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Published continually since 1998, "NEWS YOU CAN USE" was a Blog before the "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 TUESDAY,  DECEMBER 6,  2016  “Sacrifice. Work. Self-discipline. I teach these things, and my boys don’t forget them when they leave.”  Bear Bryant

NEW! 5-DVD OPEN WING "VIRTUAL CLINIC" - If you've been followIng my site for the last 3+ years, you know that I've been working on combining the solid, sound blocking and running game of the Double Wing with the passing game of the Run and Shoot that I ran way back in the early 80s.  I came to call what resulted the "Open Wing" (thanks to my friend Brian Mackell) and in our first year of running it at North Beach High (Ocean Shores, Washington), while testing it and refining it,  we finished 7-3, only the school's second winning record in ten years.  In 2014 and 2015, as we got better at what we were doing, we had back-to-back unbeaten regular seasons, finishing 10-1 and 9-1.  In 2015, we were the highest-scoring team in the state at all levels in the regular season. 

Now, after three years of work, I believe I have something to share with other coaches.  (Several of us got together at a clinic in Kansas City back in the spring, and the coaches who attended seemed to think so, too.) 
If you weren't able to make it to that Kansas City clinic, here's your chance to "attend."  Because I was able to record the clinic, I have been able to re-create it, assembling all the video that I showed, plus quite a bit more that I felt I needed to add.  The result is a series of five DVDs, each roughly an hour in length: the first one gets you started with the basics, and from there, each DVD is can stand on its own - the second one offers a basic offensive package to get anyone started, the third introduces our passing game, the fourth shows how we have expanded the offense through formationing, and the fifth gets into the Open Wing with a QB under center - plus the very basic but solid Double Wing package that we jump in and out of. 

Because I believe that the entire series is important, I've priced it as a set so that you can purchase all five DVDs for less than the cost of buying four  separately.   










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?

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.

I must admit, this is something I’ve learned over time. I have not been a “touchy feely guy” and have been a fairly private person with my words and actions, but once I began to tell players that I loved them I could see it started to make a difference in their lives. I’ve said it to my wife and five kids often but it was not natural for me to say it outside that circle. A lot of my players like yours never hear that word. It took a conscious effort on my part. After disciplining a player I always would say, “you know I love you, right?” Reluctantly they would agree and eventually say it back. When I was dismissed as the HFC, I can’t tell you how many players texted me to tell me “love ya coach.”

This brought great closure to me because I feel we impacted them in a positive way – even beyond the game of football. This was a great lesson I learned that will stay with me forever.

II. Be Honest But Positive

One thing I’ve learned is that young men respond better to honesty than “blowing smoke” at them. Too many people – parent and friends – tell them they are all this and all that. People tell them they are ¡°great. Everyone is worried about self-esteem so much , no one tells them what is real. Kids today have a false sense of confidence and bravado that when the first time things go bad in their lives or on the field, they can’t handle it. They have to know where they truthfully stand and what they need to do to get better. I do believe this is the best approach. Honesty however, must be buoyed by positive encouragement not negative criticism.

III. Embrace Your Players

Another thing I’ve learned the past four years is that you need to physically embrace your players with a tap on the back, arm around the shoulder, hand shake, hug. They not only need to hear your care about them but feel you care about them. They need to know you love them and care for them beyond just their ability as a football player. They have to feel you are going to be their coach for life, not just until they graduate and they are done playing for you. They have to trust that you will be there for them in the long term.

IV. Be Harder On Your Star Players

To become a great team I believe you must push your star players harder than the rest of the team. You cannot concede your principles because you know these players are the ones who will help you win games. Become more demanding of them, not less. The lesser players will respond to this in a positive way because you do not play favorites. The star players will also benefit from this because they will not be thinking they are something they are not. (See Tom Brady – perfect example.)

V. Be Respectful and Positive Toward the Lesser Talented Kids in Your Program

It’s not necessarily their fault they can’t play as well as you would like. As long as they are part of the program, as long as they are working hard, they deserve your respect as well as respect from your entire staff. Empower them whenever you can. If they earn it, say things like “great job by our scout team today -best in the country.” Compliment them on their little accomplishments. They won’t forget you for that. They are the ones in ten years that will come back to visit their Coach.

I promise you, they may not all play in the game on Friday or Saturday, but they share a locker room with every member of the team all year long. If you empower them, you will have a tighter, stronger team. You will have a better locker room, and ultimately, if you don’t have a good locker room, you can’t win.

VI. Have Components of Championship Play

Have specific components for Championship play for offense / defense / special teams. These are your components that you believe are most valuable in your quest to win a Championship. You must reference them three times a week. Do not stray from them. Be committed to them. Constantly reinforce these components.. It’s what you believe and it’s what the staff and players must believe. (See the end of this letter for my components.)

VII. Delegate to Your Assistant Coaches

I believe I tried to do too much at times. Step back so you can be more objective about problems that arise. You can fix them better from this perspective as a Head Football Coach.

This is difficult for me since I love to coach every play. I tried to fix every problem and player. I think I would have been more helpful in other phases if I wasn’t so consumed. I tried on occasion to step away, but certain issues arose that brought me back to it.

VIII. Break Down Barriers

When I got to campus at Texas A&M, I felt there were barriers between our student body and our athletes. I felt our players had an overly high opinion of themselves but the students had a low opinion of our athletes. I have adamantly explained to our kids that they are “special” on Saturday when we play the game as well as when they practice and prepare to play. But during the week, walking across campus, they are students just like everyone else and should act and engage themselves that way. We were able to include the student body and faculty in a lot of football functions. This helped us eliminate the barriers.

I wanted our faculty and student body to embrace our players and wanted our players to embrace them as well. I believe we accomplished this. I believe when players play for something bigger then themselves, they player better.

IX. Never Throw a Player Under the Bus

I see this all too often at the college level. The Head Football Coach has to assume all responsibility publicly for the player’s performance.

Privately it is different. Hold them accountable one on one and in team meetings in front of their peers.

X. Players Have to Play for You

The only way this happens is if they ultimately believe in you and trust in you. Other than pure talent, there is no greater component towards winning than this. Schemes, practice plans, game plans, off season, concepts, philosophy and ideas mean nothing if you can’t get the players to play for you. This is key. Relationships with players have to be at the forefront of who you are as a coach.

XI. Peer Pressure is a Valuable Tool

Although I will not throw a player under the bus publicly, I will call him out in a team meeting when he displays behavior contrary to what we want to accomplish as a team, whether it be on or off the field. As long as you are consistent with this to all players, it will be very effective.

XII. Battalions

One of the best things I did was break our locker room down into 6 battalions. The seniors drafted players to their battalions (locker room section). Battalions are about accountability. As a player, you are accountable to yourself, but you are also accountable to your battalion.

When a player steps out of line, the player is punished, usually a difficult conditioning run, but if it happens a second time, the entire battalion runs. Stepping out of line usually revolved about class and study hall attendance, but it wasn’t limited to that. The seniors who understood the purpose of battalions drafted not based upon talent, but based upon accountability. One of our very best players talent wise was the last player drafted this past year. He had no idea his teammates viewed him this way. He was embarrassed and disappointed that he was viewed this way. It changed him instantly and dramatically. He didn’t want to be that guy.

The lesson I learned about battalions is that players will sometimes let themselves down, but very few are willing to let their teammates down.

XIII. Fundamentals Fundamentals Fundamentals

There were times this past season I felt our fundamentals were not at the level I wanted them. I talked about this weekly to coaches but I felt it was an area we could and should have been better at. Sometimes players forget what got them to be the players they are.

Sometimes coaches get too tied up in the scheme and they sacrifice fundamentals in the process. There has to be a consistent commitment to this from beginning to end of season. It’s still a game of blocking and tackling, throwing and catching. That will never change. If you do those things well, you will win regardless of what scheme you run.

XIV. Never Pass Up an Opportunity to Practice Tackling

Whether in pads or in shorts, your team can always practice the techniques of proper form tackling. Breaking down, coming to balance, bending knees and keeping eyes with a form fit can be practiced every day and in every drill. With pads or without – always coach the proper angle and fit on a tackle.

XV. Hiring Staff

When hiring a staff, always take your time and get the right fit and what you want. Not everyone should be the same personality or talent. You need different personalities, different strengths, but all on the same page from what you as Head Football Coach want to accomplish. You are only as good as those around you. Take your time here. Very critical to get the right fit, staff talent and chemistry is key. It carries over to the players.

XVI. Dismissing a Staff Member

If someone is not doing their job the way you want it done, it is imperative you tell them immediately. I think it is unfair to fire someone without letting them know they are not meeting your expectations first. I believe you give a staff member three opportunities to fix what needs to be fixed. You hired him, you fix him. You owe him that . If you can’t, you owe it to the rest of the staff and team to make a change.

I tell the staff every pre-season what my expectations are. I tell them I will be up front and honest with them about their performance. I tell them if during the season I don’t like something, you’d better fix it.

It’s important to separate the professional criticism from the personal. You may like the person but you may not like how he is doing his job. When relieving someone of their duties, never let it get personal. This was always the toughest part of being a head coach. Your obligation is to the overall team and you cannot allow poor performance keep you from getting there. If you have been up front and honest with the coach, he can have no qualms about the direction you eventually decide to go.

XVII. Take Care of the Person and the Football Player Will Come Out

I tell our coaches this all the time. The players have to know you care before they will care about what you want them to do. Be involved in their lives. Ask questions about their families and girlfriends. Know their likes and dislikes. They have to know your care and are concerned about them as men first, players second. They have to know you care about their lives outside of and after football.

XVIII. Never Let the Negative Criticism Get to You

As Head Football Coach, you must assume total responsibility for your players and coaches performance. In order to handle this responsibility you must keep your head above the fray. Do not let things on the outside influence you. Be the leader you were hired to be.

Never let other people define you. You and you alone define the coach and the man that you are. No matter what happens, they can’t take that away from you. Hold true to your principles regardless of the circumstances or consequences.. Your players are watching how you react to these situations. In times of adversity are you who you say you are? Anybody can make it work when you are winning and everyone is happy. More importantly , your own family watches you and will learn a lot about their husband and dad in these adverse situations..

XIX. The Burst

You have to coach “the burst.” This is the fine line between making a tackle and not making a tackle, scoring a T.D. or not. Wins and losses are dictated and determined by a player’s ability and desire to show a burst. In season and out of season, you must coach this. They have to know the difference between running to the ball and bursting to the ball- running toward the end zone or ¡°bursting¡± toward the end zone. We always reward/acknowledge “the Burst of the Week” whether it be in season or out of season.

XX. More Game Are Lost Than Won

At times this past season, I thought we might be trying to do too much. You win games when players are comfortable and know what to do. Thinking too much can cause hesitancy. You want them to be aggressive, play with good fundamentals, do not make the game too hard for them. From watching tapes of different teams and even my own, I’ve come to the conclusion that the best coaches are the one who don’t feel they have to out smart the opponent, but would rather out coach and out play them. You do this with fundamentals.

If players on defense know what to do and recognizes offensive schemes faster, they will make plays and create turnovers.

If players on offense know what to do and recognize defensive schemes, they will make plays and not turn the ball over. Ultimately in football, the team that makes plays and creates turnovers and doesn’t give the ball away, wins games.

XXI. Common Language

I believe it is imperative to have certain principles of the game of football defined the exact same way by all staff members. Effective communication is the key to success. Players cannot hear the same concept defined multiple ways. Definitions must be consistent.

A. Physical Play – finish each play in a dominant position
B. Mental Toughness – complete the task at hand regardless of the circumstances
C. Fanatical Effort – the maximum level of strain or speed toward the successful completion of the play

These are just a couple of examples but a common vocabulary on certain fundamentals is critical for the ultimate success of teaching and evaluating those fundamentals. You ask ten coaches to define “physical play” you will have ten different interpretations. As the Head Football coach, you determine how you want it defined and demand everyone use that definition.

XXII. Leadership

Different situations call for different styles of leadership. Players and coaches must know that if things do not go right in preparation and practice, the Head Football Coach may snap or vent or lose it to those not working toward the desired goal that week.

Preparation time requires a different form of leadership than game time.

On game day, however, the Head Football Coach – in my opinion – must keep his composure and not show panic but rather calmness and direction in adverse situations. Losing it in this situation does not necessarily create the desired result conducive to winning.

This concept of leadership was re-enforced on my trip to Iraq two years ago in visiting with General Odierno and others in position of leadership. Cool heads must prevail when adversity strikes. Players (soldiers) do not and will not follow panic driven reactionary leaders, but rather those with confidence, composure, and direction of purpose.

Leadership does require that you be yourself and not try to be someone you are not, but it requires the best version of yourself.

XXIII. Maintaining Balance

Keep everything in perspective is keeping everything in ¡°balance¡°. There have been times in my career I have lost this balance. As a football coach, it is so easy to become consumed by it all. We are evaluated publicly every Friday night or Saturday afternoon. The pressures we impose on ourselves to be the best and to win are vastly greater than those pressures we face on the outside. Our competitiveness is a great thing- although if not kept in check- can be our downfall as well. You have to have balance in your life to make it all work effectively. Make sure you keep vision on your principles. Faith and family cannot take a back seat to football and winning.

I have made this mistake in my career at times.

Trust me when I say this, and I say it from my own experience, the more balanced you are, the better coach you will be. Do not neglect the essential elements of your life. If you win a state championship but miss seeing your son dress up as Brett Favre at Halloween or see your daughter play her viola in a Christmas recital ¨C what have you gained in the long term compared to what have you lost? I do believe you can have both but it takes a conscious effort and discipline to maintain balance in your life and make it work. You will be a better coach, husband, father and man if you do this.

It’s been a hectic couple of weeks for me to say the least. I’m disappointed I won’t have the opportunity to finish what we started at Texas A&M. We have come a long way in my four years here. I believe in the foundation we have laid both on and off the field. Talent levels and expectations have increased dramatically. We had record crowds at Kyle Field this year. Graduation rates and GPAs are higher than they’ve ever been. We have great kids in the program that know how to work. They understand the principles of the university. We have kids who have core values which will not only help them be better football players but men, husbands, and fathers as well. I feel good about that.

Last season we exceeded expectations with a young football team. This past season we had opportunities to do some great things , but they literally slipped through our fingers. Our season basically came down to 5 or 6 plays. If we made those plays, we could have ended up with a 10 or 11 win season. Winning and losing is a fine line- we ended up on the wrong side one too many times. As the Head Coach, I am ultimately responsible for that- me and me alone.

This season has been difficult because we have not been able to meet the expectations we ourselves have created with what we accomplished in the previous season. Our season this year was a lot like the Houston Texans last year. I do believe this, however, if you stay true to your principles, and given the opportunity, you eventually will win out in the long run. My Dad always told me many years ago¡¬ “the cream always rises to the top” and I still believe that

I do feel the future is bright for Texas A&M Football, however.

Kevin Sumlin will do a great job as the new Head Football Coach at A&M. He is a good coach and a good man.

In closing I want you to know that if there is ever anything I can do for any of you, do not hesitate to contact me. You’ve always been very gracious towards my staff and me and I thank you for that. It’s meant world to me.

Again, I appreciate the opportunity to have met and talked with many of you. Of those I haven’t met, I want you to know I respect the work you all do with your high schools, teams and players. I believe high school football coaches are the most influential leaders of their high schools and communities. Their impact on not just the football players but students and administration, as well as the cities and towns they live is huge.

Coaching high school football is not an easy job. If you all got paid by the hour, you’d be very wealthy men. With that said, coaching is an extremely rewarding and honorable profession. The game of football is so special on so many fronts. Winning is the ultimate goal and there are few things more fun than being in that locker room after a hard fought victory. I never remember scores of games, but I do remember locker rooms after we won- faces of players and coaches all huddled together yelling, screaming, smiling and laughing, ¬acting totally emotional and truthful- devoid of any apprehensiveness or inhibitions - just enjoying the moment. There is no doubt that it’s the competition week in and week out that keeps us going- wanting to relive that experience again.

We must never lose sight, however, that with the opportunity to coach these young men and experience victory together, there also comes the huge responsibility to make a difference in their lives. We must never lose sight of the fact- “once their coach always their coach.”

Where others may have failed them , we as coaches cannot. Where others have created mistrust, we must bring trust . Where others have created disrespect, we must bring respect. Where others have let them down, we must support them. We owe that to them regardless of their talent or ability. We owe that to them regardless of wins and losses.

We owe that to this great game of football which constantly challenges us- week in and week out. What job could anyone of us have that does that? This game we coach not only challenges us to keep our egos in check when we win, but forces us to face our fears when we lose.

This “game” also has the ability to bring out the very best in us at times as well the very worst in us at times. Here is hoping that it brings out the very best in each and every one of us all the time.

Best wishes for great success both on and off the field.

God bless , Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.

Mike Sherman

american flag TUESDAY,  NOVEMBER 8,  2016  


***********  We lost our final game, 54-6, to a very good team.  We didn’t play well, but even if we’d played the best football we were capable of, the best we could have done was keep the score down to something more respectable, like 42-20.

But despite the beating, our kids left the field with spirits high, because of something we’d planned to do a week earlier.

On Monday of the previous week, I asked the head coach, Todd Bridge, if I could “borrow” our four senior linemen during a daily drill.  The linemen didn’t mind, because it meant getting out of a kick-coverage drill - and a fair amount of running.

At first, I had them line up in the backfield and catch snaps. After a few minutes, I asked them if they knew why they were doing it.  When they looked clueless, I asked, “What’s special about Friday night’s game?”

When one of them said, “Senior Night!” the lights went on in all of them, and I said, “You guys are going to get to carry the ball once in your careers.”

Now they were fired up.

Every practice we spent five minutes taking snaps and running off-tackle (same play for everybody), and every day during team time they’d each get to carry the ball at least once against a live defense.

Coach Bridge was skeptical about the idea as it was, but when Friday night came and we played poorly I didn’t even consider bringing up the idea of letting linemen carry the ball.

And then came last week’s playoff game, and we were getting thoroughly waxed.  So when we got the ball with time running out in the game - and on the season - Coach Bridge suddenly said “let’s let the senior linemen run the ball!”

One by one, the seniors  carried the ball.  The play was Western 6-G-O.  Starting on the opponents’ 44, Diego Gonzalez (open tackle) carried for 15 yards. Seth Bridge (tight guard) carried for five, Hunter Dianovich (open guard) for four and Cody Martin (defensive lineman) for three. With the ball on the 17, it was Diego’s turn again.  He carried to the nine (two carries for 24 yards - not bad), and with time for only one play, we called a time out.  6-G-O was out of the question because we couldn’t run the play well without Seth Bridge’s kickout  block - and it was his turn to run.  So we put his younger brother, Ben, in at Tight Guard and called 2 Wedge. Right at Ben.  Brother blocking for brother.  And I’ll be damned if big old 6-5, 270-pound Seth didn’t power across the goal line - a touchdown on the final play of his high school career.

And our kids were so excited that they left the field with smiles on their faces, completely unmindful of what the scoreboard said had just happened to them.

*********** 54-6… 55-6… 52-7… 35-7… 40-7… 51-6… 50-14… 54-13

Those were scores of first-round “playoff” games in Washington, where, inspired either by “Hoosiers,” or by the mistaken belief that kids and coaches on a 4-6 team are excited about the prospect of facing an undefeated, ranked team in a “playoff,”  the post-season suffers from bloat. Too many teams.

In our case it comes about when two nearby leagues, allocated two state playoff spots each, agree to combine their four total state playoff berths and conduct a mini-playoff (a “play-in”) to determine who gets them.

Instead of four teams going on to state,  now eight teams - four from each league -  get to play an extra game.  They’re not really playoff games, and yet…

As an example, in our six-team league, four teams qualified for a “play-in” game - a chance to make it into the state playoffs a week later.  Typically, when the two leagues hook up, League A’s Number One plays League B’s Number four, and the converse. And the Number Twos play the Number Threes.  So all a fourth place team has to do to move on to “state” is defeat the other league’s first-place team, right?   Well, yeah - except if that fourth place team were good enough to beat a team of that calibre in the first place, they wouldn’t have finished in the bottom half of their own league, would they?

So for no particularly good reason, a sub-par team has to play an extra game which it’s almost certain to lose - badly -  and, just as bad, a really good team has to go through the motions while trying not to get anyone injured in a game it shouldn’t even have to play.

Our adjoining state, Oregon, does the same thing. Oregon  is a smaller state than Washington, yet it has more classifications (more trophies!). And too many teams in the playoffs. As Nick Daschel noted in the Portland Oregonian, there are 32 teams in the Class 6A (largest) playoff field - and three of them are two-win teams.

What results is the same sort of lopsided first-round scores as Washington. 

And, even worse, this year, a first-round forfeit - South Eugene, once a state power but 2-6 this past season, claimed to have only 21 healthy kids, and forfeited to #2-ranked Jesuit of Portland.

People just don’t understand that football is not soccer… or basketball… or baseball.

*********** Before our game last Thursday night, one of our radio station’s broadcast crew (that’s another story) asked me what our chances were.  I said, “Not very good.”

He said, “Well, the Cubs did it.”

Sheesh.  I couldn’t control myself.  I said, “You realize, don’t you, that the Cubs did it with major league baseball players?”

*********** USC might be the best team in the Pac 12 right now, and yet Oregon looked at times as if it could play with the Trojans.  And then the Ducks would do something almost unbelievably stupid - such as two consecutive illegal procedures on fourth-and-short, turning a fourth-and-two into fourth-and-12. How about 7 penalties for 43 yards - in the first half?  To the bonehead penalties and bonehead plays like a dropped touchdown pass by a wide open receiver and a bobbled center snap on the Ducks’ first TD,  add a “safety first” approach to tackling - and the Ducks were doomed.

They did at least keep alive their FCS-leading streak of 29 games in which they scored at least 20 points.

The Ducks are now 3-6 and seemingly in free fall. Unlike most teams’ declines, theirs has been a sudden, abrupt  one, traceable   to a precise moment in time: halftime of last year’s Alamo Bowl, when the Ducks led TCU, 31-0.  They then proceeded to sleepwalk though the second half on both sides of the ball, until TCU finally tied it up at 31-31, then proceeded to win in OT, 47-41.

Counting that bowl game, the once-mighty Ducks have gone 3-7.

***********   John Canzano, who has become something of a multi-media sports giant in Portland, has been on the Ducks big time, and after the Ducks’ loss to USC, he pulled no punches:

Oregon is a lousy football team. It's not particularly athletic or physical. There's no attention to detail. It's a sloppy mess in stretches. In fact, the only consistent in-game entertainment comes when opposing fans see these new-style Ducks tripping around the field for the first time and are blown away at how bad UO is.

ESPN Sports Business reporter Darren Rovell caused a stir in the first half when he tweeted, "There's talk heating up in Oregon that Phil Knight is ready to throw insane $10M+ a year money at a football coach. He's 78, wants a title."

*********** Watching Army against Air Force I had a sense of watching our high school team this past season.  Not to disparage Army by comparing the Black Knights to a high school team, but to illustrate the comparison between Army’s athletes and Air Force’s.  The Army offense was doing everything it was coached to do, but the difference in speed between the Air Force defense and the Army offense meant that more often than not even a well-executed triple option play gained nothing.

*********** Army scored against Air Force running from a radically-unbalanced “5-and-1” formation (so called because there are 5 offensive linemen to one side of center and 1 to the other).  Long-time double-wing guys who remember my older videos will recall Art “Ossie” Osmundson running it back in 1997 or 1998 as his “Rambo” formation.

*********** I would love to spend a day - just one, to see what it’s like - as head coach of a major college team, but not Notre Dame.  Not this year.  I wouldn’t want to be in Brian Kelly’s shoes for five minutes.

The Irish lost to Navy.  Navy.  So effective was Navy’s offense that Notre Dame had only six possessions the entire game - TWO in the second half!

Notre Dame is now 3-6, with games remaining against Army (winnable), Virginia Tech (not easy) and USC (a likely loss), and will probably not become bowl eligible.  But wait - Notre Dame might still qualify for a bowl game even with five wins because there are likely to be more bowls than eligible teams to play in them and because, well, Notre Dame is still Notre Dame.  So get ready to go to Detroit or Boise, Irish fans.  Or, if San Francisco is more to your liking, there’s always the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.  

*********** Wake Forest beat Virginia to become bowl eligible! Go Deacs!

*********** Ordinarily I wouldn’t watch Vanderbilt-Auburn, because over the past few weeks Auburn has been one of the hottest teams in the country, and I like Vanderbilt too much to watch them being pushed around.

But damned if they didn’t do some pushing of their own, hanging right in there, so I tuned in and I saw some amazing things.

Leading 23-16, Auburn appeared about to blow the game open when 240-pound Kamryn Pittway, the SEC’s leading rusher, broke into the clear for a 60-yard gain.  Actually, it should have been a 72-yard touchdown run, but he limped the final 20 yards or so after suffering, in mid-run,  what appeared to be a hamstring pull or something similar.  He made it only to the 12-yard line, and when the Commodores held and Auburn attempted a field goal, Vandy’s Zach Cunningham, timing his leap perfectly, cleared the center and blocked the kick.

Vandy then drove into Auburn territory, helped by a 3rd-and-long batted pass that a Commodore caught, until Auburn intercepted with :36 to go.

I hope for Auburn’s sake that Pettway is healthy and ready for the Iron Bowl, but after seeing the way Bama stuffed Leonard Fournette, one of the best runners I’ve seen in years, I’m not sure he’ll make much of a difference.

*********** So much for the fools on the Playoff Selection Committee who put one-loss Texas A & M ahead of unbeaten Washington last week because of something that took place weeks ago - their out of conference games.

Sparked by a big sophomore QB named Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State played the Aggies off the field. Fitzgerald gave the Bulldogs the lead when he muscled over from the five, and then the State defense sealed the win with an interception at their own 18.

*********** Did you see what Ohio State did to Nebraska?  Holy sh—! 

How about this scenario, Michigan fans - Ohio State  beats Michigan in their regular season game, and  goes on to the conference championship game - where it loses to Wisconsin.  That gives Ohio State two losses.  Michigan, meanwhile, sits it out, and then, with only one loss, is chosen to play in the Playoff.

It’s happened before…

*********** Ordinarily a low-scoring game would be boring, but considering that every play in the Alabama-LSU game contained the pressure of a really big game between two really tough teams, I found it a fascinating game to watch.

I would sure hate to go up against that Bama defense, especially, as LSU did, without much of a passing game.

I don’t like to say this, but I have to -  if Alabama can keep coming up with winning quarterbacks year after year, how come Les Miles couldn’t find one to complement the great running backs and first-rate defenses that his teams were known for?

*********** Up until :03 remained in the Georgia-Kentucky game, it appeared that Kentucky - after Florida’s loss to Arkansas - had a shot at the lead in the SEC East.  But a Georgia field goal gave the Bulldogs the 27-24 win.

So come on, Southerners - isn’t it time to stop chanting “SEC-SEC-SEC” and start adding “WEST” to it?  Face it - there’s nothing at all special about the SEC East.

*********** If Cal had a defense they’d be a very tough team, but they don’t, so they were no match for Washington.

With QB Jake Browning (19 of 28 for 378 and 6 TDs), receivers John Ross (6 receptions for 208 and 3 TDs) and Dante Pettis (8 receptions for 104 and 3 TDs) and running back Miles Gaskin, Washington is extremely explosive, and has a ton of NFL prospects on defense.

Browning’s six TD passes give him 34 for the season, a school record at a place that’s produced its share of NFL quarterbacks.

But next week they play USC - in Seattle - and those who discount their win over Utah will get to see them against a really good team.

*********** Not long ago, I saw UCLA coach Jim Mora’s name mentioned as a possible successor to Les Miles at LSU.

That’s a good one.  As it is right now, he’ll be lucky if he’s back at UCLA next year.

Can’t accuse the guy of being politically wise, not when a reporter asked him about the condition of “Josh” (that would be Josh Rosen, the Bruins’ star QB whose health has been a major concern) and he replied, flippantly, “Josh who?”,amp.html?client=safari

How upset are people with Mora? I’ll let Bruin reporter Joe Piechowski tell it.

“Karl Dorrell is considered one of the worst coaches in the history of UCLA football and Jim Mora’s record against conference opponents is now worse than Dorrell’s was. You know it’s time to replace your football coach when he starts making Karl Dorrell look good. That’s what Jim Mora has done this year. That’s how low UCLA football has sunk.”

*********** Not many people are aware that the leading rushing team in all of FBS is not a service academy and not Georgia Tech.  It’s a triple option team, and it runs the ball 80 per cent of the time, but its quarterback never goes under center.

It’s New Mexico, which lines up in a sort of shotgun, like 90 per cent of all college teams - and then proceeds to run the sh— out of the ball.

The Lobos’ game with Nevada was on TV Saturday and I recorded it.

I haven’t had a chance to look at it to any degree, but from what little I’ve seen, those suckers do a great job of running that offense.

*********** I don’t know about you, but this RPO B-S is going too far when you see what they’re allowing offensive linemen to get away with.  How in the hell are defenders supposed to read run or pass when officials admit that they’re allowing offensive linemen to be three or four yards downfield on pass plays?

Arizona got caught for overdoing it against Washington State - the Wildcats had a touchdown called back when on the running part of the play, a lineman was still blocking five yards downfield.

(Watching Washington State clobber the Wildcats, I have to ask what has happened to Arizona.)

*********** The game is being harmed by the number of holding penalties.  It’s partly owing to the greater emphasis on passing and partly the result of liberalized rules allowing use of the open hands, but I think the major reason is that to a passing team, a ten yard penalty  is not enough disincentive to hold. The passing guys on the rules committee managed to reduce the penalty for holding from 15 yards to ten, and now we’ve got a situation were coaches are willing to take an occasional ten-yard holding penalty in return for the chance to get away with holding on every play.    If coaches weren’t willing to suffer an occasional holding penalty - if the penalty were 15 yards - they wouldn’t tolerate holding.  Or teach it. 

*********** When Baylor let Art Briles go, Jim Grobe, a good man and a good coach (he took Wake Forest to a bowl game, for pete's sake) ) took the head coaching job on an interim basis.  Evidently Baylor insisted that he retain Briles' entire staff, and evidently he agreed to that condition.

Here's how they paid him back for saving their jobs...

Apparently nobody ever told them about something called the chain of command, because on Friday night, without notifying their head coach  they intended to do so, they released a statement to the school's board of regents  attempting to refute the regents' claims that Briles knew about the gang rape of a fellow student by several Baylor players  and failed to notify authorities.

No doubt those same guys  preach to their players about  the importance of staying focused on their jobs. Practice what you preach,  guys:  the next day, Baylor fell to TCU, 62-22. 

Get out of Waco while you can, Coach Grobe.  They don't deserve you.

*********** Since I’ve pretty much sworn off the NFL, can somebody tell me how the Vikings have done since Norv Turner “resigned?”

*********** The Dallas Mavericks finally won Saturday night. They’re now 1-5.  Maybe it’s time for loudmouth owner Mark Cuban to come off the campaign trail where he’s politicking for Hillary and get back to his obnoxious ways on the sideline.

*********** Evidently for some time now the Harvard’s men’s soccer team has been “rating” women’s soccer recruits on the basis of their looks and sex appeal and perhaps a few more, uh, characteristics  - you know, on a scale of  one to ten and all that.

Despite the fact that the team was leading the Ivy League at the time the news broke, the university immediately decided to cancel the remainder of its season.

Shame on the Harvards.

Meanwhile, I'm so proud of Yale.  You wouldn’t see that happen at my alma mater.  No sirree.  Actually, I suspect that at Yale the men have been so thoroughly neutered, so completely beaten into submission by the oppressive, stultifying  pro-LGBT, pro-feminist atmosphere on campus that they wouldn’t dare “objectify” women by looking at them as "sexual objects."

*********** He’s coached at the top of the college game and the top of the pro game.  He’s been the head coach at Texas A & M and the Green Bay Packers.

And now, he’s retired.

Well, not exactly retired. Now,  Mike Sherman is back to coaching at its grass roots as the head coach at Nauset Regional High School in Massachusetts.

*********** From what I write here, you will deduce that I am writing to a fellow coach who is debating whether to hang them up.


You’re not the first coach I’ve heard from in the last week on this same subject.

Let me start by saying that when I see what head coaches have to deal with these days I question whether - if I were 25 or 30 years younger - I could do it with the same energy and enthusiasm that I did when I was a younger head coach.  

Thinking back, I marvel at how I was able to deal with the demands of teaching and coaching and being a family man.  But I am astounded when I see today’s head coaches handle the same time demands as I did AND have to deal with far more intrusive and demanding parents,  far less motivated kids and, increasingly, far less supportive administrators.  Throw in new state regulations that all but require coaches to become licensed and you have to wonder if there isn’t some plot afoot to get rid of football by driving coaches out of the game.

So there are a lot of negatives that only a guy who's passionate  about football - or consumed by ambition - can ignore.

I just finished my sixth year as an assistant coach at the same place and under the same head coach.   There are a lot of material things we don’t have, but we have good kids and we have a good relationship.  Ours is a small staff and we work well together.

But despite our efforts to set the bar high for player conduct, we still have our issues, and as you probably are well aware,  those issues become far more of a thorn in the head coach’s side when you’re not winning.

As an assistant coach, I would say that I spend 95 per cent of my time on pure football coaching matters, and at most 5 per cent of it on extraneous stuff - meeting with parents, and so forth.

It appears to me that for the head coach the percentages are almost reversed. Even in a small school with a small roster, the amount of time that our head coach has to spend on relatively small details that all have the potential to become big issues is astounding.

I often joke with him that that’s why they pay him the big bucks.  (I make about $3,000 for the season and he makes about $4,500.)

I have coached my head coach’s three sons, and it’s been a wonderful experience.  They’re good enough football players that there’s never been any question about whether or how much they should be playing.  He does a good job of treating his sons without showing preference.  There’s no question that it’s been a good situation for that family.

BUT - up until this 4-6 season, we’ve had a good run of success - 26-5 from 2013-2015 - and in a community that’s never had any tradition of success there’s been no platform for any criticism.  But if this year’s decline should continue, it’s inevitable that the jackals will begin to circle, and that’s not something I’d want a coach’s son to be in the middle of.

I’ve heard numerous coaches say that if you’re even considering getting out, you’ve already made your decision.

That’s the way it sounds to me.

I think that if you can find a way to assist your successor you could be able to still coach and still (possibly) coach your son. Every head coach I know of would welcome an assistant with your background and experience.   If in some way you could have some influence in the naming of your successor, you would have a better chance of finding someone you can trust and respect and work with.

I think he would be more comfortable knowing that you’re interested in helping him, and not in taking his job.

I certainly wish you the best.

If you’d like to talk, here’s my phone number…

***********  Coach Wyatt,

I am a former player and student of Jerry Vallotton so I started running DW with my youth teams about 6 years ago and have had great success.  

I ran into a lot of criticism along the way but every year I was handed a group of "leftover" players and led them to winning seasons.  

I was recently transferred to —————  and was lucky enough to be given an opportunity to be the head coach for a 11-12 year old team in ——————.  I was warned about how this was not a football town and we historically "sucked at football"....on top of this, this was the first year that the program had enough kids to split into 2 teams.  The residing Juniors coach of course stacked his team with the best 12 year olds available and when I got here my team was already drafted and I was told "good've got a few kids with potential".

Okay, roger that.  I installed the double-wing and even though my team lacked ANY speed at all we went 6-2 and led the entire 16 team league in scoring.  We lost to the #1 seed in the playoffs....they were just overwhelmingly bigger and more athletic than us so I was proud of how tough we played them.  Only problem is that my lack of speed really hurt on defense and we struggled all season stopping the better teams, especially team's that had a few burners.  But hey, I'm not here to talk defense.

One day I was up in —— playing a game and after unleashing the double-wing on them for a big win I was stopped by one of their youth volunteers.  He asked me where I had learned my DW because he has seen many wannabes over the years but hadn't seen a true classic DW team in the area in a very long time.  He told me that he learned the system from you a long time ago and used to run it up there as a coach.  I wrote your name down and looked you up....okay so now finally to my point.

Now that I've laid a small back story for you...The local high school has suffered through inconsistency at their coaching position and it sounds like they haven't had a winning football season in forever....well I don't even know how long it's been (I'll look that up).  So people, parents, coaches from other sports at the HS, etc are pushing me to get into coaching with the HS program and taking my offense with me.  Obviously I don't want to backstab the current coach but I'm excited about the opportunity and support from the community.  The possibility to turn their program around is exciting but also overwhelming.  I've never coached at the HS level and although I have been a very good student of the DW and have ran it with great success over the past 6 years I'm intimidated about running it at the HS level.

I'm looking for help.  Not asking for a handout at all but just curious if you do any double wing clinics in the ——  area?  I also see that you've evolved the offense to an open-wing.  My "wrinkle" to double wing was to run it out of a short gun formation once in a while, slide the fullback over....send a wing in motion...add a little spin on the motion and away we went.  Cross toss, Toss, Sweep and FB trap never worked so good than they did when I mixed this new look with classic under center double wing.  After seeing it in action I realized, well basically when I go "heavy" (tackle over) this is single-wing.  I'm rambling a little....I tend to do that when I start talking about football.

Do you have any advice for me?  Is there a clinic I can attend with you and learn some new things that might help me make a smooth transition to coaching HS football.  This program is desperate for a winning season....obviously if they're going to hire me based off one season of success with their youth program.  Is classic DW enough....I know it well and feel like I can coach it well but I'm also worried that I will need more at a higher level and your open wing concept has caught my attention.  I also know there is a lot more to coaching HS football than running a youth team.  I already did things like film breakdown and team film review which made a huge difference for us but a successful HS program will also have a successful off-season program and the HS program should be heavily involved in the youth program.  Things like this is what I'm looking for help with.  I don't want to try and reinvent the wheel when there are people like yourself who have already found success
 through your own trials and errors.

Any help is greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your time,

Dear ———

Thanks for writing.

There is a lot for us to talk about and now that the season is over maybe it would be best if we were to talk about this on the phone.

———— ran the Double Wing quite successfully for a number of years until their head coach retired recently.  And then their program went straight downhill.  I suspect that the coach you spoke to might have been —— whom I’ve known for some years now.

My perception of the state of the Double Wing at this point in its history is that it’s been around long enough to make a lot of enemies - people who for various reasons don’t like it and want no part of it.

You may not run into it at first at a place where they haven’t had much success.  Not if they want to win.  But eventually, even there, success will spoil them and they will begin to question what you’re doing.

What’s worse is that you’d be surprised at the number of people who don’t want to win badly enough to do what’s necessary to win if that means doing something that might make them look old-fashioned or dorky.

I liken it to pro basketball players who would rather continue to make fewer than 50 per cent of their free throws doing it the conventional way than make 75 per cent of them by shooting underhanded.

If  the current high school head coach happens to hit on the idea that the Double Wing might help in rebuilding the program, then you have a chance of selling it to him.  If not, no matter how persuasive your argument, you have no chance.

I have said for some time that the Double Wing can’t be sold - it has to be bought.

The guy with the whistle has to believe that this is his best chance to be successful with the kids he has.

I’m around most of the time.  Give me a call.

***********  From Rogers Redding, National Coordinator of College Football Officiating, on the subject of targeting...

Recently the NCAA Football Rules Committee issued two new interpretations to clarify further how officials should look at these fouls.

The first is the definition of the "crown of the helmet." Many people have been considering the "crown" to be the singular point at the very tip-top of the helmet. However, this is too restrictive. The committee has clarified that the crown is that portion of the helmet that is above the level of the top of the facemask---that is, the dome that starts at the location analogous to a king's crown and goes to the top. So, a player is liable to be flagged for targeting even if the point of forcible contact is not precisely on the exact top.

*********** Yuengling…

*** Yuengling, both lager & light beer, is a football staff favorite at Davenport Assumption HS. My former D-coordinator & now head coach is a Steelers fan & when he gets to a game with some of the others on staff, it’s a “Coors” run & we enjoy a taste of “Pottsville” every now & then!
Coach Kaz
Mark Kaczmarek
Davenport, Iowa

*** Although it is hard to find in Maine I just ordered a case of Yuengling from a specialty package store in Farmington and will have it for thanksgiving doing my small part to help.
Jack Tourtillotte
Rangely, Maine

american flag FRIDAY,  NOVEMBER 4,  2016   “Great teams don’t do extraordinary things. They just do the ordinary things extraordinarily well” Hank Stram

*********** As I write this, my backside is sore. That’s because we just got our butts whipped tonight.  We lost to a very good Napavine squad, and the final score of 54-6 wasn’t unexpected.

We did have a good week of practice, especially so because we were able to practice twice on an artificial turf field in nearby Aberdeen, instead of slogging through plays on our sloppy field.  And we did spring a surprise Lonesome Polecat series on Napavine.

But we were simply no match for the state’s number one team, and their quarterback, a 6-3, 225 pound kid named Wyatt Stanley, who can really wing the ball.  He’s easily the best I’ve seen up close in quite some time.  He picked us apart, but he also ran for a 55-yard touchdown when flushed out of the pocket.  (He’s a tough kid - last year when we met in a  playoff game, they played him at linebacker to help combat our Double Wing.)

In retrospect, our final record of 4-6 was about the best we could have expected.  We beat all the teams we should have beaten, and the teams we lost to were clearly better than we were.  Actually, at our level, form nearly always holds.  It’s not like college football, where even the worst team in the conference still has scholarship players.  In small school football the better team wins 99 per cent of the time, simply because the underdog usually doesn’t have the players to pull off an upset.

*********** Seeing the Cubs in the World Series took me back to Lee-Lee.  Lee-Lee was a guy named Lee Elia, and he was the best friend of Jack Turner.  Jack and I played in the same backfield at Germantown Academy, Jack at wingback and I at tailback.  Jack and Lee grew up in the Olney section of North Philly and went to junior high together, but Jack got a scholarship to attend G-A while Lee went to Olney High, where he was All-City in football, basketball and baseball.  He was that good. One of his teammates on his junior high basketball team was Guy Rodgers, who would go on to stardom in the NBA, consistently leading the league in assists and - little known fact - was the “guy” who fed Wilt Chamberlain on the night he scored 100 points. 

We’d often see Lee around school when he came over to visit Jack.  He was one funny dude, a classic Philly smartass, always ready with a quip or a comeback. Lee and Jack went on to Delaware together (both recruited by Mike Lude).  Jack became a very good running back in the Blue Hens’ wing-T offense, and Lee might have been the greatest player Delaware ever had, based on his play on the freshman team in those days before freshmen were eligible for varsity play.  But a dislocated hip suffered in the spring of his freshman year while jumping across a small stream ended his football career.  From that point on, baseball became his sport.  The Phillies’ owner, Bob Carpenter, was a Delaware man and a Delaware benefactor, and numerous Delaware guys made their way into the Phillies organization, Lee Elia among them.  After a short major league playing career, Lee got into coaching, and worked his way up the baseball ladder.

Which got him to Chicago where general manager Dallas Green (another former Delaware guy and former Phillie) hired him as manager of the Cubs in 1982.

In 1983, he made baseball history of sorts with a “profanity-laced tirade”  in front of Chicago sports media, deploring in the most vulgar of terms the fact that Cubs’ fans were being hard on his players.  It was his bad fortune that unbeknownst to him, (back in the days before everyone had a smartphone) one of the reporters had a portable recorder - and the rest is Cubs’ history.

Lee’s rant (Trigger warning: it contains more than a touch of “locker room language”)

***********  My friend Bill Murphy is a Chicago police officer (I was brought up not to say “cop” because back then it was disrespectful) who is also a long-time youth football coach.  Several years ago, I had the unforgettable experience of going with him and his partner on a ride-along through the South Side.

bill murphy and "jim"

He is back in action after an injury sustained during an altercation with a “street-level pharmaceutical salesman” (as he put it), and he sent me a photo from his most recent assignment along with this note...

I have been swamped with work (lots of shootings in Chicago - wonder why) and then I just had a very long three day detail at Wrigley Field for the Indians World Series games. Two good things came of this, the Indians won two of three, and I got to meet Jim Harbaugh before he went into the game as he arrived at my checkpoint. Also got to talk to his Dad very briefly.

Notice the name on the jacket (“Jim”)…. he is a character. ( I guess anyone who watched the game got to see him with the mitt out in left field).

Once the Cubs parade is done I'll be thrown back to the south side were I get a great sense of satisfaction each day in knowing I'm stopping the violence and drug trade in Chicago.  (Said with a trace of sarcasm.)

(Bill is wearing an Indians’ hat partly because he was in plainclothes but mostly,  being a true South Side Chicagoan, he is no Cubs fans.  He is a White Sox fan through and through)

*********** In the first College Football Playoff ranking, Texas A & M (5-1) is is in fourth place ahead of undefeated Washington. And so is Clemson, which is also undefeated but only after by the grace of God escaping an upset at the hands of NC State.

Not that Washington is a cinch.  The Huskies still have to play USC this weekend - anybody who saw them in their last outing knows that they have suddenly become a very tough club - and they end the regular season against Washington State, over near the Idaho line in Pullman, where it can be snowing and blowing at that time of year.

But back to A & M - since the committee is supposed to be projecting playoff possibilities, how in the world can it defend putting a team in fourth place that won’t even be in its conference championship game?  A & M has already lost to Alabama, giving the Tide the tiebreaker in the SEC West (just in case someone should knock Bama off).

*********** I watched Western Michigan return an interception (I refuse to say “I-N-T”) for a TD  (the term “Pick Six” will never cross my lips) against Ball State Tuesday night, but as the ball crossed the goal line, the dreaded yellow “FLAG” graphic popped up on the screen. The officials had detected two blocking-below-the-waist penalties on the play - against Ball State! 

I replayed it and I’ll be damned if at least two Ball State players who should have been pursuing the return man  didn’t instead attack unsuspecting Western players with body blocks at the knees. It was as if they were still on offense, but those dirty f—kers knew exactly what had happened and what they were doing.  Just one more repugnant act, almost as nasty and dangerous as targeting,  that the rules people are going to have to take a look at.

*********** At a high school in Wiggins, Mississippi,  a white football player is accused of putting a noose around a black teammate’s neck and drawing it tight.

The football coach, who happens to be a black man, said that the team was in the locker room when the incident happened.

He said that he reported the incident to administrators, and that -this should go without saying - the perp has not played since it occurred.

“I just want it understood, it could have been the biggest superstar and he would have been gone,” the coach said. “I don’t care who it is — if you do something like that, you can’t be part of our team.”

Nowadays, this is going to call for that young man’s attendance at diversity training.  

In a better America,  he would attend as soon as he recovers from the ass whipping administered by his coach.

***********  I miss Chief Illiniwek and the Fighting Sioux. 

I do have my questions about the propriety of the name Redskins, but I’ve never seen anything wrong with Indians, Warriors, Braves or Chiefs.

I’ve always seen those nicknames as honorable terms, adopted with the hope that schools’ teams would reflect the proudest characteristics of their mascots.

And while for the most part people who call themselves Indians, Warriors, etc. are careful to honor their mascots, it never occurred to me that that might not always be the case with their opponents.

But at a small Ohio high school, the unthinking actions of its cheerleaders - and the people who supervise them -  have caused me to rethink things.

As their team ran onto the field to face their opponents - nicknamed Indians - they held up a banner reading, “HEY INDIANS, GET READY FOR A TRAIL OF TEARS PART 2”

I was a history major, and I taught history in high school for more than 20 years, and I can say that the Trail of Tears - the forced relocation of the  Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole peoples from their ancestral homes in the Southeast to “Indian Territory” in what is now Oklahoma - is a smirch on our history, on the order of slavery and Jim Crow laws and the Japanese Internment.

In short, it is NOT something to make light of.

There are schools in the country who proudly call themselves Irish, Fighting Irish, Little Irish or something Gaelic.

Not sure how well their students know their history, but I’ll bet their parents or grandparents would be ready to fight if an opposing  team’s cheerleaders held up a banner that read:


*********** Hello Coach Wyatt,  I hope this finds you well. Reading your news, I had my first experience with an assisting the runner two weeks ago. Right in front of me, a linemen picked up his RB and carried him 3yds!! I shouted to the ref who was next to me, "he can't do that, throw a flag!" He turned to me and told me he should throw a flag on me, to which I replied, " Great! Throw two flags then! But call something!" He didn't like that much.

Oh well. Anyway, I've attached my nomination letter. My awards banquet is Nov. 13th, sorry about short notice.

Please give my best to Mrs Wyatt, and I hope to see you in Kansas City next year if you go there!

Kurt Heinke,
Atascadero, California

*********** Early nominations for the Black Lion Award are beginning to come in -  19 players so far,  from nine different states:

California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York,  Texas, Washington, Wisconsin.

ACT NOW! There are now 41 opportunities to be the first team in your state to nominate a player!

It’s not too late to get on board - Read the FAQs:

Email me and sign up -

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

The Elmwood/Brimfield Trojans won their first round playoff game against the Bloomington Central Catholic Saints.  They are a storied program with four state championships and three runner-ups.  A combination of a punishing rushing attach (74 for 405) and pressuring defense (4 sacks, -15 rushing yards in the first half) was more than the Saints could handle on Saturday.  In the end, the 36-14 score was not as close as it appeared.  (They scored late against the second team).  

This weekend we travel eight miles for a rematch against Farmington.  A one-touchdown loss for us four weeks ago, we get a chance to see if we've improved.  To say that the coach, players, and everyone in town is excited would be an understatement.  There were a reported 3,000 in attendance for the regular-season game.  I expect even more for this one.  

Todd Hollis
Elmwood High School
Elmwood, Illinois

*********** I would like to thank you for the hand shake tradition. All of our teams do it and it and at our windup, parents were waiting while their kids went back to find their coaches and shake hands before exiting.

Football is fun.

Tom Walls
Oakbank, Manitoba

*********** Dick Yuengling

It’s been 50 years since I went to work for the National Brewing Company in Baltimore.  Our primary brand in our Baltimore brewery was National Bohemian Beer, which had a greater than 50 per cent market share.  We owned the Baltimore market. (We also made Colt 45 Malt Liquor, which we brewed not only in Baltimore but in other breweries in Detroit, Miami and Phoenix.)

We were what people nowadays would call an “industrial brewer.”  But then in those days, every brewer was an industrial brewer.

There were a lot more of them back then.  And with the exception of pockets of New England where ale still sold well, 99 per cent of what they made and sold was the brewer’s version of white bread - lager beer.

There was no such thing as craft beer or microbreweries.

For various reasons, including the rejection by the young people of the 1960s of the things their fathers once held sacred, including the beer they drank, the beer industry was increasingly being overtaken by a handful of large brewing companies - Anheuser-Busch, Schlitz, Miller, mainly - who sold their “premium” beers (they usually cost a nickel a bottle more in a tavern) from coast to coast and could justify the high cost of sponsoring nationally-televised programs (such as the NFL).

Things were really tough on the dozens of tiny, small-town brewing companies whose products weren’t in demand once you got any distance from their breweries and the area they could afford to advertise in.  But to keep their breweries working and their employees employed, they normally produced a lot more beer than they could ever sell in their home market, and rather than dump it into the sewer, they would “dump” it - sell it at a ridiculously low price - in faraway  markets, figuring that their loyal hometown consumers wouldn’t find out that their favorite beer was being sold at prices far below what they were used to paying.  In those markets where they were dumped, they were known in the trade as “price beers.”

To the dominant brands in the market, price beers were little more than a nuisance.  We weren’t going after the same customers.  The image in the consumer’s mind was that if a beer was that cheap, and they’d never even seen an ad for it, it couldn’t be very good, and if they had the money to do so, they’d buy our beer - or one of the national brands.

In Baltimore and our surrounding Maryland markets, Yuengling was such a beer.   D. G. Yuengling Sons, of Pottsville, Pennsylvania bills itself as The Nation’s Oldest Brewer, something that’s attributable in great degree its ability to survive while hundreds of other small brewers bit the dust.  Somehow, it stayed alive, and one way it did was by dumping its beer in markets like Baltimore and Washington.

Our company’s distributor in Hagerstown, Maryland, about 70 miles west of Baltimore, was a guy named Joe O’Neill.  Our distributors were independent business people.  They depended for most of their income on the sale of our brands, but to try to pick up a little extra income they would agree to sell some other brewer’s products, too.  Our only concern was that they not be products that directly competed with any of ours, so we had no objections when Joe announced that he was going to sell Yuengling’s.  After all, in the Maryland market,  Yuenging was just a price beer.

Joe was the only distributor in Maryland that carried  Yuengling, and he did a nice job of selling it. Hagerstown was not a wealthy area, and there was a demand for beer at a low price.  And besides, he was out on the edge of our primary market, where Pabst, which had recently lowered its price to our level and begun billing itself as “premium beer at a popular price” was coming on strong and cutting into his sales of National.

As our sales in Hagerstown declined, some of our sales people suspected he was spending more time selling Yuengling’s than he was selling National, but I knew better.  My research indicated that our sales problem - and that of other similar-sized brewers around the country - was a lot bigger than a lack of sales effort.

Jump forward 30 years.  I’m now a football coach, and living on the West Coast, but whenever I can I get back to visit friends and relatives on the East Coast, including Hagerstown  (where I  also happened to get my start in coaching).   By now, Joe O’Neill has sold his distributorship and opened up a liquor store.

And at the same time - who knows why - Yuengling Beer had taken off in the huge New York market, and it was scrambling to produce enough beer in its little, old brewery in Pottsville to satisfy the exploding demand. 

As a result, Yuengling had to pull out of places where it once dumped its beer at low prices.  That meant Maryland, and that meant Hagerstown - except Joe O’Neill’s liquor store.

Joe had Yuengling when no place else did.  It was as if it were  1976 and Joe's was the only place in your town that sold Coors.

Joe was a hard-nosed guy, but he was also a sentimental Irishman, and his eyes got watery as he told me how Dick Yuengling had never forgotten  Joe and the way Joe stuck by Yuengling’s  back when the brewery needed guys like him to survive.

That was all I needed to know about Dick Yuengling.

I write this because he's under attack by the gay mafia, after an article appeared in Forbes Magazine telling of Eric Trump’s visit to the Yuengling Brewery…

One of America’s wealthiest beermakers is in hot water after voicing support for Donald Trump. Dick Yuengling, the fifth-generation owner of America’s oldest brewery, gave Eric Trump a personal tour of his historic Pottsville, Penn. plant on Monday, and, according to local reports, told the younger Trump, “Our guys are behind your father. We need him in there.”

His remarks sparked protests among some Yuengling patrons, who took to social media to voice their objections.

State representative Brian Sims, one of Pennsylvania’s first openly gay state legislators, wrote a lengthy Facebook post criticizing the company. “D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc. believes that an agenda that is anti-woman, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT, anti-racial minority and anti-equality is best for them and that tells me all I need to know about what they think is best for their own customers,” Sims wrote in the post on Wednesday, which he signed “a former customer of 17 years.”

Later that day Sims also asked a number of gay-owned establishments in Philadelphia to follow in his footsteps and boycott the brand.

So the largest company in the world (Apple) can openly campaign for the entire catalog of “gay rights” and if we’re not okay with that we’re homophobes - but let a businessman state publicly that he supports  Donald Trump and the homo hounds are baying.

Without Yuengling, Pottsville dies.

But what do fairies in Philadelphia care about working stiffs in an old upstate coal mining town?

You guys who live back East, whoever you’re voting for - help those working stiffs and buy a case of Yuengling.

*********** A study commissioned by the NFHS shows that injury rates are higher for high school athletes who specialize in one sport

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (November 3, 2016) — A study conducted by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and funded by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Foundation revealed that high school athletes who specialize in a single sport sustain lower-extremity injuries at significantly higher rates than athletes who do not specialize in one sport.

The study was conducted throughout the 2015-16 school year at 29 high schools in Wisconsin involving more than 1,500 student-athletes equally divided between male and female participants. The schools involved in the study represented a mixture of rural (14), suburban (12) and urban (3) areas, and enrollments were equally diverse with 10 small schools (less than 500 students), 10 medium schools (501-1,000 students) and nine large schools (more than 1,000 students).

Athletes who specialized in one sport were twice as likely to report previously sustaining a lower-extremity injury while participating in sports (46%) than athletes who did not specialize (24%). In addition, specialized athletes sustained 60 percent more new lower-extremity injuries during the study than athletes who did not specialize. Lower-extremity injuries were defined as any acute, gradual, recurrent or repetitive-use injury to the lower musculoskeletal system.

“While we have long believed that sport specialization by high school athletes leads to an increased risk of overuse injury, this study confirms those beliefs about the potential risks of sport specialization,” said Bob Gardner, NFHS executive director. “Coaches, parents and student-athletes need to be aware of the injury risks involved with an overemphasis in a single sport.”

Among those who reported previously sustaining a lower-extremity injury, the areas of the body injured most often were the ankle (43%) and knee (23%). The most common type of previous injuries were ligament sprains (51%) and muscle/tendon strains (20%).

New injuries during the year-long study occurred most often to the ankle (34%), knee (25%) and upper leg (13%), with the most common injuries being ligament sprains (41%), muscle/tendon strains (25%) and tendonitis (20%).

In addition, specialized athletes were twice as likely to sustain a gradual onset/repetitive-use injury than athletes who did not specialize, and those who specialized were more likely to sustain an injury even when controlling for gender, grade, previous injury status and sport.

Thirty-four (34) percent of the student-athletes involved in the Wisconsin study specialized in one sport, with females (41%) more likely to specialize than males (28%). Soccer had the highest level of specialization for both males (45%) and females (49%). After soccer, the rate of specialization for females was highest for softball (45%), volleyball (43%) and basketball (37%). The top specialization sports for males after soccer were basketball (37%), tennis (33%) and wrestling (29%).

The study, which was directed by Timothy McGuine, Ph.D., ATC, of the University of Wisconsin, also documented the effects of concurrent sport participation (participating in an interscholastic sport while simultaneously participating in an out-of-school club sport), which indicated further risk of athletes sustaining lower-extremity injuries.

Almost 50 percent of the student-athletes involved in the survey indicated they participated on a club team outside the school setting, and 15 percent of those individuals did so while simultaneously competing in a different sport within the school. Seventeen (17) percent of the student-athletes indicated that they took part in 60 or more primary sport competitions (school and club) in a single year. Among those student-athletes in this group who sustained new lower-extremity injuries during the year, 27 percent were athletes who specialized in one sport.

The student-athletes involved in the study were deemed “specialized” if they answered “yes” to at least four of the following six questions: 1) Do you train more than 75 percent of the time in your primary sport?; 2) Do you train to improve skill and miss time with friends as a result?; 3) Have you quit another sport to focus on one sport?; 4) Do you consider your primary sport more important than your other sports?; 5) Do you regularly travel out of state for your primary sport?; 6) Do you train more than eight months a year in your primary sport?

Although some sports (field hockey, lacrosse) are not offered in Wisconsin and were not included in the study, the study concluded that since specialization increased the risk of lower-extremity injuries in sports involved in the survey it would also likely increase the risk of injuries in sports that were not a part of the study.

(Note that the number one sport for specialization in both males and females is soccer.  I wonder if it’s occurred to anyone that the results may be skewed because so many soccer players are wussies.)

*********** I look forward eagerly to my weekly “Yale News” email, because it never disappoints.

For example, this week  there was this…

Kicking off November’s Native Heritage Month, the Association of Native Americans at Yale (ANAAY) will host the annual Ivy Native Summit the weekend of Nov. 4-6.

The summit, organized entirely by students, will focus on the theme “Indigenous Feminisms: Helping Each Other Grow.” It is the largest gathering of Native American college undergraduates in the Northeast and provides an opportunity for education, socializing, and community-building among Native students. More than 150 undergraduates and about 25 graduate and professional students are registered.

Yale President Peter Salovey will greet the group the morning of Nov. 5, along with Kelly Fayard, assistant dean of Yale College and director of the Native American Cultural Center.

The first featured speaker will be Katsi Cook, a Mohawk midwife who will discuss her work as a women’s healthcare advocate. Lisa Kahaleole Hall, a Native Hawaiian professor of women’s and gender studies at Wells College and Cornell, will discuss the intersection of race, colonialism, and indigeneity in her field. Navajo activist Amanda Blackhorse will discuss her work in the successful revocation of the Washington football team trademark, and Dio Ganhdih, a queer Cherokee and Mohawk rapper and hip-hop producer, will consider how to reconstruct modern indigenous narratives in the context of individual identity and hip-hop.

Sure wish I could be in New Haven this weekend.  I love that queer Cherokee and Mohawk rap.

american flag TUESDAY,  NOVEMBER 1,  2016   "It's not even about supporting Trump. It's about taking the most principled moral position you can for your family and your country under very difficult circumstances. And that's what you do in life most of the time."  Mark Levin, Radio Host

*********** It was Senior Night at North Beach, and with a lot on the line, llwaco came to play and North Beach didn’t.

Recovering an onside kick on the opening kickoff, Ilwaco drove in for a quick score to go ahead 8-0.

After a quick three-and-out by North Beach, a second Ilwaco drive was stopped at the North Beach one.

But North Beach fumbled on the next play, and it took Ilwaco just one play to punch it in to take a 16-0 led before the first quarter was half over.

Down 24-0 at the half, North Beach made a valiant comeback, but the hole it dug was too deep, and the Hyaks went down, 37-14.

Their next game is Thursday night at Centralia, Washington, against the state’s Number One team, Napavine.

The game is being played on Thursday by consent of both teams because no grass fields in our district are playable, and Thursday is the only time that Centralia’s artificial turf field is available.

The two teams have gone in vastly different directions since this time last year, when North Beach fell to Napavine in overtime in the first round of the state playoffs.

This year, only four North Beach players return who started against Napavine in that game, while  Napavine returns practically every starter - including an all-state quarterback - from a team that went on to play in the state finals.

*********** He’s a former Stanford player, so I have to  admit to some bias, but I think that Rod Gilmore may be the best of all color analysts.

*********** WTF ever happened to the concept of “forward progress?” Of blowing the whistle when the play is clearly dead, even though the runner hasn’t been taken down? Wasn’t it supposed to be a safety issue?  There’s way too much nuisance activity taking place whenever a runner is surrounded by a pack of tacklers, at least one of whom is working to pry the ball loose from the hands of the runner - who's being held up for that very purpose.

Now, more and more, as an unintended consequence of the passage of the stupid rule allowing  offensive players other than the runner to push on him and the pile, we’re being treated to the additional ugliness of players PULLING on the pile. And what do you know?  Now, a runner who under the rules as we once knew them was clearly stopped, miraculously surges forward along with the pile and picks up that crucial first down! Well, it's not a miracle, actually - it's  made possible by the assistance of the runner's teammates. It’s as if football has been taken back to the scrum, and the rugby roots from which Walter Camp helped it to escape.  Yes, unlike pushing, pulling on the runner (or the pile) is still illegal, but just as aiding the runner by pushing was seldom called, pulling is now getting the same ho-hum treatment by officials reluctant to enforce the rules.  And so continues the degradation of our game.

*********** Poor Navy.  With speed that service academies seem incapable of recruiting, the South Florida Bulls struck early and often and from great distances, opening up a 42-14 halftime lead over the Midshipmen.

Not until the final seconds of the first half did Navy “stop” the Bull offense - and that was when they recovered a USF fumble on their own one-yard line.

In all, South Florida amassed 464 yards of total offense - in the first half.

I decided I’d seen enough and went to bed.

Stupid me.

Turns out the Middies did make a great effort at a comeback, rallying to make the final score 52-45.  Navy QB Will Worth,  who grew up not far from USF, rushed for four touchdowns and put up 428 yards of total offense, but it wasn’t enough to keep Navy from taking its second loss and costing the Middies  a shot at a Playoff spot.

*********** Army looked like one of the Army teams of old, a pounding, ball-control team from the days of Jim Young and Bob Sutton, in defeating Wake Forest 21-13. Army drove relentlessly, compiling 21 first downs and holding the ball for 36 of 60 minutes.

Wake had its chances but three interceptions hurt its cause.

Wake now needs another win to be bowl eligible, and it’s not going to be easy.

Included in the Deacons’ final four games are Louisville and Clemson.

The other two are Virginia and Boston College.  All except Louisville are at home.

Virginia, after taking Louisville right down to the wire Saturday, is looking less and less beatable.

Boston College has bowl aspirations
itself . BC is coming off a win over NC State - its first conference win after 12 straight losses - and now stands at 4-4.   The Eagles face Louisville and Florida State in their next two games, then finish with UConn and Wake.

*********** In tribute to perhaps the most famous Demon Deacon ever - the late Arnold Palmer - Wake Forest’s field now displays Palmer’s famous multicolored golf umbrella logo.

*********** There may not be a hotter team in the country right now than Auburn.  If things continue on course, the Iron Bowl could be a classic.

*********** Oregon’s decision to start true freshman Justin Herbert at quarterback against the Washington Huskies - instead of Dakota Prukop, the tested veteran transfer from FCS Montana State - is beginning to look like the decision that may have saved head coach Mark Helfrich’s job.    The 19-year-old Herbert’s 489 yards passing (31 of 42, four TDs, no interceptions) tied a school record set in 1989 by Bill Musgrave, now offensive coordinator of the Raiders.    At about this time last year Herbert, a local Eugene, Oregon kid, was getting ready for the first round of the state high school playoffs.

While the win is grounds for some excitement, the Ducks’ season has not necessarily been turned around. 

Helfrich knows this.   "When things are rough," he said, "you find out a lot about who your real friends are and who sticks by you and that team does, no question. But this is one game. We don't need to anoint the quarterback. Nobody's smart again, we're still all idiots, myself at the top of that list."

Up next on the Ducks' schedule are USC, Stanford, Utah and Civil War rival Oregon State.

Totally overlooked by the locals who have seemed to revel in the Ducks’ troubles,  gloating over what they've  seen as the end of Oregon football’s long run of success is the fact that while the Ducks may be 3-5,  three of their losses - to Nebraska, Colorado and Cal - were by  three points each. A total of 12 points the other way and their record would be 6-2.

The five teams Oregon has lost to are  a combined 31-9,  a virtual Murderers’ Row.  Four of them - Nebraska, Colorado, Washington and Washington State  are now ranked in the top 25. The fifth, Cal, is 4-4, with wins over Utah and Texas.  Other than Friday night’s 45-21 loss to USC, all of Cal’s losses have been close.  

*********** Oregon’s first touchdown Saturday was a 72 yard beauty -  short pass and long, spectacular run by tight end Pharaoh Brown.   (In retrospect, the touchdown should have been disallowed because he held the ball over his head and casually flipped it in the air while still  a yard short of the goal line.)

It was a knucklehead stunt, but one that I’m more than willing to forgive, considering what a miracle it is that he’s playing football at all, let alone playing it well.

Two years ago at about this time, he was in a Salt Lake City hospital,  being informed by doctors that arterial damage in his leg might require amputation.

One minute, he’d been making spectacular plays for the Ducks against Utah, showing that he had talents that could take him a long way in the game.

The next, he was being loaded into an ambulance and taken to the hospital.  There, although his leg survived the surgery, he was told that his football career was over.

He had two subsequent operations, then underwent extensive rehabilitation, and after missing the entire 2015 season,  he’s back in action, and looking pretty good.

During his long recovery at his home in Cleveland, he heard from thousands of fans.

But none of the messages he received were more inspiring than the 30 or so he received from a group of fifth graders in Springfield, Oregon, where teacher Eva La Mar had her students write him.  At the time, they were studying the character traits of grit and perseverance.

"I asked them, what kind of grit would you have to find if you trained for your whole life for this, to get to that point, and what would it feel like if everything was brought to a screaming halt?" said La Mar, who was coming back from a long class field trip on Feb. 13 when she learned Brown wanted to visit his fifth-grade cheerleaders in person.

"What could we possibly offer him? Sometimes they feel powerless and sometimes they have to feel the power of words. They realized he might value what they had to offer. It's not something you buy, you don't have to go buy a fancy car, your words have the power to help shape someone's destiny or get through a difficult time. I wanted them to see their own power, and see their own meaning."

*********** Washington State wasn’t ready to play and Oregon State was.  In short order, WSU was down 21-0, and the Cougars trailed 24-6 at the half.

The Cougars’ defense gave up 394 offensive yards - in the first half! To put that in perspective,  Oregon State had been averaging 347 yards per entire game.

On offense, the Cougs were so ineffective in the first half that they punted three times - three times! A Mike Leach team punted three times! And they fumbled once.

The second half was another story as the Cougars caught fire, outscoring the Beavers 28-3 to take a 28-24 lead.

In the third quarter alone, WSU put up 245 yards of offense.

Oregon State, meanwhile,  had a lot of illegal procedure penalties, many of them seemingly attributable to the stemming of the Washington State defensive line.  A particularly  damaging penalty came in the fourth quarter  on 4th and one at midfield, forcing the Beavs into a fourth and six. They then tried a fake a punt and the runner was tackled two yards short of the line to gain.

With the Cougars unwilling to punt and the Bavers trying to come back, punts were dismissed; at one point the two teams ended three straight drives with failures on fourth-and-short.

When WSU needed a stop, its defense was up to the assignment,  stopping OSU’s big, strong Ryan Nall on 3rd and 1 and then on 4th and 1.

“Most teams wouldn’t have found a way to win it,” Leach said. “Most teams in the country wouldn’t have found a way to win a game like this two weeks on the road…. We’re very proud to say we did.”

Remaining on the Wazzu schedule are Arizona, Cal, Colorado and Washington.  All but Colorado are at home.

Ah, the Washington game.  The Apple Cup. The Big Spoiler.  The game where it seems that, whenever one of the teams needs a win to go to this bowl or that, to win this honor or that, the underdog always steps up and spoils things.  Washington may be ranked Number Four in the nation right now - and rightly so, in my opinion - but the Cougs could lose another game - to say, Colorado - and still make it into the Pac 12 championship game with a win over the Huskies.  The Huskies - who play Cal, USC and Arizona State before meeting the Cougs - could very well enter the Apple Cup with a path to a playoff berth on the line.

At this point I really see the UW-WSU game as even.  The Cougars have been playing mostly Saturday night games in the Pacific Time Zone  and they’re virtually unknown in the East, but trust me - with QB Luke Falk and a fleet or really good receivers they can score on anybody, and this year they’ve got a running game and a defense to go along with that passing attack.

***********  Bad week for unbeatens - Boise State, Baylor, Nebraska, West Virginia

West Virginia fell to Oklahoma State.   Oklahoma, meanwhile, has won five straight and remains unbeaten in the Big 12.

Boise State?  There’ was 1:25 left and the Broncos, tied 17-17 with Wyoming, were almost surely headed for OT.   But wait - although they were backed up and not likely to move the ball to within field goal range, there they were, passing out of their own end zone.  The commentators had just noted how confident Broncos’ QB Brett Rypien was in his protection, when wham - he got hit and the ball went flying backward, rolling out of the end zone for a safety.  With it went Boise State’s shot at the Playoff. Final score: Cowboys 19, Broncos 17,   Wyoming’s first win ever over Boise State after ten straight losses.

Wyoming’s head coach is Craig Boller, of North Dakota State fame. At Wyoming, he has installed a culture of “Cowboy Tough,” in recruiting and in coaching. One of the first things he did was do away with any fancy uniforms.  Not that you can do much fancy stuff when your colors are brown and gold, anyway, but his statement on uniforms reflects Cowboy Tough: “We’ve got two uniforms: we’ve got home and we’ve got away.”

Purdue UniformsSpeaking of uniforms, there was Purdue (at left).  Like some of my favorite teams - Army, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt - Purdue’s colors are black and gold.  Not the easiest of color schemes to do much with. The best bet is to play it straight.   Purdue is further handicapped because its gold is a very dull “old gold,” not the bright sunflower gold of an Iowa, and to outsiders its uniforms tend to look a bit drab.

But Saturday, they took a giant step back beyond drab, replacing the traditional gold of their helmets with a dark gray, and requiring their players (it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that threats were necessary) to wear dull gray pants and dull gray jerseys with black shoulder patches of the sort once fashionable back in the late 1940s.  (Thanks a lot, Nike.)

It had to be a dreadful week for Baylor, what with the continuing ugliness of the rape scandals associated with the lowlifes it recruited to put its football program on the map, followed by a loss to Texas on Saturday.  

I like both Wisconsin and Nebraska, and I hated like hell to watch them go into OT, knowing that one of them had to lose.  In the end,  I went with Nebraska because I like Mike Riley and I appreciated what he did at Oregon State and what he’s doing now at Nebraska.  I chose wrong, and Wisconsin earned the win.  Nevertheless, Nebraska still sits atop the Big Ten West, a game ahead of Wisconsin and Minnesota.

For the second week in a row, Ohio State had its difficulties.  This week it was with Northwestern. 

I read somewhere that Michigan was favored over Michigan State by 24 points.  Sure wish I had taken the Spartans and the points. Michigan is clearly the better team but the Spartans just wouldn’t go away.

Tennessee continued its free fall with a loss to South Carolina, and Florida now sits comfortably on top of the SEC East.  I believe I’d be taking  your money if I bet you you couldn’t name the team in second place, so I’ll give you a break.  You ready for this?   it’s KENTUCKY!!!!!

Yes, yes, I know - the SEC is the toughest conference, blah, blah, blah.  And, at the very top, it most likely is. Alabama alone makes a big statement.  But overall, I’m not so sure. The West is tough, no doubt.  A & M, LSU and Auburn are very strong, and  it’s hard to believe that Ole Miss is in last place. But in the East, five of the seven teams have losing conference records.  And knowing how SEC teams are notorious for going to the bottom of the barrel for non-conference games, what does it mean when only eight of the 14 SEC teams have overall winning records?

************* Anybody who’s been to a kicking or punting camp, or sent a kid there - answer me this one:  do they spend time teaching the campers how to fake being roughed?

*********** Some guy named Kaine who I’m told is running for Vice President of the United States (can that be true?) suggested that “locker room attitudes” such as those represented  by Donald Trump in a recording - 11 years old - are  “keeping women out of office.”

My first thought was that if our women really are such snowflakes, our enemies must surely know that, too.  Which means they’re probably already swapping out their missiles for giant loudspeakers.  In the event of war, they’ll aim them at our front lines, directing  misogynistic (and homophobic) slurs at us, in a scene reminiscent of  Monty Python’s “World’s Funniest Joke.”

(Actually,  from what I’ve heard in high school hallways over the years, a great many of today’s tender young women are capable of shaming any sailor in a gross language contest.)
*********** Bet you can't tell me what teams are left in the MLS playoffs.

(Actually, this being a football-related page, many of you probably can't even tell me what "MLS" means)

The evidence continues to  mount that the NFL is paying the price for its cowardice in placing political correctness ahead of country.

For the first time in years, a baseball game drew a larger TV audience than the Sunday night NFL football game on NBC.

No excuses, either - none of this "bad matchup,"  "two bad teams" garbage.  This was the Cowboys, for pete's sake, with their exciting rookie quarterback, Dak Prescott.  And they were playing the Eagles, whose own rookie quarterback, Carson Wentz, could turn out to be One for the Ages.

Despite the best efforts of Big Football  to explain away its declining ratings, a poll shows that the main reason is Collin Kaepernick  and the public's disgust at his disrespect of our national symbols.

american flag FRIDAY,  OCTOBER 28,  2016   “We must realize that today’s Establishment is the new George III. Whether it will continue to adhere to his tactics, we do not know. If it does, the redress, honored in tradition, is also revolution.”   Former Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas - in 1969

*********** Our AD came into the coaches’ office (a large closet, really) after Tuesday’s practice, apologetically saying that he was bearing bad news and asking us not to kill the messenger.

The message: League Headquarters (wherever, whatever, whoever that is, our old league having been absorbed into a larger, more far-flung one this season) had informed him that in the event we SHOULD wind up in a three-way tie for second place in our league, there would be no Kansas Plan playoff on Monday to settle things.

To a certain extent, that was good news.  It meant that we wouldn't have to spend an entire weekend preparing for a Monday night playoff against two different teams - followed by a game on Friday.

And it meant reducing the risk of  injury to our kids.

The bad news was that instead, representatives of the three potential participants would meet Thursday night and settle things the old-fashioned, red-blooded, All-American way - by a coin toss.

Settle things they did, and as a result,  in the event of the three-way tie for second, we will be given our league’s  number three spot, meaning an away game next week against another league’s number two team.

But it’s all contingent on our winning Friday night.  Lose,  and we finish in fourth place, our prize a trip to play Napavine, the team we lost to in overtime  in the first round of last year's playoffs.  This year, with most of that team returning, they have been unstoppable.  They are 8-0.  Their average margin of victory is 34 points. They’ve given up only 45 points all season.

It's a fairly safe bet that they'll be 9-0 after Friday night.  Their opponent is 1-7 and hasn't scored in its last four games.  In fact, two weeks ago, they forfeited, and a forfeit is not out of the question this week.

North Beach Field

*********** This October in Western Washington will go down as the rainiest ever recorded, which is saying something.  Some two hours’ drive to the north of us is the Hoh Rain Forest, the rainiest spot in the lower 48. Back in (comparatively) arid Ocean Shores, our football field - which has to serve us for practices and games - has become  a bog.

We’ve played several games  there in the rain, as has our junior high.   We do try to move around during practice so as to minimize wear on high-traffic spots, but it’s no use. 

Military historians know the expression “General Mud.”  Mud has slowed down the best of armies.  At least twice in history the Russian Winter - and General Mud - have enmired invaders who penetrated too deeply into Russia and couldn’t get out.

I’d like to think that General Mud will work in our favor Friday night,  but unfortunately, Ilwaco, our opponent,  is also a coastal town and its kids and coaches are used to the conditions.

*********** A long time ago, I had visions of making it to the big time, and I was in a hurry to get there.  I had to be.  I didn’t start coaching until I was 32 years old.  I’d already dumped a promising career with a Baltimore brewing company to chase my dream of being a football coach.  (Not exactly the classic career path of an Ivy League graduate.)

Not only was I late to the game, but I was definitely on a “road less travelled” (you Robert Frost fans will understand).  I was coaching what some would call semi-pro ball;  we called it “minor league,” in the way we marketed ourselves to our fans and to the players we hoped to persuade to spend the football season in our little city in Western Maryland, Hagerstown.

The job of general manager and head coach of the Hagerstown Bears didn’t pay me much.  It was a great internship, as they’d call it nowadays, but to actually pay our bills I had to hold down a variety of jobs.  I sold wine and liquor, I sold printing, and I sold TV time for the new station in town.  In the winter, I wrote sports for the local newspaper, and I filled in when needed for the TV station’s sports guy. “Good evening.  Tonight’s sports is brought to you by Old German Beer and the following  Old German distributors in the Tri-State area…”

I tried everything to go “legit” - to get into a position where I could actually make a living as a coach.

High school coaching was out of the question because despite my degree from one of the world’s most prestigious universities, I lacked the “education classes,” the useless, nonsensical courses required for certification to teach in a public school.  And in those days, long before online courses, the only way to get those courses was to enroll in college full-time.  Uh, not exactly an option.  My wife was going to school full-time, and  we had four  kids to support. And I had a team to coach.  (Recruiting players made it a year-round job.)

I once had a half-decent shot at the head coaching job at Federal City College, now the University of the District of Columbia.  It was then as now largely black, but I didn’t see that as an obstacle.  My team in Hagerstown was about 40 per cent black players, some of them local guys, some from small towns in Virginia and West Virginia, some of them big-city guys from Washington, DC and Baltimore.  Some were college grads, some were right out of high school.  I got a nice letter of recommendation from Yale coach Carm Cozza, who, to be honest, scarcely knew me. He was going on the word of two of his assistants, one of them named Seb LaSpina, whom I’d helped with recruiting, back in those days when alums could do that, and another, a former Yale assistant named Mack Yoho, who’d coached against me as an assistant with the Hartford Knights.

That one didn’t pan out.

I got pretty close with the Redskins’ Tim Temerario, who as Director of Player Personnel was the guy who tipped me off whenever they were about to cut a player whom the head coach, George Allen, wanted to keep close by, in case he might be needed.  (George Allen, for those of you who never knew him, had a lot of Bill Belichick in him.  He would push, bend and twist the rules in any way he could to give the Redskins an edge - and how in the world was the NFL office going to know that in little old Hagerstown, a bunch of ex-Redskins playing for the Hagerstown Bears were receiving weekly envelopes from the Redskins?  Who, besides me and those players, knew what was in those envelopes?)

After the demise of the World Football League in 1974, Tim had me come in to the Redskins’ offices to brief “George” on what I knew about the players in the WFL, who were now all free agents.  But nothing ever came of the Redskins’ arrangement.  It was just as well.  I remember one time at the Redskins’ training camp in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, meeting Allen’s right hand man, a guy named Joe Sullivan.  I told  Tim afterward that Joe Sullivan’s job sounded really interesting.  I thought that with my football and business backgrounds, I could do a do like that, and I told Tim that.

Tim replied, “His life’s not his own.”

And that comment stuck with me, everywhere I went.  I still think of it.

When I found myself once again unemployed after the  WFL's second failure a year later, I was then on the other coast, in Portland. 

My wife was working, my kids were all in school, and it was time to get a real job.  I went back to school and took the classes I needed to become a high school teacher and coach.

For a few years I still had one eye on the Main Chance, but at some point,  Tim Temerario’s words sank in and I gave up the chase.   So did the words of a great small college coach, Frosty Westering - “Make the big time where you are.”

I stayed in high school coaching.  

Becoming a high school coach turned out to be best thing that ever happened to me.  I can’t believe how lucky I’ve been.  My life’s been my own.

I respect college coaches but I came to the realization that I could never be one.  I don’t begrudge them the money they’re paid.  They earn it.  I couldn’t possibly clear the decks of everything I like in life and go full-out football, year-round, with maybe a month off in the summer.

I couldn’t deal with moving every couple of years.  I’d already moved my family across the country once. I couldn’t possibly ask them to move one more time.

And after twice being unemployed  as a result of a league’s going out of business, I damn sure didn’t want to be out on the street because my head coach just got fired.

(Maybe you never realized that while the head coach may have three or four years left on his contract when he gets fired, most of the guys on his staff are on one-year contracts.)

Which brings me to this sad story…

*********** A coach wrote from California to ask what football we use.  Seems he unexpectedly found himself playing in the rain, and his balls turned out to be quite slippery.

We’ve used a number of different balls over the years.  Obviously, because of budget considerations, we don’t go top-of-the-line.  We have gone entire seasons using Nike rubber footballs.

Here’s what I wrote him:


We’ve had some good luck with a Wilson 1780 composite. But you have to make sure that you scuff it up to get the factory coating off first because if you don't it’ll be nice and tacky when dry but slick as hell when it's wet.

Hope that helps!

*********** Colin Kaepernick: “The flag is just a piece of cloth.”

Well, yeah.  But so is the Confederate Battle Flag.  So what’s the big problem with flying it on the grounds of a state capital?

Oh - and so is a red bandana.  Tell a member of the Crips that that red bandana on that guy is nothing to get excited about - it’s just a piece of cloth.

Anybody see the movie “Glory?”  (If you haven’t, it’s well worth your time.)  Watch it and then tell me that those Civil War soldiers didn’t consider it a special honor to carry the colors (just a piece of cloth, really) into battle.

*********** In case you needed any more reasons not to watch the NFL - did you happen to see those butt-ugly all-one-color uniforms the Titans and Jaguars were wearing on Thursday night?

*********** (I wrote) It’s no secret in the restaurant business that McDonald’s is hurting.

And it appears that they have a problem that’s going to be hard to solve - the so-called millennials would prefer to eat elsewhere.

According to the Wall Street Journal, despite all the money McDonald’s once poured into promoting its signature sandwich, only one in five millennials has ever even tried a Big Mac.

Tim Brown, of Athens, Alabama replied: change the thousand island to RANCH

I wrote back: Hahaha.  You should let the geniuses at Hamburger University in on this…

They would probably have to assemble a committee and hold hundreds of meetings and conduct dozens of studies before rejecting it.

*********** American Football Monthly has added a new feature called Ask Lou Holtz.

He evolved from the game;s most promising young coach to become a somewhat controversial figure, but give him credit - few guys have been as succeessful as Lou Holtz at so many major college programs, from NC State to Arkansas to Minnesota to Notre Dame to South Carolina.

My greatest wish is that the questions could be answered by the Lou Holtz of more than  30 years ago, back when he was at Arkansas.  You’d have to be an older coach by now to remember that  Lou Holtz. 
That one was an incredible standup comedian -  much of his humor  self-deprecating -  and a pretty decent amateur magician besides. He was so good that he often made guest appearances on the Johnny Carson Show, then the biggest thing on late-night TV by far.   

When Lou Holtz was on a clinic’s agenda, I guarantee you that guys rearranged their lives so they could go hear him.

And then he took the Notre Dame job and went all sobersides on us, possibly on orders from the good fathers.   And what resulted, after a little fine tuning, was the nauseous Doctor Lou of recent years, by which most younger guys will remember him.

*********** A  letter written  to the editor of the Wall Street  JOURNAL illustrates the way our rash actions when we’re young can come back and visit pain on us as  adults.

The writer recalled that one of his professors in business school told how, being a diehard Red Sox fan as a youngster, he’d taken his Mickey Mantle rookie card and, using a pen, made him look like the devil.

A mint-condition Mickey Mantle 1952 rookie card has sold for as much $525,000.

The professor’s defaced card?  Worthless.

*********** I have seen you mention the Illinois playoff system in your News over the years.  It is a very fair system of getting playoffs set up.  Here is a link that does a nice job explaining how playoff teams are picked in Illinois.
John Bothe
Oregon, Illinois

It takes the polls out of it.

Not only the polls but the people in the state associations who often determine the brackets without regard to relative strength of teams so that one geographic area whose teams are traditionally weak still gets the same number of teams - and the same seeding consideration - as traditionally tough regions.

The Illinois system is so good that I thought it wise to print it:

How the Football Playoff Pairings are Determined — 2016
Last updated on Thursday, June 23, 2016

The boys football playoffs are the only IHSA tournament for which teams qualify on the basis of their regular-season records. There are 579 IHSA member schools playing 11-man varsity football in 2016. However, the Chicago Public League excludes from the playoffs five developmental ("Inter-City") conferences comprising 42 schools, leaving a total of 537 eligible teams. Of these, 256 (slightly less than half) will be selected for the playoffs. The following steps are used to determine which teams receive a playoff berth and how the playoff teams are paired.

Selecting the Playoff Teams

The first step is to select the 256 playoff teams. The process proceeds as follows:

All champions of conferences with six or more teams receive a playoff berth. Two-team ties are broken on the basis of head-to-head competition when those teams have played during the regular season.

Three- and four-way ties are broken by eliminating teams according to the following steps. If, after any step is applied, only two teams remain, the head-to-head matchup determines the champion.
    a    Most wins in all conference games.
    b    Any team that has defeated all the other tied teams.
    c    If all tied teams played each other, fewest total points allowed in those games.
    d    If all tied teams played each other, highest point differential in those games (from -14 to 14 points in each game).
    e    Fewest total points allowed in all conference games.
    f    Highest point differential in all conference games (from -14 to 14 points in each game).
    g    Most wins in all games.
    h    Random drawing by IHSA Office.

At the request of the Chicago Public League, only the top two teams in each of the four "Chicago" divisions are eligible for the IHSA playoffs. In this step, the remaining teams in these conferences are removed from the potential field before proceeding. All teams in the four "Illini" divisions are eligible for the playoffs.

The remaining schools are sorted by three categories:
    a    First, by total wins
    b    Second, by combined wins of all opponents
    c    Third, by combined wins of all defeated opponents

For example:


Head-to-head competition (if the teams have met)

    b    Number of teams played that qualified for the playoffs
    c    Number of wins by teams played that qualified for the playoffs
    d    Points allowed in games against teams that qualified for the playoffs
    e    Coin flip

In practice, teams with 9, 8, 7, and 6 wins will always qualify for the playoffs. Teams with 5 wins are "on the bubble," and the tie is broken by the number of playoff points (the combined wins of all opponents).
The chart below shows the historic at-large cutoff for the 256-team field.

Determining the Classes

After the 256 qualifiers have been determined, the schools are broken down into 8 classes of 32 teams each, based on the school's classification enrollment (from last year's report to the Illinois State Board of Education, adjusted by the 1.65 multiplier where applicable).

The largest 32 schools based on the official enrollment figures are placed in Class 8A, the next largest in Class 7A, and so on down to Class 1A. If a tie should occur for the final spot in a particular class, a coin flip is used to break the tie.

The following schools are affected by the Success Adjustment and, if they qualify for the playoffs, will be assigned to the designated class in 2015: Lombard (Montini) (6A), Springfield (Sacred Heart-Griffin) (6A).

The following schools have elected to "play up" to a different class in 2016: East St. Louis (Sr.) (7A).

It is important to remember that a school's classification is not determined until the 256-team field has been selected on the final day of the season. The classes used in the Associated Press polls are a best guess at the final determinations, but they are unofficial and can be misleading. The fact that the AP ranks a school all season in a certain class has no bearing on the school's ultimate classification in the state playoffs. This can be determined only at season's end, after the entire 256-team field is selected.

The chart below shows the enrollment cutoffs for the 256-team field. The multiplier on non-boundaried schools was implemented in 2005. Starting in 2011, any school that had not won a playoff football game in the past six years received an automatic waiver from the multiplier. Starting in 2015, this window was reduced to four years, increasing the number of schools with waivers.


Grouping and Seeding the Brackets

Once the 32 teams in a particular class are determined, the teams in Class 1A through 6A are grouped by the IHSA Office into two halves of 16 teams each, based on the general location of the schools within that class. In Class 7A and 8A, the teams are not grouped.
Then the seeds are determined by sorting the teams by some of the factors used to determine playoff berths:
    a    Total wins
    b    Combined wins of all opponents, and
    c    Combined wins of defeated opponents
If two or more teams are tied for a particular seed, the following tiebreakers are applied:
    a    Head-to-head record (if exactly two teams are tied)
    b    Random selection by computer
Then the teams are paired according to a standard bracket. In a 16-team field, the pairings are #1 vs. #16, #2 vs. #15, etc. In a 32-team field, the pairings are #1 vs. #32, #2 vs. #31, etc.

A school's ranking in the Associated Press poll has no bearing on its seed in the IHSA Football Playoffs. The only criteria used to seed the teams are those mentioned above.

Determining the Host Team and the Date and Time of the Game

In the first round, the higher seed hosts the game. In subsequent rounds, the school that has hosted fewer times during the current playoff series hosts the game. If both teams have hosted an equal number of times, the higher seed hosts.

When circumstances warrant, a site other than the designated host school's field may be requested by either school and may be used subject to the approval of the IHSA Board of Directors and the host school.
The game must be played on Saturday, unless both schools agree to play the game on Friday. Friday games must not be scheduled during school hours. Saturday games must start between 1 pm and 7 pm. The schools must agree on the starting time of the game. If they cannot come to an agreement, the IHSA Office will set the starting time.

For state championship games played played at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb, the home team is from the "northern bracket" (top bracket) and occupies the west grandstand. For state championship games played played at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, the home team is from the "southern bracket" (bottom bracket) and occupies the west grandstand.

american flag TUESDAY,  OCTOBER 25,  2016   “Why do we insist on women in combat but not in the NFL? Because we take football seriously.”  David Gelertner, Professor of Computer Science, Yale University

*********** Friday night, the North Beach Hyaks went up against Willapa Valley, the longtime power in our part of the state, and came up on the short end of a 42-24 score.

We did see some great play from some kids who’ve begun to come on, and we found that our passing game was finally ready for prime time.

We rushed for 166 yards, but, after getting down early, we opened things up and QB Brenden Chaney, who two weeks ago carried the ball 23 times, this week threw it 18 times, completing 13 for 140 yards and a touchdown.

I can’t remember the last time one of my teams threw 18 passes in one game. ("Air Hyak," anyone?)

Although the result was disappointing - it meant the end of our three-year home field win streak and our two-year reign as league champions - there was a lot to be encouraged about as we head into this coming Friday night’s final regular season game.

It's against  Ilwaco, at home.  Ilwaco, whose only league loss is to league leader Willapa Valley, is a game ahead of us in the league standings, tied for second place with Raymond, whom they’ve beaten.  Lose to Ilwaco and we settle for fourth place and a very unenviable district playoff spot Friday a week.

If we beat Ilwaco, there will likely be a three-way tie for third place in our league, because Raymond has to play Willapa Valley Friday and will most likely lose. 
North Beach, Ilwaco and Raymond would all have two league losses. The three of us have already qualified for district playoffs, but because the difference between second place seeding and fourth place seeding is the difference between a home game against some other league’s fourth-place team and an away game against the #1 team in the state, it’s got to be settled.

To determine the seeding, we’ll have to play a double-elimination Kansas Plan round robin.  Next Monday night.  After having played a game this Friday night.  Followed by going into the  district playoffs on Friday.  Where is the NFLPA when we need it?

Funny how  the same geniuses who love to say  “the safety of the players is first and foremost” seem to think it’s okay to play with only the weekend to recover, as if we were playing baseball or basketball.

Come to think of it, it’s probably baseball and basketball coaches - or, grrr, soccer coaches - who think up these idiotic playoff schedules.

As a friend of mine said, it’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.

*********** Could two small-town high school teams playing on a muddy field have put on a worse display of football than the one put on by the millionaires of Arizona and Seattle on Sunday night?

Imagine:  3-3 in regulation time, 6-6 in overtime. 

The only excitement was provided by the improbable sight of both teams’ place-kickers missing chip shot field goal attempts in OT.

And the NFL, with a straight face, refers to that monstrosity as a “historic game,” and blames its declining viewership on the election.

Are you ready for some football?  Why, yes I am.  When and where does it start?

*********** Colin Kaepernick was 16 of 34 for 143 and a TD.  That’s a pathetic 3.66 yards per attempt.  He'd better stick to protesting.

*********** Greg Koenig and I were talking football this past weekend.  Greg - Coach Koenig -  is in his 11th year as head coach at Beloit Kansas, where he’s been successful by any measure. He’s compiled a win-loss record of 91-30 (.752), and his teams have gone deep into the state playoffs several times.   In a four-year span from 2010 through 2013 Beloit made it to the state finals once and to the state semifinals twice.  He's never had a losing season.   And although this year is a down season - by his standards -  the 2016 Trojans, now 5-3 with one game remaining, will still finish no worse than 5-4 to record their 11th straight winning season under Coach Koenig.

In terms of consistent excellence, our programs are miles apart. At North Beach, this year’s 4-4 record, which could wind up either 4-5 or 5-4, is still pretty good.  Unlike Beloit, we have no long winning tradition.  Yes, we had a great run from 2013 through 2015, but for the most part North Beach’s football history has mostly been one of failure and futility - of poor play and poor sportsmanship and a long succession of coaches who stayed no more than a year or two before leaving, discouraged.  Four straight winning seasons - a record that’s still within reach this year - have never occurred in our school’s history.

But one thing Greg and I do have in common with football coaches everywhere in the country is a dropoff in player participation.  Not even our recent success has ben enough to entice new kids to come out for the sport.

Let’s not kid ourselves - football is the canary in the coal mine, the early warning sign that masculinity in our society is in decline.

Yes, there is the concussion hysteria bought on by the highly-publicized cases of ex-NFL players suffering from possibly football-caused dementia, and the facility with which popular media has translated the dangers of long-time, high-intensity hits to the head associated with years spent as an NFL player into danger to young boys.  There is no question that what in my opinion are parents’ over-exaggerated fears of their sons’ suffering concussions have taken their toll on football turnouts at all levels.

But there’s a lot more to it, and a major reason, as most coaches will agree, is that American boys in general are becoming wussified.  “Tough sports,” such as football and wrestling, are suffering the most as boys resist doing anything hard.

Our schools are partly to blame.

There, as Christina Hoff Summers wrote more then 20 years ago in “War Against Boys”, boys are often considered by their teachers to be “defective girls.”

There is the dilution (or outright elimination)  of physical education in our schools and the crackpot idea of doing away with recess. (Military recruiters are plagued by the simple fact that an increasingly large percentage of today’s young men simply are either grossly obese or otherwise physically incapable of the rigors of military service.)

There is the Eleventh Commandment: “Thou shalt not fight, even to defend thyself.  Even shouldst thou be defending thyself, thou shalt still be suspended along with thine oppressor.”

There’s more, of course. It would take an army of sociologists, psychologists and anthropologists to dig into all the reasons why American men are being increasingly neutered.

But a major factor in the decline in participation of boys in anything demanding,  whether it be sports or schoolwork,  is addiction to the screen:  video games, youtube, netflix, twitter (or whatever kids now use to communicate) on the ubiquitous smartphone.

They simply can’t be bothered with anything that requires them to commit to spending a portion of their lives away from that damn screen.

Furthermore, unlike earlier times, girls aren’t to blame.  Today’s girls are involved in sports and their studies - they’re goal-oriented (ever notice that colleges are nearing 60 per cent female enrollment?) and they don’t have much use for slugs who are too busy playing video games to pay any attention to girls anyhow.

Yet,  as they’ve always done, school administrators continue to worship numbers: the numbers of kids who turn out for football at their school. They think a successful season is 100 kids in uniform on Friday night - records be damned.  But does anyone really think that those same kids who park themselves in front of screens every waking moment are going to subject their bodies to the physical demands of football?  (Other than switching 100 per cent to flag football, has anyone yet figured out a way to make our game easier?)

After we hung up, Greg sent me a great article about football’s fight to exist in the plains of Western Kansas, where towns are tiny and far from each other, and to compound the problem, people are leaving the area for the opportunities in bigger cities. From one of those small towns, Ransom, Kansas, there once came a great athlete who went on to be a great college player at the University of Kansas, and a consistent all-pro safety for the Rams. Many of you guys may be too young to remember Nolan Cromwell.

Now, in many of those small towns, football has steadily shrunk from 11-man, to 8-man, to 6-man, and finally to the point where many towns no longer even have their high schools, let alone football.

We’re all facing the problem of declining numbers.  Yes, a few of us might solve it in the short term - and in a small locality - but overall it’s way beyond our ability as coaches to solve.  It’s endemic to our culture.

I liken it to the fact that for various reasons, sales of carbonated soft drinks are in decline - have been for years - and the marketing people at Coca-Cola and PepsiCo,  the smartest people in the business, haven’t been able to do a thing about it.

*********** My first year at Yale was 1956.   But since freshman weren’t ineligible for variety football then, it’s not technically true that I was on hand for the great Lou Little’s final season at Columbia.

Coach Little was Columbia’s head coach from 1930 to 1956.  During those 27 years, he had a few good seasons, a few good players - first and foremost the great Sid Luckman,  first of the modern NFL quarterbacks - and a few very big wins, including a historic 7-0 Rose Bowl win over Stanford and a 21-20 win over mighty Army that ended the Cadets’ 32-game unbeaten streak and ranks as one of the great upsets of the twentieth century.  But he struggled to win at a school with academic demands so high that they exclude most talented football players and scare away most of the others.   So how did he last so long?  Mainly because the higher-ups at Columbia understood what he was up against and were grateful that they were able to keep a coach who was so loved and respected by his players and his fellow coaches.  It didn’t hurt, either, that he was the darling of the New York sports writers, who could always be counted on, even in the most discouraging of times,  to write something positive about him and the Columbia football team.

On more than one occasion other schools attempted to lure him away.  A couple of pro football teams took their shots and failed.   In 1947, when word got out that he had been offered the coaching job at Yale, the newly-hired President of Columbia persuaded him to stay on.  The persuasive President-to-be was a retired Army four-star named Dwight Eisenhower.

As befitted his Italian heritage (he was born Luigi Piccolo), he was a fiery guy, and over the years, many were the stories his players would tell.   (Great trivia question - name two notable football people named Piccolo.  I’m assuming you will have heard of Brian Piccolo, the inspiration for “Brian’s Song.”)

One great anecdote that I found in Tom Cohane’s “Great College Coaches of the Twenties and Thirties.”  (Great book.)

After service in World War I and two seasons as a player at Penn, he spent four seasons playing pro football for the Frankford Yellow Jackets, the forerunners of today’s Philadelphia Eagles, before being hired as head coach by Georgetown.

In 1924, his first year at Georgetown, his team was upset by Bucknell, 14-6, and at practice the following Monday, Coach Little was on fire,  tearing into his players one by one.

When he got to his center, Jerry Minihan, he screamed, “Minihan, take off that uniform and never put it on again!”

MInihan, who would later go on to become Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Boston,  did as he was ordered.

The next day, instead of going to practice,  he took in a vaudeville show.

That evening after practice, Coach Little saw him and asked, “Where were you today?”

“I went to a show,” Minihan answered.  “You told me to take off the uniform and never put it on again.”

“Don’t you know better,” the coach asked, “than to pay attention to me when I’m mad?”

*********** A very nice article about Bob Novogratz, a member of the Black Lion Award Board of Advisors.  Bob’s is truly an American success story: he grew up in Northampton, Pennsylvania, where his father, a first-generation immigrant from Austria-Hungary, was foreman at the town’s cement plant. He was an outstanding high school football player and wrestler, and to his father’s great delight, he won an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point (Army).  Army was then a national football power, but he wasn’t recruited as a football player.  Instead, he wrestled, where his success brought him to the attention of Army coach Earl Blaik.  Turning out for football as a sophomore, he worked his way up the depth chart and into the starting lineup and became such a standout that in the days of two-way football, he earned All-America honors as a guard/linebacker on Army’s unbeaten 1958 team.

*********** It’s no secret in the restaurant business that McDonald’s is hurting.

And it appears that they have a problem that’s going to be hard to solve - the so-called millennials would prefer to eat elsewhere.

According to the Wall Street Journal, despite all the money McDonald’s once poured into promoting its signature sandwich, only one in five millennials has ever even tried a Big Mac.

*********** My TV watching for the weekend… (I don’t consider that stuff the NFL plays to be football.)

Cal over Oregon.  The Ducks were down 34-14 at the half, but they roared back to tie the game  and, after a Cal missed a short field goal at the end, take the game into OT.  Cal was held to a field goal in the top half of the second OT, but intercepted Oregon’s freshman QB to send the Ducks to their fifth straight defeat.

North Texas over Army - Army, which went without a turnover in its first three games, turned the ball over seven times (when you're a triple option team and you wind up throwng FOUR interceptions, you know things aren't going well) and fell for the third time in its last four games.  Compounding the bad  news for Army fans, was Navy’s  very impressive win over Memphis. Navy sure does a great job of finding - and coaching - their quarterbacks.  But Navy is more than a one-trick pony: their QB’s can also throw, and they play defense as well as 90 per cent of FBS teams.

Washington over Oregon State.  The poor Beavers, going up against a top-five team without their starting quarterback and their best runner, did their best, but they were no match for the Huskies.

Utah over UCLA.  Utah-Washington will be our Big Game next Saturday.  In the meantime, after years of hearing how it’s the Bruins’ year, how much longer will the wolves at UCL give Jim Mura?

Colorado over Stanford.  Other than the lack of jackass show offishness, this one looked like a classic NFL game.  Deadly, dull and boring.

Alabama over Texas A & M.  Not even in the Johnny Manziel years did the Aggies open 6-0.  But, alas, the Tide is too much.  Did anyone else see that Bama defensive tackle baffle his blocker with a move, then fly over a low-cutting blocking back to sail into the A & M passer?  Absolutely astounding play.

Auburn over Arkansas. (WAY over). That drunken loudmouth Arkansas professor who was arrested for profanely berating Brett Bielema after Arkansas lost to Alabama a couple of weeks ago?  If he’d just waited a couple of weeks, until after Saturday’s  lacing of the Hogs by Auburn, the Arkansas State Police might have let him go with a warning.

Penn State over Ohio State.  Not sure whether the Lions’ win means that the Penn State program is back, but considering how infrequently any Pennsylvania football team beats any Ohio football team, it’s certainly reason to celebrate, and celebrate the 100,000+ fans did.  Meanwhile, isn’t it amazing how fast Ohio State went from having three great quarterbacks,  and not knowing which one to start, to having only one - who couldn't move the team more than 20 yards in the final two minutes?

LSU over Ole Miss - Fournette is back

Vanderbilt over Tennessee State - Give Vandy credit for scheduling this game against the historically-black college with which it shares the city of Nashville.  FCS Tennessee State is good, and thanks to their QB, a kid named Ronald Butler, they gave the SEC team all it wanted, losing 35-17.  The Commodores were coming off a bye week;  Just two weeks ago, they beat Georgia, 17-16.

Washington State over ASU - One of those late Saturday night games that easterners never see. The Cougars continue to win and remain unbeaten in the Pac-12.  The Sun Devils did not go down easily.  They threw everything they had at WSU’s Luke Falk and as a result he was sacked a season-high seven times and hurried on several other occasions. At a couple of points he appeared to be in considerable pain.  Nevertheless, he completed 42 of 53 for 398 yards and three touchdowns.  And get this -  if you’re a wide receiver and looking for a place where they’ll throw you the ball,  11 different Wazzu receivers had at least one reception.   Redshirt senior Gabe Marks and senior River Cracraft  became the first Pac-12 teammates to record 200 career catches each.

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

We finished the regular season with a 13-7 win over one of our division opponents.  They had to beat us to get into the playoffs, and we beat them to secure the number 3 seed and finish the regular season with a winning record.  It was a great game.  Obviously both defenses played well, but we managed to make a few more plays on offense than they did to get the win.

Our first state playoff game will be on Friday against the number 2 seed.  Their a good team, but if comparative scores mean anything the team we beat last night beat the team will play 42-0. you and I know when it comes to the playoffs everyone starts at 0.

Joe  Gutilla
St. Dominic Savio Catholic High School
Austin, Texas

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

The Ridgeview/Lexington Mustangs won their final game of the season last night over the Fieldcrest Knights 21-15.  For a team only predicted to win one game this year, we did well going 3-6 and being competitive in all but two games.  A major reason we did well was the double wing and open wing offense that we implemented this season. The individualized wrist coaches were the key to our success this season, although it was hard work, it was worth it!   I feel that things will be even better next year as we lose only 4 seniors. Thanks for all your help Coach and I'm looming forward to the challenges ahead.  

Mike Benton
Ridgeview High School
Colfax, Illinois

(Coach Benton, an old friend and longtime head coach at Ridgeview, came out of retirement this year and helped the Mustangs end a 30-game losing streak.)

*********** It was just about this time, five years ago, that Pete Porcelli called me from Troy, New York, to tell me he had been offered the head coaching job, in mid-season, at a school which had been so poor in football that its community had seriously considered dropping the sport. Now, the school, Hoosic Valley High, is headed for its sectional semi-finals.

But first, it had to beat Holy Trinity, a combine of two Albany-Schenectady-Troy  area Catholic High Schools.

That it did, winning 46-12.

But even before that, Holy Trinity had to find a way to play at all - it had to find equipment and uniforms to play in.

Seems some sick bastard set fire to their locker room and storage building, destroying the structure and everything in it - game and practice gear, weightlifting equipment, and personal items.

The story about how people rallied to make it possible for those kids from Holy Trinity to play the game is a great testimony to the kind of people associated with football in that area.

***********  Hi Coach,
I hope this email finds you well.  My 9 and 10 year olds are currently 7-0 and our last regular game of the season is against another team that is 7-0.  They run a traditional 5-3 alignment with a nose tackle in 0 technique and their tackles in 4 tech.  They are often bringing two linebackers in to blitz the A gap.  The presents a quandary I hope you can provide some advice on.  On 88 power our center, faced with a man on and a potential blitzer in his away A gap, would normally call for down blocking.  He would take the away A gap blitzer and the right guard would normally block down on the nose tackle.  However, the right guard now has a blitzing linebacker in his inside gap.  While often times the nose tackle would get tripped up when getting squeezed in by the blitzing A gappers, there will still be instances where he gets through or the linebackers get through.  In youth football linebackers are usually much more aggressive than the offensive line counterparts.  Do you have any suggestions on what to do about blocking?  I’m considering having both guards pinching down on the blitzing LB’s, having the center stay on the nose, and just having the left tackle pull.  It takes away a blocker but hopefully shores up the middle so the runner actually makes it to his hole.  We run the power both from under center and in the wildcat, although we run it better from wildcat.
I know your busy with your own season (wishing you well!) so I’m not holding my breath for a response, but in case you have a few minutes I’d greatly appreciate it.  I’ve got a great batch of boys and they’re working hard.  Take care and thanks!
Manny Juncos
Chino, California


I’m glad to respond.

Here’s the issue as I have to deal with it:

With zero splits, if there is a nose man, there shouldn’t be any A gaps.

It’s as if we were to line our offensive linemen up, shoe to shoe, and then were to try to fit additional offensive linemen in between them.  There simply isn't room.

For sure, though, whatever is happening, you can’t allow penetration in the middle to keep your play from developing.

Doing as you suggest (blocking both guards in and pulling only the tackle) will work. Do the numbers. if they have three guys committed to a space from guard to guard, that means they have only four guys remaining on each side to stop your Super Power.  And on the playside, besides the running back, you have the TE, Tackle, Wingback, B-Back - and a pulling backside tackle.  That’s five blockers to take care of four defenders.   Those are pretty good odds in your favor.  

I would suggest that you not send your running back in motion, so that the defense has no idea which direction you might be going.  (That’s how I’ve done it for years.)

From under center you also may lead your QB through.  I don’t - I have him roll outside to set up the QB keep or roll-out pass.

I think that your idea has merit and I’d like to hear from you on how it goes.

Good Luck!

PS - If you are running Wildcat you might be a candidate for my Open Wing.

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

I hope you and Connie are doing well. Congrats on how well your season is going so far.

We finished our season Tuesday evening with a 7th grade/8th grade double header at South Rowan High School against our rival Corriher-Lipe Middle School from the next town over, Landis NC. The rivalry goes back to when there was Landis High School and China Grove High School, well before the two schools consolidated to form South Rowan High School in 1961. It used to be that both schools fed South, which added to the rivalry, until Carson High School opened ten years ago, sending most of our kids to Carson and dropping South's enrollment drastically.

The kids love playing on the big stage and it's usually a well attended event.
Regardless of record, both teams play with a heightened intensity level for this game. We won both games, with our 7th grade cruising for a 34-6 win and our 8th grade winning 34-12 after falling behind 12-0. The 8th grade game was a wedge-fest; they had no answer. The o-line played a physical ball game and moved the line of scrimmage all night.

It hit me after the ball game the other night that this is our tenth season running the double wing. In that time, we've had single win seasons, an undefeated season, and everything in between. As soon as I finish this email, I am ordering the open-wing dvd set. I'm looking forward to see how that package can help us. I think after ten years I might need a some new wrinkles!

Thanks for all of your help over the years and good luck the rest of the season! I hope you can bring a clinic back to our area next spring.

Take care,
Jim Crawley
China Grove, North Carolina

*********** I saw the score - Holy Cross 21, Harvard 6, and I thought, “WTF?  Could this be the year that Yale finally beats Harvard?”

Not so fast, Wyatt.

Seems that Harvard treated the game  as simply a tuneup to get ready for league play, and held out several key players, including the starting quarterback.

A few Harvard types were upset, some even calling for the Coach’s head.  Get serious.  Harvard’s had some very good coaches in the last 50 years - John Yovicsin and Joe Restic me to mind - but Tim Murphy has the best record of them all.

I loved this little bit of sarcasm in response to those idiots.  (Do you suppose Harvard people can understand sarcasm?)

Fire Murphy.

The Holy Cross loss clearly shows that he does not have what it takes to lead the team anymore. It's best to start a coaching search now before the big time programs make moves. Clear house with the entire coaching staff and go in a five year rebuilding program micromanaged and scrutinized by the administration and student body leaders. Students should choose what plays are called on the field. Since the endowment is bleeding money, demolish the field at Allston and sell the land for condos. The football team can practice and play in Cambridge high schools. The football team also needs to be more inclusive; Harvard's team should be at least 50% women. The wins will be rare for the next five years, but may expect a three win season by 2021.

*********** If you are poor, WORK.  If you are rich, WORK. If you are burdened with seemingly unfair responsibilities, WORK.

If you are happy, continue to WORK. Idleness gives room for doubts and fears.  If sorrow overwhelms you and loved ones seem not true, WORK.  If disappointments come, WORK.

If faith falters and reason fails, just WORK.  When dreams are shattered and hope seems dead - WORK. WORK as if your life were in peril; it really is.

No matter what ails you, WORK.  WORK faithfully, and WORK with faith.  WORK IS THE GREATEST MATERIAL REMEDY AVAILABLE.  WORK will cure both mental and physical afflictions.

Carm Cozza
Legendary Yale Football Coach

*********** My son Ed sent me an interesting stat:

Stanford and Oregon between them have won the last seven Pac-12/Pac-10  titles.

This year,  though, they have been blanked by the current conference leaders.  They are a combined 0-6 against Colorado, Washington and Washington State.

american flag FRIDAY,  OCTOBER 21,  2016   "Don't save your pitcher for tomorrow;  it might rain tomorrow." Leo Durocher, Hall of Fame baseball manager

*********** Got this email from my son, Ed -

A new girl started in the office…her grandfather is Tom Fears!
Wow, I told him - One of the all-time great receivers - and a coach in the WFL!

(Tom Fears was head coach of the Southern California Sun when I was a lowly executive with the Philadelphia Bell and then the Portland Thunder.  That was 1974-1975.  Before that, he was a longtime NFL assistant, and then the first head coach of the New Orleans Saints; and before that,  he was one of the NFL’s first great wide receivers.)

Get this:  He was born in Guadalajara, Mexico,  the son of an American mining engineer and a Mexican mother. His family moved to Los Angeles when he was six.

Drafted in the 11th round in 1945 by the Rams, he is the first Mexican-born player to be drafted by the NFL.

And when he was named the head coach of the Saints, in 1967, he became the first Hispanic-American head coach of an NFL team.
Those LA Rams teams of the late 40s and early 50s with Bob Waterfield and Norm Van Brocklin  (the original “quarterback controversy”) throwing to a bunch of great receivers,  were way ahead of everyone else in the NFL.  Fears may have been the best receiver in the NFL of his time.

Way back before the rules were rigged to favor the passing game, the Rams were throwing the ball all over the place and putting up amazing numbers.  (The Pittsburgh Steelers were still running the single wing.)

The coaching genius behind it was a guy named Hamp Pool, who had the distinction of having played as a freshman at Cal and then, after the war, as an upperclassman at Stanford.

In addition to Tom Fears, they had an all-time great receiver named Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch, and  a running back/receiver/returner named - no lie - Vitamin T. Smith.

As if their wide-open passing game wasn’t enough,  they also ran the ball exceptional well, with what was called the Baby Elephant backfield - big, strong guys named Deacon Dan Towler, Tank Younger (the first of a long line of Grambling guys to play in the NFL) and Dick Horner.

Football historians, most of them based on the East Coast,  love to repeat the claim that the (Baltimore) Colts’ sudden-death win over the  Giants in the 1958 NFL championship game (often called “The Greatest Game Ever Played”) was what finally made the American public aware of pro football. 

To that, I call bulls—. 

From the early 50s, the Rams were drawing large crowds to the Coliseum.

In 1958, the year of  The Greatest Game Ever Played,  the average attendance at  Rams’ games was 83,681. 

Meanwhile, the average attendance in 1958 at all NFL games (including the Rams) was 44,690.

Granted, in those days before jet travel and the Internet, a lot of Easterners were unaware of what was going on out West.  But a little research by  historians would have made it clear that way out in Southern California,  the public was already well aware of the NFL.

***********  At a time when our national unity is being fractured, the news that 2,000 Seattle teachers observed what the Seattle Schools called a "Day of Unity" by wearing Black Lives Matter tee-shirts to class is both enraging and discouraging.

Enraging  to think that those people have control of our young children's minds all day, 180 days of the year.

Discouraging to think  that thousands of young children will grow up believing the sh-- that those "teachers" feed them.

I can't imagine what would have happened if a teacher had worn a TRUMP-PENCE shirt . (Hahaha. That would take some imagination. Realistically, having been a school teacher for 22 years, I'd say that the chance of that happening is approximately zero.)

*********** I came across this…

American Football Without Barriers is proud to announce their 5th annual camp and charity visit to take place in Helsinki, Finland, February 21st thru March 2nd, 2017. The event is organized by the SAJL a Finnish government approved non-profit organization that promotes American Football and its different variations in elite and recreational playing by spreading knowledge of the game in Finland.
After successful camps in China in 2013, Brazil in 2014, Turkey in 2015, and Egypt in 2016, 12 top National Football League (NFL) players are heading to Finland, the first AFWB International camp in Europe.

The NFL players working with AFWB are passionate about sharing their professional skills with emerging fan bases around the world and spreading their commitment to service and leadership. The 12 professional athletes will include All-Pro Tight Ends Gary Barnidge and Jordan Cameron, Super Bowl Champion Breno Giacomini, and All-Pro Running Back DeAngelo Williams. Over the course of the week they will teach on-field technical skill building and leadership to Youth, Women, and Men that are part of SAJL. The players will also hold a Coaches Clinic with in-class instruction and on-field implementation.

As part of their global goodwill tour, the players have designated two days of community outreach and will be visiting various non-profits in and around Finland.

The NFL players will be hosted locally by SAJL, the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) recognized governing body of American Football in Finland, and the organizers of the Finland Men’s and Women’s National Team.

SAJL currently has 39 Member Clubs with over 3000 players, and is actively engaged in growing American Football among the Finnish Men, Women, and Youth. They have National Teams for men, women, under 19, under 17, and under 15. Since 2000 annual American Football numbers have tripled (annual growth approximately 12%) and SAJL has been a member of the Finnish Olympic committee since 2014.

Media interested in attending any portion of the camp or charity events should make arranges through Todd Buelow, AFWB Board of Director Member (contact below).

I know how worshipful most foreign football people are of anything associated in any way with the NFL, and I’m always suspicious of any organization (such as USA Football)  that is funded by and fronting for the NFL,  but I really don’t know enough about  AFWB to pass judgement on it.

Berkeley Holman,  a senior wide receiver for one of the top teams in Southern California - St. John Bosco, of Bellflower -  is  headed for Northwestern next year.

His coach and his father attribute his success to the fact that he didn’t play football until the eighth grade.

Growing up, he played basketball, baseball and soccer, and ran track.

His father, Scott, who played wide receiver for Oregon and then for two seasons in the NFL, said, “I’m a firm believer in developing a full athlete. He was always gifted with speed and quickness, so we just wanted him to have fun playing sports. Why start (contact football) before you have to?”

Says his coach, Jason Negro, “Unlike a lot of kids today, he is very coachable.   Kids are so overtrained with so many people telling them how to do things. That’s quite the opposite with him. He didn’t go on the 7-on-7 circuit. He didn’t get coached up by a bunch of outside sources. His family trusted us and that’s a big reason he’s been so successful.”

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

We rebounded from an emotional loss to Farmington with a win at 5-2 (now 5-3) Knoxville.  The Blue Bullets were champions of their conference and are a playoff team.  

Playing Bob Reade-style wing-t, they created issues for us all night with double dive and the wing counter off of that.  Honestly, at least defensively, I think we had a bit of a hangover from the previous week, at least in the first half.  We allowed over 300 yards rushing, something that was an absolute surprise given our front seven's success against the run this year.  Like I said, things settled down in the second half.  After being down 28-20 at the half we outscored them 40-14 in the second.

The highlight for the Trojans was wingback Jackson Harkness.  The 5'9, 205 pound bull (4th place in the state in the shotput last year) rushed 36 times for a school record 356 yards (4 TD and 2 2-pt conversions).  He went inside, around, and over defenders all night.  To be sure, our line did a nice job blocking, but every once in a while you get that back who just accepts the load on his shoulders. Overall we rushed 70 times for 505 yards and completed four passes for 40 yards and 2 2-pt conversions.  Not a bad offensive night.

At 7-1, we play 5-3 Rushville, another wing-t team, at home on Friday.  We are playing for playoff seeding now and our practices have taken on a bit of that edge that you want this time of the year.  

Good luck to you and the Hyaks.  Congratulations on the Monday win.

Todd Hollis
Elmwood High School
Elmwood, Illinois


Nice rebound.  That had to be quite a second half of football.

I would imagine a Bob Reade-type team would be handful.  Bob Reade was quite a good football man - one of the very best - and I know his influence is still strong in your part of the country.

Good luck this week against Rushville.  Nice to know that you’re in the playoffs and now playing for seeding.  I do like a lot of things about the Illinois playoff system.

yale-dartmouth program***********  When it comes to political correctness, Yale just can’t seem to keep from tripping on its own male member - if it still has one.

Two weeks ago, Yale and Dartmouth celebrated the 100th game between the two Ivy schools, and as part of the celebration, the Yale athletic department put together a program cover that has caused quite a stir.

Seems the cover consisted of a collage of Yale-Dartmouth program covers from years past, including a couple from the days when Dartmouth was known as - TRIGGER ALERT!!!! - the Indians.

Well, yeah. 

Dartmouth, you should know,  was originally founded with the mission of educating the natives who inhabited the then wilds of northern New England.  Nowadays, of course, such a mission would be considered culturally insulting -  the very idea that one culture considered itself so superior that it felt the need to “educate” an “inferior” culture.

But anyhow, back in the 1970s, the Dartmouth Board of Trustees, no doubt coming under some pressure from activist students, decided that “Indians” was no longer acceptable, and since then, Dartmouth has been known as The Big Green.  Nothing wrong with that.  Long before Yale was the Bulldogs or the Elis, its teams were known as The Blue.  Harvard is still The Crimson.  Penn was once the Red and Blue.  Cornell is still the Big Red.

Well.  Back in the days when Dartmouth was still the Indians, it was not unusual for Yale’s program covers to depict some sort of cartoonish Indian suffering some sort of embarrassment at the hands of a Yale football player or the paws of a Yale Bulldog. And three of those old covers - one showing a Yale football player giving an Indian a hotfoot (anybody remember them?), another showing a terrified Indian being chased by a bunch of Yale football players, and a third showing an Indian being treed by a fierce bulldog - have caused quite a stir  among a group of Native American students,  upset at what they consider a cultural  indignity.

I rather doubt that any insult was intended;  those covers are definitely  from a different time and a different take on such things.  But I’m truly amazed that the people in charge of putting together the cover - at Yale, of all places, the mother ship of Political Correctness - could be so stupid that they couldn’t see where their creation was going to take them.

*********** Last Saturday I was able to watch the streaming telecast of the fourth quarter of the Pacific Lutheran-Whitworth game, being played for a share of the Northwest Conference lead.

I tuned in because I was texted that former North Beach quarterback Carson Ketter, who now plays free safety for PLU, had just run 93 yards with an interception to give the Lutes a 41-24 lead with 11:45 to play.

And then, as the PLU offense sputtered and continued to give up the ball, their defense proved unable to stop Whitworth, which put on drives of 55, 81 and 82 yards - mostly on the running of a stocky back named Duke DiGaetano. 

Final score: Whitworth 45, Pacific Lutheran 41.

To be frank - the PLU tackling sucked, something I attribute largely to their employment of  the vaunted “Hawk Tackling,” which you recall was touted as the greatest addition to our game since the huddle, in one fell stroke cutting down on concussions while improving tackling efficiency.  (In fairness, it does seem as though Hawk Tackling may indeed reduce concussions, because when you miss tackles, there’s a lot less chance of your getting hurt.)

usa football*********** Hugh,

Thought you might find this interesting.  "Biggest and brightest minds???"  Puhhlleassse!

Joe Gutilla
Austin, Texas

The arrogance of USA Football  is sickening. 

They’re just an arm  of the NFL octopus,  part of its design to one day take over all levels of football.

“Biggest and brightest minds?”

I guarantee that any coach will get a lot more out of his state coaching association’s clinic.

***********  We Twenty-First Century Americans have a very difficult time accepting anything as final.

In football, we have instant replay to determine when a catch is not a catch.

In the justice system, we have appeal after appeal of jury decisions.

So why should Donald Trump, a self-proclaimed Man of the People, automatically  accept the  election of the President of the United States as legitimate?

The great irony of The Donald's announcement that he'd just have to see whether he would accept the election result as final is that it has beaten the Democrats at their own game.  The party of Al Gore, the party that spent eight years saying  that George Bush was elected President by a vote of 5-4
(referring to the Supreme Court decision in his favor), is squawking so loudly, abetted by the captive media, that it's going to be VERY difficult for them to complain should Mrs. Clinton lose the election.

(I am appreciative enough of gamesmanship to believe that this was exactly Mr. Trump's purpose in saying what he did.)

american flag TUESDAY,  OCTOBER 18,  2016   "If you make every game a life-or-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot."  Dean Smith

***********  Monday,  October 17, was the 49th anniversary of the Battle of Ong Thanh, in Vietnam.

In that battle, a small band of the 28th Infantry - the Black Lions - was ambushed by a far larger body of North Vietnamese, and when the battle was ended, 64 Americans were killed in action, 75 were wounded, and two were missing in action.

Among the Americans killed that day were Army Major Don Holleder, a former West Point All-American end as a junior who switched to quarterback his senior year and was the inspiration for  the Black Lion Award.

***********  Wrote Dave Berry, an Army medic and veteran of the battle of Ong Thanh whom I was privileged to share a room  with one weekend at West Point...

Today is the 49th anniversary of the Battle of Ong Thanh. It's hard to believe that it has been that long. I am fortunate to be able to spend the day with Joe Costello and Tom Hinger, 2 of the bravest soldiers I was privileged to serve with and best of friends I have ever had.
On 17 October 1967, elements of the 2/28th Infantry found the basecamp of the 271st Main Force VC Regiment, which we had been pursuing and skirmishing with for several days. The Black Lion force was caught in a bloody ambush in which at least 60 American soldiers were killed or missing and presumed dead, and at least 75 others wounded (typical of the Vietnam War, the numbers vary slightly, depending on what account you read). Four of those killed were fellow Black Lion medics. Military strategists use the term "acceptable loss", which is the approximate number of casualties that are acceptable in order to achieve an objective. To a combat medic, no loss is acceptable. Loss on this scale is devastating.

If you follow this link you will find the story of SP4 Ray Neal Gribble, a squad leader with Alpha Co. who gave up a safer job to return to his squad, which needed him. He fell in battle along with many of them on 17 Oct. 1967.


The known list of KIA/MIA (Body Not Recovered)
• MAJ Donald W. Holleder, Webster, NY
• SP5 Verland A. Gilbertson, Banning, California
• 2LT Harold B. Durham, Tifton, Georgia - Medal of Honor
• PFC Larry M. Anderson, Spencer, Iowa
• PFC Clifford L. Breeden, Hillsdale, Michigan
• PFC Santos Camero, Malaga, California
• SP4 Ralph Carrasco, Phoenix, Arizona
• SP4 Elwood D. Chaney, Washington, D. C.
• PFC Richard L. Crites, Cleveland, Ohio
• PFC Wesley E. Dodson, Robinson, Pennsylvania
• SP4 Leon N. East, Ironto, Virginia
• SP4 Maurice S. Ellis, Asheville, North Carolina
• PFC Anthony J. Familiare, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
• SP4 Michael J. Farrell, New Orleans, Louisiana
• SSG Paul L. Fitzgerald, Fort Valley, Georgia (MIA/BNR)
• SP4 Michael J. Gallagher, New Hyde Park, New York
• SP4 Arturo Garcia, Mercedes, Texas
• SP4 Ray N. Gribble, Muncie, Indiana
• SSG Olin Hargrove, Birmingham, Alabama (MIA/BNR)
• PSG Willie C. Johnson, Jr, Savannah, Georgia (DoW 11/09/1967)
• PFC John Daniel Krische, West Hempstead, New York
• SP4 Jerry David Lancaster, Lebanon, Tennessee
• PFC Walter Platosz, Hartford, Connecticut
• PFC Allan Vincent Reilly, Los Angeles, California
• PFC Donald Wayne Adkins, Gretna, Virginia
• SGT Gary Lee Barker, Garden Grove, California
• SP4 Jackie Everrett Bolen, Jr, Ury, WV
• PFC Joseph Otis Booker, Richmond, Virginia (DoW 10/18/1967)
• SP4 Melvin Bruce Cook, Salem, Oregon
• PFC Joe Albert Crutcher, Winter Park, Florida
• PFC Edward Phillip. Dye, Wellston, Ohio
• PFC Robert Lee Fuqua, Mansfield, Ohio
• PFC Melesso Garcia, Watsonville, California
• SP4 Stanley Donald Gilbert, Dexter, Minnesota
• PFC Richard William Jones, Cairo, Illinois
• PFC Gary Gene Lincoln, Eaton, Ohio
• 2LT Andrew Patrick Luberda, Chicago, Illinois
• PFC Emil George Megiveron, Pontiac, Michigan
• SP4 Michael Merlin Miller, Mount Pleasant, Florida
• PFC Robert Joseph Nagy, Lorain, Ohio
• SP4 Steven Larry Ostroff, Sun Valley, California
• SFC Eugene John Plier, Sheboygan, Wisconsin
• PFC Ronney Dean Reece, Atlanta, Georgia
• PFC Jack Wayne Schroder, Clay Center, Nebraska
• PFC Jackie Echol Shubert, Jacksonville, Florida
• SP4 Daniel Sikorski, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
• SSG Luther Augustus Smith, Miami, Florida
• PFC Theodore Dave Thomas, Houston, Texas
• SP4 Kenneth Pete Wilson, Clinton, North Carolina
• LTC Terry De la Mesa. Allen, Jr, El Paso, Texas
• CPT James Lisman Blackwell, Jr, Evansville, Indiana
• SGM Francis Ellsworth Dowling, Cooperstown, North Dakota
• PFC Allen Dale Jagielo, San Gabriel, California
• SP4 Joe Lovato, Jr, Lubbock, Texas
• PFC Joe Davis Moultrie, St Stephen, South Carolina
• SP5 Archie Andrew Porter, Cameron, West Virginia (DoW 10/21/1967)
• SP4 Garland Jerone Randall, Houston, Texas
• SP4 Pasquale Joseph Tizzio, New York, New York
• SP4 Harry Carl Sarsfield, Oxnard, California
• SGT James Edward Larson, Mauston, Wisconsin

*********** We had a great week of practice last week.

We'd come off a big win, and the kids were unusually focused.

On Wednesday, when we gathered at the end of practice, head coach Todd Bridge said, "I wish we could play tomorrow."

I did him one better, and said, "I wish we could play right now."

We were that ready, that sharp.

And then, on Thursday, the rain rolled in, along with the prediction that the entire Northwest Coast was due for the Mother of All Storms - three of them, in fact, one right after the other.  We got through Thursday's practice just fine (we always go outside, regardless of the weather) and then, as is our custom, leaving nothing to chance, we coaches checked off the kids as they packed their bags for the next day's trip.

And on Friday, just before noon, I got a text from Coach Bridge informing me that our opponent, South Bend, had just sent its kids home, and postponed out game until 7 PM Monday night.

My wife and I quickly packed up and headed home to Camas for a short weekend, returning in time for a late Sunday walk-through.

To give you an idea what kind of kids we have - it was cold and rainy, but when he hit the field at 5:30 Sunday evening, every single kid was on hand.  Some of them live 25 or so miles "up the beach."

When the postponement was first announced, we immediately discussed moving Friday's game back to Saturday.  We decided against it because the following week's game, the final game of the regular season,  will be played on Thursday to allow for the possibility of a weekend Kansas-Plan playoff to decide seeding for the following weekend's district "play-in" games.  (Have I lost you yet?)

The game... written at 11 PM Monday...

On a cold, rainy night in South Bend, Washington, self-styled "Oyster Capital of the World," the North Beach Hyaks improved their record to 4-3 with a 24-7 win over the South Bend Indians.

The Hyaks took the opening kickoff and drove 66 yards in 12 plays to score with 6:37 left in the first quarter, and the first of their three two-point conversions on the night made the score 8-0.

But on their first play from scrimmage the Indians broke an outside veer for 65 yards and kicked the extra point to make the score 8-7.

The Hyaks fumbled on the kickoff, but stopped the Indians with an interception - one of three they would make in the game.

From there, the Hyaks drove 80 yards in 17 plays to take a 16-7 halftime lead, then opened the second half with a 53-yard scoring drive to make the score 24-7.

The Hyaks put on one more drive of 76 yards, but coughed up the ball inside the South Bend 20.

All told, North Beach rushed 60 times for 328 yards, and completed one of three passes for 25 yards.

Quarterback Brenden Chaney carried 26 times for 135 yards and two touchdowns. Patrick Day-Heyd had 103 yards on 10 carries, and Elijah Ewing added 76 yards on 6 carries.

It's a short week:  Friday the Hyaks host powerful Willapa Valley, which in a Monday night meeting of the two league leaders handed Ilwaco a 45-2 trouncing.

*********** The idea of the Black Lion Award actually goes back to when I was a kid, growing up in Philadelphia.

In Philadelphia, where Penn (not Penn State) football drew crowds twice the size of the Eagles, the Army-Navy game, coming at the end of the regular college schedule,  was our bowl game.

And those were the Blanchard and Davis years, when Army could have fielded two teams of equal ability, each capable of winning a national championship.

I was in awe of  those teams.

I once pestered my mother to take me to the Trans-Lux Theatre downtown on Market Street to watch the film of the 1947 entire Army-Notre Dame game - a scoreless tie between two unbeaten teams.

Years later, when I became a coach myself and was in need of guidance, I found it in a copy of Army coach Earl Blaik’s book - “You Have to Pay the Price.”  You might say he was my mentor - I would be more than proud to be included in  his very impressive coaching tree.

When read the chapter about his decision to move All-American end Don Holleder to quarterback,  I admired Coach Blaik’s resourcefulness.  I also admired and respected  the support he showed his quarterback during tough times.  But in my first reading of the book, it was just one of many memorable chapters.

But then,  years later, I re-read the book. And as so often happens when you read a book a second or third time, I saw things differently.  The book may not have not changed, but I had.

When I re-read Colonel Blaik’s book, I had 25 years of coaching behind me, and this time, the chapter on Don Holleder really grabbed me.

Here was a guy who was as good as there was at his position, being asked before his senior year to learn a totally new one - a position requiring skills that he’d never demonstrated that he had - in order to take full advantage of his leadership abilities.

Even a West Pointer, conditioned to do what the team needed regardless of what he himself might have wanted, had to have had some misgivings.

But he accepted the challenge, and despite numerous stumbles along the way - and considerable criticism of his coach for making what most observers considered  a reckless move -  player Holleder and coach Blaik proved the critics wrong when Army upset a powerful Navy team.

At some point, it hit me - the unselfishness, the willingness to do whatever was required, the desire to lead, the willingness to stay the course in spite of obstacles was, I realized,  exactly what football coaches everywhere look for in our kids - it’s the sort of thing we try to instill in them.

My research into Don Holleder leads me to conclude that there was no sense on his part of seeking personal glory when asked to move to quarterback.  Nor was there any sense that he was giving anything up - he made the move willingly,  because he wanted to lead.  But to make what he did more understandable to today’s kids, I point out that making the switch in positions did mean giving up a chance to be a two-time All-American,  the equivalent  then of being an NFL first-round draft pick today.

And then I dug deeper. I felt sure I’d read that Don Holleder had been killed in Vietnam, but those were the early days of the Internet, and there wasn’t much on him.  I did, however,  come across an article in Time Magazine about the Black Lions’ being ambushed at a place called Ong Thanh. All told, 64 Americans were killed that day, and 75 were wounded, many gravely.  Among those killed in action that day were the Black Lions’ Battalion Commander, Lt. Terry Allen.  And Major Don Holleder. Although not himself a Black Lion, Don Holleder was cut down by sniper fire while charging into the jungle to rescue men wounded in battle.

This was an amazing story, I thought - a man who twice in his lifetime had put others ahead of himself.  What an amazing example for young football players.

I wrote about an article about him and posted it on my web site - I was an early adopter - and not long after, I received an email from a gentleman named Tom “Doc” Hinger, who said that he was an Army medic at Ong Thanh, and Major Holleder had died in his arms.

Doc Hinger introduced me to General Jim Shelton, also a Vietnam Black Lion, and as we got to know one another better,  I proposed to them the idea of an award to honor Don Holleder and the men who died with him that day.  It would be called the Black Lion Award, but it wouldn’t be another Most Valuable Player Award.  At the same time, though, it wouldn’t be a consolation award for the player who didn’t win anything else, or a feel-good award for the kid who overcame the most hardships or showed up at every practice.  Very simply, the criteria for the award would be how well the recipient lived up to Don Holleder’s example of courage, unselfishness, leadership, and putting the team ahead of himself.

They thought it sounded great, but General Shelton cautioned  that there were some hurdles to be cleared when dealing with anything associated with the Army, and I have to give him credit for carrying the ball from there.  I do know that the late COL John McGinn, one of Don Holleder’s classmates and teammates, was instrumental in my being vetted - to make sure that I wasn’t intending to commercialize the award, and that I would not in any way demean the Army.  And then I was privileged to speak with Don Holleder’s widow, Mrs. Caroline Ruffner, and her husband, Ernie Ruffner, another West Point classmate of Don Holleder.  I assured Mrs. Ruffner that the Black Lion Award would always reflect credit on Don Holleder’s name.  (And she made certain that I knew that there was no “N” in his name -  that it was pronounced “Hol-LED-er” and not Holl-END-er.)

And then, through the coaches that followed my web site, we introduced the Black Lion Award to youth, middle school and high school programs in the United States and Canada.

It was first presented in 2001, which by coincidence was the 100th anniversary of the constituting of the 28th Infantry at Vancouver Barracks, Washington.  (By another coincidence, Vancouver Barracks is about 12 miles from my home in Camas, Washington.)

The Black Lion Award has since been presented to hundreds of youth, middle school and high school players.  Only one college presents the Black Lion Award - the Army Football Club, the association of former Army football players, has made it a part of West Point football program, and the Black Lion Award is presented annually to a member of the Army football team.

IT’S NOT TOO LATE - coaches are urged to sign up their team for 2016.  There is no cost.  Recipients receive a Black Lion patch (emblem) and a certificate suitable for framing plus - as long as they last - a beautifully done video about Major Don Holleder, produced by his West Point classmate, General Perry Smith.  All that you are asked to do is provide, via email, a thorough, detailed letter nominating your player.


*********** This week's Football Writers/National Football Foundation Top 16 - (16 because these are the teams that would take part in a "True National Playoff"

    1    Alabama
    2    Ohio State
    3    Michigan
    4    Washington
    5    Clemson
    6    Louisville
    7    Texas A&M
    8    Wisconsin
    9    Houston
    10    Baylor
    11    Oklahoma
    12    Nebraska
    13    Boise State
    14    West Virginia
    15    Tennessee
    16    Florida

***********  The ACC showed some of the competitiveness which it's been sorely lacking.

Clemson remained undefeated only because NC State missed a chip-shot field goal attempt with seconds to play...

Wake Forest gave Florida State all it wanted.

It was 17-14, Louisville, when Duke roughed the Louisville kicker on a missed field goal attempt that would have given the Blue Devils the ball close to midfield with time remaining to win or tie...(I consider the roughing call to be questionable, but I'm prejudiced)

And Syracuse, despite being outfitted in the ugliest uniforms ever put on a college team, went out (went "in," actually, since they played in the Carrier Dome)  and thumped  Virginia Tech, whose outfits were nothing to brag about, either.

ACC member-of-convenience  Notre Dame fell to Stanford, which at halftime found a running game to go with its stout defense.   I like Brian Kelly, I think, but I can't imagine what the hell he was thinking when he yanked his starting QB and then, when the replacment looked lost, put the starter back in and then expected him to pull their chestnuts out of the fire.

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

Well our P.W. season is over and although we did not have the kind of success  we would have liked to have had, we did finish with a 25-12 win.

We ran the Open Wing right from your DVDs.

Thought you might like to know that, "3 trap 2" was a sure gainer for us. Guess lt's true that few youth teams use a trap so they do not know how to defend it.  The T.E. seam & corner routs worked well as did the toss to the wheel route. We also installed a B Back screen off of the 5-C "fake"!  The B Back loved it and it never failed to gain yardage. 

Coach, on behalf of the Palm City Dolphin- Peewee division, 10,11, &12 year olds,  we thank you for the Open Wing!  It is a load of fun to play as well as to coach!

God's blessings for you and your family, coach, and looking forward, already, to next season.

J.C. Brink
Stuart, Florida

*********** Purdue decided it was time to pull the plug on head coach Darrell Hazell. 

Purdue is 3-3 right now, but in his three-and-a-half season at West Lafayette, Hazell was 9-33.  More to the point, he was 3-24 against Big Ten competition.

This is not in any way a condemnation of  Darrell Hazell. He forged an 11-3 record his last year at Kent State, not an easy place to win at.  But he found that Purdue is even tougher;  finding that out first-hand has ended the head coaching career of many a good man.

Purdue has had the most success, it appears, when it went the contrarian route.  Many years ago, Purdue and Stanford were throwing the ball when everybody else was running. Quarterbacks like Len Dawson, Ross Fichtner and Bob Griese made Purdue competitive.  They could get quarterbacks like that when the alternative was to go to Michigan or Ohio State and hand off.

More recently,  Joe Tiller brought an early version of the Air Raid to West Lafayette, managing to sneak Drew Brees out  of Texas, where they weren't yet throwing the ball.   Fat chance of doing that now.

As an Army fan of long standing, I'm not going to do myself any favors by proposing that they take a long look at Army's Jeff Monken.   He is a triple option coach,  who showed when he was at Georgia Southern - and beat Florida and nearly beat Alabama  - that when he can recruit  he can beat anybody. And he's a Midwesterner; with the kind of talent he'd have access to, he would win in the Big Ten.  Did I say he's underpaid?   Fortunately for Army, Purdue will never go that route, though, which means that by continuing to imitate the big guys, they will continue to come in second on the recruting trail, and they will continue to lose.

***********  Lawton Nalley, an assistant professor of agribusiness at the University of Arkansas, had a bit too much to drink at the Arkansas-Alabama game a week ago, which gave him to courage to confront and profanely berate a fellow faculty member on the field after the game.

The fellow faculty member was Professor of Applied Football Science Bret Bielema.

For his own good, Mr. Nalley was arrested and spent Saturday night in the slammer.

He has since said he's sorry, blah, blah, blah.

Too late, Prof.

Since that game, a 49-30 loss to Alabama, the Hogs rebounded and beat Ole Miss, and now the shoe's on the other foot.

Do not be surprised if one day, as class ends and the students file out, a very large man enters and heads for you (if you'd been sober last Saturday, you'd have realized that Professor Bielema is tall and maybe a jelly donut or so on the other side of 300 pounds).

It would serve you right if he were to storm in, very drunk, grab you by the neck and hold you out the window and holler, "You c-- s--ker, you call yourself an agribusiness professor? I knew professors of agribusiness at Wisconsin that would kick your f--king ass!"

american flag TUESDAY,  OCTOBER 11,  2016   "Field goals frustrate me, to be honest. You get tired of the damn things unless you're the guy kicking them. When you get beat by some kid kicking four field goals you say, 'Come on. What the heck kind of way is that to lose a game?'"     Bo Schembechler

*********** It was Homecoming at North Beach High in Ocean Shores, Washington, and the North Beach Hyaks came out with guns blazing against league rival Ocosta, defeating their foes from across the harbor, 56-0.

The Hyaks had lost their last two games, and the two teams brought identical 2-3 records into the game, but the North Beach dominance was pole to pole, and a running clock was imposed when the Hyaks went ahead, 42-0, with seven minutes left in the third period.

Taking the opening kickoff, they drove 61 yards in 8 plays and less than three minutes to open the scoring. There followed drives of 62, 58, 84, 32, 76 and 58 yards.   The Hyaks  didn't  suffer a turnover and never punted.  
Only once did they fail to complete a drive, coming up six inches short on a fourth down measurement after driving 43 yards deep into Ocosta territory.

Quarterback Brenden Chaney rushed 25 times for 176 yards and four touchdowns.  He completed eight of 13 passes for 114 yards and one touchdown.

Patrick Day-Heyd carried seven times for 132 yards and Tavo Muro ran for 63 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries.

Ben Poplin carried six times for 45 yards and a touchdown, and caught five passes for 53 yards and a TD.

A point of pride - since Todd Bridge took over as head coach and I came on board with him in 2011, we have yet to lose a Homecoming game.

*********** Charlie Strong isn’t dead yet, but the corporate headhunters who had already begun compiling their lists of possible replacements for him certainly weren’t deterred by Oklahoma’s defeat of Texas Saturday.

Forbes Magazine (does everybody have a sports section now?) put out this list before the UT-OU game.

1. Tom Herman, Houston head coach  (The Forbes article also was written before Navy’s upset win over Houston.  This was Houston’s second year in a row of being knocked from the playoffs by an underdog - last year, you may remember, it was UConn that did it.)

2. Chris Peterson, Washington head coach  (Nice try, Forbes.  Out here in the Northwest, we remember how long he stayed at Boise State, where he had a good job running a solid program, turning down any number of prestigious jobs until Washington came open.)

3. Art Briles, former Baylor head coach (Yeah.  That’ll be a lot of fun for the UT people to explain to all the activists on campus.)

4. Les Miles, former LSU head coach (A good coach by any measures.  But if style points count - if you insist on seeing an entertaining offense - Miles, a Bo Schembechler guy,  may not be your man.)

5. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State head coach  (He can win games.  But let’s face it - as Paul Finebaum points out in his book, “My Conference Can Beat Your Conference,"  Florida State is an SEC program playing in the ACC.)

*********** Saturday was another amazing day of college football.

I'm sorry Army didn't win but I was very happy for Duke, whose passing offense was at a huge disadvantage in the hurricane-driven wind and rain. The Blue Devils showed a toughness I didn't realize they had.

Wake Forest, another one of my schools - a grandson goes there - beat Syracuse! This could be a bowl year for the Deacons!

Notre Dame looked terribly frustrated by the conditions.  N.C. State didn’t.  The Wolfpack dealt the Irish their fourth loss.  The last Irish chance vanished when the Irish center snapped the ball while the QB was looking elsewhere.  I like Brian Kelly, but his subsequent sideline “conversation” with the center was on national television and was not what TV people call “good optics.” Being under the microscope goes with the ND job,  and public chastising of his players can’t be a point in his favor if and when the good fathers at Our Lady sit down to discuss his future.

Northwest report…

Washington came into Autzen Stadium and from the opening kickoff dispelled any thoughts that the Oregon Ducks belonged on the same field the the Huskies. The Huskies ended the Ducks’ 12-year dominance with a vengeance,  downing them 70-21.  Only once in Oregon football history, a 1941 game in which Texas hung 71 points on them, has anyone scored more points on them.

Washington quarterback Jake Browning threw for six touchdown passes - an all-time school record - and ran for two more. His eight total touchdowns tied a conference record. Running back Miles Gaskin ran for 197 yards and a touchdown; wide receiver Dante Pettis caught eight passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns (including a one-handed, diving grab that belongs on SportCenter) and all-purpose receiver/returner John Ross caught nine passes for 94 yards and three TDs.  The Ducks’ porous defense gave up nearly 700 yards of offense.

The Ducks  looked silly as hell getting spanked in what were billed as “throwback” uniforms.  The uniforms were dark blue with gold trim,  and the (very) old nickname “Webfoots” was printed on the front.  (Because it rains so much in the Pacific Northwest, Oregonians liked to joke that they had web feet.)   “Throwback?” To when?  The togs predated anything I can remember in all my years of watching football.  My oldest resource in this matter dates to 1948, and it refers to Oregon and “The Ducks” and lists its colors as lemon yellow and emerald green.  (Not that that matters any more, as anyone knows who’s been watching the Ducks the last several years.)

Speaking of going down while wearing the wrong  colors… maybe Stanford’s reason for wearing all-black uniforms was so no one would recognize them when they slunk off the field after being drubbed by Washington State, 42-16.  Don’t let the final score fool you - the final six Stanford points came as time ran out and the quarterback reached over the goal line as he fell to the ground.  (In my opinion he wasn’t in, and if they ruled it wasn't a score there weren’t any Stanford fans left in the stands to complain anyhow, but what the hell.)

This was no upset.  Washington State was by far the better team.

Once Christian McCaffrey left the game with an apparent hip injury, Stanford had little offense.  But in truth, it didn’t have much of a one when he was in the game,  either. All told, the Cardinal rushed 26 times for a puny 61 yards.   Even worse than the Stanford offense, though, was its defense.   Washington State’s Luke Falk was sharp, completing 30 of 41 for 357 yards and four touchdowns, and the Cougs rushed for 101.

After starting out the season with a loss to FCS Eastern Washington (admittedly, a very good club), the Cougars have regrouped and in the last two weeks have routed Oregon and Stanford, who between them have won the last seven Pac-12 titles.

After being whaled by Washington last week, Stanford has now lost two games in a row, the first time that’s happened since David Shaw took over as coach six seasons ago.

As for slinking out of the stadium unnoticed by anyone - Stanford had no need to worry.  No one was watching.  By the time the Cougs had finished their job, only WSU fans were left in the stands.

The Cougs could definitely beat the Huskies, especially with the Apple Cup game in Pullman this year. Strange things can happen any time  those teams meet in the Palouse in late November.

Oregon State blew a 17-point lead in the last 10:35, and appeared to be on their way to their 13th straight Pac-12 loss as Cal kicked a field goal in the final seconds to send the game into overtime.  And then Oregon State QB Darrel Garretson, after Cal had been held to a field goal in the top half of OT, ran 16 yards for a touchdown to give the Beavers the 47-44  win.

It was the Beavs’ first Pac-12 win in nearly two years, following 12 straight defeats.  The win was not a fluke - the Beavers found the answer to Cal’s “Bear Raid” offense by holding onto the ball and rushing for 474 yards.  They were led by  a big Portland kid named Ryan Nall, who rushed for 221 yards and three touchdowns.

A significant milestone for the Beavers: it was the first time in quite a while that they got top billing on the front sports page of Sunday’s Portland Oregonian - over their archrival Oregon Ducks.

*********** Sorry to see Houston drop out of the playoff picture, but I sure did admire the job that Navy did on the nation’s #6 team. The middies swarmed onto the field following the win, and in honor of Navy’s first win over a top 10 opponent in years, the Naval Academy Superintendent declared that Tuesday would be a school holiday.

***********  Miami scored at the very end and missed a stinking extra point, because a blocker did a lameass job ( check the video); Texas A & M was about to go ahead by two touchhdowns - and clinch the game - when a Tennessee pursuer punched the ball loose just before the runner crossed the goal line.  Tennessee then scored to tie it up and the A & M kicker missed a field goal attempt and  sent the game into OT - where that same  kicker made the winning kick.   Oregon State took a big lead into the fourth quarter, then blew it, then won it overtime. 

I was very happy for Oregon State.   I felt bad for Miami and Tennessee.  I was pulling for both of them. 

Now,  take  just those three games and their most improbable, exciting endings and consider - in the entire NFL season that remains, Big Football won't give us three games like those.

*********** “I’ve long held that the dumbest question, asked repeatedly by female reporters on the sidelines after sporting events, is ‘What was on your mind when… (fill in the event)?’  A truthful answer is probably that the athlete knew once the game ended he would have to face the inanity of the question of what was on his mind and have an answer ready.”

Author Joseph Epstein

***********  Hugh,

We won our Homecoming game on Friday 49-21 to boost our record to 4-3, and clinch a playoff spot for the first time in our school's short 8 year history.  We have two games left in the regular season and if things remain as they are we will go into the playoffs as the number 3 seed.

It was great to see the joy in the faces of the players.  They've been through a rough last two weeks but they showed some real resiliency, and played their best game of the season so far in beating the probable number 4 seed. 

We gained 502 total yards, mostly rushing, with only 40 of those yards coming through the air.  One of our backs went for 151 yards, another just missed 100 with 98, and three others contributed the rest.  Our offensive line was stellar.  Defensively our first group held them to 7 points until late in the game when they scored on our reserves.

On another note I just wanted to remind you that we will be holding our season ending awards ceremony on Wednesday, November 9th.  I will e-mail you the name of the individual player who will receive the Black Lion Award and why he should receive it within the next couple of weeks.

Finally...I couldn't agree with you more about teaching the blocking rules.  It happens to most of us, but boy...when it's taught's a beautiful sight.

Continued best wishes to you and the Hyaks, and your lovely bride.Joe Gutilla

Joe Gutilla
Assistant Principal - Head Football Coach
St. Dominic Savio Catholic High School
Austin, Texas

How about you?  Are you a Black Lion Award team?   Do you have a player who meets our criteria?

leadership, courage, devotion to duty, self-sacrifice, and - above all - an unselfish concern for the team ahead of himself.

Sign up now:

who is eligible?
 Hi Coach,

Can you take a peek at this, please. I want to inform my son's HS coaches about a little trickery their upcoming opponent may utilize. Like we did for years in DW, this team will line up in what looks like 21 Personnel, but, it's really a Tackle Over alignment. Then, they replace the Tackle with their regular TE (In essence, they swap spots).

#82 becomes a legal receiver, yes?

Many Thanks,

Ed Campbell
Land o' Lakes, Florida

Hi Ed-

To be eligible, a player must meet two qualifications:

1. He must be in the backfield, or on one of the ends of the line of scrimmage

2. He must wear an eligible number (1-49, 80-99)

#82 qualifies on both counts and is eligible.

*********** As Bellevue and its rampant cheating-to-win schemes fade into the past,  the big story in Washington high school football is the plight of Archbishop Murphy.

Not the man, the school.

Archbishop Murphy, a private Catholic school in Everett, a navy port and airplane manufacturing city north of Seattle, hasn’t done anything wrong.

Its problem is that it’s too good for its own good.

As is the case in parts of our country where there aren’t large numbers of private schools, Archbishop Murphy is in a league with mostly public schools.

By enrollment (403 students in the top three grades), Archbishop Murphy should be a 1A school, but as is the case with all larger Catholic high schools in the state, it has chosen to “opt up” - to play in the next higher classification.  Two such schools with 2A-size enrollments, Gonzaga Prep of Spokane (663 students) and Bellarmine Prep of Tacoma (758 students), have opted up two classifications in order to play at the Class 4A level, whose schools range in size from 1300 on up.

Archbishop Murphy is in a combined league of 1A and 2A teams, and it has dominated.  Its only loss last season came in the state 2A semifinal game. 

It tried last off-season to join a 3A Seattle-area league made up of mostly private, Catholic schools, but was turned down.  The argument against admission was the extra travel involved for the Seattle schools.  (On the surface, coaching at  a school whose shortest trip is more than an hour, it’s hard for me to sympathize, but then sitting in the traffic headed out of Seattle on a Friday evening isn’t something I’d ever want to deal with.)

So going into the season,  for Archbishop Murphy and its league mates, it was life as usual:  Archbishop Murphy, with 16 starters - many of them college prospects - returning from last year’s semifinalist team, once again riding roughshod over the rest of the league.

And then, some league members took a stand.  So far, three of them have chosen to forfeit their scheduled league games with Archbishop Murphy.

It wasn’t so much the fact that they were going to be beaten, said those schools who chose to comment; it was the safety issue.

"It's not that we're afraid to play the game, it's an injury issue," said Granite Falls head coach Tim Dennis. "Because of the size disparity between the linemen. They have 300-pound linemen. And we have sophomores that weight 210, 220 pounds and starting on varsity.  So that's the issue, is the size disparity."

Six weeks into this season, Archbishop Murphy has played only three games (winning them by a combined score of 170-0).

As of Monday, this coming week’s opponent, Cedar Crest of Duvall, had not yet announced whether it would play the game as scheduled.

I think this is a true dilemma that requires a strong hand.

If the state association (WIAA) had a set of stones, it would tell those 3A Seattle-area Catholic schools to take in Archbishop Murphy or leave empty holes in their schedules and take forfeits for those dates.

But the WIAA, as it did in the Bellevue case and as it always does whenever strong leadership is called for, has chosen to wash its hands of the matter.

“Players on both sides are losing the opportunity to represent their schools and communities on the football field,” said WIAA Executive Director Mike Colbrese. 

Tsk, tsk, tsk.

“The WIAA understands how valuable these opportunities are for all students,” he went on.

Blah, blah, blah.

The WIAA said that it would work with schools to “examine” the 2017 schedule.

Blah, blah, blah.

*********** Whew.  Remember some of the things you said when you were in a car with your buddies? Suppose one of them was recordng everything that was  said. Aren't you glad you decided not to run for President?

Not excusing what Trump is accused of saying, but there sure is a double standard at work here.

Anybody else remember when Billy Clinton's perjury was excused by the Dems because it was "about sex?"

If you do, you'll remember their argument: "Everybody lies about sex."

"How to explain to your daughters the meaning of what Trump said, " went a recent headline to a story expressing shock at what Donald Trump said years ago. I'm willing to bet the writer  saw absolutely nothing wrong with the PRESIDENT  OF THE UNITED STATES GETTING A BLOW JOB IN THE OVAL OFFICE.  Or lying about it.

american flag FRIDAY,  OCTOBER 6,  2016   "Don’t be sad that it’s over… Smile because it happened.”  Legendary Dodgers' broadcaster Vin Scully, at the conclusion of his last broadcast

*********** It was the sixth week of the season, a Tuesday practice, and I watched as the scout team’s nose man blew up our play.

“What the heck happened?” I yelled to our center.

“I blocked Thomas,” he said, indicating the man to his left.

“Wait a minute,” I said.  “You had a man on your nose… and you blocked a man to your left? What does your card say?”  (I’m referring to the play card that all of our players wear on their wrists, telling them in brief what their assignments are.)

“On, Away,” he answered.

"And you blocked the man Away?"

"Yes, Coach."

And then it hit me.   I said, “Bob, did you think that ‘On, Away’ was a choice you could make?”

“Yes, Coach,” was his reply.  Bingo.

Mea culpa.   It was my fault. 

I had never thought it necessary to explain to him that blocking rules were a list of things he was to do, in order of their importance. Like triage.   First, “On” if there was a man “On” him,  then “Away” if there wasn’t a man on him.

For years, I had - mistakenly, it turns out - simply assumed that all kids understood this to be the case.

It’s the first time that had ever happened, and it’ll be the last.

Coaching is teaching, and I’d made a mistake as a teacher of assuming that a player knew something that I should have taught him.

*********** Josh Norman of the Washington Team-That-Must-Not-Be-Named celebrated an interception in Sunday’s game by pretending to shoot an arrow into the air. 

Oh. My. God.

The action cost his team a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and - upon further review by the League Office (which as we all know comes down VERY hard on ALL objectionable actions by its players) - he was fined TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS.

And that’s today’s NFL news.

*********** Oh, wait.  There is more NFL news, and it’s not good for Big Football.

TV ratings for the season continue to plummet, partly because of widespread disgust at the narcissistic acts of “protesting” players, and partly because of growing public awareness of something I’ve contended for years - the NFL’s product sucks.

I’ve made no secret  of my dislike of the NFL, but although there are plenty of reasons why I wouldn’t miss it, I can’t in good conscience root for it to disappear.

Twice in my life, I’ve been left out of work when a league folded - the last time was in Portland, Oregon, in 1975.  I was 3,000 miles from “home” (in the East).  I had no immediate job prospects. But I liked the area, my wife had a job teaching, and our four kids were in good schools - we didn’t have the money to move back anyhow.  That’s when I decided it was time to put away my pro football fantasies and get my teaching certificate and into high school coaching. 

Fortunately, things worked out well for me and my family.

But I saw way too many good people lose their jobs in those collapses.  And although it’s unlikely that the NFL will ever vanish, the fact is that there are plenty of good people in the NFL, too - players, coaches, trainers, equipment people, front office people - who would suffer if that were to happen and I wouldn’t wish hard times on them.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t mind if there were an economic version of a “clean bomb” that would wipe out only the jerks and fools and leave the rest of the NFL intact.

Meantime, brace yourself for the annual  Pink Tsunami, the NFL’s extortion-payment-disguised-as-campaign-to-raise-awareness-of-breast-cancer.

*********** I have nothing against Riddell - good company, good products, good people.  They’ve been through a lot and still managed to stay in business, and  they do have a right to sell products when and where they can - but I find their recent offer to sell high school coaches shirts combining  the very worst of everything the NFL stands for  -  pandering to females and false patriotism - to be detestable.  Not to mention ugly as sin.

pink jerseycamo jersey

*********** Did someone on the inside at Texas leak the story that Charlie Strong will be fired at the end of the season so the Longhorns can jump out front in the Tom Herman sweepstakes?

*********** This Saturday’s Oregon-Washington game could be a “defining moment,” as the cliche goes, for both programs.

For the Huskies, ranked Number Five, a win would solidity their spot on top of the Pac-12 North, not to mention putting an end to their once-unthinkable 12-game losing streak in the series.

For the Ducks, well…

Oregon has lost three in a row, and the last loss, a 51-33 thumping by Washington State, was ugly. Lots of the Ducks’ fans are unhappy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that coach Mark Helfrich is in trouble.  He’s part of a steady line of Oregon head coaches - Helfrich, Chip Kelly, Mike Bellotti and Rich Brooks - that began in the mid-1970s.  Following Rich Brooks, every Oregon coach - including Kelly, who was hired to be Bellotti’s offensive coordinator - has been promoted from the Oregon staff.

Anyhow, regardless of how Oregon finishes, the decision on whether Helfrich stays or goes will depend heavily on the wishes of Nike founder and Oregon alum Phil Knight, once called by UCLA’s Bob Toledo “the best owner in college football.”

*********** It seems to me that the best time to ask the higher-ups for something is when your position is strong. 

Yet there was Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson, now 3-2 after embarrassing back-to-back beat-downs by Clemson and Miami, daring to question the “commitment” of… of… of…

The Georgia Tech higher-ups?

Speaking at his weekly press conference, he said,

“…if you say you want to be on this level, then you have to be committed to be on that level and you have to do what those people are doing. It’s as simple as that.”

(“Those people,” he made clear, were the ACC powers.  Clemson.  And probably Florida State.)

“Do you think we have the same things Clemson does?” He asked those in attendance.

When they answered, “No,” Johnson replied, “How can the expectation be to beat them?”

Interestingly,  Tech has just hired a new AD from Oregon State, a former GT player named Todd Stansbury, who has yet to arrive in Atlanta.

The coach’s words sound as if they might have been aimed at the new AD; I can’t believe  it hasn’t occurred to the coach that the new AD may have been hired specifically  to fire the head football coach.

***********  Russ Vaughn in American Thinker summed up Tuesday night’s “debate”  as well as anyone could…

If the best casting director in Hollywood went in search of the perfect actor to play a typical know-it-all, smug, smarmy liberal to represent the Democratic Party on the vice presidential debate stage Tuesday night, he could not possibly have made a better selection than Tim Kaine.  This was my first opportunity to see this potential president-in-waiting in action, and all I can say is that this sneering motor-mouth, who immediately began a pattern of repetitive and, I believe, intentional interruptions of his opponent and continued it as long as the moderator would let him get away with it, was woefully less than impressive.

Kaine was a squeaky-voiced, unctuous reminder of far too many of the self-righteous liberals I've had to contend with in my long life.  You know the type: rolling the eyes, shaking the head to deliver their not so subliminal message that we're just so totally smarter than you are that you can't possibly understand what we're saying.  We've all seen it, in the past mostly within our own families, but in the last few years it has become the standard form of public liberal discourse.  There is only one side, and that is theirs.  They know it all, and if you disagree, you are a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal, and they're entitled to smirk snottily about it.

That is exactly the role Tim Kaine played on his opening night on the world stage, and I must say he did it flawlessly.  Not everyone can play such an irritating jerk so convincingly, depicting to perfection the arrested adolescence that is the defining characteristic of liberalism, and do it so well before such a huge audience.

I guess congratulations are in order: hey, Timmie, you really showed us deplorables, kid!

*********** I can't believe that this ad campaign is going to sell much beer, but...

What would YOU say if you were grilling and a guy (played by an actor widely known to be gay) came up to you and asked , “CAN I FLIP YOUR MEAT?”

*********** Now that cultural appropriation has become the newest no-no among the habitually offended, this Hallowe’en is going to be pretty dull on college campuses.

I suggest Hallowe’en parties with a “Serious Student” theme.  Participants would come dressed as “Serious Students” -  the only group left on campus small enough and quiet enough not to claim to be victims of microaggression.

*********** Thought you'd get a kick out of these two photos....Varsity in Black, JV in white, both quite engrossed with their wrist's working out so well. I can't thank you enough.

Hi to Connie.

Rick Davis
Plymouth, Massachusetts


***********  Father John Jenkins, President of Notre Dame, writes in the Wall Street Journal that it’s not the business of the NCAA to take stances “on restrooms and other contentious social issues.”

… it is not the role of the NCAA to employ the economic power it derives from member universities to attempt to influence the outcome of the legal process or change legislation. When it comes to complex, contentious social issues, universities have a critical role to play in fostering reflection, discussion and informed debate. No matter how popular or profitable certain college sports become, athletic associations should not usurp that role. I was particularly disheartened that the NCAA took action without consulting its member universities.

The role of such associations is to foster athletic competition that is fair and serves the well-being of student-athletes. There is plenty of work for them to do in that sphere without assuming the role of spokesperson for their members on contentious political and social issues.

***********  Coach,

Two weeks ago the Trojans traveled to Bushnell-West Prairie.  I missed the game to attend my father-in-law's funeral.  My first Friday night off in twenty-four years.  With a veteran staff and a solid group of boys I had little worries.  We were 50 points better than them.  And then "one of those nights" happened.  One of our two-way starters (running back/linebacker and two-year captain) was late for our pre-game classroom session because he was having one heck of a bowel movement.  Our always reliable all-conference guard forgot his shoulder pads.  The officials decided that our tight ends certainly WERE NOT inside the free blocking zone (no pre-game talk with them because I wasn't there).  Two fumbles inside the ten in the first quarter.  In general, we were in a funk all night.  Fortunately, we kept pounding and pulled away in the 4th quarter.  Trojans win 34-6 to improve to 5-0.  (My family spent the night at the Pittsburgh Pirates game and I had a Yeungling...thought of you).

Last week we played tradition-rich Illini West.  One week after our "bad" game of the year we hit on all cylinders.  440 yards rushing on 42 carries.  5 of 7 passing for 57 yards and a touchdown.  Limited them to less than 175 yards total offense.  Special teams created turnovers.  Six different players scored.  48-0.  Trojans are 6-0.

And this week we make the eight mile drive to play the 6-0 Farmington Farmers.  You know the town.  That little corner tap is still there.  Conference championship on the line.  The players all know each other.  The fans all know each other (I think there is a bit of wagering going on).  Should be an awesome night for football.  Their passing attack against the double wing.  As my good friend Greg Koenig says, DWWD.  Playoff atmosphere before the playoffs get here.

Best of luck to you and the Hyaks.
Todd Hollis
Elmwood High School
Elmwood, Illinois


Very sorry about your father-in-law.  Only something major like that can take a coach from his team.

No matter how well-prepared a team is, no matter how seemingly weak the opponent may be, there is nothing like the captain’s steady hand on the wheel.

I thought immediately of something I’d written years ago, about Army’s great Earl Blaik…

The Cadets opened the 1944 seasons with four lopsided wins, before having a mild scare, trailing Duke 7-6 at halftime, before earning a hard-fought 27-7 victory.

The real challenges - Notre Dame, Penn and Navy - lay ahead. No Blaik team had ever beaten any of the three. In fact, Blaik's teams had yet even to score against Notre Dame, and as for Navy, Army had now lost four straight to the Midshipmen.

Blaik wanted desperately to beat those teams - so much so that on the day the Cadets played lightly-regarded Villanova, he and a group of assistants went instead to Baltimore to watch Navy and Notre Dame play, leaving his team in the hands of assistant coach Andy Gustafson.

At breakfast on the train to Baltimore, a fellow diner recognized Blaik, and reminded him that the great Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne had once done the same thing Blaik was now doing; that while Rockne was on the road scouting a future opponent, the Irish were upset by Carnegie Tech.

One of Blaik's assistants, sitting opposite him at the table, said he watched the coach turn pale at hearing the story.  Blaik informed the gentleman that he himself remembered the incident well; in fact, he had seen Rockne at the game in question - it was, in fact, an Army-Navy game. Unnerved, Blaik got up left the dining car, his breakfast left uneaten. As it turned out, he had little reason to worry - Army defeated Villanova, 83-0.

I would love to see the game against Farmington.  Small-town, small-school football at its best!

(Back in 1989 or 1990, I was doing color for Portland State TV, and the Vikings played at Western Illinois.  On the way from the airport in Peoria to McComb, where Western is located, we drove through Farmington.  Apparently it's about halfway between St. Louis and Chicago, and right on a corner  in the heart of town, there's a tavern that makes it known it doesn't want to make enemies of any baseball fans - the wall slong one street is painted in Chicago Cubs' red-and-blue and the Cubs' logo; the door is right on the corner, and around it, the wall on the other street is totally St. Louis Cardinals.)

PS- A friend in Louisiana who’s seen your name on my site sent me a link to a Facebook article about the video your sons did in support of their sisters.  Priceless.

*********** I have a great deal of admiration for Army’s great coach Earl “Red” Blaik.  HIs book, “You Have to Pay the Price,”written with Tim Cohane, was a guide to me in my early days of coaching, when I was pretty much on my own without an  mentor to rely on.  Several years ago I did a short rewrite of the book, and I think you’ll enjoy reading it.

american flag TUESDAY,  OCTOBER 3,  2016   "As coaches we represent one of the few remaining organized systems for demanding discipline of young men. Their education will not be complete if it does not include the discipline and generosity that can come from being a team member, if it does not include an awareness of responsibility to others. We are "people coaches," not just "football coaches."  Ara Parseghian

The North Beach Hyaks fell to rival Raymond Friday night, 46-20. 

North Beach and Raymond played even-steven for a half,  with Raymond scoring just before halftime to take a 20-14 lead.

By halftime, the Hyaks had rushed for nearly 150 yards - converted tight end Ben Poplin alone ran for 122 - and QB Brenden Chaney had thrown his first touchdown pass of the year.

But then the wheels came off.

The Hyaks’ lack of depth exacted its toll, as injuries sustained in last week’s game  required  offensive and defensive lineups with four men playing in unfamiliar positions.   The final Raymond score was symbolic of the night’s frustration: suddenly realizing that he was supposed to be in the game, an inexperienced defensive tackle was just running onto the field  as Raymond snapped the ball - and ran  a play right through his vacant position.   What are the odds?

It was North Beach’s worst loss in four seasons, and its first loss in league play since 2013.

The loss leaves the Hyaks 2-3 overall and 0-1 in league.

Friday night, it’s Homecoming, against Ocosta.  Finally - another home game. 

Our second of the season.

WTF?  If you’re a small, underfunded college program that has to go on the road in order to stay afloat financially, I can understand.  But how in the hell does a high school team wind up playing  four of its first five games on the road?  (Actually, I know the answer, and I’ve been pissed since I first saw the schedule back in the spring.)

*********** “For a place like Michigan State, the head football coach and the football team is the biggest element that a university has in terms of maintaining relationships with its constituents, whether they are in East Lansing or Hong Kong. If you’re an alum thinking about giving money, if what you hear about the football team is positive, you’ll write a check.”  

Former Michigan State athletics director Merritt Norvell on why he believes MSU’s Mark Dantonio (and other winning big-time college football coaches) are worth the money they’re paid.

*********** Coach Ken Hampton, of Raleigh, North Carolina, sent me an article about Bobby Wilder, the head coach at Old Dominion, whose belief it is that we coaches should listen more to our players…

Late last week, Wilder met with his team captains and they came to the decision that they would join hands with coaches and their teammates in a circle before the game against UTSA in response to the latest shootings in Charlotte. Wilder called the gesture the “circle of unity” and it has made national waves in the week since. The Saints and Falcons even did something similar a few days later during Monday Night Football.

This weekend, Wilder and ODU will be joined in the circle of unity by their opponent and Charlotte head coach Brad Lambert.

“This is gaining momentum,” Wilder says proudly during the interview. “We respect everyone’s freedom of speech, but let’s start doing things to unify the country rather than add to the noise.”

“When I listen to our players, they want their voices heard, and they feel right now like the adults, the politcians, the people that make policy, are not hearing them.”

“This is a shoutout to college coaches all over the country, you’d better get in your locker room and meeting rooms with your players and you better listen to them. Take your attention a little bit away from your third down defense, and your red zone offense right now and open your ears, listen to your players, and respond to what they’re feeling because they need to channel what they’re feeling right now. They cannot have that suppressed.”

“I made it very clear – if I suppressed their ability to express themselves, then I am part of the problem, I’m not part of the solution and there are too many people right now that are not listening to our young people. They have a powerful voice, and they need to be heard.”

My take?  Sounds like the 1960s all over again, when there were coaches who let their players vote on the starting lineups.

Call me old-fashioned, but  with all due respect for Coach Wilder, I think he's got his priorities ass-backwards.

In my opinion, what’s needed is for these kids,  many of whom come from single-mom households and haven’t had men of substance in their lives, to listen to their coaches.

“Listen to our players?” Are you serious?  Today’s college players? Come on. Way too few of them are serious students,  and fewer still are sufficiently  informed on any serious topic to warrant a coach’s listening to them.  A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, especially if they don't know that they don't know.

Which brings up the real issue - what today’s players really need are coaches worth listening to.  They need men who are more than one-dimensional x-and-o guys - men who can really talk to them intelligently about life and issues - and unfortunately, most big-time coaches are not well-rounded people.  They’re minimally educated, they’re not well-read, they’re not well-informed on the issues, and they have very little real-world experience.

Unfortunately, the nature of the business they’re in does not reward them for expanding their minds.  The sad fact is that coaches who care for their players off the field as well as on, coaches who can educate and advise,  get fired just as fast for losing as those who couldn’t care less about their players.

*********** Along somewhat the same lines as the previous article, I received this from a friend who's a West Point graduate and said he got it from a classmate…

In  Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA's   convention.

While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here? Oh, man, worth every penny of my airfare.”

Who is John Scolinos, I wondered. No matter; I was just happy to be there.

In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate.

Seriously, I wondered, who is this guy?
After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage.Then, finally …“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility. 

“I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.” Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room.

“Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?”

After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches?”, more of a question than answer.
“That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth’s day? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?”

Another long pause.

“Seventeen inches?” a guess from another reluctant coach.
“That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”
“Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.
“You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”
“Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.
“Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”

 “Seventeen inches!”
“RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues?”

“Seventeen inches!”
“SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls. “And what do they do with a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to  Pocatello !” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter.

“What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Jimmy. You can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches or nineteen inches.  We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.'” Pause.

“Coaches…” pause, "… what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice? When our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him? Do we widen home plate? The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold.

He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We widen the plate!”

Pause. Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag. “This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”
Silence. He replaced the flag with a Cross. “And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate for themselves!  And we allow it.”
“And the same is true with our government. Our so called representatives make rules for us that don’t apply to themselves.  They take bribes from lobbyists and foreign countries. They no longer serve us. And we allow them to widen home plate and we see our country falling into a dark abyss while we watch.”
I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curveballs and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable. From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.
“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools & churches & our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …” With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside, “… dark days ahead.”
Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches, including mine. Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach. His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players—no matter how good they are—your own children, your churches, your government, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches."
And this my friends is what our country has become and what is wrong with it today, and how to fix it.  "Don't widen the plate."  An absolutely great speech

Interestingly, the author of the piece turned out to be a guy named Chris Sperry, who was a high schooler in Vancouver, Washington when I was coaching there.  He went to a different high school and didn’t play football, but he was an American Legion teammate of several of my players who also played baseball.  After his playing days were over, he had a long and successful career as head baseball coach at the University of Portland.  I was so impressed that I had to write him to compliment him on his writing skills - and tell him how important a piece he’d written:

Chris,  I was forwarded a copy of your story about John  Scolinos and the 17-inch home plate. Unfortunately, it was not attributed to you, and I only discovered that you were the writer after I did some research on Coach Scolinos.  As a longtime football coach at Hudson's Bay I've followed your career over the years,  and I must say that few things you've done on the field can compare to this bit of wisdom which you've shared with others.  I'm still coaching and I'm trying to pass along to other coaches what I've learned, and I intend to reprint your article on my site ( - and make sure that people know where it came from.  Thanks on behalf of coaches and teachers everywhere.

*********** Hello Coach,

I was watching your new Disk 4 and and had a good laugh when you explained the bison formation. I'm glad you clarified that Folks in Winnipeg and North Dakota pronounce it BIZON. I'm a big NDSU fan.

Matthew Hedger
Langdon, North Dakota

*********** Whatever you may think of LSU’s interim head coach Ed Orgeron, the guy can coach.  It was well known that he could recruit, but after the great job he did as USC’s interim head coach and now after the Tigers’ smashing of Missouri Saturday, there shouldn’t be any doubt that he can manage a staff and get a team ready to play.

I like the guy because he is not your usual coach-speak type.  He is a Cajun (I hesitate to say Coonass) from the bayou Country of Southeast Louisiana and he hasn’t left his roots behind.  He talks straight and he talks in the part- French-accent, part-drawl of the bayous.  You half expect him to jump in a swamp boat and go catch him some gators.

He evidently is very popular among the locals.  Shouldn't be surprising. After all, he’s one of them.

Following Saturday’s game, he told about his first week doing the coach’s radio show.

He said he had a caller who said, excitedly, “Finally - an LSU coach who doesn’t have an accent!”

With eight seconds remaining, and within range of a game-winning field goal, a local high school team spiked the ball to stop the clock.

Tsk, tsk.

They were a shotgun team and didn’t know the rules: unless you’re under center when you spike it, it’s intentional grounding.

Backed up by the penalty, they missed a 51-yarder at the gun.

*********** When he was young, Joakim Noah was an immature ass. He's a little older now, but the years don't seem to have changed him in the slightest.  He's still an ass.

Recently he chose not to show up with his teammates for a meal with West Point Cadets, after the Knicks had been practicing there.

Said it was because he's "anti-war." 

Uh, dipsh--, so are most of those cadets.   They don't want to go to war, either, but the difference between them and you is that they know that a strong defense - which means being prepared for war  - is the surest guarantee of our liberties.

But not all NBA players are idiots!

And, yes, there are coaches who really are leaders of men.

***********   A Maryland high school football coach is facing a second-degree assault charge after  allegedly punching a player on the sidelines  of a game in early September.

According to the police report, the coach was screaming and using “vulgar language” on the sidelines and when a 17-year-old player got into an argument with him, he struck the player with his fist.

The player was wearing full gear and was not injured, and the coach apologized to the player on the bus afterwards.

The coach also texted the kid's father several times.

All to no avail.

The kid's father filed charges and the ugliness has begun.

***********  According to  CBS Los Angeles...

Mary Campos said her pre-booked ticket was given away by United Airlines. The reason? She’s a woman, and two men didn’t want to sit next to a female.

A million-mile flier, Campos, a mom who lives in Coto de Caza, said she thought she’d seen it all – until a gate agent handed her a new boarding pass just before she got on a flight to Houston last Monday.

“He said, ‘This is your new seat,’” Campos said, “and I said, ‘Excuse me?’ And he said, ‘I don’t know how to tell you this.’”

She said she continued by saying, “Yes?”

And the agent told her, “The two gentlemen seated next to you have cultural beliefs that prevent them for sitting next to, talking to or communicating with females.”

Hard to believe this actually happened.  You'd think even United would have been smart enough to say, "Gentlemen, we'll be happy to try to book you on a later flight..."

*********** Watching North Carolina beat  Florida State, I was reminded of how long it’s taken the NCAA to nail the Tarheels for what surely would have earned them, in another time, a death penalty sentence,  yet it was able in a heartbeat to pull NCAA championship events from the state of North Carolina because of some twisted liberal notion that trannies should be welcomed into women’s restrooms.

*********** I have a VERY tough time watching John Gruden, and it’s mostly because of those f—king hands.  Somebody must have sent these TV types to Gesticulation Academy, because it’s everywhere - check out Samantha Ponder - but nowhere more so than with Gruden.  And now I notice that Jesse Palmer, who really isn’t that bad to listen to, has an advanced case of Gruden hands.

*********** Call it karma…

An excessive celebration penalty against Georgia, assessed on a kickoff, allowed Tennessee to get close enough to the Georgia goal to throw a final Hail Mary pass into the end zone - touchdown Vols.

The 49ers, infested with self-absorbed louts who  can’t stand respectfully for our national anthem, are now 1-3. 
Would their record be any worse if team management had simply said, “Stand respectfully or hit the road?”  (I happen to have a few beefs of my own with our government, but it would never occur to me not to stand and honor our flag or our national anthem).

*********** If Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson wasn’t on the hot seat before Saturday, he’s got to be on one now.

Not only has the offense for which he’s famous - and, often, derided - been failing to put up points, but in the space of a couple of minutes Saturday, Miami scored three times.  Two of the touchdowns were scoop-and-scores after miscues by the Tech offense.

I’d hate to see Coach Johnson get fired, because there's almost zero chance that his replacement will run a triple option, which means a fun-to-watch offense could be headed for extinction at the major college level.

*********** Did I tell you to watch the Washington Huskies?  They picked a good weekend to have that big win against Stanford, with higher-ranked Louisville, Wisconsin and, of course, Stanford, falling.

*********** You easterners probably didn’t stay up to watch the Washington State Cougars make the once-mighty Oregon Ducks look like a pretty ordinary team.

The Cougs beat the Ducks, 51-33.

Given great protection, their quarterback, Luke Falk,  picked the Ducks apart.  And they sacked the crap out of Oregon’s Dakota Prukop, including one sack for a safety.  The Ducks simply couldn’t handle a Cougar defensive lineman from Hawaii appropriately named Hercules Mata’afa.

What was most shocking about the game was that WSU’s pass-happy offense, often mocked for its one-dimensionality, gashed the Ducks on the ground - for six touchdowns and nearly 300 yards rushing.

Asked after the game about the uncharacteristic success of his running attack, WSU’s Mike Leach said, dryly,

“Maybe before I retire I’ll do nothing but throw for an entire game.  And then the next game, I’ll do nothing but run.    And then people will say we’re balanced.”

But then, probably realizing what a great quote that was, and that it was likely to be attributed incorrectly to him, he quickly gave credit where it belonged:  “I got that from June Jones.”

*********** Last week I wrote about the idiocy of allowing games to  go way too long, mainly because of unnecessary stopping of the clock every time someone throws an incomplete pass.

So Saturday, I very punctually tuned in the Navy-Air Force game at the time scheduled, only to find that the East Carolina-Central Forida game was still going on.  Not to worry, I thought - the score was 40-21 in UCF’s favor, with under two minutes to play (the figure 1:47 sticks in my mind, but I can’t be sure).  How long could that possibly take?

Answer: L-o-o-o-ng.

It seemed as if the clock stopped after every stinking play.

It went something like this: incomplete… first down… complete, then out of bounds… incomplete… complete, first down… touchdown… Pat… commercial… Kickoff… UCF scores…Pat…commercial…kickoff… and so forth.

Finally, ECU fumbled and UCF took a knee. 

Upshot: It took TWENTY MINUTES to play the last two minutes of a f—king runaway.

*********** For an Aussie footballer, winning the Grand Final - their Super Bowl, if you will - is the dream of a lifetime.

And when you’re the winning coach,  of a  club that hadn’t won a Grand Final in most people’s lifetimes (62 years to be exact), it’s extra special.

Every member of the winning team - and the team’s coach - receives a gold medal.  And that’s it - only the coach and the players who were on the active roster for that one final game. (Unlike the NFL, where the winning team typically buys Super Bowl rings for everybody in the f—king organization, right down to the ball boys.)

The rule is so strict that not even the captain of this year's  winning squad, who was unable to play in the Grand Final because of an injury suffered during an earlier playoff game, got a gold medal.

And so as the 90,000 people at the Melbourne Cricket Grounds remained afterwards to watch the winning Western Bulldogs receive their gold medals, they witnessed an unforgettable moment in sport as the Bulldogs’ coach, Luke Beveridge, stepped to the microphone and, removing his gold medal from around his neck, asked  team captain Bob Murphy  to come and accept it.

*********** Some tool wearing a gorilla costume ran onto the field at the Bears-Lions game and led security a merry chase until he was finally corralled.

I wouldn’t have watched the game if it were on - it wasn’t - but I’m willing to bet they’d make sure the cameras didn’t let the viewers see the action.

See, they don’t want us seeing it because… because… because I’m not sure why.

Funny, because they’re careful to make sure that we see the idiots giving their country the finger during the national anthem.

And that’s it for this week’s NFL coverage.  See you next week with more NFL excitement, should any occur.

*********** Life in a liberal paradise…

If you’re anything close to normal, it’s not always easy living among the fruits and nuts in a place like Seattle.

If you’re a youth football coach, practice means going to the park - the one that you pay the city to use - and finding homeless tents on your field.  It means picking up used discarded needles.  It means being attacked by their dogs.

And it means being ignored by the police when you call for help.  (In fairness, they almost certainly  have their orders not to touch the precious homeless.)

And it means laws that make it increasingly difficult to remove the vagrants -  and even then giving them 48 hours to leave.

american flag FRIDAY,  SEPTEMBER 30,  2016   "We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts."  Aristotle

*********** Bill Lawlor, longtime Illinois coach at the high school and youth level and winner of numerous Bill George League state titles, wrote me…


If you have five minutes and need a good laugh during a break today then you should read this and hopefully learn to "Master The Double Wing."   Just click on See His Tips......You think Hudl was making enough money that they could hire some football guys to vet their marketing e-mails.   I thought the open wing DVD's were great and I will save my questions for the off season.  Good Luck tomorrow! 

Wow. Here’s a guy presumably an expert on "the double wing" (why else would Hudl put him out there?)  and he's advising gullible youth coaches to …

Use Wide Splits

This is one of the pillars of Beeson’s offenses. He has all his linemen at least two feet apart, creating natural holes for his backs to slither through.

Beeson’s strategy is to simply have his linemen keep their man from making the tackle long enough for the back to get by. He doesn’t need his linemen driving the opposition 10 yards downfield.

“We know the defender is not going to be able to cheat off and shoot that gap,” Beeson said. “We believe with that two-foot block, all we need to do is get a body on him and execute one thing – don’t let him make a tackle. It doesn’t have to appear as if we drive him downfield. We’re just keeping him where the ball is not.”

Don't Double Team

Beeson sometimes drives his players crazy with how much time he spends on teaching them their blocking assignments, even lining up laundry baskets on the field. But the athletes have them down pat when the game starts, and Beeson believes this gives him the opportunity to win every one-on-one battle.

“When you double-team, you give free reign to the linebackers, and these linebackers are some of the best athletes on the opposing team,” he said.

“That’s a worst-case scenario for me. So what I’ll do is allow a chip block or we’ll cross block it and come around or we’ll also chip, then go to the middle. I don’t want these linebackers active. I want them fighting through traffic at all times.

So go ahead, fellas.  Take those big splits -  those “natural holes” that your backs can “slither through.”  Those guys that say “penetration kills offenses” have no idea what they’re talking about.

And those old-timers who preached double down-kickout-lead through?   What the hell did they know?

Good luck.  You are in for a shock.

*********** Ever been willing to give up the ball to get out of  bad field position?   Ever punted on third down? 

The chess guys have a word  - “Zugzwang” - a German word that basically means  a position in which a player is in a bad spot and it’s his move -  and he’d rather not move because anything he does is likely to make things worse for him.

*********** Milt Tenopir, architect of the great Nebraska lines that made power football a Cornhusker trademark, has died.

The most important lesson for young guys with aspirations of coaching at a higher level is to learn of the price he paid to become a college coach:

He had already had a good run as a successful high school coach when he dropped it all and took a giant step back…

He posted a 76-34-1 high school coaching record. His final years of high school coaching were in McCook (Nebraska) before he sold everything, including his house, to become a grad assistant at Nebraska in 1974. He was promoted to full-time by Tom Osborne in 1979.

"I hired three high school coaches — Milt at McCook, Frank Solich at Lincoln Southeast and Dan Young at Omaha Westside — as grad assistants, and they left good jobs and made big sacrifices to come to Nebraska," Osborne told the Journal Star on Monday. "Milt was one of the main reasons we had good offensive lines after good offensive lines every year."

While he rose to be a giant in his profession, Tenopir just as fondly recalled when he was an up-and-comer in Lincoln. He remembered getting about $1,000 his first year as a grad assistant. He also drove a dump truck in the day and painted houses at night.

*********** The Beloit (Kansas) Trojans are off to a great start this year, and at least some of it has to be due to their motivation.

They’re playing for Noah Smith, a loved and respected teammate who was killed in an automobile accident in the offseason…

*********** Not sure what this says about the men at Cornell, but…

Cornell students passed a student-sponsored referendum to provide free tampons and pads in all Cornell bathrooms, with 78.6 percent of 3,034 voting students casting a ballot in favor.

The "#FreetheTampon" initiative aims to provide all bathrooms on campus of both genders—yes, men’s too—with free menstrual products throughout the year, and comes shortly after Brown University recently implemented a similar program. 

The reasoning behind stocking both men’s and women’s restrooms with feminine products is that not all people who menstruate are women, when accounting for the transgender population.

*********** Still on the campus front...

A group of student activists at Texas A&M University is demanding that the school incorporate a mandatory anti-racism class into the core curriculum.

What’s more, the group of students, known as “TAMU Anti-Racism” is also demanding that the university implement penalties for any sort of racist behavior. 

“We have three main pillars we want to see accomplished,” student member Emilio Bernal told The Battalion. “We want this mandatory class, more minority students and faculty on campus, and for there to be penalties for racist behavior on campus.”

Said one of the students, “Racial justice is just as important as mathematics, English, and science.”

*********** Some dumbass picked the wrong Trump supporter to give sh-- to on a recent flight…

***********  NFL Week 3 Overnights: Debate Sends MNF to Likely Record Low

It would not have been much of a draw under any conditions, but against the first presidential debate, Falcons/Saints was about as minuscule a draw as Monday Night Football has ever seen.

The Week 3 Falcons/Saints Monday Night Football game earned a 5.7 overnight rating, down 36% from Chiefs/Packers last year (8.9), down 38% from Bears/Jets in 2014 (9.2) and the lowest for any NFL telecast through the first three weeks of the season. Ratings peaked at a 6.9 from 8:45-9 PM ET, the final quarter-hour before the debate started.

The 5.7 is likely the lowest in the history of Monday Night Football. Complete overnight records were unavailable, but the lowest final rating in franchise history is a 5.1. No other MNF telecast has gone lower than 5.7 in the final nationals.

Coverage aired opposite the first presidential debate, which had a combined 46.2 rating across nine broadcast and cable networks. The last time MNF faced a presidential debate, Week 7 in 2012, Lions/Bears scored a 7.3 overnight. That game faced both a presidential debate and Game 7 of the MLB National League Championship Series.

ESPN’s telecast earned a 14.1 rating in Atlanta and a 12.5 in New Orleans. Coverage was simulcast on local affiliates in both markets, earning a 25.8 on New Orleans NBC affiliate WDSU. Local affiliate ratings in Atlanta were not immediately available. Denver was the top neutral market with an 8.7, with Richmond (7.7) and Nashville (7.4) rounding out the top five.

*********** Amazing - here's an article on how/why the NFL’s TV ratings are down and it never mentions Colin Kaepernick.  It must have been written by the same government official who notes that five women were shot and killed at a  mall by a guy who came here from Turkey  and then informs us that police are still looking for a motive…

*********** By the way, the guy who killed five people in Washington last week, although not a citizen (he is a “permanent legal resident”), has voted in three elections.  (All you have to do in Washington to register online is to affirm that you are a citizen.)

Nowhere could I find how many times he'd voted in those elections.

So here we have people running for President of the United States who lie openly and brazenly - and yet we’re expected to take the word of someone who comes here from a Third World country and brings his values with him?  (Gee - I wonder which way he votes.)

Not to worry, says the Washington Secretary of State, who’s in charge of such matters: “we want to make sure that everybody has confidence that people casting ballots are eligible.”

Yeah, right.  Of course we have confidence.  With online registration and mail-in voting, what could possibly go wrong?

And,  as we all know, requiring voter ID is a right-wing, racist plot to suppress voting.

Nothing to worry about here, folks.

*********** From Sports Business Daily...

Three longtime sports media execs are planning to launch a spring football league by ’18. Former NBC, TBS and MSG exec Michael Lardner, former NBC, CBS, TBS and WWE exec Rex Lardner and MSG CFO Robert Pollichino are behind the Spring League of American Football (SLAF). The league plans to launch with 10 teams playing a 10-game regular-season schedule that runs from April through early July.

The league will place teams in regional areas, like the Texas/Southwest region and the Florida/Southeast region, and will feature players that have some sort of geographic affiliation to the area. The three execs say they are negotiating with additional ownership groups and media companies, and expect to have more announcements later this year or early next year.

I wish them all the luck, but I'm highly skeptical,  because if it made any sense the NFL would have already been on it. In fact, they already have - and they’ve given up on it.

But one thing I have maintained for some time is that the colleges are leaving a lot of money on the table by not playing at least one spring game.

Oh well,  what the hell - at least it’ll be football.   And it’s not my money.   Just so long as they either do away with the national anthem or the dolts who refuse to stand for it.

american flag TUESDAY,  SEPTEMBER 27,  2016   “When it is absolutely a question of the safety of one’s country, there must be no question of just or unjust, of merciful or cruel, of praiseworthy or disgraceful; instead, setting aside every scruple, one must follow to the utmost every plan that will save her life and keep her liberty.” Niccolo Machiavelli

*********** One definite caveat if you play ball-control offense:   make sure you stay on offense.

That philosophy worked well for us Friday night against a tough opponent, Kalama.  

Up to a point.

We stayed on offense, moving the ball in long stretches while playing solid defense. 

For a half.

Thanks to 177 yards rushing and scoring drives of 80 and 55 yards - and sound defensive play - we led, 12-7 at halftime.

But early in the second half, we lost our workhorse A-Back, and - life at a small school - without an adequate replacement,  there went our offense.  With our offense held to just  50 yards in the second half,  our defense spent too much time on the field, and we wound up losing, 28-12.

We’re now 2-2, and this week we begin league play at Raymond.

If you haven’t been counting (I have),  that’ll make four away games in our first five games.  Are you kidding me?

*********** There comes that time for all of us, but knowing that doesn’t make the loss of Arnold Palmer any less painful, any less sad.

By any measure - as a golfer, as a businessman, as a man -  he was truly one of the giants of my lifetime.

It’s seldom that a man can achieve the greatness and the worldwide renown of an Arnold Palmer and not alienate some  people along the way, but that was not Arnold Palmer.

He was warm, friendly and considerate of others.  Anyone who knew him, and many more who never did, loved him.

When he began to play golf, the life of most pro golfers was hand-to-mouth.  His wife married him against the better judgement of her father, who wanted better for his daughter than the life of a pro golfer.

He not only grew with the sport of golf, but more than any other single person, with his aggressive, daring style of play he captured the imagination of the public and  helped golf grow into a major sport.

He walked with kings - kings of sport, kings of industry, and real, honest-to-god kings - yet never lost the common touch.

He built a business empire worth untold millions, and could have lived like a lord anywhere in the world, yet he chose to live on the same golf course in Latrobe, Pennsylvania where his father was both the pro and the greenskeeper, and where he first learned to play the game.

My condolences to the people of Latrobe, to whom he meant so much, and to my friend Tom Hinger, a Latrobe native and, like me, an Arnie admirer.

I’m terribly saddened.  We will never see his like again. 

God bless him.

*********** Watch out, Under Armour - you’ve been out-uglied.   Oregon jumped the shark Saturday when they put on Nike-designed costumes instead of uniforms, costumes with orange stockings and shoes meant to look like real duck’s legs and feet. Losing is bad enough.  Losing and being a laughing stock is as bad as it gets.

It takes a certain arrogance to dress in ridiculous getups and then go out and play, and Colorado responded to the insult by winning - right in Autzen Stadium, where at one time visiting teams almost needed the permission of the governor to beat the Ducks.

*********** While Donald Trump is derided for his call to build a fence to keep people out, some in Sweden are proposing a fence -  to keep people in.

With the news that Sweden now has at least 50 “no-go” areas - violent, lawless places inhabited by Muslim immigrants  where even  the police don't dare go, a number of Swedes are suggesting that the only solution is going to be to build walls around those places to keep their inhabitants - and their violence - contained.

*********** After watching a couple of hits delivered to Stanford ball carriers and receivers by UCLA defenders, I’m left wondering what it’s going to take to get Pac-12 officials to call “targeting.”

They pay lip service to player safety but continue to allow defensive backs to assault receivers.

All that is needed is a definition of the term "tackle" - I’d be happy to sit down with a couple of other coaches and a good lawyer and I think we could do it in an hour or so.

For example, where there's contact above the waist of the ball carrier, there would have to be an obvious attempt to grasp.  None of this arms-tucked-in, human missile sh—.

As I said, I’m confident that we could easily draft a definition.

And then, if a hit were to occur that  does not fit the definition, it would by definition not be an attempt to tackle, but by default an attempt to punish (injure).

Targeting by delivering blows above the numbers is a relatively new phenomenon and it has changed the nature of football from a rough game in which the object is to tackle a ball carrier to a vicious, dangerous one in which the object is to harm him. 

It doesn't take a genius to see how this endangers our game.   Be honest - would you want your son - or grandson - exposed to this viciousness?

Most angering to me is that targeting is basically a cowardly act,  the football version of the knockout game, because while the hitter/human missile is delivering a potentially-lethal blow to his helpless victim, there is minimum risk to him.

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

two weeks worth of games to tell you about.  Lost last week vs. tough Canandaigua team 32-14.  it was a 10-7 game (them) through 3 quarters so it was actually a close game for most of the night.  They were tough and we moved the ball but stalled out a few times.  I didn't call my best game and probably "reached" for some offense more than usual rather than be patient.  Tried a few old trick plays (like 47 shuffle) and a halfback pass. Threw a lot more than I probably should have given how it worked out -got off schedule too much.  Anyway we got picked 3 times and thats why the final was a little more lopsided.  

Back to basics last week and renewed focus on Tight formation and the handful of plays that we always run.  Back to trying to attain perfection.  Worked well Friday night.  We rushed 55 times for 643 yards and scored 63 pts.  Alton Jones a JR C back ran 26 for 491 and 7 ads (caught our only pass completion of the night for his 8th TD).  This was a Section V record and is the third best single game rush total for an individual in state history.  He broke 6 long ones of his 7 rushing TDs ranging from 45-80 yards.  5 of them were on 47-C.  It was pretty amazing.  Interestingly enough he had 399 at the half!  His coach (me) was either dumb enough to distribute the ball a little more evenly - or smart enough to "slow the game down" - since we were up 49-32 at half.  Nobody scored in the 3rd quarter as we ate up clock mixing the FB game in quite a bit.  Final was 63-39.   We are 3-1 and face HFL for homecoming this week.  The playoffs look tough as does the rest of our regular season but I like my kids a lot win lose or draw and I think they will give people a run for their money.

John Dowd
Spencerport, New York

*********** Spencerport NY running back Alton Jones set a new upstate New York record Friday night with 491 yards rushing.

The junior rushed for 491 yards on 26 carries, almost 19 yards per carry, to break the Section V single-game rushing record. It ranks third on the state's best single-game rushing performances.

Canandaigua's Kaheem Gist previously held the record with 449 yards rushing in a 2007 game.

Seven of Jones' rushes went for touchdowns, and he added an eighth on a 13-yard reception. His eight scores helped Spencerport (3-1) defeat Irondequoit (2-2) 63-39.

He had 399 rushing yards at halftime.

Here's the important part:  his coach, John Dowd, is an old friend, and I know that he didn't do anything out of the ordinary to set any records.  HIs aim was to win a game.

(Thanks for the link to the story from Coach Russ Meyers of Annapolis, Maryland.)

*********** It took us back a few years, but my friend Don Shipley, whose dad, Dick Shipley, was my coach when I played for the Frederick, Maryland Falcons in 1968 and 1969, emailed me that Wisconsin’s freshman QB, Alex Hornibrook, could be related to John Hornibrook.

John Hornibrook was from the Delaware County, Pennsylvania area.  He had played QB for Miami and, his college career over, was persuaded by the Ridley Township Green Knights, a powerful Philly-area team, to come on board as a backup to their starting QB, a great passer from Temple named John Waller.  We were very impressed that they had signed a guy who’d started at Miami,  but we weren’t aware that an injury to his throwing arm had ended his playing days at Miami.

Anyhow, Alex Hornibrook is also from the Philly area.  He played high school ball at Malvern Prep, a long-time rival of my alma mater, Germantown Academy, and he’s the grand-nephew of John Hornibrook.

Research on John Hornibrook led me to a great story that he was involved in when he played for Miami.  The Hurricanes were playing Florida, and the Gators had the game well in hand.  But their QB, John Reaves, was in reach of Jim Plunkett’s all-time career passing yardage record, and they wanted him to break it.   Trouble was, Miami had the ball.  So the Gator defense flopped - yes, fell to the ground - allowing Hornibrook to roll out and score, untouched.

And then the Gators got the ball back, and Reaves got his record.  I’ll bet he was really proud.

*********** It’s getting very hard to support certain teams… to support the sport of football itself, for that matter…

*********** Before Texas A & M wound up blowing out Arkansas…

The score was 17-17 and Arkansas had driven 94 yards to a 3rd and goal from the 1.  The Hogs were driven back, and failed to score on fourth down.

Seconds later, A & M threw a 92-yard touchdown pass, and the rout was on.

It’s possible for an entire game to hinge on a matter such as making the right call on 3rd and one. (Or, conversely, stuffing your opponent on 3rd and one.)

*********** Tennessee, down 21-3, scored 38 straight points to win 38-28.

*********** WTF Department?

          Mississippi State plays AT UMASS?  Are you kidding me?  Attendance:  13,074. In Gillette Stadium.   Have you ever seen what a crowd like that looks like in Gillette Stadium?

          Vanderbilt plays AT WESTERN KENTUCKY? (And then has to win in OT)

*********** Give Vandy credit - about to be upset by Western Kentucky, they had time for one play to send the game into OT - and they lined up in I formation and ran off-tackle and got the score.  They won in OT when WKU went for two and the win and failed to get it.

*********** Ole Miss finally built a lead that it couldn’t blow, and trounced Georgia.

*********** Notre Dame went up 14-0 over Duke and the game looked to be over, with plenty of the first quarter left to play.

And then Duke returned the kickoff for a TD, and proceeded from there to play the pants off the Irish.

The Notre Dame DC was fired afterwards, as if he was the reason, but the difference, it appeared to me, was that Duke played with the enthusiasm of a bunch of kids who believed they were going to win, while Notre Dame’s players appeared lifeless, resigned to the fact that they were going to lose to a team they were supposed to beat.

Oh - and Duke was exceptionally well prepared and well coached. 

*********** It  may have escaped your attention, but Wake Forest is 4-0.  

*********** Colorado redshirt freshman QB Steven Montez, making his first start, led the Buffs to a win over the Oregon Ducks - at Autzen - with 333 yards passing (23 of 32) and 135 yards rushing.

*********** After the events of the last couple of weeks - the death of a promising young starting corner, followed by a trip to one of the most remote schools in the country - UTEP - where the team played lights-out football to go 3-0, it isn’t hard to believe that Army could have experienced a let-down against Buffalo Saturday night.

Army rushed for 400 yards, but the Black Knights killed several drives with  turnovers and penalties, and  lost their first game of the season, 23-20, in overtime.

They lost their placekicker while making the tackle on the opening kickoff.

That loss wound up hurting Army big-time.  The replacement - who had been the holder - missed one at :03 for the win,  and then missed another one in OT.

Maybe worst of all, on the first play of overtime, a nice gain was nullified by a chop-block penalty.

Maybe the chop blocking had been going on, maybe not.  Whether or not the call was justified, a chop block is a calculated risk when you’re using what amounts to an old-time blocking scheme that often combines one linemen releasing outside an opponent to the next level while the lineman to his backside is trying to cut that same opponent.

Anyhow, YOU try starting OT with a first-and-25.

***********  Up to now,  Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson has been able to keep the hate-that-offense people quiet for one reason - his triple option has worked.  But when Clemson holds it to under 100 yards in the first half, and nothing much works in the second half - think there isn’t trouble in Atlanta?

*********** Samantha Ponder is becoming as overexposed as Erin Andrews once was, and thanks to whoever is coaching her to be overexpressive, she is becoming just as annoying.

*********** The final score was Stanford 22, UCLA 13,  but it’s deceptive - the final Stanford score came on a scoop-and-score on the final play of the game when UCLA QB Josh Rosen was sacked and fumbled.  Something like an empty-net goal in hockey.

*********** You probably didn’t stay up to watch it if you live in the East, but Washington beat Arizona in OT, for the first Huskies’ win in Tucson since 2006.

But that shouldn’t diminish the heroics of ‘Zona QB Brandon Dawkins, playing in place of injured starter Anu Solomon.  Dawkins made an incredible play to tie the game, 28-28 with 17 seconds left to play, and send it into overtime.

He gave the Huskies fits all night, and his stats showed why: 176 yards and two touchdowns rushing, 167 yards and a touchdown passing.

*********** The Baton Rouge Advocate reported Sunday afternoon that Les Miles had been fired as LSU head coach.

To think that he’d still have his job if it hadn’t been for a loss to an Auburn team that needed SIX field goals (you read that right) to do it - not to mention the disallowing of a last-second winning LSU touchdown.

So the hunt is on for Miles’ successor.  In the meantime, old faithful Ed Orgeron will serve as interim head coach, a position he held when he was an assistant at USC at the time Lane Kiffin was fired.

Although LSU will undoubtedly go for a name hire,  but depending on the job he does under trying conditions, they could do a lot worse than Orgeron, a Louisiana guy.

Orgeron did such a good job picking up the pieces after Kiffin - the Trojans were 6-2 under him -  that USC should have hired him, but he wasn’t polished enough for the hoity-toity USC alums.  So they went for  the “polish” and look what they got - Steve Sarkisian.

*********** If LSU is willing to pull the pin on its head coach in mid-season, can USC be next?  How about Notre Dame?  (The Irish, remember, did it to Tyrone Willingham.)

Charlie Weis is rested and ready.

american flag FRIDAY,  SEPTEMBER 23,  2016   "The first and foremost requisite of a good football player is that he must have a burning desire to play the game. There is absolutely no substitute for this." Frank Leahy, legendary  Notre Dame coach

*********** According to a study in the journal Pediatrics, in the 25 years from 1990 and 2014, nearly 3 million American soccer players between the ages of 7 and 17 sustained soccer-related injuries serious enough to send them to a hospital ER.

Part of the reason is that the number of kids playing soccer nearly doubled from 1990 to 2014.

But it’s more than that:  pro-rata, for every 10,000 soccer players, the number ending up in an ER more than doubled during that time.

The most common types of injuries were sprains or strains (35%), then fractures (23%), then soft-tissue injuries (22%) and then concussions.

Major causes of injury were (1) being hit  by a soccer ball or being “hit by, kicked by, stepped on, elbowed or kneed” by another player; (2) falling, tripping, or being tripped; (3) “twisting,” resulting in knee or ankle injuries.

But, going a long way to explain why soccer is loved by today’s overprotective parents, only 6% of the injuries resulted from a collision with another player.

There was an increase in concussions, attributed  possibly to “more aggressive play,”  but almost certainly in part because of the “growing awareness among players, coaches, athletic trainers, medical professionals and the public in general about the potentially serious consequences of sports-related concussion,” according to the authors of the study.

The number and rate of concussions in youth football have also increased in recent years, and likely for some of the same reasons, the study authors said.

The authors recommend that soccer leagues should also consider requiring “protective headgear.”

No doubt there will be a federal program to provide headgear for the children of refugees so they can continue to play the game they love once they come to our towns.

Wouldn’t want them to become assimilated by  learning to play American games, as millions of other immigrants once did.

*********** Pointing With Pride - Last Weekend’s Double Wing (and Open Wing) Wins

Coach Joe Gutilla - We are now 3-1 thanks to the leg of a freshman kicker that helped us come from behind to win 17-16 on Friday night. With just under 2 minutes left in the game our opponent scored to go up 16-14.  We took the ball at our own 35 with one T.O. left.  After a short drive to their 40, and only 56 seconds remaining we fell short of a first down on 3rd down by 5 yards.  Calling our last T.O. I elected to have my young kicker go in and kick a 42 yard FG (he had made three 40 yard FG's in practice on Thursday).  I know...either ballsy or crazy on my part. Wouldn't you know it.  He calmly went in and drilled it through the uprights to take the lead. Frankly...he cleared the crossbar by 10 yards.  We sealed the win with an interception on their last drive.  Geneva had not been beaten in 23 straight games.







*********** Fellow Yalie Matt Oravetz, Class of ’92, wrote to ask if I’d seen Saturday’s Yale-Colgate score.

I hadn’t.  Gulp. It was Colgate 55, Yale 13.

In 144 years of  Yale football, the 42-point difference tied for Yale’s worst loss ever in the Yale Bowl, along with the Elis’ 63-21 loss to UConn in 1998.

The Colgate loss is not easily explainable.

The UConn loss was understandable.  The 1998 game between Yale and UConn was the final one in a 49-game series that began in 1948, and the programs were growing further and further apart.

After years of being dominated by its more prestigious  Ivy-League in-state rival, UConn began making plans to move to Division I, and as their program grew stronger, they won 14 of the last 16 games in the series.   Can you say trouncings?  UConn won 10 of the last 11 by a combined score of 404-156.

They’ve gone their separate ways now, and it’s not likely that Yale football - or Ivy League football for that matter - will ever return to the position of prominence it once occupied atop the football world.

There actually was a time not so long ago that Yale was able to recruit players of the calibre of Calvin Hill, Gary Fencik and John Spagnola.  Carm Cozza was the coach of those Yale teams, and at the time of the 1998 game with UConn, he put it in financial terms that anyone could understand: ``A lot of the great players I had came to Yale for maybe $3,000 more than Notre Dame or Ohio State. Now it's $30,000.”

He meant that even though Ivy League schools gave no athletic scholarships, it didn’t cost a middle-class family that much more to send their football-playing sons to Yale.

That was 1998.  Now?  The annual cost of a Yale education is north of $60,000.  And still no athletic scholarships.  Prestige or not, even parents who are able to pay the full fare at Yale are going to think hard before turning down a full-ride to a decent FCS school.

The 1998 game was Cozza’s first as color commentator for Yale games.  Coincidentally, the first game he ever coached at Yale was against UConn.  In 1965.  The Huskies upset the Yalies, 13-6, for their first win ever over Yale.  Old Blues - Yale alums - who were accustomed to chalking up a win over UConn before moving on to the Ivy League schedule were not pleased.

Losing an opener is not something Yalies are used to.  Amazingly, according to the New Haven Register, the loss to Colgate was only the 19th opening-game loss in Yale football history.

*********** In Sacramento, some creep (he’s 30-some years old and the most significant line on his resume is his having taken  part in Occupy Wall Street protests), walked up to the mayor at a dinner, whispered in his ear, and then shoved a pie in His Honor’s face.  Uh-oh.  Big mistake.

This mayor happened to be former NBA player Kevin Johnson, and according to various eyewitnesses (and no telling how many smart phone cameras) he threw the turd to the floor and then landed anywhere from four to 12 punches  (accounts vary) to the guy’s face.

No doubt the guy will sue, claiming the mayor’s response was inappropriate to the offense.  I agree. He should have broken one of the guys’ legs, too.

Racism test:  Below are photos of the two participants. Without my telling you which one is which, you are to choose the one you’d want to run your city.  Or have dinner with.   If you’re a white guy and you chose the guy on the right,  damn - you ARE a racist!

Mayorpie guy

*********** Interesting facts about gambling from the Wall Street Journal…

*** Casinos maybe flashier, but lotteries account for 66 per cent of states’ total gambling revenue.

*** Based on the revenue they produce, Indian casinos ($29.34 billion in 2015) aren’t  very far behind commercial casinos ($38.32 billion)

*** Outside of Nevada, the most casino gambling is in California, whose Indian tribes generated about $7 billion in revenue.  But - big surprise - in terms of purely commercial casinos, Pensylvania ranks second.

*** More people are visiting Las Vegas, but they are not gambling as much - the amount of gambling per visitors is down15 per cent from the peak level of 2007.

*** Las Vegas strip casinos derive only 35 per cent of their revenues from gambling. More and more, they have to make it on food, nightclubs and entertainment.

*** 77% of casinos’ revenues come from slots, but younger people don’t seem to care for slots that much, and as a result slot revenue is down 16 per cent since 2007.

*** Hawaii and Utah are the only states that have no form of legal gambling.

*** Including lotteries, New York collects the most revenue from all forms of gambling ($3.2 billion). Pennsylvania is second ($2.4 billion)

*********** Army's Jackson remembered for life of 'promise and purpose'

NEW YORK by Ralph Russo of the Associated Press — The colors of Brandon Jackson's short life filled the church and helped tell his tale of "promise and purpose."

The bright green and gold jerseys on the dozens of high school football players, just like the ones Jackson used to wear. The NYPD blue on the colleagues of his mother, Morna Davis, a police detective. The white and gray uniforms worn by 10 bus-loads of U.S. Military Academy cadets who made the trip from West Point to say goodbye to a teammate, classmate and brother.

The framed black jersey with the dark gold 28, the number Jackson wore while quickly becoming one of the Black Knights' best players in a college football career that lasted just 14 games.

Hundreds of people came together Monday at a funeral for Jackson, the sophomore cornerback killed in a one-car accident during the early morning hours of Sept. 11 at the age of 20.

He was remembered for his uplifting smile and infectious confidence. For rapping 50 Cent lyrics on the school bus and pushing teammates to lift more weight than even coaches required of them. For an accent that mixed Queens with a splash of Savannah, Georgia. For never giving his mom a reason to "raise her hand to him." And for leaving Davis a new extended family.

"You will never have to worry years from now if this group of men will remember your son," academy superintendent Lt. Gen Robert L. Caslen said to Davis, an Iraq War veteran of the Army Reserve. "You may have lost Brandon, but you have gained about 120 new sons. And about 4,000 cadets."

Photos of Jackson were displayed on two large video boards at the front of the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral in the Jamaica section of Queens. They told the story "of a life barely 20 years lived, and it was jam-packed," the Rev. Alfonso Wyatt said during a rousing and rhythmic eulogy.

Baby Brandon with a Big Bird doll bigger than him. Jackson in his Bay Side Raiders Pee Wee football uniform. Celebrating at track meets. Prom. Graduation. Receiving his acceptance to the academy. Playing for the Black Knights.

The accident that killed Jackson occurred about 20 miles south of the West Point campus in Westchester County, according to police and the Academy. The crash, which remains under investigation, happened several hours after Army had defeated Rice in the Black Knights' home opener at Michie Stadium.

The team returned to the practice field a few days later and last Saturday improved to 3-0 for the first time since 1996 with a 66-14 victory at UTEP.

"Through you, his spirit was on the field," Jackson's uncle, Fitzgerald Miller, told his teammates.

The Black Knights play at Buffalo on Saturday.

When Davis was deployed, Jackson was sent to live with his grandparents in Savannah. It is in Georgia where he will be buried, Miller said.

Out of loyalty to his mother, Jackson developed a love for Army football.

"We can beat them boys," Miller recalled a young Jackson saying.

"Who is we?" his uncle asked.

"Army. Army can beat Navy," Miller said was the boy's reply.

Jackson mostly grew up in the St. Albans neighborhood of Queens and attended Holy Cross High School, a bus ride away in Flushing. The school has a tradition of playing some of the best football in the city. Recent graduates include former Stanford receiver Devon Cajuste and Carolina Panthers safety Dean Marlowe.

Longtime former Holy Cross coach Tom Pugh, who retired after the 2014 season, said he went to West Point to watch Jackson in the Army spring game this year. Pugh said he told Jackson the old coach expected his former player to make an interception during the intrasquad scrimmage.

"And he started laughing," Pugh said. "He goes, 'Coach, this is Army. We don't throw the ball.'

"And guess what, he got a pick in the spring game. He pointed up to the seats where I was. He was special. Special young man."

Jackson was being recruited by Lafayette College in Pennsylvania during high school, but when the coach recruiting him, John Loose, was hired by Army head coach Jeff Monken, the opportunity to play for the Black Knights became a reality.

Jackson earned a starting job as a freshman and had 68 career tackles and three interceptions.

"Brandon embodied everything it means to be part of this brotherhood," Army linebacker and co-captain Andrew King said. "Because of him, we're not afraid of failure."

Monken said Jackson had a disarming smile.

Even after a mistake on the field, "I couldn't stay mad at him," Monken said.

The program mourners received at the church had printed on the front over a photo of Jackson: "Celebration of a Life Full of Promise and Purpose." A two-hour viewing preceded the service, the casket half open to display Jackson in cadet's full dress and white cap. The service was about two hours and ended with Wyatt imploring those gathered to "keeping on marching."

"March through the tears. March through the fears. March through your pain. Keep on marching," he said to applause and replies of "Amen."

When it was over, the cadets, police officers and high school football players lined the usually busy two-lane street in front of the cathedral. Six cadets carried Brandon's casket, covered with an American flag, out of the church and slid it into an awaiting hearse as the rows of cadets saluted and a police officer played bagpipes.

The black car was filled with flowers, then drove away. Those left behind cried, hugged and slowly dispersed, making it clear that Wyatt's words from earlier would ring true.

"This is a seminal moment. A defining moment," Wyatt preached. "You will remember No. 28."

*********** Navy head coach Ken Niumatololo and the entire Navy staff attended the funeral of Army football player Brandon Jackson, who was killed in an automobile accident.

A very noble gesture by a very classy coach of a very classy institution.

*********** NOT EVERYTHING ABOUT THE NFL SUCKS… The Steelers’ DeAngelo Hall, The Wall Street Journal notes that in the long history of the NFL, only four runners  have had more  100+ yard games  at the age of 32  or older than the Steelers’ DeAngelo Hall (who has five).  They are:

John Riggins (13)
Franco Harris (8)
Emmitt Smith (8)
Jerome Bettis (7)

*********** Hi Coach, while not a coach myself, I've been a reader of your news for several years. I'd been reading a book about pre-WWI football and actually found a photo from 100 years ago picturing these players. As a football historian, you can probably figure out who they are. As a hint, the team manager was also president of the NFL during it's formative years and none of these players are in the Hall of Fame (possible injustice there). Anyway, I'm sure the attachment should be safe to open and if you don't know who these guys are let me know and I'll give the answer. Thanks for all you and the other like-minded coaches out there are doing for the sport of football.

Jeff Hansen
Casper, Wyoming

Hi Jeff-

Nice to hear from you.  I’m pleased to know that you’re a reader - and for several years at that.

Those would be the Nesser brothers of the Columbus Panhandles, originally a sandlot team and then an early NFL team.  Their manager was Joe Carr, later president of the NFL.

I appreciate your note and the photo - they’ve prompted me to write a little something about the Nesser brothers.

***********  We can all rattle off the names of famous brother acts in football  - the Olsens, the Van Burens, the Browners, the Fullers, the Mannings - and on and on.

But how many fans know that at one time one of the biggest draws in a sport that desperately needed ways to attract fans was a team that had SIX brothers playing on it.  The team was the Columbus Panhandles, and the brothers were the six Nesser brothers.

HYaks National anthem

*********** Breaking news!  A small-town high school team stood as one for the national anthem Friday night, and our cameras were there to record the historic event!   Their coach said he supported  them completely and  understood perfectly that they might want to show their respect for the flag and the nation it represented, as well as all the people over the years who’d made it possible for them to be able to play a game of football in a free country.  One player, asked why he and his teammates stood respectfully, said, “Because I’m an American, and it’s what Americans do.”

*********** I pray that the riots haven’t done lasting damage to Charlotte, but if the boys-in-the-girls-room issue hadn’t already promoted the NBA to pull its All-Star game from Charlotte, the chaos of the last two nights quite likely would have.  This recent uprising is significantly different from those we’ve witnessed in other cities in that this wasn’t North Baltimore - this time the rioters overran a vibrant, supposedly safe downtown area.  Peace will surely return to downtown Charlotte - broken windows will be fixed and looted businesses restocked - but human nature being what it is, people preferring to feel safe and all that, it could be a long time,  before visitors and workers and businesspeople view it the way they once did.

*********** Cornell’s  football Coach Roy Istvan has apologized to students who claim to be offended by an image he tweeted of two of his players wearing sombreros.

They were wearing sombreros because Istvan presents the “Big Hat Award” to a player or player who best exemplifies team spirit.

Not so fast, coach - that  was ”cultural appropriation”:   "They're appropriating a culture that isn't theirs and using it as a joke," a student wrote on his group's Facebook page. "It's disgusting and I'm ashamed that you can't see that."

Students have called on the student government to take action.

"So many of your fellow students' culture is being used as a prop consistently on this campus,” wrote one student, “and it is supported publicly by this university. Will you pass a proposition to recommend a faculty/staff diversity and cultural sensitivity training? Or will you just push it under the rug as you did the Cinco de Octubre event? I expect a response to this from the Minority Liaison."

This undoubtedly  surprised Coach Istvan, who was probably so busy coaching football that it never occurred to him that at an Ivy League school, everything offends somebody, so he issued one of those nauseous apologies that we've come to expect.

"I am truly sorry for the cultural insensitivity and understand how our expression of pride came at the expense of others in the Cornell community," he wrote on Twitter.

I have an idea what he really wanted to say, and just once I'd like to hear someone like that say it.  Can you imagine how those poor snowflakes who can't even bear the sight of a gringo wearing a sombrero would react if he told them "kiss my ass?"

Anyhow,  WTF are morons like this doing at Cornell?  How did they ever get away from Yale, the Alabama of political correctness?

***********  Wouldn’t the Mob have had a great time with this “cultural appropriation” sh— back in the early days of pizza?

Can’t you just see Little Nicky and Joey Bananas walking into the offices of Papa John’s and asking the CEO, John Schnatter, how much he, a non-Italian, was willing to pay them tribute for  appropriating such a treasured  part of their culture?

american flag TUESDAY,  SEPTEMBER 20,  2016   “I believe that football, perhaps more than any other sport, tends to instill in men perseverance - perseverance means 'not giving up,”'even when something is hard, and you feel discouraged. It is the self-discipline to follow a goal or a dream, with determination and patience, when you want to quit." General Dwight D. Eisenhower

***********  It took the North Beach Hyaks the better part of the game to get their act together, but they broke a scoreless tie by scoring twice in the fourth quarter within a span of two minutes to defeat the Toutle Lake Ducks Friday night, 14-0.  The Hyaks move to 2-1 on the season.

Although the Ducks marched to the Hyaks’ 10 on their first drive before being stopped on a fourth-and-one, the Hyaks’s defense was so stout that Toutle Lake crossed the 50 only once the rest of the game.

Meanwhile the North Beach offense, although able to put together a few decent drives, hurt itself with two fumbles and two interceptions, and didn’t begin to execute consistently until near the end of the third quarter.  Then, starting on their own 15 following a procedure penalty (the Hyaks were only penalized twice all night, for 15 yards) they marched 85 yards in 16 plays to score with 8:01 left to play.  Junior Tavo Muro ran it in from 7 yards out on a counter play.

The Hyaks missed the PAT, but recovered the kickoff on the Toutle Lake 45, and this time took only six plays to score, Muro carrying the final 15 yards - on a WEDGE - with 6:06 remaining.  (One or two defensive linemen had been submarining all night but possibly, as they wore down, they forgot their instructions.  Or else they finally said, “the hell with this.” ) Muro ran in the two-point conversion.

The Hyaks ran for exactly 300 yards on 59 carries. After only 102 yards in the first half, they ran for 198 yards in the second half.

Marcus Pope, a 195-pound sophomore, carried 33 times for 168 yards, and Muro carried 13 times for 103.

Next week, the Hyaks make a 3-hour trip to play Kalama, which last year won its league in a higher classification and this year is playing at North Beach’s level.

*********** Stanford beat USC.  Christian McCaffrey accounted for 260 all-purpose yards. Added to his 710 all-purpose yards against the Trojans in two games last season (including the conference championship game), that’s 970 yards in his last three games against USC.

Nebraska coach Mike Riley had lost seven straight games to Oregon before finally beating the Ducks Saturday.  Turned out  all he had to do was move from Oregon State, where he was fated to play perennial second fiddle to the Ducks, to Nebraska, where they have a tradition second to none.

Oklahoma has lost two in a row.

So has Notre Dame.

Alabama showed that it can take a punch.  Ole Miss showed - in case anyone needed any more proof - that with their defense, there’s no such things as a safe lead.

A dirty hit to the Alabama QB by a pass rusher’s helmet sure seemed to take place in the area of the QB’s jaw, but here was the lameass explanation by the officials:  The hit was “not indisputedly with the crown of the helmet to the head.”

I see.  So it’s okay to hit with the crown of the helmet (can anyone say “Chucky Mullins?”) - just don’t hit anyone in the head that way.

Ole Miss got a TD it didn’t deserve when,  as an Ole Miss player stepped on the 10 yard line on his way to a TD, back upfield at the 30 a teammate blocked an opponent in the back.  Genius.

Louisville showed that it may be in a class by itself in the ACC after totally thumping Florida State.  And Louisville QB Lamar Jackson showed that he might be this season’s outstanding player.  (Notice how I managed to avoid saying “Heisman?”)

*********** And then there’s Army, now 3-0 after a 66-14 shellacking of UTEP.    That was the most points scored by any Army team against a Division I school since the Blanchard-and-Davis national powerhouses of the 1940s.

It can’t have been fun for new UTEP defensive coordinator Tom Mason, an old friend from his days at Portland State in the late 1980s.

Army had 600 yards of total offense, 426 on the ground and 174 in the air.

Talk about ball control - the Black Knights had 32 first downs and didn’t turn the ball over once.  They converted on 10 of 12 third-down attempts.

Time of possession?  Army 41:40 to UTEP’s 18:20

*********** Following the Army-Navy game, it’s customary for the alma maters of both teams to be sung, loser first and winner second. During the long drought of wins over Navy,  “Sing second” has been Army’s hopeful but futile motto.

But when they play Wake Forest in a month or so, Army will “sing second,” win or lose.

Strong academics and school colors are two things that Army and Wake Forest have in common.

But in addition, coincidentally, their alma maters are set to the same tune.

So assuming that the two schools’ alma maters will be played after the game, Army can sing second either way, even if it means having to sing along the second time with the Wake Forest people.

(The game’s going to be a tough one for me, because although I'm a diehard Army fan, my grandson, Connor Love, is a sophomore at Wake, and any school that my kids or grandkids go to automatically becomes “my” school.)

*********** If it happens on the West Coast late Saturday night, when Easterners are fast asleep, did it really happen?

While you slept, Cal and Texas met in Berkeley and played a game for the ages.

Cal won, 50-43.  After going back and forth for the first two periods, Cal led at the half, 35-33 - and then, as if the coaches told their teams at halftime to slow down a bit, the two teams played a scoreless third quarter. 

Shortly after the start of the fourth quarter though, Texas went ahead 40-35 on a long run. Cal answered, and went for two, making the score 43-40.

Texas kicked a field goal with 8:29 to tie the score, but Cal scored on a pass with 3:41 left to take a seven point lead, 50-43.

That’s where it stood as Cal tried to run out the clock and Texas began using its time outs to stop it.  With 1:30 left, Cal faced a 3rd-and-1 on their own 55, when Vic Enwere broke through for a 55-yard touchdown run.

Make that 54 - and scratch the touchdown.

In another one of those brainless “no big deal - I score touchdowns all the time” stunts, Enwere casually dropped the ball to the turf - a yard short of the goal line, the video review would show.

As Cal players milled around in the end zone congratulating Enwere, a Texas player - somewhat belatedly - picked the ball up.

It should have been ruled a touchback, making it Texas’ ball on their own 20 with over a minute left to play, but the officials ruled that since there had been no “immediate recovery” by Texas, the ball belonged to Cal on the one.

Not good, officials.  Granted, Texas still would have had to go 80 yards in a little over a minute with no timeouts, but not good.

But look at it this way - when you bring up the NFL, the topic eventually works its way down to the level of highly-paid oafs flouting the concept of national unity, but when you talk about the college game, you talk about football.

*********** How many times have you set your DVR to record a college game and then, just to be safe, added on another half hour to the time the network allotted - only to find that you still ran out of time before the game ended?

How many of you are starting to find the same thing happening when you add on an extra HOUR?

My wife, who’s often the one who sets our DVR when games start while I’m still at practice, shares my frustration, and knowing that the major reason why games are going so long is that there’s so much passing (too much, if you ask me), asks quite reasonably why the clock has to stop after an incomplete pass.

We are well past the day when they had to stop the game to retrieve the football - the only one provided - after an incomplete pass went into the tall grass.

Look - I don’t want to alter the game to the point where a team can’t go 80 yards with under two minutes to play, aided by what amount to  time outs awarded simply because it throws incomplete passes.

I wonder if it’s too much to ask for a rule change allowing the clock to stop for maybe 10 seconds to allow teams to get back to the line of scrimmage after an incomplete pass.  It makes no sense to reward a team with an unearned time out simply because it threw an incompletion.

The same 10-second rule would apply, of course, to that perversion of the game known as “spiking the ball.”

*********** Missed the start of the Oregon-Nebraska game because we had to hear the post-game interview with Bobby Petrino after The Game That Just Wouldn’t End.

It’s official, by the way - Petrino, for all his faults, can coach the game.

*********** Kudos to North Dakota State.  What was Iowa’s AD thinking when he scheduled them?

The game itself was hard to watch.  Or at least listen to.

That’s because the PC guys at the network insist on inflicting Beth Mowins on us. 

My wife says she’s tired of hearing female voices on football games, and I agree.  But Beth Mowins takes it to another level.  She’s got a harsh voice and a harsh accent that reminds me of that Woman Who Wants to be Our First Female President.

Yes, I know that makes me sound like a  misogynist. Such is life. So where’s my “KISS ME - I’M DEPLORABLE” tee shirt?

*********** The national anthem before the Rams-Seahawks game took so long that under other circumstances, in earlier times, if I were at the game I might have been tempted to sit down partway through.

*********** Speaking of the Rams-Seahawks game, a 9-3 masterpiece representative of the pro game at its finest -  can you imagine paying the prices they charge to watch what amounted to a 3-1 soccer game in football gear?

*********** Or how about the Chiefs-Texans game?  19-12, Texans.  One TD and EIGHT field goals!

There was the Broncos-Colts game - 5 TDs (only 3 of them scored by the offenses) and SIX field goals.

And there was the Giants-Saints thriller: Giants 16, Saints 13. ONE offensive TD and FIVE field goals.

You've got to admire the NFL for being able to brainwash the American public into thinking that this dreck is worth paying good money to watch.

*********** “Our leaders want to package terrorists into nice neat boxes. So they conclude that if a terrorist is not a member of a terror group the violent act they perpetrate is not considered terror. The obvious example is the terror at Fort Hood, officially classified as workplace violence.

“Even more poignant is the Orlando terrorist. The perpetrator was actually on the phone with local media bragging that he was part of ISIS and explaining that his actions were motivated by a need to defend Islam.  He even repeatedly chanted the Islamic terrorist battle cry: ‘Allahu Akbar.’  Yet, the US Attorney General still responded by saying ‘We may never really know the motivation behind the attack.’”

Micah Helpern, The Observer

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

This weekend helped finally convert some people into believing in the power of THE WEDGE play.  I have only coached this league for two years, but according to others, this is the first time that our team has ever won a game against this powerful team and my fellow coach cannot stop talking about how we scored on one of our TD run plays.  We were on about the 18 yard line trying to go in for a score in the second quarter, and the other coach wanted to know what play I thought we should run.  We had been moving the ball pretty good with sweeps, but had not run much up the middle so far.  The defense had begun loading the outside edges to stop our sweeps and were having some success.  I immediately said to run THE WEDGE and watch what happens.  My fellow coach looked at me in shock and wanted to know if I sure this was the place for THE WEDGE?  and I confirmed that now was the perfect time!  Our running back is not big, or super fast, but has gotten tougher this year and is very coachable.  I knew he would do his best to get every yard he could.  We practice THE WEDGE every day in practice, so I was confident on what was about to happen.  The kids got so tight and the ball carrier was so well protected, he walked into the end zone for the TD.  My fellow coach said if we had a big umbrella, everyone could have been under it as they marched in for the score.  It was a great game and lots of fun, and THE WEDGE made it all the more special.  Thanks for your help all these years as I have learned so much from you and the videos you have produced.   

Kind regards,

Ken Hampton
Raleigh, North Carolina   

american flag FRIDAY,  SEPTEMBER 16,  2016   “No kingdom can stand when two feeble princes follow in succession.”  Niccolo Machiavelli

*********** Pointing With Pride - Last Weekend’s Double Wing (and Open Wing) Wins

Elmwood-Brimfield (3-0) Elmwood, Illinois -  56-12 over Peoria Height-Quest
From HC Todd Hollis -  It rained here all week and their field is in a bowl.  There was standing water in spots and generally it was a soggy place even before the game started.  By the end it was one of those fun games of spit and slop and general stink.  The double wing is tailor-made for that environment and we slogged our way to a 56-12 victory.  Their spread suffered mightily (I bet the football weighed 17 pounds by the end of the game!).

Ridgeview High, Colfax Illinois  52-6 over Flanagan-Cornell-Woodland
From new OC - and longtime Double Wing head coach Mike Benton: The Ridgeview Mustangs ended a 30 game losing streak with a win over Flanagan-Cornell-Woodland 52-6.  We rushed for 461 yards on 42 carries and were two for two passing for 76 yards and two tds.  Very proud of our kids efforts tonight as six different players scored. 

Beloit, Kansas (2-0) - 58-52 over Ellsworth
Beloit outscored Ellsworth 36-26 - in the fourth quarter!  Beloit rushed 81 times for 502 yards, with Trojan Hunter Budke accounting for almost half of Beloit’s carries and half of its rushing total (40 for 249).  The Trojans completed 3 of 8 for 29 yards. Ellsworth completed 16 of 37 for 300 yards and rushed for 204. A major difference? Beloit, which never kicks PATs,  was 5 of 8 on 2-point conversions.

Oskaloosa, Kansas (2-0) - 14-6 over Horton

Frontier Regional (1-0) South Deerfield, Massachusetts -  20-0 over Drury

Elmira/Southside, New York (2-0) - 42-20 over Horseheads

Hoosic Falls, New York (2-0)  44-21 over Hoosick Valley - Hoosic Falls now ranked #4 in state

Queensbury, New York (2-0) - 47-6 over Albany Green Tech

Spencerport, New York (2-0) - 21-14 over Greece-Arcadia

East Jordan, Michigan (2-0)  - 34-6 over Central Lake

Polo, Missouri (4-0)  36-21 -  over Gallatin

Sciotoville, Ohio (3-0) - 15-8 over Alexander

St. Dominic Savio, Austin, Texas (2-1) - 48-0 over  Austin Brentwood Christian    

Did I miss your team?  Email me:

Brandon Jackson
***********  With great sadness, the entire West Point family notes the tragic death in an automobile accident last weekend of Brandon Jackson, a model cadet and outstanding football player…

One of the great tragedies of the loss of such a promising young man is that we will never know what a great leader he might have become.

At a place whose graduates are prepared to serve our country in time of great danger to us and them, the loss of one of its own,  in war or peace, brings the West Point community together in a way that never fails to amaze and inspire  me.

This note from the Army Football Club, the association of former West Point football players, went out to its members…

The AFC will be sending flowers on behalf of the Brotherhood and we will have some representation in attendance as well.

Grip Hands...

Be Thou at Peace, Brandon.

“Grip hands” refers to a line from a West Point hymn called “The Long Gray Line," the term given to  all who have graduated from West Point.  It calls for them all - “though they be from the shadows” - to join and grip hands in one long, unbroken line.

“Be Thou at Peace,” is from the last stanza of the West Point alma mater…

And when our work is done,
Our course on earth is run,
May it be said, “Well done.
Be thou at peace.”

E’er may that line of gray
Increase from day to day;
Live, serve, and die, we pray,
West Point, for thee!

*********** Coach, I know you are extremely busy with football season, but we installed the DW up here in Alaska and have had some great success and some horrible games.  Two weeks ago we rushed for 412 yards and 56 passing yards, this past week we had about 125 total yards.  In the tough games we have seen a 6-2/4-4 defense with the DTs cutting our guards right off the snap.  This is shutting down our Wedge and makes it extremely difficult to pull.  How do we counter this?

I do not feel as if our offensive line is firing off the ball or very physical.  We have a good size line this year, but next year we will be small.  However, we will have an offseason strength and conditioning program so I am hoping we can make up for our size by adding strength.

I know I spoke with you about doing a camp up year during the summer, is that something you are still interested in doing?  Please let me know when you can, so I can make arrangements.  

Hi Coach-

From my earliest days of running the Double Wing, the first thing that comes to mind is not that the defense is that quick or your players are too slow.

Most likely, it's that your linemen are just not back far enough off the ball.

They are permitted to line up so deep that the tops of their helmets are even with the center’s waist.

Unless tou're already doing that, that should solve that problem. 

Also I suspect it might cure another problem:  most Double Wing linemen I see turn their shoulders when they pull, which causes them to run too wide a circle and get into the runner’s path.

If they aren’t lined up deep enough, they will almost certainly have to turn their shoulders in order to get past the center.  But if they are lined up deep enough, they will be able “slide” to playside, which is how we have progressed to teaching it.  They do NOT turn their sholders, even a little! They turn upfield at the first opening.  Since I’ve adopted that technique, it has solved that problem.

With your linemen back off the ball, you may now find yourself faced with another issue - if your QB is too close to the center, and if he’s not pulling the ball quickly to his “stones,”  there’s a chance that a pulling guard can knock it loose on a power or counter.   It's curable, but you need to be aware of this.

I address these things in my A Fine Line and Old School Blocking videos.

*********** I’m proud to be able to ask you to add the Plymouth South Youth Football midgets to the Black Lion Award list. I spoke with our president the other day and then wrote quite a long (maybe overkill) email about the award, sent an example of a nomination letter, the picture of young Brad Backlund with his patch and hand over heart, etc. The president (Kaitlin Davis, no relation) and my assistant (Ralph Guadagno, from Jersey, figuring out I have a lot of Italians on my team, maybe they settled further south than "Southie") have been incredibly supportive, especially when my mom passed away. They are always asking if I need anything else, Kaitlin is incredibly organized and tough, no nonsense, and we see eye to eye on how things should be run. Can't say enough great things about my experience here (they scheduled the end of year banquet to accommodate me before I fly back to NZ). Saturday night I saw young Brad (now a junior), Jack McKim (the boy who went to the Army lacrosse camp), and Cam Smith at Brad's, they are impressive young men.

I read your last blog entry from David Aldridge a number of you, I have difficulty equating the courage of a soldier with pretty much anything that civilians might encounter, but it was still awesome. Your saying, "make where you are the big time" is something I think about often, especially when I figure that I'm just a "youth coach", and kind of applies here. For my 13 and 14 year-old boys, this is their first opportunity to find "courage", a lesson that they will apply later on in their lives when faced with "grown-up" adversities.

Good luck this week.

Rick Davis
Plymouth, Massachusetts

ENROLL YOUR TEAM: - contact me at

*********** “Our schools are founded on the teaching of respect and honor; respect and honor for God, country and duly appointed authority,” wrote Supterintendent Mary Boyle to all Catholic high schools in the Diocese of Camden, New Jersey, which covers the southern part of the state.

“The best approach is helping our young people understand that blood was sacrificed so that we all can enjoy the gifts of our faith and our country.”

“Players, coaches and administrators are expected to show respect during prayer, pledges and the playing of the national anthem.”

“Failure to demonstrate appropriate respect,” she added,  “will result in suspension from play (2 games) or dismissal from the team for a subsequent offense.”

At one of the Diocesan schools, Bishop Eustace High, in Pennsauken,  the football team is required to stand at attention.

“Helmet under left arm. Stand straight. Chest out. Eyes ahead,” said assistant athletic director Frank DelRossi. “We think it’s important, and our kids do too.”

Exactly as we teach it at North Beach High.  We don’t have to put it in the form of a “requirement.”  It’s simply “what we do as Hyak football players,” and I can't imagine even coaching a kid who would use a team function as the time and place to draw attention to himself.

Writes Todd Starnes on his blog,,

To be clear -- professional football players have a Constitutional right to demonstrate their hatred of America. They have a right to denigrate our troops and desecrate the flag.

But we have rights, too. We have the right to boycott their games along with the corporate sponsors who finance their anti-American platforms.

Eli Harold, a 49ers teammate who raised his fist in defiance of our nation, told ESPN he was furious that fans objected to the protest.

“What really pissed me off was when Kap was getting snaps at the end of the game and the crowd was booing,” he told ESPN. “I’m not throwing shots at our fans. It’s not about that. Liberty and justice for all. Just because this man is standing up for something he believes in doesn’t give you the right to boo him. I just don’t understand it, man. I really don’t.”

Eli Harold, you dolt, it’s called the First Amendment. Fans most certainly do have the right to boo and heckle and boycott.

Now you understand why so many people are disgusted with the National Football League.

And that’s why it was so refreshing to hear about the edict handed down by the Diocese of Camden. They are teaching young men to be patriots - men of honor and duty. It’s instruction that’s badly needed in the National Football League.

Maybe the diocese could send a delegation of nuns to the next 49ers game -- armed with rulers.

*********** Yale’s admissions office is making a change in the essay required as part of the application.

It’s eliminating the “Tell us about you” invitation to brag, and replacing it with the choice of two subjects (from a list of three).  Sounds like the new requirement is going to reward the “change the world” types.  Said the Dean of Admissions,  “We want to send a message to our applicants that Yale expects its students to be engaged citizens in our diverse community…”   Just what we need - more and more activists, whose first task on arriving at Yale will be to ferret out all things wrong (in their eyes) and demand change. 

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions recently released the essay topics that will appear on the 2016-2017 freshman application to Yale. Although most of the application will remain the same, the updated topics and application options will help to shed new light on applicants’ unique experiences with the communities to which they belong, their intellectual pursuits, and their diverse passions. The new questions also echo Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway’s priorities for Yale College and reflect input from Yale’s Faculty Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid.

(FYI - "Yale College" refers to the four-year undergraduate part of Yale University, which also encompasses the Medical and Law school as well as assorted other graduate schools.)

In his address to Yale’s incoming freshmen in August, Holloway challenged students to accept all the responsibilities of being a Yale citizen — from making substantive contributions to the community to embracing the challenges and differences of their new classmates. The Dean urged freshmen to “Journey into uncertainty and meet with excitement and passion all that confounds you, angers you, challenges you, and enthralls you. Come to these moments with integrity and honesty, and, most of all, dare to listen to what you hear.”

Holloway has made civic engagement a central part of his vision for Yale College. In an effort to support this vision, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions recently updated its freshmen application with new questions that ask students to reflect on citizenship in a community and on intellectual excitement.

Previous Essay Prompt

Please reflect on something you would like us to know about you that we might not learn from the rest of your application,  or on something about which you would like to say more. You may write about  anything — from personal experiences or interests to intellectual pursuits.

New Short Essay Topics

Please choose two of the following topics and respond to each in 200 words or fewer:
    •    What is a community to which you belong? Reflect on the footprint that you have left.
    •    Reflect on a time in the last few years when you felt genuine excitement learning about something.
    •    Write about something that you love to do.

*********** An amazing article sent me by my friend Shep Clarke of Puyallup, Washington puts the upcoming election in terms that ought to make any thinking American realize what’s at stake…

You sure can’t beat his opening analogy…

2016 is the Flight 93 election: charge the cockpit or you die. You may die anyway. You—or the leader of your party—may make it into the cockpit and not know how to fly or land the plane. There are no guarantees.

Except one: if you don’t try, death is certain. To compound the metaphor: a Hillary Clinton presidency is Russian Roulette with a semi-auto. With Trump, at least you can spin the cylinder and take your chances.

The author accuses so-called “Never Trump” conservatives of being the political version of the  Harlem Globe Trotters’ favorite foils…

If you’re among the subspecies conservative intellectual or politician, you’ve accepted—perhaps not consciously, but unmistakably—your status on the roster of the Washington Generals of American politics. Your job is to show up and lose, but you are a necessary part of the show and you do get paid.

The conservatives think that even if the Republicans lose, they’ll still have their jobs and their paychecks - but the author contends that if the Democrats win this one, they’ll be so powerful that they won’t even need the appearance of an opposition…

So what do we have to lose by fighting back? Only our Washington Generals jerseys—and paychecks. But those are going away anyway. Among the many things the “Right” still doesn’t understand is that the Left has concluded that this particular show need no longer go on. They don’t think they need a foil anymore and would rather dispense with the whole bother of staging these phony contests in which each side ostensibly has a shot.

Conservatives win the mid-term elections, but not the Big One.  How come?  The deck is stacked against them, in three ways…

… we can’t win the big ones at all. Because the deck is stacked overwhelmingly against us. I will mention but three ways. First, the opinion-making elements—the universities and the media above all—are wholly corrupt and wholly opposed to everything we want, and increasingly even to our existence.

Second, our Washington Generals self-handicap and self-censor to an absurd degree. Lenin is supposed to have said that “the best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves.” But with an opposition like ours, why bother? Our “leaders” and “dissenters” bend over backward to play by the self-sabotaging rules the Left sets for them. Fearful, beaten dogs have more thymos.

Third and most important, the ceaseless importation of Third World foreigners with no tradition of, taste for, or experience in liberty means that the electorate grows more left, more Democratic, less Republican, less republican, and less traditionally American with every cycle. As does, of course, the U.S. population, which only serves to reinforce the two other causes outlined above. This is the core reason why the Left, the Democrats, and the bipartisan junta (categories distinct but very much overlapping) think they are on the cusp of a permanent victory that will forever obviate the need to pretend to respect democratic and constitutional niceties. Because they are.

The 2016 election, he contends,  is America’s final test…

The election of 2016 is a test—in my view, the final test—of whether there is any virtù left in what used to be the core of the American nation. If they cannot rouse themselves simply to vote for the first candidate in a generation who pledges to advance their interests, and to vote against the one who openly boasts that she will do the opposite (a million more Syrians, anyone?), then they are doomed. They may not deserve the fate that will befall them, but they will suffer it regardless.

*********** The back story of Central Michigan’s hard-earned but official-tainted 30-27 win over heavily-favored Oklahoma State: the Chippewas' head coach, John Bonamego, is a cancer survivor.   He spent most of the summer of 2015 undergoing radiation treatment for throat cancer.   A big win for a good guy.

*********** In our 14-13  win last Friday night,  our offense was hobbled,  and we couldn’t have won without one of our better defensive performances in recent years.  That includes teams that went 19-2 over the last two seasons.

Many of our kids who’d never played much high school football came up with outstanding plays, none better than that of a kid who wound up at outside linebacker because there was a need and he was available.  Great attitude, very coachable, fair coverage skills and decent size - but to be truthful, we had no idea how he was going to do.

On one particular play midway through the fourth quarter, as we fought to hold onto to 14-7 lead, an opponent broke free up the opposite sideline from him.  The play started on about our forty, and from clear on the other side, this kid took a great pursuit angle and caught the runner at about the 15-yard line, saving the score.   We held. 

They would score later, with 1:30 to go, and miss a 2-point conversion, but the importance of this play, coming when it did, is that if they had scored then they would likely have kicked the PAT to tie the game, and who knows how it would have played out from there?

When I complimented the kid on his effort, he said, simply,  “Texas Drill, Coach.”

No kidding.

Since I got the drill a couple of years again from my friend, Greg Koenig, who got it from a coaching friend in Texas, it has been a staple of our program.

I often find myself, when coaching a defensive player and talking to him about the correct pursuit angle to take, simply saying to him, “Texas Drill!” and I don’t need to say anything further.
Texas Drill

american flag TUESDAY,  SEPTEMBER 13,  2016   “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.” Benjamin Franklin

***********  The North Beach Hyaks broke into the win column Friday night with a hard-fought 14-13 win over Life Christian Academy of Tacoma.  We were hobbled offensively by a series of mishaps and didn't get straightened away until we finally went into Ram formation (you guys who have the DVD Clinic Series know what I mean).

Our defense, on the other hand, played lights out against a team that must have thrown two dozen different offensive formations and motions.

We led 8-7 at the half, and14-7 after three quarters.  But Life Christian put together a late drive that brought them to within 14-13 with 1:30 to play.

Possibly because they faced a two-hour bus ride home and didn't want to go into overtime, they chose to go for two. They put the ball in the hands of their quarterback, who'd been a problem for us  all night, and  in one of the most amazing displays of effort, hustle and toughness I've ever seen on a team I've coached, we chased him around until we finally managed to knock him out of bounds three yards short of the goal line.

*********** With a convincing win over Rice, Army is 2-0 for the first time since 1996.  That’s 20 years, if you don’t want to do the math, since Army won its first two games.

6-2, 220 pound fullback Andy Davidson, from Emmaus, Pennsylvania, carried for 107 yards and three touchdowns, and QBs Ahmad Bradshaw  and Chris Carter ran the triple option offense beautifully.

Interestingly, two of Army's upcoming opponents played each other Saturday and the result of their game turned pre-season predictions upside down. Wake Forest, once considered a winnable game on Army’s schedule, defeated Duke; the Blue Devils were once considered one of the games (along with Notre Dame) that were out of reach.  Now, who knows? 

(Our local cable service in Ocean Shores, Washington doesn’t carry CBS Sports Channel, which televises all Army home games, so that means having to drive home to Camas, Washington - 3 hours away - to watch Army games, which kick off at 9 AM Pacific.  With a home game on Friday night, we get to sleep about 1:00 or so after grabbing a bite to eat and looking at some of that night’s college game.  And then, we’re up at 5 AM and on the road by 5:45 or so.  Not much traffic that early on a Saturday morning, so we’re almost always home before kickoff.  Away games for us, interestingly, are much easier because they’re all at least an hour closer to home, so we drive home right after an away game and arrive around midnight or so. )

*********** Just hours  winning its second straight game,  the Army team was shattered by the news of the death of starting cornerback Brandon Jackson, who was killed in a single-car accident early Sunday morning.

A sophomore from Queens, New York, Jackson had two solo tackles and one assist in Army's 31-14 win over Rice.

Said Army coach Jeff Monken, ”Words cannot describe the grief that our team is feeling over the loss of our brother and friend, Brandon.  He was a beloved teammate and our hearts are with his family at this time of tragedy."

Brandon Jackson’s  mother is an Iraq War veteran.

Rest in peace, Cadet Jackson.

*********** Hugh,
Please sign us up again to be part of the Black Lion Award.  This has become an important component of our
football program.  We stress TEAM and Teamwork!  I have a great group of young men this year.
Don Gordon
Frontier Regional
South Deerfield, MA

*********** Great college games that the NFL couldn’t possibly duplicate …

Pitt over Penn State - Penn State falls way behind, storms back, but Pitt intercepts a last second pass in the end zone.
Utah over BYU - BYU scores at the end but their two-point conversion try fails
Arkansas over TCU - Arkansas comes from behind, wins in OT

*********** Penn State was driving in the last minute or so, and after a clutch fourth down pass, the Lions were nearly in position for a tying field goal.

But with enough time on the clock to try to move the ball closer, they decided to get greedy and go for it all.

The QB wound up and threw it deep into the end zone, some 35 yards away, and the ball was intercepted, sealing the Pitt win - and despite the fact that it was a good pass and a Pitt defender made a great play,  the announcers blamed it on the quarterback. 

Right.  Blame it on a college kid.   Not on a coach who’s paid hundreds of thousands of dollars - millions, if it was the head coach - not to cost those kids the game.

*********** A Clemson player returned a Troy punt for what should have been a 75-yard touchdown.   Unfortunately, after 74 yards - a yard short of the TD - with no one close to him, he pulled a Joe Cool “I do this sh— all the time” stunt and casually dropped the ball a yard short of the goal line.  Touchdown?  My ass.  Touchback.  Troy’s ball on the 20.

*********** Oregon proved that Royce Freeman is the real deal.  A Double Wing A-Back in youth football, against Virginia Saturday he ran for 207 yards and two TDs including an 85-yard sprint to the end zone that served as sufficient proof that in addition to run-over-you strength (5-11, 230), he has breakaway speed.  What a shame that most people in the East will go the entire season without seeing him.

New Ducks’ QB Dakota Prukop, who last year played at Montana State, looked good, never better than when he hung one out for Olympic hurdler Devon Allen to catch in full stride for a 55-yard TD.  (We are talking serious speed - Allen can run a 4.5 - over hurdles!)

Oregon is not without its flaws.  The defense, under new DC Brady Hoke, looked porous at times against the Virginia running game, which shredded them for 150 yards more than the 38 it gained against FCS Richmond last week.

*********** The people at NFL headquarters must have breathed a collective sigh of relief when the Seahawks, who promised some sort of surprise action on the anniversary of 9/11 stood arm-in-arm for the national anthem - not unlike what I’ve grown accustomed to seeing at international rugby matches -  rather than kneeling or sitting it out.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the field, at least four members of the Dolphins, a team that if it played soccer would be fighting to avoid relegation, chose instead to kneel,  honoring the many, many countries elsewhere  in the world where Americans of all colors would have better lives than they do in the United States.

The best-known of the four Dolphin malcontents was running back Arian Foster, who said of Kaepernick, “He’s frustrated, just like me. He’s just like my brother. He’s just like my cousins out there. He’s frustrated. It’s hard seeing people get murdered and killed without repercussions.”

Foster evidently is generous in sharing his disdain for America with impressionable young men:

“I speak my mind. I’m active in the communities. I try to educate young brothers that are in gangs and victims of what people don’t understand — this is a systemic problem that’s been going on for generations.”

I hope that when he tells them all about the Constitution and their First Amendment right to freedom of speech he remembers to tell them that if they should ever happen to be stopped by a police officer,  that would be one of those times and places where misunderstanding what  “exercising one’s right to free speech” means could have unpleasant repercussions.

Whether you consider it a “systemic problem” or not, we must all admit that race relations as well as conditions in the inner city are in dire need of improvement, and by talking with young men and reminding them that for all America’s perceived ills, it still is the best place on earth for them by far, Foster and others like him could help dealing with the problem. 

*********** Arian Foster, meet James Harrison.   Maybe you don't remember when he was the baddest ass in the NFL?  He might still be.  Plays for the Steelers.

Anyhow, here's something he tweeted:

"If you on my team and not standin for Anthem better be from a broken leg or I'm gonna give you one."

When you pray tonight, Arian - if you pray - I'd suggest you ask God not to let them trade you to the Steelers.

And you might want to pass Mr. Harrison's tweet along to your friend Colin Kaepernick, who could very well find himself in another uniform one of these days.

*********** I attended Chris Peterson’s first spring clinic after his being named head coach at the University of Washington and I made special note of the fact that he said he was going to build the Huskies’ program with “OKG’s” - Our Kinda Guys.

Marcus Peters,  one of the players Coach Peterson inherited, was not, as it turned out, an OKG.

Although quite talented, Peters was finally thrown off the team - in November -  by Coach Peterson after a series of infractions, from selfish penalties to clashing with assistant coaches to being chronically late to meetings.

Peters was nevertheless a first-round draft choice of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Now I ask you - how big a cancer must a player like that  have been for you to kick him off your team?

I bring this up because Marcus Peters stood for the national anthem Sunday - with his fist (in a black glove) held high over his head.

This is the sort of guy who’s going to help bring attention to our nation’s ills?

*********** A California JUCO player was arrested after punching an official who was trying to break up a fight.

After this,  the poor guy doesn’t have a shot at going to a major college.  Unless he’s really good.

*********** America seems more and more like an eight-man shell with some of the rowers pulling to the proper beat while others pull at their own pace and still others sit on their asses and complain about the injustice of even having to row at all.

New students at Pomona College were welcomed to campus with posters in their dorms giving instructions on “How to be a (Better) White Ally” and stating that all white people are racist.

The signs state white people should “acknowledge your privilege” and “apologize if you’ve offended someone,” adding that offensive language includes words like “sassy” and “riot,” which are “racially coded.”

“Remember, just because POC [person of color] #1 isn’t offended by something, does not mean that POC #2 will not be offended by it either,” it says.

The poster goes on to state that “social justice is about BOTH elevating oppressed groups and simultaneously unpacking the privilege of dominant groups. These aspects are equally as important!”
Additionally, the sign claims that all white people are racist.

“Understand that you are white, so it is inevitable that you have unconsciously learned racism,” it asserts. “Your unearned advantage must be acknowledged and your racism unlearned.”

*********** Poor Megan Rapinoe - she’s in tears because -sniff - they went ahead and played the National Anthem before she - sniff - had a chance to sit or kneel.  Waaaa.

*********** I’ve made it pretty obvious that I’m not a Cam Newton fan.  At least not now.  But only a fool would deny that he’s a great talent.  Assuming that he will one day grow up, as even the most childish among us usually do, I could actually see myself liking the guy some day.  It’s always nice when  talent and  poise coincide.

But regardless of what anyone might think about Cam Newton,  the guy has been getting the crap kicked out of him - and only Panthers’ fans and Newton fans seem to care.

Last Thursday night against the Broncos, after scrambling out of the pocket, he took a dirty shot right as he was throwing a pass.  The defender was called for roughing the passer.

Actually, the hit came so soon after he’d released the ball that in my opinion it wasn’t roughing, especially in the case of a quarterback of Newton’s skills when he’s on the run.  Newton is big and fast and a very dangerous runner, and pulling up short so as to make sure not to rough him is not sound defensive play.

But while it may not have been roughing,  it was sure as hell targeting - a launched, helmet-to-the-head shot that might have killed a lesser football player than Newton.  And the official didn’t call it.

To hell with the roughing call - football’s (still) a tough game, and a running quarterback  should not be entitled to the same “man in a dress” protection as a quarterback in the pocket.

But there seems to be growing agreement that targeting amounts to a deliberate attempt to injure an opponent.

As it was, Newton appeared a bit dazed, and there’s been a lot of talk lately about the Panthers’ not having immediately submitted him to the NFL’s “concussion protocol,”  when what the talk should have been about was the officials’ failure to penalize a player who certainly appeared to be deliberately attempting to injure one of the game’s best players.

*********** On Sunday, Jerry Jones gave us viewers on Fox a quick look at the Cowboys’ new over-the-top training complex in Frisco, Texas.  The tour ended up at their $1.2 billion, 12,000 seat Stadium, which by arrangement with local offificials, will be used by area high school teams.

Okay, I guess.  But then Jones had to ruin it for me by saying words that sound to me like fingernails on a chalkboard: “This is high school football - NFL style.”

Just what high school football needs.

***********  I was corresponding with Dave Aldridge, a Vietnam era Black Lion and combat infantryman, discussing the subject of courage.  I mentioned that it didn’t seem appropriate to equate the courage required of a football player with that of a soldier.

Dave disagreed…


To be fearless is to be prepared for miracles. To me, courage is courage, whether you are facing an NVA Regiment in the jungle, snarling attack dogs while you are peacefully marching for your Constitutional Rights, or on the football field where maybe it seemed you were outweighed, outgunned, and just about to taste bitter defeat, when one player with the heart of a Lion steps up and inspires his team to let go of their fears, and work together and miracles happen that folks will talk about for the next 20 years. 

To me, that's what your Black Lion Award is all about. I celebrate all those young men and Coaches who pursue greatness selflessly. You have such a great program and it has set wonderful standard for others to follow.

Black Lions!
Dave Aldridge

american flag FRIDAY,  SEPTEMBER 9,  2016   “A lost freedom is defended with more ferocity than a threatened freedom is defended.” Niccolo Machiavelli

*********** I have lived in the Northwest since 1975.  The Seahawks arrived in 1976. During that time, I may have rooted for them once or twice, especially back when they had players like Jim Zorn and Steve Largent and Curt Warner (the runner, not the QB).

But I can't stand Pete Carroll, an out-and-out cheat at USC, and I will never forgive Doug Baldwin for simulating crapping a football in the end zone of a football game. (A Super Bowl, actually.)

And now the entire Seahawks team has announced a special surprise for us all on Sunday, the 25th anniversary of 9/11. On the aniversary of perhaps the last time our country has been truly united, they threaten  a mass demonstration of how far apart we've grown.

They will be lionized in Seattle, a beautiful city infested with leftist types who hate the Unietd States and everything it stands for.

Their argument, we hear, is that disrespect of the flag and the national anthem is "getting people to think."

They're right about that, but what it's getting a lot of people to think is that having the NFL around isn't worth it when it means providing a stage for  spoiled louts to use their celebrity to foment  societal unease.

*********** Broncos 21, Panthers 20.  Whoever you were rooting for, you have to admit that the NFL's game would be a lot more exciting if kickers would miss more of those end-of-game field goal attempts.

*********** Great stat during the Broncos-Panthers game: since 1950, when the NFL and the AAFC merged, only four quarterbacks from Northwestern have thrown touchdown passes in the NFL. All told, they've thrown 92.  (Otto Graham threw 88 of them.)

*********** Back in the 60s, when I lived in Baltimore, a professor at Johns Hopkins named Earnshaw Cook was frequently mentioned in the local newspapers because of his heretical views of the game of baseball.  He not only thought that such time-honored strategy as the sacrifice bunt and “taking a pitch” were unproductive, he had the science to prove it.

A great writer named Frank DeFord, who like Cook was a Baltimorean and a Princeton graduate, wrote a nationally-published article about him.

Didn’t matter.  What the hell did he know?  Most baseball people wrote him off as just another an egghead in an ivory tower.

As most people who follow baseball now know, Earnshaw Cook was way ahead of his time.  Debunked and ridiculed in his day by old-time, play-it-by-the-book baseball guys, his theories became the basis of today’s sabremetrics approach to baseball.

Well.  Perhaps the work of David Romer could lead to a similar assault on the “established wisdom” of pro football.

If only.

In 2002, after studying NFL data between 1998 and 2000,  Romer, an economist at Cal-Berkeley, found that it would almost always have been better for a team to go for it on fourth down and four or less, than to punt.

After updating his data in 2004, Romer found his conclusion strengthened.

Punting unnecessarily, he found,  was costing teams an average of one and a half wins a season!

In a sixteen game season, as an article in realclearscience points out,  “a swing of two wins can make the difference between the postseason and the offseason!”

A man after my own heart,  Romer also concluded that teams would be far better off passing up a field goal on fourth down and goal from inside the five.

As everyone knows, established wisdom dictates “coming away with points,” even if it’s only three points.  Romer contends that statistics support going for it.

(He doesn’t even mention the way excessive reliance on the field goal has made NFL football stupefyingly dull.)

Article sent me by my friend Charlie Wilson in Crystal River, Florida…

Earnshaw Cook:

*********** Charlie Wilson of Crystal River, Florida, is an astute observer of all things football and in my opinion an expert on Belly-T and Triple Option football.

He wrote to tell me a couple of things:

1. Kathy and I went to watch Seven Rivers Presbyterian School play a week ago and I saw a familiar Formation.  Toe to toe Splits, FB a yard (If that...) behind the QB, sometimes behind the Guard.  "Let's Wedge it!" - 12 yards. Then,  "Let's Power it". 10 yards later...etc.

Of course, running an Offense that the other team can't stop calls for Passing, etc.

Meanwhile, Brand X was running the Official Offense of Modern Football with a QB who could not throw, Receivers who could not catch and a Line that could not Zone Stretch because, well, because, that's why.

42 - 0.


2.  Go to the first series for Cal Poly (White Uni's).  The C uses 2 forms for snapping.  For Under Center, the ball is pre-rotated 90 degrees.  I know we've seen some weird stuff but is Cal-Poly the Keeper of the Flame of the Cat in the Cat Box Snap?

*********** Updates on some Double Wing teams -

Elmwood/Brimfield, Illinois is now 2-0 after defeating two ranked teams.

Hoosic Valley, New York won its opener

Queensbury, New York defeated Averill Park, 44-36

Spencerport, New York defeated Monroe, 52-20

Beloit, Kansas defeated Concordia, 22-12

*********** Kudos to #54 Brandon Marshall of the Denver Broncos, who knelt during the National Anthem before Thursday night’s game in protest of James Comey’s reluctance to recommend charges against Hillary Clinton, and taxpayer subsidies for Planned Parenthood.  Oh- and he believes the mainstream media is heavily biased in favor of Hillary Clinton, and he doesn’t plan to stop his protest until it reports all the news fairly. 

*********** I watched the Broncos' #32 stuff a Panthers' linebacker, springing CJ Anderson loose for a big gain, and said, "Yes!  A FULLBACK!  A REAL FULLBACK!"

At a time when there are pro and college teams that don't even have a fullback on their roster - not a single one - it's great to see a team that still clings to the idea that there's a place for power football.

Then a couple of plays later, on third-and-one, that same fullback, a Nebraska kid named Andy Janovich, got his first NFL carry, getting the first down and then some, scoring from 29 yards out.

*********** Were you like me?  Did you write off Florida State when Ole Miss was up by 22 as they neared halftime?

If you live in the East - did you decide it was over ay halftime and go to bed, even after FSU scored with seconds to go in the half?

Wow.  What a game.   Actually, what a pair of games.  Ole Miss 28, Florida State 13 in the first game;  Florida State 32, Ole Miss 6 in the second.

Top that, NFL. Oh, that’s right - your players are too busy trying to bring attention to their grievances.

*********** ESPN suddenly realized that Florida State was…  PRAYING.  PRAYING, for God’s sake!

They got as far as “Our father…” before the network, suddenly realizing what was going on (there has to be SOMEONE at ESPN who can recognize a prayer), pulled off the fastest cut you’ve ever seen.

But surely in our great country of some 300 million people, there was at least one atheist looking on whose sole purpose in life is to bedevil those of us who pray.  Stay tuned.

*********** After waiting patiently  behind Heisman Trophy candidate QB Keenan Reynolds for three years, Navy QB Tago Smith suffered a season-ending  ACL injury Saturday in his first start.

Smith led Navy to a dominating win over Fordham, with 184 yards of total offense, including 2 TDs -  in the first quarter.

I love Army and I hate losing to Navy, but I respect their program and I feel horrible for Tago Smith, the embodiment of a team man.

*********** The Army team celebrates its win over Temple in the locker room.  Trigger alert: if you could be offended by the sight of young men who’ve just played a football game - young men who one day could be required to lead other young men in actual combat - kneeling as if they might be (gasp!) praying, please avoid watching it all the way to the end.

*********** A friend wrote to tell me that his team is having tackling problems.  From the sound of things, they’re a “Hawk Tackling” team (you know what I’m talking about - helmet behind the runner, “eyes to the thighs”) and as a result they’re attempting mostly arm tackles.  And missing.  And going to the ground. (You people in the stands -  I didn’t make the tackle, but at least I tried.)

As many of you probably know, scores in 8-man football are often astronomical.  The reason is that the game is played on a regulation-size field, and as a result, it’s typical for only one man to have a shot at the ball carrier.  When that one man misses - AMF.

As any defensive guy knows, you design things to get a man to the play unblocked. One man.  If that man misses an arm tackle - goes to the ground without so much as getting in the runner’s path - the chances of your other players coming off their blocks and getting to the play are greatly reduced.

In my opinion, when your one unblocked man is unable to at least get in the way of a ball carrier and hold him up until pursuit to arrives, you’re playing 8-man football.

You guys who worship at the shrine of the NFL and think that because Pete Carroll (or USA Football) say it you should do things their way -  take a long, hard look some time at how poorly most NFL players tackle.

american flag TUESDAY,  SEPTEMBER 6,  2016   “We can ignore reality, but we cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.”  Ayn Rand

*********** Friday night, North Beach travelled to Rainier, Washington where we lost, 31-0. It was our first regular-season loss since 2013.

It was the first time I’ve ever coached a team that went into its opening game without having been able to scrimmage.  I don’t recommend it, especially with inexperienced players. 

Rainier was better than we expected, but we played worse than we hoped we would.  On the other hand,  we really had no way of knowing how we’d do.  That highly promising team we had last spring was short two starters who for various reasons were unable to play.

We had seven kids on offense starting for the first time - only one offensive player started  at the same position as last year.  Two of the offensive starters were playing their first high school game ever.

On defense, we had five returning starters, four of them playing at the same positions as last year.

Offensively, we struggled with a quicker and physically superior opponent. We completed a couple of long passes and drove deep into their end of the field a couple of times, but two turnovers and poor execution killed us.

Defensively, we gave up four big plays, including a long score on Rainier’s first play from scrimmage, but throughout much of the game our kids played pretty good ball.

No question our low numbers are affecting us.  Because we can’t afford to lose a single player, we go very light on the contact.  (I’m sure our state association would approve.)  Even if we didn’t care about injuries, though, we have only 13 varsity bodies, so there’s no one to scrimmage against anyhow.

Enough of the whining.

We’ll get better. The game video shows that most of the things we did wrong are correctible. The big question is how quickly inexperienced kids can make those corrections.

I pray for patience.

 *********** Friday night, pregame, they played rap, presumably for the enjoyment of spectators.  It was very loud and very vulgar.  And there was liberal usage  of the “N” word throughout.

This, mind you, was in a small, remote logging town that very likely has no black families.

So would it be any surprise if we were to learn that the local kids take their cue from rappers and freely use the “N” word?

***********  When you have some free time ,google Sun Tzu's "art of war" and the Vietnam war
can be interesting reading. Tim Brown, Athens, Alabama

I don’t have any free time during football season, but I have the book.  It is extremely interesting.

I value three books on war above all others in affecting my thinking on football -

Sun Tsu’s “Art of War”

Clausewitz, “On War”

B. H. Liddell Hart, “Strategy - an Indirect Approach”

***********  OMG.  Megan Rapinoe,  a women’s soccer player, has knelt for the national anthem, in solidarity with whatsisname.

Ooooh.  A woman’s professional soccer player. Who knew there even was such a thing?

If a protest takes place and  no one's watching, does it count as a protest?

Next protest - the Olympic fencing team.

*********** Did anybody have any doubt that Our President would feel the need to speak out on the Kaepernick incident?  Or which angle he’d take?

*********** For some reason I was doing some research on the late actor William Bendix, who among other roles played Babe Ruth in “The Babe Ruth Story.”

I never knew  how well he knew his subject.

Evidently as a kid growing up in New York, he was a bat boy for the Yankees, and later claimed that he had personally seen The Babe hit more than a hundred home runs.

Babe Ruth was famous for his enormous appetites - for food, strong drink, and women - and he once missed a game because he’d eaten too many hot dogs and drunk too much soda pop.

There’s where William Bendix came in.  As an all-purpose clubhouse boy, he was the one who’d procured the hot dogs and soda pop for the Bambino, and the Yankees fired him for it.

*********** Ever seen/heard two ladies called Diamond and Silk?

I just did, and thanks to them, I think there may still be hope for our country…

*********** Nice to see so many ranked colleges step out on Week One and play somebody of their caliber.

There are two main reasons why they’re doing that, instead of the usual beat-up of some compass college willing to take a beating for a buck.

One reason is that most of these games are scheduled at neutral sites (such as LSU vs Wisconsin at Lambeau Field).  With schedules set for years in advance, it’s tough for schools to arrange a home-and-home series with each other.  But a one-off in a big NFL stadium (if you hadn’t noticed, there are a lot of NFL stadia that are only busy during the NFL season, and NFL owners, who love money,  don’t mind at all renting them out for college games.

The other reason is the new college football playoff, which doesn’t punish a team that might lose its opening game to a quality opponent, then win out the rest of the way.  (Can you say Bama?)

And oh - that beat-up of the small-time opponents?  Not a sure thing.

Just this past weekend…

Eastern Washington beat Washington State.

Richmond beat Virginia.

Northern Iowa beat Iowa State.

South Alabama beat Mississippi State.

South Dakota State nearly beat TCU.

App State took Tennessee into OT before losing.

Cal Poly almost beat Nevada.

*********** Sorry, NFL.  While you’re hoping the Kaepernick thing will disappear and your teams are shaking down their season ticket holders, making them pay full fare to watch “preseason” games in which their starting quarterbacks don’t even play, college football gives us Texas-Notre Dame. College football fans are well aware that in an entire NFL season they might see one, maybe two games that exciting and well played.  And a doofus public that’s been brainwashed to believe that the NFL’s product is really exciting misses out once again.

*********** Watch… the… Washington… Huskies.

*********** Sure would like to see Houston win out and pick the pockets of the Power Five Conferences.

***********  I root for any Pac-12 team when it plays out of conference.  Except for USC, that is.  

Lest I might begin to run out of reasons for disliking them, a Trojan was kicked out (“disqualified himself” in the words of the official) of Saturday night’s game against Alabama  for stomping on a Bama player as he lay on the ground after a play. Stomped him right in the family jewels.  Video caught it from two or three different angles.

Just in case you Easterners  wonder why people on the West Coast hate (or, in street talk, “hate on”) USC.

Fight on.

*********** Can’t verify it as fact, but  the strongest claim for first use of a leather football helmet belongs to Navy player Joseph Mason Reeves, who wore one in the 1893 Army-Navy game.

After Navy doctor advised  Reeves that “another kick to the head” could result in death or “instant insanity,” Reeves commissioned a shoemaker in Annapolis to construct a leather head protector.

(Sounds as if they didn’t have much of a concussion protocol back then.)

The helmet must have worked.  Joseph Mason Reeves not only survived Navy football to graduate from the Naval Academy, but he went on to achieve the rank of admiral, and was one of the pioneers of naval aviation and carrier warfare.

*********** I was a bit down Friday night after our loss, and as we drove home, I handed my wife my phone and asked her to try to find the Army score.  (Army had played Temple in Philly Friday night at 7 PM Eastern.  That means it was actually over by the time we kicked off at 7 PM Pacific.)

She said, “28-13…”

I blurted, “Hey - not bad.  Sounds as if they played a decent game.” (They went into the game 16 - point underdogs, so they beat the spread.)

“Army,” she finished.

“Army???” I said, nearly driving off the road.

“Army,” she confirmed.

Amazing, for a lot of reasons:

It was a road game.   Army seldom wins on the road.

It was the opening game. Army rarely wins its opening game.

Temple was a quality opponent.

Army hadn’t won a game in Philadelphia (where most Army-Navy games are played) since 2001.

In recent years, Army has led major college teams in turnovers; Friday night, they didn’t have a single turnover.

Army’s poor record over the last several years reflects way too many games in which they blew  fourth quarter leads: Friday night, down 10-7 at halftime, Army outscored Temple 21-3 in the second half - 14-0 in the fourth quarter.

Best of all, it was done the way the Army people like their team to do it: with a dominating ground game. Coach Jeff Monken’s offense featured two powerful sophomore fullbacks (both converted linebackers) and a quarterback who knows the triple option and has the skills to run it.   (Army rushed for 329 yards, 171 of them coming  on 34 fullback carries. 

Passing?  Come on - we’re talking triple option.  They were 2 of 5 for 15 yards.)

*********** North Carolina’s Larry Fedora got a penalty for arguing about an illegal man downfield call.  Uh - his right tackle was maybe only 3 yards downfield - BUT HE WAS BLOCKING A LINEBACKER!!!  ON A F—KING PASS PLAY!!!

I mean, I’m no friend of defensive people, but this crap of allowing linemen a “buffer zone” of two or three years is B-S, because defenders should be able to read the set-up of the offensive linemen.

The penalty moved Carolina back up against their own goal and evidently rattled the UNC coaching staff. Why else, on the very next play, would they called a screen pass - from their own end zone - to a receiver in their own end zone?  Damned if the guy didn’t catch it and get knocked out of bounds, still behind his own goal line.


american flag FRIDAY,  SEPTEMBER 2,  2016   “An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

*********** I am not a huge - sorry, yuge - fan of Donald Trump, but in my judgement, the alternative will mean the end of our country as I’ve known it.   Without a doubt Hillary Clinton and that scumbag she married are absolutely the most corrupt people ever to rise to the top of American politics, and a Supreme Court packed with Hillary Clinton appointees will mean the death of much of the Constitution that we always thought was inviolate.

What follows is a reasoned argument for why the so-called Never Trumpers, who somehow think that there’ll be a Republican Party worth saving once he’s defeated,  had better get on board…

*********** A team of New York City cops, whose ranks were once heavily Irish (and still retain an Irish flavor) will be in Ireland Saturday to play a game against Trinity College Dublin.

I’m guessing it will be a friendly sort of game, quite unlike one I witnessed several years ago, when I was in Ketchikan, Alaska to put on a camp for the local high school.

Ketchikan, like other coastal Alaska cities, is reachable only by air or water, so the high school has to fly to all its away games (and, of course, opponents have to fly in to Ketchikan when they play at home).

In this particular game, a traditional “pre-season” game - they faced a team made up of the local police and firemen.  Based on the intensity with which the kids played, it occurred to me that some of them might have had a previous encounter or two with Ketchikan’s finest and were using the game to settle the score.

*********** Internet humor…

A cowboy, who just moved to Wyoming from Texas, walked into a bar and ordered three mugs of beer

He sat in the back of the room, drinking a sip out of each one in turn.

When he finished, he came back to the bar and ordered three more.

The bartender approaches and said, "You know, a mug goes flat after I draw it.  It would taste better if you bought one at a time."

The cowboy replied, "Well, you see, I have two brothers.  One is an Airborne Ranger, the other is a Navy Seal, both are serving overseas somewhere.  When we all left our home in Texas, we promised that we'd drink this way to remember the days when we drank together.  So I'm drinking one beer for each of my brothers and one for myself."

The bartender admitted that this was a nice custom, and left it at that.

The cowboy became a regular in the bar, and always drank the same way:  He orders three mugs and drinks them in turn.

One day, he came in and only ordered two mugs.

All the regulars, taking notice, fell silent.

When he came back to the bar for the second round, the bartender said, "I don't want to intrude on your grief, but I wanted to offer my condolences on your loss."

The cowboy looked quite puzzled for a moment, then a light dawned in his eyes and he laughed.

"Oh, no, everybody's just fine," he explained.  "It's just that my wife and I joined the Baptist Church and I had to quit drinking.  Hasn't affected my brothers, though."

*********** Alejandro Villanueva is the son of two Spanish parents, but he is an American,  born in Meridian, Mississippi while his father, a member of the Spanish Navy, served there as part of a NATO exchange.  He attended high school in Europe, but won admission to the US Military Academy (West Point) and played four years of football for Army.

After graduation from West Point he served three tours of combat duty in Afghanistan. 

He has his Ranger tab and his parachutist badge and, perhaps most prized of all Army awards, the combat infantry badge, which can only be earned by participating under fire  in real combat.

For his bravery in rescuing wounded soldiers while under fire, he was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor.

Now, he’s a starting offensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he had something to say recently about Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit out the National Anthem.

What he had to say is well-reasoned and well-expressed, as you’d expect of a West Point graduate.

*********** Okay.  I gave Colin Kaepernick the benefit of the doubt and allowed as to how he might actually be making an semi-informed if ill-advised statement in good conscience about oppression of minorities, etc. 

I sat quietly as people praised him for being so “brave.”  Yeah, bravery.  Sort of on the order of Caitlyn Jenner.

But that was before I saw him in a TV interview, wearing a tee shirt with Fidel Castro on it.  Heres' a guy who made such a big deal of America’s “oppression” of minorities but couldn't take the time to do even the slightest research into the guy on his shirt - one of the great oppressors of our lifetime.

And then, with the revelation that he was at practices wearing sox depicting cops as pigs,  he exposed himself as just an another ill-informed whiner.  So much for any intellectual substance.  So much for bravery.

The 49ers knew what was going on and failed to do their duty and put a stop to that shameful idiocy.  So did the NFL,  that same NFL that refused to let the Cowboys wear a helmet decal honoring the Dallas Police. The same NFL that used to discharge its “patriotic duty” by making our armed forces pay them for staging “Armed Forces Days” did absolutely nothing about his absolutely disgraceful attire and his refusal to show respect for out country’s flag.

The 49ers and the NFL.  Ugh.   A pox on both their houses.

*********** As long as we’re chastising Colin Kaepernick for disrespecting our national anthem and our flag, why do we continue to give a pass to entertainers and others who “perform” our national song in a manner unrelated to honoring our country with dignity and instead designed totally to draw attention to themselves?

There are times when I can almost see myself sitting on the bench, like Kaepernick.  Almost.  And then, when someone asked me why I didn’t stand for the national anthem, I’d say, “Holy sh— ! Is THAT what that was?”

*********** As the tidal surge of feel-good feminization sweeps over America, we hear more and more stories like this one, sent me by a coach with whom I’m familiar…
My school has been through 5 principals in 10 years. That should kind of tell you the place I'm at. They also want 100 kids out there playing and practices to be short.  The district told my lawyers that they don't care about winning at all. They just want lots of kids out there enjoying themselves.   The program is terrible here. No pride. No hunger. I feel bad for the kids. Like you know. It's great to have numbers. But losing turns everybody sour.  The kids are the ones who lose in the end. Sad. 
You think there's any chance we could defend ourselves as a nation with kids  coming out of places  like this?  You think the Chinese, the Russians and the Iranians aren't paying attention?

***********  Hugh,

Hope all is well with you and Connie.  I've been trying to stay caught up with your News You Can Use and saw the Black Lion announcement so I thought I would check-in with you.

I started my 44th year of coaching football.  Had our first game on Friday night against one of the better Division III teams in the state of Texas (3 state titles and numerous district championships), and despite making a ton of mental errors on offense we managed to keep it close.  Down 7-0 with just under 3 minutes left in the game we started what we thought would be the winning drive only to have it fail on a fourth down and 2 at their 35.  Missed one block on a Power and sure enough that was the guy who made the tackle.  They scored late to win the game 14-0.  Not sure if I was more upset about the failure to convert on 4th down running our bread and butter, or...allowing that last score.  Probably both.  All said and done though once we get the mental mistakes cleaned up I think we should have a pretty good football team, and after watching film with the boys on Saturday morning they think we will too!

Please sign us up for the Black Lion Award again.  It has become a very significant award to the boys, and has served as a catalyst for some to turn their lives around.  Yes...even in a Catholic school we have youngsters who still need "guidance".

Best of luck to you this season!


Joe Gutilla
Head Football Coach
St. Dominic Savio Catholic High School

Hi Joe-

Good start to your 44th season. (Doesn’t seem that long, does it?)

Of course you’d have preferred to win, but I know Texas football enough to know that the key is to keep getting better as the season progresses.

For sure you’re in for the Black Lion Award.  Very pleased to have you among us!

*********** From a friend whose name is being withheld…

My friend, Hugh,

Continuing to share this story how your teaching points have come to produce positive results in youth soccer:

Something told me this would be a rewarding and a challenging experience when I was asked by the local soccer rec league to step out of my comfort zone and coach a team of 10-11 year old boys and girls- several with legit. challenges and circumstances, including :
1.  10 year old girl - bipolar (real)
2.  11 year old girl - severe Asberger syndrome (real)
3. 11 yr old boy - emotional anxiety
4. 11 yr old girl - will lose her mother this week after 8 year battle with cancer .

Near the end of last week's practice, there was a slight distraction, which threw me off and I forgot to do the customary end of practice handshake .  Until, the beautiful girl with Asberger syndrome came through the crowd, and stretched forward her hand for the handshake . And looked me straight in the eye, and smiled. I paused, held that moment, and will never forget it, then quickly hustled to each played and delivered that moment for each one.   It was for me too.

See below the note from her mother:

Thank you! I am so glad you are - - - - - - -’s  coach this year. You motivate her to want to do well. I have never seen her go after the ball like she did Sat. It was very exciting and she was so happy after the game. She felt very proud of playing well and liked hearing people cheer for her. She said it was like running with her dad and you just keep going :)
- - - - - - -   loves to make people smile. When I made the cookies the first thing she said was "We have to save one for my coach because he loves chocolate chip cookies!"


Coaching is coaching.  Even soccer. Hahaha.  A good friend who’s won several titles in Mississippi was AD/head coach at his HS and had to take over as soccer coach when his head coach resigned.  He found an assistant who knew soccer and he handled the “people” part of it and they won a state championship.

Whatever it is that we coach, we have a great opportunity to affect kids for the better, and it’s obvious you’re doing that!

Keep Coaching!

*********** As Army gets ready for its opener Friday night against Temple, a look at its 2-deep roster reflects the fact that West Point truly is a national institution: there are players from 22 different states on the 2-deep chart.  There are 15 different states represented on the offense, and 13 on the defense. (Some states, such as Georgia, California and Texas are represented on both offense and defense.)

Interestingly, there’s not a single player on the 2-deep from Florida, one of the top talent-producing states in the country.  Considering Florida’s population and the quality of its high school football, I’m willing to bet that there aren’t a half-dozen other FBS teams East of the Mississippi that don’t have at least one Florida guy on their 2-deep.

*********** To a certain extent, I guess maybe I'm somewhat  to blame for the following letter.  It's from the head of our regional officials' association.

As many of you have heard me say that the number of officials are down this year, in fact there has been a declining trend for the past 3 years, but this year the impact is much greater.  It is not just our Association, as I talk to other Associations they are experiencing the same.  It is not just football, in baseball this past season we experienced the same.
Right now I have 3 Friday nights (Sept. 30th, Oct. 14th and Oct. 28th) that we don’t have enough officials to cover the games.  I’ve reached out to other Associations asking for help and they in turn they are asking me for help, folks we are not talking about needing officials like the past we are talking about needing crews.  I’m are working on a game plan on how we will address any night we cannot cover the games, here is the draft that I put together and would welcome any comments.
    1    If crews members cancel the day of the game due to whatever reasons, work, health issues, etc. and I don’t have anyone available to take their place I will contact other Associations to try and fill the game, if they can provide help I will bill the school for our regular travel and for the official(s) I’m bringing in from another Association.  I will do my best to move people around at the last minute to make the travel costs as low as possible.  However there may be times that I can’t make those switches and will have to have the incoming official(s) travel longer distances to cover the game.
    2    If crews members cancel the day of the game due to whatever reasons, work, health issues, etc. and I don’t have anyone available to take their place I will contact other Associations to try and fill the game,  if I cannot find anyone then I have no choice but to call that school and let them know they will have to reschedule their game to either Thursday night or Saturday.
    3    If we have more games scheduled for a Friday night than what I can cover, I will go to other Associations asking for help, if they can provide help I will bill the school for our regular travel and for the official(s) I’m bringing in from another Association.  I will do my best to move people around at the last minute to make the travel costs as low as possible.  However there may be times that I can’t make those switches and will have to have the incoming official(s) travel longer distances to cover the game.
    4    If we have more games scheduled for a Friday night than what I can cover and I’ve worked with other Associations and by the Monday before the scheduled game I cannot cover the games;  First I will send out an e-mail to all the schools involved on that Friday night asking for volunteers to move their game to either Thursday night or Saturday, I will give the schools to noon the next day to respond, if I don’t have any volunteers by that time then I will put the schools names in a hat, that are playing that Friday night, and draw out name(s).  For example, let’s say I have 10 games scheduled on Friday Sept. 30th, and I can only cover 8 of those games, I would draw out 2 names from the hat and then notify those two schools that there are no officials available to cover their game on the 30th and they will have to reschedule their game to either Thursday night or Saturday.  I can tell you that Saturday night is easier to cover than Saturday during the day, but we will make it work one way or the other
We certainly hope that it does not come to this but we need a plan to activate should this happen.
In the past I have provided you with a recruitment flyer to place in your faculty room and any other gathering spot for teachers.  I have attached a current flyer asking for help.
Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.

In Washington as in most of the country, officials’ associations are having trouble getting new officials.  There are lots of reasons, of course, but one, I suspect, is that it has increasingly become a thankless job. 

I confess.  I will be the first to admit that I am often unappreciative of officials.  Not disrespectful, you understand.  I’ve never so much as received an unsportsmanlike conduct call against me, and especially now that I’m an assistant, it just isn’t going to happen. But I don’t like the attitudes and lack of knowledge of the rules among the officials I see, and I have a hard time respecting them. Come clean, guys - most of you probably feel the same way.

In my case, it’s mostly a matter of the officious, superior air of most of the officials I’ve run up against.  For the most part, they are extremely defensive and unwilling to discuss things rationally, much less admit that they might be wrong.

It may just be their nature, but in their behalf it’s also quite possible that their chip-on-the-shoulder demeanor is an understandable reaction to mistreatment by coaches (not to mention the public). Their response is to take no chances - grow a hard shell and be a prick to everybody.

It’s not too different from police-inner city relations, is it?

It’s time for us to get together in some manner and arrange a truce - coaches must pledge to do more than pay lip service to the idea of respect for officials, and officials must do the same.

Only when young guys are able to see officiating as a necessary - and respected - part of our game are they going to be willing to sign up to learn to become officials.

And just as I write this, another member of our staff corrects me, saying the biggest reason  they can't get good young officials is the Old Boys Network in most associations that assures that the most senior members always get the good games, regardless of ability.

*********** Greetings coach. I live in Orange County. Right near Mission Viejo with their 28 uniform combinations!  Lol. I was thinking about you today. I opened up the oc register and they had a front page picture of USC offensive line. The right side had their right hands down and left side had their left hands down. You rarely ever see this in college or even in high school except for some double wing teams. That's what you preach. And to see it at USC. That's very interesting.  Anyways. Hope all is well coach and best of luck with your season!  Sincerely, Craig Cieslik


It’s nice to hear from you.  I well remember the excellent presentation you put on at a clinic I held in Burbank.  I hope you’re still coaching and still running your no-huddle offense.

Thanks for thinking of me - That’s not going to get me to pull for the Trojans - unless by some chance they start running Double Wing!

There’s nothing new under the sun, is there?

*********** It was back in the 1970s when Jack Lambert, Steelers’ Hall of Fame linebacker, saw the way the game was headed, and suggested that if the idea was to protect quarterbacks, maybe they should just put dresses on them.  Putting aside the fact that among today’s NFL denizens, women in dresses aren’t always safe,  Lambert couldn’t possibly have foreseen the extent to which today’s quarterbacks are protected, in practice as well as in games.

Yet there goes the Vikings’ season up in smoke with the news of Teddy Bridgewater’s season-ending knee injury… suffered in a non-contact!

(Did I say that the Vikings could be jinxing themselves by allowing the first game in their new stadium to be a f—king SOCCER match?)

*********** You KNOW how bad things have become when people start saying your mascot is too fierce.  Your mascot!

And we’re not talking a tiger, or a panther, or a grizzly, or a lion, or a wildcat.  Not even a “Fighting Duck.” (Which is something I’d like to see.)

There’s a guy on the faculty at Iowa who evidently has plenty of time on his hands and nothing better to do who’s arguing that their “Herky the Hawk” mascot needs to smile more.  And I think he’s serious.

*********** Coach Wyatt,
Coach we played our first game of the season this past Friday. We won 49-16. The score was 49-0 when we put our JV team in. Our stats were not great because we played on a short field all night. Our varsity ran 26 plays for 285 yards. We were 15 rushes for 142 yards and passing we were 7/11 for 143 yards. We scored on 55 X-O, X Choice, Lazer 99 reach, and Y corner twice. And our defense scored twice. The team we played ran the double wing but it was not your system. After the game I talked with their coach and told him that your system was far superior. With the school I was previously at we scrimmaged them every year, they saw that before we put the Double Wing in that the school was horrible. But after we did, we were competitive in every game we played. So their coach may be purchasing your system. On a side note, the school I coached at last year who didn't hire me because they didn't like the Double Wing, lost their first game 42-12 against a school that we had beaten the past three years with the Double Wing.

Name Withheld


Sounds like a great outing!  Congratulations!

You may not have made any friends when you told that other coach that my system was better than his - hahaha!

Also, it sounds like you’re using a lot of Open Wing - next time, your offense won’t keep you from being hired!

Thanks for the update and good luck this week!

american flag TUESDAY,  AUGUST 30,  2016   "I take real offense when people insist I am a bigot just to make themselves feel good."   Jonah Goldberg

*********** Ogden Nash, the Baltimorean who wrote the poem about the return of the Orioles in 1954, later stepped up and wrote about the great Baltimore Colts team of ’68 - the year they blew through the NFL, only to lose in Super Bowl III (the first one to actually be called the “Super Bowl”) to Joe Namath and the New York Jets.

Dick Szymanski

The life of an offensive center
Is one that few could wish to enter.
You’ll note that that of Dick Szymanski
Is not all roses and romanski.
He centers the ball, he hears a roar -
Is it a fumble or a score?
What’s happening, he can only wonder,
Because he’s upside down, down under.

Tom Matte

Is there a Baltimore fan alive
Who’s forgotten Tom Matte in ’65?
The Colts by crippling injuries vexed,
Unitas first and Cuozzo next -
What would become of the pass attack?
Then Matte stepped in at quarterback!
He beat the Rams in a great display,
He did, and he damn near beat Green Bay!
Ask him today to plunge or block,
Tom’s the man who can roll or rock.
In Tokyo they say Karate,
In Baltimore they call in Matte.

(A running back, Tom Matte been was forced into service as the Colts’ QB in 1965 after injuries to starter John Unitas and backup Gary Cuozzo.  He’d played QB at Ohio State, but in Woody Hayes’ offense he’d thrown maybe five passes a game.  Colts’ coach Don Shula fitted him with a custom wristband - something previously unheard of - and Matte nearly took the Colts to the NFL championship game.  Only a controversial field goal by the Packers’ Don Chandler kept the Colts out. The controversy, it should be added, led to the league extending the height of the goal posts. And the  wristband in now in th Pro Football Hall of Fame.)

Earl Morrall

Once a grim second-stringer,
A sad Giant castoff,
Earl today is the spark
Of a thundering blastoff.
Though the fables of Aesop
Still wear a green laurel,
They end where the Colts now begin,
With a Morrall.

For it’s Morrall to Mackey,
Yes, Morrall to Mackey,
A refrain that is driving
The corner men wacky.
They lock up against Richardson,
Perkins and Orr,
Then it’s Morrall to Mackey,
Right through the front door.

Perhaps it is hindsight.
Perhaps it’s a sophistry,
But the Colts owe a lot
To Giants’ front-offistry.

(Acquired from the Giants in a bargain deal, Earl Morrall filled in after Unitas was injured and took the Colts to Super Bowl III.  Interestingly, five years later Morrall would take over for injured starter Bob Griese and lead the Dolphins to the only undefeated season in NFL history.)

Bubba Smith

When hearing tales of Bubba Smith
You wonder - is he man or myth?
He’s like a hoodoo, like a hex,
He’s like Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Few manage to topple in a tussle
Three hundred pounds of hustle and muscle.
He won’t complain if double-teamed;
It isn’t Bubba who gets creamed.

 (A legend at Michigan State, he was a giant of a man whose promising career was cut short by an injury caused when he crashed into a down marker on the sideline.)

*********** Zion Harvey, of Baltimore, is 9 years old and it’s been a year since he received new hands. You read that right - hand transplants!  Only 11 other Americans have had both hands replaced, and he’s the first child to undergo the procedure.

How’s he doing now?  Not long ago, he threw out the first pitch at an Orioles’ game.

Now, what he really wants to do is play football.  That’s his dream.

Unfortunately, his mom (I haven’t read anywhere about a father) won’t let him.  Says football’s “too dangerous.”

She wants him to play baseball instead.

Said Zion, ”My next goal: convince Mom to let me play football.”

C’mon Mom.  Man up.

*********** The season’s young, and I’ve only seen him a few times, but so far I’m very impressed with Jonathan Vilma’s work as an analyst for ESPN.  Unlike most new-to-TV former NFL stars, he has something to say, and when he says it, he does so in a patient, conversational way, rather than putting on a show, ranting and emoting like most other newbies.  I predict a bright future for him.

*********** Ezekiel Elliott came to Seattle. 

To a kid born and raised in the Midwest and now playing football in Texas, the Queen City of the Pacific Northwest had to be a real eye-opener, especially on a beautiful summer day.  Unlike most places in the United States, you can walk around the city on an August day and not break into a sweat.

There’s Mount Rainier off in the distance, and Elliott (no, not named for him!) Bay right there at the foot of the city, with the snow-covered Olympics off in the distance.  (You could jump on a ferry and take a ride to any number of exotic locations.)  There’s the Space Needle and Pioneer Place Market (you know, where the fish guys throw the salmon across the room?) and the quirky old neighborhoods - the ones that haven’t yet been bulldozed to make way for multimillion-dollar apartment complexes. And there’s Lake Union with its houseboats -  remember  the movie Sleepless in Seattle?  There’s the EMP (Experience Music Project) Museum and the University of Washington and beautiful Husky Stadium, down on the shores of Lake Washington. 

So what does Elliott do?

The dumshit goes and visits a Pot Shop.

Whee - marijuana’s legal in Washington!  Cool.

Can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same thing if I were 22 or 23 years of age, visiting Seattle for the first time.  Just a quick photo to show the folks back home that I’m Where It’s At, weed-wise.

But not if I were the first round draft choice of the Dallas Cowboys.

*********** For quite some time I’ve had pretty strong opinions about Colin Kaepernick as a person.  To be frank, I’ve suspected him of being a pothead, or an airhead, or both, and his erratic play on the field has somewhat borne that out.

The latest incident - his refusing to stand for the national anthem because he won’t respect the flag of a country that in his opinion oppresses black people and other minorities - doesn’t change my opinion of him one way or another.  

But it does anger me because at this time in our history, when polls show that both blacks and whites agree that the racial climate is worsening, when we are in desperate need of a national awakening to the fact that all Americans - black, white, brown, yellow - are in it together, the last thing we need is another racially incendiary act or statement.

I hear the pundits on TV saying some crap about “starting a national dialogue.” Dialogue?  Based on the statements I’ve read on both sides of the issue,  this is one dialogue we don’t need.

What we need right now is a healthy dose of that miracle drug STFU.

A tantrum, a rash act or statement, may make us feel good for a moment - an instant, really - but how does stirring up a hornets’ nest advance our cause?  Other than to fire up those who already agree with us, it  insults, angers and alienates the very people we have to convince to change policies or actions we disagree with. 

Not to pass judgement one way or another on whether there’s any validity to what Kaepernick had to say, because he seems sincere, but how is pissing off millions of servicemen and veterans and their families - not to mention millions of others who’ve been brought up to show their appreciation and love of their country by taking a moment before a game to show respect for their country and its flag - going to get them to listen to what he has to say?

Despite all the talk about Colin Kaepernick’s right to free speech, blah, blah, blah, it seems to me that in the interest of racial harmony and in the best interest of the country that serves and protects us all, it would be the height of wisdom when we feel we have something we have to say  to first think before saying it, then to say it at the right time, in the right place, and in the right way.

Let’s face it - what makes this such a big deal is that Kaepernick’s “cause” is racial, which immediately assures that he’ll get air time.  And at a time when racial tensions in this country are higher than at any time in my memory, stories that feed them are catnip to the progressive media. 

For the sake of our kids and our country - pass the STFU.

*********** Ahem.  A man was prevented from praying on the Clemson University campus because he wasn’t in a “free speech area.”

Maybe if he had just been burning a flag…

*********** Hi coach Wyatt,

Beautiful day here in South Florida. Hope it is the same where you are!
Coach, would you recommend  flipping the line when running "Tight Wild Cat" with 10, 11, & 12 year olds? Would it be better to flip the backfield at the same time? I thought two "good" pulling Guards followed by two fair Tackles would work for us but we got creamed, yesterday, in our 1st. game of the season! Pulling and backside chase were a big part of our problem. I will solve the "chase" problem  by going to strictly "O" blocking on the power plays. That will, I think, require that I have 3 good pulling Guards. One for injury sub.! I wanted to run Spread Cat but our officials said that "crack blocking" was going to be heavilly scrutinized  for the protection of "defenceless" players!?!? My favorite Offense, in the crapper!
Thank you for any advice you care to offer!


You can make it work with “O” blocking.

Flip-flopping the linemen does cut the amount of play-learning in half, but I definitely would not advise it as a way to create a “good” side and a “bad” side, with better linemen on one side and lesser linemen on the other.  For example, if you put your better linemen on the playside to run your power play, that would mean that your lesser linemen would be on the playside on your counter.

I’m not sure that flip-flopping of the line is necessarily helpful unless you have two different aspects to your line, such as a tight side (with a tight end) and an open side (with a split end).

I wouldn’t flip-flop my backs and ends, either, except that in the Open Wing they have different roles, while in the Double Wing their roles are mirrored.

In short - when we run out of Double Wing, we don’t flip-flop.

Also- Not sure where your officials tell you to can’t crack.  You can’t block low, certainly, but it is still legal for a man on the outside to block a man to his insise so long as initial contact is clearly against the front of the defender.

Nice to hear from you!

*********** A friend named Jack Morrison, who started on Army’s last undefeated team (1958) is a very sharp analyst of Army football, sending out a weekly report on that week’s game and the outlook for the next game.

In his latest report he argues against the use of the win-loss record as the only measure of the job a coach is doing, claiming that the 2015 Army team, which went 2-10, was actually a better team than the 2014 team, which went 6-8.

One of his main points was that the 2014 team lost four games by 20 points or more, while the 2015 team lost only one game by more than 21 points (to nationally-ranked Duke, 44-3).  The 2015 team lost to Air Force by 20 an to Rutgers by 10, but otherwise, it lost seven games by a total of just 30 points.

He makes a great point.  I have long said that  one of a coach’s main jobs and one of his most unique talents  is to be able to recognize improvement where no one else can.

Unfortunately, most people will stop at the won-loss record, but as Jack shows, by almost all measures other than the won-loss record, the 2015 Army team was better than the 2014 team.

Jack noted that he and Frank Beamer, the great Virginia Tech coach, told him of the time he was coming off a bad season and went into the AD's Office expecting to get fired.  

Instead, said Jack, the AD told him that he was seeing good progress and felt that they weren't far from turning the corner and he extended his contract.  

Check this out:

After his first three years, Frank Beamer was 11-21-1.  Not exactly encouraging.

After six years it was no better: 24-40-2.

But in his seventh year, the Hokies went 9-3.  That was the first of 23 straight winning seasons and 23 straight bowl game appearances.

The AD was a gig named Dutch Baughman.  He’s the real hero.

Read about what went into Baughman’s hire of Frank Beamer, and how Bobby Ross figured into it.

*********** Cal beat Hawaii 51-31 Friday night in the season-opener for both teams.  At least it was Friday in the US.  The game was played in Sydney, Australia.   It was Saturday there.

Even though in terms of the number of participants football (called “Gridiron” in the Land Down Under) ranks way back in the list of Australian sports, behind Cricket, Australian Rules, Rugby Union, Rugby League, Soccer and Basketball, the game drew more than 60,000.

Make no mistake - Sydney is a big city (5,000,000 or so) full of sports-mad Australians.  And Melbourne, Australia’a second-largest city, isn't a lot smaller, with arguably even more sports-mad fanatics than Sydney.

My son Ed, who covers sports in Australia, assures me that the crowd was the real thing - paid, not “papered,” that is, made up of lots of people given free tickets just to make the crowd look good, and that the spectators , mostly Aussies, were quite knowledgeable of the American game.

The reason for this is that Australians actually get to see a lot of American football on TV - and it’s mostly college football. The time difference is the reason.   With Sydney and Melbourne both 14 hours ahead of Eastern Time, a 7 o’clock Saturday night kickoff of a game in, say, State College, Pennsylvania would air in Sydney at 9 AM Sunday. 9 AM is no big deal when you realize that for those of us on the US West Coast the first flight of college games comes on at 9 AM, and on Sundays the first NFL games kickoff at 10 AM.

A Saturday game starting at 7 PM Pacific, routine for at least one PAC-12 game every week, airs at noon Sunday in Australia.

For once, the NFL plays second fiddle to the college game: Sunday NFL games air in Australia on their Monday, when most Australians, like most Americans, are at work.

One group of Australians, unfortunately, was not knowledgeable about the American game - the concessionaires didn’t realize that an American football game lasts some three hours, unlike a rugby match that lasts about two hours - and they ran out of beer.

*********** The weirdest idea ever for a bowl game unfortunately never happened - the Glasnost Bowl

*********** A new Department of Justice (now there’s an oxymoron for you) video made to prepare police departments to deal with transgender types advises officers encountering someone they’re not sure of to ask, “Do you prefer if I call you ma’am or sir?”

*********** Following the Sunday night game on NBC was a special about the Manning brothers - mostly Peyton - and their return in the off-season to work with their longtime personal quarterback coach, Duke’s head coach David Cutcliffe.

“Coach Cut” was Peyton’s offensive coordinator and QB coach at Tennessee, and he was Eli’s head coach at Ole Miss, and the TV special gave us some great looks into his teaching methods. 

Coach Cut has done a marvelous job in rebuilding the once-downtrodden Duke program, but ability to develop quarterbacks will really be put to the test with the news that his starting QB, Thomas Sirk, reinjured his achilles tendon a few days ago and will miss the entire season.

*********** Wow.  After the Super Bowl, followed by the NFL draft, followed by countless examples of idiot pro football players doing and saying stupid things, followed by even stupider pre-season games, the college season finally kicked off on Friday night with the Cal-Hawaii game in Australia, followed by an FCS game between perennial power North Dakota State and up-and-coming Charleston Southern.

It was a tremendous back-and-forth game, with Charleston Southern tieing it up at the very end, and the hometown North Dakota State Bison (“BYE-zin”) winning it in OT, just another reminder that at the heart of it all, when you tear away all the promotion and all the hype, the NFL’s product sucks.

*********** After reading an article in the L.A. Times by ace high school sports reporter Eric Sondheimer, I realize how happy I am to be coaching at a small high school in a remote place in the Pacific Northwest.

According to Sondheimer, at least 20 schools in the Southern California area will have starting quarterbacks who started for a different school last season.  In at least one case, Team A had a quarterback who last year played for Team B, which replaced him with a QB from Team C, which…

You get the idea.

Ambitious quarterbacks, striving to find the perfect place to showcase their talents,  have thrown such corny old notions as loyalty and team spirit out the window.

I didn’t get in this game to coach whores.  I’ll take our kids.

*********** I imagine that the fans of the University of North Carolina women’s basketball team were devastated to learn that the University of Vermont had cancelled its women’s game with UNC because of that North Carolina law that (gasp!) restricts bathroom access for transgenders.

Funny what a big deal has been made of an issue which doesn’t affect sports in the slightest.

The NBA has even moved its All-Star game from Charlotte (North Carolina, if you didn’t know) because… because… because…

Meanwhile, the hypocritical NFL, positively paranoid about marijuana use by its players, never said a word when Washington and Colorado, home to two of its teams, were voting to legalize pot.

*********** Mr. Donald Galarneau died last week.  He was 92.

Mr. Galarneau was born and raised in Portland, and after graduating from high school in 1942, he enlisted on the Army Air Corps (now known as the Air Force).

From his obituary:

On Aug. 9, 1945, after dodging 16 rounds of flak to complete a bombing mission over Matsuyama, Japan, Donald and his crewmates witnessed a plume of smoke rising into the atmosphere 200 kilometers to the southwest. The smoke plume originated in Nagasaki, site of the second and final wartime atomic bomb detonation in history.  Donald was the final surviving member of his B-24 crew, a crew that carried out 35 raids without losing a single man.

american flag FRIDAY,  AUGUST 26,  2016   “An efficient hawk hides his claws.”  World War II Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto

*********** Bob Novogratz is a friend and a member of the board of the Black Lion Award. He is truly a wonderful person who with his wife has raised an amazing family.

IN addition to being a two-way All-American football player for Army in 1958, Bob was also an All-American heavyweight wrestler.

One of his children, MIchael, was also a great wrestler, an All-American at Princeton.  Michael went on to achieve great success is business with his own hedge fund.  He is reported to be worth billions (with a “b”).

And to his great credit, he has used his influence and large sums of money to keep amateur wrestling alive in America.

Thanks to his generosity, there is high school wrestling in New York.

Thanks to his efforts, there is an annual college wrestling exhibition in Times Square.

Thanks to his efforts, wrestling is still an Olympic sport.

Now now, thanks to him and other wealthy former wrestlers, American Olympic medal winners will now receive bonuses of up to $500,000.

From The Spectator…

for most athletes in the Olympics, a medal is the ultimate payoff. Not for wrestlers, however, the sport that remains as pure as it was in ancient times, but whose name has been muddled in the public’s mind with that phony show that is called professional wrestling. Olympic wrestlers do not get the endorsements after a victory that, say, a great track and field athlete does, or a swimmer.

At least in America, where wrestlers are not sponsored by the state, as they are elsewhere, and are mostly dependent for a college education on scholarships to make ends meet. Until now, that is. A billionaire by the name of Mike Novogratz, a private equity tycoon, heads a fraternity of well-heeled former wrestlers, several of whom have made it big on Wall Street. They have offered a prize of half a million greenbacks for a gold, and less lucre for silver and bronze, suddenly making wrestlers the envy of athletes not named Bolt or Phelps.

*********** In February, at the University of Chicago to deliver a speech, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez had to leave the building after she was confronted by Black Lives Matter protesters in the audience who held up signs started chanting.

The very next day, the University’s police department had to being an end to a scheduled talk by with a Palestinian human rights activist after protesters disrupted his speech.

And in April members of the Armenian Students Association broke up a talk by a scholar who they said denies the Armenian Genocide.

Enough, said the University of Chicago.

Incoming freshmen just received a letter from the school  stating clearly  that it does not condone so-called “ safe spaces" or “trigger warnings.”

Read the letter from Dean of Students Jay Ellison, “Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called ‘trigger warnings,’ we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.”

In 1939, University of Chicago President Robert M. Hutchens, disturbed by the fact that football was being glorified at the expense of academics (yes, this has gone on for a long time), persuaded the board of trustees to pull out of the Big Ten and  discontinue football.  No other major college followed Chicago’s lead.  Let’s hope that this time the Grand Poobahs at Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Brown and other elite hives of liberal illiberalism will take courage from their betters at Chicago.

*********** A friend took over a team that had zero success last year, and he’s struggling.

Seems the players are questioning some of his strategy - you know, the old “this offense doesn’t work” whinging.

In such cases, where coaches have shared their frustrations with me, I’ve often deferred to Bill McCartney, former national championship coach at Colorado and President of Promise Keepers:
  "You have to convince your players that the only reason a play failed was that they didn't execute properly."

Very simply, you will not solve anything when players who have never accomplished a thing as a team are permitted to bellyache and shirk responsibility.

So long as your players are permitted to blame you or your strategy, they will work hard to prove their point -  not to improve.

It means that they believe that it is up to you to solve, and that they have no responsibility.

*********** Much is being made of the fact that Hillary Clinton is not really campaigning.  She’s out raising money and showing up on TV shows, but she hasn’t attended many rallies and she hasn’t had a press conference in months.

For those who don’t know history, she is running what used to be called a “Front Porch Campaign.”

It is one in which the candidate simply doesn’t get out and campaign.

One example was the 1896 campaign in which William McKinley pretty much stayed in his hometown of Canton, Ohio while his rival, William Jennings Bryan, made hundreds of speeches.  McKinley defeated Bryan.

***********  Food City, a supermarket chain in East Tennessee, Eastern Kentucky and Southwest Virginia,  has produced a highly-moving commercial that honors those who’ve served our country…

*********** Internet Wisdom…

I took down my Rebel flag (which you CANNOT buy on EBAY any more) and peeled the NRA sticker off my front window. I disconnected my home alarm system and quit the candy-ass Neighborhood Watch.  I bought two Pakistani flags and put one at each corner of my front yard. Then I purchased the black flag of ISIS (which you CAN buy on EBAY) and ran it up the flag pole.

Now the local police, sheriff, FBI, CIA, NSA, Homeland Security, Secret Service, and other agencies are all watching
my house 24/7. I’ve NEVER felt safer and I’m saving the $69.95 a month that ADT used to charge me.
I bought burkhas for my wife and me to wear when we shop or travel. Everyone moves out of the way and security can't pat us down.  If they ask why a male is wearing a burka, I just say I'm feeling like a woman today.

Safe at last!

*********** Tom Smythe is one of the great coaches in the long history of Oregon high school football.  One of his tenets has always been “Less is More” - that you could over practice, that there was such a thing as a point of diminishing return beyond which the work you put in simply didn’t produce sufficient results to justify the effort.

Like most coaches, I haven’t had the nerve to depart from the time tested football coaching formula of work, work and more work.  I believe in repping and repping and repping. I always want to run one more play.

I just wouldn’t feel right practicing offense one day and defense the next.  I know of successful coaches who practice that way, but I just have this fear that if we ever missed a day of offensive practice, things would go all to hell.

How smart is that? The evidence is all to the contrary.  We’ll play a game on Friday night and give our kids the weekend off and they’ll come back on Monday and run the offense without a hitch.

And yet…

So there we were Wednesday and (for us) it was hot.  We’d had an exceptionally good morning practice, and we decided to cut the afternoon practice short by nearly an hour, and I’ll be damned if the practice wasn’t exceptionally sharp.  The enthusiasm was amazing. 

Less is more.

*********** A while back I wrote about Army’s Ahmad Bradshaw, the starting QB on a triple option team. (Can’t get any more important than that.)

A week ago, going into his junior year, he faced the biggest decision that any West Point cadet can face - whether to drop out at that point, and owe the American taxpayers absolutely nothing, in return for two years’ education at one of the top institutions in the nation, or to sign up for two more years at West Point, followed by five years of active duty in the US Army.

Bradshaw chose not to stay.

You talk about some anxious people.  I’m told that the Superintendent himself spoke with the young man to point out to him the pluses and minuses of his decision.

At the very least, the football team was without its starting QB, less than two weeks before next Friday’s opener at Temple.  At the most, the US Army lost a potential officer, and Ahmad Bradshaw lost out on a chance to earn the West Point degree, than which there are few more prestigious.

However it worked out, Ahmad Bradshaw relented, returned to the classroom and the football field, and he’s now a full-fledged member of the West Point Class of 2018.

Army’s Jeff Monken has to be breathing easier now, but such are the problems faced by a service academy coach.  I rather doubt that Nick Saban has ever had to deal with one like this.

*********** From the Shaking My Head and Wondering if These Might be the End Times Department:

Mission Viejo, California High School is a powerhouse program, and it has “partnered” with Under Armour to - get this - make it possible for them to have  28 f-king different uniform combinations.

“We did this for the kids,” Mission Viejo wide receivers coach Garrett Gray, who worked with head coach Bob Johnson and UA executives to design the looks, told USA Today.  “It’s going to give them something special that they can put on their social media.  What’s really great is the kids will choose the uniform combination they want to wear each week.  The goal is to not re-use a combo.”

Yeah, right.  Something special.   We have kids who sleep in three different places, depending on the day of the week and how they’re getting along with this person or that, so you’ll have to forgive us if we sometimes fail to give our kids “something special that they can put on their social media.”

Not to mention 28 different f-king uniform combinations.

Black Lion Patch*********** IT’S TIME TO SIGN UP!





(1)  Have your team’s head coach email me with his contact information.

(2) Head coach: Once you’re approved, inform your players that they’re a Black Lion team and one of them will be selected as the team’s Black Lion, based on his leadership, his courage, his unselfishness and his willingness to do anything for his team. Tell them that if they all try to win it, you’ll wind up having a great team.

(3) Head coach: at season’s end, select your award winner.  We strongly suggest that the coaches do it.  We strongly discourage having the players do it.

(4) Head coach: Email us your letter nominating your winner.  We do ask that you send us a letter being specific about why you chose him.  (HINT: Use some of the comments your coaches made when you decided on him.)

Be sure to include the mailing address where the award should be sent.

Be sure that you get an email back, informing you that we received your nomination

(5) Once your nomination is approved, we will send you the Black Lions patch (as shown on the player in the picture) and the certificate suitable for framing.  There will be space on it for you to sign.

(6) Present your award at your banquet or award ceremony.  Where possible, it is a great idea to have a service member - retired or active duty - on hand to present it.  If we can, we will try to find someone nearby who might be able to do it.


american flag TUESDAY,  AUGUST 23,  2016   “I am a juggler; I never let my right hand know what my left hand does."  Franklin D. Roosevelt

*********** TESTIMONIAL

Hi Coach Wyatt,

Love Video 5 -- And 4, and 3, and 2, and 1 -- the Entire Package

This ain't your Mama's Wing-T no more.

       Instead of
  .... it should be...

Great package of football information.  Thanks for sharing.

Ken Hampton
Raleigh, North Carolina

***********   I thought you might enjoy a Finnish explanation of Amerikalainen Jalkapallo. Er, American Football.

Hey - you might even learn a little Finnish:

That’s about how much I know.  A little.  I coached seven seasons in Finland,  and Finnish friends have told me my Finnish is excellent.  But then, I'm not sure how they would know.  Most Finns speak English quite well, and they’re blown away when they hear ANY foreigner even try to speak their language.

Finnish is hellishly difficult to learn. I’ve worked hard at it.  If I’d spent seven seasons  coaching in France, or Spain, Italy or Germany, I’d be fluent in their language.

Amerikalainen means American type, Jalkapallo means football -  Jalka (foot) pallo (ball).  To get a bit more complicated: Amerikalaisen Jalkapallon, which you’ll see,  means “OF American Football.”  Finnish doesn’t have prepositions - you have to learn what all those “case endings” - different endings to the same word - mean.  Fortunately, my study of Latin prepared me for that concept.  It just didn’t prepare me for how difficult Finnish is.

Finnish tends to make large compound words out of several smaller ones.

For example: Rautatieasema, which means railroad station (Rauta: iron; Tie: Road; Asema: station)

For us,  think of footballstadium.  It could happen - football started out as foot ball, then after a halfway stop at foot-ball, they went all the way and made it into one word.

Back to foot ball - sorry, football:

“Pelinrakentaja” - the “maker of the play” - is the QB.   Finns often just say “KOO-BEE” (they have no “Q” in their alphabet)

And as you’ll soon see, Puolustus means defense.  Hyökkäys means offense.

One of the first sentences you’ll see is : Pelinrakantaja on hyökkäyksen johtaja.   “Johtaja” means leader, or manager. Literally, the sentence means “QB (they don’t have any articles - a, an, the) is of the offense the leader.”

There!  You’re on your way to learning Finnish!  Oh - almost forgot - now tyou have to pronounce it. 


*********** Ralph Dispigno is 87 years old, and he runs the nation’s oldest Italian restaurant, Ralph’s, on 9th Street in the heart of still-heavily Italian South Philadelphia. It was started in 1900 by Ralph’s grandfather, Francesco.  Francesco Dispigno named it for his son, Rafael, but in the great immigrant tradition of wanting to be American, he gave it the Americanized version of the name.

You don’t stay in business that long without serving a good product, and you don’t stay in business without great attention to the smallest detail.

After I read this quote from an interview with,  I sensed immediately that if Mr. Dispigno hadn’t grown up in the family business, he’d have been one hell of a head football coach…

“You have to watch me some night and see what goes on. You'll see what it takes. Lots of little things. You have to see the little things that you have to correct a lot of times. It's the little things, like the old saying, little things become big things. My father used to say, "I can walk through the dining room and see eight or 10 different things wrong." The waiters walk by, they don't see nothing. They don't see no mistakes, nothing wrong. I do the same thing, I see a lot of different things. I'll tell the waiter, "That's not right," or ... all those little things that you see. You see during the day, you see those things. That's not a knock on the wait staff, no. It's because I've done this all my life.”

*********** Could there be something pathologically wrong with Jim Harbaugh? Why else, when given a choice between being pleasant to someone or shoving a pie in their face,  would he instead turn it into a choice between whether to use  real whipped cream or Reddi-Wip?

Watch him, vintage Harbaugh, take it as  an affront that reporters, people with jobs of their own to do, might actually ask him questions whose answers their readers would like to know.

Golden Domers everywhere should rejoice.

Harbaugh may be a hell of a coach, but thanks to his arrogance and total lack of charm,  Michigan - the school of Bo Schembechler, a school whose football program has never had so much as a touch of scandal - could make a run at Notre Dame as the Team You Love to Hate.

*********** Uh-oh.  Spoke too soon.  Notre Dame has responded to Harbaugh’s challenge with the arrests of six players, three of them for possession of an unregistered gun, one of them a senior nailed for “allegedly” resisting arrest.  Sheesh. What’s a Notre Dame education for if a guy who’s spent at least three years there still hasn’t learned that one likely way to wind up on the wrong end of a police bullet is to resist arrest?

*********** Occasionally, when I was younger, I’d hear older men refer to a baseball player as an “Old Oriole.”  It meant he was tough. It meant he would do anything to win - within  (and sometimes without) the rules.  It meant he took no quarter and gave none.

The “Old Orioles,” were the Baltimore Orioles, who played in the major leagues from 1882 to 1899 until they were essentially dumped by big league baseball in a sort of downsizing.

The Old Orioles were rough and tough, vulgar and vile.  They fought with opponents and they fought with each other.

In a magazine interview years afterward, Old Oriole John “Muggsy” McGraw recalled, "On that old Baltimore club we used to keep a row of files hanging on the wall back of a bench just outside the visiting players’ dressing rooms, and as the visiting team came out to start its practice we’d be sitting there sharpening up our spikes."

I’m not in the habit of quoting Wikipedia, suspect as its sources often are, but this does sum it up rather well.

The original Orioles were one of the most storied teams in the history of the game. Managed by Ned Hanlon, they won NL pennants in 1894, 1895 and 1896, and sported some of the most colorful players in history including John McGraw, Wee Willie Keeler, Hughie Jennings, Joe Kelley, Wilbert Robinson, and Dan Brouthers.

They were rough characters who practically invented "scientific" baseball, the form of baseball played before the home run became the norm in the 1920s. Like the style known today as "small ball", the "inside baseball" strategy of Orioles featured tight pitching, hit and run tactics, stolen bases, and precise bunting. One such play, where the batter deliberately strikes the pitched ball downward onto the infield surface with sufficient force such that the ball rebounds skyward, allowing the batter to reach first base safely before the opposing team can field the ball, remains known as a Baltimore Chop.

What made me think of the Old Orioles and of a time when Americans were a tougher breed was this article in my Sunday paper about the Baltimore Orioles. The New Orioles.  Definitely not the Old Orioles.

“The Baltimore Orioles have placed starting catcher Matt Wieters on paternity leave.

“Wieters left the team Saturday to join his wife, Maria, who is due to give birth to the couple’s second child.”

WTF?  Paternity leave?  For a big-league baseball player?

 For you young guys, you need to understand that to us older guys, the idea of an expectant father taking time away from his job while his wife has a baby is unthinkable.

I’m reminded of the old war story about the sailor who requested time off because his wife was going to have a baby.  The captain scoffed, and said, “Your presence was required at the laying of the keel.  Not at the launching.”

I'm shaking my head trying to imagine the razzing an Old Oriole would have gotten from his teammates when  he came back from “paternity leave.”  (If he'd have the nerve to come back.)

At the least, if Maria Wieters gives birth to a boy, they should name the kid Muggsy.

(In 1953, at the news that the St. Louis Browns were being moved to Baltimore - to become, once again, the Orioles - poet/humorist Ogden Nash, a Baltimorean, was inspired to write this poem, called “You Can’t Kill an Oriole”

Wee Willie Keeler
Runs through the town,
All along Charles Street,
In his nightgown.

Belling like a hound dog,
Gathering the pack:
Hey, Wilbert Robinson,
The Orioles are back!

Hey, Hughie Jennings!
Hey, John McGraw!
I got fire in my eye
And tobacco in my jaw!

Hughie, hold my halo.
I'm sick of being a saint:
Got to teach youngsters
To hit 'em where they ain't.

*********** Our President, always ready with a comment on any racially-charged police shooting, not only chose to continue playing golf on Fantasy Island while Louisiana coped with the flood, but then had the astounding gall to issue a 16-page document warning the people of Louisiana - as they struggle to rescue and assist one another without regard to race - not to “discriminate.”

If this had been a Republican President, he’d have been roasted on a spit by the liberal media (a redundancy).

Uh, not that people who’ve been chased out of their homes have their computers handy, but considering what they’ve been through while Mister Obama frets about whether to use a 9-iron or a wedge - who TF has the time to read that Washington crap?

And if he can’t break away from his golf (taunted about the “optics” of what he’s been doing, he now says he’s going to visit Louisiana on Tuesday - only a week late) he should at least tell those hundreds of people in Washington who “work” churning out 16-page memos cautioning rescuers and rescued not to discriminate to get their asses down to Louisiana and help real working people - blacks and whites - get their lives back in order.

Meanwhile, anyone who’s ever been caught in the traffic caused by the Presidential motorcade as The Man made his way to and from a fund raiser can only laugh at the Louisiana governor providing cover for the President by saying in effect, that the Big Man and his entourage would just get in the way.

*********** ESPN college football analyst Rod Gilmore has issued a statement announcing that he's been diagnosed with blood cancer:

"First, I feel great and my prognosis is good. “I have great support with an amazing medical team, an incredible wife and family, and amazing friends and colleagues.”

Gilmore, a former Stanford defensive back,  is expected to be in the broacast booth when  South Carolina plays at Vanderbilt to kickoff college football's opening weekend.

*********** With the season opener against defending Oregon class 6A champ Jesuit just two weeks off, Tualatin (Oregon) High coach Bill Zernickow left abruptly to take a job as elemntary/middle school vice principal in California.

The guy can coach.  Prior to coming to Tualatin, he was 87-37 at a California high school, and at Tualatin (too-OLL-uh-tin) he took over an 0-9 2014 team that lost by an average 25-point margin, and in his one year produced an 8-3 season.

If I know football coaches, there’s got to be more to this story than simply a highly successful football coach chucking it all in order to take a ho-hum administrative job.

***********  Naomi Schaeffer Riley writes in the New York Post  that while upperclass elites are in favor of legalized pot,  those people aren’t using it to the extent that the lower class is -  and
now that it’s being legalized, the increased use of pot by the poor and less responsible,  is making them even poorer and even less responsible.

For instance, people who have a household income of less than $20,000 a year are only 19 percent of the population but they’re 28 percent of marijuana users.

The proportion of users who smoke daily or near daily has increased from 1 in 9 in 1992 to 1 in 3 in 2013. Says Steven Davenport of  RAND,  “This dispels the idea that the typical user is someone on weekends who has a casual habit.”

“The typical user is much more likely to be someone at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder, whose daily life is driven, at least in part, by the question of how and where to get more marijuana. Just consider the cost. Almost a third of users are spending a tenth of their income on marijuana. And 15 percent of users spend nearly a quarter of their income to purchase the drug. The poor have not only become the heaviest users, but their use is making them poorer.”

Interestingly, marijuana use today resembles tobacco use more than alcohol use: While cigarette smoking is almost nonexistent among the educated and well-off,  the poor and working class have continued to smoke, despite the exhorbitant  - and increasing - cost of cigarettes.

LINC DANNINGER SLO*********** THE PHOTO AT LEFT WAS SENT TO ME BY Sent me by Kurt Heinke, a longtime Black Lion coach from San Luis Obispo, California -

It's Link Danninger, 13-year-old his Black Lion Award winner from last year, wearing his Black Lion patch at a recent jamboree.

What about you?  Shouldn't your team be a Black Lion Award team?





(1)  Have your team’s head coach email me with his contact information.

(2) Head coach: Once you’re approved, inform your players that they’re a Black Lion team and one of them will be selected as the team’s Black Lion, based on his leadership, his courage, his unselfishness and his willingness to do anything for his team. Tell them that if they all try to win it, you’ll wind up having a great team.

(3) Head coach: at season’s end, select your award winner.  We strongly suggest that the coaches do it.  We strongly discourage having the players do it.

(4) Head coach: Email us your letter nominating your winner.  We do ask that you send us a letter being specific about why you chose him.  (HINT: Use some of the comments your coaches made when you decided on him.)

Be sure to include the mailing address where the award should be sent.

Be sure that you get an email back, informing you that we received your nomination

(5) Once your nomination is approved, we will send you the Black Lions patch (as shown on the player in the picture) and the certificate suitable for framing.  There will be space on it for you to sign.

(6) Present your award at your banquet or award ceremony.  Where possible, it is a great idea to have a service member - retired or active duty - on hand to present it.  If we can, we will try to find someone nearby who might be able to do it.


american flag FRIDAY,  AUGUST 19,  2016   “The history of a battle is not unlike the history of a ball. Some individuals may recollect all of the little events of which the great result is the battle won or lost, but no individual can recollect the exact order in which, or the exact moment at which, they occurred, which makes all the difference as to their value or importance.” The Duke of Wellington

*********** At North Beach High, we have two practice days behind us, and we’re looking good.  Thursday, we got a taste of “hot” weather (a relative term - it was 70 degrees in Ocean Shores, which we consider hot) and our preseason circuit workouts had our kids well prepared.  We worked hard for three hours and no one flinched.

A coach in Connecticut asked me how long it takes to install our offense and get ready to play a game.  I told him that although there’s only one player on our offense starting in the same position as last year, and only four returning starters at all, there isn’t much “installation” required.  I told him that if we had to, we could play a game Friday night (our third day of practice).

We might not be ready on defense yet, but our kids will pursue you and they’ll hit you.  Our kicking game won’t be as crisp as we’d like, either.

But on offense, we’ll be ready.  Our execution will still leave something to be desired, but we’ll be able to run a surprising number of plays, and run them surprisingly well.

The reason for this, as I’ve explained before, is that our kids don’t have to memorize assignments. Their assignments for every play are right on their play cards - each position has one.  The assignments are abbreviated so that they can fit on the cards, and the players do have to know what the abbreviations mean, but that’s not even close to having to memorize their assignments on, say, 40 plays (20 right and 20 left).

I want to coach.  If they know their assingments, I can teach them their techniques.   What I can't do is help a slow learner memorize his plays. I don’t want to waste my time running a memory course, and I don’t want to have to sit a better player just because his ability to memorize is not as good as that of a lesser player.

It’s a lot of work setting up my playcards (I use Excel) but when you realize that all the hard work in the world won’t help a good player with a bad memory remember his plays, it’s well worth the trouble.

*********** The name Wilcox is fairly prominent in football.  Dave Wilcox played at Oregon, then played 11 years with the 49ers, and he played well enough that  he’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  His eldest son, Josh, played at Oregon and had a brief NFL career with the Saints. Younger son Justin also played at Oregon and has been a defensive coordinator at Boise State, Tennessee, Washington, USC and, now,  Wisconsin.

But few people know of Dave’s older brother, John, who played at Oregon four years before him, and signed with the Eagles in 1960, drafted 17th only after his college coach, Len Casanova, recommended him to his old friend, Eagles’ coach Buck Shaw.  John played just that one year - played on the Eagles’ 1960 NFL Championship team - and then walked away.

Turned down a  contract worth $8500 for 1961 and $9500 for 1962, and became a high school teacher and coach. (I can assure you that he didn’t earn $8500 a year as a teacher.)  After years as a teacher, coach and AD at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, he retired to his apple orchard in Eastern Oregon.

As he told author Robert Gordon, in “The 1960 Philadelphia Eagles,”

“You know, I really can’t say why I didn’t return. I was just a 22-year-old kid and I don’t really know exactly why I didn’t come back. President Kennedy was making a big push to improve high school science programs. He was offering draft deferments for science teachers at the time, so I went back to Oregon,  teaching math and coaching football.  I know that had something to do with my decision.  Then, too, as much as I enjoyed my time in Philadelphia, I missed the West Coast and living in a small town (Vale, Oregon, about eight hours’ drive east of Portland, near the Idaho border).”

Now, here’s the great irony.  Dave Wilcox played 11 years with the 49ers and he’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But he never played on a championship team.

John Wilcox played just one year in the NFL - and went home with a championship ring.

*********** Coach,
Can we still shoe shine with the new clip rule?


You can block below the knees in the free blocking zone - provided the contact takes place in the free blocking zone between two players who started out (1) on the line of scrimmage and (2) in the free blocking zone (4 yards on either side of center, 3 yards forward and back of the line of scrimmage).

What you CAN’T do any longer is CLIP in the free blocking zone - you can’t make contact with an opponent from the back.


Because the action takes place in such close quarters, there is always the chance that your player will block legally but an official doesn't see what actually takes place, and flags you.

There’s also the chance that an official may not know the wording of the new rule and may think that blocking low is also prohibited.

And there’s always the chance that your player may actually clip.

So for those reasons, and in anticipation of the day not being far off when shoeshining will also be outlawed along with clipping, I don’t teach it any more.

I’m not condemning the practice, you should understand.  It’s just caution on my part.

But, confirming - it is still legal. So, yes, you can still shoe shine.


*********** Sayonara, shoeshine block.    Hola, slide and turn.  Bon jour, Cutoff/Turnback

I’ve seen this coming for some time.  Anybody who knows me well knows that I’ve been saying for several years that the days of the shoeshine block - the backside tight end’s perfectly legal cut off of an opponent’s pursuit - were numbered.

So long as the block took place in the free-blocking zone - three yards to either side of the line of scrimmage and four yards to either side of the ball - and so long as it complied with other requirements, it was legal,  even when it took place below the waist and from the back, which anyplace else on the field would be clipping.

Not no more, as my grandma would say.

Now, even in the free blocking zone, there will be no more clipping.

I have to confess I didn’t even know we had a problem.  Maybe, because I’ve been way out there on the edge of the continent, I’ve missed what’s been going on, but I just haven’t seen  all those young men on crutches,  and in wheelchairs,  hobbled by low blocks.    Maybe we have another epidemic on our hands, a lower-extremities version of the concussion hysteria that’s being used by football haters to bash our sport.

Otherwise, I have my suspicions that it’s people who have no use for blocking low, and hate to play people that do,  who successfully convinced the NFHS rules makers that it was a serious safety issue that required immediate action.  And if it just happens to hamper an opponent with a powerful running game, well…

But life goes on.  And until the day when NFHS finally makes it official and mandates that we play either flag or 7-on-7, we still have an offense to run.

Relax.  If you’ve been depending on your tight end to shoeshine a defender on the backside, don’t despair.

There’s the slide-and-turn (or "cutoff/turnback")

It’s how we’ve been having our tight end cut off anything between him and the center - without the shoeshine.

It starts with a big slide step with the inside foot.  One big slide should do it, but if not, two quick, smaller ones will.

He slides because he has to stay square.  He has to stay square because if he gets to the center and isn’t needed, he has to turn back.

That’s the slide-and-turn. I used to call it the “pull-hinge” but I changed for two reasons: “pull” could give the player the idea that I want him turning and running to playside, and “hinge” could give him the idea that I want him to give ground, as if he were pass protecting.

Take a look at this clip of 77 Super Power (to the left) and 66 Super Power (to the right).

Especially on the 66 - watch the way the TE slides inside fast enough to unload on the defender.  If he can makes it to that point fast enough, his job is 90 per cent done.  If the center has already engaged that man, the TE will turn back and take the next thing coming.

Here’s where you’ll be at an advantage if you’ve been running “my” Double Wing - if you’ve been listening to the things I’ve been preaching for, oh, close to 20 years now.

I realize that other double wings do things differently,  lining up on the ball, for example, and they must have their reasons for doing so, but I have my reasons for doing things the way I’ve been teaching this, and - trust me - your Tight End’s chances of getting his job done are greatly enhanced if:

a. Your splits are tight.  This applies to most Double Wingers.  Very simply,  the farther your TE is from the center, the harder it is for him to do his job

b. Your TE’s stance is “light” - if he doesn’t have his weight forward (check his down hand to make sure he’s got almost no weight on it)

c. Your TE has his inside hand down.  If instead he has his outside hand down, it’s likely that his inside foot will be forward, and he might get it tangled with the tackle’s outside foot.

d. Your linemen are back off the ball.  Lining up as deep as legal (basically, the rule states that the top of their helmets must not be deeper than the center’s waist) gives your TE more time to get to where he needs to go before any defender does.

Another advantage to the slide-and-turn is that it’s legal against a blitzing linebacker. (See Left)  It’s always been illegal to go low on that guy - even in the free-blocking zone - unless he started out on the line of scrimmage.  And where a blitzer may or may not have started out is a judgment call by an official,  who may only know that he saw your Tight End blocking a linebacker at his knees.

***********  Clark County, Washington, where I live, is just across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon.  Its population is about 50,000 people and it’s one of the fastest growing counties in our state, thanks in large part to a good quality of life and the fact that housing is more affordable here than in Portland.

For years, Clark County has had no Catholic high school, so Clark County parents who for various reasons wanted their kids to get a Catholic education have sent their kids to Portland - mostly to Central Catholic or Jesuit.  Both schools have excellent sports programs, and many Clark County kids - much to the chagrin of Clark County public high coaches - have gone there to play.

A few years ago, Seton Catholic opened its doors, in answer to parents’ desire to send their kids to a Catholic school closer to home.

NO chance of keeping those athletes from going to Jesuit or Central Catholic, though - Seton Catholic didn’t even start play football for a year or two after opening.  Instead, it offered - get ready for this - soccer.

When they did start football, they did a bad job of it, and they’ve won no more than a game in any season.

Now, just before the start of this year’s football practice, Seton Catholic cancelled its football season.  Nice timing.

Back in June the word was that they had cancelled a few of their games against tougher league opponents who, needless to say, were pissed because at that point it was difficult for them to find other games.

How did it happen?

In my opinion, they totally screwed things up right from the start.

Right out of the box, instead of starting a football team, they started playing that damn Communist sport.   Dumb, dumb, dumb. What the hell kind of boys are you going to attract when soccer is your featured sport?

Then, despite the fact that they are actually North Beach’s size, putting them in the smallest classification that plays 11-man football, they chose to play up - to play in the next larger classification - because that would mean less travel for all their other sports, boys and girls.

But it also meant that when they decided to start a football program, they would have to play in a higher classification than their enrollment called for. So in return for less travel for its other sports, Seton sacrificed its football program by throwing it up against tougher competition.  Put another way - football, the most vulnerable and most numbers-sensitive of all the sports, and the most visible to the public, wound up taking one for the team. 

I know that it isn’t unusual for well-established Catholic schools to “play up” and do very well, but Seton Catholic, trying to start a program from scratch, wasn’t in that position yet.  Not even close. 

There also were what I would call a few questionable decisions, including hiring an AD with no knowledge of high school football (nothing new there), and coaches’ thinking that first you decided on an offense (spread) and then hoped that there would be players to make it work. (Didn’t happen.)

The result has been disastrous.  I’ve seen them play over the past three seasons and seen absolutely no progress. We played them the past two seasons, and they were easily the worst team I’ve seen in my six years of coaching at the 2B level.

I’d like them to succeed.  Their principal was once my wife’s principal and he’s a good guy.

I don’t take any particular satisfaction in the recollection that back when they first announced they were going to play football I contacted their AD and never heard back.

*********** Hope Solo?  Or Ryan Lochte?  Ryan Lochte?  Or Hope Solo?

Solo, who called the Swedish women’s soccer team “cowards” because they employed a slowdown, defensive game against the favored Americans (a strategy that proved to be a winning one)?

Or Lochte, who may well turn out to represent to the world  the stereotypical ugly, entitled, spoiled, churlish American ?

My vote goes to Lochte, a 32-year-old man who makes the kind of living swimming - swimming, for God’s sake! - that most school teachers will never know.

What a f—king jerk. The world dumps on Brazil, host country of the Olympics, and Lochte - it appears - thinks it's cool to pile on.

For sure, if what seems to be the case with Lochte turns out to be true - that he and his buddies told a story about being robbed at gunpoint by either cops acting like robbers or robbers acting like cops, when in reality they were 30-year-olds acting  like a bunch of drunken frat boys, they trashed a service station rest room and then concocted the robbery story for some unknown reason (some say it had something to do with, um, the "professional female companionship" they’d partaken of earlier in the evening)  he’s done Lady Solo an enormous favor by surpassing her as the Ass Hat of the 2016 Olympics.

Meantime, Lochte has managed to escape from Brazil, the country he insulted, and fly back to the US, the country which he disgraced.

Back to the idiot sponsors who’ve enabled him to live the privileged life of a career Olympian.

Used to be when someone disgraced his country at the Olympics, they’d send the bad actors home.

Now, My fervent hope is that they’ll send Mister Millionaire in a Speedo back to Brazil.

*********** I’m sorry, but I laughed - and laughed, and laughed, and laughed - when I heard that the USA women’s soccer team had lost to Sweden.  Those poor babies.

It didn’t help things any that their goalie, Hope Solo, who if she were a man would be called a thug,  showed the world how gracious Americans can be in defeat by calling the Swedes “cowards.”

Maybe you remember how America's darlings refused to play a game in Hawaii,  disappointing thousands who'd bought tickets, because the field was - gasp! - "unplayable."   Omigod.

Maybe you remember that they sued FIFA because - gasp! - they had to play their games on - get ready for this - artificial turf!  "A nightmare," team captain Abby Wambach called it.  Oh, the humanity.

Maybe you remember the way they argued that they deserve to be paid the same as players on the USA men’s team.  After all, they said - they had been much more successful on the world's stage than the men, conveniently ignoring the fact that their pay is a function of the revenues earned by the Women’s World Cup, which is a fraction of what the Men’s World Cup earns.  Oh - and forgetting to mention that we’re one of the few nations that  take women’s sports seriously, so it’s not nearly as difficult for them to dominate world soccer as it is for the men.

For the men, with soccer no better than our fourth most popular sport (fifth if you include NASCAR), theirs is a constant struggle for recognition in their own country.

Nasty break, girls.  Better luck next time.  And until then -  shut up and play.

*********** I once heard legendary Iowa coach Hayden Fry put a really positive spin on mistakes.

He said, in practice, you want to expose mistakes -  so you can correct them.

He called it “Plowin’ up snakes and killin’ ‘em.”

*********** Can’t say passing guru Hal Mumme is a bad businessman.  Once, people would develop computer programs (back before they called them “apps"), then they'd sell the programs, and that was that. Once they sold all they could, the programs became like dry wells, no longer producing any revenue for their developers.

And then along came various developers who figured out that they could create longer-lasting revenue streams by “renting” the apps - selling annual subscriptions.

Got to hand it to them.  And  to Hal Mumme…

If you want to tap into his “Air Raid” scheme, it’s going to cost you $750.



I’m not complaining. If the guy’s product has value, then pay his price.  Just be prepared to pay it every year. 

What happens if you don’t pay it next year?  Dunno. Does your system go black?  Do the repo men come in the middle of the night and take your playbook?

Why not go the old-fashioned route and buy my system for - introductory price - $150.  And I guarantee it will never be reposssessed!

And it's a one time only fee! (Until I can find a way to charge a $750 annual membership fee.) 

american flag TUESDAY,  AUGUST 16,  2016   "The word 'racism' is like ketchup. It can be put on practically anything - and demanding evidence makes you a 'racist.'" Dr. Thomas Sowell


Grrr. Had to sit through one of these on Monday.  It was either that or not coach.

My disdain for USA Football, a tentacle of the NFL octopus, knows no bounds, but I must give the presenter credit for making the “clinic” endurable.

I’ve been teaching my way of tackling since 1982.  There were two trigger points. First was when I saw an article in Scholastic Coach Magazine (Jeez, I miss that mag) by a coach in New York State who taught hitting up in the chest.  After looking at it on the field, I liked it, and decided to begin teaching it.

The second was at a clinic in Seattle, where I sat in on a presentation by Bud Wilkinson.  Bud Wilkinson’s Oklahoma teams of the 1950s and early 1960s were some of the greatest college teams of all time. Back in those days I was going with a girl from Oklahoma, and I actually took a job
digging ditches out in OKC the summer after my freshman year in college so I could be near her, and while I was out there I was blown away by the love of OU that I found in all places and at all levels of society.

Bud's presentation was about advice he’d give to youth coaches.  The topic didn’t  particularly interest me - I just wanted to hear the great Bud Wilkinson.  But what I heard thim say  changed the way I coached.

Essentially, he said that whatever we teach, we have to start out slowly,  only picking up the pace when the kids are really good.  Over and over again I’ve seen the wisdom of that - if you start out teaching something at full speed, you'll never be able to make small corrections. 

He also said that we have to deal with the kids’ fears - that most first-time players are scared to even be out there, and we need to keep that in mind.

And finally, he said that tackling should be taught the way you would teach a kid to swim.  You have to help kids overcome fear, and you have to progress very slowly, as they gain confidence.

It took lots of tweaks and adjustments until I knew I had developed a safe yet effective method of tackling that - key point - could be easily and quickly taught to kids of all ages.  I guarantee it - any player who has ever played for me can teach someone else how to tackle.

The big point for me was that it could be taught fairly quickly; there was not a lot of fancy-dancy footwork or steps to be taught, and just a few key coaching phrases could reinforce major points.

In 1999 I put together a video called “Safer and Surer Tackling” to show how I teach it, and with only a minor adjustment here and there, that’s still the way I teach it.

So we coaches from our staff looked on as the presenter showed the “Heads Up” tackling stuff, and shook our heads at the complexity of their teaching method and drills.  It’s fine if it’s just you and a couple of kids spending a half hour or so during the summer, but if you’re coaching an entire team, and you have one or at most two qualified assistants helping you, you’re going to be devoting a LOT of time just to the installation of the “Heads Up” tackling technique.

Look - I personally don’t give a sh— if no one buys another tackling video from me, but it really seems to me that they’ve tried to make it more complicated than it needs to be.

*********** “you can go grab a shortstop and teach him to play quarterback easier than you can make someone accurate.”

So says Washington State’s Mike Leach, arguing that if a guy isn’t accurate, there’s no point in recruiting him.
“People make this mistake all over the country, and everybody can think of one, but there will be a guy who is big, strong and athletic, and everyone gets tempted by speed and if someone has a super strong arm.”

“Then they say ‘Well all he has to do is work on his accuracy. Well ok. He won’t be accurate in high school. Then some college will take him, and then he won’t be accurate there, and then the NFL says ‘all he has to do is work on his accuracy,’ and they’ll take him there, and he won’t be accurate there and then he’ll be out of the league.”

“The thing that’s amazing to me, is that after all of high school he’s not accurate, and now all of a sudden you’re special and you’re going to make him accurate? And then after college he’s not accurate, and you’re special and you’re going to make him accurate? I just haven’t seen that happen. I’ve seen guys improve, but they don’t all of a sudden become accurate.”

*********** Charlotte (NC) Independence High fired their head coach last Friday,

(1) just a week before the team’s opening game…

(2) Just three months after he had heart transplant surgery…

(3) Less than a week after his father died.

Surely there’s a good reason why they’d do this to a guy - and to his team - at a horrible time like this, but if there is, the  school administrators (as usual)  aren’t saying what it is.

So in the absence of any explanation, they’ve left themselves wide open for people like me to accuse them of being heartless pricks.

***********   Morning coach,

Good News You Can Use as usual. Great with coffee.

I want to get your take on a parent/player issue.

On my younger team (13/14) we have 28 players. League rules necessitate a "fair play rule" where substitutes rotate in every other series. No problem with that. I like the rule as it forces coaches to coach every player as every player will be going in the game.

My problem is a parent (who I know well and has typically been very supportive). He is incensed that his son will be one of the rotating kids and not starting for the entire game.

The player is a fine young man, but right now he is short, squat, and slow. I have him rotating in at center and he is barely holding on there.

Dad called me last night (props to him for not hiding behind an email) and wanted to know why other kids were not rotating and that his son would "do what ever I said" and " he loves you and football, but may not come back next year if this continues."

I pushed back without being insulting, but here is my dilemma:

This dad needs to realize we have put his son in the best place to play without the team suffering. He is a good boy, but being short, slow, and weak, limits where we can play him. Mom and Dad are influential in the community and up until this point have been advocates for the program, but they are not afraid to make a stink.

Any advice on how to clearly communicate the fact that his son is not good right now, and we will continue to work with him, but there are no promises that this will change?

Welcome to the Dunning-Kruger Effect -

*********** Ever have a kid who is so good that you just look at him, in practice or games, and go, “Wow?”  Ever wonder why other kids playing the same position don’t see see the same thing you do - and don’t understand why they’re not the ones starting?

All this time, without us coaches knowing it, there’s been an explanation for it. It’s called the Dunning-Kruger Effect,  and it’s named for the two Cornell University psychologists who first researched it and wrote about it.

It describes people who are unskilled and unaware of it.

Seems to me we feed it with all the trophies-for-everybody, nobody-wins-because-we-don’t-want-anyone-to-lose, everybody-is-special, you-can-be-anything-you-want-to-be crap that we expose kids to from the time they’re little.

I’m hoping that Dunning and Kruger aren’t finished, and that their next work will be a study of the phenomenon of parents who spend tons of money on camps and personal coaches and travel teams because they’re too dumb to realize that their kids aren’t as good as they think they are.–Kruger_effect

I can’t tell whether “fair play” means “equal Play,” so If this is just about the “prestige" of “starting," Dad is sick.
These deals are always tough because parents really are blind to their own kids’ inadequacies.

This is a major reason why - in the future - you want to make clear at your parents’ meeting that there are two items that are not subjects of conferences between parents and coaches: the amount of playing time, and coaching strategy (especially as it relates to where a player is playing or how he is being employed).

But it’s too late for that this year, so…

I think you have to be perfectly frank with Dad and remind him that playing time is a scarce commodity that is awarded on the basis of merit, but to make sure that no one goes without, there are rules in place to make sure that everyone does get some playing time…

That the coaches attempt to put players at the position where they can make the greatest contribution to the team.  Fortunately, there are opportunities in football for players of a variety of size and skills.

That it’s your responsibility as a coach to see to it that the boys all understand that there’s only one criterion that determines who plays when and where, and when one player clearly is the better player at a position, the better player will earn more playing time.

That In the judgment of the coach(es), - - - - -  is not at this point the better player at his position.

That where there might be some disagreement with the coaches’ judgment,  it is possible, at the player’s request,  to set up an open competition, but experience generally shows that this does not have a good effect on the morale of the loser.  We think it’s best to accept the judgment of the coaches and work to improve…

That we understand that players mature and develop at different rates, and we want to make sure that they stay with the sport.  So we coach them up and encourage them and try to show ways that they can get better and play more.  In the case of ——— , he needs to get stronger and faster.  Fortunately, those are things that he can work on, on his own.  He should take this as a challenge.


There’s no question that you have to be frank.  Diplomatic, but frank.  

Argue for the benefits of being a part of a good group of young men who are learning important things as they work toward a common goal.  One of those things is that every player plays a part in a successful team effort.

 If Dad pulls his son, that’s too bad for the son.  Not necessarily for you.   Dad may be influential in the community, but when it comes to advocating for his own kid, who’s he going to influence?  I suspect that those he might try to influence already understand quite well what this is all about.

And in the meantime, two things:

(1) Get the parents’ bulletin updated in time for next year, if not sooner

(2) Make a special effort to recognize the backups.  This might mean, as some successful youth coaches I know have done, forming them into a unit of their own, giving them a small package of plays, and telling them that they can stay on the field until they score, turn the ball over, or run out of downs.

Good luck with this one.

*********** The Seahawks beat the Chiefs, 17-16, on a last-play touchdown, followed by a successful two-point conversion. But don’t let that fool you into thinking it was an exciting game.  Not unless you like SIX field goals and just two touchdowns.

The Cowboys-Rams game, on the other hand, was actually interesting.

Maybe it was because of the huge crowd in the LA Memorial Coliseum, out to watch a hometown NFL team for the first time since 1994.

Whatever - we got to see some very impressive quarterback performances.

Jared Goff DoofusFor the Cowboys, Dak Prescott looked great.  I feel bad because Kellen Moore broke his ankle, and I like Kellen Moore, but it’s tough business.

For the Rams, Sean Mannion was outstanding, leading the Rams to the winning TD.  Nelson Spruce, a rookie wide receiver from Colorado, was outstanding, not only catching the ball but getting tough yards after the catch.

Highly-touted rookie QB Jared Goff, while okay,  didn’t have the greatest of opening games.  And then he had to come out post-game looking like a doofus (LEFT).

*********** For years the Marines’ ranks have been between 7 and 8 percent female, lowest of all the services (the Air Force is highest, at 19 per cent). But now the Marines (or should I say “the White House) have set a goal of 10 per cent.    See, since Pentagon (White House) orders that they must open combat roles to women, somehow that means they now have a lot of open combat roles to be filled.

Only a liberal in the White House could have thought that somehow the Marines were missing out.

Now, in order to try to add women, they have begun a recruiting push for high school athletes.

One problem - even those who've signed up aren’t ready physically.

Some, we're told,  "can't do a pull-up or hang from a bar for long enough. And sometimes they need to get faster so they can finish the 1.5-mile run in 13.5 minutes."

All female recruits go on a "high-risk action plan" for at least five months that include vitamin supplements, weight management and an exercise regimen that includes weights, cross-fit training and a pull-up program.

Obviously, the Marines haven’t yet figured out the hidden meaning behind the memo from on high - the one telling them that they WILL meet that 10 per cent quota.

Hidden meaning:  don’t let those stupid “standards” you’ve been using get in the way.

*********** Have you noticed how the story about the NFL and USA Football using phony statistics to push “Heads Up Football” has disappeared?  That’s what a good PR Department does, and the NFL’s is the best there is.

*********** Turnabout is fair play.  With all the Australian Rules football players earning jobs as punters in the American game, it seems only fair that the Aussies might try to find some talent for their game among American athletes.

Mason Cox, a former Oklahoma State basketball player, has shown well playing for the Collingwood Magpies, and the Aussies are aggressively searching for other Yanks who might not be good enough to play in the NBA or NFL but might be well suited to the Australian game.

Basketball players -

Football players -

*********** Neill Armstrong died last week at the age of 90. Not to be con used with the astronaut of the same name, Mr. Armstrong played at  Oklahoma A & M (now Oklahoma State) was the Eagles’ first-round draft choice in 1947.  He played on the Eagles’ back-to-back NFL championship teams in 1948 and 1949.  I just point that out because that was when I first started following pro football, and as a kid in Philadelphia I thought it was just perfectly natural, being the center of the universe and all, that the Eagles would always win. Time, of course, has proved the fallacy of those childish beliefs, and now as I look at my photo of those old Eagles, I note how many of them are now gone.  Rest in peace, Neill Armstrong,

He went on after the Eagles to play a few more years in Canada, then embarked on a long coaching career in college, the CFL and NFL. He was a key member of Bud Grant’s Vikings staff that made four Super Bowl appearances between 1970 and 1977. He was head coach of the Chicago Bears from 1978 through 1981 and earned the hatred of Green Bay fans for a game in which the Bears were winning by a big score in the fourth quarter, yet he still had his quarterback throwing deep.  The final was 61-7 and Armstrong regretted not scoring more. 

There had to be something personal behind it.

From the Bears, he moved on to the Cowboys, helping them win Super Bowls in 1993, 1994 and 1996 before retiring.

Condolences to his wife of 70 years, Jane, who certainly saw her share of ups and downs in her husband’s long coaching career.

*********** Back when Pitt announced its plans to move games off campus, from old Pitt Stadium to Heinz Field, bad things were predicted.  Students wouldn’t go… loyal fans wouldn’t go… etc., etc.

Meantime, Pitt just announced a new all-time record in season-ticket sales:  53,775

(A rare visit by Penn State on September 10 may help explain it.)

american flag FRIDAY,  AUGUST 12,  2016   “The best way to control your future is to create it yourself.”  Peter Drucker

*********** Tom Smythe is one of the most respected coaches in the history of Oregon high school football.

He’s been successful at several  high schools in Oregon and, for good measure, one in Washington.  He’s won several state championships at the big-school level.

He’s been an assistant in the USFL, he’s been a college head coach at his alma mater - Portland’s Lewis and Clark College - and he’s coached overseas, in Austria and Finland.

Tommy Smythe really knows his sh—.

And the most amazing thing about him - the most refreshing thing - is that he’s never been an “outwork the other guy” type.

He said he learned very early in a college business class about the Point of Diminishing Return.  One of his slogans is “less is best.”

He never was an advocate of owning his players year-round.  I’ve heard him say things to the effect that no school’s trophy case has any 7-on-7 trophies in it.

He’s not coaching anymore, but his ideas are still fresh, and maybe more appropriate than ever.

HIs book “The Flex Slot - Football’s Fastbreak Offense” is a good read if you only read it to get a look at his philosophy.

Here’s an example:
Once while coaching in the USFL the offensive staff was assembled in the film room watching the same four plays over and over again. The time reached midnight and still we watched. Most had glazed over eyes and only stayed awake because heads would bang against the wall often enough to make much needed sleep impossible. Finally, I whispered to one of the other assistant coaches, "Why are we still here?" After a few moments to reflect he said, "Because Dick Vermiel did it this way". After pondering that answer for a while I couldn't resist responding to my colleague. "Does anybody realize that doing it ‘this way’ drove Dick Vermiel out of coaching?"
Check out this great interview of Tommy Smythe.  There’s a lot of background noise, but it’s classic Tommy Smythe, and it's worth listening to what he has to say…

*********** Remember the Good Old Days before the invention of the “Transgender,” when gays and lesbians (I forget what they called themselves back then) said all they wanted was to be accepted as equal members of society?

And then at some point they became “LGBT,” and the next thing you know they were  qualified to advise the Big 12 on expansion…

*********** The Dallas Cowboys’ request to honor the Dallas Police Department with a sticker on their helmets was turned down by the NFL.

Oh, no - we can't be seen as honoring police.

This is the same NFL that did nothing about Rams’ players putting on a “Hands Up Don’t Shoot!” act at a time when racial tensions were running high in St. Louis...

The same NFL that did nothing about a Browns’ player who sent out a graphic of a cop having his throat cut…

The same NFL that keeps feminists off its back by wearing 
Pink Kevlar for the entire month of  October...

Oh, wait.  I get it.

It’s also the same NFL that honors our military - for a fee.

*********** Oh my goodness - John Saunders has died.  Only 61.  He always gave off a sense of competence and decency.

*********** Army QB candidate Ahmad Bradshaw knows that when he graduates from West Point, he could be sent someplace very dangerous.

But maybe not a lot more dangerous than where he comes from - Chicago’s South Side.

*********** So now it appears that Centcom - our Army's very top leaders - have been "persuaded" to change the information provided by their own analysts, in order to back up the rosy claims of our progress against ISIS put out by Our President.

Add to that an FBI whose director declined to press the case against Hillary Clinton…

Plus a “Justice” Department that refuses to investigate the corrupt practices of the Clinton Family Foundation but expects us to trust it when it says it’s capable of evaluating and directing the operations of big city police departments…

Throw in judges whose decisions treat large groups of citizens as if they’re childlike imbeciles, unable to provide proper identification in order to vote…

And a President determined to plant Middle Eastern “refugees” throughout the breadth and width of the country…

And it’s hard to make the argument that there’s anyone at the top with the integrity to do the right thing for the American people.

Face it - We’re screwed.

*********** Greg Koenig, at Beloit, Kansas High, runs a top-notch program.  Consistently, his Beloit Trojans rank among the tops in their class.  Part of it, I’m proud to say, is the way his teams execute Greg’s double-wing offense, but a major part of it is Greg’s overall approach to coaching young men, so I was flattered to read this on Facebook -
At the end of conditioning this morning, we started a new tradition in our program. I borrowed it from North Beach High School in Ocean Shores, WA. They are coached by my friend, Todd Bridge, and my mentor, Hugh Wyatt. At the end of every practice session, each of their players shakes hands with every coach before leaving the practice field. It was an outstanding way to finish this morning's workout. I already love this new Trojan Tradition.

*********** I started to laugh when I heard it, but then I got pissed.

The story was about “refugees” in Sweden.  Seems that the Swedish government is having trouble finding housing for them.  And on top of that, for many of the new arrivals, the accommodations provided (free of charge) by their hosts are not up to their high standards.

So the Swedish government, known for its generosity with the Swedish taxpayers’ money, has a great solution.

It’s asking Swedes who own summer cottages,  which they use only three months of the year, to allow refugees to live in them the rest of the year.

What got me was that the radio story said that they were asking “wealthy” Swedes to do this.

That’s what made me laugh - and got me pissed.

First of all, I’ve spent a lot of time in Scandinavia, and I can tell you that there are not a whole lot of “wealthy” people. Not, at least, by American standards.

There aren’t many poor people, either, because of generous government programs.  But you just don’t see that many people living in huge mansions on five-acre lots, either.

High, high taxation, which enables the governments to provide all sorts of “free” benefits to their fellow countrymen (not to mention rolling out the welcome mat for the uninvited human wave that has begun sweeping in) makes sure of that.

But secondly, from my experience with Finns, you can’t assume a person’s wealthy by whether he (or she) owns a summer cottage.

Although Finland is mostly farms and forests and lakes, most Finns live in cities, and most of them live in apartments.

The idea of getting away from it all - getting out of the city and into the woods - is in the Finnish nature, and it’s the near-universal aspiration of every Finn to one day own a kesämökki - a summer cottage.  Preferably on a lake, and always with a sauna.

But owning one doesn’t mean a Finn is rich.  Finns are thrifty people. It means that he did without a lot of other things - toys, conveniences, luxuries - in order to finally buy that kesämökki.

The Finns are generous, trusting people.  But I can’t imagine them letting foreign invaders into their summer cottages.

On the other hand, there is a good reason why they’re unoccupied much of the year. Scandinavian winters are brutal - cold and dark.  And those cottages aren’t winterized.

Maybe the idea is that come spring, after a winter on the shore of a frozen lake, the “refugees” may decide that life in the desert wasn’t so bad after all.

Three Frederick Falcons*********** When I played semi-pro football in Frederick, Maryland, one of my teammates was a guy named Clarence “Motts” Thomas. He was a local Frederick guy who’d played college football at Morgan State, in Baltimore, where his roommate was a linebacker named Willie Lanier (the same).

(In the photo at left, taken in the Fall of 1968, Motts is on the left, I'm on the right, and teammate Gene Snowden is in the middle)

As we got to know each other, we tended to bond because unlike most of the other players, we were both college graduates.

My wife and I and Motts and his wife became good friends, and often drove to away games together.  (The “Motts,” he told me, was because as a little kid he loved Motts Apple Sauce.)

After a season together, he was called up to serve in the Army, and we never got to play together again, but we stayed in fairly close touch as our careers advanced.

His career advanced from coaching high school ball in suburban Washington, to coaching at Bowie State, a historically-black college between Baltimore and Washington, to succeeding his college coach, the great Earl Banks, as head coach at his alma mater.  I remember him telling me how difficult it was following a living legend, especially one who remained on the scene as the AD, but as an assistant coach at Morgan State he had had the honor of going against the one and only Eddie Robinson of Grambling in the Urban League Classic in Yankee Stadium.  (Those were still the days before SEC schools got smart and began recruiting black athletes; at that time, Grambling was churning out NFL prospects.)

After leaving Morgan, Motts got a job as an assistant at Williams College, a prestigious liberal arts college in Western Massachusetts, and it was largely on the basis of his experience there, working with that sort of kid, that brought him to the attention of the people at Pomona College and Pitzer College in Claremont, California, when they were looking for someone to be the head coach of their combined football program.  At that point, I was living on the West Coast, and when he asked me what I thought about making a cross-country move, I remember saying, “Go for it!”

He did that, and made a name for himself at Pomona-Pitzer. First, as a good football coach (to the extent that anybody can ever build a powerhouse at schools with Ivy-type admissions standards, and in a league that didn’t permit its coaches to leave campus to recruit).  But second, as a man beloved by the people on campus, and invested with the supervision of an “outreach” program designed not just to identify minority youngsters who might benefit from a quality education, but also to prepare those kids - and their families - for the rigors of the college experience.

As a football coach, with summers free because of the low-intensity nature of Pomona-Pitzer football, Motts took a job coaching football - American football - in Finland.  He did a great job, as a coach and as an ambassador, and as a sign of the high  regard in which he was held, in 1986 he was named head coach of the Finnish National team.  His recommendation was good enough to get me a job in Finland, too, and ironically, in 1989, we faced each other in the national championship game, his Giants against my Colts. They’d beaten us earlier in the season and came into the game unbeaten, but we won the big one, 3-0. We had the offense - we’d scored 296 points in nine games - and they had the defense - they’d given up only 33 points - but in this one, our defense won it for us.  My best running back was hurt and my quarterback, best in the league, had a sore arm, but in the fourth quarter we managed to block a punt in their territory and then kick the winning field goal.

me and motts 2006The last time I saw Motts (photo at left), he and his wife, Catherine, stopped by our house just before Christmas.  He was retired and they were living in Bandon, Oregon. ( Bandon, if you don’t know, is home of Bandon Dunes, consistently rated one of the world’s top golf courses, and Motts managed to wangle a job as course marshal, which got him free golf privileges!)

In 2008 and 2009 Motts came out of retirement to coach the Bandon High football team, but his comeback was cut short by a diagnosis of prostate cancer.

Sadly, despite treatment, the cancer got him.  He died in February, 2011.  Getting "the call" from Catherine was one of those events that you never forget. I was in  Florida for a clinic in Orlando, and I was staying with my friend Tom Hinger and his wife, Jane.  I can picture exactly where I was sitting when I got the news.

How here’s the most amazing thing, something he told me the last time we saw each other:

He grew up in  what was still something of a southern town in its attitudes toward race. He was the youngest child of a very large family.  His father, who was fairly old when Motts was born, was also the youngest of a large family.  And his father’s father - Motts’ grandfather - was born a slave.

Motts Thomas, the head football coach and esteemed faculty member of a prestigious California college… Motts Thomas, the head coach of the Finnish National team… was the grandson of a slave.

Please don’t  try to tell me that you can’t make it in America.

This whole thing started when I came across an article in the LA Times recently.  It was written  at the time that another Clarence Thomas was confirmed as a justice of the Supreme Court.

"I've gotten a little bit of ribbing but it's all good-natured stuff," Motts told the Times.  "But as far as I'm concerned, I am the real Clarence Thomas."

He noted that few people actually called him Clarence.  "In some phone books, I'm not even listed as Clarence. People who know me always call me Motts. Only my mother calls me Clarence."

But he said that he and his players all enjoyed a good laugh when Justice Clarence Thomas was confirmed.

"We had just had an inauguration for our new (school) president and I was wearing a robe," he said. "But we still had to practice. So after the ceremony, I ran onto to field with my robe on and screamed at my players, 'I got the job! I got the job!' "

*********** I spoke with Art “Ossie” Osmundson on the phone Tuesday.  Ossie (that’s how he spells it but it’s pronounced “Ozzie”) finally retired two years ago, but he taught - and coached football and baseball - at Ridgefield, Washington for 37 years.  He was head baseball coach for 33 years and head football coach for 16.  His 1995 football team went 13-0 and won the state championship, dominating opponents without even so much as a close game. (Running the Double Wing, I should add, and inspiring me to make my first video.)

I had the privilege of coaching with Ozzie for five years prior to that big season, though, and I can tell you there were some tough seasons along the way. That’s when Ozzie showed me what kind of coach he was.  The low point was the year the levy election failed - that would have been about 1991.  The superintendent called all the faculty in and told us that with the failure of the levy (which provided taxpayer funding for all the school items that the state didn’t pay for), it meant that there wasn’t any money for sports. No new equipment, no coaching stipends, no transportation to away games.

A couple of the coaches got up and walked out, as much as saying “screw that.”

But Ozzie and I looked at each other and nodded.  He was in and so was I.  No way we weren’t going to have a football team.

We got a couple of other volunteers to join us.

We didn’t need any equipment, fortunately, but transportation was a bit of an issue.

We managed to get the superintendent’s approval to carpool to away games, and the most part, it worked well.

But in our phone conversation, Ozzie reminded me of a late-season game at Ilwaco.

Ilwaco is on the coast (its teams are the Fishermen), about 2 hours’ drive from Ridgefield, most of it on dark, winding roads.

Somehow, a few cars full of kids got lost along the way, and there we sat, Ozzie and I and a handful of kids, in the Ilwaco locker room as game time approached.

I kept looking out into the parking lot for the latecomers, and Ozzie remembers me coming into the locker room and saying, “Hey Oz - we can play.  We got eleven!”

We played.  And finished the season.  And kept Ridgefield football alive. And Ozzie and the kids went on to reward the town with a state championship, the first football state title ever won by a team from our corner of the state.

And in 2002 they paid him back by letting him go because certain influential parents didn’t think he was throwing the ball enough to showcase their children.  He was only 49, and he stayed on as Ridgefield's baseball coach for another 12 years, but he never coached another down of football.

(Ridgefield went 8-2 last year -  and the head coach stepped down, saying that after four years he'd had enough of the parental interference. “I love coaching and I love coaching those boys,’’ he told a local newspaper.  “If it was just me, the boys and the coaches, life would be perfect. But, we just have people in this community who are relentless and that’s unfortunate.’’)

*********** University of Arizona center Zach Hemmila  died in his sleep Sunday night.  Tragic. What else can I say?

Somehow, there's someone out there who'll blame football.

***********  A friend wrote…  I thought you might find this report interesting in light of our recent discussion about declining participation in football.

On a positive note, we gained 2 new freshmen at our parents meeting last night.

Yes, I wrote, and after reading the article,  another positive is the increase in the growth of soccer.   Just keep bringing in those illegals from Latin America and young male "refugees" from the Middle East and it's sure to continue!

american flag TUESDAY,  AUGUST 9,  2016   “The great promise of socialism is something for nothing.” Dr. Thomas Sowell

***********  Michael Tanks, head coach at Southwest  DeKalb (the locals say “Dee-CABB”) High in suburban Atlanta and a former Florida State star center,  suffered a stroke and died unexpectedly just before the start of the season and his 49th birthday.  Rest in peace, Coach Tanks.

***********  It's Olympic time (yawn) and ifyou're like me, and you don't get excited over the gold medals  of a 31-year old jerk who's never done anything in his life but swim,  you'll enoy this  hilarious take on the Olympics, sent to me by John Rockwell, of Austin, Texas.

*********** The same humor-impaired numbskulls who accused Donald Trump of encouraging the Russians to hack our secret emails (simply because he pointed out the irony that the Russians had her emails and we didn’t) are still at it.

This time,  after Olympic basketball team coach Mike Krzyzewski responded to some joking by former Duke star Kyrie Irving with a joke of his own -  a friendly “F—k you!” -  a headline read:

Coach K Curses Out Kyrie Irving During Team USA Basketball Practice

Obviously, the writer has never played on a big boys’ team.

*********** Clairton Pennsylvania quarterback Lamont Wade had Michigan at the top of his list until they pressured him to attend their camp.  Kid sounds a little full of himself - maybe he’s bent out of shape because they wouldn’t bring one of their “satellite camps” to his town.

*********** From Open Wing newsletter #5 - Two Good questions -

Two quick questions.  First question where would you put your best guard?  Tight side, or open side and why?  

Second question, if you had to strip it all down and just rely on one pass play, besides bubble/smoke, what would it be?

Thanks coach, we open practice Monday.  I’m excited to be back in coaching!

(1) It would be the Tight Guard because of
1. Wedge
2. G
3. Counter to the Open side
4. Black/Brown to the Open side

My better tackle would be the OPEN tackle because I can stick a lesser tackle between the tight guard and tight end and he’ll be double-teaming a lot.

(2) If it came down to ONE SINGLE PASS PLAY at ANY TIME it would be 6-GREEN or 7-GOLD

Otherwise, though,  I would teach RED and BLUE protection and footwork because of all the things we can do with it, to any of our receivers.

Hope you get off to a great start.  VERY glad to hear you sound so excited.

*********** There’s still hope for Levi…

With no concern over whether I’m being a thorn in the side of Yale’s president Peter Salovey, I was a strong advocate of honoring Levi Jackson by naming one of Yale’s two new residential colleges for Levi Jackson, a New Haven youngster who became captain of Yale’s football team and went on to become a vice-president of Ford Motor Company.

President Salovey, to his credit, at least took the time to acknowledge my letters.

Sadly, though, Mr. Jackson didn’t make the cut.  One of the colleges was named for Benjamin Franklin - great person, great American, but without any connection whatsoever to Yale.

Another was named for a person named Pauli Murray.  She did receive a law degree from Yale, but truthfully, when one talks about alumni of a university, one normally talks about those who were bent and shaped by the university as undergraduates.   And despite whatever Ms. Murray may have accomplished in her lifetime, in no way did her accomplishments reflect on Yale one way or the other.  I’ve been reading the alumni monthly for more than 50 years, and I’d never heard of her.

But this is Yale, bastion of everything Politically Correct, and she sure did check a lot of the boxes - black, female, lesbian, feminist, liberal.

Levi Jackson, on the other hand, brought credit to Yale from the time he enrolled, first as the first black athlete to play football at Yale, then as the first black captain of an Ivy-League team.  Yale football was still big then, and his election was an occurrence of such note at the time that it merited a front-page story in the New York Times.

Following graduation, he went on to become the first black executive of Ford Motor Company, and was the driving force behind Ford’s minority dealership program.

To me, Levi jackson was the embodiment of what, back before Yale went coed,  used to be called a Yale man, someone who was expected to represent the university with pride and distinction, and leave the world a better place for his having been in it. 

There’s still hope for me, with the news that Yale will consider once again renaming Calhoun College, named for the South Carolina senator , a Yale graduate, who was a staunch advocate of slavery.

Who better to replace a fiery defender of slavery than Levi jackson, a black kid from New Haven who took his Yale education out into the world and made it better?

Levi Jackson lived the last words of our alma mater - “For God, for Country, and for Yale.”

Tom Walls Newsletter*********** Not so long ago, I mentioned Tom Walls, of Winnipeg, and the newsletter that he sends out to the players and parents in the organization he founded - the Sunrise Coyotes, of suburban Oakbank, Manitoba. Starting from scratch, he and his partner (his wife, Shandy) have seen  the club grow to its present size of  seven teams  and close to 200 players.

Recently, at my invitation, Coach Walls flew in to Seattle - then drove another three hours to Ocean Shores  - in order to observe first-hand our summer mini-camp.

Interestingly, one of the things that most impressed him was our practice of shaking hands:  before and after every practice, every player shakes hands with every  coach.  It's a manly trait that too few kids get to use nowadays, and on a team it's a wonderful way of building mutual trust. This way, it's unthinkable that a kid could go home angry or upset.

"Coach Tom" as he's known back home  wrote about his visit in highly flattering terms in his most recent newsletter.

*********** I’m looking at a way to easily send in formations (including flipping formations) using the wrist coach system. Sounds like you may have expanded on this already with your new dvd sets. I figure using each column, 1 through 5 or so, for a specific formation would do the trick. Obviously this would limit the formations, but it seems like a quick way to communicate formation and personnel. What do you think?

North Dakota


I put a play and the formation (and, where applicable, motion) I want to run it from into a square on the card.  (And each individual player's assignment.)

If I want to run the play from another formation, or with a motion other than the one on the card, I signal it or call it in.

Very simple for us to do and it works.

*********** There was just one running back in major college football last year who ran for 100 yards or more in every game - and he’s not even mentioned as a dark horse in the pre-season Heisman hype.

He’s Oregon’s Royce Freeman, and over the last two seasons he’s rushed for more yards (3,201) than any back in any Power 5 conference.

Maybe it’s because he plays in the Pacific Time Zone, and maybe it’s because he’s been outshone on the West Coast by Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, but Freeman, at 6 for, 230, is a horse.  A race horse.

*********** Amazing what the NFL thinks it can get away with. (Remind you of a certain presidential candidate?)

So someone screwed up royally and  the Pro Football Hall of Fame game wasn’t played. The Hall of Fame (which is technically not a part of the NFL), has announced that it will  stiff thousands of its most loyal fans, who took time off, spent money on gasoline, food, overpriced hotel rooms and highly overpriced tickets to watch the Hall of Fame game by  offering to refund their ticket money.  And nothing else.

Good business sense would dictate making it all good to such devoted fans.

But no.  Not the the NFL.

With billions of dollars in TV rights money spilling out of its pockets, it didn’t get where it is by being considerate of its paying customers.  It knows that they’ll show up with their money no matter how it treats them.

*********** Stephen A Smith tweeted: If @TonyDungy was white, would he be a Hall of Famer?

God, these people who look for discrimination under every rock are a pain in the ass.

I see an awful lot of black guys getting into the Hall of Fame.  Actually, I see an awful lot of black AND white guys getting into the Hall of Fame whose credentials I question.

(The biggest joke, of course,  is OWNERS getting into the Hall of Fame.  What? It isn’t enough to own a piece of property worth a billion dollars or more, but they have to give you a place in the Hall of Fame for being a good OWNER?)

I have the utmost respect for Tony Dungy as a man and as a coach, and I'd be delighted to see him in the Hall of Fame.

But in the meantime it would be better for all concerned if Mr. Smith would go back to commenting and writing on sports and stop trying to stir up  sh—.

*********** Not in Daisy's wildest dreams did they ever think that one day shooting a BB rifle would be an Olympic sport.

american flag FRIDAY,  AUGUST 5,  2016   “I had on occasion to be on the lookout for natural leaders.  Athletes take a certain amount of kidding, especially from those who think it’s always brain vs. brawn.  But, I noted how well ex-footballers seemed to have leadership qualifications and it wasn’t sentiment that made it seem so.”  Dwight D. Eisenhower

***********  Coach; Hope you're doing well. I enjoy reading your News section. You might remember a coach from the 1950s and 1960s named Phil Dickens who coached at Indiana and Wyoming. He ran an offense called the "Side Saddle T." What was the Side Saddle T? How was it aligned?
Thanks, Jim Stovar, Houston, Texas

wyoming side-saddle

That was back  in 2007, and I came across Coach Stovar's email  while working on the final  video of my 5-part Open Wing series.  To help make a point in the video, I’ve included some clips of the side-saddle.  This still shot (above) is from the 1954 Wyoming-Arizona game.  Wyoming is in dark jerseys, on offense.

Here’s what I wrote back then to Coach Stovar - with a little more added since...

Phil Dickens ran the "side-saddle T" at Wyoming in the mid-50s.  He did well there, which earned him the job at Indiana, where like so many others over the years, he did not do so well. I don't know whether he ran it at Indiana. (Wyoming has always been a real incubator of successful coaches: Dickens' predecessor there was Bowden Wyatt - no relation that I know of - who went on to Tennessee where he was Coach of the Year in 1956;  Bowden Wyatt’s successor was Bob Devaney, who would go on to build the Nebraska program into the powerhouse that it was until a couple of years ago when its current AD dismantled it (remember, this was 2007- HW). Others have included Pat Dye, Dennis Erickson and Joe Tiller.)
Tennessee play sheetDickens was a Tennessee guy, who learned his football as a single wing tailback under the legendary General Robert Neyland.  Coach Neyland's balanced-line single wing originally employed a quarterback close enough to the center to take an indirect "T-formation" snap, while offset slightly  to the strong side so that  the ball could also be "direct-snapped" back to the tailback or fullback.  (The diagram at left  is page one of an abbreviated playbook General Neyland  issued to all incoming Vols.  Note where the blocking back - the quarterback, who actually called the plays in those days - lined up.)
That was the offense that Dickens played in at Tennessee in the 1930s, and it's basically the offense that Phil Dickens was running at Wyoming under the name "Side-saddle," which entailed making more use of the quarterback than the General did.

At few years later, John McLaughry ran another version of it at Brown; I remember seeing Brown run it when I was in college.  Several years later, while in Providence, I spoke with Coach McLaughry, who told me that he was not a single-winger like Dickens, but he employed  the side-saddle because he felt that it better enabled his QB to make the toss-and-turn on the off-tackle power play, while still allowing him to run his wing-T attack.

Although Coach McLaughry, from film I’ve seen of his Brown teams, as well as scouting reports I’ve saved from my college days, did employ some direct-snap in his attack, he was basically a T-formation (under center) coach. 

Coach Dickens, on the other hand, was a single wing guy. From what I have seen,  he employed at least as much direct snap as under-center stuff, so it’s a misnomer to call what he was running a side-saddle “T.”
What the Wyoming and Brown offenses had in common was their hybrid nature - from the same formation, they could run single-wing or Wing-T plays.
As late as 1963, BYU was running a form of it, according to an article by their coach, Hal Mitchell, in which he appeared to give the impression that he thought he'd done  something innovative.
General Neyland, by the way, moved his QB away from the "side-saddle" position following the 1948 season.  According to Dr. Andy Kozar, a former Neyland player who compiled and edited the extensive journals of the General: "As teams adopted the T formation in droves, the quick buck (dive) lost its novelty, and Neyland abandoned the quarterback direct pass.  He cited the lack of clever personnel in handling the ball and, essentially, the loss of novelty."

As a young kid on the “pound teams,” (our school had 70, 80, 90, 105, 120 and 135-pound teams) I can remember seeing a few opponents running some sort of side-saddle, and  I can still see the side-saddle having some application in today's youth football, not only because it enables the QB to actually see the ball on the under-center snap, but because it does permit some crossover between wing-T and single wing.

brown side saddle(The page at left is from the 1959 Ivy League'pre-season press guide)

FROM A 1959 ISSUE OF BROWN ALUMNI MONTHLY, introducing new Brown coach John McLaughry…

ONE OF THE QUESTIONS most frequently asked of Brown's new football coach, John McLaughry, since his appointment in February has been:

"Just what is your Side-Saddle T formation?"

Being as good an artist as he is a coach, McLaughry drew the accompanying sketch to illustrate some aspects of his now-famous offense, the only one of its kind in the country.  The large drawing shows the relative position of the backfield, with special emphasis on the quarterback, who is facing the sideline. The two smaller diagrams illustrate the plays that would not be possible from the normal T-quarterback setup. Because of his placement, the side-saddle quarterback can make a handoff nearer to the point of attack than his original station. The play in diagram number two is a standard single-wing cutback by the tailback, in which the quarterback can be used as a key blocker.

How did the Side-Saddle T get its start? "Well," McLaughry explains, "we were using a conventional wing-T at Amherst in 1955, and we were faced with that old problem of tipping our hand on fourth and one situations. If we were going to run, we came out in the T. If we were going to punt, we came out in punt formation. I wanted to do something about it, so we moved our wingback to the deep spot and left the other two backs at their normal positions. Of course, we had to get the quarterback out of the way so we could make a direct snap if we wanted to and yet leave him in position to hand off if that was our strategy.

So, we set him in  this new position where his hands are placed exactly the same as they would be  in the T, but one foot is pivoted so he faces the sideline. We only used the formation several times that year, but, during the winter when we realized its possibilities, we developed a whole new offense around it."

In the three years he used the offense at Amherst, it averaged about 350 yards  per game. In 1957 the Lord Jeffs led the East in total offense with 391 yards per game.

McLaughry 's offense can be deceptive, but it isn't fancy. He doesn't use spreads or flankers to any great extent. "I think you win football games on fundamentals  and toughness. When you see us doing something fancy, it's just to please the  folks in the stands."

Basically, the Side-Saddle T would seem to be a happy combination of the best of  the single wing and the T. The tailback (Barry) stands almost directly behind the  center and will receive a direct pass from him about 20 per cent of the time. The  fullback (Choquette) stands further forward, behind the guard, but is not in a  position to receive the snap. The wingback (Carlin) stands outside the end and  is in a position to take a handoff, block, or go out for a pass.

The key man in the Side-Saddle T, of course, is the quarterback (Pannes). McLaughry listed three definite advantages which a Side-Saddle T quarterback has  working for him. "First of all," he said, "the quarterback can move up and down the line much faster than in the T, which requires a lateral movement. The T quarterback can only gain an average of six inches in his first step, while in the Side-Saddle T he can average four feet. The large sketch shows him taking but two steps to get out behind the end. Secondly, being half-turned, the quarterback can pitch out much quicker and then get ahead of the play faster as a blocker. Finally, he can also hand off much quicker on reserve spins to the fullback, for example, who will line up less than two yards from the ball."

The effects of the Side-Saddle T have already been felt in the Ivy League. The seven other Varsity coaches spent the spring bombarding the officials at Williams College for the films of the 1958 Amherst-Williams game. As Len Watters, Williams coach, said: "Had we charged the seven Ivy schools a rental fee for these films, we could darn near have balanced our athletic budget this spring."
*********** Every time the State Department trots out this “Admiral John Kirby” character, I think, “what a weasel.”

But appearances can be deceiving, because the guy is a retired admiral, a distinguished rank only a select few career naval officers ever achieve, so I figured he had to have done something right.

Was I wrong.  A Wikipedia check reveals that this guy spent just about this entire F-king navy career as a F-king PR guy!

Wow. Such a warrior.

Never went through the rigors of the Naval Academy.  Never been in harm's way. Never been shot at (or fired a shot in combat). Never had to sleep in a tent or eat an MRE. Never had to hump a 40-pound backpack on a 20-mile march. Never had to jump out of a plane or a helicopter.

Never had to do anything but churn out press releases. 

What he did exceptionally well, I suspect, was kiss the right tochuses.

Perfect preparation for his current job.

*********** A coach wrote me to say that he needed to do something more offensively  than run from one formation - said that for him, the “golden age of the Double Wing” was a thing of the past.

I wrote,

Nothing wrong with the Double Wing.  I love it.  Great offense.  But as you and I know, it’s often hard to sell it to some kids and their  parents, hard to sell it to administration and boosters.

It’s a lot like politics - you have two jobs.  The first job is to get elected;  the second is to do what you’ve been elected to do.

Problem is, you don’t get to do the second job until you’ve done the first one.

*********** Tom Jackson has announced he’ll retire from ESPN following this weekend’s Hall of Fame game.

I’ll miss him.  He was one of the first black former athletes to work on an ESPN studio  show, and while he was certainly a good player, he didn’t get his job because he’d made a big name for himself on the field; he defiitely didn’t get it because he acted like a jackass on the field or a criminal off the field.

Damn.  Time flies.  Tom Jackson is 65 years old.  Doesn’t seem that log ago he was playing linebacker for the Broncos.

Political Ad*********** In Arcadia, Iowa, a parade celebrating the local fire department’s 100th anniversary featured a “float” consisting of a Hillary Clinton  lookalike (actually a guy in a red pantsuit) in a cage, but close enough).  Parade watchers were handed water balloons and, well…

************ By now, except for those in foreign countries,  all of you coaches who ordered the 5-DVD Open Wing set  should have received DVD #4.  

After being able to work with our kids all June and July, we now have 2-1/2 weeks of state-enforced “dead time,” which I plan to use to finish up #5, which is about two weeks from shipping.

In the meantime, a good question from an early user:

On Belly (55-XO and 44 XO) - shown in DVD #4 -  is your X block unconditional or do you rule block it like Wing-T belly? Thanks in advance and best of luck this year.

A. All we do (so far) is X-block it. So, yes, it is unconditional.  We run 55/44 if the front is there. If not, we don’t run it.  Most fronts we see permit it.  We usually see a man in the “5” tech and another in either a “”3”, “2” or “1”, with a backer somewhere between the two down linemen.

Besides the “X” block, my two favorite plays that hit inside the open side edge player (DE) are the Criss-Cross…

and (if your QB can run) West Liz 65-C-OP - a QB keep, with the option to take it outside if for some reason it’s clogged. The Liz motion should affect the defense and either loosen the DE or widen the #3 man.  If it doesn’t we’d be crazy not to follow right up with “WEST LIZ BLUE WING BUBBLE” - Bubble to the motioning Wing, with Split End blocking #1, Slot Back blocking #2.  It’s an easy pass for the QB.

Still attacking the open side DE…

West Strong 65-C LEAD is a great play.

West Strong 5-C is pretty good because it hits quick, and with LIZ motion it looks even better.

In a recent mini-camp we took a look at “West 6 Black-O Shovel” (shovel-shuffle - who knows?) We show 6 Black-O  while bringing the WING underneath, as he does on a counter, but slightly slower.  We have the QB put on the brakes on his rollout and shovel the ball back to the Wing.  There should be a big hole between the open tackle’s down block and the Tight Guard’s “O” block.  (The tight guard should let the DE widen for contain.)  This also looks good from “West Strong.”

That ought to be enough to keep that DE back on his heels.  Enough to keep him from pass-rushing aggressively, or chasing our tackle on WEST 6-C.

(All these plays are equally good from EAST. In the interest of time and space, I just described them from West.)

Hope things are going well.

Send me any questions or observations you might have.

Ty Darlington*********** Campbell Trophy  winner Ty Darlington, of Oklahoma, is featured in the National Football Foundation’s latest mailing, shown with enlarged photos of the ring he received.  The Campbell Award, named for the late Bill Campbell, nicknamed "the Coach of Silicon Valley," who made the switch from coaching (head coach at Columbia) to  business and attained the very summit of high tech - as VP of marketing for Apple, then CEO of Claris Corporation, then of Intuit Corporation, then named a member of the board of directors of Apple by Steve Jobs. At the time of his death in 2014, he was chairman of the board of trustees of Columbia.  (Not too bad for an old football coach!)

The Campbell Trophy is presented annually to a senior college football player who is judged "absolute best in the country for his academic success, football performance and exemplary community leadership."

Ty is the son of Rick Darlington, highly successful coach at Apopka, Florida High School.

***********   Since 2011, the National Football Foundation (NFF)  has partnered with Rogers Redding, the national coordinator of College Football Officiating (CFO), to help generate awareness for the rule changes in college football through a series of regular columns distributed by the NFF.

Having officiated football for more than three decades, Redding started his career working high school football in Texas. He later officiated in the Southwest Conference from 1988-93, served as a referee in the Southeastern Conference for nearly a decade and worked three national championship games. He received his bachelor's degree from Georgia Tech and later obtained a masters and Ph. D. in physical chemistry from Vanderbilt. Redding was honored with the NFF's Outstanding Football Official Award in 2010.
Here are highlights of the  2016 rule changes as summarized by Rogers Redding:

Scrimmage Kick Formation (aka "See-ya, A-11!")

Punts and field goal attempts are classified as scrimmage kicks, because they are made as part of a play from scrimmage. The rules for scrimmage plays require the offense to have at least five linemen wearing jerseys numbered between 50 and 79. However, if a team is in a scrimmage kick formation, they may replace some of those players by linemen wearing numbers outside the 50-79 range; these typically are "speed players," backs who are faster than the larger linemen and can get downfield faster to cover the kick.  
Because some teams were beginning to "game" the rules by running or passing the ball from this formation (CAN YOU SAY "A-11"? HW) the rules committee felt that it needed to tighten the requirements. Under the new rules, a scrimmage kick formation must have a player at least 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage (the likely punter) OR a potential kicker and potential holder at least seven yards deep. Another important part of the rule is that "it must be obvious that a kick will be attempted."

Tripping the Ball Carrier
For a number of years it has been illegal for a player to stick out his foot or leg to trip an opponent, but it was legal to do this to the ball carrier. Because of leg injuries to runners over the past couple years, the committee now has made it illegal to trip any opponent, including the ball carrier.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct by a Coach

For many years, NCAA football has had a rule wherein a player who commits two fouls for unsportsmanlike conduct is disqualified for the remainder of the game after the second foul. Interestingly enough, no such rule exists in college football for behavior by coaches. Football is the only NCAA sport that does not have such a rule. For example, in basketball when a coach receives two technical fouls, the second foul disqualifies him for the rest of the game.
The rules committee believes that as teachers and adult leaders of young athletes playing football, coaches should be held to a high standard of behavior appropriate to such a responsible position. Thus, starting in 2016, the rule will be that a coach who commits two fouls for unsportsmanlike conduct will be disqualified from the game. He must leave the playing field before the ball is next put into play, and he must remain out of view of the playing field for the remainder of the game.

Use of Technology for Coaching
The rules committee was recommending that coaches be allowed to use video and computers in the press box and the locker rooms, but after receiving expressions of concern from a number of conferences about implementing this change, the committee has voted to delay this new rule until 2017. This will give institutions more time to prepare for this major change in the use of technology. So there will be no change in the technology-for-coaching rule for 2016.

Sliding Ball Carrier: Defenseless Player
There are several situations where a player is considered "defenseless" for purposes of the targeting rule. Examples include a pass receiver who is concentrating on catching the ball and a kick-return man awaiting a punt. This year the committee added the ball carrier who has "obviously given himself up and is sliding feet-first."

Low Hits on the Passer

This rule that protects the passer is clarified that the tackler may not legally make forcible contact against the passer at the knee or below, even if he is making a wrap-up tackle.

american flag TUESDAY,  AUGUST 2,  2016   “Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.”  Milton Friedman

***********    In September, 2014, John McPhee wrote in the New Yorker magazine about one of his old classmates at Princeton, the last of the long line of single wing tailbacks to win the Heisman Trophy:

The Heisman winner was Dick Kazmaier, who went to Harvard Business School instead of the N.F.L. There were ten of us around a central living room, where a sign on a wall asked what it might have been like to be a college roommate of Red Grange. As I said in an introduction at an event some fifty years later, we knew what it was like to live with Dick. He had better things to do than play gin rummy. He drew a tight circle around his teammates, roommates, and other friends. Across the years, he often said that what mattered to him most at Princeton was, in his words, “what I was part of: I was like every other student.” He alluded to the Heisman Trophy and all that went with it as “an unusual external part of the picture.”

He was enduringly superstitious. When he went down the tunnel into Palmer Stadium for football games, he was always the last player. It had been so augured. Somewhere. He told George the quarterback never to let him touch the ball on Princeton’s first play. In the old single wing, the tailback and the fullback always lined up where either one could take the snap. Dick was the tailback, Russ McNeil the fullback. After other teams somehow became aware of Kazmaier’s superstition, Russ McNeil, on the first play, went down like General Custer. The number that Kazmaier wore—42—became his lucky number. His Massachusetts license plate was KA42. His e-mail address was (’52 being his class year). When he was in a restaurant, if the check came to x dollars and forty-two cents he was made happier than he could ever be by the sum contents of ten thousand fortune cookies. Seat No. 42 in any kind of theatre or arena was a good-luck seat. His company, Kazmaier Associates, on Elm Street, in Concord, Massachusetts, seemed to have a tentacle in every aspect of most known sports, from the international licensing of basketball broadcasts to the manufacture and sale of baseball uniforms and football helmets. Dick’s parking space at Kazmaier Associates was No. 42. There were thirty-six spaces in the parking lot.

*********** Nial Ferguson, British historian, wrote in the Sunday Times (of London) on November 15…

Like the Roman Empire in the early fifth century, Europe has allowed its defenses to crumble.  As its wealth has grown, so its military prowess has shrunk, along with its self-belief. It has grown decadent in its shopping malls and sports stadiums. At the same time it has opened its gates to outsiders who have coveted its wealth without renouncing their ancestral faith.

It is doubtless true to say that the overwhelming majority of Muslims in Europe are not violent. But it is also true that the majority hold views not easily reconciled with the principles of our liberal democracies, including our novel notions about sexual equality and tolerance not merely of religious diversity but of nearly all sexual proclivities.  And it is thus remarkably easy for a violent minority to acquire their weapons and prepare their assaults on civilization within these avowedly peace-loving communities.

I do not know enough about the fifth century to be able to quote Romans who described each new act of barbarism as unprecedented, even when it had happened multiple times before; or who issued pious calls for solidarity after the fall of Rome, even when standing together meant falling together; or who issued threats of pitiless revenge, even when all they intended to do was to strike a melodramatic posture.

I do know that 21st-century Europe has itself to blame for the mess it is in now…

“Romans before the fall,” wrote historian Bryan Ward-Perkins, “were as certain as we are today that their world would continue forever substantially unchanged.  They were wrong.  We would be wise not to repeat their complacency.”

*********** This past weekend, we conducted a two-day, four-session mini-camp at North Beach High (Ocean Shores, Washington), and it was both exciting and scary.

Exciting because of the progress we’re making, despite the way graduation hit us; scary because while we can put a decent 11 on the field, we have only 17 bodies.

But they’re good bodies.  They’re good kids - “OKG’s” (Our Kinda Guys) as Washington coach Chris Peterson calls them - and they’re coachable and reliable and as much fun to work with as any kids I’ve ever been around.

I was reading a little bit of football history Monday morning and happened to be reading about Illinois’ legendary coach Bob Zuppke.

In 1921, his Fighting Illini upset Ohio State - in Columbus, yet - 7-0.

Before the game, he informed his team that his starters had better plan on being iron men:

“We will play only eleven men,” he told them. “Nobody but a dead man can come out of the game.”

Imagine the number the media would do on a coach who said that nowadays.

Zuppke was known to enjoy a drink.  Once, while taking a sip or two, he said to Howard Jones, great coach at Yale, then Iowa,  then  USC, “Howard, you’re a great coach, but you’d be a greater one if you'd take a drink once in a while.  You’d have more imagination.”

Replied Jones, “I never heard of a drink yet figuring out a play.”

“You haven’t?” Zuppke said.  “Well, I’ve just had two drinks and figured out three new plays.”

(The book I found that in is a treasure: Tim Cohane’s “Great College Football Coaches of the Twenties and Thirties.”)

***********  Hi Coach,

Just a quick note to thank you for the Open Wing DVD's. I thoroughly enjoyed them, as I have all of your material. I really appreciate the effort you put into these. They are jam packed with a myriad of possibilities coaches can implement.


Ed C., Florida

*********** Steve Spurrier was not universally liked by rival coaches. He was hated by opposing fans. He sneeringly insulted and demeaned opponents, and
had (has?) a well-earned  reputation for being a wiseass.  So it does seem strange that his new job title at the University of Florida  should contain the word “ambassador.”  

But anyhow, he’s just been named Ambassador and Consultant for the Florida Athletic Department.

The  job's probably just going to entail going around speaking to alumni and criticizing whoever the Gators' current head coach happens to be.

*********** I noticed that you go on first sound and the QB moves his hands to start motion.

Why? Have you found that this prevents defenders from "jumping the snap?" Do you ever go on another count? How long did it take until you had everyone firing off on "go"?

Yes, we start motion with the hands and snap it on “GO!”

I have snapped it on “GO” for at least 10 years.

We NEVER get procedure penalties.  Haven't had one in years.  It’s no fun starting out first-and-fifteen.  And it’s no fun when you had second and goal from the three and suddenly it’s from the eight. What’s it worth to go into a game knowing that you’ve already eliminated one way that can beat you?

We do practice going on “Second GO,” and we will actually do it occasionally in a game.  

Sometimes, we will quarterback sneak (when we go under center) “On the Goose” - the center snaps it when the QB flips his hands up against his thighs.  Everyone else moves on the snap.

It hasn’t ever been a problem for me anywhere I’ve gone, either as a coach or a guest coach.

The most important thing to me: it’s one less thing for our kids to remember.

*********** Donald J. Trump (why do they insist on including the “J”, as if there’s some other Donald Trump out there that we might confuse him with?)  reminds me of a football coach who’s up against a crummy team that he ought to be beating by ten touchdowns - but he continues to stifle his team’s drives by picking up unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after unsportsmanlike conduct penalty,  for insulting the opposing players, flipping off the crowd,  and arguing with the referees over trivial things that have nothing to do with the game.

So now here he is claiming that he got a letter from the NFL complaining about a presidential debate being scheduled at the same time as an NFL game, while the NFL denies that there was such a letter.

Whom to believe?

Donald Trump? The NFL? 

Neither one of them known for being completely respectful of the truth (how’s that for being tactful?).

Jeez - you’d think, in return for The Donald almost singlehandedly bringing down the USFL, that the NFL would be in his camp.

*********** Steve Eisenhaur, an All-American guard at Navy in the 1950s who went on to an outstanding career as a Marine officer - including flying 120 combat missions in Vietnam - died back in May.

*********** Bill McCartney, 1989 coach of the year at Colorado, is suffering from Alzheimer’s, his family has announced.

His has been an amazing coaching life.

He was a successful high school coach in suburban Detroit when he was hired by the great Bo Schembechler at Michigan.  He was the only high school coach Schembechler ever hired.

After eight years as an assistant under Schembechler, he was hired at Colorado, succeeding Chuck Fairbanks in June of 1982. (Talk about a late start.)

In 1982 the Buffs went 2-8-1; they climbed to 4-7 in 1983, but went in the dumps in 1984 with a 1-10 record.   That’s 7-25-1 in three years.

He might not have lasted in today’s win-immediate climate.
   But he was given a contract extension, and he repaid the CU people by going 7-5 in 1985 and, getting progressively better, until winning a share of the national title in 1990.

His time at Colorado had its soap-opera aspects: in early 1989, star quarterback Sal Aunese was diagnosed with stomach cancer.  He died in the middle of the 1989 season, and at about the same time as his death, it was revealed to the public that Coach McCartney’s 19-year-old daughter had given birth to Sal Aunese’s child, a baby boy.

To his credit, Coach McCartney and his family handled the situation with great aplomb.***

While at Colorado, he founded Promise Keepers, a Christian men’s organization that, in my opinion, showed great promise (no joke intended) as a means of bringing American men together to accept their responsibilities as husbands, fathers, and men.

In 1994, he resigned at Colorado.  He was just 54, but he never coached again.

In 1995, his name was mentioned as a possible successor when Bob Schembechler retired at Michigan, but the job went instead to Gary Moeller.

May God watch over Coach McCartney and his family as they go through what are sure to be some difficult times.

As they said in a statement,  "We are making this public to ask for your understanding and patience as we know he frequently runs into fans, friends and former players.  This is a frustrating and confusing disease, and if he appears disconnected or unknowing, please don't take it personally."

Great advice.  I mentioned earlier a book that my daughter-in-law, Michelle Wyatt, has had published in Australia about dealing with her Mum, Bev’s, 13-year bout with Alzheimer’s.  It’s called “Not Right in the Head,” a title  inspired by Michelle’s dad, Frank, who used the expression to describe some of the residents at the Alzheimer’s care-home where Bev was living.  (Well no kidding, was MIchelle’s reply.  That’s why they’re here.) Shamelessly plugging the book, I must say that it’s a marvelous insight into one family’s coping with a horrible disease that nearly all of us have had some exposure to.

*** The McCartneys handled the news that their daughter was carrying Sal Aunese’s baby with about as much dignity and Christian understanding as is humanly possible.

After hearing the news that not only was their daughter pregnant, not only was the father of her child refusing to have anything to do with her, but that he and his friends were encouraging her to have an abortion.  In response, Lyndi McCartney, Bill’s wife, wrote Sal one of the most beautiful, courageous letters I’ve ever read.

The late, great Jim Murray of the L.A. Times wrote this, in 2008…

“You’re not going to be happy with me,” Kristy McCartney told Aunese when she broke the news to him. She was right. Aunese was so unthrilled, he refused to have anything to do with her. His friends closed around, recommending Kristy have an abortion and not tell her parents.  Kristy, heartbroken, told her parents.

Kristy’s mother, Lyndi, sat down and penned this letter to Aunese:

“Hi Sal,

“I wanted to talk to you in person so I could give you a big hug. . . . I know you’re hurting, too, and I know it’s very scary and difficult to face. I want you to have confidence that the decisions you’ll be making . . . will be totally acceptable no matter what they are–with two exceptions. No quitting school and no quitting the team. These are vital to your future and personal well-being.

“Kristy is so deeply concerned for your future and doesn’t want to hamper your success in any way. We feel the same and I hope this letter will convey warm feelings and no judgments.

“Coach Mac and I think you are a terrific person, and it is not our desire to pressure you or punish you in any way. What you and Kristy are experiencing is life. Perhaps it’s not what either of you planned, but a moment of passion has created a miracle within Kristy, and I know that within Kristy’s heart that moment was filled with love. . . .

“I really need to express my feelings as Kristy’s mom. She is my treasure, my beautiful little girl, her Dad and I love her with every fiber of our being. We have prayed for a loving Christian mate for our children.

“It’s important that the mate she chooses has a lifelong, loving commitment, that she is his treasure and he is hers, that they live a life that gives love and warmth and joy, that they be connected in soul, heart and purpose. . . .

“I don’t see two people getting married if the love isn’t there, just because they created a baby.

“If you and Kristy don’t love each other, don’t get married. We don’t need an unhappy life for either of you. . . . If you or Kristy want our help, we’ll be there for you both. . . .

“Sal, if there’s anything I’d ask of you, as Kristy’s mom, it would be just to be her friend. You don’t have to marry her. You don’t have to love her. You don’t have to date her. You don’t have to be responsible for her or the baby. You and your friends are her closest friends, share this precious secret. Kristy needs you, just to be kind, caring friends. Remember you are loved.”

In a P.S., she added: “I have to say I’m deeply disappointed that you and (your friends) have advised Kristy to kill a defenseless baby. Thank God your parents did not do that to you for the world would be a sadder place without the four of you in it.”

St. Paul couldn’t have said it better.

Meantime, Sal Aunese’s baby?  The little boy was named Chase McCartney and raised by his mother.  Chase turned out to be a pretty decent Denver-area high school player, and he was recruited to LSU by Les Miles, who as a member of Bill McCartney’s staff was the guy who recruited Sal Aunese to Colorado.

american flag FRIDAY,  JULY 29,  2016   “Political reformer: one who wants his chance at the trough.”  Malcolm Forbes


"Nice football program you have here… sure would be a shame if your coaches didn’t get USA Football certified and you didn’t have anybody to coach it.”

With that sort of mob tactic, the NFL and its front, USA Football, the self-styled “governing body for football in America,” have been spending millions forcing a program called Heads Up Football on coaches.

Their claim?  It’ll make the game safer for kids to play.  And the corollary - if you aren’t Heads Up Football trained, why, you’re a danger to the sport.  And Moms, ask your son’s coach if he’s “Heads Up Football” trained.  And if he’s not…

Now, Big Football has been exposed.

Thanks to Coach Jerry Lovell of Bellevue, Nebraska for alerting me to a story that broke Wednesday in the New York Times, appearing to confirm what I’ve suspected for a long time - that  “Heads Up Football” is an opportunistic scam that’s been perpetrated on coaches, players, parents and the public by the NFL and USA Football, fortified by false statistics claiming dramatic improvements in player safety where teams have been Heads-Up Football trained.

As part of the program, coaches have been forced by their leagues and their state associations to submit to “Heads Up Football” training sessions - on their own time - while Big Football and its faithful stooge have run ads trying to reassure  parents, scared to death already news of former NFL players suffering from CTE, and by the NFL’s tolerance of such unsafe practices by its own players as tackling head first and wearing helmets that clearly have not been properly fitted.

Now comes the revelation that the figures that USA Football and the NFL have been using to support their claims for the motive results of Heads Up Football training are phony.

We youth and high school coaches don’t have enough problems with concussion hysteria and declining turnouts, without the muckety-mucks of our game cynically making safety claims that just aren’t so.

Turns out, as Alan Schwartz writes in the New York Times, the NFL and its flunky  have been cooking the books…

As increasing numbers of parents keep their children from playing tackle football for safety reasons, the National Football League and other groups have sought to reassure them that the game is becoming less dangerous.

No initiative has received more backing and attention than Heads Up Football, a series of in-person and online courses for coaches to learn better safety procedures and proper tackling drills. The N.F.L. funds and heavily promotes the program. The league and U.S.A. Football, youth football’s governing body, which oversees the program, have sold Heads Up Football to thousands of leagues and parents as having been proved effective — telling them that an independent study showed the program reducing injuries by 76 percent and concussions by about 30 percent.

That study, published in July 2015, showed no such thing, a review by The New York Times has found. The research and interviews with people involved with it indicate, rather, that Heads Up Football showed no demonstrable effect on concussions during the study, and significantly less effect on injuries over all, than U.S.A. Football and the league have claimed in settings ranging from online materials to congressional testimony.

“Everybody who is involved in trying to improve the safety of youth sports, when parents such as myself are so desperate to have effective solutions, has the responsibility to make sure that any information that they are putting out to the public is accurate, is comprehensive, and is based on legitimate science,” said Elliot F. Kaye, the chairman of the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, who has worked with U.S.A. Football and the N.F.L. on improving helmet safety. “It does not appear that this met that standard.”


The NFL chose to combat the issue of  declining numbers in youth and high school football by pushing Heads Up Football training on youth and high school football coaches: it gave USA Football  $45 million; it added its marketing and PR  muscle, with logos on the field, signs at stadiums, TV commercials, and newspaper articles praising the program; and it “lobbied” (if you want, you can substitute “bribed”) state legislatures and associations to require their states’ coaches to undergo Heads-Up Football training.

Schwartz continues…

The N.F.L. and its players’ union formed U.S.A. Football in 2002 to oversee the sport and help it grow among children ages 6 to 14. But participation has dropped precipitously in recent years, from 3 million in 2010 to about 2.2 million last fall — a decline generally attributed to concerns about injuries, particularly to the brain.

In 2013, in consultation with the N.F.L., U.S.A. Football started Heads Up Football, whose primary goals were to improve safety and reassure parents. The program requires one “player safety coach” per team to attend a clinic that focuses on concussion recognition and response, blocking and tackling techniques, proper hydration and other safety topics. A team’s other coaches must take online courses in those subjects as well.

In March 2014, the N.F.L. gave U.S.A. Football $45 million, in large part to get more youth leagues to adopt the program.


I’ve been pointing out for some time that USA Football,  while claiming to be our “governing body” or some such,  in reality is the NFL in disguise.  The NFL has gone to some lengths to promote the myth that USA Football is independent, and that Heads Up Football is its baby, but slips of the lip by NFL higher-ups, and the fact that USA Football is almost totally funded by the NFL say otherwise.

Schwartz writes,

While U.S.A. Football is said to operate independently from the N.F.L., the league is its primary source of operating funds, and some researchers consider the two almost indistinguishable.

“In my mind, U.S.A. Football and the N.F.L. are one,” said Dawn Comstock, a professor of epidemiology and the primary researcher into high school sports injuries at the Colorado School of Public Health. “If I’m talking with one about something involving youth football safety, my perception is I’m talking to both.”


But even knowing full well  that their figures are NOT correct, and that they are NOT making the game safer, they persist in their scam…

Writes Schwartz, “During a high school sports conference in Alabama last week, a coach presented a glowing slide show about the program to fellow coaches and athletic directors, unaware that many of the numbers and statements were not supported by the data.”


I am not pulling for the NFL or USA Football in this.  I am on the side of the game of football, which thrived for a long time before the NFL felt strong enough to arrogantly claim it for its own, and now I fear for its survival in the hands of such self-serving organizations as the NFL and USA Football.

Full disclosure: I confess to having a dog in this fight, so long as  USA Football continues to sell a “Double Wing Playbook” that in many places is a total ripoff of my work, the stuff I spent years developing and naming.  I mean, come on - “6-G?”  “Dollar-Bill Splits?”  My guess is that they simply commissioned someone to slap together the playbook and didn’t ask any questions about where it came from, knowing that even if it had been lifted intact, there really aren’t a lot of people who can afford the legal fees to fight the NFL.  Or "Football's National Governing Body."

Now, if you'll excuse me... I have to hurry because the Seahawks are coming to town to teach our kids how to tackle.*

* For all you liberals out there, that was sarcasm.


Jim Brown, possibly the greatest running back in the history of the NFL, was also one of the greatest lacrosse players of all time. And, while at Syracuse, he also lettered in basketball and track.  He was inducted into the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame on July 27.  

***********  When I read that Under Armour had coughed up a pile of money to make Yale an Under Armour school, I fretted at first at the thought of what they might do to the uniforms.  Those clownish Maryland uniforms, inspired by the state flag (a very nice one, I think, as a former Marylander), came immediately to mind.

So when the new Yale football uniforms were unveiled last week, I could scarcely believe my eyes.  They look like real football uniforms!

***********   Representative Robert Pittenger of North Carolina wrote a letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, noting a certain hypocrisy in the NBA’s  oh-so-righteous stand against North Carolina’s “Boys in the Bathroom” law, while at the same time cozying up to those noted advocates of human rights, the Chinese…

Dear Mr. Silver:
Last week, I met with constituents from China who outlined the Chinese government practice of forcefully harvesting vital organs as part of their oppression of religious minorities. Meanwhile, the NBA will start selling tickets for preseason games in China next week.

Is the NBA implying that China’s abhorrent violation of basic human rights is acceptable, but North Carolina saying men shouldn’t use the girl’s locker room is a bridge too far? What is the NBA’s true priority? The unmistakable hypocrisy is clear to me.

Please justify how you can be engaged with a country who [sic] has flagrantly violated human rights with forced abortions and selling vital human organs. There seems to be a gross lack of judgment and moral clarity.


Robert Pittenger
Member of Congress

***********  So…. Bernie was “authentic,” did I hear you say?

Maybe.  But  when I saw all his angered followers, who’d been  led along and then dumped,  one thought came to mind:  “Judas Goat.”

So named because of the trusted disciple who betrayed Christ, the Judas Goat was used in slaughterhouses to lead a flock of trusting sheep along a path to their slaughter;  at the very last minute, too late for the unsuspecting sheep to escape their fate, he’d veer off, saving himself.

There’s a football analogy here:  Bernie’s bailout on his supporters  reminded me of the super recruiter, who on the basis of a bunch of grandiose promises brings in a great class of recruits and then,  once they’ve all signed their letters of intent, skips off to a bigger and better job, leaving them to fend for themselves.

*********** About this time last year, Coach Rick Davis,  a long-time Massachusetts coach who’d moved to New Zealand was getting ready to come be a guest coach with us at Ocean Shores for a few weeks.  He flew in, rented a car, and came and stayed with us at our place.

Right now, he’s back in Massachusetts on vacation, and he just wrote me…

I think I need to buy a lottery ticket.....get this, the vehicle I rented last year when I was in OS...I have the same vehicle...not same make/model, same vehicle (Arizona license plate tipped me off and I checked it with an old photo). What are the odds?

*********** If the NFL doesn’t kill our game, $1500 helmets ought to about do it.

*********** I coached football in Finland for seven seasons.  I love the country and the Finnish people.  My only regret about coaching there is that if I’d gone to coach almost  anywhere else, I’d be fluent in the language by now.  But Finnish, considered one of the world’s most difficult languages, is devilishly tough to learn, and despite my best efforts to pick it up - my five years of Latin helped a lot, and I compiled a long list of vocabulary words - I would say that my language skills never advanced past those of , oh,  a five-year-old Finnish kid.   (But, in fairness, a five-year-old Finnish kid who knows all the swear words.)

Finns love their European sports, especially winter sports. They are especially passionate about ice hockey, and Finns are well represented in the NHL.

But American football does have a following there, and someone put together this rather interesting explanation of our game, in Finnish, of course, since it’s aimed at a Finnish audience.

*********** My son’s friend Nathan Chapman runs an organization in Melbourne, Australia called ProKick Australia, which identifies Australian Rules players as potential NFL punters, and coaches and prepares them for American colleges.  He estimates that he has sent some 60 punters to American colleges.

How good are these Aussies, who grow up playing a game based on being able to punt accurately and far?

The last three Raymond Guy Awards, given to the best college punter, have gone to Australians.

On top of that, they have good hands and they’re used to contact.

american flag TUESDAY,  JULY 26,  2016   "Without promotion, something terrible happens. Nothing."   P. T. Barnum

*********** For a number of years, I held a clinic in the Santa Clarita-Valencia-Stevenson Ranch area of Southern California, a beautiful area of hills and canyons about 20-30 miles north of LA.  It is a neat place, probably the one I’d choose to live in if I were to move to the Southland.

Its population continues to grow, but it's a large enough area that it doesn’t seem too crowded, and you’re never that far from wild country.  In fact, in the early days of movies, many westerns were shot there, and William S. Hart, the very first of the movie cowboys, owned a lot of property in the area.  A local high school is named for him.

There’s really only one problem with the area, but it is a big one - wildfires.  Wildfires, like the one that’s now roaring out of control around Santa Clarita, consuming dry brush and trees and everything else in its path .

My heart goes out to the people who’ve had to evacuate, who’ve had to pick up and leave the homes of their dreams and everything inside.  Say a prayer, if you will, that they’ll be able to return soon and resume their lives.

*********** After he retired from the movie business, early Hollywood cowboy actor William S. Hart wrote a series of books.

One of them, published in 1920, was entitled, “Injun and Whitey.”

Talk about politically incorrect.

I have a feeling that if one of today’s precious Yalies should ever come across a copy in one of the school’s libraries, it would set off a stampede for a safe space reminiscent of the running of the bulls in Pamplona.

***********  Donald Trump says “I’ll build a wall.”

Its purpose?  To keep foreigners from crossing our border and entering our country illegally.

But let’s face it - until we actually see that wall, it’s just so much B-S.

The Democrats, though, are not bullshi—ers.  They’re people of action.  They get things done.

They’ve already built their wall - a four-mile long, eight-foot high fence, actually.

Not on the border, however.

Around their convention site.  In Philadelphia.

To keep Americans out.

Oh - and not even loyal Democrats can get in without showing a government-issued photo ID. 

Hmmm. Hypocrisy, anyone?

*********** Keep reading my NEWS page! Stay ahead of the pseudo-intellectuals!

I heard Bill O’Reilly on Fox News discussing his series “Legends and Lies - the Patriots” and he mentioned an upcoming episode about Francis Marion, “The Swamp Fox.” 

He lamented, “People don’t even know who he was.”

Haha.  That’s for sure.  Not today’s history majors, anyhow, who “study” bogus subjects like the History of Male Domination or the History of White Privilege,  but otherwise don’t know sh— about their nation’s history. 

But I know a bunch of football coaches who do.  (If they read my News page.)

***********  Good Morning Coach Wyatt,
My name is Darrel Fiddermon, I coach a 12U team. Currently I serve as Head Coach Offensive and Defensive Line. I enjoy teaching the kids line play, even though I was a QB in high school. One of the things that concerns me is player retention. Last year we were fortunate to have a nice mixture of kids with at least 4 years’ experience to augment our first year players. As with all youth football kids grow older and you are confronted with the problem of recruiting new players every year. I guess my question would be how would you go about retaining the players that may not have been starters the previous year? Thanks for taking the time.
Darrel O. Fiddermon
Washington, D.C.

Hi Darrel,

Nice to hear from you.

You are right to be concerned about player retention.

Let’s put aside concentration on a single sport as an issue for you, because if they’re 11 or 12 years old and still playing football, it must mean that the soccer types didn’t get to them in time.

I have always believed that the most important measure of a youth - or middle school - coach is whether his kids turn out for football again next year.

The number one factor in those kids’ decision to stay with the game is whether they had a good experience.

I think that the challenge of player retention is a two-pronged one.  Of course the decision not to continue with the game is often the kid’s, but more and more, it is the parents’ decision.  At the very least, where once they would encourage their sons to play football - insist, even - they now will “leave it up to him.”

The time to work on retention is in-season.

It’s treating kids with respect and setting standards and enforcing them  - fairly and firmly -  without being hard-nosed.  This is a skill that can be learned.

It’s making sure that the kids treat each other with respect.  You have to communicate clearly to the kids that you like them and respect them for playing a man’s game. You have to be alert for the slightest sign of bullying or hazing and nip it in the bud.  Watch out for the way “starters” treat “non-starters.”

It’s never a bad idea to find ways for the “veterans” to befriend and teach things to the younger guys.

On our team (North Beach High, Ocean Shores, Washington), before we break at the end of practice, it’s a point of emphasis - has been for several years now - for our seniors to single out younger players who have done something during practice that impressed them.

It’s making sure that they learn and believe that they’re getting better at what you’re teaching them.  The key word is “teaching.”  I taught and coached for a long time before I realized that I needed to be more of a coach in the classroom and more of a teacher on the football field.  It is extremely important that the coach see himself as a teacher first.  If you can get someone on your staff - or someone to advise you - with experience teaching kids of the same age as your players, it could be extremely helpful.  

It’s making sure that they have fun.  It’s always a good idea to do something fun at the end of practice, so they go off the field with smiles on their faces.

It's teaching them the importance of working together for success as a team, of trusting other guys and earning their trust.

It’s making sure that every kid knows that if he follows the rules and takes part in practices he’s going to play.  You can’t fool a kid.  You can’t talk to him about the importance of teamwork when he doesn't really believe he's a part of the team.  The expectation of playing time - significant playing time - is a major factor in a team’s overall morale.

Many coaches are reluctant to do this because they feel that giving the younger kids playing time  somehow “cheats” the starters, who may become resentful of having to “give up” playing time.  It may takes a year or two to establish this as a part of your program, as simply “the way we do things around here,” but once you’ve done so, the older kids will all understand that it’s a team thing - that that’s the way many of them got to play when they were younger themselves, and that’s what makes their team special.

Today’s “me-first” society makes getting today’s kids to lose themselves in a team a bigger challenge that it once was.   There are two modern enemies of the team concept that weren’t such a problem years ago:  selfishness and sprawl.  Selfishness, because in an age when every individual is sacred and special, blah, blah, blah, kids aren’t taught the concept of being a part of something bigger than themselves, and being loyal to that cause or group.   Sprawl because in most large urban areas kids on a team often live far from each other and go to different schools, and only know each other from the hour or two they spend two or three times a week at practice and in games.

I think that a major factor in recruiting  parents is making them aware of the good things that you’re doing for their sons in a very crucial stage of their development.

To a certain extent, the issue is out of your hands.  “Player retention” is down at all levels of football, from high school on down to the youngest age groups, and it’s largely owing to the “Big C” (Concussion).

Football is under assault nowadays.  There have always been those who are resentful of football (and football players), and now those enemies of our game have been fortified by stories about professional football players whose brains may have been damaged by head injuries sustained while playing football.

The distinction that has yet to be made is that those professional football players for the most part had long careers, and they played at the highest level of the game, in which the number and force of collisions are far greater than anything the average high school or even college player will experience.

I think that it is irresponsible to equate the possible brain damage suffered by players who made careers of playing football with danger to youngsters, but there we are - the sky is falling, and parents, especially in households where the major decisions are made by mothers, are refusing to let their sons play football.  (Bear in mind that most of these same concerned parents will let their sons drive as soon as they’re legally able).

Obviously, then, you have to be able to confront that issue and allay their fears to the extent that you can.  You need to stress that you will see to it that all boys are properly equipped and conditioned, and that you will teach them safe techniques; that you won’t let a boy take part in contact  drills until you’re confident that he’s confident in his ability to perform; and that you’ll monitor all contact drills to make sure that they’re being performed properly.

And then, you have to move on, to emphasizing all the good that will ensue from his playing football - for you.

It’s essential that you teach the kids more than football - that you use football, and your example as the coach,  as the vehicle to teach them important life lessons.  And it’s important that the parents are aware that this is part of your mission.  You have to communicate with them constantly.    Share your mission with them. Make sure that you’re clear about your expectations for them and their sons, and they they’re clear about what you’ll do to help their sons develop.   Let them see how you’re working with their boys.  Encourage them to enlist your help if they’re having any issues with their sons.  What’s always great is when they tell you that they can see for themselves the effect that you - and football - are having on their son.

One final thought - It’s easy for kids to forget about football once the season’s over, so I think it’s important to stay in touch with your kids year-round. 

A coaching friend in Manitoba, Canada named Tom Walls started a youth football program from scratch a few years ago, and now his organization runs teams at several age levels.  A major factor in his success has been a newsletter that he emails to players and their parents at least once a month.

*********** The US was a hotbox on Saturday.

There was one state in the entire continental 48 that didn’t record a temperature as high as 90 degrees.

Drum roll, please… Washington.

In Camas, where we live, it was 72 degrees and sunny.  In Ocean Shores, where I coach, it was 66 degrees and sunny.

Our climate, between the Pacific Coast and the Cascade Range,  is not unlike that of Ireland’s.

Outsiders mostly know about our rainy winters, but we get our payback with warm (but seldom hot), dry, sunny summers.

Mystery Photo***********  Answering the question:    What position does the guy on the right play?

Josh Montgomery -  Berwick, Louisiana
Tim Brown - Athens, Alabama
Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin

The  "guy" was the Cleveland Browns' great quarterback, Otto Graham.  The dapper coach was the legendary Paul Brown.

Coach Montgomery was skeptical when I wrote him that those Browns teams of the late 40s and early to mid 50s were possibly the best teams of all time.

No way, he said, that the football then could have been as good back then.

True, I agreed. The football wasn't better.  Not even close. But those Browns teams were head and shoulders above everyone else, in a  class all their own.

(Graham, Coach Montgomery pointed out, later wore #14.   And the Browns'  Hall of Fame Marion Motley 76fullback, Marion Motley, switched from wearing #76 to #36. )

Motley, shown at left,  played at 6-1, 240. He was a real handful as a fullback, but he sometimes doubled as a linebacker, where he was considered every bit as good.

*********** Denny Green died.  He was a football pioneer, just the second black man to become head coach of a major college football team.

He was a Pennsylvania guy - grew up in Harrisburg - and played his college ball at Iowa.  (It should be noted, too, that he graduated from Iowa. Cum laude - that means “with honors” - with a major in finance.

He played some ball in the CFL with the BC Lions, then embarked on a coaching career.

After a series of assistant coaching jobs, he was hired in 1981 as head coach at Northwestern.  He was only 32, and just the second black man to head a Division IA (FBS) team.  In 1982, he was Big Ten Coach of the Year.

In 1989, he took over as head coach at Stanford, and in his three years on The Farm, he beat Cal three times. In his final season, Stanford went 8-3, their best record in five years.

He spent ten years as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, and three years are head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.

People got their laughs at his post-game conference when he said of the Bears, “They’re are who we thought they were,” which is all some people know about him.  That’s unfortunate, because he was well thought of among his peers.

Said Tony Dungy, who coached under him in Minnesota, “I’ve never been around a head coach who cared so much about the members of his staff, and wanted to put his staff in position to succeed the way he did.

“Denny was an excellent football coach. He took struggling college teams, Northwestern and Stanford, and made them so much better. He got the Vikings to two conference title games. He was terrific in raising the Arizona program. But to me his legacy is that of a coach who made other coaches better.”

*********** White privilege, Part Two - Orphan Trains

Remember my little story about the Breaker Boys?  How about this little tale from the history that they no longer teach in history classes...

My son-in-law’s grandfather, Bob Tiffany, spent much of his life in Abilene, Texas,  where he settled after World War II, but he grew up on a farm in southern Minnesota.

His father had arrived there by train.  A special train.

Orphan  TrainHe lived in New York, but when his immigrant  parents died and left him orphaned, he and his brother and sister were sent by train to Minnesota, where a family, eager for help on the farm, adopted them.

They were part of what came to be called the Orphan Train movement.

Between 1854 and 1929, more than 200,000 youngsters were shipped by train to various parts of the country.

Sometimes, they were pre-chosen, somewhat on the order of today’s Internet dating services.

Sometimes, the kids would arrive in a town and be put on a stage and looked over by prospective parents in a rather cold-hearted meatmarket fashion..

And sometimes, when adoptive parents could only afford to take on one child, siblings were separated.

Sometimes, the kids were simply seen as cheap labor, but as often as not, they found loving homes.  In almost all cases, they were better off than if they’d remained, homelesss and orphaned, fending for themselves on the streets of New York:

In 1850 roughly 15,000 children were homeless on the streets of New York City. They lived in alleys, under bridges and slept on sewage grates. Those old enough to work sold newspapers, shined shoes, picked rags or labored in dangerous factories and sweat shops. They were left to fend for themselves, to join gangs for protection, and grow up instantly in an environment of filth and violence. Families simply could not afford to support all the children they had. Written in trembling hand, a note pinned to a baby abandoned at an orphanage read, "Take care of Johnny, for God's sake. I cannot."

american flag FRIDAY,  JULY 22,  2016     “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America—there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America—there's the United States of America." Barack Obama, Democratic National Convention Keynote Address, 2004

*********** Give Browns’ running back Isaiah Crowell a little credit. He obviously listened to advice.  After jeopardizing his pro football career by posting an absolutely vile illustration of a police officer having his throat cut, he at least attempted to make amends by attending the funeral of one of the Dallas police officers killed in the mass sniper attack.

Crowell had deleted the Facebook post shortly after publishing it, but, alas, too many people had already taken - and circulated - screenshots. 

Whether the guy is sincere is not the point.  The point is that at a time when cooler heads were needed, he did something terribly provocative,  and now his repentant actions may have helped calm things down -  at the very least, they’ve enabled him to stay in pro football, stay on the Browns, and concentrate on his job.

*********** The Vikings’ new $1.1 billion stadium finished and ready to go.  Six weeks ahead of schedule, if you can believe that.

It’s a beauty. It’s twice the size of the Metronome, which it replaced, and in deference to Minnesota winters, it has a roof -  but a transparent one, giving spectators the illusion that they are outdoors..

The Vikings pulled all kinds of levers to get their fans to pay for it - sure hope they were pleased with the $348 million from the state and the $150 million from the city. Now, they’re going to repay the taxpayers by opening up the stadium with - a f—king soccer game! Before the Vikings season even go to camp! I am not Sh--ing you.

The very first sports event to take place in glorious (it really is), new US Bank Stadium will be a soccer match between Chelsea FC and AC Milan. (I think I have the names right, but if not, t.s.)

Talk about jinxing yourself. This can’t bring good luck. You Vikings fans - yes, as your payment for bending over, you will get to host a Super Bowl in 2018.  But if your Vikings turn into the Chicago Cubs of the NFL, you'll know why.

***********Hello coach!  I trust all is well with you!

I know that you are focused on the "Open Wing" but I have a question concerning the "Spread Cat".
Would it be a sound practice to pull both the backside guard and tackle when running a power play, and expect the Q.B., after he hands off, to block/interrupt the chase defenders? I see, in the "Open Wing DVD" that both players pull when running "West - 6-C." although the Q.B. does not attempt to block.
Thanks, coach.  Your advice is always valued.
BTW - The Open Wing, as you already know, is super!
Hi Coach-

In “West 6-C,” the QB reads the chasing defensive end.

In Spread Cat, you could certainly try reading it, as we do on West 6-C, but I suspect that the numbers will not be in your favor -  they will have too many people left on the backside for you  to be successful. First, there would be a man on the outside shoulder of your pulling tackle who may or may not chase him - that’s the guy your QB would read.

But even if that guy chased, and your QB kept, there would also be an outside linebacker type who lined up on your running back - and assuming that he stays home when your back takes off, his assignment will be to watch your quarterback.  So I think that the numbers would not be in your favor.

But they are in your favor on the playside, so run the power (or, technically, “O”) even if you don’t pull your tackle.

Mystery Photo*********** You need any evidence that the media has a liberal bias?  The story of the murder of a cop in Kansas City, Kansas was buried on page 12 of the Oregonian, the major daily* in The Peoples’ Republic of Portland.  (It’s not really a “daily” anymore -  it’s only printed four days a week.)

*********** You wonder what’s wrong with America?  Start here: I heard a Cleveland police officer say that on the streets outside the Republican Convention there were 20 protestors - and 80 members of the news media.  A guy who planned to set an American flag on fire made sure to notify the media first.  And so, true to their code that when there isn’t any news it’s up to them to go out and make some, the slavish lackeys of the  left showed up, cameras at the ready.


Babe Parilli Card
*********** Called my old arena coach Babe Parilli, 86 and has a great memory still. Babe coached me in 1994 and 1996 in Anaheim and Las Vegas respectively. Where do I start when you mention a legend? He said he played in 3 bowl games, Cotton, rose, and sugar bowl If I remember correctly. Listen to this, how many men in America right now say they played for both Vince Lombardi and Bear Bryant? His memory was classic Babe. Says when he was Namaths back up, the year after the super bowl Babe says they should have won the next year also. The score was 3-0 with the ball near the goal line and Babe told Weeb Ewbank to go for it but Weeb played it safe and went for field goal. Babe was also the head coach In the World Football League and said they tried to compete with the NFL and that was their demise. I also heard Terry Bradshaw speak and he said his best qb coach was Babe Parilli. Babe also coached Craig Morton in the super bowl for the Broncos against the cowboys.

Babe is 86, lives in Denver, and just fought thru some chemo and he says he cant wait to get back on the golf course.

I bought his rookie card and mailed it to him and he signed it, Ill send you the pic.

Hugh, you said you coached in the WFL, Philadelphia?  I believe Babe coached the New York team


Pete Porcelli
Watervliet, New Yofk


He was definitely Sweet Kentucky Babe.

Kentucky hasn’t had many great years in football, but it sure did when the Bear was their coach and the Babe was their QB.

He was one of the very first of the great quarterbacks to come out of Western Pennsylvania (Johnny Lujack of Notre Dame may have been the first).

Very glad to hear he’s doing well.

He was the first coach of the New York Stars, and I remember meeting him at a press conference in the early days of the WFL.

He was accompanied by their “GM”,  a woman named Dusty Rhodes, who was not a bad looker.  No further comment.

A coaching friend named Mark Kaczmarek, from Davenport, Iowa, played center for the Stars under Parilli.

*********** My friend Doc Hinger is bursting with pride:

On Saturday night, August 5, ESPN “SportsCenter on the Road” will be in his hometown of Latrobe, Pennsylvania to spend three hours broadcasting, among other things, a Pittsburgh Steelers’ intrasquad  game.

For years, the Steelers have made Latrobe - and St. Vincent’s College there - their training camp headquarters, and much to the delight of Latrobe merchants, Steelers’ fans from all corners of the country descend on Latrobe for the two weeks or so of camp.

A full 14 of the Steelers’ practices are open to the public, and the annual Saturday night intra-squad game is always sold out.  Tickets are $5 for adults, $2 for kids or seniors, and all money goes to Latrobe Area High School activities.  Imagine - an NFL team actually leaving money on the table!  Giving it away, even! And people wonder why the Steelers are as close as any NFL team can come to being a beloved member of the family.

The ESPN broadcast crew will be in the Latrobe area for several days in advance of the broadcast, filming local points of interest.  Latrobe takes pride in being the place where the banana split was invented.  Latrobe is the home of Mister Rodgers of TV Fame, and of Arnold Palmer, perhaps the most famous golfer ever to play the game (and the inspiration for the drink by the same name). I’m guessing we’ll see Latrobe Country Club, where Arnold Palmer’s dad, Deacon Palmer, was the pro and the greenskeeper.  And possibly even the old tractor, made famous in Pennzoil commercials in which Arnold starred.

*********** A kerfuffle has erupted over the fact that a “person” named Dana Zzyym has been denied a United States passport because of refusal to check one of the two boxes (male or female) denoting his gender.  See, he doesn't "indentify as either male or female.

The poor thing.  He’s trapped in the rigid choice between two genders, when, as all children in our Washington public schools are about to be taught, gender is a “social construct.”  And hey - other oh, so enlightened people have been quoted as calling gender “fluid,” depending, I suppose, on your mood at the time.

Anyhow,  thanks to this misfit and his lawsuit - and a sympathetic judge -  taxpayers are likely to have to fork over megamillions to overhaul our passport regulations.

Hmmm.  Maybe, before we worry about shipping illegal aliens back,  we could first find a place that will give Mr./Ms.  Zzyym a passport more to his/her liking.  And ship his/her sorry ass there.

*********** A year or so ago, Jarryd Hayne had the people Down Under all excited about his tryout with the 49ers.  Hayne, a rugby star, showed flashes of promise, but never quite panned out.

Now it turns out that his next stated goal - to represent his native Fiji in Olympic rugby - will also go unfulfilled, with the news that he’s been cut from the squad.

*********** I consider David Maraniss, biographer of Vince Lombardi ("When Pride Still Mattered") to be one of America's great writers.

I just got this from my daughter Vicky, whose daughter (my granddaughter, Annie) will be their fourth child to attend Vanderbilt:
Hey, guess what? The Vanderbilt freshman book (they all read it and then discuss it in groups) is Strong Inside by Andrew Maraniss, David's son and a Vandy grad! It's about Perry Wallace, a Vandy basketball player who was the first black player in the SEC.
I am so proud to be able to say I know David Maraniss. And I can only imagine how proud David is of Andrew!

*********** It’s seldom I agree with columnist Leonard Pitts, but I have to side with him when he notes with disgust that Pokemon Go players have wandered into the Holocaust Memorial and - almost unbelievable - Arlington National Cemetery,  and wonders if there’s any sense of propriety left in America. He apparently hasn’t heard the term “The Coarsening of America,” or he wouldn’t be wondering.

*********** In your quote of William N. Wallace, we find this gem: "After World War II all but emptied its campus..."

Please tell me it won't take another World War to empty the campuses of the leeches and parasites that infest the Halls of Higher Learning now.

Charlie Wilson
Crystal River, Florida

american flag TUESDAY,  JULY 19,  2016     "Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle." George Washington

*********** You try head-butting one of your kids - even if he IS wearing a helmet, and you aren’t - and see what happens to you.

But you aren’t Rush Propst.

Propst has been a big winner wherever he’s coached.  Nationallly-ranked Hoover, Alabama was one of of his stops. The guy’s won seven state titles, in Alabama and Georgia.  At Colquitt County, Georgia, he’s 30-0 over the last two seasons.

In fact, the incident occured during last year’s state Class 6A semi-final (which Colquitt County won, on its way to the state title).

For his head butt - which left him with a bloody wound on his forehead (and the kid probably thinking, "What the hell?")  - he was originally given a one-year suspension by The Georgia Professional Standards Commission, but on second thought, they decided that a reprimand ought to  be more than enough to straighten him out.

See the video!

*********** France is asking all citizens between 17 and 30 to consider becoming reservists.  A little late for France, I’d say, but there’s still a chance to save the U.S.

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

The "Bush Push" is legal now, correct? We can now teach our backs to push on the back of the fullback, yes?


It’s evidently no longer illegal but I’m not going to teach it.

*********** Hi Coach Wyatt -

I am a new coordinator of a 9-man football team in Melbourne, Australia. What adjustments would you make to the Double Wing Offence in adapting it to a 9-man format?
(The rules are the same as NCAA (IFAF adapted) - no more than 4 in the backfield at any given time)

Thanks for you time,

Coach Harry Jalland,
Melbourne, Australia

Hi Coach-

Nice to hear from you!

This is actually pretty simple and I’ve employed it with other 9-man coaches in the past.

You simply look at it as though you had been running from what I call “spread formation” (with two split ends) - and then you fire the split ends and play without them!

Take a look at this little clip of three plays - examples of a particular play that we’ve run from spread - and you will see that we could easily have run those plays without our split ends.

You’ll notice also that we’re running from my “Wildcat” direct-snap set, but if you wanted your QB under center the same reasoning would apply.

PS - My son, Ed, married an Australian and lives in Melbourne. He’s now an Australian citizen.

*********** Hey ESPN!  What the hell did you do with our CFL games?  Is it really possible that  NBA Summer League gets higher ratings?

*********** The NCAA and the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) have been discussing the possibility of eliminating the kickoff from college football.

My spies tell me that outlawing blocking and tackling hasn’t been discussed. Not yet.


When there's no kickoff, will people still say, ”What time’s the kickoff?”

Will campaigns still have kickoff luncheons?

Will your grandkids someday ask you what an “opening kickoff” was?

Might there be some new, exotic way of opening a game, something like the “Scramble,” which the XFL used in place of a coin toss?

Maybe they should take a look at Australian Rules'  "ball up," a rough version of basketball's center jump.

Whatever they do, there's one hopeful note: maybe if  the kickoff  goes, the field goal can go with it.  (I can dream, can't I?)

*********** Marion “Swamp Fox” Campbell died last week at the age of 87.  He was a very good player - defensive lineman - a very good assistant coach, and a head coach who had the misfortune of stepping in as head coach of the Eagles during a time when they lacked talent. And, too, he had the added burden of succeeding Philadelphia favorite Dick Vermeil.

He was from Chester, South Carolina, and his full name - Francis Marion Campbell - was a tribute to Revolutionary War hero and fellow South Carolinian Francis Marion.

That Marion was an expert in guerrilla warfare, whose ability to surprise much larger British forces then escape into the swamps of South Carolina earned him the nickname “The Swamp Fox.”

And for most of his career, although few people in a country that scorns the study of history knew why, Marion Campbell the football player proudly went by the same nickname.

*********** In doing some research on Princeton’s legendary single-wing coach, Charlie Caldwell, I came across this nice article by the late New York Times sports reporter William N. Wallace,  a Yale man.

Charlie Caldwell of Princeton By William N. Wallace

I wish I had known Charlie Caldwell better. I could tell there was so much more in him than what I was getting, relative to humor, camaraderie and football sapience.

The barriers began with age, the separation of 22 years. He was, alas, only 55 when he died in 1957 of cancer and I then a green 33 years old. There was the wall between the nosy reporter and the wary coach protecting his secrets as well as his players. The third wall was subjective. He was Princeton and I was Yale. Never the twain shall trust.

I had seven good years around Charlie and he made me better, as he had 600 football players as head coach at Williams College (1928-1942, 76-37-6) and then at Princeton (1945-1956, 70-30-3).

In the 1920's and 30's the percent of high school kids who reached college was around 12. Those who aspired to the Eastern private colleges — the sobriquet Ivy League was far from invention - needed a little Greek and Latin, a little polish. Thus preparatory schools, like Caldwell's Mercersburg Academy in Central Pennsylvania, were a primary source of athletes and Charlie became one for Princeton.

He arrived there in 1921 and left in 1925 as a renowned graduate, one who went to the New York Yankees as a try-out pitcher and performed in three games before manager Miller Huggins told him to forget it.

Caldwell had played distinguished football as a fullback and center under head coach Bill Roper. He hung around as a Roper assistant for two years and then Williams College, in the gorgeous Berkshire corner of Massachusetts, hired him. He was there for 17 seasons and miffed when Princeton passed over him for Fritz Crisler in 1932 and for Tad Wieman in 1938.

After World War II all but emptied its campus, Williams put football on hold and Caldwell went down to Yale to help Howie Odell coach the Navy V-12's, the 4-F's and the 17-year-olds for two seasons. Then Princeton called at last and he was on that glorious campus in 1945. He knew what to do but it took awhile.

Between the mid-Octobers of 1949 and 1953 the Princeton teams, with the black jerseys and those orange rings down the sleeves, won 33 of 34 games and 24 of them consecutively. The losers were not pigeons - not Navy, nor Penn or Dartmouth. The Caldwell offense was that of the single-wing which he, and notably Red Sanders of Vanderbilt and UCLA, sustained when everyone else had gone to the T-formation. Stodgy, old-fashioned, slow, inhibiting for passing?

Allison Danzig, in his History of American Football (Prentice-Hall 1956), wrote: "With the beautifully drilled and perfectly balanced organization developed by Caldwell, it was a team (1951) that typified college football at its finest in the intelligence and high spirits of the personnel, in the speed, imagination and diversity of its running and passing operations, and in the virulence and alertness of its defensive depredations."

Danzig of the New York Times, a dean of college football writers, confirmed what I had come to suspect as a New York World-Telegram & Sun sportswriter fresh out of Yale, while writing up those Princeton teams and getting as close as I could.

A famous feature of the single-wing was its buck lateral series in which the wingback could come sweeping around the weak side having taken a lateral from the quarterback, who in turn had been given the ball by the diving fullback with the tailback faking to the strong side. Caldwell never ran out of swift 177-pound wingbacks who could run all day - like George Sella, Billy Kleinsasser, Dick Pivirotto.

Dick Kazmaier, the 170-pound tailback voted the Heisman Trophy in 1951, was the diamond discovered, shaped and buffed by Caldwell. Kazmaier could run off tackle as required. He could fake, ball handle, block and, best of all, throw a darn good pass while on the run after the defense had committed itself.

The quintessential Caldwell-Kazmaier-Princeton game came on a late October Saturday, 1951, in Palmer Stadium when the Tigers routed Cornell, an undefeated quality team, 53-15. Kazmaier ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns, completed 15 of 17 pass attempts, three for touchdowns and 236 yards, as Princeton's total offense exceeded 400 yards. This was no f ive-yards-cloud-of- dust single wing attack.

The Scripps-Howard newspaper chain, in conjunction with the American Football Coaches Association, named a coach-of- the-year annually with the peers doing the voting. There followed a big awards banquet at Mama Leone's Restaurant in New York. Scripps Howard was notably cheap but they spent on this one. Caldwell won the award after 1951.

Because my New York paper was the flagship of the chain, I thought perhaps Caldwell might now treat me better, maybe even occasionally call me by my first name. No chance. Charlie didn't operate that way.

I asked Caldwell one time to name his all- star team, the top players he had coached. He looked at me as though I was crazy. "Why would I want to do that," he said strongly. "What could I say to all of those who I left off?" That certainly made sense when I thought about it. I am certain he would have cited guard-tackle Mike Bowman, blocking back George Chandler, defensive tackle Hollie Donan, center Red Finney, tailback Royce Flippin, defensive lineman Brad Glass, linebacker Dave Hickok, end Frank McPhee and blocking back George Stevens.

Caldwell digressed one time about a game that changed his approach to football. He played in it, against visiting Notre Dame — the 1924 Four Horsemen team. He said, "I came out of that game feeling as fresh as when it started None of the usual aches, pains or bruises. And they beat the hell out of us." The score was only 12-0 but Caldwell perceived that Knute Rockne had conceived a different kind of football, one of speed and deception over the old bump-and-grind power game.

In season Caldwell could be grouchy and paranoid. He bawled out one of his captains, Homer Smith, in my presence when he found Smith engaged in a conversation with me, an innocent chat. But he did let a television crew set up and film his usual Sunday night squad meeting at Osborn Field House in which the game film of the previous day's encounter was critiqued by the coaches. It made for a program fascinating to the few who understood what was taking place.

Ahead of his time was Charlie Caldwell. And his time far too short.

*********** In digging up stuff about Charlie Caldwell, I came up with this link to some cool newsreel footage (the kind of sports shorts that they’d show just before - or between - features in movie theaters) of some 1950s Princeton games.  Included in there is the 1956 Yale-Princeton game, played in the Yale Bowl my freshman year.   That Yale team was really good.

*********** I could have told the guy:  don’t f—k with the Gypsy Jokers, but no…

For quite some time, the Gypsy Jokers have been the Northwest’s biggest and most notorious motorcycle gang.  I doubt that they’ll take offense at my saying that.  In fact, I would imagine they’d take great delight in being described that way.

Now, if you agree with me that it’s not smart to screw with a motorcycle gang, you could have predicted that when a guy named Robert Lee Huggins got the bright idea of burglarizing the Woodburn, Oregon home of the president of the local chapter of the Gypsy Jokers, and, in the process, tying the guy’s girlfriend to a chair at gunpoint, something bad was likely to happen to the guy.

It did.

A couple of weeks later, Mr. Huggins was kidnapped from his home in Southeast Portland, in an area sometimes known as Felony Flats, then zip-tied and driven north to a rural area near Woodland, Washington.

There, he was disposed of in a rather nasty way, according to reports that have come out as his murderers - sorry, "alleged" murderers - await trial.

Mr. Huggins’ body, when found by loggers, had “a fractured skull, a broken rub, a broken leg, a removed nipple (ouch), nails driven through his boots, slash wounds to his back and face, and many blows to his face.”

Surely there’s a message in there somewhere for anyone else contemplating f—king with the Gypsy Jokers.  Including ISIS.

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

I just received this nice email from a parent of one of my Black Lions...Jack is such a fantastic young man.
Duxbury has a boy I coached also playing lacrosse at West Point, so hope I can get him in touch with Jack.
It's nice to get these types of emails, but really, those boys give so much back to us.

Hope you and Connie are enjoying your summer.

Rick Davis
Plymouth, Massachusetts

I just wanted to show you the impact you have had on Jack in his young life. I have attached a picture of him going into the dorms at West Point for a lacrosse camp the next three days when I dropped him off today. At the present time he appears to really want to go to the school for many reasons which are easy to know and as he has been kind of been  a bit of a Rudy his whole life  - it's the chip on his shoulder he needs. He just turned 16 yesterday and at 5 81/2 and 170 hopefully as few more inches will come. But As you know the heart could not be bigger. He is a 4.0 in school benches 260 pounds, Squats 360 and can do 34 pull ups in 2 minutes and 98 pushups in 2 minutes as well. Just wanted to thank you for your inspiration to him and others the results are evident. Hope everything is going well for you - take care and thank you, Ken
I also told Jack remember - you are still a Black Lion !!!!!


*********** Mack Rhoades, the new-on-the-job AD whose failure to act when several of Missouri’s player threatened to strike put then-coach Gary Pinkel in the position of having to support them, has moved on to Baylor, which has more than enough problems of its own.

He leaves behind at Mizzou an athletic program in turmoil, including a new football coach whom he hired and who now has to fight the battles without an AD to back him up - not to mention the negatives of having to court a new AD who may have his own idea of who the head coach should be.

There are suspicions that Baylor hired Rhoades because when he was AD at Houston he hired Tom Hermann, who’s now a very hot coaching commodity and one that many Baylor people would love to have.

David Ridpath, writing in Forbes, argues that Rhoades would be a whole lot smarter instead to lock up Jim Grobe, whom Baylor recently hired to bring some decency and fresh air to Waco.

*********** Jeff Tedford has been hired by the Washington Huskies as a consultant.  He’s not on the NCAA-limited coaching staff, which means he’s not permitted to recruit or work with players.  Bright guy - he has an offensive background, and he worked with Huskies’ head coach Chris Peterson on Mike Bellotti’s staff at Oregon. Hmmm. Wonder how a guy with Jeff Tedford's extensive experience as a coordinator and a head coach can work in with the current Washington staff.

american flag FRIDAY,  JULY 15,  2016     "I take real offense when people insist I am a bigot just to make themselves feel good." Jonah Goldberg

*********** Back at the time of 9-11 I heard people referring to what happened as a  “tragedy,” and I wrote, “Where is the rage?”

Nobody seemed pissed.

Now, I hear people in the media referring to the “tragedy” in France, and I get pissed.

That was no  tragedy.  That was an act of war.

A tragedy is an unfortunate event that causes great sadness. 

“Tragedy” is  floods and earthquakes and tsunamis and fires.  “Tragedy” is a child dying of cancer, a promising young person dying way before his or her time, a family being killed in an automobile accident.

Pearl Harbor was not a tragedy.

The will to fight requires anger, not sadness.

If we call what’s happening to us at the hands of  Islamic Terrorists “tragedy,” then we’ve lost our collective stones, and we might just as well roll over and let it keep happening.

*********** Mike Lude celebrated his 93rd birthday recently at an event on Bound Brook, New Jersey.  On hand to celebrate it with him were 35 of his former players from the University of Delaware, where Mike was Wing-T inventor Dave Nelson’s offensive line coach and his chief recruiter. 

Quite a thing when guys think so much of their old coach to honor him like this, especially when you consider that Mike left Delaware in 1962 to become head coach at Colorado State. 

He hadn’t coached any of those guys in 55 years!

*********** Tim Duncan announced his retirement recently, and pro basketball is really going to miss him.  You may not have noticed him in games, because wasn’t the flashy type, and he was never  one to draw attention to himself, but he  is going to be missed.

What a team player!  Not many people realize that for the past several years, he has played for far less money than a player of his stature could have commanded, in order for the Spurs to have more money under the salary cap to pay other players more.

In Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal, Ben Cohen told how, when Duncan was a student - yes, a real student - at Wake Forest, majoring in psychology, he served as a research assistant to Mark Leary, a social psychologist, in writing his book, “Aversive Interpersonal Behaviors.”

Leary asked Duncan to write a chapter on the subject of egotism, and some of what he wrote helps to explain why he became one of basketball’s great team players.

“Egotistical behavior,” he wrote, “is behavior that conveys to others that the individual holds an exaggerated perception of himself. Few interactions are a annoying, exasperating and unpleasant as the with people whom we perceive are behaving egotistically.”

In summary, he wrote, “Simply put, we don’t like egotistical people.”

When the book was published, the publisher gave Leary four free copies, and after keeping one for himself, he gave one to each of his three assistants -  but not before