out and hired a guy who’s been an assistant coach for 22 years - 22 f—king years! - at the SAME PLACE.  He’s never been a head coach.

Oh, well - his name’s Mike Hopkins and he’s been at Syracuse, where supposedly he was Head Coach in Waiting while Jim Boeheim decides what to do.  As it now stands, Boeheim is set to retire after next season.

Check that.  Once Syracuse got the news of Hopkins’ leaving, they moved quickly to offer Boeheim a contract extension, and he accepted the offer.

My biggest concern is that there is such a huge difference between the responsibilities of a head coach and an assistant coach, and I can think of a lot of very good long-time assistants who, given their first shot at a head coach at a big-time school, didn’t hack it.

And then there’s the fact that “Cuse has had some NCAA problems over the years; but I'm sure that Hopkins, like all coaches, knew nothing  about any of it.

Oh, well.  Go Huskies.

*********** Recognizing Ben Schwarzwalder and Jim Brown

Josh Montgomery - Berwick, Louisiana
Ralph Balducci - North Portland, Oregon
Dave Potter - Durham, North Carolina
Ken Hampton - Raleigh, North Carolina
J.C. Brink - Stuart, Florida
K.C. Smith - Walpole, Massachusetts - Coach Schwartzwalder has an interesting bio...a real hero in WWII
Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin
Joe Gutilla - Austin, Texas
Tracy Jackson - Dallas, Oregon
Kevin McCullough - Lakeville, Indiana - I didn’t realize coach Schwartzwalder was a war hero
John Grimsley - Jefferson, Georgia
Clay Harrold - Grinnell, Iowa
John Vermillion - St. Petersburg, Florida - (where, incidentally, Coach Schwartzwalder died)
Joe Ferris - Florence, Wisconsin
Tom Walls - Winnipeg, Manitoba
Todd Hollis - Elmwood, Illinois

(By the way, I have no idea what happened to the "wing-T" in the photo. As some of you noticed, there is a wing missing.)

Ben Schwartzwalder

Most people know - or know of - the great Jim Brown. What most people know about his coach, Floyd "Ben" Schwartzwalder, comes from the movie, "Elmira Express," in which the screen writers enhanced the story of a talented young black player named Ernie Davis by throwing in a touch of racism, provided, conveniently, by Syracuse's crusty old coach, Ben Schwartzwalder. Judge him, if you must, but judge him by the standards of his time - and don't forget that among the football schools of the East, Syracuse was a pioneer in playing black players. Bernie Custis, who died recently, played two years for Coach Schwartzwalder (1949-1950).  Custis is considered to be the first black pro QB of the modern era (although he had to go to Canada - Hamilton - to make it happen).

Floyd "Ben" Schwartzwalder was a native of Point Pleasant, West Virginia who graduated from Huntington High in 1929 and went on to play for the West Virginia University Mountaineers under the legendary Greasy Neale as a 152-pound center. After graduation, he spent eight years as a high school football and wrestling coach at Sistersville, Weston and Parkersburg, West Virginia, and had just finished his first year at Canton (Ohio) McKinley High, one of the most prestigious high school jobs in America, when World War II broke out. He enlisted in the Army shortly after Pearl Harbor and served in Europe as a paratrooper in the famed 82nd Airborne, jumping into combat three times, including a D-Day jump behind enemy lines. He received the Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart, and four battle stars, and rose to the rank of major.

After his discharge, he spent three years as coach at Muhlenberg College, in Allentown, Pennsylvania where he was 25-5-0, and was hired in 1949 by Syracuse, where he remained until his retirement 25 years later. As he built his program from regional to national power, his teams reflected his personal toughness, and were famous for their bruising, hard-nosed play. He was noted for his emphasis on the ground attack (his teams outrushed the opposition over his career by more than 22,000 yards), and the great running backs it produced, several of them going on to become outstanding pros. Included in that list are Jim Brown, Larry Csonka, Jim Nance and Floyd Little. Ernie Davis, the first black player to win the Heisman Trophy, could possibly have gone on to become the best of them all, but he was diagnosed with leukemia before his rookie season, and died without ever playing a down of NFL football.   Another great Syracuse running back, John Mackey, was switched to tight end upon his arrival in the NFL, and became one of the greatest in the history of the game at that position. (Anyone who ever watched Mackey run with the ball after a pass reception can only imagine what a great pro running back he'd have made.)

Coach Schwartzwalder's 10-0 1959 team finished with a Cotton Bowl win over Texas and won the national championship. Few college teams ever manhandled opponents the way that team did: running Coach Schwartzwalder's unbalanced line wing-T to perfection, the Orange outgained opponents - get this - 4,515 yards to 962. The Syracuse line that year, nicknamed the "Sizeable Seven," featured such future professionals as Al Bemiller, John Brown, Roger Davis, Bob Yates and Maury Youmans. Coach Schwartzwalder was named National Coach of the Year, and served a term as President of the American Football Coaches Association.

When he retired, Coach Schwartzwalder had more career wins than better-known coaches such as Knute Rockne, Frank Leahy, Earl Blaik and Bud Wilkinson, and  was third among active coaches in wins - behind only Bear Bryant and Woody Hayes. He is one of very few men to have coached at the same major college for 25 years or more, and at the time of his retirement his string of 22 straight non-losing seasons was an NCAA record. It was during Coach Schwartzwalder's tenure that the number 44 became associated with great Syracuse running backs, with Jim Brown, Ernie Davis and Floyd Little all wearing the number. So much does Syracuse honor the number that it is more than mere coincidence that it is part of the university's telephone exchange - 443 - and its zip code -13244.

Coach Schwartzwalder died in 1993 in St. Petersburg, Florida and is buried in Onanadaga County Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Syracuse.

TWO-SPORT STAR*********** QUIZ - He was an All-American fullback who as a baseball player was good enough to be league MVP.

A native of Oakland, he served in the Navy after graduation, and after World War II attended a college near home.

The first time he ever touched the ball in college,  he scored a touchdown on a 56-yard punt return, and he scored on a 67-yard run in the Rose Bowl against Northwestern.

He left college after his junior year - a very rare happening at the time - to sign with Oakland of the Pacific Coast League for a $40,000.

After a season in Oakland he was sold, along with a teammate named Billy Martin, to the Yankees, who hoped that he’d be the successor in center field to Joe DiMaggio.  Instead, the job went to a kid named Mantle, and our guy was traded to Washington.  From there he was traded to Boston, where he batted cleanup after Ted Williams.

He could do it all. He had speed - in his first season in Boston he led the league in stolen bases - and he had power - in his six seasons with the Red Sox, he drove in more runs than anyone in the League, including Williams and Mantle.

And then it ended.  Suddenly.  His baseball career had begun in the days of travel by train, but as teams increasingly began to fly, he had problems with flying that, combined with other anxiety issues,  developed into a full-blown phobia, and despite his efforts to deal with it, it led to his premature retirement from the game.

american flag FRIDAY,  MARCH 17,  2017  HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY - “God invented whiskey so the Irish wouldn’t rule the world”  columnist Jim Bishop, 1962, who said he often heard his late father say it

*********** After 15 years as head basketball coach at the University of Washington,
Lorenzo Romar is out.  He’s a good man by any measure, and I defy you to find anyone who will say anything bad about him;  but unfortunately, his Huskies’ failure to make the NCAA tournament for the sixth straight year doomed him.

That doesn’t mean that the soap opera that’s been going on in the background isn’t continuing.

It started last year, when he brought in a new assistant, Michael Porter.

Porter had a slim coaching resume other than a couple of years as an assistant on the Missouri women’s team, but the fact that he had two very promising prospects for sons certain enhanced his employability. (In all fairness to Romar,  there was a history between him and Porter.  The two had once played together on an Athletes in Action team, and then Romar had coached Porter on the AIA team.)

On arrival in Seattle, Porter’s older son, 6-9 Michael, Jr., almost immediately committed to Washington.  He wasn’t an unknown.  Last year he’d led his high school team in Columbia, Missouri to a state title.

At about the same time Porter, Jr.  committed, he enrolled in Seattle’s Nathan Hale High.  In a town that’s produced a lot of good basketball players, Nathan Hale had never - ever - been even a minor power.  But that all changed before this season when a new coach came on board - former NBA all-star Brandon Roy.  Himself a product of Seattle schools, Roy may not have had much of a coaching background, but he sure knew where the players were, and whaddaya know - with a slew of transfers, led by Michael Porter, Jr., Nathan Hale rolled to a state title and a national ranking no lower than Number Two, wherever you looked.  Porter, Jr. was as good as advertised, and by all accounts, when (not if) he comes out after one year of college, he will be the NBA’s number one draft choice.

Younger brother, 6-10 Jontay,  also committed to UW. He was pretty good, too.

But now that Lorenzo Romar is gone, things have got to be scary in the Porter household.  With Dad out of work, they’ve got to be worrying about their next meal, let alone how they’ll able to afford to go to college.

Heh, heh.  Almost immediately follow the news of Romar’s firing,  the younger Porters announced their decommitments and Dad, it appears, already has a job lined up.

Dad’s job prospects brightened with the news that Missouri has just hired themselves a new head coach, Cuonzo Martin, who’d been head coach at Cal.  Like you, I’m guessing that he’ll find a spot on his staff for an assistant with two 6-10 sons.

Sadly,  Romar had put together an outstanding recruiting class, ranked number two nationally by ESPN, and now they’ll scatter to the four winds.

If I lived in Missouri, I’d look forward to next basketball season. And I’d stand back and watch the struggle that’ll ensue among high school coaches in Columbia,  over who gets Jontay.  All that’s at stake is a state title, like the one Michael Jr.’s team won last year.

As for the UW and its loss of a star recruit - this past year, they had Markelle Fultz.  Hell of a player.  How good?  Could very well be the top pick in the NBA draft.  Yet despite his presence, the Huskies won only two games.  (Trivia:  If Markelle Fultz does go Number One, it will be the second year in a row that the top pick came from a team that didn’t even make it to the NCAA tournament.  So much for star power.)

*********** Read a great article about Villanova coach Jay Wright and what he learned about the importance of ATTITUDE.

************ Arizona’s state association (AIA) passed a new amendment to its bylaws lifting restrictions on what high school coaches can do in the off-season with their teams and players. Football coaches still will not be permitted to put players in pads and helmets, but they will be able to coach their own kids in 7-on-7 games.

According to most football coaches, 7-on-7 as a club sport coached by outsiders had begun to take on all the appearances of AAU basketball.

Said one AAU basketball coach, "The AIA will be shocked when top players choose AAU over high school, but it's moving that way. I have four players right now debating skipping high school season next year to train, because they feel it would better prepare them for college than the Arizona season."

This is going to put more pressure on high school coaches to go year-round, but if not them, then who?  Somebody is going to be working with those kids and exerting influence over them.

An area 7-on-7 coach boasted of the exposure he was able to give a promising quarterback at a 7-on-7 tournament in Las Vegas featuring over 300 teams. “When you've got a kid who is all-state first team and throws over 3,000 yards and missed three games, who is a phenomenal athlete, my goal is to try to help this kid get out of high school, open the door. The door was open (last) weekend."

Said a Phoenix-area high school coach, "Football is really the only major sport not dominated by clubs.  However, with the increasing prevalence of year-round 7-on-7, this could be shifting. I have college coaches telling me stories of dealing with 7-on-7 coaches when it comes to recruiting certain skilled athletes in other parts of the country, likening them to 'street agents.'

"Unfortunately, naive parents are driving this new economy of experts – trainers, recruiting services, 7-on-7 coaches. Parents are being sold that this is what they have to do to get their kids exposure. This comes at the expense of the high school coach who typically has the best interests of the student-athlete at heart. The question comes down to who is the better influence on the student-athlete? The club guy/trainer, who has a direct financial interest in that individual? Or the high school coach, who has a greater interest in development of the person?"

There’s definitely a concern that there will be pressure on kids.  Said one principal. "This may end up hurting multi-sport athletes. Unfortunately, athletes may feel they have to participate in out-of-season practices, instead of participating in another sport."

A Phoenix-area football coach agrees. “Even now,” he says, “the pressure to devote oneself to a single sport by participating in club basketball or club baseball or club softball or club volleyball or club soccer is very strong. Many great athletes are convinced by myopic coaches that their only hope for athletic scholarships in college is by entirely devoting themselves to one sport throughout these precious high school years of competition.

"If coaches are granted permission to not merely cajole their athletes to join club teams but can actually legally conduct practices all year long, then the number of premature high school specialists will surely grow, and that is bad for high school athletics and bad for high school athletes. High school coaches need a respite from the intense demands of their sport and high school athletes should get to be kids and experience the joy of competing in multiple sports."

In the main, though, another principal believes the new amendment is a good thing.

“Our student-athletes are already participating in club/AAU sports," he said "This amendment will essentially allow our coaches to work with our student-athletes and help them develop their skills during the offseason….  Ultimately, this is a good thing for the Arizona athletics as long as coaches still provide students with time away from the sport and encourage multi-sport participation, if that’s what the student-athlete chooses."

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

I want to thank you ,again, for your work with your coaching blog.  I look forward to reading it every Tuesday and Friday.

I thought that you might enjoy this quote that I read in a magazine that is attributed to Coach Lou Holz:  

Lou Holtz (2006) once said "Coaching gives one a chance to be successful as well as significant. The difference between the two is when you die, your
success comes to an end. When you are significant, you continue to help others be successful long after you are gone.

It has been a long, snowy winter in Montana.  Spring will soon bring some   coaching clinics. At Last!!

Thank you!!

Marlowe Aldrich
Saint Francis Junior High Coach
Billings, Montana

*********** There used to be jokes about this... No more Homecoming Kings and Queens at the University of Minnesota.  Instead, they’ll be of any sex/gender and they’ll be called “Royals.

*********** A Canadian college removed the weight scale from its fitness center because - seeing your weight can be a “triggering event.”

Mirrors are next.

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

I headed to Quincy, IL this past weekend for the Tri-State Football Clinic.  Brad Dixon of Camp Point High School puts this clinic on and does a great job.  Well organized, efficient, and best of all, GREAT speakers.  You see, Brad is a wing-T guy, and he admits to being selfish in his desire to start a clinic.  He wanted to bring in the best guys he could find at the stuff he wants to know about.  So, this clinic is wing-t heavy, but not exclusively.  So, once again, the speakers weren't the typical "this guy won a championship this year so you should want to hear him" kind of guys. Instead, they were like-minded guys who have demonstrated their competence over the long haul.  One of the three best clinics I've ever been to.  The others were the last Tri-State Clinic I went to in 2015 and the Hugh Wyatt clinic I attended in Chicago a number of years ago.

A few thoughts from the clinic:
    1    Jeff Duke presented on his philosophy of 3D coaching.  Coaching the body, the mind, and the heart.  A speaker brought in in part by the FCA, I was challenged and inspired.  I ordered the book as soon as I walked out of the session.
    2    Lawson, MO runs the 'open wing' but with wing-t.  Head coach Todd Dunn has been at it for a long time as a wing-T guy.  158-43, 1 state championship, 2 runners-up, 1 semifinal.  It's not much of a stretch to see what your open wing is when viewing theirs.  They transitioned three years ago and are now fully open-wing.  Their offensive coordinator was nice enough to sit down with my staff for an hour and answer lots of questions.  It was nice to talk to a guy who went through the 'growing pains.'  As most decent coaches will do, he was willing to share game films and anything else.  Again, not your stuff, but they are really good so it's good to have a chance to watch it in action.
    3    Erle Bennett from Centralia, MO is one of those legend-type guys.  34 years, 200-61, 2 state championships, 1 runner-up, 1 semifinal.  Absolutely traditional wing-t guy.  Been at it so long that he mentioned conversations he used to have with Chuck Clausen about the Jet and Rocket (and wing-T).  Key takeaway:  "The 15-18 year old mind is like a water bottle.  You can only fill it up so far before it will overflow.  Don't give them more than they can handle.  And if you add something, you have to take something away."  His teams have beaten Lawson's teams the last few years, so I asked his opinion on the move to shotgun and he gave it an unqualified "go for it" with one caveat - you have to have someone who can throw the ball.  
Have a great day.

Todd Hollis
Elmwood High School
Elmwood, Illinois


I very much appreciate the kind words.

Sounds like it was a great clinic with a lot to offer the coaches.

The water bottle analogy is a great one, and one that all of us - myself included - need to remember.

*********** To think that this could all have been prevented if his father had just let him have a cheeseburger every once in a while!

*********** At one time, I was serving on a community panel, and at our first meeting, everyone had to introduce him or herself.  One guy, maybe 25 years old, said that at the present time he was working for the local cable company, but he was going to become a motivational speaker.

I thought, WTF?  Aren't you missing something? Doesn’t that come after - not before - you’ve accomplished something noteworthy?

Anyhow, as we all know if we’ve ever had to book a well-known personality to give a “motivational speech,”  there’s a lot of money in it - money that I’ve felt for the longest while was money down the gurgle.

And then, as I was rooting through a lot of old magazines, I came across an article that supported my belief.  Several years ago, former NFL great Fran Tarkenton wrote something in an issue of Management magazine that was reprinted in Scholastic Coach magazine.  That’s where I saw it.  Considering that he was taking on a sacred cow of  sports and business leadership - motivational speaking - it took a lot of guts.  It was especially gutty, considering that he’d been making a decent living as a motivational speaker.

Over the years, corporations have paid me handsomely to give motivation speeches. I am a slow learner, but eventually I do learn. After giving hundreds of talks, I realized that all I was doing was entertaining the troops.  I was making them laugh,  getting them to clap their hands and getting them to feel “motivated.”

But was I getting them to perform any differently? I don’t think so.

I don’t give motivational speeches anymore.  They don’t work in football, and they don’t work in the business setting.

If an athlete is constantly performing well, I am willing to call him well-motivated.  I don’t wonder about what’s going on inside of him.  That’s his business, not mine.  And I don’t think that pep talks or hard language can contribute anything to his motivation.

If coaches and business managers want to increase performance, they are going to have to change their own behavior, not call for the speaker with the magic potion.  There is no easy, simple solution to motivating people.  There is only your own behavior and your day-to-day interaction with your people.

Behavior management has focused on specific and measurable performance and the actions of managers that affect it. The focus is practical, not theoretical.  It can be called systematic common sense.

Lombardi was a great example to his players. He was able to break complex tasks down into simple tasks that the players could master.  He gave clear directions and he provideD a lot of feedback - some of it praise. IHIs example and his ability to teach produced high performance.

Successful executives almost always are good models.  They exemplify hard work, dedication, and the ability to learn from others, make decisions, and follow through.  By example, they teach their people how to succeed.

I am convinced that the first requirement of leadership is to exemplify desirable behavior.

In short, talk is cheap.

***********  I know those people that put up the billboards don’t even know me, but what the hell.   It’s the thought that counts.

March 20 is International Day of Happiness,” (mark it on your calendar) and to “help Americans celebrate and rekindle their inner joy,” a Vancouver, Washington based organization called The Joy Team has embarked on a national feel-good campaign called Smile Across America.  It consists of posting 56 billboards in 41 cities across the country, sharing such uplifting sentiments as:

"Think happy. Be happy." “Be you. The world needs more of your kind of awesome.”  "Something wonderful is about to happen." “You are loved. Pass it on.” "Stop. Smile. Breathe. Life is beautiful."  “Be excellent to each other.”   "You make a difference."  “You matter.”  “You make a difference. We're so glad you're here.” “You are an inspiration.” “We all belong.”

Here’s the one I liked best :  "Do more of what makes you happy."  Yeah.  Screw everybody else.  Just as long as it makes you happy.

Anyhow, this got me to thinking about starting an organization called Disaffected Association of Dads (DAD).  For a price, I'd put up billboards outside schools providing  motivational messages from overbearing parents

You’re getting the shaft
You’re not playing because the coaches don’t like you
You only skipped one practice
You know most of the plays
Four F’s are passing in my book
Your dumbass coach is the only reason why you’re not starting
With that offense you're running, people won't get to see what you can do
They should throw the ball more.  To you.
Those coaches don’t even want to hear that you were an All-Star in Pop Warner
You tried to make that tackle on that long run
The all-star team selections were rigged
The coach should be getting you college offers
If you were a pro they’d cut Brady and keep you
Everybody else in the stands agrees with me
Nick Saban called and wants to know why you’re not starting

*********** I’m not sure how much longer Gonzaga can hide behind the “Cinderella” label, because by any measure other than the conference they play in, the Zags (it’s pronounced “zag,” not “zahg”) or, more formally, the Bulldogs, are a big time basketball program.

They win, they win against big-time competition, they draw big crowds on the road and you have to know somebody to get a ticket to a Zags’ home game.   And they’ve done this, year after year, as long as I can remember.

In their hometown - Spokane, Washington - they have no competition.  Other than high school sports and minor league baseball and hockey, there’s nothing else in town.  Gonzaga is (figuratively speaking) Spokane’s pro franchise.

And if you believe an article in the Guardian, a London-based publication, the Zags are “the Central Hope for the Struggling City of Spokane.”

WTF?  “Last hope?”  “Struggling city?”  Saved by a basketball team?

Gosh, if Gonzaga doesn’t win, could Spokane become the Camden, New Jersey of the Northwest?

Here's a sample:

Last year, Spokane ranked as the 22nd most dangerous city in the United States, up from 26th the year before. Last year alone there were 10 murders, 1,100 violent crimes, and 12,000 property crimes. President Trump’s message of gloom and doom resonated acutely with Spokane and the deeply conservative US congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers has represented Spokane County since 2005. Spokane’s unemployment rate is stalled at about 7%, the highest for a medium- or large-sized city in Washington and double the rate of Seattle. Over 17% of Spokane’s population lives below the poverty line. Spokane, in short, is a town in desperate need of success, vicarious or otherwise.

Notice the shot at Spokane because its Congresswoman is “deeply conservative?”  Actually, the city itself is rather liberal, a leftist island in the middle of a very conservative area, but even so, it’s a damn nice city.

Crime? Spokane had 10 murders last year.  But these were not gang killings or murders of complete strangers.  Jut about all of them involved people who knew each other, and most of them were cases of domestic violence.

I would live in Spokane in a heartbeat.  It’s in the heart of a four-season playground.  Not many cities in the world can match it for the  natural beauty of its surroundings -  mountains, forests and lakes.   Idaho’s spectacular Lake Couer d’Alene is just 45 minutes to the east.  And low humidity, guys, which means no bugs!  It doesn’t rain nearly as much as it does in Seattle, either.  Best of all, it’s a small city that offers big-city culture and conveniences. Eastern Washington University is in suburban Cheney, just 25 minutes from downtown.  Washington State University is an hour and a half to the south.  Spokane’s got a nice airport and it’s served by real airlines, not something with “commuter” or “express” at  the end of the name.

It really isn’t fair to compare it statistically to Seattle, the glamorous Northwest giant six hours to the west on the other end of the state. But get this, you poor schlubs who live and labor in Seattle - in Spokane, you can afford to buy a house.  Really.

Here’s a slide show of some beautiful shots of Spokane.  Some struggling city. There are plenty of cities in the United States where you couldn’t take a single shot that would make the cut.

Funny - on the Guardian’s site, they’ve posted a sign, like the ones held by those scruffy guys standing by the entrance ramp to the Freeway: “If you use it, if you like it, then why not pay for it.  It’s only fair.” 

Yeah.  Will write for food. The only thing that’s missing is “God Bless.”

Believe me - after that POS article, they owe us money.

***********  It never stops, does it coach?  (see below)

Kind regards,

Eric C. Heintz
Puyallup, WA

Thanks, Coach.

From the friendly folks at the NFL where they can’t  be bothered with teaching their own players how to tackle.

Pete acts as if he and his rugby guru invented tackling, and he's got credibility because of all  the Legion of Boom crap, but the problem is that long after he’s gone we’ll be stuck with this sh--.

If he weren't in such a crappy division I’d give him two more years.

Appreciate the note.

This is from the Web site of USA Football - self-styled "Governing Body" of our sport.  They tell us to "take the head out of tackling."

Hmmm.  Sure looks to me as if contact was initiated with the front of the helmet.  In fact, it looks like a freeze-frame from a “HOW NOT TO” photo.

Show this to an official you know.  I’d be surprised if he didn’t call this a textbook example of “Face Tackling.”

It's illegal.

Here's what the Rule Book says...

RULE 2, SECTION 20, ARTICLE 1:  Illegal helmet contact is an act of initiating contact with the helm against an opponent.  There are several types of illegal helmet contact:

b. Face Tackling is an act by  defensive player who initiates contact with a runner with the front of his helmet

Face Tackling NFHS

Above the is NFHS' illustration of face tackling - other than the fact that the USA Football shot is a few frames later and the kid has begin to lift, there's not a lot of difference between the two

I know face tackling when I see it, because it was still legal when I started coaching and we had to eliminate teaching it.


(Shh. Don't tell USA Football.  Let's see how long it takes them to correct it.)

*********** INTERNET HUMOR


'I have always wanted to have my family history traced, but I can't afford to spend the money to do it.  Any suggestions?'



‘Start a rumor that you’re being considered by President Trump for a cabinet position.’

*********** I came across an article in a recent Coach and AD Magazine that I found very thought-provoking.

The author, Josh Hils, is described as “ a veteran high school coach of 18 years.”

Participation in sports is a hot item with administrators, who think that the ideal football program is one in which every member of the student body - male and female - is in a football  uniform;  and with football coaches, who on the one hand are badgered by administrators to “get more kids out” and on the other hand foresee the aggravation of having to deal with large numbers of players who will never see action.

With coaches, especially football coaches - on the hot seat because, for assorted reasons,  numbers are down, you’d think that last thing anyone would be suggesting would be making cuts.

But there author Hils is,  making a case for - gasp! - cuts.

The majority of us were brought into coaching with the mindset that the opportunity to be part of a team is beneficial and rewarding for everyone involved. Sports are supposed to be an extension of the academic experience and teach valuable lessons about personal growth, character and working toward a common goal. All of this seems to fly in the face of making cuts. After all, cuts prevent opportunities for student-athletes. How can an athlete grow if he or she is cut from a team or program? Not to mention, parents who call to complain about their child being cut often say, “They will be happy to just be on the team.”

This sounds odd, but cutting kids can be beneficial for the team, athlete, parent and coach. Here are four examples of how.

1. Athletes who sit the bench build resentment.    Kids are asked to make all kinds of sacrifices - they play basketball in summer leagues and they go to camps.  They faithfully attend practices during Christmas vacation (sorry- winter break) - and then they don’t play. 

2. Establish a predictable philosophy for team selection.  Make sure your criteria are well known.  Writes  “some programs allow juniors to play on junior varsity teams, while others do not. It all depends on the numbers for your program. However, if you have to make cuts, consider the junior year the key factor.  If a player is not varsity caliber as a junior, it probably means you should cut them. If all things are equal between a sophomore and a junior with respect to ability, talent and skill, go with the sophomore. Upperclassmen are not typically OK with freshmen and sophomores playing over them while they sit on the bench.

3. Other opportunities are available for athletes.   Nowadays, there are plenty of other opportunities for kids who get cut.

4. Keeping kids can lose kids. Kids who don’t play will eventually bail anyhow.  And in the long run, when word gets out that you just stockpile a bunch of kids, they’ll stop coming out.

The author likens no-cut policies to the dreaded trophies-for-everybody culture that’s helping to neuter our boys.

We owe it to our student-athletes to provide genuine opportunities for success through athletics. Predictable playing time, earning the opportunities, and fulfilling a meaningful role within a team or group best reflects what happens in life beyond high school. Nobody gets a job or gets into college just because they filled out the application. You have to earn the spot. You have to be the best person for the job. You have to fill the need and fulfil the role you are given.

We do a disservice to student-athletes when we don’t cut. We are not preparing them for life beyond the walls of school. We create a false sense of accomplishment, which can lead to resentment, a poor attitude and a lifetime of negativity.

ed and wombat

*********** That’s a wombat, mate, and that’s my son, Ed.  Ed, who lives in Melbourne, Australia,  went camping this past weekend with my grandson, Sam, and said the little fella and a few others like  him were wandering  around the camp site, rummaging for food..  


Josh Montgomery - Berwick, Louisiana

Ken Hampton - Raleigh, North Carolina

John Vermillion - St. Petersburg, Florida ("I talked with him a lot during his time at Army, and I genuinely liked him. We frequently met for breakfast at Schade's in Highland Falls, and it was always a pleasure for me.")

Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin

Tom Davis - San Marcos, California

Kevin McCullough - Lakeville, Indiana

Jerry Lovell - Bellevue, Nebraska (“He coached about an hour away from us in 1991 at Peru State College in beautiful Peru, Nebraska....Home of the Oak Bowl.”)

Before getting into coaching, Lou Saban was an All-AAFC lineman for the Cleveland Browns, who won four AAFC titles during his time there.  He was the very first coach the Patriots (then the Boston Patriots) ever had, and he won two AFL titles at Buffalo (1964-1965) and was AFL Coach of the Year both years.  In Denver, he drafted Floyd Little. In his second go-round at Buffalo, he’s given credit, rightfully, for turning the Juice loose.

In chronological, here's  where Lou Saban coached:
Case Tech - 3 years (first year, 1950)
Washington - assistant coach - 2 years
Northwestern - 1 years
Western Illinois - 3 years
Boston Patriots - 2 years
Buffalo Bills - 4 years
Maryland - 1 years
Denver Broncos - 5 years
Buffalo Bills - 5 years
Miami - 2 years
Army - 1 year
Central Florida - 2 years
Martin County HS - 2 years
South Fork HS - 1 year
Georgetown HS - 1 years
Middle Georgia Heat Wave - 1 year
Peru State - 1 year
Tampa Bay Storm - 1 year
Milwaukee Mustangs - 1 year
SUNY Canton - 6 years
Chowan University - 2 years (last year, 2002)

Read more about Lou Saban, a very interesting man

*********** QUIZ:  The photo is from the mid  1950s - who is the coach and who is the player?
quiz - player and coach


american flag TUESDAY,  MARCH 14,  2017  “Everybody should do at least two things each day that he hates to do, just for practice.”  William James

***********  Scott Rueck is the coach of the Oregon State women’s basketball team - has been since 2010. 

When he was hired as the Beavers’ head coach, he’d just won the  Division III national title at little George Fox University, in Newburg, Oregon.   At George Fox, his overall record was 288-88.

At OSU, Rueck has continued to do well.  Overall, his record in Corvallis is .655.

Last year,  the Beavers went 32-4 and made it to the Final Four before losing to - surprise! - UConn. They finished ranked second in the nation.

This year, they’re 29-4 heading into the NCAA tournament.  They finished first in conference play, but their 48-43 loss to Stanford in the Pac-12 Tournament final probably cost them a Number One seed.

Anyhow, the guy can coach.

Interesting guy.  He’s just 5-4.  “When you’re small like I am,” he told the Portland Oregonian back in 2010, “not a lot is usually expected of you. I’ve had to prove myself at every level of everything.  I’ve had to achieve. I’ve had to fight like crazy.  But it’s made me who I am.”

There was something else in that article that really stuck with me, because it’s very close to the way I feel about the kind of guys I want on my team.

He puts a great deal of emphasis on team play and togetherness.  His recruiting “litmus test” of whether a girl would be a good fit in his program was an interesting one. He told the Oregonian that he would ask himself whether the girl would be enjoyable to sit next to on a long van ride to an away game.

“If she can be my shotgun when we’re driving up to Spokane or all over Hawaii,” he said, “I know she’ll fit.”

*********** If you think NFL tackling sucks, you’re right.  And if you think it bothers many NFL people, you’re wrong.

That’s because more and more, the main goal is not to take the ball carrier to the ground.

Increasingly, it’s either to protect one’s self, or to “punish” the ball carrier, or to strip the ball away.

Especially the last point,  Hall of Famer Rod Woodson told the New York Times a few years ago.

“If somebody did a study of players trying to make a strip before tackling,” he said, “I bet a couple miles is being had in yards-after for trying to get the strip.  That would bring to light how silly it is to always try to get the strip.  I was always taught, since 1987, tackle-strip, tackle-strip.  Now, it seems like it’s strip-tackle.”

*********** This came from the introduction to “Football,” a hardback training manual put out by the US Navy in 1943, when we were deeply involved in the greatest war the world had ever seen, and the  Navy viewed football as an ideal means of training its leaders…

When he was Director of Athletics at Annapolis (the US Naval Academy),  Admiral Jonas H. Ingram in his first message to the Midshipmen stated:

“The closest thing to war in time of peace is football!”

He now commands one of the large task forces at sea.

The analogy of football and war is becoming more and more apparent every day.  The benefits of training in football are helping American soldiers, sailors, and  marines in their wartime duties.

The strategy of war so far is displayed in every game of the season.

We must:

seek out the opponent’s weakness and pound on it;

shift the point of attack when the opponent is strengthened at that point;

use the element of surprise as a devastating scoring play;

realize that few games are won by defensive measures alone and that well-trained reserves continually represent the margin of victory;

know that the continuously successful team must possess a varied and coordinated attack, in the air and on land, and must be able to hold its ground;

have the foresight to punt and bide time for  scoring opportunity, and when it is offered, to attack with speed, power, deception with complete confidence and with a will that does not permit failure.

The capacity of our football players to absorb the shock and pain of violent physical contact without wincing, and to rally strongly and courageously in the face of misfortune and adversity is familiar to all who know the game.  The football player accepts blows from Fate and his adversary as part and parcel of the game and stays in there swinging.  He combines fortitude and strength with bodily skill and agility, and these facts with split-second thinking and reactions.  These are the same qualities that make our fighting men the toughest and best in the world.

Competition is as old as the Navy itself and it is just as traditionally Navy as John Paul Jones.  In peace time and in war time, the method the Navy has used to train its crews is competition. One turret crew has competed against another, ship has contested against ship in engineering and communications as well as in gunnery.  Aircraft squadrons have trained by competing against one another in machine gun practice, camera gun and bombing. The high state of efficiency and the remarkable records that the Navy has made in this war already in gunnery and aerial warfare are ample proof that these competitive methods are very worthwhile.

Jeez - this is so 1940s.  “Shock and pain of physical contact?”   You call that a sport?  “Misfortune and adversity?” Not my son.  “Blows from fate and his adversary?”  Not if I can help it.  “Competition?”  Oh, no you don't.  That means you’ll have losers.  “Fighting men?”  That’s not very inclusive.  What about women?

That’ll give you the idea of the kind of nation we were the last time we fought a war with the object of winning it.

Now, if somebody were to write something like that, he’d be more likely to do so in praise of soccer, and he’d have to change “fighting men” to “fighting persons of all genders.”

***********  Football games without coaches on the sidelines?  Impossible!  Can’t be done.

But guys,  that’s the way the game originated.

Coaches got the players ready.  And then the players played.


Somehow, the old-timers managed to play the game without a dozen guys up in the press box, connected by wireless phones to people on the sidelines who hold up huge signs with mysterious images on them, as players pause at the line of scrimmage looking back over their shoulders for Instructions From Headquarters.

They were playing football quite satisfactorily before coaches were even allowed to send in plays, and well before the technology existed to send plays directly to radio receivers in players’ helmets.

How about practice?  Think you can teach your quarterback to call his own plays? 

What about his having to stay on the field when you don’t have the ball?  Your quarterback?  On defense?

He can do it.  Other guys have.

Imagine having to turn one of your (two-way) starters into a kicker!

It’s been done.

Is today’s high-technology game a better game?  Who knows?   It’s a matter of opinion.

*********** Before every one of its games, one of the conferences flips a coin with a player on it.  A Heisman Trophy winner from that conference who was killed in the service of his country.

Who’s the player?

Correctly identifying Nile Kinnick of Iowa:

Ken Hampton - Raleigh, North Carolina
Kevin McCullough - Lakeville, Indiana

Iowa's Nile Kinnick  was  a classic single-wing tailback.

He ran, passed, punted and returned punts  and - get this - drop-kicked extra points. And he played defense. In his senior year, he  threw only 31 passes, but 11 of them were for touchdowns.  He was involved as a runner or passer in 16 of the 19 touchdowns Iowa scored.  Playing both ways, he was on the field for a stretch of 402 consecutive minutes, missing on the second half of the season opener - a runaway Iowa victory - and the final 18 minutes of his final game.

He won the Heisman Trophy in 1939 and gave an acceptance speech that left veteran sportswriters scrambling for superlatives.

In addition to his football achievements, he  was by all accounts an outstanding individual - he was student body president his senior year, and was named to Phi Beta Kappa, the exclusive academic fraternity. He graduated cum laude, and was his class’ commencement speaker.

He turned down a  genrous  offer from the NFL’s Brooklyn Dodgers and enrolled instead in Iowa Law School.

He left law school after one year and enlisted in the Naval Air Reserve and  reported for active duty just three days after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

He was training to be a fighter pilot, and in his last letter to his parents, he wrote,  "The task which lies ahead is adventure as well as duty, and I am anxious to get at it. I feel better in mind and body than I have for ten years and am quite certain I can meet the foe confident and unafraid. I have set the Lord always before me, because He is at my right hand. I shall not be moved. Truly, we have shared to the full life, love, and laughter. Comforted in the knowledge that your thought and prayer go with us every minute, and sure that your faith and courage will never falter, no matter the outcome, I bid you au revoir."[

On June 2, 1943, he was on a routine training flight from an aircraft carrier off the coast of Venezuela when his fighter developed an oil leak so serious that he couldn’t make it back to the carrier and was forced to try an emergency landing in the water.  His plane crashed and he went down with it.  His body was never recovered.

He was the first Heisman Trophy winner to die, just a little more than he was a month before his 25th birthday. 

The Iowa Stadium is named in his honor and Iowa plays an excerpt from Kinnick’s Heisman speech on the Kinnick Stadium scoreboard before the national anthem at every Hawkeyes’ home game.

He’s also honored by the Big Ten every football season:  the coin tossed before every Conference football game bears his likeness.

Don’t let all the references to ‘State University of Iowa’ confuse you.  They’re not talking about what we now call Iowa State.  It’s what we call “Iowa.”  That’s how it was known then; it’s now officially “The University of Iowa.”

What we now call “Iowa State” is officially “Iowa State University of Science and Technology.

It reminds me of the year that prior to the Apple Cup here in Washington they were selling two different types of tee-shirts.  One read “Washington State is THE University of Washington.”  The other read “The University of Washington is THE Washington State University.”

*********** It's tournament time!  And, reminds Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal,

"This is the best of amateur sports in America, and nobody makes money off this thing except  for the coaches, schools, sponsors, vendors, networks, and the NCAA.

*********** While rummaging through Iowa football history I came across some great stuff.

First was some video of the1957 Rose Bowl, won by Iowa over Oregon State, 35-19.

Oregon State was running Tommy Prothro’s balanced-line single wing; Iowa was running, for the first time in front of a national TV audience,  its wing-T offense.  The 1956 Iowa team (the Rose Bowl, remember was played on New Year’s Day, 1957), was coached by Forest Evashevski, who had been a teammate at Michigan of Dave Nelson, then head coach at Delaware.  Nelson, with his assistants Milo “Mike” Lude and Harold Westerman, had modified the single-wing which Nelson had learned at Michigan under the great Fritz Crisler by moving the quarterback (whose responsibilities in the single wing had primarily been serving as the “blocking back”) under center.  At that time, a quarterback under center was referred to as a “T-formation” quarterback, and the new formation became known as the “winged” (not “wing”) T.

(It’s ironic that just as the Wing-T offense derived from the Single Wing 60-some years ago, we now see things coming full-circle, as various coaches move their QB back from under center line up in what they call  a “Direct Snap Wing-T” or “Shotgun Wing-T.” Basically, though, as any old-timer will tell you, it's the  Single Wing with a sexier name.)

The Nelson “Winged T” was first run at the University of Maine; when Nelson moved on to Delaware, Westerman stayed on as Maine’s new head coach, but Mike Lude accompanied Nelson as his line coach.  At Delaware, the Blue Hens had such success with the “Winged T” that it drew the interest of Nelson’s old teammate, Evashevski, who’d just come off the 1955 season at Iowa, his fourth season there, with a a 3-5-1 record.

Nelson gave Evashevski and his staff complete access to his staff and players - and to his system - and when the Hawkeyes went 9-1 in 1956, and won their first Big Ten title in over 30 years - and made their first appearance ever in the Rose Bowl - it was the talk of  football insiders. 

But what really brought the “Winged T” to the attention of most football people - and the American public - was their convincing Rose Bowl win.

The Rose Bowl for years had been the top football game of the season.  There was no Super Bowl then, and the NFL championship game was of little more consequence than any of the major bowl games.

Later in 1957, in response to the tremendous interest in the offense generated by Iowa’s Rose Bowl performance, Evashevski and Nelson “collaborated” on a book which is now a classic, “Scoring Power with the Winged T Offense.” 

To say that Evashevski and the “Winged T” were a success at Iowa is an understatement.  He had a hell of a run with it.

In 1957, the Hawkeyes were 7-1-1.   In 1958, they were 8-1-1, their only loss coming in their final game, after they’d already clinched the Big Ten title, to Ohio State.

Those were still the days when most polls awarded the national championship before the bowl games, and that year, LSU was voted number one going into the bowls.

But following the 1959 Rose Bowl, a spectacular offensive display in which Bob Jeter ran for 194 yards on nine carries and Iowa trounced  Cal, 38-12, the prestigious Football Writers’ Association voted Iowa  the National Champion.

Here’s that video:

In 1959 Iowa dropped to 5-4, but the Hawkeyes roared back in 1960 to finish 8-1-1, tied for first in the Big Ten.

And then, following the 1960 season, Evashevski retired as coach to become full-time Athletic Director.  He was only 42, but he never coached again.  It does, however appear that he became “that” AD, the  kind of ex-coach who intends to cement his own claim to immortality by seeing to it that his successors as head coach never have a chance to succeed; perhaps, many suggested, he harbored hopes of being hired back as head coach.  That never happened, and in 1970 after an investigation into some irregularities over expenses, he was fired as AD.

“Collaborated” in referring to the 1957 book is the wrong word.  It was Nelson’s offense and Nelson’s production (actually, most of the work was done by Mike Lude) all the way.  However, the book might never even have been published if it were not for the work of Evashevski at Iowa in drawing attention to the offense.  Who knows? Perhaps, without Iowa’s great season, the “Winged T” might have remained a small-school wonder.

It often brings to mind a stanza from Thomas Grey’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,” one of the greatest poems in English literature.  In his eloquent way, he asks the age-old question: what happens if a tree falls in the middle of the forest?

“Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.”

*********** In the 1959 Rose Bowl video (an Iowa thumping of Cal), Cal’s QB is Joe Kapp.  The Same.  He’s running Cal’s Belly-T, and you’ll notice that the option pitch was still being made underhanded.

Joe Kapp was a hell of a tough guy, made to order for those days of two-way football.

I saw him play rugby for Cal when they came east and played Yale, and he was a stud.  (Back in those days, some of the West Coast schools did away with spring ball and played rugby instead.  Earlier in the 20th century, playing rugby was their answer to the nationwide concern over fatalities in football.) 

He was a decent QB, in the CFL and in the NFL, but he was never known as a great passer.

As my friend Charlie Wilson noted, “Joe Kapp was the Master of the “Option Pass”: ‘When Joe throws the ball, you have the option of catching either end…’ (Sonny Jurgensen?)”

*********** THE WISDOM OF BOB READE - PART III – FROM MY 1986 CLINIC NOTES (My comments in parentheses)
































I shared these notes with a friend, John Bothe, a high school coach in Oregon, Illinois, who was a Division III All-American for Coach Reade at Augustana, and asked him if he’d care to reminisce a bit about his coach.

He wrote…

Wow Coach, Where do I start? I could write for days.

I'm sure you got a lot of X's and O's from the clinic and his excellent book that he wrote. But that is only a fraction of the reasons for his incredible success. From the things that you have written about him previously I believe that you understand that so I will focus on the "other" things.

What you see is what you got from Bob Reade. I have seen him from two different directions. One as a player for him and the other as a reader of his book and listener at his clinics. I can assure you that everything matches up.
No public persona or behind the scenes mysteries. One of the only other coaches that I consistently heard the same thing about was the great Don James, a good friend of Coach Reade's.

No man was more about the team and fairness than Bob Reade. I saw him scold our starting RB, who just set a single game playoff rushing record minutes before, for being late to the post game dinner. The only man I saw totally preach the team as much as Coach Reade may have been the late Bo Schembechler.

He was unaffected by outside influences. No booster, parent, or voice from the stands persuaded him to do anything other than what he felt was exactly the right thing to do. As a coach that may be the biggest thing that I took from him to this day.

Great family man with 11 children.

Great faith. No question about his devotion to God and the Catholic Church.

Those are a few things that I take away. It was not always perfect. I grumbled as much as any other player but I would not trade a second of my time with him.

You remember the games when the double wing was cooking and you didn’t need to do anything other than the base plays out of tight formation?

That was Coach Reade's philosophy of formationing.

Coach Reade had all the formations that a 3 back offense can have but only used them when needed. Wing right was the base formation.

He was not a coach that would send in a number of formations early in a game to see how you would adjust. He instead used them to distort a defense that was prepared to defend the base offense from wing right.

The end over formation was popular for him and I still use it when needed. He also had a set of unbalanced formations that he could use if needed.

He only pulled linemen on wing counter and fullback trap.

The off-set I set was called Overload and was very helpful to get the left halfback, or 2 back, involved in the game.

In concept, I suppose that defensive coordinators might think that they had him nailed down. But then, when he came out in Overload, all he did was sweep or run off-tackle, and despite knowing that, they still didn't do a very good job of stopping him.

Despite the fact that he did not throw very often he had an effective passing attack. He would throw play action at any time and he was throwing to score. We actually spent a lot of time working on the passing game in practice for a run-heavy team.

I think that a lot of people equate the Augustana Wing-T with Coach Reade's immense success. As you found out from that clinic in 1986, there is a lot more to it. “The Wisdom of Coach Reade” is a great title for it. He just had a different perspective and a different way of looking at things.

There were better strategists and teachers in coaching than Coach Reade. Honestly, you have done more to refine your offensive system than he ever did with his. But do you know of anyone else that had such consistent success in the transition from high school to college coaching? He truly knew the value of all three phases of the game and how to keep them cohesive.

Another thing that I have always thought was interesting was that his high school and Augustana records are nearly identical.

*********** QUIZ:  From 1950 through 2002, he coached at 20 different places (21, if you consider that at one of the pro team, he made two stops.) He didn’t stay long in any one place.   He was head coach of three pro teams (one of them twice), three Arena League teams, five major college teams
(Army, Maryland, Miami and Northwestern), four smaller colleges , and three high schools.  And he spent two years as an assistant at a major college in the Northwest.


american flag FRIDAY,  MARCH 10,  2017  “Visit with your predecessors from previous administrations. They know the ropes and can help you see around some corners. Try to make original mistakes, rather than needlessly repeating theirs.”  Donald Rumsfeld

*********** Here’s all you need to know about the state of American education today:

It was A Day Without Women Thursday, and a large number of the women who skipped work were school teachers. Public school teachers. So many, in fact, that some public schools simply closed for the day.  Nice example.

Meanwhile, at private schools, it was business as usual, male and female teachers doing the jobs teachers contract to do: teaching academic subjects instead of carrying signs and chanting. 

*********** Disney, ESPN’s parent company, is throwing a fit because the World Wide Leader isn’t the corporate ATM that it once was. For various reasons, ESPN, which charges cable systems a whopping $7 per subscriber per month, is losing 10,000 subscribers every month. 

Partly it’s the economy, partly it’s more and more people “cutting the cord” (dropping cable or satellite service), partly it’s the young audience’s increasing reliance on social media for their sports information.  But I go along with those who say that a lot of it is a reaction to ESPN’s increasingly blatant liberal approach to stories (can you say Caitlyn Jenner?). 

Meanwhile, Disney proceeds to double down on pushing the Agenda with a redo of Beauty and the Beast, this time with a little male-to-male attraction thrown in for the kiddies.

*********** When Dick MacPherson left Syracuse after the 1990 season to become head coach of the Patriots, the Pats were really bad.  There were changes in ownership and threats to move the franchise.   Coach Mac lasted just two seasons before being fired.

"I never got fired until there,” he told in 2009.  “That was the biggest present he (the owner) ever gave me. I think I had five or six years left on my contract. Fine."

In 2010,  in the AFCA’s publication, “The Extra Point,” he recalled, “When I left Syracuse to go back to the pros, there was more than one reason why I left and I think the main one was that I was getting into my sixties and I wasn’t going to be coaching that much longer, but I wasn’t set financially.  The opportunity came for the pros and I couldn’t refuse because it protected me and my family. That’s the main reason why I left. But in today’s market (with college coaches making millions), I think I might have stayed.”

*********** Just behind my love of football and of history is a love of anthropology - the study of culture.  Especially American subcultures.  One of those is popularly called Pennsylvania Dutch.

A city kid from Philadelphia, I spent several summers at a YMCA camp “upstate,” first as a camper and then as a counselor.

The camp was located in a beautiful valley between what we called “mountains” in northern Lebanon County, about 80 miles west of Philly.

It was in what’s still called “Dutch Country.”

The area was originally settled in the 1700s by Germans, who landed in Philadelphia and then moved westward in search of land to settle on.  Actually, there was no “Germany” then;  they were people from various independent states that would later become part of a unified Germany.  But they spoke a Germanic language, and they referred to their language as “Deutsch,” which became corrupted by English speakers as “Dutch.”

Ever after, they came to be known as “Pennsylvania Dutch,” or just plain “Dutch.”  They referred to themselves as “Dutchmen,” or “Dutchies,” and so did the English speakers (like me).  Yes, some well-meaning folks  did attempt to set the record straight and call them “Pennsylvania Germans” (that’s what my high school Pennsylvania history book said), but it just didn’t take. (Maybe they should go south and try their luck calling Cajuns “Louisiana French.”)

It’s the “Pennsylvania Dutch” country, not “Pennsylvania German Country,” where the tourists go.  There’s Pennsylvania Dutch folk art (notably the designs painted on barns - SEE BELOW) and there’s Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine. Good, solid, stick-to-the-ribs food, and plenty of it. (I’ve written here before about my love of scrapple.)


And there is Pennsylvania Dutch talk.

When I was a kid, there were still some old-timers in that area - most of them to the south and east of Lebanon County, in Lancaster, York and Berks Counties - who spoke German.  Real German.  To a German of today, it might have been about as recognizable as a Scotsman’s English is to me, but it was German nonetheless, with an occasional bit of English mixed in.

Far more common were the younger folks,  who spoke English, but with an accent heavily influenced by German (“Cherman”).  “Cow” was “cah.” “Yes” was “yah.”  Jesus was “CHEEZ-iss.”   The letter “w” was often pronounced as “v”, and occasionally the reverse - a “v” became a “w.” A hard “g” (“chee”) could sound (“sahnd”) like a “k.” “Th” became “d”.  “S” sometimes came out (aht) “sch.” 

Pronunciation of the letter “r,” of course, was a problem, especially at the end of a word, as it is for any speaker of another language who tries to speak American English. (We’re the only people on earth who “chew their r’s,” especially as you move farther west.)

There was often a different sentence order (“go da road dahn.”) (“Throw the cahs over the fence some hay.” “Vee vass koin’ da road dahn to Lebnin (Lebanon).”

“Once” is used a lot.  It can mean “now.” (“Throw me dahn here some hay once.”) Or it can mean nothing specific. “Yet” can mean “still.”  (“Sorry I’m late.  Is there any food yet?”)  Instead of being “all out” of something, they just say it’s “all.”  (“The beer’s all” means “we’re aht of beer.”)

To outsiders (ahtsiders) the stereotypical Pennsylwania Dutchman was a rural type who may have seemed like a bumpkin but under the surface was a treasury of wisdom and common sense.  We all heard aphorisms, told as if they were the original thoughts of the Pennsylvania Dutch: “Ve get too soon oldt und too late schmart.” “A stout wife and a big barn never did a man no harm.” And our elders would laugh at the Pennsylvania Dutch key to a long, happy marriage: “Screwin’ don’t last; cookin’ do.”

Just as there once were dozens of comedians who told jokes in Yiddish dialect in New York (the only place where the audience could understand and appreciate it), I can remember Pennsylvania Dutch comedians.

There was an old World War II joke about the Pennsylvania Dutchman who was asked if the German planes he saw were Fokkers.

“Naw,” he said, “Dese Fokkers vass Messerschmidts!”

There is a sing-songishness to Pennsylvania Dutch that’s instantly recognizable to someone who knows where he is and what he’s listening to.

Pennsylvania German (“Cherman”) is not unlike Cajun French, and it’s every bit as much in danger of extinction.  And just as Cajun French survived as long as it did because of isolation from the mainstream English culture - the Cajun French lived in the swamps and bayous of South Louisiana - so has German survived in Pennsylvania largely because of another form of isolation:  the cultural isolation of the Amish and other conservative Mennonites in “Pennsylvania Dutch Country” has enabled them to retain much of their culture, including their language.

I stumbled across a series of videos (“wideos”) called “Ask a Pennsylvania Dutchman,” in which a guy named Douglas Madenford, who teaches German at Penn State, portrays a Pennsylvania Dutchman who answers viewers’ questions. His credentials are solid:  he grew up in Berks County, Pennsylvania and German was the second language spoken in his home.  His performance is remarkable.

You may not appreciate it, but, possibly because hearing him makes me nostalgic, I think it’s fantastic.

A Pennsylvania Dutchman on “Dutchified English”

A Pennsylvania Dutchman on Pennsylvania Dutch food

A Pennsylvania Dutchman on Snack Foods

A Pennsylvania Dutchman on “Foreigners” (from New York and New Jersey)

Douglas Madenford:

*********** Remember David Reaves, the newly-hired co-offensive coordinator at Oregon who was on the job less than two weeks when he was pulled over and nailed for DUI?

In a New York minute, he was notified that the University had begun the process of firing him.

Before they could do that, though, he resigned.  (To “spend more time with his family?”)

This week, the university announced the terms of his settlement.   Uh, “settlement?”

He’ll be paid $3,750 for 26 hours of work. (I’ll save you the math - that’s $144 an hour.)

Oh - and also, a $60,000 “lump-sum payment, according to the agreement.”

WTF?   Guy gets fired and they send him off with $63,750.

Think of it - most of you you working stiff teacher-coaches out there have to work a whole year for that.

*********** This year, the ACC is holding its basketball tournament in Brooklyn, after years of holding it in Greensboro, North Carolina.

That suits Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, who lipped off about Greensboro.

Perhaps forgetting that he’s the Syracuse coach and not the director of marketing, he noted that there were “business benefits” to be gained from holding tournaments in major cities.

And then he asked, rhetorically,  “How many players do they have in Greensboro?” (To which I’d be tempted to say, “I don’t know Jim.  How many players are there in Syracuse?”)

He concluded by saying, “There’s no value in playing in Greensboro. None.”

In response, the Greensboro people were far more gracious that I would have been,  but they did manage to get in a nice little zinger:

“We kindly disagree. But I guess you can lose in the 1st round anywhere.”

*********** Bronco Mendenhall, head coach at Virginia, talked about about taking over at BYU as a 38-year-old first-time head coach.

“The biggest adjustment for me as a head coach,” he said, “was the sheer volume of decisions I had to make on a daily basis.  You got from coaching one group of players to the entire team, then there are the assistant coaches, their families, stockholders, the media, it goes on and on. It places someone who is a first time head coach in a constant state of readiness.” 

One of a new head coach’s biggest jobs, of course, is building a staff.

“The first thing you need to do is give each candidate a chance to self-select for the job, which means you educate that person about your program, your values, and the job itself.”

(This is an area, I’ve found, where most head coaches, even experienced ones, are lax.  If you don’t let people know right up front what you’re going to expect of assistants - what it’s going to be like coaching on your staff - you greatly increase the chances of a serious misunderstanding at some point down the line.  In the first stage of an interview, I go over a list of 20 things that I expect of an assistant. None of them are related to football knowledge, I might add.  I ask the candidate after every point if he can coach under these conditions, and if he says “No” to any of them, we shake hands and I wish him well.  It’s much easier on everyone to have a guy decide right now, at this point, that the job’s not a good fit for him.)

In the process, Mendenhall said, he’s looking for a commodity that’s becoming increasingly valued throughout our society: grit.

“I love people with an unbreakable will and spirit.  I need to get a sense that a candidate has this.  The first thing I look for is will over skill.”

If he passes the self-screening and the “grit” test, the candidate is given opportunities to demonstrate five “coaching competencies”:

On-Field Performance - how the candidate teaches the fundamentals. He asks candidates to explain how they teach what they know in a way that makes sense to players.

Recruiting - in front of Mendenhall and his entire staff, the candidate watches film of a recruit and then critiques him.

Camaraderie and Communication - throughout the process, Mendenhall looks for signs that the candidate can work with the staff - and vice-versa.  He looks for a person who can express his point of view but, once a decision has been made, accept it and move forward.

Classroom: the candidate is “in the barrel” - he stands at the white board and makes a presentation to the staff.

Game Day: In an effort to observe how well the candidate can think on the fly, Mendenhall fires questions at him requiring quick answers - down-and-distance situations,  correct schemes to use against certain offense and defenses.

(From “This is the AFCA”, July/August 2014)

*********** “People complain that the SAT is biased and that the bias explains why students don’t do well.  That’s true - it is biased.  It’s biased against people who aren’t well educated. The test isn’t causing people to have bad educations, it’s merely reflecting the reality.  And if you don’t like your reflection, that doesn’t mean you should smash the mirror.”

“If your children don’t read or do math, why would you think they would do well on the SAT?”

“If we want people to get good scores on the SAT, I have a suggestion: stop complaining about how unfair the test is and do your homework.”

David S. Kahn, Author of numerous college-prep test books

*********** Had an interesting talk today with Jared Shanker, a writer for about the end-over-end dead-ball center snap (as opposed to the conventional spiral snap)  that’s coming increasingly into use in college ball.

Those of you who’ve been with me from the earliest days recall that I first “invented” the Wildcat (come on - all I did was name it) back in 1998, when I was coaching the La Center (Washington) Wildcats.

I’d had some experience running single wing the year before, but it was a bad experience.  We had six snaps go over the head of our 6-3 tailback.

What really made the Wildcat work for us was the way we snapped the ball.  It started when I spoke with a high school coach in Virginia whose name I failed to write down. I wish I knew, so I could give him credit.  He was running a direct-snap offense, and he said his tailback was so close - heels at three yards - that his center could make the snap with his head up. The trick, he said, was to snap the ball low and slow.  He said his kids practiced snapping against a beach chair.  As long as they didn’t knock it over backward, it wasn’t too hard.  

It worked pretty well for us.  In one weeks time we installed it, and we introduced it that Friday night, a miserable, rainy night on a muddy field.  We beat a better team, at their place, and the next week we put 50 points on our opponent. 

And then I mentioned this to Ed Racely.  Ed, a onetime coach who left football and did well as a builder, knew just about everyone who was anyone in the heyday of the single wing - he was a great friend of the late Ken Keuffel, longtime single wing coach at New Jersey’s Lawrenceville School - and he was able to tell me a lot about the single wing center snap.

The main thing he told me was that there was a school of single-wingers who subscribed to the belief that an end-over-end snap was preferable to the spiral snap because it was easier to teach the center and the ball was easier for the backs to see and to catch.  The chief proponent was Dr. John B. “Jock” Sutherland of Pitt.

I tried it and it worked, and from there I began showing it to coaches at camps and clinics.   Everywhere I showed it, coaches were amazed at how easily they themselves were able to make the end-over-end snap (although one guy did hit the ceiling of the room at a clinic in Providence). I presume that those who took the idea home and decided to employ a direct-snap in their offenses find it easy to teach to their kids.
(No, I certainly didn’t invent it.   All I take credit for is reviving a technique that had pretty much become extinct.)

Invent it? Hardly. A few years later, I splurged on a rather expensive book authored in 1927 by the great Pop Warner.  (It’s sad to think that for all his accomplishments as a coach, he’s best known for the use of his name by a youth football organization.  Of course, Joe DiMaggio, one of the greatest baseball players of all time, became better known to new generations of Americans as the guy in Mister Coffee commercials.)

In his book,  Warner wrote about the center snap, and to my amazement, he acknowledged that there were - even then - two schools of thought.

Pop Warner Center Snaps

Here’s what he wrote:
Either method of passing the ball to the backs is good form.  The end-over-end pass is the easiest to learn and for the backs to handle, and repeated timing with a stop watch has shown that the simple end-over-end pass is just as fast as getting the ball to the punter  as is the more intricate spiral.  (To be fair, punters at that time didn’t stand 13 yards deep - HW)  The spiral pass from center has absolutely no advantages over the end-over-end method  as far as I have been able to determine, and I never encourage or teach it; but, as stated above, either method is good.

Not hard to tell which one Pop Warner favored.

Interestingly, while today’s offensive football has attained a sophistication that none of the old-timers could have dreamed of,  some of the stuff the spread shotgun guys think they’ve been inventing have their roots in stuff that was being done in the 30s, 40s,  50s and 60s.

*********** The stories go back and forth about whether Donald Trump’s phones were tapped.  One thing that seems to persist, though, is the explanation from Barack Obama’s mouthpieces that the former President (gee, it feels good to say that) “didn’t order” any such wiretaps.

But since that’s  usually the dodge for a college coach whenever one of his assistants gets caught doing something outside the rules, I tend to be skeptical.  The head coach’s instructions, in all likelihood, were, “Your job is to recruit and I don’t want to know a thing about what goes on.”

The classic tale of such ordering-without-giving-the-order is the murder in 1170 of Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, by men loyal to King Henry II.

If there had been Congressional investigations in those days, the King could have plausibly denied that he had anything to do with the crime.

But while he didn’t exactly order  the murder, there could be little doubt in their mind what he wanted when his men heard him say, “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?”

*********** QUIZ:  Only one Power Five school has never played in the Rose, Orange, Sugar, Cotton or Fiesta Bowl - or made it as far as the Elite Eight in basketball.

Correctly identifying South Carolina:

Ken Hampton - Raleigh, North Carolinia

Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin

Jerry Lovell - Bellevue, Nebraska

Ed Wyatt - Melbourne, Australia

Kevin McCullough - Lakeville, Indiana

South Carolina has the facilities… they have the fan support… they’ve had good coaches… and their state produces good football players. 

I think that the fact that from 1971 to 1991 - a time when the NCAA expanded its field and major bowls entered into contracts with major conferences - South Carolina was playing lone wolf .

They dropped out of the ACC in 1971 over basketball (back in the days before 64 teams made the NCAA basketball tournament) and went independent for several years before joining the SEC in 1991.  

At that time, the NCAA Tournament field was 25 teams - max - and only conference champions made it to the tournament.  There were not “at-large” entries.

Meantime, back in 1954, the ACC honchos came up with a great idea - a conference tournament to decide their champion.  It became a HUGE money maker for the schools. Tickets were distributed equally among the eight member schools, and with a limited number of tickets in great demand, big donors - Iron Dukes at Duke, Diamondback Terrapins at Maryland, etc. - had the inside track to buy them, and schools used the right to buy tickets as leverage to solicit donations.  I remember big Maryland donors from our town going to Greensboro (where it was held for years) for a week of golf, basketball and fun - not unlike the Masters now.

When the conference expanded to include schools such as Georgia Tech, Miami, Pitt and Boston College, it meant that the ACC could play in larger venues in big cities - this year, it’s in the traditional ACC stronghold of Brooklyn?I?.  But it also meant an end to the good old days of a week of golf and basketball in Carolina in the spring.

In 1971, the tournament idea finally hit the wall.  South Carolina went 14-0 in the regular season - quite an achievement in the toughest basketball conference in the country - and lost in the tournament finals.  To make matters worse, in the final NC State stalled the entire game, and finally won, 42-39 in overtime. And SC missed the dance.

(Not to take anything away from those great UCLA teams of those years, but the truth is that in those years, teams did not travel cross-country to play regional games, and with very few good teams in the West, there were times when UCLA didn’t play a tough team until it reached the Final Four. And in the meantime, every year four or five ACC schools better than any of UCLA’s opponents would stay home - or settle for the NIT.)

That was the final straw for South Carolina, and the Gamecocks pulled out of the ACC.  They went independent for a while, then joined a basketball-only minor conference, and finally, in 1991, began play in the SEC. 

An article in the New York Post about former Gamecock Bobby Cremins, who later coached at Georgia Tech, tells the story…

In 1954, when the ACC first formed around the Research Triangle schools in Raleigh (N.C. State), Durham (Duke) and Chapel Hill (North Carolina) the nascent league also decided that it would determine its champion not by a 14-game conference schedule but by a three-day tournament at season’s end.

It was a radical concept. There were fewer conferences then, but all of them leaned on the regular season to produce a champion. And in a time when only one team per conference was allotted an NCAA Tournament bid, the all-or-nothing nature of the ACC Tournament invited a unique brand of pressure and anxiety every year. Especially if you were having a great year.

And the 1969-70 South Carolina Gamecocks were having a great year.

Frank McGuire was the coach, back in the college game after a three-year sabbatical in the NBA, and same as he’d done during his eight-year stay at North Carolina he’d begun to build the program by raiding his old New York City neighborhoods. He lured Cremins out of All Hallows, Tom Owens out of Manhattan’s LaSalle Academy, Tom Riker out of St. Dominic’s on the Island. And their best player was John Roche, a junior who had also gone to LaSalle.

“It was a great team, we revered Coach McGuire, wanted to get him to a Final Four, wanted to win for the people in Columbia who’d welcomed us all from New York, practically adopted us,” Cremins says. “It was all there for us. Win the ACC and we’d play two games on our home court in the East Regional, and there wasn’t anyone going to beat us there.”

The first part was the tricky part. The Gamecocks went a perfect 14-0 in ACC play, earned the top seed, but had to travel to enemy territory in Charlotte for the league tournament. Still, after surviving a 34-33 scare from Clemson in the first round they were routing Wake Forest in the semifinals when Roche rolled his ankle working a 2-on-1 fast break with Cremins. He would play the championship game, but he was hobbled. N.C. State slowed the game to a crawl, won 42-39 in double overtime.

A South Carolina-centric blog called “The Rubber Chickens” argues that in the long run, now that football rules the roost ,leaving the ACC was the best thing that ever happened to Carolina, er USC, er South Carolina.

Frustrated by the North Carolina-centric nature of the conference, and what was seen as uncompetitive academic standards, South Carolina bolted from the ACC in 1971.  After wandering in the wilderness as an independent, and then as a member of the now-defunct Metro Conference, we were in the right place at the right time when the SEC was looking to expand in 1990.  As a lifelong Gamecock fan who came of age during the putrid Metro days, I can recall many who bemoaned our departure from the ACC as a stupid move by the USC administration at the time.  Well, guess who look like geniuses now?

Paul Dietzel and Frank McGuire, that’s who.

McGuire’s teams were the bad boys of the ACC.  They were street toughs from NYC who didn’t take crap from the “whine” and cheese crowd in the Tar Heel state.  After getting jobbed repeatedly by the conference powers, McGuire thought that enough was enough and lobbied to get his boys out of the ACC.

In football, a guy named Freddie Solomon was as dominant a high school player as anyone had ever seen.  But due to the ACC’s academic standards, which were more stringent than those of the NCAA, Freddie could not play at USC.  We all know what happened to Freddie. After a guy named Rice, he’s probably the next best receiver to ever play for the San Francisco 49ers.

When USC pulled out of the ACC, the strong rumor was that Clemson would also be leaving.  Supposedly it was a pact.  Turns out that CTU (that’s evidently how they refer to  archival Clemson) left us high and dry; instead, deciding to stay in the ACC after USC boldly (foolishly some say) stepped out as an independent.  I can remember some USC folks speaking with bitterness about the perceived double cross pulled off by CTU.  For years, you can bet that CTU thought they had really screwed us.  I hope they had a lot of fun while it lasted, because we are doing all, and I mean ALL the laughing now.

Sure, we sucked for the first few years we were in the SEC.  No doubt about it.  We weren’t ready to compete with the big boys and it was painfully obvious to just about anyone who watched.  We won a game or two here and there, but overall, we were overmatched.  But guess what else was happening while we took our lumps?  The Gamecocks were getting paid, and paid well.

The SEC, unlike some other conferences, is basically an equal pay out league.  While UT, Bama, and LSU were winning championships and raking in the dough for the conference, Carolina was building its war chest.  The SEC also brought credibility.  With credibility came coaches like Ray Tanner, Lou Holtz and Steve Spurrier.  And now, after a long period of paying dues, some success has started to roll in.  No more are we the throw-in team needed to get the SEC to 12.  Now we are legit.

During our time in the SEC, the national landscape has changed considerably.  The SEC is now the unquestioned powerhouse conference in America.  And there’s a HUGE gap between first and second.  Oh, and where does our former conference, the ACC, now rank?  Maybe 5th.  And that’s on a good day.

*********** QUIZ: Before every one of its games, one of the conferences flips a coin with a player on it. 

Who’s the player?

american flag TUESDAY,  MARCH 7,  2017  "When I was young, I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures. So I did ten times more work."  George Bernard Shaw

*********** Writer and scholar Tunku Varadarjan, an English citizen born in India,  wrote a great article in the Wall Street Journal about two American heroes.  You probably didn’t hear about them, because their heroics were overshadowed by the bigger story that they were part of.

The bigger story, was something the press loves to write about -   a sick, racist white guy who shot and murdered a Person of Color.  And a foreigner at that - an East Indian engineer working in this country.   And to top it all off, the sicko supposedly said something like “Get out of my country.”

The victim was sitting in a bar and restaurant in suburban Kansas City with a friend.  The friend, also an Indian, was shot, too but survived.

But there was a third person shot.   His name is Ian Grillot.   He’s a white guy from Kansas who in an unselfish act of true heroism was shot while rushing to the defense of the two “foreigners.”

Wrote Mr. Varadarajan, “It was simple American heroism, of the kind that still comes naturally to citizens of a country that sees no contradiction between individualism and selflessness, a country where the most frequent reaction to hatred or malice is a powerful indignation—and the triggering of a duty to respond.”

The murderer immediately cut out.   He fled to another place, across the state line in Missouri, where over a drink he bragged to the barmaid that he’d just killed a couple of “Middle Easterners.”  Maybe he was so demented that he thought that boast would earn him a free drink, but the barmaid, to her credit, took him seriously and managed to call the police, then keep the guy - an admitted murderer - occupied until they could arrive.   She's white also.

The unsung heroes, overlooked in the rush to tell how racist Americans are, were a couple of ordinary Americans, doing what Americans do best - not attacking people of a different color,  but, in Mr. Varadarajan’s words, “two brave and humane citizens who decided that a racist wasn’t going to get away with murder.”

*********** Some people are calling it The Biggest Basketball Story of the Year.  Maybe it is.  Northwestern is finally going to play in the NCAA Basketball Tournament.   And now we're down to just four Division 1  teams that have never been to the Dance.

*********** My birthday note to Coach Mark Kaczmarek last week - “Go Bell! Beat Stars!”  He got back to me with, “Few, very few would recognize that reference!”

The reference was to 1974.  The World Football League. I was Player Personnel Director of the Philadelphia Bell, and Mark “Coach K” Kaczmarek was the starting center for the New York Stars.

*********** The head coach at Auburn, Alabama High School doesn’t teach a class. His job title is “Head Football Coach and Director of Football Operations.”  For that, he’s paid at least $123,000, considerably more than his principal.

Alabama state Representative  Craig Ford would like to see that corrected,  introducing a bill in the state House of Representatives that would cap the amount of money paid to coaches who don’t also teach to 75 per cent of what the school’s principal is paid.

Ford said that paying a coach three times what a teacher makes sends the  wrong message.

“I understand that coaches do a good job, and they do a lot for raising money for athletics,” he said.  “But you go to school for K -12 to get an education. That's first and foremost, and we've got to make sure we're providing adequate supplies and adequate resources in the classroom.”

Personally, I have no quarrel with Rep. Ford on this one.  But let’s be real - this can’t pertain to much more than a handful of the state’s coaches.

So if I were a state legislator, I’d go along with his bill,  but I’d attach a rider - a salary floor.  Instead of worrying about a handful of  big dogs at the rich schools, I’d put something in there for those guys coaching in small, rural schools and poorly-supported inner-city schools, guys who are working their asses off for stipends of $4,000 a year or less.   I’d call for a minimum stipend for the head coach of 20 per cent of the district’s average teacher’s salary.

*********** Under the headline “Single Mom Struggles to Manage Debt,” an article in  our local paper told of the struggles of a divorced 38-year-old Seattle-area woman with three kids - one in college and two others, 10 and nine. 

Only after reading halfway through the article about all her struggles to make ends meet were we told about a “live-in boyfriend.”

Nice.  She’s got two elementary-age kids and she’s shacked up.  Way to expose your kids to the most dangerous person in any child’s life - their mother’s boyfriend.

Guy’s got a good deal, too, it sounds like.  He “helps out”, we’re told, by “contributing to the household,” whatever that means.

To help her get her finances straightened out,  an organization called Financial Planning Association of Puget Sound put her in touch with a planner who had some really good advice for her:

“Cut expenses and increase income.” 


*********** I was reading through the obituaries in my National Football Foundation newsletter, and I came across the name of Larry Hickman, former Baylor player.

Holy sh—! I thought.  Larry Hickman?!? From there, I googled “Larry Hickman and Bruce Turnham,” and bingo.

Baylor was playing Tennessee in the 1957 Sugar Bowl.   Tennessee led, 7-6,  in the second half when perhaps the ugliest scene in the long history of college football took place:

From the official Sugar Bowl site…

Tennessee guard Bruce Burnham and Baylor guard Charley Horton got into a scuffle on the ground.  Burnham got in a couple of punches.  Seeing that, Hickman rushed in and kicked Burnham in the face.

The defenseless Vol lay sprawled on the field quivering, ribbons of blood covering his features.  "I thought the boy would be gone before we got him off the field," commented a physician on the scene.  "There's no way anyone could excuse what I did," Hickman reflected decades later.  "I think I was so keyed up...In my mind I saw him doing something he shouldn't, and I guess I just flashed temper."

Hickman was banished from the game and Burnham was taken to Touro Infirmary.  For the rest of the Sugar Bowl, Hickman sat on the Baylor bench, head in palms, sobbing.

Read the story on the site.  It’s just as I remembered it.  And then, if only to take a look at Tennessee’s famed balanced-line single wing, check out the video that accompanies it.  It was two-way football, which meant that offensive players also had to play on defense - which explains why the offenses - especially the passing game - were relatively unsophisticated.  (In the air, the two teams - combined - were 4 of 21 for 40 yards.)

For the most part, Baylor ran from a full-house, double-tight  formation.  Their offense, the Split-T, was being run by a lot of top teams at the time, including mighty Oklahoma. It started with a halfback dive that could lead to an option. You can see early signs of the Spit-Back veer that would come along in another 10 years.

Tennessee ran the balanced line single wing made famous by the great General Robert Neyland.  They showed a very nice weak side power, and they ran a couple of buck-lateral plays (the ball is snapped to the fullback, who runs at the hip of the blocking back, either taking a handoff and running trap, or handing off and giving the backing back a few possibilities).  And the tailback’s handoff to the fullback up the middle is a definite precursor of the inside zone play that’s become a staple of today’s shotgun spread offenses.  Tennessee’s wide-tackle six base defense was also a trademark of The General and the many other coaches he influenced.

Baylor was good - Hickman, the fullback, was a hard runner, but the Bears’ star was a running back named Del Shofner.  He was tall (6-3) and fast (he was a sprinter on the track team), and as soon as he got to the NFL (he was the 11th player drafted) he was turned into what then was called a flanker back (now a wide receiver).  He went on to enjoy an 11-year NFL career with the Rams and then the Giants in which he made All-Pro five times.  Their best lineman was Bill Glass, an All-American who played one year in Canada before going on to play 11 seasons in the NFL, first with the Lions and then with Browns.  He was named to the Pro Bowl four times.  He later became a pastor and still conducts a prison ministry. Larry Hickman played two years in the NFL and three in the CFL.

Tennessee was even better.  With All-American tailback Johnny Majors and Coach of the Year Bowden Wyatt (no relation), the Vols were 10-0 going into the game.  The Vols had shut out three opponents  and held five others to just a single score.   Majors finished second in the voting to Paul Hornung.  (It was a controversial vote, because although Horning did go on to a Hall-of-Fame career in the NFL, he remains the only Heisman winner to play on a losing team, and there are those - especially in Tennessee - who will argue that it was the mystique of Notre Dame that gave him the edge.)  Majors was small, and he played just one year in the CFL before embarking on a coaching career that would include stops at Iowa State, Pitt (where he won a national championship), and finally at his alma mater.  The Vols’ captain and best lineman was John Gordy. He would go on to start for the Lions as a rookie and spend his entire 11-year career in Detroit, making the Pro Bowl three times.  He and his training camp roommate, Alex Karras (of “Blazing Saddles” fame) persuaded author George Plimpton to follow up his highly successful inside look at the Lions (“Paper Lion”) with a book about linemen.  The book,  “Mad Ducks and Bears,”  was also successful.  In 1999, while living in California,  he became state director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and by the time of his death 10 years later he had established FCA chapters in nearly every high school in Southern California.

The film stops before the unfortunate kicking incident.  It’s just as well.   For lovers of the game, it’s enough just to see two good teams from that era go at it.

*********** I’m very excited about a soon-to-be released film entitled “None More American - Army football in Post-9/11 America” - 

According to publicity, it  “profiles twelve former players that embody the true spirit of Army Football: Selfless Commitment. Brotherhood. Fierce Determination. Relentless Effort. Young men who chose the more  difficult path of service to country at a time when America was at war, sacrificing the typical college experience to prepare to lead others into combat, and who served honorably when called upon."

One of the players who’ll be interviewed is Greg Gadson.  Perhaps you’ve read on this site or elsewhere about his fight to return to active duty after losing both legs to a land mine in Iraq. Maybe you remember how in 2007 he was an inspiration to the New York Giants in their run to the Super Bowl championship, and in recognition, the Giants awarded him a Super Bowl ring.

One story that I’m looking forward to hearing more about is the beautiful friendship forged on the Army football team between Greg Gadson, and his linebacker mate on the other side, Chuck Schretzman. 

They became best friends; they were best men at each other’s weddings and they’ve been there for each other for better or worse.  Chuck was there for Greg the instant he learned of his inury.

Now, it’s Chuck Schretzman who’s battling.  He’s fighting MLS - Lou Gehrig’s disease.

*********** Things have reached a sorry state when the people who oversee soccer, the least American of our sports, show more balls than those who oversee football, the most American of our sports…

While Roger the Dodger  blathers about players' rights to express themselves,  U.S. Soccer on Saturday announced a bylaw requiring that United States players must "stand respectfully" during national anthems prior to all national team games.

The bylaw was prompted by Colin Kaepernick wannabe Megan Rapinoe, who knelt during the anthem before a US women's team game against Thailand in September.

Women's team coach Jill Ellis said she was happy with the policy.

"I've always felt that that should be what we do, to honor the country, have the pride of putting on the national team jersey. I said that previously. I think that should be the expectation," she said.   "That's our workplace out there, and I think we should represent ourselves and our country. So yeah, I'm pleased with that."

*********** Dick MacPherson coached for 10 years at Syracuse.  He took the Orange to five bowl games,  and his bowl record was 3-1-1.   He was the AFCA Coach of the Year in 1987, after the Orange finished 11-0-1, tying Auburn in the Sugar Bowl and finishing fourth in the nation.

In the AFCA’s publication, The Extra Point, he recalled his job interview at Syracuse:

When I was interviewing for the Syracuse job, they had the brand new Carrier Dome, they had players and all that stuff.  They had just fired the coach. I said to them, “I’m from the Cleveland Browns and we’re going to the playoffs.  I’ve had coaching experience in the Northeast (in seven years at UMass, he was .778 in Yankee Conference competition), and it looks like I’m the kind of guy you would like, but suppose I go 2-8, 3-9, 4-6 and 5-5 in my first four years.  What will you think of me then?”

The chancellor says, “Coach, we’ll think of you.  We don’t know where the hell you’ll be coaching, but we’ll think of you.”

*********** Star Washington receiver John Ross (“the Third”) just ran the fastest  40 ever recorded at the combine - 4.22.

THAT, for those of you who didn’t know about Washington going into their game against Alabama, is why those of us who did were mystified at the Huskies’ seeming unwillingness to throw deep against the Tide.

Subsequently, it was revealed that Huskies QB Jake Browning had injured his arm late in the season, and underwent surgery shortly after the playoff game.

*********** Fay Vincent has served as CEO of Columbia Pictures and as Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

From his father, he said, he learned the values of decency, honor and pride.

“During his lifetime I occasionally felt that he was totally behind the times with his regular injunctions to that I do my best and honor the family name.”

Now, Vincent remembers some of the important things his father taught him:

“Always be a gentleman.  To my father, a gentleman is someone who never offends another person needlessly.”

“It is more important to be able to write and speak well than it is to be able to succeed in athletics.”

“A pension is important… A good job is one that is secure and not always the one with the highest pay.”

“My father valued hard work over brilliance and saw most professions as predatory.”

“There is no such thing as an honest politician.  He viewed politicians with the same cynical eye he cast on doctors, lawyers and priests.  He accepted the argument that there must be some good and decent ones but he was suspicious until solid facts prevailed.”

“If your boss or employer is not making money on you, you will eventually lose your job.  Your work has to permit him to profit on what you produce.   If you and the employer just break even you are not being properly productive.  Get to work early and stay late if necessary.”

*********** The NCAA Football Rules Committee on Friday released a list of “recommendations” for the 2017 season aimed at enhancing player safety. This means that they are as good as in the rule book.

One rule change would prohibit defenders  from jumping over offensive linemen on field goal and PAT attempts.  At present,  defensive players are permitted to leap over linemen provided they don't land on another player.

Another proposal  - call it the no-diva rule - would require players to wear knee pads that actually cover the knees.  I presume that means that receivers and defensive backs will have to visit tailors to have their pants lengthened.  Grief counselors will be provided for them.

*********** Correctly identifying Chuck Mills

Jerry Lovell - Bellevue, Nebraska
Ken Hampton - Raleigh, North Carolina
Adam Wesiloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin
Josh Montgomery - Berwick, Louisiana

From 1959 to 1997 Chuck Mills  was a head coach at seven different colleges, from Division III to Division I and back to Division III.  Although he coached at some places where it’s very hard to win, his overall record was 132-133-5.   He was the first coach to take an American college football team to Japan (in 1971), and in his honor, Japan’s annual most valuable player award (similar to our Heisman) is named in his honor.   He was head coach at two different service academies - but never played against Army, Navy or Air Force.

He coached at Utah State and Wake Forest.  He took his Utah State team to play in Japan, and  for that, he's admired in Japan as a pioneer of the game.

Chuck Mills'  overall record reflects that fact that he worked at places where it’s hard to win.  He once said, “I give the same halftime speech, over and over.  It works best when my players are better than the other team’s players.”

Service academies? Well no, he never coached against Army, Navy or Air Force. But he coached one year each at the US Merchant Marine Academy (1964) and  the US Coast Guard Academy (1997).

*********** QUIZ:  Only one Power Five school has never played in the Rose, Orange, Sugar, Cotton or Fiesta Bowl - or made it as far as the Elite Eight in basketball.

american flag FRIDAY,  MARCH 3,  2017  "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."  Samuel Johnson

*********** Jay Wilkinson, son of legendary Oklahoma coach Bud Wilkinson, was a pretty good football player in his own right. 

Leaving his home in Norman to attend Duke, he was a marked man from day one.  Well, almost.  In the late 1950s and early 60s, freshmen were ineligible for varsity play.

But the first time he ever touched the ball in a varsity game, he fielded a punt and raced 63 yards for a touchdown.  In his senior year, he was named to several All-America teams and was named ACC Player of the Year.  He was that good.

In 2013, he delivered the keynote address at the AFCA convention’s kickoff luncheon, and he shared some great stories with the coaches in attendance.

He told of the time his coach at Duke, Bill Murray (a great coach, by the way), was talking about recruiting with a young assistant he’d just hired.  The assistant asked him what he was looking for in a player, and Coach Murray answered by telling him a parable.

Out on the field, a player gets knocked down, but he jumps right up, ready to go again.

A play or two later, a second player gets knocked down, and he gets up quickly and gets back into the action.

The next play, a third player gets knocked down, and just like the first two, he jumps right up, ready for more.

“Coach,” the assistant said, “I know just what you mean. We’re looking for players with tenacity, and perseverance and heart!”

“No,” said Coach Murray.  “We’re looking for the guy who’s knocking everybody down!”


*********** I'm assuming that the statute of limitations on ticket counterfeiting has long passed, and it’s okay for me to print this. It’s a souvenir of my days in the World Football League - a blank sheet of tickets for the Southern California Sun, which played their (its?) games in Anaheim Stadium.

This blank represents one set of season tickets, 10 games in all.

The tickets were pre-printed  by some giant ticket manufacturer such as Weldon, Williams and Lick, in cartons of several hundred sheets, attached as one long, continuous form, and perforated so the sheets could later be separated.  Each sheet was further perforated so that the individual tickets could be detached, and at the top and bottom of every ticket were blank spaces where the specific location (AISLE, ROW, SEAT) for each sheet - each set of tickets -  was printed by the team.

(For those of you who don’t remember the early days of computer printing, the holes on the side of the sheet were for the sprockets of the “tractor” that pulled the long long, continuous form through the printer.)

After the ticket locations were printed, the individual sheets of 10 games each were separated and the strips with the holes in them detached, and the sheets were mailed out to the season-ticket holders.

Nowadays, as counterfeiters have become more proficient (and as the escalating prices of tickets has incentivized counterfeiters), teams and ticket makers have had to fight to try to stay ahead of them. The result has been much higher ticket costs for the teams, but they can afford it:  take a look at the price of those 1974 tickets ($5.50 a game!) and then ask yourself how many times that figure they’d be going for in today’s sports market!

***********  I come from a wrestling family.  T shirts and shorts  with T shirts tucked in was for practice.

Real men wore singlets.

For safety reasons you wear the singlet so your fingers don’t get caught in the guy’s shirts.

What is this world coming to?

Pete Porcelli
Watervliet, New York

PS -that qb sack rule, hell maybe I should throw the ball 40 times and have the linemen do lookout blocks and send the receivers long.  Great chance of a 15 yarder for the attempted sack.

(No kidding. Even if you don’t have a passer or receivers or blockers -  between pass interference and roughing the passer, you’ve still got a decent chance

***********  I am starting fresh with your system, your labeling and your offense.  My goal is to be competitive and win the games we should and maybe a few that no one thought we would. (I guess that is probably every coach's goal)  I have a thousand questions that I could ask but I will refrain and try to only hit you up now and then.  I would love to know your thoughts on what an appropriate play list for a junior high that will typically has less than 15 players would be if you were coaching. It does not look like I will have a back that can make things happen on his own when others fail to do their job. When I look at your plays and alignments and shift I see the positive in them all and how they could work together but I know I need to keep my list smaller and run the plays right and not try to wow the crowd or the other team with a bunch of alignments and shifts.  I guess my question is this, What would be the smallest play list that you would want to go into a game or even a season with?


You are wise to realize the important of “less is more."

We have won games using nothing more than these three plays:

Super Power Right and Left

Counter (I Use Super Criss-Cross) Right and Left

Wedge at 2

We didn’t even throw a pass - but we were prepared to throw 88 Brown and 99 Black.

When you realize how many plays are wasted simply because they’re not run well, by executing a very limited list of plays to perfection, you will be very tough.

***********  The late Barry Goldwater, longtime Senator from Arizona and unsuccessful candidate for President in 1964, was a really great man - a man’s man - with a great sense of humor.  Although his father - and therefore, his name -  was Jewish, his mother was a Protestant, and he was not a practitioner of the faith.  Nevertheless, to once-exclusive country clubs which discriminated against Jews, his name alone was enough to bar him.  The story goes that on one occasion, he showed up (unknowingly)  at one such club for a golf date with a couple of friends who were members. Much to everyone’s embarrassment,  the group was denied permission to play.  Goldwater managed to defuse the difficult situation with aplomb and humor.  Pointing out that while his father was Jewish, his mother was Episcopalian, so, he asked,  “How about if I only play nine holes?”

*********** It’s a real trick to know when to go.

Bobby Bowden came to West Virginia as offensive coordinator for Jim Carlen, and when Carlen moved on after the 1969 season, Bowden was promoted to head coach.

He inherited a winning program, and he kept winning.

But his 1973 team finished just 6-5, and when in 1974, after high pre-season expectations, the Mountaineers finished a disappointing 4-7, the wolves began to circle. Someone planted a “For Sale” sign on his lawn.  He was  hanged in effigy.  A sign outside a dormitory window read “Bye-bye Bobby.”

“It was right across the street from my office,” Bowden said. “I couldn’t ever forget that. I saw it many times. I had gotten used to it and I thought it was part of the scenery.”

Remembers an assistant,  Donnie Young, “When you went to the supermarket people didn’t talk to you. We all got it. The only people we had was us.  You drive to work and there would be signs on the poles. You’d go to the stadium and across the top was an area on the back wall and they’d have written on there ‘Bowden Must Go.”

Enough was enough. “I remember saying to Ann,” he recalled, “ 'If you and I ever get a chance to leave here, and not that we are, but we have every right in the world to because people are fickle and this is a fickle profession.’”

In 1975, with the pressure mounting, against all odds the Mountaineers finished 9-3 with a bowl win over Lou Holtz' NC State Wolfpack.

In six years at West Virginia, Bobby Bowden was 42-26 and a winner once again.  But he’d seen how the fans could be, and - get this - unlike today, when college coaches get fired and walk away with millions, it was the practice at West Virginia then for head coaches to work with one-year contracts.

So when Florida State came calling, he was outta Dodge.

Recalled Coach Bowden years later, “What I did in ’74 was I saw how quick people will turn on you. I saw how quickly my friends would turn on you. How quickly people who used to invite me to their parties quit inviting me.”

Heres' the gist of the story...

*********** In response to last Tueday’s “Hook ‘em Horns” story, Tim Brown, of Athens, Alabama brought up the Houston Cougars’ sign. Great sign.  Great story behind it.  According to the U of Houston’s Web site, “The tradition dates back to 1953, when the first Shasta, lost a toe in a cage door on her way to a game. The opposing team, the University of Texas, mocked UH by imitating the cougar's injury. The Cougars soon adopted that gesture as a symbol of pride.”

My favorite is the New Mexico Lobo sign (Below right) :  New Mexico fans make the sign of the Lobo, ears up, middle fingers and thumb forming its snout. 
(“Lobo,” if you didn’t know, is Spanish for “Wolf.”)  The cheer starts with “EVERYONE’S A LOBO!” and the response, “WOOF! WOOF! WOOF!” is accompanied by the opening and closing of the Lobo’s “mouth,” once for each “WOOF!”

Houston Cougar Sign
Everyone's a Lobo

*********** THE WISDOM OF BOB READE - PART II – FROM MY 1986 CLINIC NOTES (my comments are in parentheses) –

GOALS ARE GREAT -IF THEY’RE REASONABLE… GOALS ARE GREAT -IF THEY’RE ATTAINABLE (Wow. Talk about going against common wisdom. “Goal-setting” was really in vogue back then, treated by many coaches almost as if it were a religion. Not to say that goals weren’t – aren’t – valuable, but far too many coaches, I felt, were talking about goals as if they were some form of black magic, some miracle path to state championships for even untalented teams. I used to sit at clinics and listen to all these state championship coaches talk about their goal-setting, and think, “Great. But what about all the other guys in their leagues who set goals, too?” And right here in front of me was a guy who’d been to the top, saying that while goals had their place, it was important not to set them unreasonably high.

DON’T GIVE A KID SOMETHING HE CAN’T DO (Be realistic and don’t set a kid up for failure.)

YOU CAN’T BE A BALL-CONTROL OFFENSE AND A BEND-DON’T-BREAK DEFENSE (If you’re likely to score slowly yourself, you can’t afford to let your opponents hang onto the ball.)

FIRST STAY IN THE GAME -THEN WIN (Concentrate first on eliminating the things that can get you beaten – turnovers, penalties, missed assignments, incorrect alignment, poor tackling, special teams mistakes -before spending practice time
on anything fancy.)

AS AN OFFENSIVE COACH, I CAN MAKE THE DEFENSE LOOK BAD -THROW THREE TIMES INCOMPLETE FROM THE END ZONE AND THEN PUNT TO THE 40 (If you’re going to be a pass-first team, you’d better be good at it, because otherwise you’re going to have a lot of three-and-outs -without even taking a minute off the clock.)

OUR KIDS DIDN’T KNOW WHAT WE CALLED OUR OFFENSE OR DEFENSE. THEY ALWAYS JUST SAID “IT’S THE GENESEO DEFENSE (OR OFFENSE) -IT’S THE BEST THERE IS”… WHEN THE KIDS BELIEVE IN IT, YOU’VE GOT TO RUN IT -AND FIND THE PEOPLE WHO CAN PLAY IT (Your kids have to believe in what you’re doing, but don’t automatically assume that they will. You have to sell it to them. And to your fans, too!)

(I think he meant “in a few years.” Anyhow, just one more way a winning tradition can help you.)

QUICK MOTION IS DISTRACTING TO DEFENSES, BUT NOT LONG MOTION (Cut down on the defense’s recognition time. Rather than long motion, why not just line the guy up where you were planning on motioning him to?)

WE NEVER RECRUIT A GUY FOR A POSITION - WE SAY, COME AND TRY OUT, AND THEN WE’LL GET YOU IN  THE ACT (This can save a lot of headaches later on, when you may have to ask a tight end to switch to tackle.)

WE’LL RUN A PLAY FOR A MONTH BEFORE WE’LL USE IT (You can’t expect a play to work in a game if it hasn’t been rock-solid in practice)

DON’T GIVE A KID YOUR WHOLE OFFENSE AND LET HIM SCREW IT UP -ONE TIME OUR QB HAD 8 RUNNING PLAYS AND 4 PASS PLAYS (Be realistic about your QB’s limitations and keep him within them. Maybe he can’t win it for you by himself, but he can lose it for you by himself.)

WE DON’T CARE IF YOUR DEFENSIVE BACKS ARE TACKLING OUR RUNNERS -BUT WE DON’T WANT YOUR LINEMEN DOING IT. THAT’S HOW BACKS GET HURT (Coach Reade did not employ complex line blocking schemes. See the next point.)

EVERY MAN’S BLOCK IS IMPORTANT, BECAUSE YOU DON’T WANT BACKSIDE DEFENSIVE LINEMEN POLISHING OFF YOUR RUNNING BACKS (His backside offensive linemen usually drive-blocked and rarely released downfield.)

WE ALWAYS SHOW HOW WE WOULD RUN A PLAY WITH BASE BLOCKING, THEN WE’LL SAY, “BUT THIS IS THE BEST WAY TO DO IT.” (Ever since I first heard this, it’s the way I’ve taught every play: “This is 88 base…” Then, “Now that we’ve run 88 Base, let me show you the best way to block it…”)
OUR PHILOSOPHY OF OFFENSE -WE’RE GOING TO MAKE YOU COMMIT UNTIL YOU GIVE US THE PASS (You  may be a running team – but you should always be alert for the opportunity to throw for a score -and able to do it.)

WE’RE GOING TO MAKE YOU COMMIT UNTIL YOU GIVE US THE PASS (You may be a running team – but you should always be alert for the opportunity to throw for a score -and able to do it.)

WE PASS A LOT IN PRACTICE SO IF WE HAVE TO, WE CAN (Just because you don’t throw a lot in a game doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared to do so)

IF WE EVER GET IN A SITUATION WHERE WE HAVE TO THROW, WE’RE NOT VERY GOOD -WE CAN’T THROW AGAINST OUR OWN JV’S IF THEY KNOW WE’RE GOING TO (If you’re a running team, you have to work hard to avoid the situations where instead of playing your game, you’re forced to play their game.)

OUR PASSING IS A COMPLEMENTARY PASSING ATTACK (The passing game is an offshoot of the running game; the ideal is to have a play-action pass off every staple running play)

YOU CAN ACCOMPLISH MORE WITH A GREAT RECEIVER THAN WITH A GREAT QUARTERBACK -MOST OF MY FAVORITE PASSES ARE BUILT AROUND RECEIVERS (Amen. Unfortunately, with America’s continued emphasis on kids’ soccer - and baseball in decline as the game every American kid plays - it’s getting harder and harder to find American kids with dependable hands.)

I DON’T THINK YOU CAN HAVE A BALANCED ATTACK -I DON’T THINK YOU CAN TEACH YOUR LINEMEN TO GO FORWARD AND BACKWARD -I DON’T THINK YOU HAVE ENOUGH TIME TO DO BOTH (This is the  fundamental difference between a run-first team and a pass-first team. The run-first team throws primarily play-action passes and doesn’t have the time to develop a sophisticated passing game. Conversely, an awful lot of pass-first teams have trouble running the ball when they have to.)

ON ACTION PASSES, LOOK DEEP FIRST -THAT’S WHY YOU’RE THROWING AN ACTION PASS ANYHOW (If it’s just yardage you want, in most cases you could probably get it  without risk of an incompletion - by running the ball)

I FEEL YOU LOSE AN HONEST RELATIONSHIP WITH A KID WHEN YOU TEACH HIM A DISHONEST ACT – (“I KNOW IT’S ILLEGAL, BUT...” ) YOU BREAK DOWN SOMETHING YOU CAN’T RECOVER -YOU LOSE MORE THAN YOU’LL EVER GAIN (You can’t fool your players. You’d be amazed at the things they notice. Always remember that your ethics and morality are constantly under scrutiny.)

IT’S HARD ON A “36” TO GET YOUR RH TO RUN A GOOD “48” -IN BACKFIELD DRILLS, WE PRACTICE IT BY SAYING “36 OR 48” (AND TELL ONLY THE QB THE PLAY) AND THEN THEY’LL ALL GO HARD (When you run a  series offense with complementary plays that come off the same initial action, you can do this to make sure you get good faking.)

WE ONLY DRILL THINGS WE WILL USE (The Army calls this “Teaching to the Mission”)

I THINK THE INSIDE BELLY IS THE BEST PLAY IN FOOTBALL (We may disagree on what is the best play, but if you don’t believe this about your base play - whatever it is - you should probably find another offense)

OUR TERMINOLOGY LETS US GO INTO A GAME BEING ABLE TO DO THINGS IN THE GAME THAT WE HAVEN’T WORKED ON DURING THE WEEK (There may come a time when you have to improvise – to call a time out and say “let’s do this” - and your system’s language and terminology should allow you to do it.)

IN HIGH SCHOOL, YOU’VE GOT TO HAVE A PROGRAM -YOU’VE GOT TO HAVE A SYSTEM. IT’S IMPORTANT TO HAVE CONTINUITY (It’s best when players know what they’re going to run from year to year. Stability in system comes first, followed next by stability in staff.)

IF YOUR KIDS KNOW WHAT THEY’RE DOING, THEY’LL BEAT BETTER KIDS (Don’t throw too much at your kids. Your ability to throw stuff at them will greatly exceed their ability to learn it. Stay within their limitations - and rep, rep, rep.)

WE DESPERATELY WANT THE DEFENSE TO MOVE WITH US. WE’RE LOOKING TO SET UP COUNTERS (Work to establish your base play and always be on the lookout for a backside defender making a tackle.)

ON DEFENSE - FIRST COVER EVERYTHING THEY CAN DO FROM YOUR BASE DEFENSE (Teach them how to line up and play against any set, any motion, any personnel grouping.)

ON DEFENSE -FORCE OPPONENTS TO BE ONE-DIMENSIONAL -TAKE SOMETHING AWAY FROM THEM (Some coaches have referred to this as “making them beat you left-handed.”)

*********** Hello Coach, I received your coaching material last night, and this is really going to help me.  I have looked at so much double wing material that I was using different philosophies from different coaches and basically inventing my own offense.  Because of this I believe I was not building on the offense properly.  

I have been dealing with this for several years:  you should have one piano teacher… one golf pro… one offensive system.  I don’t really care whether you choose mine or not - just don’t throw mine in with a bunch of other guys' and then expect to get the best from any of us.

You’ve made a very wise observation: by taking a little of this and a little of that you wind up basically inventing your own offense.  Not necessarily bad in the long run, but you are going to wind up making an awful lot of mistakes along the way to perfecting it, and that’s going to take a lot of time and effort.  You make things easier for yourself by adopting just one system that’s already been proved to work, whether it’s mine or somebody else’s.

 He coached 26 years, at three different black colleges, one each in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. He lasted only one year at his first job, where his record was just 2-8, but when he retired after 25 more seasons as a head coach, his overall record was 159-93-8.  In his last position, he faced legendary coach Eddie Robinson in the annual”Bayou Classic” three times, and won twice.   It was he who said,“ On the East Coast, football is a cultural experience. In the Midwest, it's a form of cannibalism. On the West Coast, it's a tourist attraction. And in the South, football is a religion, and Saturday is the holy day."  No, Mario Puzo’s novel wasn’t about our guy, despite his nickname.

Correctly identifying him as Marino “The Godfather” Casem, who coached at Alabama State, Alcorn State and Southern.

Joe Gutilla - Austin, Texas
Mick Yanke - Cokato, Minnesota
Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin
Ken Hampton - Raleigh, North Carolina
Josh Montgomery - Berwick, Louisiana
Jerry Lovell - Bellevue, Nebraska

From the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Web site:

Marino Casem, best known for his coaching career at Alcorn State University, has been named the American Football Coaches Association’s recipient of the 2013 Trailblazer Award. The award will be presented at the AFCA President’s Kickoff Luncheon on Monday, January 13 at the 2014 AFCA Convention in Indianapolis. 

The AFCA Trailblazer Award was created to honor early leaders in the football coaching profession who coached at historically black colleges and universities. Past Trailblazer Award winners include Charles Williams of Hampton (2004), Cleve Abbott of Tuskegee (2005), Arnett Mumford of Southern (2006), Billy Nicks of Prairie View A&M (2007), Alonzo “Jake” Gaither of Florida A&M (2008), Fred “Pops” Long of Wiley (2009), Harry R. “Big Jeff” Jefferson of Bluefield State (2010), Edward P. Hurt of Morgan State (2011), and Vernon “Skip” McCain of Maryland-Eastern Shore (2012). The award is given each year to a person that coached in a particular decade ranging from 1920-1970. This year’s winner coached from 1960 to 1969.

“It’s an awesome feeling to be recognized by your peers. It’s an awesome feeling to be recognized by such an award,” said Casem. “It’s a tribute to not only me, but to all historically black colleges and universities and to the many talented student-athletes, outstanding coaches, motivated staff members, distinguished administrators and supportive fans who stood in our corner.”

Casem attended Xavier University of New Orleans where he played on both sides of the ball, as center on offense and as a linebacker on defense. Upon his graduation in 1956, Casem got his first coaching job at Utica College in Mississippi where he coached for a year and married his wife, Betty. He was drafted into the army in 1957, where he served for three years. Casem got his master’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado in 1962 and went straight to Alabama State to work as head coach for a year.

It was at Alcorn State University where Casem truly made a name for himself. Made head coach in 1964, with athletic director responsibilities added in 1966, Casem won his first Black College National Championship in 1968 and repeated the endeavor the next year. Marino would go on to add five more Black College National Championships while at Alcorn State, making his biggest statement with his squad in 1984. It was that team in 1984 that finished its season as the top team in Division I-AA with a 9-0 record, the first black college to achieve that honor. Casem maintained a high drive in his football program while with the Braves, ending his time there with a 132-65-8 record to become the all-time winningest coach in program history. Casem was awarded the Southwestern Athletic Conference’s Coach of the Year award seven times while at Alcorn State.

Casem wasn’t just prolific on the gridiron, but also on the administrative end as an athletic director as well, overseeing the construction of Alcorn State’s athletics complex as well as the design and planning of its football stadium. He was also the athletic director when the Braves became the first HBCU to participate in the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball playoffs in 1978. Coach Casem moved on to become the athletic director of Southern University in Baton Rouge in 1986, where he oversaw the Jaguars become a force to be reckoned with in the SWAC until his retirement in 1999. Under his leadership, Southern quickly became the top overall program in the conference, winning seven SWAC Commissioner Cups, six SWAC men’s all-sport trophies, nine SWAC women’s all-sport trophies and 62 championships. Casem even returned to the football field for three seasons with Southern, in 1987-88 and once again in 1992.

“This is the culmination of a good ride. I’ve enjoyed my days coaching and to be recognized is a great honor,” said Casem.

In addition to receiving the 2013 Trailblazer Award, Casem was inducted into the Southwestern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame in 1992, the Alcorn State University Hall of Honor in 1993, the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1994, the Alcorn State University Sports Hall of Fame in 1996, the College Football Hall of Fame in 2003 and, finally, into the National Association of Collegiate Director of Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006, not to mention a plethora of individual awards from several national institutions. It was through all of his achievements, as football coach and athletic director, that Casem earned his nickname, “The Godfather.”

**********  QUIZ.  From 1959 to 1997 he was a head coach at seven different colleges, from Division III to Division I and back to Division III.  Although he coached at some places where it’s very hard to win, his overall record was 132-133-5.   He was the first coach to take an American college football team to Japan (in 1971), and in his honor, Japan’s annual most valuable player award (similar to our Heisman) is named in his honor.   He was head coach at two different service academies - but never played against Army, Navy or Air Force.

american flagTUESDAY,  FEBRUARY 28,  2017  "The world cares very little about what a man or woman knows; it is what a man or woman is able to do that counts."  Virgil

*********** All this time we’ve been checking out a guy’s wheels, a guy’s motor - when we should have been checking his brakes.

That’s the lesson that’s been learned from the performance of NBA super star James Harden.

Writes Ben Cohen in the Wall Street Journal, “He isn’t uncommonly tall, doesn’t jump especially high and can’t run all that quickly. His wingspan is ridiculous for a normal human being but only barely above average in his profession.  There is almost nothing about his makeup that seems exceptional.”

Says Marcus Elliott, the founder and director of Santa Barbara-based Peak Performance Project (P3), which studies that biomechanics of star athletes,
“By all these traditional performance metrics that we track, he’s pretty pedestrian.”

For the last 10 years NBA players have gone to P3 and allowed themselves to be analyzed: on opening day this past season, 46 per cent of NBA players had been analyzed by P3.

Harden went there after last season and was not especially impressive. He was in the 36th percentile in “lateral acceleration,” and in the 54th percentile in “vertical acceleration.”

Says Elliott, “He’s basically at the NBA norms in most acceleration metrics.”  But - and here’s where the secret to his success lies - the reason why he’s able to get off a shot seemingly anytime he wants: “his deceleration metrics are off the charts.’

His “eccentric force” is in the 98th percentile. His “rate of eccentric force development” is in the 99th percentile.  I don’t know what those terms mean, but I gather it means that this sumbitch can be going full-out and stop on a dime.

The important thing to Harden was what the tests confirmed: “I know what I’m great at and what I’m not great at - and I use it to my advantage.”

Writes Cohen, “It’s common to see players who are better at the exact opposite: accelerating quickly and decelerating slowly. But there’s a reason they don’t start in the All-Star Game.”

That’s because, says Elliott, “Those systems aren’t built to survive.  It’s like a Ferrari with a Volkswagen’s braking system.”

Of course, much of Harden’s unusual ability is God-given. 

But to the extent that the ability to decelerate might be a trait that can be developed or improved, those who coach receivers and running backs, linebackers and defensive backs, might want to dig deeper into what these findings might mean for football.

*********** I have to admit that on first reading it slipped my notice, but my friend Gabe McCown of Edmond, Oklahoma brought to my attention that one recent act of the NFHS Football Rules Committee could change the game of football more than anything that’s been done since Walter Camp changed the game from rugby to American football.

In short, the art of rushing the passer is about to become obsolete.  The sack is about to go the way of the leather helmet.

In expanding Rule 2-32-16, which affords protection to “a defenseless player,”  the Rules Committee has slipped in an astonishing additional level of protection for a passing quarterback.  Beginning next season, it will be illegal to hit “A player in the act of or just after throwing a pass.”

Read that again, guys.  “Just after?” No change there. 

But “In the act of?”


Is this Kevlar for quarterbacks, or what? One day, will your grandkids snuggle up to you and, in hopes of putting off bedtime as long as possible, and ask you to tell them again about what it was like in the old days - you know, when you could hit a quarterback just as he started to throw…?

Hook-sliding, evidently,  wasn’t enough.  Neither was permission to intentionally ground the ball. Now, quarterbacks have just been afforded the sort of cosseting they once got only by wearing yellow shirts in practice. 

As my friend Greg Koenig says, “Soon high school football will look like the Pro Bowl.”

Jack Lambert was prophetic:

*********** A western Pennsylvania mother sent her college-student son a “care package.”  Nothing unusual about that, except that instead of brownies and chocolate chip cookies,  this one contained trash - the trash that he’d been too lazy to throw out.

Good job, Mom.  Hmm.  I suspect there’s no dad at home, at least not one with a pair, because if there were,  this never would have happened.

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

I'm going to miss the clinic, but this weekend Bob Reade will speak at the Augustana clinic as part of the "Legends" session.  When I saw that, I dug out and re-read this article that you shared long ago.  I'm glad I did.

Todd Hollis
Elmwood, Illinois


I have long had great admiration for Coach Reade.  For other readers who maybe didn’t see that newsletter Coach Hollis referred to, here it is, in installments

2008 – ISSUE 5 – By Hugh Wyatt –


Every spring, back in the 1980s, several of us Wing-T coaches in the Pacific Northwest would pool our clinic funds and flya different Wing-T expert out to give us an in-depth clinic. The first year it was Ted Kempski, Delaware’s long-time offensive coordinator. The next year it was Ron Rogerson, former Delaware offensive line coach and Maine head coach who’d been just named head coach at Princeton. (Sadly, Coach Rogerson would die of a heart attack not long after.)

Another year, it was Steve Tosches, who had been Ron Rogerson’s OC at Maine, and had succeeded Coach Rogerson at Princeton after his tragic death. Although he had never coached at Delaware, Coach Tosches did run the Delaware system.

So in 1986, I was a bit disappointed to learn that the people we’d put in charge of getting us a clinician had selected a guy named Bob Reade, from Augustana College in Illinois. Yes, he was a very successful coach, and, yes, he did run a Wing-T of some sort, but it was not MY Wing-T. It was not the pure DELAWARE wing-T!!!! What could this guy show me?

Truthfully, I didn’t learn that much from Coach Reade in Wing-T terms. Our systems were significantly different, and my  mind was closed to any outside influences that might lead me astray, that might corrupt my system. I was way too much  of a purist, way too dogmatic in my belief in the Delaware Wing-T to engage in any such heresy.

But while I didn’t get much that impacted my Delaware Wing-T one way or the other, I got something even better – something that would have a profound effect on my coaching ever after.

Fortunately, long after I’d forgotten most of the other stuff they’d tried to teach me in college, I did retain an ability to take good notes, and I sure was able to take a bunch of them listening to Bob Reade that day. I still have them, and I thought  you might enjoy reading a transcription of them.

Call it The Wisdom of Bob Reade. No matter what your level of coaching, I think you’ll find a few nuggets.

First, though, Bob Reade’s coaching credentials…

1963 -WON 4 GAMES
1964 -WON 6 GAMES
1965 -WENT 8-1….AND THEN…



146-23-1 IN 16 SEASONS

*********** Our local newspaper just put out its annual “Portrait of Clark County” section: (“How we live, work, learn and play.”)

This year, it featured a number of “typical” Clark County people.

Yeah, typical.

One was an Episcopal priest.  A female.

She has a tattooed “sleeve.”

She once played on a local roller derby team.

And - ”her partner is transgender.”  I’m still trying to figure out how that one works. I don't  think I want to know.

*********** In Texas a girl who “self-identifies? as a boy won a state wrestling championship - wresting against girls.

If you’re confused, I apologize.  To be honest, the story had me confused, too, for quite some time.

Here’s the deal: the “girl who self-identifies as a boy” wasn’t permitted to compete against real boys because Texas’ high school sports governing body, the UIL, has ruled that the sex on an athlete’s birth certificate will be the sole factor in determining whether he or she can compete as a boy or as a girl.

With me?

So, instead of the unlikely scenario of a girl-identifying-as-a-boy wrestling against real boys…what they got was a girl, whose “transition” to a boy has involved testosterone therapy, wrestling against other girls - ordinary girls who were barred from using  performance-enhancing drugs.  (In the case of our young
“girl who self-identifies as a boy," such drugs, when prescribed for health reasons, are permitted.)

You don’t suppose, do you, that there might be more girls in Texas willing to scam the game -  to “identify” as boys so they can legally take the drugs that will enable them to become “super girls?”

Not that there's a single shady  doctor in Texas who’d prescribe those drugs.

Oh, no.  Just like there aren’t doctors out there who'll somehow find a way to  get healthy people on disability, to get them handicapped parking tags, or get their Chihuahuas called service dogs.

*********** “For what they gave on Saturday afternoon” is the title of a really nice Web site put together by a West Point graduate named Phil Burns.

Since its glory days in the 1940s and 1950s, Army football has had its ups and downs - mostly downs - but few schools can match its long, storied history, and Phil Burns has done a remarkable job of gathering a lot of that Army football history onto one site.

*********** How f—ked up is Major League Baseball, where they have to get rules changes approved by the players’ union, or wait another season before implementing them?

The New York Times recently conducted a readers’ poll on how to speed up the game.  My suggestions:

1. A time limit between pitches. No-brainer.  Football and basketball have done comparable things and survived.
2. The batter can step out of the box all he likes but every time he does it’ll be a called strike.
3. Seven-inning games on weeknights (M-TH) Check out what shortening contests has done for other sports: Cricket, whose shorter “20-20” version has proved to be  hugely popular…  Rugby, played in the Olympics as a much faster-paced seven-man game… Three-on-three hockey, now used in NHL overtime, which is extremely popular…

*********** I'd sit and watch the box that my TV came in before I'd watch the Oscars.  But from what I gather, those self-absorbed turds, whose sole claim to prominence is an ability to play make-believe by reading something that someone else wrote, blew their lines.  Big time. They mistakenly  gave their top award to the wrong movie.

In the vernacular, they  managed to f--k  up a one-car funeral procession.  Yet these are the people who know how the country should be run.

Wrote a guy named Piers Morgan in mailonline, "what it proved is that the very same people who’ve spent the past year screaming that Donald Trump’s an ill-prepared ignoramus who never gets his facts right are in fact no better themselves."

*********** A syndicated columnist named Kathleen Parker tries to pass as a conservative but she's actually a lefty in disguise. She  wrote a column recently in which she described Dallas-based conservative talk show host Dana Loesch as "Making the sign of the devil with her hand - two middle fingers tucked into the palm, pinkie and pointer extended like two horns."  

WTF?  I thought. Sign of the devil?

I dashed off an email to  Ms. Parker,  saying, “I suspect that what you have chosen to interpret as Dana Loesch's ‘sign of the devil’ is better known to millions of Texans - and tens of millions of sports fans nationwide - as the sign of the University of Texas Longhorns, meaning 'Hook 'em, Horns!'  I realize that that doesn't serve your purposes, but come on."

To her credit, she responded, but  to show how dangerous it can be when you don't know - and don't know that you don't know - this was her response:  “that would be the thumb and pinkie.”

Huh?  Sorry, Kathleen.   Anybody who’s ever known a Hawaiian knows that sign, and knows it ain't "Hook 'em Horns."

Hook em

(I sent her the photos.)

*********** Identifying Bill Willis as the first black player to sign a pro contract - with the Cleveland Browns, who then (1946) were members of the All-American Football Conference (AAFC).  Those Browns were really good - they were champions every year of the AAFC’s existence (1946-1949) , and when the AAFC merged with the NFL in 1950, they won the NFL title, too!

Josh Montgomery - Berwick, Louisiana
Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin
Ken Hampton - Raleigh, North Carolina
Jerry Lovell - Bellevue, Nebraska

 He coached 26 years, at three different black colleges, one each in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. He lasted only one year at his first job, where his record was just 2-8, but when he retired after 25 more seasons as a head coach, his overall record was 159-93-8.  In his last position, he faced legendary coach Eddie Robinson in the annual”Bayou Classic” three times, and won twice.   It was he who said,“ On the East Coast, football is a cultural experience. In the Midwest, it's a form of cannibalism. On the West Coast, it's a tourist attraction. And in the South, football is a religion, and Saturday is the holy day." 
No, Mario Puzo’s novel wasn’t about our guy, despite his nickname.

american flag FRIDAY,  FEBRUARY 24,  2017  "Football is nothing but composed accidents. The great art is to profit from such accidents. This is the mark of a genius."  General Robert Neyland

*********** New Oregon coach Willie Taggart has decided to pick  a fight with the biggest newspaper in the state, the Portland Oregonian.  He’s not speaking with the Oregonian’s beat guy, Andrew Greif.

He’s pissed about Greif’s report, a little over a month ago, about the pre-season workouts that wound up with three kids hospitalized and the strength coach suspended for a month without pay.

Briefly, Coach Taggart seems upset about Greif’s use of terms like “grueling,” and “akin to military basic training” to describe the workouts, saying that he and Greif had spoken on the phone before the story was written.

He told the Eugene Daily Emerald that his reaction on reading the story was, “You’ve got to be sh—ing me.”  He said, “I explained exactly what happened and he didn’t report it.”

He said that Greif’s choice of words made the workouts sound “malicious.”

Taggart said he and Greif spoke afterwards and he expressed his displeasure - and then, the next day, Greif went on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines.”

“The story is out there, and then the next day you go on the ‘Outside the Lines’ and just not only stabbed me but turned the damn knife,” Taggart told the Emerald. “He wanted his five or 10 minutes of fame and he got it.”

And that’s that. Taggart isn’t taking questions from Greif. Greik has texted Taggart offering to talk things over, and Taggart has ignored him, saying  “When you do something  negative and it’s going to be personal, then I won't have sh— to do with you.”

This is extremely interesting from a historic and cultural standpoint.  When Mark Twain said, “Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel,”  it was sage advice.  There was no radio or television.  Years later, when there was radio AND television, I got into a spat with a reporter and I lived to regret it. But since then, we’ve seen the Internet come along and  vacuum up not only the classified ads that once kept newspapers alive, but also a lot of the readers that advertisers pay to reach.

Even in its glory days, the Oregonian had its hatchet-job reporters who tried - unsuccessfully - to take down Oregon coaches.  But that was decades ago, and now the paper is a shell of its former self.

Now, like most newspapers, the Oregonian has had to cut back.  It’s laid off reporters and it publishes just four days a week.

Oregon Ducks’ fans’ don’t turn off their interest on those other three days.  They’ve found other ways to follow their Ducks.

Now,  it’s entirely possible that it needs Willie Taggart at least as much as Willie Taggart needs it.

*********** It would have been a lot simpler if he’d just burned  an American flag…

In Omaha, a man who burned a gay pride flag that he took from the porch of a lesbian couple who lived near him was convicted of felony arson - a hate crime - and sentenced to two years’ probation.

*********** In the hope of stopping the decline in participation in wrestling, some states are contemplating  going away from the long-traditional singlet and going to - shorts and tee shirts!?!

In my opinion, the decline has very little to do with singlets and everything to do with Title IX.   A lot of us predicted years ago that this decline was inevitable,  with colleges dropping their wrestling programs in order to comply with Title IX’s insane requirements.

The lack of opportunities to wrestle in college has certainly affected participation at the high school level, and my hat is off to the dedicated people who’ve kept high school programs as strong as they are.

*********** The major high school football (NFHS version) rules changes have been published.

In digest form: 

(1)  they’ve widened the definition of a “blindside block” to prohibit any block against an opponent “who does not see the blocker approaching.”  I think it may be tough to enforce and it’s going to result in a lot of returns being called back, but I applaud it.  I’m growing tired of seeing questionable shots (was the helmet in front or wasn’t it?) when the real question should have been “did the guy see it coming?”

(2) they’ve outlawed the “pop-up” kick, which has become increasingly popular on onside kicks because of the increase in artificial turf fields with their springiness and predictable bounce.  The pop-up kick is defined as “a free kick in which the kicker drives the ball immediately to the ground, the ball strikes the ground once and goes into the air in the manner of a ball kicked directly off the tee.”

(3) they’ve expand the definition of a “defenseless player” - a guy who’s entitled to protection. They’ll probably need, oh, three or four more officials to police the hits away from the play

(4) A defensive player may not contact the ball prior to the end of the snap, and may not make contact with the snapper’s hand or arm until the snapper has released the ball.  (We’ve seen this - defensive geniuses who’ve instructed their kids to swipe at the ball as (or just before) it’s snapped.   Not sure how this is going to be caught.)

(5) Non-contact “face guarding” will no longer be considered pass interference.   Nice to see, finally, a rule that doesn’t favor the passing game!

(6) Jerseys worn by home teams must be a “dark color that clearly contrasts to white.”   Enough of these artsy-fartsy gray jerseys.  Will they give Nike, Adidas and Under Armour a year to get rid of all the gray fabric in their third-world factories?

That’s pretty much it.  I’d like to see them enforce the existing rule requiring a contrast between numbers and jerseys. One thin contrasting outline isn’t sufficient. In all too many cases it’s getting very difficult to distinguish players’ numbers on film.  Must be a bitch for the officials.

*********** So Ole Miss has been caught cheating, eh?  What a surprise.  How else could they have had the nation’s top recruiting class? How else could they have beaten Alabama two years in a row?

Overall, was that so bad?  Didn’t it make football a lot more interesting knowing there was a good chance that a traditionally middle-of-the-pack (or lower) team might beat a powerhouse?

It’s not a crime to pay a kid to come to your college.  Really, the only thing  wrong with all this so-called “cheating” is that it’s against rules - rules that the colleges themselves established because it was in their best interests to have them.  Rules that they can easily change.

Now,  again in their best interests, I think that college football should allow certain schools to do a little bit of what we now call cheating. 

In the same way that horse races are handicapped, teams could be allowed, based on their last-year finish, a certain dollar figure they could pay to this year’s recruits.

The whole think could be administered by the NCAA, but I think it would be a lot more fun for the weaker schools who never cheated to experience the excitement of buying players, too.

The money would be paid out in crisp 100-dollar bills, in plain white envelopes, slipped by an assistant coach (or a designated booster) to the recruit’s father, mother, coach, uncle or half-brother at a small-town Waffle House.

Can’t you just see future official signing day, when a kid sits in his high school gym surrounded by his extended family as everyone wonders whether he’ll put on the Vanderbilt, the Iowa State or the Indiana hat?

I don’t know how they’re going to square the idea of paying a couple of incoming freshmen with the older guys already on their roster who weren’t paid.  I’m just the idea guy.  They don’t pay me to work out the details.

Meantime, North Carolina, which for years had bogus classes in bogus majors which it hid knucklehead athletes, continues to skate…

*********** Ya think maybe this came from Russia?

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*********** Mark Cuban has been spending a lot of time making sure we all know that he dislikes Donald Trump.

That’s his right, of course, but he’s been given more of a stage than most ordinary Americans because he owns a basketball team.

How’s that basketball team been doing, anyhow?

Well.  Since you asked…

At the time of this writing, his team, the Dallas Mavericks, were 22-34 (that’s .393), in 12th place in a 15-team conference.

Fans are tuning out.  The Mavericks’ ratings on their regional telecasts are down 53 per cent from last season.  Their overall rating is fourth worst in the NBA.

A suggestion for Mr. Cuban: Physician, heal thyself.

*********** Hey Coach-

Long time no talk.  Thought of you today in class....we're in the middle of manifest destiny with my 8th graders, and today was Oregon territory and "54-40 or fight."

After talking about settling on the 49th parallel, a kid asked "wont stuff get cut off?"  Perfect segue into bringing up a map of Point Roberts and what those kids go through to go to school, the customs and UPS business there, etc.

Hope things are well-
Brian Rochon
Plymouth Michigan

You have no idea how proud it made me to hear that something I once wrote was used in a lesson!  It was back in 2001 that I wrote about the unique situation that our surveyors created when we finally settled on the International border.  Point Roberts, Washington is on the US side of the border, to be sure, but to get anywhere in the rest of the state of Washington, you have to go through Canada.  Point Roberts doesn’t have its own high school so its kids have to go to high school in Blaine, Washington - which means two border crossings in the morning, and two in the afternoon.  Blaine’s nickname?  The Borderites. 

See the map below?  Great story.  Where you see "Olympic National Park" is the heart of the Olympic Peninsula, most of which is temperate rain forest  and the rugged Olympic Mountains - the Olympics.  There's a small ski area in the Olympics called Hurricane Ridge, and its lift tickets say, "I SKIED IN THE OLYMPICS."  (Try doing that anywhere else in the world and see how fast you get sued by the IOC.)

Point Roberts

*********** Kevin Olsen, a junior quarterback for the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, is in deep doodoo.

As described in court documents...

Assistant District Attorney Kristen Northrup read details of the charges to Mecklenburg District Judge Gary Henderson.

According to Northrup, Olsen and the 23-year-old woman went out drinking Saturday night but had gotten separated. During their time apart, Northrup said, Olsen sent the woman a text message threatening to kill her.

Eventually, the pair reunited and used Uber to get back to Olsen's apartment early Sunday morning. There, Northrup said, Olsen remained upset about the evening "and some events in his life." He grabbed a phone charger and wrapped it around his neck, threatening to kill himself, the prosecutor said.

The victim, according to Northrup, calmed Olsen down. But the argument flared up again. Olsen first struck her with a pillow and then punched her in the face, Northrup said.

He then assaulted her three times, Northrup said, with the victim crying at some point during the attack.

When Olsen fell asleep, the woman slipped out of the apartment and called a friend, Northrup said. Police reached her at Carolinas Medical Center - University, where the women was found to have vaginal injuries and bruising around one of her eyes.

This is not the kid’s first scrape.  He has a history.

While in high school, he was charged by police in his hometown (Wayne, New Jersey) with leaving the scene of an accident,  failing to report the accident and careless driving.

He was signed by Miami, but as a freshman he was suspended  after reports that he failed a drug test and then he was arrested for allegedly driving under the influence and having a fake or stolen driver's license.

In September 2014 he left Miami and transferred to Towson, but was kicked off the team the following March for violating team rules.

From there he moved to Riverside (California) City College, then after the 2015 season signed with UNC-Charlotte.

He is the younger brother of Carolina Panthers’ tight end Greg Olsen.

*********** I suggested that maybe Baylor’s new coach, Matt Rhule, was wondering why ever he left Temple, given the snake's nest he stepped into, but that’s not the way he went ahead and attacked his new job.

And despite the cloud of sexual crimes hanging over the program, and the fact that the previous staff was not permitted to do any recruiting, he and his staff managed to sign 29 recruits.  Three of them were ESPN Top 300 players, and 11 of them had previously committed to other Power 5 schools.  In addition, they picked up transfer QB Anu Solomon from Arizona, and as a graduate he’s eligible to play immediately.

*********** Nicknamed “The Lord’s Prayer” by his college coach, the famed “Big John” Merritt, Eldridge Dickey was the first black quarterback to be taken in the first round of any pro football draft.  His misfortune was that he was stereotyped as a “black quarterback,” and tried out at other positions than quarterback, without ever really getting a good chance to show what he was capable of.

Identifying Eldridge Dickey

Josh Montgomery - Berwick, Louisiana
Mark Kaczmarek - Davenport, Iowa - “He was drafted ahead of Ken Stabler”
Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin
Dave Potter - Raleigh, North Carolina
Kevin McCullough - Lakeville, Indiana

*********** It’s generally believed he was the first black player to sign to play pro football in the modern era, just ahead of Woody Strode and Kenny Washington in the NFL.  That was in 1946, a year before Jackie Robinson broke the color line in Major League Baseball.

He played on a national championship team in college, and on championship teams in two professional leagues.

He was incredibly fast, so quick off the ball as a defensive lineman that he disrupted center-quarterback exchanges and forced quarterbacks to adopt staggered stances in order to get away quicker.

In his book “PB: The Paul Brown Story,” Brown writes, “He often played as a middle or nose guard on our five-man defensive line, but we began dropping him off the line of scrimmage a yard or two because his great speed and pursuit carried him to the point of attack before anyone could block him.   This technique and theory was the beginning of the modern 4-3 defense and (he) was the forerunner of the modern middle linebacker.”

american flag TUESDAY,  FEBRUARY 21,  2017  “If you try to please everybody. somebody’s not going to like it.”  Donald Rumsfeld

*********** Old friend Steve Jones is back in the saddle.  He's just been named head coach at Hammond, Louisiana.

Since I’ve known him, Coach Jones has been head coach at five Mississippi high schools - Florence, Columbia, Ocean Springs, Biloxi and Harrison Central - and most recently he’s assisted at Amite, Louisiana, which made it to last year’s Class 3A state final.

His 2004 Ocean Springs team fell in the state Class 5A finals to national power South Panola.

Hammond, playing in Class 5A, the state’s largest classification, hasn’t had a winning season since 2004.  Its only non-losing season in that time was a 5-5 record in 2-10, and over the last three years it’s gone 2-29

But Coach Jones, no stranger to tough situations, isn’t deterred.“Sounds like home to me,” he told me. “I love turning these things around."

*********** Not saying that we’re in a hand basket headed straight for hell, but…

our local newspaper annually polls its readers to decide on BEST IN CLARK COUNTY (Washington) - you know, best Italian restaurant, best tacos, best brewpub.  (The usual.)

But in recognition of the way things are these days, they’ve added a whole new consumer category - “Cannabis”.  Readers can vote for:
Best Grower

Best Head Shop

Best Store
I’d better be careful what I say.  For all I know, it might be a hate crime in Washington to badmouth weed.

By the way - did you know that the guy who waits on you at your friendly neighborhood pot shop is  called a “Budtender?”

*********** It’s almost unheard of for a guy with one year’s experience as an assistant coach to be named a coordinator at a big-time college program.

But when Wisconsin’s defensive coordinator, Justin Wilcox, left to take the head job at Cal,  the Badgers named Jim Leonhard, with all of one year’s experience as their defensive backs’ coach,  as the guy to run their defense.

Jim Leonhard is a special guy, with a special story that endears him to Wisconsin fans.

The fact that he’s a small-school guy - really small-school - makes him special to me.

He went to Flambeau HS, in little Tony, Wisconsin (2014 population: 109). (I wanted to write “tiny Tony” but it sounded too cute.) Flambeau has fewer than 200 kids in grades 9-12, and although Leonhard was all-state his senior year, small school honors don’t excite college recruiters.  Chiefly because of his outstanding speed, he was given a chance to walk on at Wisconsin.

There, he proved to be such a smart player and such a hard-hitter that he broke into the starting lineup at free safety and was twice named All-Big Ten.  Finally, as a senior, he was awarded a scholarship.

After Wisconsin, he again beat the odds by parlaying his speed, intelligence and hard-nosed play into a 10-year career in the NFL.

*********** The NFL sure has come a long way since the days of Tuffy Leemans and Art Donovan, Dick Butkus and John Henry Johnson.

Now, it’s joined forces with the Ad Council in urging us to be more “inclusive.”

Said a representative of the Ad Council, “We noticed that  (the kiss cam) was often focused on traditional notions of love. We thought, what if we could showcase a more modern take? … We hope it does cause conversation and, more than anything else, that the fans embrace this message and help spread this movement.”

This, uh,  "movement,” guys, means moments like this, at your family-friendly local stadium.  (You might want to prepare your kids in advance.)

Kiss Cam

*********** The high school that Beloit's coach is moving to; I think they were featured in the book Our Boys. If you haven't read it, its a Friday Night Lights style narrative of a high school team in Kansas who has a 50 game winning streak (my alma mater, Maine Endwell holds NYS's record at 64). It's an easy and fun read.

Tom Walls.
Winnipeg, Manitoba

The HS you refer to, the one in Joe Drape’s “Our Boys,” is Smith Center, Kansas.  It’s not far from Beloit, and  Greg Koenig, at Beloit, played them - and Coach Barta - a couple of times.  Greg admits that he viewed Smith Center as a standard of excellence to aspire to.  I’m sure most small Kansas high school programs (the smart ones) did.

***********  So you’re Nick Saban and you’re a pretty smart guy.   You’ve got an army of football staffers  on your payroll, many of them former head coaches, sitting there in Tuscaloosa looking for things that’ll give you a competitive edge.  One of them discovers that it’s not against NCAA rules to use former players on your scout team.  Hey - that means some of our former players who’ve played a little NFL ball - guys like Trent Richardson.   They’re still in playing shape, and they’ll give us a much better look than our backups. It can't cost that much to bring them in for a couple of months during the season. 

What the hell - what could possibly go wrong?

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

The death of Coach Driskell hit me pretty hard.  I had really come to know him the last 4 years through our teams' interactions in the summer and time spent at coaching clinics.  He always took the time to tell a funny story or answer questions I had.  He spent 40 minutes talking inside zone and RPO's with me at the last Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Association (GKCFCA) in January and then even more time at the Glazier clinic in KC at the beginning of this month.  Our staff still has an inside joke based on a story he told as before a 7 on 7 competition three years ago.  

I feel for his wife and two girls who lost a husband and father.  The Blue Valley community lost a great leader.  I've been praying for his family, but I've also been praying for the coaches who were with him when the aneurysm ruptured.  Those men are my friends too and I'm sure they never expected to have to do CPR for Eric until the ambulance arrived.  

His death has reminded me once again that life is a gift, football is only a game, and value comes from investing yourself in the lives of others.

Joel Mathews
Independence, Missouri

*********** I have a mine.  An idea mine.  It’s a large trove of newspaper and magazine articles that I’ve clipped and set aside over the years, believing  that they might at some point be worth writing about.  Perhaps when I first read them I  thought that the timing wasn’t quite right to use them, or maybe, to be honest, I just wasn’t industrious enough to sit down right then and write at length about them.  But I definitely thought  that at some point I’d get around to doing something about them, so there they are, right over there in that pile.  And that pile.  And that one over there.  And -

It’s always a blast to go back though articles from 10 or 15 years ago and read them in the light of events that have happened since they were written.

I didn’t have to go too far back to find one that I’ve been sitting on for a mere couple of months now.

It was two articles, actually, both in the Wall Street Journal.

Every Friday, the Journal has a “MANSION” section, devoted mainly to articles about how what my mother used to call “the other half” lives.

If you want a humbling experience, a look at its classified ads for palatial homes all over the US will let you know what your place is in the economic pecking order.  There’s a home on Squam Lake in New Hampshire for $8.9 million… A “spectacular colonial” in Greenwich, Connecticut for $7.9 million… An ocean-front estate in La Jolla, California for $18 million… A Tampa Bay waterfront estate for $7.5 million… A Berkeley, California home with “San Francisco Bay views” for $3.7 million… Ocean Lawn (the “former Firestone estate”) in Newport, Rhode Island, for $15 million…

You get the idea.

Two articles, at first glimpse unrelated, appeared, one above the other, on the front page.  Their juxtaposition may have been unintentional, but it sure was ironic.

The article above the fold told of a couple from Maine who sold their place back in New England and built a 4,100 square foot “ski-in, ski-out” home for some $2.2 million - in Telluride, Colorado, so their son can train with the “Telluride Ski & Snowboard Club.”  (The kid’s 11 - A nation sits on pins and needles waiting for him to become old enough to make the US Olympic team)… 

Another couple has already moved three times in the last three years - first, selling their “dream house” in Beaverton, Oregon - at a $25,000 loss - and renting a place in Scottsdale, Arizona, then buying a house in Morgan Hill, California, and finally moving back to Scottsdale.   Meanwhile, Dad was asked to return to his employer’s home office in Oregon, so he’s rented a place in Oregon while the rest of the family stays in Arizona.  All this so their now-17-year-old son can play on a youth ice hockey team in the hopes of earning a scholarship to the college of his dreams…

A British couple who’d been living in the Bahamas moved to Bradenton, Florida so their soccer-playing sons, 13 and 9, could attend IMG Academy.  The tuition at IMG, a sports-intensive school,  is $50,000 a year for day students.  No doubt to save on having to pay the higher boarding-school tuition, they decided to rent a nearby apartment - for $9,000 a month. 

Again, you get the idea.

The article below the fold was decidedly not about living the high life.  It was about basketball great Larry Bird, and how he grew up. He was the fourth of six kids in the little town of West Baden Springs, Indiana. “Our house looked like most other houses in the area,” he recalled - “like poor people lived inside.”

HIs father worked as a finisher in a piano factory, and his mother worked two jobs - mornings as a cook at a diner, and evenings at a convenience store.

“My folks had too many kids,” he told the Journal’s Marc Myers. "We didn’t even have enough money for a car.” But “everything was within walking or running distance, so it didn’t much matter.

“Space was tight at our house.  I slept on the front porch, which had windows but no heat.  In the winter, I slept with a big quilt.  I can sit here and whine about it, but you know what? That’s the way most people in our area lived.

“In the back of the house there was a long, narrow porch.  We took a coffee can, cut out the top and bottom, and nailed the can above the doorway.  Then we’d dribble rubber balls and shoot them.  When it rained, we played in there all day.

“In the summer, I was outside all the time.  My mother would order us out early so she could deal with the house and have some peace. I played all sports - baseball, football and basketball. I’d run a mile to play basketball on an asphalt court outside the school.”

When he was 12 or so his family moved into a bigger house in the nearby town of French Lick, but for the last three years of high school he lived with his maternal grandmother.

“She had one bedroom and two beds,” he said. “One for her and one for me.  My older brothers had lived there before me.  She liked the company and never put pressure on me.”

Grandma lived across from the high school, and in and out of school - Spring Valley High in French Lick -  he worked hard to perfect his game,  “pushing myself to train harder than other players,” and “practicing shooting for hours.”

The rest is basketball history.

In 1972, his parents divorced.   His father, who suffered from  his experiences in the Korean War, “had his demons,” Bird recalls, and he did a bit of drinking; after the divorce, Bird says, “his life sort of unravelled.”

And then, in 1975, he killed himself. “I still miss him,” Bird said.

Today, Larry Bird and his wife live in Indianapolis, in a three-story, five-bedroom home.  “It’s way too big,” he says.  “I never thought I’d live in a house like that.”

Reading the two articles on the same page, I can’t help wondering how much better Larry Bird could have been if only his parents had been wealthy enough - and indulgent enough - to move someplace where he could get more professional instruction than his high school coach could offer.  (Sarcasm alert, for those who don’t know me.)

Seth Wrestling

North Beach’s Seth Bridge (above, on the left) is shown winning the Washington State Class 2B 285-pound championship Saturday.

Seth is the son of North Beach head coach Todd Bridge and his wife, Chris, and was a four-year starter on the North Beach football team.  (Technically, he started one game as an eighth grader.  During spring practice of his eight grade year,  a starting tackle went down the day before our spring game, and Seth had to step in.)

Seth has worked hard to become a state champion wrestler.  Since  he's   by far the biggest kid in his school - not to mention the  wrestling team -
it's been especially tough finding someone to  practice against.

*********** The woman responsible for Roe v. Wade, the case which enabled the Supreme Court to discover, hidden away in the Constitution for nearly two centuries, a right to abortion, died Saturday.

The decision was handed down in 1969.   It’s hard to believe that it was done on behalf of a 22-year-old woman, unmarried, unemployed and pregnant for the third f—king time.  (She said at the time that the third  pregnancy was the result of a rape, but confessed afterward that that was a lie.)

Too late.

Late in life, she underwent a religious conversion - a couple of them, actually - and took up the fight against abortion.

Too late.

*********** My friend, Doc Hinger, is one lucky guy.  He lives in Winter Haven, Florida.  Winter Haven is in Polk County.  Polk County might be the last place where you’d want to commit a crime.

That’s because the sheriff of Polk County is the great Grady Judd.

How great?

Just one example:  In 2006, a guy who’d killed a deputy sheriff after being pulled over for speeding was shot at 110 times, and  hit  68 times.

Why so many bullets?
Sheriff Judd was asked, and he replied,

"I suspect the only reason 110 rounds was all that was fired was that's all the ammunition they had.”

Doc told me that last Saturday night he attended a dinner to raise funds for Wounded Warriors.  Lots of donated items were auctioned off: shotguns, fishing tackle, guided hunting and fishing trips.

One of the items was lunch with Sheriff Judd at the Polk County jail.

It went for $2000.

*********** Guts Department…

Somebody had to eat the first oyster.  His identity is lost in the mists of history.

And somebody had to get the first full-body MRI scan.  That somebody was Dr. Peter Mansfield.

Dr. Mansfield, who shared a Nobel Prize in Medicine for his discoveries that led to the MRI scanner, died last week.

Partly because he was the only one on the research team thin enough to fit inside, he volunteered to be the first one to enter the full-body scanner that he and his team had built. 

It was not  a decision easily made.

At the time, no one understood what the risks might be of doing so.  One scientist told Dr. Mansfield that the change of directions in a magnetic field might cause his heart to stop.

Dr. Mansfield, however, said he had done his own calculations - and he disagreed.  
So in he went. 

As his wife stood nearby to see him off - perhaps forever - he was bolted into the machine.  When the scan was complete, it took 10 minutes to get him out.

He was a lifelong learner and an inveterate tinkerer.   “We had to be careful what we gifted him,” said a granddaughter,  because he insisted on taking things apart to see how they worked. One Christmas he took apart an electric razor he’d received, and the family had to go buy him another one.

*********** Identifying Willie “Satellite” Totten

Josh Montgomery - Berwick, Louisiana

Scott Whaley - Oskaloosa, Kansas

Ed Wyatt - Melbourne, Australia (Relatives of Coach Wyatt and employees of Coach Wyatt Worldwide play solely for fun and are not eligible to win cash prizes)

Greg Koenig - Beloit, Kansas

Mat Hedger - Langdon, North Dakota

John Bothe - Oregon, Illinois

Mark Kaczmarek - Davenport, Iowa

Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin

Tom Walls - Winnipeg, Manitoba

Tracy Jackson - Dallas, Oregon - Coach Cooley came to Portland for a clinic once in cowboy boots and a cowboy shirt.  He said to me that his offense was "was something else'.  They were really the talk back then. 

Tom Davis - San Marcos, California

Dennis Metzger - Richmond, Indiana

30 years ago at Mississippi Valley State,  Willie Totten's  coach, Archie “Gunslinger” Cooley, a man way ahead of his time, turned him loose - let him call his own plays, and at the line of scrimmage. It was no-huddle, “fast break football.”

In Totten's first game as quarterback of the new offense, his team won, 86-0.

A radio guy said, “They just pass and pass. The ball looks like it’s floating in air like a satellite.” That earned the guy a nickname that stuck with him.

His career stats: 952 completions in 1629 attempts… 13,170 yards… 141 TDs

When he left college, he held 56 NCAA Division I-AA (FCS) passing records.

He wasn’t drafted by the NFL, and although he did play a few seasons in Canada, his only action in the NFL was as a replacement player during a strike.

On the other hand, his favorite receiver in college went on to become one of the greatest receivers in NFL history - a guy named Jerry Rice.

Willie Totten  was head coach at Mississippi Valley for eight seasons.

The school’s stadium is now named for him and Rice.

*********** Nicknamed “The Lord’s Prayer” by his college coach at Tennessee State,  he was the first black quarterback to be taken in the first round of any pro football draft.  His misfortune was that he was stereotyped as a “black quarterback,” and tried out at other positions than quarterback, without ever really getting a good chance to show what he was capable of.

american flag FRIDAY,  FEBRUARY 17,  2017

*********** It's official. The school board of Cimarron, Kansas met Monday night and approved the hiring of Greg Koenig as their new head coach.  Cimarron is in the southwest corner of the state, midway  between Dodge City and Garden City. 

The Cimarron Blue Jays have gone 6-4, 6-4, 7-3 the past three years,  and based on the conversations Greg’s had with the people in charge, the community wants more.  Based on what I’ve seen on MaxPreps there are some talented kids returning. 

As one sign of how serious they were about the hiring, there were only three people in on the interview - the Superintendent, the Principal, and the AD.   In my experience, there is an inverse relationship between the number of people on the interview panel and how desirable the job is. (A large interview panel suggests that there are way too many people in town who’ve been given the idea that their opinion is important.)

Greg told me about something very significant that took place in his interview, something with a lesson in it for all of us.

He was asked what the community could expect to see in his teams.

Greg said that they would play hard, disciplined football.  They would not beat themselves.   And they would conduct themselves at all times in a way that would make their community proud of them.

As Greg was saying those things, he noticed that the  superintendent was nodding, as if he agreed.

And when Greg was finished, the Superintendent said that his former school had faced Greg’s Beloit team in a playoff game a couple of years ago.  Beloit was overmatched - it was one of those games where the only way they had a chance was to play the best game they were capable of and hope for a few breaks,  and things didn’t work out that way.  But get this - the superintendent’s wife happened to be on the Beloit sidelines taking photos, and she told her husband after the game how impressed she was by the way my the Beloit players and staff had conducted themselves, even in a losing effort.

The moral? As Greg says, “Someone’s always watching.”

*********** ”Mindlessly checking Facebook makes you an awful lot like a lab rat habitually pressing a lever hoping for a pellet."   Geoffrey Fowler, Wall Street Journal

*********** I NEVER thought I’d agree with Patty Murray on anything.  She’s one of “my” Senators, a dismal liberal so typical of what Washington, the Evergreen State,  churns out.

There she was on TV, barely able to say three words without looking down at her notes, going off on the President’s nominee for Secretary of Labor.

On she droned.  Like most libs, she didn’t like the fact that the guy is opposed to a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

But suddenly, I sat up straight and shouted  “Damn!  She’s right!”

Her bone of contention was that the company the guy has headed - the one that runs fast-food  restaurant chains known as Hardees in the East and Carl’s Jr. in the West - runs commercials that are degrading to women.

Now, not being a woman, I don’t know whether or not they’re degrading, but let’s just say that if one of my daughters or grand-daughters was lounging, scantily-clad, on the hood of a car while opening her mouth suggestively to eat an enormous, dripping Carls’ Jr. burger, I wouldn’t be bragging about it.   Get Soft Porn - and a burger - at Carl’s Jr.!

Let that be a lesson to today’s anything-goes, screw-good-taste advertisers: someone is watching, and some of them still have standards, and it does matter how you sell your product.

*********** My wife and I have allowed ourselves to get hooked on a weekly soap on BET called The Quad.

It’s set on the campus of a historically black college called Georgia A & M (“GAMU”), and much of it centers around its president, a very attractive, bright and ambitious woman who was forced out of her last job because of a “personal issue,” which, we learn, involved  an affair she had with a graduate student. GAMU, it turns out, was not in a position to be overly picky, because it’s in terrible financial shape. 

There are all sorts of great side issues.  There is the murder of a young woman, and the immediate arrest of her boyfriend, a kid from Chicago who didn’t want to go to GAMU in the first place and only came on the insistence of his mother, who had had enough of the gang violence in Chicago.  There’s the football team.  The Mountain Cats.  (“Mountain Cats?”  The school’s in Atlanta.  Unless we’re talking Stone Mountain, a huge rock east of town, there ain’t a mountain within 100 miles.)   They’re lousy but their coach is doing everything he can to turn things around. They  decide to recruit a white quarterback, a kid from Texas. The kid’s father is a real stage mom who can’t believe his kid was passed over by the Texases, Alabamas, etc., and is desperate to find him a place to play, so he agrees to let him go to GAMU.  (You know he’s desperate, because he’s a real, hardcore white racist, and I can’t believe he’d agree to let his son go to an all-black school, but there you are. After all, it is  soap opera.)

When the president and her husband broke up and she took her new job (since he’s on the faculty at the old school, he stays), they decided that their college-age daughter would accompany Mom and transfer to GAMU - against her will.  It’s not working out well.  The kid is, well, a bitch.  She’s nasty and snarly and she parties WAY too much and is beginning to cause a lot of problems for her mother.

The band is the classic black college band.  If you’ve seen the bands from Southern, Florida A & M, etc., you wonder how they can dance the way they do, in beautiful choreographed fashion, and still play music.  But they do. Oh, do they!

One of the things that our new president learns very early is that the band director really runs the university. 

His program is self-funding, and as a result he answers to no one.  When the Prez tries to take him on, she’s told by a trustee to leave him alone.  But he realizes that she’s going to be a thorn in his side, and when another member of the college administration, upset because he didn’t get the job of president, shows him photos of the president’s daughter in some compromising positions at a party, they hatch a plot to blackmail her.

Sound like any band directors you’ve worked with?

His pre-game talk to the band:

The stands will empty out after halftime - after the band is through.

The football team is our opening act

We're not AT the event... we ARE the event.

Oh - and that graduate student who was boinking her back at her old school?  He’s transferred to GAMU.

Stay tuned.

*********** One minute he was there…

Coach Eric Driskell, of Blue Valley High School in Leawood, Kansas, a Kansas City suburb, was dining Sunday and talking football with other coaches from the Kansas City area - “doing what he loved - talking football,” said his wife - when he suddenly collapsed.

He had suffered a brain aneurism, and despite the efforts of medical professionals and the prayers of students, players, families, fellow coaches and community members, he passed away Wednesday. 

Coach Driskell had been head coach at Blue Valley, his alma mater, since 2010, and in his first season there, Blue Valley won the state title. In 2013, Blue Valley won it all again.

In his seven seasons as head coach, Blue Valley made it to the state finals five times.

Blue Valley was state runner-up in both 2015 and 2016.

Last fall, he was honored as Kansas Coach of the Year by the Kansas City Chiefs.

God rest Coach Driskell and comfort his family and all the people whose lives he’s touched.

***********  Good morning Coach.

Hope all is well. I was wondering if you guys have team socks? If so, what style?

I ask because we are looking at getting team socks. Last year we went to a uniform style that resembles the Ohio State throwbacks that they wore a few years ago. Trying to find a sock that is similar in design.


In the interest of uniformity we go all black.

Many of the kids simply wear black full-length performance gear under their uniforms so we don't have to issue stockings to them.

In my opinion stockings look great but you start to defeat your purpose if you don't stay on top of things and people start to put their own individual stamps on things. The NFL gave up trying to enforce their stocking rule and now most of their teams look like sandlotters from the knees down.

Good luck!

*********** Good-bye, G.I. Joe.  Hi there, Logan Everett.

Further evidence that they’re out to neuter our boys comes from  Mattel, maker of American Girl dolls,  in its announcement that in an effort to be more “relevant,” it will begin selling a boy doll called “Logan Everett.”

Yeah, “Logan Everett.” Think “Logan Everett” is going to be white?  Ya think? 

This is one case where I don’t expect to hear about a lack of diversity.   Not from the black community, at least, where little boys are more likely to be playing sports and roughhousing, not playing with boy dolls.

*********** For quite some time I’ve wondered what, exactly, the Army got for its money by sponsoring the All-American Bowl - you know, one of those ego-stroking high school all-star games punctuated by the little sideline mini dramas in which kids reveal to us which colleges they plan on going to.  Until they decommit.

All Army advertising is, ultimately, aimed at recruiting, and somehow, some smart guy  convinced the Army higher-ups that all the money they spent was worth it in return for the TV exposure (not sure what the ratings are, but I doubt that they beat out golf), but also - and here I had to shake my head - because it got their message into the schools of the participants.  See, when it’s announced that a kid’s been selected to play in the game, there’s a big assembly,  with Army people on hand to deliver the invitation.  Can’t you see all those kids up in the stands just waiting for the assembly to end so they can rush down and enlist?

But that’s it.  Nobody outside those schools affected has the slightest idea what’s going on. Time for some simple math: There are roughly 50 kids on each of the two teams.  That’s 100 kids total playing in the game.  If they all come from different high schools, that’s 100 high schools, tops, where they put on the show.

Um, there are more than 14,000 high schools in the United States playing football.  That’s 13,900 that aren’t being reached.

An efficient expenditure of taxpayer money? When you spend all that money to get your message to fewer than 1 per cent of America’s high schools I’d call it a waste.

Somebody in the Army must agree.  They’ve just announced they’re cancelling their sponsorship after the 2018 game.

*********** Those who contend that youth tackle football is overly dangerous, and Flag Football is the answer to reducing injuries, will be disappointed to read the results of a study by University of Iowa researchers just published in The Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine.   The NFL, with millions invested in promoting flag football, won't like it either, but screw them.

If you’re into scientific studies, you can read all about it here:

In simpler form, you can read the abstract below

Or, if you’re really rushed, you can just skip to the bottom of the article, where the lead author sums it up.

Or just take my word for it: youth football isn’t as dangerous as it’s being popularly portrayed.

Youth Football Injuries: A Prospective Cohort

Andrew R. Peterson, MD, MSPH*, Adam J. Kruse, MS, Scott M. Meester, BS, Tyler S. Olson, BS, Benjamin N. Riedle, MS, Tyler G. Slayman, MD, Todd J. Domeyer, MD, Joseph E. Cavanaugh, PhD, M. Kyle Smoot, MD
First Published February 10, 2017


There are approximately 2.8 million youth football players between the ages of 7 and 14 years in the United States. Rates of injury in this population are poorly described. Recent studies have reported injury rates between 2.3% and 30.4% per season and between 8.5 and 43 per 1000 exposures.

Youth flag football has a lower injury rate than youth tackle football. The concussion rates in flag football are lower than in tackle football.

Study Design:
Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3.

Three large youth (grades 2-7) football leagues with a total of 3794 players were enrolled. Research personnel partnered with the leagues to provide electronic attendance and injury reporting systems. Researchers had access to deidentified player data and injury information. Injury rates for both the tackle and flag leagues were calculated and compared using Poisson regression with a log link. The probability an injury was severe and an injury resulted in a concussion were modeled using logistic regression. For these 2 responses, best subset model selection was performed, and the model with the minimum Akaike information criterion value was chosen as best. Kaplan-Meier curves were examined to compare time loss due to injury for various subgroups of the population. Finally, time loss was modeled using Cox proportional hazards regression models.

A total of 46,416 exposures and 128 injuries were reported. The mean age at injury was 10.64 years. The hazard ratio for tackle football (compared with flag football) was 0.45 (95% CI, 0.25-0.80; P = .0065). The rate of severe injuries per exposure for tackle football was 1.1 (95% CI, 0.33-3.4; P = .93) times that of the flag league. The rate for concussions in tackle football per exposure was 0.51 (95% CI, 0.16-1.7; P = .27) times that of the flag league.

Injury is more likely to occur in youth flag football than in youth tackle football. Severe injuries and concussions were not significantly different between leagues. Concussion was more likely to occur during games than during practice. Players in the sixth or seventh grade were more likely to suffer a concussion than were younger players.

The authors stress that their study was “internally funded,” and received no funding from any “football interests,” such as the NFL or its front, USA Football.

The study’s lead author, Andre Peterson, associate professor of pediatrics and orthopedics at the University of Iowa, reduces it to one sentence:

“I think the take-home here is that youth tackle football is relatively safe, and that flag football may not be a safer alternative.”

*********** I was way high up in the channels, browsing, when I came upon  Bob Davie on the New Mexico Lobos football show, and he was talking about recruiting.   He said not to put too much stock in the 4-star and 5-star ratings by the so-called recruiting gurus, and just in case someone might think it was sour grapes because he hadn’t recruited many,  he pointed out that of the 88 starters (offense and defense) on the four teams in the recent NFC and AFC championship games, only four of them had been 5-star high school recruits.

*********** Stars for Adam Wesoloski, of Pulaski, Wisconsin, and Dave Potter, of Raleigh, North Carolina, who recognized that all the men on the list played football for black colleges - the term now is HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities):

But I stumped everyone with the real significance of this list.

E - Harold Jackson,  Jackson State
E -    John Eason,  Florida A&M
T -    Claude Humphrey,  Tennessee State University
T -    Elvin Bethea,  North Carolina A&T State University
G -    Willie Lanier,  Morgan State
G -    Norman Davis,  Grambling State
C -    Pete Barnes,  Southern University
QB-Eldridge Dickey,  Tennessee State University
HB-Willie Ellison, Texas Southern
HB-Monk Williams,  Arkansas–Pine Bluff
FB-    Bill Tucker, Tennessee State

Claude Humphrey, Elvin Bethea and Willie Lanier are all in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

It’s the Pittsburgh Courier’s 1966 Black College All-America team - its 50th anniversary.

In those days, there was an incredible amount of talent in black colleges, most of them in the south, relics of the days of segregation when southern blacks were refused admission to their own state colleges.

It’s not that there weren’t some outstanding black athletes who left the South to play on northern teams.  One of the first northern coaches to recruit the South was Minnesota’s Murray Warmath, himself a southerner, and in 1959 he recruited Bobby Lee Bell out of Shelby, North Carolina.  Bell started as a sophomore on Minnesota’s 1960 national championship team (which then, after being named National champion, lost in the Rose Bowl to Washington) and was an All-American in 1961 and 1962 before going on to a Hall of Fame career with the Chiefs.  Duffy Daugherty at Michigan State recruited so heavily and so successfully in the South that they referred to it as his Underground Railroad.

But “white” colleges as a rule didn’t recruit black players in large numbers, and most of those who did steered clear of the South, partially out of concerns about admitting students from segregated high schools that so often provided substandard education.

That meant that the black colleges had their pick of a very large number of some very talented athletes.  Those players’ subsequent success in the NFL bore that out.   Bill Nunn knew that. 

Bill Nunn -   Bill Nunn, Jr., actually - started with the
Pittsburgh Courier , a weekly with  a mostly black readership, in 1948 as a reporter.  In 1950 he chose his first Black College All-America team.

Bill Nunn not only brought recognition to players who played outside the mainstream - “behind God’s back,” as Tennessee State coach John Merritt sarcastically put it - but
he developed a keen eye for talent,  which eventually helped him put his stamp on the pro game.

When he chided his hometown Steelers for not aggressively going after the players he'd been recognizing, they responded by hiring him as a scout., and sending him south.   That was 1967 - the year following the All-American team shown above. The players who wound up with the Steelers as a result of his work played major roles in the great Steelers dynasty of the 1970s:  Mel Blount (Southern); L. C. Greenwood (Arkansas A. M. & N.); Ernie Holmes (Texas Southern); Frank Lewis (Grambling);  Donnie Shell (South Carolina State) ;  John Stallworth (Alabama A. & M).

A great read -

*********** 30 years ago his coach, way ahead of his time, turned him loose - let him call his own plays, and at the line of scrimmage. It was no-huddle, “fast break football.”

In his first game as quarterback of the new offense, his team won, 86-0.

A radio guy said, “They just pass and pass. The ball looks like it’s floating in air like a satellite.” That earned the guy a nickname that stuck with him.

His career stats: 952 completions in 1629 attempts… 13,170 yards… 141 TDs

When he left college, he held 56 NCAA Division I-AA (FCS) passing records.

He wasn’t drafted by the NFL, and although he did play a few seasons in Canada, his only action in the NFL was as a replacement player during a strike.

On the other hand, his favorite receiver in college went on to become one of the greatest receivers in NFL history.

He was head coach at his alma mater for eight seasons.

The school’s stadium is now named for him and his favorite receiver.

american flag TUESDAY,  FEBRUARY 14,  2017  "I'm not a good motivator. I'm just good at weeding out those who can't motivate themselves." Lou Holtz

*********** Several years ago, when I was traveling a lot, I happened to be in Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) waiting for a flight, when I came across an article in the Baltimore Sun about a young University of Maryland graduate named Kevin Plank who’d just started a company making performance undergarments, mostly for athletes.  He called the products - and his company - Under Armour.

I thought, what the hell - I’ll give the guy a call.   He answered.  Couldn’t have been nicer.   We talked for about ten minutes and I came away very impressed.

Since those early days, his company’s success has been spectacular, and Under Armour recently disclosed plans to build a spectacular corporate  campus, plus retail and lodging, in a rundown waterfront area.  It’s a real shot in the arm for a city desperately in need of one.

But no good deed goes unpunished, and now Kevin Plank, who’s brought hundreds of jobs to his city,  who puts tens of millions of dollars into the pockets of athlete-endorsers, is under assault from some of the very athletes who happily cash his checks -  because he happened to say, after attending a meeting with President Trump along with other business leaders, that he came away believing the President would be good for business.

Holy sh—.  Judging from the reaction of those ingrates, you’d have thought he’d proposed killing the first-born of every minority family in the free world. 
So what else can you do but crank up the PR machine? Under Armour’s  people are tripping all over themselves to get out the word that Kevin Plank’s simple statement did not mean that he supported one single part of Mr. Trump’s agenda.

I'm surprised that no one has suggested that he  fly planeloads of refugees to the United States and give them all food and housing and executive jobs at Under Armour. 

Meantime, apart from all the amateurish political posing  by  millionaire athletes, life goes on, and Under Armour has produced a pretty funny video of real Boston types glorifying a  Tom Brady who sounds like the football version of Chuck Norris.

The Legend of Tom Brady…

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

I was surprised and disappointed with how Army dealt with their part in the wakeyleaks scandal.  I would have thought their punishment for lack of ethics would have been far more severe.  I hate when those in authority overlook a great teaching moment.  Oh well....

The Lou Holtz article on rebuilding is spot on, and what I will be emphasizing in our own "rebuild" here at EWHS.

As for Grayson Allen ("Grayson Allen kid is a jerk, plain and simple."), there is something really wrong with that kid.  He has either been raised incorrectly, coached incorrectly or he is psychologically-impaired.  I'm all for a coach who stands up for his kids, but there comes a time when then life lesson being taught should be "when you take privilege for granted, you lose the privilege".  Playing in Duke's program should be a privilege.

"Think Matt Rhule wishes he hadn’t left Temple?"  I dunno, but he employed Brandon Washington for THREE YEARS before they went to Baylor together. Hmmm. Brandon Washington, David Reaves, Mike Price, George O'Leary...I think of guys with such great opportunities staring them in the face and how they blow it before ever coaching a single game there.

As for the Oklahoma State Sex for Signing scandal, this is from David Beaty (the head coach at Kansas) on the hiring of his new staff of coaches including Joe DeForest:

“The response was overwhelming from people who wanted to come here and be a part of this university,” Beaty said. “It was really cool and it just speaks volumes about what it means to be a Jayhawk."

Joe DeForest was an AC at Oklahoma State who lined up encounters between recruits and "hostesses."  When asked about one particular incident where DeForest castigated a hosting player for not making sure that the recruit had gotten laid, DeForest didn't deny it.  He simply didn't remember it: "I do not recall that conversation ever occurred."

Michael Sam?  I can't believe his homosexuality cost him a job in the pros.  I can believe it would cost him a try-out.  But why would teams bring him in (already knowing who he was), only to cut him later if the reason for cutting him was that he's gay?  Note to Michael Sam:  they already KNOW that you're gay.  It's not like it was some secret surprise revelation that came to pass once you'd signed a free-agent contract.  

And as for the first black QB from the South (you mean, from Fayetteville, NC!) to win a national championship, that's Jimmy Raye.  But I didn't know that Tony Dungy used to "play in in the yard."  Good stuff!

Dave Potter
East Wake High School
Wendell, North Carolina

Coach Potter was just named head JV coach at East Wake High School by new head coach Sean Murphy, who recently made the move from Baltimore’s Archbishop Curley High.

*********** The NFL is at it again.  To assure that it’ll continue to be in the news in the dead time between the Super Bowl and the combine, Big Football has decided to come down on the side of Transgender Types wanting the use the bathroom of their choice.

“The NFL embraces inclusiveness,” an NFL spokesman said. “We want all fans to feel welcomed at our events, and NFL policies prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard.

“If a proposal that is discriminatory or inconsistent with our values were to become law there, that would certainly be a factor considered when thinking about awarding future events.”

A few online responses:

I identify as a Border Collie and the bigoted NFL refuses to allow me to poop and pee n open spaces.  They won't even allow me to sniff the butts of total strangers.   When will the NFL finally embrace trans specism?

News Flash for the NFL: Obama is no longer President. Take your Progressive agenda elsewhere or you will lose more viewers than you'll gain. Enough said.

Smart move, NFL, playing to your massive transgender fan base.

The NFL can shove it. I am sick to death of them sticking their noses into political matters. Same with the NCAA. The Super Bowl was great and Houston was a superb host, but I am done with it. My money and time will not go to support an organization that seeks to undermine the very basic core values of a moral and upright society.

*********** Got a call last week from Denny Creehan.  You’ve probably heard of him, because he’s done all sort of clinics and his videos have been on sale for years. I’m going to go out on a limb and declare him the leading expert on the Delaware Wing-T offense.

After stints as head coach at Edinboro, San Francisco State and South Dakota, he became DC at Arkansas State,  Rutgers, and Duke.

After a year as special teams coach at Army under Todd Berry, he moved to Canada and spent five years as a DC there, first at Calgary and then at Hamilton.

He took over as head coach of D-II West Virginia Wesleyan and in two years took a program that had won only nine games in the previous four years to a 9-2 record in his second year there, earning him 2010 West Virginia Conference Coach of the Year.   And with most of his key players returning, he licked his lips anticipating a big year in 2011.

But in the off-season, his brother Richard became president of Alderson-Broaddus, another West Virginia school.  Alderson-Broaddus didn’t have a football team and new president Creehan wanted one.

The right person to start one was his own brother, Denny.  Would Denny leave West Virginia Wesleyan to become AD and build the football program?

Not many guys get to start their own college programs, and Denny accepted.

By 2012 Alderson-Broaddus, with mostly freshmen and sophomores,  was competing against college JV teams.

By 2013, they were on their way as a full-fledged varsity program, and finished 4-7.

But then they took off, going 7-4 in 2014, 7-4 again in 2016, and 9-2 this past season.

And then, because of the passage of a conference rule stipulating that Athletic Directors couldn't double as head coaches (or vice-versa), he chose to stop down as coach and remain as AD.

(Anybody looking for a damn good Wing-T coach?)

Needless to say, we talked a lot about the Wing-T and the Double Wing. The Wing-T is his baby, of course, but unlike so many of today’s coaching geniuses who’ve been raised playing Madden,  he likes - and respects - the Double Wing.  He said that he’s often toyed with the idea, after he retires, of taking over a high school team somewhere and running the Double Wing.  He said that in his travels he’s seen a lot of schools with “big, tough, slow kids” where you could kill people if you ran it right.

He said that except for when they’re reach blocking, he still teaches shoulder blocking (which as we’ve all been told, is now obsolete.)

He noted that interest in the Wing-T overall seemed to be waning somewhat - said that where he once would do three Glazier clinics a weekend, for five or six straight weekends, he now mostly does them on request.  He suggested one big reason: back when Delaware was still running the Wing-T, they’d have more than 500 coaches at their spring clinic.  But Delaware hasn’t run the Wing-T since Tubby Raymond retired in 2006, and with the Blue Hens no longer carrying the Wing-T banner, as they’d done since 1951, there isn’t a D-1 model for younger coaches. 

Right now it appears that Wing-T football, while definitely not extinct, is down.  Likewise, fewer people are running the Double Wing.  In my opinion, they’re simply in a down cycle.  Now’s the perfect time, it would seem to me, as spread shotgun offenses take over the game, to consider the benefits of being unique - before you lose that advantage once the cycle starts on the upswing again. 

That reminded me of Ara Parseghian’s comments in the 1974 Kodak Coach of the Year Football Clinic Notes.  (Notre Dame had just won the National Championship, running the Wing T.)

“Two years ago we decided to go to the Wing-T. This was a strategical change.  We had been a three-back I-formation team for a number of years.  I have observed, over my coaching tenure, a cycle in football. Football, offensively, goes in a cycle.  It goes from one to the next.

“The first cycle was the split-T that Bud Wilkinson was using and doing a tremendous job with at Oklahoma. Next went to the Belly-T (at Georgia Tech) where Bobby Dodd was the head coach and Frank Broyles was the assistant.  We then went to the Wing T, which Dave Nelson of Delaware ran and Forrest Evashevski of Iowa used when he won the National Championship.

“Then we went to the pro attack, the flanker back, the great pass receivers, the draw and the screen. Then came the I-formation as popularized by John McKay which gives you a better power off-tackle play, and better run action passes off the two-back attack.

“Then came the advent of probably one of the most dramatic things I have seen in my 24 years of coaching, which was the triple option.   The triple option again necessitated  some immense defensive thinking and it continues to do that.  That is the challenge we’re in now.  The wishbone is a formation which employs the triple option.  The Houston veer is a formation with incorporates the triple option.  You can run the triple option from just about any formation, depending on where you want to put your fullback and your halfback.

“This change turned all defensive philosophy back.  Go.  You’ve got to move.  You’ve got the number one man, you’ve got the number two man, you have the quarterback, you have the pitch. Everything you saw defensively was this and I reorganized this two years ago.

“It was then that I JUMPED A CYCLE and went back to the Wing T.

“The Wing T necessitates a quieter backside, it necessitates a quite reaction on the front side.  You can’t go taking off right now.

“So we jumped a cycle, and the second year, which was this year, we became even more familiar with it, more knowledgeable than e were the first year.  We executed it better.  I believe we had an opportunity to jump a cycle and we will continue with this thinking in he event that everybody follows this particular trend.  We would think again about jumping a cycle.

Aquinas Black Lion

It’s a very special occasion when the Black Lion Award is presented at Aquinas Institute, in Rochester, New York.  Aquinas is the alma mater of Major Don Holleder, whose heroism inspired the Black Lion Award.  That’s Don Holleder’s portrait in the background.  In the photo (Left to Right)  Athletic Director Anthony Bianchi;  Major Tom B. Kasper, Jr - Chief of Operations 401 CA BN (Holleder Army Reserve Center); Aquinas Institute Black Lion Award winner Tyler Olbrich; Major General Norbert Rappl, Aquinas Class of 1948; Coach Sean Torregiano

***********  Yale has removed the name of John C. Calhoun from one of its 12 undergraduate residential colleges.  Calhoun was valedictorian of his class at Yale and went on to be a congressman and a senator from South Carolina, then secretary of war, secretary of state, and vice-president of the United States. But, as were so many wealthy and influential southerners of the pre-Civil War period, he was  a slave owner.  In addition, he was a staunch defender of the practice of slavery. 

For that, the Yale administration has with great relish been referring to him as a “white supremacist.”   But as Roger Kimball wrote in Monday’s Wall Street Journal, “Who among whites at the time was not? Take your time.”

So down has come the name of Calhoun, and up has gone the name of - Grace Hopper?  Grace who?   A Vassar graduate, it turns out, one who never spent a day of her life as a Yale undergraduate.  (True, the late Ms. Hopper did hold two graduate degrees from Yale.)  I suppose I should feel ashamed to admit this, but until her name was announced to the alumni, I’d never heard of her.  So much for the value of my Yale education.

As I’ve written before, this would have been the perfect opportunity to honor Levi Jackson, a New Haven native, who brought great credit to Yale throughout his life. He was the first black captain of any Ivy League football team, and as the first black higher-level executive of the Ford Motor Company, he was responsible for developing Ford’s minority dealership program.  Surely, Yale was aware that this is Black History Month? 

But instead of honoring one of her own, Yale chose instead to name an undergraduate residential college (house), a place where undergraduates will live for their four years as undergraduates,  for a relatively unknown person who had zero connection with Yale as an undergraduate student, spent just two years in New Haven as a graduate student, and was seldom identified with Yale.  But what the hell - she was a woman.  

 I’m bummed but not surprised.  My waste basket has become, and will remain,  the receptacle of unopened Yale requests for donations.

This isn’t over, either.  The removal of Calhoun’s name will not satisfy those who pressed hardest for it.   As the old French saying goes, “Appetite comes from eating,” and after this feast,  there will be considerable appetite for even more dramatic changes.

Brace yourself:

Yale University was named for Elihu Yale, after the  wealthy British merchant donated some 800 pounds worth of books.  But get this:  Elihu Yale didn’t just own slaves - he was a slave trader. Now, that’s really ugly.

Who knows were this will lead?

Down with Yale?  Maybe.

How does Obama University sound?

*********** Say a prayer, if you will, for a great coach and a great person.  Kansas State coach Bill Snyder has been diagnosed with throat cancer and is undergoing outpatient treatment in Kansas city.   At this time it’s not expected that it will interfere with his duties as head coach.’s-bill-snyder-diagnosed-with-throat-cancer/ar-AAmP2FO?li=BBnba9I

***********  Correctly identifying Jimmy Raye, a native of Fayetteville, North Carolina, as the first black quarterback from the South to win a national championship:

Dennis Metzger - Richmond, Indiana - I believe that you are referring to Jimmy Raye, QB for Duffy Daughtery’s Michigan State team.  It would be 1966 and the 10-10 tie with Notre Dame that I remember.  I was a huge Ara fan and always surprised with the decision to “settle” for the tie.  Two very good teams with a lot of famous players.  Bubba Smith, George Webster and Gene Washington for the Spartans and Terry Hanratty, Coley O’Brien, Nick Eddy and maybe the best known, Rocky Bleier.  And I know that I have left many out.
Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin
Dave Potter - Raleigh, North Carolina -
(Fayetteville is less than 90 minutes south of me)

In the foreword to the book “Raye of Light,” Tom Shanahan's biography of Jimmy Raye, Tony Dungy wrote,

Growing up as a boy in the early 1960s in Jackson, Michigan I was a Michigan State Spartans fan.  Jackson is located about 30 miles south of East Lansing, and I kept up with how the Spartans were doing.  In 1963, I got one of the biggest blessings God could have given me. My dad, who was a college professor, decided to attend Michigan State to work on his PhD.  Our family lived on campus in University Village the next three years,  and I couldn't have been happier.  Dad took me to a lot of MSU football and basketball games.  I can remember the “Dollar Days,” when Dad and I sat in the end zone at Spartan Stadium for one dollar each.

Football Saturdays at Michigan State were special events for me. I was a sports nut and I tried to attend as many games as possible.  I had always rooted for Michigan State and now that we were living in East Lansing it seemed everyone was a fan. 

But there was one other reason I became so enamored with the Spartans when I went to watch them play.  There were African-Americans on those teams - and they were not just simply on the team,  they were playing major roles.  As a nine or 10-year-old, I couldn't really tell you at the time why that had such an impact on me.  I just knew that there were guys going to school and playing at Michigan State who looked like me.  I also knew from watching college football on television that wasn't the case everywhere.  But now in my boyhood dreams I could visualize myself one day playing in Spartan Stadium.

One of the stars on that team who I was drawn to was Jimmy Raye.   Jimmy was unique to me because he was not just a talented African-American player.  He was the quarterback.   I know that's not very newsworthy in this day and age, but in 1965, his sophomore year, it was stunning.   Jimmy also played the game with a flair that caught your eye.  He could throw and he was a great athlete.  But I also noticed, even at my young age,  that he was the leader. there was no question who was in charge out on the field and who his teammates looked to in clutch situations.  That's the biggest reason why in all the backyard games I was Jimmy Raye.

*********** Next question:  All of these players played for historically-black colleges.   Most of them  played in the NFL.  Some of them became pro stars. What is the significance of this particular list?

Harold Jackson
John Eason
Claude Humphrey
Elvin Bethea
Willie Lanier
Norman Davis
Pete Barnes
Eldridge Dickey
Willie Ellison
Monk Williams
Bill Tucker

american flag FRIDAY,  FEBRUARY 10,  2017

*********** All this business about the Federal District Court judge (in Washington, I'm embarrassed to say)  declaring that President Trump’s executive order is unconstitutional?   In doing so, the judge was exercizing a power that has come to be known as “judicial review” - the right of a federal court to determine whether a law passed by Congress is or is not constitutional.  It's a right nowhere to be found in the Constitution, and one which the Supreme Court pretty much arrogated to itself in 1803,  in a case  known ever since as Marbury vs. Madison.

I’m not exactly the world’s foremost authority on United States history or the Constitution, but I did major in history and I taught it for a number of years, and it has constantly puzzled me how the other two branches of government seem to have stood by and, sheeplike,  allowed the third branch, the only one whose members are unelected and the only one whose members serve for life, to have the ultimate power, when the design of the founders was for them to be co-equal.

Thomas Jefferson, the President at the time of Marbury vs. Madison,  distrusted any power not vested in the people, and was highly displeased with the decision:

“The Constitution, on this hypothesis, is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they may please.

To Jefferson, the power to deal with the constitutionality of a law lay not with the courts, but with the people, through the power of the vote:

“You seem to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions; a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men, and not more so. They have, with others, the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps.... Their power (is) the more dangerous as they are in office for life, and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots. It has more wisely made all the departments co-equal and co-sovereign within themselves.  When the legislative or executive functionaries act unconstitutionally, they are responsible to the people in their elective capacity.   The exemption of judges from that is quite dangerous enough.  I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society, but the people themselves.” (September, 1820)

Even 20 years after Marbury vs. Madison, Jefferson’s position was that its conclusion  was not “settled law,” but instead an “obiter dissertation” - something said “in passing” by Chief Justice John Marshall - that people had come to accept as law.

“This case of Marbury and Madison is continually cited by bench and bar, as if it were settled law, without any animadversions on its being merely an obiter dissertation of the Chief Justice… But the Chief Justice says, ‘there must be an ultimate arbiter somewhere.’ True, there must; but… The ultimate arbiter is the people…” (June, 1823)

Although the Supreme Court has more and more taken on the powers of a lawmaking body, and while the other two branches of government customarily defer to its rulings, nowhere is it written that they are obligated to do so.  And, it might surprise people to know, the Court has no ability, no power, to enforce its rulings.  It makes rulings that amount to law, then depends on the executive branch to enforce those rulings.  And there have been occasions when a President has refused to do so.

One famous instance was in 1833, when the President of the United States, Andrew Jackson, refused to enforce a court ruling, reportedly saying, “John Marshall has made his decision.  Now let him enforce it.”   Yes. Jackson had sworn to uphold the Constitution, but nowhere did the Constitution require him to obey or enforce the rulings of the Supreme Court.

Powerless to do so, the court’s ruling could not be carried out.**

Theoretically, Donald Trump has the power to defy the recent court ruling, and it has no power to prevent him from acting.  If he were to go ahead, we would be in for quite a ride, but in my humble opinion, his doing so might ultimately bring an end to the judicial activism that started with Marbury vs. Madison and has taken so much of American government - and American traditions - away from the people.

If Mr. Trump should plow ahead, it would get ugly.  Quickly.  Expect to hear “Consitutional Crisis”quite a bit.   And expect immediate calls for his impeachment.  The Democrats aren’t likely to get a majority of the members of the house to bring charges, but even if they can, they almost certainly can’t get two-thirds of the Senate to vote to convict.

Get your popcorn.

Actually, rather than put us through all that,  he should just change one word in his original Executive Order and issue it as another, new Executive Order. Rinse, repeat. Rinse, repeat.

** It’s unfortunate that with President Jackson, the case at hand happened to concern Indian Removal.  Without Jackson’s enforcement of the court ruling, the result was  the removal of Five Indian nations from the Southeast to Indian Territory (Oklahoma) via the so-called the Trail of Tears.

*********** Maybe you happened to notice a commercial for Busch Beer during the Super Bowl. 

Maybe you thought, WTF?  A commercial for Busch? 

A cheapo?    Er, a “subpremium” as industry analysts say?  A price beer, as the insiders say?  A beer whose main selling point is its low price?  You don’t see price beers advertised that much because the companies build a certain amount for advertising into the price, and the low price of the “sub premiums ”means there’s not much in the budget for advertising.

So why would A-B InBev spend $5 million to buy 30 seconds of air time during the Super Bowl - and use it to sell Busch (whose average price nationally is $16 for a 24-pack)?

Why do they intend for Busch to once again become a NASCAR sponsor?

The secret?  Despite all the TV advertising you see for this import or that, despite the fact that there seems to be a new microbrewery opening somewhere just about every day, that fact remains that beer drinkers still drink Busch.  And Keystone.  And Miller High Life. A lot of it.  In fact, One beer in every five sold in the US is a price beer.

No, price beers don’t generate as much profit - or marketing dollars - but they account for a lot of beer,

And the two US giants - AB InBev and MillerCoors - which between them account for roughly 2/3 of all beer sold in the US, have a big stake in holding onto the supremum market.  Taking advantage of the marketing leverage and cost advantages their great size affords them, they sell by far the most price beer.

And their sales have been dropping.  In fact, sales of price beers dropped 10 per cent from 2010 to 2015.

Partly,  growth in craft beers is a factor - but in overall volume, sales of all craft beers combined are less than half that of price beers.

And partly, it’s because the entire beer market itself is shrinking.   For various reasons, not the least of which has been the relaxing of advertising bans on hard spirits, people are drinking less beer overall.

But mainly, it’s because they took the subpremium market for granted.  And shortly after Anheuser-Busch was acquired in 2008 by InBev, they began jacking up the prices on the cheap beers, even more so than on their higher-priced brands.

Consequently, says one industry expert, young people, whose “gateway drug” used to be cheap beer, turned instead to cheap hard stuff.

The result foretells tough times ahead for bit brewers, says another expert.  “We’ve lost a generation,” he says, “and I think we’re going to pay a price for it.”

Moral:  Expect to see a lot more ads for Busch, Keystone and Miller High Life.

***********  Straight off the wire:

RICHMOND, Va. – In the first 36 days of 2017, violent crime is up 25 percent in Richmond, a statistic city police aren't proud of, but it’s something they are working to combat.

Already in 2017, South Richmond resident Jasmine Miles has seen home invasions, shootings, stabbings, robberies and murders close to her home.

"I’m already in this area and I could potentially have children and bring them into this environment,” Miles said. “It’s scary. It makes me not even want to procreate.

(Urban violence has some unusual side effects.)

*********** From the latest issue of AMERICAN FOOTBALL MONTHLY

From Hall of Fame Coach Lou Holtz:

“In rebuilding a program, what are the most important aspects on which to focus?”


In the very first meeting, I would tell them they had no choice in who became head coach because they did not have a vote. And, if they did, they would not have voted for me, and I understood that. I wanted them to understand that I had a choice. I had a great job and didn’t need to move my family, but I came there because I wanted to be with them, because I thought if we worked together something great would happen.

The second thing is that I had to hire a good staff. The most important thing about a good staff is that they must be good teachers. If they are good teachers, that meant they could communicate with people. If you can communicate with people, you can not only be a great coach on the field, you can also be a great recruiter. And, most importantly, the character and integrity of our staff had to be outstanding. If you have great character on your staff, you will get along with and help one another.

Then, we talked to the team and about how we were going to win. We had a plan for how to win and it was absolutely crucial. When we lost, I could talk to them about the fact that we lost not because of what the opposition did, but because of what we did. They could choose any game that they wanted and I would go over the plan and show them how they failed to live up to the plan, and that this was the reason we lost.

Here are some points to follow:

1. Who is toughest? We must be the toughest team on the field, not dirty, but mentally and physically tough.
2. We had to be the best fundamental football team. Everybody had to be tough, but everybody also had to execute the blocking and tackling.
3. The 7 commandments. We must win the turnover battle, we can’t give up cheap touchdowns, we can’t have foolish penalties, we can’t have missed assignments, we can’t play poorly on 3rd down, we must play well on the goal line, and the kicking game has to be perfect.
4. Togetherness. It was so important that we believed in and trusted one another.
5. We had to believe that we were going to win.

This was all in the plan and one thing is obvious, we controlled most of the things in the plan, so our future was going to be determined by what we did and not by what the opposition did.

The last thing I felt was important was to have each player ascertain where he wanted to be one year from now; academically, athletically, socially, financially, religiously. Then, the athletes had to answer these questions honestly:

1. What price are you willing to pay financially to achieve it?
2. What sacrifice are you willing to make to do it?
3. What skills and talents do you have to acquire to have it happen?
4. Who do you have to work with to have it done?
5. What problems and obstacles are you willing to overcome to get it done?
6. What is your plan to do it?

We had to answer these same questions in relation to our goals as a team – to win a championship and go to a bowl game.
I could go on and on about coaching on the field and handling different things, etc., but I’d tell the athletes this motto, “There is never a right time to do the wrong thing, and never a wrong time to do the right thing.” I advised them to discipline themselves. If you discipline yourself, others will not have to discipline you. Discipline is not what you do to somebody, it is what you do for somebody. Everybody on our team was held accountable for the choices they made.

This is just the start of how you turn a program around.

*********** There’s no question that there has been a coarsening of America.  It’s been the topic of a number of great articles and talks.  It’s getting worse, unfortunately.

Yes, there really were more dignified times in America, times when people listened to each other - even their opponents - and were considerate of each other’s feelings.

But lest anybody think that people “way back then” were a bunch of pussies (yes, thanks to the Women’s March, we can now feel free to use the word, the way we used to), I submit in evidence the President of the United States, Mr. Harry S. Truman.

Mr. Truman’s daughter, Margaret,  was an aspiring singer.  She was Mr. Truman’s only child, and he took immense pride in her.  You coaches out there will understand when I say he was “that” kind of parent.

In December of 1950, after Margaret sang at Washington’s Constitution Hall,  Paul Hume, music critic for the Washington Post, reviewed her the way he might have reviewed an ordinary person:

"Miss Truman is a unique American phenomenon with a pleasant voice of little size and fair quality  (she) cannot sing very well,  is flat a good deal of the time - more last night than at any time we have heard her in past years - has not improved in the years we have heard her  (and) still cannot sing with anything approaching professional finish."

Not that big a deal nowadays,  when young singers go on TV shows and submit themselves to sometimes humiliating evaluations of their talents - but this was the President’s daughter.

Here was the President’s response:

The White House

Dec 6, 1950

Mr. Hume:

I’ve just read your review of Margaret’s concert.  I’ve come to the conclusion that you are an “eight ulcer man on four ulcer pay.”

It seems to me that you are a frustrated old man who wishes he could have been successful.  When you write such poppy-cock as was in the back section of the paper you work for it shows conclusively that you’re off the beam and at least four of your ulcers are at work.

Some day I hope to meet you.  When that happens you’ll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!

Pegler, a gutter snipe, is a gentleman alongside you.  I hope you’ll accept that statement as a worse insult than a reflection on your ancestry.

H. S. T.

(Hume sold the letter not long afterward for $3500.   After a few changes of hands, it now resides in the Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri.)

“When all else fails, tell them all to go to hell and take a brisk walk.”  Harry S Truman

*********** I’ve been an Army football fan through thick and thin. Mostly thin, as those of you know who’ve followed Army football in this century know.

When Army defeated Navy this past season, it was only the second time I’d seen them do it since 2001 - that was FOURTEEN straight losses to Navy.

Since 2001, I’ve seen six coaches come -  and five of them go.

Since 2001, I’ve seen two winning seasons. I’ve also seen an 0-13 season (an all-time record), two one-win seasons, three two-win seasons, and six three-win seasons. To save you the addition, that’s 12 of the past 17 seasons in which Army has won three games or less.

But I knew what those coaches and those kids were up against. The Academy has extremely high standards, and being accepted is just the start of it:  the academic demands and the rigors of cadet life are unrelenting.  On top of that, there were the usual demands placed on college football players. And during most of this time, the strong likelihood that upon graduation players would wind up not in the NFL but in Iraq or Afghanistan made recruiting difficult.  On top of all that, the  Army football players I’ve met have all been impressive young men, and the former Army players I’ve met have been the highest calibre men I’ve ever been associated with; I continue to be impressed by their love of their school and their steadfast devotion to Army football.  And then, there’s West Point itself and its history.  I dare you to walk around the place and not come away with a profound sense of awe.

So I’m an Army guy.  No, I’m not a West Point graduate.  Actually, I’m an Ivy-Leaguer - a Yale graduate.

But screw Yale.  Yale stands for nothing.  Yale has allowed itself to become a featherbed for whiney malcontents, ready to demonstrate at the drop of a hat and so sensitive they’ll protest anything.  Its reputation as the “Gay Ivy” doesn’t, to be frank, engender pride in my alma mater.  Nor did its admission of a former Taliban officer.  Nor does its consistent refusal to provide an ROTC program. 

Enough of that.  I’m an Army guy.

I live 3,000 miles from West Point, but this century I’ve been to five Army games (one of them Army-Navy) and three spring games.  I’ve been to five practices and one Army Football Club golf outing. 

I'm all in.

So I’m greatly dismayed by the news that after an investigation, it was determined that an Army assistant coach received strategic information from a friend with whom he’d once coached while on the staff at Wake Forest - a Benedict Arnold-type who, probably bitter at his being fired by Wake, betrayed the University’s kindness in giving him the job of color man on their radio broadcast team, and the football team’s trust in allowing him unusual access to their plans, practices and meetings.

The Army coach apparently received the information the last two years.

While there remains some question as to what use the Army coach made of the ill-gotten information, or whether he shared it with any one else, certain things are evident without the need for any investigation:

1. Army played extremely well against Wake Forest in 2015 and 2016. Army upset Wake Forest this past season, and in 2015 lost to Wake on a last-second field goal.  (Not that the passing of information made any difference.)

2. His receipt of the information was a clear violation of the American Football Coaches Association Code of Ethics:
Article 6.1 - It is unethical under any circumstances to scout any team, by any means whatsoever, except in regularly scheduled games. The head coach shall be held responsible for all scouting.   
3. For an unknown but seemingly considerable  length of time (while Louisville and Virginia Tech were coming clean) he concealed the fact that he was in possession of the information

4. At an institution  where at one time nearly the entire football team was dismissed from the Academy for violation of the honor code (“"A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.”), the punishment appears to be absurdly lenient:

1. Two weeks’ suspension (in February)

2. A $25,000 fine (it may surprise you to know that in similar cases there have been ways found to assist in payment)

3. “Ethics training”.  Um, the guy’s 40 years old. His ethics are hard wired.  Plus, he’s a member of the AFCA,  and it’s not asking too much of him to be familiar with its Code of Ethics.

I was very disappointed with the weasel-worded statement of the Athletics Director, one Boo Corrigan.  (A man named Boo!): “Although no NCAA rules were violated, these actions do not represent our values.”

Well, no.  No NCAA rules were violated.  As if that made it less of an ethical violation. 

The Academy Superintendent, Lieutenant General Robert Caslen, put it a lot better:

"Our commitment is to foster a culture of excellence and winning in everything we do.  It does not mean that we win at all costs. Rather, it means winning in accordance with our values and who we are as an institution and a nation. When we win, we will do so honorably, remaining true to the values and standards that define us."

It was exactly what I’d expect from a man whom I greatly respect, and it’s a major reason why I love Army football.  Unfortunately,   the leniency of the punishment implies a lack of understanding of the seriousness of the offense in the coaching profession, and renders General Caslen’s words no more meaningful than if they’d come from the president of a big-time football factory.

*********** My son, Ed. who covers sports in Australia, wrote me after I sent him an article about the kid in LA (Chino Hills) who scored 92 points in a recent game.
The Chino Hills game – don’t know if you watched – was hands-down the ugliest basketball you’ll ever see. The other team’s coach was angry with Ball’s teammates for fouling and trying to get him the ball but his team played no defense. It was like Loyola Marymount in the Westhead era, but with no Kimble or Gathers.
Let’s be honest, basketball in the US is a joke. From AAU teams to stacked high school teams to farcical ‘college students’ – it’s far worse than football. Only the sheer athleticism and the population keep us up there with the best in the world because the coaching isn’t doing it at any level.
Look at the struggles Coach K is having. That ‘one and done’ thing worked out for him two  years ago but he could end up tarnishing his legacy if he’s not careful. This Grayson Allen kid is a jerk, plain and simple. Not a Laettner type either, a real punk in my opinion.
Enough ranting  - did you see that video I sent you about the Pats on that two-point conversion? Evidently it should have been flagged – receivers can’t block defenders while the ball is in the air and in their area.

Agreed on the basketball. Disregard for fundamentals and emphasis on showmanship - and it starts young.

As for the two-point conversion (the first one, a flanker screen from trips formation, with the other two receivers blocking DBs.)

Based on NCAA (and NFHS) rules, there is no offensive pass interference.  Blocking downfield is legal so long as the pass is not completed beyond the line of scrimmage, as this one clearly was not.  That’s the basis of all the wide receiver screens that are at the heart of the spread offense that’s  so prevalent in college. To college offensive coordinators, it's a running play: keep throwing it out there to those athletes and sooner or later a tackler will miss.  

A cursory look at the NFL rules would seem to indicate  that they differ from the NCAA (and NFHS) rules.  There is no allowance for whether or not a pass clears the line of scrimmage,  and that would mean that two of the Patriots were guilty of offensive pass interference.

So it would seem that you are correct.  Given the animus toward the Patriots, I’m surprised some member of the Resistance hasn’t had anything to say about it.  Maybe it’s because football isn’t their game.

*********** Years ago, while in Finland, I was talking with a guy about pro wrestling.  He laughed and - as best I can reproduce his accent - said. “I cannot belief people watch dot sheet.”  (“Dot sheet” = that sh-t)

ESPN’s latest “30 for 30” — “This Was the XFL”  - brought to mind that long-ago conversation.

To me, it was easily the worst 30 for 30 I’ve ever seen, first because it brought back to me what a sleazy concept the whole thing was, and second, because it reminded me that  they had a legitimate opportunity to take a run at the NFL, and they blew it. 

Now, no one will ever even come close to threatening Big Football.

What arrogance to think they could push a brand of football accented by  wrestling-style faux violence, slutty “cheerleaders” and ridiculous stage names (“He Hate Me”) on American football fans.

Who wanted to watch dot sheet?

*********** Think Matt Rhule wishes he hadn’t left Temple?

He was a hot commodity.  It’s rumored that he turned down the Oregon job, only to find himself in Sin City, USA - Waco, Texas.  (Somehow, Waco, a dry city and the home of Chip and Joanna, and Baylor, the world’s largest Baptist University, would be about the last place I’d go looking for sex scandals, but there we are.)

I’ll bet he wishes he’d asked to take the job on a six-month trial basis, just in case they weren’t really telling him the truth about having everything cleaned up.

And I’ll bet he wishes he’d known his new strength coach a whole lot better.

*********** Going back at least to Colorado and the Gary Barnett days,  I’ve considered offering sex with campus dollies as a
pretty slimy recruiting tool.

Since then, schools like Oklahoma State and Baylor (and undoubtedly many, many more) have elevated Sex for Signings to an art form, but it’s no less slimy.

And then I read a recent article revealing that more and more, millennials are having no-strings-attached sex - BEFORE dating.  (Might as well find out if she’s any good in bed before taking her to a movie.)

Which means, if true,  that more and more, young people in general are slimy. 

So what the hell - if college women are that easy…

Just one question:  Where’s Title IX on this? Now that they’re paying players a small “cost of college” stipend - sooner or later the Recruiting Honeys are going to want to get paid, too.

*********** I had to laugh when I read that Kevin Scarbinsky of referred to Alabama as the Saban Home for Wayward Coaches.

Father Saban sure did wonders rehabbing Lane Kiffin. 

But what he did for Steve Sarkisian was a near-miracle. 

Sarkisian coaches just one game at Alabama and he’s all ready to go, hired on by the Atlanta Falcons to run their offense.  That there Nick Saban sure does run one hell of a rehab program down there in Tuscaloosa, don’t he? 

I’m predicting that sooner or later, something bad will come of this hire.  I’ve found a lot of wisdom in an old adage:

“The best predictor of future performance is past performance.”

*********** All those who think that Atlanta’s defense cost them the Super Bowl raise your hand.

All those who think it was the offense’s fault, raise yours.

Well, you people who think it was the defense’s fault must be right, because the Falcons just fired their defensive coordinator.  (In fairness, the Falcons defense went into the game  ranked 25th best in the NFL, so maybe that’s why.)

Meanwhile, the offensive coordinator, the one who knew that his team had the 25th-best defense in the NFL and therefore should have been hanging onto the ball - but instead decided to throw it,  all but handing it back to the Patriots… he’s the new head coach of the 49ers.

*********** Michael Sam… remember him?  I’m trying to place the name.

That can’t be the guy who was the first openly gay player in the NFL -  because he never played in the NFL.

Anyhow, he thinks he knows why he never made it in the NFL.

***********  Indentifying Gary Steele as the first black player at Army (1966)

Greg Koenig - Beloit, Kansas
Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin
Tim Brown - Athens, Alabama
Kevin McCullough - Lakeville, Indiana (Gary Steele…..very interesting reading about him!…..probably would have been a good  pro even after serving his time in army…..had a greater calling …..sounds like a strong parent)

*********** Here’s a good one for you:

Hailing from North Carolina, he played for a northern college (whose coach’s recruiting of southern black players was joking nicknamed the “Underground Railroad).  He became the first black quarterback from the South to win a national title.  Tony Dungy used to watch him play in college, and recalls, “I was (him) in the backyard games.” He became a long-time NFL assistant coach and his son is now an NFL executive.

american flag TUESDAY,  FEBRUARY 7,  2017  "The graveyards are full of indispensible men." Charles de Gaulle
Boston  Globe Headline
In terms of premature headlines, this one, composed early in the game when the Pats were out of it, made it to the newsstands in the early editions.  It’s right up there with the 1948 “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN” mistake , and the rumor is that people are paying upwards of $100 for copies.

*********** It only took them LI games, but the NFL finally gave us a Super Bowl that lived up to the impossible-to-live-up-to hype that grows greater with every year.

The threatened anti-take-your-pick-of-grievances protests could have been going on in the stands and we wouldn’t have paid attention.

I didn’t have a dog in the fight - I’d have been happy with either team winning.

I’m excited for the Patriots, for whom I had only recently been forced to give in and admit my admiration, and sorry for the fans and players of Atlanta.  The win was theirs to take, and it looked as if the city of Atlanta and its sports fans would at long last be able to celebrate a championship.

The Falcons were on fire in the first half, and Matt Ryan had to have the best day, statistically, of any losing Super Bowl quarterback.   Julio Jones has got to be the best receiver in the game right now.  And everybody knows it, without his having to remind us every time he makes a catch.

The Patriots looked dead on their asses for the better part of three quarters.  Who knows why they caught fire?  Could it have been that somehow Atlanta stopped holding their receivers?  God knows they were doing enough of it.

The TV ratings weren’t as great as anticipated, probably because by halftime the game looked like a runaway.  A Patriots’ field goal just before halftime had made it 21-3.  Big deal.  They might have scored a touchdown but Martellus Bennett was holding.

The Patriots missed an extra point kick - then made two straight two-pointers.

The Patriots screwed up an onside kick, touching it before it went 10 yards.

Although there were only two of them kicked, field goals played a major role in the game. The tie at the end of regulation time was made possible by the field goal just before the half that the Patriots had to settle for, and the one in the third quarter that the Falcons weren’t able to attempt because a holding penalty pushed them back too far.


Very nice gesture by the team captains to shake hands with President and Mrs. Bush

Belichick on camera saying “Bullsh—!”

Actually, there were very few antics. Very little showmanship. Very little woofing at each other. Just football.  Most of the showmanship was by defensive linemen following sacks.

It was nice to see two teams wearing real, tasteful authentic-looking football uniforms.

The delicious knowledge that all the anti-trumpers who were so eagerly relishing the thought that  Brady, Belichick and Trump - the “Trump Lovers” - were about to get theirs were left absolutely stunned by the Patriots’ incredible win - remindful of the way a recent election left them.

In the spirit of American sports, disappointed and dejected Falcons’ fans accepted their bitter loss without rioting.


Blount’s fumble - I sure hate to see so much effort being expended to pry the ball loose. There's something so - unfootballish - about it all.

Holding (what's new?)  - one call prevented the Pats from scoring a TD just before the half; another in the third quarter took the Falcons out of field goal range

The National Anthem was weak and lame and went 2:04 (The over/under was 2:07)

I guess Lady Gaga was good.  When I say a football team is good people who don’t know football take me at my word, so when people who follow that sh— say she was good, I’ll just believe them.  God knows they put enough into the production.  I thought the people looked, um, weird (by my standards, you understand).  Other than her showing what I thought were more crotch shots than she needed to show, she sure did stay in motion.  I was reminded  of the person who years ago said people who called Sammy Davis, Jr. (a once-popular song-and-dance guy) talented, were confusing talent with energy.  I have to admit I am sort of pissed because I really did expect her to do something to inflame the crowd, like getting all those lighted drones to spell out “F—K YOU, TRUMP!”

Considering the booing that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell got as he presented the Lombardi Trophy to Robert Kraft, it’s probably just as well that Ms. Gaga played it safe.

I didn’t think that it was appropriate for Bill O’Reilly to interview Barack Obama shortly before an earlier Super Bowl, and I didn’t think it was appropriate for him to do the same with Donald Trump this time, new President or not.  After all the talk about what Lady Gaga might (or might not) do, I would have much preferred they let us concentrate on football.   On the other hand, Fox - and numerous advertisers - seemed to think they had us locked in a room and they could shove anything they wanted down our throats, so why not an interview with the President?

The pendulum continues to swing from football to entertainment.  I’d be willing to bet that half of the time allotted for the pre-game show was devoted to Charissa Thompson interviewing this entertainer or that, none of whom, it goes without saying, I’d heard of.

It does bother me that when I tune into to f—king FOOTBALL game, I have to play second fiddle so much of the time to people who don’t particularly care about football but know who every single singer, actor and entertainer is in commercials,  what every song is, and what movie it came from.


Mexico Avocado ad - Secret society catches a member streaming what’s been taking place

Humpty-Dumpty Turbo Tax ad - shouldn’t sit on the wall and do your taxes

The ghost of Spuds Mackenzie (Bud Light) was sort of funny.

The Nintendo Switch looks like a clever device.


There was a dearth of really clever, amusing commercials.  At the same time,  there was an overabundance of “Finish your diversity - it’s good for you” messages

Result? This was easily the lamest crop of Super Bowl commercials I can recall - and I’m going back to 1996 when I taped all the commercials to review with an advertising class I was teaching.

There’s never a shortage of bad taste:

Mister Clean is back  - in tights as a metrosexual.   He cleans and dances and cleans and dances - and his watching him shake his tight butt gets the woman of the house aroused

Something called “itsa10 Hair Care” took a veiled shot at the President by saying that we’re in for four years of awful hair.

Women in the T-Mobile ads  got turned on by threat of being “punished” by their current carrier

Febreze showed people headed for the bathroom during commercials: “I love you bathroom break - but sometimes it stinks.”  What’s next - Farts? “My family loves my baked beans, but…”

Lots of ads for movies and games - looks like lots of really weird sh—  coming up, with enough explosions and weapons and gore to create at least one mass murderer down the line

Cam Newton’s still finding work - “If that’s a Buick then my kid’s Cam Newton!”

Who knows if the Lady Gaga extravaganza was worth it to Pepsico?  Somehow, I doubt that people went out afterwards and cleaned out their stores of all their Pepsi Zero Sugar. (didn’t think I’d remember, did you?)

We were hectored by people who insisted on foisting their vision of a better America on us.

Google Ad, “Country Roads” playing in the background - had to show a rainbow flag flying outside a house

No matter “Where you’re from… who you love… who you worship… we all belong”

And crown thy good with brotherhood… “AND SISTERHOOD!” added to our country’s song.

Coca-Cola’s “Together is Beautiful” (“America the Beautiful” sung by God knows how many people who can’t be bothered to learn the words in English)

Samuel Goldwyn once told a screenwriter who pitched a story that he said contained a message: “If you want to send a message, call Western Union.”

That brings to mind Audi and that godawful soap box derby race in which the cute little girl defeats those ugly, fat-faced boys, while Daddy, narrating, says, “What do I tell my daughter? Do I tell her that her grandfather is worth more than her grandmother.”  See, it’s not about selling cars at all.  It’s a message about giving women “equal pay for equal work.”  Somehow the myth persists that there’s a woman in a workplace doing the same job, with the same amount of experience at the job, as a man, and being paid less than him.  Boy -  considering all the noise that’s been made about this, and all the legal means at her disposal, that’s one dumb woman.

“You don’t look like you’re from around here!”  “Go back home!”  Fortunately, Adolphus Busch didn’t listen to the native-born American bigots, or we never would have been able to see the great American company he founded, Anheuser-Busch, sold to foreigners.

The NFL got really preachy with their “inside these lines” spot.   Showed us a female ref.  Showed us the Seahawks locking arms (their sanitized version of taking a knee). Said, “There’s more that unites us.” Then, they gave us a shot of the field,  inside of which was the outline of the United States.  Oh, I get it - they didn’t mean the sidelines at all, but instead meant within our nation’s borders.  Clean your plate. Finish your diversity. It's good for you.


“Social Media Check-In with Katie Nolan.”   Wow. I was really interested in what people were saying on Twitter, and I’m sure millions of others were, too.

“Be the player” - Fox’s  attempt at VR (“see what the quarterback sees”) didn’t work.

Honda yearbook photos come to life - “All dreams are within reach”

Skittles ad - boy throwing Skittles into his girl friend’s upstairs window

Somehow I missed the fact that the Snickers ad was actually taking place - live - as we watched.

Morgan Freeman sat in an airplane and mumbled something.  It was Turkish Airlines.  Not sure what the point was, because I doubt that more than one per cent of the people watching had any plans to go to Turkey, and I suspect that those who did might choose another, better-known  airline.

Not sure what Martha Stewart and Snoop had to do with T-Mobile,  but I couldn’t think of a much less likely pair.

Go Daddy stuff was dumb as ever

The American Petroleum Institute.  Oil is good.  Go out and use all you can.

Sprint - Fake your death to get out of Verizon contract

After a really strenuous workout, sweaty millennials pass around the Michelob Ultra


84 Lumber - a little girl and her mother leave their town in what appears to be Mexico and undergo all sorts of nasty experiences as they head to… Oops.  “Go to our Web site to see the rest of the commercial.”

WTF?  Well.  Being me, I had to go there, and it ends with the little girl and Mama coming to a wall.  And then - finding a huge door in the wall - a door which opens and admits them to - AMERICA!  I think that 84 Lumber, which apparently has aspirations of taking on Lowe’s and Home Depot and smaller but nonetheless significant chains like Menard’s, seemed to be implying that if you’re willing to come here, we’ve got a job for you.  Maybe they weren’t saying that at all.  Who knows?  All I know is that they spent close to $10 million to send a message that looks like an invitations to come North.  An “advitation,” if I may coin a word.


*********** Best moment:  Robert Kraft, Patriots’ owner, after accepting the Lombari Trophy,  let us in on the news that “a lot has transpired over the last two years” (he didn’t need to say “Deflategate”) and that he was sort of happy that his team won.

*********** Second best moment:  the Patriots’ Hall of Fame linebacker Willie McGinest (whom the TV people didn’t bother to identify), carrying the Lombardi Trophy through the post-game crowd, telling Patriots’ players, “Kiss this mother—ker!”

*********** Third best moment: “24 Legacy” - that damned show really did live up to all the hype during the game and now it’s got me hooked and I’ll watch it on Monday night.. 


*********** I have my doubts about whether an owner belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Maybe a founder, such as Art Rooney (Steelers) or Tim Mara (Giants).  Maybe George Halas or Lamar Hunt.  Otherwise, as one NFL coach is reputed to have said to a middling owner, tryng to get him out of his hair, “My job is to coach. Your job is to own.  Go own.”  Whatever that entails.  But if there is to be an owner in the Hall of Fame - Jerry Jones?  You mean the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, a team that hasn’t been in a Super Bowl since 1996?  In all the years since then, 17 different teams have appeared in the Super Bowl - that’s more than half the teams in the league - and Dallas wasn’t among them. WTF has Jerry Jones done other than make himself richer than sh— by finding clever ways not to have to share his revenues with other owners, forcing those other owners to go and get themselves newer and bigger stadiums with more luxury boxes and “club seats” and restaurants and lounges?

*********** Dave Potter, in Durham, North Carolina - actually, he’s recently moved to Cary, NC - sent me a link to the telecast of the1970 Michigan-Ohio State game.  From start to finish - commercials and all - it’s all  classic.   The pre-game was as good as many of today’s games, but maybe that’s because in those days, the NCAA controlled the TV rights to all games, and they very niggardly allowed us to watch only one game - or on special occasions,  two games - per week.

Most amazing to me was the national anthem, played by the Ohio State band and sung - REALLY sung - by the people in the stadium.  It was stirring.  But it made me sad and angry, too, to think how we’ve pissed that away.  Most of those patriotic Ohioans are dead now, and in their place at today’s football games are new generations of numbskulls who think it’s perfectly appropriate to have entertainers “perform” our national anthem, degrading it as they wish.
 (at 10:22)

Other great features:

The color guy was Forest Evashevski, a great Michigan football player and after that  a longtime Iowa coach.

The Colt 45 commercials. (I was working for the National Brewing Company, maker of Colt 45, at the time they were made.)  In one, a guy sits at a table in a bull ring when suddenly the bull notices him and goes out of his way to knock the guy - table and all - into the wall.  The guy (a well-known Canadian comedian named Billy Vann who starred in all our commercials) isn’t even fazed.  He casually brushes himself off, returns to his seat, and smiles as a waiter pours him a Colt 45.  Now THAT excites him!  The joke to us at the brewery was the notion that anyone in the world would actually drink Colt 45 from a fancy goblet, when we all knew very well that 90 per cent of all Colt 45 sold was consumed straight from the can - usually a 16-ouncer. (The “40” was just coming onto the scene.)

In another Colt 45 commercial, the guy sits at a table as a logger cuts through a tree, which just misses him as it falls.  This time, the waiter merely places the can in front of him, then lifts the ring-tab on the top, and a nearby archer (dressed like Robin Hood), opens the can by shooting an arrow through the ring.

There are other commercials for Roy Rogers Restaurants (Roy himself tells us how great the grub is), and Polaroid cameras.  Imagine seeing the photo you shot just seconds later!

There’s a comedian named Pat Paulson - he once ran for President - touting the engine-cleaning qualities of Mobil gasoline.  (In one of his comedy routines, he made fun of the anti-Vietnam protestors and their “Make Love, Not War!” chant -   “I got news for you,” he told them.  “In World War II - we did both.”

And one of the sponsors was TWA.  Remember TWA?  Remember Eastern Air Lines?  Remember Pan Am? 

There was an interview with a YOUNG Bo Schembechler, Michigan’s coach.  It was his second year at Michigan.  He was 41, but he’s already had  heart attack.  He’d been an assistant to Woody Hayes, the Ohio State coach.  He said there were no bad feelings between him and Woody Hayes.

There was an interview with Ohio State coach Woody Hayes. You could tell he was still smarting from last year’s upset loss to Michigan, the Buckeyes’ only regular-season loss in three years.  He said there were no bad feelings between him and Bo Schembechler.

There was a moment of silence for the victims of the plane crash only a week earlier (November 14, 1970) in which all 75 passengers, including 37 members of the Marshall University football team and five members of the coaching staff were killed.

There were great previews of the two teams.  Michigan had a great tight end named Jim Mandich.  Their captain was a guy named Dan Dierdorff.  (The same.)  Ohio State had a great quarterback named Rex Kern and a super running back named John Brockington.

We saw the Ohio State band do its famed “script Ohio,” including the  “dotting of the ‘i’.”

We actually met the starting seniors from both teams - unlike today’s tiny little graphics that we see between plays early in the game, we saw them, live.  Saw their faces, learned their first and last names, and discovered that they all had home towns.

Oh- and they all wore real shoulder pads.

All this, and I haven’t even started to watch the game yet.  I can hardly wait.

Demand for game tickets was so great, they told us, that people were getting as much as $100 a ticket.  Imagine!  (By today’s standards that might get you a parking place closer to the stadium than a half mile away.)

************* I continue to be shocked at the ignorance of big fast food companies, hiring people to create their ads who’ve obviously never eaten a hamburger or watched anybody else eat one.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone eat a juicy hamburger - certainly not a Big Mac - with one hand, yet that’s all we see in the McDonald’s and Carl’s Jr/Hardee’s commercials.  Even little women with tiny hands.  It’s like nobody gives a sh— about the ingredients falling on their laps and the juices getting all over their clothes.

I’ll believe that I’ve been wrong all these years when I see a real expert on eating big, messy sandwiches - Guy Fieri on “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” - eating them one-handed.

*********** In 1955, Jack Hecker was the captain of legendary coach Doyt Perry’s first Bowling Green team.  An end (at a time of two-way play, and before there was such a term as “tight end”) he was twice named all-MAC, and was the first Falcon to be named to play in the Blue-Gray game, at that time a prestigious post-season all-star game.

After a brief high school coaching career in Ohio, he moved on to coach college football, first at Toledo, then at Miami (the “Cradle of Coaches”) and, for 23 years, at Army, where he retired in 1999. 

Coach Hecker passed away on Sunday.

He was revered by the Army guys who played for him and coached with him, and he reciprocated their love - his email address was “armyjack.”

He was a co-founder of the Army Football Club - the association of former West Point football players and coaches - and in 1997 he was instrumental in establishing the club’s annual golf outing, modeling it after the one held annually at Bowling Green.

A bit of irony: Coach Hecker died on Super Bowl Sunday; his late brother, Norb, was the first head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.

*********** Two Oregon high school administrators lost their jobs when it was learned they exchanged texts mocking two former students at the school, one for being overweight, the other for alleged drug use.

The principal and the vice principal/AD at Creswell High School, a small school about 15 miles south of Eugene were first placed on administrative leave, then resigned their positions in the face of community criticism.

The two students in question, both girls, had transferred to another, nearby school this school year, and the father of one of them said she did so to escape bullying.

If you’re an administrator/teacher/coach, I want you to look me in the eye and tell me that you never, ever said anything disparaging of any student.  Look, not all students are angels.   If they were, everyone would want to be a teacher.  Nobody would leave the profession.

But this is the Twenty-First century, where the President of the United States can’t even call another world leader with assurance that the contents of their call won’t become public.

School people:  beware of the written word, in any shape or form.

Take the fact that nothing can be assumed to be confidential and then throw in today’s climate in which you can’t say anything negative about any student, no matter how reprehensible, and you can count on it: if a kid’s arrested for burning down the school and you text that he ’s a criminal - you’ll get fired.

***********  Identifying the great Floyd Little:

Josh Montgomery - Berwick, Louisiana
KC Smith - Walpole, Massachusetts
Dave Potter - Durham, North Carolina
Jerry Lovell - Bellevue, Nebraska
Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin
Tom Walls - Winnipeg, Manitoba

KC Smith, a Harvard guy, had to stick the needle in, writing “Bulldogs let him get away” - Actually, although he was a New Haven kid, and Yale’s Carm Cozza was well aware of him, Yale had no shot at Floyd Little.   He had his sights set on bigger things.  As I understand it, he was all set to go to West Point but because of low SAT scores he didn't qualify academically, so West Point arranged for him to go to Bordentown Military Academy.  There he wound up signing with Syracuse (not the first nor the last time this sort of thing has happened to Army). Who knows why?  Maybe it was the escalation of the war in Vietnam, which was beginning to take its toll on Army football recruiting.  Maybe it was the fact that he didn’t want to be the first black to play at West Point.  (Since he graduated from high school in 1961 and Army’s first black player did not play until 1966, Little’s senior season at Syracuse, Floyd Little almost certainly would have been Army’s first black football player.)

*********** Next question- Since it wasn't Floyd Little... who was the first black player to play for Army?

american flag FRIDAY,  FEBRUARY 3,  2017  “Who are the greatest generals?  The victors.”  Napoleon Bonaparte

*********** Several years ago, while coaching at North Beach, I was contacted by a guy named Jeff Jagodzinski. I recognized the name.  He was helping a small college in Florida get its program under way, and he was curious about the Double Wing.  I got to like the guy. 

The reason he was at that small school: he’d made one bad decision.

He’d been the Packers’ offensive coordinator - and Brett Favre’s quarterback coach.

And then, in 2007 and 2008, he’d coached Boston College to a 20-8 record.  His 2007 team was ranked 11th nationally.

And then it all came apart: after the 2008 season, he was approached by the Jets about their head coaching vacancy.

But when he asked his AD for permission to interview, he was told that if he interviewed with the Jets, he’d be fired.

He interviewed with the Jets anyhow.

Bad decision.  He didn’t get the Jets’ job, and he was fired at BC.

Since then, he’s paid a hell of a price for that misstep.  He’s worked in a number of spots, most recently at Georgia State, but he’s not currently on its staff.

The Jets didn’t do all that well in the deal, either.  They wound up hiring Rex Ryan.

Which brings us to another Ryan.  Matt Ryan.  Jeff Jagodzinski was his coach at BC.

*********** The guy who first taught Matt Ryan how to throw a football was his uncle,  John Loughery.   He’d been a starting quarterback for Boston College himself,  back in 1980.  But before the start of his junior season, 1981, he tore ligaments in the thumb of his throwing hand, and he never got his starting position back. His replacement was a freshman named Doug Flutie.

*********** In doing a little bit of research, I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal of January 25, 2013 - almost exactly four years ago.

It was about the NFL, and its title was “The Year Everything Changed.”

Among other changes in the game, 2013 was supposed to be the year that the running quarterback took over the game.

To support their argument, the authors, Kevin Clark and Jonathan Clegg, noted that five NFL quarterbacks - Robert Griffin (the Third), Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton, Michael Vick and Russell Wilson - all had averaged more than 30 yards rushing per game that season, the most since 1970.

Yes, the college game had begun to take over the NFL.  Now, defenses had to prepare for the pistol, and the option game, and God knows what else those crazy college coaches kept coming up with.    Blah, blah, blah.

Yeah, right.    As for all that change that we were told about four years ago - turns out that changing the NFL game is like changing Washington, DC - like making a U-turn with an aircraft carrier.

A mere four years later, of those five quarterbacks cited, Wilson’s the only one who at this point could be considered an established,  successful NFL quarterback.  Vick is out of the league.   Kaepernick and Griffin are fighting for playing time.  Newton, for all his fantastic natural ability, had a couple of good years but he slipped off in 2016 to the point where now a good 2017 could earn him  Comeback of the Year honors.

And this year’s Super Bowl,  despite the prediction of four years ago, looks as if someone called Central Casting and asked them to send over two “Prototype Pro Quarterbacks.”

Yes, Matt Ryan was a triple option quarterback in high school, but that was long ago and now, even by NFL standards, he’s not what you’d call a running quarterback.  He’s not afraid to run on occasion, but his own father once described him as “two steps slower than a statue.”  Maybe so, but he’d still beat Tom Brady in a foot race.

***********  Matt Ryan grew up in Exton, Pennsylvania but he went to high school in Philadelphia, at William Penn Charter School, better known there as “Penn Charter,” or “PC.” From Exton, Penn Charter is about 30 miles or, if you measure things by the time spent in Philly traffic, at least an hour away.

(Full disclosure:  Penn Charter’s arch-rival is Germantown Academy. That’s where I went. The two schools first played each other in 1887, and since then they’ve met  each other every year without a break in the series, making it the longest uninterrupted schoolboy rivalry in the country.  It’s fair to describe our feelings toward each other back in my high school days as verging on hatred.   Now, I’m way too old to hate PC. Now, I take almost as much pride in Matt Ryan’s being from PC as I would if he were from “GA.”)

But why Penn Charter?  Why would Matt Ryan have travelled all that distance, spent all that time, to go there?  I mean, it’s a really, really good school and all that, but still…

Exton’s a fairly affluent area; its public schools are quite good.

Private schools?   There are three of them in same conference as Penn Charter that are considerably closer to Exton.  The nearest one, Malvern Prep, is maybe five miles away.  And it’s even a Catholic school.  (Matt Ryan went to Saints Philip and James Elementary School, so I’m making an educated guess that the Ryans, being Irish, are also Catholic.)

So why Penn Charter, again?

I’d have to answer, “The Little Quakers.”

The Little Quakers are a youth football team founded in 1953 by a young Philadelphia sportsman named Bob Levy.  Bob Levy had money.  He owned a stable of race horses, one of whom won the Belmont Stakes, and he contributed generously to any number of area sports, including the tennis program at his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania (Penn). But he really loved football, and he loved his high school, Penn Charter. 

Penn Charter’s teams are called the Quakers.  Now.  But back in 1953, when Penn football was still very big, and  the Quakers played the best teams in the East, Penn Charter was known as the Little Quakers.  (I don’t know when they dropped the “Little” from the name.)

So it’s easy to see how Bob Levy’s team got its name.

64 years after Bob Levy got them under way - he also coached them for a number of years - The Little Quakers are still in business.  Their overall record, posted on their Web site:  251-38

They’ve sent countless alumni on to college, and many - including Matt Ryan - to the NFL.  Current Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook is a Little Quaker alum. (Ironically, he went to Malvern Prep.)   One of this year’s Little Quakers was a young man named Marvin Harrison, Jr.

The Little Quakers were never meant to be your ordinary youth team.  From the start, they were intended to be an all-star team. (Unintentionally, they were the forerunners of one of the biggest poxes on youth sports - the travel team.)

Their season is short.  They hold tryouts - typically, 200 or more will compete - but not until school eighth-grade seasons are over (they have an age limit of 15), so that means that their season is short.

Typically, they’ll play a three- or at most four-game schedule against area teams, culminating with one  that involves significant travel.  They’ve gone to Florida, Texas, California - even Hawaii. This past season, they played in the Chicago area. Part of their trip was a visit to Notre Dame.  At least one of their “local” games is played in Penn’s hallowed Franklin Field, one of the oldest existing stadiums in America, where greats such as Grange and Harmon and Blanchard and Davis once played.

And then, that’s it.  Four games, five tops, and by mid-December, they’ve turned in their gear.

The next year, they’ll start all over with a fresh group of kids.

Why eighth graders, you might ask?

Well.   That’s the last point at which high school coaches in most states can still approach kids without violating rules against recruiting.  Once they’re in ninth grade and high schoolers, you only speak to athletes from another school at your peril.

Obviously, because their players are pretty good for their age, I’m sure that area private schools scout the Little Quakers.

And who would be in a better position to scout them than the people at Penn Charter?  Penn Charter is where the Little Quakers meet and where they practice.  The Penn Charter head coach, Brian McCloskey, also assists the Little Quakers head coach.  (In fairness,  he’s a Little Quaker alum himself.)

Penn Charter claims that it doesn’t give athletic scholarships, and I believe that.  But Penn Charter is exremely well endowed, and it claims to award more than $10,000,000 a year in financial air.  No qualified young person is going to be turned down because he/she can’t afford to go there.  Certainly not a good football player.

But the emphasis is definitely on “qualified,” because Penn Charter is known to be a school of great integrity, and its academics are second to none.  No knucklehead, no matter how good a football player he might be, is going to make it there.

If on occasion they wind up with a Matt Ryan, all well and good.

But more often, they wind up with young men not quite so talented as Matt Ryan who can still benefit from the Penn Charter experience.  (God, I can’t believe I’m writing this.)

As an example of the way the Little Quakers work hand in hand with Penn Charter for their mutual benefit, the school’s Web page tells this story about Brian McCloskey, the current Penn Charter coach:

Brian McCloskey grew up in Kensington, a working class neighborhood in Philadelphia. Imagine row homes, teamsters, hard-working people sitting on the stoops listening to Phillies games. “People knew who you were and who your parents were.  Back then, neighborhood kids didn’t go to college.  The mentality was you’ll go to high school, you’ll get a job, you’ll start a family and have a great life. That’s what people did.”

It was impossible to know at the time, but at just eight years-old McCloskey took the first in a series of steps that would forever shape his path. He started playing football at the nearby Fishtown PAL (Police Athletic League), and his coach, Tommy Thompson, decided that McCloskey was going to play quarterback.

“For whatever reason, he thought I could be that guy,” McCloskey recalled. “He gave me the playbook. I didn’t even know what some of the plays were. I went home and cried to my dad that I couldn’t do it.” But McCloskey did play, and continued playing quarterback exclusively for the rest of his football career.

During his freshman year at North Catholic, McCloskey was presented with another opportunity, a spot on the Little Quakers, a team established in 1953 by Bob Levy PC ’48 to provide eighth and ninth graders opportunities to play for great coaches and experience life beyond the boundaries of their neighborhoods. For McCloskey and dozens of young men like him, it was also a steppingstone to admission at Penn Charter and the prestigious James Fox Memorial Scholarship. “That’s what changed my life.” McCloskey said.

“If I don’t go to PC, I don’t go to college,” McCloskey said. He knew that a college education would make a difference, but he also knew that getting there wouldn’t be easy. “I thought if I was going to do it and go to college, Penn Charter would give me the tools to be able to succeed.”

The Fox scholarship, established in 1969 by Robert and Penny Fox in memory of their son James, is a need-based award that has made a PC education possible for almost 40 football players from the Little Quakers team. For many, it transformed their lives.

“In the neighborhood, you go to North (Catholic)  and then you go to work. But now I’m amongst 90 kids at Penn Charter who are all going to college. I can’t be the only person who doesn’t go. I had to study. I had to work hard. I got a lot of help from faculty who spent extra time with me” he said. After PC, McCloskey enrolled at Ursinus College, where he played football and received a degree in economics and business administration. And he returned to Penn Charter.

McCloskey, who is currently dean of students at Penn Charter, is quick to point out that he is only one of many people whose life was transformed by a Penn Charter education made possible through the Fox Scholarship. There are ongoing relationships among the scholars and with the Foxes. “They invite us all back for dinner every year.” McCloskey said, “and we all say thank you.”

From an old article in Sports Illustrated by a former Little Quaker named Jack Maley—

The Little Quakers are an all-star team of 13- to 14-year-olds from Philadelphia and the surrounding area, including south New Jersey. To play for the Quakers in 1971, you had to weigh less than 135 pounds and survive an annual tryout that attracted about 200 hopefuls. For me, the tryout sessions were intimidating. After three or four sessions the crowded field of multicolored jerseys was whittled down to 45 players. That year I was one of the lucky (and somewhat talented) 45, and I played quarterback.

Our team had a cast of characters right out of Dickens, if he'd known anything about the wishbone and flex defenses. Lacoste alligators mixed it up with leather jackets. There were whites, blacks and a kid who said he was part Mohican—we called him Chief, of course. We also had Catholics, Protestants, Jews and even a 14-year-old atheist. It was not easy to mold us into a team. But Bob Levy, the chairman of the board of a storage business who founded the Little Quakers in 1953 and is the team's coach (with a 132-14-4 record) and one of its financial supporters, whipped us into a unit.

Twenty-nine years ago Levy, says the Little Quaker press guide "...had a dream.... Levy loved children and he loved football. The dream was to put together a football team of youngsters...who had not yet reached the high school level." And put together a team he did. The Little Quakers are one of the most successful boys' football teams in the country.

Everything about the Little Quakers is first class. The team has personalized equipment bags, separate offensive and defensive practice jerseys, home and away uniforms, nine assistant coaches, an administrative staff, a manager, a physician, two trainers, an executive director and a game director. Practice is held on an AstroTurf field, and I still have the turf burns to prove it. Not even bad weather could spoil a Quakers workout, because we could practice inside Haverford College's sprawling athletic complex whenever the need arose.

For me, besides the high level of competition, the most attractive part of playing for the Little Quakers was their away-game schedule. Instead of piling into the coaches' dented station wagons and driving over to the adjacent neighborhood, the Little Quakers boarded buses and planes to places like Hawaii, California, Florida and Arizona. The 1971 schedule included two long trips—one to Houston and the other to Fort Lauderdale.

***********  “As we peer into society’s future, we - you and I and our government - most avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow.  We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss of their political and spiritual heritage.  We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.”  President Dwight D. Eisenhower

*********** My son's friend, Sam Farmer, covers the NFL for the LA Times.   Over the last 20 years he became something of a Super Bowl press-conference legend for asking when Los Angeles was going to be getting another NFL team.  Now, with one team already  in town and another on its way, he said, "I'm tempted to ask - when will Los Angeles stop getting NFL teams?"

*********** I think the Los Angeles Times may have the best sports section of any paper I know of.

Overall, it seems to be a pretty good paper, but evidently it hasn’t always been that way.

Back in the 1950s, the humorist S. J. Perelman told of taking a train cross-country:

“I asked the porter to get me a newspaper and unfortunately the poor man, hard of hearing, brought me the Los Angeles Times.”

*********** Anheuser-Busch Inbev, the giant Belgian-owned brewing company once based in St. Louis, just won’t give up trying to trick the American people into thinking that Budweiser  is American.

They’re going to run a commercial during the Super Bowl that takes us back 150 years or so to when a German immigrant (legal, I presume) named Adolphus Busch managed despite enormous difficulties to make it to the United States, where he met up with a chap named Anheuser and they collaborated  to produce a beer that they called  “Budweiser.”

In one of the scenes, though, the recently-arrived Adolphus Busch, walking down the street, is told, “Go home!”


Couple of things just don’t ring true there:  (1) It’s not as if Americans were unaccustomed to Germans.  In colonial times, in fact, the Pennsylvania legislature actually debated making German the official language; (2) how did this rude fool know that Adolphus was a foreigner?

No matter. As we all know, Adolphus Busch didn’t go home.  He stayed, and built a giant, prosperous brewing company, one that made himself and generations of his family extremely wealthy.

But not wealthy enough for some of them.  To get even more money, the  descendants of Adolphus Busch sold the firm.  They told it, in effect, 
to “go home.”

*********** The next time you take a job and simply out of the goodness of your heart you agree to keep some holdovers from the old staff without carefully “vetting” them… Think of President Trump and Nancy Yates.

*********** After 11 very successful  seasons as head coach at Beloit, Kansas, Greg Koenig is moving on.

Greg has accepted a position at another school, but no announcement can be made until his hiring is formally approved by the school board.

We first hooked up when he was coaching at tiny Las Animas, Colorado, and we’ve remained close through subsequent stops at Colby, Kansas and then Beloit.

At Beloit, he compiled a record of 93-13 overall, and 62-8 in conference play.  At one point his Trojans had a 28-game conference win streak.

HIs teams made it to the state playoffs nine times; they made it to the state semifinals three times, and to the finals in 2013.

He had two 10-win seasons, one 12-win season, and one 13-win season.    He never had a losing season.

I can’t say more about his new position until it can be announced, but Greg is extremely excited, describing it as one of those opportunities that come along once in a coach’s career.

*********** Identifying the Waltons - 6-6 NFL offensive lineman Bruce and 6-11 NBA center Bill

Josh Montgomery - Berwick, Louisiana
Ken Hampton - Raleigh, North Carolina
Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin
Kevin McCullough - Lakeville, Indiana
DJ Millay - Vancouver, Washington

The photos are from the October, 1966 issue of a magazine called “Sunrise - Illuminating New England sports.”  They show the guy relaxing at home, but  at the time, he was one of the top college running backs in the country.  He was featured because he was a New Englandah - From New Haven, Connecticut.”   Guess who?
New England kidNew England kid 2

american flag TUESDAY,  JANUARY 31,  2017  "Always remember that the future comes one day at a time."   Former Diplomat and Secretary of State  Dean Acheson

*********** Steve Goodman, a Black Lion who survived the Battle of Ong Thanh in Vietnam, died last week at his home in Coral Springs, Florida after a long illness.

Most of you don’t remember the old black-and-white World War II movies, where the members of the company were a cross-section of America. 

No doubt the idea was to show that we were all in the fight together. 
(Well, not exactly all - no blacks and whites serving together. Not yet. That’s another story, and one that was corrected in time for the next war.)

But in those movies there was always a southern country boy,a small-town kid from the Midwest, a clean-cut, fresh-faced, blonde-haired kid from the suburbs.  Maybe an American Indian.  Maybe a Mexican kid from California.  But always - always - a street-smart New Yorker.  Maybe Italian, maybe Irish, maybe Jewish.

That would have been Goody, as he was affectionately known by his fellow soldiers - a big, tough Jewish kid from the streets of Brooklyn.  The legend was that Goody was in the Army at the “suggestion” of a judge.

Goody was loved by his mates as a guy who would do anything for them, including getting anything for them, and as often as not without regard for what the regulations called for.

Author David Maraniss, whose great book “They Marched Into Sunlight” describes the Black Lions in battle, told how Goody operated.  Deep in the jungle of Vietnam, where the Black Lions had their base camp,  the luxuries of everyday life were hard to come by, to put it mildly.   Goody’s job required him to make twice-monthly trips to the supply base at Long Binh, where he would see, as he told Maraniss later,  “everything from soup to nuts… Coke, Pepsi, piled as far as they eye could see. Mountains of stuff.”

What a shame to see all that stuff sitting there, Goody must have thought, when my buddies could make good use of it. And so the always resourceful Goody, described by Maraniss as the battalion’s “unofficial acquisitions expert,” found ways - no one ever asked - of seeing to it that his mates got their share.

If he profited, no one knew.  But he was, after all,  acknowledged by everyone who knew him to be the master of the deal.

How good was he?  One Black Lion, Tom “LT” Grady, once told a gathering of Black Lions, admiringly and only half-joking, that Goody could start out with a 99-cent Bic lighter and in 30 days he’d have swapped it up to a 747.

For all his legendary deal-making and “requisitioning,” though, Steve Goodman was a good soldier.

Maraniss wrote about Goody's efforts in helping to evacuate wounded comrades from the battle: “Steve Goodman, nearby, helped a platoon sergeant who weaved toward him, weakened by two gunshot wounds. Goodman held the sergeant and started carrying him back. The weight, the heat, the sun pounding down once they emerged from the wood line, the uneven footing through the tall grass and the mushy swamp along the draw - it was a difficult journey for Goodman.  He fell flat on his face, the sergeant collapsing in a heap over him.  Then he gathered himself, picked up his load, and moved on.  Finally reaching the same huge tree under which Major Holleder died, Goodman placed the sergeant down in a dry spot in the sun and collapsed.  He needed a short rest before going in for more.”

If men who have been in combat seem reluctant to talk about it, it’s understandable.  It’s because, even years later,  the memories are still so painful, gruesome even.

Maraniss wrote about Goody’s coming upon the body of his friend, Steve Ostroff, a Jewish kid from California:

“Horror has so many faces. Here was a freakish one.  Ostroff’s smoke grenades had exploded on him, and ‘he was all different colors; he was yellow and red and green from the smoke grenades.’ Goodman was numb.  He couldn’t believe what had happened.”

Goody stayed in touch with his buddies over the years, and got together with them at their reunions.  I met him twice - once at West Point and once at Green Bay - and loved the guy.

Goody took great pride in presenting the Black Lion Award at a Christian school where my old friend Jake Von Scherrer was the AD.  (The delightful irony of a Jewish guy presenting the award at a Christian school wasn’t lost on him.)  In the photo below, that's Goody on the left.

Goody’s service will be held tomorrow in Coral Springs.

I mourn for him - and for my friends in the Black Lions.  They’ve lost a brother.

Steve Goodman Palmer Trinity

*********** Found this in a copy of  Australian Geographic…The first known use of the word “selfie”

Back in 2002, Nathan Hope went out for  a mate’s (if you don’t know, in "Strine" - Australian - a mate is a buddy. A pal.  It definitely does not refer to two men living together as “husband and husband” - HW) 21st birthday and had a little accident.  On 13 September, he went onto an online forum (using the pseudonym Hopey) to ask about the dissolvable stitches that were now in his lower lip.  People asked him how he came to get these stitches, and at 3:19pm he typed:

“Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer (sic) and landed lip first (with front teeth coming in a close second) on a set of steps.  I had a hole about 1 cm long through my bottom lip.”

He then posted a “self-photograph” showing the stitches in his lower lip…

And then, he made history.  According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) he posted the very first written use of the word “selfie” in any medium (paper or electronic):

And sorry about the image quality.  It was a selfie."

*********** The NFL spent most of halftime of the Pro Bowl (aka “Men in Tights”) showing us some sort of  flag football championship.  (I probably should have capitalized "Flag Football" because this was NFL Flag Football, your first clue that the NFL doesn’t leave anything to chance.

Your second clue that the NFL seems to see flag football in its future was that they put it on national TV during halftime of one of their games.

They sure as hell didn’t do that to entertain their audience.  If they’d wanted to do that, they’d have hired some slut to sing and dance.

Personally, I’m not so sure that flag football has the kind of a future that the NFL envisions for it.

For one thing, considering the pressures athletic directors already face for use of their fields, that’s an awful lot of acreage for just 14 kids.

I see it as recreational, relating to real football in much  the same way that slo-pitch softball relates to baseball.

But I don’t see much carryover to real football - you know, the kind where they block and tackle and run the ball and all that other dumb stuff.  But just on the chance that some kids should ever wind up on your team with only flag football experience… prepare to teach them to carry the ball correctly and to refrain from signaling “first-down” after gaining the necessary yardage.

Oh, and to block and tackle and all that other dumb stuff.

Frankly, I see flag football feeding Madden.  And Fantasy Football, where nobody needs linemen.  (I look around schools and don’t see too many undernourished kids these days. To be blunt, I see a lot of chubbies. And once flag football takes over - what are we supposed to do with all the big, slow, unathletic  kids?)

Flag football does have a future someplace, but ironically, it appears that it's  as a women’s sport - in Florida, where it’s a state-sanctioned high school sport.

*********** Some time ago, I suggested that our concussion paranoia might eventually bring us to a study of some creatures who do a WHOLE LOT of head banging and seem to do okay - woodpeckers.

*********** Who are these brothers?  One of them played in the Super Bowl; one played in the NBA finals.   They’re the only pair of brothers to earn that distinction.   (If it helps you - they went to the same college.)  ANSWER TO

Zegalia and Czonka


Josh Montgomery, Berwick, Louisiana
Joel Mathews, Independence, Missouri
Ralph Balducci, Portland, Oregon (Go you one better. Syracuse ran an unbalanced line.  Larry Csonka FB, Floyd Little TB, and Tom Coughlin WB. THAT WAS FOOTBALL! Remember, my family lived by Syracuse.)
Jerry Lovell, Bellevue, Nebraska
John Dowd, Spencerport, New York (He coached at RIT when they had a football team.  They have not had one since the 70s. Went to Waterloo HS)
Adam Wesoloski, Pulaski, Wisconsin
Ken Hampton, Raleigh, North Carolina
Tom Davis, San Marcos, California
Kevin McCullough, Lakeville, Indiana

*********** The basic Syracuse unbalanced T formation of Floyd "Ben" Schwartzwalder

Syracuse Schwartzwalder unbalanced

Note the hand-drawn diagrams.
This was long before Playmaker Pro,
and at the very dawn of  Xerox dry copying. 
(Anybody remember mimeographs and Ditto copiers?)

***********  I was thumbing through the 1996 Oregon-Cal game program and came across a question posed to a number of coaches:

How much should a coach be responsible for a player's off-the-field conduct?

While other coaches said, basically, that you couldn’t expect them to be responsible for what more than 100 young men did in their free time, Eddie Robinson, one of the greatest of them all, disagreed:

Maybe I'm a little old-fashioned. I just feel that we're responsible for him off the field as much as we're responsible for him on the field. I don't like the idea that I coach him and that's all of it. I want him to be a good person in the dormitory. I want him to be a good person across the campus and when he's taking classes. I want him to be a good person when he goes home.

*********** If you suspected that players in the Pro Bowl - that is, those who bothered to show up - were giving it less than their best, you were right.

As the old saying goes, “You get what you pay for.”

Esteemed  philosopher Richard Sherman put it another way:  "You pay them what you pay them and you get this performance…”

See, all that those guys were being paid for their efforts , or lack of same,  was $61,000.

And THAT’S if they were on the WINNING team!

If their team LOST, they only got $30,000.

I mean, come on -  would YOU give it everything YOU had for only $61,000?

How about for $30,000?

THIRTY THOUSAND LOUSY DOLLARS!  Why, with a coaching stipend thrown in, with luck a teacher can make that much by Christmas time!

Sherman (the philosopher) said that if you want to get the maximum out of the players you'll need to pay them better.  A LOT better: “I guarantee you less guys would miss the Pro Bowl if you told them you are going to pay them their normal salary for one more game."

(Somebody at Stanford should have taught him that it’s “fewer” guys - not less - but that’s beside the point.

The point is that when pro football players  think that playing a single game of what amounts to touch football  for the equivalent of what a typical teacher-coach earns in an entire  school year is beneath their professional dignity, there's a disconnect between them and normal people that's not in the NFL's best  interest.

*********** Army’s Andrew King, a 6 foot, 245 pound senior linebacker from Queens Village, New York, was honored as Army’s 2016 Black Lion Award winner at the team’s annual banquet held Saturday night.

At West Point, The Black Lion Award is sponsored by the Army Fooball Club, the association of former Army football players, and it’s presented to that football player who best exemplifies the character of Don Holleder, an All-America defensive end for Army who was killed in action. Don Holleder's daughter, Katie Fellows, was on hand to present the award to Cadet King.

Andrew King Black Lion

That's Andrew King (in the middle along with Katie Fellows, daughter of Don Holleder and Head Coach Jeff Monken

In addition to the Black Lion Award, King won three other major awards.

He won the Thruston Hughes Memorial Award, established in 1939 to honor the team MVP.   He was a major factor in leading Army to its best season in two decades, finishing with a career-high 97 tackles, including 11 tackles for loss and five sacks.
He received the Lt. Gen. Garrison Davidson Award for having the highest military grade among all team members, and earning distinction in the areas of honor, country, sportsmanship and leadership.

And finally, he and fellow linebacker Jeremy Timpf shared the Creighton W. Abrams Memorial Award given to team captains.

***********  Greetings Coach,

Catching up with the news again after a bit of an absence. Seeing a couple of references to Coach Fry, I thought you might like this story in the event you've not run across it in the past. 1946 Texas HS championship game between Odessa (team Fry played for) and San Antonio Jefferson (led by another famous player, Kyle Rote). Includes newspaper accounts, play by play and a couple of video clips. The link is here:

Best Regards,

Jeff Hansen
Casper, Wyoming

*********** Even at Penn, few people now know the name Frank Riepl, but in November 1955, he made national headlines.  A sophomore on a Penn team suffering through a 15-game losing streak, he was seeing his first action when he fielded the opening kickoff deep in the end zone - and returned it 108 yards.  Against sixth-ranked Notre Dame.  The guy who kicked it that deep was a fellow named Paul Hornung.

*********** WEAR YOUR DICKEY!

Got one on this morning Coach!

Have a great day!

Dennis Metzger

Richmond, Indiana

american flag FRIDAY,  JANUARY 27,  2017  “Take notes on the spot: a note is worth a cart-load of recollections.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

*********** Antonio Pierce on says diva receivers aren't worth the trouble - says that if you look at Super Bowl winners over the last 20 years or so, you’ll find very few of them had anything remotely resembling one.

Sure enough,  neither of the teams in this Super Bowl has a diva receiver. Julio Jones?  Nope. Maybe the best in the game, but not a “me” guy.  Julian Edelman?  Not a chance.  Gronk?  A wacko, maybe, but a diva? No.

In fact, of the four teams in the two conference finals, only Antonio Brown made the cut.

*********** I mentioned some time ago that there’s a guy that the big-time quarterbacks go to for work on their throwing, and he’s not a quarterback coach.  He’s not even a football coach.

His name’s Tom House, and he’s been a major league pitching coach.  That’s baseball.

NFL quarterbacks came to rely on House’s knowledge of the science and mechanics of throwing to keep them at the top of the game.   His client list has grown both of this year’s Super Bowl quarterbacks, Tom Brady and Matt Ryan, as well as Drew Brees and Carson Palmer.

So much did demand for House’s expertise grow that he added Adam Dedeaux, former USC and minor league baseball player and son of legendary USC baseball coach Ron Dedeaux.

Dedeaux, who recently bought the business from House, has an impressive client list of his own, including the Eagles’ Carson Wentz.

*********** He’s a 17-year-old kid who hasn’t played a down of American football, yet he’s already had scholarship offers  from Arkansas, Fresno State, Hawaii, LSU, Miami, Michigan and Oregon State.  Expect there to be plenty more.

Maybe, just maybe,  it’s because he’s 6-9 and weighs almost 400 pounds - and can move.

The kid's  name is Daniel Faalele.  He’s part Tongan, part Samoan, and his home is Melbourne, Australia.  At the present time he’s enrolled at Florida’s IMG Academy, where he’s learning  the game of football from the ground up.   It’s “ like taking a newborn out of the womb,” in the words of IMG’s offensive line coach.   He’s also learning “on the job” as a member of the scout team.

(Are you paying attention, you people who are thinking about scheduling IMG next year?)

A possible bonus for the school that lands him:  he has an 11-year-old brother who’s already  6 foot, 250.

*********** NFL TV Viewership this past season was down 8 per cent from 2015.

Granted, the 2015 audience was the highest in 10 years, but 2016 represented a drop nonetheless.

It was down even more early in the season,  partly due to competition from the presidential debates; some of the lost audience has returned  since Election Day, but not all - it’s still down.

They’re still throwing all sorts of reasons out there - too many commercials, too many games, too many bad games, etc. - but they still can’t bring themselves to come out and say the K-word.  (Kaepernick.)

*********** I don’t know how I missed this, but the Pro Bowl is this weekend.

Damn.  And I was hoping there’d be a football game on.

Maybe this is the year that they’ll finally say to hell with it and forget about the pads.

*********** Wouldn’t it be nice if Roger Goodell would grow a pair and stand up to the NFLPA, and say, “This is reprehensible conduct, definitely not the sort that the NFL wishes to have associated with its name, and therefore I am suspending Adam Jones indefinitely and without pay.  From this point,  whenever Mr. Jones is identified with the NFL, it will have to be as an ex-player.”


************ Listen - If they can hold a Womxn’s march and wear pussy hats...

Why can't we have a men's march -  and all wear  our dickeys? (look it up.)

*********** It started like this, with a note from Todd Hollis...

John Urshel is impressive.  So is Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.

Todd Hollis
Elmwood, Illinois

ME:  Did you know that Urschel is also a Canadian?


And that led to this…

COACH HOLLIS:  So, if Duvernay-Tardif gets his MD and is still playing, could he diagnose an opponent with a concussion and make him leave the field?  I'd hate to be the ref that tells an MD "no" when he diagnoses a concussion.  He'd become the most valuable player in the NFL...

3rd and long on the opponent's 49 yard line, 25 seconds to go, Pats down by two.  Urschel trots on the field to 'play' defensive tackle.  "Sir, my professional opinion as a medical expert is that Mr. Brady is showing concussion-like symptoms after that hit.  He should leave the field and see the NFL's independent medical expert."

Heck, Belichick, always looking for an edge, may be the coach that would sign him just for that purpose, and laugh all the way to the Super Bowl while everyone else says "why didn't I think of that?”  

*********** Derek Hunter, in Townhall

Things changed last Friday at noon. Whether for the better or worse depends on one’s political persuasion. But one thing is certain – the way words were used, which words were used, and even some definitions are now changed, at least for four years.

The “White House” no longer will be cited when something goes wrong. It will be President Donald Trump’s fault. When something militarily goes awry, the Pentagon will not be the anonymous noun used to assign blame. It will be President Donald Trump.

The personification of government buildings and branches so Americans would not associate failures and scandals with the president is a thing of the past. Welcome to the new era of one man, President Trump, being responsible for every government failure.

When Obamacare launched, it was the Department of Health and Human Services that failed. President Obama was an innocent bystander. When the Internal Revenue Service targeted American citizens because their political beliefs differed from that of Obama, the blame softly moved toward alleged rogue agents in a field office.

Now, if an FBI agent gets a speeding ticket in Los Angeles, expect Trump to be blamed.

*********** Years ago, when they first began televising football games live from coast to coast, my buddies and I thought it was really cool to sit in our living rooms in the East and watch games from the West Coast.  (On black and white TV, of course. Twelve-inch diagonal screen - most of you have computers with larger screens.)

But talk about exotic - in Philly, it was dark out, yet there they were, playing in bright sunshine.  ALWAYS in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.  ALL the games seemed to come from there.

It was always USC or UCLA or, best of all, USC against UCLA.  Damn, those were good teams.  And the funny thing is, I can still name off an awful lot of players from those Trojan and Bruin teams from the 1950s.

There wasn’t anything  cooler than watching one of Red Sanders’ UCLA teams come out of the huddle and go into single-wing left in “serpentine” fashion.

They did things different out there.   Their cheerleaders didn’t use megaphones.  Who the hell could hear you, even with a megaphone, past the tenth row?  No, they used loudspeakers. 

And they did card tricks.  In this day of the selfie, it probably seems corny to go to all that trouble to put on a show for other people without even being able to see the results yourself, but thank goodness for those people of another age, because some of their card tricks were really clever.

There were, of course, those occasions when one side or the other would sabotage the opponents’ card tricks - once, USC pranksters tricked the  UCLA card section into unknowingly insulting their own school with the giant message “WESTWOOD SUCKS.” (Westwood being the part of town where UCLA is located)

One card trick that my buddies and I laughed our asses over was a USC tribute to a dog named “George Tirebiter.”  What a clever name, we thought.  Those college kids!

George, we were told, was something of an unofficial USC mascot - a small dog that hung around campus and shared an addiction common to many canines that run loose - he liked to chase cars.

Alas, his hobby ultimately proved to be his undoing, but thanks to that card trick, George Tirebiter still lives on in my memory.

George Tirebiter
From Wikipedia...

George Tirebiter I, a canine mutt once famous for chasing cars through the campus, first appeared at football games in 1940. Tirebiter I was adopted by students and became a campus hero.

Mean and nasty, Tirebiter I reached true fame by attacking the Cal human mascot during a game in 1947.

He posed with homecoming queens and once drew cheers when riding in the second car of a parade in the Coliseum.

Although he survived having UCLA shaved on his hind quarters during a publicized dognapping by the Bruins in 1947, Tirebiter I finally succumbed under the tires of an automobile in 1950. A funeral was held.

He was succeeded by George II for three years, and then George III for five years.

*********** Sean Murphy, longtime head coach at Baltimore’s Archbishop Curley High School, has been named head coach at East Wake High in Wendell, North Carolina.

In 20 years at Archbishop Curley, he was 127-84, and his 2014 team was undefeated.

He has his work cut out for him: East Wake, which has had just two winning seasons in the last ten,  was 2-9 in 2016.  One bit of brightness: they’re dropping down from Class 4A to 3A.

*********** After the Portland police came down hard on rioters last Friday night, they told the mayor that if he didn’t fire the police chief by Wednesday, they’d “shut down the city.”

Uh-oh.  You’d think they’d have read their newspapers or wherever they get their information and found out that this was a different mayor -  not the one  who gave them the run of the city following the election.

This one, the same one who told the police to get tough Friday night, told the police to get ready for Wednesday.  To  strap it on.

You’ll love the video of the police as they surprise some of the morons with a couple of very nice takedowns.

And, in case you think Portlanders are all anarchist fools, you’ll also enjoy the reactions of the bystanders.

*********** Go West, young man.  Especially if you’re an out-of-work football coach.

Eric Sondheimer covers LA-area high school sports for the Los Angeles Times, and he does so in a manner befitting arguably the most talent-rich area in the country.

He wrote that as of this week, there were 50 head high school football coaching positions open in Southern California.

I thought, “Holy sh—!”  Even in an area as large and populous as that, that’s a lot of openings.

And that led me to thinking about all the reasons for such a large number as that:  today’s kids… today’s parents… the virtual free agency of players and the constant poaching of star athletes.

All sorts of scenarios raced through my mind, so I wrote Eric asking what he thought might be causing it.

He replied that there were even more openings last season.

There went that story.

*********** I was corresponding with Don Shipley, whose late Dad, Dick Shipley, played on Maryland’s 1953 national championship team, and coached me in my semi-pro days in Frederick, Maryland.   We got talking about a really good linebacker named Steve Zegalia who’d played at Syracuse and then, being a bit undersized for the NFL, played on some really good minor league clubs.  He was from Easton, Pennsylvania, and I first saw him playing for the (get ready for this) Schuylkill Coal Crackers.  In those days, when Ben Schwartzwalder was coaching the Orangemen, all you had to know about a guy was that he played at Syracuse and you knew he was tough.

Steve, sadly, died too young.  In this photo that Don (himself a Syracuse grad) sent me, Steve Zegalia is in the back row, third from left.  The guy on the left in the front row is a big running back from Stowe, Ohio named Larry Czonka.  Bet you can’t tell me who #49 is.  You’ll kick yourself in the ass when I tell you.

Zegalia and Czonka

american flag TUESDAY,  JANUARY 24,  2017  “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.”  Dwight D. Eisenhower

*********** From the point of view of a person who just likes a good football game,  the NFL came up short as usual.  They gave us a couple of stinkers on Sunday.

For me, four things still stood out:

1. The Steelers.  They're no longer special.  I’m not sure they’re even Steelers anymore, but instead, a bunch of imposters wearing black and gold.  Assistants getting arrested and then immediately reinstated… players betraying the intimacy and confidentiality of the locker room by televising the coach’s post-game speech… Talk about lack of focus.  Talk about things that would never have happened on a real Steeler team.

2. Matt Ryan had a hell of a game.  He played his high school ball at Penn Charter, in Philly.  Penn Charter is the arch-rival -  the archest of arch-rivals - of my old school, Germantown Academy.  Our rivalry -  “in my day” - was on the order of Alabama-Auburn, and I couldn’t imagine myself ever pulling for a PC guy.  But time heals - even old World War II vets finally came around to driving Japanese cars (well, some of them, anyhow) - and he’s no longer a hated enemy.  He’s real Philly Irish - I wish him all the best.                          wish him all the best. 

3. Bill Belichick.  The guy has proved himself, over and over, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve come to consider him the best in the business.  No, he doesn’t reveal a lot of personality in public.  That’s his game face.  Would it be better if he smiled brightly and  tossed out witty  quotes -  and lost half his games?   Sorry, I don’t buy the “Belicheat” business, either.   Yes, he’s pushed the rules.  Show me a successful coach in that business who hasn’t. 

4. Tom Brady.   I don’t like the way pro football has increasingly become a glorified version of 7-on-7, and I’ve made that clear.  But given the nature of the game and what it calls for, Brady is absolutely the best.  And for a close look at the person that he is, for all his wealth and fame, I defy you to read Tim Layden’s article in the latest Sports Illustrated - about Brady and the relationships he’s had with all the receivers he’s thrown to over the years - and not come away with a newfound respect for the guy.

*********** To give you some idea of the pull and power of the NFL, you have to check out the list of 2016’s top-viewed programs, from this week’s Sports Business Journal…

First Place - by a wide margin - was the Super Bowl, with 111, 864,000 viewers
2, 3, 4 - the Presidential Debates - but 2 and 3 were on 10 networks, and 4 was on 9 networks
5, 6, 7 - NFL Conference Championship games
8 - World Series Game 7
9, 10, 11 - NFL Playoffs
12 - NFL, Redskins-Cowboys Thanksgiving Day
13 - The Oscars
14 - NFL Playoff
15 - Olympics
16, 17 - NFL Playoffs
18 - Olympics
19 - NBA Finals, Game 7
20 - Olympics
21 - NFL “National Window” - Cowboys vs Steelers
22 - Olympics
23 - NFL “National Window” - Cowboys vs Packers
24 - NFL, Vikings-Lions Thanksgiving Day
25 - NFL “National Window” - Cowboys vs Giants
26 - Olympics
27 - NFL - Sunday Night - Cowboys vs Giants
28, 29 - Olympics
30 - COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS -     Alabama vs Clemson

In short, of the top 30 progams…
NFL - 16 programs - 5 of them involving the Dallas Cowboys
Olympics - 7 progams
Presidential Debates - 3 programs
NBA Playoffs - 1 program
World Series - 1 program
Oscars - 1 program
College Football Playoff - 1 program

My Summation:  The NFL is really, really powerful.  We knew that.  But they ought to have a special award for Dak Prescott, because the Dallas Cowboys, thanks in large part to Prescott’s phenomenal rookie season, were a significant part of the NFL’s pull. 

*********** Whatever you may have thought about the inauguration, to me the  absolute best things about it were that it showed that while people have lost trust in any number of our institutions - often for good reason -

(1) The Secret Service is still as good as it gets.  One can only imagine the challenges they faced in protecting all those dignitaries from people wishing them ill.

(2) The Police, provided they are allowed to do their jobs, are quite capable of doing them, and doing them well.  And based on their showing in DC, they’re no longer going to stand passively by and take sh— off of protesters (remember Baltimore)?

*********** "Someone's going to try me and I'm going to make an example out of them. They're going to do it, especially if they've been getting away with some things to try to see if it's real and they'll see. My job is to plow the field, find the snakes and cut their heads off.”

That was new Oregon coach Willie Taggart, laying down the law to the Oregon players in the first meeting.  Telling them there was a new sheriff in town.

And then he left to recruit - before he could give that same speech to his staff of assistants.

Too bad.  Because it wasn’t long before his new strength and conditioning coach appeared to perhaps go a bit overboard in a conditioning session that wound up with three players hospitalized.

Not waiting to see what the new sheriff would do, the University itself moved quickly, suspending the coach for a month without pay,  and re-drawing the organizational chart so that the strength and conditioning coach no longer reports to the head coach.

Strike one.

Then, around 2 AM this past Sunday, Oregon’s new co-offensive coordinator,  David Reaves, was pulled over by Eugene police for “multiple traffic violations,” and charged with DUI.  Within hours, Reaves was as good as unemployed, after the announcement from the AD’s office that “the process to terminate his employment with cause has commenced.”   Reaves had been on the job less than a week.  He was due to make $300,000 a year with a two-year contract.

Strike two.

We’ll still have to wait a little longer to see what Coach Taggart will do when a player “tries” him, but it does appear that the players aren’t the only ones at Oregon reporting to a new sheriff. 

If you’re an assistant coach and you’re listening - it ain’t Coach Taggart.

If you’re Coach Taggart, and you’re listening - Oregon football, in case you were living on another planet and didn’t know,  has close ties with Nike, a multi-billion-dollar company.  And for all the goofy marketing tactics and weird-ass uniform combinations,  Nike has a good reputation - and its people  will not take kindly to having it smeared by the actions of a mere college football coaching staff.

Craig Howard and Tim Tebow 2Craig Howard and Tim Tebow

*********** 64 is plenty young for a coach to still be coaching.  It’s certainly way too young for him to die.

But Craig Howard, 64 and still coaching - and still winning - at Southern Oregon University, died unexpectedly Thursday night at his home in Ashland, Oregon.

He was born, raised and educated in Oregon and he did most of his coaching there.

A native of Grants Pass, Oregon, he played college ball at Linfield, the small school powerhouse in McMinnville, Oregon, and then embarked on a high school and small-college coaching career in the Northwest until in in 2003, he moved across the country and took at job at Nease High School in Jacksonville, Florida. 

Nease had seen coaches come and go, but Howard took  Nease to the state 4-A championship in his third year.  In all, his Nease teams made three appearances in the state title game.  He achieved his great success by introducing his wide-open, fast-paced spread offense to Florida football, and capitalizing on the unique talents of a big, strong quarterback named Tim Tebow.

Nease earned the distinction of playing in the first high school game to be televised nationally on ESPN, the 2005 opening game at Hoover, Alabama.   And Tebow, who would go on to win the Heisman Trophy, was named Florida’s Mister Football.

In his eight years in Florida, Coach Howard compiled a 76-23 record at four different high schools before taking the head job at Southern Oregon.

In 2014, Southern Oregon won the NAIA national title.  In his six years there, he was 50-23.

He is well-remembered for his time in Florida.

Writes Justin Barney in

His calling card was offense, and running it as fast as his teams could possibly run it. Howard got out in front of the coaching pack with his innovative and fun spreads that changed the way the game was played in the area. While most high school football teams were still married to predominantly wing-T and I-formation rushing offenses, Howard went all-in on the spread, lining up four and five receivers regularly on Friday nights long before it was the norm.

Said former player and assistant Matt Tobin, now the head coach at Ponte Vedra High,  “The greatest gift Craig Howard ever had, it was not as much his offense as this magical touch he had; he could get kids to work harder than they’ve ever worked and smile and enjoy every bit of it. He’s meant so much to my life and the lives of hundreds of players that played for him. He’s taught so much more than just football. It was about being a good person, the way you treat others, all of that stuff.  He doesn’t realize the impact he had.”

Said Joey Wiles, who coached against him while at St. Augustine,  “He helped make me a better coach, it forced me to learn something that was not traditional in high school at the time.  Then you throw Tebow into the mix. He raised the level. He had four by ones, three by twos, every form of spread that could be called, he called. I don’t know anybody more passionate about the game of football than Craig Howard. It’s a really sad day for the profession and the people in St. Johns County.”

Wrote Tim Tebow on Twitter, ”Heartbreaking to lose my coach Craig Howard today.  More than a coach, he was a mentor & father figure. He changed my life & I will miss him!"

When you’ve earned that kind of praise from a person of Tom Tebow’s character, you were quite a man.

*********** I never got caught up in the Jake Browning-for-Heisman business, but the Washington quarterback sure looked really good most of the season. He showed he had a live arm and he could go deep. Could he ever.  And in John Ross, Dante Pettis and Chico McClatcher, he had as good a set of deep threats to throw to as any QB in the country.

But I was disappointed in his play toward the very end of the season.  His arm seemed dead.  He couldn’t put any zip on the deep outs and he wasn’t going long.  Against Alabama, I found myself wondering how the hell you could expect to move the ball when without a fullback your running game was  based on finesse, when your quarterback wasn’t much of a runner so you couldn’t employ misdirection,  and when, despite having three of the best receivers in the country, you seemed unwilling to go deep.

So what did that leave them?  Dink-and-dunk, which is what, except for a gadget pass, they mostly did.

In the Peach Bowl, Browning was 20 for 38 for 150 yards.  Talk about throwing short - that’s an almost unbelievably puny 3.94 yards per attempt.  Even in the NFL, where throwing short - and throwing short, and throwing short -  is a staple part of the offense,  the most impotent  team can do better than that. 

I shook my head.  I questioned the coaching.

And now, weeks after the season and Washington’s  performance against Alabama in the semi-final game, comes the explanation: since the season ended, Browning has had surgery on his right shoulder.

They say that he injured it against Arizona State, and they decided to keep quiet about it in order to protect him from further injury.  I question the date.  They played Arizona State on November 19, but a week earlier, in the Huskies’ loss to USC, Browning didn’t look like himself.

What they’re saying, at any rate, is that they didn’t have a replacement capable of playing as well as a starter who's unable to make the throws.  So they chose to struggle the rest of the way even though they were incapable of doing the one thing that made them special  - going long.

Not saying they would have beaten Alabama, but they went into that game with one wing shot off.  Now, I’m a Washingtonian and I like the Huskies, but the purpose of the Playoff is to come up with the four best teams, and they weren’t one of them.  Not without their number one quarterback at full strength. 

This wouldn’t have happened in the NFL, of course, where teams are required to report every injury.  Oh, wait - I forgot about that Richard Sherman knee injury that the Seahawks never reported.

*********** The word “women” has the word “men” in it,  so it's anathema to feminists, implying, in their minds,  that women are mere extensions of the real thing.

As a result, some feminists have tried to push the word “womyn,” on us.

But  they’ve run into resistance from their fellow femmies.  See, putting that “y” in there reminds them of the “y” chromosome - and (gasp!) masculinity.  (Just can’t get away from those horrid men, can you sisters?)

This explains why the event that took place in Seattle Saturday was called - I couldn’t possibly make this up  - the WOMXN’S MARCH ON SEATTLE

*********** This is a commercial.  Well, okay - technically, it’s a PSA, a Public Service Announcement.  But either way, it’s one of the great commercials of all time.

*********** We rightly deplore the tyranny of the old Soviet Union, but when I see all those spoiled a**holes rioting in the streets of our cities it sure makes me wish we had a Siberia to send them to.

*********** It depends on whose mission matters most, doesn’t it?

A veteran coach shared his mission statement with me…








He added at the end… “Worked everywhere but here!”

I knew that he no longer coached "here."  I said that it looked pretty good to me, and asked what went wrong…

HIs reply…

We didn't make the play-offs...PERIOD.

Board had that as an expectation, but didn't account for a tremendous change in school culture. (We are now over 60% "free & reduced" & have 16 languages.)
From 2001-2005 (when my friend coached there) we went 16-20...

5 coaches and 11 years later - they've won 12 games total…

Yup. They “went in another direction.”  Sure did.

*********** I was watching Fox and its coverage of the creeps rioting in DC,  and as a reporter was talking about a small fire that had just been set,    a little kid - maybe 10 years old - came up and told the reporter that he was the one who started it.

What he said, actually, was that he “kind of started the fire.”

The kid, who wore an earring, said his name was Carter.

When the reporter asked him why he’d started the fire, the little sh—, quite proud of himself, said, “because I felt like it and I’m just sort of saying, screw the president.”

First executive order: find the parents and lock them up.  In our liberal West Coast states, Child Protective Services takes kids away from parents for a lot less than that.

Second executive order: give the kid five good smacks in the ass with the principal’s paddle, the one that hasn’t been used in years.  A good historian could probably trace the decline of our once-great nation to the end of paddling.

*********** Dishonest Media Department.

First paragraph, first sentence.

“A Vancouver Man who hurled bricks through windows in the Vancouver Heights neighborhood was sentenced Thursday to 15 months in prison.”

Last paragraph, last sentence.

“It’s likely (the man)  will be deported after he serves his sentence…:

Do you see how cleverly the lefties in the news media play their little game of professing to report the news impartially?    They start out identifying him as a “Vancouver man,” and wait until the last f—king sentence to say that he may be deported -  never once coming out openly and stating that the guy’s f—king illegal.

*********** Watching the inauguration festivities on Thursday, I had a great idea…

No more Grammy-Award-Winning this or thats “performing” our national anthem (emphasis on “our,” not “theirs.” )

No more  saxophonists trying to show us how long they can hold a note, or precious little children who nobody has the heart to say no to?

Instead, before all games, let’s play a recording of Lee Greenwood singing the first verse of “Proud to be an American,” followed by the rest of us singing the chorus.

Almost like a musical Pledge of Allegiance.

I can hear them now -  the lefties, howling about all those references to God, and defending our country.

Hey - you don’t want to sing?  Don’t sing.  You don’t want to stand?  Don’t stand.

Doesn’t matter.  Just don’t blame all the people around you when they stand and sing and you feel left out of things.

american flagFRIDAY,  JANUARY 20,  2017  "We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst." C.S. Lewis

***********  As school administrators love to tell coaches when they hand them the black spot... "we're going to go in another direction."

I pray for President Trump and for our country.  

And for a severe plague to be visited on all those fools "demonstrating" in the streets.

*********** A voice of wisdom in the Eugene (OR) Register-Guard comments section on the incident in which three Oregon players had to be hospitalized after tough off-season workouts:
First, this new strength coach is in trouble if the players want to sue. His qualifications are lacking. No exercise science or anatomy. Just a recreational degree along with marketing. Second, the new head coach mentioned bigger and stronger. This strength coach is doing the opposite. You don't dominate your opponent by doing pushups and updowns. You get fit but not dominant.

The way you get dominant is to lift big weights: Bench 400+, Parallel Squat 600+, Power Clean 300+. You do multi-joint lifts. You supplement this with flexibility, speed and jump training (plyometrics). This is basic stuff.

If the Oregon Duck football team doesn't get smart quick with their strength and conditioning, they will have to find another way to gain an edge. It won't be in the weight room.

Dr. Greg Shepard
Master of Science from U. of Oregon in exercise sport science
Doctorate from BYU.
Former strength coach at three Division I teams and a pro team.
For those of you who don’t know Dr. Greg Shepard:  He is VERY well respected in the strength and conditioning community.  He is the founder of a firm called Bigger Faster Stronger (well-known among coaches as BFS, which is employed by hundreds of schools around the country).

*********** If ours is such a male-dominated culture, as the harpies like to claim…

Then how come Male-to-Female "transformations" (or whatever the hell you call them) outnumber Female-to-Male by 6 to 1?

*********** Former longtime Oregon O-line coach Steve Greatwood on working at Cal (and wearing blue and gold):

“That is one thing that I like about here, you know what the colors are. There are only two of them."

*********** Mike Tomlin on Antonio Brown, the Steelers' unofficial locker room videographer:

“I’ll be bluntly honest here: It was foolish of him to do that, it was selfish of him to do that, and inconsiderate for him to do that,” Tomlin said of Brown. “Not only is it a violation of our policy but a violation of league policy. Both of which he knows.

“We’ll punish him, and do so swiftly and do so internally,” he said. “I’m sure he’ll appropriately absorb all of those things as he moves forward. But larger than that, he has to grow from this. He has to. He works extremely hard and is extremely talented, and those things get minimized with incidents such as this. It wears on teammates when they have to answer questions about things other than our preparation or football-related.”

Ben Roethlisberger on his teammate:  “It’s an unfortunate situation that we’ve got to deal with right now. That’s a sacred place where things are said and hugs and tears, and it’s kind of a special place. So a little disappointed with AB for that. Coach talks and then I talk, and you just don’t want everyone to know what’s going on in there with the family. And also, I wish AB would have been listening to Coach and myself instead of being on the other side of the locker room filming.

“I’ll talk to AB, but like I said, it’s not like it needs to be addressed in front of the team by me or anything, that’s coach’s job. He’s the boss, he’ll address it however he feels appropriate. It’ll be water under the bridge here for me right now as soon as we’re done talking about it.”

*********** Coaches… While you’re getting ready  for next season…

Are you preparing for the possibility of National Anthem protests by your players?

How about by your faculty?

*********** Ravens’ offensive lineman John Urschel is one bright dude.

He is the only NFL player enrolled in a Ph.D. program. Not anywhere, either -  at MIT.

His field of study - spectral graph theory, numerical linear algebra and machine learning - really sets him apart from his teammates, most of whom, if they even graduated from college at all, majored in something that ends in “studies.”

He has published several articles, one of which, if you’re looking for some light reading, was “Spectral Bisection of Graphs and Connectedness.”  Let me save you the trouble - it’s about math.

At Penn State, he won the Campbell Trophy, awarded by the National Football Foundation for excellence in football, academics and citizenship.

In the off-season, in addition to his studies, he’s also an adjunct research associate at Penn State.

He told the Wall Street Journal he’d like to continue playing football “for as long as physically possible.”

Asked by the Journal if he’d rather be known as a mathematician or a football player, he says, “I’d like to be know as a football player by football people and a mathematician by math people.  Anyone else? I want to be known for both.”

*********** Maryland hasn’t won a bowl game since 2010.

The reason?  Kevin Anderson.

Kevin Anderson is the Maryland AD.

One of his first acts after taking over was to fire the football coach -  Ralph Friedgen, a Maryland alum who’d just coached the Terps to a 9-4 season, good enough to earn him recognition as the ACC Coach of the Year and Maryland the number 24 spot in the AP poll.

Anderson’s choice to replace Friedgen was UConn’s Randy Edsall, who’s coached the Huskies to the Fiesta Bowl, then insulted the entire “UConn nation” (geez, I hate that cliche), not by taking the Maryland job, but by notifying his players by text and email and, as they flew back to Connecticut,  taking a different flight to Maryland.  Got to get started on that recruiting, don’t you know?

What did Edsall wind up doing to justify all Anderson’s effusive praise ("This man is a builder and a champion”) at his introduction?  How about a 2-10 season in 2011?  Okay, okay, he needed to get his players in there... Friedgen left the cupboard bare -  whatever excuse you want - but turning a 9-win team into a 2-win team?

The Terps went 4-8 in 2012, then actually qualified for bowls and finished with 7-6 records in 2013 and 2104, losing in both bowl games.

But 2015 got off to a horrible start, and with Maryland at 2-4, Edsall was cut loose.  An interim coach finished the 3-9 season.  Edsall walked off with a $2.6 million payout, the result of a contract extension AD Anderson, in his wisdom,  had just given him just four months earlier.

So Anderson, having fired Ralph Friedgen, a guy with a 75-50 record, replaced him with Randy Edsall, a guy who would go 22-34, and never beat a top-25 team.

The jury is definitely out on Edsall’s replacement, D. J. Durkin.

The 2016 Terps qualified - barely - for a bowl game with a 6-6 record, then lost in the bowl game to Boston College and finished 6-7.

But the record is deceptive. Maryland started out with four straight wins - over Howard (2-9), Florida International (4-8), Central Florida (6-7) and Purdue (3-9).  Apologies to fans of those schools, but they weren’t very good this year.  Other wins came over Rutgers (2-10) and Michigan State, a surprisingly bad 3-9.

They’ll start out 2017 at Texas, against Towson and UCF, and at Minnesota.  Another 4-0 start is not likely.  And after that, with the exception of Rutgers and Indiana and, perhaps, Michigan State, the schedule is murderer’s row.

The report card on Kevin Anderson: since his decision to kick Ralph Friedgen to the curb, Maryland has gone 29-40.  They’ve made it to two bowl games - by the skin of their teeth - and lost them both.  And an athletic department dependent on its share of Big Ten revenues to stay solvent had to pay $2.6 million to make a coach go away.

I’m reminded of Nebraska, which many years ago fired Frank Solich and hired Bill Callahan.   Like Maryland, Nebraska brought in an AD whose ego far exceeded his knowledge and judgment to do the firing; like Maryland, Nebraska fired an alum  (Solich) during a 9-win season.  And like Maryland, the Huskers haven’t been the same since.

***********  Coach Wyatt,

I agree with you about the importance of mission statements.  I require every coach on my staff to have one.  They don't have to be wordy or even eloquent.  They just need to state their (primary) reason that they coach.  I wrote the mission statement for the Durham Eagles years ago:

"The Durham Eagles Athletic Association is dedicated to creating an environment of
discipline, self-respect and success to aid in the
academic, athletic and social success of our student athletes"

I also have a personal mission statement:

"I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

I think personal mission statements are important because they serve as a reminder to you about the reason(s) you coach.  Having a mission statement allows you to reflect on whether your mission has changed, and whether you are are fulfilling it.


Dave Potter
Durham, North Carolina

Thanks Dave-  Good contribution.  

I read someplace where someone said that the mission statement should be precise and measurable.

I disagree.  I don’t think it’s about a destination.  I think it’s about what keeps you on course - your guiding star.

Runaway slaves travelled at night, in the dark, guided only by the North Star. Freedom was their goal, but to me, their mission was “Keep Going North.”

Steven Douglass called his abolitionist newspaper “The North Star."

(Dave Potter has a long record of coaching success.  This past season, he coached the JV team at Raleigh’s Green Hope High to an 8-1 record.  Dave’s coaching goes beyond wins and losses, though.  He puts a strong emphasis on character development.  Many of you are aware of his “Meet and Greet” drill in which he teaches his players the importance of making a good impression when meeting someone.)

*********** I hate the NFL, but Green Bay is something special.

On a visit to Green Bay back in 2009 with some Black Lions, we sat at a bar and spoke with a couple celebrating the fact that after 27 years on the waiting list they finally had Packers’ season tickets.

Hearing that, a younger guy nearby looked over at us and told us, glumly, that he'd only been waiting for seven years.

***********  Army’s legendary coach Earl “Red” Blaik was outstanding in every aspect of coaching, not least of which is taking good care of the people he’s ultimately dependent on - the news media.  Colonel Blaik (he was a West Point graduate himself) knew the importance of taking care of the New York media, and he was especially close with a small group of them who joined him every summer before the start of practice at a retreat at his cottage on Bull Pond, on the West Point military reservation.

In his autobiography, “Call me Coach,” Paul Dietzel told of his early days as head coach at West Point. (Picture a time when a coach would leave LSU, where he’d won a national championship, to coach at Army.  That’s how prestigious the Army job was then, and that’s exactly what Paul Dietzel did.)

He decided to bring back the Bull Pond tradition, and tells of the time he invited well-known Nashville sports writer Fred Russell to join in the fun.  (You’ll notice in the story a young officer named Bill Battle.  That’s the same Bill Battle who became a great coach at Tennessee, then started a fabulously successful company called Collegiate Licensing Company, and now serves as AD at Alabama.)

During my times at West Point Army football received generous treatment from the New York papers.  The only difference was that in 1948 when I was the plebe line coach Army football was on the front page.  Four years later when I came back as Colonel Blaik's offensive line coach with Vince Lombardi coaching the offensive backfield,  news of Army football had moved back to about page three.  The New York professional teams had crept onto the front page.  When I returned in 1961 as head coach, Army football was back on about page five or six.  In hopes of remedying the situation I decided to continue the Bull Pond encampment that Colonel  Blaik had started years before. I invited all the New York sports press including Tim Cohane,  Til Ferdenzi,  Red Smith, Allison Danzig,  the renowned sports cartoonist Willard Mullin and Fred Russell of the Nashville Banner.

Freddy had always been a great jokester.  Years earlier he arranged to have Vanderbilt coach Red Sanders put in jail as a joke and then confessed to the prank much later.  I knew Freddy was flying up for our retreat so I made arrangements to give him a welcome that would be a taste of his own medicine.   Right next to Bull Pond was a firing range where they fired the big howitzers.  Bill Battle in his uniform as Officer of the Day met Freddie in New York City and drove him up to West Point.  As they came by the firing range some of our coaches who were hiding began firing off  big blockbuster firecrackers. Bill quickly stopped the car and said "I didn't know they were firing here today! They didn't tell us they were firing! What's the matter with these people?  Let's get out of here!" Then Bill jumped over a pile of dirt and into a trench. Freddy was right behind him.  I had our regular cameraman capture the entire "bombardment" episode on film.

While our coaches were firing off the blockbusters they threw handfuls of rocks and gravel into the air in the vicinity of Freddie and Bill.  Bill apologized to Freddie and said "I hope they don't get more accurate!"  Freddy by now  was pretty worried.  After about 5 minutes of the "shelling,"  our coaches stopped.  Bill said, "It's time. They only fire for a few minutes at a time, so let's get out of here while they've stopped, and I'll take you on out to Bull Pond. 

They get back in the car and proceed to Bull Pond, where Bill just drops him off without saying a word.

Freddy of course tells us about the shelling in vivid detail.  Then I said, "I heard the firing,  but I didn't know they were firing today or we wouldn't have driven you through there."

"Well, they are firing, and we had to get  out of the way," Freddy said excitedly.

Meanwhile our photographer developed the film and spliced in the introduction that I already prepared.   That evening after dinner and drinks we sat down for movies like we always did.  Everyone was prepared for our usual fare of one of  Tim Cohane's favorite Susan Hayward films, but on the screen appears the title "Freddy visits West Point."  The next thing you see is gravel flying and Bill and Freddy running and jumping into the ditch.  Every once in a while you could see Freddy peeking out over the top of the trench.  It was hilarious!  The film concluded with,  "This is the End.  Happy you're here,  Freddy." We turned off the projector and Freddie was completely flabbergasted.  We laughed about it many times since. I'm sorry he's no longer around to share the memory as he was a fantastic gentleman.  a splendid writer and a wonderful friend.

*********** Trophies for Everybody!

Barack Obama gives the Presidential Medal of Freedom to… Joe Biden.


*********** Q. How strong is the Alabama-Auburn rivalry? 

A. Strong enough to bring Auburn fans out to Toomer’s Corner en masse to celebrate Bama’s loss in the title game.

*********** The Super Bowl is coming up, and along with it NFL boasts about how many “billions” of people will be watching, world-wide.

Don’t you believe it.  Yes, the  NFL is amazingly popular here, but in world-wide terms, not so much.

Yes, people elsewhere will tune in, but most of them, if they’re watching at all, will be watching the halftime show.

In India, the world’s second most populous country,  the top 14 rated telecasts, and 16 of the top 20, were - cricket matches.

The #1 telecast, an international match between India and the West Indies, drew 86,000,000 homes. 

By comparison, last Sunday’s Green Bay-Dallas game drew 48,500,000.  Pittsburgh-Kansas City drew 37,600,000. 

You want to goose the Super Bowl ratings?  Dump Lady Gaga and put on a cricket match at halftime.

*********** When the Seahawks were winning big, they acted like a**holes, but people overlooked it.

Richard Sherman ran his mouth and he was praised because he was so “articulate.”

Doug Baldwin took a dump (figuratively) in the Super Bowl and got a pass.

Now, though, they’re no longer the big winners they once were.   But they’re even bigger a**holes.

Writes Matt Calkins in the Seattle Times…

This season, Seahawks have crossed the line from brash to just plain unlikable

*********** To say that Nick Saban stands head-and-shoulders ahead of his peers in the SEC is to understate it:

1. Since his arrival at Alabama, every other conference member has fired at least one coach.

2. Other SEC schools have had to pay those fired coaches more than $50 million to go away.

Source: Wall Street Journal, November 5-6, 2016 - Andrew Beaton and Ben Cohen

*********** Heard during a bowl game:

17 current NFL players played their high school football in the Mobile, Alabama area.

*********** “Who amongst you goes by the name… Fenwick?”

Damn shame Southwest didn’t save this one for the Super Bowl:

american flag TUESDAY,  JANUARY 17,  2017  "Celebrity is obscurity biding its time." Carrie Fisher





*********** New Cal head coach Justin Wilcox is well-known as a defensive guy - he's been DC at Boise State, Washington, Tennessee, USC and Wisconsin - but he didn't waste any time shoring up the offensive side of the ball. 

His pick for OC? Beau Baldwin, highly successful head coach at Eastern Washington.  The guy is an offensive whiz.  I suspect that after seeing his name linked to bigger jobs - jobs that he didn't get - he decided it was time to get some big-school experience.

Cal's new O-line coach?  Steve Greatwood, who spent most of his career  as Oregon's O-line coach. He's as good as there is. Passed over along with the rest of the former Oregon staff  by incoming head coach Willie Taggart, he was  out of work for  three weeks, tops.

*********** Only one  of the weekend's  four games - Green Bay vs. Dallas - was what you'd call exciting. Unlike so many receivers,  Green Bay's actually looked like professionals,   catching everything thrown to them.  The long pass that Rodgers threw, going to his left, to set up the winning field goal, was very impressive.  And even more impressive was Jared Cook's catch of that pass. Tough for Dak Prescott to miss a shot at the Super Bowl; I think that the Atlanta-Green Bay game will produce the eventual Super Bowl winner.

New England is good and all that, but I don't think that either the Patriots or the Steelers are strong enough to beat  the NFC champion, whoever it is.  Come on, Pittsburgh - you got Big Ben and Le'Veon Bell - and all you can do is kick SIX F--KING FIELD GOALS?

But  then, it's the NFL, where teams blow hot and cold from week to week, so who the hell knows?   (Actually, in my case, who the hell cares?)

*********** Aren't cell phone cameras great? Isn't Facebook wonderful?  You'd expect professional football players to be a bit more mature than high school kids, and then you hear about the Steeler who just HAD to share his coach's post-game speech with the world.

*********** So Kansas City's  Kelce went off on the refs after the game because they called holding  against the Chiefs' left tackle, nullifying the two-point conversion that would have tied the game.    Not the first time he's shown poor judgement.   Show him the video.

Worse even than Kelce's ranting was the willingness of that left tackle to commit such a blatant infraction that no official could have ignored it.

*********** 48.5 million people watched Sunday's  Green Bay-Dallas game.

The game  had a 26.1 rating and a 46 share, the network said Monday

"Rating": a 26.1 rating means slightly more than 25 per cent of all TV households in the entire US were watching that game

"Share" : a 46 share means close to half of all the households that were watching TV at that time were watching that game

Pittsburgh-Kansas City  was watched by 37.4 million people on NBC and its digital platform

*********** I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that it doesn’t snow that much in the Pacific Northwest, “west of the mountains.”

It’s one of the things we miss after growing up in the East. 

Yes, we get our share of precipitation, but it’s mostly rain.  And the rain comes from moist air that blows in off the Pacific.

Only when the moist air coincides with cold air blowing in from the east do we get snow.  And when we do, we don’t usually get that much.  And after we get it, it’s usually gone in a day or two.  Governments don’t bother investing in snow removal equipment because “it’s not needed.”  And they haven’t used salt on the roads out there in the 40+ years we’ve lived here.

Well, this week, we got snow.  We got a bunch.  First significant snowfall in maybe four years.


Portland, just to the south of us, got hammered.  Ten inches in places.  We got maybe five inches.

And this time it’s staying around.  It’s been freezing for about four days straight, and the snow that came on Wednesday night fell on top of a base of ice, so there’s no point in shoveling it - you’ll just remove the snow and expose the ice.

Schools have been closed most of the week, and since they don’t normally build “snow days” into their calendars, this means they’ll have to extend their school years well into June.

My wife and I?   We’re like little kids.  We’re warm and comfortable and we’ve got plenty of food. We don’t need to go anywhere, but we’ve got 4-wheel drive vehicles.  Our dogs love it.  There’s no traffic on our streets, so I can take Lainey, our dingo, on our usual morning walk without needing the leash.

Makes me homesick for Western Maryland.

*********** In view of DeShaun  Watson’s outstanding performance in the biggest game of the year, I feel the need to reprint an article I wrote a little over a week ago…

Thanks, LSU, for exposing Lamar Jackson as the flash in the pan he proved to be - and the Heisman Trophy for the farce that it has become.

Imagine the Most Valuable Player in the country coming from a team that lost its last three games:  to Houston, to Kentucky, to LSU, all games in which his failure to perform to Heisman levels cost his team dearly.

The voters obviously didn’t take his play in the Kentucky loss into consideration.  Hell, most of them didn’t even see the way he played in the loss to Houston. But how do these two-game stats sound: four fumbles and three interceptions?

LSU?  Fuhgeddaboutit.  The high-powered Cardinal offense, with the Heisman Trophy winner at the helm,  couldn’t produce so much as a single touchdown against the Tigers.

Here’s an idea:  let’s take into consideration a player’s entire season and at the same time provide an incentive for players to stick around long enough to play in “meaningless” bowl games.  Make the Heisman voters wait until after the bowl season to cast their ballots.

Can’t disagree with Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, after DeShaun Watson had run and passed Clemson to a big Fiesta Bowl win over Ohio State : “We’ve got the best player in the country.”

The only loser  in my proposed arrangement would be ESPN, which depends on holding the Heisman Awards on the Saturday night before the bowl season starts.

So who’s kidding who?  ESPN runs college football, and unless ESPN wants it to happen, it isn’t going to happen.

*********** So prevalent has video shot by phones - “vertical video” - become that an opinion piece in Videomaker Magazine asked “Is it time to accept vertical video?”

“Will vertical video” it asks,  “go beyond the Internet and social media to become prevalent for television and theatrical releases?”

At first, I laughed dismissively at the thought of people flocking to theaters to watch hand-held videos of mall riots and after-school boxing matches.

But actually, it’s conceivable that today’s young people, whose attachment to their phones starts before they’re even ready for school, who aren’t tied by tradition or habit to ANYTHING, will one day be receptive to sitting in movie theatres and in front of TV screens or computer monitors and watching things “portrait-style.”

But it’s not likely to happen.  There’s simply way, way too much invested in the making, showing and viewing of images in the 4 x 3 or 16 x 9 “landscape” mode.

So until the precious children take over the world (which may not take as long as most of us would like), anytime the creative types want us to watch a movie shot by a camera held vertically, I suggest someone invent a bracket that enables us to rotate our TV sets 90 degrees.

***********  Meryl Streep:  ”Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners, and if we kick 'em all out, you'll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts," she said enthusiastically, "which are not the arts."

Well, no, they’re not arts.  But then, I could make a strong  argument that dressing up in a costume and pretending to be someone else while reading some lines that someone has written for you isn’t, either.

That’s part of what’s wrong with the NFL - way too many aspiring  actors - “artists,” if you will - out on the field.

But there is something to be said for combining acting and football.  You could definitely get me to go to the movies if I thought there was a chance that every so often I’d see one of those Hollywoodt lefties get targeted.

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

My suggestion for the name of the new Frederick Douglass HS sports teams is "Title," as in Title IX, the source of this mess.

Jim Franklin
Flora, Indiana


So True.

Or maybe the “Title Niners?”

Good to hear from you, as always.

***********  When Clemson won, Vegas lost - BIG.

Despite the best manipulations of sports books, there was far more money bet on Clemson than on Alabama, and when Clemson won, the pros in Vegas lost big.

No worries.  They’ll get it right back.

*********** Mike London got his head coaching start at Richmond, where he won the FCS championship.  HIs work at Richmond earned him the job at UVa, but things didn’t work out for him there.  Now he’s starting over at Howard University, a historically black university that’s in need of his coaching skills.

*********** Whoopee-doo.  The Chargers are coming to Los Angeles.

That faint noise coming out of LA? It's a yawn.

Writes Bill Plaschke in the Los Angeles Times:
Every relationship is built on honesty, so the San Diego Chargers should hear this as their moving vans are chugging up the 5 Freeway on their noble mission of greed.

We. Don’t. Want. You.

*********** Fox is bringing back a new version of the 1980s  game show Love Connection.

Trigger warning (yes, conservatives sometimes need them, too):   In this rendition,  the show will include same-sex couples.

*********** Charlie Wilson, a great fan and historian (and coach) of the Wishbone, sent me this:

Darrell Royal was the first college coach to use the wishbone formation in 1968, and he popularized it by using the three-running back option offense to win two national championships.

But Royal, who died Wednesday, didn't exactly invent the offense or even name it for that matter.

"He did popularize it, but more than that he organized it," said Mickey Herskowitz, the former Houston sportswriter who is credited with coming up with the name for the option-based offense.

"Emory (Bellard) had the details and the concept, but Darrell managed it and put the final touches on it."

Bellard, who was Royal's offensive coordinator in 1968, drew up the formation to breathe life into a stagnant UT offense.

The Longhorns debuted the wishbone in a 20-20 tie with Houston. They lost the next game and then won 30 straight with two national championships.

"For two or three weeks, writers had been trying to describe it, and one night, looking at it, just through binoculars ... I decided it looked like a wishbone, so that's what I said in my story," Herskowitz said.

Royal quickly adopted the name and always made sure to credit Herskowitz wherever he went. He did the same for Bellard.

"He gave Emory Bellard credit for the wishbone," Spike Dykes, a Royal assistant who coached Texas Tech for 13 seasons, told the Associated Press. "He totally, completely had no ego"

Jerry Briggs of the San Antonio Express-News contributed to this report.
Jason McDaniel is a freelance writer.

*********** I was reading through my Coach of the Year Clinic Notes from 2010 and came across a nice presentation on zone blocking by a coach named Herb Hand, who at the time was at Tulsa.

Tulsa was pretty good back then, and the guy’s presentation was pretty good, so just for the hell of it I did a little online search for him, to see if he was still coaching -  and if so, where.

I found him, and I also found an amazing story…

*********** I know most of you watched President Obama’s farewell address, hanging on every word, but to those of you who would rather have had something else to watch on TV, I apologize.

I’m a member of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and I urge you to join.  Besides supporting our sport, membership does have its privileges, and one of them is being able to attend the Annual AFCA Convention.  It’s always held the second week in January, and in order to allow college coaches to attend guilt- free (and paranoia-free), a recruiting armistice is declared. 

One of the biggest events of the convention is the awards ceremony, during which championship coaches from the past season are honored and the Coach of the Year is announced.

And for members who weren’t able to attend the convention, as well as for the general public, Tuesday night’s awards ceremony was televised on CBS Sports.  Like all AFCA members, I’d been notified of it by email, but it was only when I turned on the TV and started hearing how wonderful the last eight years had been, blah, blah, blah that  I remembered the AFCA show.

I quickly switched to it, and it was great.

It was great to see Colorado’s Mike MacIntyre receive the Coach of the Year Award and hear him acknowledge his late dad, who coached at Vanderbilt and died last year; Bobby Ross, who coached him at Georgia Tech; and David Cutcliffe, who gave him his first job (at Ole Miss) and who, he said, was such a great help to him when his dad’s health was declining.  Coach MacIntyre also got the Comeback of the Year Award, for winning the Pac 12 South title after three straight losing seasons at Colorado.  He said that possibly the greatest thing about getting a contract extension at Colorado was that it meant that for the first time in his life he’d get to live in the same place for five years.

I also thought it was great seeing Don Nehlen, winningest coach in West Virginia history and builder of the Mountaineer program, win a lifetime achievement award.  I thought it was especially great seeing the warmth between him and his presenter, one of his former quarterbacks, Jeff Hostetler -  who happens to be his son-in-law.

My apologies for not thinking to post the broadcast info on Tuesday’s NEWS.  My wife, who watched the show with me, said she’ll make sure I won’t forget next year.  (That way, you can blame her if I do.)

*********** The next time I’m having tea with Yale President Peter Salovey, I plan to stump him with this one: quick, Mr. President - without looking - tell me the University’s mission statement.

I guarantee you, he can’t.

Peter Drucker, the esteemed author and management authority, had a thing about mission statements: they should, he said, be simple, clear and operational.

A major advantage of keeping it simple is that people can remember it.

Do you have one?   You should.

I have one that I arrived at over many years of coaching, and it’s pretty simple:

1. I’m going to treat kids right;

2. I’m going to set high standards and hold the kids to them;

3. I’m going to teach the kids more football than they ever thought possible;

4. I’m going to give them an experience they’ll treasure for the rest of their lives.

That’s it.

I suppose I could think of several additional, worthy things that might belong in there, but here’s the thing:

I believe in their paramount importance, they guide everything I do, and they’re all achievable.

AND - I can remember them and recite them at any time.

Yale had been doing all right, I thought, making it through the first three hundred or so years with a rather simple and straightforward mission statement, but now, thanks to what must have been the combined input of a committee of, oh, two or three hundred interested parties, it’s got a new one, and it’s a beauty.

“Yale is committed to improving the world today and for future generations through outstanding research and scholarship, education, preservation and practice.  Yale educates aspiring leaders worldwide who will serve all sectors of society.   We carry out this mission through the free exchange of ideas in an ethical, interdependent,  and diverse community of faculty, staff, students, and alumni.”

So now, instead of something that “faculty, staff, students, and alumni” could recite at any time, the poohbahs have created, in the words of a fellow alumnus named D. F. Greene, of Baltimore, “what Drucker called ‘a hero sandwich of good intentions.’”

*********** NW Missouri State got more and better coverage than the FCS title game.  I think that is an absolute travesty...the student athletes at all levels of football work extremely hard, give them all their due.  If the FBS championship can run 4 1/2 hours, I'm sure ESPN can allow for 30 minutes of postgame on one of it's 100 different channels.

Brad Knight
Clarinda, Iowa

*********** From a spectator’s standpoint, the worst aspect of football right now is the constant interruptions caused by penalties.

And 75 per cent of the penalties, I’d venture to say, are either offensive holding or defensive pass interference.

Offensive holding is mostly a crime of intent - guys intend to hold, and figure they’ll either get away with it or if they don’t, 10 yards once in a while is a small price to pay for the privilege of being able to hold the rest of the time.   I’m going to cure the offensive holding crap right now:

I’d require all offensive linemen (except the center, obviously) to wear boxing gloves.  The thumbless kind. Day-Glo orange, so officials can see when they’re outside the framework of the defender’s body.

In a day and age when teams routinely pass for more than 300 yards a game, a ten-yard penalty for offensive holding is simply not sufficient deterrent. I’d increase the penalty. I’d either make it 15 yards, as it once was, or I’d leave it at 10 yards, but with a loss of down.  Either way, they simply have to reduce the incentive to take a chance on getting away with it.

The second worst is pass interference - it has way too much influence on the game - and I’m still ruminating on a damn solution.  Deterrents aren’t going to be as effective as with offensive holding, because an awful lot of pass interference results from spontaneous, unintentional play without a lot of forethought. I’m actually inclined to allow a defender a little more leeway than at present, because, frankly, I see penalties being called for less contact between two guys going after a pass than I do on a basketball court.

I would suggest taking a long look at offensive pass interference as well, because although I confess to wanting Clemson to win Monday night, it’s pretty clear that Clemson’s winning score was attributable to what under current rules was an illegal pick - i.e., pass interference.

Another 10 per cent of penalties seems to be illegal blocks in the back on returns.  And that’s just the ones they catch.   (Is it actually possible to have a return without a block in the back?)  This is one penalty that’s avoidable, and I’d try to eliminate the gray area that officials find themselves in by requiring that contact must clearly be made with the front of the defender. The front.  No ifs, ands, or buts.   You need to block a guy?  Block him while he’s still in front of you.

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

Open Wing - Great stuff.  We've been running the formation, but not utilizing it the way you have.  I really like what you are doing with this.  If you don't mind, I would like to email you as questions come up as I watch the dvds?

Todd Hollis
Head Football Coach
Elmwood High School
Elmwood, Illinois


I was hoping you would do just that.

It is very much "open" - a work in progress - and I don't pretend to have all the answers. Questions and observations from coaches who've had a chance to look under the hood will help us all.

*********** Amazing video of the California Highway Patrol helping a FedEx trucker driving a double-trailer rig down an icy mountain highway. The guy's fighting to keep his rear trailer from jackknifing after its brakes locked.

american flag TUESDAY,  JANUARY 10,  2017  “I tell young players who want to be coaches, who think they can put up with all the headaches and heartaches, can you live without it? If you can live without it, don’t get in it.” Bear Bryant

*********** How about that Clemson-Alabama game? For once, a big game lived up to the billing.  There's no truth to the rumor that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent out orders to all remaining NFL playoff teams to play "exciting football" and he got back emails from all of them asking, "What's that?"

Even if it hadn't been such a great game, I still would have enjoyed it more than any game this season simply because I was tuned to ESPN News, which featured six college coaches watching the game and discussing it among each other. If that's ever available by subscription during the regular season, I'm in.

Meantime... Paging Coach Lane Kiffin... Coach Saban says all is forgiven.... Just please come back and call plays...

*********** The NCAA and ESPN made it clear Saturday that Youngstown State and James Madison - all of FCS, for that matter - were second-rate:

(1) The FCS championship game was played in a soccer stadium, and extra points were kicked against the backdrop of a giant sign advertising a NATIONAL SOCCER HALL OF FAME or some damn thing;

(2) The color analyst assigned to the game was inept in providing us with basic info, informing us that this player or that was “from Virginia,” or “from Pennsylvania”;

(3) Following the game,  I expected to see the post-game interviews and whatnot.  How silly of me to think they would stay with that, instead of cutting, abruptly, to a very, very meaningful basketball game between Maryland and Michigan.

*********** Hazel Dell, Washington is a suburb of Vancouver, Washington (not to be confused, as it usually is, with Vancouver, BC) and for years its Babe Ruth Baseball program, Hazel Dell Metro, has been one of the tops in the State.   Since it founding in 1959, Hazel Dell Metro teams have made it to the Babe Ruth World Series 18 times.

Now, Hazel Dell Metro has announced that it will no longer be fielding teams.   Reason?  A lack of volunteers, and a lack of players.

A lack of players?   Guys, this is BASEBALL. 

President Jack Laub, who’s been with the organization since 1987, said enrollment has declined since 2004:  “Lots of kids are now going to the travel teams.”

In a strange way, it’s a win-win: the travel teams get the best players; the stage dads get their kids more exposure - and the Hazel Dell coaches no longer have to deal with those fathers.

And the other kids, the ones who don’t have the ability or the money to play on a travel team?  Well, evidently, screw them.  Let them play video games.  Or soccer.

*********** The 49ers are, indeed, screwed up.  First they fire their GM and their head coach in one fell swoop, and now they’re in the process of interviewing candidates for the two positions - AT THE SAME TIME.

Does anybody else think it’s going to be a bit awkward if they first hire a head coach - and THEN hire the GM?

Do you think that the GM might get the impression that while he’s technically in charge of things, they didn’t trust him enough to let him hire the head coach?

If you’re the GM, how are you going to deal with a coach who was hired by the owner?

*********** I was doing a little research when I happened to see a video of a train pulling a big, black and gold double-deck passenger car with “HAWKEYE EXPRESS” lettering.  WTF? I thought.  Is this some private rail car owned by a bunch of Iowa boosters?

Digging deeper, I came across something very cool - something that I’d never heard of before.

And then I had to stick the needle in my friend Brad Knight. He’s a coach in Clarinda, Iowa, and he’s a huge Iowa Hawkeyes’ fan - why, I texted him, in all the years we’ve known each other, didn’t he ever tell me about the Hawkeye Express?

Brad texted back “I took for granted that everybody on earth knew about it. Every time I went to an Iowa game growing up that I can remember we parked and rode it to the game.”

The Hawkeye Express is a train, a real, honest-to-goodness  railroad train, consisting of a diesel locomotive and six double-deck coaches painted in Iowa black and gold.   On game days, it hauls as many as 5,000 fans from a parking lot in suburban Coralville, delivering them right to the gates of Kinnick Stadium.

Saves the hassle and expense of finding a place on-campus to park… gets you to the stadium in a fun, festive atmosphere… gets you out of there and on your way faster - a lot faster - after the game.

*********** When you’re in a hole… stop digging.  Cal decided to stop digging.

Its athletic department is deep in a fiscal hole… its football program has gone 19-30 over the past four years… it’s lost seven straight to arch-rival Stanford… its offensive-minded coach neglected the other side of the ball, resulting in one of the worst defenses in all of FBS… its one-year rent-a-QB is on his way out… oh - and the coach went after at least four other jobs in the last two years.

The Cal people, angry at first that the coach, Sonny Dykes, would go looking after they’d given him a contract extension, now are pissed that he didn’t get any of those jobs. Now, they’re going to have to pay him to go away.

Admittedly late in the coaching-change game, they decided on Sunday to let Dykes go, even though it’s going to cost them - big.  He’s under contract through 2019, and his contract calls for a severance of 70 per cent of his remaining salary of close to $6 million. Do the math - he’ll walk away with roughly $4 million.

Nevertheless, the word is that prominent donors to the program threatened to cut off support if Dykes weren’t let go.

Anybody got Chip Kelly’s phone number?

*********** When a horse has run his race,  that’s it.  You don’t take him out and have him run another quarter mile.

So please explain to me, Steelers,  why, when you’re leading 30-6 in the fourth quarter, you still have your starting quarterback in the game.

*********** Those “receivers” on the Raiders…  The Lions…  The Giants… 

They only get paid if they catch those balls, right?  They don’t get paid when they drop them, do they?  

*********** There were some exceptional plays in the NFL playoff games over the weekend.

Otherwise, the football was pedestrian at best - four dull-ass games whose average margin was 19 points; four games in which only one of the losing teams was able to score more than one touchdown.

What was amazing was how many of those exceptional plays were the result of improvisation, how few of them  the result of designed plays.

Maybe it’s the pro game’s becoming more and more like the NBA, and  maybe that’s what the mass of NFL fans want.

Maybe it’s just the coach in me.

But to me, the beauty of football is in the planning and the execution.  No other sport can compare to it.  The beauty of football  is when plays are successful because they’re run as designed, not because someone makes a spectacular catch, or someone misses a tackle, or the quarterback is able to stand in the pocket untouched for six seconds until someone finally comes open. 

And that, I contend, is the major difference between college football and pro football.

*********** When you’re the head coach of an NFL team you can’t be pleased but you can’t be all that shocked to learn that one of your team members has  been arrested and charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, resisting arrest, public drunkenness and disorderly conduct at a local bar.  I mean, it IS the NFL.

What has to be a bit surprising, though, is finding out that it's one of your assistant coaches.

*********** College commissioners all agree that their football games are taking too long.

In just four seasons, the average length of college games has increased by seven minutes, from 3:17 in 2013 to a record 3:24 this past season.

But lest you get the idea that it’s because hurry-up, no-huddle teams are running more plays, the average number of plays per game has essentially remained unchanged: 143 per game in 2013, and 142.6 in 2016.

"There is a consensus, if not unanimity, the games need to be shortened,” says Karl Benson, commissioner of the Sun Belt Conference, “ but there is also a strong belief that we don't want to reduce the number of plays in a game," Karl Benson said. "So until the majority agrees that shorter games will require fewer plays, we will be at a standstill."

Big 12 games took the longest, an average time of 3:36.  Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said that staying “under 3:25” would be an “appropriate aspiration.”

"Staying under 3:25 is an “appropriate aspiration," Bowlsby said.

Only one Big 12 team, Kansas State at 3:24, would have made it under Bowlsby's 3:25 goal. Of the five longest-playing teams, four - Texas Tech (3:48), Oklahoma State (3:47) , Baylor (3:45) and Texas (3:44) - were from the Big 12.  Cal of the Pac-12 was the party-crasher, finishing tied with Baylor at 3:45.

The most common suggestions on how to shorten games were:

a running clock on first downs (until the final two or five minutes of each half),

shortening halftime

limiting the number of replays

reducing the number of timeouts

a shorter play clock

changing in-game substitution rules

limiting the number of commercial breaks

"You don't want to lose the substance of what makes college football special," said MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher. "I don't know if you can call halftime sacred, but I don't know if we want to change what is part of the pageantry of college football."
Added Miami athletic director Blake James,  "You don't want to cut halftimes because of the difference between our games and the NFL," he said, pointing to college marching bands as a difference.

My suggestion? Stop the clock after incomplete passes - but only briefly.   The virtual timeout after an incompletion, not starting the clock until the snap, is a relic that dates back to 1920.

*********** The teams at the all-new Frederick Douglass High School in Lexington, Kentucky will not be called the Stallions.

Not after a petition was circulated calling the nickname “inappropriate and sexist.”

“Using stallions as the mascot for the Frederick Douglass High School seems wrong on so many levels,” a signer of the petition told the Lexington Herald-Leader. “It leaves out 50 percent of the student population - girls - and is in keeping with the spirit of Title IX that promotes gender equity in sports. Calling the female athletes Lady Stallions doesn’t make any sense. We should get our horse terms right in the Bluegrass. And even if it were an all-male high school, would we want to promote an image that has to do with breeding?”

A stallion, the petition states,  is a male horse that has not been castrated, used for breeding or is slang for a powerful and virile man who has a lot of lovers.

“What message does this send to our daughters and granddaughters? Our sons and grandsons?” it asks.

“How did they come up with this? “ asked the drafter of the petition in an interview.”The connotation of stallions pertaining to a girls’ softball team or basketball team just seemed really, really strange to me - a male breeding horse.”

Well, since you asked…

Frederick Douglass was a famed abolitionist, an escaped slave whose owners had, against the laws at the time, enabled him to learn to read and write.  So well did he educate himself that his writings and speeches in opposition to slavery were an important force in mobilizing the anti-slavery movement.

But as remarkable and important  a man as he was, it's difficult to make a connecttion between Frederick Douglass  and athletic performance.

“Stallions” came about because Lexington is the heart of the horse breeding industry for which Kentucky is famous, and the school is located on land that was once a part of a famed thoroughbred farm owned by the Madden family.

Said the superintendent of schools, “When construction began on Frederick Douglass High School, we discovered that one of the Maddens’  famed stallions had been buried on the property where the new school was being built. The Stallions mascot was originally chosen to honor the rich of tradition of our land here in Central Kentucky.”

No matter.  Stallions is out.  But since they’ve already chosen a horse’s head as the school logo, they’d like the new name to have  a horsey theme.  “Thoroughbreds” has been suggested.

I guess "Studs" is out of the question.

*********** Gary Pinkel was one of the best coaches in the history of Missouri football.  He was a Don James guy - played for Coach James at Kent State, and coached under him at Washington.  My friend Mike Lude was AD at both Kent State and Washington, and thinks very highly of Coach Pinkel.  After we spoke on the phone last week, Mike sent me this…

Coach Pinkel,

I wanted to thank you for everything that you’ve done for my teammates, our university and me.

Thank you for recruiting me. It was a dream come true to be offered a scholarship to my home-state school. Thank you for walking into my living room, looking my parents in the eyes and promising to take care of me for the next four years. You followed through on that promise.

Thank you for always protecting my teammates and me. No matter what happened inside or outside of the locker room, we all knew you had our backs. In a day and age where most coaches only care about proving their innocence, you always protected the team.

Thank you for being a disciplinarian. I look all around sports today and see guys who get away with murder just because they can sack the quarterback. Not at your program. Thank you for always doing what was right for the team, no matter how it affected us on the field. You made me proud to wear that uniform on Saturdays.

Thank you for showing me what it looks like to be a man. In a society full of cowards, and certainly a generation full of cowards, you forced us to be men. You taught us that regardless of circumstances, regardless of what we felt like, regardless of adversity, our job was to fight like hell and find a way to be successful.

Thank you for showing me how to handle adversity. Even when adversity hits, and it always does, you showed me how a man handles it. You showed me that the real men of this world aren’t required to be perfect; they’re just required to take responsibility for their mistakes and promise to be better.

Thank you for holding me accountable. In a time where everyone wants to blame someone else for their shortcomings, you expected better of me. Today, if a student fails a test, it’s the teacher’s fault. If a player isn’t playing enough, it’s the coach’s fault. Not in your program. Not on your watch. And I thank you for that.

Thank you for giving me a chance, caring about me as a person as much as a player, and setting me up for a great life after football. In a time when graduation at big schools is often an afterthought, you made it a priority.

Thank you for changing the culture of the school I love. You brought Mizzou football from the depths of the ocean to the peak of the mountain. You resurrected a team that was a college football doormat and turned it into one of the most well-respected programs in all of college football. You did that. Thank you.

Thank you for making Mizzou your destination job when most would’ve treated it as a stepping stone.

I’ll leave you with a quote of your own to encourage you during this time.

“What do we do when adversity hits? WE FIGHT LIKE HELL!”

And I know that’s exactly what you’re going to do in your MANY years left.

I love you, Coach Pinkel, and I’m proud to know you.

T.J. Moe

(T.J. Moe played wide receiver at Missouri from 2009-12. He was an All-Big 12 selection in 2010 and a team captain as a senior in ’12. He originally wrote this to Gary Pinkel last month.)

american flag FRIDAY,  JANUARY 6,  2017  “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and it looks like work.” Thomas Edison

*********** College football’s not completely over.  There’s still Monday night’s Game of the Century.

And, in case you forgot, because the semifinals were what seem like months ago, there’s Saturday’s FCS final  between James Madison and Youngstown State.

Hey all you playoff guys - yes, the winner of this game will be called the National Champion.  Not taking anything at all away from the two teams in the final -  but should JMU (13-1, with a loss only to North Carolina) lose to Youngstown State (12-3, and winner over Eastern Washngton in the semi-finals by a split hair),  are you really prepared to argue that the playoff has settled once and for all the question of which is the best team in all of FCS? 

But isn't that what you keep saying an FBS playoff will give us?

*********** Just before Christmas, my wife and I spent a week or so back East, and in driving from Durham, North Carolina to Hagerstown, Maryland, we zipped past Lynchburg, Virginia.  Zipped past, that is, until I saw the stadium off to the right of the highway, and then I zipped off - taking the first exit I could find so that I could have a closer look at things.  Liberty’s the school that Reverend Jerry Falwell built.  Turner Gill’s the head coach football coach. And judging by the stadium and the nearly-completed indoor practice facility (projected to be ready for use this spring), they are very bullish on their football program. One minor quibble: I’d have put the home stands on the opposite side so that the fans could look out at the Blue Ridge in the distance.



Farther north, in the Shenandoah Valley, we left the Interstate to get a shot of James Madison University’s stadium. Years ago, when I was selling packaging, Harrisonburg used to be in my territory, but back then, the school was known as Madison College, and it was exclusively for women. It's  come a long way since then.  Saturday, the JMU Dukes will play Youngstown State for the FCS championship.  Go Dukes!



I took the pictures because stadiums fascinate me and I figure most guys who read my page will never get to visit Lynchburg or Harrisonburg.  But also because they show that we shouldn't let the TV people fill us so full  of  the Alabamas and the Clemsons that we lose sight of the great football that's played at places such as Liberty and James Madison.  The better FCS schools have very good players and very good coaching and nice stadiums - most of them right on campus -  and their fans are every bit as passionate as the ones at the Power 5 schools.   My wife and I often think about how nice it would be to live in a place with a good FCS program.

*********** Watching Arkansas football struggle to get back on its feet has to be tough on the people in a state that lives and dies with the Razorbacks. It has to be especially tough on people of my generation, geezers who remember the heyday of the Hogs under Frank Broyles.

Hayden Fry writes about working as an assistant on Broyles’ staff.
One reason Arkansas was becoming a big winner in college football was because Broyles had assembled an exceptional coaching staff.

Doug Dickey, Jim McKenzie, Wilson Matthews, Dixie White, Steed White and Bill Pace were full-time assistants.  Barry Switzer and Fred Akers were graduate assistants.   All made their niche as head coaches - Dickey at Florida and Tennessee, McKenzie at Oklahoma, Pace at Vanderbilt,  Switzer at Oklahoma and the Dallas Cowboys, Akers at Texas and Purdue.   Dixie White, who was later head coach at Northwest Louisiana, invented the “scramble block,” a technique that allows small linemen to tie up bigger opponents.  When I left Arkansas my replacement was Johnny Majors, who was later head coach at Iowa State, Tennessee, and Pittsburgh.

Arkansas had unbelievably talented coaches, but the catalyst was Broyles, a brilliant head coach with a charismatic personality that made him a highly successful recruiter.  I have never been around anyone else quite like him. He had a photographic mind that allowed him to sit in the film  room, look at a play one time on the screen,  turn on the lights and tell his coaches what every player did on both sides of the ball. Then he'd go to the blackboard and diagram the whole thing.   And if you asked him about the play 15 years later, he would do it again. I’ve never known anyone else with that kind of memory.  He was just amazing.
*********** As the playoffs approach, it’s time for the NFL powers-that-be to take a look at the NHL and its Conn Smythe Trophy.

The Conn Smythe Trophy, named for the one-time owner, coach and GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs,  is awarded every year, following the final game of the Stanley Cup Final series, to the player adjudged most valuable to his team for the entire playoffs.   Hockey is the only sport with such an award.

Unlike the other major team sports, football comes down to just one game,  and as a result it’s quite conceivable that a guy could come out of nowhere and make one sensational winning catch at the very end of the Super Bowl and be named MVP - completely overshadowing, in one play,  another guy (or two, or three) without whose overall accomplishments the team wouldn’t even have been in the Super Bowl.

*********** Every time there’s some sort of atrocious behavior on the part of a college football player,  the coach talks as if there was nothing he could have done to prevent it.

I call bulls—.  I mean, who the hell recruited those guys in the first place?  Who went out and brought them in, from vastly different cultures, many that don’t even have a slightest understanding of the culture of a university, and just turned them loose?   What did you do to prepare them to live with other college students -  including females who might say “no” to them?

Next, he’ll fall back on the old copout, “You can’t possibly expect me to keep tabs on 100 or more players.”

I call bulls— on that, too, because actually, Coach, I can.  With a dozen or so paid assistants and a small platoon of graduate and volunteer assistants, there’s more than enough management to know what’s going on.

That’s how they do it in the Army.  It’s disingenuous of you, Coach, to act as if you’re just one poor guy trying to keep track of all those players.

Of course, the Army’s smart enough to house their soldiers in barracks.  You’d find it easier, too,  if you’d house your players in (dormitories),  instead of letting kids who aren’t old enough to drink legally live in off-campus housing.

You’re basically, to paraphrase P.J. O’Rourke, giving them a fifth of whiskey and the keys to the car.

WTF do you expect is going to happen?

*********** In Pennsylvania, where I grew up - and I presume in at least some other states - there’s a crime called “corrupting the morals of a minor.”
6301.  Corruption of minors.
(a)  Offense defined.--
(1)  (i)  Except as provided in subparagraph (ii), whoever, being of the age of 18 years and upwards, by any act corrupts or tends to corrupt the morals of any minor less than 18 years of age, or who aids, abets, entices or encourages any such minor in the commission of any crime, or who knowingly assists or encourages such minor in violating his or her parole or any order of court, commits a misdemeanor of the first degree.
(ii)  Whoever, being of the age of 18 years and upwards, by any course of conduct in violation of Chapter 31 (relating to sexual offenses) corrupts or tends to corrupt the morals of any minor less than 18 years of age, or who aids, abets, entices or encourages any such minor in the commission of an offense under Chapter 31 commits a felony of the third degree.
Now, Minnesota may have no such law.  Either that, or the prosecutor in Minneapolis (I guess that would be Hennepin County) didn’t seem to notice that a 17-year-old high school kid on a recruiting visit took a very active part in the, uh, gang sex.  We’re talking about an issue close to an adult male’s having sex with a female who’s below the age of consent.  Whether or not the parties agree  that it was consensual is beside the point.

*********** Minnesota’s been through a lot, between the poor health of Jerry Kill that caused him to retire, and the actions of his successor, Tracy Claeys, who “took a stand,” as some of his defenders would explain putting himself in a position of (1) supporting the boycott of a bowl game; (2) appearing to support calls for the resignation of his athletic director and the president of the university; and  (3) giving those who look for any chance to attack males (and football) an opening to accuse Minnesota of “condoning rape” by challenging the actions of the university in punishing several players accused of, uh “nonconsensual sex.”

Damn.  First Gary Pinkel of Missouri and now Tracy Claeys of Minnesota.   Two good coaches in the last two seasons gone,  after allowing themselves to get caught up in player protests that called for their university presidents’ heads. 

Fellas, never forget this: In every organization there is a chain of command. 

Everybody on earth - except perhaps for the President of the United States - has a boss.  Four-star General Douglas MacArthur, probably America’s best-known and most popular soldier (thanks in large part to his  artful self-promotion) found this out when he openly defied President Harry Truman.   Truman, MacArthur’s boss,  relieved the General  of his command.

Moral:  If you allow yourself to become associated with a movement that’s calling for your boss’s head, it’s not likely to end well for you.

As Emerson said, “When you strike at a king, you must kill him.”

*********** Who’s going to get the Minnesota job?

Minnesota is in the midst of turmoil, but unless there’s something going on under the surface that I’m not aware of, it looks like a good job.

It’s in a major metro area, the beautiful Twin Cities, with all the attractions of a big city plus all sorts of great career opportunities for graduates who choose to stay in the area.  Unlike a number of schools in its division, it’s close to a major airport with  non-stop flights to and  from nearly any place in the country.

It’s got nice facilities.

You can win there.  It’s in the weaker of the two Big Ten divisions.  Next year, in its first eight games, it opens at home against Buffalo, then plays at Oregon State, Middle Tennessee at home, Maryland at home and at Purdue. After that they’ve got Michigan State and Illinois both at home and Iowa away.

In other words, they have an outside  chance to be 8-0 in early November  when they go to Ann Arbor to play Michigan.

True, the state of Minnesota can’t supply it  with  enough Big Ten-calibre players every year, which means recruiting in Florida or Texas, but then, that’s a problem shared by other schools in its division such as Iowa, Nebraska, Purdue and Wisconsin.  Only Illinois and Northwestern are in a state that produces enough home-grown talent, and Northwestern, with its higher academic requirements, still has to go outside the state for much of its talent.

My short list of candidates:

1.  Les Miles.  Good man.  Good coach.  A winner at LSU and before that at Oklahoma State. He’s a Bob Schembechler guy - a midwesterner who can recruit Midwestern kids and coach power football. 
He was accused at LSU of not being exciting on offense but he would bring much needed stability and big-time credibility to the program. He's at the right stage in life - young enough to still have the fire, but old enough  that if he takes the job he's going to stay there.

2.  Chip Kelly.  Damn good coach.  His teams play exciting football. Said he’s open to anything.  Can he coach in cold weather?  Hey - the guy’s from New Hampshire, for pete’s sake.   One concern: he's coached at Nike University and he's coached in the NFL; would Minnesota be enough for him?

3.  PJ Fleck?  Minnesota, even in turmoil, is a big step up from the MAC, especially financially, for both him and his assistants.  Poor Western Michigan.  When he was passed over on Round One of this year’s coaching openings, they thought they were safe for one more year. He has yet to sign a new contract, and they may regret not having gotten it done.

4.  Dark Horse: Bo Pellini.  He’s run a big program and he’s proved at two places that he can put a winning team on the field. His Youngstown State Penguins will be playing for the FCS national title this Saturday.  Given the situation at Minnesota right now, he would have to convince them he can do a much better job in the PR area than he did at Nebraska.

*********** It would be fair to say that certain big-time football programs have too much money when they’re able to pay highly-qualified guys to hang around the program, “just in case.” 

These guys can’t actually coach, because that would violate an NCAA rule restricting the number of paid coaches a school is permitted, a rule whose intent is to give, say,  Wake Forest a fighting chance against a Florida State.  Or an Alabama.

As a result of the ability of well-to-do programs to stockpile highly-qualified assistants, Alabama was able to let its offensive coordinator go, and replace him in a heartbeat with a former Pac-12 head coach who’s been kept around the program in a non-coaching position.

And Ohio State has been stockpiling  a former SEC head coach (Joker Phillips), keeping him  around as a “quality control assistant.”

Look, you know they were paying those former major college head coaches  good money to be “non-coaches” because otherwise either one of them could have been actually coaching someplace else.

*********** And while we’re talking about the rich getting richer,  there are the Alabamas, the Clemsons, the Ohio States bringing  back former players to play on their scout teams, a practice that even high school associations have been  smart enough to outlaw.

Hard to believe this has been legal all this time and those schools just found out about it, but anyone can see the advantages:  a lesser team’s defense prepares  by tackling some fourth-string walk-on trying to impersonate the upcoming opponent’s best runner, while  Bama’s defense goes up against  Trent Richardson, a former NFL first-round draft pick.

Which brings up a question. You don't suppose those guys are risking their bodies for nothing, do you?  
They've  been around the block.  They've played in the NFL, some of them.   And I have a feeling that  they knew how much they were  worth back when they were “student-athletes.” 

So what if they're being paid? What’s the NCAA going to do - take their eligibility away?

What's next? Is there anything  to prevent Alabama from hiring somebody else's  former players?

Is this something for agents to look into? 
What kinda quarterback you want? Pocket or roll-out?  You want shotgun or under center?  You want a lefthander? That I can do. Got just the guy. Three years All-Sun Belt.   Been to two NFL camps.  He's in good shape. Playing semi-pro ball. Cost you ten thousand bucks - plus roundtrip air fare -  for two practices.  When do you need him there?  Who you got next week? They got that big runner, right?  I got a guy  you'll like.
***********  On December 17, two sporting events took place at just about the same time.

One was the Las Vegas Bowl, a “meaningless” bowl game between two non-power 5 teams, San Diego State and Houston.

The other was a basketball game between two of the biggest names in college basketball, Kentucky and North Carolina.

The meaningless bowl game, on ABC,  drew 3.7 million viewers.

The big-time basketball game, on CBS, drew 3.6 million viewers.

So in case you were wondering  why ESPN televises all those “meaningless” bowl games -   It's because PEOPLE WATCH THEM.

*********** I don't know how or why I'm the Keeper of Odd Knowledge in regards to the Triple Option but that's the way it appears to be.

1. F'rinstance, I had a discussion with Ted Dembroski who was a TE at Houston and was on the field when the "Mistake" was made by the OT and the Veer was discovered.  It's unverified and perhaps unverifiable, if Dr. Dembroski has passed, but the conversation did occur and it is consistent with the known facts.

2. On to the Wishbone.  In an E-Mail exchange from over 10 years ago on a completely different subject, one Rod Green told me about his Coach Ken Dabbs and how the Wishbone came to be.  Then:

"Yes, I fondly remember the ''69 Texas/TCU game, 69-7, and the 71 TCU game, 89-10. The '69-'70 Texas teams averaged about 56 points per game while giving up an average of 7. In '70 there is a great game against SMU when all four players in the Texas backfield each rushed for over 100 yards. I believe that may be the only time in history. After '71, Oklahoma began buying teams and Texas was still trying to play it straight. Didn't work out so well for us, as SMU was buying teams as well.

"I played halfback in the wishbone in high school. We put the full backfield triple option in for the '68 season after our coach visited Texas before their own '68 inaugural season. We moved the fullback up two steps only after Texas did it in game three of '68. Our high school team went 14-1 that year, losing to Abilene Cooper who had a fella named Jack Mildren at quarterback. Our own quarterback was Alan Lowrey, who quarterbacked Texas to a 12-1 season in 1971 (losing only to Mildren's team once again!).

"Back then men were men, and kids with earrings couldn't get a scholarship. I remember in '69 against Arkansas for the National Championship, end of the fourth quarter, last chance for Texas, ball on the Arkansas five. Halfback Jim Bertleson returns to the huddle with a broken nose and blood gushing down his face. What does Street do? He calls for an off tackle slam by Bertleson. Five yards, national championship. That is the way football used to be played. Sigh... the memories!"

3. So there is a History of variations in lining up in "The Wishbone". From Coach Royal, ISBN 0-292-70983-8, p. 57:

"We had to modify it as we fooled around with it and played some games.  We had our fullback too tight to begin with, and we didn't realize it through scrimmages.  But I called Emory one night afer a ball game and said, 'Emory, I think we'd be a lot more effective if we'd get that fullback back a little deeper.'  He said, 'You know, I was just going to call you on that.'  He said, 'I already had the idea' - so so Emory and I thought a lot alike."

4. Well, that's it isn't it?  The first Wishbone had the FB up too close and they backed him up a step, changed QBs and it's off to 30 in a row (See also: ).

5. Not so fast, Bucko...There is still a rumor floating around that Bellard first ran the 3-back Triple from the T.  He looked at the Mesh and moved the FB up too close to the QB and simultaneously compressed the HBs to get the Lead Back Principle.  The first 3-Back Triple, however, was said to be from the Full House T.

Go to ~ 2:05.  The commentary is telling: "Bellard did it with the Wishbone..."  Yet, the somewhat odd, not-very-exact chalk diagram is NOT the Wishbone but the so-called Inverted T Set.  A Look at Bellard and Royal reveals that these are two much younger Coaches.  I believe that this may be considered good evidence that the Wishbone came later.

Bellard always came back to the T, from the T-Bone at Texas A&M to the Wingbone and the ill-fated diamond Bone at Mississippi State.

Charlie Wilson
Crystal River, Florida


Great to hear that you are still cogitating.

Just as great to read your work.

I also heard the story of the veer’s “discovery by accident” from an assistant of Bill Yeoman’s who previously had been an assistant to Mike Lude and was on the field at the time.

Interesting how the recollections of either moving the fullback up or moving him back seem to conflict.

I watched the video and I have to say that I was spellbound by a great retelling of a great game.

The shot at 2:05 is definitely not a wishbone.  But what MSU ran in the Egg Bowl was.

Here’s one for you: who’s the guy standing between Bellard and Royal in the scene at 2:05?  I say Sammy Baugh!

*********** Is there a more f—ked up franchise than the San Francisco 49ers?

They just fired their GM and their head coach, which in the latter case also means their entire staff.

The GM’s firing was well-deserved, if only because it was his ego that caused Jim Harbaugh to be run out of SFO.

The coach’s firing?  One year is scarcely enough time to get anything done, but he was as good as gone as soon as the GM was sent packing, because any new GM is going to want to have his own man coaching the team.

But otherwise… Lombardi couldn’t have won with that bunch of clowns.

And now they’re about to get their fourth coach in four seasons.

It gets worse.

Consider the Len Eshmont Award, called  "the 49ers most prestigious annual honor” on the team's Web site...
The Len Eshmont Award

The Len Eshmont Award, the 49ers most prestigious annual honor, has been given each year to the 49er who best exemplifies the “inspirational and courageous play” of Len Eshmont.  A member of the original 1946 49ers team, Eshmont coached at Navy and Virginia following his playing days with the 49ers. Eshmont passed away in 1957.
Listed below are the 49ers annual Len Eshmont Award winners since its inception in 1957:
1957   QB Y.A. Tittle
1958   FB Joe Perry
1959   HB J.D. Smith
1960   S Dave Baker
1961   DT Leo Nomellini
1962   DE Dan Colchico
1963   T Bob St. Clair
1964   DT Charlie Krueger
1965   QB John Brodie
1966   HB John David Crow
1967   LB Dave Wilcox
1968   LB Matt Hazeltine
1969   CB Jimmy Johnson
1970   S Roosevelt Taylor
1971   LB Ed Beard
1972   DE Tommy Hart
1973   S Mel Phillips
1974   T Len Rohde
1975   CB Jimmy Johnson
1976   DE Tommy Hart
1977   S Mel Phillips
1978   RB Paul Hofer
1979   RB Paul Hofer
1980   DT Archie Reese
1981   TE Charle Young
1982   WR Dwight Clark
1983   RB/ST Bill Ring
1984   LB Keena Turner
1985   FB Roger Craig
1986   QB Joe Montana
1987   WR Jerry Rice
1988   NT Michael Carter
            RB Roger Craig
1989   QB Joe Montana
1990   DE Kevin Fagan
            LB Charles Haley
1991   WR John Taylor
1992   QB Steve Young
1993   WR Jerry Rice
1994   QB Steve Young
1995   FB William Floyd
1996   DT Bryant Young
1997   DT Dana Stubblefield
1998   DT Bryant Young
1999   DT Bryant Young
2000   DT Bryant Young
2001   RB Garrison Hearst
2002   S Tony Parrish
2003   LB Julian Peterson
2004   DT Bryant Young
2005   DT Bryant Young
2006   DT Bryant Young
2007   DT Bryant Young
2008   WR Isaac Bruce
2009   TE Vernon Davis
2010   LB Takeo Spikes
2011   DT Justin Smith
2012   DT Justin Smith
2013   LB NaVorro Bowman
2014   RB Frank Gore
2015   WR Anquan Boldin

Do you get the idea?  Did you check out some of those names?  We’re talking special people and good players, many of them Hall of Famers.

This year’s winner,  as voted by the team:  Colin F—king Kaepernick.

*********** A top California QB is leaving his mates behind and transferring to IMG Academy.,amp.html?client=safar

And so creeps professionalization into high school sports.  Emphasis on the verb  “creep.”

This whole thing is sick and IMG and any school that schedules IMG should be boycotted by reputable schools. Their mission is incompatible with ours. Better yet, they should get the Archbishop Murphy treatment.

Funniest tweet I saw all bowl season was right after the Rose Bowl:
Sam Darnold announces he will return to USC and not transfer to IMG.

*********** I knew you'd like the anthem performance before the Rose Bowl!  The WW2 veteran/1942 Duke player was a GREAT addition, and then when the B2 Batplane did the flyover...well, it's hard to find the words.

Another pleasant surprise was the traditional uniforms that both USC and Penn State wore.  No white-outs or black-outs or Elton John outfits.

The only Husky highlight:  Browning's coffin-corner quick kick.  Talk about a blast from the past!

Good job by Army!

Sarkisian -- who nose?

Shep Clarke
Puyallup, Washington

Duke has a nice exhibit in their football offices that includes material on the 1942 Rose Bowl.

Very good point on the Rose Bowl uniforms.  It was nice to watch two teams that - so far - haven’t sold their souls to apparel companies.

The Huskies were overmatched, but it was still a thrill for me seeing them run out onto the field.

And Sark?  Well, if that’s what keeps him off the sauce...

This has been an amazing two (or more) weeks of college football.  Real, exciting football, played by players who still really care about their teammates and still really care about winning.

I am constantly amazed that the NFL, where I’d be willing to bet most players don’t even know the names of all their teammates and are only about the paycheck, has been able to brainwash so much of the American public into thinking they’re watching the best the game has to offer.

They are undoubtedly the best football players in the world, but the teams and the plays are nearly interchangeable and the games stodgy and tedious, played indifferently by wealthy performers  whose chief concern is promoting their personal brands, protecting their incomes  and saving their bodies.

***********  Sent by my son, Ed, a former Seattleite who now lives in Melbourne, Australia:

 Dad: from an article on my friend Keith Robbins who owns a couple of bars in Seattle, including Tini Bigs, which is closing after 20 years.
“For the most part, I hired people who could bartend and socialize, which I think is something that has gone away,” he says.

“Your bartender used to be your shrink.  You used to be able to go to your bartender and tell them all your problems.  Now, the bartenders don't have time to hear your problems because they’re making a 16-ingredient cocktail.”

american flag TUESDAY,  JANUARY 3,  2017  "My view of the presidency is, one, you're very fortunate to be elected president, and when you're finished, you ought to go - get out of Dodge and go." former President George H. W. Bush

 Gunshot wounds

A Big Bowl Highlight…

I heard them talking about all the Louisville players who couldn't play, and I saw the “Louisville Injuries” graphic on the screen.

But when I got to the bottom, I said “WTF?” I mean, I know it’s Louisville and all that, but still…  “Gunshot wound?”

Turns out Messrs. Famurewa and Hearns were shot at a quasi-team function.  Actually, it was a party celebrating Lamar Jackson's Heisman Trophy win.

Two more really good reasons why Lamar Jackson shouldn’t have won the Heisman Trophy…

*********** This guy Marty Smith that ESPN’s been using as its Bama reporter - He might be great for the NASCAR audience, but he sure looks out of place on a college football telecast.

*********** I’m still waiting for Jim Harbaugh to say that the “alleged” offside by a Florida State defensive lineman on the final play of the game is why Michigan lost. 

Actually, there were many reasons.

But just in case: what did that have to do with the fact that Jimbo Fisher had his team better prepared and ready to play right out of the gate?

*********** Ed Orgeron got his first win as LSU’s official head coach, and it was a good one - 29-9 over Louisville.

*********** If you believe in karma… Louisville has now lost three straight since its “miraculous” (intelligence-enhanced) second-half  performance against Wake Forest.

*********** Thanks, LSU, for exposing Lamar Jackson as the flash in the pan he proved to be - and the Heisman Trophy for the farce that it has become.

Imagine the Most Valuable Player in the country coming from a team that lost its last three games:  to Houston, to Kentucky, to LSU, all games in which his failure to perform to Heisman levels cost his team dearly. 

The voters obviously didn’t take his play in the Kentucky loss into consideration.  Hell, most of them didn’t even see the way he played in the loss to Houston. How do these two-game stats sound: four fumbles and three interceptions.

LSU?  Fuhgeddaboutit.  The high-powered Cardinal offense, with the Heisman Trophy winner at the helm,  couldn’t produce so much as a single touchdown against the Tigers.

Here’s an idea:  let’s take into consideration a player’s entire season and at the same time provide an incentive for players to stick around long enough to play in “meaningless” bowl games.  Make the Heisman voters wait until after the bowl season to cast their ballots. 

Can’t disagree with Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, after DeShaun Watson had run and passed Clemson to a big Fiesta Bowl win over Ohio State : “We’ve got the best player in the country.”

The only loser  in my proposed arrangement would be ESPN, which depends on holding the Heisman Awards on the Saturday night before the bowl season starts.

So who’s kidding who?  ESPN runs college football, and unless ESPN wants it to happen, it isn’t going to happen.

*********** The beat-down of their Buckeyes had to kill all those Ohio State fans in the stands in Phoenix.  For some of the rest of us, it really exposed the Playoff people and their insistence on jumping the Buckeyes into the playoffs over other, more deserving teams.

In retrospect, Penn State should have earned the spot after beating Ohio State to win the division title, and Wisconsin to win the Conference title.  Yes, there was that three-point loss to Pitt in the second game, and that loss to Michigan earlier in the season (11 games ago)…

But you could have said the same thing about Oklahoma.  Yes, they lost two of their first three - but they won out and they won their conference.  What complicated things for the Sooners was that one of the losses - 11 games ago - was to Ohio State, and it was a bad loss.

And then there’s USC. No, they didn’t even play for their conference championship. And yes, they had three losses. But in my estimation the Trojans were among the nation’s top two or three teams by season’s end. 

MY POST-BOWL SEASON TOP 16 - a 16-team playoff in retrospect, with emphasis on bowl performance

1. Alabama/Clemson winner
2. Alabama/Clemson loser
3. USC
4. Penn State
5. Oklahoma
6. Washington
7. Wisconsin
8. Florida State
9. LSU
10. MIchigan
11. Oklahoma State
12. Virginia Tech
13. Stanford
14. Ohio State
15. Tennessee
16. Miami

*********** Arkansas’ Bret Bielema sure runs a classy program down there in Fayetteville.

One of his guys shoplifted items worth more than $250 from the sponsoring department store - the same department store that gave each of the Razorbacks a $450 credit to spend there as he wished. 

Another was thrown out of the game for spitting in an opponent’s face.

Well,  maybe his players are a little undisciplined.  So what?  The guy wins.

Wait - didn't his team lead by 24-points at halftime, and then get outscored 38-0? 

Never mind.

*********** Announcers seem to feel that the bigger the game, the more they’re supposed to talk, when in fact, when the game itself  is the star, they need to say less.

*********** One of the highlights of the bowl season for me was the national anthem before the Peach Bowl, played by the combined bands of Alabama and Washington. 

And then the Penn State Blue Band did an exceptional job with the anthem before the Rose Bowl.

*********** There was a scarcity of replays in the Bama-Washington game, especially of plays in which the conduct of the defensive backs was questionable.  I suspect many would have shown Bama P-I.  Not a word from the announcers.

*********** Washington wasn’t good enough to beat Bama.  I wish the interception return just before halftime hadn’t happened, because I think that 17-7 more accurately reflected the difference between the teams.

The Huskies played well on defense. I know that Alabama fans are blaming their poor offensive performance on Lane Kiffin, because that’s easier than admitting that perhaps the opponent might have decent coaching and a few scholarship athletes themselves.

On offense, the teams could have played for a couple more hours and I don’t think the Huskies would have scored again.  Personally, I thought they should have taken a few more shots downfield, but I’m well aware of the calibre of Alabama’s defensive backs.  My concern is with the running game, which had neither power nor deception. My belief is that if you’re a spread team, at some point you’re going to need either a running quarterback or a fullback/H back - or both. 

The Huskies’ loss to Bama was amazingly similar to their other loss, to USC.  Frankly, I thought that USC beat Washington worse than Bama did.  In both cases, the Huskies’ offense was stymied by a powerful defense, and in both cases, they faced a strong running game. But the Trojans, with Sam Darnold at QB, have a much better passing game.  And they pulled off their win in Husky Stadium, while Alabama did it in the Georgia Dome, a two-hour drive from Tuscaloosa.

*********** So a week before this year’s Game of the Century, Lane Kiffin is out as Bama’s offensive coordinator. Nick Saban says “we mutually agreed” on the move.

That Ole Nick.  He’s one funny dude. A laugh a minute.  “Mutually agreed” my ass.  When Saban makes a decision, even when it’s him against his entire staff, it becomes a “mutual agreement” in a nanosecond.

Yes, I suppose you could blame Kiffin’s dismissal on Alabama’s lackluster offensive performance.

Yes, considering that three of the four most decisive plays of the win over Washington involved Bo Scarbrough’s ball carrying (his two touchdown runs and his third-and-long run for a first down from deep in Bama territory), I would have given him the ball more - a lot more.   But then, if I had, the yahoos would have complained that I didn’t use my quarterback enough. 

If you hadn’t noticed, Bama fans are hard to please.  There are times when I think that Saban has so spoiled them that not even a 100-0 win with 11 opponent corpses littering the field would satisfy them.

So strong is their belief in their superiority that they can’t even imagine that maybe,  just maybe, an opponent could possibly stand up to them. Even for a series or two. Certainly not Washington.  Why, that’s impossible - Washington’s not even an SEC team. It has to be somebody’s fault. Damn right - it’s Kiffin’s. Fire his ass.

(You have to admit that his cocky air made him the perfect scapegoat.)

So now he’s ex-coach Kiffin, and it’s in his best interest to simply go along with Saban's “we mutually agreed” story.

And just in case he might have any ideas about going Tommy Elrod on Saban, I’m guessing there’ll be a special detachment of Alabama State Police watching him closely until after the Clemson game.

In the meantime, if you happened to catch the shot of Bama’s new offensive coordinator, one Steve Sarkisian (of Washington and USC fame), up in the press box during the Bama-Washington game - I’d look for the Tide to be running more pick plays.

*********** Way, way too many people have come to the defense of the Alabama captains snubbing the Washington captains in passing up the customary post-coin-toss handshake.

The most common excuse I’ve heard is that they already shook hands once - before the coin toss.

Well, yes, they did.  It’s a football tradition.  An introductory handshake.

But for those who’ve ever been down on a football field before a game, it’s also a football tradition to shake hands after the toss.  This time, it’s a sort of “good luck” handshake.

I’ve coached a long, long time and it’s always the same.  I’ve recorded every bowl game this year, and it’s always the same: handshakes before, handshakes after. 

Unless, I guess, you’re Alabama.

You guys that excuse those oafs?   You probably don’t even know that the reason you didn’t get the job of your dreams is that after the interview you just turned and walked out the door without shaking hands.  What the hell - you already shook hands once, back when you met everybody.  Right?

I’m sorry, there’s no excusing churlish behavior. It was poor sportsmanship, plain and simple.

*********** What a great weekend!   Lots of meaningless bowl games on  Friday, on Saturday and - with a little time off on Sunday for the pay-for-play bozos - on Monday.

Georgia could be a contender next year.  With a year behind him, true freshman QB Jacob Eason ought to be really good.

Stanford had it when it needed it and beat North Carolina.

Tennessee looked really good and Nebraska looked really bad.  Damn shame that  Tennessee didn’t have a better season, because Josh Dobbs would have been a worthy Heisman candidate.

Otherwise, he’s got all the credentials, and on top of that I’m partial to a kid who’s a bona fide student - the kid’s majoring in aeronautical engineering.

But as we all know,  unless your team has a really good season, as Louisville did, you can forget about the Heisman.

Washington gave Alabama a game for the better part of a half, but Bama was clearly better.

Clemson made the Playoff Selection People look like fools for selecting Ohio State ahead of Penn State, the Big Ten champion.

So, I might add, did Penn State, taking USC down to a final-second field goal in what I rank as one of the greatest bowl games I’ve ever seen.   The only time that the NFL can produce that many exciting  plays is in a Pro Bowl, and that's becausenobody tackles. I didn’t want the game to end. I wanted to keep on watching, and I have to admit that I was pissed when Penn State got reckless at the end instead of simply going into OT.   How about that USC freshman QB, Sam Darnold?  How about Penn State running back Saquon Barkley? How about Penn State’s QB, Trace McSorley?

Western Michigan was game enough, but Wisconsin was simply too much for the Broncos.  I was reminded of Hawaii vs Georgia, back in 2007 or so.

Florida QB Austin Appleby finally beat Iowa in his fourth start against them.  Maybe it’s because in his previous three starts he was playing for Purdue.  Iowa, meanwhile, lost its fifth straight bowl game.

*********** How did the conferences do in the bowls?



BIG 12:

SEC: 6-6

PAC 12:

*********** Most  exciting play in an entire NFL Sunday: The Eagles’ Carson Wentz threw a TD pass to Zach Ertz, then ran and got the football from him and tossed it to a fan sitting in the first row of the stands wearing an Eagles jacket. The lucky fan was a guy from nearby Millville, New Jersey:  Mike Trout, the MVP of the American League.

*********** Jim Leavitt is in a nice spot at Oregon.  He’s going to be the highest-paid assistant in the Pac-12, making well over $1 million a year.  And should he leave for another job, presumably a head job, he has an interesting buyout clause in his contract.   If he leaves before the end of this two-year contraact, it’ll cost him $500,000 - but he won’t have to pay anything should he leave to take the head coaching job at Kansas State.

I suppose that’s one way of letting them know you’re interested, but I told my pal Greg Koenig, in Beloit, Kansas that I hope he cleared that with Bill Snyder, first because I don’t think Coach Snyder’s ready to leave yet, and second because I have a feeling that Coach Snyder’s going to want to have some say in naming his successor.

*********** Sorry.  I will NOT listen to Beth Mowins.  When I hear her voice, I immediately hit the “MUTE” button.

*********** I’m not a fan of mixed martial arts or whatever they call it, and I’m repulsed by the sight of women fighting, so it’s fair to say that I don’t follow Rhonda Rowsey.

But I do know who she is, and I do know that in her last fight someone beat the sh— out of her, and I knew that after a year’s layoff she was supposed to fight someone on Friday night.

Is it true that she only lasted 48 seconds?   But she’ll take home a paycheck of more than $3 million?

*********** Just when we start to think the world revolves around us, along comes something like this…

Hayden Fry was well known in the football world.  He was a longtime coach at Iowa and before coming to Iowa he’d been the head coach at SMU and at North Texas.

In his book “A High-Porch Picnic,” he tells of the time he was at Iowa and had a radio call-in show on station WHO in Des Moines, whose signal reached all around the country.

One night they got a call from a trucker in Colorado…

CALLER: I happened to be listening to your station and I heard the name Hayden Fry.

HOST JIM ZABEL: That’s right.  Hayden’s on the line with us.

CALLER: I’m from Odessa, Texas and played high school football with a fella named Hayden Fry.  Could this be the same person?

ZABEL:  Indeed it is.  Go ahead and talk to him.

CALLER:  Hayden!  This is Henry Johnson. How in the world have you been?

ME:  Great! How are things with you?

CALLER: They’re going OK. I’m out here in Colorado driving through a snowstorm.  Been driving for the same trucking company since high school.  How about you, Hayden - what are you doing now?

american flag FRIDAY,  DECEMBER 30,  2016  "Culture eats strategy for breakfast."  Peter Drucker

*********** Today’s quote - "Culture eats strategy for breakfast"  is attributed to business management guru Peter Drucker.  It's every bit as applicable to football as it is to business.

Let’s face it - we’re all going to lose at some point.   And when you do lose, if you haven’t established the right sort of culture, you are going to have finger pointing and recrimination.  Maybe some nasty scenes.

At North Beach, where we took over a program that had won only three games in the previous two years and in our fourth and fifth years won 19 straight regular season games, what kept our eyes on the prize was the culture that we worked hard to instill.  

Here’s an interesting slide show that deals with why culture beats strategy in business …

*********** Even in the early days of television,  when all TV sets were black and white (and a large TV set was 12 inches - diagonal) there were a few visionaries who predicted that if football teams kept giving their product away to fans, there would come a day when there wouldn’t be anybody in the stands - and then, they might as well play the games in a TV studio.

Most people paid them little mind, because first of all, whenever you saw a game on TV there were plenty of people in the stands.  Besides, it’s human nature not to worry too much about something that’s years down the line.

Judging by bowl game “crowds,” we’re just about there.

Why should the TV people care?  Well,  empty stands are a turnoff to TV viewers.  People are less interested in  watching a game - even free, on TV - that nobody cares enough to attend.

What to do?

They’ve tried giving tickets away.  No luck. That’s called “papering the house.”  You realize how tough it is to do?  How tough it is to give people free tickets and then have them actually attend the event?  Not many people in your average bowl city give much of a crap about watching Washington State play Minnesota or Pitt play Northwestern.

I think the answer lies in VR. (For those of you not in the know, that’s Virtual Reality.)  They can fill all those empty seats with Virtual Crowds - tens of thousands of avatars with painted faces, holding up giant foam fingers,  little picket fences,  large letter “D’s.”

They can jump up and down at appropriate times.

You want noise?  No problem at all.  We can even give you a band if you want, complete with school fight songs. (We can even give you a marching band, but it’s going to cost more, and besides, they don’t even show real, live marching bands on TV anymore anyhow.)

Colors can change according to the participating teams.  You want a white out?  You got it.

As the technology advances, you’ll be able pay to have your face put on an avatar. For one game or for the season.  Up in luxury box, even.  Then you can sit in a bar with your buddies, watching the game on TV, and at a time out, you’ll be able to see your virtual self, up there in the stands,  looking up the image of your “self” on the JumboTron.

*********** “Teacher, husband abuse boys,” read the headline.  And then came the first paragraph: “A Minnesota elementary school teacher and his husband had sexual conduct with eight underage boys…”

Did you get that “his husband” crap?

Sorry, lads.  Go ahead and partner up.  Go ahead and “marry” if you insist on calling it that.  But get this straight:  A HUSBAND does NOT have a HUSBAND.   A HUSBAND has a WIFE.  I don’t know where this sh-- came from, but our society hasn’t suddenly been gifted with some unique enlightenment never before possessed by mankind over thousands of years of civilization, and I’m sure as hell not going along with your little game of make-believe. 

Liberal newspapers abet the deceit by going along with this husband-and-husband, wife-and-wife bulls— when  we all know they don’t have to.  Take the Washington Redskins, for example. Millions of people call the Redskins by name, but high-and-mighty newspapers, claiming the high road, pompously refuse to use the “R” word. 

That's because, we’re told, the name is offensive.

That, I'll grant you.  But so, too, is calling a man’s homosexual partner his husband, yet they have no qualms about offending us by doing so.

It’s simple: they just enjoy giving us deplorables the finger.  And then they wonder where their readers have gone.

*********** Rest in peace, Lavell Edwards. 

Few coaches have ever had as great and as lasting an impact on the place they coached as Lavell Edwards had on BYU, and few left a more indelible stamp on the game of football. 

He coached the Cougars from 1972 through the 2000 season. During that time, he won 257 games

He had just one losing season - 1973, his second as head coach at “the Y.”

From 1974 through 1999 the Cougars went to bowl games 22 of the 26 years, and at one point they went to 17 straight bowl games. (No 5-7 bowl teams in those days.)

He had one unbeaten team - the 1984 team that went 13-0 and won the national championship.

His emphasis on a pass-first offense, and his ability to develop the quarterbacks necessary to make it work, had a tremendous influence on the game of football.

A 1996 article in the Deseret News showed his unique approach to making  BYU competitive…

Edwards was conservative, Republican and Mormon, but when it came to football he was rather liberal and certainly open minded. He decided to utilize the LDS Church's missionary program to his advantage. Other coaches at BYU, although faithful LDS Church members, had discouraged athletes from either going on missions or rejoining the team after missions. It was believed that a player could never regain his form after taking two years off for a mission.
Edwards, a former Mormon bishop, didn't believe it. He decided, in his words, "to take a negative situation and turn it into a positive one."  Spiritual considerations aside, Edwards realized the advantages of missions - namely, the mental and physical maturation that two years would give a young man - and encouraged players to pursue missions. Missionaries have become a staple of his program and have counterbalanced the recruiting handicap that is presented by the school's honor code, which requires students to promise abstinence from drinking, smoking, pre-marital sex, etc.

Edwards also had another bold plan. He decided to install a passing attack. As an assistant coach, he had observed that the Cougars' most successful years were in the mid-'60s, when they utilized the passing skills of Virgil Carter. He reasoned that since BYU couldn't sign the big, overpowering blue-chip recruits, it was futile to try to build a running attack. However, the school could recruit players who could pass and catch. The passing game would be the equalizer. It would attack brawn with finesse.

This was progressive thinking, especially for a man who had coached the single wing. Prior to the late '70s, it was a football axiom that teams must establish a running game. Only three things could happen with the pass, the establishment said, and two of them were bad.

He had been coaching high school in the Salt Lake City area when the recently-hired head coach at BYU came in wanting to install the single wing and hired Edwards because, in Edwards’ words, “I think I was the last living Mormon to know anything about the offense.”

Let this be a lesson to young coaches not to be easily discouraged:  in his eight years as coach at Granite High School, Lavell Edwards never had a winning season!

Good Lavell Edwards quotes:

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

How are you?  Did you once have a diagram for Lou Little's KF-79 play?  Also, Lou Little gave his backfield personnel letters instead of numbers.  I recall K is for Kicker/TB.  F is for Fullback.  Q is for Quarterback/Blocking Back.  W is for Wingback.  Am I correct?  Or did he use H for the wingback?  I am having a senior moment on this.

KF-79, if I recall was a Tailback Half Spin play.  K receives the snap, and K half spins.  K hands off to F.  K fakes to left TE and then follows him to the right.  F (Barabas) bootlegs around the left side for the lone touchdown.  Am I correct?

Bill Statz
Columbia, South Carolina

Here you are... The play that won the Rose Bowl for underdog Columbia.


And here's the game film:

*********** Hard to believe it was eight years ago that Jack Tourtillotte, a longtime coaching friend from Maine, retired as principal at Boothbay Regional High and took me up on my offer to come coach with me at Ocean Shores, Washington. 

Jack as offensive coordinator and Tim Rice as head coach revived a Boothbay program that the community was ready to shut down and, running the Double Wing expertly, took it to several state finals and at least one state championship.

Jack’s stay with us was a blast. Jack lived with us and more than paid his way by doing a great job of coaching the offensive line, and cooking up some great meals.  Never had better friend oysters.

Inheriting a team that had gone 1-9, we finished 7-3, the school’s first winning season in years,  and Jack played a major part.  The kids loved him and didn’t seem to notice that he was working their asses off.

Jack’s been living the good life now, enjoying the four seasons with his wife, Sue, in their place in the mountains in Rangely, Maine, and traveling to the far-flung places where their daughters and sons-in-law and grandkids keep moving to.

But we still stay in touch, and I recently sent Jack a set of my latest videos on the Open Wing.  He was kind enough to send me his appraisal, and trust me - Jack is a Mainer, if you understand what that means, and he wouldn’t B-S me—

Good Morning Hugh,

Snowing here on the mountain and it really it is quite beautiful. One of those gentle morning snows with no wind and  like being in a snow globe.

Although I am no longer actively coaching I continue to follow the sport closely and enjoy looking at all kinds of coaching materials. The DVD set you sent me is by far one of the best, and I have literally spent hours going over all parts of it, Any coach looking for the power of the DW and the finesse of the shot gun passing game would love this material. Although we had a great run playing in five state championships with the Double Wing I believe with this stuff we might have played in one or two more. It truly is great material and a must for coaches, worth every penny.

Have a Merry Christmas and my Love to Connie and your family.


PS: Hard to believe you have ever made a better DVD set than the material I have just been through.

*********** 212 years of coaching experience sat at one table in Eugene, Oregon this week.

Oregon Staff

Around the table from left to right: Former Oregon coaches Gary Campbell, Steve Greatwood, Rich Brooks, Neil Zoumboukos, Don Pellum, Joe Schaffeld, John Ramsdell, Nick Aliotti

If these guys had had the same players Oregon had last season they’d have been in a bowl game.


*********** Miami is going to be VERY tough next year.   I wouldn’t ordinarily be a big fan but I like Mark Richt, going back 20 years or so to when he was Bobby Bowden’s offensive coordinator at FSU and I bought a quarterback-training tape that he made.  Good man.  (Wonder if Georgia misses him yet.)

*********** Is Texas A & M suffering from the Curse of Johnny Football?

*********** Northwestern is the Big Ten Ivy and all that, and I like to see them be competitive, but I don’t think they’d have beaten Pitt if they hadn’t taken out not just the Panthers’ starting quarterback but also  their All-American running back with dirty hits.

*********** Without Joe Williams and his 200+ yards rushing, Utah doesn’t beat Indiana.

Williams’ big night was no fluke.  Earlier this season, he ran for 332 against UCLA.

But the even bigger story is that five weeks before that big game against UCLA, he’d retired.  That’s right - quit football.  Said he was tired of non-stop football.

"I knew he was down a little bit at the beginning of the year," Utah running backs coach Dennis Erickson said. "He fumbled a couple of times. Mentally, he was drained a little bit. Physically, he was not feeling very good."

Erickson, who’s been around the game as head coach at Idaho, Wyoming, Washington State, Miami and Oregon State, noted that the demands of big-time college football have become a bit excessive.

"Anymore, man, it's 24/7 for 12 months. There's a lot of toll taken on these players both physically and mentally."

Fortunately for Joe Williams - and for Utah - he decided to come back and play football.

Williams is from Allentown, Pennsylvania and his route to Utah was a circuitous one.  After high school he signed with UConn, but spent a year at a Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia (the same place where Eddie George, among others, prepped) then wound up at a Juco in New York City called ASA.  That’s where Erickson found him.   God knows how he did.  That’s what I call recruiting.

ASA is a story in itself.  My friend Tom Hinger lives in Winter Haven, Florida, and he’s a huge baseball fan. Every spring, he enjoys going to the nearby Chain O’ Lakes Sports Complex to watch  college baseball teams from all over the country, and a couple of years ago he told me about a team from New York called “ASA.”

He said they were pretty good.  They were mostly Hispanic kids, from Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic.

He got to chatting with some of them, and asked them what “ASA” meant.

To a man, the answer was the same:  “I don’t know.”

*********** After a first half in which Wake Forest moved the ball quite effectively against Temple, there came the mandatory halftime coach’s interview. The sideline guy tried to trap Wake coach Dave Clawson into commenting on the recent scandal in which Wake offensive information found its way into the hands of opponents, and Coach Clawson parried the question with a skill worthy of a White House press secretary.


How much of the (first half) success do you think has to do with being able to use the full playbook?


Again, we're - right now -  we're executing well and we're playing well. Nice try.

*********** The Washington State Cougars made good on their threat to boycott the Holiday Bowl Tuesday night, and… Oh wait - wrong team.  

Anyhow, that’s how it looked, as they ran into an inspired Minnesota team and did everything possible to convince a national TV audience that it was they, not the Gophers, that had been in disarray when they should have been preparing for a bowl game.

The Gophers played hard but, frankly,  not well enough to beat the team that had won eight straight Pac-12 conference games and had gone into its final game playing for a spot in the conference championship game. Not that team. But then, this was a different Washington State team, one whose inept performance  was an embarrassment to the Pac 12.

I remember back during the season, as the Cougars rolled through the opposition, people would look at their opening-game loss and ask, “How could this team have lost to Eastern Washington?”

Well, there are two answers.

There was the one I gave back in mid-season, a perfectly plausible one:  “Eastern Washington’s better than you think.”

And then there was second one, the one I gave on Tuesday night - by playing the way they did against Minnesota.

*********** When Minnesota’s staff is done teaching their players how to treat women, and when they’ve adequately explained how a recruit - a high school kid - was allowed to get involved in the “alleged” gang rape that “allegedly” took place earlier this year, I'd suggest they  turn their attention to this:

The Gophers had EIGHT targeting calls this past season

One player alone, Safety "Duke" McGhee, had THREE

*********** The Arkansas people can't be happy with the Razorbacks' blowing a 24-0 halftime lead against Virginia Tech.

It  was a blowout, well on its way to being by far the worst of all the bowl games - even worse than  Minnesota-Washington State - and then...

Someone please tell ME it was a meaningless bowl game - or, better yet,  tell those Virginia Tech kids who went wild on offense and defense  and scored 35 straight points.

*********** Oh - and tell me that South Florida and South Carolina  were treating the Birmingham Bowl like a meaningless bowl game.

***********  Coach Wyatt,

Hope you and your family had a great Thanksgiving.  I took a survey today from the NHFS in regards to rules changes and proposed rules changes.  To say the least it was a very frustrating survey for me to take.  I just do not understand all the hubbub with the free blocking zone it seems to be coming from what I call the grass basketball group.  Along with that there were questions about being in favor of changing the grounding rules which once again appear to be coming from the grass basketball group.

How did we get to this point in football?  Teams forfeiting and not playing games.  In Oregon the South Eugene team forfeited a playoff game.  All those teams forfeiting to that one team in Washington.  A couple of teams in our league regularly scored 60-70 on folks and wonder why people are pissed at them.  I came up through the old school ranks and these young espn crowd guys just do not seem to get this is high school football.

Thank you,

Arnold Wardwell
Veneta, Oregon

Coach - Grass basketball is, it appears, the officially-sanctioned remedy for the concussion hysteria that threatens our game.  Ironically, though, it does seem to me that the more the game tilts toward passing, the more severe the hits become.  Without any data to support me, I believe that by far the greatest number of recipients of targeted hits to the head are either quarterbacks or receivers.

As for the forfeits - I totally blame lazy athletic directors and state associations for not dealing with the competitive imbalance that they have allowed to develop.  Like it or not, demographics play a huge role in football especially, and leagues that contain equal numbers of haves and have-nots and don’t change from year to year drive home to one group of kids that they are God’s anointed, and to another that they have been screwed over. I have been there and experienced this.  

They simply have to get off their dead asses and set up leagues in which every football team has a reasonable chance of success, instead of leagues where the basketball teams don’t have so much travel.  Maybe it’s time to set up separate leagues for football than from all the other sports.

And it’s time to use some kind of relegation system similar to what’s used in Europe: the best teams move up next year, and the worst teams move down.

Good luck doing that in Washington, where the current classification system is now in the first year of a FOUR-YEAR cycle.  Imagine - a paper mill shuts down in your town next week and people start moving out, and you’re stuck playing bigger schools for the next three years.

For sure,  resorting to something as simple as enrollment size is a lazy way out and a copout.  On one hand there are the private schools whose kids and parents are driven to succeed. Those schools “opt up” and compete well against schools much larger than they are.  On the other hand, to use one example I’m familiar with, there is a large high school in Vancouver whose enrollment consists to a great extent of recent immigrants, speaking at least a dozen different languages, with absolutely no exposure to American sports (unless you consider soccer an American sport.  I don’t.)

*********** I had a nice conversation Christmas Eve with my friend Mike Lude.  Going back to 1949, he’s been an assistant coach - at Maine and at Delaware - and a head coach - at Colorado State - and he’s been the AD at Kent State, Washington and Auburn.  He’s still active in NACDA, the association of athletics directors.  There isn’t much he hasn’t seen, and I value his opinions greatly.

I happened to mention that I thought it was unfortunate that star players such as Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey had decided to forego playing in their teams’ bowl games, and Mike countered by saying that it’s become routine for coaches to bail on their teams before their bowls.

I had no answer for that, and while I certainly don’t oppose a coach leaving to take what he sees as a better job, I did find it a bit awkward when, just hours after Temple’s kids had played their hearts out for an interim head coach, the guy who just weeks ago had been their head coach and - for many of them - their surrogate father was being interviewed during the game between Boise State and Baylor, his new team.

The fact that it involved Baylor reminded of a story that Mike once told me.  It was the mid-50’s and he was coaching the offensive line for Dave Nelson at Delaware.  Nelson had just been offered the job at Baylor. Delaware was coming off a couple of very good seasons.  Baylor, though not the power that it’s been recently, would be a considerable step up.  Those were the days of the old Southwest Conference,  composed of the major Texas schools - Rice, SMU, Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A & M and  TCU - plus Arkansas.

Mike said that as they debated the pros and cons of the move over the period of a couple of days, letters piled up on Dave Nelson’s desk (those were the days before twitter.  Email, even). They were letters from Baylor boosters urging him to take the job.

With Nelson’s assistants urging him to make the move, he hesitated.  Mike said that what finally caused him to stay at Delaware was that pile of letters.  Nelson pointed to it and  said, “Can you imagine how big that pile will be if we don’t win?”

*********** It broke my heart to read this -   Dr. Thomas Sowell’s announcement that he'd written his  last column.  

A black man born in poverty in the South and raised in Harlem, Dr. Sowell became an esteemed economist and a well-known writer with a decidedly conservative viewpoint.  He stood out as one of the very few people anywhere with the standing and the credentials to point out bluntly and honestly what needs to be done to enable the vast majority of black Americans to take full advantage of what America has to offer, and for that alone, all Americans owe him a great debt.  He is a great American and he will be missed.  I don’t see his replacement anywhere.

*********** I’m not sure what Gatorade is trying to promote, but I look at that scary “FEAST TIME” commercial for the Gatorade protein bar and I can’t help thinking of those Youtube scenes from malls on the day after Christmas.

*********** Just another reason not to pay much attention to the NFL - and definitely not to coach there: players who basically say “screw you” to the coaching staff and deploy their own game plan.

american flag TUESDAY,  DECEMBER 27,  2016  “I’m not two-faced.  If I were, I wouldn’t use this one.” Lou Holtz

*********** I’m with Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, who said “No disrespect to anybody that would call any bowl game ‘meaningless,’ but if you’re making that kind of statement, you never played in one and you never coached in one.”

He and I disagree on only one thing
: to anybody that would call any bowl game "meaningless,’" I say, screw you.

Meaningless to you, maybe, but last I heard, nobody really gives a sh— about what you think.

I have yet to see a bowl game this season - not the Popeyes Bahama Bowl, not the Dollar General Bowl, not the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl - where the kids on the winning team weren’t celebrating.  The games sure meant something to them.

And please don’t tell me that this is a “trophies for everybody” situation.  Those kids worked hard to get ready for this past season, and after that long period of work and sacrifice - dating back to last January - they’ve won enough games to qualify for a season-ending adventure.  They earned it, dudes.  Funny - I bet you guys who would deprive those kids of a bowl experience (because it's "meaningless") are the same people who bitch and complain that colleges - even ones that can't afford to do so - should pay their players.

Trophies for everybody?  I saw a lot of disappointed losers.  Those guys  wanted to win.

Meaningless games?  Other than winning or losing, since when is a “game” supposed to have ”meaning,”  anyhow? I’ve been coaching since 1970 and I have no idea how many games I’ve coached, but in looking back, I can’t say that there were very many that had any “meaning” in the media sense of the word.  They were just games.  Two teams lined up and played each other and did their damnedest to win and one of them came out on top.  That’s it.  It never occurred to me or to  my players or to our opponents that some typewriter jockey thought our games were meaningless.

I think the biggest mistake I made in recent years was when the Big Dogs concocted  the so-called Playoff, I didn’t trademark the term “Meaningless Bowl Game” so no twink could sit in his parents’ basement and use it without crossing my palm with silver.

*********** It’s no secret that - long-term - our game is in trouble.  Participation at the lower levels - youth, middle school and high school - continues to decline. 

Yes, the concussion hysteria handed down to us by our good friends in the NFL plays a part, but looming even larger, in my opinion, is perhaps the greatest threat our game has ever faced -  the fact that players are being exposed  to willful attempts to injury them.  Rules makers, officials and coaches shy away from dealing with the pernicious practice of targeting for what it really is - criminal assault.  It’s the football equivalent of a hockey player smashing an opponent over the head with his hockey stick. 

Be honest - would you let your son walk through a neighborhood where you knew someone might sneak up on him and knock him out cold?  I didn’t think so. So why would you expect other people to let their kids play a game where people rather routinely do just that?

Let’s face it - when a player shrugs his shoulders and tucks his upper arms in against his side and takes a shot above the neck of an opponent he is not attempting to make a tackle.  Therefore, it’s reasonable to conclude that he has another intention than tackling.  That intent, simply,  is to injure he opponent.

What do we hear whenever a pit bull attacks someone and people call for outlawing pit bulls?  Why,  it’s not the dog’s fault - it’s the owner’s fault.

So let’s apply that reasoning to targetting - it’s not the player’s fault.  It’s the fault of the  “owner” - his coach.  Let’s put in a rule calling for ejection of the coach, and see how fast targeting becomes a thing of the past.

*********** I’ve written a good bit about the end of the dynasty at Oregon, and a little bit about the same thing happening at Nebraska.  There’s Michigan, too, where the breakup of the Schembechler-Moeller-Carr era came with their ham-handed hiring of Rich Rodriguez.  So much for Bo’s famous “A Michigan Man Will Coach a Michigan Team.” But if you’re looking for a classic breakup of a dynasty, you can’t do better than the University of Delaware.

Dave Nelson and Mike Lude arrived at Delaware in 1951 from the University of Maine, and when Nelson stepped aside after the 1965 season to work full-time as athletic director, he turned the reins over to one of his assistants, Tubby Raymond.

Raymond, with Nelson still his boss, adhered very closely to the prevailing philosophy of the program - why shouldn’t he? It won -  and that’s the way things  remained until he retired following the 2001 season.

That was 51 years of the same basic program - 51 years of running one offense, andoffense that by the time of Raymond’s retirement was known far and wide as the Delaware Wing-T (even though it actually had been “invented”  by Nelson and Lude at Maine).

When K.C. Keeler was tapped to succeed Raymond, everyone knew that that was the end of the Delaware Wing-T - he was a spread guy -  but at least he was a Delaware man. He’d played linebacker under Tubby Raymond.

In his nine years as head coach at New Jersey’s Rowan University (formerly known as Glassboro State) he’d built a Division III powerhouse.

Overall, his Rowan teams had gone 88-21-1.  He’d been to the D-III final game five times, and to the semi-final game twice more. 

At Delaware, he was an instant success.  In 2003, his second year as the Blue Hens’  head coach, they won the FCS national championship.

In 2004 he took them to the quarterfinal, and he took them to the finals in 2007 and 2010.

But he slipped to 7-4 in 2011, and in 2012, after going 5-6, he was abruptly fired.  He said he wasn’t given a reason.

Now look - when a guy’s been at a place 11 years and his teams have gone 86-52 over that time,  you simply don’t go and fire him unless something’s been going on behind the scenes.  Something political, maybe. Who knows?

Whatever the reason,  Delaware, hasn’t done well since.  In the four years since they fired K.C. Keeler, they’ve gone 21-25.  Keeler’s successor, Dave Brock, came in with good credentials, but he’d never been a head coach, and he went 7-5, 6-6 and 4-7 before being fired midway through this past season with the Blue Hens at 2-4.

Worse yet, Delaware, once the FCS leader in average attendance, has seen its average decline from 20,000 per game in 2010, when Keeler took them to the finals, to 16,000 per game in 2015.

Their recently-hired head coach, Danny Rocco, has been a head coach at two different schools, and he’s been successful at both places.  At Liberty, he was 47-20,  and at Richmond he was 43-22, including an FCS semifinal appearance in 2015.  We will see.

Keeler, meanwhile, has done okay for himself. After taking the 2013 season off, he came back with a vengeance at Sam Houston State, where in three years he’s been to the FCS semifinals twice and, this past year, to the quarterfinals. His overall record is 34-10.

***********  Quite early in Oregon’s search for a new head coach, I proposed Willie Taggart as a good candidate (I said, “Phil” - Phil Knight and I are very tight - “you ought to take a look at that Taggart guy at South Florida,” and the rest is history).

So of course, I approved of his hiring.

But in the short time he’s been on the job, I do have a quibble: although he’s hired only two assistants so far, it appears that he isn’t going to retain a single person from the current staff.

Granted, I have a personal interest in this because I know some of those Oregon guys.

Now, he’s the head guy and it’s his call.

But I’d like to see him succeed, and, frankly, you can’t have had the kind of success that Oregon’s enjoyed over the last decade without having built some recruiting equity among high school coaches in the Bay Area and Southern California, two places that are key to success in the West, and I doubt that he can go out on the open market and find guys with the contacts of, say,  offensive line coach Steve Greatwood and running backs coach Gary Campbell.

*********** Here’s what the TV people won’t let you see…

It’s a major difference between college football and the pro game.

It’s a major reason why 100,000 Ohio State people won’t miss Buckeyes’ home games…

It’s a very stirring sight (and sound) as…

The crowd roars at the sight of the first band member coming out of the tunnel…

The band marches on and assembles…

In crisp lines, the band marches down the field, playing “Buckeye Battle Cry”

Once at the other end of the field, while it plays “Across the Field” it forms a giant “M,” then pays tribute to Michigan by playing The Victors

Next,  the band assembles in its “Triple-Block O” formation on the far sideline, then “unwinds” and marches into its famous “Script Ohio.”
The crowd rises and joins in singing “Carmen Ohio,” The OSU alma mater, at the end of which, as the band slowly and dramatically plays the last three notes, everyone - or damn near everyone - holds their arms overhead and forms “O-HI-O”

Then the band sings the Buckeye Battle Cry

And then they form a diamond-shaped “OHIO” that actually serves a dual purpose as…

The tunnel! For the entrance of the team! And here come the Buckeyes!

I think that at this point, if you’re an Ohio State fan, your heart rate is up there in the 200 beats-a-minute neighborhood.  You’re ready to go out there and play yourself.  Put me in, Coach.

But wait… We’re not done yet.

Now the band forms a giant rectangle, accompanied by what aren’t exactly boos, but more like the “ewww” of 100,000 Ohio State fans, as the Michigan team runs onto the field.

Turns out that the rectangle the band had formed is an American flag, which unfurls as the band plays the National Anthem.  It manages to do so in one minute flat.  (Try timing it the next time some multiple-platinum “artist”  steps up and “performs” it at an NFL game. It’s going to be in excess of two minutes.  Aretha Franklin did it on Thanksgiving in a record 4:35.)

Anyhow, that’s all that you missed.  It's something that the pros can never compete with.

But hell, you’d rather look at two talking heads up in the press box, wouldn’t you?

*********** While back in North Carolina recently I saw an old friend, a neighbor of my daughter and son-in-law whose kids grew up with my grandkids.

He’s a great guy, a good ole boy who can tell stories in the great southern  tradition. (You American literature guys undoubtedly know that a disproportionately large number of good writers have come out of the South.)  I enjoy his company so much that once, at a family “pig-pickin’”, I stayed outside with him all day in the Carolina heat and humidity, drinking beer as the pig roasted and he told stories.

This past visit he had the story to end all stories.

I can’t come close to telling it the way he did, so I’ll give you the shortened, Yankeefied version.

He was bitten by a tick, and now he’s allergic to red meat - anything that comes from a mammal.

He got violently ill one night and when his face and lips swelled and he had difficulty breathing, he had to be rushed to the hospital, suffering a reaction not unlike what a bee sting can cause to those allergic to it.

But a reaction to - what?

Fortunately, thanks to Duke University’s Medical School, Durham is a major medical center, and someone there was able to trace his condition to the bite of a tick.

Not just any tick, though.  Something called the Lone Star tick.

A researcher at Vanderbilt University was first to make the connection between the bite of the Lone Star tick and a severe reaction to red meat.

He did remember walking in the woods and picking a tick from behind his ear, but didn’t think much of it, because it wasn’t the first time.

He had a few severe reactions  after the first one, enough to convince the doctors that they were indeed,  caused by the tick bite.

And so there he is - unable, for the rest of his life, probably, to eat so many of the foods that make life in the South so special. (Especially, if you live in North Carolina, pork BBQ.)

His doctor, on the theory that it might be possible to gradually develop an immunity, suggested that he try tiny portions of red meat.  He says, nothing doing - he doesn’t want to go chance going through another reaction.

His wife, trying to put a good face on things, said that with the healthier diet he’s now forced to eat he’ll probably live ten years longer.  He said that it’s only going to seem like it’s ten years longer.

*********** At Thanksgiving time, the San Jose Mercury News observed the holiday by interviewing John Madden, who for years was associated with NFL games on Thanksgiving Day.

In the interview, he had some very interesting things to say about the current state of the NFL.  To put it briefly, he agrees with most of us: the NFL has way too many bad teams.  This results in a lot of bad games, which is what you get any time one of the teams playing is a bad team. You get a good game when two good teams are playing each other, and since there are so few good teams, this doesn’t occur very often.

On the NFL’s slumping television ratings:

“What happens is there are not a lot of good teams, and they have too many windows to put these games in. When you think of an early Sunday window, a late Sunday window, a Sunday night window, a Monday night window, a Thursday night window. They all want good games, and there’s not enough good teams.

“Just look at the list of teams playing. It takes two. It’s not just one good team. You have to have two to have a great game, and there’s not a lot of great games. And we’re spreading it out more and more with fewer good teams, which makes it doggone impossible to have good games. If the games aren’t good, that’s part of it. Now there are other things: the Millennials, iPhone, and the stuff people do as they live differently.

“Something has to be done about Thursday night football. It just doesn’t work. It’s not only a fan thing, it’s a team thing. It’s a safety thing. It’s a competitive thing. It doesn’t work. I know about money, and I know about business. Maybe you have to tweak stuff a little more. To help teams, maybe you get a bye the week before.

“On Thanksgiving, Washington has to travel to Dallas to play in Dallas, and they played Sunday night. That’s wrong. That’s an oops. You play a team on Sunday night and make them travel and play on Thursday. I remember in my coaching days, as players get older, it takes them longer to heal up from a Sunday game, and guys weren’t ready to play until Thursday or Friday.”

*********** A video shot at last week’s Raiders-Chargers game in San Diego caught a security guard, uh, “pleasuring himself” as he stood in front of the Chargers cheerleaders to, you know, protect them from lecherous perverts and such.

*********** Going back through some old magazines, in the National Football Foundation’s November 2010 Footballetter, I came across an interview with Terry Donahue.

A lot of you probably never heard of Terry Donahue, which is a damn shame. He hasn’t coached for more than 20 years,  but in his 20 years as head coach at UCLA he was 151-74-8 and in those days before you only needed to finish 6-6 to go to a “bowl” game, he took the Bruins to bowl games 13 times.   Between 1982 and 1989 he won eight straight bowl games, a record at the time.   His teams won 10 Pac-10 championships and they were ranked in the Top Ten five times.

As a player, assistant and head coach at UCLA,  he appeared in six Rose Bowl games. 

When he retired after the 1995 season he was only 51, and although he had a number of other jobs in football after that, including General manager of the 49ers, he never coached again.

I found most interesting his response to the question of who were the instrumental coaches in his life:

With Tommy Prothro you really learned about the importance of fundamentals. He was a great believer and a great teacher of fundamental principles. You had to be able to bend your knees. You had to play with leverage. He would always say “I am going to make you a worse football player before I make you a better one.”

With Dick Vermeil you really learned about work ethic. He worked so tirelessly and so hard at everything he did. Whether it was coaching football, recruiting, working with the alumni, it didn’t much matter.  Dick was going to put in 20 hours a day, and show you the value of hard work.

From Pepper Rodgers, in addition to learning a lot of really good offensive theories, he showed me the importance of recruiting. He would really emphasize the importance of having the best players, and the importance of winning at recruiting so that you could win on the field.

So I think that all three of those guys had a huge impact on my own philosophy in life.

*********** Random Bowl Observations…

*** As fanatical as Hawaiians are said to be about their football… what does it take to fill Aloha Stadium?  The Hawaii Bowl featured their own college team, and the stadium was half empty.

*** Best performance so far - Ryan Higgins, Louisiana Tech QB.  Higgins threw for 409 yards and four touchdowns In the Bulldogs’ 48-45 win over Navy,

*** Second best so far - La. Tech receiver Trent Taylor, with 12 catches for 233 yards and two TDs

*** Navy has now lost three games in a row. But look out next year, when they’ll have two - and maybe three - excellent triple option QB’s returning.

*** Appalachian State (“App State” as the kids in North Carolina call it)  only became eligible for bowl play last year.  They made it and they beat Ohio in the Camelia Bowl.  This year, same bowl, different opponent.  They beat Toledo, 31-28.

*** Miami (Ohio) missed an extra point earlier and it trailed Mississippi State, 17-16 as it attempted a last-second field goal.  The kick was blocked.

*** Eastern Michigan was playing in its first bowl game since 1987.  Old Dominion, which only moved up to FBS in 2013, was playing in its first bowl game ever.  Somebody had to win, and it was ODU,  24-20.

*** Western Kentucky has only been in FBS since 2010.  Their head coach left to take the Purdue job.  No matter.  The Hilltoppers whacked Memphis, 51-31.

*** Two teams from dry country played in a downpour - in San Diego - as BYU beat Wyoming, 24-21.  It was first-year Cougar coach Kalani Sitake’s first bowl win over a former Mountain West rival.

*** Idaho soundly defeated Colorado State, in a closing statement as an FBS team.  In his post-game comments, the Idaho QB referred to the University President (who approved the drop down to FCS) as “tone deaf.” “We know we can compete, we belong here,” he said.  “No matter what anyone thinks, even our tone deaf president. Maybe he doesn’t think we belong here, but I think we belong here.”  He later, um, apologized.

*** Houston got thrashed, 34-10, by San Diego State.  The Houston kids had been through a lot, losing their coach and all that, but still, you’d think they’d have played better for their new coach, Major Applewhite.

************ A major reason why I like college football better than the NFL is that we get to see the talents of a kid like
San Diego State’s Donnel Humphrey. He's a heck of a runner, but he's small, which means that  in the NFL we'll probably only see him on kick returns. 

The post-game sentiments exchanged between him and his dad after the Aztecs' win over Houston were moving.

*********** AD of the year has to be… Heather Lyke, of Eastern Michigan.  Get this:

Two years ago, while Eastern Michigan was in the midst of a 2-10 season, athletic director Heather Lyke began helping football players secure passports in the event the team qualified for the Bahamas Bowl, which takes a MAC team each season. That faith was rewarded as the Eagles (7-6) won seven games this season for the first time since 1989.

american flag FRIDAY,  DECEMBER 23,  2016  "America without football scares me a helluva lot more than America with it."  Kevin Plank, founder and CEO of Under Armour (and former Maryland football player)

*********** MY ANNUAL CHRISTMAS WISH FOR FOOTBALL COACHES EVERYWHERE (First printed in 2000, and  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're 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 (or principal)  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.

For all assistants - A head coach whose values and philosophy you can support

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!)

Merry Christmas!

*********** Sure had to be  bittersweet for Idaho as the Vandals administered  an ass-whupping to Colorado State. Without an FBS conference to play in - the Vandals were  kicked out of the Sun Belt Conference, largely for travel reasons  -  Idaho will be dropping down to  FCS in 2018 and playing  in the Big Sky Conference.

*********** Over the years, as I’ve visited my daughter and son-in-law in Durham, North Carolina, I’ve come to feel a certain allegiance to NCCU - that would be North Carolina Central University.  It’s an HBCU - Historically Black College or University - and it’s located in Durham.

On one visit, I spent a couple of hours talking defense with their defensive coordinator, a coach named Damon Frenchers.  And two years ago, the people at NCCU were kind enough to let me use their facilities for a clinic.

NCCU Eagles football has been decent lately - this past season, after losing their opening two games to Duke and Western Michigan, they ran off nine straight to finish in 18th place in the FCS standings.  Saturday, the Eagles played the Grambling Tigers, ranked 14th,  in the Celebration Bowl,  for the national HBCU championship.

Although Grambling was heavily favored, the Eagles nearly pulled off the upset, losing by a point, 10-9, in heart-breaking fashion.

Down 10-3 with 2:14 to play, they scored to pull within a point with a 39-yard touchdown pass.

But wait - the kid who scored the touchdown?  Understandably excited, he threw discipline to the wind, ripping off his helmet in celebration.  Why so many players seem to think it’s not a celebration unless you take your helmet off, I’ll never know, but that’s what the kid did - and it cost the Eagles 15 yards for excessive celebration.

And the kick for the extra point, no longer a semi-sure thing, was blocked.

To his great credit, the kid who was penalized sounded appropriately contrite.   “I’m not selfish,” he said.  “It was the heat of the moment. I was excited to bring the team back with the outstanding play. I apologize.”

Well said, but no matter.  He did it and it cost his team a chance to win a bowl game.

Just one more way to lose a game that we as coaches have to anticipate and try to prevent.  Just one more thing you want to make sure you’ve drilled into your kids’ heads.)

*********** Coach Wyatt...

Hope you and yours are well today!  

The Corinth Community Recreation varsity Pirates (12 and under) finished the regular season with an undefeated 8-0 record.  The Pirates outscored their opponents on the average of 36-3 each game with the double wing being our base formation.  We did get creative this year and actually threw the ball a couple of times each game from the open wing formation.  We are the JCYFL Varsity Champions!

It was a great group of young men and hopefully we all learned a lot about football and more importantly, life itself.

One of our local towns, Clayton, holds an all-star game each Thanksgiving, the Turkey Bowl...we elected to participate and came in second to a strong East Wake All-stars team.  We defeated the host Clayton team and then had to beat the Durham All-Stars twice to reach the finals.  There was some great football played that weekend by lots of fine, young men.

Life is good in Johnston County and hope to see you at a clinic this year!  Thank you for all you do!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

D. Ross Renfrow, Ed.D
Johnston County Schools
Smithfield, North Carolina

Coach Renfrow and I go way back, to when he was a high school head football coach and hosted one of my Double Wing clinics.  Every football coach  should be lucky enough to have a person with his credentials running their  school system.

*********** Wake Forest won big at NC State Saturday, finishing a perfect 16-0.

No, not Wake Forest University.  Wake Forest High School.

And no, they didn’t play against NC State.   They played in NC state’s Carter-Finley stadium, where they  beat traditional state power Greensboro Page, 29-0 to win the state 4AA (largest classification) championship.

Wake Forest the high school is located in the town of Wake Forest, which is in Wake County, about 20 miles northeast of Raleigh.

Wake Forest the University is 100 miles to the west, in Winston-Salem.

It wasn’t always that way.

Back when it was still perfectly legal and acceptable to make and sell cigarettes, the tobacco industry ruled the state of North Carolina, and made some families very wealthy.   One was the Reynolds family of Winston-Salem, who owed their wealth to the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, makers of such popular cigarette brands as Camels, Winston, Newport, Kent, Pall Mall.

In 1946, the Reynolds family set out to provide their home city with a college. With the donation of 350 acres of their estate, Reynolda, and funds in addition, they persuaded Wake Forest College to relocate to Winston-Salem. The move was completed in time for the start of classes in fall of 1956.

Wake Forest is a special place to me.  My grandson, Connor Love, is a soph at Wake and loves the school.  And Dr. Darlene Lawrence, wife of my good friend Dwayne Pierce, was the first black cheerleader at Wake Forest.  She’s known Connor since he was small, and, needless to say, was delighted when she learned that Connor had chosen Wake Forest.

*************Now that  LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey have decided to forego playing in their respective team’s bowl game, you just watch: sitting out the final bowl game is going to become the new status symbol.

The funny thing to me is the way the NFL money has so penetrated the thinking of people that a great number of them think it’s perfectly all right for Fournette and McCaffrey to go for the money, since that, they seem to believe, is  the ultimate reason for their playing college football anyhow.

So much for playing with - and for - your teammates.

Funny, also, I thought, was the reaction to the Minnesota players who threatened to sit out their bowl game in solidarity with teammates who, they believed, had been kicked out of the university without sufficient cause.  In view of some of the horrendous verdicts that have been handed down by the kangaroo courts that colleges have been instructed by the federal government to employ in cases of sexual misconduct, I could find some sympathy with their protest. 

But then someone leaked copies of the police report and the university’s report as well, and it became awfully difficult to align oneself with the suspended/expelled players; to their credit, once they became aware of the ugliness of the incident for which their (former) teammates were removed from the team and the university, the players ended any talk of not playing.

But no matter - the damage had been done.  The players who originally protested were crucified in the court of public opinion.  How dare they threaten not to play in the bowl game?  Who did they think they were, anyhow?

So let me get this straight - when it’s a cause you believe in very strongly, you have no right to refuse to play in a bowl game?

But if it’s about money - if it means that by not playing in the bowl game you can avoid the risk of an injury that could cost you millions - why, go ahead and sit it out.


Look - I believe that every player should be prepared to play in every game his team's scheduled to  play. A deal’s a deal.  I was opposed to the Minnesota kids’ boycott and I’m opposed to Fournette’s and McCaffrey’s virtual insurance policies.

But if I had to choose between a sincerely held cause and money, I’d have to side with the kids from Minnesota.

*********** Let Fournette go. McCaffrey, too.  Let them go where the money leads them.

Royce Freeman, who in my opinion has a chance to be at least as good a pro as either Fournette or McCaffrey, will be back for his senior year at Oregon.

At 5-11 and 230, he has the power to run through people, but he has exceptional moves and breakaway speed.  And he can catch.  Oh - and  as a youth in Imperial, California, he played in the Double Wing under coach Matt Marrs.

Freeman was rated a preseason Heisman prospect, but he was hobbled by injuries for much of this past season.  He hurt his shoulder against Nebraska, although he did come back and play well in the Ducks’ last three games, and he did wind up with 771 yards rushing and nine TDs.

Certainly a desire to return to the form of his previous two seasons - he rushed for 1365 yards as a freshman and 1836  as a sophomore - had to have something to do with his decision to return.  So, too, might be the opportunity to break LaMichael James’ Oregon career rushing record (he needs 937 more yards) and rushing TD record (he needs 10 more).

But give new Oregon head coach Willie Taggart some of the credit, too.

Said Freeman, “The prospect of playing for Coach Taggart my senior year was certainly a factor.”

Count this as a recruiting win for Willie Taggart.  In business they used to say that it was a lot more profitable to keep the customers you already had than to spend all your time going after new ones and risk losing the old ones.

*********** Chalk up another big coup for new Oregon coach Willie Taggart with the hiring of Jim Leavitt as defensive coordinator.  I wouldn’t have been displeased if Leavitt had been hired as the head coach, but I really like this arrangement.

*********** It’s not every coach who’s able to get a Brigadier General to present the Black Lion Award, but Lee Weber, of Wamego, Kansas, pulled it off. 

All he had to do was ask General Pat Frank, who as Lieutenant Colonel Pat Frank was once Battalion Commander of the Black Lions.  General Frank is now Deputy Commanding General of the 1st Infantry Division (“The Big Red One”), stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas, and he was on hand to present the award to Wamego High’s Caleb Ubel.

Showing good upbringing, Caleb wrote General Frank to thank him:

Good Morning,

I hope this email finds you well. I would like to say Thank You for taking time out of your busy schedule to come and present the Black Lion Award. It is an honor to accept it from a Brigadier General, and an honor to be apart of the award! Going up there and accepting the award felt like winning the Heisman Trophy in my opinion! Thank You and have a Merry Christmas, sir!


Caleb Ubel

It’s not too late to nominate one of your players for this season’s Black Lion Award.  Find out how:

*********** Why isn’t this guy coaching football?

The Louisville women’s basketball team lost to Maryland, and Jeff Walz, the Louisville coach, had a few things to say afterward…

About the entitlement culture -  the trophies-for-everybody mentality that rewards losing as much as winning.

Amazingly,  he hasn’t been fired yet.

*********** Hello Coach,

How are you? Years ago you wrote a little something about a Spinner T offense that a team in Oregon ran at some point. Could you tell me about it?

We've been kind of interested in the way New Mexico's backfield action is and perhaps there is something we can adapt to our single wing but without the option. Not sure if there's anything to it but something fun to look at a little in the off-season.

Adam Wesoloski
Pulaski, Wisconsin

You are referring to Phoenix, Oregon and their spin-T.

Jack Woodward was coach for 26 years at Phoenix, Oregon.  He won state titles in 1961 and 1963.

His successor, Ron Williams continued it and and won state titles in 1979 and 1985 and was runner-up in 1982 and 1984. That was quite a run, and at th time I remember a lot of people talking about it.  According to the Medford paper they ran it once in 1999.

The spinner series, featuring a direct snap to the fullback, was a key part of Biggie Munn’s Michigan State Multiple offense.

The team lined up with the QB under center, and the ball was snapped between the QB’s legs to the fullback.  From that point, it was essentially a single-wing play, just as if the QB had lined up as a blocking back.  That’s how Munn treated it in his book, “Michigan State Multiple Offense” (1953) - just a single wing play from “T formation.”

One MSU fullback that I remember (because he was a Pennsylvania guy, from Hazleton), Gerry Planutis, was a good runner and a good enough ball handler to make the spinner series work.

Michigan State and UCLA met in the Rose Bowls of 1954 and 1956, and fortunately we have film of those games on the Internet.

In those films, you’ll see some spinner plays.



american flag FRIDAY,  DECEMBER 16,  2016  “If you knew how much work went into it, you would not call it genius."   Michelangelo

*********** I’m out of town so this will have to be short…

*********** Let’s give the ACC a few days to see what it plans to do with Louisville.

The traitorous act of a former Wake Forest player and coach, who provided Louisville with inside information on the Wake Forest team that he was allowed special access to as a result of his being a Wake radio broadcaster, in complete violation  of all standards of sportsmanship, and shows how ugly college football is at the core.

Bobby Petrino may deny any involvement with Wake Forest’s offensive material winding up in his staff’s hands (ever notice how head coaches, the most paranoid, micromanaging people in the world, somehow NEVER know anything about illegal or unethical goings-on in their department) but you have to admit, his history of truthfulness is not good.

From secret-dating the Auburn people while he was at Louisville (the first time) to the Arkansas motorcycle wreck with his 25-year-old honey on board - with several incidents in between - he has never told the truth when a lie was just as convenient.

For sure, ANY coach is responsible for understanding the AFCA Code of Ethics.  When that treacherous bastard of a radio analyst offered ANYONE on the staff inside information on the Wake Forest offense, that staff member had an obligation to report it to his head coach, and his head coach had an obligation to report it to his athletic director.

The Louisville athletic director is another story.  He’s already poo-poohed basketball coach Rick Pitino’s - er, Rick Pitino’s staff - providing prostitutes for recruits, and his first reaction to this “alleged” cheating was that it was a “Wake Forest Issue.”

Other people, including myself, have a different opinion.

Something that really pisses me off is that this didn’t happen to Clemson, or Florida State, or Virginia Tech - one of the ACC powerhouses. 

Oh, no.  Let’s pick on little Wake Forest, one of the smallest schools in the entire FBS, whose recruiting is impaired by the fact that it has actual academic standards and which basically offers up its football team to the more powerful conference members so that it can afford to provide a full range of other sports, for men and women.

At the very least , what took place at Louisville was an ethical violation  of the grossest sort.

*********** Jim Brown is 80 years old, and in his lifetime he’s accomplished an awful lot of things.

He is one of the greatest athletes who ever lived.  At Syracuse, he lettered in football, basketball, track and lacrosse.

When I lived in Baltimore, hotbed of lacrosse, friends who knew and loved the sport said he was the greatest player they’d ever seen.

I still think he is the greatest runner to ever play in the NFL.  Go check it out on YouTube.

At the peak of his career, he was late to training camp because he was in England making a movie;  when the owner of the Browns insisted he show up for training camp “or else,”  Jim Brown’s response was to  hang ‘em up.  Never played another down of football.

The point: NOBODY owns Jim Brown.  NOBODY tells Jim Brown to do something he doesn't want to do.

So when Jim Brown says the things he said recently about race in America, and about the president-elect, along with Ray Lewis and Reverend Darrell Scott - it’s important to listen.

And don’t ANYBODY think about calling Jim Brown an Uncle Tom.

He may be 80 years old, but I’ll bet he could still kick your ass if you did.

*********** Colorful broadcaster Craig Sager has died after a long struggle with cancer.  He was 65.  He was loved, and he’s going to be missed.

american flag TUESDAY,  DECEMBER 13,  2016  “There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.”  Roger Staubach

*********** Sure was nice to see Army finally end the streak.  The g-d- streak.  The 14 straight f—cking losses to Navy. Think of it - eleven entire classes went through  West Point without experiencing a win over Navy.

ANd now, the streak is over. On Brave Old Army Team!

To be fair, that was not Navy at their best.  Not the same Navy that beat Houston and beat Notre Dame and played Temple for the championship of the All America Conference.

It’s that last point that made the difference, and, let’s be honest, it’s Navy’s own fault.

Several years ago Navy, long an independent,  chose to join a conference.  They had plenty of good reasons for doing so.  Their choice back then was the Big East, but the Big East dissolved as a football conference before Navy could actually begin play, and Navy ultimately wound up in the All-America Conference.

It was foreseen at the time that if they ever wound up in their conference championship game they could find themselves having to play a tough game just the week before Army-Navy. Army-Navy  has traditionally  been the last regular-season college game of the year, and  since college conferences first began to play championship games, Army-Navy has been pushed back a week later so it wouldn’t conflict.

Army and Navy have always had at least one weekend free between their next-to-last games and Army-Navy, but this year Navy qualified to play in its conference championship game, and that meant no weekend off.

Not only did the Middies lose that precious rest at the end of a long season, but in that championship game, they lost four key players, two of them - their quarterback, Will Worth, and one of their best slotbacks -  on the same play.

That gave Navy coach Ken Niumatololo less than a week to get another quarterback ready, and he just wasn’t able to do it.  Although the sophomore he selected appeared to be a good prospect, it was clear that he wasn’t close to the starter, Will Worth, in his ability to run the Navy offense - the triple option that makes Navy “Navy” and scares the crap out of even the big boys.

So he ran very little of the triple option, instead running a bunch of stuff that I hadn’t seen much of before, stuff suited to his skills. You know - the kind of stuff the big boys run.   Passing and stuff.  And let’s face it: when Navy tries doing what the people who recruit kids who plan to come out after three years and enter the NFL draft do - and when they try to do it in a week’s time - they’re just not that good at it.  They’re not Navy any more.

Navy’s deal is to get on offense and never let you get the ball away from them.  Saturday, the relentless Navy running game was reduced to just 26 carries, for a mere112 yards.   You’d have to go way back, to the days before Paul Johnson arrived at Annapolis, to find a Navy team that impotent on the ground.

Army, by contrast, played service academy football, rushing 70 times for 316 yards.   Army's passing attack is fair at best (they threw four times for 35 yards) but their QB Ahmad Bradshaw runs the triple pretty well, and they have a nice toss sweep, but mainly, if they can get three or four yards a carry from their big fullbacks, they can control the ball, and that, along with a pretty good  defense, is enough to  beat you.  On Saturday, fullback Andy Davidson carried on 40 per cent of the Cadets’ running plays (28 carries, if you don’t want to do the math), and the threat of his dive and the decision-making of Bradshaw made the rest of the Army triple option work.

But let’s not kid ourselves - Army had three weeks to rest up.  Navy had no rest, and they were playing without Worth, a really great triple option quarterback.  If they hadn’t made the choice, years ago, to join a conference, Army might not have won on Saturday.

But that was Navy’s call. And that’s football.  I’ll take the win.

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

After watching the Army-Navy game yesterday (I make it a point to watch the game every year) I was reminded that the future of this country is secure in the hands of the young men and women at the academies - and NOT in the hands of those spoiled brats we see on knees with fists raised on Sundays.

The combined choirs of West Point and Annapolis sang our national anthem in the manner it was INTENDED.  Beautiful.  Stirring.  Poignant.  THEY should be singing it at the National Championship and the Super Bowl games.  It gave me chills and made me proud.

The game was a throwback.  I loved every physical minute of it.  It was played as the game of football was INTENDED to be played.  With passion, enthusiasm, emotion, sportsmanship, respect, and DEFENSE.  I would only hope that coaches all over the country watched it and learned something.  Speaking of coaches...Jeff Monken and Ken Niumatololo are class acts.  I would have paid to be a part of an academy coaching staff just to have had an opportunity to work with those young men. was a thrill to see the reaction of the Corps of Cadets and the Midshipmen when the game was over.  The respect shown by the Midshipmen for the Army and how they left the playing field as a TEAM...and the celebration showed by the Corps rushing the field to celebrate the victory with their TEAM and their classmates to show THEIR support.  College football doesn't need a better example of what it should be all about.

Congrats to the Corps for the big win, and I can't wait to watch the game next year!

Joe Gutilla
Austin, Texas

Coach Gutilla saved me the writing.  He said  it for me. 

*********** John Feinstein’s book, “A Civil War - a Year Inside College Football’s Purest Rivalry” tells the story of the 1995 Army-Navy game, from both sides, from spring ball to post-game locker room.  It’s 20 years old now, but in the things it tells you about the two service academies and the kind of guys who play football there, it’s still fresh, and I recommend it.  John Feinstein writes about all sorts of sports, and I haven’t read anything he’s written that I haven’t enjoyed.

Here’s his column on Saturday’s Army-Navy game.

*********** When I was a kid growing up in Philadelphia, the Army-Navy game was our bowl game. An end-of the-season tradition, the Army-Navy game was at least as big a college game as the Rose Bowl (remember back before the Playoff, when the Rose Bowl was still a Big Game?)

Those were days, during and immediately following World War II,  when most families in America had at least one member who had served in the military, and no politician who intended to keep his job would risk disrespecting our Armed Forces.

That included the President himself, and so, as Commander-in-Chief of our Armed Forces, our President always made it a point to attend the Army-Navy game.  He’d spend the first half on one side, surrounded by admirals (if on the Navy side) or generals (if on the Army side), and then cross the field at the half to sit on the other side.

During the march across he’d receive the sort of ovation due a person in his position.

Over the years, possibly because veterans no longer have the clout they once did, or perhaps because the Army-Navy game is no longer the big event that it once was, our Presidents have pretty much blown it off.

Barack Obama has been to exactly one.  (He must have thought someone said it was a basketball game.)

But on Saturday,  in Baltimore, President-elect Donald Trump was in attendance, seated on the Navy side for the first half and on the Army side for the second half.

Knowing his popularity with military people, it’s not surprising that he received a standing ovation when he was shown on the Big Board.

He was interviewed by the CBS broadcast guys, and although I didn’t pay a lot of attention to much of what he said, I did hear him say something to the effect that “It’s not the best football…”

What he said, I found online was “I just love the armed forces. Their spirit is so incredible. I don’t know if it’s necessarily the best football, but boy do they have spirit more than anybody. It’s beautiful.”

Uh, not necessarily  “the best football???”

Well, duh.

Come on, we all knew we weren’t watching the SEC.  Was it necessary to point that out?  And isn’t it nice to see a decent brand of hard-hitting football being played by guys who actually get up and go to class every morning -  real classes -  and then study after practice, because if they don’t they might actually flunk?

Oh, well.  For sure, Mr. Trump is definitely not some empty suit politician who’s always carefully weighing what to say, then says the political thing.  That’s one of the things that got him elected.

But there’s always the chance that some day he’ll tell some foreign dignitary, like in the old joke, “You know, for a fat girl, your wife doesn’t sweat that much.”

*********** CBS said Saturday’s Army-Navy game was the highest-rated Army-Navy game in 22 years.

Nationally it drew a rating of 4.5 and share of 10, up 7 per cent from last years 4.2 rating and 9 share.

In the Baltimore market, where the game was played, it drew a phenomenal 9.5 rating and 20 share.

The Army-Navy game’s ratings tied it for 13th among all games played this past season. Especially interesting is that of the 15 top rated college games of 2016, Army-Navy is one of only two that didn’t feature at least one team in the top ten at the time.   The other one was Notre Dame-Texas, but that one featured two marguee teams (at the time) playing in the opening weekend of the season, on Sunday evening of Labor Day weekend when it was the only game on the tube. (Bear in mind, of course, that most other games on the list had other games on the air in competition with them.)

1. Michigan-Ohio State 9.4
2. Alabama-Florida (SEC Championship) 6.6
3. Notre Dame-Texas (Sunday, Sept 4) 6.4
4. Alabama-LSU 5.8
5. Clemson-Louisville 5.5
6. Penn State-Wisconsin (Big Ten Championship) 5.3
7. Ohio State-Wisconsin 5.2
8. Alabama-Texas A & M  5.0
    Alabama-Ole Miss 5.0
10. Ole Miss-Florida State (Monday, Sept 5) 4.8
11. Alabama-USC (Saturday, Sept 3) 4.6
      LSU-Wisconsin (Saturday, Sept 3)
13. Alabama-Auburn 4.5
      Army-Navy 4.5
15. Wisconsin-Michigan 4.3

You may also have noticed that of the top 15 rated games, Alabama played in SIX of them.

*********** In the broadcast of the Army-Navy game, CBS’ Verne Lundquist shared with his audience an incident that he said took place before the game:  Army athletic director Boo Corrigan (what kind of man takes a child’s nickname like “Boo” into adulthood?) had “whispered” to him,  “I hope we don’t have a Trent Steelman moment.”

I thought, “WTF? A ‘Trent Steelman moment?’ 

Boo Corrigan, I said,  just threw that kid under the bus!  A college kid.  A West Point cadet.  An Army football player.  A Black Lion.”

Trent Steelman, for those who don’t know or don’t remember, was an Army quarterback.  A  damn good one.  He started at quarterback for 46 games over four years. He set an Army career record of 45 rushing touchdowns and 6,043 yards of total offense.

In high school, in Bowling Green, Kentucky, he was an all-state quarterback and  played in three state championship games.

As a “direct admit,” he entered West Point straight from high school (most Army football players spend a year beforehand at the US Military Academy Prep School)  and became the first freshman at Army to start an opening game at quarterback since 1944, going on to start all 12 games.

In 2010, as a sophomore, he became the first Army quarterback to start in 13 games.

As a junior, he started nine games.  His academy-record 32 straight starts at quarterback came to an end when injuries caused him to miss three games in mid-season, but he returned to start the final two games.

In 2012, as a senior, he started all 12 games.  He was team captain and Army’s Black Lion Award winner.

But in four years, he never beat Navy.

In his final game, his final shot at a win over Navy, after Navy went ahead, 17-12 with under five minutes to play, he led his team on a long drive to the Navy 15-yard line.  And then, with under two minutes remaining and the crowd going wild - Army had then gone 10 years without beating Navy - on a simple handoff between Steelman and fullback Larry Dixon, something went wrong.  The ball came loose.  Afterward, as befits men of honor, both Steelman and Dixon took responsibility,  but no matter - Navy recovered the football, and that was that.

I’ll let Ben Kercherval of CBS sports take it from there…

Steelman played well all game. The senior finished 4-of-5 passing and led a triple option attack that lapped Navy in the rushing department (370 yards to 167 yards), accounting for 96 yards on the ground and a score himself. For four years, Steelman and his teammates worked towards this one moment. But in the chaos of a potential game-winning drive, a simple miscommunication undid it all.

It was just a mistake, nothing more, but football can be cruel and unfair. There are no guarantees no matter how much work, sweat and blood is paid.

Steelman made his way to the sideline and was noticeably crying. Color commentator Gary Danielson said, "I'm not even going to pretend I know what he's going through." Steelman probably didn't fully know what he felt, either, but it was over for him. There were no more chances.

Then came the singing of the alma maters. By itself, the tradition is equal parts beautiful and haunting, like Gregorian chanting.
The image of Steelman sobbing and inconsolable deepened its effect.

It was hard to watch and admittedly a little guilt-inducing. This wasn't a "great moment in Army-Navy history" that will be remembered by all for decades because of an incredible play on the field. It was, however, a gripping reminder of why the game still matters.

Our most honest moments usually come in despair, not ecstasy. Steelman's reaction showed in that precise moment what it looks like to care so deeply for something that you can't help but bare your soul. It was an inner-most vulnerability that goes against the tough-guy act football parades. He was a display of heart, even if the window was set up against his own will.

We should all care that deeply about something in our own lives even if it hurts from time to time. Otherwise, there'd be no reason to strap on our own pads.

And that, folks, was the “Trent Steelman moment” that Boo referred to.

That, and the sight, on national television, of a brokenhearted kid who’d left it all out on the field and, thanks to one unfortunate error, felt the total weight of the burden of a leader coming down on him.

Unless you’d strapped it on, and jumped out in front of the pack, and invested everything you have in an effort to win, only to come up short - you’d never understand what Trent Steelman went through that day.  You’d think it was clever to make some snide remark that disparages a real competitor.

trent steelman

*********** When asked about a sign in the stands at the Pac 12 title game reading “We Want Bama,” Washington coach Chris Petersen told an interviewer, “I didn’t hold that sign up.”

*********** I don’t watch much NFL football but the Eagles-Redskins game was on in the background and my wife was watching, and I heard her gasp at something she saw.

What made her gasp, I saw on replay, was the Eagles’ Darren Sproles waiting for a punt, and the Redskins’ Deshazor Everett hitting him - even before the ball did.  Hitting a defenseless player.  Hitting him high and hard,  without any pretense at attempting a tackle.  Launching into him and knocking him senseless.

For this gross violation, the Redskins were penalized 15 yards.  FIFTEEN F—KING YARDS.

What the hell, Everett probably figured.  It's only
fifteen lousy yards.

For that,  you can take one of the opponent’s best players out of the game.

Think of it - FIFTEEN F—KING YARDS in return for a license  to deliver a hit that could  cost an opponent his career.   Cripple him for life.  Kill him. 

What the hell.

One thing that hit certainly will do is cost the game of football a lot of potential players, because you can be sure that , ugly and dirty as it was, it will be shown on ESPN, and posted on the Internet,  to be viewed over and over by impressive youngsters,  exciting them - but  scaring the hell out of their  parents.

That’s the NFL, fellas.  That’s the people who piously claim to be making the game safer - Heads Up Football and all that -  while what goes on down on their playing field puts the lie to their claims.

Big Football condones vicious, on-field violence that no responsible parent wants  his kids to be exposed to, and the result is that participation in football at youth, middle school and high school levels continues to decline.

Don’t believe me?  Check the numbers. 

Part of it is the concussion hysteria, of course, brought on by the NFL’s deceit in its dealings with the claims of former players.

But it;s inevitable that as more and more parents awitness the ugliness that the NFL represents ,  they’re saying, “I don’t want my son playing that sport.”

The NFL is killing our sport,  from the top down.

************ Rashaan Salaam died.  Way too young.  It appears he may have committed suicide.

It seems he may have had some mental problems, and I am already reading the comments of people who are blaming those issues on concussions suffered playing football.

*********** Pryor suck.

That would be Terrell Pryor, who, in the estimation of  the artist formerly known as “Pac Man,” the immortal Adam Jones, “suck.”

Who says you have to have a college education to be successful?  Thanks to his football skills, Adam Jones is wealthy enough that he has “made it rain” with US currency, despite language skills that haven’t advanced beyond “Pryor suck.”

*********** The contract extension is beginning to look like the Kiss of Death.

Mark Helfrich at Oregon got one not so long ago, and so did Jeff Fisher with the Rams, and they’re both gone.

Brian Kelly, look out.

*********** You remember my dialogue with Coach Hollis of Illinois a week or so ago, when we talked about possible college football dynasties?  Do you realize that one name mentioned  as a possibility for the Los Angeles Rams’ job is - Jim Harbaugh?

*********** How’s this for a career path?

Lane Kiffin… from head coach of the Oakland Raiders… to head coach of the University of Tennessee… to head coach of USC… to offensive coordinator at the University of Alabama…

to head coach at… Florida Atlantic???

*********** Nice to see Charlie Strong land on his feet at South Florida.  I think we will see soon enough that his problem at Texas was that that job requires not a football coach but a CEO, and he's a football coach.

*********** Who would have thought that when Cincinnati went looking for a new head coach to replace Tommy Tuberville they’d wind up hiring Ohio State’s head coach?

No, not Urban Meyer.  Luke Fickell.

Fickell’s been the Buckeyes’ defensive coordinator, but in 2011, after Jim Tressell was dismissed, Fickell was handed the job on an interim basis, until they could hire a name coach.

With Luke Fickell in charge, the Bucks went only 6-6, but come on - the place was in turmoil, and he kept the program together until they could lure Meyer away from Florida.

I’d like to see the Luke Fickell succeed at Cincinnati.

*********** The South Dakota State Jackrabbits made a game of it for a half, but the North Dakota State Bison (“BYE-zin”) were simply too much, and won, 36-10.

Next week, in an FCS semifinal,  the Bison travel to Harrisonburg, Virginia to take on James Madison, winner by 65-7 (!) over Sam Houston State.
In the other semifinal, Eastern Washington, winner over Richmond, plays Youngstown State, which defeated Wofford.  Sounds as if Youngstown is big-time in at least one respect: they will be playing without at least four of their players who reportedly tested positive for a banned substance.

In Division III, this will be the first time since 2004 that Mt. Union won’t be playing in the final game, as they lost to Mary Hardin-Baylor.  Mary Hardin-Baylor will face Wisconsin-Oshkosh, which beat John Carroll, the only team to beat Mt. Union in the regular season.

Undoubtedly the trick play of the day was a rather sneaky handoff by South Dakota State to score against North Dakota State.  I’m told by a devoted North Dakota State fan that the Bison ran this very play against the Jackrabbits a few years ago.

Here it is:

*********** I sure enjoyed ESPN’s 30 for 30 show, “Catholics vs Convicts,” which followed the Heisman Show.

Since I absolutely refuse to watch the Heisman Show,  I watched something on HGTV or somesuch until it was time for 30 for 30.

But those bastards at ESPN had let the Heisman Show run overtime, trying to trick me into watching dot sheet.  (That’s phonetic for “that sh—,” with a Finnish accent.)

I quickly hit “RECALL” on the remote until my wife told me it was safe to go back to ESPN.

*********** Only in Portland…

portland cycle forecast

FRIDAY,  DECEMBER 9,  2016  “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

House in the snow***********  It SNOWED in the Portland area Thursday.  Sort of. We don't get a lot of snow around here because the moist air comes from the west off the Pacific and it's not that cold.  And when the wind blows from the east, it's cold enough, but it's dry.  Only rarely do we get a combination of moist air from the west and cold air from the east and when we do - PANIC.

This is no lie: simply on the strength of the forecast,
without so much as one snowflake falling, EVERY school district in the Portland metro area announced - Wednesday night - that it would be closed on Thursday.

Sure enough, the snow did come, and by the time it stopped, it had left maybe 1/2 inch on the streets.  I can hear the people in  Minnesota laughing.

So kids and teachers - when you have to make up this snow day sometime in the spring, remember to thank your administration.

Meantime, that little dusting of snow sure did look pretty.  That's our house,  around dinner time.

*********** Oregon has settled on Willie Taggart as the Ducks’ new head coach.

You read it here first.

You may recall that he was my selection a week ago.

So… Instead of paying tens of thousands of dollars to a f—king search firm and traveling all over the country, they could have called me and I’d have saved them the time and money.  Well, not ALL the money.

***********  Baylor has just hired Temple’s Matt Rhule, and before people say that Rhule, a Pennsylvanian born and raised, can’t get it done deep in the heart of Texas, I suggest a look at Sam Houston State.

Sam Houston’s been in  the FCS semi-finals the last two years, and this year they’re undefeated (12-0) going into their quarter-final game Saturday against James Madison.

Sam Houston’s head coach, K.C. Keeler, is also a Pennsylvania guy - from Emmaus, near Allentown - who played his college ball at Delaware.

When he took the Sam Houston job he was as eastern as you can get.

After 12 years as an assistant at Amherst and Rowan (formerly Glassboro, New Jersey State) he was named head coach at Rowan and in his nine years there Rowan went to the D-III final game FIVE times and the semi-final game twice.  HIs overall record was 88-21-1, enough to convince Delaware that he was the right man to succeed longtime head coach Tubby Raymond.

After 51 years of Wing-T football at Delaware, Keeler introduced his spread offense, and enjoyed good success.  In his second year there, the Blue Hens won the FCS national championship.  He took them to the quarterfinal game in 2004 and to the final game in 2007 and 2010.

But he may have made a few enemies there, because after going to the FCS finals in 2010, he went 7-4 in 2011 and 5-6 in 2012 - and he was let go.

In his 11 years there, his teams went 86-52.

In the four years since then, Delaware has gone 21-25 overall and, worse, 13-19 in conference play.

They fired Keeler’s successor midway through this past season and they have yet to name a replacement.

Delaware’s attendance, once consistently best in the FCS, has gone from 20,000 a game in 2010 to 16,000 last season.

Keeler, meanwhile, sat out the 2013 season before accepting the Sam Houston State job.

The program was anything but down. The Bearkats made it to the FCS title game in 2011 and 2012 (lost to North Dakota State - who else?), and made it to the second round in 2013.  And then head coach Willie Fritz left for Georgia Southern.

Keeler took over and didn’t miss a beat. In 2014, the Bearkats were 11-5 and made it to the FCS semi-final and in 2015 they were 11-4 and again played in the semifinal.

This year, they’re 12-0.  That makes Keeler 35-9 in three seasons, with a shot at this year’s national title.

He’s not a Texas guy and neither are his coordinators, so please don’t tell me that Matt Rhule can’t win in Texas.

Meanwhile, K. C. Keeler was just announced as this year’s Eddie Robinson Award winner and - get this - he has been suggested as a possible successor to - Matt Rhule at Temple.

*********** I was told not so long ago by a person who knows such things that 2/3 of the kids in Baylor’s most recent recruiting class came from one-parent families.  That’s code, of course, for no father.  No strong male in the kid’s life.

Which brings me to Baylor’s recent hire of Temple’s Matt Rhule, who by all accounts is a good man…

I wonder how many kids on Temple’s team grew up without fathers.

Not putting the guilt on Matt Rhule, you understand, but I can’t help thinking what a blow it must be for kids who for the first time in their lives have come to trust a man and depend on him to be there for them - see him bolt for greener pastures.  Talk about a formula for cynicism.  How many of them, I wonder, had that done to them by their own fathers?

*********** The forest fires in the southeast are tragic for so many reasons.  In the understandable emphasis on the immediate threat to loss of life and property and jobs, I haven’t yet read anywhere about a tragedy of another sort, and one that’s likely to be quite lasting:  it’s going to take years before that once-beautiful forest returns.

In the Northwest, there are huge areas called “Burns,” where forest fires once destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres of giant trees.

Not far to the north of us in our county is the Yacolt Burn, which took place early in the 20th Century.

And about an hour and a half to the southwest of us, in Oregon, is the Tillamook Burn.

Tillamook burn

The Tillamook Burn was a series of huge fires, the first of which took place in 1933, and wiped out more than 300,000 acres of prime timber, in mountainous country so steep and inaccessible that it was almost impossible to fight the fires.  Only rain was able to put an end to them.

Fire in the Tillamook Burn destroyed millions of old growth Douglas-firs, several feet in diameter.  As timber, they were worth hundreds of millions of 1933 dollars.  As charred wood, they were worthless.

Those giant firs have never grown back.  In a managed forest, owned by a big timber company, they’d have been replanted and they’d now be mature Douglas-firs.  But most of the land in the Tillamook Burn belonged to small companies that couldn’t afford to replant, so instead, they turned the land over to the state.  Which did nothing.

Now, it’s recognizable for its lack of big trees, and most of the residents of the area simply refer to it as “The Burn.”

They hunt elk and deer in “The Burn.”  And they ride their dirt bikes up in “The Burn.”

On Youtube, I found a clip of a guy dirt-biking up in The Burn with a GoPro camera attached to his helmet. It was a lot of fun to watch - there are some really hairy trails up there, narrow and rutted, with mountain on one side and steep drop offs on the other.  But that’s not why I watched it, or why I’ve linked to it.   The point is that while he’s going through forest, it’s not a classic Pacific Northwest forest. There are no giant trees.  Just sticks.

It’s been 83 years since the first fire, and it’s forest once again, but you can tell by driving along a road and looking up at the mountains that it’s not the same forest it once was.  Never will be.

In the Southeast, those “burns” are going to be poignant reminders for many years to come of the beautiful forests that  for centuries covered those hills.

You can he’p (as Dolly Parton would say) the victims of the fires in the Smokies…

*********** John Glenn died Thursday at age 95.  A native of New Concord, Ohio, and a graduate of Muskingum College, he was a wartime fighter pilot, a test pilot, the last of the original group of astronauts, and a United States Senator from Ohio.

In 1998 he helped to establish what has come to be named  the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at (the) Ohio State University, and in 2009 he and his wife, Annie, were accorded one of the university’s highest honors:

Dotting the “i” in the band’s Script Ohio formation.

This is no small deal.   Among the rare few who have had the honor,  in recognition of their service to Ohio State:

Bob Hope (1978)

Woody Hayes (1983)

Jack Nicklaus (2006)

This past season, former Buckeyes coach Earle Bruce dotted the "i"  and said afterward, "I think this is the greatest honor I've ever received."

***********  My parents are both Ohio State grads.  They are as passionate about The Best Damn Band In The Land as they are about the football team.  They talk about going to the basketball arena before games (if they could get a seat) for the "skull session" when the band warms up and has a bit of a pep rally as though it is like going to church on Easter Sunday...Dotting the I...

College football is so much better than the NFL.  

My sons asked me recently "why are college stadiums so much bigger than NFL stadiums."  I just had to tell them because people care more.  They're not old enough to understand it, I guess.  But that connection you get to your school is so deep.  Or the connection you get to the school in the area/state where you grew up.  It's woven into the fabric of your being.  You know someone, or someone who know's someone, who played there or went to school there.  You can touch it. It's generational.  It's rivalries that you'd fight over.  It's a band, or a mascot, or a grove of trees.  It's a quad you can visit or a Hall you can stand on the steps of.  It's dotting the I, a flaming spear, the Trojan on his horse, the buffalo, the Sooner Schooner, Bevo, Bill the Goat, Uga, and on and on.

"Bear down, Chicago Bears..." doesn't quite compare.  Sorry, NFL.

Todd Hollis
Elmwood, Illinois

It’s all of those things that you mention, and in addition it's also...


and school colors…

and team uniforms…

and, in some cases, nicknames...

All the traditions that the money mechanics that run the athletic programs are willing to trash in return for a few pieces of silver.

Army Uniform*********** You know it’s Army-Navy week - because Nike has once again screwed  with the Army uniforms.

Got to love those Nike design people - first they come up with something absolutely, totally butt-ugly, unrelated in any way to a school’s traditional uniforms (or colors) and then they concoct a story to explain why anyone would wear anything so hideous.  And, because it’s Army’s uniform, the explanation fairly drips with faux patriotism.

This time the libs at Nike would have us believe that by dressing Army’s football team in dark, dull gray, they’re somehow honoring the 82nd Airborne - the courageous paratroopers of World War II who played such a key role in the liberation of Europe.

Here’s the copy that explains it:

“Inspired, humbled and motivated by the soldiers who came before us, we don their patches, adopt their mottos, and hold their deeds close to our hearts.”

Yeah, right.  Talk about hypocrisy. 

I’ll bet that after the trauma of having to write all that patriotic stuff,  that  copywriter back at Nike headquarters (or at their ad agency)  had to go spend an hour in the corporate Safe Space.

PS: Why are those uniform models so often looking down, as if they're either ashamed of something - or checking to see if their fly's open?

*********** Hello Coach,
Congratulations on maximizing your team this season.  Sounds like you took them as far as their abilities would allow (maybe even a little farther).  That is all anyone can really ask of any coach.
Many years ago, I remember reading an article on your site titled “The Secret of American Foreign Affairs Success” or some such (it has been many years, please forgive my memory if I’m wrong).
It was a tremendously insightful commentary on how American Football defines and differentiates our culture from our sokker-loving Western European “friends”.
I thought it was so spot on I have wanted to share it many times over the years, but could never find it.  Do you still have it and/or know where I can find it?
Thanks for any help you can give.
Craig Torres
Flemington, New Jersey
Hi Coach-

Nice to hear from you.

I’d love to be able to help you and I wish I could be more encouraging but I never thought to index the stuff on my page and so I’m left having to resort to my Mac’s Spotlight search and I have no idea what the title might be.

But if I should come across it I’ll send it to you!

Can any long-time reader out there help???

*********** I know that - other than telling kids how evil Americans are  - they haven’t taught history in school for quite some time now, but I was still shocked when I heard Jenna Lee on Fox News, discussing the Pearl Harbor attack and  saying, “I can’t imagine… as a citizen… watching this footage as it came in.”

Uh, Jenna, the footage didn't come in.

in 1941, “footage” was just that.  It was actual film, measured by the foot.  It had to be shot, and then developed. In order for ordinary citizens to see it, the film would then have to be flown to the states.  (No transmission by satellite back then.  Satellite? I can hear the people saying.  What the hell’s a satellite?)

Once stateside, the film would have to be copied, over and over, and sent out to theaters all over the country for people to see in the “newsreels” that were shown between features.

TV? It was another 10 years (and a world war) away, something Ms. Lee evidently isn’t aware of.

Oh - one other thing:  the “footage” we now see of Pearl Harbor was shot by government photographers, and I rather doubt that our government was in a big hurry to show Americans how we'd been caught with our pants down.

*********** Admiral Harry Harris, the US Pacific Commander, had a father and four uncles who served in World War II.  He spoke at the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day, and in his speech he referred to a certain San Francisco quarterback/protestor, saying

“You can bet that the men and women we honor today — and those who died that fateful morning 75 years ago — never took a knee and never failed to stand whenever they heard our national anthem being played,”

*********** For those of you who aspire to coaching in the NFL… I just thought I’d remind you that it means having to depend on  guys like this:

A Green Bay defensive linemen (who will go unnamed) has been suspended for the final four games of the season for  the usual ”violating the league's substance-abuse policy."  He missed the first four games for the same reason.

*********** Coach Todd Hollis, of Elmwood, Illinois, wrote me, asking, “See anything wrong with this???”

2-Count Methodology: At Dartmouth College, the screen game is based off the drop back pass game and offensive coordinator Keith Clark uses a slide protection scheme to the side of the screen. It’s basically empty protection with a two-count methodology. “They have to have the mental clock of 1,001 and 1,002 in their heads,” said Coach Clark. “They all want to rush it when they get to the field and they have to slow it down.” In order to make sure the timing and the technique mesh, Coach Clark will teach what he calls a “yank” technique which is a pass set on the line of scrimmage to the direction of the slide.  “We want to ‘stab and grab’ with the hand on the side the defender rushes,” said Coach Clark. “When the ‘count clock’ goes off in your head, yank or violently pull the defender down past your hip, kicking back with that same side leg and release on your screen path.” 

To be honest, I don’t know what to think.  Where once I would have condemned Dartmouth for an unethical practice, I can’t say that this is wrong.  Not any more.

I don't like it, but it appears that it's here to stay.

So much of today’s modern offenses is based on techniques that we old-timers were taught from the very beginning were illegal. And nowadays it isn’t.  Or is it?  Isn't. Is. Isn't. Is.

Who the hell knows?

I have yet to see a clear line between what is and what isn’t holding so it’s only natural that in the absence of that clear line players are sure, occasionally, to go too far.

What once was holding is now winked at.  The chokeholds and tackling that get a player called for holding nowadays would have gotten him thrown out of the game 30 years ago.

Coaches are clever guys. Football has always been a game in which, unless something is absolutely prohibited, some coach will gain an edge by doing something that’s never been done before, and will continue to do it until enough people complain about it and it’s outlawed, or until so many people adopt themselves that officials realize they might as well legalize it.

The problem with holding, as I see it, is that it’s just not clear what is or isn’t.  I keep hearing that you can (or can’t) hold if your hands are “inside the frame of the body” or somesuch, and yet even a casual viewer can see a violation on every play.  And now, officials are challenged with calling every violation they see, and slowing the game down tremendously, or simply letting mild cases go.  So holding becomes football’s version of basketball’s palming and traveling.

It was a whole lot easier for them to  enforce the rule when it was just a question of whether the blocker's hands were open or closed.  Once they changed the rules to allow open hands (at the urging of the passing coaches on the NCAA rules committee) the next logical step was for players to hold, and for coaches to teach holding.  And for further liberalized rules.  And for laxer enforcement.

So while I deplore the tactics that the Dartmouth coach describes (“Yank or violently pull?" How can you "yank or pull” a guy without holding him?) I doubt that many coaches or many in a position of authority would join me.   Several years ago I fumed when a coach told me that an o-line coach he knew had told him, “It’s not holding if they don’t call it.”  

But now I’m afraid that’s where we are.

Yours in integrity,

***********  FCS Quarterfinal action: South Dakota State at North Dakota State

South Dakota State (9-3) at North Dakota State (11-1) - The Bison against the Jackrabbits - in the Fargodome Saturday

The winner meets either Sam Houston State (12-0) or  James Madison (11-1) in the semifinals.

Ordinarily Fargo’s only about a 3-1/2 hour bus ride for the Jackrabbits, but based on what I’ve seen in the news about their weather and their roads, it ain’t going to be fun getting there.

***********   If I were to tell you that there are 200 kids from Valdosta, Georgia playing D-I college football, you wouldn’t believe me.  Sure, Valdosta’s a great football town, but come on.   It's not that big a town.

Or suppose I were to tell you that there are more than 25 guys in the NFL right now from Pocatello, Idaho.  Impossible, you’d say, and you’d be right.  No town that size could possibly produce that many pro football players.

But there’s a place with no more than 55,000 people - about the size of Valdosta or Pocatello - that can make both of those claims.

It’s a remote island group in the Pacific called American Samoa, and it turns out great football players far out of proportion to its population.

If you’d like to understand why, you need to read this article…

american flag TUESDAY,  DECEMBER 6,  2016  “Sacrifice. Work. Self-discipline. I teach these things, and my boys don’t forget them when they leave.”  Bear Bryant

camas trophy*********** Our local high school, Camas High, won the Washington 4A state title Saturday night, defeating Richland, 24-14.   Camas (the Papermakers) finished 14-0 and, fittingly, the final game was the only one that they didn’t win by at least two touchdowns.  During the season they soundly defeated Oregon finalist Central Catholic and Idaho quarterfinalist Coeur D’Alene.

And yet there are those who would say that Camas is not even the best team in the state of Washington.

That team, they claim, is a small Catholic school,  two classes smaller than Camas: Archbishop Murphy, of Everett.  That’s the school no one wanted to play, remember? (Five opponents forfeited rather than play them.)

Archbishop Murphy, which outscored opponents 463-44 this season, defeated Liberty of Issaquah, 56-14 to win the 2A state title. 

They scored six touchdowns of more than 50 yards.

Their quarterback, Connor Johnson, was 11 of 12 for 361 yards and five touchdowns.

The score was 35-0 at the half, and before the third period ended, they made it 49-7 to make it a running clock.  In a state championship game.

bring ‘em on.   My money's on Camas.     

richland bomber*********** Richland, Washington happens to be where Marine General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, our Defense Secretary-designate,  grew up and went to high school, and he still lists Richland as his home.  Richland started as a sort of factory town - a government-planned, government-built and government-owned factory town - to house the workers at the Hanford Works, part of the World War II Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb.

Richmond High’s teams are The Bombers.  Their helmet decal (shown at left on their QB)   unapologetically features a mushroom cloud emerging from an "R."

Richland is in cowboy country, on the other side of the mountains from ultra-liberal Seattle.  I have a feeling that if you were to take a knee during the national anthem at a Richland High game, you would do so at your peril.  I wouldn’t even think of suggesting they change the nickname or the helmet logo.

*********** North Beach's first-round playoff opponent, Napavine, ran the table, finishing 14-0 and winning the Class 2B title game, 36-14 over Liberty High of Spangle, Washington.

***********  It was a stirring thing to hear the combined bands of Penn State and Wisconsin - 600 musicians in all - play the national anthem.  They PLAYED it!  No f--king Grammy-Award-winning singer PERFORMING it.

To be frank - I'm not sure who disrespects our national anthem more - Colin Kaepernick, who kneels, or the performer who insists on subjecting us to his/her personal rendition, which often bears little resemblance to the actual tune or rhythm of our national song.

*********** If they had only asked, I had the perfect solution for the Playoff Selection Committee as they debated who, besides Alabama, to select for the Playoff:  Just look at the losses.

Ohio State’s loss to Penn State was, well, flukey - the return of a blocked field goal attempt.  Exciting as hell for me, a longtime Penn State fan.  But flukey all the same.

Washington’s loss was to a really good USC team that if it hadn’t taken so long to find an offense might have been in the playoffs itself - and still, in my opinion, could beat any team in the Playoff.

Clemson’s loss was by a point to a pretty good  Pitt team (which earlier in the season had handed Penn State one of its two defeats).

If you don’t look at the losses, you risk brining  the whole idea of a Playoff Selection Committee  into question.

Penn State?  Besides the Lions’ having two losses, you can’t afford to give a team that’s lost a game by 39 points a shot at your  “National Championship.”

Michigan?  In addition to having two losses, you can’t afford to let a team that lost to Iowa, which lost to an FCS team, have a shot at the title.

If one of those two teams were to win the Playoff, football’s playoff would be no better than basketball’s tournament, which to its credit does exactly what it’s intended to do - come up with a tournament champion.  Rarely does it settle the question of which is the best team in the nation.  But it doesn’t claim to do that.   The Playoff Committee does.

Frankly, I hate playoffs and I don’t give a sh— who wins their  “National Championship” because somehow, as long as someone has to decide who’s in the playoff field, you can’t avoid bringing human infallibility into it.

Actually, I’d rather we still had bowl games.  And nothing else. I’d rather let the players enjoy themselves in a nice place, and I’d rather have 30-some teams end their seasons with a win.  Especially the really good teams like Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Washington - and let’s face it, three of them are going home losers.

Bowl games leave unsettled the question of who’s the best team, which suits me fine.   Who’s the “National Champion?”  Who knows?  Everybody’s entitled to their opinion (unless you disagree with me, in which case yours is wrong).

I enjoyed the idea of a debate that went on well into the New Year.  I don’t care for the notion that other than whether Washington or Penn State or Michigan should have gotten that fourth spot, the arguing is over -  the science is settled,
as a certain President liked to say.  The heavy lifting’s all been done for us by a bunch of suits.  So shut up and drink your Dr. Pepper.

Me? I’d just as soon turn it over to computers as let a bunch of suits do it.
*********** The Washington Huskies basically shoved it up CU’s butt.  Browning wasn’t sharp at all but it didn’t matter.  The numbskull announcers kept saying that the Huskies needed "more balance" and the Double Winger in me kept saying “Have you seen the score?"

It was as good as over when Sefo Liufao, Colorado’s starting QB,  sprained his ankle.  There went half of  their running game.  And then  they made the huge mistake of starting him in the second half:  obviously hampered by that bad ankle, he threw three bad interceptions.  (He’d thrown only three all season long up until then.) Worst of all, the first of the interceptions came on the first play of the second half and was run back for a score.

Putting him back in made no sense because he couldn’t run anyhow, and the backup, Montez, who isn’t as good a runner, is a very good passer.

A Trip in my Time Machine: earlier in the season,  Liufao threw for 250 yards,  3 TDS, no picks in the first half against Michigan - in the Big House. The Buffs led at halftime - and then they lost Liufao to injury. 

*********** Speaking of Army, they’re in a bowl game.  And what a bowl game it’s going to be.

It’s the Heart of Dallas Bowl, on December 27, against North Texas.

With one game left to play, Army is 6-5, although two of its wins have come against FCS opponents.

North Texas is 5-7, including a win over FCS Bethune-Cookman.

Not exactly a match made in heaven, right?  But wait - it gets worse.

These two teams have already played each other. They met back in October, at North Texas.  North Texas won, 35-18.  It wasn’t exactly the sort of game that called for a rematch.

Uh, you Heart of Dallas Bowl people… what were you thinking?

***********  Coach,

I enjoyed your analysis of the stability (disappearance of?) at Oregon.  I remember talking to my wife and brother-in-law (both PSU grads) about the Penn State job after Joe Paterno was fired and Tom Bradley was not 'retained.'  My comments basically stated that Penn State now was just one of the other guys.  Coaches would come and go.

But, while he did 'go,' Bill O'Brien was the right guy at the right time.  And in his own way, he provided stability and righted the ship.  I don't know if a career college coach could have done that.  It took a professional's approach and demeanor to wade through that stuff.  I honestly liked that he put the names on the jerseys for those who stayed.  And I didn't think less of him for leaving.  

And now the Nittany Lions have James Franklin.  He took the names back off the jerseys.  And it was the right time to do so.  A Pennsylvania guy with a Pennsylvania attitude and approach (I'd even say a western PA attitude and approach, if I'm allowed), I think PSU may have found another long-term guy.  The faithful are willing to weather the occasional down year if it means high graduation rates, players staying clean, and a workmanlike approach.  I do think the key is retention of quality assistant coaches OR really, really good hires when someone leaves.  

What do you think?  Could we, in an era where coaches come and go, actually have a few dynasties forming?  Saban, Meyer, Harbaugh, Franklin?   David Shaw?  

Todd Hollis
Elmwood, Illinois


I felt the same way about Penn State as you did when,  bludgeoned by the NCAA, the trustees  panicked, removing all vestiges of the Paterno era including Tom Bradley, who I always felt was the proper successor to JoePa.  I do suspect that Joe contributed to the mess by overstaying in an effort to designate  his son, Jay, as his successor - which no one was buying. 

Had Joe not stubbornly hung on so long, it’s possible  things wouldn’t have been handled as they were.

When he bolted for the NFL I resented Bill O’Brien’s opportunism,  but in retrospect I agree that he was a good choice at the time and that he did “right the ship.”  

I still have some concerns about James Franklin regarding the Vanderbilt rape case (having two grandkids who graduated from Vandy and two who still attend) but I really don’t know enough about it to have a strong opinion.  I do have to say that I like very much the way he “righted the ship” this year after the Michigan loss, and the way he handled himself and his team before, during and after the Big Ten championship game.  It takes great preparation and great leadership to have a team come back from a three touchdown deficit against one of the best teams in the country, as Penn State did against Wisconsin.

Being a P-A guy, he seems to be a great fit and it’s possible - I’m not holding my breath - that he could stick around  a while.

One little quibble:  he’s not a Western PA guy.  (Non-Pennsylvanians wouldn’t understand, but dating back to colonial days, when the Alleghenies made travel between the two ends  of the Pennsylvania colony all but impossible, Pennsylvania has been split, culturally, between east and west.)  He’s as Eastern P-A as you can get.  He went to Neshaminy High School, in the northeast suburbs of Phila. just across the river from New Jersey,  and he played his college ball at East Stroudsburg, which is also just across the river from Jersey.

Eastern P-A football has caught up.  The cratering of the steel industry and the subsequent loss of population has taken its toll on Western PA football, too.  The football there is still plenty good, but it’s no longer the great recruiting mecca  it once was.  A lot of those people who left moved to take jobs in places like Florida and Texas, and that's where their kids are playing now.  At the same time, Eastern PA football has improved to the extent that, based on a scan of the Penn State roster - more than half the Pennsylvania kids are from Harrisburg  east - as well as the outcomes of recent state title games, it’s at least the equal of Western Pennsylvania.  Over the last ten years, in the three largest classes (until this year, Pennsylvania has had only four), Eastern  teams have a slight edge in state championships won.

Dynasties?  Not in the Oregon sense where they seldom went outside, even for assistants.  But in the sense of one guy sticking around...

Saban for sure.  How much bigger can he go in college? He’s already turned Texas down. And he’s had a taste of the NFL.  But if he leaves? Bama has already gone the dynasty route once and didn’t have great success hiring Bear Bryant guys.  I think that when it’s time for Saban to go, Bama will go after the biggest and best name in the business. The fact that Saban is a Yankee didn’t seem to bother them in the slightest.  There are a few guys out there with Bama connections - Swinney, McElwain, Smart, to name a few - whose hiring might be said to continue a “dynasty.”  

Meyer, Shaw, Harbaugh and Franklin are all in their Dream Jobs, so there’s a good chance they’ll all stay.  As to whether their schools would name their successors from off their staffs...

Meyer?  I think he’ll stay in Columbus. He’d only leave for the right NFL job. How many of them are there?  He’s an Ohio guy and he’s got everything it takes to continue to win.  If he goes?  He didn’t exactly leave a legacy at Florida when he left there.   If he ever gets tired of the race, he does have at least one guy on his staff in Luke Fickell who’s actually got experience as head coach of the Buckeyes.  But the OSU people know theirs is one of the top jobs in college football, and I think their egos would keep them from hiring from within.

Shaw?  He might stay and I’d love to see him do it, because he’s a Stanford guy and he’s a great fit. For sure, Stanford people aren’t nearly as demanding as, say, Bama or Ohio State people, so they’ll tolerate a bad season here and there, especially from one of their own. I don’t see him ever leaving for another college job, but he’s got to be getting offers from the NFL.  And like any other big-time college coach, he’s bound to wonder how he might do in the big time.

Harbaugh? He’s a Michigan guy (and a Schembechler guy), and that certainly ought to mean something, but I can’t help thinking that after seeing his dad spend a career as a coach and never get higher than head coach at a I-AA school - sorry, Western Kentucky - he’d look hard at an opportunity to take over an NFL team.  Not just any NFL team, though -  he’s smart enough to know that you can’t turn things around in the NFL the way you can in college - but a team with a good owner that would give him compete control.   Otherwise,  he’s making enough money at Michigan, where he has a chance to be good year after year, and until he gets tired of the recruiting rat race I think it would take a heck of an offer to make him leave. For sure he’s not going to leave for another college. Of course, there's always the chance that he'll wear out his welcome, even at his alma mater.

Franklin?  Way too soon to say.  Yes, the Lions won the Big Ten championship, and yes, they’re headed for the Rose Bowl.  But they’re just a blocked field goal against Ohio State from playing in a consolation bowl in Orlando or Jacksonville or somesuch on New Year’s Day;  and it wasn’t that long ago that the loyal fans in Happy Valley were calling for his head. Will they turn on him again?  Hard to say, but fortunately for him, it looks as if he’s been doing a great job of recruiting, and the Lions should be very good next year. Still,  he’s not a Penn State guy and he’s only spent a few years in State College and I can definitely see him leaving for the pros.

I would add Ken Niumatololo at Navy.  He has done a sensational job and he’s appreciated there.  Obviously he’s expected to win, but I believe he’ll continue to do so, and unless there is a radical change in the leadership structure at the Naval Academy itself, I see him staying there as long as he wishes.  His success is based on the offense that he runs, and the fact that it is not attractive to the NFL - or to many colleges - makes him less likely to be wooed away.  He’s already turned down the job at BYU, despite his being a member of the LDS Church, and despite having a son who attends “The Y.”

I predict that Mark Helfrich’s firing is a sign of very bad things to come in the college game.  When a guy who’s played in a National Championship game is fired just two years later after having one losing season, all bets are off.  It’s a strong sign that college football has taken a giant step in the direction of pro football,  where money rules absolutely and, other than Bill Belichick,  there are no dynasties.

***********  There’s a lot of white guilt going around, and a guy who caught a bad case of it felt emboldened to write a letter to the Portland Oregonian regarding the name of the annual game between Oregon and Oregon State…

I met a nice African-American woman while giving blood at the American Red Cross. When she told me about a promotion they had that involved "The Civil War," I mentioned my surprise about the use of that name. Her immediate response was, "Because it's racist?"

If "The Civil War" were the name of a rivalry game in a Southern state, the name probably would have been changed by now, this because of the presence of African-American voices in Southern states, while there are few such voices here.

African Americans represent only a small percentage of the population of Oregon. While it is unlikely that they opt against moving here just because of the name of a football game, one does have to wonder what kind of message this name sends.

Calling this game "The Civil War" seems archaic and racially insensitive. Consideration might be given to returning to its previous name, "The Oregon Classic."

At a minimum, it would seem reasonable to investigate whether or not this name is offensive to some.

Kirk Moore
Southwest Portland

(Read some of the comments.  By no means is everyone in Oregon a liberal PC weenie.)

*********** Fox is so steeped in NFL marinade that it simply doesn’t know how to televise a college game.  Watching the strutting and posing that went on during the team intros before the Big Ten and the Pac-12 title games, I found myself wondering where all the “student-athletes” were that the NCAA’s always referring to.   The flaming torches at the Pac-12 game? More than just a trifle over the top.  And whose bright idea was it to have one of the Washington cheerleaders lead the team onto the field carrying a purple smoke bomb?

And the Fox “talent?”

Matt Leinart?  Come on, man - either shave or grow a beard.  The “I was too busy to shave this morning” look may work with the women but it's really scruffy.

Mike Hill?  He sounds like a Steven A. Smith wannabe

Brady Quinn?  He may or may not be good - still not sure -  but he’s got to do something about that metrosexual look

Joe Davis, the play-by-play guy?  Shouldn’t he be doing high school games for a few more years?

*********** Hello Coach,

Hope all is well. I was reading through the NEWS today and your description of the Open Wing. Something came to mind is that is a Mullet formation --> TE & WB = business in the front ; SE & FL = party in the back.

Adam Wesoloski
Pulaski, Wisconsin

Hahaha.  Funny that you would put it that way.

That’s EXACTLY how my friend Brian Flinn, a coach at Villanova (who’s been a big help to me) described it.

Nice to hear from you.

*********** Sure was sorry to see Villanova’s season come to an end, with a 10-7 loss in the snow at South Dakota  State.  It also meant an end to Andy Talley’s 32-year run as head coach at Villanova.

There aren’t many guys in the country as warm and genuine as Andy Talley, who could always find time at practice to chat with a visitor.

There also aren’t many guys in America coaching at the program that they started, but that’s what Coach Talley did.   Back in 1985, after going four years without playing football, Villanova hired him from St. Lawrence University, where he’d gone 28-18-1 in his five years there, to start afresh as a D-III independen.

The Wildcats moved up to D-IAA (Now FCS) in 1988, and that’s where they’ve stayed since.    Although Villanova is definitely big-time in basketball, it’s small, it’s selective, and it’s a private school with high tuition, all of which make fielding a winning football team a challenge. But Andy Talley has been up to the challenge,

In his stay at Villanova, Coach Talley was 230-136-1.

His teams made three appearances in the FCS quarterfinals, two in the semifinals, and, in 2009, they won the National Championship.  They’ve finished in the Top Ten five times.

In 1997 and again in 2009 he was named the AFCA  Coach of the Year.  In 1997 he won the prestigious Eddie Robinson Award, given to the outstanding FCS coach.

The head coaching transition at Villanova will be a smooth one.  In fact, it’s already been taking place - it's been going on  since January, 2015.

That’s when it was announced that Mark Ferrante, assistant head coach and offensive line coach, would succeed Coach Talley.

Coach Ferrante played quarterback for Coach Talley back in 1982 at St. Lawrence.  He’s been on the Villanova staff since 1987, and he’s been assistant head coach for the last 18 years.

Transition? At Villanova, it's business as usual. 

*********** Transition, did you say?

Oregon assistant head coach Steve Greatwood wrote me: "What made Oregon special is that if you played here 40 years ago you could bring your wife and family back and someone would know you.  It’s sad that connection will be lost forever."

*********** Max Browne, a Washington kid, started out the year as USC’s starting quarterback, but after two games he was replaced by Sam Darnold, and the rest is history.  With Darnold appearing  to be one of the best in a long  line of good Trojan QBs, USC’s offense took wings.  Last week, Max Browne was given his release, and I came across this interesting analysis, contending that he and other top QB recruits who’ve come out of Washington over the past few years are “QB academy products.”

Was able to watch Max throughout his HS career. My observation is that like his predecessor at Skyline HS, Jake Heaps, he is a QB academy product. A lot of these athletes get involved in QB academies at early ages. They learn great technique. IF they are in the right HS program they can put up big numbers. The down side is that some of them are not natural "gamers", not as athletic, and limit themselves to one position, in one sport. I don’t think it makes them as well rounded of an athlete. When Max was benched you could tell instantly that Darnold was a true playmaker, a gamer. Stuff that doesn't show up at academies, at a dominant HS program, on the practice field, or film room. From my understanding Max Browne is a great kid and I hope he considers a smaller program or division and gets a chance to sling it for another year and play "free", no expectation or hype, for the love of the game.

american flag FRIDAY,  DECEMBER 2,  2016  “Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.”   Booker T. Washington

*********** While the President of MY college was dithering about finding safe spaces for the little snowflakes, and while the President of YOUR college was deciding not to fly the flag because it’s simply too controversial, here’s what a REAL head of a college does.

As told to me by my friend Mike Foristiere, who coaches at Wahluke High School, in Mattawa, Washington...

Mike’s son, Randy, is in his second year at West Point.  (That makes him a “Yuk,” in Cadet slang.)  My wife and I took Randy out to dinner last spring - he’s a great kid.

Randy couldn’t come home for Thanksgiving, so he stayed on post.

While heading to the track to work out, he walked by the Superintendent’s house and saw someone putting up Christmas lights.  It was raining and Randy asked if he could help.

The person, who  accepted his offer, turned out to be the Superintendent, Lieutenant General (that’s three stars) Robert Caslen.

As they worked, the Supe asked Randy if he’d like to join him for Thanksgiving dinner, and when Randy had to decline, saying he’d already been invited to join his physics prof for dinner, General Caslen invited Randy  to “have a drink and break bread” with him next Thanksgiving.

(As a cadet, General Caslen played center on the Army football team, and later he spent two seasons as an assistant coach at West Point. He's frequently seen on the sidelines at Army games. My college’s president may know that a football is inflated.  On the other hand, he may think that it’s stuffed.)

*********** Everybody who’s the head coach of the Oregon Ducks -  take one step forward.

Not so fast, Helfrich!

Oregon’s firing of Mark Helfrich was only slightly more humane and dignified than that.

Although the Ducks lost to Oregon State on Saturday, Helfrich and his staff were left hanging until Tuesday night so that the AD could tend to much, much  more important matters - networking with his chums on the Playoff Committee.

And when the athletic department finally did make its announcement of the firing, it sounded less like the customary “We thank Coach Helfrich for his devotion to Oregon Football and wish him well in his future endeavors, blah, blah, blah” and more like something some troll from Oregon State would post on an  Oregon Football message board.

(Sure, Helfrich coached in the National Championship game two years ago, but he just had a losing season, so what's an AD to do?)

Thus in one cold, cruel stroke did the Oregon athletic department dismantle a football program that in 40 years had made the climb from underfunded loser to rich-in-resources national champion contender. 

Thus did they bring to an end a program that in 40 years had never fired a head coach.

My relationship with Oregon, such as it is, dates back to the beginning of the modern era, to 1976, when Rich Brooks came on board.

I’d just finished my first season as a high school coach, and I wrote to him asking if I could work at his summer camp.  He responded that I was welcome, and they’d provide “room, board and beer.”

I worked the next ten summers at Rich’s camp, and came to love and respect Rich and his coaches.  The other high school guest coaches did, too.

I was there in 1980 when Steve Greatwood, a recent graduate, came on board as a graduate assistant.  Steve is still there, with some time away to coach in the NFL and at a few other colleges, as the Ducks’ highly-respected offensive line coach.

I was there in 1983 when Gary Campbell, a former UCLA running back who’d coached at Southern and Howard joined the staff as the running backs’ coach.  Gary’s still there, and he’s coached some great ones, such as Jonathan Stewart.   He’s the longest-serving coach at any Division I program.

Steve Greatwood and Gary Campbell are just two examples of the kind of people who’ve stayed at Oregon and built it, and now, it’s as if all their work was in vain.

Here in the Northwest,  with the coaching turnover we’ve become accustomed to at Oregon State, Washington and Washington State,  we came to take the stability of the Oregon staff  for granted. And now it's all over.

It’s as if that old family restaurant where you went on special occasions has a CLOSED sign on the door.

As if the couple next-door, the neighbors you’ve had for years,  just told you they’re going to be downsizing.

As if the favorite aunt and uncle that you always looked forward to seeing are divorcing and going their separate ways.

In my opinion, that staff stability has had as much to do with the Ducks’ remarkable transition from have-not to have as Phil Knight’s Nike millions.

Stability, did I say?  How about this…

In the 40 years between Rich Brooks’ hiring and Mark Helfrich’s firing - 40 years of not a single head coach being fired…

There have been 62 changes of head coaches in the conference. (It was still the Pac-8 when Brooks was hired;  it became the Pac-10 with the addition of the two Arizona schools in 1978, and the Pac-12 in 2011 with the addition of Colorado and Utah.  I didn’t count coaching changes at Arizona or Arizona State before 1978 or at Colorado or Utah before 2011.)

Of those 62 coaching changes (Bill Walsh counts twice because of his two terms at Stanford),  44 of them were firings.

Do the math - in 40 years, that’s an average of more than one coach firing per year, with not a single one at Oregon in all that time.

And now, along with Mark Helfrich, out goes the stability.

Ask the people at two once-famously-stable programs what can happen when the stability goes.

Ask the people at Nebraska if they’d like a do-over on the sacking of Frank Solich (and along with it the lineage of Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne) followed by the hiring of Bill Callahan.

Ask the people at Tennessee how things have worked out since they decided to ditch Phillip Fullmer and replace him with Lane Kiffin.

So who(m) does Oregon turn to now?

Now that Oregon is no longer the only team with a race horse offense, a Taj Mahal of an athletic facility and a change of uniforms every other day, who can they hire that will set them apart from the competition?

Lots of names come up, of course.

The word is that they want a guy with a track record as a head coach, so forget any coordinators.

Chip Kelly' s name comes up, naturally, but he keeps saying he's not interested in returning to college. I wonder why not.  Next to the Browns he's got the worst team in the NFL, and he's stuck with  a demented quarterback who seems bent on singlehandedly taking down the entire NFL.

Forget  guys like Gary Patterson and Mike Gundy, guys  who are already gainfully employed.   The only thing Oregon can offer them is (possibly) more money.

Other big-time coaches have been mentioned:

Dana Holgerson of West Virginia.  He's done okay there, but what, exactly, can he do to set Oregon apart?

Larry Fedora, of North Carolina.    Good coach.  Does he want to get out of there before the axe falls?  Can he recruit out here?

Greg Schiano, formerly of Rutgers but now defensive coordinator at THE Ohio State University. Good coach, good guy, but  in the words of my friend Ralph Balducci, whose son, Alex, played at Oregon, an easterner who'd be "a fish out of water"

Dan Mullen of Mississippi State has shown he can win at a place where it's not easy to win, and he's a bright offensive guy. 
He might come recommended by former Duck coach Chip Kelly, a fellow native of Manchester, New Hampshire.  But there's that West Coast issue:  can he recruit out here?

Jim McElwain of Florida, a northwest native,  has said he's not interested.  Makes sense.  What can Oregon offer that he doesn't already have at Florida?

Other possibilities:

Scott Frost, at Central Florida. Good coach, good person. He was on the Oregon staff of both Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich.   Most people think he's serving his internship for the day the Nebraska job comes open.

Beau Baldwin, at Eastern Washington.  He’s done a great job.  But that’s FCS.  Can he recruit with the big guys?

Bryan Harsin, at Boise State.  Great job at a strong program. But it  was already strong when he took it over. Can he rebuild a program that’s down?

Lane Kiffin, OC at Alabama.  I swear his name’s being mentioned.  Give. Me. A. Break.

P. J. Fleck, at Western Michigan.  He’s a Midwesterner - Can he recruit West of the Rockies?   Will he go to Purdue instead ?  Will the Notre Dame job come open? There's Houston  - they can offer him big money, too.  Will “Row the Boat” play on the Left Coast?  Oh, wait - Western Michigan has trademarked it, so we may never know even if he gets the Oregon job.

Dark Horses:

Bob Davie, at New Mexico.  His stay at Notre Dame didn’t go well, but that was years ago, and since then he’s rebuilt a program from scratch at a place where it’s notoriously tough to win. He can recruit Texas and California. He’s an acknowledged defensive expert and his offense is unique and one of the most explosive in the country. His age (62) may be against him, but he’s young in coaching years: he spent the 10 years after Notre Dame as a TV analyst.

Jim Leavitt, Defensive Coordinator at Colorado.  With a solid background as a college assistant, he built the South Florida program from scratch - took it from Division I-AA to National Power in 14 years.  Overall record of 95-57. If he can build a program he can sure as hell rebuild one. Has done an outstanding job in two years at Colorado, but can he recruit in the Far West?  And can he satisfactorily explain the issue that cost him his job at South Florida?

Really, really Dark Horse:

Jim Tressel, currently unemployed.  This is not exactly a joke.   His NCAA “Show Cause” order ends this month, and
somebody smart will hire him.  If he wants to coach.  Whatever you may think about what took place at Ohio State, he can coach.  Compare what he did to what North Carolina has done and  (so far) gotten away with. Besides, like Michael Vick,  he’s paid his price.  And he didn’t kill dogs, either.

My Favorite:

Willie Taggart, at South Florida.  At two places - USF and before that at Western Kentucky -  he took  programs that had been down and built them into bowl teams. (Anybody see his offense explode against Navy?)  He has Pac-12 experience (under Jim Harbaugh at Stanford); he has experience recruiting in Florida as well as California.  I don’t see any negatives.  Oh - and he’s black, and in a conference with exactly ONE black head coach (Stanford’s David Shaw) I see that as a huge advantage in recruiting. (Did you ever think you’d live to see the day when it would be an advantage for a head football coach to be a black man?)  BINGO.  This is the guy that can set the Ducks apart from the pack.

My biggest concern, frankly,  is that  the powers that be could limit their search to Nike coaches, putting  the interests  of Nike ahead of the needs of Oregon.  You could make the argument that that's what they already did when they fired Mark Helfrich.

Ben Poplin***********  North Beach High School’s 2016 Black Lion Award winner is Ben Poplin.

Ben is the last of three brothers to play at North Beach; his brothers Nick and Tim were both All-State players for us. Ben, a junior, may be, too, before he graduates.

With only 21 players on our squad, injuries often dictated changes in offensive and defensive schemes from week to week, requiring some players to play a number of different positions .

That’s where Ben came in. Versatility was his strong suit.  Being good-sized at 6-1 and 215,  and athletic as well, he became our “Swiss Army Knife.”

He never came off the field.  Literally .

On defense, he started out as a down defensive lineman, but as the season went on, he also found himself at different times standing up and playing defensive end, outside linebacker and middle linebacker.

On offense, his primary position was tight end, where his blocking and pass receiving would earn him all-league honors.  But after our starting tailback was lost for the season, Ben had to take over for one game as our workhorse running back until we were able to retool our offensive scheme.  And although he injured his knee running the ball in that game, he didn't miss a down of practice and he was able to return to his tight end position and play the entire next game.

Ben never could settle in completely at tight end, though.  We  had no backup varsity offensive guards, which meant that Ben also had to put in practice time  at the  guard spot.

The important thing about all this is that Ben is so totally imbued with the idea of “team first” that it would never have occurred to him to complain about having to play another position. Routinely,  I would simply say to him before a Monday  practice, “Ben, we may need you at guard this week,” and he’d simply say, “Okay.”

Wherever he played, Ben was a good player and a team leader, widely respected by his teammates for his toughness, his positive attitude, his solid character.  Although a junior, he was one of our team captains. (We call them “sergeants.”)

Not only was he named All-League tight end, but as a 4.0 student who’s now taking all his classes at our local community college, Ben was named to our league’s All-Academic team as well.

Ben has been playing football since he was a little guy, and because our town doesn’t have a youth football program, he played in the neighboring town, where   being bigger than most of the other kids, he found himself on the radar screens of other, larger area schools.

Ben, however, chose to stay at North Beach and play with the guys he’d grown up with.

That’s significant because 2016 was a somewhat difficult season for our kids.  After two straight unbeaten regular seasons, we’d lost most of our starters, and to make things worse, we had a small turnout of newcomers, and our numbers were way down.
Just a week or so before the start of fall practice, our kids were dealt quite a blow  when a newcomer, a transfer whom they had welcomed into their brotherhood in the spring, one who was good enough in spring practice to became a two-way starter, announced to the head coach that he’d decided not to play football.

With it all, we actually did surprisingly well,  and managed to sneak into the post season  playoffs (where we lost in the first round).

In the locker room after the final game,  we gathered for our last time as a team. As is our custom, the seniors and team captains took turns standing up and sharing with  their teammates what football in general and North Beach High football in particular - had meant to them.

When it was Ben’s turn, he talked mainly about how much his teammates - his brothers - meant to him.  “I could have gone to school someplace else,” he said, “but screw that - I wanted to play with my brothers.”

Up until then, we had a few potential Black Lion Award candidates under serious consideration, but this was when we knew for certain that Ben Poplin was our guy.

***********  Our wrestling coaches at North Beach, one of whom is Todd Bridge, my head coach, have been swearing by a BULGARIAN BAG workout.  They say it really kicks the crap out of the kids (in the good, conditioning sense of the phrase).

I’m definitely going to recommend incorporating it into our pre-season circuit workouts.

For a quick look…

***********  The plane crash that killed most of a Brazilian soccer team on its way to an international match in Colombia is a horrible tragedy.  The video of those happy young guys, on their way to the most exciting event in their lives is especially saddening.

That is can happen in any sport is not something any of us likes to think about, much less talk about.   In my lifetime I can remember plane crashes involving football teams from Wichita State (1960), Marshall (1970) and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (1970).

Something the NFL and other professional leagues do not mention, for obvious reasons, is that in the event that a catastrophe should befall one of their teams, they have contingency plans to restock a team with players.

The show must go on.

*********** "I don't want to be un-American," a bowl game official told Brett McMurphy of ESPN, "but nearly everyone in the bowl industry, quite frankly, is rooting against Navy."

You see, there’s a chance that Navy could wind up being the highest-ranked Group of 5 (American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West and Sun Belt) conference champion, giving it an automatic berth in the Cotton Bowl.   Navy is currently ranked just two places behind Western Michigan, which plays Ohio in the MAC conference championship Friday night.  Navy plays Temple for the American Athletic Conference championship on Saturday.

A Western Michigan win over Ohio and a Navy loss would almost certainly give the Group of 5 top spot to the Broncos, and the bowl people could exhale.  They would be able to go ahead and announce their final CFP rankings on December 4, as scheduled. 

Wins by both Western Michigan and Navy would still probably give the edge to the Broncos.

But wait - What if Navy were to beat Temple, while Western Michigan was upset by Ohio?

That would vault Navy into the top Group of 5 spot, right?

Well…  Except Navy still has to play Army NEXT week, a week after every conference has officially concluded its season and held its championship game.

That means that on the outside chance that Navy might lose to Army, it wouldn’t be known until December 10, following the Army-Navy game, who the highest-ranked Group of 5 champion is, and it wouldn’t be possible until then to finalize the matchups for all the many bowls involving Group of 5 teams.

And because Group of 5 teams are contracted to play in five bowl games on Saturday, December 17,  that would leave many schools and their fans a week to make travel arrangements, and their coaches a week to prepare.

*********** From my old friend Steve Jones, who’s retired from teaching and coaching in Mississippi and now an assistant coach in Amite, Louisiana…

Coach Wyatt, Just wanted to let you know we are in the semi-finals this week. 1 win away from the state championship game in the Superdome.

We play Kaplan High School 13-0 and a 2 TE/ under center DW team. They are very disciplined and pull really well and create great walls. DC asked me how to stop them. I told him to tell the OC to score a lot of points.

***********   San Jose State just fired head coach  Ron Caragher after four seasons in which he went 19-30.

Not unusual.  Despite being located smack in the middle of a talent mine, San Jose State has generally been a tough place to win at.

Which make’s Colorado’s Mike MacIntyre all the more remarkable.


Before him, San Jose State went 5-7, 6-6 and 2-10.

After his arrival,  San Jose State went 1-10 and 5-7 before going 11-2.

Before MacIntyre, Colorado went 5-7, 3-10, 1-11

Since he arrived, Colorado  has gone 4-8, 2-7, 4-9 and - this year - 10-2

This was Colorado’s first winning season since 2005, when the Buffs went 7-6.

***********  The crawler at the bottom of the TV screen said something about Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly denying rumors that his representatives had been “exploring other options.”

WTF?  Is it possible that the coach of a Notre Dame team that's reeling with a 4-8 record, has “other options?”

It was like Hillary Clinton's people  denying she’d been considering a cabinet position in the Trump Administration.

*********** Ken Goe of the Portland Oregonian is an old friend, and I had to write to tell him what a great job of writing  I thought he did in describing Oregon State’s fourth-quarter mauling of Oregon.  Some examples...

“It felt a lot like the end of the Helfrich/Chip Kelly era, when the Ducks made up for what they didn’t have with flash, flair and innovation.  There is nothing flashy about being knocked on your posterior on play after play.”

“The Beavers were the antithesis of the no-huddle blur offense Kelly popularized and Helfrich has continued to run.  They huddled.  They let the play clock tick into single digits.  They shortened the game and kept the UO offense on the sideline.”

“It was as if they took a sledgehammer to a Lamborghini.”

***********  A question I have been meaning to ask for a while. You have spent a lot of time the last several years helping coaches find offensive sets and systems that allow them to run the ball yet be more accepted by the general public in their approach. (Wildcat, open wing).

In your experience what has been the best system that you have worked with for coaches that need to maximize their talent but at least appear modern?


I’m sure that you gave your decision all the thought that it required and while it’s natural to have some misgivings when you walk away from something that’s been such a big part of your life, I would guess that you’re at peace with it.

As to your question…

With my “Open Wing” I think I’m where I need to be, or at least I’m closing in on it.  It is definitely a work in progress, an “open source” project that’s open to contributions from guys who decide to use it.

I think that to give the cosmetic appearance of modernity as well as to have the ability to make the most of the best athlete on the team, I have to go with a direct snap.  Let the public call it the shotgun if they wish, but that QB is really a single wing tailback.  If he can’t run, he’d better be one hell of a passer.

I also think that for the same reason I should have at least one split end. But I do feel most comfortable with at least one tight end.

Another individual can be used as a slot back, a wingback  or a flanker.  Or even a blocking back or H Back.

I am most confident when I have the ability to run with the power and misdirection that I’m used to with the Wing T, so I prefer  a three-back offense.  With the direct snap I’m able to count the QB as one of the backs, something I can’t really do if he’s under center.

These are all ideals.  As you know, at a small school you can’t always do what you’d like to do.

But within these parameters I feel that we can find something that we’re able do with the kids on hand without having to install a new offense every year.

Up front - this is really crucial - I am deathly afraid of getting away from the principles of line play that have been so useful to me since I first started using them in 1983.  They are Delaware Wing-T based.

I find that so long as I don’t depart from them, I can do a lot of different things with the backs and ends.

I have no answer for a situation where we don’t have linemen.

*********** It was fourth down and there were 11 seconds to play and the Ravens were backed up in their own end. Not wanting to give up the ball, they lined up in punt formation and managed to run out the clock.  Here’s how they did it: they snapped the ball to the punter, who simply stood close to the goal line, ready to take a safety if necessary - while every  Raven held.  Yes, held.  Intentionally.  There were EIGHT holding penalties called on the play.  But nobody ever touched the punter,  and time had run out.  Yes, there were eight penalties against the Ravens, but unlike the rule that states that a half can’t end on a penalty against the defense, there is no such rule that applied to the offense. The game is NOT extended by an extra play when it ends with a penalty against the offensive team. Good thinking there, Harbaugh.

*********** In the CFL, the Ottawa Red-Blacks won in OT over the Calgary Stampedrs.  The CFL’s OT is like the NCAA’s but in addition you have to go for two every time.

Ottawa’s QB, 41-year old Henry Burris, who played his college football in the US at Temple,  injured his knee in the pregame (said it “locked up”) but was able to play, which was a good thing - he earned game MVP honors.

What was really cool was that the telecast stayed with the post-game celebration the entire time.  Not once did they take us up into the broadcast booth and show us two talking heads.

*********** It’s generally referred to as the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment, and it’s frequently used to illustrate the correlation between the ability to defer gratification and successful life outcomes.

In a series of studies at Stanford in the 1960s and 1970s, children were offered a treat - a cookie, a marshmallow, a pretzel - and told that they could eat it right away if they wanted.  But if they could wait a little while longer, while the researcher left the room,  they’d receive a second treat when he returned.

In follow-up studies, years later, it was found that children who had been able to wait longer for their rewards tended to have higher  SAT scores, and more success in school .

Which brings me to a  a great TED talk by a former CFL player named Angus Reid,  entitled Why We Need High School Football

In it, he says,

It’s the greatest sport to teach delayed gratification to young people…

If you want to build a successful business, a successful marriage a successful life…

You have to understand delayed gratification.

Six month season? You might play ten games.  It;s a six-to-one work-to-play ratio.

Most of the time you’re learning to love the grind - the work  behind the scenes

There’s more.

“I’ve been retired for three years now. You know what I look back on and I am proud of? That I can stand here and speak in front of you today. That I can look people in the eye when I talk to them. That I can speak about things that matter to me. That I can commit to something, and actually stick with it. That I can work hard for goals that I have set for myself. That I know how to be a good teammate.

“That I can work with multiple changing personalities and make things work together. That I can take coaching, and give mentorship from that once I’ve learned it.”

“I’ve learned how to win, and I’ve also learned how to lose and how to take things from that loss and move forward. I’ve understood how to deal with pressure, and keep clarity of mind.”

“Winning championships is not going to make you a better father. Playing 200 games of professional football doesn’t build a business for you. Owning two of these [rings] does not make you a better husband. Nobody cares.”

“It’s the qualities that you learn playing a sport that matter.”

*********** I heard a Cuban-American sports reporter from Miami, discussing a certain 49ers’ wearing of a tee-shirt with Fidel Castro’s face on it, say, “Colin Kaepernick is fortunate there are not more Cuban-Americans playing in the NFL.”

***********  On a weekend of upsets - Kentucky over Louisville, Georgia Tech over Georgia, Vanderbilt over Tennessee, Oregon State over Oregon, it’s been called by some the biggest upset of them all. It was the FCS playoff game upset of Cal Poly by non-scholarship San Diego.

The Toreros are coached by former Cleveland Browns player and longtime NFL defensive assistant Dale Lindsey, who was our defensive coordinator in the World Football League in 1975 when I was working with the Portland Thunder.

Just to prove the old saying that no good deed goes unpunished, the Toreros’ reward for their efforts: a trip to Fargo, to play North Dakota State.

*********** Three-year-old Elsie Mahe, daughter of BYU’s running backs coach Reno Mahe and his wife, Sunny, died Tuesday after being accidentally strangled by a window blind cord.

"Our Elsie girl has officially been released to heaven — at least from a worldly, paperwork standpoint," Sunny Mahe wrote. "We feel peace and we are again so grateful for the privilege of being Elsie's parents. She continues to sprinkle love and hope across the world."

Dad Reno Mahe played at BYU and spent four years in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles.

May God comfort the family.

*********** Dan Hawkins, whose once-promising college football coaching career came to an abrupt halt at Colorado in 2010, has accepted the head coaching job at Cal-Davis.

*********** Should Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney have been surprised when he encountered opposition  to his idea of playing (and televising) games on Friday nights next year?

american flag TUESDAY,  NOVEMBER 29,  2016  “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
Oscar Wilde


After we saw that crawl (a very appropriate word in this case!) across the bottom of the screen  throughout LSU’s thumping of Texas A & M on Thursday night, Herman, the Most Desirable Coaching Commodity in the Country, went out and  laid an egg on national television the next day.

Call it karma.

Rumors that their coach’s job was hanging by a thread almost certainly impelled the LSU kids to play hard - they obviously liked Ed Orgeron and were playing to save his job, chanting in the locker room after the game,  “KEEP COACH O!”

On the other hand,  persistent rumors that their coach was likely headed to greener pastures almost certainly had an adverse effect on the Houston kids. They knew that no matter how hard they played, it didn’t make a bit of difference.  In fact, the better they played, the more their coach’s value to Texas or LSU increased.

Fortunately, for whatever reason - LSU’s AD seemed to imply that Herman and/or his agent tried playing games - Orgeron got the LSU job.

He’s come a long way from the crude, contentious person who took the head coaching job at Ole Miss (at the time, a distinguished Mississippi lady of my acquaintance said, in her genteel way, “He borders on the uncouth”) to the articulate, nicely dressed individual who fielded questions from the news media at his introductory  press conference.  Clearly, he had acquired some couth.

I’ve been wrong before, but I’m predicting that he’ll do a great job in Tigerland.

Herman? He’s a young man on the move. He’d have stayed in Baton Rouge until the NFL came calling.

*********** So now there are two excellent coaches on the market.  Both have proven track records and both can be had for less than the going market rate.  That’s because Les Miles (who won a national title at LSU) and Charlie Strong (who won at Louisville but just didn’t seem to be the right fit at Texas, where the coach has to be more of a CEO) have generous severance packages that will enable them to take any jobs they want without lowering their incomes until their former employers’ obligations end.

*********** This was the headline coming out of Yale’s sports information office…

9 Bulldogs Earn All-Ivy Honors

Alessi, Lamar Make 2nd Team
PRINCETON, N.J. – Nine Yale football players earned post-season honors as the 2016 All-Ivy League Team was announced today. The Bulldogs had two second-team selections and seven in the honorable mention category.

I call that spin.  In my opinion, “All-Ivy honors” means FIRST TEAM.

“All-American” means FIRST TEAM, not second team, and certainly not honorable mention.

To be sure, Second-Team anything is an honor, but NOBODY (other than the Yale Sports Information Office) tries to pass off second team All-Ivy as  “All-Ivy.”

Which brings me to this:  The spin is covering up a deficiency.

In an eight-team league, if not a single  one of your players makes the All-Ivy offensive or defensive first team, somebody’s not doing his job, whether it’s recruiting, coaching, or publicizing.

*********** One of the Yalies earning second-team honors was running back Alan Lamar, of DeSoto Mississippi

He once scored 11 touchdowns in one game

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

Hope your Thanksgiving Day was a blessed one!  My wife and I met our girls in CA and spent the entire week with family!  Enjoyed the break, and thank God we didn't have an early Thanksgiving Day dinner because by the time Aretha Franklin finished singing her rendition of the national anthem before the Lions/Vikings game my dinner would have been cold.

When I saw them introduce her my daughter said, "Oh my God dad, I hope she doesn't do to this song what she did to Nessun Dorma!"  My daughter is a huge fan of opera, Broadway, and football.  Apparently Aretha's version of Nessun Dorma was so bad that Luciano apparently must have been rolling over in his grave.

It was worse.  Francis Scott Key, John Philip Sousa, and every American patriotic songwriter must have been rolling over in their graves after THAT performance!  Seriously???  7 minutes long???  As a SOUL ballad???

I give up.

Joe Gutilla
Austin, Texas


VERY funny that you wrote about that.  As you know, I’ve written for years that the national anthem is best done by a band, and if not,  NOBODY should be permitted to sing OUR national anthem without first being licensed to do so. Taking more than 1 minute to sing it would be grounds for revocation.   I thought that the band rendition before the Ohio State-Michigan game was about as good as it gets - stirring and upbeat.

The tune was originally a drinking song.  If it were sung at Aretha Franklin’s pace everyone would still be sober.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Notre Dame Punter*********** The pants-above-the-knee trend is a bad look and it’s getting worse all the time.  I’m not making any accusations, you understand, but I  wouldn’t advise going  into a gay bar in that outfit.

*********** Longtime Seattle sports reporter Art Thiel calls Washington State’s Mike Leach The Screw-loose of the Palouse. (For non-Washingtonians: the Palouse is a large area of rolling hills - loess hills, if you know your geology - in Southeast Washington, where Washington State is located, and parts of Oregon and Idaho. The Appaloosa horse is named for the region - it was once called the Palouse Horse.)

That’s not to say he doesn’t like Leach.  He tells this story…

When Mike Leach was coaching the offensive line at Iowa Wesleyan College nearly 30 years ago under his mentor and friend, head coach Hal Mumme, he was also the sports information director for the 600-student school in Mount Pleasant, IA. He was good at it, getting mentions for what would become the Air Raid offense in regional papers as well as USA Today.

The school’s public information officer, feeling a little threatened by Leach’s success, complained to the university president.

Leach responded by saying he believed her office “couldn’t get Iowa Wesleyan College into USA Today unless there was a mass murder.”

Leach was suspended from campus for three days.

Thiel also was kind enough to share with his readers Leach’s post-game locker room tirade after his Texas Tech Red Raiders had “under-performed” against Baylor…

TRIGGER WARNING:  There's enough profanity and vulgarity in it to warrant Art Thiel's  elevating Leach to the “Lee Elia/Tommy Lasorda/Mike Gundy pantheon of Sports Figures Free of Fear of Recording Devices.”

*********** Little did Navy know when it went out and hung 70-some points on SMU that it was helping archrival Army.

But with Army sitting there with five wins, hoping to get a bowl invitation, SMU was one of the other schools also in line for an invite.

I have to laugh because in the  event of a tie for an available bowl spot, Army is in. The first tie-breaker is graduation rate, and The US Military Academy (aka Army) is at the very top of American colleges.

*********** In 1980, when I started coaching in Washington, our corner of the state was an afterthought.  No team from Southwest Washington would win a state championship in football until 1995, when Class A Ridgefield finally broke through.

But times have changed.  Our county, Clark County, is part of the Portland metro area, and it’s one of the fastest-growing in the state. It has three times the population it did in 1980. 

Back then, it had four schools in the largest classification, and only one of them was larger than 1500 students.

Now, it has eight big high schools, with several at or above 2,000.

As you might expect, the football has improved.

This year, three Clark County teams made it into the state Semi-finals.

One of them, Camas (the town I live in) has been ranked Number One in the top classification (4A) for most of the season, and the Papermakers - care to guess what our town’s largest employer produces? - are now in the state final.  They are really good.  One of their wins was an early-season thumping of Portland Central Catholic, which this past weekend won the Oregon Class 6A state championship.

*********** I’m extremely proud of two of my former players and assistants, John Lambert and Rick Steele,  who have gone on to become outstanding high school coaches in our area. Both John and Rick were recently named Coach of the Year in their respective leagues.

John, a former student, player and assistant of mine, succeeded me as head coach at LaCenter, Washington in 1999, and since then has built one of the best programs in the state at any level. This year his Wildcats, 11-1, made it to the state Class 1A semifinals. 

Rick Steele played for me and assisted me, then assisted John Lambert before starting the program at Hockinson, Washington from scratch in 2004.   Over the last three seasons, Hockinson has gone  29-5;  this past season, the Hawks were 7-3, winning their very tough Class 2A conference and making it to the first round of the state playoffs.

*********** The Washington state Class 4A title game Saturday will be Camas vs. Richland in a battle of the nicknames.

Camas, location of a large paper mill, is the Papermakers.

Richland, where the ingredients for the first atomic bombs were produced, is (trigger warning) the Bombers.

I take great pride in the school nicknames I’ve been associated with.

My first team, in Gaston, Oregon, was the Greyhounds.  (Not all that unusual, but still distinctive.)

I’ve coached Spudders (Ridgefield, Washington) and Hyaks (North Beach, Washington).

My wife’s high school, in Abington, Pennsylvania, is the Galloping Ghosts, named in the 1920s in honor of the great Red Grange when he made a personal appearance at the school while in Philadelphia to play a game. (The Abington coach was a former teammate of Grange at Illinois.)

My dad went to West Philadelphia High in the 1920s.  They were then, and still are, the Speedboys.  (In Chinook Indian jargon, that's pretty much what "Hyaks" means.)

Among the all-timers…

1. Indiana School for the Deaf: Deaf Hoosiers (

2. Orofino, Idaho : Maniacs  (Orofino is the home of the state mental institution)

3. Cary, North Carolina: Imps (Named because nearby Duke was the Blue Devils -  Imps are  little devils.)

4. Pekin, Illinois: Chinks  (About as un-PC as a nickname can be.   In 1980, they became the Dragons.)

5. Centralia, Illinois: Orphans (Given them by a radio announcer when they showed up at a state tournament years ago in ragged, worn uniforms.)

6. Hereford, Texas: Whitefaces (The cattle, stupid - not the kids.)

*********** Rivalry game upsets that I enjoyed watching…

Vanderbilt over Tennessee

Mississippi State over Ole Miss

NC State over North Carolina

Georgia Tech over Georgia

Kentucky over Louisville

This was supposed to be Lamar Jackson’s Heisman Trophy-clinching performance.  Instead, he was outplayed by a guy named Stephen Johnson, his little known rival from Kentucky.

For the second week in a raw, Jackson got caught trying to do too much, fumbling at the Kentucky 10 with 1:45 to play.

From there, Johnson drove the Wildcats into position for the winning, last-second field goal.  Final:  Kentucky 41, Louisville 38

In all, Johnson completed  16 of 27 passes for 338 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, as well as running for 83 yards on eight carries.

Jackson’s stats were exceptional -  281 yards passing and 171 yards rushing - but he also threw three interceptions and lost that crucial fumble, and his team, which two weeks ago was considered to be a playoff contender, lost its second straight.

*********** Pac 12 action:

Washington opened up a 28-0 first quarter lead and blew out the Washington State Cougars.

Cal blew out UCLA.

USC defeated Notre Dame thanks to the heroics of Adoree Jackson, the real Heisman Trophy candidate, who scored on a long reception, a long punt return, and a long kickoff return.

Arizona hammered an Arizona State team wearing dingy gray uniforms that players should have to be paid to wear.

Colorado earned a spot in the Pac-12 title game - and possibly Coach of the Year honors for Mike McIntyre - by beating Utah.

Oregon State showed Oregon that there’s still room in the game for a strong running attack.

Oregon led, 24-14 with 7:44 left in the third, and as lifeless as Oregon State had been in the second half up until then, the Ducks appeared on their way to their ninth straight win in the Civil War.  And then the rain came.  Sideways. And Oregon State, as if remembering how football is played in the Northwest, took over.   Really took over.

They scored 20 straight points to defeat the Ducks, 34-24.

What was astounding was the way they did it, pounding the Ducks relentlessly, and outgaining them in the second half, 206-63.

The Beavers scored with 3:46 left in the third, and then, after holding the Ducks, went ahead by putting on a nine-play, 68-yard drive that took 5 minutes, 17 seconds off the clock.

Oregon State’s Ryan Nall, a big, fast, 6-2, 230 pound all-purpose back out of Portland,  carried 31 times for 155 yards and four touchdowns, scoring the clincher on a two-yard run with 1:56 left to play.

The Beavers ran the ball on their final 22 offensive plays.
*********** I'm tellin' ya- New Mexico has the best damn running attack in the country.

The Lobos beat Wyoming, and in the process they ran for 566 yards and seven TDs - on 50 plays - in putting up 688 yards of total offense.

*********** I see all the headlines referring to Michigan-Ohio State as a “classic,” and I have to respectfully differ.

What I  saw was a game between two teams with solid defenses, neither of which had enough offense to make a difference.

In other words, your typical NFL game.

Until overtime, the scoring consisted of two field goals and an interception return for an Ohio State touchdown, and three exciting offensive scoring plays - two one-yard runs and an eight-yard pass.

In other words, your typical NFL game.

That, basically, is what Ohio State-Michigan was.  Admit it, folks - it was boring football.

In other words, your typical NFL game.

If it hadn’t been between two nationally prominent, nationally ranked teams, if there hadn’t been so much at stake, if the game hadn’t been hyped for weeks, the lack of exciting action would have driven viewers to  far more exciting games going on at the same time - games such as Kentucky-Louisville, Georgia Tech -Georgia, Rutgers-Maryland.  (Okay, okay - I just threw that last one in for laughs.)

And with Alabama sure to be one of the teams in the playoff, here’s what I predict:  a boring playoff  that - like most Super Bowls - can’t live up to the hype.

In other words, THREE typical NFL games.

Which brings me to A Modest Proposal (with apologies to Jonathan Swift fans): drop this 60-minute/four quarters stuff and play all football games using the overtime format.

This stroke of genius came to me when I happened to notice (as I’m sure many of you did, too) that once Ohio State and Michigan found themselves in overtime, where you have to score, they got off their dead asses and started playing offense.

Obviously,  it was because they both knew that there was a near-certainty that whether or not they scored, the other team would.

Consider: the two teams had played a dull, stodgy 60 minutes, scoring just 34 points between them.  Seven of those points were scored not by offensive play but as a result of offensive ineptitude (on an interception), and seven more came after Ohio State was given a short field by a second interception.

Yet in just two overtime periods - and a grand total of 11 plays - those same two  teams managed to score 23 points - three touchdowns and a field goal. (It would have been 24, but once Ohio State scored the winning TD, the PAT was dispensed with.)

So here’s the deal: Each team starts play on the 40 (making it difficult to just line up and immediately kick a field goal).  As always, continue until there is a winner.

Of that “set.” (I tried applying for a trademark on the word “set” but Pat Riley evidently beat me to it.)

The winner of three (or five, or seven) “sets” wins the game.

Go ahead and keep playing for those field goals, you NFL-thinkers.  Just bear in mind, though, that when it’s the other guy’s turn at bat, he’s going to go for a touchdown.

*********** I’m all for ejecting guys who target.  But I did see a Western Michigan linebacker named Caleb Bailey get sent off, even though he didn’t hit with the head or to the head and he didn’t tuck his arms, but actually used them in a bona fide effort to make the tackle.

*********** We can disagree on a lot of the things that Jim Harbaugh says and does, but there are some things we can agree on. 

First, he hasn’t broken any rules and doesn’t seem to be the kind who works that way. 

Next, we can all agree that he sure has fixed Michigan football. 

And finally, we can agree that he didn’t do himself or his employer any good with his post-game rant about the officiating in the Ohio State game. 

Hey, Jim - Not that I don’t agree with you that the officiating sucked… But I’ve been coaching a lot longer than you have, and in the places I’ve coached, I’ve seen a lot worse than you have;  if you’d only asked me, I’d have told you that officials are like injuries - they’re an often unwelcome intrusion on the game, and  there’s not much that any of us can do about it.

*********** It was a football player’s fantasy - to be lying atop a beautiful woman.  But on the sidelines of a football game?  In full football gear?  With 60,000 people looking on?

*********** Heart-warming story time: Morgan State linebacker  Rico Kennedy was recruited by West Point and, like so many Army recruits, was sent to the US Military Academy Prep School to better prepare him for the academic rigors of West Point.

There, he and another Army recruit, Brandon Jackson, became best of friends.

For whatever reason, Kennedy chose instead to attend Morgan State, while Jackson went on to become a starting corner back at Army.  But the two stayed in touch, and looked forward to this year, and playing against each other.

And then, early this season, Brandon Jackson was killed in a one-car crash following Army’s win over Rice.

When Morgan and Army played a week ago, Rico Kennedy received permission to wear his buddy's number.

*********** My son and I just happened to be browsing the satellite channels when we came across the Indiana Class 6A title game between Carmel and Center Grove.

What a game.

It was played in the Lucas Oil Stadium, where the Colts play, but unlike most high school games played in pro stadiums, the crowd - 25,000 announced - didn’t get lost.

Carmel scored with 46 seconds to play to go ahead, 13-10.

But Center Grove put on a drive worthy of an NFL team. And when on fourth and one they got the first down with a jet sweep and the runner went out of bounds, there were five seconds to play. They were too far away for a field goal, so they threw for 11 more yards and -miraculously - called a timeout with :01 left.  Now they were within field goal range - NFL field goal range.  They were on the Carmel 33, which meant a 50-yarder.

Out came their skinny sophomore place kicker, and, cool as a cucumber, he hit one straight up the middle, long enough that it hit the cross bar and bounced across.

But, as happens way too often in college and pro ball,  the opposing coach had called a time out split seconds before the ball was snapped.  Boo. 

On the second try, the kid left no doubt.  High enough, straight enough and long enough, easily clearing the crossbar.

After that exciting finish to regulation, the overtime  was somewhat anticlimactic.

Unlike the NCAA and most states, Indiana’s overtime play starts on the 10-yard line.  Center Grove made it to the one-yard line on first down, but in attempting to leap over the pile on second down, the runner fumbled.  Actually, in trying to reach the ball across the goal line, he had it batted away.  Carmel recovered, and  taking no chances, brought out its kicker and on first down drilled a 27-yard field goal to win the state title, 16-13.

*********** Another game that was great to watch was a Southern California championship game between Centennial and St. John Bosco.

Centennial featured a 6-6 junior QB named Tanner McKee.  You will be seeing him at some major college one of these days.

The hub of the St. John Bosco attack was a smaller but more versatile QB named Re-Al Mitchell.

Mitchell didn’t throw too badly - 17 of 22 for 277 and 3 TDs, and in addition he rushed 11 times for 120 yards and a TD.

Don Bosco won, 49-47.

american flag TUESDAY,  NOVEMBER 22,  2016  “Passion is not emotion.  Please don’t confuse the two. Emotions control us, but we control passion.”  Kevin Plank, Founder and CEO of Under Armour

HAPPY THANKSGIVING... I thank the Lord for my wonderful family, for the country I'm lucky enough to live in, for the brave people who keep us safe, for the game of football and the health that's enabled me to coach it, and for all the people football's made it possible for me to meet and all the places it's enabled me to visit...

*********** Washington High school playoff game of the weekend: Archbishop Murphy 48, Tumwater 10.

Sheesh.  If they could do that to Tumwater, regarded as no worse than Number Two in their class,  you do have to wonder if the five teams that forfeited against Archbishop Murphy - rather than play them -  were motivated by  something more than just player safety, as they claimed.

It couldn't have been much consolation for Tumwater that it was first time all season that anybody scored in double figures against Archbishop Murphy.

A sad note is that the game brought to an end the career of a great gentleman and coach, Tumwater’s Sid Otton, who retires as the winningest coach in Washington high school football history.

*********** Of course I watched the Army-Morgan State game, which Army won, as expected, 60-3.

Army rushed for 504 yards, and indicative of the effectiveness of its triple option attack, three of its fullbacks rushed for more than 100 yards and accounted for a combined five touchdowns.

Headed into the big game against Navy, Army is 6-5.

It’s been an on-again, off-again season, but looking at the big picture, the program has made progress.

Impressive  wins: Temple, Wake Forest

FBS Wins: Rice, UTEP

Wins vs FCS opponents:  Lafayette, Morgan State

Close Loss to a better team: Duke

Lost, should have won: Buffalo

Lost, looked bad doing so : North Texas, Air Force, Notre Dame

Fearless Army-Navy prediction:  the Army team that beat Temple and Wake Forest will make a game of it; the Army team thatlost embarrassingly to Air Force and Notre Dame will do the same against Navy.

*********** Of all the games I watched or at least took a peek at, Penn State-Rutgers was not one of them. Penn State-Rutgers, you say?  You got to be kidding me:  Rutgers’ combined score vs Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State - 224-0

Sure hope all those cable homes in the New York and DC area made it worth it to the Big Ten to dilute their product by taking in Rutgers and Maryland.

*********** I sure hated to see Washington State go down to Colorado, but I knew there were going to be problems when their leading receiver dropped an easy catch in the end zone.  Coach long enough, and you’ll have those games where things start to  go amiss, weird things start to happen,  and you get this awful feeling in your gut that you’re going to lose, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.

Saturday, though, it wasn’t so much WSU’s less-than-crisp play as it was Colorado’s performance.  The Buffs are good.  They are well-coached - Mike MacIntyre is my Coach of the Year -  and if they don’t have spectacular talent, they’re not exactly untalented, either.

One of the heroes for the Buffs was 6-4, 225 pound QB Sefo Liufau, a product of Tacoma, Washington’s Bellarmine Prep.  A cousin of  former Washington State QB Jack Thompson, the famed “Throwin’ Samoan,” Liufau wasn’t recruited hard by Washington State, although in fairness to Mike Leach, he is more like the modern-day single wing tailback that most coaches want in a quarterback, rather than the pass-every-down pocket guy that Leach wants.

Something notable about Colorado was the sureness of its tackling.  While other teams’ tacklers often dive to the ground in their best Hawk Tackling form, the Buffs’ tacklers kept driving their feet at contact and made sure that ball carriers didn’t make another inch.  On at least two fourth-and-short occasions Washington State ball carriers seemed certain to make the necessary yardage but were prevented from doing so by hard, textbook-perfect tackling.

*********** The view of the field at Morgantown, West Virginia came on the screen and my wife, my son and I all went, “WHOA!” at the same time.  The field was covered with snow.

Surely one of the things that made this past weekend such a great football weekend was the snow, a reminder that football is still an outdoor game, and a game that goes on, regardless of weather.

Snow at ESPN College Game Day in Kalamazoo…  snow in East Lansing, Michigan…  snow in Morgantown, West Virginia… and snow on Sunday in Ottawa, Ontario -  brought home the truth that despite man’s best efforts to turn football into basketball on grass,  Mother Nature still has the power to return it to its primitive roots.

*********** Speaking of Mother Nature…  The LSU-at-Florida game, postponed weeks ago because of an impending hurricane, was played Saturday, but in Baton Rouge, not in Gainesville.  When LSU refused to give up the home game it had originally scheduled for Saturday, Florida was forced to agree to play at LSU.

The game’s end was one for the ages, if not a good memory for LSU fans, as the Tigers, needing a touchdown to win, were stopped twice at the Florida one.

And now Ed Orgeron, who as the Tigers’ interim coach played Bama to a tough 10-0 decision and seemed in position to make it official if he could win out, has to go back to work while in the background the speculation mounts that Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, who once coached the LSU offense, can be enticed into returning to Baton Rouge.

What the Tigers’ faithful seem to be blind to is the fact that for some time, Ole Jimbo has been winning at FSU because, as Paul Finebaum has noted,  he has essentially been running an SEC program  in the ACC.   And winning, of course.  But can he win running an SEC program in the SEC West?

Consider what he’s getting into:

Since 1961, when Paul Dietzel bolted for Army - Army, if you can believe that there once was a time when a coach would leave LSU, where he’d won a national championship,  for Army! - LSU has had nine coaches (counting Ed Orgeron).

Most of those nine coaches came to Baton Rouge with solid credentials.

But only two of them left of their own volition:
Bill Arnsparger, who ditched LSU just before the 1986 season to take the AD job at Florida…

Nick Saban, who left in 2004 to take the Miami Dolphins’ job.
(Charlie McClendon “retired” in 1979, after 18 seasons, but the “retirement” was a courtesy afforded him after 18 years of service. LSU people were decidedly unhappy with the program’s direction after 1979’s 7-5 finish.)

Tough place to coach.  Take my advice, Jimbo, and stay at Florida State.  Go to LSU and chances are in five years or less you’re gator bait.

*********** I watched Edmonton and Ottawa play the CFL Eastern final on Sunday.  (Wait - Edmonton? “Eastern?” Oh, well. Most Yanks wouldn’t know or care anyhow.  In fact, most Yanks have no idea that Edmonton or Ottawa are even in Canada.)

*********** Which guy is in a worse spot - Charlie Strong or Brian Kelly?

Both guys are in hot seats, at places where the fans can be a bit, uh,  demanding. 

Strong’s Texas Longhorns, in a tailspin,  lost to Kansas Saturday,  the Longhorns’ first loss to the Jayhawks since 1938. 

Kelly’s record this season at Notre Dame is 4-7, and with the lone game remaining against USC it isn’t likely to improve. The Irish haven’t won two games in a row at any point this season. Even if they were to upset USC, they would still finish the season with the fewest wins for a Notre Dame team since 3-9 in 2007 under the immortal Charlie Weis. Before that, the last time Notre Dame won fewer than five games was 2-7,  in 1963. 

(Those were tough times for the Irish - Joe Kuharich, probably the worst coach in ND history, resigned during spring practice in 1963 and was replaced on an interim basis by the ever-faithful Hughie Devore. Despite the poor on-field record, Devore did keep the players playing together and did keep morale up until a permanent coach could be named.  The new guy was a young fellow from Northwestern named Ara Parseghian, and his hiring would launch a new golden age of Notre Dame football.)

*********** One way or another, the Yale that its administration has allowed it to become continues to embarrass those of us who knew it and love it for what it once was…

On the one hand, there was the football team, finally beating Harvard for the first time in ten years.  It took some daring calls - a jump pass off a fake field goal to set up one score, and an onside kick at the start of the second half to set up another - and an exceptional job by a couple of freshmen - a quarterback named Kurt Rawlings from Bel Air, Maryland and a really fast little running back named Alan Lamar, from DeSoto, Mississippi. Mock you may, you guys at the big FBS schools, but some of these kids can play.  Alan Lamar once scored 11 touchdowns in a high school game - in Mississippi, where they take their high school football very seriously.

But on the other hand, there’s always somebody who’ll piss in the soup, as the old Polish expression goes, and in this case, it was a group of exhibitionistic creeps in the Yale student section who thought it was cute to draw national attention away from the efforts of the football team by standing nekkid atop the retaining wall, simultaneously displaying their joints to the stands and their tender white bums to the field.

I haven’t seen a Yale game in years (living 3,000 miles away has something to do with it) and up until now I haven’t had much desire to see one, but I would have paid good money to have been sitting down close to that wall, with something close by to use to give them a good push backward…

I was considering mentioning using a push broom to do it, but my wife wisely suggested that it’s not a good idea to associate broomsticks and naked guys.

*********** How does West Virginia rush for 388 (one guy alone rushed for 331) and pass for 191 -  and still get blown out (56-28) by Oklahoma?

*********** Louisville’s drubbing by Houston, and Lamar Jackson’s almost comical attempt to win the game single-handedly, has to be considered  Jackson’s “Non Heisman Moment.”

On the other hand, Christian McCaffrey’s performance against Cal - 31 carries for 284 yards and three TDs, one of them a 90-yarder - could conceivably put him back into consideration.

Of course, if by some chance McCaffrey should slip back into the running, and then actually win the Heisman,  there would be plenty of people saying that he was undeserving.

To them, my response would be to point out Stanford’s recent history of having outstanding players beaten out by (in my opinion) less deserving candidates from east of the Mississippi:


2009 - Toby Gerhart finished second to Mark Ingram;

2010 - Andrew Luck finished second to Cam Newton;

2011 - Andrew Luck finished second (again) to Robert Griffin III;

2015 - McCaffrey finished second to Derrick Henry.

I’d say it’s about time Stanford had one go its way.

*********** Something that really bothers me is the way a player who’s been ejected from a game for targeting will put on an act, as if he’s a victim,  rather than the perpetrator of a willful, selfish, illegal act that’s hurt his team, as well as endangering an opponent and the already-suffering reputation of our game.

I’m really dismayed that the higher-ups haven’t taken bold steps to put a stop to what amounts to a form of assault.

I have to believe that ejection from the current game and half of the next one is not a sufficient deterrent to an action which I find repugnant and cowardly. 

It sure seems that if players and coaches - and the NFL itself - can speak out publicly for a myriad of causes, many of them only marginally related to the game of football,  they ought to be willing to stand up and say,

“I’m ——————, Coach of the ————————, and to do my part in making football a safer game, I’m committed to eliminating the act of targeting - and those who do it - from our game.”

*********** As Brandon Foster wrote in the Casper (WY) Star-Tribune, “ It’s not often a crowd gets to storm the field twice in one night.”

Wyoming Cowboy’s fans did.

Wyoming scored with a little over a minute to play to go ahead by seven, and when the San Diego State kick return man inadvertently touched his knee to the ground while trying to pick up the ball after he’d bobbled it, the Cowboys’ lead seemed safe.

But damned if the Aztecs didn’t nearly drive the full 99 yards, falling short when a deflected Hail Mary pass into the end zone fell incomplete.

Cue the crowd:  Cowboys’ fans stormed the field.

But wait:  The Preceding Play is Under Review.

Clear the field and wait.  And wait.  And wait.

And then, Upon Further Review… replay showed that the  incompletion was actually a catch - and a San Diego State touchdown.

And then the Aztecs went for two, and their pass was incomplete - this time for real.

Wyoming 34, SDSU 33.

No need to cue the crowd this time.  And good luck turning them away a second time.

The decision to go for two wasn’t the head-scratcher it might seem to be for San Diego State’s Rocky Long.

The win would be nice, of course, but the loss didn’t affect SDSU in the slightest: the Aztecs enjoy a three-game lead over second place - are you ready for this? - Hawaii in the MWC West.

But, the Wyoming win gave the Cowboys the lead in the Mountain West East on the basis of their head-to-head win over Boise State.  A Wyoming loss, on the other hand, would have given Boise State the lead over Wyoming.

I’m not in any way implying that Rocky Long, whom I admire as a coach, would plot and scheme in order to play Wyoming rather than Boise State. And besides, the way Wyoming’s been playing, I’m not sure I’d rather play Wyoming again.

*********** Talk about a wait.  When Oregon’s Justin Herbert threw 17 yards into the left corner of the end zone to Darren Carrington, Carrington caught the ball - but stepped on the boundary and the pass was ruled incomplete.  Two seconds remained and it appeared that the Utes were going to escape with a 28-23 win and their shot at the Pac-12 title still alive.

But wait - “The preceding play, blah, blah, blah.”

And wait.  And wait.  And wait.  And wait.  And wait.  And wait.  And so on. 

And finally - “upon further review” - the officials having detected a millimeter of green between Carrington’s foot and the sideline, the call was reversed.  Touchdown, Oregon.

The PAT and the mandatory game of keep away on the kickoff were all that remained.  Oregon got out of Salt Lake City with a 30-28 upset.

It was a shocking performance, given that most of the Oregon media had all but thrown Ducks’ coach Mark Helfrich over the side.  Not only had the Ducks been losing, but they’d appeared to have given up.  Helfrich, the media kept saying, had “lost the locker room” - lost the team.

But lemme tell you - that Oregon team that beat Utah Saturday was not a team that had given up on themselves or their coaching.  They played as hard as I’ve seen an Oregon team play in years.  Over the last decade, Oregon built one of the country’s best records on offensive smoke and mirrors,  running up big scores with a flashy, hurry-up offense.  It seemed to treat defense as a necessary evil, knowing that its offense could outscore anybody it played.

But its defense kept getting worse - so bad that even its offense couldn’t cover for it - and then the once-explosive offense itself  seemed to lose its secret sauce.  For one thing, more and more people are playing the hurry-up game that Chip Kelly popularized.  And, too, there have been significant losses in the offensive staff, starting with Kelly himself, and then OC Scott Frost, now the head coach at Central Florida.

And then there’s the QB issue, the decision to replace a Heisman Trophy winner (Marcus Mariota) by going the rent-a-quarterback route.  Rather than recruit and groom its own quarterbacks, it has treated FCS schools as its farm system, bringing in Vernon Adams from Eastern Washington in 2015, and Dakota Prukop from Montana State in 2016.

Oregon hasn’t had any significant staff turnover since Rich Brooks was hired in the mid-70s.  They haven’t gone outside for a head coach since then, and the result has been remarkable staff stability.  Some might say that means they’ve become ingrown, but I can point to programs that made the fateful decision to dump years of stability and have yet to recover.  Nebraska comes immediately to mind.  Michigan has taken years to get back to the top.

So based on what happened Saturday, I’m going to recommend to Phil Knight (he hasn’t asked yet, but I’m sure he will) that Helfrich and his staff be retained. They’ve shown that they’re capable of righting the ship under the most difficult of circumstances, and I vote to keep them.

*********** It was my first real Friday night off, and I spent it watching a college game on TV.  A very good college game.

It was an FCS game - a Big Sky Conference game between Number 3-ranked Eastern Washington against Portland State, but the calibre of play was so good that if they’d been wearing the uniforms of, say,  Florida and Florida State (to pick two decent programs at random) I’d have believed that’s who I was watching.

The final score was 35-28, Eastern, but if I didn’t know which team was which, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you which team was 9-1 Eastern Washington (who defeated Washington State in the season opener, and whose only loss was in OT to North Dakota State) and 3-7  Portland State.

And just like in the Big Time, the officials blew a review of a fourth-period Eastern incompletion which, had it been ruled a Portland State interception as the replay video showed it should, would have allowed Portland State to run out the clock and take the game into overtime.

*********** Another decision to go for two was Mark Dantonio’s call to do so with four minutes to go and a chance to upset Ohio State.  I guess you have to weigh your chances in overtime.

*********** With all the games on TV these days, you sometimes have to wonder if they hire some of their announcers off the streets of town just before game time.

So Texas and Kansas are in overtime, right?

And in the top half, KU intercepts on Texas’ first play.

And then as Kansas drives, we’re given a shot of some dejected Texas kids sitting on the bench, and a broadcast-booth genius says, "I don't see a lot of energy from the Texas team right now..."

Well, no, I guess not.  Not after everything that team and their coach have been through this season.  So there they are, thinking, “Holy sh—.  We’re going to lose to KANSAS!”

Well, yes, in fact - you are.  Final score Kansas 24, Texas 21, Kansas’ first win after 23 straight losses.

And, to give you some idea of the kind of rivalry it’s been, Kansas’ first win over Texas since 1938.

(And the ESPN guys,  to show what a sense of showmanship they have, spared us the scenes of jubilant Kansas fans celebrating their first winning game in more than two years, immediately cutting to the much-anticipated Chattanooga-at-Alabama thriller.)

*********** With all the concern about concussions and the effect it’s having on participation in our game, I thought that TV’s insistence on showing us the frightened - and frightening - look on Luke Kuechly’s face as he was carted off was highly irresponsible.

It couldn't surprise me if all over America mothers - and fathers - who love the game of football  saw that and decided, right then and there, to sign their little boys up for soccer.

american flag FRIDAY,  NOVEMBER 19,  2016  “Believe none of what you hear, and only half of what you see.”   Benjamin Franklin

*********** A friend asked about the circuit training that I’ve used for years, and here was my response…

My circuit training has varied from place to place, depending on the facilities and the equipment, but the video will give you an idea of what I’ve done.

I’ve done it every place I’ve coached, since 1980.

Apart from the obvious benefits of getting players ready for the physical demands of football, the beauty of it is that after the players have done circuit training, the physical demands of actual football practice are nothing in comparison, which means that the players are more attentive and practices go smoother.

The important thing about our circuit workout is that it is not about strength.  It is mainly about about cardio work and heat acclimatization and making all sorts of muscle groups move for the duration of a period.  We want constant, repetitive, rapid motion, on the order of what football itself requires. So when we use any weight, we make sure never  to use a weight so heavy that it prevents a smaller kid from doing the exercise.

(Actually, not that many of the exercises require weights anyhow, so we make do with whatever equipment we have on hand, and we frequently inprovise.  We're always looking for new ideas.)

Typically, we set up 30-35 stations, and we spend 30-40 seconds at a station before moving on.  We rest 15 seconds between stations, which also allows time to get ready at stations where a little preparation is necessary. If we have more players on hand than stations, we have all players buddy-up, one working while the other is recovering. (I actually prefer this, because I like to pair up older guys with younger guys, not only to help the younger guys get through the circuit but also to help them get to know older guys.  We do NOT allow two older guys to work together until all the younger guys have been paired off first.

When we are done the circuit workout, we go outside and do our sprints, bear crawls, backpedals, etc.

From place to place the number of circuits players are expected to complete has varied - anywhere from seven of them in a two-week period to nine of them in a three-week period.  Only when we get to the last day and a player needs to do two to finish his circuits will we allow anyone to do two in one day.

We offer plenty of opportunities: a workout in the AM and one in the PM, and at some places we’ve offered one on Sat AM.

We provide incentives to start early and not put things off.

We start out light.  The first week we go for 30 seconds and the last week we go for 40 seconds.

We do more running the this week than we do the first week.

No player gets his equipment until he has completed the required number of circuits.

If a player should happen to just stroll up unannounced on Day One, he won’t get equipment until he’s completed all his circuits.  He can practice without pads, and we’ll have him do a circuit after practice.  In some cases, we may have him do a circuit while the rest of the team is practicing.

*********** “There are three things I’d like to pass along to you.  The very first thing I learned as a student at West Point is to find my heart. I saw, I listened, I learned. But when I was there, I found out that it doesn’t become yours, you don’t own your knowledge, you don’t own what you do, unless it hits your heart…  The two other things that I learned was that you ween’t going to do it alone. Great things don’t usually happen to one person; they happen to a group of people. And so I leaned that in order to do something, you want to be on good teams; you form teams. And the final thing I learned is that failure, or any type of setback, was not a destination.  How could it be a destination if you expect great things? So when you get knocked back, that’s not  where you were going to be.  There was something good about being knocked down as long as it wasn’t your destination.”

Mike Krzyzewski, speaking  at Duke University’s 2016 graduation


The flood of Trump-fearing American liberals sneaking across the border into Canada has intensified in the past week. The Republican presidential campaign is prompting an exodus among left-leaning Americans who fear they'll soon be required to hunt, pray, pay taxes, and live according to the Constitution.

Canadian border residents say it's not uncommon to see dozens of sociology professors, liberal arts majors, global-warming activists, and "green" energy proponents crossing their fields at night.

"I went out to milk the cows the other day, and there was a Hollywood producer huddled in the barn," said southern Manitoba farmer Red Greenfield, whose acreage borders North Dakota. "He was cold, exhausted and hungry, and begged me for a latte and some free-range chicken. When I said I didn't have any, he left before I even got a chance to show him my screenplay, eh?"

In an effort to stop the illegal aliens, Greenfield erected higher fences, but the liberals scaled them. He then installed loudspeakers that blared Rush Limbaugh across the fields, but they just stuck their fingers in their ears and kept coming. Officials are particularly concerned about smugglers who meet liberals just south of the border, pack them into electric cars, and drive them across the border, where they are simply left to fend for themselves after the battery dies.

"A lot of these people are not prepared for our rugged conditions," an Alberta border patrolman said. "I found one carload without a single bottle of Perrier water, or any gemelli with shrimp and arugula. All they had was a nice little Napa Valley cabernet and some kale chips. When liberals are caught, they're sent back across the border, often wailing that they fear persecution from Trump high-hairers.

Rumors are circulating about plans being made to build re-education camps where liberals will be forced to drink domestic beer, study the Constitution, and find jobs that actually contribute to the economy.

In recent days, liberals have turned to ingenious ways of crossing the border. Some have been disguised as senior citizens taking a bus trip to buy cheap Canadian prescription drugs. After catching a half-dozen young vegans in blue-hair wig disguises, Canadian immigration authorities began stopping buses and quizzing the supposed senior citizens about Perry Como and Rosemary Clooney to prove that they were alive in the '50s.

"If they can't identify the accordion player on The Lawrence Welk Show, we become very suspicious about their age," an official said.

*********** Distraught over HIllary’s defeat?  Thinking of moving to Canada? 

Good luck with that, writes Jim Donaldson in the  Bellingham (Washington) Herald…

Launching a rocket might require less paperwork than applying for residency in Canada.

“Some Americans are a little surprised at how defined the border is and that they actually have to go through an application process,” said Rudi Kischer, a Canadian immigration lawyer, in an interview with CTV Vancouver. “It’s actually fairly difficult to move to Canada.”

Basically, there are four ways to get it done — study at a Canadian university, get a job there, marry a Canadian (there’s a website,, to help you hook up), or wait.

And wait.

***********  Regarding my observation that many of the protesters (rioters?) appeared half-hearted, Coach Kaz - Mark Kaczmarek - of Davenport, Iowa commented…

2 things seem to be at play here causing this phenomenon

1)      These protests do NOT deal with a fundamental liberty being denied or perceived to be denied, rather it seems to be generated because a segment of population didn’t get their way…Its “spoiled children” who didn’t get their way

2)      These protests are “bought & paid for” &, as a result, they’re being implemented with all the spirit & enthusiasm of a job!

He is spot on.

I also think that the disaffected young people are motivated by grief rather than anger; I doubt that they’ve ever been allowed to express anger, because anger is so… so masculine.

*********** “When you have a strong majority of actual voters saying the national ‘news’ media were biased in favor of Hillary Clinton and tried to influence the public to vote for her; and believing they are fundamentally dishonest, you have a major problem that can’t be fixed with an apology. The public has rejected this institution as being either objective or truthful. There is an institutional bias at major media networks that must be repaired and I am highly skeptical that news executives are interested or capable of undertaking this responsibility.”

Brent Bozell, President, Media Research Center

*********** Yale update...

The AP reports that Yale has changed a long-standing tradition requiring graduates to be referred to by their birth names on their diplomas, and starting this year will allow students to graduate under a name of their choice. Professors are already using preferred pronouns when addressing students, and transgender students may go by their preferred names on school I.D. cards and in the school’s web server.

Under Yale’s current health plan, transgender students also are covered for sex-change operations and hormone suppression therapy.

*********** Prices of shares of gun manufacturers have dropped more than 20 per cent since Donald Trump’s election.

It has nothing to do with Mr. Trump’s views on the Second Amendment (he’s a big defender), and everything to do with the public’s stocking up on guns in anticipation of Hillary Clinton’s election and the crackdown on the purchase of firearms that was almost sure to follow.

*********** A friend who's been pressing his principal and superintendent to finally make good on the promise they made years ago to give him  the weight-training job at his school wrote that he continues to get the run-around . 
"To be  honest, " he wrote,  "I don't think they want to do what makes them uncomfortable."  

I wrote him back,

"That sums up the biggest problem with education today.

"Administrators are first and foremost bureaucrats, and the main item on any bureaucrat's agenda is to keep their job;  the second item, and almost as important, is to prevent anybody or anything  from getting them out of their comfort zone."

***********  One of the pet peeves of my wife, who taught elementary school for 30 years,  is the well-intentioned but naive people who insist on telling kids “you can be anything you want to be,” or words to that effect, when you and I know full well that it just isn’t so.  All the grit and determination in the world isn’t going to get a kid anywhere if he or she hasn’t been born with certain fundamental skills, certain mental or physical assets that a certain field requires.

And on that point, I came across a great blog by one Matt Amaral, who describes himself as “a writer and high school English teacher from the San Francisco Bay Area.”

He wrote, “Dear Steph Curry - Now that you are MVP, Please Don’t Come Visit My High School.”

Here’s the gist of it…

Because the worst thing you won’t tell them Steph, is that they can’t do it. You won’t tell them that will you? You won’t be able to bring yourself to tell them it is already too late. You won’t tell them about all those years when you were playing in top competitive leagues as a child. You won’t tell them that if they haven’t played organized basketball by the age of sixteen (twelve, really), they have no chance of going pro. You see, the kids I am talking about do not play year-round, they are not in a travelling league, and they have never even heard of a McDonald’s All-American; they just eat McDonald’s two meals a day and have Hot Cheetos in between.

Because by the time they are sixteen, boys in this country, if they have even a tiny, tiny chance of going pro, should already be on the radar of colleges and scouts. They should be the best player not just at their school but in their entire city. Probably their entire state. They should already be 6’3” and growing. You know this and I know this, but the kids who you will inspire with your presence will simply see you and think they too will be MVP one day, even though they don’t even play for our high school team. So instead of doing homework the night after your visit, they will grab their lopsided old ball and go play on the court with their little brother and shoot the ball badly, improbably thinking every time the ball actually does go in it means they are on their way to fame and fortune.

You see Steph, once you leave my school, the boys here are not going to run home and finish that essay, which is one thing they could do about their future that is in their control. Just like if Beyonce came here, the girls wouldn’t head back to their one bedroom apartments filled with two families and begin their science labs. When Beyonce tells them to make sure they pass Algebra, they look at her and ask “What for? Did Algebra help your voice?” Instead they will go home and look in the mirror and wish they were tanner and thicker and a better singer and dancer and they will cry into their mascara.

Because that is what celebrity worship does, Steph, and we need these kids to do less of it rather than more. They are already very good at dreaming about being rich and famous, what we need them to do is get a little more realistic about what is in their control. We need less of an emphasis on sports and celebrity in high school, because it is hurting these kids too much as it is.

Really the more I think about it, the crazier it sounds to write to you and tell you NOT to come to my high school. I mean, you are such an awesome guy, you are a family man with a wife and daughter, with another on the way. That video your wife made is hella funny. You are humble, a leader, and clearly our young men need to meet a man like you. Maybe I’m wrong to write this letter.

Or maybe not. When I tell my students they are not going to be professional athletes, they like to say, “Won’t you feel stupid if one of your students does go pro?” And my answer is always the same: “No, because even if they do, that means I will still be 99.9% right. Right now I am one thousand for one thousand.” Steph, you and I know they have a better chance of winning the lottery, but no one seems to tell them these things but me. Would this letter make you feel better if I told you I discourage the California Lottery from giving inspirational speeches at my high school as well? If I wrote them a letter, would anyone think I was out of line?

Probably not.

*********** Erin Gloria Ryan writes in The Daily Beast that Trump voters don’t feel a lot of sympathy for the poor millennials, whose dream of a world in which they would always get their way was shattered by the results of the presidential election…

…the crying seemed especially pronounced among the young. For many millennials who voted overwhelmingly for Clinton, this was the first loss of their politically aware lives. They’d only dealt with adult concerns during Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s administration, they’d only had Michelle, Malia, Sasha, Bo, and Sunny decorating the White House lawn. The cultural issues that had been important to them as a demographic had won out, for the most part—LGBT rights, mainstream embrace of the sort of feminism that makes everybody feel good about themselves all the time, the push toward marijuana legalization, multiculturalism and wokeness (I HAD TO LOOK THIS UP - IT MEANS, LIKE, REALLY TUNED INTO SOCIAL JUSTICE AND STUFF. HW) as a barometer for high-quality art. They’ve been able to customize their virtual neighborhoods, surrounding themselves only with other people whose views and sensibilities are represented in the mainstream progressive media. Being forced to confront millions of people who deviate drastically from everything they believe is good is likely to be a shock to their systems.

The crying continued throughout the week. On the subway in New York City, sniffles punctuated heavy silence. Sickness or sadness? It was impossible to tell without staring. Friends confessed to each other they’d cried dozens of times. Foreigners living and working legally in America cried privately, cried together. The sadness came in waves. People said it felt like a death, like a breakup, like a national disaster. People checked in on each other. “Are you OK?” they’d ask, as though a relative had passed.

Harrowing tales of crying continued into Friday, as Lena Dunham published an essay in Lenny Letter about how she was so distraught on election night, she broke into a hive that matched the hive of another woman in attendance at the Hillary Clinton rally, and how she cried for days after the election. The crying continued into the weekend. Saturday Night Live’s cold open ended with Kate MacKinnon, in character as Hillary Clinton tickling out Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” on a piano, teary-eyed as she promised to fight on.

The forces that elected Trump do not care about Clinton supporters crying for days. In fact, I’d venture a guess that they’d love for nothing more than to hear that Hillary Clinton’s defeat caused Lena Dunham to weep and develop a hive, or to learn that the trains in New York City were full of shell-shocked liberals who could not believe that this country’s culturally-decelerated middle actually imposed its will on them. Call it the You Think You’re Better Than Me?! Vote.

It may come as a shock to those millennials who wept (and sniffled) at the shocking news that their champion had been defeated, or those who now insist on marching in their (ultraliberal) cities, blocking the streets that their more serious elders have to use to get to their (ugh!) jobs… but there are plenty of us ordinary Americans - their social and intellectual inferiors, to be sure - who find it sorta funny to see how they’re dealing with what’s probably the first time in their lives that things didn’t go their way.

I would equate it to the way Bama fans laugh at Auburn fans’ crying when the Tide has just won 45-0. (Or Auburn fans laughing at Bama fans when the score goes the other way).  But wait - I’m talking about sports.  And competition. And winners and losers.  Something the millenials with all their Participation Trophies wouldn't know a thing about.

american flag TUESDAY,  NOVEMBER 15,  2016  “Super Bowls are not decided by big things done well but by little things done poorly.” Steve Sabol

*********** From an old friend whose head coaching days are behind him and has taken on the challenge of helping a young coach at a school not used to winning...

Hugh, Hope all is well and the football season was a successful continuation of the open wing experiment. A quick summary of (———)  football: difficult at best in all respects. Definitely a school with no football culture and a lot to do before we are remotely competitive. I knew you had advised this was a QB centric offense and unfortunately we did not have the right kids-at least initially. I found a boy who would have been perfect, but he was ineligible due to grades. When he was finally eligible, the QB coach wasn’t ready to commit to him so he played wide receiver and DB. Was injured in his first game-out for the season. He will be back and will be great. We won 2 games, twice as many as they had won in 5 years, so some success, though moderate. Our physical fitness was the worst I have ever seen which affected our performance every game. Little commitment, though some kids seemed to become aware of the need to be regular in attendance. We must start from the very beginning, fitness. Can’t allow all these fat, out-of-shape boys to think they can spend 9 months eating and laying on the couch and just show up next summer. Much to do, but I kind of like the challenge.   

Appreciate the update.

As you have obviously discovered, the problems at a place like (———) go a lot deeper than the offensive or defensive scheme you use.

I refer to it as the missing  infrastructure. It’s the case wherever life is chaotic - where kids’ family lives are “fluid,” and where teachers and administrators are simply doing what they have to do  to get through the day.   I've had to go through building the infrastructure in several places, from inner-city to small, rural schools, and I believe that everything depends on how successful you are in building it. Until you do, nothing else will work.

*********** I was watching the Houston-Louisville game with my  son,  who's  visiting from Australia,  and he went wild when Houston punter Dane Roy, a 27-year-old Aussie, threw a pass from an unconventional punt formation to the snapper (who was eligible - I said it was an unconventional punt formation).  He made me rerun the play so he could record it on his phone and send it to some of his mates back in Oz.  College football is quite popular in Australia, thanks largely to the fact that a game that's on 6 PM Eastern Time would come on at 10 AM SUNDAY in Australia. That means the Pac 12 Game of the Week, which most on the East Coast  won't stay up to watch to its conclusion, kicks off at 1 PM Sunday on Australia. In Sydney and Melbourne, then, Washington State, relegated to late night TV in the US,  would be in the Top Ten, and Cougars' QB Luke Falk would lead in the Heisman voting.

*********** Shares of gun manufacturers have dropped more than 20 per cent in price since Donald Trump’s election.

It has nothing to do with Mr. Trump’s views on the Second Amendment (he’s a big proponent), and everything to do with the public’s stocking up on guns in anticipation of Hillary Clinton’s election and the almost certain crackdown on the purchase of firearms that was sure to follow.

***********  Nick Saban is slick.  Really, really slick.   Not satisfied with the quality of people his players scrimmage against, he has found a loophole in the NCAA rules that enable him to bring in Bama alums who have played in the NFL to go up against his starters.

The applicable rule states:

A former student at the certifying institution (e.g., former student-athlete) may participate in an organized practice session on an occasional basis, provided the institution does not publicize the participation of the former student at any time before the practice session.

The rule does not state what “occasional” means.  (Every Tuesday?  Wednesdays and Thursdays?)

Nor is Bama likely to “publicize” the fact that Trent Richardson will be the scout team running back at that afternoon’s practice, since  the practice is closed anyhow.

Jim Harbaugh and Urban Meyer must be raising hell with their underlings for not thinking of this first.

*********** John Carroll ended Mount Union’s 112-game conference win streak Saturday.

Perennial power Mount Union was ranked Number 1 in D-III going into the game.

There is dominance and then there is real dominance:

The win gave the Ohio Athletic Conference title to John Carroll, the first time in 24 years that someone other than Mount Union has been the conference champion.

The Mount  Union win streak dated back to October, 2005 when they lost to Ohio Northern. And that loss ended a 110-game conference win streak dating back to 1994.  In other words, since 1994,  Mount  Union’s in-conference record (counting Saturday’s loss),  is 222-2.

Notre Dame*********** The Army-Notre Dame game was hard to watch, not only because of the way the Irish manhandled Army, but also because they did it wearing the absolute dingiest, most gruesome uniforms any team has ever been required to wear as part of its deal with an apparel company (in this case, that would be UnderArmour).

Come to think of it, maybe the thought of having to go out in public wearing such ugly threads angered the Irish players so much  they took it out on Army.

Or maybe the uniforms tricked  them  into forgetting who they were -  the worst Notre Dame team in years - and by the time they realized what was going on they’d built a commanding lead.

*********** Not all clever motivational efforts work…

1. North Carolina’s special video before the Duke game…

Final score: Duke 28, North Carolina 27

2. Michigan’s redecorating of Iowa’s famous pink visitor’s locker room…

Final score: Iowa 14, Michigan 13
***********  After a childhood in which I grew up seeing  Penn play the likes of Penn State, Army (when they were really good), Georgia and Notre Dame in front of full houses of 70,000-plus at Franklin Field, it was shocking to see Penn and Harvard play Friday night in front of a vast backdrop of aluminum bench seats with a handful  of spectators scattered about on them,  looking like so many flies on sugar.

(The announced attendance was 5,000 - FIVE THOUSAND! - but in fairness, large numbers of people were turned away at the gate when university officials were caught off guard by a mob of protesting students who demanded admission - free of charge.)

*********** As the captains of the Penn and Harvard met at midfield for the coin toss, they were joined by teammates who appeared to be exchanging taunts and boasts, in imitation of what sometimes goes on at schools of lesser prestige and academic attainment (and, usually, superior athletic achievements).

I’m guessing it started when one of the Harvards casually mentioned that Harvard’s law school is ranked Number One by Forbes Magazine, at which a Penn guy went nuclear, completely forgetting that it was a mere three days after the trauma of the Presidential election, and reminding the lads from Harvard that  the President-elect is a Penn Alum.

TV commentator when this sort of confrontation happens at  Auburn-Alabama or Ohio State-MIchigan 

“These guys don’t like each other.”

TV commentator when it happens at an Ivy League game: 

“These chaps appear to regard one another with mutual enmity.”

*********** Penn-Harvard actually was a very good game.  Penn senior Alex Torgersen, a California kid, threw his 51st career touchdown pass with under a minute to play to give Penn a 21-14 lead and then, with 15 seconds to play, a Penn defensive linemen intercepted the lateral end of Harvard’s desperation hook-and-ladder play and ran it in for the score to make the final Penn 28, Harvard 14.

*********** I don’t know which way to go in writing about Yale’s loss to Princeton, 31-3:

1. The Yalies were still distraught  over the election results and  just wanted to get to a safe space

2. The Yalies, sick of constantly dealing with the kind of weenies that inhabit their campus, were questioning  why they’d ever chosen Yale in the first place

3. Princeton simply had better players and they were better coached

I’m going with #3.

Yale is now 2-7.  Yale coach Tony Reno, in his fifth year at New Haven, is 23-26 (14-20 in Ivy League play).  Not many schools, even places like Vanderbilt and Purdue where it’s especially hard to win, hire a guy to go out and coach .500 football. He has yet to beat arch rival Harvard in four tries, and not even a win over the Crimson next Saturday  will get him to .500.

*********** No need to write much more than what’s already been written about the Number 2,3 and 4 teams going down to defeat Saturday, except…

Number 2.  Clemson’s luck ran out.  They should have lost to NC State several weeks ago, but the Wolfpack kicker missed a game-winner in regulation.  Saturday, they lost to an inspired Pitt team, but a couple of key calls went against them.

Number 3. Michigan - the Wolverines’ loss means Penn State (!) has a shot at playing in the Big Ten title game should the Lions win out (vs. Rutgers away and Michigan State at home) and should Ohio State beat Michigan.

Number 4. Washington ran into - dare I say it? - a better team (USC), and was beaten in every aspect of the game.  At home. In front of the biggest crowd in Husky Stadium in years, and probably the noisiest. In my opinion the Trojans are the best team in the Pac 12, maybe in the entire 49 states (excluding Alabama).  It was fun while it lasted.  It’s no fun for the rest of the Pac 12 when the Trojans are on top.

Taking their places?

Ohio State for sure.

Louisville? I'm not on board. Unimpressive for most of the game against Wake Forest, trailing 12-3 at the half and 12-10 after three quarters before scoring 34 points in the final quarter to beat the Deacons, 44-12.

Oklahoma, maybe.

West Virginia, if the ‘eers can prove they belong by beating Oklahoma this coming Saturday.

USC (for the reasons given above)

*********** To me, the biggest shocker of the day was not just Georgia’s 13-7 win over Auburn, but the way they did it, shutting out the Tigers’ powerful offense for the final three quarters.

*********** I haven’t seen anybody close to USC’s QB Sam Darnold as a Heisman Trophy candidate.

I know it’s late in the season, and I realize his name wasn’t mentioned in the pre-season Heisman hype - hell, he didn’t even get the starting job until the Trojans fourth game -  and I suspect that at least half the ballots have already been cast, but this kid has had the most impact on a good team of an player in the country.

When USC coach Clay Helton decided to bench starter Max Browne and instead start Darnold, the Trojans were 1-2 and going up against a tough Utah squad.

After scoring only one touchdown in each of their two losses, the result of the quarterback switch was an immediate boost in offensive production and a close 31-27 loss to the Utes.

And then followed six straight conference wins, capped by Saturday night’s performance - 23 of 33 for 287 yards and two touchdowns  - against Washington in front of 72,000 Husky fans and a national TV audience.

The kid is one cool customer.  He can - and does - run pretty well when he has to, but his job is to throw, and he can make all the throws.

***********   Meantime, at the eastern end of the Evergreen State, Washington State took over first place in the Pac-12 North, with a 56-21 win over Cal.

All told, the  Cougars had 654 yards of total offense,  254 of them on the ground.

Luke Falk threw five touchdown passes - three to River Cracraft - and completed 36 of 50 passes for 373 yards with one interception. It was his 23rd game throwing for at least 300 yards.

Cracraft caught nine passes for 87 yards, but had to leave the game midway through the third quarter with what now appears to be a season-ending knee injury.

Cal had 525 yards - 425 of them in the air - but had trouble scoring, never a good thing when your defense has been giving up a conference-worst 44 points a game.

So thorough had been Cal’s dominance in recent years that it was only the Cougs’ second win over Cal in the last 12 games, and their first in Pullman since 2002.

WSU (8-2 overall and 7-0 in Pac 12 play)  has now won eight straight. The last Washington State team to win eight straight  was the 1930 team, which went on to win nine straight before losing to Alabama in the Rose Bowl.

With Washington’s loss to USC, the Cougars can now clinch the Pac-12 North title by winning their final game, the Apple Cup game against the Washington Huskies.  

They are 7-0 in conference; Washington, after Saturday night’s loss to USC, is in second place in the North at 6-1.  The Cougars can lose to Colorado next week and still play for the title with a win over UW.   If Washington wins out, against both Arizona State (in Seattle) and then WSU (at Pullman), the Huskies are back in the title game - and the playoff chase.

*********** The Pac-12 South is a mess. It’s still winnable by Colorado, USC or Utah.  Colorado is 6-1, USC is 6-2, Utah is 5-2.  Colorado’s only loss was to USC, and the Buffs still have to play Washington State and Utah, both at home.  If they win ‘em both, they’re in. USC has only UCLA left in conference play, then the Trojans play Notre Dame (good luck with that one, Irish).  USC needs to beat UCLA and have Colorado lose to Washington State but beat Utah. Utah plays Oregon at home next week, then finishes up at Colorado.  Utah can get into the title game by winning both games.

*********** For Georgia State coach Trent Miles, the good news last week was that the school had received approval to purchase Atlanta’s Turner Field, giving it a large venue in downtown Atlanta.

The bad news came a few days later when he was informed that he wouldn’t be coaching  there.   With two games still to play in his fourth season, Coach Miles was let go.  Overall, he was 9-38, and 2-8 so far this season.

***********  The decade all started out so well for Boston College, with the Eagles going 11-3  in 2007 and  9-5 in 2008.  Just as significantly, they were 11-5 in ACC games.

And then a power struggle ensued between the coach and the AD.  The AD won.  And BC lost.

To make the story short, the coach, Jeff Jagodzinski, was approached  by the Jets to interview for their head coaching job.

When he asked his AD, Gene DeFilippo, for permission to interview, he was refused.

But he went ahead and interviewed anyhow, and  DeFilippo fired him.

Things haven’t been the same since, for Jeff Jagodzinski or for BC.

“Coach Jags” didn’t get the Jets’ job after all - they went for Rex Ryan instead - and he hasn’t gotten another college head coaching job either.

And BC?  Well, as this season winds down, with a 4-6 record (1-6 in the ACC) and two games remaining against UConn and Wake Forest, the Eagles’ record in the eight years since firing Coach Jags is 43-55.  15 of those 43 wins came in the first two years after Jagodzinski’s firing, under successor Frank Spaziani who had been elevated from defensive coordinator. But a 4-8 season in 2011 ended BC’s streak of 12 consecutive winning seasons, and a 2-10 finish in 2012 cost Spaziani his job. Steve Addazio, who was hired from Temple, started out with back-to-back seven-win seasons in 2013 and 2014, but he was 3-9 in 2015 and he’s now 4-6.

Which brings us back to Jeff Jagodzinski.  Most recently he’s been coaching the offense at Georgia State, but with the news that Georgia State head coach Trent Miles has just been fired,  it’s likely that Coach Jags, along with the rest of Miles’ assistants,  is out of work also.

Friday night, after BC lost to Florida State, 45-7 - their 14th loss in their last 15 ACC games - he evidently couldn’t take it any longer and tweeted this:

Embarrassing. I can't even watch this. Let me know when you want to be relevant again! You deserve better.

I happen to know the guy.  A few years ago, he grilled me about using some Double Wing at the place he was coaching, a small college in Florida.

I like him. 
I can’t believe no one has hired him,  and although I can't condone publicly  demeaning the work of  another coach who still has a job, I can understand the frustration behind it.   

Is he hard to handle?  Hell, I don't know. I have no idea what went on between him and Gene DiFillippo.  But he’s been a proven success in a major conference, and if I’m an AD with a football program in serious trouble and a budget that depends on a winning football program, which do I need the most -  A jovial, easy-to-handle guy?  Or an aggressive, winning coach?

*********** You gotta admit that when kids have been making their own highlights films in their bedrooms, it might be hard for a  coach of a team sport to convince them that it isn’t all about them…

***********  Something to consider if you’re a betting person: Since 2003, West Coast NFL teams have won only 35 percent of the games they’ve played on the East Coast.

*********** One of the better coaching hires, I would say, is that of  Jeff Tedford,  returning to his alma mater, Fresno State, as its head coach.

*********** The Washington state high school association - the WIAA - refuses to seed its playoffs, with the result that two of the best teams in the state - at any level - will meet each other in the quarterfinals next week.

One of the biggest Washington high school clashes in years will take place when once-beaten Tumwater faces unbeaten Archbishop Murphy of Everett in the quarterfinal round of the state 2A playoffs.

Archbishop Murphy gained national notoriety this season when most of the teams in its league chose to forfeit rather than play a team that had enough college prospects on its roster that it would make short work of them. (They called it a “safety issue.”)  Winner of five games by forfeit, Archbishop Murphy has won the six games it’s actually been able to play by a combined score of 307-6.

Its closest game so far has been this past weekend’s 34-0 playoff win over North Kitsap.

Tumwater, in the final season of longtime coach Sid Otton, is 10-1, having vanquished opening round playoff opponent Washington of Tacoma, 44-7.  A Delaware Wing-T team, the Thunderbirds have been held under 30 points just once all season, in a 27-20 early-season win over Union of Vancouver, a school two classes larger.

*********** Colin Cowherd is one opinionated son of a gun, and if you’re like me and not a left-leaner you’d probably prefer that he keep his political views out of his sports analysis.  But he’s smart and he can be funny and he’s often correct, so I can tolerate him.  I also cut him extra slack because he grew up in Grayland, Washington, across the harbor from Ocean Shores, and went to our league rival Ocosta High School, where he played football - he really did - playing quarterback for Steve Bridge, the dad of my head coach Todd Bridge.

He gets it correct when he explains how Donald Trump was able to pull it off…

american flag FRIDAY,  NOVEMBER 11,  2016  “We’re surrounded. That simplifies things.” The late US Marine Corps General Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller


Another and far more transcendent love came to us unbidden on the battlefields, as it does on every battlefield in every war man has ever fought.  We discovered in that depressing, hellish place, where death was our constant companion, that we loved each other.  We killed for each other, we died for each other, and we wept for each other.  And in time we came to love each other as brothers. In battle our world shrank to the man on our left and the man on our right and the enemy all around.  We held each other’s lives in our hands and we learned to share our fears, our hopes, our dreams as readily as we shared what little else good came our way.

As the years passed, we searched each other out and found that the half-remembed pride of service was shared by those who had shared everything else with us.  With them, and only with them, could we talk about what had really happened over there - what we had seen, what we had done, what we had survived.

We knew what Vietnam had been like, and how we looked and acted and talked and smelled. No one in America did.  Hollywood got it wrong every damned time, whetting twisted political knives on the bones of our dead brothers.

So once, just this once: This is how it all began, what it was really like, what it meant to us, and what we meant to each other. It was no movie.  When it was over the dead did not get up and dust themselves off and walk away.   The wounded did not wash away the red and go on with life, unhurt.  Those who were, miraculously, unscratched were by no means untouched.   Not one of us left Vietnam the same young man he was when he arrived.

Prologue - “We Were Soldiers Once - And Young” - Hal Moore and Joe L. Galloway

*********** Every four years, people whose study of American history, especially the construction of our Constitution and the selling of it in The Federalist Papers, is at most cursory, begin baying at the notion of the Electoral College.

The Democrats have already begun to howl.  “Hillary won the popular vote!”

Maybe so.

Unfortunately, for most of them their introduction to our government took place in elementary school, when they voted for class officers, and the winner was the one who got the most votes.

Seems simple enough.  Until they run into the Electoral College, which none of them ever bothered to learn was set up so that the Chief Executive was elected by the several states, and not directly by the masses. It is part and parcel of our federal system, in which the central government was never intended to be superior to the individual states. 

But this year, as sometimes happens, the winner of the vote of the states  - making him the President-elect - may have received fewer “popular” votes than the loser.   (Emphasis on the word "may," until it's been determined how many illegals voted.)

At last count, Hillary Clinton appeared to have received roughly 250,000 more votes nationwide than Donald Trump, a rather tiny number out of 120,000,000 votes cast.

But before anyone starts wailing “she won,” it’s important to note that her margin of victory in just two big states - California and New York - was 4,000,000 votes! (California’s was 2,500,000, New York’s was 1,500,000.)  Theoretically, then, if we were electing the  President by popular vote, two states tightly controlled by one party could have dictated the winner of the election, despite the results in the other 55 states. (55- that’s a joke, see.)

To illustrate the importance of understanding how the game is actually played and how the score is kept, I used to tell my history classes about the World Series of 1960, one of the greatest of all time.

All the Pirates’ wins were close games.  All the Yankees’ wins were blowouts.

6-4 Pirates
16-3 Yankees
10-0 Yankees
3-2 Pirates
5-2 Pirates
12-0 Yankees
10-9 Pirates

The Yankees outscored the Pirates 55-27. 

You might say they won the popular vote.

But that’s not how you win the World Series. You win the World Series by being the first team to win four games.

And in 1960, that was the Pirates, four games to three.

*********** There’ve been some protests in some of our cities, but from the looks of them, there’s something almost lackadaisical about them, as if the protestors are going through the motions. Just mailing it in.

Maybe they were caught off guard because they were so sure they were right - that they were going to get exactly what they expected - that it never occurred to them that their candidate might lose.

There seemed to be an absence of real anger, and more an atmosphere of dejection.  My friend Doc Hinger said it was probably the first time in their lives anyone had ever said “No” to them.

*********** I happened to be watching some of the tantrums taking place in the streets of some of our cities, and I saw a young woman being interviewed.  Among her complaints about our new President-elect: “He doesn’t represent me.”

Well no, dimwit, I said aloud.  As a matter of fact, he doesn’t.

But then, it’s not his job to represent you.  He’s the Chief Executive of the WHOLE F—KING COUNTRY. That means it’s his job to run the country, to carry out (get it - “execute?”)  the laws passed by our Congress.

You want someone to represent YOU?  Do I have good news for you - you’ve already got one.  It’s your “representative” (get it - “represent?”).  Every American citizen has one.  There are 435 of them, (in the House of “Representatives” - get it?) which means each one represents roughly 735,000 people.  I know that seems like an awful lot of people for each representative to “care about,”  but if you really think that the President, who’s responsible for the conduct  of a nation of 320,000,000 people, gives a sh— about you, you’re dumber than you look.  Also as self-absorbed as most people your age.

*********** Hate to break it to those a**holes in the streets of our cities, but YOU’RE a major reason why normal, everyday people, many of whom had never voted in their lives, turned out in such large numbers to vote for change.  Change in you and your conduct.

*********** In honor of the US Marine Corps’ birthday on Thursday…

“Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”  Retired USMC General James Mattis

***********  YALE UPDATE…

***  The poor, poor things at Yale, wandering around campus in a daze as they try to cope with the reality of a President Trump.

Rather than expect them to suck it up and get on with their lives - and studies - one professor of economics announced that the mid-term exam, originally scheduled for The Day After, would be optional.

There, there.  Feel better now?

It sure is obvious to me that resilience and moral fibre - yes, GRIT - are not high among the criteria for admission to one of the world’s most selective colleges.

What a sewer Yale’s leadership has allowed it to  become.  What a nest of twerps.

My friend Lou Orlando, of Sudbury, Massachusetts,  played at Yale many years after me,
under the great Carm Cozza .  He suggests we get together for a diploma burning.

*** Dr. Darin A. Latimore has been appointed deputy dean for diversity and inclusion at Yale School of Medicine (YSM).

In his new post, which he will assume in January, Latimore will function as the School of Medicine’s inaugural chief diversity officer, wrote Dr. Robert Alpern, YSM dean and the Ensign Professor of Medicine, in a letter to the medical community.

“The School of Medicine is strongly committed to promoting racial, gender, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity among our students, faculty, and staff, and promulgating a culture in which all members of our community feel respected and included,” said Alpern. “There are already a number of initiatives underway to improve diversity and promote inclusion at our institution. The appointment of a chief diversity officer further underscores our dedication to ensuring that our environment supports diversity in meaningful ways.

Working closely with YSM senior leadership, Latimore will be responsible for developing and implementing a comprehensive plan for furthering diversity, equity, and inclusion at the school, including a robust recruitment, development, and retention program for faculty, students, and staff. He will coordinate with such groups as the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Minority Organization for Retention and Expansion, the Committee on the Status of Women in Medicine, the Committee on Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice, and the Dean’s Advisory Council on LGBTQ Affairs.

(Uh,  if I go in for surgery,  the diversity of my surgeon's medical school is the last thing on my mind.  And if my baby were to need brain surgery I would insist that the operation be performed by Dr.  Benjamin Carson. )

*********** Charlie Wilson of Crystal River, Florida sent me this link to an old video of The Bear Bryant Show...

Bear Bryant reviews the game against "VPI" and tells stories, critiques the staff and at the last minute of the show asks, while looking at the Scoreboard, "Who you got running that thing?  He either needs to run it faster  or we need to to replace'im."  Mr. TeeVee Announcer has no idea what his responsibilities are now or even what he's supposed to do.  "Am I gonna be unemployed now?  Wha...?"

Best line: At 29:10, Bear sez, "Perfect situation, we want the ball at the start of the third quarter of course...We don't know much about returning kicks..."

I don't know if Don James provided as much fun on his show but I got to watch Bear ever'week and was it ever entertaining.  "Who ya' gonna beat up next week, Bear?  We'll watch ya' regardless".

His tag line for Co'Cola and Golden Flake Potato Chips:  "Grear Pair Says the Bear".  I think I need to find a Safe Place.

What a great show. Hard to believe he lasted another 4 or 5 years stumbling and mumbling and bumbling like that.

(Don James was a great coach and I admired him tremendously (still do), but he was not what you'd call a fun guy. He was a great detail man and  extremely well organized  - and even  less colorful  than Nick Saban, if that's possible. )

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

I have again followed you through your season, sounds like you guys did a great job teaching and Coaching with a young group that grew as the year went on...   It has been a pretty special year thus far in Whiteford, we are currently 11-0 playing 11-0 Climax Scotts this week who has a great program.  I have included a link to our offensive highlights that shows how diverse our offense can be (we have very talented boys and a very talented QB) and I also think you'll appreciate the influence you have had, although as you know I have been influenced in the DW by many great coaches I believe your influence will stand out...

God Bless, Jason Mensing
Head Football Coach Whiteford High School
Whiteford, Michigan


I appreciate your note and the link to your highlights.

I must commend you and your kids and coaches.  I was impressed not only by the overall crispness of the execution, but also by those few occasions when there was a minor slip up and the kids' quick thinking turned potential losses into big gains.  I very much liked that big B-Back, and I thought your QB did an exceptional job of running what is a much more complex offense than the untrained eye realizes.

Thanks again and best of luck this week and in the weeks to come

***********   Hugh,

I'm reading your NYCU this morning, and your take on finishing 4-6 is spot on. Like you and the Hyaks, we won the games when we had the better players and lost when the other team was clearly better than we were. We actually won our first 2 games against teams that were our equal. In week 1 we won because our opponent made too many errors, including turning the ball over inside our 20 on 2 occasions. In week 2 we had to score 58 points and hold on against a team who had 2-3 weapons that we couldn't stop. We only beat them because we converted more 2 point conversions than they did as both teams had the same number of TDs.

Over the past 3-4 years, win or lose, I often ask my assistant coaches, after a game, "How many of our kids would start for that team?" If 5+ of our kids would have started for our opponent, we usually won. If fewer than 5 would have started for our opponent, we usually lost. When we lost in the state title game in 2013, we only had 4 kids who would have been on the field for Silver Lake.

I agree with you that form nearly always holds at our level. We've pulled some upsets in the playoffs over the years, but often it was simply because the opponent couldn't stop the Double Wing. Most often, though, the team with the best athletes/football players (and the greater number of them) comes out on top.

You and Todd did a great job this season. When you told me in August that you only had 17 boys on the roster, I wasn't sure that you would finish the season. The fact that you went 4-6 and made the playoffs is a real credit to the work that you and Todd do. Congratulations on a successful season.

Coach Greg Koenig
Beloit High School
Beloit, Kansas

*********** If you won’t get off your knees and stand up for a song and “a piece of cloth,” why should anyone expect you to get off your ass and vote?

So sure  enough,  Collin Kaepernick didn’t even f—king vote.

Yeah, a real man of principle.

And as for that worthless Roger Goodell, who sounded more like the head of the ACLU than the commissioner of the National Football League in defending Kaepernick’s “right to protest” - I’ll bet he lies awake nights wishing he’d thought about who his real fans are back when Kaepernick started all this sh—.

*********** Army linebacker Andrew King has been named by the Charlotte Football Club as the first recipient of its Defender of the Nation Award.

King was selected for the Defender of Freedom Award from among players at the nation's military academies and institutions,  including West Point, the US Naval Academy, US Air Force Academy, The Citadel, US Coast Guard Academy, Norwich University, Virginia Tech, Texas A&M and Virginia Military Institute.  It’s based on exceptional leadership qualities on the field, in the classroom and in the community.

A three year starter on defense, Cadet King is the first person from his high school (Flushing, New York) ever to attend the US Military Academy.  At West Point he majors in Law and Legal Studies and has served as Platoon Leader and an Honor Officer.

*********** Seattle’s mayor has announced that regardless of what President Trump intends to do, Seattle will remain a ’sanctuary city.”

I say it's time to give all  these f--king sanctuary cities 24 hours notice to vacate (in the case of Seattle, wait for a Saturday when the Huskies are out of town), then 
nuke 'em.

*********** Sid Otton is the winningest coach in the state of Washington. The long-time coach at Tumwater, a suburb of Olympia, he’s won 388 games and six state titles in his long run. I first met Sid in 1984 when we were both running the Wing-T and exchanged ideas.  He’s continued to run it all this time, and his record reflects the precision with which his teams have done so.  Tumwater’s offense is a beautiful thing to watch and a frightful thing to have to prepare for.

This is Sid’s last season,  but the season’s not over yet.  Sid’s Tumwater Firebirds are 8-1 and favorites to win the Class 2A state championship. Since a 33-23 midseason loss to Steilacoom, they’ve won five games in a row,  none of them closer than 31-6.  They open playoff competition Friday night against Washington High of Tacoma (7-3). 

***********   After being let go as head football coach at Texas A&M back in 2011, Mike Sherman sent out the following letter to Texas high school coaches…

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for allowing my staff and me to come into your high schools, recruit your players and share ideas with you. I am forever grateful for the access and opportunity you’ve offered me over the last four years.

Other than going to practice every day and being on the field with my players, the one thing I am going to miss the most is visiting with high school coaches, listening to you talk about your kids and your programs, and watching practices and off-season workouts. Since this will be my last letter to high school coaches, besides thanking you for the opportunities to visit with you, I wanted to share with you some of the things I learned over the years that might be of help to you down the road. Sometimes I think as football coaches we are so competitive we are reluctant to share ideas. This profession has been good to me. I believe giving back when you can is important. These are my ideas – not suggesting they are for you. They are some of the things I came away with.

I. Core Values

If a player learns anything from me, he’ll learn that you have specific core values to live his life. These ‘core values’ are his guiding light in the decisions he makes not just as a football player, but as a man.

Our ‘core values’ for our team were simple.

Truth and Love. I believe these are essential elements to run a football team, a business, organization, government or family.

A. Truth:

Be who you say you are.
Do what you say you are going to do.
Be truthful to yourself and others.
Be accountable.
No excuses.
Seek the truth.
Demand the truth.
Tell the truth.
Live the truth.
If there is no truth, there is no trust.
If there is no trust, there is no relationship.
If there is no relationship, there is no value or substance to what you are doing.
As coaches we must
Never, never lie or mislead a player.
It’s simple. He has to trust you. You have to trust him. There is no trust when truth isn’t at the forefront.
You cannot fix something unless there is absolute truth.
Never, never let a player get away with lying to you. Go the Nth degree if necessary to confirm what he is telling you is true. He’s got to know you will not accept dishonesty and there are consequences for not being honest. Without absolute truth, there is no relationship. Without relationships there is no chemistry. Without chemistry, you lack a major component towards winning championships.

B. Love:
Love your God.
Love your family and friends.
Love your country.
Love your freedom and those who protect those freedoms.
Love your teammates, coaches and school.
Love the game of football.
Love competition and winning.
Love all things that equate to winning.
Love is a passion that can bring great success to your life and to your team.. It is one emotion that always plays out positively. It is the glue for your team and promotes great chemistry. Watching this year’s Texas H.S. State Championship games, I saw a lot of this on the field and on the sidelines.