2015   CLINICS

Coach Wyatt's "News You Can Use"

american flagFRIDAY,   MARCH 27,  2015

*********** The greatest of all Army teams was either the 1944 team or the 1945 team.  Pressed to make a choice, Army coach Earl Blaik, did so with the skill of a politician asked to pick the most beautiful baby at the county fair : "The greatest squad was 1944, and the greatest team was 1945." 

I'll leave it to you to figure out what that meant.

The line coach of those great Army teams was the legendary Herman Hickman.  A native of Chattanooga and an all-time great at Tennessee, Hickman was a great line coach, a legendary trencherman (eater) and a lover of literature and quoter of  that earned him the nickname "The bard of the Smokies."

Tim Cohane, in "Gridiron Grenadiers," writes that on one occasion, when asked  by reporters  to discuss his  Army line,  Hickman replied in verse...

Hercules was a mighty man, and Samson was another.

And Goliath, from his press reports, might well have been their brother.

Old Atlas tossed the world around in days, now dead and gone,

And Milo was well honored by the natives for his brawn.

Ajax had his moments when he didn't do so bad,

And Thor the Norseman, history says, was quite a robust lad.

I picture them alive today, a wondrous dream is mine:

Centers, tackles, ends and guards - the perfect football line.

*********** You're an NFL GM.  You have a decision to make.  Before you make that decision, here are a few facts to consider...

OMAHA, Neb. -- Defensive end Randy Gregory said he tested positive for marijuana at the NFL scouting combine last month and that he failed two drug tests at Nebraska last year.

Gregory disclosed his marijuana use in an interview with NFL Media on Wednesday.

Gregory went into February's scouting combine projected to be among the top 10 picks in the draft. He declared for the draft after his junior season at Nebraska, where he recorded 17 1/2 sacks in two seasons.

He said he tested positive for marijuana at Nebraska in January 2014 and April 2014. Gregory said he hadn't smoked marijuana since December.

"I blame myself," Gregory told NFL Media. "And I know it sounds cliche, but there's really no one else I can blame."


I say, what the hell.  Since everybody agrees that the guy's a player good enough to draft, here's your Choice:

Would you rather have him

(A) smoking pot and mellowing out at home

(B) slapping his "fiancee" around

(C) drinking cognac with the lads at some "gentleman's club"

Myself, I'll draft him and take my chances with (A). But face it, just my luck it'll be ALL OF THE ABOVE

Soldier Field 1926

*********** The first crowd of over 100,000 to watch a football game and (obviously) the largest crowd up to that point ever to do so, was at the 1926 Army-Navy game.

Played in Chicago, it was the first time the game had been held elsewhere than  the East Coast, and a crowd of 110,000 was on hand to formally dedicate Soldier Field.

The game ended in a  21-21 tie. That would be the only smirch on Navy's records, and it would cost the Middies a "true"  national championship, one determined, for the first time, by a system based on a colleges' record and the quality of its opponents. 

Here is the  1926 Top Ten, selected by the Dickinson system, named for the college professor who devised it. In fairness, not everyone  accepted the good professor's judgement, and many considered Navy the national champion.

(Notice there's only one "SEC" team in there. And no, Lafayette and Brown are not misprints.

1. Stanford
2. Navy
3. Michigan
4. Notre Dame
5. Lafayette
6. USC
7. Alabama
8. Ohio State
9. Army
10. Brown

Among the incorrect guesses: a Michigan game.  The "Big House" wasn't built until 1927, and at its opening, its capacity was "only" 72,000.

And it wasn't the Rose Bowl, which, designed in 1921, wasn't made a complete "bowl" until 1928.

Penn State? Fuhgeddabout. Penn State - sorry, Lions' fans - was way too remote in those days to draw the kind of crowds it does today.

Army-Navy Ticket 1926


Five Atlantic City High School students were arrested on aggravated assault charges last week, after "allegedly" attacking school leaders during a fight at the school.

A 17-year-old girl is accused of spitting on the Director of Security. An 18-year old "man" was charged with assaulting a female assistant principal. The principal was assaulted by three other "students," aged 18, 17 and 15, while he was attempting to separate two other students.

The principal's last day at  "Atlantic High" is April 14, when he leaves to become superintendent of another South Jersey school district.


*********** On Monday night, Maryland’s women’s basketball team defeated Princeton  in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, giving the Tigers  their first loss of the season. President Obama, who has a niece on the Princeton team, was on hand. He'd picked Princeton to beat Maryland and advance to the final four, losing there to  UConn.

Following the game, Maryland coach Brenda Frese brought out a cardboard cutout statue of the president wearing a Maryland jersey and said, “Sorry, man, but we had to bust your bracket!” and her Maryland players shook the President's image.

Well. Many were offended that the Maryland players were so disrespectful, conveniently overlooking the fact that when a  President works so hard to show what an ordinary guy he is, he risks being treated like an ordinary guy - and one who's disrespected people at that.

One commenter took advantage of the incident to take a shot at the University of Maryland...

I suspect the underlying reason is that the majority of the Maryland players couldn't last a semester at Princeton. They won a basketball game, big deal, in 5 years I could see them serving the Princeton players in the local restaurant. I hope the Princeton players tip them generously.

Careful there, Joe Ivy. Like any public institution, Maryland serves the masses, yes, but it's done a pretty good job of producing people who've made some pretty significant contributions, as pointed out in this response...

Right. Google, UnderArmour, Outback, Sirius, Seinfeld, The Muppets for just a few of the businesses and entertainment created by Maryland grads.


*********** It's always been amusing to hear a fight manager say, "We'll fight anybody."


I get the same reaction when I read that the White House is FURIOUS at Israel.

Um, does that mean "The President" is furious?  That's his right.

But the house he lives in?  WTF?

Or does it  mean all the bootlickers and lickspittles and parasites who live  in the reflected glory of The Man and begin to think THEY were the ones elected?

*********** I was sitting at a stop sign yesterday when a big, white police SUV approached on the cross street.  I knew it was a police car because - duh - it said POLICE in bigass letters on the side.

But it was white.  That's funny, I thought.  Camas (our town's) police cars are silver.

As the white "police" car whooshed by, I could see for sure  that it wasn't one of ours - the SOB said, "Department of Homeland Security."

Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

Police, my ass.

Is this where this whole Homeland Security Monster is  headed?

This is scary as sh--.  A national police force? 

Is this part of a  Department of "Justice" plans to swoop in and rescue the oppressed citizens in towns whose police departments it disapproves of?

Or are they just going to be cruising our streets looking for "VOTE REPUBLICAN" lawn signs?

*********** You go, Bill!

"We spend money to send the Pro Bowl to Brazil, we spend money to go overseas to London, but we can’t spend money to have four cameras in the end zone, four cameras to help determine the correct call in the end zone on certain plays?"


Rick Davis team*********** Longtime friend and Double Winger Rick Davis and his wife, Beth, picked up and moved from Duxbury, Massachusetts to New Zealand a couple of years ago and, eager to keep coaching football (er, "gridiron") he found a way to do so. That's his team at the left. Coaching in NZ  hasn't been without its challenges, and one of the biggest has been  equipping his players.  Maybe you can help.  Rick writes...

Coach Wyatt,

Thanks so much for posting this on your blog. It was your post about a year ago that put me in contact with Joe Ashfield, who used to coach in New Zealand, and who helped get the ball rolling. Briefly, I was able to restart an American Football club on the North Shore of Auckland, but one major challenge facing us is procuring equipment, which is very expensive to buy new and import. I was able to borrow equipment from the league this past season for our 14-16 year-old team, and am looking to add a 17-19 year-old team this coming season.

Our 14-16 year-old team had a great season. The boys embraced running the Double Wing and we ended up 5-5 and made the playoffs. I’ll be the head coach of both teams so there will be lots of Double Wing (and maybe some Open Wing) to go around.

I’m returning to Duxbury, Massachusetts for a month in July to visit friends and family, and would like to obtain used equipment to ship back to New Zealand. I’m looking mainly for helmets and shoulder pads in reasonably good condition and will be happy to drive to anyplace in New England to pick the equipment up (could bump it out a state or 2 further if a team had more than a couple of sets to donate). It can be larger youth sizes but I’d really like to get some equipment that would fit the larger Polynesian boys as well (I had twin 250+ pound linemen wearing 170-pound shoulder pads this season).

If any of your readers would like to help out, or have any information on teams/organizations that would like to help, please email me at 4baselead@gmail.com. Thanks very much again for your support.

*********** A proposal being considered by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association committee would set up separate leagues and tournaments for public and parochial schools.

Public schools have long complained that private schools can recruit and draw players from a wide area, giving them an unfair talent advantage. In one part of South Jersey, they point out, in the past three seasons the three private parochial schools that play football are 59-10 overall against public schools.

Several  New Jersey public schools, acting on their own,  have already announced plans to forfeit football games against private schools this coming fall.

Few public school coaches can be found to oppose the idea.

“I’m all for it,” one public school coach told the Atlantic City Press. “They (private schools) get to recruit all they want. They can form their own all-star teams. I understand what they’re doing. But it’s not fair to play those types of schools. They pick the cream of the crop. Once every 10 years you might beat them.”

It was suggested that the breakup might actually work out to the private schools' advantage, giving them opportunities to play well known, out-of-state schools, which could help them recruit even more better players.

Said another  public school coach, “More power to them if that’s what they have to do to bolster their programs. I’m not worried about that. I’m just worried about who we have to play and making sure the playing field is as even as it can be.”


*********** New Jersey is also looking at dealing with the increasing numbers of athletic-inspired transfers that plague many areas of the country.

Their plan is to make transfers ineligible to compete in post-season play.

A new proposal would classify schools as "closed enrollment" or "open enrollment."

Closed enrollment schools would be conventional public schools, that draw students from a specific geographic al area.

Open enrollment schools  would be private schools and those so called public "magnet" schools that can draw students from anywhere.

The plan would require varsity athletes who transfer to an open enrollment school  to sit out the first 30 days of the season and to be banned from taking part in the state tournament.

Athletes who transfer from one closed enrollment school to another closed enrollment school  would be eligible immediately so long as there is a "bona fide" change of address.


*********** With a recent poll showing that only a third of its residents want Boston to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, the group organizing the city's  bid has reversed its original position and now supports a voter referendum on the proposal.

John Fish, chairman of the group, Boston 2024, pledged that if the measure failed, the group would drop the bid.

(For what it's worth, John Fish  is also chief executive of the Boston area's largest construction company.  Hmmm.)

The United States Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee  are opposed to such a ballot measure because it can prove to be an embarrassing rejection.

Things haven't been helped by the mayor's signing an agreement barring city employees from criticizing the bid, and then it was it was disclosed that Boston 2024 was paying former Governor Deval Patrick $7,500 a day to be a “global ambassador” for  the Boston Games.

This winter's record snowfall has caused people to question whether Boston public transit system could transport Olympic-sized crowds  if it couldn't transport commuters.

“Terrible idea,” former United States Representative Barney Frank told Boston magazine. “If we can’t find a place for snow, where are we going to find a place for the Olympics?”

Back in January, 51 percent of Bostonians supported the Olympic bid. By February, support had dropped to 44 percent. Last week it was 36 percent, according to polls conducted by the local NPR station.

“At this rate," said Daniel Payne, a Democratic consultant, "by the time the IOC makes its decision, support here will be about 2 percent.”


*********** Daniel Podolsky,  a New York college student,    missed his flight out of St. Louis when Southwest Airlines barred him from boarding while  wearing a shirt with the word "F-CKING" boldly printed on the front.  

Video of the airport confrontation shows the gate agent providing several chances for the young man to remove the shirt, cover it or turn it inside out — but he refuses on grounds that he is expressing free speech.

“Is there anything you can do not to display the shirt because at this point we can’t allow you to go,” the Southwest employee asks.

Podolsky shoots back, “I have freedom of speech … really it’s not bothering anyone.”

“I know you do,” the worker explains. “I can show you in our contract of carriage that you can’t wear any shirts that says offensive.”

But Podolsky wasn’t having it.

“Can we take a poll?” he asks.


Outraged at this violation of his supposed rights,  he immediately contacted St. Louis TV station KTVI.

Nice job of raising the kid, Mr. and Mrs. Podolsky.  And wherever he went to high school - nice job of teaching him about what the Constitution really says about "freedom of speech."

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

It seems like yesterday but I have been running your system now for 5 years at 3 different schools. Your materials have been very good to me and the offenses I have coached. Last year at an inner city school taking them to a 5-5 record with 3 freshman offensive lineman and two down to the wire losses. I just saw the clips you posted on your website of the "open wing" offense and was wondering if I could see more or a more in depth look at your passing, running, and formations used. I have the athletes this year to have some fun in the shotgun and would love to see what you were doing for such great success at North Beach. If you are still looking for clinic sites, please do not overlook Ohio! We love double wing here and I have always wanted to come to one but distance has always been a factor with a young family. Let me know what you think coach!

Thank you for the constant help and support with your system!

Luke Katris
Columbus, Ohio
West High School

Coach Katris,

Nice to hear from you.  I'm very pleased to hear of the great job you've done using the Double Wing.

At the present time I don't have anything very helpful for you, but I can let you see some of what we've been doing in the form of the video of our opening game last year.


If you go through it and mark down questions at the particular time on the video, I'll do my best to help.

But it would be really helpful if you could somehow get away for a clinic.


american flagTUESDAY,  MARCH 24,  2015-   "I'm proud to be an American and pay taxes, but I could be just as proud for half the money."   Arthur Godfrey

*********** Nap time, story time, finger painting - but not for little kids. For something  called adult pre-school.

It caters to millenials, with, I'm willing to predict, not a Republican in the bunch.

And while they have their cookies and milk and settle down for their naps, ISIS is beheading Christians in the Middle East.


*********** QUESTION: A crowd of 110,000 people - largest at that time ever to watch a football game - looked on at the dedication of this famous stadium.  What was the stadium and what (and when) was the game?

*********** GRRRRRR.

Good Morning,
Enrollment for USA Football’s High School Heads Up Football® program is now available for the 2015 season. If you have not done so already, visit www.usafootball.com/headsup to sign up North Beach HS.
 The Seattle Seahawks are hosting a Heads Up Football® Player Safety Coach Clinic on Saturday 3/28/15 at the VMAC Training Facility in Renton, WA.
Heads Up Football® will meet and exceed WIAA Coaching Requirements that all Heads Football Coaches must be certified in for 2015.
Once your organization is enrolled online, here are the next steps to focus on:
·         Nominate a Player Safety Coach (PSC). The PSC will be trained by USA Football and will lead the implementation of Heads Up Football within North Beach HS. The Player Safety Coach should be an experienced, senior-level coach on the staff or administrator who has earned the respect of your coaches and parents and is committed to a better, safer game.

·         Get your PSC certified. All Player Safety Coaches must take and pass the Heads Up Football, Heat Illness Prevention and Concussion in Sports courses at NFHSLearn.com.

·         Get your PSC trained (3/28/15 at the VMCA) USA Football hosts more than 200 clinics across the United States where Player Safety Coaches are trained in Heads Up Football curriculum and drills. All PSCs – including returning ones – must attend a single-day clinic each year to receive the latest information. This year instruction on Heads Up Blocking and handling cases of sudden cardiac arrest are new items in the curriculum.

·         Get your coaches certified. All coaches become USA Football coach members and complete the Heads Up Football, Heat Illness Prevention and Concussion in Sports courses at NFHSLearn.com.

·         Track your coaches. Through your USAFootball.com dashboard, you can see which coaches have registered and which have completed their 2015 certification requirement.

·         Share a certificate of insurance. Maintain and provide proof of insurance that meets USA Football’s requirements: $1 million general liability, $25,000 accident and health/participant liability with USA Football added as an additional insured.
Once again, please visit http://usafootball.com/headsup to learn more about Heads Up Football or call me at (317) 489-4426 to discuss how this program can help your organization and your athletes.
Thank you for your commitment to make the game better and safer!
Bassel Faltas
USA Football
H.S. Regional Manager, West
317-489-4426 Office

*********** Hugh, after reading your news this morning I need to share this with you. I need to take a Language arts/ and health and fitness to become credentialed in the state of Washington, and I was up on the teachers website to register for testing. 

One question stood out. It asked if you are male or female, but to my surprise there was a third box??
The boxes went male, female and - UNDECLARED!

I thought, you have to be shi--ing me!?!

My father would be rolling over in his grave if he knew what we as a society have become. I just wonder if I want to be a part of it. Have a great day!


The interesting thing is that the state just made it illegal to "counsel" gay youngsters  with the intent of making them straight because, LGBT activists insist, they are born that way.  So if that's the case, what's to declare?

*********** Just channel surfing, we came across "The Express," the Ernie Davis story Sunday night after the basketball games were over, and watched it till the end.

Although some of the scenes dealing with racial issues were in caricature form (naturally, white southerners were all pretty much racist swine), overall the movie was decent.

The uniforms were pretty authentic and the plays they ran were not unlike the Syracuse unbalanced offense of coach  Ben Schwartzwalder.

One laughable gaffe occurred on Ernie Davis' very first touchdown run when used several camera cuts as he raced downfield,  first camera one, then cut to camera two, then back to camera one, and finally, as he crossed the goal line, to camera two again.

The problem? They shot the run with the two cameras at two different times. In the camera one shots, he's carrying the ball in his right hand, and in the camera two shots, with his left.

Now, unless he actually switched hands three times,  while in the clear and outrunning the opponents...

Also, there's the matter of Ernie Davis' recruiting his successor, Floyd Little...

In the movie, Davis is being introduced over the PA in Cleveland Municipal Stadium, but he holds up the crowd of 60,000  to turn to coach Schwartzwalder and tell him, "Floyd Little's going to Syracuse!" 

Little's version differs a bit from the movie - he says he was still debating whether to go to Army or Notre Dame when he learned of Ernie Davis' death, and remembering that he'd given Davis his word that he'd do so, chose to go to Syracuse.


*********** It's all over - CLAP, CLAP, CLAP-CLAP-CLAP

Starbucks, a liberal corporation which, like all true liberals, set out to change the world, is back to selling high-priced coffee without the racial discussion.

Next  person in line, please.


*********** The big talk behind the scenes at the NCAA basketball tournament  is about speeding up the game.

Defense?  Bad. Passing more than once? Bad. Shooting quickly? Good. Racehorse basketball?  Very good.

Tell that to the Navy.  The Navy football team, that is.

In the 2004 Emerald Bowl, the Midshipmen iced a win over New Mexico by putting on a goal-line stand with a minute left in the third quarter, then staging a drive that ate up 14 minutes and 26 seconds.  It took 26 plays, and lasted 32 minutes in actual time. In terms of the time consumed, it was the longest drive in college football history - and it didn't even end in a touchdown.

Starting at the Navy one-foot line, it ended on fourth-and-goal at the New Mexico 5-yard line, where the Mids kicked a 22-yard field goal with 2:25 left.

Not all the Midshipmen were happy about killing all that time.

"Our defense was starting to get mad at us," Navy fullback Kyle Eckel told the Wall Street Journal in 2009. "For a lot of the seniors, it was their last time playing football, and here we were spending the whole time on the field."

*********** As always, your blog is an oasis in a sea of madness:

1. I believe the sanctimonious Starbucks soliloquies will turn out to be a HUGE loser for these twits.  This gives me a warm feeling, because most of these "conversations" about the libprog cause du jour are actually one-way lectures, rather than two-way conversations.  Interestingly enough, Starbucks seems to be getting more negative response from their hipster core customers, rather than from crusty old conservatives.

2. Hillary -- Nixon without the charm...and also without the geopolitical acumen.  Putin wouldn't be running rings around the Ol' Trickster.

3. Since everyone knows Al Sharpton is many millions in arrears to the IRS, howcome he's not in the same trouble you or I would be, in similar circumstances?  Somebody's got a heap a 'splainin' to do.

4.  Good for Army with the new (old) uniforms.  Hope they start a trend.

5. Tim Tebow.  It's almost enough to make me believe in a conspiracy.  Fantastic athlete -- a winner wherever he goes.  Unparalleled character and off-the-field contributor -- a perfect role model for kids.  Yet the NFL treats him like he's radioactive.  If he were playing at Jacksonville, he would make umpteen dollars for the club in jersey sales alone.  Something's fishy.

Shep Clarke
Puyallup, Washington

Right on all points. Where do I start?  

Starbucks?  Precious liberals chatting it up with other precious liberals? Like New York Times reporters covering a Democratic convention.  Maybe to get a little diversity of opinion they should offer 50% off on Duck Dynasty Tuesdays.

NIxon?  People disliked him and disagreed with his opinions and his tactics, but no one could have doubted his love of country, his strength, or his competence.

Sharpton?  The single most divisive thing that our Uniter in Chief has done has been to give that torch the standing of an unofficial cabinet member.

So long as they get their uniforms from Nike, Army football is still a wait-and-see.

Signs that our world has turned upside-down:  Israel is bad and Iran is good;  a gay football player is celebrated and a Christian football player is scorned.

*********** My, how times have changed.  I was looking through the March 1988 issue of Scholastic Coach (Remember that?  Great mag) and I came across a panel discussion among two high school ADs, one from Indian and one from Virginia, and a high school football coach from the Denver area.

The Indiana AD said he expected to get seven years' use out of a helmet before having to replace it, while for the Colorado coach the expected life was six years, and for the Virginia AD it was five.

The Colorado coach sent helmets out for reconditioning every three years, the Indiana coach every two years, the Virginia coach every year.

*********** In an article in that same March 1988 Scholastic Coach issue, Jackie Sherrill, then head coach at Texas A & M noted the benefits of switching from film to videotape (VHS), a move they'd made just  the previous August.

*********** It's my guess that Army AD Boo Corrigan has been busy answering calls from SEC athletic directors after the conference ruled that it will count independents Notre Dame, BYU and Army as "Power 5" conference opponents.

So Army can step in there in place of Western Carolina or Savannah State - and the SEC team gets credit, just as if it were playing Penn State or Kansas State, without nearly  the risk.

I'm not sure, as an Army fan, how I feel about this.  Yes, big money. But at least at this point in Army's football fortunes, little else to gain.

Air Force and Navy miss out on this grand opportunity because they have conference ties.  Air Force is  a member of the Mountain West, and Navy will begin play in the American Athletic Conference this fall.


***********  Watch this and then try to convince me that (1) Our schools aren't wasting our tax dollars, and (2) It's not time to raise the voting age to, oh, 25 or 26.  Or 35 or 36.


I guarantee you that newly-naturalized citizens know a lot more about our country than those hopeless twits on whom the Democrats spend millions trying to get them to vote. 

It was, of course, dead wrong, back in the days of Jim Crow,  for  southern states to employ literacy tests as a devious way to keep blacks from voting. And now, unfortunately, because of their evil associations, there is zero chance of ever implementing literacy tests  on a national scale to cull out all the morons walking around.

Dude - Rock the Vote.

************ Remember the Three Tenors?

Maybe instead of one President, we need the Three Sheriffs:

Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona  


Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin


Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County, Florida



Actually, I'd settle for any one of them.

*********** "Proselytizers of atheism seem to have concluded that if they’re big enough jerks, they will seduce the faithful into abandoning God. It’s sort of like asking Don Rickles to run your customer-service desk."   Jonah Goldberg

flagFRIDAY,  MARCH 20,  2015-   “There is no bigot like the atheist.”  G. K. Chesterton

*********** Janet Napolitano against student protestors. Wow.

What if you don't care who wins?  What if you hope both sides lose?  What if you just want to see blood?   It must be something like  the voyeuristic sensation some people feel when watching teenage girls fight.  

While protesters raised hell about proposed tuition hikes during a meeting Wednesday, Napolitano, President of the University of California, leaned over to a member of the Board of Regents sitting next to her and said (microphone still on), “Let’s just break. Let’s go, let’s go. We don’t have to listen to this crap.”

Well, of course she doesn't.  She's Janet Napolitano.

She's paid a $570,000 salary, gets $9,000 a year car expenses, and  lives in a house that the The University leases for $9,950 a month.  For that, you'd think the students would show her a little respect.

Jeez.  I actually find myself leaning toward the protestors.

*********** So 49ers linebacker Chris Borland decides he's had enough of football and cashes in, after one season,  and that's all the proof that America needs. No football for my son!  Too dangerous!

Now, I respect Chris Borland's right to decide the best course for his life. But you'll have to respect my right to suspect that there might be something more to the story than fear of concussions, which is how it's being played.

So it was with a  sigh of, "Finally!" that I read about a medical professional who says, "Enough Already!"

Dr. Joseph Maroon, professor of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, is also the Pittsburgh Steelers' neurosurgeon, and a consultant to the NFL's Head, Neck and Spine Committee.

He says long-term neurological damage from hits to the head has been exaggerated, and that there is no proof of any connection between CTE and youth or high school football.

“I think the problem of CTE, although real, it’s being over-exaggerated and it’s being extrapolated to youth football and to high school football,” he said on Tuesday’s "NFL Total Access."

"There are more injuries to kids from falling off of bikes, scooters, falling in playgrounds, than there are in youth football,” he said.

"...it’s much more dangerous riding a bike or a skateboard than playing youth football.”

Sadly,  in America's wussified society, a likely consequence of Dr. Maroon's remarks will be mommies taking their kids' bikes and scooters from them.


*********** In his 23 years as a big-time head coach, Bill Snyder has won two Big Twelve titles  and 16 of 18 bowl games. He's been named Big Eight Coach of the Year three timed, and Big 12 Coach of the Year four times.

At Kansas State.

Barry Switzer once called what Bill Snyder has accomplished at K-State  the greatest job of coaching in football history, and I tend to agree.

He's done it, writes David Collier in "Football Matters," a publication of the National Football Foundation, by his attention to  things you can't see out on the field.

The values and standards Snyder lives by are a part of every day life, and they always have been. Snyder has taught those values to every guy he’s ever coached. In fact, Snyder requires his players to take a test on the values that the Kansas State football program are built on in addition to having a group discussion about a topic the head man chooses.

However, Snyder says all of the credit goes to Snyder’s mother, who raised him as a single mother and molded Snyder into the man he is today.

“I’ve been blessed in my life to have a lot of caring mentors and people who were of great assistance to me,” Snyder said. “I learn from people every day. My mother was the most significant. She was an amazing lady who had a set of principles that are certainly replicated in what we are interested in here and what I’m interested in my own life.”


*********** Stone Phillips, former network news anchor, was a pretty good quarterback at Yale in 1975 and 76, and on the celebration of Carm Cozza's 80th birthday in July, 2010, he had this to say about his coach...

Carm was always mindful of his teams in their totality. Whenever an opportunity arose to get second and third string players into a game, Carm made sure they got off the bench and onto the field. The other day, I was looking back at an old Football Y News following the 1976 Princeton game, the same game during which John Pagliaro broke the all-time scoring record. In his “Coach’s Corner” comments, Carm began, not with commendations for individual play, but compliments for the team as a whole. And this line, in particular, jumped out at me: “I was pleased that we could play every able bodied player on the squad, some 70 people.” To some, maybe that’s not a big deal. But making sure that everyone got into the game mattered to Carm. He knew how important it was that 70 uniforms be soiled and stained with grass from the Bowl that day. He knew how many out-of-town parents would have pointed and yelled, “He’s in the game! Our boy’s playing! Go Yale!” Admittedly, the score was lop-sided—Yale won 39-7—but the substitutions started early. Long before the game was put away, Carm was opening it up. Good for him! Great for Yale!

*********** From a coaching friend...

last night we played --------- in a 7X7 and after about four plays I looked over the defense and I notice they had a safety at 15 yards, two corners at 12 yards and then five backers across the field at 5 yards.  Well, call me crazy but that is 8 players.  I called their head coach over and he told me that they are going to a 3-5-3 defense and his kids need to practice with all 8 guys in the mix.  I retorted by asking if we could then add another receiver but he did not think that was a good idea.  Imagine that... we still hung in there and scored 4 or so touchdowns.   I wanted to punch the arrogant SOB in the teeth.  That is why I hate 7X7's.

*********** Saint Mary’s Cathedral, in San Francisco, has installed a watering system to keep the homeless from sleeping in the cathedral’s doorways.

The cathedral's four tall side doors, with sheltered alcoves, attract homeless people who interfere with worshippers as they attempt to enter the cathedral.

To discourage the homeless from camping there, water is poured intermittently and without warning from a hole in the ceiling above each alcove.

Despite signs warning the homeless about what happens in these doorways,  they are a persistent lot, some of them bringing waterproof gear and umbrellas.

“We do the best we can, and supporting the dignity of each person," said a spokesman for the Archdiocese.  "But there is only so much you can do.”


*********** "Yale's Ironmen," by William N. Wallace, was a really good read.  The late Mr. Wallace, a long-time sports reporter for the New York Times, was a Yale grad, and one of the first football games he ever saw was the Princeton-Yale game of 1934.  Even in the depth of the Depression, 53,000 people turned out to watch that clash.

Few gave Yale any chance. The Blue was 3-3, while mighty Princeton, under coach Fritz Crisler, was riding a 15-game win streak dating back to a 7-7 tie with Yale at the end of  the 1932 season.  

But Yale won, 7-0. 

Princeton had gone undefeated in 1933 and most of 1934, and would do so again in 1935, but in the middle of that fantastic three-year stretch was that damn loss in 1934 to underdog Yale, a loss that tormented many Princeton men to the day they died. (Princeton was at the least a 5-1 favorite, 10-1 in some places. Bookies had not yet adopted the idea of handicapping - of giving points to an underdog.)

The most remarkable thing about the game,  and what prompted  Mr. Wallace to devote his last years to researching and writing it, was that just 11 Yale players played the entire 60 minutes, the last time that "ironman" feat has ever been accomplished  in a college game.

(Following the 1937 season, Crisler would take his single wing - and the now-famous wings on the helmets - to Michigan, where he would become a coaching legend.)

We all grow old, of course - those of us who are fortunate - and Mr. Wallace's research followed many of the participants throughout the rest of their lives.

One of the most poignant parts, entitled "Pepper Constable's Last Victory," is the story, written by his widow, of the Princeton fullback  who went on to become a doctor, and in 1981 made the self-diagnosis that he was a victim of Alzheimer's disease.  She wrote,

"During the first two or three years, there was little obvious change. In fact, Pepper's strong, healthy good looks fooled nearly everyone for all five and a half years of his illness.  Friends and family, in kindness, tried to tell me the diagnosis was wrong.

My answer was, "But you don't live with him."

In August, 1987, while vacationing in Nantucket, his wife woke up one morning to find him gone, his pajamas by the door.  During the night he had walked  out the door and into the ocean.

*********** There's been a lot of concern expressed by certain basketball writers about the lack of scoring in college basketball, and most of the suggested remedies have something to do with shortening the shot clock.

Funny that nobody's mentioned the size of the court, and the way it restricts offensive movement.

I've said for years that football - pro football at least - needs a bigger field.  As big and fast as today's players are, how much sense does it makes to play on the same size field that they were using  100 years ago?

That idea came to me when I read an interview several years ago with one-time pro basketball great Ed "Easy Ed" Macauley, who argued that the game had changed quite a bit from when he played.  At 6-8, he was one of the bigger men in the game. At the time he spoke, long after he'd retired, players had become much bigger.  Not only taller, but wider - no more beanpoles playing in the NBA.  And the players were faster, too.

That was a great idea then, and it's an even better one today.  Now, if we can just persuade those celebrities with their front-row seats to move back about six feet...


*********** It used to be common among the older, more cynical types among us  to respond to a worthless idea by saying, "Yeah - that and a dime will  get you a cup of coffee."

That, of course, was back when a cup of coffee cost a dime.

So hats off to Starbucks, which built a business empire on the idea of selling a highly-embellished ten-cent cup of coffee for many multiples of a dime.

Needless to say, Starbucks didn't build that empire by locating its stores in urban ghettoes  and decaying mill towns. 

And forget older people, even affluent ones. They grew up in the ten-cent days, and they can't quite cope with the notion of a four dollar cuppa, even when it's served in a recyclable paper cup by a server who's not just a server, but - a barista, for God's sake!

No,  Starbucks stores are found where the younger, more affluent gang hangs out - the college town, the techie town, the quaint "Old Town."  "Fish where the fish are," is the way the old-time marketers used to put it.

Their market is young, affluent, hip - and liberal.  And so devoted (addicted?) are their customers that Starbucks appears to think there's something more than a simple buyer-seller relationship between them - something that will enable it to achieve the dream of every liberal - to "make a difference."  To "change the world."

So Big Coffee is embarking on a campaign called "Race Together," whose goal  is to get people talking about the topic of race - with baristas or with others in line - while waiting for their coffee.  Or while drinking it. 

The   Company has plans to publish what it calls  "Conversation Guides" designed to encourage baristas to engage you, with questions like  "How have your racial views evolved from those of your parents?"

Hmmm.  I've talked about an awful lot of things with an awful lot of bartenders, but I just can't see myself and a "barista" with lime-colored hair and neck tattoos and multiple rings in her eyebrows holding up the line while we discuss whether The Man really is out to get black people.

I have a suspicion this idea was sneaked into a Starbucks marketing  meeting by an undercover Dunkin' Donuts employee 

*********** ANSWERS
In 1995, Utah  had players selected Number One in both Football and Basketball: Alex Smith  and  Andrew Bogut

Correctly answered by...
(1) Bill Nelson
Skyview HS
Thornton, Colorado

(2) Kevin McCullough
Lakeville, Indiana

(3) Ken Hampton
Raleigh, North Carolina


Connoe and Quinn Cook*********** For the second year in a row, my grandson Connor Love celebrated his birthday with breakfast at Elmo's Diner, a famous  Durham eatery, and for the second year in a row he ran into Duke star Quinn Cook.   Go Devils!


*********** I heard Coach K on the radio talking about beating UNLV in the NCAA semi-finals in 1991 after losing by 30 to the Rebels in the final game the year before. 

He noted that they  had a week to prepare- he said "that was huge" - and  said that during that week, he really stressed mental preparation. One of the things he did was show his players clips of the good things they'd done in the game the year before. ("We didn't show them all the and things," he admitted.)

He said that he and Jerry Tarkanian were good friends, and that afterwards,  he told Tark that if they'd met in the finals - which yowled have meant Duke had only a couple of days to prepare - UNLV would have won.

After all, he reminded us,  "We had Laettner and Hurley and Grant Hill - and we still only won by two!"

*********** Aaargh!  Heads Up Football Comes to Washington - Like it or not

From the WIAA Handbook:

23.3.1 COACHING REQUIREMENTS - Described below are the minimum standards for a paid and/or volunteer interscholastic coach for employment, progressive employment and continuous employment

Beginning with the Fall of 2015 all middle school and high school head coaches must meet the requirement.

Beginning with the Fall of 2016 all football coaches must meet the requirement.

Options for schools:
Any coach that successfully completes a USA Football “Heads Up Football” Player Safety Coach (PSC) clinic will meet the requirement.

If a coach from the school successfully completes the Player Safety Coach clinic and then trains other coaches from that school in each of the components, each coach trained would meet the requirement.

Schools may choose to use programs other than Heads Up Football. Schools should pre- approve these programs and have documentation to show that each component of the requirement has been met.


american flagTUESDAY,  MARCH 17,  2015-   "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want - and deserve to get it good and hard."  H. L. Mencken

*********** As the ranks of the transgendered "folks" swell, it's important for us "breeders" to be sensitive and refrain from automatically using "he" or "she" as the preferred pronoun when referring to them, when many of them prefer that we use "ze" instead.

"When in doubt,"  advised an article I was reading, "ask a transgender person which pronoun is preferred."

My problem has always been asking somebody if ze's transgendered.

*********** I like a lot of teams in this year's NCAA basketball tournament, and it's a damn shame that Kentucky isn't one of them, because I don't see anybody beating the Wildcats.

I really like Notre Dame.   Partly  it's because they beat North Carolina, but there's more. The Irish are really fun to watch.   They're very unselfish, possibly because they actually have SENIORS.  And they've got three kids from Massachusetts, for crying out loud!

I like Duke because... because I like Duke. I have for years.  And I really like and admire Coach K.  And my daughter and son-in-law went there.

I like Villanova because I'm a Philly guy at heart, and because I really like the football people at Villanova. And because I've heard a lot of good things about their coach  And, of course, because one of my grandsons went there.

I like Arizona because they've got two kids from Pennsylvania.  One of them's from Chester, which is near Philly and  has always been a good basketball town. Chester's also the home of Bo Ryan, the Wisconsin coach. Their point guard, T. J. McConnell, is a Pittsburgh kid,  and he's as good as there is anywhere. Zona also has a big kid from New Hampshire - New Hampshire! - named Kaleb Tarczewski. 

I like Wisconsin because I like their coach. He's a Philly guy.  And I like their big center, Frank Kaminsky.  Guy is really good. And I like the fact that they've actually got WISCONSIN kids on their team.
A LOT of  them.  What is this, something new?  Recruiting kids from your home state, and winning with them?

I like Iowa State for the same reason I like Kansas State in football. With richer, better-known, more glamorous schools in their own conference, they've managed to win two conference tournaments in a row.  And they keep coming from behind.

I like Virginia because it's still a good school academically (I think) and I got to like the coach, Tony Bennett, when he was at Washington State.  He catches hell because his teams win with defense, and that means there's often not a lot of scoring.  Sounds a llittle  like a Double Wing coach.

I like Gonzaga because it's a Washington school, although way over on the eastern side of the state, I like the coach, Mark Few, and I like the eclectic mix of backgrounds of the players and the way Few always manages to get them to play as a real team.

I like Wichita State because they have a great player named Ron Baker who was an all-state HS QB in Kansas, and I hope that at least the Shockers win their first-round games so they get a shot at the Kansas Jayhawks, who haven't been willing to play them otherwise. The two teams haven't met since 1993.  How about this one- Wichita State is the winningest team in Kansas over the last three seasons.

Yeah, I'd be happy to see any of those teams win, or maybe even a Northern Iowa. But who's kidding who(m)? Hard to bet against Kentucky.

*********** Jason Gay wrote it, in the Wall Street Journal: "You can drive from Philadelphia to Vancouver during the last two minutes of a college basketball game."

*********** Seattle, famous for the high quality and great number of its restaurants, has been seeing them close down at an astonishing pace lately.  You don't suppose, do you, that  the minimum wage, set to start going up on April 1  to $15.00 an hour, has had anything to do with it?


*********** "MEET COUGARS," was the subject line.  Talk about a wasted Email.  For me to meet cougars  they'd have to take me to a nursing home.

*********** Washington QB Cyler Miles has chosen not to participate in the Huskies' spring practices this year.

"Cyler is dealing with some things in his life that are more important than football, and he felt it was important to take some time away from the game," Washington coach Chris Petersen said in a news release. "We are working to support him in any way we can and hope he returns back to the football field soon."

This will the second year in a row Washington will have to go through spring practice without a bona fide starting quarterback.

It will also be the second spring practice Young Mister Miles will miss.  Last year, he was suspended the entire time because of his role in the beating up of a guy following a Seahawks' game.

Whatever his problem is now, you would think that after last spring's fiasco, Huskies' coach Chris Peterson would have made damn sure that this spring he had a Plan B.


*********** I heard a guy being interviewed last week who'd spent  50 years with the same company - Mansfield Plumbing Company, Perrysville, Ohio -  and never missed a day of work.

Notice that in the graphic that accompanies this TV story,  "Mansfield"  is spelled it with two "n's."

Probably the regular guy who does the graphics was home sick.


*********** A Vallejo, California football coach fired by a Catholic school for not knowing about the hazing going on in his program sued the Diocese and  has received a $4 million settlement.


*********** Yes, we have freedom of speech.  Of course we have freedom of speech.  But not complete freedom. There are some well-known limits. It's been long established that you can't yell "FIRE!" in a crowded theatre, and you can't announce that you're planning to bomb your plan.  And if you'd like to meet some swell secret service guys, try making it known that you intend to kill the President of the United States.

And many are the guys who got their noses bloodied after telling ethnic jokes to the wrong audience.

At one time, ethnic jokes were very popular. Polish jokes, Irish jokes, Italian jokes.  They even tell me that  up in Da U-P they told Finnish jokes. 

If you happened to be a member of an affected minority, you could laugh, or pretend to ignore it, or handle it like Jerry DiPaolo.

Jerry was our Eastern Division sales manager when I worked for the National Brewing Company in Baltimore, back in the 1960s, and very proud of his Italian heritage.

He came to me one day and said, "What's black and blue and floats in the harbor?"

"I don't know," I told him.

Said Jerry, "Next son of a bitch that tells me an Italian joke."

************* That guy who pops up whenever there's the potential of a racial disturbance? He does pretty well for someone who's stiffing  the rest of us to the tune of more than $4 million in unpaid taxes and penalties, writes Jillian Kay Melchior, in National Review.com

When he speaks at public colleges and universities, Al Sharpton flies first-class, stays in upscale hotels, travels to events in a chauffeured vehicle, and often brings a bodyguard or aide with him. He makes these demands on taxpayer-funded institutions, despite owing as much as $4.5 million in unpaid taxes and penalties.

"In terms of travel, Rev. Sharpton travels first class on flights and will require a large black SUV for transportation and, if the trip requires lodging, he will require a suite in a four/five star hotel," wrote Sharpton's assistant, Abyssinia Tirfe, in an August 14, 2014, e-mail to Michigan State University (MSU) obtained by National Review. "Also, Rev. Sharpton travels with [an] aide who will require [an] economy ticket and a standard hotel room (if needed)."


Doc Blanchard*********** It's semi-official.   Army is going to "rebrand." No more of that "Black Knights" sh-- (I hope).  No more of that guy in a capes who looks like he just came back from the trick or treating (I hope). And no more "who-the-hell-are-we-watching-anyhow?" uniforms that change weekly (I hope).

Bring back those black jerseys with the gold and gray stripes.  And the gold helmets with the black stripes (Army, back during World War II,  was the first college team to wear  Riddell plastic suspension helmets).  And  bring back the  gold pants.

Those uniforms were ARMY, and anybody who saw them knew right away who they were looking at.

As a kid in Philly, I grew up on Army-Navy. With Army always winning(that's how long ago that was).  

To me, those will always be the real Army uniforms.  Navy? They'd   come out in something crazy every year, but Army's look never changed. Why should they? They were ARMY. They were the standard of excellence.

Those uniforms were classic, which means that they'll never go out of style.

If we can't bring back the glory days of the great Doc Blanchard (in the photo), can't we at least bring back the look?

*********** Bill Walton did the Arizona-Oregon Pac-12 final.  Even allowing for the fact that my dislike for him is hard-wired, dating back to his playing (and non-playing because of injury) days in Portland, he is really obnoxious when he gets behind a mic.

He won't STFU.  He goes non-stop, with a stream-of-consciousness blather that ignores the action and makes you say "WTF?" every couple of minutes.

But don't take my word for it...


*********** Only one college has ever had the first player drafted in both football and basketball in the same year.



*********** A proposed change in the NCAA's illegal man downfield rule has been tabled-

Did you know, for instance,  that three yards downfield isn't  considered "downfield?"


*********** So Chip Kelly had Tim Tebow in for a look. Don't know about you, but I sure would love to see somebody - anybody - sign the guy.  And give him a chance.  And for me,  it would be even better if it could be Chip Kelly and the Eagles.

***********  George Tsugawa is now 93. He and his family have owned and operated a nursery in Woodland, Washington, about a half hour from where we live, since 1980.

He's a native-born  American,  born in 1921 in Everett, Washington to Japanese immigrants.

In 1925, the family moved to HIllsboro, Oregon where his father ran a fruit stand, and in 1939, George  graduated from Hillsboro High School.

In 1942, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 calling for the  evacuation of Japanese and Japanese-Americans from the West Coast. (Actually, the executive order didn't say "West Coast" and didn't specifically mention Japanese - it simply gave the Secretary of War the power to "prescribe military areas in such places and of such extent as he or the appropriate Military Commander may determine, from which any or all persons may be excluded.")

The "military areas" were a wide band extending from Washington to California, and inland to Arizona.

The "persons"  to be "excluded," it was understood, were Japanese and Japanese-Americans.

The Tsugawa family was rounded up and transported to  Portland, Oregon and held temporarily in an area normally used to hold livestock. The entire family was permitted to bring just one duffel bag; the rest of their possessions were seized and never returned.

After two months in Portland, the Tsugawas were loaded on a train, into crowded cars whose windows were blacked out so no one would know where they were headed, and transported to an internment camp in the sagebrush desert of south-central Idaho, about 190 miles from Boise.

Today George recalls it being “very intimidating, large fences with barbed wire at the top and armed soldiers on watch towers.”

While there, his older brother Akira volunteered to serve in the US Army.

In 1944, with his mother  dying of cancer, the family was permitted to move to Boise.

After the war, they moved to the Beaverton, Oregon area and took up farming. In 1950, George married Mable Taniguchi, and together they would have six children.

In 1956, George bought a  farm in Woodland, Washington, and over the years provided  thousands of local kids with summer jobs picking berries.  In 1980, after all the children had graduated from high school, Mable started the family nursery.

Mable passed away in 2011.

For several years now, Shari Conditt, a History and Government teacher at Woodland High School, has had Mr. Tsugawa come to school to give ther students  a unique look at  a period of history and a government action that today seems incomprehensible.

A couple of the things  Ms. Conditt remembers from Mr. Tsugawa's visits  really stuck with me.

First was his pride in his ancestry:

One year, after hearing that Japanese families had to register their ethnic background in downtown Portland before heading to the camp, she asked Mr. Tsugawa if he  had ever considered lying about his descent - for instance, telling the government he was of Chinese heritage - in order to avoid internment.

The class, she said, couldn't believe his answer. "They were so shocked that it would have never occurred to him to deny who he was because he had so much pride in who he was,” Ms. Conditt said. “Those are the kind of moments where the students’ eyes are really opened.”

Second was his utter loyalty to his country of birth.

When asked by Ms. Conditt if he was bitter that he and his family were deprived of their property, their business and their belongings and forced into an internment camp, he answered,





american flagFRIDAY,  MARCH 13,  2015-   "To be able to look back upon one's past life with satisfaction is to live twice."  Lord Acton

*********** ONE person got the answer to what the list of great players had in common-

they were all Heisman Trophy runners-up.

Kudos to  Kevin McCullough, of Lakeville, Indiana, who added...

Purdue had some good teams back in the 60's......Leroy Keyes could do everything.......i can also remember " it's Theisman rhymes with Heisman".....seems like it was pronounced "Theesman before he became a starter

Yes, Purdue had some good teams and good players.   And yes, according to the story, upon arriving at ND
Thiesmann was persuaded by Sports Information Director Roger Valdiserri  to change the pronunciation.

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

Five years ago my wife and I were in Ukraine to adopt our fourth child.  While there a big celebration occurred - International Women's Day.  It was basically explained to us by our interpreter as "a day in which you give flowers and candy to the women in your life." So, mom, wife, daughters.  I thought it was kind of unique and cool, so I bought candy for all of the women at the orphanage.  I looked at it not as a requirement, but as a positive like "let's honor and celebrate the women in our lives."  No parades.  Nothing over the top.  Just flowers and candy.  

Seeing all of the issues domestic violence, sexual assault, etc., I think "International Women's Day," as it was celebrated in Ukraine (and I expect much of Europe), would be a small step in the right direction for many in American society.  

1 Peter 3:7   Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Todd Hollis
Elmwood, Illinois


I think it is a wonderful idea.  Not as a protest march or a demonstration of grievances, but as a way of honoring the women in our lives.

It takes me back to Bill McCartney and Promise Keepers, back in the 90s,  in which men promised, among other things, to honor their wives and the promises made to them.

What's really dismaying to me, as I look back at an earlier time, is the refusal of so many of today's women to accept their Biblical role, and the refusal of so many men to honor theirs.  

But it's still a wonderful idea.

Maybe we could start out small and call it American Football Coaches' Women's and Girls' Day.

And then, considering the attention being paid to how poorly some football players treat their "fiancees,"  we could expand it to include players, as American Football Women's and Girls' Day.

Better get on it fast before somebody trademarks it and tries to make money off it by selling tee-shirts and hats and holding rock-concert-like meetings.



*********** A Pittsburgh guy who stabbed and killed a police dog got 3⅓ to 7 years in the Big House.

Make that 17+ years total, after adding in time for attempting to disarm a sheriff’s deputy and stabbing a  police officer.

Sure hope the dog got the bastard good before he died.


*********** A Washington, DC guy is being sued by his neighbors because they claim his tobacco smoke is seeping into their home through cracks in the wall that separates them.  As a result, a judge has told him he can't smoke... IN HIS OWN F--KING HOME.

There's more.  It's a story about urban gentrification.

The guy is black and the house has been in his family since 1964.

The neighbors, on the other hand, are white, both of them lawyers, and they've lived there all of four months.

This one could be fun to watch.


*********** Jake Locker has retired after just four seasons (and God knows how many injuries), and now there are pussies on the Internet and on talk radio, pukes who've never strapped one on, ripping him for it.  Like he should have come back to  incur a couple more serious injuries and take more of their criticism.

No matter.  He'll be forever remembered fondly where it counts. Kid comes from a long line of athletes and coaches in the small town of Ferndale, Washington, up near the Canadian border. Hell of a football and baseball player.  Turned down a baseball contract to play football at the "U-Dub," the University of Washington.

In 2007, his freshman year, he rushed for 986 yards, passed for 2062, and was named the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year.  But the Huskies finished only 4-9, and fans were calling for Coach Tyrone Willingham's job.

He missed most of his sophomore season with a broken thumb and the Huskies fell to 0-12, and Coach Willingham was let go.

In 2009,  under new coach Steve Sarkisian, the Huskies climbed back to 5-7, highlighted by upsets of #3 USC and #19 Cal. Locker passed for 2800 yards and rushed for 388, and at the end of the season was presented  the Guy Flaherty Most Inspirational Award, Washington football's oldest and most prestigious honor.

When  he announced at season's end that he would forego the NFL Draft and return for his senior year, he earned himself a place in the hearts of Husky fans everywhere.

In 2010, his senior year, the Huskies made it back over .500 by ending the season with wins over archival Washinton State and, in the Holiday Bowl, Nebraska.  The win over the Cornhuskers was especially sweet, because in addition to giving the Huskies their first winning season since 2002, it avenged an earlier 56-21 loss to Nebraska in the third game of the season, a game in which Locker had not played particularly well.

He was team captain for the second straight season, and again won the Guy Flaherty  Award, becoming  just the fourth player in the 103-year history of the award to win it twice.    And he'll be remembered forever after  for sticking around and helping the Husky turnaround.

So let the dweebs who sit in front of their computers down in their parents' basement take their shots at Jake Locker.  To tens of thousands of loyal fans of the University of Washington, he'll be loved and respected as long as the Huskies play football.

At Washington, Jake Locker's reputation as a great player and a good person is carved in stone. You do the things he did for his school, and you'll  be remembered and appreciated for a long time,  all the more so if you've demonstrated your allegiance as he did.

Personally, that's the place where I'd choose to be respected.

In an NFL city? Look - unless you're a Walter Payton, an all-star who plays his entire career for one team (is there such a thing anymore?), you're just another mercenary who passed through town on your way to a bigger contract.


*********** Remember when certain things just weren't discussed in "polite company?" ( For those of you who remember when there was such a thing as polite company.)

In the category of unmentionables were terms related to excretion, but with the increasing use of "poop" and "pee" on TV and in everyday conversation, the barriers are coming down.

Now,  where once  the term "bathroom tissue" was used because "toilet paper" was considered a bit crude, some company is on TV trying to sell the public on buying a new, improved paper that it says does such a GREAT job of, uh, wiping one's posterior that one will be tempted after using it to go without underwear.

(To "Go Commahndo," as the properly British-accented announcer says.)


The old advertising expression is "sex sells," but my gut tells me that they're going to have a hell of a time   using sex to sell toilet paper.  Sorry - bathroom tissue.

*********** My friend Mike Lude, one-time AD at Kent State, Washington  and Auburn, said that he used to meet with all the school's teams before very season and impress on the athletes that like it or not, because they were Kent State, or Washington, or Auburn athletes, they would be held to a higher standard of conduct out in the community.

To reinforce his message, he'd ask them how the headlines back home would read if he were on vacation someplace in Europe and had too much to drink but went ahead and drove anyhow -  and killed somebody.

Their  answers, he said, with only slight changes depending on the school, were pretty uniform:


I thought of that this week when the Aberdeen, Washington Daily World headed its story about a kid in a neighboring town:


(Hmmm. He took English all four years.  Why wasn't he identified as an English student?)


*********** Tweet from Andy Levy: hillary clinton is richard nixon without the charm

*********** Good morning!

I just finished the news and wanted to add something to Jason Gay’s comments about Russell Westbrook achievements.  
He notes Oscar Robertson averages but fails to mention the Big “O” did not just average a triple double for a month but rather for an entire season.  From the Basketball Hall of Fame site:

The Big O's best statistical season came in 1961-62. Oscar averaged a triple double for the entire season, averaging 30.8 ppg, 11.4 apg and 12.5 rpg, a feat that has never been duplicated.  

The averages for his first five NBA seasons are a triple-double: 30.3 points, 10.4 rebounds and 10.6 assists per game. 

He was truly an amazing player!

I am not sure that the average fan can even begin to understand that accomplishment and is part of the reason why I believe that Oscar Robertson is the greatest to ever play the game.

Dennis Metzger
Richmond, Indiana


I agree that Jason Gay might have expanded on his comments about Oscar Robertson.

He was indeed a great one.  I can't go so far as to call him THE greatest, but I will allow for your both being Indiana guys and not dispute your claim.

I would certainly put him in my Top Five, along with Chamberlain and three others yet to be decided.  Jabbar and Jordan are almost certain to make it.  Kobe and LeBron have decent shots at it.   Maybe Westbrook can keep it up.

*********** Long after his baseball playing days were over, the great Joe DiMaggio was still in demand as an endorser of consumer products.  One of them, Mister Coffee, used him in so many  TV commercials that he developed a whole new generation of fans, who didn't have the slightest idea that he'd ever played baseball but wanted his autograph - because he was  Mister Coffee.

I was reminded of that when I saw George Foreman on Fox News the other night.  How many younger people, I wonder, who know that he sells grills, know that he was once one of the most feared boxers on earth?

He got on the subject of how he transitioned from heavyweight boxer to renowned marketer, and I saw in what he said a lesson for coaches.  "If you can't sell," he said (although in his Texas accent he pronounced it "Say-ull") "you're gonna starve."

Great point, whether you're in business or you're a coach. What is selling, after all,  but convincing people that it's in their interest to do something that you'd like them to do?

His secret, he said, was simple - learn to smile.  It wins people over. If you're not  a smiler, force yourself to do it, until it comes naturally.  It will.

Don't worry about whether it might seem phony. You can learn.  As my coaching friend Greg Koenig, in Beloit, Kansas, likes to tell his kids in cases like that, "Fake it till you make it."

*********** I'm so impressed by the wonderful job our schools are doing indoctrinating  our young people in the new, official state religion of environmentalism that I'm going to give them a project to keep them busy:

(A) How many tons of nasty, filthy pollutants  are spewed into our atmosphere every day
(B) how many nasty, filthy power plants
owned by 
(C) which nasty, greedy profit-hungry corporations
(D) how many tons of  nasty, filthy coal
just so
America's little environmentalists can charge their f--king phones?

Amare*********** Amare Stoudamire took his teammates to task, telling reporters, "We’ve got to find a way to refocus. We’ve got to key into the details of the game of basketball.

“We can’t cheat the game. We can’t screw around in shootarounds and practices and joke around all the time and figure we’re going to win games. This is the pros. It’s the highest level of basketball. We’ve got to act that way.”

And here he is, making his point.  Challenging his teammates.

Assuming they  take him more serously than I do.

*********** A coach donates bone marrow and  saves a life...

Helping save a total stranger's life by donating marrow turned out to be just the start of Chris Gennaro's involvement with the cause of marrow donation during his time working at Yale. Gennaro, who made his life-saving donation around the same time that he first started working for the Yale football team in 2012, has also become one of the key volunteers for the Bulldogs' annual Mandi Schwartz Marrow Donor Registration Drive. And earlier this month he took his involvement to a national level, traveling to Washington, D.C., to be a part of Legislative Day for Be The Match on Tuesday, Mar. 3. 

Gennaro, Yale's director of football operations, spoke to members of Congress about the value of marrow donation, emphasizing how easy and rewarding the marrow donation process was for him.

Originally from Saco, Maine, Gennaro first joined the Be The Match Registry while he was a member of the football team at Maine. The Black Bears were one of dozens of college football teams -- like Yale -- participating in the "Get in the game, Save a life." campaign, which was started by Villanova head coach Andy Talley.

In the early 1990s Talley recognized the impact that these drives have: donors that could help save lives join the registry through testing that consists of simple cheek swabs. He began getting football teams around the country to start organizing them on their campuses.

Yale assistant head coach Larry Ciotti, a friend and former teammate of Talley's at Southern Connecticut State, brought the drive to Yale in 2009.


*********** It used to be that a tremendous number of fires were caused by smoking in bed.

Here in granola land, I'll bet 90 per cent of the fires are caused by candles.

What the big deal is with candles, I don't know, but I do know I wouldn't leave the house with a candle burning.

That's what some knuckleheads around here did Monday, and now they're looking for a place to stay.

According to the Vancouver Columbian...

"A pet tarantula in the house was not harmed."

Thank goodness for that.  I've heard about saving dogs, but I doubt that there was a firefighter willing to  give mouth-to-mouth to a tarantula.


american flagTUESDAY,  MARCH 10,  2015-   “It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged.”  G. K. Chesterton

*********** Unless Missouri wins two games in the Big 12 conference basketball tournament, it will become just the 10th power conference  basketball team since  2004-2005 to win fewer games than its football team.

The other schools are Auburn, Baylor, Georgia, Iowa, Oregon, Oregon State, South Carolina, Southern California (twice) and Utah.

In most cases, it's a combination of a good football season and a bad basketball season, but in 2005-2006, when  Baylor was only 5-6 in football its basketball team couldn't even match that, winning only four games.  (Those were the dark days following a major scandal involving drugs and  the murder of a Baylor basketball player.)

*********** I saw the Oklahoma frat video and the first thing I thought was, "where did kids like that come from?"

I've been around thousands of kids, from coast to coast, and I have never seen any potential in them  for the  kind of ugly racism displayed on the video.

It's distressing to think that in Twenty-First Century America parents are raising brats like those frat boys who thought it was cool  to sing loud and proud about not allowing "any ni**ers in SAE" (the fraternity) but this is what you get when you can't spank kids  or wash  their mouths out with soap because you'd get jailed for  child abuse.

But is there anything that says we can't do that to their parents?


*********** When I was teaching, it would really anger me when I'd read about some teacher someplace who'd been caught having sex with kids.  Of either sex. 

Besides the fact that it was repulsive in and of itself, it bothered me because I knew that as a result of stories like that there were bound to be parents of my students who'd look at me and wonder if I were that kind of guy. 

And now, thanks to a handful of what I presume to be spoiled, rich white kids at a fraternity at the University of Oklahoma, there are sure to be some black people who will look at us, well-intentioned white people, differently. They'll hear what we say and see what we do and yet still wonder whether, deep down, we think like those fraternity boys.

I see us losing a lot of the ground we've gained since the 1960s, and it really pisses me off.  White or black, it should piss you off, too.

*********** Oregon State basketball coach Wayne Tinkle is a big man.  He's 6-10, and broad-shouldered, yes, but it's what he did last Tuesday night that illustrates how big a man he really is.

Backtrack to the start of practice last fall, when Tinkle who had been hired from Montana to replace Craig Robinson, got his first look  look at what he'd inherited:  a roster depleted by transfers, injuries, and ineligibility.  So he actually put out a call to the student body: open tryouts.

Twenty-two  showed up; four of them were kept.    They made it possible to scrimmage, five-on-five. 
They were not given scholarships, but they made the traveling squad. Student-athletes, so to speak.

Some of them actually got into a few games during the season,  a season in which the Beavers far exceeded anyone's expectations by going17-13 overall and 8-12 in the Pac-12.

But none of them, not the four who made it through tryouts or a fifth walk-on holdover from last year's team, ever expected to start a game.

Yet on Tuesday night, in front of a big home crowd, against the hated Oregon DUcks, Tinkle started all five walk-ons, all of them Oregon kids.

They were only in for 30 seconds or so, and it didn't go very well while they were in. The Ducks scored three points and thanks to a turnover, had possession of the ball when OSU's regular starters came in.

The Ducks wound up winning  the game, and the winning margin was - three points.

Wrote the Portland Oregonian's Jason Quick...

Scoreboard be damned. This was not a loss for Oregon State. In the big picture, this was a victory.

After all, how many times can a program point to a moment and say, "This is what we stand for"? How many times can a program point to a moment and say, "This is what we value"?

And how many times is a program willing to do that while putting the ultimate prize -- victory -- on the line?

Said Coach Tinkle,  "I would do it all over again.''

Was it worth it? he was asked.

"Damn right,'' he said. "Damn right it was worth it.''


*********** Florida State,  taking no chances, pulled the scholarship of a Valdosta, Georgia kid...


*********** Prepare  yourselves, Americans.  They're not done yet:   in Thailand, a three-way gay marriage...


*********** Boeheim loses 108 wins, gets  a nine game suspension, and "Cuse loses twelve scholarships.


Wow.  And Syracuse self-reported.

What will happen to North Carolina?  (I know what should.)

"If you ran a college and knew there was substantial money to be had from sports but no requirement to educate athletes, you might cut corners—that’s exactly what the University of North Carolina did for nearly two decades." Wall Street Journal

*********** In the month of February, Russell Westbrook of Oklahoma City averaged 30 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists a game, "a historic month," according to the Wall Street Journal's Jason Gay, "matched only by the sublime Big O, Oscar Robertson."

Wrote Gay, "...the average sports fan wants three things to happen during the average sporting event:

A. They would like for it to finish by midnight so they don't pass out in their 9:30 a.m. work meeting.

B. They would like coaches to chill out on the time outs in the final two minutes.

C. They would like to see something they've not seen before.

Westbrook can't promise "A" or "B" but he almost always delivers on "C."

*********** One of the few benefits of growing old is the likelihood that I won't have to be around to see how all this sh-- ends, because it isn't going to be pretty...

Stating that theAmerican  flag  symbolizes “colonialism and imperialism,” UC Irvine’s student body government voted to ban the showing of it in the college  student area.

The bill, R50-70, was authored by Social Ecology Representative Matthew Guevara, and accuses all flags, especially, the American flag, of being “symbols of patriotism or weapons for nationalism.”

"Flags construct paradigms of conformity and sets [sic] homogenized standards for others to obtain which in this country typically are idolized as freedom, equality, and democracy,” the bill reads.

The  bill adds that such free speech as flags in "inclusive spaces," can be interpreted as hate speech.


*********** This past weekend, whether it wanted to or not, New York City "hosted" something called the International Women's Day March.   Not all the participants were female.   There were a few males on hand.   One speaker referred to them as "Men Sisters."

*********** To think that people send their kids to four years of college to study journalism, and this is what results...

Sideline reporter Allison Williams: "Coach Pitino, how did you manage to beat the Number Two team?"

*********** Meantime, it appears that North Carolina's practice of devising no-content, no-work, no-attendance-required classes for basketball and football players may have started even earlier than originally thought...


*********** Besides being great college players, all of these guys have one very significant thing  in common.  What is it?

Whizzer White

Angelo Bertelli
Charlie Trippi
Charlie Justice
Kyle Rote
Johnny Majors
Bob Griese
Leroy Keyes
Joe Thiesmann
Ed Marinaro
Gregg Pruitt
Anthony Davis
Ricky Bell
BIlly Sims
John Elway
Steve Young
Rockey Ismail
Marshall Faulk
Peyton Manning
Larry Fitzgerald
Adrian Peterson
Colt McCoy
Toby Gerhart
Andrew Luck
Manti Te'o
Melvin Gordon

*********** Many  rules are entered into the rule book in an attempt to "improve" the game, (although there is often disagreement as to whether the addition is actually an improvement). But many other rules, especially in the early, formative  days of the game, came about because of occurrences unforeseen by the game's founders.

It's hard to believe that football had been played for nearly 100 years before it was deemed necessary to pass this rule:

If Team B commits a foul, the period expires during the play, and the penalty is not declined, the period must continue until a down free from interference by a Team B foul.

(Loosely translated: "Unless the offense declines, a period can't end on a penalty against the defense.")

The rule dates back to Notre Dame vs Syracuse, 1961

According to the Notre Dame archives...

Trailing 14-15 with only a few seconds left on the clock, Notre Dame sent in kicker Joe Perkowski to attempt a 56-yard field goal.  He missed soundly as time expired, but there were flags on the field.  Syracuse player Walt Sweeney was called for roughing the kicker, a penalty that carried a charge of fifteen yards.  The gained yardage would put Perkowski in better position, although it would not be easy.  Since time had expired on the previous play, it wasn’t obvious Perkowski would even get a second attempt.  The Syracuse fans had already started to rush the field to celebrate their victory.

The officials had to make an on-the-spot decision about how to handle the foul, and they decided to enforce the standard penalty for roughing the kicker.  Even though time had expired, Notre Dame kicker Joe Perkowski was given fifteen yards and a second attempt, and he kicked the game-winning, 41-yard field goal.

As can be imagined, not everyone was happy with this impromptu decision.  The legality of the extra play was shortly afterwards contested by the Big 10 and Eastern College Athletic Conferences, who supplied the officials for the game, and the NCAA rules chairman General Bob Neyland.  Review of the game film and the rules books led many to question the referees’ decisions.  Did Walt Sweeney really rough the kicker and place holder?  Since the initial kick was far from its target, which team actually had possession when the foul occur?  In the end, neither the conferences nor the NCAA had the power to overturn the Irish win, leaving the game officials with the final say and the Irish with a win for the record books.  The rules were changed in 1962 to prevent any future confusion should a similar circumstance arise.



flagFRIDAY,  MARCH 6,  2015-   "I get satisfaction of three kinds. One is creating something, one is being paid for it and one is the feeling that I haven't just been sitting on my ass all afternoon." William F. Buckley, Jr.

*********** While most major college football programs are making a mockery of the term  "education," and while the NCAA continues to promote the sham of the  "student athlete,"  there are still some  Terry Baggetts. 

Terry Baggett was a very good running back at Army - he holds the Academy record of 304 yards rushing in a single game - and he's a very good student, too - he will graduate this May with a 3.368 GPA - in Chemical Engineering.


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

Your quote by Coach Bible made me think "hey, I think I have that book."  I'm not sure if this is the exact place your quote was taken from, but I did find that in fact I do have Championship Football by Dana X. Bible.  I have not read the whole thing, but what I have is pretty good stuff.

On my bookshelf I also ran across my copy of Oklahoma Split T Football.  Bud Wilkinson knew his stuff and took the time to write about it thoroughly.  Man is that book good.  So much time spent on the reasoning behind why things are done (altering splits to set up a the defensive lineman for failure, etc.).  Really, really good stuff.

And in the same spot I found a copy of the video "Dynamics of the Double Wing" by some guy named Wyatt.  If I had a vcr I would watch it (for the umpteenth time).

Todd Hollis
Elmwood, Illinois


Both great books.

Wilkinson was really good.  He was also one of the very first former coaches to become a TV analyst.  Boy, those were the days when we had guys like Bud Wilkinson and Frank Broyles and Ara Parseghian in the broadcast booth.  Now, with 75 or 80 games on TV every Saturday, I swear some of them must stop by the local pee wee practice on their way to the game and ask if anybody wants to make a few bucks analyzing a college game.

It surprises me that there isn't at least one make of VCR still on the market, simply because so many people have so many VHS tapes with no place to play them. Ironic that "vinyl" is on the way back.  Turntables, too.

*********** I don't know what percentage of American high school students attend a private school, but I do know that among all students K-12, the figure is less than 10 per cent.

So please explain, without using the "R" word, how come that of this week's USA Today's Top 25 Boys' Basketball Teams, 14  including the top three:

Oak Hill Academy (Virginia)
Montverde Academy (Florida)
St Vincent-St Mary (Ohio)

are Private schools.

*********** Good morning, Coach.

Have you seen the new requirement from the WIAA??


(Compulsory "heads Up" training for all middle school and high school football coaches)


DJ Millay
Vancouver, Washington


I have.  The way I read it, only one guy on the staff has to attend, and then he can "train" the rest of the staff.  Suits me fine, as long as I'm not the one.  This year, the first year, it has to be the head coach.

I just read that USA Football received $45 million from the NFL Foundation (the "non-profit" league's charitable arm) to implement "Heads Up Football." That's almost as much as they pay Roger Goodell, and it's more than enough to make it the NFL's stooge. With that kind of money and power behind "Heads Up Football," there's no sense trying to get in its way.

On another subject, I also read the proposed rules changes regarding off-season practices (working with a QB, for example) and it appears that in return for limiting us to 20 "contacts" in the summer, they're proposing given us 20 contacts during the winter sports season and 20 in the spring.  

*********** From my friend Doc Hinger, in Winter Haven, Florida, now busy watching spring training:

At the ball park this morning I heard a guy utter what has to be the line of the day. "If Nancy Pelosi gets one more facelift she'll have a beard".

*********** Nice to talk with you again and sure hope you have a clinic in Atlanta because if you do, I can about guarantee you 3-4 attendees.   I saw on your site where you have been dabbling with the R & S combined with double wing.  I definitely want to take a look at that stuff.  


I had to get off to a later start this year and I'm hung up right now on a location - I'm trying to get a place not too far from the airport if possible where I can have kids on hand to demo my stuff.

For the last two years, I have run what I call my "open wing" along with a basic double-wing package.

Since "opening things up" (without changing our line play) we were 7-3 in 2013 and 10-1 in 2014.

Here's a clip from last spring showing a very basic look at what we're doing


Ed Modzelewski*********** Ed "Big Mo" Modzelewski (Mah-je-LEF-ski), the star fullback on Maryland's undefeated 1952 Sugar Bowl champions and the brother of Maryland College Football Hall of Famer and New York GIants' defensive tackle Dick "LIttle Mo" Modzelewski,  died February 27. He was 86.

HIs brother survives him. "He and I were very close as brothers,"  Dick Modzelewski told cleveland.com "We went to the same college. We both made All-American together. We were in business together and we raised cattle on a farm together. Ed will be greatly missed by me and my family."

At  age 15, with the World at war, Ed lied about his age and joined the Merchant Marine. But when his parents learned about American merchant ships being sunk by German submarines, they managed to get him released from service.

Returning to his hometown,  West Natrona, Pennsylvania,  he got a job,  but one day he passed by the high school practice field where the football team was practicing, and decided to return to school and turn out for football.

HIs team, Har-Brack High, made it to the 1947 Western Pennsylvania (WPIAL) title game but lost to New Kensington; he was named second team All-State fullback and awarded a scholarship top Maryland.

Four years later while playing for Maryland, the Modzelewski brothers got their revenge against New Kensington, when the Terps, on their way to an unbeaten 11-0 season, defeated Michigan State.  The Spartans had eight former New Kensington players on their roster, including Willie Thrower, who in 1953 would become the first black player to play quarterback in an NFL game.

Maryland was chosen to play in the Sugar Bowl against unbeaten Tennessee, already awarded the national championship (the final ballot in those days was conducted BEFORE the bowls), and defeated the Vols, 28-13.  Ed Modzelewski rushed for 153 yards, and was named the game's MVP.

He was the Steelers' top draft choice in 1952, and played one year in Pittsburgh, then   served for two years in the Air Force. On his return, he was traded to the Browns where he played for five seasons at fullback, following one great in Marion Motley and preceding another in Jim Brown. Selected by the Cowboys in their expansion draft in 1960, he chose instead to retire.

Paul Wiggin, his teammate on the Browns, told cleveland.com that Ed was talked out of retiring and taking a coaching job by Cleveland coach Paul Brown: "Brown said he'd like him to stay because of a young fullback he wasn't sure of," said Wiggin.  "That fullback was Jim Brown. Ed always joked about that."

Interestingly, although Dick ("Little Mo") is in the Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame, Ed ("Big Mo") is not.


Natrona, Pennsylvania - a look at a town that's seen some rough times - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9UXtDYHzSA

*********** Har-Brack High School is no more.  Like so many high schools in once-populous towns in western Pennsylvania, it's been "consolidated" - combined with another school and given another name. Har-Brack (for the towns of "Harrison" and "Brackenridge" which it served) produced the Modzelewski brothers, and not long after they graduated, along came Cookie Gilchrist, a 6-3, 253-pound running back who was so good that the great Paul Brown signed him to an NFL contract right out of high school.  But that's another story...


*********** By chance, I watched a couple of back-to-=back episodes of Friday Night Tykes.

They ought to call it Friday NIght Yikes.

It's a series devoted to youth football, Texas style.

I'm sure they do other things at practice, but if you didn't know better, you'd think all they did was practice tackling - by lining up little kids about 20 yards apart and having them smash into each other at full speed. Sort of like teaching them to swim by throwing them into the deep end.  I guess the misguided idea is that they're "turning them into football players."  Yeah - and turning at least as many into soccer players.

I loved watching a coach go through the kind of gyrations that give us the Jameis Winstons.

One kid - we'll call him JR - didn't show up for practice all week. Or for the game. Oh - and he was the QB. So they started the backup.  Let's call him David.

David played well, and they won the game.

The following Monday, with a big game coming up, JR was back at practice.  No apparent discipline, no nothing.

We were privy to a conversation between the head coach and an assistant.

"Who do you think I ought to start Saturday- David or JR?"

And then he reasoned aloud...

"David does a good job and does everything we ask of him."

"JR doesn't know how good he can be.  All he lacks is a work ethic.  He gives us our best chance of winning."

Do I have to tell you who got the start?

***********  The NCAA has lifted the postseason ban on Idaho - IDAHO, for God's sake! -  imposed for failing to meet academic standards for the 2009 through 2012 seasons.

Who would ever have known that was the reason we haven't seen Idaho in a bowl game lately?


***********   A West Linn, Oregon sophomore ("rated one of the top cornerbacks in the country for the Class of 2017," if you can believe that) suffered a skull fracture playing for "Team Oregon" in an elite 7-on-7 "national tournament" in Las Vegas Saturday.

Think hard now - when was the last time one of your kids suffered a fractured skull in practice?  Even in a full-out scrimmage?

Didn't think so. I never heard of such a thing in all my years of coaching, dating back to 1970.

Nevertheless, this year, in an effort to reduce the thousands and thousands of  head injuries that are reducing our young men to virtual vegetables, our state intends to follow the Know-It-All State, California, and limit in-season "contact practices" to two a week.

Full-padded, "thud" scrimmages, with no one being taken to the ground,  are considered "contact."

7-on-7 is not.


*********** I was listening to a radio broadcast of the Oregon State-Grambling baseball game, and the pre-game national anthem (I timed it)  took a band exactly one minute to play.  For comparison purposes,  at most NFL and major bowl games, it takes a Grammy-Award-winning singer upwards of two minutes.  To perform.

*********** The 18-year-old voting age has been such a success (hey- it got us legalized marijuana in Washington, dude!) that in Brattleboro, Vermont there's a move afoot to lower the voting age to 16.  Sweet.


***********  Back in 1990, Gordie Gillespie came to dinner.  A friend of mine, Ralph Balducci, knew him somehow, and when Ralph told me Gordie was coming to Portland to talk at a clinic, we schemed to get him over to our place.

What an impressive person.  Friendly, personable, gracious and knowledgeable.  He was generous in complimenting my wife on her cooking, and generous in sharing his knowledge of the game.

He was of interest to me because at that time, he was coaching the College of St. Francis, in Illinois, and the previous year, Portland State had played St. Francis and I deduced from the local papers that he was running an offense not unlike our Double Wing. (As it turned out, we was running something very close to what I call "slot" formation - a slotback and a flexed end on each side.)

All told, in 61 years of coaching in three different sports, he amassed 2402 wins.

He won four national titles in college baseball, and in 27 years as head coach at Joliet Catholic High School, he won five state championships.

Gordie Gillespie died on February 28 at the age of 88.  What a career.  What a coach.


*********** When I was a high school kid and being a smart ass, I was sitting in the back seat, passenger side, and I hollered something a little bit crude out the window of our car at a truck we were passing.  And then promptly put it out of my mind. Until several blocks later, when we were stopped at a light, and the driver of our car, looking in his rear view mirror, said, "Uh-oh, Hughie.  Here comes that truck driver."

As I was saying, "What truck dr---", he reached in the window, grabbed me by my shirt, pulled me halfway out the window, and popped me one in the nose.  Hard.

And then, saying, "That'll teach you to yell sh-- at me!" he turned and walked back to his truck and waited for the light to change. Mission accomplished.

My buddies, of course, were laughing their asses off, unconcerned about my pain or my embarrassment. You played, you paid.  Those were the rules.  Everybody knew them.

Nowadays, that truck driver would be facing charges.  And a lawsuit. But those were the fifties, and my biggest worry - once my nose stopped bleeding - was that my father would find out. Things would really go downhill for me if he did.  So I swore everyone to secrecy.  Having fathers themselves, they understood.

Those sure were different times. Say you were playing in the street, as we often did,  and you smarted off to a passing car, as we often did.  Nine times out of ten, the guy would stop - right in the middle of the street - and start chasing somebody. God help you if you were the one he chased, and he caught you.  No sense running home afterward and telling mommy, either. She'd only ask what you did to cause the guy to punch you, and remind you to watch your mouth.

Yes, those were different times, with a very different cast. Figure it out - by the mid-fifties, World War II was only ten years in the past. Just about every guy between the ages of 30 and 45 had been in the service, and a lot of them had seen serious action. After what they'd been through,  they weren't about to put up with any sh-- from some smart street punk.

Things don't work that way now.  Nobody bothers to make you pay.  And besides, you go on the Internet and write all manner of vile things about anybody you please, and you can always play it safe by hiding behind a screen name.

Unless, that is, you happen to write those vile things about Curt Schilling's college-bound daughter.  He's going to hunt you down and when he's found you, you're going to wish Al Gore had never invented the Internet.

And then, when that young lady's daddy is finished with you - that's what daddies used to be for - may that long-gone truck driver on that faraway Philadelphia street return to life and punch you  in the f--king nose.


*********** According to the official police report, a Jefferson Parish, Louisana (suburban New Orleans) kid, drunk out of his skull, refused to disperse when told to do so, started leading a group in chants of chanting F--k the Cops!," pushed an officer in the chest and said, "F--k you, Pig!" and then he got his smart ass whipped.

And now?

Why, he got him a lawyer!

Does that surprise anyone?

*********** Coach, is there any Double Wing option play you can suggest?


I don't advise getting too deeply into any option stuff because option football is a "time bandit" - it will demand practice time at the expense of the rest of your offense.

The old football wisdom is: "If you're going to run option - run option."

However, here's one fairly (I stress "fairly") simple option that I like because it employs  Double Wing principles.  It's a "double option" (keep or pitch) so there's no dealing with such a thing as a "mesh" with a dive back.  (That, in my opinion, would be getting you in way too deep.)

OPTION 88 DIAGRAMBlock it like Super Power (Super O, actually) - but make sure that no one touches the End Man on the LIne - the defensive end. That's the man you're going to option. Your backside guard should have been taught already that that DE is no business of his - that he has to help block that scraping inside backer.

The QB takes a big step straight back with either foot (to let the pulling guard past), then, shoulders still square,  "gathers his feet" and runs off-tackle, as if he were running Super Power.  Unless the DE pinches, the blocking is there and he should run there.

However, if the DE  sits in the hole, the QB will flatten and try to run across the End's face.  If he can, he is off to the races.  If he can't,  he pitches.

If the DE attacks the QB immediately, the QB has to be prepared for that, and must pitch immediately.

This takes practice reps.  You have to make sure that your QB sees in practice all  the things that an end can do to him.

It's the job of the motioning wing back to get - and stay - in pitch relationship. We want him about five yards wider than the QB and about 3 yards deeper.  He doesn't take his eyes off the ball, and he doesn't turn upfield unless the QB turns upfield or he's within five yards of the sideline.

A fairly constant pitch relationship is essential, and it takes a lot of work. Because the timing is different on every different type of option play, you want to limit your option attack.

I got this far without mentioning the most important point of all:  I'm assuming that you have a QB who can exercize good judgement and who can run.  If you don't, forget it.


american flagTUESDAY,  MARCH 3,  2015-   "Nothing so needs reforming as other peoples' habits."  Mark Twain

***********  My son just celebrated his birthday, and I have to say I'm really proud of the type of person he's turned out to be.

For several years, before getting into radio and TV, he taught English at Bellarmine Prep, a private Catholic High School in Tacoma, Washington.

Not so long ago, the school publication, BELLARMINE TODAY, contained an article about Mike Bahn, since 2013 the Strength and Conditioning Coordinator for  USSA, the National Governing Body for the US Olympic Ski and Snowboard Teams:

"Bahn remembers the passion that came from his Bellarmine teachers while he was here - from teachers like John Woltjer, Brother Paul Cawthorne, Ed Wyatt, and the late Cam Brown."


************ MInnie Minoso died Sunday at 89.  Or 90. No one knows.

He was a black man, born in Cuba, and while he was not baseball's first black player, or baseball's first Hispanic player, he WAS baseball's first black, Hispanic player.

His last name wasn't Minoso - it was Arrieta.  Minoso was the last name of a half-brother, for whom he was mistaken.  He was nicknamed "Minnie" because, well - for the same reason a guy named Smith is called "Smitty" or a guy named O'Brien is called "Obie."

He was a true all-around baseball player - he was a three-time Gold Glove winner, and he had a lifetime batting average of .298. He hit 186 home runs and had 1023 RBI.  He was a constant threat to steal, and he was willing to take one for the team - he led the league in hit-by-pitches 10 times.

Jonathan Eig, a former Wall Street Journal reporter who's now writing a biography of Muhammad Ali, wrote in the Journal about meeting with Minoso  nine years ago, and asking him what he would have done if he hadn't played baseball.

He said Mr. Minoso thought about it, and finally said, "I don't know. But I know one thing: I'd be a good gentleman."

*********** Although younger Americans, just like the rest of us,  generally want more and bigger things, there's one thing they appear to want less of.  Sports.

Take baseball. It used to be that a baseball game was a time away - a time devoid of the real world's cares, when a man and his son, or a couple of friends, or a salesman and a customer could relax and BS during the many breaks in play. But now, young people who "consume" (I swear, that's the word that sports marketers use) sports, want action.  Fast, concentrated action.  They don't want to sit an entire game just to see a couple of "highlights."  They want to be able to whip out their phone and see in an instant the bases-loaded, two-out, bottom-of-the-ninth homer that won the game for the Mudville Nine.  To hell with everything that went on up to then.

So our various sports, increasingly catering to the attention-span-deprived among us, are researching ways to shorten their games.

Tennis is experimenting with four-game sets. Cricket has had phenomenal success with something called 20-20, which enables a game to be played in a few hours, rather than - get this, Americans - several days. "Rugby Sevens"  - what you'll see in the Olympics - is a distillation of the real sport down to seven men on a side for two seven minute halves.

This whole idea of speeding things up catches baseball at a bad time, when not only are games taking longer to play, but for anyone who likes hitting, they're also becoming snoozers.  Two reasons are given for the latter.  One is that players no longer take "uppers," to get them through the long season, and stats bear out the fact that hitting is down in the late stages of the season.  Another is the pitching.  I just heard pitching guru Tom House say on "60 Minutes" that there are at present more pitchers in the Big Leagues capable of throwing 100 miles an hour than in all of baseball history up to now, and that stats bear that out, too.

What's baseball going to do about the latter two factors?  One suggestion is to go back to a 154-game season, but start and finish the season at the same times as now, so that there would be some open dates in the schedule. As for the pitchers? Who knows?  Reduce the number of pitchers of the roster?

Move the mound back? I realize that baseball prides itself on the fact that since its inception (whenever that was) very little has changed in the basic layout of the game, but maybe, with all those fastballs out there, it's time to realize that people are bigger and stronger and faster than they were in the 1800s.

But as to the time factor...

Shorten the games? Put pitchers on a "shot clock."  Basketball players can do it, and quarterbacks can get a play off in the time allotted.

I say tell batters that they're free to step back out of the box and adjust their cup as they wish, but once that pitcher steps on the rubber, he's free to throw at any time, whether the batter's in the box or not. 

Even more radical - when my son was young and learning the game, and later when I was teaching PE, I found that one thing that really sped things up was to have just three balls and two strikes.

Or, really radical - cut down on the seemingly interminable commercial breaks between innings. 

Except that's about money.  Never mind.


*********** KC Smith of Boston was kind enough to write me and point out a  typo in my latest NEWS.

I thanked him and made the changes and, jokingly, said, "I need to pay my proofreaders more. Where do I send your check?"

His reply:    "Friends of Harvard Football"

*********** At the wedding of NASCAR driver Brian Scott to Whitney Kay, Scott got down on one  knee and said to the bride's little daughter something that anyone who's been the daddy of a little girl will appreciate:

“I promise to always hold your hand and skip with you down the street and bring comfort to your life. I vow to make you say your prayers before you eat. I promise to read you stories at night, to always tuck you in real tight. I vow to show you how a man should treat a woman in my relationship with your mother. And above all else, I vow to protect you, care for you, and love you forever.”


*********** Hmmm.

"I'm not ashamed of any of my past incidents because that's what made me who I am today."   Dez Bryant

*********** One of the reasons why Americans really don't understand our enemy is that we don't understand what motivates it.

When we hear the tired old  "they want jobs" nonsense it indicates a total lack of understanding that ISIS members are driven by deeply-held religious beliefs, and that they're willing to kill - or die - for those beliefs.

What would modern-day Americans know about that?

To Americans, an increasingly irreligious people whose true faith is as likely to be environmentalism or hedonism, whose opinion makers routinely ridicule Christianity, the idea of deep devotion to one's religion is totally foreign to anything in their experience.

Whenever I go to a strange church, the first thing I do after sitting down is reach for a hymnal. I open it and look for "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus" (Ye Soldiers of the Cross).

Good luck finding them in most hymnals.  At a time when our Judaeo-Christian culture is literally under attack, it's quite dismaying to see how many Christian churches have abjectly surrendered to the forces of political correctness, and purged from their "approved" hymns those beautiful old exhortations to stand up for one's faith.

There is a great story about Onward Christian Soldiers. Evidently, it was written by the Yale Divinity School's director of music, for the school's first-ever graduation.  But when he submitted it to the dean for his approval, the dean said he thought "with the cross of Jesus going on before" sounded "Roman Catholic,"  and out of place at a Protestant institution. The director left and came back a few days later with an alternative: "with the cross of Jesus left behind the door...," and asked the dean, "Which version do you prefer?" 

*********** National Review's Andrew Johnson wrote that at the recent CPAC (Conservative) Conference, -  Christie told the audience he’d planned to give up the New York Times for Lent . . . but his priest told him nothing doing - he had to give up something he’d actually miss.

***********  Bob Novogratz and Pete Dawkins are two former Army All-Americans, members of legendary coach Earl Blaik's last team, (and Army's last undefeated team).  Both went on to long and successful careers in the Army, and then to successful careers in business.

Both knew the late Father Theodore Hesburgh, of Notre Dame, who died Friday, and it was very kind of them to permit me to print their comments  on Father Hesburgh's passing.

It's important, I think, for me to be able to pass along to other coaches the words of men like Bob and Pete, who exemplify the ideal of the scholar-athlete and what college football should be about.

Bob wrote...

Big loss at South Bend.

I met Fr Hesburgh at Notre Dame Stadium a couple of times. He was very fond of Pete Dawkins.

He was getting weak at our last meeting and Father Joyce, the President, was taking care of him as if he was his personal valet.

An interesting thing about these two campus biggies was that they lived in the dormitories.

Quite a contrast to many college presidents making more than $500,000 per year.

Sad day for the irish.


To which Pete,  an All-American like Bob - and a Heisman Trophy winner and Rhodes Scholar to boot - replied...

It is,  indeed, a sad day, not just for Notre Dame, but for college football more broadly, as well.

I had the privilege of serving with Father Hesburgh on the NCAA Scholarship Committee for some 15 years years in the 1960’s, 1970’s, and 1980’s.  He and I became good friends, and I grew to look forward to our periodic meetings.  He viewed college football as truly an Intercollegiate sport — that is, a sport played by bona fide college students.  He was a passionate believer in Notre Dame and in Notre Dame football.  And he fervently believed that it was possible to play competitive Division 1 football with teams made up of students who went to class, studied, and graduated.

When I had the great honor of speaking at the 200th West Point Founders Day, one of the themes I spoke about was “Winning”.  On that occasion, I recounted a conversation I had had with Father Hesburgh at the end of the 1998    Army -  Notre Dame game at South Bend — a conversation that displayed not only his competitive spirit, but his respect for Winning the right way .

A Giant who walked modestly among us is gone.  We will miss him.  But, fortunately, we will remember him, too.

Father Hesburgh was more than the president under whose leadership Notre Dame rose to an academic prominence that matched its football prowess.  He became a national figure, widely respected by all for his opinions on controversial issues.

In 1969, when college presidents right and left caved in to student protestors, many of whom wound up occupying the presidents' offices, Father Hesburgh informed Notre Dame students in no uncertain terms that anyone attempting to disrupt the operation of the university would be expelled.

In 1991, Father Hesburgh led a special commission that looked into  the excesses of big-time intercollegiate sports. When the commission issued its report, his statement  indicated more hope than optimism: “We would love to put the sleaziness of college athletics to rest with this report,” he said.

Not that Notre Dame neglected football during his tenure. The Irish won two national during that time, one of them under the direction of a Protestant coach, Ara Parseghian.

The story goes that at his interview, when Parseghian mentioned his faith, he noted Father Hesburgh taking notes, and heard him say, out loud, "P..."

"That's 'P-A-R.." Parsegian said, accustomed to having to help people  spell his name.

"No, no," said Father Hesburgh.  "I'm trying to spell 'Presbyterian.'"


*********** Hesburgh, Hessberg - quite a coincidence that on the day I was writing about Father Theodore Hesburgh's passing, I happened to  correspond with Bob Barton, a retired sports reporter for the New Haven Register,  and he  mentioned a gentleman named Al Hessberg, who'd been a member of the same 1937 Yale backfield in which Clint Frank so impressed the nation's sports writers that he won the Heisman Trophy.

A bit of research on Al Hessberg, who died in 1995, disclosed that he was the first Jewish member of Skull and Bones, the exclusive Secret Society to which countless illustrious Yalies have belonged. In 1938!

Among the member of "Bones" over the years...

Presidents (William Howard Taft, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush)

Presidential candidates: Robert Taft, John F. Kerry (okay, okay - even "Bones" can make a mistake.)

Numerous Senators, Congressmen, Governors, Mayors, Ambassadors and other prominent government officials (including Gifford Pinchot, first head of the US Forest Service, and the namesake of a huge National Forest near where I live)

(One notable senator: Prescott Bush, from Connecticut, father of one president and grandfather of another.)

Judges, including Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart

College Presidents, including David Boren, current president of the University of Oklahoma

Authors/Writers/Poets/Historians, including Archibald MacLeish, John Hersey, William F. Buckley, Jr. and David McCullough

Actor James Whitmore

Businessmen, including numerous Rockefellers and Vanderbilts, H. J. Heinz, II; Henry R. Luce, Founder of Time-Life; and  Fred Smith, founder of FedEx

Football Players:
Walter Camp - Father of American Football - responsible for rules innovations that turned rugby into  American football
Amos Alonzo Stagg - Coach of U of Chicago for 41 years, U of Pacific for 14 more - overall record of 314- 199-35; invented the batting cage; played in the first game of basketball every played
Frank Hinkey - Four-time All-American (1891-1894)
Ted Coy - Three-time All-American - lost only one game in three years
Larry Kelley - 1936 Heisman Trophy Winner
Clint Frank - 1937 Heisman Trophy winner
Mike Pyle - Captain of the 1963 NFL champion Chicago Bears
Brian Dowling - Quarterback - "B.D" in the original Doonesbury cartoon

And, in 1938, while Hitler was preparing to take over Europe,  Al Hessberg.  
At a time when the game of football is under attack on several fronts, I'd like to ask those who would end our sport - could that possibly have happened if it weren't for football?

***********  Next time somebody gives me some crap about my occasional suggestions that we eliminate or minimize the importance of the field goal ("then how come you it's called football?"),  I'm going to be ready for them.

There is a very strong argument that the  term "football" does  not at all mean "a sport played with the foot."

Instead, it's argued, the name refers to a sport played on foot, as Medieval peasants would have been inclined to do, rather than on horseback, like the nobles.

That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.

*********** Earl Lloyd, who became the first black player to appear in an N.B.A. game, died Thursday. He was 86.

Although  was not the first black player chosen or signed, he was the first to play.

In the 1950 draft, the Celtics selected Chuck Cooper, from Duquesne, in the second round.  The Knicks then announced their intention to purchase the rights to Sweetwater Clifton  from the Harlem  Globetrotters.  And in the ninth round, The Washington Capitols picked Earl Lloyd.

It was October 31, 1950, when Lloyd made his NBA debut against the Rochester Royals in Rochester.

Cooper played his first game with the Celtics  the next night, and three days later, Clifton debuted with the  Knicks.

In 1955, with
the Syracuse Nationals,  Earl Lloyd and Jim Tucker became the first black players to play on  an NBA championship team.

In 1971, Lloyd was hired as head coach of the  the Detroit Pistons, becoming the fourth black head coach in NBA history (after Boston’s Bill Russell, Seattle’s Lenny Wilkens and Golden State’s Al Attles).

He told Ron Thomas, who wrote,  “They Cleared the Lane: The N.B.A.’s Black Pioneers,”“I just hope I conducted myself where I made it easier for others, and I think I did.”


flagFRIDAY,  FEBRUARY 27,  2015-   "Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right to do what we ought." Lord Acton

*********** Think about this, coaches, when you're tempted to go out and hire an assistant you don't know a thing about...

Larry Baer is the President and CEO of the San Francisco Giants, and in a Wall Street Journal interview, he stressed the importance of hiring people of character for jobs in the Giants' organization.

He noted that a venture capitalist whom he knows (aside: a venture capitalist is a guy who can come up with the money to stake your venture when nobody else will even look at you. In return, he'll take a piece of the action. But he isn't going to risk a dime unless he likes your idea. And trusts you.) told him that when he invests in something or someone, "he would much rather put his money behind an A person values-wise with B talent than A talent and B values."

Baer suggested one very good way of finding out about the character of the person you hire:  about 70 per cent of the Giants' new hires have come through their internship program.

*********** Coach--

Saw your comment today about Chris Conley's ample athletic ability shown at the Combine.  I want to add--he may be one of the smartest out there as well.

While at Georgia, he wrote and directed a Star Wars fan film/parody titled "Retribution"

(on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsJU5Ebka44).

It is a little bit cheesy, but it's very polished, and I'm sure you can imagine the amount of leadership, creativity, organization, and hard work it would take to pull a project like this together. Note the cameos by Todd Gurley and Mark Richt, and Conley himself plays the bad guy.

Some city is going to be very happy with that draft pick--I'm a little sad that the Falcons have so many good receivers there's little chance that we'll pick him.
John  Mooney
School of Aerospace Engineering, Georgia Tech
Atlanta, Georgia


My wife and I just finished watching "Retribution."  

Absolutely outstanding.  Very well done.

Apart from his physical skills, Chris Conley is an amazing talent.

NFL or not, he has a real future.

Thanks so much for the info.  I can't wait to pass it on to my readers.

*********** Keith Olberman took a bold step toward cementing his spot atop the America's Most Hateful list, getting into a pissing contest on Twitter with some Penn State students, and winding up with a four-day suspension from ESPN.

The students had just spent the weekend in some sort of dance marathon which they call "Thon," whose purpose is raising money to fight pediatric cancer. This year's Thon raised $13 million.

Perhaps in celebration, a Penn State student tweeted Olberman, "We are!"  (To which the appropriate response, if you're a Penn Stater, is "PENN STATE!")

But Olberman, decidedly not a Penn Stater (I'm embarrassed to admit he's an Ivy League snot), tweeted back, "Pitiful."

That, naturally, prompted a reply, to which Olberman responded with the rottweiler aggressiveness that's made him such a dead weight in the ratings game wherever he's gone.

And things went on - and down - from there.

To any rottweilers offended by the comparison, I apologize.


*********** The Pawtucket (Rhode Island) Pawsox have been the Boston Red Sox' Triple-A affiliate forever, but now, it appears, the team may move to nearby Providence, a much larger city with plans to build a new ballpark downtown, on the riverfront.

The Pawtucket ballpark is old and said to be decrepit and not worth the expense of refurbishing it.

On the other hand, downtown Providence is a very attractive place, and a downtown, riverfront ballpark would be a very nice place to spend  a summer evening.  

The cost? Hang the cost.  It's Rhode Island.  There's always some way of finding the money.   Buddy Cianci can do  it.   (If you don't know, he's the colorful former mayor who, while he may have spent a little time in the slammer for alleged misdeeds while in office, nevertheless deserves credit for turning downtown Providence from dingy and depressed to attractive and vibrant. Who cares where the money came from?)

Parking?  We'll worry about that later.


*********** I can't completely verify this, but it seems plausible:

In the 1860s,  British school boys commonly gave nicknames to things, often adding “er” to the end of the nicknames.  Rugby was - still is, frequently -  called “Rugger”.  Association Football became known as “Assoccer”, and then, just  “Soccer."

Because most other English-speaking countries were already playing their own form of "football,"  when "Association Football" arrived, it arrived not as "football," but as "soccer."

*********** For those of you who played football - how many of you ever knew what your high school coach thought of you?  How about your college coach?

How about you?  What would your kids say about you?

Consider what former GE chairman and CEO Jack Welch told the Wall Street Journal's Alexandra Wolfe.

Jack Welch is a business legend, and at 79, he's still going strong as a speaker and, with his wife, an author.

"How many of you know today what your boss thinks of you?" he said he'll ask an audience.

"You get 5 to 10 per cent of the crowd," he answered.

Moral for the football coach: There are a lot of kids today who face a lot of negativity in their everyday lives. You have  chance to make football the one place where everything's positive. Never pass up a chance to give a kid a sincere compliment: "I'm really proud to be your coach."  "I'm really glad you turned out for football."  "You're really making progress." "I admire your leadership."

And if a kid asks you where he stands, be honest with him: "I'm concerned about whether we can count on you until you get your grades under control."  "Frankly, when we put you in there, you acted confused.  If you don't know what you're doing, that's not the time to be letting us know."

Hell, you know what to say.  If it's just mouthing my words, it's not sincere.

*afca tackling**********
After receiving an email from the AFCA that contained the photos at left, I thought, "Holy sh--!" and dashed off an e-mail of my own. To the AFCA:

I enjoy the AFCA publications, but I was greatly taken aback to read the heading of an AFCA Weekly article "STUDY: Educated Youth Football Coaches Can Cut Head Injuries"  and then, directly below, see a photo pertaining to another article depicting a tackler who has ducked his head in a way that exposes him to the possibility of serious neck or head injury.

This isn't consistent with the AFCA's position as the leading spokesman for what's best for our game.

As a long-time member of the AFCA, I know that no one in the organization condones such a technique, and it's never good for our sport to show such a dangerous technique without an appropriate comment.

I really urge you to have someone with a football coaching background take a long look at the photos you use.

Best Regards,

Hugh Wyatt
Camas, Washington

(Before printing  this, I thought I'd give the AFCA a chance to respond.  I have yet to hear from them. In fairness, they probably outsource the publication. )

*********** In the Tennessee girls' state basketball tournament, two high school teams engaged in a screw-up contest involving deliberate turnovers, blown free throws, and even a shot at the opponents' basket, in an attempt to  lose their game and avoid having to play the defending state champion.

Imagine -   telling kids to take a dive.  Teaching kids to duck out when things get tough.

If they weren't planning on going to the tournament to go all-out, they should have stepped aside and let somebody else go to the tournament.

I'm not going to take the time to research it, but I'm guessing that this may have come about because they were in some sort of double-elimination tournament format, which enabled them to lose and still remain in the tournament, postponing the  inevitable date with the powerhouse.

Otherwise, my question for those coaches would be: "why in the world did you take a playoff spot away from some other team that would have been excited about going to the tournament and would have given it their best shot, no matter who they had to play?"

Thanks to Brooks Rawson of Alamo, Tennessee...


***********  I read the headline: "Former Louisville guard Chris Jones charged with rape, sodomy"

Ho-hum, I thought.  Some guy who played basketball for Louisville a couple of years ago is back on the streets where he came from, back to the life he led before spending a few years living on a college campus.

And then I read that the rape and sodomy he is accused of took place last Saturday night, shortly after the guy had helped Louisville beat Miami.

And then, the next day,  the university announced that he was no longer on the team. So technically, whatever happens from here on, he's a "former" member of the team. (Think maybe they were tipped off?)

And then, on Wednesday, a warrant was issued for his arrest.

So on Thursday, we read about the "former" Cardinal being charged with rape and sodomy, and to put a fine point on it, that was correct.

Except that when he (allegedly) committed the crimes, he was still a member of the team

Very  clever, Louisville.  Had me fooled for a minute.


*********** Donald Keough died Tuesday.  He was 88.  Mr. Keough joined Coca-Cola in 1964 and from 1981 to 1993 was its president and chief operating officer.

He was at the helm in 1985 when Coca-Cola launched "New Coke", only to drop the idea after a few weeks when loyal Coke drinkers raised hell.

Said Mr. Keough in admitting the company had erred, "Some critics will say Coca-Cola made a marketing mistake.  Some cynics will say that we planned the whole thing.  The truth is, we are not that dumb, and we are not that smart."

*********** It was bound to happen.  A mob of Kansas State students rushed the court after the Wildcats' upset of Kansas, and in the melee, a K-State student (allegedly) "body-checked" a KU player.

There's something going on with college kids, something that I suspect can be traced to their growing up in an environment in which "boys don't fight," under any circumstances, and as a result, they soon learn that they can say or do almost anything without consequences.

Oh, how I wish that KU Jayhawk, Jamari Traylor, had slugged the fan who felt empowered to bang into him.  Amazing what a guy 6-8, 220 pounds (I looked it up) can do with one punch.

Yes, there'd be a few people who would condemn Traylor, but maybe college administrators would begin to realize that they can't continue to condone - encourage, almost -  the sort of vile verbal abuse that their students routinely heap on opponents and not expect it to bubble over once a game's over.

I've commented before about the danger in idiotic, most likely drunk college kids storming a football field and getting in the faces of opposing players.

Extra security isn't an answer.  I suspect that any college worth its salt nowadays offers a major in how to file police brutality charges.

My suggestion?  Goal posts. Wooden goal posts. Balsa wood, actually. Lower them from the ceiling as soon as the visiting team's off the floor.


*********** We're going to have to learn a little more about the Baylor football player who once was homeless and then, after someone in his hometown gave him a place to stay,  has been ruled ineligible  for receiving "impermissible benefits."

This much we do know: 

The kid was ruled ineligible not by the NCAA, but by Baylor.

The kid at first said that he was provided housing by a "close family friend," but later admitted that it was merely "an acquaintance."

Baylor's compliance office had warned him about the danger of accepting the benefits.

Meantime, the NCAA, having been exposed for its kangaroo-court treatment of Penn State,  appears utterly impotent, unable to do anything about North Carolina, a university that for years maintained an entire department with sham classes so that "scholar-athletes" could pretend to go to college.

*********** The Obama administration has begun referring to illegal aliens as "Americans in waiting."

Rush Limbaugh suggests calling them what they really are: "Unregistered Democrats in waiting."

*********** I really object to the news media's use of "The White House" this and "The White House" that, as if it's some huge, faceless organization.  As if there's no President there.  Well...

The scary thing to someone of my generation is that when we were growing up, any news coming out of Russia (actually, the USSR), would always start, "The Kremlin said..."

*********** Over the years, Ole Miss has taken its share of lumps for the way it went about  desegregation, but some of them were undeserved, based on this little item I found in the New York Times' obit of famed Ole Miss coach Johnny Vaught, in February, 2006 -

In the early fall of 1962, a mob of segregationists tried to block James Meredith from becoming the first black student at the university. The football team's nickname, the Rebels, embodied the Old South, but Vaught was enlisted by the Kennedy administration in a futile effort to avert bloodshed.

''I had a call from Washington to tell me Meredith was coming on campus that particular day, and they asked me if I would use my influence to quiet the group and keep them normal,'' Vaught recalled in a 2002 interview with The Oxford Eagle. ''I went over to the Student Union and got on the high steps and looked at the crowd that was there, and I didn't know anybody. They weren't dressed like they were students. They weren't our people. They were outsiders. They weren't going to listen to me, so I just moved on.''

***********“We need to understand what true compassion is to reach out to individuals who think that being dependent is reasonable as long as they feel safe.  It’s not compassion to pat them on the head and say, ‘There, there, I’m going to take care of all your needs, your health care, your food.' That’s the opposite of compassion. I’m not interested in getting rid of a safety net, I’m interested in getting rid of dependency." Dr.  Benjamin Carson

american flagTUESDAY,  FEBRUARY 24,  2015-   "God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?" Thomas Jefferson

*********** WISDOM OF THE ELDERS -

Although the reasons for a team's success or failure in any particular game may defy generalization, certain components will make or break it over the long pull.   These components are called by different names.  Let's call them the Five S's - Spirit. Speed, Skill, Size and Savvy.

Which "S" is the most important?  The least?  We believe that size, beyond a reasonable minimum, is the last in the list. Little men have been outstanding players - All-Americans.  They compensated for their lack of size with a bountiful supply of the other four S's.

Let's put it this way: Give us a boy with normal intelligence and coordination, who is big enough to keep from blowing away in a stiff breeze and who has speed and spirit - and we have the makings of a fine football player.

Dana X. Bible

Dana X. BibleDana X.  (or sometimes just  "D. X.") Bible was one of the greatest of all college coaches. He was a head coach for 34 years, the last 29 of them at Texas A & M, Nebraska and Texas, and present-day coaches at those places can thank him for the often-unreasonable demands supporters place on them, because he's the one who spoiled them. His teams won 14 conference championships, and he posted an overall win-loss mark of 209-74-19.

Born in Jefferson City, Tennessee, Dana Bible was a three-sport athlete in college, first at Carson-Newman and then at North Carolina.

Right out of college, he took a job as head coach at Brandon Prep in Shelbyville, Tennessee. After a year, he moved to Mississippi College, then moved to Texas A & M to become freshman coach.  Following a year as head coach at what is now LSU, he was offered the job as head football coach and athletic director at Texas A & M. It was 1917 and he was 26 years old.

You might say Coach Bible got off to a good start at A & M - his 1917 team was undefeated and unscored-on. With the outbreak of World War I, he saw service overseas as a pilot, but he returned without missing a beat - his 1919 team was also unbeaten and unscored-on.

He was a master motivator. In 1922 at halftime against Texas, with the game tied, 7-7, he drew on a bit of Texas history to challenge his men: in an act reminiscent of the defense of the Alamo, when Colonel Travis drew a line in the sand with his sword, Coach Bible drew his foot across the floor of the Aggies' locker room and said, ""Those who want to go out and be known as members of an A & M team that defeated Texas in Austin - step over the line." There was a stampede to cross the line, and the Aggies went out and beat Texas, 14-7.

When he left after the 1928 season to take over at Nebraska, he could truly claim to have put A & M football on the map. His record at College Station was 72-19-9, with six Southwest Conference (SWC) titles. He had undefeated teams in 1917, 1919 and 1927.

If for nothing else, he will be forever remembered at A & M as the man credited with starting the tradition of the "Twelfth Man" - the notion that every Aggie - anywhere - stands ready and willing to go onto the field and jump in if needed. (It's why Aggies stand for the entire game - they never know when they might be needed.)

In his eight years at Nebraska, he was 50-15-7, and won six Big Six titles, but in 1936 he was lured away to Texas with what was then, in the middle of the Depression - an unbelievable contract - $15,000 a year for 20 years, the first 10 as head coach and AD, the final 10 as AD. (The President of the University was making just $7500 a year.)

University of Texas football was down when he arrived, but he came up with a plan - which came to be called the Bible Plan - designed to put it on solid footing. He knew well that there was a plentiful supply of high school talent in Texas, and he believed that the key to success at Texas lay in winning the recruiting battle in-state, so he divided the state into fifteen districts, and designated prominent Texas alumni to play major recruiting roles - including providing "jobs" - within those districts.

At first, wins came slow - he won only three games in his first two seasons. But then the Bible Plan began to bear fruit, and from 1940 through 1946 Texas went 53-13-3, winning three SWC titles.

He served as a member of the National Football Rules Committee for 19 years (1929-1947). He is a charter member of the National Football Hall of Fame, and in 1934 served as President of the American Football Coaches Association

When he retired following the 1946 season, he hired Blair Cherry, who by most peoples' standards did a great job,  going 10-1 in his first season and beating Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Cherry's overall record at UT was 32-10-1, and he never lost to A & M. In fact, he went 9-1 in his last season, and the Longhorns finished third in the nation. Unfortunately for Coach Cherry, that lone loss was to Oklahoma, which finished first in the nation. It was UT's third straight loss to OU.

Coach Bible had so elevated the expectations of UT supporters that a 32-10-1 overall record,  9-1 season and a third-place finish nationally wasn't enough to offset three straight losses to Oklahoma, and, under great pressure, Coach Cherry "retired."

And then Coach Bible went out and found UT another coach - a young Oklahoman who'd just finished his first year as head coach at the University of Washington. A youngster named Darrell K. Royal.

*********** It sure looks as if year-round football - well,  the 7-on-7 version, at least - has arrived in Southern California.

One more thing for high school coaches to worry about.  One more claim on their precious off-season time.  Face it - if they don't get out and devote the extra time to coaching their own kids, they run the risk of turning them over to the football version of the AAU basketball coach, who may or may not teach them correctly and, given the plague of athletes' transferring  that's infesting L.A. area schools,  may or may not suggest another school where their talents may be better showcased. If you know what I mean.


*********** A West Point sweater worn by Vince Lombardi when he coached at Army was bought for 58 cents at a Salvation Army store - then sold at auction for $43,000.


*********** NASCAR.  Daytona 500.  Big event. Opening race of the season.  Three abreast for at least seven rows.  Rush-hour  traffic at 195 mph.  No way to pass.  Great driving unquestionably, but when nobody can get out of the jam, is it really  racing?

I tried to watch. I haven't had good luck watching NASCAR in the past, but  I tried be open-minded.  I was actually primed and prepped to enjoy it, but in my semi-ignorant way, I'm still waiting for the race to start.

Look - seven rows of cars, bumper to bumper and three abreast - even at 200 mph - is great driving, but - did I say traffic jam? -  actually, as tightly packed as the cars were, it was more like a high-speed parking lot.  Either way, there was very little "racing" going on.

Not when when most of the field was stuck in that traffic, penned in with zero chance of passing.  It would be as if the NFL had 24 with  no chance of winning the Super Bowl.  Oh, wait...

It was tremendous driving, for sure, but what was the point, except maybe to see how long they could keep it up without an accident?
And then - oops - some damn fool wrecked.  And there went the "race."

Because  once the track was cleared,  the race was over in a lap or two.  As good as those drivers are, they could have finished in reverse.  (Which, come to think of it, might be something for them to consider.)

I gather, reading accounts of the race, that it was considered by insiders to be a hell of a race. 

Here's the problem: I'm not an insider.  I'm the little kid who watches the Emperor go by and wonders why he isn't wearing any clothes.  And I'll bet there are plenty of others  like me - fans of sports in general who're wiling to sit and watch and at least see what they've got, and then go away shaking our heads and wondering what just went on.

Many of us  will never come back.   Not me, yet.   Like a fool, I keep coming back, hoping that this time, it'll be great TV.

But face it, NASCAR - We've only got so much time, and there's way too many other sports fighting for our attention.

Grrr moment: with under five laps to go Fox went to "split screen" for a LONG commercial break - except that the screen was "split" about 3/4 commercial and 1/4 race. 

*********** There's a rumor afoot that the Big Ten, the Pac 12 and the Big 12 are discussing the possibility of freshman ineligibility - the way it was when I was in college, except that with this proposal, players (sorry - "student-athletes) would still have four years of eligibility remaining. Five-year scholarships, in other words.

Personally, I think that if colleges are at all serious about their academic mission, giving freshman a year to learn to act like actual students is a great idea. 

I don't think freshman ineligibility is likely to happen in basketball until the NBA changes its stance on signing players after just one year of college. College coaches certainly wouldn't recruit kids who would spend a year playing on their freshman team and then turn pro.

So most of what are now called "one and done" kids will instead go overseas and make a few bucks for a year and then enter the NFL.  That one isn't going to fly with the basketball guys.

Any return to the days of freshman ineligibility is unrealistic for basketball unless the NBA (and the NBA Players' Assn) first agree to something on the order of "three and free"  or "two-and-through."

It would be interesting to see how, given freshman ineligibility, how attending a JC would count against college eligibility.  I'm guessing that the first year at a JC would count as the "freshman year." Then, after two years at a JC, a player would transfer to a "four-year" college and still have three years of varsity eligibility left. This could be a bonanza for JCs and the colleges that feed off them.  

Although I favor the plan, for me it's a two-edged sword, because it would really hurt the service academies.

1. There's little likelihood of a cadet or midshipman staying around for a fifth year on the  taxpayer's dime  just to use up all four years of eligibility.

2. It's tough enough as it is persuading hotshot high school kids to spend a year at prep school, before actually enrolling at an academy.  How do they now tell him that he's going to have to spend a second year - one at the prep school and then another at the academy - before he can play a down of college football?

***********  Coach -  Just some information on McFarland to comment on something I saw you write.  I never ran the double-wing, but I respect the heck out of it and have read your news for several years.
I haven't seen it yet, but it definitely is "based on a true story" and changes some several key details.  I think this is mainly mitigated by the fact that the coach, Jim White, and members of that team are fully supportive of the film as is the town.  McFarland, even in the San Joaquin Valley where these small towns are all over the place, has almost always been considered primarily a migrant farm-worker town.  The migrants before WWII were primarily dust-bowl Okies and Texans, but the town's population demographics shifted to mirror each set of migrants who came to work.

The idea that Jim White came to coaching at that school as an outsider is pretty laughable.  Jim White was my Mom's sixth grade teacher in McFarland (HS class of '74) that makes him being new to McFarland in the mid-80s off by just a bit. I asked my mom about him and she told me he is extremely nice, was a great teacher, and very religious.

I will say that McFarland Cross County is exceptionally good for a small public school.  Due to CIF's policy of "competitive equity" (basically promotion/relegation), while almost all of McFarland's sports teams compete in Division VI (the lowest division), their boys cross country team competes in Division I with large (2500+) schools from significantly higher socioeconomic backgrounds.  Previous to this year (their first in Division I), they as a team had qualified to *every* state championship  the state has ever held.  This year, they did not.  Suffice to say that this policy has some feathers ruffled.


MIke Burchett
Learning Director
Woodlake High School
Woodlake, California

Hi Coach,

Thanks for taking the time to write.

I appreciate the insight.   I just watched a movie made in 1954 that claimed to be "A true story," despite numerous embellishments and acts of poetic license, so maybe we've made a little progress ovr the years with the addition of the phrase "based on."

So tiny McFarland builds a cross country powerhouse that earns it the right to keep moving up until finally going up against someone ten times their size.  "No good deed goes unpunished."

NIce to have you as a reader.

*********** Bill Parcells, who's either trying to push his book or can't stand being out of the limelight, or both, evidently is claiming that he was approached by Penn State to take their head coaching job tafter Joe Paterno was forced out.

Right. Just the guy.  Hasn't coached a college team since he went 3-8 at Air Force in 1978.

Okay. I might as well tell you.  They approached me, too.  It's all in my book...


*********** Army is rumored to be dropping the stupid "Black Knights" nickname and logo, and there's a rumor circulating among the faithful that that might mean a return to being the Cadets, and to a former logo they called the "Kicking Mule."

Army logosFor sure, the current logo of a rather swish-looking knight (don't you just adore the cape?), has been associated with a disastrous run on the football field.  Adopted in 2000 after three straight losing seasons, it's seen just one winning season (7-6 in 2010) and one win over Navy (in 2001, over an 0-10 Navy team).


One can only hope.  Writes one supporter...

I would love to see a return to "Cadets" but if we are to do this, then let us do it properly. No need to reinvent the wheel. Bring back the Kicking Mule in front of the "A" (maybe with a very minor touch-up to bring him into the 21st century) and very little more will need to be done.

And if we're truly set on returning to tradition, bring back the old uniforms or at least something resembling them. For the millionth time.

If we bury the "Black Knights" era this year, it will end up being remembered as the lost years of Army football - no cohesive or persistent on-field strategy, a coaching carousel that spun like a top, a rebranding that tried to give us a new identity for the new millennium but was met with a collective yawn, and, in its final years, a desperate attempt to forge a new look by paradoxically not having a look and doing a weak impression of Oregon.

Cadets. Kicking Mule. Black and Gold. End of story.

*********** A Portland woman learning to ride a motorcycle in a  parking lot died when she lost it and crashed into a parked car. She was 60 years old.  And she was learning on a Harley-Davidson 1200 Sportster. That's a lot of bike. It's like gong for a pony ride and finding out you're on a thoroughbred.

*********** Brooks Rawson writes from Alamo, Tennessee - "Following a showcase event in Boston for middle school football standouts, Rivals.com announced it will begin tracking two sixth-grade players, adding recruiting profiles to the website."

One is a 5-2, 105-pound middle school quarterback from Enfield, Connecticut

To me it's borderline child porn.  At the very least, it's one more example of adults exploiting and corrupting  kids' sports, coming the very week it was revealed that cheating by adults was behind the winning of last summer's Little League title.


*********** I watched a fair amount of the "Underwear Olympics" (The NFL Combine) and as always was impressed by the quality of the athletes on display, most of whom will never draw an NFL paycheck.

One guy that somebody has GOT to sign is Chris Conley, Georgia wide receiver.

He ran a 4.35 40, and had a 45" vertical jump and an 11-foot , 7-inch broad jump.  Oh - and he can catch, too.

*********** I think it was a new feature  for the Combine telecast - the "virtual" 40 yard dash races  created by  superimposing videos of two or three guys shot when they ran their individual 40s.

In one case, they created a match race between a couple of guys who ran their Combine 40s a couple of years apart -  between one of this year's better defensive linemen and current NFL star J. J. Watt.

*********** A big laugh for me came when the NFL Network's Mike Mayock on the Combine telecast, trying (unsuccessfully) to mimic a Pittsburgh accent. 

I think Mayock does a great job, but good luck trying to do any other accent when you're starting out with the sort of Philly accent he's got. (A Philly accent has been compared to Cockney.)

(For those of you who aren't similarly accent-hampered, a good start on Pittsburghese is Johnstown:  "Jawnstahn.")

american flagFRIDAY,  FEBRUARY 20,  2015-   "A man always has two reasons for doing anything: a good reason and the real reason."   J.P. Morgan, once the world's richest man

***********  "I'm asking people to stop their nonsense right now,' said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. "These are adults jumping out windows. It's a foolish thing to do, and you could kill yourself."

Boston, if you hadn't heard, has been buried by eight feet of snow this winter, and certain Bostonians (at risk of profiling, I am picturing young, male and perhaps at least a bit tipsy) have been jumping out of windows into high snowbanks.

"This isn't Loon Mountain," Walsh said.  "This is the city of Boston, where we're trying to remove snow off of the street and it becomes very dangerous. And the last thing we want to do is respond to an emergency call where somebody jumped out of the window because they thought it was a funny thing to do."

Charles Blockson*********** Stay with me on this.   It's worth it.

I was in high school when I saw Charlie Blockson play for Penn State.  He was fairly famous in the Philadelphia area because at nearby Norristown High School, he'd been an all-state football player, and between the shot put and the discus, he'd won five state titles. In his senior year, he won the National Indoor HIgh School shot put title in Madison Square Garden. 

He went on to Penn State, where  he played football as a fullback - and a teammate of future NFL stars as Lenny Moore and Roosevelt Grier - on some very good  Nittany Lion teams, and was an outstanding weight man on the track team.

But there was more to him than Charlie Blockson the athlete:

There was Charles Blockson the inquisitve student.

He recalled as a boy learning about African-American history from listening to his grandfather sing. "One Sunday afternoon, I asked him what he was singing about. He said he was singing about the Underground Railroad." Young Charles learned that his great grandfather had been a slave in Delaware and had escaped to freedom on the Underground Railroad.

"Our textbooks in those days said that all the slaves were happy on the plantations," Blockson wrote. "But I said to myself as I started to get into it, 'if the enslaved people were happy, why did they run away?'"  Thus began a lifelong interest in the Underground Railroad.

And there was Charles Blockson the collector. 

Inspired by a substitute teacher who told him there were no black people to study about  in history because "Negroes have no history - they were born to serve white people," he set out to learn more.

In his words,

When I was 15 years old, I travelled from Norristown to Philadelphia to browse in some bookstores.  At Leary’s Book Store at 9th and Market Streets, I found a thick, worn green cloth-covered book entitled The Underground Railroad by William Still published in 1872.  I paid five dollars for the book.  The book was much more than I had bargained for as I found two of my relatives who escaped on the Philadelphia’s Underground Railroad.  The discovery of William Still’s book began my interest in the history of the Underground Railroad which led me to write about it."

He reminisced about his Penn State days, and how "Lenny (Moore) and Rosie (Grier) would say, "Why are you always going to the book store?"

He began teaching, at Norristown High School, and continued to collect, in the process amassing an enormous collection of of books and other items pertaining to African-American history.

And he researched tirelessly.

Among the original manuscripts in the Blockson Collection are the letters of William Still.  whose 1872 book,  wrote Mr. Blockson, "was a major inspiration for my research and writing."

In 1984, he donated his collection  to the Temple University Library, and until 2006 served as curator of  the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection.

Today, Mr. Blockson is internationally known as the foremost expert on the Underground Railroad. He has written three books and lectured extensively on the subject.

Interestingly, he recalled that 20 or 30 years later, after he had attained some renown as a historian and lecturer, he encountered the teacher who had once told him, "Negroes have no history."

She apologized, and told him, "Charles, you have taught us all something about ourselves and our place in history."

Now here's what's especially cool, from the point of view of someone who follows football:

He went on,

During my research, I found a family connection between my family and the Still family.  Our family relationship extends almost 170 years.  I learned after contacting the National Archives for information on William N. Blockson,  the son of Leah Blockson, my great-grandmother.  William married Henrietta G. Still of Philadelphia on July 4, 1869 and she was the daughter of William Still’s brother .

In sum:

Charles Blockson's great-grandmother was named Leah Blockson.

Leah's son, William, married a woman named Henrietta Still.  Her uncle was William Still, the author of the 1872 book on the Underground Railroad.

That made Charles Blockson a part of the extensive Still family, which for over 140 years has held the Annual Still Day Family Reunion in Lawnside, New Jersey, once known as Snow HIll.

Among the many members of the Still family are former pro football players Art Still and Levon Kirkland, and current Cincinnati Bengals' defensive end Devon Still.

If you are a football fan, you undoubtedly know the story of Devon Still's 4-year-old daughter who's been fighting cancer.

The little girl's name is Leah.  I have a suspicion that Leah Still is named for Charles Blockson's great-grandmother Leah Blockson.

To get a better appreciation of Mr. Blockson and his place in the American tradition, I highly recommend this remarkable series of clips from an interview with him.


The Annual Still Day Family Reunion


Read more about Charles Blockson

Charles Blockson's Penn State Distinguished Alumni Award citation

Mr. Blockson's writings on the Still family

About William Still

The Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection in the Temple University Library

************* I don;t know where they find these people, but  the administration manages to find one moronic  "spokesperson" after another willing to go out in public and make a fool of him (or her) self for the good of the cause.

One of these tools is a woman namd Marie Harf (rhymes with barf), who speaks for the State Department, and last week suggested that the way to deal with ISIS is not with bullets, but with... jobs.

"We're killing a lot of them, and we're going to keep killing more of them... But we cannot win this war by killing them," she said on MSNBC. "We need ... to go after the root causes that leads people to join these groups, whether it's lack of opportunity for jobs..."

She went on "If we can help countries work at the root causes of this -- what makes these 17-year-old kids pick up an AK-47 instead of trying to start a business?"

Many, many years ago, that "root causes" crap was being tossed about as the real way to combat crime.   You know - if we could just get at the things that cause young men to commit crimes, we wouldn't have to spend all that money building prisons, blah, blah, blah.

Back in 1995, New York magazine ran this headline headline: “(Mayor) Giuliani and (Police Chief) Bratton think they’ve finally found the root cause of crime: Criminals.”

*********** Writes Ivan Maisel in espn.com

The NCAA Football Rules Committee recommended that the distance that offensive linemen may go downfield to block on a pass be trimmed from 3 yards to 1 yard, and every defensive coordinator in the Pac-12 yelled, “Halleluyah!” No teams have done a better job of turning that 3 yards into 5 or 7 than Oregon and Arizona. NCAA rules editor Rogers Redding said that officials had a tough time keeping an eye on where the linemen were while seeing when the quarterback released the ball. It will be interesting to see if this change impinges on the offenses, or merely makes it easier for the striped shirts to do their jobs.

The late Beano Cook used to say that every coach has a loss that will awaken him at 3 a.m. 20 years after retirement. Before Sunday night, Pete Carroll's 3 a.m. loss was in the Rose Bowl to Texas for the 2005 BCS Championship. The Trojans led Texas 38-33, had 4th-and-2 at the USC 45, and went for it. LenDale White gained 1 yard. Now LenDale White was a good back. He gained 1,302 yards that year. But he was not Reggie Bush, the 2005 Heisman winner, who rushed for 1,740 yards, wasn't on the field. Bush ran for a 26-yard score against Texas with 11:19 to play. He never carried the ball again.

*********** *********** A big scandal has been unearthed in Texas with a report  disclosing that the prestigious and highly-selective (I am not kidding, guys) University of Texas has been admitting under-qualified  applicants.  Well, duh.  They're called "football players."

Actually, they're children of the influential and well-connected, and despite substandard GPA's and SAT's, they've been admitted on the "recommendations" of members of the University's board of regents and powerful politicians.

So big deal.  If they find the work at Texas too hard, they can always transfer to North Carolina, famous for a major that doesn't even require going to classes.  Which means they could still live in Austin, enjoying the good life there.



*********** "McFarland" premieres tomorrow.  It appears that it's one of those "based on a true story" films, which means that something a bit like the true story may be shown the way it actually happened,  to characters resembling in some way the ones you see in the film.  I like fiction, and I non-fiction.  I understand the distinction, and I respect it, and it bothers the hell out of me the way Hollywood takes a "true story" then deletes, creates and embellishes at will, in pursuit of box-office earnings.

See, "Invinceable" wouldn't have been as great a story if we'd known that the real Vince Papale had actually played two years or pro football before being "discovered" by the Philadelphia Eagles, instead of being a down-on-his-luck bartender whose only prior exposure to the game before his Eagles' tryout was rough touch with his buddies.

And it wasn't enough for "The Elmira Express"  to tell the ennobling story of Ernie Davis, a young man of unlimited promise whose career - and life - were cut short by leukemia before he could ever play a down in the NFL.  Oh, no - the wizards of Hollywood had to portray his coach, Ben Schwartzwalder, by then long dead, as a classic racist.  Forget the fact that Schwartzwalder was way ahead of most other coaches of his time in recruiting black athletes.  That wouldn't have advanced the story line.

I might watch McFarland, though, just to see the way the town's portrayed.  I know McFarland.   More than a dozen years ago, I spent several days there, helping the then-head coach, James Beltran, install the Double-Wing.  McFarland, a farming town in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley about 25 miles north of Bakersfield, was almost totally Hispanic, so naturally the football players and coaches were, too.   But what struck me was that those were young American kids busting their asses, like American kids everywhere, to play an American game.  And out on that field, in McFarland, California, I could well have been coaching anywhere in the United States.  It felt so - American.  So unifying.

Having just seen the movie's trailers, I get the impression that this (white) coach winds up in McFarland, where the HIspanic kids have absolutely nothing going for them.  He persuades them to go out for cross-country (he's the coach) and through lots of hard work and motivational talking turns them into a powerhouse team which - you guessed it - goes out and kicks the asses of - privileged white kids. 

Unifying?  I have my doubts.

*********** A Pennsylvania high school basketball Coach, upset at learning at noon the day of a state playoff game that his team's 6-7 center was declared academically ineligible, decided to take action.

He went on Twitter and harshly criticized the athletic director, who I assume was the person who had made the hard call.

And then he announced that he would "take a stand" - and boycott the game.  In other words, not to coach the team he was paid to coach.

The game went on anyhow, and the team lost, 77-58.

There's more.  There always is.  The AD is the former basketball coach, who was relieved of his coaching position after 12 seasons, and is accused by the coach of attempting to undermine him.

Left unaddressed is my key question: where was the basketball coach when, with at most a dozen kids under his supervision, a player -  his best one at that - got to the point where he was academically ineligible?

Meantime, the coach now claims that he didn't resign.  Don't know WTF else you'd call it when a guy refuses to coach his team.


*********** Before you go betting the farm on the old US of A against the boys from ISIS  (or "ISIL" as our President insists on calling it), consider this:  Army recruiters say that seven out of ten young service candidates are unfit because of obesity, reliance of drugs prescribed for various disorders, and - tattoos.

Fortunately, all is not lost. The military is said to be reconsidering lifting its ban on transsexuals.
Myself, I'd just as soon have some tattoed dudes who can fight.  What the hell - once they're through basic, most of them will go out and get some body art anyhow.  (Ever seen how many tattoo parlors there are in a military town?)


*********** The Department of Justice has finally debunked the claim that one-in-five college women are victims of rape. It would have been nice if the White House and countless media outlets had never insisted on using the transparently bogus stat in the first place. It will be interesting to see who among the people who used that fake number now admit it was never true. The new number is about 1 in 52 college women have been victims of sexual assault. That’s still way too many if you ask me (and non-college women are more likely to be assaulted). But the campus rape-epidemic stuff was always a power grab.)      Jonah Goldberg


Jerome kersey***********  Jerome Kersey, a former Trail Blazer and a longtime favorite of Portland fans, died unexpectedly Wednesday.  He was 52.

In the photo, he's seen at Portland's Madison High School only the day before, appearing along with former Trail Blazers Terry Porter (on the left) and Brian Grant  (in the middle) to help observe Black History Month.
HIs death was attributed to a blood clot that originated in his leg and traveled to an artery in the lung.

Dr. Larry Lewman of the Oregon state medical examiner's office said Kersey's death could be a complication from surgery that Kersey had Tuesday to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. But, said Lewman, the clots could have existed before the surgery, and  he is attempting to determine how long the clot might have been in his body.

"It's something we see in people who are sedentary,'' he said.

Jerome Kersey was extremely well-liked, a part of the "good" Trail Blazers (Drexler, Duckworth, Porter, Williams),  a team that made it to the NBA finals in 1990 and 1992 with good guys. 

Not long after, with those guys gone management tried to fool fans with an assortment of lowlifes that earned themselves the name Jail Blazers.  Oh, how they missed the likes of Clyde and Terry and Ducks and Buck and Jerome.

Current Trail Blazer Steve Blake, who's been  wearing Kersey's old number (25) said he was in a Bible study group when he heard of Kersey's death, and said that after lying awake all night and praying about it, he went to management and asked if they'd get the league's permission for him to change his number so no Trail Blazer would ever wear Jereome Kersey's 25 again.



*********** Coming soon, to a school near you....

For years, at Seattle's Franklin High School, graduation tradition has meant students marching in boy-girl
pairs, boys in black gowns,  girls in green, with boys then sitting on one side of the room and girls on the other.

Not no more, as my Grandma would say.

No, siree.  This is Seattle, and the school has a gay-straight alliance. And the gay-straight alliance raised objections.

Asked one (allegedly) female student, "How about if you don’t identify as a girl, (and) you want to wear black instead?”

Well.  What else could the school officials do, but give in?  From now on, everyone will wear black. Another tradition bites the dust.

I mean,  this whole idea of just two sexes, and staying with the one you're born with, is so twentieth century.


*********** Anyone in Boston remember this, from 2000?

Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past


The Wisdom of the Elders...

Bob Reade won multiple Illinois state championships at  Geneseo High School, and then three straight NCAA Division III National Championships at Augustana College. Back in the 1980s, several of us Wing-T coaches in the Portland area pooled our resources and flew Coach Reade out to put on a clinic.  He was great. His Wing-T wasn't my wing-T, which was the Delaware version, but no matter - I got so much from listening to Coach Reade talk about offense, defense and football in general.  This,  clearly, was a man with ideas we could all use in our own programs.

Bob Reade on staffing: "I was always adamant that my high school assistant coaches be paid the same.  That let me organize my staff to best help our program without worrying that I was delaying someone's family an income.

Because the assistants knew they got equal pay, they always had great camaraderie. When all coaches are at the same salary, no one of them feels he's any more or less than any other member of the staff.

I have never believed in "I'm just the freshman coach," or "I'm just the assistant junior high coach."   There is no just anything.  If you're good and you contribute to the program, you shouldn't have to qualify your role. I think the coaches on my staffs have felt very much a part of whatever success we enjoyed because I gave them the opportunity to coach and didn't interfere.

american flagTUESDAY,  FEBRUARY 17,  2015-   "Love conquers all things except poverty and toothache." Mae West

*********** I spent three-and-a-half hours of my life Sunday night watching three-and-a-half hours of the four-hour 40th Anniversary of Saturday Night Live, and I finally gave up.
It was nice seeing so many of the actors again, and it was interesting seeing how some of the older ones have aged.  But I finally grew weary of waiting for the show to be funny.  There was introduction after introduction, and an occasional lame attempt at a redo of an old skit, but for the most part, there simply wasn't any there there. 

Yes, Paul McCartney is a legend  and all that, big enough to justify a special all his own, but how much did he do on SNL to warrant giving him all that time while 40 years' worth of the real stars of one of TV's greatest shows were shown in a series of rapid-fire montages that merely hinted at their amazing comedic talents?

*********** I have to admit that I watched a lot of the NBA's All-star extravaganza over the weekend.  I really enjoyed the three-point competition - Stephon Curry is really tough - and I got a big bang out of the slam-dunk contest, especially because it was won by the Timberwolves'  Zach Lavine, a kid off the mean streets of Bothell, Washington.  (Yeah, some mean streets - according to Zillow, the median home value in Bothell, a Seattle suburb,  is $417,000.  Real ghetto kid.)

The game itself wasn't really worth watching - it was 83-82 at the half and wound up something like 163-158, favor of the East.  (Or was it the West?  Does it matter?)

Perhaps it's because this year's festivities were held in New York, assuring the presence of a flock of celebrities, and perhaps because the NBA ties in the closest with the entertainment business, but it sure seems to me that of the four major sports, this is becoming by far the biggest and best all-star event.

*********** You probably already knew this, but just in case you didn't, the World Cup of Cricket is under way.  You can buy ESPN's package showing every game for just $99.95.

Kidding aside, Cricket, if you didn't know, is a passion in many large countries.

Sunday, in Adelaide, Australia,  India and Pakistan were scheduled to play.  Played far from both participating countries, the game was expected to draw 48,000 people, but the TV audience was expected to be more than a BILLION viewers.  To put that in perspective, the worldwide TV audience for the Super Bowl, including 115 million in the US, was estimated by Reuters at a paltry 160 million.

I heard a cricket expert trying to put the India-Pakistan rivalry in American terms - it was, he said, like the Yankees and Red Sox, except both sides had nuclear weapons and had fought four wars against each other.  Personally, I would have likened it to Alabama and Auburn, and offer thanks that the guy who poisoned the trees at Toomer's Corner couldn't get his hands on a nuclear bomb.

*********** I've been doing a little bit of research on the 1979 Pitt Panthers, and I came across a guy on the roster from Johnston, Pennsylvania named  Artrell Hawkins - which led me to his son, Artrell Hawkins, Jr., a former NFL player... which led me to the following article in which, in retirement,  he explains why so many NFL players are such jerks.


*********** A person wrote in to our local paper arguing for mandatory vaccination.

We're in agreement on that, because it's a public health issue -
if you want your kids to attend a public school,  you don't have the right  to decide to put other peoples' kids in danger.

But then the writer went on and blew it, as far as I'm concerned.

If we are going to to follow the argument of the opponents of mandatory vaccination, she wrote,  we might as well go ahead and abolish the child car seat and bicycle helmet laws, too.

Well, actually, I thought, I'm all for that.  Those laws came along after our kids were raised, thank God, but I know I'd have resisted the government's trying to tell me what size car seat I had to have before I could take a 40-pound kid someplace. 

But why stop there? As long as we're abolishing those nanny laws, let's do away with helmets for motorcyclists and  seat belts for adults.

*********** I read a story in our paper about a little kindergartner who got off a school bus at the wrong stop.  Before anyone blames the bus driver, whose job isn't tough enough as it is - 37 kids get off at that one bus stop every day.  You try keeping track of that.

*********** Charlie Weis told the South Bend Tribune it's "highly doubtful" that he'll ever coach again.

Now, Charlie - Yes, I know you've proven that you're not a college head coach, but since you definitely don't need the money, surely there's one high school or small college coach out there that you didn't manage to diss, back when you were a big shot, who'll let you volunteer.


*********** To make a short story of it, the Governor of Oregon, John Kitzhaber, resigned recently because his "fiancee," one Cylvia (that's not a misprint) Hayes was busy enriching herself by taking money from green-energy companies in return for favors that she, as "First Lady," implied or assured that she could provide.

That's as brief as I can make it.

It goes deeper than that, though, back to when the Guv was first sworn in and announced that he and  Cylvia, who was then merely his girlfriend, would move in to the Governor's Mansion together, and she would be the First Lady.  Believe it or not, there were still some old fuddy-duddies in Oregon who thought the shackup arrangement was a bit unseemly, and furthermore, the First Lady is a wife.

But come on, guys.  This is the Twenty-first Century. And Governor Kitzhaber, who wears jeans and boots everywhere, is so cool.

Then stories began to pop up about how Cylvia was working both sides of the street as owner of a green energy consulting firm with unusual access to the governor.  Many people who'd come by their government positions honestly found themselves having to answer to the First  Concubine.

This past fall, the Guv was confronted with the news that some time ago, when Cylvia was in college, she'd found a novel way to pay for her tuition. She'd enter into an arranged  marriage with a 20-year-old Ethiopian (she was 30) under the terms of which she'd get paid a sum - and he'd get American citizenship.

Just to give you some idea of the kind of dog the governor was lieing down with. (Hey - where'd all those fleas come from?)

Still, blinded by love, he ignored all the goings-on.

And now, the Guv is out of a job, and since Oregon has no Lieutenant Governor, the next one up is the Secretary of State, one Kate Brown.

He/she is a bisexual, which - we're told as if it's a matter of great pride - makes him/her the first such governor in America.

Since Brown is  (currently) married to a man (at least I think that's what he is - he goes by the name "Dan Little") I'm going to refer to "her" with the female pronoun.

The good news for Cylvia  is that with a bisexual governor living in the Governor's Mansion, she might be able to arrange a way stay on and serve as First Lady when needed.

***********  Back in August (August 25, 2014 issue) Sports Illustrated ran an interesting article on a former NFL player named Alex Bernstein.

A graduate of Massachusetts' prestigious Amherst College, Bernstein spent  three seasons in the NFL with the Ravens, Jets and Browns until his career was ended by a neck injury.

That was 2000. In 201,  North Social, a software company he had founded, was acquired for $25 million.

He was wealthy.  But it wasn't easy.

He started out with an entry-level job in the tech industry, and said that he applied the same effort and work ethic that had kept him on rosters in the NFL - rising early, working hard and reading everything he could get his hands on.

"Instead of preparing for a game," he said,  "I devoured every book I could find on business."

And that, he said, is the problem with a lot of former players.

Some of his former teammates avoided entry-level jobs that they considered beneath them.

"I knew guys who after they were out of the NFL for two or three years were still hanging around old teammates, still talking about getting back into the league," he said. "Their wives would approach my wife because they knew she was a therapist and ask, "How do I get him to move on?"

An observation of his worth noting by any coach who's ever had to ask a kid to switch positions, from the one he always dreamed of playing to the one the team needs him to play:

"I had tons of terrible jobs. But I learned what I was good at and what I liked to do, and that often what you are good at and what you like are two different things."


*********** In the movie "Diner," set in Baltimore in the 1960s, Baltimore native Barry Levinson illustrates how much Baltimoreans loved their Colts in a scene in which a guy makes his fiancee prove her worthiness to marry him by answering a series of Colts-based trivia questions. 

One question had to do with the teams that Colts' running back Buddy Young had played for that no longer existed. The answer (then) was three: the New York Yankees of the AAFC, The New York Yankees of the NFL, and the Dallas Texans of the NFL.  The Texans existed for one season; they were taken over by the league and kept on life support until a wealthy businessman, Carroll Rosenbloom, acquired the franchise and brought them to Baltimore as the Colts.

Since the movie was made, though, the Baltimore Colts are no more,  having been moved to Indianapolis in the dark of night by a drunken lout named Bob Irsay.

Buddy Young's total is now four.

*********** My next concern, wrote John Bothe, of Oregon, Illinois...
The post-game behavior that college and pro football exhibited in bowl games and NFL playoffs (and some coaches).  I do not remember a post-season that had so many brawls, ejections, and incident as this year had.  Ridiculous.
The NBA is looking better all the time…

The NBA really has cleaned up its act.

I'm bothered that football increasingly is being portrayed, and seen by more and more people, as a lower-class sport.  Like it or not, in my opinion it's a big reason why many people are steering their sons to other sports  - under the cover of
the much-overblown spectre of concussions.

*********** "Run to Daylight," Vince Lombardi's story as told to W. C. Heinz, is one of the great football books. 

The "As told to" doesn't do justice to Mr. Heinz' role, because, alongside the great Red Smith, he was considered one of the great sports writers of his time, and it's not likely that Coach Lombardi struck a single key on a typewriter to assist in the writing.

I found two paragraphs from a recent Wall Street Journal about W. C. Heinz (he died in 2008 at the age of 93) especially interesting:

In 1962, Heinz’s friend and fellow sportswriter Red Smith put him together with Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi to write a book. In Wisconsin, Heinz learned that the coach had little descriptive recall of his life outside the gridiron, but his wife did, and Heinz slyly developed a method of gleaning Lombardi ’s memories from Marie Lombardi and then presenting them for his reaction, “Yeah, that’s right!” Soon they were filling up Heinz’s notebooks with what became the 1963 football classic, “Run to Daylight!”

A doctor he had interviewed for his 1963 novel “The Surgeon” introduced Heinz to Dr. H. Richard Hornberger, who was looking for help shaping his salty novel based on his surgical experiences in the Korean War. The two collaborated enough to share a byline as “ Richard Hooker ” for the novel “MASH” (1968), a best seller and the basis for the movie and television show that followed.


*********** My son Ed, admittedly a Ducks' fan, wrote regarding the Oregon Ducks' signing of Eastern Washington QB Vernon Adams. Adams has a year of eligibility remaining and, because he has graduated from EWU, he's cleared to play at Oregon immediately,

Interesting how this NCAA graduation rule is allowing colleges to "recruit" players. I never really liked the rule anyway but this is starting to get absurd. However...for FCS coaches to make a big deal of it smacks of hypocrisy to me, since many of those schools benefit big time from FBS transfers who don't have to sit out a year. Another however...I agree wholeheartedly with the EWU coach that Adams can't work out with his team.

Theoretically, FBS schools can't "recruit" such a guy until he gets his release,  and evidently some people at EWU claim Oregon didn't wait.

You're right about the hypocrisy.  Many FCS schools make no secret of the fact that they tell kids being recruited by FBS schools, "If it doesn't work out, give us a call."

And before Eastern complains too loudly... not that long ago, the EWU coach was mentioned as a candidate for the Oregon State job.  Think he wouldn't have taken it if offered?


*********** Think that all those rules they've passed to protect quarterbacks (and receivers) as well as allowing linemen to hold haven't changed the pro game?

Consider the things that happened in the NFL in 2014 related to the passing game...

*** a record number of touchdown passes thrown (804)

*** a record percentage of passes completed (62.6 percent)

... a record nine quarterbacks threw at least 30 touchdowns. The previous high was five,  in 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010. 

... The four quarterbacks in the NFL's conference championship games - Tom Brady,  Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson  - were responsible for at least 72 percent of their teams’ offensive output.

... 16 quarterbacks played in every one of their team's games. Back in 1992, when Brett Favre began his streak of 321 consecutive starts, Steve Mariucci, Favre’s position coach,  began keeping track of how many other quarterbacks would play every game that season.  In 1992, there were eight, and in 1993 and 1994, there were seven.

... Teams threw the ball 60 per cent of the time.  Why not? Forget that old saw that when you throw the ball, three things can happen, and two of them are bad.  Not any more.  Not in today's NFL.   In addition to that 62.6 per cent chance of a completion, there's also the possibility of a defensive holding, illegal contact, pass interference or  helmet-to-helmet penalty.


american flagFRIDAY,  FEBRUARY 13,  2015-   "Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views."  William F. Buckley, Jr.

*********** Thanks for posting the article from Dr. Ed Riley in your Tuesday News.  It is spreading rapidly among coaches in Illinois, I believe that every head coach in the state will be sent a copy of it by the association.
It is great from the injury standpoint but also the overall value of high school football.  Very well written.
John Bothe
Oregon, Illinois


We need more people like Dr. Riley to speak up and speak out.

Based on his statement about the research -  "Most of the cases considered focus on former NFL players involved in a lot of high-risk behavior other than football" -  the NFL might have helped our cause by fighting the players' suit,  but they chose instead to settle.

Also to continue to promote and celebrate a form of our game that puts on display some of the basest aspects of our culture.

*********** At the Army football program's  postseason banquet...

Larry Dixon, a senior running back from Bremerton, Washington, was selected as the Thruston Hughes Memorial Award winner. It was established in 1939 to honor the team MVP and will be presented officially during the Awards Convocation prior to graduation.

Joe Drummond, a senior defensive lineman from Pittsford, New York, wore the Black Lion patch during the Army-Navy Game presented by USAA in December. The Black Lion is presented to the football player who best exemplifies the character of Don Holleder, an All-America offensive and defensive end for Army who was killed in action in Vietnam. Holleder’s daughter, Katie Fellows, presented the award.

Joe Drummond also was honored with the William C. Whitehead Jr. Memorial Award as the graduating senior with the highest grade point average. He also took home the Lt. Gen. Garrison Davidson Award for having the highest military grade and earning distinction in the areas of honor, country, sportsmanship and leadership. He also collected the Army Football Lifter of the Year for his commitment to his personal development on and off the field.

Larry Dixon and classmate Geoffery Bacon shared the Creighton W. Abrams Memorial Award as team captains.

*********** Oregon is bracing itself for legal pot. Pot, for "recreational" use, is now legal in Oregon.  But that doesn't mean it's welcome everywhere in the state.  Not in cowboy country, that's for sure.  Out there, in the wide open spaces east of Portland, it's generally seen as something associated with misfits and Portland hipsters.

It's certainly not welcome in Pendleton.  Pendleton's the home of the annual Pendleton Roundup, a BIG stop on the pro rodeo circuit with assorted side events.  One of the high spots - or low, if your prefer - is the Let 'er Buck Room, a rough-and-ready joint underneath the grandstands of the rodeo grounds.

What follows is a brief description of the goings-on inside, written a few years ago by a big-city writer from Seattle...  A female...  A very brave female...

After the last event of the day, Robert and I head for the Let 'Er Buck room, the fabled saloon that sits beneath the bleachers and serves only hard alcohol, with your choice of mixer being Pepsi or nothing. Within moments of joining the crushing throng that crowds into the bar after the rodeo, Robert and I are separated. Figuring I can get along well enough on my own, I decide to look around. Big mistake. Maybe a nun could run the gauntlet from the entrance to the back bar without her crotch being grabbed, her ass poked, or her boobs prodded.  Maybe.

If there was ever a joint that should hang a sign announcing, "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here," this is it. The atmosphere of the Let 'Er Buck Room is a cross between a cattle auction and a potential orgy. It is a contest to see who can get drunk the quickest, cop the most feels, and get set up with a sure lay by evening's end. A gathering place for spectators and participants alike, here you find the cowboy groupies (or "buckle babes") offering "butt judging contests," and guys coming up with such memorable bon mots as "Hey, girl! Give me a squeeze out of one of them jugs!" Any illusion I harbored that a cowboy was a true gentleman was quickly shattered as I fended off groping hands. Troy, a Pendleton local who buys a $12 rodeo ticket just to gain entrance to this buckboard bacchanalia, sighs, "Sh--. This ain't nothing like it used to be. A few years ago you'da got the Wrangler patch bit off your ass."


Now, that story is a few years old, and it wouldn't surprise me if nowadays they're serving drinks with parasols in them.  Well, actually , it would, because the Roundup's huge crowds come from all over the West - not to mention Canada - and for some of them, watching rodeo isn't the only reason they come.

But Roundup time or not, pot isn't welcome in Pendleton. Unlike big-city Oregon, Pendleton police enforce drug laws aggressively.  As Parley Pearce, owner of Hamley & Co., a Western store noted for its saddles, told the Portland Oregonian,  "It's not so much that I oppose personal choice.  It's just that I know that people who make good personal choices end up paying for those who make bad choices."

*********** The Washington Post devoted a story supposedly investigating the fact that Scott Walker dropped out of college in the middle of his senior year.

To say the least, it stirred up the readers.    The last time I checked there were well over 5,000 comments, and 24 hours after the story was published they were still coming in faster than I could read them.

About a third of them named highly successful people from George Washington to Henry Ford to Bill Gates who never finished college. 

Another third questioned when they could expect to read a similar story on the as yet unreported college record of Our Current President.

A tiny sampling...
*** Absolutely astounding. The WaPo investigates a conservative's college records and yet we have yet to see the socialist president's transcripts, even after 6 years!

*** And where does this story begin ? Is it against the law to drop out of college ? I see some progressive fear between the lines. If this is suppose to be some deal breaker, well good luck with that. In the meantime since you find the college years of a potential candidate interesting, how about finding Obamas transcripts from Occidental, Columbia and Harvard. We have never been able to witness how smart he was.
*** If Obama had only been vetted half as hard as conservative candidates, maybe we would have known we were putting a community organizing, racist, Muslim sympathizer into office.

*** Bill Clinton is humping underage hookers at private orgies on a secret island with a pedophile... but the media isn't interested in that.

*** Let's see. Walker left college to work in the real world.  Obama snorted coke in college, kept going to school as long as he could, and then hid out from the real world as a law prof.. lol

*** Did he own any dogs?  
Did he have any black friends?  
Was he kind to his mother?
Does he now or did he ever use "Just for Men"?

*** WaPo is afraid of a match up between a young guy with a track record of keeping his campaign promises and getting things done for the taxpayer and a old, dishonest failure of a white lady Hillary Clinton.  If this is the worst they can turn up on Walker, Hillary shouldn't come out of rehab.

*** Thank you for this hard hitting article about Barack Obama's mysterious transfer from Occidental to Columbia and how he was given a waiver from the Classics core all Columbia students were required to complete as freshmen and juniors because he enrolled as a foreign exchange student from Indonesia with the help of an Arab businessman....oh wait, that article will never appear in the WaPo.

*** How does this compare with multiple allegations of being a rapist? If a serial sexual harasser, possible rapist, can become president, I am thinking that Walker will be okay.

*** WPO your bias is showing- again! Your article on Walker is silly. The Democratic Party spent millions trying to smear Walker and he beat them and their ridiculous candidates bloody in a deep blue state. You would have more credibility if you showed the tiniest interest in Obama's college and law school back ground including but not limited to : where are his transcripts, who paid for his college and law school education, has he ever published an article for Harvard Law Review? Why did his publicist claim he was born in Kenya? Did he apply at Columbia as a foreign exchange student? Come on WPO answer the questions and maybe we can take your interest in Walker as something more than partisan sniping.

*** Geez Louise, that's more words reported here in one article than all the words reported on Obama's college days in the last 8 years.. At least they remember him and acknowledge seeing him in class. I don't remember many stories here featuring Barry's classmates.

*** Walker, when he was 15 years old, threw to second base instead of first, in an attempt to get the lead runner. There were two outs.
Shouldn't he have thrown to first? Why didn't he?


*********** Jerry Tarkanian's gone now, but the truth is I've missed him for quite some time.  There's something about the American character that makes us like certain outlaw types, and Tark the Shark epitomized the sports version of  the lovable rogue.

Interesting that Tark, who tended to be sarcastic rather than jovial, and tended to put some rather unlovable characters out on the court, is remembered fondly, in a way that Bill Belichick never will be.


*********** Ed Sabol, founder of NFL: Films, died Monday.  Mr. Sabol was 98. He started out with a motion picture camera gin him as a present, filming his son, Steve's games at the Haverford School, outside Philadelphia.  If you can call this a connection, The Haverford School was in our league.  I was four or five years ahead of Steve, though, so it's highly doubtful that any action footage of me made it into the family archives.


Several years ago, my son and I were given a tour of the NFL Films headquarters in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, a Philadelphia suburb.  It was an eye-opener.  Believe me, nothing you can see or do - nothing you can see on TV or at an NFL game - will give you a better idea of the enormous scale and scope of the NFL than a look inside NFL Films.  Without NFL Films and the job it did conveying the image of The League to the American public, it's doubtful that the NFL could  have grown to the point where now more than 100 million people will watch a Super Bowl.

nfl films sign nfl films studio nfl films board games
The Face of the NFL is  hidden away, off the beaten path
The control panel, where  on a football  Sunday every NFL game is monitored (and recorded)
The halls of the building contain so much football memorabilia that the place is like a museum; on display  in this room, from the days before Madden,  is just about every football board game ever invented

************ I doubt that I'll be going to see a new British movie called "Kingman: The Secret Service," but I read a preview with some interest.

Jan Yamato in The Daily Beast describes one of the characters, a "supervillain" named Valentine:

Valentine is a disillusioned eco-philanthropist with a drastic plan to solve overpopulation: First, give free cellphones to the masses. Next, trigger a homicide-inducing subliminal frequency from the safety of a mountaintop bunker and sit back and watch as the population exterminates itself.

I think Valentine may be onto something.

Resisting the temptation to make some tasteless crack about Obamaphone-aided genocide,  I'd love to ask this Valentine  guy if there's some way his device can be made a bit more specific.  What I have in mind is being able to zap the a**hole who holds a full-volume conversation in a public place; or the one who crosses the street, phone to ear,  totally oblivious to oncoming traffic, which he expects to come to a halt for him;  or  the guy in the lane ahead of you who speeds up and slows down aimlessly because he's on the phone.  (In the latter case, we'd probably have to figure out a way to delay the effect until the guy's off the highway.)

Earthquake Enyart*********** He was a great linebacker and such a horse of a fullback in Dee Andros' feared Power T attack that his teammates called him "Buff," for Buffalo.  But to football fans all over the country, he was known by the name given him by his school's sports information director: "Earthquake."

Bill "Earthquake" Enyart was such a stud that his quarterback, Steve Preece, recalling the days before coaches sent in the plays, said, "He ws the greatest default for a quarterback calling plays you'd ever seen, because if you couldn't think of anything else to do, you'd just hand it to him and he was always good for five yards."

In one of the greatest wins in Oregon State history, when the "Giant Killers" upset Number One USC (featuring a running back named O.J. Simpson), Bill Enyart rushed for 135 yards as OSU beat the Trojans, 3-0.

He was a first-team All-American in 1968, when he carried 293 times for 1304 yards.  Those 293 carries, in the Beavers' 10-game schedule, worked out to 29 carries a game.  In 24-21 win over Utah, he carried 50 times (still a school record) for 299 yards (also still a school record). The Beavers finished 1968  7-3, losing to Iowa and Kentucky by one point each and to USC by four points.

Bill Enyart was drafted in the second round of the 1969 draft by the Buffalo Bills,  and played two season with Buffalo and one with Oakland, but he was slowed by injuries most of the way and retired after three seasons.

Coach Andros, a World War II Marine who played college football for Bud Wlkinson at Oklahoma, ran a hard-nosed offense perfectly suited for the kind of kids that came out of Oregon's logging and mill towns and its farm and cow country, and Bill Enyart  was the cover boy of his book on the Power T.

A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Bill "Earthquake" Enyart died Tuesday.  He was 67.

*********** Listen to Harvard Law Professor Jeannie Suk, describing the precious flowers now taking up valuable space in our academic institutions (bear in mind that many of these same easily-traumatized students will argue passionately that women are capable of serving in combat):

Students seem more anxious about classroom discussion, and about approaching the law of sexual violence in particular, than they have ever been in my eight years as a law professor. Student organizations representing women's interests now routinely advise students that they should not feel pressured to attend or participate in class discussions that focus on the law of sexual violence, and which might therefore be traumatic.  These organizations also ask criminal-law teachers to warn their classes that the rape law unit might "trigger" traumatic memories. Individual students often ask teachers not to include the law of rape on exams for fear that the material would cause them to perform less well. One teacher I know was recently asked by a student not to use the word "violate" in class - as in "Does this conduct violate the law?" - because the word was triggering. Some students have even suggested that rape law should not be taught because of its potential to cause distress.

First printed in newyorker.com on December 15, reprinted in the Wall Street Journal, December 24

*************** Bryn Mawr College, a prominent all-female college outside Philadelphia, is really in a quandary. It was decided that it will admit biological males so long as they "identify" as females.  But at the same time, it will not admit biological females who identify as males. 

Sure wish they'd make up their minds.  We're running out of pronouns.


Xavier with shield************  It was almost 13 years ago, at my clinic in Baltimore, that I asked  Xavier Underwood if he'd demonstrate a youth blocking shield I was selling at the time. Xavier, son of coach Dwayne Pierce and his wife, Dr. Darlene Underwood, of Washington, DC was happy to oblige.

Over the years, my wife and I have become friends  with Dwayne and Darlene and their kids, and we always look forward to seeing them at my Durham clinic. Darlene has roots in that area - she's a Wake Forest grad - and for years they've made it a point to arrange a trip to North Carolina to coincide with my clinic -  followed always by a get-together at my daughter's and son-in-law's place.

In the meantime, Xavier, their oldest,  has grown into an impressive young man, currently hard at work helping lay the groundwork for the anticipated presidential campaign of Dr. Ben Carson.  Recently, through the good offices of conservative radio talk show host Armstrong Williams, Xavier (on the left in the photo below) and Charlton Woodyard II of the Washington Times had the honor of a private meeting with Justice Clarence Thomas in his chambers.

Justice Thomas

*********** The Wisdom of the Elders...  Bobby Dodd on defensive penetration

Penetration cuts down on pursuit: Every step of penetration cuts down two steps of pursuit. It is basically more logical to play at the line of scrimmage, and to penetrate just enough to give you a change of pace. You will have to come in with penetration where the down and distance require it.

If you are to carry through with the axiom of pursuit, you must keep penetration to a minimum. You do not want to play for the "fourth and ten" - you are playing for the fourth with two or three yards to go for a first down.

A team that tries to stop the offense for no gain each time is leaving themselves open for the long gain.

Coach Dodd enjoyed a fabulous career at Georgia Tech.  The quote is from his book,
"Bobby Dodd on Football "

american flagTUESDAY,  FEBRUARY 10,  2015-   "Opinions alter, manners change, creeds rise and fall, but the moral laws are written on the table of eternity."  Lord Acton

*********** Dad,

As you know, I've never been a big Terrell Owens fan. Despite his undeniable talent, he seemed like a me-first guy who was more than happy to throw his teammates under the bus. But my perception changed after seeing him here in Melbourne and talking with him on our radio show.

TO was brought over (for a fee) by Corey McKernan, an ex-Australian Rules Football star who now owns a company that takes Australian sports fans to big American sporting events like the Masters and the Super Bowl. TO came over for the Australian football Grand Final (championship) in October and came back for Corey's massive Super Bowl party.

I didn't meet TO, but did interview him on radio for 10-15 minutes; he was engaging, honest, articulate and most interesting of all, expressed some regret for his past actions. Over the course of three days here leading up to the Super Bowl, TO did plenty of TV and radio, met a number of Aussie Rules players and even participated in a charity touch football game, which as you might expect, he dominated.

As I said, I didn't meet him, but everyone I talked to said he was a pleasure to be around, and displayed none of that arrogant behavior that we saw during his time in the NFL. And by the way, he is in great shape and still looks like he could play.

Love, Ed Wyatt
Melbourne, Australia

*********** Dean Smith was the sort of person whose death brings different memories to different people.

For our family, the memories take us back to the 1970s.

Those were different times - three TV stations in every town, plus, in larger cities, maybe an independent station or two.  In the latter case, they were often "UHF" channels, unavailable unless you had a special UHF antenna and tuner.  There were a few cable systems, but they were known then as CATV (for Community Antenna TV) systems, and they existed only to provide reception in remote, mountainous places like Cumberland, Maryland and Pottsville, Pennsylvania, where you couldn't pull in over-the-air signals with conventional rooftop antennas.

That was by way of explaining that there was no ESPN, not to mention any Big Ten Network.

Unlike nowadays, when the list of college football games on TV takes up a quarter of a page in Saturday morning's sports section, there was one - ONE - college football Game of the Week.

And unlike today's college basketball, which offers a minimum of a half-dozen games on TV every week night, there was one game on Saturday.

But for those of us who lived in ACC Country, there was one more.  During the week.  The ACC Game of the Week.

We were fortunate enough to live in ACC Country - Hagerstown, Maryland - and the ACC Game of the Week was a major family event. 

To me, allowing for the possibility that all the fond memories attached to it may be a factor, there will never be any college basketball better than the ACC basketball in those days.

The ACC was good long before then, but the weekly TV show really helped to develop the mystique that to some extent still surrounds it.  And nothing was more representative of that mystique than the North Carolina Tar Heels, and the exciting brand of basketball they played.

Year after year, they put great basketball players on the floor.  They epitomized team play.  They could run, and they could slow it down.  Oh, could they slow it down. 

In those days, the Boston Celtics dominated the NBA, and once they had a game under control, their coach, Red Auerbach, would light up a cigar.  On the bench.  (Nowadays he'd get thrown out of the arena.)

Similarly, for those watching a North Carolina game, the signal to one and all that the game was as good as in the bag for the Tar Heels was when they went into their four-corner offense.  That, as much as anything, was Dean Smith's trademark.

I've read a few tributes to Coach Smith in which the four corners was mentioned in less than complimentary terms, dismissed as just a stall, and if all you've ever known has been basketball-with-a-shot-clock you mightn't appreciate it.  But to those who watched it in action, it was a marvel - a combination of masterful ball-handling and dribbling and passing and the deadly free throw shooting it led to that symbolized superior coaching.  It was Dean Smith at his best.

Dean Smith's coach at Kansas was Phog Allen.  And Phog Allen's coach at Kansas was Dr. James Naismith.  We didn't just lose a great coach.  We lost a direct link to the founder of the game.

*********** Bob Barton, a fellow Yalie (Class of 1957), is retired now, but as a longtime sports reporter and editor of the New Haven Register, he probably knows more about Yale football though the years than any man alive.

In brief,  Bob and I have become a committee of two whose mission is to get one of Yale's new residential colleges named for Levi Jackson.

To explain -  Yale College (the undergraduate division of the university) is divided into twelve "residential colleges" which operate almost as mini-colleges.

Even before arriving at Yale, students are assigned arbitrarily to one of the colleges, where they will live and eat most of their meals for their entire four years. (It is highly unusual for a student admitted to Yale not to graduate in four years, and it is highly unusual to live off-campus.  Fraternities exist as places to party, but no one lives there.)  Each college has a library, a dining room, a game room and a snack bar, and assorted other amenities.  There is intramural competition among the colleges in a varsity of sports, including, in my time, tackle football.  (When I was injured my senior year, coaching our college team was my first experience as a football coach.  I was hooked.) A master (who, I imagine, could be female as easily as male) resides in each college and in addition to his/her usual faculty duties, acts as a sort of combination college president and dean. 

Yale's residential college system was made possible by a grant in 1933 from Edward Harkness, a very wealthy alumnus who in his lifetime donated more than $2 billion (in today's dollars) to numerous causes.  The colleges were designed to emulate those at Oxford and Cambridge, where individual colleges operate independently of one another and to a great extent of the universities themselves.

One significant way in which Yale's system differs from those at Oxford and Cambridge is that Yale's colleges do not operate independently of the larger university.  All classes are taught in university classrooms by university faculty and are open to any student from any residential college.  In reality, the college system provides a nice balance between being a part of a large university and getting to know a wide variety of people, and at the same time enjoying the greater intimacy of a small college.  In such an environment, I think it would be less likely for a student in need of help to fall through any cracks.

The 12 Colleges have been named for Yale's founders, presidents and illustrious alumni, as well as a few  Connecticut governors from long ago, but to the school's credit, although it expects to spend $500 million to build the two new colleges, there has never been even the slightest thought give to naming one for a donor.

In contention to name the new colleges, there are far too many illustrious alumni to name, but given  that every college so far has been named for a white male, and given Yale's extreme consciousness of its elitist past, it would seem to me that they'd at least take a serious look at females or (a phrase I hate) people "of color."

The odds against a female are low. Given that Yale's first class including women didn't graduate until 1973, it's not likely that there are yet any alumnae ("alumna" is Latin for a female graduate, and "alumnae" denotes more than one) who qualify on the basis of (1) achievement and (2) being dead. (The latter qualification would almost eliminate the chances that the recipient would do anything to embarrass the university after being selected.)

This, then, brings us to a person "of color."  I would be proud to nominate Dr. Benjamin Carson, of the Class of 1973, but fortunately, Dr. Carson is still very much with us.

That's where Levi Jackson comes in:

Connecticut native, raised in Branford

Local, a graduate of New Haven's Hillhouse High School

First black man to play football at Yale

Elected captain of the Yale football team, 1949

First black executive of Ford Motor Company

Instrumental in forming Ford's Minority Dealership Training Program

Member President's Commission on White House Fellowships under President Lyndon B. Johnson

Member of Selective Service Appeals Board under President Richard NIxon

Ford's Man of the Year, 1968

Retired as Vice-President of Ford after 32 years

1987 Walter Camp Man of the Year Award

Writes Bob,

If Levi Jackson College should ever come to pass, a prominent place should be given to a portrait of Reggie Root, his coach at Hillhouse and later a member of Howie Odell's Yale staff. "That man was my angel," Levi told said of Root. It was Reggie who persuaded Levi, who was taking the standard high school curriculum, to switch over to the college prep curriculum, which kept him at Hillhouse an extra season. Reggie's move to the Yale staff doubtless made Levi more comfortable about choosing Yale (over Cornell and Brown, if one can believe the papers of the day).  When Odell went out to Washington, taking some aides including Root with him, Levi wanted to transfer. (Imagine a Husky backfield with Don Heinrich, Levi and Hugh McElhenny!) Reggie talked Levi into staying at Yale. Otherwise, who knows when we'd ever have had a black captain?

Levi Jackson on fence

Wrote the late William N. Wallace, a Yale graduate who would go on to become a sportswriter for the New York Times,

"I went on to become a sportswriter in New York and in future years dealt with countless stories that involved race, not all of them pleasant. There were more 'firsts', then numbers, percentages, countless counting of blacks and whites, alsong with the inevitable playing of various race cards.

"My finest racial moment had been back at Yale the time that no one gave white or black consideration when it came to Levi Jackson sitting on the Yale fence for the routine captain's photograph, the white Y on the blue jersey over his human body."





*********** In case you're not aware of the fuss being stirred up by the upcoming visit of Israel's president, Benjamin Netanyahu -

He's been invited here, against the wishes of Our President, to address our Congress about danger of trusting Iran, something Our President appears all too willing to do. See, he thinks that he alone has the secret to making Iran behave.

Meanwhile, Iran continues getting closer and closer to producing a nuclear bomb, something that will pose a mortal threat not only to nearby Israel, but to Western Europe and, ultimately, the Old USA.

If you have any doubt about what we're dealing with in Iran, consider its involvement in the real-life spy novel unfolding in Argentina.  It seems that a couple of weeks ago, a government prosecutor named Alberto Nisman was found dead in his apartment, the night before he was scheduled to testify before the country's congress about secret dealings between the country's president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, and Iran.

Mr. Nisman was expected to accuse Mrs. Kirchner of arranging to lift international arrest warrants for Iranian officials wanted in the 1994 bombing of an Argentine synagogue that killed 85 people.  In exchange, Iran would give the depressed Argentine economy a boost by providing it with oil and buying large quantities of Argentine grain.  

Mr. Nisman's death was at first dismissed as a suicide, but the circumstances - a single bullet hole in the middle of his forehead - have made murder a more likely explanation.   

And now, just a few days ago, investigators found in his apartment a document that would have called for the arrest of Mrs. Kirchner and the country's foreign minister. 

Maybe Iran is involved.  Maybe not.   This is dirty, nasty stuff - something the Iranians are experts at.  It shouldn't be necessary for Mr. Netanyahu to have to come here to tell us this. But then…


*********** I'm informed by my "sources" that the proposal in front of the NFHS to eliminate the free blocking zone didn't even come up for a vote, which means it goes away for another year.

But believe me,  it's not going to go away for good, and we've got to be vigilant.  It's got defensive guys on its side,  and they're using the safety argument
(got to protect their kids' legs, don't you know).

For sure, one hangup is going to be how they can reconcile making the offensive linemen hit higher without requiring the same of defensive linemen.  I mean, we have to protect the legs of players on both sides of the line, don't we?   That would suit any double winger just fine - no more of those a**holes trying to submarine (which, it seems to me, is as dangerous as a low block thrown from short  range). 

Once that point is raised, the defensive people will shut up.  If it's not, and the rule passes, it'll ruin the game.

*********** Governor Bobby Jindal of Lousiana rebutted Our President's claim that to the effect that Christians are no ones to be pointing fingers at ISIS (or "ISIL," as he prefers to call them, citing atrocities committed in the name of Chrisitianity.  Except that those atrocities took place hundreds of years ago...

“It was nice of the President to give us a history lesson at the Prayer breakfast,” Jindal said. “Today, however, the issue right in front of his nose, in the here and now, is the terrorism of Radical Islam, the assassination of journalists, the beheading and burning alive of captives. We will be happy to keep an eye out for runaway Christians, but it would be nice if he would face the reality of the situation today. The Medieval Christian threat is under control, Mr. President. Please deal with the Radical Islamic threat today.”

*********** From the Vancouver (Washington) Columbian…

A Vancouver man was sentenced Friday to 17 months in prison for torching a Vancouver home he shared with his former domestic partner of 16 years.

Timothy Meagher, 58, used gasoline to start the fire at 6208 NE Wilding Road on June 13 soon after his former partner, James L. Hansen, ended their commitment and asked Meagher to move out of their house.

Meagher's attorney, George Marlton, said Friday that the intentional fire was a crime of passion sparked by Meagher's belief that Hansen was having an affair with a woman.

*********** According to Sports Business Journal, fewer underclassmen are declaring themselves eligible for the NFL draft...

The number of college football underclassmen declaring for the NFL draft went down this year, reversing a five-year trend, and talent experts credit better education and a new NFL grading system for the drop.

Seventy-four players were granted special eligibility for the NFL draft, down 24.5 percent from a record high of 98 in 2014. Before that, the number had been climbing steadily since 2009, when 46 players with college eligibility declared for the draft (see chart).

“Hopefully, 2014 was a one-year anomaly and the number in 2015 will begin a trend back to the historical averages,” said Rich McKay, Atlanta Falcons president and CEO and the chairman of the NFL Competition Committee.

Last year McKay decried the record number as “surprising” and “disappointing.” Thirty-six of those 98 players were not drafted.

McKay, NFL agents and others said that the new NFL grading system, which went into effect last year, may have something to do with the drop.

Previously, college underclassmen who requested a draft grade from the NFL were given one of five grades:
* Potential first-rounder.
* Potential second-rounder.
* Potential third-rounder.
* Potential fourth- through seventh-rounder.
* Projected free agent.

The new NFL evaluation system has only three grades:
* Ability of potential first-rounder.
* Ability of potential second-rounder.
* Recommendation to remain in school.

In addition to the new grading system, the NFL also implemented a limit on the number of grades a school could request. In the past, the number of requests was unlimited. This past year, once a college had five players reviewed by the NFL’s College Advisory Committee, the school had to ask permission to get additional reviews. It was not clear how often such permission was granted.

McKay said the new rules appear to have helped reduce the number of early entrants. “That said, it’s only been one year with these modifications,” he said.

Jeff “Hawk” Hawkins, University of Oregon director of football operations, said he worried at first that the new system might send the wrong message to underclassmen not projected as first- or second-rounders.

“I was afraid … the kids would think, ‘Well, I’ll go in the third [round],” Hawkins said. “I was really concerned that they would read between the lines when they shouldn’t.”

Hawkins said he was pleasantly surprised by the numbers and said that the new grading system seems to have had an effect.

Todd McShay, ESPN NFL draft analyst, said both the new grading system and the limit on evaluations may have kept the number down. “I think the combination of the two things was very smart,” he said.

The large number of juniors and redshirt sophomores declaring last year wasn’t due to underclassmen trying to take advantage of a weak class, McShay said. “This 2014 rookie class is one of the better rookie classes — I would say — in a decade.”

McShay noted that the number of underclassmen declaring for the draft took a jump after the negotiation of the 2011 collective-bargaining agreement, which instituted a new rookie pay system. Those new rules cut the amount of money that high first-rounders could make by about half.

Nowadays, agents are telling draft prospects that it is all about getting the second contract, where the real money can be made. If players come out one or two years early, they are closer to that second contract.

“The problem we are having is guys are coming out before they are ready,” McShay said. “And it doesn’t matter if you are closer to it, because ‘it’ (the second contract) doesn’t exist.”

Gil Brandt, a draft analyst for NFL.com, who makes the decision on which players are invited to the draft, said he thinks the reason fewer underclassmen came out this year is because college coaches did a better job of telling players about the underclassmen who declared last year but were not drafted.

While the number of underclassmen who have declared for the draft has gone up in recent years, the number who are actually drafted has not, said Lal Heneghan, a partner with Cornerstone Sports Consulting, which provides education about the NFL to college football players at 12 Division I schools, including Alabama and Florida State.

Universities are spending more time educating players about the pitfalls of declaring early, including the possibility of going undrafted, Heneghan said. The decrease in the number of underclassmen declaring could mean those players are going to stay in school and develop both as football players and individuals, Heneghan said.

If so, Heneghan said, “that is a good thing.”

*********** Don't know whether you've noticed yet, but evidently the point of Bud's latest ad campaign ("It's brewed for drinking - not dissecting") is  to give people who drink Budweiser a way to explain to their craft-beer-snob friends why they're still drinking an "industrial" beer.  Tsk, tsk.  Somebody should have told the Bud people that Pabst Blue Ribbon beat them to the punch. PBR drinkers feel no need to justify their choice - they're almost defiant in their loyalty to their plain old white-bread beer. And unlike Bud, Pabst didn't have to go out and blow $4.5 million on a Super Bowl spot to make that happen.


You simply MUST read this column, first published  back in December for the Portland Tribune. It was written  by Dr. Ed Riley, a physician and professor of anesthesiology at Stanford and the father of a high school football player.  Dr. Riley is the younger brother of former Oregon State and now-Nebraska head coach Mike Riley.  The Riley boys' father, Bud, was a long-time college assistant coach.

My son’s high school football team finished 1-9 this year, and I wouldn’t be prouder of this team if they had gone undefeated.

They made a game of it each Friday night, and while they often were outnumbered and overmatched, they never were outplayed. My son and his teammates have learned more about hard work, sportsmanship and resilience on the football field than anywhere else, and these lessons will make them better men.

But as much as I enjoy the tradition of high school football, I worry about its future.

My son’s school has nearly 2,000 students, but his team is lucky to suit up 20 players for a varsity game. There are a lot more young men who want to play, but whose parents won’t let them. Their parents think the risk of brain injury outweighs the benefits of playing.

I understand the concerns and share them, but I have concluded those concerns are misplaced. My children are the most important part of my life. I am a widower, and when my son wanted to play football his freshman year, every mom and my in-laws chastised me for considering it. Even President Obama wondered whether he’d let his theoretical son play.

I’m a physician and medical researcher at Stanford, and I only decided to let my son play after reviewing the medical research.

The study that best elucidates the risk of football-related brain injury comes from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDCP officials studied 3,439 former National Football League players with at least five years of pension-credited playing seasons between 1959 and 1988.

This is arguably the highest-risk group of players available for study. Among these players, the incidence of neurodegenerative disease is three times higher than in the general population. However, the risk of death from neurodegenerative disease was relatively low in both groups: 3 percent in NFL players, and 1 percent in the general population. The risk associated with a long NFL career is not insignificant but remains small.

The high-profile research that is regularly cited as connecting the dots between football-related concussions and dementia in NFL players lacks sufficient data to establish a causal link. Most of the cases considered focus on former NFL players involved in a lot of high-risk behavior other than football, and none of these studies included a control group. Research like this is typically filed away as “interesting, but we need better data.”

The key here is that high school football is not the NFL. The Mayo Clinic found that the risk of high school football players developing degenerative neurological diseases later in life is no greater than if they had been in the band, glee club or choir.

The data suggests that the normal life of adolescents puts them at risk for brain injury all the time. What would be the alternatives to my son playing football? Sports such as soccer, skiing, rock climbing or lacrosse have similar risk profiles to high school football.

My late wife rode horses competitively growing up. As an anesthesiologist at a hospital that treats more horse-related trauma accidents than any other in the country, I’m glad my son went with football.

I believe the benefits of playing high school football are worth the risks. Football is an equal-opportunity sport. All different types of athletes make up a football team, the skills needed don’t require years of practice, and there is no real advantage for kids with private coaches. A healthy, average athlete who shows up to all the team’s practice sessions and attends off-season weight training can usually find a spot on the team.

My son’s teammates are from the whole socioeconomic and racial spectrum. The only reason that his team was able to make a contest out of each game, despite that they had so few players to work with, is that the boys learned how to build on what they had in common instead of focusing on their differences.

As Jack Kemp, the former pro quarterback and congressman, once said, “The huddle is color-blind.” In an increasingly diverse world, opportunities to learn how to work together with a wide range of people who start out on equal footing should not be lightly dismissed.

When I sit in the stands, I worry when my 160-pound son lines up on the front line of the kick return team, but that is only slightly less than I worry when I sit in the passenger seat as he merges onto the highway. Adolescence is a scary time for parents.

To all you parents who are keeping your sons from playing football, I say, “Let them play.” They are just as safe on the football field as they are in most of the other sports and activities we regard as a necessary part of a healthy adolescence. You can save money on expensive club sports and specialty coaches, and your sons will develop skills that will serve them and the rest of us well.


american flagFRIDAY,  FEBRUARY 6,  2015-   "If you think you undertand God, it is not God."    St. Augustine

*********** Only in San Francisco North, aka Seattle:

according to an AP Story:

Vu Le a 33-year-old Vietnamese immigrant who runs a Seattle nonprofit, knew nothing about professional sports when he started cheering for the Seahawks during the team's Super Bowl run last year. On his blog, he tried to draw lessons from the loss for the nonprofit world, spelling out what he called Seattle's "stages of grief":

"Denial, Righteous Anger, Hot Yoga, Organic Juice Cleanse, Bargaining at a Farmer's Market, Composting, Existential Despair, Biking to Happy Hour, and Acceptance - of Marijuana."

************  I spent most of National Letter of Intent Signing Day watching ESPNU during the day, and then the Pac-12 Network in the evening, with a few short side trips to the Longhorn Network and SEC Channel.  A few observations…

* Sure looks as if Texas has signed some serious defensive talent.

* Everybody, as usual,  got the players they wanted.  Kyle Whittingham of Utah, though, was refreshingly frank.  He said that they landed a lot of really good Utah kids, but admitted that they lost a few that they wanted.

* The colleges who signed all those blue-chippers whose highly-orchestrated signings we witnessed are going to have their hands full "un-recruiting" them, bringing them down to earth in time to realize that they're actually going to have to compete for a position.

* There are no signs of any let-down in the inventiveness of mothers in naming their sons.

* I have ridiculed him in the past, and rightly so, but Rick Neuheisel, on the Pac-12 Network, does a really good job

* I find myself actually beginning to like (gasp) a rapper.  I'm talking about Snoop Dogg, aka Calvin Broadus, whose son, Cordell Broadus, despite his father's professed love for USC,  signed with UCLA.   The kid, a standout wide receiver at Las Vegas' Bishop Gorman High, handled himself quite well on-camera and was appropriately  complimentary and appreciative of his parents and coaches.  Dad came on very briefly but in no way attempted to draw attention to himself.  Later, I watched a 30-for-30-type show called "Snoop and Son," and was mildly shocked as I listened to Snoop supporting this son's coach after Cordell was suspended for a game for missing a practice without notifying the coach.  (For what it's worth, even without Cordell, BIshop Gorman, a national power, won, 63-0.) Mr. Dogg  (I do  wonder what the other kids on the team call Cordell's dad) also said quite a few things about the importance of academics relative to football, and the fact that football doesn't last forever.  Even if he were insincere, what he said could still make a difference in the lives of a lot of young kids.

* Josh Montgomery of Berwick, Louisiana sent me a text with an article about a receiver named Daylon Charlot, of Patterson, Louisiana whom he'd coached as an 8th-grader.  The kid had signed with Alabama.  I expressed surprise at the idea of a Louisiana kid bypassing LSU, and he said with regret (he's a big LSU fan) that Louisiana kids don't seem to have the same intense sense of loyalty they once did.  And then I happened to turn on the Pac-12 Network and listen to Rich Rodriguez talking about the success they'd had in Louisiana, where, he said, "the high school football is very, very good."  And I started checking the list of signees in the Pac-12, a conference more than 1,000 miles away,  and damned if I didn't see at least 10 Louisiana kids!  Hey - there's plenty of states that don't even produce that many Divison I signees total!  I'd have to say that in terms of recruiting, Louisiana has become a mini-Texas, and competition for kids has blown away a lot of kids' loyalty to LSU.

* I saw the name "Frank Buncom IV" on Stanford's list of signees, and I immediately headed for the computer and Google. This had to be the grandson of THE Frank Buncom, who I remember playing for the Chargers and Bengals, and who died while still an active player.  In my dealings years ago with a State College, Pennsylvania lawyer named Bob Mitinger, who had played with the Chargers in the AFL, I happened to mention Frank Buncom, and Mitinger went on and on about what a great teammate he was.  And I worked with Ernie Wright, another teammate of Frank Buncom's with both the Chargers and the Bengals.  He and Frank Buncom were roommates, and he died in his sleep while Ernie was in the room.    (His death was caused by a pulmonary embolism - a blood clot that had travelled from his knee, injured a week previously, to his lungs.)   He was just 29,  and his son, Frank III, was just seven weeks old.  Now his grandson, Frank Buncom IV, heads for Stanford.  I can't imagine that Stanford coach David Shaw, who comes from an illustrious San Diego family, wouldn't know the story of his recruit's grandfather.  A beautiful story, especially appropriate for Black History Month.



*********** Coach,
I googled ‘rugby style football tackling’ and found this Pete Carroll video on teaching tackling; the point of which is taking the head out of the game.  Some good stuff. (comforting to see NFL coaches actually teaching tackling.  Leading up to the game Sunday it makes me want to pull for the Seahawks even more – rather than the rules/integrity squeezing ‘Infla-triots’ hah!
The video made me think of you with your ‘Safer and Surer Tackling’ video I got from you years ago.
Hope you are well
Coach Emory Latta
Dothan, Alabama

Hi Coach,

We've received the Seahawks' video and looked at it, and although the NFL and the Seahawks are really pushing it, we have rejected it on the grounds that

(1) it's basically arm tackling

(2) we don't want our players ever to leave their feet

(3) we insist on heads up at all times - and I see heads going down in the video.

(Not to mention the fact that those Seahawks DBs didn't do such a great job Sunday when Edelman, Amendola, Vereen and Grontkowski got loose in the secondary after catching Brady's dinks and dunks.)

We don't have any plans to change from the way we've taught tackling for years:  "Eyes to the skies, guys"

*********** If an NFL player scores a touchdown and then "celebrates" in the end zone by pretending to defecate an Official NFL football and nobody sees it on TV… does it really happen?

The Seahawks' Doug Baldwin scored a touchdown in the Super Bowl and shortly afterward, the referee announced that Seattle was being penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.  "What did he do?" we asked.

After the TV replay showed Baldwin spinning the ball, we looked at each other and asked, "For that he gets 15 yards?"

Pretty severe, we thought.  What we heard from the announcers - essentially nothing - didn't do anything to enlighten us any further.

Not until a couple of days later, when videos shot by fans in the stands began to surface, did it become known what Baldwin had done.

Let's just say that if what Baldwin was penalized for had been given the treatment it deserved - if the NBC director hadn't cut to another camera and instructed the announcers not to comment - the NFL and the creeps that inhabit it, specifically the Seahawks, would have been exposed once and for all for the lowlifes that they are.

If you need to see what I'm talking about, Google "Doug Baldwin Celebrates."  Or, to cut right to the chase, "Doug Baldwin Takes a Crap."

It's that bad.   It's vulgar.    It's creepy. 

In the biggest sports event on the planet,  Baldwin defiled the event,  not to mention the sport that makes him rich, by simulating the act of taking a dump that produced - lying right there on the ground beneath him - a football.

But, thanks to NBC's silencing of the act, it might as well not have happened.

And there's been very little comment on it in the national media.

Nothing in the Seattle papers, of course. Figuratively, at least, they're owned by the Seahawks.

Baldwin at first was his defiant, angry self, implying that the gesture was aimed at someone whom he chose not to disclose.  Later, he suggested it was directed at some unnamed group.

Then, a few days later, totally unremorseful, he said that actually he was just havin' fun. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.

Said his teammates didn't have a problem with it.  (He didn't say what they thought about kicking off to the Patriots from 15 yards farther away, with the Super Bowl winnings on the line.)

Well, if that's really true, and no one on that team has a problem with it, then to hell with them all.  A plague on them.

Me?  If I'd known what he did at the time, I'd have either turned off the set in disgust, or I'd have pulled hard for the Patriots to beat those lowlifes.

But then, on second and goal from the one, Carroll would have decided to give the ball to Lynch.


***********  I love Stanford, and I admire what they've done to ascend to the top levels of college football without seemingly compromising their high standards.

And then I consider the actions of Richard Sherman and Doug Baldwin, and I go, hmmmm.

***********  Quick - get to an intellectual property lawyer and trademark "the simulated act of defecation of a football in the end zone of a football field."

Knowing the Seahawks, they'e already beaten  you to it.  And next, at the winter meetings, they'll get the 31 other teams to exempt their "special celebration" from a penalty, and voila! - they've got their own patented version of the Lambeau Leap:

The Seahawk Stool.

*********** Where are the coaches in all this? Rush Limbaugh asked.

Good question.

Is there even one high school coach in a hundred who would let a kid get away with grabbing his crotch?  Who wouldn't tell him to sit down? Is there one who wouldn't tell a kid who pretended to crap on the field that he was done for the night?

If so, he's coaching at the wrong level.  Maybe his football knowledge isn't enough to get him to the NFL, but in terms of morals and ethics and proper conduct in a civil society - he's good to go.

As Pete Carroll has shown, success in the NFL seems to come from being able to tolerate - enable, even -  coarse behavior. 

For what it's worth, though, I'll bet Pete Carroll is USA Football Heads-Up certified.  So all you Moms out there - you won't have to worry about your son learning any bad behavior while he's on Coach Carroll's team.

*********** What a POS operation the NFL is. 

The artificial crowd noise that the Falcons have now admitted to having played over their loudspeakers when visiting teams were in their huddles?  No big deal.

Likewise, expect nothing to come from all the noise about the possibility that the Patriots may have been cheating by using softer, easier to throw and catch, footballs (I refuse to go for the easy joke by saying "balls").

*********** Doug Baldwin was fined $11,000 for Defegate - his unbelievably crude, coarse antics in the Super Bowl.   I bet that hurt.  He was signed last spring to a  three-year contract  worth some $16 million. Now, I don't know the terms of the contract, but I think it's safe to say that in this past season, he "earned" at least $4 million.

Running the numbers, $11,000 works out to be .275 per cent of Baldwin's salary.

To give you an idea of the kind of effect the fine's likely to have on Baldwin, let's assume that you're a high school teacher/coach making $50,000 a year.  A fine of .275 per cent of your pay would be $137.50.  In some states, it'd cost you more than that if you forgot to buckle your seat belt. 

*********** Where's the outrage over the Patriots' Julian Edelman going back into the game despite the apparent need for him to undergo the league's concussion protocol after being hit by Kam Chancellor?

Don't you wonder how many times, back when all those guys who sued the NFL were  playing, that they did that very thing?

Don't you figure that years from now, when Edelman can't remember where he left his glasses, he'll blame it on football?

*********** Whenever there's an Islamist atrocity, the outcry goes up: "Where are all the good Muslims?"

It's as if people expect thousands of them to stand up and say, "That's not me. That's not what I stand for."

Unfortunately, it's not that simple. There's a fear of reprisals, or there's a reluctance to appear to cause a division. Or both.

So they remain silent.  And in the public's eye, they wind up being associated with the bad guys.

I see a Marshawn Lynch grab his crotch or a Doug Baldwin take a country, and I ask, where are all the good Seahawks?  Why aren't they speaking out?

For many of the same reasons, I suspect, that the good Muslims don't.

And as a result, the entire Seahawks' organization looks like a bunch of slimeballs.

*********** An interesting thing is that as the NFL becomes more and more individualistic and narcissistic, the NBA is becoming more of a team sport. (I cite San Antonio, and Atlanta as prime examples.)

That's not the only way in which the leagues are diverging.  Tell me the last time an NBA player made news for the kind of repugnant conduct that's become common among pro football players. 

*********** 1. Anytime you have to have an agent you've got half sport and half entertainment and quite often the NFL lets the entertainment part dominate.  

2. Because of media saturation the NFL to too many people is "real football"/the ultimate level of achievement.  They fail to understand the level of athletic ability in the NFL and think every team (college and high school) should be coached/game played like the NFL.  

3. They listen to/watch so much analysis on the NFL that they are (in their minds) experts on coaching.  Reality is they can't get a kid in a decent stance.  

4. Too many coaches are seduced into thinking they need a huge playbook (O or D) so they can out smart the other team failing to realize the team can't memorize let alone get good at anything in their book.  Their blocking, tackling and execution are then horrific and they wonder why the team isn't competitive. and lastly

5. To see someone show up to a press conference and "not talk" - "here not to get fined" ....whatever happened to the Price of Greatness is Responsibility?

NIck Mygas
Virginia Beach, Virginia 

*********** Michigan has eight classifications in high school football.  Catholic high schools won the state championship in seven of them.

***********  Deflategate may have deflected some of the nation's attention from away from WING BOWL,   but in Philly, at least among some elements, it's bigger than the Super Bowl.

Wing Bowl 23 tool place, as always, on the Friday before Super Bowl.  In the morning.  Early morning.

Patrick Bertoletti of Chicago ate 444 wings in 26 minutes to win, setting a new all-time Wing Bowl record, but in truth, the wing-eating part of the event is secondary to the, um, "pageantry," which starts out in the parking lot well before the gates to the Wells Fargo Center open at 5 AM (Wing Bowl was the brain child of Angelo Cataldi, a Philly morning sports talk host, who narrates it as part of his daily show on radio station WIP). Some fans pile right  in, others remain outside a little longer to finish drinking breakfast.  At 6 AM or so comes the parade of contestants.  And their entourages. I picture something on the order of  the Olympic opening ceremonies except with beer and bare bosoms.  The eating competition gets under way at 8.  In earlier years, before the organizers fully understood their clientele, they'd run out of beer by then.

I'll turn it over to Andrew Albert of philly.com

There is something uniquely haunting about seeing the Wells Fargo Center parking lot full and lively at 5:00 a.m. as it would be for a Flyers game at 5:00 p.m, nonetheless, fans piled into the parking lots to tailgate the 23rd edition of the WIP Wing Bowl.

Some began filing into the arena when the doors opened at five, but many stayed behind to adult friends (and probably beverages) in the parking lot. For those who did make their way into the home of the Flyers and Sixers, they were treated to WIP narrating their flagship event.

Molly Schuyler came into the day with the best odds (2-1), looking for a repeat of her Wing Bowl 22 title in which she crushed the all-time Wing Bowl record by eating 363 chicken wings.

"There's some security out there because it is going to be a rambunctious morning in Philadelphia," host Angelo Cataldi said at the start his 6 a.m. timeslot on WIP, blasted across the sound system in the arena.

"Only a country like America would allow a competition like this," Cataldi added. No, only a city like Philadelphia.


*********** In the obituary of Jakie Sandefer, a former Oklahoma running back and later, a wealthy and prominent oil man who contributed to the OU football program in many ways, was hidden a story that belongs in Black History Month.

By John Hoover, Tulsa World

J.D. “Jakie” Sandefer III, a beloved halfback on Bud Wilkinson’s 1956 national championship team and a friend to the program for nearly 60 years, died Tuesday night. He was 78.

“No one loved Sooner football more than Jakie Sandefer,” OU super fan and pro wrestling icon Jim Ross told the Tulsa World. “What a character (and) story teller. Loved the guy.”

Sandefer died at St. Luke’s Hospital in Houston, where he and his wife, Melissa, lived. He went in with pneumonia, but it only worsened.

Former OU coach Barry Switzer said he flew to Houston to see Sandefer on Monday and said Sandefer was on a respirator. Switzer said doctors told Sandefer he could remain on the respirator indefinitely, but Sandefer replied, “‘Hell, no, take me off of it.’ He made that decision there when we were there yesterday. He said, ‘Hey, let’s say our goodbyes.’

“Lost a good friend.”

Sandefer, who came to OU from Breckenridge, Texas, became a successful oilman and prominent OU booster later in life.

During his career, Sandefer scored touchdowns rushing, receiving, returning and passing. He was on Owen Field when Notre Dame ended OU’s 47-game winning streak in 1957. Sandefer was a halfback and defensive back from 1956-58, platooning on offense behind stars like Clendon Thomas, Tommy McDonald and Prentice Gautt.

Gautt was OU’s first African-American scholarship football player, and in 1957, when the room list came out for the Sooners’ season opener at Pittsburgh and Gautt was left without a roommate, Sandefer offered to room with him. For the next two seasons, Gautt and Sandefer shared a room on road trips.

When Sandefer followed his late father into the Texas oil fields, he made a fortune. With it, he helped Switzer build a second Sooner empire by flying the coach around the country in his private jets to visit recruits, and by flying recruits into Norman.

He bought his first King Air in 1974, Switzer’s second year and first of two straight national titles. Sandefer also owned the Learjet that flew Billy Sims to Mississippi to meet Marcus Dupree in 1981.

“That plane used to fly everywhere,” Switzer said. “This plane brought in - on the same trip, they all came together - Victor Hicks, Darrell Hunt, Kenny King and (George Cumby). That’s four blue chips on one plane.”

Switzer said Sandefer used to fly him from Norman to Abilene on Thursdays during the recruiting season of 1967-68. Switzer would land, spend the evening recruiting Jack Mildren, then stay the night at Sandefer’s home and fly back the next day.

“Coach Wilkinson said one time he made a mistake by not recruiting more nationally and not taking advantage of the jet airplane,” Sandefer said. “I saw right then (in ’74) the effect that a private airplane could make on recruiting. Everyone we wanted, we got ’em.”

Sandefer is survived by his wife, two daughters, a son and several grandchildren.



From Prentice Gautt's obituary in The Oklahomoan:

When Gautt played at OU, the first- and second-team players at each position were roommates on road trips. Gautt's roommate for two years was Jakie Sandefer. "Prentice asked me to introduce him into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, and I was very honored that he asked me to induct him," Sandefer said. "My statement there was, 'Was Prentice different? Yeah, Prentice was different. He had more class than the rest of us, and he was a better student.'" -


american flagTUESDAY,  FEBRUARY 3,  2015-   "It is better to be alone than in bad company."    George Washington

*********** In a lifetime of watching football,  I can't think of anything that compares with Petey Carroll's decision to pass from the one yard line in terms of a coach taking a game away from his players. Absolutely unforgivable.

I'd venture to say that most people reading this are younger than me, which means you've got plenty more years of watching football in front of you.  And I'm willing to bet right here and now that you'll never see another call to rival it.

Surely Carroll was smart enough to have weighed the risks and rewards of that call.

He could lose his team as a result.  For one thing, there's always the possibility on any team of tension between the offense and defense. And then there's Marshawn Lynch.  He has to be thinking about whether he wants to stay.

I'm not even a Seahawks fan and I'm really pissed. Up to now, Petey has had the Seattle fans and media eating out of his hand, but the honeymoon could be over. And it was totally preventable.  

We've had "The Catch" and "The Immaculate Reception" and others, and now history awaits the christening of the most-watched bonehead play in history - Pete Carroll's inexplicable play call that cost, oh, about 110 million viewers the chance to see the most dramatic Super Bowl ending ever.  I vote for The Call.

*********** I have heard a few people talk about how noble it was for Pete Carroll to take responsibility for The Call, when in reality it was offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell's call.   Give me a break.  The head coach is ultimately responsible for anything an assistant does. Show me the NFL head coach who would stand back and turn the biggest call of the season over to an assistant.   If Bevell made that call, it was with the concurrence of the head coach.  And if Pete Carroll didn't concur, and didn't overrule his assistant, then that's even worse.

*********** I once heard Woody Hayes tell a clinic that Paul Brown said the best play in football was one that went straight ahead.
And the second best play was one that went ALMOST straight ahead.

*********** Tell me that the Seahawks couldn't have made use of a Double Wing package facing a second-and-goal from the one.

*********** I was listening to some pro football analysts talking about "C-Gap runs," and it hit me - I can't remember the last time I heard anyone remotely connected with the NFL use the term "off-tackle."

*********** The Seahawks' first mistake in game management was having to use a time out getting organized after the fantastic catch by Jevon Kearse. That left them with just one time out. 

On first down, Lynch ran down to the one.  As he hit the ground, the clock read 1:01.

They could have called back-to-back plays and gone right to the line and caught the Patriots off-balance.  High schools and colleges can do it, and I suspect NFL teams are capable of doing it, too.

But they didn't.  Nevertheless, had they chosen to run, they could easily have called and gotten a play off in 20 seconds.  Any high school or college team can do that, too.  That means that if they score,  allowing for at most five seconds to run the actual play, Brady has 35 seconds to get his team in field goal position. If they don't score, allowing a couple of seconds to unpile, that means they'd have 32 or 33 seconds left to run downs three and four. Let's assume another 20 seconds to get a play in and get the ball snapped again, and maybe five seconds to run the play.  At that point, if they've scored, Brady has just eight seconds to go downfield. If they haven't scored, they call their final time out, with eight seconds left, fourth and one.

The risk, of course, is scoring on second down, leaving Brady with 35 seconds.

I, personally, would prefer that scenario.

But Carroll admitted, post-game, that he wasn't willing to run that risk.  He said, in so many words, that he preferred to "waste" second down, and then get serious on third or fourth down.

So the Seahawks fiddled and farted until the clock ran down to :26 before they snapped the ball on second down.  And threw the fateful pass.  The clock read  :24 when the ball was intercepted.

Yeah, Petey, we know, we know - you didn't want the Patriots to have any time left after you scored.  You were that sure you were going to, weren't you? 

*********** The Seahawks' call probably would have worked if the teams had been reversed.  I can picture the Patriots pulling it off, with far superior offensive personnel:  Grontkowski coming off the line against Chancellor, Edelman running the slant underneath, and 6-5 Brady throwing the slant.

*********** Lots of credit, as it should, goes to the Patriots' Malcolm Butler, who made the interception, but Butler's play was made possible by Brandon Browner's sensational play on Jevon Kearse.  Browner, a corner who plays like a linebacker, was right up in Kearse's face, and at the snap, he met him right at the line.  Now, Kearse was planning on blocking ("rubbing," I believe they would have called it, had it worked) Browner, but I suspect that the plan was for him to engage a couple of yards deep in the end zone.  Had that happened, Butler would have effectively been prevented from making the play. But the much bigger and stronger Browner completely stifled Kearse. 

Ricardo Lockette, the intended receiver,  lined up just outside Kearse, and at the snap took a step to the outside, then broke back in on a shallow slant.  Butler, seeing what was going on, broke immediately for where he knew the ball was going - and was able to get there because Browner wouldn't let Kearse off the line, and Kearse did not get to the inside of Browner.

*********** Pete Carroll is a bit manic anyhow, and he usually talks in mile a minute bursts, but after the game he was spitting out his words at a record pace in a frenzied attempt  to explain away his incredible call.

He said several times that the Seahawks didn't want to run against the Patriots' goal line defense.  Now, where did that crap come from? 

Funny how squeamish Pete he seemed to be about running the ball right straight ahead into the teeth of that seemingly impregnable Patriots' goal line defense, even with only a yard to go and Marshawn Lynch at his disposal, when on numerous occasions this year I saw the Patriots needing only a yard and getting it - with a simple Tom Brady sneak.

***********  Consider  poor Roy Riegels of Cal, who intercepted a pass in the Rose Bowl and, disoriented after being hit, ran 69 yards in the wrong direction until being tackled by a teammate (and some Georgia Tech players) at his own one-yard line.  Cal tried to punt the ball out of its end zone but the punt was blocked for a safety, and that made the difference in Tech's 8-7 win.

For the rest of his life, he bore the burden of the being called  Wrong Way Riegels.

So now, how about a nickname for Smilin' Pete, architect of The Call?


*********** The Seahawks' OC sounds as if he mave tried to  put some of the blame for  the failure of The Call on his wide receiver, Ricardo Lockette.  I've heard someone else trying to blame Russell Wilson.  But I suspect that Seattle fans know better, and when it comes time to throw anyone on the bus, I think there will be a long line of Seahawks' fans waiting to do the throwing, and a line almost as long waiting to drive the bus.

*********** You do have to wonder about the judgement of a guy who may be a 9/11 Truther. Pete Carroll may be s nutty as he sometimes acts.


*********** I keep hearing what a great game it was, but I ain't buying.  I'll be damned if I think dink-and-dunk passing is any more exciting than running up the middle every play.

50 passes for 328.  That's an average of 6.6 yards per attempt.  Not exactly "going vertical."

On the other hand… the Seahawks basically sat back and let Brady do it, so I guess credit goes to the Patriots for sticking with what works until the other team makes them stop.

*********** Not suggesting that Belichick has been playing fast and loose with the eligible-player rules, but you did notice, didn't you, that to deal with his machinations, the officials had to devise a special set of signals for the Super Bowl? 

*********** All you people hammering Pete Carroll for not punching it in from the one… If Mike McCarthy was coaching the Seahawks they'd have kicked a field goal.

*********** That mini-brawl that broke out at the end of the Super Bowl?  Remember, that was the Seahawks' defense out on the field.  They were pissed.  But you would think they could have waited a couple more seconds until the game was over and they could take it out on Pete Carroll.

*********** The Super Bowl and its contribution to history ignorance: 

The Turbotax ad in which they are supposedly recreating the Boston Tea Party?   The protestors dumping the tea into the harbor are dressed liked colonists, although any school kid (at least any school kid that I ever taught) knows that they actually were disguised - very thinly disguised - as Indians.

In his interview on NBC, shot in the White House kitchen, Our President told the interviewer that he was the first occupant of the White House since George Washington to brew beer in the White House.  Except… except… gee, Mister President, sir… I'm not sure how this got past the 100-some assistants you have in the White House to check on these things, but, um,  I don't exactly know how to tell you this, but…  George Washington may have made beer, but he never lived in the White House.  It was 1800 - two years after Washington had left office - when John Adams, our second President, moved in.

*********** Surprisingly few Super Bowl commercials ended up with a guy getting hit in the stones.   Jeez - if that can't be counted on to get a laugh anymore, it sure must be hard to make a living as a real comedian nowadays.

*********** Heard some people are upset with the Seahawks fans for booing when Belichick's face appeared on the Jumbotron during the national anthem.  Said it was disrespectful to the national anthem.

Where have these defenders of our nation's traditions been all these years, while the NFL was busy doing just that, hiring grammy-award-winning "artists" to "perform" our nation's song?

For the record: I have a number of recording of college bands playing it in a minute or so. Sunday, it took that drowsy singer TWO F--KING MINUTES to "perform" it.

So who's the one disrespecting it?  I say the "performers." Or the people that hire them.

*********** Was anyone else out there as pissed off as I was at seeing "Tin Mike" Ditka sitting there in the lead-up to the Super Bowl and giving us his expert opinions?   He's made his millions from the opportunities football provided him, and now, having said publicly that he wouldn't want his son playing football, at the very least he should resign from his cushy job with ESPN.

*********** As they do all season, NBC allowed the players to introduce themselves, and we were treated to a few cretins telling us where they went to grade school or high school.  Actually, I was sort of pleased that LeGarrette Blount didn't mention that he'd spent time at Oregon.

*********** Interestingly, I can't remember the last time I watched one of those NBC self-introductions without hearing a single "The U" or "THE Ohio State University."

*********** After seeing how many yards the Patriots made on those short, short passes… Next time Petey sends us coaches a video of how the Seahawks supposedly tackle, rugby-style, he needs to point out that the action clips in the video were winnowed from hundreds and hundreds of plays, and we shouldn't actually expect his players to be any better at tackling than any other NFL team.

*********** Remember all that BS about whether Richard Sherman would have to leave the game if his pregnant girlfriend went into labor?  Other than making sure to marry her first, I really didn't see the problem, but like everyone else, I went along with the story.

And then it turned out she isn't due for at least another week, and she was up in the stands watching the game.

*********** If the Seahawks' Doug Baldwin hadn't been penalized for celebration, with the penalty was assessed on the following kickoff,  we might have gone an entire Super Bowl without a kick return.

*********** I couldn't believe the number of times my wife and I watched a Super Bowl commercial and had no idea what they were selling or what they wanted us to do.

*********** The Doritos commercial in which the guy sitting in an airplane's aisle seat tries various ways to discourage passengers from sitting in the middle seat (next to him). Finally, by waving a bag of Doritos, he entices a nice-looking young woman to take the seat, discovering too late that she's got a baby with her.

*********** “We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came.”

I couldn't believe my ears when I heard that on a commercial. It know the voice anywhere. It was the voice of the late President John F. Kennedy, suggesting, 50 years after his assassination, that maybe we should take a Carnival Cruise.  


Have we really fallen so far that a man of dignity, a man whose memory means so much to so many of us,  would be used posthumously to sell cruises?

*********** I wonder what makes the Heineken people think that watching a bunch of scruffy sailors on a rusty old steamer celebrating the fact that they've figured out how to watch a soccer match on their TV is going to sell beer to Americans.

*********** I swear there was a vignette in a T-Mobile ad  in which  we're in a delivery room and a (female) doctor tells a new mother, "Sorry, it's a boy."  Now, I didn't go back to make sure I heard that, but in our feminized society, it's believable.  Wouldn't it be nice to put an end to this "Girls Rule, Boys Drool" double standard where too many women think it's cute to say anything derogatory they want about men and boys?

*********** Nationwide's ad showing the little kid who won't be able to do all those things because he's dead is getting panned, big-time.  I suggest they quickly get Peyton Manning to shoot another little scene where he's sitting on a couch watching the Nationwide commercial and he sings (to the  "Nationwide is on your side" tune) "That's a really dumb-ass ad!"

***********  Warren Sapp, in Phoenix for the Super Bowl festivities, was arrested for soliciting a prostitute - two ladies, actually - at 7 AM Monday. 

Tsk, tsk. To think - here he is a Hall of Famer and he still has to pay for sex.    I didn't think they even had to do that when they were simply players.

He's already been fired from his job as an analyst on the NFL network.  Maybe Dancing With the Stars will have him back.

*********** According to Mary Kay Cabot in cleveland.com,

"Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, who's been photographed partying from coast to coast since the day he was drafted, entered a treatment facility Wednesday and is getting the help he needs, according to a family friend and advisor."

These treatment people can do wonders these days, and once they've cured him of being an asshole, I imagine that next they'll take a look at the whole drinking thing.

Seriously, though (see, I was trying to be funny), considering the fact that last year's draft was not even a year ago, how in the hell did the Browns not know he had problems?

And if they did, what in the world did they see in him to make him worth the risk?

*********** Even the newspaper in my old stomping grounds, Hagerstown, Maryland - about 70 miles west of Washington, DC - has gone all politically correct on us…

Scot McCloughan, the new general manager of Washington in the National Football League, played for the Hagerstown Suns baseball team in 1993 and 1994.

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

Reading your news as I do every week I was caught by Coach Hollis' questions.  I loved your responses to his questions and had some thoughts if you could share with him as well.  I too bounced around among different schools.  After experiences in small colleges, large high schools, small high schools, and even a little stint at a Big Ten school without question the entity that I enjoy most is small high schools.  The reason is simple - you are there to truly get to know people and help them.  Your job is not management but mentoring.  In college it is all about recruiting, a process of creating hype and influencing people that your entity is superior to others. The actual coaching in college is fun as you have an opportunity to get to know your position group (even if you're a coordinator) very well and they are typically highly motivated.  However, if your going to make that into a full time living the reality is they pay you to recruit ,not coach.  If you're a bad recruiter and a good coach you won't make it long.  In big schools you find yourself managing so many Coaches, parents, programs, and athletes that the depth of relationship that you gain with each individual pales in comparison.  I still have some great relationships with many kids in these stops and there are kids you do get to know very well but it is generally through the two year window when they are playing on Varsity.  In the small school I feel I have the opportunity to try and help mentor and support all the kids.  There are middle school kids that I work with now and am "getting to know" that will be spending their next 6 years of life with me.  Watching these kids grow is a wonderful gift.  My current situation - I'm driving 108 miles every day between my home, work, and coaching there.  My pay is horrible, but outside of my Faith and my Family it is the best part of every day.  I do miss being in one place greatly but do view that being patient that will likely take care of itself.  I guess I may have even matured enough to finally understand Frosty's message, at least I hope so!

God Bless,

Jason Mensing
Head Football Coach
Whiteford High School
Whiteford, Michigan

Coach Mensing,

Nice to hear from you.  Having coached at another level, you're able to comment first-hand on the biggest difference between coaching "down here"and coaching "up there . "

You hit the nail on the head with the word "maturity."  As we get older (and hopefully wider) we're bound to gain a little wisdom and begin to   look at what we're doing in a different way.

(Not to disprespect younger coaches   - they obviously can't look at things with the same perspective as we do, but   thank God for us all that they have the fire and drive that they do because   we depend on  guys   like them to defend our country.)

I sympathize with your commute.  I've done it, and I can only say that it's proof of how much you love coaching and working with kids.    If anybody ever says anything to a high school football coach about "community service" and "giving back,"   I'd be willing to put our efforts - and our results -  up against those of any billionaire or any activist.

I hope that your patience will be rewarded and you'll soon find your work and your family coming closer together.

I see you had a good season.  Congratulations!

Thanks for writing and stay in touch.

american flagFRIDAY,  JANUARY 30,  2015-   “The world is full of willing people: some willing to work, others willing to let them."   Robert Frost

********** It's been no real news that for some time pro football has been  crossing the line between sports and entertainment. 

The NFL acknowledges as much with its trampy "cheerleaders" and grotesque halftime shows, and winks when its players engage in ridiculous acts of buffoonery.

What we haven't really understood was which line it was crossing, and which type of entertainment it was crossing into.

Now we know.

A vulgar act that once would have been cause for expulsion from a sport, an act that  even now would get a man branded for life as a sexual offender if he were to stand outside an elementary school window and do it, is laughed off by one and all as simply good old Marshawn Lynch, a great fellow and a great teammate, doing his thang.

Just another contribution by  the NFL to the coarsening of our culture.  The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan referred to it  as "defining deviancy down."

Enjoy the Super Bowl. I understand they may even play a football game before and after the concert.


********** An article in the New York Times claimed that "New England" meant the Patriots represented an entire region, while the Seahawks represented only a city.

It's worth my pointing out, to those in the Northeast who are geographically challenged, that Seattle is even more of a regional franchise than "New England," which actually started out as "Boston" and didn't go regional until the Patriots, without a stadium to play in, weren't sure whether they'd wind up playing in Massachusetts, Connecticut or Rhode Island.  

How regional are the Seahawks? In addition to Seattle and the state of Washington, the Seahawks have long had large numbers of season ticket holders in Alaska, Idaho, Montana and Oregon. Those are big-ass states, guys. You could fit all six New England states inside any one of them.  Several of them have counties larger than any of the New England states except Maine.

Oh - and I'm not counting Canada. The Seahawks have more season ticket holders in British Columbia than in all but three Washington counties. B.C. is REALLY big.

*********** Tom Brady told the New York Times he'd like to play until he's 70.  Given that Tom Brady is a football player in approximately the same way that a DH is a baseball player, the risks and physical demands of his position are not that excessive, and depending on how he deals with the usual ravages of aging such as forgetting where he put things and maybe having to wear trifocals,  I don't see why he can't.

*********** Some feminist organization that calls itself "Ultraviolet" plans on running a commercial in (or near) the Super Bowl in which a huge, padded-up football player blind-sides a woman, followed by the line "Let's take domestic violence out of football."

Okay. I get it.  It's not right to hit women.

I get it, and I think most boys who are the beneficiaries of what the lamestream media like to deride as Ozzie-and-Harriet upbringings do, too.

Part of the problem, I would wager, is that a lot of the perps, at least those who play in the NFL, have been raised in other, less ideal circumstances. 

In the meantime, while we men who choose to raise the sons we've fathered accept our responsibility to do what we've always done - teaching them not to hit girls - you folks at Ultraviolet could sure help us out by backing off on your demands that girls be allowed to play football.

You can't have it both ways.


*********** When I was in college, preparing for Dartmouth weekend was like preparing for a siege.

Dartmouth played us in New Haven every year.  None of that home-and-home stuff. Not for Dartmouth.  Dartmouth played everybody away. 

Dartmouth, in western New Hampshire, was remote and hard to get to, especially in those pre-Interstate Highway days, and even if people were inclined to drive there, Dartmouth's stadium, such as it was, only held maybe 15,000.

Playing at Yale every year, given the Yale Bowl's 60,000-seat capacity and New Haven's proximity to Dartmouth alumni from throughout the New York area, made much more sense. 

But "hosting" Dartmouth every year meant putting up with hordes of invading  Dartmouth guys, drunken and ill-mannered (even compared to us). Dartmouth, like Yale, was all-male, but hidden away up there in the woods of northern New England, there was little else to do outside classes and studying than drink.  As a result, drinking - heavy drinking - reputedly occupied a goodly portion of the week. But on weekends they really picked it up, and on their road trips to away games in New Haven and Boston, Dartmouth guys earned their reputations as "animals."   I should point out that they were rather proud of this reputation,  as a popular but unauthorized version of one of their fight songs attested.

Here are the official lyrics:

Dartmouth's in town again, Team! Team! Team!
Echo the old refrain, Team! Team! Team! -   

But here are the ones we heard the guys sing:

Dartmouth's in town again - run, girls, run! 
Dartmouth's in town again - fun, girls, fun!
Our pants are steaming hot,
We'll give them all we've got,
Virgins are just our meat!
Rape! Rape! Rape!

(Dartmouth has been co-ed for years, which undoubtedly has had a certain civilizing influence on the males, and in these times of heightened rape-consciousness, I rather doubt that anyone who wished to remain at Dartmouth until graduation would burst into singing that song at a party.)

But those were less enlightened times, and needless to say, when Dartmouth guys invaded your town on football weekends, the possibility of mayhem was ever present. You barred the doors to fraternity houses and you doubled the guard. 

This is all  by way of saying that while the times may have changed, New Hampshire winters haven't. They're still long and cold, and even with the addition of females, Dartmouth men still are said to pass the time with strong drink.  In fact, in these liberated times, the women probably drink as hard as the men do.

Which is what has prompted the president of the college to adopt a no-hard-liquor policy. 

After a spate of student misbehavior that has tarnished the reputation of Dartmouth College, its president on Thursday announced a ban on hard liquor on campus, and threatened to do away with fraternities or other groups that fail “to elevate and not denigrate the Dartmouth experience.”

Officials said the ban will apply to any liquor that is 15 percent alcohol — barely more than most wine — or more, and will take effect when the spring term begins March 30. Dr. Hanlon said the college will also increase penalties for people who provide alcohol to minors and to any student in possession of hard liquor, but did not offer any details.

Good Luck, Prez.  It ought to work about as well as Prohibition did.


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

The Jon Kitna move is an interesting one.  I have a range of thoughts concerning it and the circumstances that lead to good men leaving for (potentially) greener pastures.  

I wonder if "small town football" would work in a big school.  I think it would to an extent.  But I don't know how well I could get to know 200+ kids and their moms and dads in a large program.  And that would bother me.  And then it wouldn't feel quite like small town football.

I got my start here in a program that was historically unsuccessful.  I have been able to grow it in my vision without feeling any kind of pressure to win.  Honestly, winning was not a priority at the school or in the community.  Heck, I was the only person to apply for the job.  Going to a school where they put a premium on wins from the start...would that change me or how I approach things?  Would it alter how I interact with parents (or players) or how they interact with me?  Would it cause problems for my family?  Do I want to be the coach of a program where we our worth to young men is judged based on how many football games we win rather than the impact we have on their lives now and into the future?

Jon Kitna made a decision and says he went where he was led to go.  I respect that response from him.  I'm sure he had lots of questions and is uneasy about the transition as well.  I hope all goes well for him and he is able to be both successful and significant in his new position.  Good luck to him.

Todd Hollis
Head Football Coach
Elmwood High School
Elmwood, Illinois


I think we're of like minds on this.

I'm looking at this from the perspective of one who is well past the point of searching for greener pastures.

I once was that guy who (figuratively) danced with the girt while looking over her shoulder to see who was coming in the door.

It took me quite some time to buy into Frosty Westering's "Make the Big Time Where You Are" - to stop worrying about the next job and make your preent one as good as it can be for all concerned -  and my life has been better ever since.

But it is a balancing act.  As you point out, the pressure to win has something to do with it.  We all have to win enough, of course, or we don't get to keep our jobs, which means that we lose our position to influence the lives of kids.

But when there is real pressure - when the community expectation is first to win -  it's bound to push into the background all those other things we can and should be doing for the kids we coach.  It's bound to force us to look at them the way the pros do,  as pieces in the puzzle, whose worth is determined solely by playing ability.

Once, I could have coached that way.  I couldn't coach that way now.  

I have a warm place in my heart for the small school coach, because with rare exceptions, small schools enable - require - the coach to get to know each kid and what makes him tick, because since there's no way to "get a better player, " he has to "get a player better."   For me, being a head football coach in a small community that appreciates you is about as good as it gets.

What, really, is the incentive to leave a good situation at a small school in order to coach at bigger school?  A larger coaching stipend?  Yes - and you'll earn it.  You'll have more kids to supervise and more parents to complain.  And you'll have more assistants to train and supervise.  Artistically, the bigger school will be less frustrating, because you'll have all 22 positions covered, and you'll likely get to work with bigger, better players.  For sure, there'll be a lot less worry about whether you'll have enough kids to field a JV team.  The flip side is that your opponents will have more and better kids, too.  There is career advancement:  if you're young and hope to move into college coaching, your chances will be better at a big high school, but you've already put yourself at a career disadvantage anyhow, by going into high school coaching rather than getting a graduate assistantship.  From that point on, it's largely an ego thing:  the big-school gets the big headlines on Saturday mornings, and the big-school coach tends to get the speaking gig at the clinic.

I speculated about Jon Kitna's reasons for making a very dramatic move.

I would not have done that.  I once inherited a team whose beloved coach took another job in mid-summer.   I respected and understood the coach's decision.  It made all the sense in the world for him and his family.    But it's never easy to move on, and I saw and dealt with the kids' heartache at losing  a man they looked on as their father.

On the other hand, if he'd stayed, there were a hundred different ways that school district could have changed his working conditions  - and his relationships with those kids.

That's what Jon Kitna was referring to when he said that his success at LIncoln was "not sustainable."

I can say I wouldn't do this.  Now.  But I'm no longer driven by the ambition that drove me when I was younger - the sort of ambition that led me to move my family across the country years ago.  Now, I'm at the stage in life where I consider what I'm doing as my contribution to a community.  I like that.  Every coach should one day enjoy that luxury.

I wish Jon Kitna all the best, in a town where I suspect they won't care much how well he treats their kids if he can't beat Ennis.

*********** Hugh, just finished last night looking at the you tube video on your web site of Jon Kitna. You are right, a hell of a guy with great standards. I can see why the kids don't want him to leave. Liked his thing on real men too. Hope your eye surgery went well, take care.

Mike Foristiere
Mattawa, Washington


Heck of a guy.  I'm afraid he'll get chewed up in Texas.

Sometimes the Big Time is right where you are.

Hugh, I agree, sometimes where you are needed is where you are at right now. I mean what I saw on the you tube video is exactly where he needs to be. Those kids need him and he is exactly where he needs to be. I am no Jon Kitna, but where I am at right now is a good spot. I have had at least a dozen Mexican parents and 2 Indian parents come up to me and tell me how fortunate they feel that I am here with their sons helping them to be a man - that I am the answer to their prayers. Hugh, it is nice to hear but like a lot of coaches I am just trying to do the right things and make sure they are doing the right things so we can all be successful. In the end I just say thank you and keep that in the back of my mind when I start to feel frustrated.


The problem is that 25 grateful parents can thank you for looking out for their boys but one unhappy parent in the ear of a gutless administrator can ruin it for everybody.

*********** On the heels of a very successful first year,  the College Football Playoff (CFP) folks are bracing for a couple of fights - one, very real and one potential.  The first is likely to be big,  the other, should it take place, still potential, will be huge.  

The first fight is already taking place between ESPN on the one hand and the CFP folks on the other.

Next season’s Playoff semifinals are scheduled to take place on New Year's Eve, a Thursday night, but ESPN is pushing the CFP to move those games to January 2, a Saturday when there's not much else on TV.  There's not likely to be competition from the NFL - its regular season ends on Sunday, January 3, and the league hasn’t played a game on the last Saturday of the regular season since 2007.

ESPN is concerned that going up against the New Year's Eve "count-down" shows will cut into its ratings, while the CFP insists it is committed to its plan to hold two tripleheaders - three bowl games on New Year's Eve and three on New Year's Day."

If that weren't bad enough, up steps the NFL, and a problem with the potential to stir up some real trouble -  ESPN and the CFP.

It's no secret that the NFL has been making noises about adding to its playoffs.  Not content evidently with the number of mediocre teams already clogging up Wild Card weekend, it's expansion would mean two more wild card games.  In insider terms, that means it would need two more "TV windows."

According to Sports Business Daily, Roger Goodell told the FBS conference commissioners that any expansion of the playoffs would mean playing a Wild Card game on Monday night.

Here's the problem:  dating back to the BCS,  the colleges have been playing their championship games on a Monday night, and the CFP's contract with ESPN, which runs for 12 years, calls for the championship game to be played on a Monday night, usually the second Monday night in January.  That just happens to be the Monday night the NFL would insist on.

The colleges have no intention of moving their game. Should the conflict occur, ESPN would be caught in the middle, because it not only has the rights to televise the CFP but it also regularly televises the NFL's "Monday Night Football."

The CFP's contract specifies that its games must be aired on ESPN, and not ESPN2 or ESPNU, and it's not likely that the NFL would play second fiddle and allow one of its "playoff" games to be moved to ESPN2.

There is the possibility that the NFL could offer its Monday night wild card game to another network, which would mean going up against the biggest colleeg game of the year with a couple of deadass NFL teams - and guess which one would win out.

Stay tuned.

*********** The referee at the Super Bowl will be out on the field by the grace of God and the incredible skills of Dr. John Elefteriades,  a surgeon at Yale School of Medicine.


*********** "I knew once they started to name these winter storms it was all over."  Rush Limbaugh

*********** In Vancouver, Washington, a 35-year-old high school drama teacher - a rather nice-looking woman, judging by the photo in the paper - has been charged with four counts of rape of a high school student.

I have no experience with such a scenario. Rape of a student? By a teacher?  Unthinkable where I went to school.  I went to an all-boys school and all our teachers were male, which would have meant man-boy sex. Ugh. Forget that.  In addition to the general taboo against any teacher having sex with any student, let's just say that in those days homosexuality was not viewed as a co-equal lifestyle, an acceptable alternative, the way it is today.  The closet door was shut tight.   The word "gay" did not yet draw snickers when we sang it in a song.

In fact, one of our more illustrious alumni was the legendary tennis player Big Bill Tilden.  He was never accorded the recognition he would otherwise have enjoyed, and I can remember asking an older teacher about that and being told - in a whisper - that years earlier he had shown a, um,  "preference" for young men.

At first, the article in the paper didn't say whether the student was male or female.  Next-day stories indicated it was a 15-year-old boy.

It went on to say that she and the student had sex on several occasions, and that they made sure to get their stories straight in case anyone suspected.

This is rape?

I guess, because of the kid's age (the age of consent in Washington is 16) this might be a case of statutory rape, but otherwise, how is this rape?  IHow many male high school students in the United States would have to be forced to have sex with an attractive female teacher?

Calling this teacher's conduct, however revolting,  "rape" diminishes the impact of a word that for most of us conjures up a picture of a man forcing an unwilling woman to have intercourse with him, committing a crime that at one time was punishable by death.

Question:  Is it my imagination, or are seeing more such cases than we used to? Is it the "sexual liberation" of The Pill?  Is this what results from "do your own thing?"  From "who are we to judge?"  From "Love makes a family?" From Presidents getting B.J's in the Oval Office?

american flagTUESDAY,  JANUARY 27,  2015-   “It is perfectly obvious that in any decent occupation (such as bricklaying or writing books) there are only two ways  of succeeding. One is by doing very good work, the other is by cheating.”    G. K. Chesterton

*********** General Robert Neyland of Tennessee is by anyone's standards one of the greatest college football coaches of all time.

Following  are General Neyland's famous Axioms, passed along by his former player Andy Kozar. They may have have originated with Charlie Daly, Neyland's coach at West Point...

1. The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win.

2. Play for and make the breaks and when one comes your way - SCORE. 

3. If at first the game - or the breaks - go against you, don't let up... put on more steam.
4. Protect our kickers, our QB, our lead and our ball game.
5. Ball, "oskie," cover, block, cut and slice, pursue and gang tackle... for this is the WINNING EDGE.
6. Press the kicking game. Here is where the breaks are made.
7. Carry the fight to our opponent and keep it there for 60 minutes.


*********** God help us all if the rest of the United States reacts, as New York City did, to the mere forecast of a snowstorm. Buncha weenies.  Now if you'll excuse me, I have to rush out to the Safeway and lay in an emergency food supply before they make us get off the roads. It's supposed to get down to 54  degrees tomorrow, with a chance of rain.  But you never know.  Better safe than sorry,

*********** I hope I can keep from laughing long enough to write this... So Belichick found a guy to take the fall - some rogue equipment manager who evidently decided on his own to deflate the footballs. This went against everything the Patiorts stand for, so the equipment manager will, of course be "reassigned," but not before becoming the highest paid equipment manager in the history of christerndom, when you include the pension, the home on the Cape, college tuition for his kids, one-per cent ownership of the Patriots, and lifetime use of a luxury box right next to Mr. Kraft's.

Has it ever occured to anyone that the so-called deflategate fiasco was deliberately  employed as a diversionary tactic  to make everyone forget the incompetent officials and their pass interference non-call  in the Lions-Cowboys wild card game?

*********** I don't really know why, but unlike most all-star games, I actually found the Senior Bowl  kind of fun to watch.  Yale's Tyler Varga, a 230-pound running back from Kitchener, Ontario,  looked pretty good, both running and blocking.

*********** Such is the popularity of the NFL, and such is Big Football's ability to brainwash the public into thinking that they're watching real football, that for years, the sham that is the Pro Bowl has drawn impressive TV ratings.

But for two straight years now, its ratings have headed south.  The 2013 game (the one that was so bad that the league debated discontinuing the Pro Bowl) drew a 7.7 rating. But the Players' Union promised to be good, and do a better job of fakery, and the game lived on.  But the rating -  last year it dropped to 6.7 and this year's game pulled a 5.6.

Those ratings are still better than anything else that ESPN could have put on at that time, but still,  the decline is 27 per cent in two years, a sure sign to Big Football that the public is growing wise to the fact that the Pro Bowl is basically pro wrestling with worse acting and no plot.

The game itself was a bit confusing, played as it was between teams chosen by "captains" Michael Irvin and Chris Carter.

Hey -  as long as they're going to glorify a lowlife like Michael Irvin by making him  team captain or somesuch, next year they ought to go all out and let the fans vote on a list of  NFL misfits, either retired or on suspension for "substance abuse."

But  no more of this "Team Irvin" (or, in the event that T.O. should win, "Team Owens") crap.  If you've  got to imitate soccer, it has to be "FC Irvin" or "FC Owens."

The game itself showed how football can be made safe - by taking out the tacking and blocking.  Think non-alcoholic beer.  I started out counting how many guys ever went to the ground during the game.  That got old fast, but it's safe to say that on average it was maybe one guy per play. (There were several "running plays" where no one at all went to the ground - the running back and the "tackler" simply ended up in a warm embrace and by mutual consent, the play was over.  In a suspiciously large number of instances, runners or receivers lost their footing, and any time the ball carrier was within five yards of the sidelines, the script evidently called for him to run out of bounds. 

Wrote Frank Schwab of Yahoo sports,  "You can't have a violent game like the NFL be played in a setting in which nobody really wants to hit each other. Two of the first three plays Sunday were handoffs to Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray. Defenders held him up and hoped for a whistle instead of bringing him to the ground."

It really is a great deal for the players.    Those who elect to play in the game (many don't)  are flown - first-class - to the game site, housed for a week in top-notch hotels and fed like kings.  True,  they "practice" a couple of hours a day, but otherwise, it's a heck of an excuse to relax and/or party.  Damn shame to have to ruin a week like that by having to go out and play a game of football, however bogus.

But play they do, and the public watches while a bunch of overpaid oafs cavort and carry on and have a great old time.  Members of the winning team are paid roughly $50,000.  Losers are paid about half that.  Chicken feed, I know, for well-paid high school football coaches like you and me. Also for NFL players,   many of whom budget $50,000 just to cover for the fines they expect to be assessed during the season for various transgressions. But seriously - $25,000 for a couple of hours playing pretend football?  A person earning $12 an hour has to work 40 hours a week for 52 weeks to make that much. That's the sort of thing that could make a socialist out of me.


***********  It was a lock to be one of those "based on a true story" made-for-TV movies.

The local kid, the star of the high school football and basketball teams,  goes off to s small college where he plays well enough at quarterback to draw the attention of the pros. 

And against all odds, he makes it in the NFL and enjoys a 16-year career as both a starter and a backup.

And then - here's where it gets great - he goes back to his old high school!

He gets a job teaching math and coaching football.

The football team's been down for a couple of years.   The demographics of the student body have changed since he went there. 80 per cent of the kids have no father in the home.  75 per cent of them are on free- or reduced-price lunch.

But he comes in with an approach that's about much more than just football - he teaches math and his wife volunteers her time in academic support for the players.  He stresses being responsible and being accountable. He stresses being "real."  He's a Christian, and he makes references to Jesus.

He goes 5-5 in his first year there.

And the next year, he goes 8-2.

And in his third year, with his own son playing quarterback, his team goes undefeated in the regular season, and finishes 11-1.  It's only loss is to the eventual state champion.

Pretty good so far, right?

Here's how the movie's going to start:  We're at his retirement party.  One by one, former players come up and tell how playing for him changed their lives…

Okay.  Now I'm going to ruin it for you.

The story's true.  The coach is Jon Kitna, who graduated from Lincoln High in Tacoma, Washington, played at Central Washington, and went on to play for a number of NFL clubs before returning to teach and coach at Lincoln.

But now - there goes your story, Hollywood - he's leaving to become head coach in Waxahatchie, Texas.

Why?  According to the Tacoma News-Tribune...

“The dream would be to stay here, the comfortable thing would have been to stay here, the ideal thing would have been to stay here. But where God is leading me, I have to follow, and I’ve always said that.”

Kitna, who spent the first four years of his 16-year NFL career with the Seattle Seahawks and the final four with the Dallas Cowboys, said it came down to sustainable positions for his assistant coaches.

At least four assistants will go with him, including brother Matt Kitna. Junior quarterback Jordan Kitna, Jon’s son, is going, as is junior tight end Devan Brady, whose father is Lincoln assistant Evan Brady. The other assistants leaving are Casey Kjos, Damola Adeniji and possibly Corey McBride, who had not decided as of Wednesday.

Lincoln had five assistant coaches, with each making almost $5,000 this year. In the 2013-14 school year, Kitna was paid almost $40,000 to coach and teach part time at Lincoln. Kitna said the pay for his assistants made it difficult to keep them and that his staff payroll will increase at Waxahachie.

“It’s really hard to ask coaches to put in 25-30 hours a week after they work a 40-hour-a-week job,” Kitna said. “If you just want to show up for practice, OK, we’ll go through our two-hour practice and show up on Friday. That’s great. We would be mediocre, we would compete for our league title here every year and stuff.

“But at the end of the day, I can’t stand average. I want to be able to compete at the highest level. I just don’t think we could sustain it as is, as it is currently constructed.”

So there goes the movie.  It's sad, but understandable.

I'm guessing it's partly

(1) that he's found he's gone as far as he can go in a bureaucracy-bound big-city school district, and ultimately, those people in administration really don't give a sh-- what you're doing for their kids.  They're armchair generals and they resent warrior types and they'd just as soon hire some guy off the street who won't pester them with demands.

(2) He has that urge that lots of us get to see if his act will play on a bigger stage, and you can't go bigger than Texas;

(4) He's a devout Christian, and that doesn't play all that well in the Northwest.  It undoubtedly makes school administrators squeamish.

I wish him well in Texas.  In terms of high school coaching, it's a world away.  He undoubtedly already knows this to the extent that an outsider can, but only by going there can he really understand.

The News in the Tacoma paper...

The news in Waxahachie...

Waxahachie is getting a heck of a guy.

*********** Rather than ask you to name the very first draft pick in the very first draft of the Minnesota Vikings, I have to pass along the sad news that Tommy Mason died last week.  Mason, a native of Lake Charles, Louisiana, was an outstanding running back at Tulane, and went on to play 11 seasons with the Vikings.  He played in three Pro Bowl games, back in the days when they still tackled.  For a time, he was married to noted gymnast Cathy Rigby.



*********** The NFL thought that Marshawn Lynch's crotch-grabbing act was in such poor taste that it fined him.

And then, true to its dedication to making a buck off anything, it offered for sale - for $149.95 -  a collage featuring Mr. Lynch that included a photo of his coarse touchdown "celebrating."

Alas for The League, there are still people in this country with morals and good taste, and after they complained, Big Football pulled the item.

See, they have a policy. Said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, “Any play that results in a fine may not be used commercially.”

I think that means that you can still go ahead and sell those Bill Belichick pumps..


*********** Ernie Banks, a great gentleman and a great baseball player who symbolized the futility of being a great player on a lousy team  - in his case, the  Chicago Cubs - died last week.


american flagFRIDAY,  JANUARY 23,  2015-   "if we can but prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy."   Thomas Jefferson

*********** Hey all you Hudl users - Check out what the AFCA Code of Ethics has to say about film exchange…

It is unethical to make available to any individual or institution any video or film in which your own team does not appear

Look- there's no getting around the fact that Hudl is a great service.

But Hudl has led to a Wild West sort of arrangement in which coaching ethics is being thrown to the wind. 

Let's call ourselves Team A.  Let's suppose Team B, one of our opponents, has come into possession of several game videos of us, against Teams C, D, and E. 

Team B obtained all of them on the up-and-up, by straight swaps with teams C, D and E.. 

But then, after we've played Team B, Team B gets a call from Team F asking what they've got on us,  and  out of the goodness of their hearts, Team B sends them everything they've got on us -not just their game against us, but also our games against Teams C, D and E.

It's an all too common practice -  and it's a violation of the AFCA Code of Ethics.

To many of us, that still matters.

*********** QUESTIONER: "Is Tom Brady a cheater?"

TOM BRADY: "I don't believe so."

ME:  "WTF? I don't believe so?"

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

I usually agree with your postings 100%, but I feel that the national talking heads and perhaps Coach Harbough may have left out a couple of subtile points or facts.  I am a season ticket holder and was at the game as usual, so here goes:

1.  Each and every time that one of the "backs" reported the official announced on the public address system so everyone including the 78,000 fans could hear the following "number 34 has reported as ineligible- that means you don't have to cover him on pass coverage"  (no kidding he went the extra step to define that)

2.  Each and every time the announcement was made- the line judge stood over the ball for 5-6 seconds before allowing the play to proceed. (presumably to allow adjustments/substitutions)

I also find it amusing that an entire defensive secondary that is paid on average $6 million a year each to play professional football, and have the advantage of an entire coaching staff in the box with direct communications to the middle line backer via the helmet radio- couldn’t figure out who was or was not eligible.  Additionally, as I recall from my playing days- anytime you were not sure (like if someone rolled out the swinging gate etc.) You audible to a zone.

Not to pat myself or my two friends who go to all the games with me on the back but we figured it out real time at the game- as did several of the fans around us.

Sorry, but I don't think the rule should change, nor do I believe it was dishonest, it was simply showing a look that was not the "vanilla" look the NFL has become accustomed to.   I bet Harbough would have complained if they ran the single wing or lined up in the swinging gate or God forbid- Tight Rip 88 super power.

No one complained a few years ago when Harbough sent Ray Lewis in to run the football.

Rich Golden
Montville, Connecticut

Sorry for my delay in responding.

Funny how the delay allowed me to address not only your email but also the latest accusations against the honorable Mr. Belichick.  The temptation to do so is great, but I'll pass on the underinflation issue.  I'll just say that I wouldn't defend Belichick as strongly as Jimbo Fisher has defended Jameis Winston.

With respect to the Patriots' use/misuse of the current rules, I did not know how clearly the officials had informed the Ravens (and the fans) at the time, and - you got this right - I fell for the misinformation provided by the clowns who pose as sports media.  

Knowing that, I have to agree with you on the absolute responsibility of the Ravens' defense to deal with the matter at hand based on the information provided them.   I would be upset with any high school sophomore who'd fail to understand that.  And I'd be VERY upset with myself for not preparing the kid for that situation.  And, as you say, the pros do have a few coaches up in the box, plus the ability to communicate directly.

It was rather clever (devious, maybe)  of Belichick to have his ineligible-man-with-the-eligible-number move rapidly backward into the backfield - into a position that would make him eligible, once he was as deep as the QB.

I can't believe the way teams keep falling for this "tackle eligible" crap.  They're clearly told that a guy with an ineligible number os eligible - and they still don't cover him!  WTF?  The Patriots threw a TD pass to Nate Solder on Sunday.  Despite the declaration that he was eligible, NOBODY covered him.

I can't be persuaded to change my stance on the need for the NFL to wake up and adopt the very simple-to-apply rule on eligibility that we high schoolers seem to have no problem complying with.

*********** Now we come to the matter of the underinflated balls.  First of all, since the subject involved "balls," have you ever heard so many sophomoric attempts at humor in your life?

Secondly, now that we've heard Bill Belichick and Tom "Conehead" Brady (the dweeb in that stupid stocking cap) deny knowing anything about the deflated balls, permit me to pass along a bit of dime store wisdom I've picked up over the years:

If a guy will cheat, he'll also lie.  Bet on it.

Now, then…

Who, other than a Patriots' fan, doesn't believe that Belichick would try such a juvenile stunt simply to get an edge, especially knowing the scrutiny he's constantly under?

If this were to go to trial, you wouldn't be able to find a juror who knew anything about pro football and didn't have a strong opinion one way or the other.

Even so,   I'm still waiting for one reputable person to step up to say, "I know Bill - and Bill would never do something like this."
I will bet you that shortly after the news broke, Roger Goodell fielded 32 phone calls  - 31 from the other owners demanding that he slam Belichick.  (The first, of course,  would have been from New Orleans owner Tom Benson , whose coach had to sit out a year for something called Bountygate.)

The thirty-second call was from DeMaurice Smith of the NFLPA, wanting to know what, in view of the way Goodell's hammered players for off-the-field issues,  he's going to do about a coach whose conduct brings into question the integrity of "The Shield" itself.
Hey- however repulsive their actions, nothing that Ray Rice or Adrian Peterson did brought into question whether the NFL's product, the game itself, was on the up-and-up.
Up-and-up did I say?  Make me laugh. In my opinion, the whole operation's a sham: players routinely hold, but the house-servant announcers call it blocking.  Defenders dive at runners but it's called tackling.  The League constantly tweaks the rules in favor of passing, distorting the game in a never-ending effort to produce more scoring. 

The players are paid millions to play a game, yet when they simply do what they're expected - paid - to do, they celebrate in a way no one in any other productive occupation would ever do. (I had eye surgery yesterday and when it was over, the surgeon shook my hand and began to get ready for the next play - er, patient. Not even a single high five!)
I hate to make this whole Belichick deal seem bigger than it is,  but to me it's symbolic of an end-justifies-the-means, if-you-ain't-cheating-you-ain't-trying society, at the top of which is a President who boasts that if playing within the rules won't get him what he wants, he'll just have to take action on his own, rules be damned.

*********** I loved hearing Brady say that, in effect, he doesn't notice the softness of the ball once he's out on the field.

I call BS on that.    Does he expect me to believe that my high school quarterbacks can instantly tell an over-inflated ball from an under-inflated one (they can) when an NFL quarterback can't?

Great athletes are highly conscious of  the tools of their trade, and as illustration I recall a story I heard years ago about baseball great Ted Williams.

Apparently the bat manufacturer's sales rep, tired of Williams' famous fussiness,  set out to expose him.  He arranged for the next shipment of Williams' bats - several dozen or so - to include one whose handle was a few thousandths of an inch narrower than all the others.  Williams, unaware of what was going on,  went through the shipment and quickly identified - and rejected - the anomaly.

*********** If I were Roger Goodell…

Guilty or not,   I'd require Tom Brady, poster boy for pussy football, to spend an entire season playing by the rules that greats like John Unitas, Bobby Layne and Bart Star had to play under (I won't go all the way back to Sammy Baugh and make him play defense, too):

No wireless communication with the coach.

Hashmarks dividing the field into thirds.

No Intentional grounding.  Anywhere.

Spiking? It's intentional grounding.

No surrender-by-hook-slide

Contact with receivers is allowed anywhere downfield until the ball's thrown

Offensive linemen must keep their hands against their chests when pass protecting

Defenders can hit  the quarterback anywhere on his body.

Defenders can's be expected to stop just because the quarterback has released the ball.

Defensive linemen can "head-slap" offensive linemen

Tell me you wouldn't like to see Old Candy-Ass play real football.

And - guilty or not - I'd turn Belichick over to Mark Emmert.  Anybody who could do what Emmert did to Joe Paterno and Penn State  has to have one meanass streak in him, and now that he's been forced to roll back the Penn State sanctions he's got to be hungry for somebody else to beat on.  I'm figuring on something like a $60 million fine, a five-year ban on post-season play, a 33%  reduction in draft choices,  and the vacating of all Super Bowl victories.

Oh - and here's the deal breaker - I'd make him dress like Vince Lombardi on game days.

*********** Writes Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post, Roger Goodell has to act firmly and decisively.  And fast.

Cannizzaro's vote is for suspension of Belichick from all Super Bowl activities.


*********** Coach:

Have you heard any more about any possible rule changes to the free blocking zone. Spread guys are determined to take the 180 lbs Offensive Lineman pout of the game.

David Maness
Lincolnton, Noth Carolina


My "sources" tell me that one way or the other, the NFHS expects to rule on the free-blocking zone in the next week or so.

My greatest fear is that they'll tell the offense that it can't block low but they'll leave the defense free to submarine, which is at least as dangerous to the offensive kids' knees as blocking low is to the defenders!

On January 23-25, 2015, the NFHS will review and vote on proposed rule changes.  We are looking for your input on the following proposed rule change.

Eliminate the Free Blocking Zone and make blocking below the waist clipping and blocking in the back illegal anywhere on the field, in order to greatly minimize the risk of injury for the participating student athletes. This attempt to reduce injuries we hope will also help save the game of football as we know it today.  Participation numbers are down, and we feel they will continue to decline unless this wise and reasonable committee makes a move to protect the student athlete against injuries to lower extremities.

I have to chuckle at the notion that numbers are down because of the free blocking zone.

Good Lord - with all the free publicity that the concussion issue has received thanks to the NFL and its lawsuits, saying that fear of "injuries to lower extremities" is the reason for numbers being down is like arriving at the scene of an accident caused by a drunk going 100 mph and saying we need to get more people to wear seat belts.

My worry is that with so many coaches no longer even bothering to teach three-point stances, this won't seem like an issue to a lot of guys.

*********** After the Bloomington, California High School girls' basketball team lost a recent game, 161-2, its coach is back on the job following a short suspension.

This wasn't the first bad game the Bloomington team has ever played.

Over the last four seasons, they've gone  1-60.

In their 15 games so far this season, they've scored 150 points - an average of 10 per game

In that same time, they've given up 992 points - an average of 66 per game.

Okay, I made up the part about the losing coach being suspended. 

No, he didn't get suspended.  The winning coach did. 

Everyone - the story made national news - blamed him.  No blame, though, for the people who by now might have realized that they've been overscheduling the Bloomngton  team. 

(If the name "Bloomington"  rings a bell, it should.  Bloomington was where Double Wing great Don Markham  set a national high school football scoring record.  You'd better believe there were some big scores run up that season.)


*********** ISIS has killed 13 youngsters - for watching a  soccer match!

If they were ever to come to the United States and start killing soccer fans, they could put Starbucks out of bsiness.


*********** Still on soccer... We've all heard about groupies,  but this is ridiculous:  In Australia for the Asian Cup soccer tournament, players from Iran, where women aren't permitted to watch them play,  have been posing for selfies with Iranian-Australian women, potentially causing problems for them when they return home. 


*********** Doug Marrone was just hired by the Jacksonville Jaguars  as their offensive line coach.

They've been really, really had, so if they can turn things around down there, it could him land a head coaching job someplace.

Wait - didn't he just  walk away from the head coaching job in Buffalo?


*********** Today's quote was sent to me by Coach Mark Hundley, of Dublin Jerome HS, in Dublin, Ohio, who wrote,  "I thought of you and your quotes at the start of your  News You Can Use when I read this quote."

*********** All the results of all of this past season's  bowl games…


********* The highest TV rating of all bowl games outside the Big Six College Football Playoff Games went to the Holiday Bowl (USC-Nebraska), which drew 6.8 million viewers

*********** In an episode of HBO's Real Sports,  Mike Ditka told Bryant Gumbel that if he had an 8-year-old son right now, he wouldn't let him play football.

"I wouldn't," he said.  "And my whole life was football. I think the risk is worse than the reward. I really do.”

Talk about a hypocrite.  Football enabled him to live the life of a lord, and he continues to cash in every Sunday, sitting behind a desk and pontificating on the sport that he now disparages.

Funny thing is, when he first enrolled at Pitt, he claimed he wanted to be a dentist.  Yikes.  Can you picture Doctor Ditka leaning over and saying, "This may hurt a little?"


*********** See how Americans
(bear in mind that these people vote) reacted to the "news" that Martin Luther King, Jr. had just died...


*********** Jonah Goldberg notes the contradictions amend our campus lefties...

We’re breeding generations of citizens who think attacking left-wing college administrators from the left is bold and courageous and denouncing Islamic extremism is racist. We apologize for the “root causes” that lead to actual violence, while we theorize endlessly about how ultimately we’re really to blame. Our military heroes are terroristic and the terrorists are misunderstood.

*********** Former New York GIants' head coach Allie Sherman died on January 3. He was 91.

He coached the Giants for nine years, and won back-to-back NFL Coach of the Year awards in his first two years in New York, but he never could truly win over the Giants' fans.

The problem was that he wasn't Vince Lombardi and he wasn't Tom Landry.

The Giants were tremendously successful during the 1950s under Jim Lee Howell, but what wasn't known by most fans was that Howell was chiefly a figurehead.  The real coaching was done by Lombardi, who had the offense, and Landry, who had the defense.

But the Mara family, owners of the Giants, were loyal people. When Lombardi was offered the Packers' job in early 1958, they encouraged him to take it.  There was never any thought of letting Howell go.

However, when Wellington Mara initially gave the Packers' president Dominic Olejniczak permission to talk with Lombardi, he gave it with one condition: if ever the Giants' job came open, they could try to bring back Lombardi.  Olejniczak said he had no problem with that.

Two years later, it almost worked out that way.

Wrote David Maraniss, in "When Pride Still Mattered,"

At the end of the 1959 season, Jim Lee Howell had walked into Wellington Mara's office and announced that he was burned out. The thrill of winning, Howell said, no longer compensated for the deep anxiety he took from losing.   He would coach the 1960 season, but that would be his last.  Howell's surprise burnout did not come at the best tie for the Maras. Not only had they let Lombardi go to Green Bay a year earlier, but they had just lost Tom Landry to the expansion team in Dallas.

Now, the Giants' thoughts immediately turned to Lombardi,  whose Packers' 7-5 finish had earned him Coach of the Year honors.

Obtaining secret permission from
Olejniczak, they spoke with Lombardi, but both parties agreed to table the matter until after the 1960 season.

Throughout thatseason, the New York news media pressed the issue.  They wanted Lombardi back.

And Lombardi, a New Jersey-New York guy, seemed  to relish the idea of coaching in New York.  (His wife would gladly have moved back.)

Lombardi  loved the Maras and knew they were people of great integrity.  And he knew most of the Giants' players and liked them.

But there were arguments for staying in Green Bay.  For one thing, he had power that he could never have in New York.

And he liked his players in Green Bay too.  And, wrote Maraniss, "In terms of talent, they were younger and they were better."

And there was the matter of his contract.  With the AFL coming on the scene, George Halas of the Bears expressed concern that if a coach could break a contract, it might be hard for the NFL to prevent players from doing the same.

And, pointed out Halas  and Paul Brown, just as Lombardi had saved the Packers' franchise, his leaving could undo all the good he'd done.

In the midst of all this back-and-forth,  his team got hot, and made it to the NFL championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles. 
There, Lombardi informed Jack Mara that he was staying in Green Bay.

Meanwhile, Allie Sherman, who was replaced by Lombardi years earlier when Steve Owen retired and Jim Lee Howell was hired,  was brought back as Giants' offensive coordinator, and when Howell retired after the 1960 season, Sherman replaced him.

Inheriting a team that had gone 6-4-2 in 1960, Sherman led the Giants to a 10-3-1 regular season in 1961, and was named Coach of the Year.  Alas, the Giants fell to the Packers in the title game, 37-0.

In 1962, the Giants finished 12-2, and he was  once again named NFL Coach of the Year again, becoming the first person to be so honored in consecutive years.  but again his Giants lost to the Packers in the NFL championship game, 16–7.

In 1963, the Giants ended the regular season 11-3, but for the third straight year they lost in the title game, this time to the Bears, 14-10.

In 1964, the Giants' record plunged to 2-10-2, and until he was let go following the 1969 session, the never again finished above .500

It was during the disastrous 1966 season, when the Giants finished 1-12-1 that Giants' fans began singing, "Good-bye Allie, Good-bye Allie, Good-bye Allie, We hate to see you go.”  They kept it up for years.

“That wasn’t hard on me,” he said years later. “That was hard on my family. I knew I wasn’t appointed coach for life.”

At the time, he  joked that he owned the rights to the song and was making a fortune off the royalties.

What finished him with the Giants was a loss to the hated Jets in a 1969 pre-season game.  Despite having five years remaining on his contract, the Giants let him go.

He never coached again, but he went on to be  successful in several different fields.

Besides his career with the Giants, Allie Sherman left his mark on the game in other significant ways.

In 1962 a friend named Ed Sabol arranged with Sherman and Wellington Mara to film Giants games for use by various TV outlets. Calling his new firm Blair Motion Pictures Sabol contracted with NFL Commissioner Pete Roselle to film the 1962 NFL Championship Game between the Giants and the Packers, and  In 1964, Blair Motion Pictures became NFL Films.

In 1966,  Emlen Tunnell and Roosevelt Brown, two former Giant all-stars, became the NFL's first full-time black assistants when Allie Sherman hired them.

Born in Brooklyn, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants, he is a member of the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

Rest in Peace, Allie.


american flagTUESDAY,  JANUARY 20,  2015-   "You have to be prepared to die before you can begin to live."  Rev.  Fred  L. Shuttlesworth, called “The most courageous Civil RIghts Fighter in the South" by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

*********** Finally, two NFL teams got together Sunday and put on a real game.  I'm glad the Seahawks won,  but I'm sorry the Packers lost - you can't watch a game in Green Bay and not come out of there with a little "Go Pack" in you.

I do have to say, though, that after Mike McCarthy went for a field goal on fourth and a foot,  it was poetic justice to see the trite old NFL "fourth down - time to kick a field goal" formula bite the Packers in the ass.

(It's worth noting that in the Ohio State-Oregon game there was exactly ONE field goal kicked.)

*********** Extortion:  obtaining money, property, or services through coercion

The NCAA-Penn State story came to an end this past weekend with the NCAA all but admitting that it never had a case.

You may remember back when the NCAA handed down its draconian sentence that I insisted that it had no right to be punishing an institution for something that was way outside its jurisdiction.

What has transpired in the time since the NCAA hammered Penn State has been revelations by those on the inside that NCAA President Mark Emmert misrepresented things ("lied," if you will) in getting Penn State to accept the punishment.

With a brand-new president on hand, Penn State was in no position to challenge Emmert's assertion that the college presidents on the committee discussing the punishment were "out for blood," and that a "multi-year" death penalty was a very strong possibility - unless Penn State agreed to the terms he proposed, which included a reduction in scholarships, a four-year bowl ban, and the right of any of Penn State's current players to transfer without having to sit out a year. Oh - and the vacating of 112 of Penn State's wins under coach Joe Paterno, and the payment of a  $60,000,000 fine. 

And Penn State had 11 days to decide whether or not to accept.  The Mob would have been proud.

Penn State's Board of Trustees caved.   They signed a consent decree, But Penn Staters,  members of one of the largest alumni bodies of any American college,  refused to accept that as the last word, and they fought the trustees. One by one, alumni candidates who opposed the settlement knocked off members who had voted for it.

Other Pennsylvanians, including the Paterno family, responded with lawsuits.

And now, based on the emails and sworn testimony of members of the NCAA committee that  there never were more than a couple of votes in favor of a death penalty, not to mention that there was considerable doubt as to whether the NCAA even had the right to assess penalties in this case,  it became obvious that Emmert was "bluffing" - I call it lying - and his obtaining concessions from Penn State under threat of the death penalty was extortion, pure and simple.

Writes Tim Sullivan in the Louisvlle Courier-Journal,

“We are not at all admitting that we didn’t have the authority to impose the penalties,” Emmert said.

Well, not in so many words.

The NCAA’s proposed legal settlement with Penn State could avert a court battle over a consent decree the school signed under unseemly pressure from the governing body for college athletics. And it allows Emmert the right to continue claiming jurisdiction he might have a hard time justifying under oath. But if you’re keeping score at home, this case was a blowout.

By cowardly  standing back as its president did great damage to a proud, upstanding member institution that had never, ever,  come remotely close to violating any NCAA rule,  the member presidents have undermined whatever credibility the NCAA had.   At least as long as Mark Emmert remains on the job, the NCAA is as good as dead.



*********** I feel terrible for the Packers' Brandon Bostick.  Green Bay people are decent sorts, so I have no doubt he'll be able venture out and about without fear for his safety. But he probably should expect to pay for his own beer.

*********** Used to be, the post-season all-star games were somewhat interesting.

That was back in the days before we knew most of the players -  before every game of every college team was on television, and half the teams in major college football played in a bowl game; back then, an all-star game was often our first chance to see some of the guys we'd only read about.

That was back before players had agents.  Before the projected high draft picks began to be  advised by their agents/entourage to forget the all-star games - to drop out of school and get to work preparing for the combine. 

But we still have things like last week's Medal of Honor Bowl and this past weekend's East-West Game and the  NFLPA Collegiate All-Star Bowl.

Good for the people putting on these games.  Good for the coaches and the players.  Noble efforts, all.

But, jeez, the football was lame.  Really lame.  The coaches, most of whom had pro experience, couldn't possibly have done a better job of realistically simulating actual breathtaking NFL excitement.  How about this: Five offensive touchdowns… Two interceptions returned for touchdowns… NINE f--king field goals.

Let's see.  The final score of the Medal of Honor Bowl was 26-14, favor something called the "National" team.  (I have no idea how they decided on who played on which team - in any of the games.)

Now get this - there were only two offensive touchdowns scored.  And they were both scored by the LOSING team.  The winning team "dominated" with two interception returns and four field goals.

But that game was a nail-biter compared to the East-West game, a 19-3 win for the East.  The game MVP was a guy from South Florida who kicked four field goals.

I actually watched  a bit of the "NFLPA Collegiate All-Star Bowl" (now there's a jawbreaker of a name for you).  The game took place in Carson, California, in a soccer stadium, which might explain why the announcers kept hammering us with the soccerish "Team National/Team American" crap.

It might as well have been a soccer game, judging from the handful of spectators on hand.

The NFLPA might be made up of the best football players on the planet, but marketing experts they're not.  In an area of more than 6 million people - they couldn't entice more than a couple thousand people to come out on a sunny Saturday afternoon and pay a few bucks to watch a football game.

Give the TV people their due - despite the fact that they had THREE guys in the booth, the first sideline interview came with 5:22 in the FIRST period.

The game itself?  A 17-0 snoozer.  Won by Team National.  Or was it Team American?

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

An acquaintance of mine has a son who plays high school football.  From the information available to us, we believe he's the nation's leading receiver (yardage). 

He's got good size, good speed, great hands, and huge "ups" as the kids say these days.  My friend knows I take an interest in the recruiting process, so he asked me how his son might go about getting on the radar of D1 coaches.  It was surprising to me that such a prospect would go completely unnoticed.  I was going to suggest that he write a polite letter (or email) to the D1 coaches in the area, asking if they might consider taking a look.  But then I saw what you wrote about Yale telling you to mind your own business.  If a respected high school football coach can't even get a football program to just take a look at a prospect, then what chance do any great but unknown kids have?  How do these coaches find players, anyway?  Do they just ask ESPN or Rivals who the "Top Studs" are?  For that matter, is Yale so inundated with NFL-calibre athletes clamoring for a roster spot that they can just turn away mass numbers of prospects?
I'm not sure what the next step should be.  Time is growing short now with national signing day a month away.  I have sent emails to recruiting directors for the various scouting services, merely asking for advice.  All have gone unanswered.  Do you have any helpful suggestions? (I would even be willing to accept unhelpful snide remarks at this point.  We just want SOMEBODY to acknowledge that they've heard us.)

Thank you for your time,
You didn't say where you and your acquaintance live, so I'm sort of flyIng blind. I hope you'll understand that my reply is limited by my not knowing anything about your friend's son, or of the sort of program in which he plays, or of his grades or other issues.  
I'd certainly want to know what visiting recruiters had to say to his coach if/when they saw his video. That is, if they do visit - again, I don't know anything about the level of play.
To make sure I didn't steer you wrong, I asked a friend who is recruiting coordinator at a top program what he would suggest and here's what he wrote ---
Best bet: email a link to highlight film to the recruiting coordinator - it will get watched/evaluated by someone in the program

ESPN/rivals/etc is "all nonsense "- "we evaluate the film and go from there"

As for this year's signing day  - the real deadline passed a long time ago for scholarship colleges. They have been on top of these kids since at least  junior year, and they know by now who they want. No surprises from this point until signing day.  Most likely anybody they're looking at now is for next year's recruiting class.
If the young man is a senior, a junior college or prep school might be helpful.
Hope that helps some
********** I'm not sure what they were thinking when they signed him up, but somehow I just don't see Cam Newton moving a lot of Greek yogurt off the shelves.

*********** Note to Bill Belichick: not saying that you did or didn't let air out of those footballs, but if you did - what were you THINKING???? You could have clobbered the Colts  using  a rugby ball,  a nerf ball or a 16-pound shot.

(For those who argue that a playoff determines which team is the best - please tell me how a team as bad as the Colts managed to make it that far.)

Not to say that the Patriots actually deflated their footballs Sunday, but tell me, honestly - do you doubt that Bill Belichick is capable of such a stunt?  If I told you that Tony Dungy was accused of doing it, you'd say "NO! Not Coach Dungy!"  But Belichick?  I can see the smirk on your face now.

Here's a guy who ought to be compared with the Halases and Shulas and  instead he finds himself, victimized by his own antics, keeping company with Al Davis.  (The Last time underinflation was an issue, USC got caught doing it against Oregon a couple of years ago.  The USC coach was Lane Kiffin.)

NFL procedure is for the officials to check the balls of each team - all of them - before the game, and then to hand them back to the respective teams.  From that point, though, the teams are essentially free to tamper with them as they wish.

Our high school system, in small-town Washington,  isn't much different.  Before the game, an official comes and asks to see the game balls.  Our game balls are the same balls we practice with - we usually have a half-dozen or so of them - so  we'll pick out three to show him.  Then, one by one, he'll squeeze them (very scientific) and if he thinks any of them is maybe a little  too soft, he'll tell us it needs a little more air.  We'll either give it a couple of shots with a pump, or we'll hand the official another ball, and  then he'll mark the balls that he's approved - and away we go.  But from that point, the officials are plenty busy with other things, and if we were so inclined,  we could probably get away with what the Patriots are accused of doing.

(I can't reveal my sources, but I'm told that Commissioner Goodell has ordered the air from all the Patriots' balls to be transferred to specially-made "balloons." After carefully weighing each one,  he and his top aides will "destroy" the evidence by sitting on the "balloons" and allowing the escaping air to make amusing noises.)

*********** Somebody PLEASE tell the newspaper guys that the football is supposed to be inflated to between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds of AIR PRESSURE,  and NOT 12.5 and 13.5 pounds' WEIGHT.  Good Lord - a 13-pound football?  Just how strong an arm do they think Brady has?

*********** Funny how we all got to see Marshawn Lynch grabbing his crotch, but the instant the director realized that we were (gasp!) watching Russell Wilson and other Seahawks kneeling in a post-game prayer…

*********** Maybe the third time's the charm…

Steven Rivers, a quarterback like his older brother Philip,  appeared in only four games in two years at LSU. Last spring, with two years of eligibility remaining,  he transferred to Vanderbilt where, having graduated from LSU, he was able to play right away.

At Vandy, he played sparingly, completing   25 of 63 passes for 334 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions. 

According to the Nashville Tennessean, his decision to transfer  was not a surprise.  His last significant playing time came in a 44-17 loss to Georgia in early October when he made a serious mistake that ended any Vandy chance of winning: according to a coach, he read his wristband upside-down, interpreting a "60" call that had been signalled in to him as a "90," and wound up throwing an interception that was returned 53 yards.

He got on the field just once more after that, appearing in three plays at the end a 51-0 loss to Mississippi State after the two guys ahead of him were injured.


*********** The story of three-year-old Tommy Morrissey is about as inspirational as you can get…


*********** There's a lot to be said for not specializing in one sport, and some schools are taking steps to try to bring back the three-sport athlete.

At Fairfield (Ohio) High School, one of the state's largest schools, AD Mark Harden has seen specialization in his own family.

“Just this year, my 8-year-old was asked to play on a traveling baseball team that trained year-round and he had to decide whether he wanted to do that or continue to play football and basketball,” he said. “Again, my son is eight.”

At Fairfield High, the athletic department has created a special award for any senior who plays three varsity sports in his or her senior year.

In addition,  Fairfield moved this year to waive participation fees for any student who participates in a third sport during the year.

“I’ve always thought that kids benefit from playing multiple sports over specialization,” Harden said. “Unfortunately, at a school our size there is a pressure to focus on just one sport in order to ‘make a team’ or ‘be a success’ at that particular sport. What is driving this even further is the availability to play sports or train for them year-round.”


*********** From the New York Times… a great defense of high school sports and their lifetime benefits.



american flagFRIDAY,  JANUARY 16,  2015"If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free!"  P. J. O'Rourke

*********** I guess I should be a John Elway fan, but I'm not.

I once was,  back when he played at Stanford. My son was there at the same time and we've still got a great photo hanging on our wall of Elway at Stanford, autographed "To the Wyatts."

And I rooted for him when he played for the Broncos.

But since he's been running the Broncos, I've wondered when he might need a shoulder operation after all the self-back-patting he's done.

And now he's thrown John Fox under the bus, even though most onlookers are pretty sure that wasn't John Fox out there throwing those lollypops against the Colts.

I've been  enjoying watching him go, in the space of a week,  from  "Elway: Executive of the Year" to "Elway: A Lot to Answer For."

adm tom lynch***********
Know your history.

You've probably seen the ad on TV.

I sat up straight the first time I saw it - "Admiral Tom Lynch" tells veterans about something called New Day USA.

I wondered - could that be THE Tom Lynch?

The former Superintendent of the US Naval Academy?

The captain of Navy's 1963 football team? 

The Navy team that  went 9-1 and played Texas in the Cotton Bowl for the National Championship?

The Navy team whose quarterback , a guy named Roger Staubach,  won the Heisman Trophy?

Could that be the Tom Lynch who as the center snapped the ball to Staubach on every offensive play, then, in those days of going both ways, played middle linebacker, where he was called a "demon on defense?"

The same.  

*********** Sam Knopik, head coach at Kansas City's Pembroke HIll School, emailed me from the AFCA National Convention, which has been taking place all this week in Louisville, to say, on the subject of the free blocking zone, "Coach they are going to eliminate this. The day in which all kids can play this game is coming to an end."

Not good news. Another win for grass basketball.

I'm guessing that its intent is to outlaw all blocking below the waist. Anywhere.

If it's also going to apply to colleges, it's aimed squarely at Georgia Tech and the service academies. I've seen that coming for several years now.  It's going to cause them problems.  Firing out low along the line was one of the things that made the 'bone and its variations a great equalizer, and it's the thing that opponents hate the most.

For us, there are workarounds.  I've anticipated this, and over the last two seasons we've all but eliminated "shoeshining."

Do you suppose this means that defenses will be required to make contact above the waist, too?  Will it outlaw submarining against our wedge?   Hahaha.  Silly man.  Not a chance.

*********** Most people are unaware of this, but while the 32 individual NFL franchises are run as for-profit businesses, the NFL itself is not.

The NFL itself is a non-profit. It is, in fact - hold still, now - a charitable foundation!

Charity?   In 2012, Big Football gave away just $2.3 million, most of which ($2.1 million) went to its favorite charity - the NFL Hall of Fame.

Charity?  Well, they say it begins at home, and the head of the "charity," NFL  Commissioner Roger Goodell, was paid $29.5 million.

The lengths to which Big Football will go to preserve its non-profit status (neither MLB or the NBA have it) naturally means taking good care of the people who make our laws - which means many of them will will be at the Super Bowl on the NFL's (or a lobbyist's) dime.


*********** The Texas Class 6A Division I final matching undefeated Allen against Cypress Ranch, had an announced attendance of 52,308. It’s the second-largest crowd for a Texas high school football game, trailing only the 54,347 that were on hand for last year's 5A Division I championship game between Allen and Pearland.

*********** The Black College Football Hall of Fame announced the 25 Finalists that will be on the ballot for induction into the 2015 Black College Football Hall of Fame.

The Finalists were narrowed down from a list of 180 nominees by a 13-member Selection Committee.

The committee,  as well as all living members of the Hall of Fame classes, will select from the 25 finalists seven members (six players and one coach/contributor) who will be inducted as the Class of 2015.

        Emerson Boozer (RB, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, 1962-1965)
        Roger Brown (OL, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, 1956-1959)
        Ken Burrough (WR, Texas Southern University, 1966-1969)
        Harold Carmichael (WR, Southern University, 1967-1970)
        Richard Dent (DE, Tennessee State University, 1979-1982)
        Hewritt Dixon (RB, Florida A&M University, 1959-1962)
        L.C. Greenwood (DE, University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 1965-1968)
        Harold Jackson (WR, Jackson State University, 1965-1968)
        Gary “Big Hands” Johnson (DL, Grambling State University, 1971-1974)
        Ernie “Big Cat” Ladd (DL, Grambling State University, 1957-1960)
        Leo Lewis (RB, Lincoln University, 1951-1954)
        Tyrone McGriff (OL, Florida A&M University, 1976-1979)
        Timothy Newsome (RB/KR, Winston Salem State University, 1976-1979)
        Jethro Pugh (DE, Elizabeth City State University, 1961-1964)
        Ken Riley (QB, Florida A&M University, 1965-1968)
        Donnie Shell (DB, South Carolina State University, 1970-1973)
        Otis Taylor (WR, Prairie View A&M University, 1961-1964)
        Emmitt Thomas (QB/DB, Bishop College, 1962-1965)
        Everson Walls (DB, Grambling State University, 1977-1980)
        Aeneas Williams (CB, Southern University, 1987-1990)

        Joe Gilliam, Sr. (Defensive Coordinator, Tennessee State University, 1963-1983)
        W.C. Gorden (Head Coach, Jackson State University, 1976-1991)
        Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones (President, Grambling State University, 1936-1977)
        Arnett Mumford (Head Coach, Southern University, 1927-1961)
        William J. “Billy” Nicks (Head Coach, Morris Brown, 1930-1942, Prairie View A&M University, 1945-1965)


Wait a minute, I thought, as I looked at that list.  That's a heck of a group of football players. And they aren't in yet?  And not all of them are going to make it?  So who in the world IS in?

Good question, Wyatt.

The very first group inducted (in 2010) was about as distinguished a group as you would find in any Hall of Fame…

Buck Buchanan

Junious “Buck” Buchanan, as a defensive end for Grambling State University from 1959 to 1963, was an NAIA All-American and a three-time Black College All-America. Buchanan could bat down passes with either hand, play the run and rush the passer. The first of the prototypical defensive lineman, combing size, speed, and strength, he was the first black college player taken as the No. 1 overall pick in an NFL Draft, when the Kansas City Chiefs selected him in 1963. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990 and the College Football Hall of in 1996.

Willie Galimore  

Willie “Gallopin’ Gal” Galimore, as a running back at Florida A&M University from 1953 to 1956, was all-Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference choice four times and was named a Black College All-America by the Pittsburgh Courier three times. The Rattlers won four conference championships while Galimore was at FAMU and one Black College National Championship. He played for the Chicago Bears from 1957 to 1963, before passing away tragically at the age of 29 in an auto accident in Rensselaer, Indiana, on July 27, 1964. As FAMU’s all-time leading rusher, Galimore averaged 94 yards per game and was the Rattler’s first 1,000-yard runner (1,203 yards in 1954).

Deacon Jones
David “Deacon” Jones played defensive end for South Carolina State University and Mississippi Valley State University from 1958 to 1960. Blessed with speed, agility, and quickness, the “Deacon” became one of the finest pass rushers in the business. Yet had it not been for the chance observation of two Rams scouts viewing films of an opponent, he might never have had a chance to play pro football. When the scouts noted that the 6-4, 272-pound tackle was outrunning the backs they were scouting, they recommended Jones as a sleeper pick. He went on to unanimous all-league honors six straight years from 1965 through 1970 and was selected to eight Pro Bowls. Jones was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980.

Willie Lanier
Willie “Honey Bear” Lanier played Linebacker and Offensive Guard at Morgan State University from 1963 to 1967. He earned first team All-America honors his junior year and led the Bears to bowl games in 1965 and 1966, winning both and holding opponents to 0 total yards offense in the 1965 game. His teams won three conference championships and at one point had a 32-game winning streak. Lanier went on to play in the NFL for the Kansas City Chiefs, winning a Super Bowl and five times being named as an All-Pro Middle Linebacker. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000.

Walter Payton
Walter “Sweetness” Payton, as a Running Back at Jackson State University from 1971 to 1974. made every All-American team picked for college division or division 1-AA teams. In both years Payton was voted Black College Player of the Year. A tough back, who ran harder than his size (5’10, 200), Payton was a complete football player -- one who could run the ball, block, tackle, pass, catch passes, and kick. It was in college that Payton picked up his nickname "Sweetness" because of the smooth way he ran. He moved on to a legendary career with the Chicago Bears, which included a Super Bowl Ring in 1985, nine Pro Bowls and two NFL Player of the Year Awards. Payton was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1996.

Jerry Rice 

Jerry Rice, a wide receiver for Mississippi Valley State University from 1981 to 1984, is widely regarded as one of the greatest receivers in history on any level. He was named first-team Division I-AA All-America and finished ninth in the 1984 Heisman Trophy voting. His 27 touchdown receptions that season set the NCAA mark for all divisions. Rice was named the 1984 SWAC Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year for the State of Mississippi. In addition to being named first-team Division I-AA All-American, the NEA and Football Writers’ Association of America both named Rice to their first-team Division I-A All-America squads. He was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers with the 16th overall selection in the 1985 NFL Draft and became arguably the greatest player in NFL history. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006 and is a 2010 Nominee for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Ben Stevenson 

Ben “Big Ben” Stevenson spent his first years at Tuskegee University as a prep-schooler, which at the time allowed him to play eight seasons in all for the Golden Tigers, from 1923 to 1930. During that span, the team amazingly suffered only two defeats. Stevenson combined speed (9.8 100-yard dash), strength and durability. Scoring on a combination of long runs and drop kicks, he also played defensive back, earning a reputation as one of the top pass thieves in the conference. Stevenson was named to seven consecutive Black College All-America teams, numerous Negro all-time All-America teams and was voted as the game's greatest all-around player.

Tank Younger  

Paul "Tank" Younger had a record-setting career at running back and linebacker at Grambling State University from 1945 to 1948. He was named to the 1948 Pittsburgh Courier All-America team and was the Tigers’ leader on offense and defense. Younger totaled 60 touchdowns during his career at Grambling, which at the time was a collegiate record. After his senior season, he was named black college football's Player of the Year. Younger went on to a very successful NFL career with the Los Angeles Rams and the Pittsburgh Steelers, earning Pro Bowl status five times. He became the first black player to play in an NFL All-Star Game, and after his playing days, went on to become the league's first black assistant general manager in 1975.

Eddie Robinson    (Coach)

Coach Eddie G. Robinson spent 56 years at Grambling State University, from 1941-1997. He put together an incredible overall record of 408-165-15 and sent more than 80 players to the NFL and AFL. Robinson led the Tigers to a streak of 27 consecutive winning seasons from 1960 to 1986, as well as 17 SWAC Championships and nine Black College National Championships, more than any other HBCU. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1997 and has received more awards than any other coach in history.

Jake Gaither    (Coach)

Coach Alonzo “Jake” Gaither spent 24 years at Florida A&M University, from 1945 to 1969, amassing an astonishing record of 203-36-4. His teams won 18 Conference Championships and were Black College National Champions six times. In a 10-year streak, from 1953 to 1962, his teams went 87-7-1. His “split line T” offense was adopted by several major college programs, and he retired in 1969 with a .844 winning percentage, the best ever among all NCAA coaches. In 1975 he was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.

Bill Nunn    (Contributor)

Legendary journalist and NFL Scout Bill Nunn entered the newspaper business as a sports writer for the Pittsburgh Courier, where he later rose to sports editor and managing editor. After elevating the Courier’s Black College All-American team to new heights, Nunn joined the Pittsburgh Steelers' scouting staff part time in 1967 and then full time in 1969. A true innovator, he constructed a bridge between the Steelers and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Five Super Bowl Rings later, Nunn is among the most legendary NFL scouts of all time.


*********** Hugh, I was surprised and pleased to hear that an athlete of Kobe Bryant's stature was telling the world that the AAU Emperor has no clothes.  After six years of parental involvement in girls' AAU basketball, I can tell you that Kobe's remarks are right on target.  99% of AAU hoops teams are nothing more than collections of talented physical specimens with no personal inclination or external direction toward team play.  No team fundamentals are taught and no individual skills are improved -- it's simply glorified playground "ratball".

The AAU system is constituted to serve the interests of college scouts, who can see 40 or so D1 prospects at any given "viewing tournament".  Naturally this is more convenient than having to scout 1 or 2 athletes at each individual high school game.  Since the whole purpose of AAU ball is to make an impression on the scouts, the players eschew passing, and each possession usually consists of the ball being shot by the girl who has brought it down the court.  Woe betide the player who inbounds the ball!  In most cases, the ball will already be in the air in the general direction of the basket before she has crossed midcourt!

With all this physical ability and all this shooting, AAU scores are still as low as high-school games (despite much higher overall talent levels) because shot selection and "basketball IQ" is not valued or developed.  AAU also puts a lot of unnecessary wear-and-tear on the girls, since a winning team will play as many as five full games in a weekend tournament.  How could they be expected to play a) safely and b) sharply and intelligently at that kind of fatigue level?  Believe me, it leads to unnecessary injuries.

Evidently the college coaches are OK with this, since a reputation as an AAU "scoring machine" is a ticket to one of the five "power conferences", while girls with lesser stats make do with the "mid-majors".

Having seen this process "up close and personal" for so long, I understand completely when the USA mens' team is beaten by some welterweight like Greece or Lithuania.  Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.

In closing, I will say that I have seen two or three AAU girls' teams that obviously teach fundamentals and play team ball.  Each of them is a thinly-disguised high-school team that has played together under consistent coaching for years, rather than a collection of "all-stars".  In my opinion, that is the way that off-season basketball should be structured.

Clarke triplets
I'll bet Kobe feels the same way!

All the best,

Shep Clarke
Puyallup, Washington

(Shep Clarke knows what he's talking about.  His three kids, from left to right, Wain, Riley and Mac - are triplets, and  seniors at Puyallup's Emerald Ridge High.  Each in his or her own field, they're amazing achievers.  Riley, the basketball player, has earned an appointment to the Air Force Academy; Mac, after playing in the Seattle Sounders' youth program, will be going to San Diego State on a soccer scholarship; and Wain, a standout receiver and defensive end for Emerald Ridge, has committed to play at Hillsdale College, in Michigan.)

*********** This is not good.  Indianapolis Colts' linebacker Josh McNary, a West Point graduate and former Army captain, has been charged with rape.

I know nothing other than what has been reported, which leaves me caught between two stories.  I know which one I want to believe, but as John Adams said, in defense of the British soldiers accused in the Boston Massacre, "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."


Steve Anderson, who played four seasons at West Point with Josh McNary, and who was co-captain with him their senior year, told the Middletown (NY) Times-Herald-Record, "I know his family really well. He was raised really well. He's always been respectful and a stand-up guy...  For me to honestly believe this took place, I would need a confession out of Josh. I would literally need to hear it from Josh himself before I could get caught up in even believing this is close to being true."


********** Hello Coach Wyatt:
This is the other Coach Wyatt  from Whitmire, SC and I hope that this email finds you in the greatest of health.  I’ve been on your website looking your 2015 clinic dates.  When will you be posting them?  Now that my basketball season is coming to an end (Jan 29), I will have time to sit down and really study/watch it and won’t have to rush like I did last year (new coach new system).
I wish you and your staff have a blessed day.

Maurice Wyatt

Coach Wyatt,

NIce to hear from you.

I enter the New Year with a pretty long agenda of health issues - nothing serious - that I've been putting off for some time, and dealing with them means I'm going to have to at least push back this year's clinics.  That would mean that if and when I do any, it may not be until April or even May.

Atlanta is a likely spot, but Durham NC is almost definite.

Hope you can make it.  In the meantime, if you come across any questions in your study, fire them off to me!

*********** In Washington, DC, three U.S. Marine recruiters heard a woman crying for help outside their office, an rushing outside, they stopped an attempted robbery and chased down one of the perps, despite the fact that the guy said he had a gun.

"I've been shot at before," said one of the Marines.  "It's not as bad as everyone thinks. Most people miss."

*********** Bob Brookover, in the Philadelphia Inquirer, has a few suggestions.

First, to the NCAA: restore those 111 wins that you took from Penn State and Paterno, overstepping your jurisdiction in doing so...

Then, to Penn State: bring back the Paterno statue.  With one condition...


*********** A blogger named Ben Garrett lights into Urban Meyer.  He writes,  "Ohio State Won, Urban Meyer Lost"


The piece is very well researched and very well written. The writer does do a number of Meyer, starting with that last Ohio State touchdown, and ranging through his tenure at Florida.  Unlike the writer, while I didn't particularly appreciate Meyer's sticking that last score in there, I would  argue that if that's the way he plays, it was Oregon's job to stop him.  My complaint, and one that he should have to answer for, is that Ohio State had - what? - 85 players dressed for the game, and if anybody was going to try to score down at the end, it should have been their backups, guys who worked their tails off all season long and then, in the biggest game of their lives, never even got on the field.  (In case they wondered what their coach really thinks about them.)

*********** This, from Forbes Magazine's Mike Ozanian…

Is there a bigger hypocrite in college sports than Urban Meyer?

With Ohio State leading Oregon 35-20 in the college football championship game last night the Buckeyes had first and goal at the Ducks’ 2-yard line. There were less than two minutes left in the game. Urban Meyer could have his quarterback take a knee and Ohio State would be champs.

This is what Meyer instructed Cardale Jones to do, right? After all, Meyer talks a big God game and is pals with Todd Gongwer, whose book on finding the heart of leadership, LEAD…for God’s Sake, struck a chord with Meyer and served as the foundation for their friendship. The book is supposedly (I have not read it) about finding a purpose in life through Christian values.

Or not. Instead of graciously letting the clock run out and not humiliating his opponent, Meyer had Jones give the ball to running back Ezekiel Elliott. Twice! On his second attempt Elliott got into the end zone with 28 seconds left. Ohio State 42, Oregon 20.
Urban Meyer. Hypocrite.


*********** Cardale Jones admits he's not ready for the pros.  Actually, it remains to be seen whether he's ready for college.

But he is old enough to be a father.  Surprise. An interviewer, evidently not aware that there are still a few of us who don't think it's such a great idea for children to be fathering children,  inevitably out of wedlock, gushed as she mentioned his little four-month-old daughter.

How cute.  I suppose it would have been rude - not to mention naive - to ask how his wife was doing.

*********** Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

That's the First Amendment to the Constitution.  Over and over, as if they were constitutional scholars, people in all areas of life mistakenly cite it as giving them a license to say anything they want, at any time and place they choose, to anyone they want.

But the reality is that very day, we encounter dozens of instances in which, in one way or another, our freedom of speech is "abridged."

No, not by Congress.  Congress couldn't care less whether you think your wife's new slacks make her look fat.  That means you're free to say whatever you think, right? 

Right.  But it doesn't mean there aren't going to be consequences, and it doesn't say anywhere that you are going to be shielded from those consequences.

So go ahead and tell the 16-year-old  girl on the basketball team you coach that she's got nice legs…

Or tell that TSA person that you're going to hijack the plane and fly it into the Golden Gate Bridge…

Or tell those guys sitting in front of you in those silver and black jerseys that the Raiders suck.

Sure, it's a free country.  Congress hasn't even given a thought to passing a law that says you can't sit in Oakland Coliseum and say "Raiders suck."

No, the founding fathers saw no need to go that far, undoubtedly believing that common civility - not to say common sense - would prevail, and would restrain most people.  And where it didn't, the offended party would either take it - or take action.  Duelling was still common when the First Amendment was ratified.  Andrew Jackson once killed a man in a duel for insulting his wife.

After dueling, there was still the old-fashioned punch in the mouth.   That was usually enough to keep peoples' opinions under control.

But for the most part, what kept things civil was a code of politeness, a part of the social contract that said, "you just don't say those things." 

Recently, the murder of members of the staff of a French satirical magazine as a result of some cartoons it published seems to have evoked some serious misunderstanding of the idea of "free speech."

Yes, those "journalists" were free to mock and ridicule a religion and its sacred figures.  Their government guaranteed them that freedom.  But nowhere was it stated that there would be no consequences for their actions. 

No, they should not have had to pay with their lives.  Yes, Islamic terrorists are murderers and must be eliminated (not, as our faint-hearted  presidents like to say, "brought to justice"). 

But I personally have grown tired of the way Christians stand, sheeplike, and allow others to demean and ridicule our faith,  and I personally would have applauded if a Muslim had walked into those offices and punched the editor in the nose.

Such an expression of disagreement with a journalist would not be unprecedented here in the United States.

In 1950, after the Washington Post's music critic wrote a scathing review of a young singer's performance, he received a threatening note, calling it a "lousy review," and concluding,  "Some day I hope to meet you.  When that happens you'll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below."

The writer was the singer's father,
President Harry S. Truman.

************ Protesters blocked Interstate 93 outside Boston during rush hour Thursday.  Needless to say, people are pissed. In case the demonstarors, mostly out of towners,  have any plans for the weekend,  let this be fair warning:

Boston writers


american flagTUESDAY,  JANUARY 12,  2015-  "If you're going through hell, keep going."    Winston Churchill

*********** I am so bummed.

College football is over for another year;

I've almost certainly seen the last of Marcus Mariota as a college football player;

I've seen the Oregon Ducks lose in the national title game;

And worst of all, I've seen the Ducks play as badly as they've played in several years.

Yes, Oregon played a terrible game, in every respect, but Ohio State played like the national champions that they are, and the result, I'm sorry to say, was an ass-kicking.

The Buckeye defense was outstanding, and their offensive line was overpowering. They absolutely ate Oregon alive with that counter - what we would call 6-C and 7-C.

Ezekiel Elliott was a beast, and the Buckeyes' coaches did a fantastic job of keeping Cardale Jones focused for most of the season after J.T. Barrett was promoted to starting QB, and then of getting Jones game-ready.

*********** Kudos to the two coaches in the National Championship game - they went for it on fourth down more  times than all the NFL coaches would in an entire season.  (Maybe I exaggerate, but not that much.)  Imagine - just one k--king field goal the entire game!

*********** Evidently even a national championship game still isn't enough to draw an audience on its own merits.  They had the Ohio State band on hand, one of the finest in all creation, but  oh, no - they still had to go out and hire some weirdass trio to "perform" the national anthem.

*********** Just when I'd almost forgotten Bill  Belichick's filming of opponents' practices (BTW, I'm willing to bet that before he "destroyed the tapes", Commissioner Goodell made himself a copy and stashed it in a safe somewhere) and recognize him as one of the great NFL coaches of all time, he goes devious on me.

Yeah, yeah, I know.  That little stunt he pulled against the Ravens with players' jersey numbers is legal, blah, blah, blah…  Tom Brady even snidely suggested that the Ravens ought to  study the rule book.

Yes, what he did was legal.  But I put it in the category of a violation of "unwritten rules," things that are legal but just aren't done. Baseball is full of them (stealing when you're x number of runs ahead, etc.), but football has its share - things like pretending to take a knee and instead throwing deep.

Most such travesties, such as forward fumbles, sleeper plays and hidden ball plays have pretty much been outlawed by now, but for some strange reason the NFL still allows this to happen by leaving a couple of archaic rules on the books  - rules that date to the earliest days of pro football, when teams had some 33 men on their rosters, and it was common for many players to go both ways.

Here's the legal basis for what Belichick did…

Rule 5, Section 3 Changes in Position


Article 1 An offensive player wearing the number of an ineligible pass receiver (50–79 and 90–99) is permitted to line up in the position of an eligible pass receiver (1–49 and 80–89), and an offensive player wearing the number of an eligible pass receiver is permitted to line up in the position of an ineligible pass receiver, provided that he immediately reports the change in his eligibility status to the Referee, who will inform the defensive team.

Now, with 53-man rosters (plus 10-man "practice squads") and specialization to the point where they keep guys around just to rush passers on third down, there's no reason on God's earth to keep such outdated rules.  They serve only to confuse officials, opponents and fans, as well as providing temptation to the sort of guy who likes to play fast and loose with the rules.

It especially bothers me that whenever these changes of position are employed,  it's always to exploit an opponent's pass defense.  Good God, the rules aren't tilted heavily enough toward the passing game as it is. (The Patriots certainly gave us a look at the future of the pro game Saturday,   "rushing" seven times for 14 yards against the Ravens.)

I can't imagine anyone wanting to keep those rules on the books.   All the NFL has to do is adopt the high school rules. 

They're quite simple and easy to understand, and difficult to take advantage of.

NFHS: Rule 7, Section 2, Article 5

(a) At the snap, at least seven A (Offensive) players shall be on their lone of scrimmage.

(b) At the snap, at least five A players on their line of scrimmage must be numbered 50-79

There are certain exceptions for "scrimmage kick formations" (in which the presumed kicker is at least seven yards deep) so that teams can substitute an eligible-numbered guy as a deep snapper as well as lighter, faster players to take the place of big offensive linemen in kick coverage. 

Rule 7, Section 5, Article 6

The following players are eligible pass receivers:
(a) All A players eligible by position and number include those who, at the time of the snap, are on the ends of the scrimmage line or legally behind the line (possible total of six) and are numbered 1-49 or 80-99.

I'm thinking that the reason the NFL hasn't changed is the same reason why it didn't employ our overtime - someone else thought of it before they did, and not even the NFL could fool people into thinking otherwise.

Belichick wasn't the first to try this "find the eligible man" shell game.

A few years ago, some high school coach in California got the bright idea of lining his QB up seven yards deep.  This made him technically in "scrimmage kick formation," but his purposes was not to kick. The rule permitted him to have 11players on the field with eligible numbers, leaving opponents - and officials - trying to guess who was eligible on any given play.  He called it the "A-11" offense.

Although legal according to the letter of the law, it was a violation of the spirit of the law, and the idea was quickly put to rest, by state associations.

To the NFL: even with our high school rules, swapping numbers isn't that difficult.

At North Beach,  we took a page from  Stanford, which complied with the college rule (which is similar to the HS rule) by having at the ready an extra set of shoulder pads inside a player's alternate jersey, and then, as needed, simply exchanging one set of jersey/shoulder pads for the other.  That was much quicker than having to exchange jerseys while leaving the shoulder pads on.

We adopted the idea this past season for a player who backed up on our offensive line and also at tight end.

*********** I don't recall where I first heard of it, but I had to pass along links to "The Dash" - a poem by Linda Ellis.  (The "dash" refers to a person's life - to what's represented by the dash, on a tombstone, between the dates of a person's birth and death.)



*********** In Fuzzy Thurston's memoirs, "What a Wonderful World," the Packers' all-time great guard tells a story of persistence and belief in one's self - and of the influence one great person can have on one's career.

Although Thurston had been such a good linemen that in his senior year he was named his conference's most valuable player, he came out of little Valparaiso,  and was a relative unknown to the pros.  Nevertheless, he was drafted by the Eagles in the fourth round.  As he points out in his book, with only 12 teams in the NFL at the time, that was a pretty big deal.

He was cut by Eagles after their final exhibition game, and returned home to his hometown, Altoona, Wisconsin, to learn that he'd been drafted again - this time, though, by the United States Army.

After 21 months in the Army, much of the time spent honing his football skills playing a good brand of service football ("better than I had seen at Valparaiso") he signed with the Chicago Bears for a $500 bonus.  But after three exhibition games he was traded back to the Eagles - who then cut him on the Wednesday before the season-opener.

When he was contacted by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL, he headed north.  He was now married with an infant son, and out of work,

In Winnipeg, he had the good fortune to encounter one of the game's legends, and to be the beneficiary of an astounding act of selflessness that sent him on his way to an NFL career.

"My time in Canada was short, but valuable. I was there a week, but before I signed a contract, the Bombers' head coach, Bud Grant, called me into his office. Grant said the Baltimore Colts called and inquired about signing me to a contract. He said he hated to do it, because he really wanted me, but he felt  I needed to go to Baltimore and give it another try. He told me he felt I belonged in the NFL, and that if I was given another chance I could have a good career."

Signed to the Colts' taxi squad, he was activated after six weeks, and played on special teams and backed up guards Alex Sandusky and Steve Myhra, and earned a championship check as the Colts defeated the Giants in the NFL title game often referred to as "The Greatest Game Ever Played."

Prior to the next season, he left Wisconsin the day after his second son was born, and drove all night to get to Colts' camp, where on his arrival he found a note on his door reading, "See Coach in the morning."

In the morning, he was informed by Baltimore coach Weeb Ewbank that the Colts needed another linebacker, so they had traded him to Green Bay for Marv Matuszak.

"I didn't understand why he couldn't have told me this before  I got in the car and drive eighteen hours." Thurston wrote.  "I was pissed off."

So he turned around and drive back to Wisconsin, to Green Bay, where a new coach named VInce Lombardi had just arrived on the scene to try to turn around a woeful team that had just gone 1-10-1.

And the rest, as they say…

*********** Since many of you are teachers, you will probably appreciate the writing of Peter Greene who refers to himself as "A grumpy old teacher trying to keep up the good classroom fight in the new age of reformy stuff." My friend Paul Herzog put me onto him.  Guy's pretty good. Here, he writes about  the fallacy of evaluating teachers based on their students' test scores.

So Sorry, Minneapolis Teachers

As promised, this morning brought the publishing of teacher ratings, including VAM scores, with a map and a pearl-clutching interview with the district's superintendent. The gap is shocking, alarming, inexplicable.

I'm speaking of course of the apparent gap between Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson's brain and reality. How does somebody with this gigantic an inability to process data end up as a superintendent of a major school system?

Superintendent Johnson is shocked-- shocked!!-- to find that under this evaluation system, it turns out that all the worst teachers are working in all the poorest schools! Hmmm-- the poorest schools have the worst results. What's the only possible explanation? Teachers!! (Pause for the sound of me banging my head on the desk.)

“It’s alarming that it took this to understand where teachers are,” Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson said Friday. “We probably knew that, but now have the hard evidence. It made me think about how we need to change our staffing and retention.”

No, Superintendent Johnson.  What's alarming is that you don't understand a damn thing.

Here's what you have "discovered." If you rip the roof off a classroom, the teachers that you send to teach in that classroom will get wet when it rains. You cannot "fix" that by changing the teacher.

But apparently that's the solution being considered. "Okay," says Superintendent Johnson. "Over here we have teachers who stay dry and their students stay dry, so we'll put this dry teacher in the classroom without a roof and have a dry teacher for the wet rooms. That'll fix it."

And Superintendent Johnson appears willing to go further. "Maybe we just need to fire the wet teachers and replace them with new, dry ones," she may be thinking. [Sound of me banging my head against the concrete slab of my basement floor.]

If you want a dry teacher in the room, build a damn roof on it.

Look. Look look look look look. We already know that poverty absolutely correlates with test results. Show me your tests results and I will show you where your low-income students are. Poverty and lack of resources and underfunding put these students in a classroom without a roof, and anybody you put in there with them will be a wet teacher.

Build a damn roof.


********** If you're an old-timer like me and you wish NFL players would start to look the way they did it the old days,  you might see some potential uses for this guy in West Reading, Pennsylvania...


*********** I came across a few great reactions by Bostonians to the news that Boston will be the USOC's candidate for the 2014 Olympics…

As someone who lives and works in Boston and deals daily with traffic gridlock, decaying bridges and tunnels, and a subway from the 19th century, where a large portion of the population lives in poverty, i was thinking the other day that what this city really needs is a good velodrome...

If you plan on taking the Green Line to the games, you'd better get on a train now.

***********  Ask yourself - honestly  - would you want your son (or grandson) playing a game in which an opponent can lay in wait for him and, at no risk to himself, while your kid's helpless to defend himself, knock him senseless?

So why should we expect anyone else who's seen an NFL defensive back launch himself at a defenseless receiver and then watched officials split hairs trying to determine whether contact was made by shoulder or helmet, or whether the point of impact was the shoulder, or neck, or helmet of the targeted victim,  allow his (or her) kid to play a game like that?

It started in the NFL, and as inevitably happens with the most repugnant aspects of the NFL, it's seen on TV by kids and very quickly copied.   And, left unchecked, it's going to kill our game.

What would you say to someone who tells you this is why he doesn't want his son playing football?   What can you say? 

Even boxing allows a man the opportunity to defend himself.

This isn't boxing, though - this is much worse.  HItting a helpless opponent  requires no courage. Tucking the arms and hands and launching one's self into a helpless opponent is about as courageous as sucker-punching him.  It's the knockout game in shoulder pads.

I recommend two changes: 

(1) Hands must lead - hands must be above or ahead of the shoulders or it's not a tackle.  It's illegal contact.  Fifteen yards from the spot.

(2) Time for a penalty box.  None of this suspension crap, where coaches can prepare a substitute. Guy's out for a specified period of time - while his team plays a man short.   Watch how fast coaches - and players - change their ways.

What kind of sport allows a player to deliberately injure an opponent?  Boxing? Whatever happened to boxing, anyhow?

*********** For a nation with so little respect for history, our media sure do seem to spend an awful lot of time talking about a politician's "legacy." As if, two or three years from now, anyone will even remember any of these clowns.

*********** By the time the first NFL game was under way Saturday, the North Dakota State- Illinois State game was already over.

Too bad, because it was by far the most exciting game of the weekend.

Geez, I hate watching those Patriots play.  It's like watching seven-on-seven with a handful of big linemen cluttering things up.  It's a travesty to watch Brady stand there.. and stand there… and stand there.. and throw passes.  It's pussified football, and I fear that it's the way the NFL (and, ultimately, the rest of football) is headed. 

Think of it - 7 (SEVEN!) running plays for 14 (FOURTEEN!) yards, for God's sake. Is there any easier way to make a living in American than as a Patriots' running back?

No, you can't count Brady's six ventures out of the pocket (for ZERO yards) as "running plays" even though the stats guys do.  Believe me, there's no way the Patriots ever intend for Brady to run the ball.  What - and have him actually play football?

I don't want to wish anything really bad on Brady or anything, but it sure would be a little more like the football we grew up with if he'd have to take a serious hit every now and then.

*********** I've flown a lot in the past 20 years or so, and I've seen a few  "emotional support animals" on  flights… but a f--king 50 pound pig?


*********** I'm partial to David Shaw, not only because he's a Stanford guy and he's the Stanford coach, but also because I knew his dad, Willie.  Willie Shaw was on Rich Brooks' Oregon staff when I'd work at Oregon's camp back in the 70s and 80s.  Great guy.  A career coach.  I think that if he'd been born maybe 20 years later, he'd have been a head coach himself (if you get my drift) but his legacy is his son and what he's been able to accomplish at Stanford.

From AFCA  Weekly...

Before Stanford University head coach David Shaw first started coaching at Western Washington, he received some terrific advice from his father that he holds dear to this day.

“Coach to your personality,” his father told him. It’s just a few short words, but it speaks volumes.

“He knew I was going to work hard,” says Shaw of his father. “He knew I was going to do what I was supposed to do, but his advice was don’t try to be like anybody else.”


american flagFRIDAY,  JANUARY 9,  2015"Take notes on the spot: a note is worth a cart-load of recollections.”    Ralph Waldo Emerson

*********** Only in California, where when it comes to managing peoples' lives, state government could give the USSR a run for its money…

This year, California's middle school and high school football coaches will be required by STATE LAW to limit contact in practices.

The law prohibits high school and middle school teams from

(1) having full-contact practices lasting longer than 90 minutes in one day

(2) conducting more than two full-contact practices per week during the season and

(3) holding contact practices during the off-season.

The intent, of course, is to limit concussions and other serious head injuries.

The state doesn't require coaches to be USA-Football certified.  Not yet.


*********** This one was sent me by Chuck Lovinski, younger brother of my late friend, Frank "Pope Franjo" Lovinski.

Chuck, a native of Wheeling, West Virginia,  was a QB-running back for WVU in the mid-60s, when Jim Carlen was the Mountaineers' head coach, and his offensive coordinator was a young Alabamian named Bobby Bowden.  Another QB, trying to come back from a leg injury, was a 6-3, 200 pound kid from Farmington, the home town of the legendary Sam Huff, named Joe Manchin.

Chuck Lovinski remains a BIG Mountaineer fan, and a big fan of the Mountain State in general, and he sent me  link to an amazing story:

The Coaching Cradle That Claims 15 National Titles…

From one small area in north central West Virginia have come four coaches who among them have won 15 National Championships:

Fielding Yost, Fairview - six (all at Michigan)
John McKay, Shinnston - four (all at USC)
NIck Saban, Monongah - four (one at LSU, three at Alabama
Jimbo Fisher, Glens Falls - one title at Florida State

Other areas of the Mountain State have produced such outstanding coaches as Rich Rodriguez, Lou Holtz, Ben Schwartzwalder (won the 1959 national title at Syracuse),  Greasy Neale (coached at Virginia, West Virginia, Yale, and won the 1948 and 1949 NFL titles coaching the Philadelphia Eagles).


*********** We lost two country music greats last week:

LIttle Jimmie Dickens
"May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose" -

George Hamilton IV.  
"A Rose and a Baby Ruth,"

Get this - from the Nashville Tennessean  - George  Hamilton was the rare country star to actively support progressive politicians in the 1960s, and his abiding Christian faith led was the bedrock of his belief in civil rights and racial equality. In 1968, he and wife Tink attended Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy's speech at Vanderbilt's Memorial Gym. Kennedy was late for the speech, and event organizer John Seigenthaler asked Mr. Hamilton to entertain the assembled crowd.

"He said, 'Well, it just happens I have my guitar in my trunk,'" Seigenthaler told a Vanderbilt Hustler reporter.

Mr. Hamilton played for 45 minutes, and he considered "opening" for Kennedy a highlight of his musical career.

*********** Kobe Bryant says European basketball players are better because in their system they learn (and work) on fundamentals, instead of in our AAU-driven system based on assembling teams of talented players and playing lots and lots of games.

"I just think European players are just way more skillful. They are just taught the game the right way at an early age. ... They're more skillful. It's something we really have to fix. We really have to address that. We have to teach our kids to play the right way."

The problem, as he sees it?

"AAU basketball.  Horrible, terrible AAU basketball. It's stupid. It doesn't teach our kids how to play the game at all so you wind up having players that are big and they bring it up and they do all this fancy crap and they don't know how to post. They don't know the fundamentals of the game. It's stupid."

Obviously, Kobe has never seen one of these NFL "camps" that profess to teach young kids "fundamentals."

Or an NFL practice, where they're way too busy to practice tackling.


*********** Not that I've ever been in the San Antonio Spurs' locker room, but I' told that there's just one sign on the wall - in English, French, Serbian Spanish and Turkish.

It's a quote from Jacob Riis, a Danish-American social reformer:

"Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two. . . . It was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before."

It's what's meant by "pounding the rock."

*********** Maybe it's been bought by Muslims.

Either that or somebody on Fox News just mispronounced the name of Hartford's paper, the Courant ("Current"), calling it the Harford Kor-AHNT.

*********** Well. Jameis is off to the NFL, and now Florida State can get back to just playing football.  Maybe.

My wife asked me what I'd do if I were coaching at Florida State with all that's gone down the last couple of years - the criminals and near-criminals on the team, and their apparent coddling by the team, the school athletic department and the local police.

I wish I could say that I'd hand in my resignation and walk out. 

Nowadays, I would.

But realistically, that would have been a much younger and far more ambitious me, and caught in that situation, I'm afraid I might have sold my soul and said nothing, knowing that there weren't many jobs out there as good as the one I had.

I'm human, and I know it, which is one reason I count myself fortunate to have found myself in that sort of moral dilemma just once, working for a totally amoral man in Philadelphia, and to have had my problem resolved for me when our entire league went out of business.

*********** “It was a blessing to be able to coach him.  He’s one of the unique players that I’ve ever had the privilege to coach. He embodies what you as a coach want as a person, a student and a player. He’s a genuine and honest guy.”

That was Jimbo Fisher.  It really was. He was talking about Jameis Winston. He really was.

*********** Where did ESPN find this Marty Smith guy?  I can't tell if he's any good because his unkempt appearance puts me off.  The guy just doesn't... look... football. Truthfully, he  looks like a guy they found holding a cardboard sign at a freeway on-ramp, and  threw a sport coat on him and stuck a micorphone in his hand.

*********** The Big Guy in the Orange Sweater may have committed an ethics violation

Writes Cindy  Boren, Washington Post…

(Chris) Christie flew to Dallas and accepted the ticket to the game at the expense of the Cowboys’ owner, who just so happens to have a business relationship with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The state’s Code of Conduct says that governors “may accept gifts, favors, services, gratuities, meals, lodging or travel expenses from relatives or personal friends that are paid for with personal funds.”

The sticky issue is that the governor of New Jersey, along with the governor of New York, controls the Port Authority, and Legends Hospitality, a company in which Jones has an interest, has been given a license to run an observation deck atop One World Trade Center, which is operated by the Port Authority.


*********** Bob Stoops fired his top offensive guys, but insists that they're not being made scapegoats.


40-6, Clemson.


"Well, heads we blame it on the offense, tails we blame it on the defense. 

"Oh, wait.  Can't do that.  My brother coaches the defense..."


*********** Army's Black Lion Award winner, Joe Drummond, has been selected to play in Saturday's Medal of Honor Bowl Game in Charleston, SC

In the team huddle following practice, Coach Gailey was very specific about this week’s goal. “You guys are here to make the NFL, not to party. The fun can wait.”


*********** John Simar and I have been on a search for Hanson Ely.  Was he or was he not an Army football player?

John, who retired last year after a long tenure as athletic director at New Jersey's Lawrenceville School. is a former Army football player and coach, and when we first met he was serving as President of the Army Football Club, the association of former Army football players.

In that position, John played a major part in the Army Football Club's sponsorship of the Black Lion Award at West Point.

In his years at Lawrenceville, John became quite aware of Dennis Mahan Michie, a Lawrenceville grad and the "father of Army football."  Army's MIchie (MY-key) Stadium is named in his honor.  Thanks to his considerable efforts, Army was able to put together a team of cadets, only three of whom had ever played a game of football, to face a much more experienced Navy team. 

The date of the game was November 29, 1890.

Navy had been playing since 1882, and, understandably, won the contest, 24-0.

But the loss actually had a bright side:  so determined was the Army command to avenge the defeat that as hard as the Army football players had had to work to make that first meeting with Navy possible,  they had no difficulty at all in arranging for a second meeting the next year.  And at a time when Cadets rarely left the academy grounds for any reason, they even  gained approval to travel to Annapolis to play the game.

For that game, the Cadets were prepared. Having learned that former Yale star Harry Williams had landed a teaching job in nearby Newburgh, Michie and the officer in charge of football managed to persuade Williams to volunteer his services as a coach.  Making the trip over Storm King Mountain to West Point twice a week, Williams worked wonders, and the outcome of the 1891 contest was a 32-16 Army victory and the assurance that, yes, this would, indeed, be a rivalry- and one of college football's greatest rivalries at that.

But John Simar also came across a very interesting connection between that first Army football team and the Black Lions.

He wrote me,

My grandfather kept a journal when he served with the 29th Division (the famous National Guard Division that was assigned Omaha Beach in WWII) in France in WWI. 

When I was researching WWI for a booklet I did on him for my family I read John Eisenhower's (Ike's son) book called "Yanks".  He has a chapter on Cantigny.  That was a crucial engagement for the American army for 3 reasons: it deprived the Germans of an important observation point, it showed the Germans that the American army was not just a rabble, and most importantly it added to Pershing's argument for an independent American command which saved many American lives.  Our troops would have been parceled out to French and British divisions and would have been used as cannon fodder.

The Black Lions are the 28th Infantry Regiment which was part of the 1st Infantry Division in WWI.  The 28th was assigned to take the town of Cantigny, France from the Germans and was commanded by Col. Hanson E. Ely.

Eisenhower says, "Ely was considered a formidable warrior.  A quarter century earlier, at 6'2 and 220 pounds, he had been one of West Point's first football players, and since then had lost none of drive and stamina."

The regiment did such a magnificent job that the French named the Regiment the "Lions of Cantigny", thus the patch and the French lion.

This led John on a search of West Point records - was Hanson Ely  actually "one of West Point's first football players?"

Alas, there is no mention of him in the Army media guide.

But wait -  I dug into my library and found a book by Tim Cohane entitled "Gridiron Grenadiers," a history of Army football, published in 1948.

Author Cohane wrote about preparations for the first game of football an Army team ever played - against Navy, on November 29, 1890...

"Cadet Hanson Ely, who would have played on the team if he hadn't broken an ankle in the riding hall, asked Professor Francis J. Kernan if the academy would provide uniforms.  The professor laughed."

So if Tim Cohane's research - as well as John Eisenhower's - is correct, Hanson Ely, commander of the 28th Infantry at Cantigny, the battle in which the Black Lons earned their name, may not have been able to play in the first Army-Navy game, but he was on the first Army football team, and would have played had he not been injured.

Hanson Ely,  “Ely of Cantigny,” held many awards for bravery.  At his retirement in 1931 he possessed the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star, the Croix de Guerre with five citations and other foreign decorations.

During his forty years in the Army he campaigned in the old West, Mexico, Cuba and the Philippines. 

He was one of the first American officers sent to France, in May 1917.  His first work there was the study of the trench warfare methods of the Allies.

In World War I he rose from the rank of Major to that of Major General.  He received his “Cantigny” nickname on May 28, 1918, when, as a Colonel commanding the Twenty-eighth Infantry, First Division, he led his men at the battle of that name in France in the first purely American offensive of the war.


*********** Dad - not sure if you saw this. Great piece about the LA Rams. Love, Ed

The biggest tease in this latest NFL news isn't that another rich guy is planning to build another stadium on another perfect site like Hollywood Park.


I've been reading quite a bit about Stan Kroenke, the owner of the Rams, and his plans to go ahead and build a stadium in Los Angeles, on the site of old Hollywood Park Race Track.  He's going to do it (he says) on spec, fully aware that he needs approval of two-thirds of the NFL owners in order to move.

I would expect there to be resistance to his play, because I think the NFL would prefer to sell a brand-new franchise to somebody and place it in the LA market and distribute the money among the members - what do you suppose an expansion  franchise in the Los Angeles market would bring?  

Otherwise,  if they do let the Rams/Chargers/Raiders (the three teams most likely to move there because the taxpayers in their current cities won't build them new stadia)  move - what's a franchise worth in a much smaller, much less glamorous area that (in the NFL's estimation) needs a stadium and wouldn't build one for the last guy?

For sure, Kroenke is smart to take advantage of the fact that no matter who else wants to get in there, he owns that name.  In my opinion, "Los Angeles Rams" has value.

Let me tell you, those Rams of the late 40s-early 50s were damn good! They were so far ahead of the game in so many respects.  Only the Cleveland Browns rivaled them in the (relative) wide-openness of their offense.  They and the Browns are the only teams of that era that you could look at today and, allowing for the fact that they'd be  in black-and-white, see evidence of today's NFL offenses. (Ironically, the Rams moved from Cleveland to LA because with the AAFC - and the Browns - coming to town, they could see that they were going to be Number Two in ttheir own market.)

It's popular nowadays to say that pro football "didn't arrive" until the Colts played the Giants in 1958, but the Rams were playing in front of huge crowds well before that. (And so, it should be added, were USC and UCLA.  Never let anyone tell you that the Southland isn't great football country.)

I remember my college coach, who lived in LA in the off-season, telling me in 1960 what a big deal the Rams were - how every tavern within 50 miles of LA would run buses to the game - way before the guys back East ever figured it out.

*********** I can remember when coaches weren't permitted to send in plays.  Not sure I'd want to go back to those days.

But I can also remember when coaches couldn't call time outs on the sideline, and I'd love to go back.  For God's sake, do we want to turn our game into a Madden with more life-like players?

C'mon, coaches - Is it absolutely impossible for you to communicate to one of your players your desire for a timeout?

Does anyone remember this year's Army-Navy game, when Army lined up for a 4th-and-one at midfield and managed to make it?   And then the referee said that Navy had called a timeout before the play?  And then replay showed clearly that the ball had been snapped while Navy Coach Ken Niumatololo was still communicating his intentions to the official on the sideline?

Back in 2004, the NFL rule book was changed to allow coaches to call time out from the sideline.  Up until then, it could only be called by a captain, on the field.  Coaches argued convincingly that the change would save precious time spent trying to get the attention of the captain and then trying to get the attention of an official.

And then, this.   The Law of Unintended Consequences strikes.

In a 2007 game, as the Raiders'  Sebastian Janikowski lined up for a game-winning field goal attempt, Denver coach Mike Shanahan quietly informed an official near him on the sideline that he was going to be calling a timeout. Then, just before the ball was snapped,  Shanahan called it.

The time-out was too late to stop the center from snapping the ball, but not to nullify the outcome of the play - which, as it turned out, was a field goal.

When Janikowski missed the re-do, Shanahan was seen in some circles - the darkest circles of shady coaching - as a genius,  and there we are.  Now, it's become a routine part of a coach's strategy.

Said Mike Pereira, the NFL’s head of officiating at the time, “It’s the unintended consequence of a good rule change. I don’t think any of us projected it would be used this way. It just doesn’t seem right.”

One proposed tweaking of the rule - prohibiting the calling of a timeout once the kicking team is set and the offensive linemen are in their three-point stances - has proved unhelpful, as more and more teams eschew the three-point stance entirely.

Said Giants CEO John Mara, back in 2007, “The next thing you’ll see is a coach walking up to the official and acting like he’s going to call it, and then he doesn’t do it. Do we want to have that in the game? I don’t really like the way it looks, to have the kicker kick the ball and you think the game is over and the players run out onto the field celebrating and it’s, ‘Wait a minute,’ and you’re lining up again.

“We have other sportsmanship issues we have had to deal with - taunting, excessive celebrations - and this just adds a whole other level to it.”


american flagTUESDAY,  JANUARY 6,  2015"When you strike at a king, you must kill him."    Ralph Waldo Emerson

************ Found a sure-fire way to keep from putting on those Christmas pounds.

Get sick.  Don't eat. 

Just lie around and watch bowl game after bowl game after bowl game.  (I actually slept through one bowl game, something I normally do only during NFL games.)

It'd been a long time since I really got whacked like that.  spent most of the time between Christmas and New Year's going back and forth between the bowl games on TV in one room and The Kohler Porcelain Bowl in the other.

*********** Rest in Peace, Stuart Scott. 

*********** In case you didn't see the big guy in the orange (or whatever it was) sweater up there in Jerrah Jones' box in Dallas,  that was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, doing his best to piss off all those GIants', Jets' and Eagles' fans back home…


***********  After watching 2-3 weeks of bowl games, the NFL game is bo-o-o-o-ring. I've said it so often that it's becoming cliche, but  there's more excitement in  a weekend of  college football than an entire NFL season.  And if you watched even half of all the bowl games, you will have seen enough football to be immune to all the bullsh-- the media will be putting out over the next few weeks to tell you how exciting the NFL playoffs are.

Of course, if you find watching quarterbacks dropping back into the pocket, play after play after play, you may actually find it exciting.  By far the most exciting point of this entire past weekend was when the officiating crew, either through incompetence or corruption, decided that what they initially called pass interference against the Cowboys wasn't actually pass interference after all.  Most surprising to me was that here we've come to expect referees to lecture us at considerable length on the appropriate rule and why it does or does not apply, and so forth, and in this case, the referee went totally silent on us.

*********** I've never made a secret of the fact that I despise the NFL and what it's been doing to our game, and this past week did nothing to change my opinion.

First, there was the the unbelievable Suh decision, all but rewarding dirty play by allowing Suh to step on an opposing quarterback's ankle and then rescinding his one-game suspension, even though what he did was nearly identical to the act just a week or so earlier that cost teammate Dominic Raiola a game.  Yes, yes, I know - Suh was fined $70,000.  Brutal. Guy made $12.5 million this past season, which means $70,000 works out to maybe 10 plays a game.

Moral - you're so worried about domestic violence that you need to get back to focusing on what's going on INSIDE your game.

Heads Up TacklingThen, there was the "tackle" that knocked the ball out of Ted Ginn's arms in the Panthers- Cardinals game.  Our local paper actually ran a photo of it on the front sports page.  Hey, kids - don't listen to what your coach tells you!  Do it the way the pros do!  Just like the guy in the picture!  (And Moms, make sure your little boy's coach is USA Football-certified!)

Moral - You need to spend less time trying to tell  high school coaches how to coach and get back to teaching your own players . Start with tackling.  Try to remember: "Heads Up!"

Actually, I predict that the next big NFL scandal will occur when a player dies of a broken neck after tackling with his head down and the public demands to know why, since initiating contact with the crown of the helmet in the open field (as shown in the photo at left) was officially made illegal in 2013, the officials have seldom flagged it.  It's not likely that coaches are doing anyting to discourage it, either, which makes them liable, whether they know it or not.  Worse yet, it could happen to a high school kid, and when it does, nobody will even think to make the connection between what he did and what he saw NFL players doing.

Finally, there was the unconscionable "whoops!" call in the Cowboys-Lions game.  ("Whoops!  That was the Cowboys we called it against!  Let's pretend it didn't really happen.  Who will know?")  

Remember back when the refs were on strike and the league went with "replacement refs" - and the "real refs" union spent money pointing out the mistakes made by the replacements, as if that would never happen with them?

Moral -  If you want people to start doubting the integrity of the game, tell officials to do this more often.

*********** They're saying that the  Dallas-Detroit interference/non-interference call may have been the result of the NFL's brilliant idea to use "all-star" crews in playoff games, rather than crews that have worked together all season.

Tell me about it.  The worst-officiated game I've ever coached in was a playoff game worked by an "all-star" crew.

*********** Johnny Manziel was  a gift from God to guys like me who enjoy ridiculing all the knuckleheads in the NFL but hate to appear to be constantly hammering on black guys.

So, thank you, God, for Johnny Football - a white guy who may be the biggest knucklehead of them all.

One writer to the Cleveland Plain Dealer said he knew Manziel's story about being out with three friends from his hometown (Kerrville, Texas) instead of throwing a party had to be a lie because "you can't find three people in Kerrville who like him."

*********** Are you listening, Johnny Manziel?
Bill Simmons...

I wholeheartedly believe that NFL quarterbacks succeed for the following reasons: “talent” (25-30 percent) and “everything else,” which covers leadership, charisma, personality, work ethic, intelligence and not doing basically anything that Johnny Football does (70-75 percent). You’re not just the QB in pro football; you’re the CEO. You’re setting a week-to-week, day-to-day, hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute example. If your teammates don’t believe in you, if they don’t follow you, if they don’t totally care about protecting you or fighting for you, then you’re done. If you can’t crouch in a crunch-time huddle — down four, three minutes left, 80 yards to go — and look your 10 dudes in the eye and say with complete confidence, “WE ARE SCORING RIGHT NOW,” then you’re never making it in (Cris Carter voice) the National Football League.

***********  I will defend the safety of my players…forever.

thus tweeted  Jim Mora, UCLA coach, lamely explaining his rude, ultra-quick "handshake" with BIll Snyder following the Alamo Bowl. 

Uhhh, Coach… Somehow, I don't see how disrespecting the sort of coach you can only hope to become did a whole lot to defend the safety of your players, seeing as how the game was over.

Actually, allowing for my bias toward K-State and my general dislike of UCLA, I had the impression that overall, UCLA played borderline-dirty ball. As just one example,  Miles Jack, a Washington kid and a  very good player, seemed to take a lot of questionable shots and be right in the middle of any entanglement.


*********** Keep an eye this one…

“I have no plans to coach anywhere other than UCLA at this point."

That was Jim Mora, quoted by the Orange County Register's Ryan Kartie.   Before the Alamo Bowl.   At that point.

*********** Florida QB Jeff Driskel, who threw for 23 touchdowns in his career at Florida, has been given his release and is free to transfer.

Because he has already graduated, he will be able to play right away at his new school.

In seven games this past season, Driskel threw for 1,092 yards with nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

*********** Despite years and years of Title IX and sharing the wealth,  despite all the female sports that colleges have added - invented, even -  we're no further along than this:

The AP Female Athlete of the Year is a 13-year-old girl who pitched on a boys' Little League baseball team.

And that's progress?

Would they in all seriousness  have done that to male athletes? 

Look - I've seen UConn basketball and I wonder where Breanna Stewart finished in this bogus poll.  And wasn't there anyone on Penn State's NCAA volleyball championship team who was worthy?  Wasn't there a college soccer player or sprinter or swimmer? 

Or were they just getting tired of giving the award to Serena Williams every year?

If I were a woman and either a coach or an athlete, I would be pissed at the way the AP lost sight of the meaning of its own award, and let a feel-good story that played out over a couple of weeks last summer enable a child to barge ahead of thousands of outstanding female athletes at the apex of their sports.


*********** What kills me about the likelihood of "The (ESPN) Playoff" slowly killing off the other bowls is the sight of all those excited kids after their teams ended their seasons with big bowl wins.

Not that fans give a sh--, but the more The Playoff expands, the more we approach the ugliness of a pro-type system which ends with only one winner.

*********** Note to Rich Rodriguez:  talented or not, don't you have to wonder if a guy really is smart enough to be your quarterback when he can't remember that he doesn't have any more timeouts left - and with time for (maybe) two more plays he runs and  lets himself get tackled?

*********** I consider myself a connoisseur of college fight songs, and I like Arizona's "Bear Down", but their band sure lost me with the  new, revised - and dumbshit - version they played, over and over, in the Fiesta Bowl.

************ TRIGGER WARNING… Thankfully, the camera cut out before our little children were forced to see the Michigan State kids bowing in prayer.  But next time I wish they'd give us a little warning first.

*********** Sure wish I'd started counting all the false start penalties they called during bowl season.  Ridiculous. 

*********** How far they've fallen… Her ties with ESPN cut, one-time sideline dream girl Erin Andrews has been reduced to starring in Probiotics commercials.

*********** PLAY OF THE BOWL SEASON - 6-G/7-G, by Air Force and Georgia Tech


*********** ESPN had, oh, four weeks to prepare for the Rose Bowl game, but I'm going to bet they put off preparations until the last minute and then pulled an all-nighter.  It showed.

Maybe someone should have told them about how fast-paced the Oregon offense is, because they were so busy with their usual between-play horse puckey that they missed the starts of play after play.  They totally whiffed on Oregon's two-point conversion after their first score because, you know, everybody just routinely lines up for a place kick, right?

They could have made do with a whole lot fewer cameras, because  with all those cameras there's too much temptation for the director to sue them all.  As a result, in addition to the usual closeups between plays, we got a lot of ground-level shots and cutesy-poo shots from strange angles.

*********** Once Chris Spielman and the play-by-play guy with him got on the idea that Boise State's defense was tired they wouldn't let go of it. 

*********** The guys at the whatever bowl who kept saying how great it was of Kevin Sumlin (to leave that "student-assistant" in the locker room)...

What coach wouldn't have made sure that guy vanished?

Not once did they ask what the guy, not by any definition a real coach, was doing right in the middle of everything, and how he could have hit two different West Virginia players without the coach finding out about it until halftime, as he claimed.

*********** Enough, already.  Stop with this "VAH-tech," "LAH-tech" crap. I'm just waiting to hear, "WAH State"

*********** It was Stanford 35, Maryland 7,  and with 10 minutes left in the 3rd quarter the talk up in the booth switched from the game to The Playoff

Before that, they noted at one point  that there was only one Californian on the Maryland team.  Helpfully, they provided us an explanation: "Maryland is not a West Coast team…"


*********** BIG BOWL WINNERS

OREGON - Tsk, tsk, FSU.  You done got exposed. All that work covering up for Jameis, and he goes belly-up on you. Literally.

OHIO STATE - There can no longer be any doubt - Urban Meyer can coach.

THE BIG TEN - Ohio State, MIchigan State and Wisconsin all came up winners on New Year's Day.

THE PAC 12 - Not lookin' so soft, now, are they, all you  guys who've been poll-parroting what you heard on ESPN?

TCU - Definitely good enough to have been in - even won  - "The Playoff"

CLEMSON - Good enough to hammer Oklahoma. 

GEORGIA - Do they EVER run out of good running backs?

GEORGIA TECH - Paul Johnson demonstrated  that no, people haven't caught up with his offense. Other guys may be tempted to run that triple option, but there just aren't many guys out there who know how to teach it and coach it

STANFORD - Where do they find all those good athletes with good grades? All those big linemen?  All those tall receivers?  We know where they found Christian McCaffrey - his dad, Ed,  played at Stanford (before the Denver Broncos).  You have got to see this kid.  He is incredible

BOISE STATE - Broncos developed yet another kid from the Northwest into a winning QB

ARKANSAS - It's been a long road back from the Petrino debacle, but the way the Hogs took it to Texas  it looked like some of Bielemaa's best Wisconsin teams. (How about the 8-man line they threw up there in a short yardage situation?)

USC - Scary.  And now the QB's coming back.

MICHIGAN STATE - They were so far out of it against Baylor that  I switched the bigger TV over to Wisconsin-Auburn.  That game was OVER.   Whatever Harbaugh is getting, Mark Dantonio should get at least $1 more.

WISCONSIN - It might have been a "meaningless bowl" to you, or to the experts in the media, but not to those kids from Wisconsin.

TENNESSEE - Young team. Great young QB returning. Explosive.



FLORIDA STATE - Pretenders (And these guys took a spot from TCU?). Classless losers at that. Most of the team simply walked off the field after the game. Somebody needs to give that bunch a lesson in how to act like men.  Even when you lose.  Happens to other people all the time. Seven of your opponents lost to you by six points or less,  Noles, and they all had to deal with the pain and disappointment of losing when they went and shook your hands. Yes, it hurts like hell, but congratulating your opponent is part of the price you pay for being able to be a part of our great game, and shame on the head coach who doesn't teach that.  Which brings us to the head coach.   Guy just had his ass kicked, admittedly a very rare thing for any Florida State coach, and he barely acknowledged his opponent before going straight to spin mode: "We beat ourselves." "It was the turnovers."  (Yeah. Like Oregon didn't have anything to do with that.)  And then there was the superduperstar Heisman Trophy winning quarterback himself, who sounded as if he had just finished  playing in another game on another planet and had magically materialized for the press conference: "We were never stopped at all."

The BCS - If we still had it, Alabama would be playing Florida State for the BCS National Championship game

TOSTITOS -  Haven't seen a single ad yet. Just doesn't seem like a national championship without 'em.

THE BIG 12 - Thank the Lord for TCU and Oklahoma State

THE SEC - Still strong, of course.  Still may have the most NFL prospects. But at least we won't have to listen to all the bragging about the SEC's claimed superiority until the start of next season.

THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI - Mississippi State and Ole Miss both finished their seasons embarrassed in their bowl games.  At one point, earlier in the season, they were 1-2 in the nation.


OKLAHOMA - A really, really bad performance.  The Oklahoma people can't be happy, but what are the odds that they could do better than Bob Stoops?

TEXAS - Sorry, but I just don't see any of that Charlie Strong magic yet

TEXAS A & M - Yes, they won, but a team that allows "student assistant coaches" (whatever they are) to get close enough to the action to hit opposing players might have other problems.

NORTH CAROLINA -  At least they don't have to worry about getting back to their studies.  There'll be tutors to cover for them.  If any of them are taking actual classes, that is.

Speaking of North Carolina… Butch Davis was all over the ESPN studio shows…  He was head coach at UNC while a lot of the academic scandal was taking place, but he swears he had no idea it was going on.  Right.  Believe me, as paranoid as most major college football coaches are, it would be a total shock to learn that we'd actually come across one of them who wasn't aware of every tiny detail of his operation.    http://abc11.com/education/butch-davis-defends-decisions-he-made-at-unc/434982/

IOWA - I like Kirk Ferentz and I admire what he's done at Iowa, but memories are growing short.   Jim Harbaugh's entry on the Big Ten scene means the league will become even more top-heavy,  and it's going to be quite a job for Iowa to get back up there with the Ohio States and Michigan States along with - bet on it - the Michigans, Nebraskas and Penn States.

WASHINGTON - Got waxed in the Cactus Bowl - and theyre losing their three best defensive players.

XAVIER WOODSON - Arkansas State linebacker. Despite stopping Toledo on a fourth-and-goal  play,  Arkansas State found itself facing a first-and-goal from the one after Woodson was penalized and ejected for "threatening an official."  WTF?  NOBODY seems to know what he said.


Poinsettia Bowl - Navy-San Diego State (Pretty bad when it's played in San Diego, a big Navy town at that)
Heart of Dallas Bowl - Lousiana Tech - Illinois
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl - Air Force-Western Michigan (I thought the idea was to get Midwest people to go someplace warm)
Orange Bowl - Georgia Tech - Mississippi State  - Full house - if you didn't count the empty upper deck
Outback Bowl - Wisconsin-Auburn- Pretty good crowd down below, very good job of keeping the TV cameras off the upper deck
St, Petersburg  Bowl - NC State - UCF
Quicklane Bowl - NC-Rutgers
Bahamas Bowl - Western Kentucky-Central MIchigan - I played in front of bigger crowds in Finland, for God's sake
Armed Forces Bowl - Pitt - Houston

Sun Bowl - Arizona State-Duke
Music City Bowl - LSU-Notre Dame
Cotton Bowl - Baylor-MIchigan State
Peach Bowl - TCU-Ole Miss
Holiday Bowl -  USC-Nebraska
Fiesta Bowl - Boise State-Arizona


Yankee Stadium - This one is way out in front of the competition, well on its way to retiring the trophy. Every year they try resodding after the baseball season's over, and in the Northeast, that just doesn't work. As the TV cameras showed - but the announcers seemed to be instructed not to comment on - the loose turf caused the BC placekicker's plant foot to slip, costing BC the extra point in OT that cost them the game.

Levi's Stadium - Stanford vs Maryland - not that it should have surprised anyone:
From the San Jose Mercury-News:
The stadium's field proved to be an embarrassment, as the Niners had to rip out the entire brand-new $1.4 million turf system after the first preseason game in August because it wasn't playable. The team is currently on its fifth field after having to re-sod parts or all of the turf about once per month during the season, and while players publicly said they were generally fine with the playing surface, big divots and brown patches continued to be visible during Niners games.

St Petersburg's  Indoor Stadium, or Dome, or whatever it's called - That damn artificial  field looked as if it needs a haircut last year, and it still needs one. Only the turf in the Syracuse Carrier Dome rivals it for crummy appearance on TV.

Bronco Stadium (or is it Albertson Stadium?) - Whatever.  It's that damn  blue field in Boise.  Okay, okay.  Enough, already. The novelty has run its course.  You've had your fun.  We all know who you are now.  Now, can we all go back to playing football on green fields?

************ In today's world, if Lee Harvey Oswald had walked right up to President Kennedy and shot him, most bystanders would have been shocked, but the ones who weren't would have had the presence of mind to go immediately to their pockets.  Not for their guns, but for their phones.  So they could start their cameras going.

No one would have gone after the assassin.    The video camera is that pervasive a part of our culture.

Most youth football coaches have known this for some time. Most high school coaches, too.

But not big-time college coaches.  Not all of them.  There are still some who don't seem to understand that they're constantly on-camera -  and much bigger, much better, and much more professionally-operated cameras at that.  And those cameras do not always show a coach to best advantage.  In fact, where coaches are concerned, they're gotcha cameras.

So somebody - please - remind Rich Rod and Brian Kelly that they're constantly on-camera,  and the camera, and the creative types who manipulate the video,  have the ability to make a guy look like pretty bad.

The montage of Rodriguez' angry looks that the creative guys stitched together was near-defamatory, but what do they care?  They were going for laughs.

Kelly, despite his short temper, is pretty safe most of the time,  because most of his appearances are on Notre Dame's own network (NBC),  but he's got to be more careful when the Irish are on another network.

(It's too late to give this advice to Mike Stoops, whose sour sideline demeanor almost surely contributed to his being fired at Arizona.)

Fuzzy autographing bookk*********** I'm currently reading Fuzzy Thurston's book, "What a Wonderful World."  It's a fun read.  I've had it around for a while but it languished on the shelf.

What got me started reading it was a photo my friend Tom "Doc" HInger, of Winter Haven, Florida sent me after Fuzzy died.  It was taken in 2009, during a trip a small group of Black Lions made to a Packers' game in Green Bay. 

The trip was largely arranged by author David Maraniss, a Wisconsin native who spent a lot of time in Green Bay doing research for "When Pride Still Mattered,"  his award-winning biography of Vince Lombardi.  Like me, David's
an honorary Black LIon.

Think he doesn't have an in with the Packers?  You try getting a personalized tour of the Packers' facilities.  And pre-game sideline passes.  And a visit with Packers' President Mark Murphy.  And 14 seats - together - at a game in Lambeau Field.

The photo was taken on a Friday. That's Doc on the left, David in the middle, and, of course, Fuzzy.  Because I was coaching, I didn't arrive until Saturday afternoon, and, sadly,  I missed out on meeting Fuzzy.

Wrote Doc, "I’ll always treasure this picture. By the way, the book he is signing is the one you own."

(It's inscribed, "To Coach Wyatt  Go Pack Go!  Fuzzy Thurston  63")

american flagTUESDAY,  DECEMBER 23,  2014"If a belief is too serious to joke about, it's probably wrong."   Sandra Day O'Connor

**********  Just finished The U, Part 2 - excellent doco, really well done. A few things:

1 - Cannot believe the sheer amount of talent that program had. The names are unbelievable: Vilma, Shockey, Moss, Ed Reed, Bryant McKennie and on and on...

2 - For the most part, the players were all pretty well spoken.

3 - Forgot about Ken Dorsey. What a winner.

4 - Never liked Butch Davis (not sure why) but really came across well in this.

5 - Larry Coker was about what I thought - the accidental tourist stumbling into a good situation.

6 - Forgot about that bogus pass interference in the Ohio State game. That was terrible.

7 - Didn't realize that Nevin Shapiro was such a little weasel. I thought he was an older guy a la Madoff and the other Ponzi guys.

Anyway, superb piece of sports fillmmaking.

Ed Wyatt
Melbourne, Australia

MY ANNUAL CHRISTMAS WISH FOR FOOTBALL COACHES EVERYWHERE (First printed in 2000, and printed every Christmas since): May you have.... Parents who recognize that you are the football expert; who stand back and let you coach their kids; who know their kids' limitations and don't expect them to start unless in your opinion they're better than the other kids; who don't sit in the stands and openly criticize their kids' teammates; who don't think it's your job to get their kid an athletic scholarship; who schedule their vacations so their kids won't miss any practices; who know that your rules apply to everybody, and are not designed just to pick on their kid...

... A community that can recognize a year when even Vince Lombardi himself would have trouble getting those kids to line up straight... Opponents who are fun to play against; who love and respect the game and its rules as much as you do, and refuse to let their kids act like jerks... Students who want to be in your class and want to learn; who laugh at your jokes and turn their work in on time... Freshmen who listen carefully, hear everything you say and understand all instructions the first time... Officials who will address you and your kids respectfully; who know and respect the rulebook; who will have as little effect on the game as possible; who will let you step a yard onto the playing field without snarling at you... Newspaper reporters who understand the game, always quote you accurately, and know when not to quote you at all... 

A school district that provides you with a budget sufficient to run a competitive program... A superintendent who schedules teachers' workdays so that coaches don't have to miss any practices... An athletic director who has been a coach himself and knows what you need to be successful and knows that one of those things is not another head coach in the AD's office; who can say "No" to the bigger schools that want you on their schedules; who understands deep down that despite Title IX, all sports are not equal... Assistants who love the game as much as you do, buy completely into your philosophy, put in the time in the off-season, and are eager to learn everything they can about what you are doing. And if they disagree with you, will tell you and nobody else.. A booster club that puts its money back into the sports that earn it, and doesn't demand a voice in your team's operation... A principal who figures that when there is a teachers' position open, the applicant who is qualified to be an assistant coach deserves extra consideration; who doesn't come in to evaluate you on game day; who makes weight-training classes available to football players first, before opening them up to the general student body; who knows that during the season you are very busy, and heads off parent complaints so that you don't have to waste your time dealing with them; who can tell you in the morning in five minutes what took place in yesterday afternoon's two-hour-long faculty meeting that you missed because you had practice... A faculty that will notify you as soon as a player starts screwing off or causing problems in class, and will trust you to handle it without having to notify the administration... A basketball coach who encourages kids to play football and doesn't discourage them from lifting, and doesn't hold "open gym" every night after football practice... A baseball coach who encourages kids to play football and doesn't have them involved in tournaments that are still going on into late August... A wrestling coach who encourages kids to play football and doesn't ask your promising 215-pound sophomore guard to wrestle at 178...

A class schedule that gives you and at least your top assistant the same prep period... Doctors that don't automatically tell kids with little aches and pains to stay out of football for two weeks, even when there's nothing seriously wrong with them... Cheerleaders who occasionally turn their backs to the crowd and actually watch the game; who understand the game - and like it... A couple of transfers who play just the positions where you need help... A country that appreciates the good that football - and football
who encourages kids to play football and doesn't ask your promising 215-pound sophomore guard to wrestle at 178... coaches - can do for its young men... A chance, like the one I've had, to get to know coaches and friends of football all over the country and find out what great people they are... The wisdom to "Make the Big Time Where You Are" - to stop worrying about the next job and appreciate the one you have ... Children of your own who love, respect and try to bring honor to their family in everything they do... A wife (like mine), who understands how much football means to you... Motivated, disciplined, coachable players who love the game of football and love being around other guys who do, too - players like the ones I've been blessed with. A nation at peace - a peace that exists thanks to a strong and dedicated military that defends us while we sleep. Merry Christmas.

For all assistants - A head coach whose values and philosophy you can espouse

Sounds like the things I have - may you be blessed to have them, too.

And one special wish for those coaching brothers who find themselves "between positions" at this time of year - May your Christmas joy not be dimmed by the fact that you are temporarily without a team, and instead brightened by the belief that your next job is just around the corner. (And if my experience is any indicator, it will be a far better one than the last one, anyhow!)

************ Maybe Hollywood should have left the North Koreans alone and  just kept sticking it to Christians.  Or business people.  Or the military.   And left it at that.

That's how it's been making all those millions that it kicks in at Democratic Party fundraisers. Trouble is, it got so rich and fat picking on people with no way of fighting back, that  it forgot that there are some very nasty people in this world who won't just sit there and take it. 

*********** Although they had the nerve to announce a "crowd" of 18,000 in Boise, the truth is that when the Air Force-Western Michigan game came on, I thought we were a day early, watching the walk-throughs.  The actual crowd was maybe one-tenth what they announced.  Combined with the rainy day and that dreary-ass blue field, it was a sorry sight to see and a hell of a way to advertise Idaho potatoes.  Or Boise.

Maybe even the people in Boise are starting to get sick of that damned blue field. 

*********** The way Louisiana-Lafayette plays in the Louisiana Bowl every year, if the Ragin' Cajuns could get into a major conference (not that LSU would ever let than happen) and then arrange to play all their games in the Super Dome, they'd be national title contenders.

*********** What's the deal with the orange rams' horns on the CSU helmets?

*********** BYU and Memphis both really fought hard. And if you tuned in late, the game that went on before the fight was pretty good, too.


*********** So after three or four weeks of playoff games, it's down to North Dakota State against Illinois State for the FCS title - and now all they have to do is hang around another two or three weeks until they play - on January 10.

No doubt they'll give their players a week or so off before getting back to work, but otherwise they've been going since early August.

And it won't be more than a couple of weeks after the title game before they start in on their conditioning programs to prepare for spring ball.

I'm not a proponent of paying players, but this crap plays right into the hands of those who argue in its favor. When the NCAA enters into these little money-making deals the last people they think about is the players.

*********** Years ago, I was standing on the sidelines in Minersville, Pennsylvania watching a play just a few yards to th right of me, being careful to stay out of the way, when from the left of me a player from the opposing team crashed, feet first,  into my leg. He'd been sent flying by a blocker, and after the collision, he lay on the ground writhing in pain.  I remember him saying, "My leg's broke!"  I hate to say it, but I was too concerned with my own leg to worry about his. I hope he was okay.  As it turned out, I was fine.  I couldn't believe it. The game went on, and so did I.  I still have a little dent in my quad, just above my knee, but otherwise I never had any problems.  

Not every coach is that lucky.   A surprising number of them have been injured as a result of sideline collisions.

Anybody else watch South Alabama coach Joey Jones get kicked in the face in the Camellia Bowl?


*********** I found it rather unusual that South Alabama's QB, Brandon Bridge, is not from Alabama.  He's not even from the South.  Or from the USA, for that matter.

He's from Mississauga, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto.  Kid has amazing arm strength.  I saw him throw deep, accurately, while off-balance, with just a flick of his wrist.

*********** Don't know whether you saw it, but when it got down to crunch time, Air Force got into a double-tight, double-wing set and ran the crap out of their fullback. They especially liked what we'd call 6-G and 7-G, and when thy faced a fourth-and-one with two minutes to play,  they ran a wedge at 3.

They had 283 yards rushing, and nearly 200 were gained by their two fullbacks.

*********** Last weekend was a good one for quarterbacks from Clark County, Washington.

The MVP of the NAIA championship game between Southern Oregon and Marian - also the NAIA Player of the Year  - was Austin Dodge, a local kid, from Vancouver, Washington's Skyview High.


The starting QB for Colorado State, Garrett Grayson, stood out in a losing cause against Utah. He's from Vancouver's Heritage High School.

*********** One of the NFL pre-game shows did a feature on head coaches' attire, and how it's regressed from the days of coats and ties to today's Nike-issued gear and raggedy-sleeve hoodies.  My wife asked me if that's why they never had Gatorade baths back when Lombardi and Landry coached. Hmmm. I never gave that one much thought. 

Actually, as an indication of the change in the coach-player relationship brought about by increased roster sizes, league expansion and a stronger player union, I have no doubt that even  if Vince Lombardi (or Tom Landry) had deliberately wore a shirt that said "Soak Me!", there still wouldn't have been any takers.

*********** You could make a very good case for the Lions' Jim Caldwell as NFL Coach of the Year.

You could also sell him a trunkful of counterfeit Rolex watches.  He's that gullible.

He said he believes his center, Dominic Raiola.  Dominic told him that he didn't mean to step on the Bears' Ego Ferguson's ankle Sunday.  Well actually, I wouldn't call it a step.  I'd call it a stomp.   It was ugly and it was dirty, and it was dumber than owlsh-- because it was in clear view of the cameras.

And his coach still believed him when he said he didn't mean to do it.

"I believe what Dom told me," Caldwell said, "that it was inadvertent, but I can also see why obviously it's being reviewed by the league and everybody's taking a real good look at it. You can also see the other side of that as well."

Well, "the other side" happened to be the one the NFL saw, which happened to be the one I saw - and it's going to cost Mr. Raiola a one-game suspension.


*********** What do you suppose will happen with the libs at the U of Michigan if/when they hire Jim Harbaugh at $8 million a year? 

Talk about income inequality - he'll make more than the governor, the state's two senators and 14 congressmen and the president of the university - combined.  You could probably throw in every mayor of every Michigan town and still have money left over.

The professors and the useful idiots known as students will protest, of course, and it won't make a bit of difference if you point out that none of Harbaugh's salary is coming out of their pockets, and not a dime of taxpayer money is going to go to pay it, and no poor people are going to sleep outdoors tonight just because the Michigan athletic department happened to to lose its senses.

If facts mattered to those people, they wouldn't have bought all those "Hands up, Don't Shoot" tee shirts.

In the meantime, there probably isn't an athletic director in the country who hasn't already called Michigan and said,  "Don't… do… it."

*********** Give Jimmy Clausen credit.  He played a decent game against the Lions.

But he sure did take us back to his spoiled brat days when he jumped up indignantly after being on the receiving end of a helmet-to-helmet hit.

Trouble was, the foul in question would never have happened except that he was in the process of assuming the "please don't hit me" pose by hooksliding, and he made his decision to hookslide so suddenly that the Lions' defender, Ziggy Ansah, who'd been aiming at Clausen's legs, wound up hitting him in the head.

Clausen, who appeared to pull his helmet off while on the ground, jumped up as if to take on Ansah.  Big mistake, Jimmy.  Thankfully for him, nothing happened.

Ansah was penalized, and the announcers went way over the top:   "Completely unnecessary," said Tweedle-Dum.  "That is the hit that has to be removed," said Tweedle-Dee.

I could just as easily have joined in with, "and hooksliding is the play that has to be removed."

Look - if you don't want your quarterback running out of the pocket - you don't have to send out five receivers on every play.

And then, as if to shove it in the faces of those of use who deplore the way they put skirts on quarterbacks, on the very next play Clausen ran toward the sideline and, once outside the "tackle box," flipped the ball out of grounds (something that so many of the greats of the game never lived to see) and survived another play with the big boys.

*********** Coach,
No shortage of topics for the news today I bet.  Between Cutler, Pelini, and Harbaugh things were buzzing in the Midwest.  It was too easy on the talk show hosts around here.
Pelini was a gift from God.  The stuff almost writes itself.

Cutler/Clawson is next up.  Can't wait till Sunday.

Harbaugh is still kindling.  It is going to heat up big time.  Ultra-liberal U of M professors are going to raise hell about that $8 million a year salary.  It doesn't matter that not a nickel is coming from the taxpayers or out of the general fund.  Facts don't matter to them.  That's why they're going around wearing tee-shirts that say "Hands Up Gon't Shoot."

The Michigan/Harbaugh thing almost cannot happen.  You think the market for coaches’ salaries is crazy now, wait until all the raises are through across the nation after this courtship.  It will be an NFL issue also.

John Bothe

It will probably happen.

One more sign that big-time college athletics have very little to do with the colleges they claim to represent.

One more way that the Big Five + ND separate themselves from the hoi-polloi.  Paying the players will be the next step.

*********** The hubbub about the CIA and its interrogation tactics is nothing new.  Periodically our country goes through periods similar to this one,  when some on the left express the nation that "playing fair" with our enemies is  more important than our national security.

Many years ago, the late, great William F. Buckley, Jr. was amazed that Americans would compare our CIA with the Russian KGB, writing in his memoirs,  

"To say that the CIA and the KGB engage in similar practices is the equivalent of saying that the man who pushes an old lady into the path of a hurtling bus is not to be distinguished from the man who pushes an old lady out of the path of a hurtling bus: on the grounds that, after all, in both cases someone is pushing old ladies around."

***********  I know you saw this ad during the Army/Navy game.  BIG improvement over "A Global Force for Good"


Shep Clarke
Puyallup, Washington

This Navy ad really says something to the people of America about what all the armed forces do for them, 24/7.

It wouldn't be a bad theme, either,  for a series of promos on behalf of America's police.

But, gosh - if they're going to be busy defending us,  I  wonder if they'll still be "committed to the fair treatment of all."

 *********** One of the greatest sports announcers of all time was the legendary Red Barber. You think Vin Scully's good? (I do.) Red Barber was his mentor.
Red Barber always kept a three-minute egg timer in front of him in the broadcast booth. He'd start the timer at the beginning of the game, and every time the sand would run out, he'd give the score and flip the timer over - and repeat this process throughout the game.

That was many, many years ago. Over the years I've worked alongside radio guys who might not have known about Red Barber, but carried on his egg-timer legacy, making sure not to leave their listeners in the dark.

I thought of Red Barber on Saturday.

I turned on the R & L Carriers Louisiana Bowl Saturday (8 AM Pacific) and then my wife and I walked the dogs.  When we came back,  the game was well under way.  We knew there was a score (other than 0-0), since the announcers mentioned that somebody was "a touchdown behind," but they didn't say who,  and without any graphics on the screen (even when they cut to commercials), and without any mention of the score by the announcers (who, believe me, were not otherwise short on words), we didn't find out what the score was until halftime.

In the second half,  the best we ever got was, "It's a two-possession game with nine minutes to go…"

With all ESPN's money (Disney's actually) you'd think they could afford a few egg timers.

***********I 'm interested in your take on the forfeit. If one believes, as I do, that the value of sports, particularly football, is the life lessons learned: the importance of preparation, teamwork, punctuality ( I still keep my watch 3-4 min fast, 5 you factor in),competitiveness and perseverance etc, so what are you teaching with a white flag? Except perhaps preparation for the Iraqi army

I think that the school's decision was in keeping with the belief fashionable today among parents and those charged with "educating" our children is that they must not be allowed to suffer injury, slight, insult, discomfort, embarrassment, indignity, defeat, etc., etc.  

Like you, I disagree with that philosophy.  As we all know, life has its downs as well as its ups, and I really do hold with the argument that competitive sports teach kids how to rebound from setbacks.  Also, that nothing in life is promised - that as often as not, you'll work your ass off and still get beaten.

This happens to be a school which only two years ago was a powerhouse (at our level, that is) but underwent a change in coaches that hasn't worked well for them, and their team numbers were at the point where the certain ass-kicking that we would have delivered might have ended their season.

Given today's concussion hysteria and a growing anti-football climate, I suspect there were parents waiting for a good reason to pull their kids out of football and sign them up for soccer.

Welcome to the Feminization or America.

C'est la vie.


american flagFRIDAY,  DECEMBER 19,  2014"Don't design your offense to attack their defense; do something so well that they have to get out of what they normally do in order to stop you."    Dick Vermeil

*********** After all these years, I still don't know what to think about Jay Cutler.  I don't know why, exactly, but I think I like the guy, 

He does seem snake-bit: whenever he appears poised to lead the Bears to the Promised Land, something seems to go wrong. 

What I do know, though, is that his career is in serious  trouble if he's being benched in favor of… Jimmy Clausen!

Jimmy Clausen, for God's sake, whose career high point was showing up (in a limousine) for his letter-of-intent signing ceremony (at the College Football Hall of Fame),  and who at last count was still four short of the four National Championship rings that he promised he'd win at Notre Dame.  Not even noted QB guru Charlie Weis could make that happen.

(Many Bears' fans are also ND fans. Wrote one: "If Jimmy Clausen is starting, I'd like to see Charlie Weis call the plays. Then the Bears would score negative points.)

********** I forgave Michael Vick long ago for the dog fighting.  I mean, when other athletes get off light for some pretty awful transgressions, Vick paid a heavy price.  Went to jail - for nearly two years.

Regardless of what kind of football player you think he is, what's happened since he got out is proof to me that Michael Vick is a man of character.

When he got out of jail and returned to the NFL, he owed creditors nearly $18 million.

He could have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which would have absolved him of all his debts, but instead, he filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and worked and put himself on a special budget in order to pay back what he owed.

And now, six year after he got out, Michael Vick is almost debt-free.


*********** Whew.  That Bo Pelini sure can burn the bridges, can't he?

In a farewell meeting with his former players, the former Cornhusker boss said some highly uncomplimentary things about his former boss, using some vulgarities that seemed to confirm the belief of many at Nebraska that he was the wrong man to be leading their program.

In response to his remarks,  recorded unbeknownst to him and provided to the Omaha World-Herald, the University said as much:

If these comments were, indeed, spoken by Mr. Pelini, we are extremely disappointed, but it only reaffirms the decision that he should no longer be a leader of young men at Nebraska. His habitual use of inappropriate language, and his personal and professional attacks on administrators, are antithetical to the values of our university. His behavior is consistent with a pattern of unprofessional, disrespectful behavior directed by Mr. Pelini toward the passionate fans of Nebraska, employees of the university and, most concerning, our student-athletes. This behavior is not tolerated at the University of Nebraska and, among other concerns, played a role in his dismissal.


*********** Matt Hansen writes in the Omaha World-Herald, "Pelini talks of core values but lacks more than a few"

A sampling…

Here’s a value: Rage in private, to your spouse or your parents, to your most trusted confidant. Vent about how life is unfair, how the cards are stacked against you, how you can never catch a break. And after you do that, go back out into the world — to your co-workers, your friends, your players — and force a thin smile, and say something like, “It just didn’t work out.” Wanna be John Wayne? That’s a John Wayne move.

Here’s a value: Don’t lose sight of the fact that, no matter what fate has just befallen you, you are still a multimillionaire who lives in a very nice house in a very nice neighborhood in a very nice country. Even while despairing, we should be able to recognize how insanely lucky we truly are. We should be able to remember what our moms told us, that there are starving children in Africa (and on every other continent) who would love to eat the infinite number of vegetables we can buy with our American Express Platinum cards and have delivered to our front doors by Amazon.

Here’s a value: While we are on the subject of money, it’s probably best not to mention the millions you are contractually obligated to receive to a room full of 18- to 22-year-olds, many of whom are from absolutely nothing.

Here’s a value: If you feel the need to say, “Fellas, this all stays here” to a room of 100 people in 2014, you should definitely not say whatever you are going to say next. It will get out. And, in related news, it probably shouldn’t be said even if it doesn’t.


*********** I wrote Matthew Hansen and told him that his column, directed at Bo Pelini,  should be read by every football coach in America:

Dear Matthew,

I write as a long-time high school football coach to tell you what a masterful job I thought you did in addressing Bo Pelini's criticism of his former AD and his lack of "core values."

You might send a copy to the American Football Coaches Association headquarters, because your list of "values" should be required reading for anyone aspiring to be a head coach, especially at a program as visible as Nebraska's.

For a member of a profession that's so paranoid about being fired that its members are known to always keep one eye out for the next job , Pelini sure broke all the rules about not burning bridges with his vulgar bad-mouthing of the AD.

Yes, he's already got another job. Between that and his settlement from Nebraska, he should be be okay.  For now.

And yes, he gave that Nebraska AD a piece of his mind, and he drew a few chuckles from his former players when he called the AD a P-word and a C-word (and a few other things).

But Youngstown State could be his last head coaching job, because you can place bets that there are plenty of other ADs out there who read what he said about his former boss, and vowed that he'd never get the chance to do that to them.

Again,  great column.

*********** If I remember correctly you had a forfeit this year and had a week off of playing.  Did you know going into the week that you would not be playing?  How did you handle the week practice wise?
Just curious, we have never had a ‘bye” week and always wondered how to structure it.
John Bothe
Oregon IL


We actually had two "Bye weeks" this season:

One was unexpected -  we were informed early in the week that our opponent had elected not to play us.  Very strange, but not totally unexpected, since the opponent was very weak and we were coming off a 75-0 win over another weak opponent.

The other was the result of our earning a first-round playoff bye.

In the first case, we just practiced as usual, same routine, except we gave the kids Friday off and while we scouted we arranged for the kids to go to a movie.  Interestingly, one kid chose not to go with the group, and damned if he didn't get arrested for an MIP.

In the second case, we were coming off a Thursday game, so we once again practiced from Monday through Thursday so we could go out scouting.

Other than the Fridays off, though, we didn't depart from our routine.  We didn't want them to lose their focus or think that we had lost ours.

*********** Coach Wyatt

I have sent you a couple of articles about Coach Darlington at Apopka High School and how he won the state Class 8A Championship again this year and then I read your article about high school kids transferring all over the various states and that is happening here in Florida and the FHSAA does nothing about it.  It was happening to me at Umatilla and that is when I started running out of talent and finally decided to resign since I couldn’t stop it.  Coach Darlington had his best junior running back transfer to Dr. Phillips this past year and he lost to Dr. Phillips in the regular season, but defeated them in playoffs and went on to win the state Championship with a 5’3” sophomore running back and some very dedicated seniors who having gone 6-4 during the regular season would not give up and won it all.  I wanted to email you with the info after you info in the “News” today.  I know that you have met Coach Darlington and he is the real deal and a very honest, christian man and coach.
Wishing you and your family a great Holiday Season,
Ron Timson
Leesburg, Florida

Coach Rick Darlington's Apopka Blue Darters have been to three straight Florida 8A championship game, winning two of them.  Their most recent win came last week when they beat Miami Columbus, 30-23.   He is a great guy and, it goes without saying, a great coach.

You will enjoy what MIke Bianchi wrote about him in the Orlando Sentinel…

And the most incredible thing is this: Darlington and his Blue Darters did it with zero impact transfers in this day and age when nearly every top team takes advantage of free-wheeling transfer rules to attract top players.

Exhibit A: Daquon Isom, the kid who was supposed to be Apopka's star running back. He found his way into Darlington's doghouse and ended up transferring and becoming the leading rusher this year at Dr. Phillips, which spent most of this season at No. 1 in 8A until losing to Bradenton Manatee in the playoffs. Unranked Apopka spanked Manatee in the state semis last week.

"Other schools have really good walk-on programs while we have a walk-off program," Apopka athletic director Fred Priest says.

Darlington is an anachronistic throwback who demands discipline and doles out punishment no matter if you're the superstar running back or the pine-riding bench jockey. He is renowned for benching wayward starters for weeks or kicking them off the team permanently if they run afoul of the rules or the law. If Jameis Winston played for Apopka High, he wouldn't have played in the state-championship game on Saturday night.

It's perhaps why Darlington only lasted three years when he left Apopka in 2002 to take the job at iconic Valdosta High School in Georgia. It was a bad fit from the beginning. The boosters and administration wanted to do things the Valdosta way; and Darlington likes to do things the Darlington way.

Last year, for instance, he dismissed his best receiver and running back from the team during the course of the season and lost his starting quarterback — son Zack — in the first game to a season-ending concussion. The Blue Darters still made it to the state-championship game by scrapping their spread offense and installing an entirely new attack — a 1920s-style single wing. The result: the Blue Darters broke the state record for points scored in a season (751).


I especially liked Rick Darlington's "walkoff program," and Mike Bianchi's reference to "The Darlington Way."   Given Coach Darlington's great success at the highest level of a major football state, one would hope that in this day of promiscuous transfers and increasing tolerance of player misbehavior   young coaches will take a cue from his example.  But I doubt it.

***********  Infested as Big Football is with multimillionaires who travel with their entourages, live in gated communities, socialize in the VIP sections of strip clubs and flout the conventions of civilized society,   read some of the  things Packers' fans wrote about former Pack great Fuzzy Thurston, who died Sunday, and  think about how much fans of today's NFL are going to miss in the years to come.

I invite you to look ahead 50 years and try to picture  even a handful of starters on today's NFL teams who will be remembered as fondly as Fuzzy Thurston for the way he was there for the ordinary fan.

Many wonderful memories hanging at your bar when I lived in Green Bay, also loved it when you got a group together and hopped on a bus and off to a game we go !

I remember the great times at Fuzzy's bar. One time I made him a collage with all his football cards and Packer pictures on it. When I gave it to him he cried and he made me cry also.

(Written the day after the Packers' loss to the Bills.) This loss hurts much more than Buffalo.

I feel honored to have met him in 1997 at one of his establishments. He was very gracious and autographed my hat.

Our greatest memories of Fuzzy are when we spent time at his bar and he would sing "What a Wonderful World"

Fuzzy was a class act, will never forget the first time going to the original shennanigans, with my daughter the place was packed (no pun intended) and fuzzy gave up his seat at the bar for my daughter, then proceeded to talk with us for a good 15 minutes until the staff needed him for something.

One of the first Packer games I ever went to was through Fuzzy's bar (Shenanigans) and it was a fantastic experience getting a chance to meet Fuzzy in person!

Fuzzy truly loved the Pack and their fans. Donna and I will miss those bear hugs!

Fuzzy many times I've spent talking to you in your bar... Rest In Peace my friend!

One great friendly guy, always willing to talk and always ready to tell a story.

Got to meet him at the Packers / 49ers game. Super great guy! Glad I was able to drink a beer with him!

Vince has his starting left guard back.

I will always remember going to Shenanigans and he was always there with a smile on his face! When I left for college I could always count on him to get me tickets for the games played in Milwaukee. After I gave birth to my second son, he sent me an autographed picture that still hangs in my home today.

When he owned Fuzzy's on mason street you could always count on him being there and Willing to stand for a photo AT NO CHARGE

Thank you for being a friend who when we were just strangers. I was looking to find fuzzy....and asked you how to get to Fuzzies...you said Im Here and introduced yourself to me...man what respect you showed to me...when it was you whom i respected most and always will.

A celebration of life will be held at 3:00pm on Friday, December 19, 2014, at The Lambeau Field Atrium in the Legends Club Room, 1265 Lombardi Ave., Green Bay. A visitation will be held from 11:00am until time of service. Packer attire is welcomed. To leave a message for the family, please visit www.NewcomerGreenBay.com


********* I was perusing (browsing, if you insist) the Green Bay Press-Gazette's site and I came across a "review" of what sounds like a great tavern - Demmith's Hunters and Fisherman's Tavern, in Lena, Wisconsin.  The place has so many animal mounts on its walls - over 1,000 - that it's known as the "Dead Animal Bar," or simply D-A-B.

The owner, Russ Demmith, talked about the various Packers who've stopped in the place over the years…
A whole roster of Green Bay Packers players have been in to marvel at the menagerie of mounted bear, moose, deer, skunk, fox, fish, fowl and coyote, including Brett Favre, Bart Starr, Paul Hornung, Willie Wood, Jim Taylor, Willie Davis and Dave Robinson. Don Beebe stops in on occasion on his way up to property near The Four Seasons Island Resort by Pembine, Demmith said, and "Fuzzy Thurston has been in here many times. Oh God, yes.''


*********** Dad

Spoke with two OSU grads last night (Perth manager Steve Fish and shortstop Joey Wong) and both were ecstatic that the Ducks were in the final four. Don't think you'd see that in Alabama.

Ed Wyatt
Melbourne, Australia

OSU Mariota AdSo true.  You sure wouldn't see something like this many other places, either-

A full-page ad in a special Oregonian section on Mariota - bought by Oregon State.

*********** Yale running back Tyler Varga, whose 26 touchdowns led all FCS players, was named Ivy League offensive Player of the Year. The 5-11, 230-pound Varga, a Canadian from Kitchener, Ontario, averaged 142 yards a game and 6.1 yard per carry in helping lead Yale to an 8-2 record.

Varga's 2014 season included a pair of five-touchdown games, one of them a win over Army when he ran for 185 yards and scored the winning touchdown in overtime.

Varga, who has a 3.56 GPA in ecology & evolutionary biology, was named a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete as well as a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, awarded for the nation's top football scholar-athlete. Varga is the Gridiron Club of Boston's FCS winner of the Swede Nelson Award for New England's top scholar-athlete,  and the New York Athletic Club named him its first-ever scholar-athlete recipient.

Varga's path to Ivy stardom was an unconventional one. Rated the top high school running back in all of Canada, he turned down Baylor, among others, and signed with the University of Western Ontario.

Varga played his first year of college football at Western, and was on his way to a record-breaking career when an injury ended his season.  And then came the chance to transfer to Yale.

The move caught his teammates and coaches by surprise, but Varga said that when he was presented with the opportunity to transfer to Yale,  he couldn't pass it up.

"When I went to Western, I never intended on transferring," he told James Duthie of TSN Canada. "But Yale is one of the best schools in the world. This is where football started. It has one of the best football traditions anywhere. You meet amazing people and make connections that are invaluable to your future. I don't have the words to describe how awesome this has been."


According to the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, there were a few awkward moments in Varga's adjustment to the American game.

First was our rules limiting the number - and direction - of backs in motion.

To make a long story short, Varga moved when he shouldn’t have moved, without thinking anything of it, and his coaches called him on it.

“They said, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ and I was like, ‘What, you can’t do that? It’s not legal?’ ” he said with a laugh.

Then there was the Canadian rule requiring all kicks to be returned.  Even punts and kickoffs into the end zone. Failure to do so in the Canadian game costs the return team a point (often called a "rouge," or a "red").

…there was the first game of the season when he fielded a kickoff in the end zone and ignored a teammate’s advice to take a knee and give his offence the ball at the 20-yard line. Instead, Varga returned it about 20 yards and headed to the sidelines, where a coach was waiting for him.

“He said take a knee next time, and then it dawns on me that I’m thinking of Canadian football, where it would cost the team a point if I don’t get out of the end zone."


*********** Whew.  The FCC has ruled that it's still okay to say "Redskins" on the air - it's not the same as a swear word -  thereby sparing countless radio and TV announcers the possibility of years in prison for accidental slip-ups.

Whew.  That was close.

Let's hope the FCC doesn't find out about the Aniak Halfbreeds.

You read correctly.  That's Aniak, Alaska.

Wrote Alan Boraas in the Alaska Dispatch News,

No high school nickname in Alaska, perhaps the United States, raises more eyebrows then when Aniak takes the basketball floor with Halfbreeds across their chests. According to journalist Dan Joling, in a 2005 Associated Press article, the nickname was chosen by students in the late 1970s. Before that the boy’s teams were called the Apostles and girl’s teams the Angels. Good choice to change the nicknames. Most of the residents are mixed-blood. The school board president at the time, Wayne Morgan, is quoted by Joling as saying, “Most people are of mixed race, mixed background. We’re proud of it. The kids are still proud of it.”

But that doesn't mean Boraas supports the use of "Redskins."

Aniak… chose the name, and the community largely embraces the name. They have control to use or change the name. The term redskin is offensive to many Native Americans and Americans. It’s an intentional use of a slur by the non-Native power structure to subjugate and marginalize. Use of a derogatory name sends the message “we can use a name that offends you and you can’t do anything about it.” The name reflects an attitude of dominance and superiority and that’s racism.


american flagTUESDAY,  DECEMBER 16,  2014"The greatest tyrannies are always perpetrated in the name of the noblest causes."  Thomas Paine

*********** Um, with all due respect for Mount Union and all that they've accomplished over the years, I really expected more of them than what I saw Saturday.

It's a bit questionable when a team's leading its opponent 63-0, deep into the third quarter, and it throws for a score  - to make it 70-0.  But that's what Mount Union did against Wesley, in the NCAA D-III semifinal.

Okay, I thought - that's a backup QB who's earned the chance to play, and it's not really fair to tell him he can't throw the ball.

But here's the problem:  it wasn't a backup at all -  the pass was thrown by the starting quarterback.  It was his 41st pass of the day and his seventh touchdown pass.

Is this really typical of Mount Union?

*********** Of course I wanted Army to beat Navy, and of course I'm bummed that it didn't come about, but Army went into the game 14-15 point dogs and, despite an obvious talent disparity at quarterback, played the Middies to a near standstill.  You have to have been an Army fan for as long as I have and to have seen some really piss-poor performances against Navy to appreciate the fact that Army played hard and played sound football from start to finish.

Joe DrummondMeantime, Army's Black Lion Award winner, Joe Drummond, played a big part in Army's defense holding Navy's nation-leading running game, which came in averaging 345.1 yards per game, to an astonishing 205.   100 of Navy's yards were gained by QB Keenan Reynolds, on 26 carries. 

Drummond made nine tackles and recovered a Navy fumble.   "Of course, it will be our one huge regret from our time here not beating our archrivals,'' he said after the game. "They're a fantastic program and they certainly did what they had to do today. They made plays in critical situations to get it done. When it comes to the (Army) program moving forward, we know that we're leaving it in very, very capable hands.  The staff has done a fantastic job this past year getting Army football back to relevancy and back to competitive greatness. And that's the only thing that could possibly be in our future."

Army's workhorse fullback Larry Dixon led the Cadets with 90 yards on 14 carries (6.4 yards per carry).  Said Dixon to the Baltimore Sun afterwards, "My freshman, sophomore and junior years, it was easier to leave the locker room because we weren't as close as a team. That's the hardest thing I've ever had to do is just part ways with my teammates. I'm thankful for what Coach Monken has done, and I'm thankful for him -  he has created a family… This team is as tight as we've ever been."

Now, then, to find a quarterback to run that Army triple option at the Navy level.  It's a big country, and If Navy can find a Keenan Reynolds in a small Christian school in Tennessee, there's got to be one out there for Army.

*********** I hope some of you watching the Army-Navy game saw the final leg of former Army Black Lion Mike Viti's walk across the country in honor of the more than 6,800 US soldiers who've given their lives in the 13 years of the so-called War on Terror. Seven months ago, he started his hike near Fort Lewis, Washington, and Saturday he made it to his destination - the Army-Navy game.


*********** Watching the Army-Navy game, I almost choked when I heard a mealy-mouth TV guy refer to "The half-time crossover of the 'military dignitaries' that are present…"
Yeah, military dignitaries.  It used to be the President. I can remember as a kid watching the Army Navy game as President after President would make a practice of watching the first half on the side of one of the participants, and then, very ceremoniously, cross the field at halftime to sit on the other side.
This current President, however is WAY too busy to attend a silly football game.  Saturday, instead, we got Chuck Hagel, who evidently as one of his final duties as outgoing Secretary of Defense was to sit in for the President. 

*********** What a great day for Bills' fans!  A win over the Green Bay Packers! A VERY interesting play took place near the end of the game… Buffalo, leading 19-13, was unable to sustain a time-killing drive, and punted deep into Pack territory.  On first down, Aaron Rogers dropped to pass,   and the ball was knocked out of his hand by the Bills' Mario Williams.

But Williams and Rogers seemed to be the only people who knew it, and with Williams tied up by a blocker and Rogers looking around for it, the ball lay by itself back in the end zone for an unusually long time before finally being scooped up by one of Rogers' teammates.  Although the guy did - barely - make it out of the end zone,  the play was ruled a safety.

Fox's resident officiating guru explained: in the event of a fumble in the last two minutes, if it is recovered by a member of the offensive team other than the one who fumbled, and it should happen to be a "forward fumble," it's returned to the spot where it was fumbled.  But if it's fumbled backward, as was the case here,  it's dead at the spot of the recovery, which in this case was the end zone.  Safety.

*********** I'm not going to bore anyone with more stories about what a great kid Marcus Mariota is - on top of his football-playing ability - but it sure is nice to have a Heisman winner who doesn't have a shaky background or a talent for self-promotion that approaches a career death wish.

In his acceptance speech he was appropriately grateful to all the right people, and took great pride in the honor of representing his native Hawaii.

His face mask, by the way, is designed to form the number 808 - Hawaii's area code.

*********** It was great seeing Notre Dame's legendary coach Ara Parseghian on the Heisman show.  How great a coach was he?  He was so great that when he coached the Irish, I rooted for them.

He was commenting on John Huarte, who as a senior in Parseghian's first year at Notre Dame took the Irish to within one game of an unbeaten season.  He noted that because Huarte hadn't played a lot until that year, he actually won the Heisman Trophy before he won his letter at Notre Dame. 

Huarte gently contradicted his coach. "Actually," he said,  "I played a lot - but it was on Tuesdays and Wednesdays."

*********** It was 10 AM Saturday when I received a text from Coach Brian Mackell in Baltimore: "Coach, as an FYI, a Philly youth team is on ESPN2 in the Pop Warner championship playing live right now.  Northwest Raiders coached by Duane Watson and they run the DW."

Okay, got my attention.  So now I have to watch North Dakota State-Coastal Carolina on ESPN, Villanova-Sam Houston State on ESPN3, and the Pop Warner Super Bowl on ESPN2.  Got it.

The Philly kids were playing a team from New Britain, Connecticut.  I know of New Britain - a great football town. Practically the first thing I saw was a Super Power run to near-perfection, and the Philly A Back, whose name I learned was Isheem Young, made the rest look easy.

"Northwest Raiders," I kept hearing.  In Philly, "Northwest" refers to my old neighborhood - the Germantown-Mount Airy section.  Could it be?

Coach Mackell said it was quite likely.  Said he knew the Raiders' OC, Greg Bonner.  Said he'd met him at one of my Philly clinics and ever since,  they'd "gone back and forth over Facebook."

As the game went on, I grew more impressed with the Raiders.  They were running a really once, clean Double Wing.  Super Powers, Counters, and wedges.  And their QB, who did an exceptional job of running the offense, threw well, too.

The final score was Northwest Raiders 26, New Britain 6.  The Northwest Raiders rushed for 389 yards, and threw for 60 more - playing 10-minute quarters.

And Sunday, as I watched the Bills beat the Packers, I got a call from Greg Bonner.  He was excited to tell me about the big win, and seemed please to hear that I'd watched the game.  He'd waited to call until he got home - said that they left right after the game - in Orlando - and rode a bus for 17 hours back to Philly.

We chatted at some length - he told me that although he added a few tweaks of his own, the Double Wing is from my videos and clinics. 

He said that he has stayed true to the terminology, and the proof came when I mentioned how impressed I was with the way one of his wingbacks - number 3 - ran the counter, and he said, "That's my C Back - he can run 47C with his eyes closed."

I complimented him on the play of his quarterback, and he told me with justifiable pride that that was his son, Naeem Bonner. Said Naeem had been running the Double Wing since he was little - he's now 13 - and "he knows the Double Wing as well as I do."

He said the cost of the week-long trip was about $22,000.  They did a lot of fund-raising, and they were helped along by a $10,000 grant from the Mayor.

And, yes, the Raiders are from Germantown. Coach Bonner lives about a mile-and-a-half from where I went to high school, in Germantown, and about the same distance from where I grew up, in Mount Airy.



*********** Ohio State's ex-QB J.T. Barrett was involved in what we once called a spat, but is now called a domestic violence incident,  with an ex-girlfriend - who told the 911 operator that he knocked her across the room.  Also that she's pregnant. 

But, see,  he told the operator (he actually called 911 first)  she wouldn't leave his room.  So he's the accused and she's the victim.  And/or she's the accused and he's the victim.  I'm so confused.

Anyhow, you choose the ending of the upcoming drama:

(1) There is no longer a QB controversy at Ohio State: Cardale Jones is announced as The Man. Brackett and Braxton Miller both announce they'll transfer

(2) Miller decides to return and reclaims his job. Barrett and Jones announce they'll transfer

(3) Brackett's rehab goes well, and now that he has the street cred of a pregnant ex-girlfriend, Ohio State decides to push him for the Heisman. Miller and Jones both announce that they are transferring


*********** So we hustle home to watch the start of the Chattanooga-New Hampshire playoff game at 5 o'clock (Pacific) - and I'll be damned if ESPN2 isn't still showing a f--king high school basketball game - and it's still got FIVE f--king minutes to play!!!  And one team's beating the other by 15 f--king points!!!

Five minutes, did I say? It took them 13 F--king MInutes to finish.

When you're told you've got only so much time left to live, and you're given one last request - ask if they can use basketball time.  With all the timeouts left.

*********** There are some "writers" in the Mainstream Media who would rather withhold the truth and watch America burn than tell the whole truth if it doesn't add to their story.  Or advance their cause…

It certainly was a tragedy when that 12-year-old kid in Cleveland was shot and killed by police after apparently disobeying orders to drop what proved to be a toy gun. Like me, you probably pictured a little kid, too terrified to even comprehend what the police were telling him to do, much less to do it as quickly as they wanted.

That was back on November 22, and the story has festered ever since, used by many cop-haters as further evidence of a police war on black citizens.

It was only on December 13, three weeks later, that I read something that hadn't been mentioned up to then.  Buried in an article that was itself buried in the middle of the paper  was the interesting fact that this "little kid" was 5-7, 195 pounds.  That's not exactly boy-size, and the police, who had no information that they weren't confronting an adult male, only learned later that day that he was only 12.

Now, none of this changes the sad fact that the boy is dead.  That's a real tragedy.  But at a time when certain people are using similar tragic deaths to their political advantage, it would have helped the public to better understand why the police in this case acted the way they did if we'd been told a rather important fact.

But then, that wouldn't have advanced the "Cops are Bad" narrative, would it?

*********** Eric Sondheimer, who covers high school sports for the LA Times, and is about as good at doing so as any reporter in the country, writes that if you're a coach and you hope to win any titles in Southern California, you'd better get out there and recruit.

Used to be something that the public school guys accused the private schools of doing, but now - monkey see, monkey do - it's a rare public high school championship team that doesn't owe its success to the influence of transfers.


I read the article and thought back to a visit to Miami several years ago.

Seemingly wide-open transfers have been going on in Dade County (Miami) Florida for at least 20 years.  The difference, it appears to me, is that while what's going on in SoCal public schools appears to be taking place among middle-class kids, in Miami-Dade County, it's definitely been an underclass phenomenon.

There, beginning in the earliest days of youth football, the NFL is the model, and the idea, regardless of the kids' age, is to amass the most and best talent.  "We Own This Game," by Robert Andrew Powell, is a chilling look into the quasi-professionalism of youth football in Dade County.  http://robertandrewpowell.com/books/we-own-this-game

It carries on from there into the high schools, where it's not uncommon to find a star athlete who's attended three different high schools in his career.

"Year of the Bull," a documentary that takes a scary look at the football program at Miami Northwestern High School, is several years old now, but there's no reason to believe that the scenes in it couldn't be taking place today.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6s23JTmfJOY

Floridians both north and south, both inside and outside Dade County, have told me stories about the relative lawlessness of Dade County football, and my questions about how it all goes on without the state association intervening are met with cynical chuckles.  More than one coach has told me that state administrators are (figuratively, I think he meant) afraid to cross the Dade County line.

Of course, coaches at the University of Miami began to tap into this breeding ground, with amazing success on the field and an aura of criminality on and off it.  Today's Miami football team conducts itself better than it once did, but it doesn't win as much, either.  

After seeing "The U 2," the latest 30 for 30 special, I surmise that there are many, many Dade Countians who long for a return to Miami's winning, if unsavory, past.

american flagFRIDAY,  DECEMBER 12,  2014"A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus." Martin Luther King, Jr.

***********  To me, what happened to Arizona and Wisconsin and MIssouri Saturday provided a powerful  argument  against  a 16-team playoff.  Who wants to sit through a 1-vs-16 first-round  game? Ever seen what happens in those everybody-in high school playoffs that some states insist on?

I mean, come on, look at this year - 1 vs 16. Alabama vs. UCLA.  Are you serious?   Other than the bonus in Jim Mora's  contract for performing the astonishing feat of making it into the playoff by finishing 16th, Is there really any point in making Alabama have to jump through that hoop? Or expecting us to watch?

Actually,  after  the drubbings that Arizona, Wisconsin and Missouri took, I'm not so sure that an 8-team playoff, with its 1-vs-8 and  2-vs-7 would be much better.

*********** Army has lost to Navy 12 years in a row now.  Put another way,  Army has beaten Navy just once in this century.  Army's a 15-point underdog in Saturday's game.  Nevertheless,  GO ARMY! BEAT NAVY!

*********** jr Black Knights
Three Army football players were on hand last Saturday night in Fort Montgomery, New York for the presentation of the Black Lion Awards to players in the Junior Black Knights program.  Many of the  Junior Black Knights are sons of West Point faculty, Army coaches, civilian employees of West Point, and soldiers stationed there. 

This year's Junior Black Knights Black Lion Award winners, from left to right, are Dane Edens,  NIck Waugh, Thor Swanson, and Hunter Mauldin.  Nick Waugh's dad, Tucker Waugh, coaches Army's slotbacks and wide receivers, and Thor Swanson's dad, Scott, is West Point's Director of Strength and Conditioning.

The Army players in the photo are (at far left), defensive lineman Joe Drummond, and, next to him, slotback Charles Baggett;  on the far right is fullback Larry Dixon.

joe drummondJoe Drummond, a first classman (senior) defensive lineman from Rochester, New York, has been named Army's Black Lion Award winner.

In his letter nominating Joe, Army coach Jeff Monken placed special emphasis on his unselfishness in putting his team ahead of his own concerns:

"As a leader, Joe stepped forward to take on the role of defensive captain when a teammate was no longer physically able to fulfill that role. In the areas of devotion to duty, self-sacrifice, and team above self, Joe has tutored and provided additional leadership for a plebe who is behind him on the depth chart.  Through Joe's work with him, this reserve has actually gotten more game reps than Joe Not once has Joe complained nor has he backed off in his instruction of the young Cadet.  Joe simply wants what is best for the team and to finish his outstanding career at West Point with a win over Navy."


Terry Baggett
Army senior running back Terry Baggett, pictured at last spring's football awards banquet,  rushed for 1113 yards last year, including 304 yards  in a single game  -  an all-time West Point  record - and won the Colonel Thruston Hughes Award,   given to Army's Most Valuable Player,  for the 2013 season. 

A chemical engineering major who carries a 3.37 GPA, he was named to the 2013 Capitol One Academic All-America First team, and is one of 17 finalists for the National Football Foundation's 2014 National Scholar-Athlete Award.


Larry Dixon
It's quite possible that over the past four seasons, no player in major college football has been tackled as often as Army fullback Larry Dixon. For those four seasons, the 5-11, 238-pound Dixon has been a marked man -  the first option in Army's triple option attack.  He is a major reason why Army has consistently ranked at or near the top of college football in rushing.

He's a Double-Winger's dream B-Back - tough and durable.

He's played in 44 games and started 36 of them.  He's carried the ball 515 times (which doesn't count all those times he ran inside and was tackled after the quarterback decided not to hand to him) for 3124 yards (6.1 yards per carry) and 26 TDs. 

This year, in 11 games, he's carried 177 times for 1078  yards and 9 TDs.

The photo was taken at the spring game last May. 
A Northwesterner, he played his high school ball at Olympic High, in Bremerton, Washington, whose largest employer, ironically, is the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.  He actually knew where Ocean Shores was - said he and his family had vacationed there!


*********** My Major bowl early line - Don't think that these bowls don't matter. It would seem logical that following the Playoff, spots #2 and 3 (at least)  in the final polls could be up for grabs.

My toughest pick. The Spartans are underdogs, and they haven't seen anything like the speed and  pace of the Bears' offense, but Michigan State is good enough overall and they're always tough on defense. Spartans by a hair.

Is Arizona the team that beat Oregon and Arizona State?  Or is it the team that the Ducks crushed?  Is Rich Rod going to take another job?  Or is he committed?  If Rodriguez doesn't bail, the Wildcats roll.

Mississippi State is MUCH better on defense than Florida State, and they have plenty of  time to prepare for the flexbone.  I think that the Bulldogs will play like the team that was Number One for several weeks and they'll win big.

I think TCU belongs in the playoff.  Ole Miss doesn't. TCU all the way, even against an SEC team  in SEC territory.

Auburn gained 630 yards against Alabama, despite losing, 55-44. Wisconsin is not Alabama.  Auburn in a runaway.

MIssouri  has been in two straight SEC title games.  Minnesota is getting better by the year. The Gophers aren't there yet, but Minnesota is my upset pick because Missouri has benefitted from playing in the weaker of the SEC's two divisions, and wouldn't have been better than fourth or fifth in the West. 

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

I just watched the late whistle (in your playoff game).  Unreal.  What kills me is the back judge starts coming forward (after standing flat footed most of the play) because he thinks/knows the play is over.  So at least one on the crew knew the play was over.  And what about the referee who the ball carrier asked if the play was still live.  If that's not an indicator that the play is over, I don't know what is.

Congratulations on a wonderful season.
Todd Hollis

Head Football Coach
Elmwood High School
Elmwood, Illinois

*********** Anyone who's ever coached the Double Wing is familiar with  officials whose knowledge of the  rule book is, shall we say,  sketchy.  And attempts  to bring certain issues unique to the Double Wing to officials' attention are met, more often than not, with indignation that a mere coach would dare to imply that there was anything involving the rules of the game that they weren't on top of.

Before our last playoff game, our head coach, Todd Bridge, met with the officials, and expressed his concern to them about something we'd seen on video of our opponent. He was cut off short by the referee with a curt, "You do the coaching and let us do the officiating."

Well, we did just that, and it was a big mistake. We should have let somebody else - some guys off the street  - do the officiating.

Which brings me to the 3A playoffs in Oklahoma,  where the officials' lack of knowledge of the rules  landed the state association in court, with one of the participants asking to replay the last 1 minute 4 seconds of the game - or the entire game.

Here's what happened, according to The Oklahoman:

With 1 minute 4 seconds remaining in the Oklahoma playoff game last month, Douglass High School scored on a remarkable 58-yard yard touchdown pass and seemed to take a 25-20 lead over Locust Grove. Receiver Qua’Sean Sims caught a short pass near the sideline on fourth down, whirled toward the middle of the field and wove elusively to the end zone.

Video shows a Douglass coach running excitedly along the sideline and appearing to unintentionally impede or bump one of the referees. Earlier, Douglass had received a warning for a similar infraction. This time the referee threw a flag.

The violation is considered minor; rules call for a 5-yard penalty to be assessed on the extra-point attempt or the ensuing kickoff. Instead, the referees wrongly annulled the go-ahead touchdown, infuriating the Douglass coaches and some fans.

The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association later apologized to Douglass, calling the referees’ mistake “inexcusable.” But the association also said that state and national bylaws did not permit protesting the outcome of a game because of an official’s ruling on the field.

Oklahoma City public school officials disagreed and are seeking in court to have some or all of the game replayed. Last week, Judge Bernard M. Jones II of District Court in Oklahoma City issued a temporary restraining order, prohibiting Locust Grove from playing its scheduled semifinal playoff game.

UPDATE: On Thursday, Judge Jones  denied the temporary injunction asking for all or some of the  Class 3A quarterfinal game to be  replayed. The playoffs will proceed as scheduled.

I have no quarrel with the idea that we have to accept an official's judgement and move on.  Officials operate under pressure to make correct decisions and make them quickly, and they're as fallible as coaches.

But we weren't talking judgement here. We were talking about an official - or an entire crew - not knowing the rules of the game

It's bad enough  having to deal with officials who don't know the rules, but there's a special room in hell for those who don't know them but insist that they do,  refusing to allow for the slightest possibility that they might not, and treating with discourtesy anyone who dares to suggest that possibility.  (Who hasn't run into such an official?)

What's worse in this case, I find it hard to believe that an entire crew shared one guy's ignorance.  There's that doggone cover-up reflex that I wrote about earlier.

And to think that all it would have taken to avoid this mess was a look at the rule book.  If anyone had one.

Mark Twain said it: "What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know. It's what we know for sure that just ain't so."


*********** It's fashionable to pile on the Big Ten, but I'll do it just this once:  one of the rationalizations given by the Playoff committee head for moving Ohio State up was the claim that the Buckeyes had a strong schedule. The "proof" of this was the number of bowl-bound teams they played.  Nice try, buddy.  Not to argue against the selection of the Buckeyes, but the Big Ten had agreements to furnish teams to ten bowls.

Where bowl invites are concerned,  the Big Ten resembles youth soccer - every kid gets a trophy.

So.  There are ten Big Ten teams going to bowls.  And - here's where I pile on - not a single damn one of them is favored to win.

Courtesy of the Wynn Las Vegas

Friday, Dec. 26
Heart of Dallas Bowl: Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech -3

Quick Lane Bowl: Rutgers at North Carolina -4

Saturday, Dec. 27
Pinstripe Bowl: Penn State vs. Boston College -3.5

Holiday Bowl: Nebraska vs. Southern California -6

Tuesday, Dec. 30
Foster Farms Bowl: Maryland vs. Stanford -14

Thursday, Jan. 1
Outback Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Auburn -6
Cotton Bowl: Michigan State vs. Baylor -1
Citrus Bowl: Minnesota vs. Missouri -6
Sugar Bowl: Ohio State vs. Alabama -9

Friday, Jan. 2
TaxSlayer Bowl: Iowa vs. Tennessee -3.5s

*********** Once - just once - I'd like to see somebody stand by what he said refuse to apologize for something that he meant at the time, and undoubtedly still does.

When Bengals' coach Marvin Lewis was asked on a radio show about possibly having to prepare to face Johnny Football this week,  he said,   "You've got to go defend the offense.  You don't defend the player."

And then, after short pause, he added: "Particularly a midget."

Great line, Coach!  Great for the game.  Great for fans.  Great for a league that would love to have people talking about something other than domestic violence, drug abuse and concussions.

But, no.  Some suit obviously got to him and said, "Coach… you can't say things like that."

And soon enough, predictably, out it came: "I apologize to Johnny, the Browns and all the fans in Cleveland," Lewis said. "It was just a poor remark. I really didn't mean anything by it."

Maybe, rather than offend Little People, he  should have just said, "Particularly that smartass little pr--k."

*********** The concussion hysteria (thanks a lot, NFL)  is taking its toll… 

A new Bloomberg Politics poll finds that half of Americans  wouldn't want their son to play football.

The survey shows that people making $100,000 a year or more and those with college-educations are  the groups most likely not  to want their boys playing football.

Democrats were  more likely than Republicans, by 52 per cent to 47 per cent, to be opposed to  their boys playing football, and - ominous news  in a society in which women increasingly make key family decisions -  58 per cent of female respondents say they don’t want their boys playing football compared with 41 per cent of men.


*********** Two VERY interesting things that you may not have noticed last weekend:

(1) Alabama's offense: pick your poison.

They came right out of the gate playing hurry-up,  as if to say "we can play that other game, too.  If we have to.  Or want to."  And they looked scary good doing it. 

And then they settled in to play their pro-style game.

They controlled the ball.  They ran up 28 first downs, and ran for 242 yards.

But they also thew the ball astonishingly well - 23 of 27 for 262 yards (9.7 yards per attempt!) and two TDs.

(2) Oregon's offense: really good. Oregon's defense: not too bad, either.

The Ducks are known for their offense (they had 617 yards and 31 first downs against Arizona), but their defense played a HUGE role in their 51-13 win.  They held the Wildcats to 111 yards rushing and 113 yards passing.  That worked out to 3.2 yards per rush and 4.3 yards per pass attempt.

The Wildcats converted just three of 15 third downs, and they were oh-fer in two fourth down attempts.

Arizona got only 10 first downs, and had to punt 10 times.

Don't let the 13 points they gave up fool you, either - Arizona scored a meaningless TD on the last play of the game.

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

We came up a little short, 13-6, in the championship game but what a season nonetheless!  I coached a junior micro team, 7- and 8- years old, in Chino Hills, California and we ran the Wyatt double wing from the Wildcat formation.  We finished our season 9-2 and scored 42 touchdowns on offense.  Not bad for 40-minute games that went to running clock once we got up 3 TD's on a team.  We defeated the #3 and #2 seeds on the way to the title game, losing only to the undefeated and #1 seed Orangecrest Wolves.  It was a tough game and to Orangecrest's credit they made a couple of more big plays than we did.

The videos and materials I purchased and your feedback to emails I sent you were invaluable and I learned a lot as a coach this year even though this was my 11th season coaching youth football.  I was really glad you discussed the wildcat formation in your materials because we were having problems going under center.  Small hands and pulling backside linemen made getting out from under center difficult.  Once we made the switch the offense really took off.  I'm already looking forward to next year and feel we bring home the trophy as we move up to the next age division.  I'm hoping we'll be able to run both from under center and the wildcat.  Thanks again!

Manny Juncos

Coach Juncos-

Thanks for taking the time to write!

I'm so glad that you had a great season.  Sometimes the other guys is just better.  We don't have to like it, and we don't like to admit it, but it's a fact that we all have to deal with in the course of our coaching careers.

I'm glad that my materials were helpful to you, and I applaud your decision to go to the Wildcat, not because it's superior to the QB-under-center Double Wing but because you went to it because you believed it was best for that particular group of kids.

Next year, you may find yourself staying under center.

The important thing is (1) to have a system and (2) to have a system that allows you to be flexible if need be.

Thanks again for writing and have a great Christmas!

***********Good Morning Coach,

Just read your "News" column this morning and the part about the potential rule changes left me disgusted. That fact that they are even discussing the free blocking zone means that it will be gone in a few years, if not next season. I am a diehard triple option fan and I will hate to see it go, not to mention what will happen our beloved shoeshine block. It's a nice change to watch Navy or Georgia Tech. All offenses are starting to look same now, no variety.

Another penalty to eliminate is aiding the runner. Went to a game last Friday night and a team had first and goal at about the one and half yard line. They lined up in spread, under center with one back. QB snaps on a sneak, RB runs straight forward into the back of the QB and pushes him an entire yard into the end zone. The only team I can remember ever getting an aiding the runner call is my own team, on the wedge.

Sorry to hear about your teams loss. Sounds like you had a great year with a great bunch of kids. Tell Connie "Hello".

Take care,

Jim Crawley
China Grove, North Carolina

Hi Coach,

Amen to the aiding/assisting the runner.

Nothing breeds more disrespect for the rules in general than officials' routinely ignoring a rule that gives one of the teams an unfair advantage.

It's in the rule book, clear as a bell, but since officials refuse to call it - and announcers even praise guys for pushing on their own runners - I say it's time to fish or cut bait.  Enforce it or remove it.  And revert to rugby.

We had a great season.  It went way too fast.

Hope your family is well and that you'll have a wonderful Christmas.

*********** Last week,  Columbia football coach Pete Mangurian resigned after several of his players sent a letter to the university president calling for his resignation.  Columbia has gone 3-17 in his three years there, but there's more to it than …

According to the players'  letter, “Pete Mangurian has consistently denied the diagnoses of concussions. There are several players who will speak to the fact that Mangurian told them to return to practice, that they are faking their concussions, and that they are being soft if they sit out for their concussion injury.”

Team doctor William N. Levine, an orthopedist, told The New York Times that there was no truth to any charges that Mangurian overruled the medical staff - ‘‘In my 16 years at Columbia," he told The Times, "No coach, including Coach Mangurian, has ever made me have to in any way bend my ethics about taking care of our student-athletes."

And then there was this:  reportedly, following a blowout loss to Albany, Mangurian told his team “You are terrible (%#@#$%&) people…The world would be a better place without you.”

Oh, dear.  To think that they had to hear that, considering that from the time they were five-year-olds, they'd been receiving trophies every year, and told how special they were.

Not arguing, you understand,  that those words were appropriate, and even if they were, that that was the time or place for them -  but these are grown men.  I think.

The players' letter has since been withdrawn, an act on the order of unringing a bell, and the coach is now gone.

Meanwhile, at that same prestigious university, a group of Columbia law students have caused some of us think that, quite possibly, a culture of losing infects the entire university.

Law school students  "of color" demanded to be able to postpone final exams because, see,  they'd been so traumatized by events in Ferguson and Staten Island that, sniff, they'd been unable to study.

And guess what?  This probably won't surprise you - the school caved.  No exams for the poor dears.
“The grand juries’ determinations to return nonindictments in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases have shaken the faith of some in the integrity of the grand jury system and in the law more generally,” wrote the dean of the Law School in an email.  “For some law students, particularly, though not only, students of color, this chain of events is all the more profound as it threatens to undermine a sense that the law is a fundamental pillar of society designed to protect fairness, due process and equality.”

What crap.  What twerps. 

One defense attorney, Benjamin Brafman, a prominent defense lawyer, called the decision “absurd,” telling the New York Times,   “Despite the genuine trauma that law students may honestly feel about the Ferguson and Garner decisions, as lawyers, they are going to be dealing with tragedies many times worse.  If law students cannot function with difficult issues like these, maybe they should not try and become lawyers.”

Not saying that the two incidents are connected in any way, but…

(HINT: Next time you need a lawyer to fight for you, look up on his/her office wall.  And if you see a Columbia diploma...)

american flagTUESDAY,   DECEMBER 9,  2014  "Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect."   Ralph Waldo Emerson

*********** Glad you posted those game videos on Youtube.  Two of those non-calls are just egregious:  the "TD" run was clearly stopped (if your boys had continued and taken the RB down, they would have been penalized for roughing), and the young lad on the sideline was clearly guilty of unsportsmanlike conduct after the play.


Shep Clarke
Puyallup, Washington

Please don't infer from those clips that I'm saying that we  were cheated out of a win.  We lost.  But I am sick up to here of officials who instead of providing playoff-calibre officiating show up seemingly hell bent on ruining the game for both teams. And then, remorseless, they collect their checks and drive home.  You can't tell me they don't know when they've blown  a call, but the way they cover up for each other would make the White House envious. Not once, in all my years as a coach, have I had an official call me and tell me, "Sorry Coach - we blew it."
It's that lack of remorse - the attitude that they've done a perfect job and even if they haven't, no big deal - that I can't stand.

As to the unsportsmanlike conduct,  since in our society the concept of "sportsmanship" seems to have gone the way of "etiquette" as a relic of better times, I suggest we adopt the Canadian form: "Objectionable Conduct."

*********** And this playoff system is better than the BCS???


A week ago, TCU was ranked 3rd… 

And then it went out on Saturday and put 55 points on Iowa State - the Frogs could easily have scored more, but they began taking  a knee with FOUR MINUTES to play.

And on Sunday, the Playoff Committee dropped them three places -  from 3rd to 6th.

Look - I have no quarrel with Ohio State's big leap.  I was impressed as anyone with the Buckeyes'  big win over Wisconsin.  I think that they've earned their spot.

But Joey Galloway on ESPN said it all for me when the selections were announced on Sunday: "How come TCU was better than Florida State  five days ago and now they're not?"

I smell a rat.

*********** The Football Playoff was designed in part to head off the sort of controversies that were inevitable under the BCS system of choosing two teams to play in The Ultimate Game.

Controversies such as happened in 2000-2001, when Florida State (11-1) was chosen to play Oklahoma for the title. Never mind that Miami (also 11-1), had beaten FSU during the regular season, while Washington (also 11-1) had given Miami its only loss.

In 2001-2002, Nebraska was chosen to play Miami.  Never mind that Nebraska had just been shellacked by Colorado in the Big-12 conference championship game.

In 2003-2004, Oklahoma, LSU and USC all had one-loss records.  But OU's loss had come in the Big-12 championship game, with the Sooners losing - big - to Kansas State, 35-7.  Unlike this year, though, when Ohio State's win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game was enough to vault it into a playoff spot, Oklahoma's loss to KSU was treated as just another loss, and as a result, the Sooners played LSU in the Big Game - and USC was S.O.L.

In 2004-2005, USC and Oklahoma, both undefeated, played in the Big Game. Auburn, also undefeated, was left out.  So, too, were two non-BCS conference schools, Utah and Boise State.

(USC won the game but later, after it was revealed that Reggie Bush had received illegal benefits, the Trojans were stripped of their title.)

In 2007-2008, the Big Ten did not yet have a championship game, so while Ohio State sat out the final two weeks of the season, the Buckeyes moved from 5th place to 1st place as rival contenders carved each other up.  (This was the year that heavily-favored West Virginia, ranked #2 at the time, lost its season-ender to Pitt. It's my theory that the dejection of this loss propelled Rich Rodriguez to take the Michigan job.) LSU, in the meantime, jumped from #7 to #2 with a win over Tennessee in the SEC championship game, and the Tigers beat the Buckeyes in the championship game.

In 2008-2009, Oklahoma, with one loss, was chosen ahead of Big 12 conference rival Texas, which had defeated OU in the regular season, and also had just one loss.  Utah and Boise State were both undefeated, but neither represented a BCS conference, and when one-loss Florida beat previously-unbeaten Alabama in the SEC championship game, Florida got the nod. 

In 2009-2010, Texas "won" its spot in the title game despite "losing" to Nebraska, 12-10.  (Actually, although the score read 12-10, Nebraska when time ran out, Texas won, 13-12, when one second - ONE F--KING SECOND was put back on the game clock - and that was enough time for Texas to kick a game-winning field goal.)

IN 2010-2011, Auburn, Oregon and TCU were all undefeated.  TCU, being from a non-BCS conference, never had much chance,  but the Frogs' situation wasn't helped by a disparaging statement by Ohio State president Gordon Gee (remember him? The guy who later said he hoped the football coach wouldn't fire him?), implying that while schools such as Ohio State were facing "Murderer's Row" every week, non-BCS-conference schools (such as TCU) played the "Little Sisters of the Poor."

2011-2012 was the year that caused many people to become suspicious of the excessive influence of the SEC.  LSU beat Alabama, 9-6 in the regular season, and won the SEC West title.  Alabama, meanwhile,  finished second in the West and did not even play in its conference championship game.  LSU beat Georgia to win the SEC title and a spot in the championship. Oklahoma State beat Oklahoma, 44-10 to win the Big 12 title, and claimed a spot in the title game.  But Alabama, like Oklahoma State, had only one loss, and its proponents argued that while Bama had lost only to LSU - and narrowly - OSU had lost to lowly Iowa State; OSU fans, on the other hand, pointed to the Cowboys' having played far more teams with winning records than the Tide.  In the end, the Tide won out.  And then, as Casey Stengel would say, you could check it out - in their rematch, Bama beat LSU to win the National Championship.

In 2012-2013 the game selection was non-controversial, with SEC champion Alabama facing undefeated Notre Dame in the famed Manti Te'o Bowl.

2013-2014 was also without controversy at the top. Contenders Baylor and Alabama lost in their season-enders, and Ohio State lost the Big Ten title game to Michigan State.  Meanwhile,  Auburn, which had beaten Bama with a sensational kick return in  the Iron Bowl, won the SEC title over Missouri, and Florida State beat overmatched Duke to win the ACC championship.

The irony is that despite all the squawking about the BCS system, over the past two seasons it actually did what it set out to do  - select the best two teams to play to determine a national champion.

And this year, with Alabama and Oregon out in front pretty much by themselves, it would have done the same.

What the introduction of the four-team playoff has done, mostly, has been to soften the argument by pushing it back to who belongs in positions three and four.

 Jim Swink mug shot*********** It's been a bad week for devoted TCU followers. On Sunday, they learned that there was no place for them in the playoff.

Just four days earlier, on December 3, they lost Jim Swink.  Doctor Jim Swink, a retired orthopedic surgeon and, along with Sammy Baugh and Davey O'Brien and Bob Lilly and LaDainian Tomlinson, one of the greatest players ever to wear a TCU uniform.

And a Black Lion.

In 1955, my senior year in high school, there was no football player bigger on the national scene than Jim Swink.

I'd see him on TV in just one bowl game a year. Mostly I saw him in highlights shown at our theatre during the "newsreels" just before the features.  As a sports page and football magazine addict,  I read everything I could about him.

I idolized the guy,  wanted to be like him.  I loved the way he ran. I liked his crew cut, and I thought he was extra special because he was one of the first players I really noticed wearing "low cuts" - low-top shoes. Naturally, after seeing him on TV, I had to wear low cuts, too. Actually took a pair of scissors to my high-tops. No problem in high school, but in college, where they insisted we all wear school-issued high tops, I'm sure I was viewed as  a rebel when I'd go out to practice wear my own shoes - low cuts.)

Jim Swink Street and SmithJim Swink came out of the small town of Rusk, in East Texas to attain national stardom at TCU, where his incredible broken-field running led to his nickname, "Rusk Rambler." Not overly big, he was fast and quick, and became one of the most dangerous runners the Southwest Conference has ever seen.

He was a high school legend in Rusk. "I was originally from Sacul, a small town between Nacogdoches and Rusk," he told Knight-Ridders newspapers' Whit Canning, "and my real father was a logger. But my parents got sick, and I fell in with a couple that had no kids - Obie and Grace Walker - and lived with them."

He was recruited by TCU's legendary Abe Martin, an easy-going, country sort of guy whose players absolutely loved him. "He came down to talk to me," Swink recalled for Canning, " and we went for a walk out in the pasture on a small ranch we had down there, kinda out in the middle of nowhere. I knew right off that he was a smart man because he knew which cow patties to kick. You don't want to go trying to kick the fresh ones."

In Swink's sophomore year, Martin took his heavily-sophomore team to Los Angeles early in the season to play USC. A week before, it had given mighty Oklahoma, then in the process of winning 47 games in a row, a scare, before falling, 21-16. In the Coliseum, the Horned Frogs beat a USC team that would make it to the Rose Bowl that season, 20-7. A few weeks later, the Frogs beat a Penn State team with the likes of future pro stars Lenny Moore and Roosevelt Grier by the same score.

Jim Swink S-I coverTCU finished 4-6 in Swink's sophomore year, but in 1955, the Frogs had a great year, finishing 9-1 in the regular season with a number 5 ranking nationally despite losing, 14-13 to Ole Miss in the Cotton Bowl. Swink had a pretty good year, too. He rushed for 1,283 yards on 157 carries - averaging 8.2 yards per carry - and scored 20 touchdowns and 125 points overall. He was a consensus All-American and finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting.

In his career at TCU, he had three great performances against Texas. (Perhaps he saved his best for the Longhorns because they hadn't recruited him.) In TCU's 47-20 trouncing of Texas in 1955, he carried 15 times for 235 yards and four touchdowns. The night before, thousands of Texas fans had gathered for a candle-light vigil, hoping to put a hex on the Frogs. "Heck," said Coach Martin, "if a candle can beat us, we ain't very good."

The highlight of the game was a 62-yard touchdown run by Swink  in which he swept to the left, cut back to the right, cut back again to the left, then come to a dead stop as Texas' pursuers overran him, finally running the last 15 yards with two confused Longhorn defenders seemingly running interference for him. "Don Cooper and I were supposed to be blocking," Vernon Uecker recalled for Whit Canning, "but Jim ran by us so many times we finally just stayed on the ground and watched the show."

When George Sauer, whose Baylor team had lost to both TCU and number one-ranked Maryland, was asked to compare the two teams, he said, "Maryland does not have Jim Swink."

Coach Sauer would know. Against Baylor, TCU had had a third-and-25 on their own one-yard line. Coach Martin sent a substitute into the game with a message for quarterback Chuck Curtis - "Abe says punt."
Did he say when?" asked Curtis - somewhat of a free spirit -  and when the messenger shook his head, he called for Swink to run off left tackle. He went for 33 yards. Two plays later, he went 65 yards more for the score, capping a 99-yard, three-play "drive."

In the final game of his career, a historic Cotton Bowl matchup with Syracuse and the great Jim Brown, Swink scored the winning touchdown in a 28-27 TCU victory. (Brown scored 21 points himself, but missed the extra point that became the margin of victory.)

swink vs brown on offenseSwink vs Brown on defense

(Above, in the Cotton Bowl, TCU vs Syracuse: Left- Jim Swink catches a pass as Jim Brown ("A man among boys," in Swink's words), closes in; Right - Jim Swink , 5-11, 185, braces himself to tackle the 6-3, 230 pound Brown)

Great football writer Dan Jenkins thought enough of him to include him as a halfback on his "Team of the Century," along with the likes of Tony Dorsett, Glenn Davis, Billy Cannon, Billy Sims, Billy Vessels and Barry Sanders.  "Just a little ol' rubber-legged outfit that nobody can catch," was how Abe Martin described him.

"I feel I was just fortunate to be a part of it," he told Whit Canning.  "I enjoyed playing both ways, and I enjoyed my whole four years at TCU. It was a great place with a real friendly atmosphere, where you pretty much knew everyone on campus. And, at that time, there were a lot of very talented players on that campus, because of Abe. He was sort of like a father to me, and everyone else. His style was to get you aside and tell you how good you were."

He had no pro career to speak of. "The Bears drafted me, and it was tempting," he recalled. "George Halas used to call me up and talk for an hour. He'd say, `I need someone up here who doesn't fumble the ball.' But I just couldn't fit it into my schedule."

The "schedule" at that point involved medical school, then internship, then residency, then service in the Army, before Dr. Jim Swink finally went into practice as an orthopedic surgeon in Fort Worth.

He did try briefly to fit pro football into his busy schedule in 1960, with the Dallas Texans of the AFL, but, as he recalled, "I was at Parkland (Parkland Hospital in Dallas, where President Kennedy was pronounced dead in 1963) then, and the Texans signed me, and for a while I played with Cotton Davidson and Abner Haynes, But I just couldn't do it full time. I probably would have played longer if it were possible, but it just wouldn't work."

Upon completion of his medical training, he served a tour of duty in Vietnam, as a Black Lion and, in the words of medical corpsman Tom Hinger,  "a hell of a Batallion Surgeon!" 

"Just a matter of trying to make the best of a bad situation," he said of his service in Vietnam, "and there were times I had to question my parents' advice about being patriotic. We had a few medics, but I was the only doctor in the battalion, and often there wasn't much you could do for people out in the field. I made 25 helicopter flights and every one was bad. I finally got hit by shrapnel, just trying to dodge bullets."

He was being overly modest. He earned the Purple Heart and the Silver Star, the third highest honor award to a soldier.  General Jim Shelton, a Black Lion and a former football player himself, tells, in his book "The Beast Was Out There," of his first meeting with Jim Swink, in the heat of battle:

I received a report that one man had been killed and several others wounded, and I called back to Dagger and asked them to send a dustoff (aeromedical evacuation chopper) to our location ASAP. As I looked from my hole I saw someone about 50 meters away holding up a large flashlight.

I didn't think that was very smart. I ran over to the light and shouted, "Hey, you dumb bastard! Shut that light out!"

The reply came back, "Screw you. Who the hell are you?"

I replied, "I'm Major Shelton, Dauntless 3 - who are you?"

He said, "I'm Captain Swink, the battalion surgeon, and I need the light."

I said, "OK" and went back to the radio.

(I had never met the battalion surgeon, Jim Swink. After this battle I was to learn that he was the same Jim Swink who was an All American tailback at Texas Christian University in the early 50's when I was playing in college at Delaware. His picture had been on the cover of every football magazine in the country. He had gone to medical school after TCU and was serving his time in the Army when he was sent to Vietnam. He had gone immediately to treat the wounded that night and had been shot in the shoulder himself. He continued to treat the wounded, although when I had called to him he was bleeding from a wound of his own. He received a Silver Star for his cool actions that night, working with the wounded though wounded himself. )
Dr. Jim Swink, first a football hero, then a decorated war hero, and finally a respected doctor, exemplified the sort of man who is able to put football into proper perspective in life - a man who used football, rather than letting it use him.
With typical modesty, he dismissed his football glory, telling Whit Canning, "All that stuff was the work of the 10 guys out there on the field with me. I just happened to play a position where you got a lot of the credit."

In an article in his hometown paper, he told of the time his high school retired his number: "A great time in my life. Marshall Treadwell was the first coach who ever told me I could be as good as I wanted to be."

And he recalled  what inspired him to be  doctor: "I was very fond of my home town doctor in Rusk and he is the one who inspired me to become a doctor. From day one I knew I wanted to help people and the doctors associated with the TCU football were great mentors too…"
Dr. Jim Swink was a Black Lion.  May he rest in peace.

*********** A few weeks ago I offered some gratuitous (unasked-for) advice to a coach who'd said some intemperate things after he'd just taken an ass-whipping: "When you win, say little.  When you lose, say less."

I wish I could have gotten to a coach named Mike Kelly, of D-III Widener University, just outside Philadelphia.  Guy must be a pretty good coach, because in this, his first year, he coached Widener to a 10-0 regular season and wins in the first two rounds of the D-III playoffs.

But this past weekend, his team fell, 45-7, to Linfield College, of McMinnville, Oregon.  (Linfield, if you're not up on your D-III football, is a perennial power out here in the Pacific Northwest.  Linfield has not had a losing season since 1956 - that's 59 years, longest in any level of football.  Linfield won the D-III national championship in 2004.  Losing to the Linfield Wildcats is no disgrace.)

But losing comes hard to any coach, and in his post-game pain Coach Kelly, who undoubtedly now wishes he'd taken advice similar to mine, blamed his team's loss on - Chip Kelly.

Yes, that Chip Kelly.  The coach of the Eagles.  What did Chip Kelly do/?  Why, he let Linfield practice at the Eagles' facility!  Imagine!  I mean, just because Chip Kelly knew the Linfield staff from his days of coaching the Oregon Ducks...

But let's hear the other Coach Kelly - the Widener one - tell it:

"Make sure you put in the paper that we thank Chip Kelly, and I hope the Seahawks do well tomorrow. He was helping them out. Maybe somebody in Philadelphia ought to buy him a map so he knows where he lives now. But, go Seahawks."

Well. The score WAS 45-7.  Let's suppose, just for the sake of argument, that Chip Kelly, who was prohibited by NFL rules from even watching Linfield practice,  slipped them a trick play that wound up going for a touchdown. Let's suppose he slipped them TWO trick plays, and they both worked. That means that the score would have been 31-7. Still a blowout.

Meanwhile,  if anyone needs a map, it's this Mr. Kelly -  the Widener one. He's the one who doesn't seem to know where he is. He clearly doesn't understand Philadelphians and their ferocious devotion to their Iggles.  (You may recall that Philly is the town where they actually set up court down in the bowels of the stadium to handle the volume of unruly fans pinched during Eagles' games.)  If there were any Philadelphians   who might have been inclined to sympathize with him, I can assure you that he lost them with those last two words. 

"Go Seahawks?"    The day before the Iggles played them?

The mail that I've  read has been running about 99-1 against him, and to put it mildly, the writers, true Philadelphians, have not been gentle. 

It's been a couple of of days now, and no word's come out of Widener yet, from the school or the coach.   So I have another suggestion - again, unasked-for:  hire a PR firm, right away, because this one's  going to be hard to live down, and it's not going to go away.

*********** This is really saying something, but that rendition of the (supposedly) National Anthem before the Packers-Falcons game Monday night was possibly the worst I've ever heard.  It was so whiney, weaselly and weak that I can see soldiers overseas during wartime hearing it over the radio, and saying, "We must have lost."

***********I didn't record the ACC championship game, but I did see - did I see it? -  did I really see the Georgia Tech  QB deliberately go out of bounds at the Florida State 11, when he might have gotten a yard or two more?

Was he really that savvy?

Given your choice, wouldn't you rather have first-and-ten at the opponents' 11, than first-and-goal at their ten?

*********** Georgia Tech's offense was beautiful for me to watch, which is why it pains me to point out the obvious: there are times - such as coming from way behind or converting on long-yardage plays - when that powerful offense puts them at a disadvantage.  Not that this is news to Paul Johnson, whose major challenge is developing a sophisticated passing game given the constraints of a system that demands  other things of his quarterbacks and his offensive line.

*********** My friend Ralph Balducci, whose son, Alex, is a defensive lineman for the Oregon Ducks, said he knows now where Marcus Mariota gets his humility. (As one example, Marcus refused Oregon's offer to run a Heisman campaign for him.)

Ralph  was at the Pac-12 championship game in Santa Clara Friday and he said that following the game, he was talking with Marcus' dad, and as they parted, Ralph said, "Good luck next week!"

Mr. Mariota looked at him, puzzled, and asked, "What do you mean?"

"You know." Ralph said. "The Heisman."

Said the father of the odds-on-favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, "Oh. Thanks."

*********** I was watching a game on TV and one of the geniuses in the booth was discussing the effect of a  score that had tied the game at 14-14 just before halftime:

"You could just see it, " he said, "Players playing harder, coaches coaching harder…"

WTF?  How, exactly, do you "coach harder?"

*********** Hugh, I watched the three plays you had on your news and I was stunned at the calls or non-calls, but what stunned me about the officials even more was their total lackadaisical effort to be in position to make a call. I mean this is playoff football and they are supposed to bring their A game. What I saw was just plain and simple lazy officiating. Those kids and coaches on both sides deserved better!!! I know it doesn't change anything and I know that we will face this again and again.

Hope all is well
Mike Foristiere
Mattawa, Washington  

***********  Hugh,

Congratulations on  your great season. When all is over and done if you can say we got the very best from the kids they had to offer there is nothing more to be said!!

I have so many fond memeories of my season at North Beach and was so very excited at the success you and Todd had. I am sure I am one of the few who really understand how difficult it is in a small school and place like North Beech to accomplish what you did. Having great kids willing to work of course is a very big thing but they don't get that far without great coaching and the ability of you and Todd to work together to make it happen.

Marshwood won the State Title game 44-18 over a very good Brunswick team that was ten and one at the time. Marshwood runs multiple formations but ran the  Double Wing much of the game. Their excution of the Wing-t was flawless.

All the best to you. Connie and the family this Christmas Season--You guys are never far from our thoughts!!

Jack Tourtillotte
Rangeley, Maine

PS:  Great team picture!!


Thanks for the note.  It was a special season, and you're one of the few people who fully understand the nature of the job!

It all went so fast that it's hard to believe it actually happened.

Marshwood sure made a great hire, didn't they?

Hope you and Sue are enjoying winter in the North Country.


american flagFRIDAY,  DECEMBER 5,  2014"The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese!"  Anonymous

*********** In nominating his Black Lion Award winner, coach John Lambert of La Center, Washington  included a clip of his nominee in action


and he wrote,

On 4th down from the 1 inch line with 6 seconds left in the half, his teammates filled all of the gaps and forced the opponent’s 240 RB to the edge where (Our Nominee) was waiting for him. (He) used great form and drove him back as the whistle blew as time expired…. it was the opposite of the play in your playoff game...the referee blew the whistle as soon as the ball carrier's forward progress was stopped.

********** Get Ready for a big college football weekend…

Latest Playoff Rankings
1. Alabama
2. Oregon
3. TCU
4. Florida State
5. Ohio State
6. Baylor
7. Arizona
8. Michigan State
9. Kansas State
10. Mississippi State

First up:  Oregon and Arizona play Friday for the Pac 12 title.

Oregon wins - Oregon is in.
Arizona wins?  On the strength of its two wins over Oregon, Arizona has earned a spot
Arizona's only losses: to USC 28-26,  UCLA 17-7
Best wins: over Oregon 31-24,  Arizona State  42-35

Next: Baylor. TCU will probably not drop out of the picture.  The Frogs will NOT lose to Iowa State. BUT a convincing Baylor win over Kansas State would deadlock the Bears and TCU for the Big 12 title -  and Baylor would have the tie-breaker (not to mention the head-to-head), having beaten TCU several weeks ago.  On that basis, it would seem hard for the selectors to bypass the conference champion. Solution: could both TCU and Baylor wind up in the playoff?

More likely : Ohio State (with a win over Wisconsin).

Next in line...

Wisconsin (with a win over Ohio State).  The Badgers have lost only to LSU in the season opener and to Northwestern (by six points).

Michigan State (with an Ohio State win over Wisconsin) - the Spartans have lost only to Oregon, early in the season, and to Ohio State. 

Kansas State (with a win over Baylor)

Where do the open spots come from?

If Missouri beats Alabama - Alabama is S.O.L. - and so is the SEC.
Missouri? There's that 34-0 loss to Georgia. And that loss to… Indiana!
MIssissippi State? Bulldogs have lost two of their last three games.

If Georgia Tech beats Florida State - It's all over for FSU - and the ACC
Georgia Tech can't overcome those losses to  Duke and North Carolina

*********** Who we gonna turn to for our examples of class when Bill Snyder decides to hang 'em up? 


*********** For those who are interested, Washington (WIAA) playoffs will be shown on the NFHS site-

Friday's games:
4 PM  Class 2B - Napavine vs Okanogan (The class that North Beach plays in)
7 PM  Class 3A - Bellevue vs Eastside Catholic (Bellevue, nationally-ranked Wing-T team, has won six straight state titles)
Saturday's games
10 AM Class 1A - Cascade Christian vs Colville
1 PM Class 2A - Sedro Woolley vs Lynden
4 PM Class 1B (8 Man) - Neah Bay vs Liberty Christian
7:30 PM Class 4A - Bothel vs Chiawana


*********** From an open letter to Under Armour about Texas Tech's uniforms, written by a Tech booster,  comes an interesting analysis of Oregon's togs…

One of the biggest criticisms about the Oregon design is that they’re just crazy and they have a ton of these ideas and uniforms and therefore, the design must be crazy. Actually, that’s pretty far from the truth.

The terrific thing about Oregon is that they have embraced two designs and they've built an empire on it. But those two designs are actually very simple. It's the wing with the feather, whether it be on the helmet or on the jersey, and the Oregon "O". That's it. Everything plays off of those two very simple design aspects. Oh sure, Oregon has varied a bit after that, and they've had a few throwback uniforms, but generally speaking they use the wings and the Oregon "O". They have also used five colors: green, yellow, grey, black and white. Lots of variations of green, but I think that's easier to do with green than with red. There is one pink helmet for cancer research, but generally speaking Oregon seems to stick pretty much within those variations of colors.


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

I am long-time reader of your blog and thought you would be interested in the NFHS questionnaire on potential new rules. I do not know if you were sent the survey as well, but here are some items that they are discussing this year...

-Allowing the QB in the gun to immediately spike
-Eliminating the free blocking zone
-Eliminating the hurdling penalty
-Expanding formation restrictions on free kicks
-Allowing an onside kick that has been grounded to be fair caught
-Penalizing offensive fouls behind the LOS from the previous spot instead

Eliminating the free blocking zone is a terrible idea. Smaller teams will have issues with bigger opponents, let alone backside blocking on the Power.

Some of these potential changes I had a chuckle at as I am sure you will as well.


Ben Rulli
Head Football Coach
Carroll HS
Dayton Ohio


Appreciate the note.

1. The spike itself is a joke.  Want to stop the clock? Run outside the tackle box and throw the ball away... or run out of bounds... or (why doesn't anybody mention this?) call a time out?

2. Everybody up!  The two-point-stance linemen's guys' prayers are answered.  Good-bye triple option.

3. Might as well.  Been coaching since 1970 and I've never seen it called.  Never.

4. Next step is eliminating the kickoff.

5. Same as #4

6. Sure.  I guess the present rule has been too hard on all the guys who coach holding.  (And here I am, dumb me, saying the penalty for holding should go back to being 15 yards.)

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

I don't know if you remember me, but my name is John Gammon and I am the football coach at Livonia High School, South of Rochester, NY.  I was previously (9 years ago) the varsity coach at Eastridge HS in Rochester, NY, where John Dowd was an assistant coach on our staff and we began running the double wing in 2002, winning the school's first sectional championship in 2004. 

I've been away from coaching at the varsity level for the last nine years after taking over an administrative position in my home town, but continued to coach the modified (7th and 8th grade) team and my son's youth team for the last 6 years.  The double wing continued to thrive at those levels, combining for a record of 63-6, 6 undefeated seasons, 4 league titles and 3 regional titles. 

This past fall I was able to take over the varsity program.  The varsity program has not won a sectional title in 21 years, but flying high with the double wing, we almost pulled it off this year.  The team was 8-2, losing in the championship game 15-14.  We averaged over 40 points a game with our A back rushing for over 1,500 yards and 24 touchdowns.

I would like to thank you for your guidance over the years.  I hope to be another double wing success story as we turn this team into champions.

John Gammon
Livonia High School
Livonia, New York

*********** Say this for Mike Pettine, Jr., the Cleveland Browns' rookie coach - he's got a set of stones.

With everyone else in the world having decided that this was the time - finally - to hand the Browns' offense   over to Johnny Football (when's the last time you heard him called that?), Pettine  decided instead to dance with the guy that brung him - to stick with Brian Hoyer.  You just know that there's pressure  from the suits in the front office to play Manziel, and personally I'd have enjoyed watching what happened, but Pettine sounds like a guy who's thinking like a coach, not a fan or a marketer.

BEREA, Ohio -- Browns coach Mike Pettine said the determining factor in sticking with Brian Hoyer over Johnny Manziel was the fact he's led the Browns to a 7-5 record and has them in the thick of the playoff race.

He cited the fact the Browns are facing a very good team in the 8-4 Indianapolis Colts, who lead the NFL with 31.8 points.
He said Manziel hasn't had an opportunity to take many reps with the first-team offense, which factored heavily into the decision.


*********** You have to give Ohio State a lot of credit for the way they survived the loss of Braxton Miller, who was going  into this past  season as a potential Heisman winner. 

But Miller's backup, J.T. Barrett, did such a spectacular job in his place that by season's end, it was clear to one and all that there might not even be a place for Miller in the Buckeyes' plans next year.

And then Barrett also went down against Michigan, his ankle broken.  And now,  the Ohio State staff has to work its magic again, this time with backup-to-the-backup Cardale Jones.  And this time, with a week to do so.

Saturday, with Jones making his first start, the Buckeyes play Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game.

Not much at stake - just a potential spot in the national playoff.  And only a convincing Ohio State win will satisfy the playoff selectors.

But Cardale Jones is not some kid they found wandering around Columbus.   He is a scholarship athlete.  He was heavily recruited.   He is 6-5, 240, and he is said to have an even stronger arm than Barrett.  He is a redshirt freshman, yes, but he's not exactly green.  Counting a post-graduate year in prep school in Virginia, he's three years out of high school. He was a strong contender in the competition to replace Braxton Miller before being nosed out by Barrett. Do not be surprised if he has a big day Saturday.

cardale jones tweet
*********** You may think you've never heard of Cardale Jones, but I'll bet you remember this tweet...

*********** Michael Sam is not in the NFL because he's gay.  Or so he says.


*********** Shawn Eichorst, Nebraska AD, in announcing the firing of Bo Pelini, set the bar high for his successor...

“The people of Nebraska deserve not only high standards and expectations, but they deserve seeing our people and our teams reach them.   I indicated during my introductory press conference that we will compete for Big Ten and national championships, and we will do so with class, integrity, sportsmanship and with a commitment to our student-athletes. I believe the action taken today is in line with that vision… At the end of the day, I think we have kids in our program that are capable of winning championships.”

And then, having fired  Pelini,  who'd averaged nine wins a season, on the grounds that he hadn't won enough, or hadn't won the big ones, he went out and hired a guy whose team went 5-7 this past season… who won nine games just once in the last six seasons… whose five-year record is 29-33… who's won just two of his last 12 conference games… who's lost seven games in a row to his in-state rival.

I'm talking about Mike Riley, a very nice person who spent 14 years as Oregon State's coach, and a very good man who seems to be well-respected in the fraternity of college coaches.  But how many great guys have we seen come and go in the business of big-time college football? 

MIke Riley would be at the absolute bottom of any list of Pac-12 coaches that I'd think of in terms going to Nebraska.  He seemed to be a perfect fit for Oregon State and Corvallis, Oregon - his father, Bud, was an OSU assistant, and he went to high school there.  Most people out here figured he'd stay at Oregon State until he retired.  But lately, there's been some question about whether that would happen.  There's been a lot of clamor lately for Riley's head  (did you know that, Huskers?).  it wouldn't have taken a lot of research by Nebraska to detect signs of an OSU program  on the verge of a death spiral, but  the main thing that's kept the wolves at bay has been the harsh economic reality of life at a have-not school: they can't afford to buy him out.

Overall, I wouldn't call "Beaver Nation" an unreasonably demanding fan base.  There are still Beavers fans in the stands who lived through the depression of 28 straight losing seasons.  So why would OSU fans want him gone?  Well, the last five years have been tough ones, and they've come as the Beavers' arch rivals, the Oregon Ducks, less than a half-hour away in Eugene, have established themselves as a national power. And seven straight losses to the Ducks - most of them beat-downs - have left Beaver nation dejected.

Making matters worse, there was the sense, after a  5-7 2014 season that concluded with yet another thumping at the hands of the Ducks - this one at home - that the cupboard is bare.  And that Mike Riley just didn't seem fired up about doing anything about it.

His recruiting has not been up to Pac-12 standards. In Sean Mannion, he had one of the nation's top quarterbacks returning this year.  But after losing a great receiver, Brandin Cooks, to graduation, he failed to  go out and get  quality receivers for Mannion to throw to.  Portland sports writers got all over him for that, and I had to agree with them.

He has been a no-show in recruiting Oregon kids.  Oregon State once prided itself on having more in-state recruits than the Oregon Ducks, but
for this  season's Oregon game the Beavers had exactly one Oregon kid on their two-deep roster.

A friend of mine who is close to the scene theorizes that Riley kept hearing the media repeat the mantra that he had a special knack for taking lower-rated recruits and developing them as Pac-12 players to the point where he fell in love with that self-image - and as a result no longer aggressively went after the better athletes.

As one case in point, he scarcely made an effort to recruit Alex Balducci, the son of long-time friend Ralph Balducci. Alex was then the state's top recruit at Portland Central Catholic High, and every major school in the West was after him.  Except Oregon State.  Alex chose Oregon, and now, a 6-5, 300-pound junior, he'll start at nose guard against Arizona in Friday's  Pac-12 championship game.

Overall, then, I get the feeling that much of Beaver Nation thinks the whole Riley-to-Nebraska move is a blessing.

As to why Riley would leave his home town, it took me a little while, but then it began to make sense:

1. Every coach at a resource-poor school has to wonder how he'd do at a place that provides him with everything he needs to win
2. He's tired of fighting Nike U.
3. He's giving the finger to the Beaver fans who've been calling for his scalp.
4. The cupboard is bare, and the league is getting tougher
5. The move may re-energize him
6. He'll make twice as much money at Nebraska

As one who is several years older than Mike Riley, and remembers working with him at Rich Brooks' Oregon camp when he was just out of college and an assistant at Linfield College, I'm the last one to be "ageist."  So it pains me to have to point out that he is 61 years old.   Usually, when a 61-year-old man is still coaching successfully at a high level, he's doing it at a place where he's become an institution (think Mike Riley at Oregon State), and not starting all over.   

Somehow, if things should go south at Nebraska (and it's hard to improve much on a 9-win season), I don't think he's going to be treated very gently by Nebraskans, a group of fans far more numerous, far more passionate, and far more demanding than "Beaver Nation."

Look, one last time… Mike Riley is a great guy, and he's done some great things at Oregon State.  But to many, he seemed to be running out of gas.  I sure hope that this is a good move for him.

*********** As part of a brand-new effort on behalf of the game of football and its benefits to our society, the National Football Foundation has launched a new site,


According to a release by the NFF, "The site focuses on stories, videos, and franchises highlighting the very best in high school and college football, such as: Football Moms, Special Teams, Hook & Corporate Ladder, Man-to-Man, the Quote of the Day and many more."

It appears to me that it will be a very positive voice for our game.

On there, I watched an interview with Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of GE.  A former Dartmouth lineman, he talked about his love of football and about football's effect on the way he does his job.

One part of the interview immediately won me over.

He said he was in India one time, and somebody asked him what was the most difficult thing about running a global company.

He said, "Pretending to give a sh-- about soccer."


*********** Are your ears still ringing with those chants of "I believe that we can win?"

Wasn't it just yesterday that people were leaving work early to watch World Cup matches?

Wasn't this summer's World Cup supposed to be the one that would finally establish soccer as a major sport in the US?

Well… Maybe somebody should tell all those twits who last summer professed their undying love for The Beautiful Game that it's time they got off their asses and went out and bought a ticket to an MLS (the "ML", if you didn't know, stands for "Major League") game, because according to the MLS commissioner, Don Garber, the league's teams are losing $100 million a year.

"I can say without doubt that our owners did not expect that by this time we'd still be needing to invest the level of money that we have been investing, and that's just the reality of where our business is today," Garber  told The Associated Press.

It's been said for years: Soccer is the sport of the future… and always will be.


*********** Dan Jenkins, legendary sports writer, in Texas Monthly

TM: With all the concern over head injuries, people are starting to suggest that football itself is politically incorrect. Do you think the handwringing about concussions is overblown?

DJ: Yes. It’s a tough game, and they know what they’re getting into. But I do worry about what’s going to result from that. My greatest fear, and I won’t live to see it happen, is for the United States men to win the World Cup [in] soccer. It would start something.

El Centro JV
 "Central Spartan JV after winning our city championship !"

Good morning Coach Wyatt,

This season I was given the opportunity to head coach the JV at my alma mater, Central Union in El Centro, Ca. after spending the last 2 seasons in Calexico.  We finished 9-1, our last six games were shutouts! Installed a basic set of plays to compliment the Varsity offense in week 4 of the season. I have attached a video of our first play in our first league game week 5! (It's a beauty of a Super Power! HW)

Matt Marrs, Imperial, California -

P.S.  How about that former A-back Royce Freeman?!!!

Royce Freeman?  Doing a great job as a true freshman running back for the Oregon Ducks.  He would be anybody's dream A-Back!

*********** Ever wonder why there seems to be such tolerance for all the sh-- that goes down in Washington? Why nobody's talking about the President's unilaterally granting amnesty to millions?

Jonah Goldberg has an explanation.

"...the only way this president can be rescued from a bad news cycle is if an even worse one comes along. This is a source of frustration for many on the right who get outraged by the fact that “we” don’t talk enough about Fast & Furious or Benghazi or the IRS scandal or the VA scandal or Ukraine/Syria/Islamic State/China/Libya/Gitmo . . . . etc. The reason some of these topics get pushed to the backburner, even on the right, is that another controversy or scandal suddenly eclipses the previous one. If I ask you to hold a bowling ball and then, five minutes later, I surprise you by throwing a second bowling ball at you and shouting “Catch!” it’s sort of unfair for me to expect you not to drop the ball."

american flag TUESDAY,  DECEMBER 2,  2014"Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe." Abraham Lincoln

*********** The New York Times ran a nice article last week about the MIT football team and the fact that it not only made it into the D-III playoffs, but actually won a first-round game.  Yes, they lost to Wesley in the second round, 59-0, but the miracle is that football is alive and kicking at a school that is among the most selective and most academically demanding in the country.  There are no Tar Heel courses at MIT.

And wouldn't you know - probably a third of the responses to the article were from people questioning why "guys that smart" would even play football.

I wanted to shout, 'BECAUSE THEY WANT TO, YOU SH--HEAD!"

They're young, athletic males. They may happen to be brighter than the rest of us but they still enjoy testing themselves physically. They still like to wrestle, to ski, to play ice hockey, to ride motorcycles, to climb mountains.

And play football.


*********** Coach,
Wow what a game!  I read your account in the ‘News’ just now and I am sure that it will be one you will re-live for a long time.
It sounds as though the staff got everything out of the potential of your team that was possible, which is the greatest compliment a coach can receive.  And that the boys came to practice on Monday!  I don’t think I have ever heard of that.  What a compliment!  THAT is what this is all about.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving and again congratulations.
Emory Latta
Dothan Alabama


I appreciate the note.

It was wonderful season with a great group of kids.

We are demanding and tough but our kids know that we love them.  (Sort of the way their fathers used to be.)

Our coach, Todd Bridge, is a Christian man who lives his faith and is proof that a tough man and a Christian are not contradictory terms.

Our post-game session in the locker room with our kids lasted over an hour and brought out emotions that most kids aren't willing to share with others.

Happy Thanksgiving to you, and thank you again.

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

Sorry about the loss. I am sure you have heard enough clichés for one season.

I was watching Sports Center this morning and Odell Beckham's catch was all over the program. Tommy was sitting on the edge of my bed watching while I was getting dressed. We were talking while my back was to him and we both expressed amazement at the catch. However, as the TV footage then showed Beckham standing on the bench, pounding his chest and shouting at the crowd, I turned and saw my son still transfixed to the program.

I began to wonder how deeply that example was being ingrained in his psyche.

Sometimes I think Sports Center (especially the Top 10) has ruined sports, by making it all about the sexy aspects of the game (dunks, homeruns and shoulder tackles) and not the basic fundamentals.

Now I think it compounds this problem by highlighting narcissism.

It was bad enough that he wanted to be a receiver in the first place. Why don't we ever hear about a ten-year old who complains because he didn't get to play Guard?  

I think this will be a good topic for the dinner table tonight.

Get some rest.

Tom Walls
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Hi Tom,

Appreciate the note.  We're over it.

The best sign of the success we had was the fact that on the Monday after our disappointing loss, our kids - ALL of our kids - wanted to practice.  So we practiced.  And every single kid was there.

I agree with you on Sports Center.  

For viewers it is like the Cliffs Notes of sports - why watch a whole stupid game when they'll give you the highlights and you can go back to Twitter?

For narcissistic players it is like catnip.

For coaches and fathers, it is a great challenge to try to keep kids grounded.

I know that with your guidance Tommy will figure it out.

Cliff Notes to literature is a good analogy. Here are some others:

As MTV is to music- No one can listen to a full album anymore.

As the History Channel is to History- Everyone considers themselves experts on Hitler or the Civil War

As Madden Football is to Coaching Football- Everyone thinks they can call an offense- you would be surprised at how simple young coaches think passing plays are.

All of these short cuts have fed into the devolution of the American culture (or maybe world wide), where we want immediate gratification rather than long-term reward.

This is yet another reason why I think American football is superior to Canadian. With three downs and unlimited motion, the emphasis is on big plays rather than long drives.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go eat my instant oatmeal that took my grandmother 20 minutes to make when she was young. :)

*********** Like me, you will come to like a handful of  individual officials, but you can coach until you're 100 and you probably won't need more than two hands to count the ones who treat you respectfully, who know the rules thoroughly, who use good judgment in enforcing the rules, and aren't so paranoids that they see any challenge of any call as a question of their integrity.

I have seldom doubted an official's integrity or impartiality, and I have found that most have a good knowledge of the rules. But I always worry about getting one whose judgement is poor, and I worry even more about getting a guy who combines poor judgment with thin skin.

In my opinion, our crew Saturday - one of those all-star mixed crews that the state inflicts on you at playoff time - did not measure up to the demands of the game.

Look - we lost our game, 21-14.  On that day, our opponent  was the better team.

But there's no room in football for officiating like this…

(1) A questionable personal foul adds to a drive;  the officials claimed they saw the whole play, but they evidently didn't see - because they didn't penalize - the  kid from the opposing team who could have started a brawl by leaving his team area and "approaching" our player


(2) A Fourth-and 15 reverse pass is intercepted (I know, I know - fourth down) and the returner fumbles; the ball is touched by an opposing team (Toledo)  player while he is clearly out of bounds, meaning possession belongs to the team that fumbled.  But, no - not with those officials.  Toledo ball. Toledo goes on to score the winning touchdown.


(3) The winning touchdown. Talk about a slow whistle.  Any other time - if we'd pried the ball loose, or thrown the runner to the ground - they'd have said that the runner's forward progress was stopped.  Not this time. (What's with all the slow whistles while they pay lip service  to player safety? )


*********** UCLA made a very big deal during the Stanford game of the fact that it was retiring Jackie Robinson's number - 42 - for all Bruins' teams in all sports.

Nice honor.  Robinson, who played football and baseball and ran track at UCLA and is one of the school's most illustrious alumni, is highly deserving.

Except, uh...  Thanks to the  title of a movie,  people who weren't even born when Jackie Robinson  played know that he wore number 42 for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

But there's no record that he ever wore that number at UCLA. 

He wore number 28 as a football player, but I've had no luck finding a photo of him from the back to tell whether he even had a baseball number. 

*********** In  response to my comments about not  understanding what the problem was with RG III…

Charlie Wilson of Crystal River, Florida sent me a link to an article which pretty much explains why the Redskins have given up on a guy who was once neck-and-neck with Andrew Luck...


*********** Going into a state championship game,  you've got to be pretty confident to go along with a Detroit TV station, the way  Warren (MIchigan) De La Salle did, but what resulted was a pretty funny spoof on what we've become used  to seeing on NFL broadcasts.   (De La Salle won the game,  44-8.)

***********  Georgia's down by six but driving, when-  whose bright idea was it? - they called a  slant on second and six. It was intercepted. There went the game, a place in the conference championship game and - perhaps - a spot in the playoff.

Oh, and that there triple option Tech offense that people thought they'd solved? It still works.

*********** The season-ending injury to Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett has put the playoff selection committee in a bind, because by nearly all criteria, the Buckeyes should be neck-and-neck with Baylor and TCU for the fourth spot in the playoff, except…

With all due respect to the Ohio State coaches' ability to prepare their third-string quarterback (Barrett, remember, only got the starting job when Braxton Miller was injured) for playoff competition, it would be a travesty to give a precious playoff spot to a team whose offense is operating at far less than its best.

*********** The Duke and North Carolina football teams play annually for possession of a large bell, and it's  tradition for the winning team to paint the base of the bell in its school color. Immediately.  Which means spray paint.

Uh-oh. What if they don't know when to stop?

North Carolina coach Larry Fedora wound up having  to apologize to Duke officials after his players sprayed paint on the rug and on the walls of their locker room in Duke's stadium.

Despite suggestions that perhaps outside vandals had done the damage in hopes of pinning the blame on the Tar Heels,  Durham  police detectives said the perpetrators had to be  North Carolina football players because  they misspelled "UNC."

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

I failed to provide an update to the end of our season.  The Trojans finished the season 7-3, having lost in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs 43-45 to visiting Monticello.  The season brought our fourth consecutive conference championship and seventh in the last twelve years and fifth consecutive playoff birth and eleventh in the last twelve years.  The seniors ended their careers having been part of a varsity team with a four-year record of 36-7.  

I have to thank you for all that you do to promote high school football and the double wing in particular.  It is through your postings (and some of the contacts I have made through your postings), along with some pretty great groups of kids the last few years, that I have grown as a coach.  Your encouragement to get out of the traditional double wing has allowed me to expand as an offensive coach while still staying true to what I've been taught (by you) and believe.  I am certainly a better coach now than I was four years ago, and a lot of that has to do with the influence you have.  Thank you.

I have attached my nomination for the 2014 Black Lion.  I hope it is not too late.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving.

Todd Hollis
Head Football Coach
Elmwood High School
Elmwood, Illinois

*********** Soccer people are celebrating Caleb Sturgis' "rabona" kick last week…


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

I wonder what advise you may have for someone who is thinking of running your, "spread cat", formation exclusively?

Is blocking, at the corner, for 88 power more difficult? Can backside G &T both be pulled to playside to wall off?

Thank you for your advise.


Blocking for 88 power from spread formation can be a bit problematic because you will often find a man on your playside tackle's outside shoulder, and your choice is whether to have your tackle block to the inside - and leave that defensive lineman for your B-Back, or to double-team that defender with your tackle and wingback.

In the former case, if that defender is really tough, as close as he is he might be too much for your B-Back and he might shut your play down before it starts.

On the other hand, if you double-team him, you might wind up blocking him to the outside, which means that your backside guard - and your runner - might actually go through the "4" hole.

In any event, you will not consistently be able to pull your backside tackle, because a defensive end will chase him, and run your play down from behind.

UNLESS you're willing and able to  teach your QB to read that defensive end.

*********** If you didn't know anything about the War of 1812 turned out, from the slow, mournful femmie/fruity way they sing the national anthem before NFL games, you'd swear we lost that G-D battle in Baltimore Harbor, and the Brits captured Fort McHenry after all.

*********** Questionable end-of-game management...

With 1:47 to play and the game tied, 21-21 Ohio U. missed a potential game-winning field goal.
Miami U. took over with 1:47, but rather than playing for OT, they rolled the dice: running just once, and throwing five times. Unfortunately, four of their passes were incomplete, and instead of running the clock out and going into overtime, they wound up punting.

Six plays from scrimmage, plus the punt, and they ran just 39 seconds off the clock.

Starting at their own 20, Ohio needed just four plays - two runs by the quarterback and two pass completions - to get the ball into field goal range and this time to kick the winning field goal as time ran out.

Ohio 24, Miami 21.

*********** Buried in the story of Western Kentucky's 67-66 overtime win over Marshall was the fact that Marshall receiver Davonte Allen was ejected for two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, both following touchdowns. The first was the result of a little dance, the second when he threw the ball in a defender's face. Good receiver - up to that point he'd caught six passes for 141 yards - but sheesh. Talk about selfish.

Hats off to Marshall coach Doc Holliday, who is somehow able to coach kids like that.   But wait - isn't he the one who recruits them?

*********** The good news is that UAB's win over Southern Miss made the Blazers bowl eligible.  The bad news is that UAB will likely drop football this week.


*********** Among the dumb, unMichigan  things done by recently-fired Michigan AD Dave Brandon was the "Legends" deal - unretiring numbers (such as Tom Harmon's number 98) and putting them on players who hadn't even begun to measure up to the immortals whose numbers they wore.

*********** On the other hand, maybe its just as well Miami and Ohio U  didn't go into OT, with John Beilein so worried about his Michigan basketball players (er, student-athletes) waking up for their 9 AM classes the next day.

Michigan's basketball game with Villanova tipped off at 10:15 - 15 minutes late - after a the Miami-Ohio U game ran late on ESPN2.   Rather than start the basketball game on one of its lesser channels, ESPN chose to delay the start  in order to show the game in its entirety on ESPN2.

Said Beilein afterward, "I mean, I love ESPN, guys, I love it, but when they told me that the game was being moved back 15 minutes -- something is wrong. We have a whole bunch of guys with 8 and 9 o'clock classes tomorrow morning and we move that game to 10:15 so that a football game could be finished."



I am trying to get the (local) high school interested in running your double wing. They have only one good season and that was in 1960 when I played and we went undefeated at that time! I would like to see them un-defeated at least once more, in my lifetime! If they commit to the system I am sure they will have a good chance to do that!


From long experience, I would say that the only way that they would decide to do it would be if somehow it was the head coach's own idea.

Otherwise, for one thing, the head coach will not be fully invested.  For another, it will be seen as your idea, and immediately there will be people who will shoot it down because it wasn't theirs.

In short, it has to be bought.  It can't be sold.


american flag TUESDAY,  NOVEMBER 25,  2014 "If you want to know what God thinks of money just look at the people he gave it to."  Dorothy Parker

************ Remember those bastards from European-owned ABInbev and all those phony-ass patriotic Budweiser ads they've run, trying to trick stupid Americans into thinking that good old Bud is still American?

Remember when I said that soon enough, the Clydesdales would be gone?

Well, don't look for them in commercials. prancing through snowy New England towns this Christmas.  Or any other Christmas, for that matter.


Mark my words - it won't be long before the menus of fine European restaurants are featuring roast Clydesdale.

*********** On a beautiful sunny day in Centralia, Washington, North Beach lost to Toledo Saturday, 21-14, in a state quarter-final game. 

North Beach finished the season 10-1. Toledo, 11-1, moves on.

It was a frustrating loss. If you coach long enough, you'll have those games.  They start out in bizarre fashion and go on from there, and you find yourself wondering when the real game will start.

Back in 1978, I was coaching at Banks, Oregon and the opponent was Dayton, coached by the late Dewey Sullivan, who would go on to retire as the winningest coach in Oregon high school football history.

We received, and as the Dayton kicker approached the ball, my front line players turned  to carry out their blocking assignments. Unfortunately for us, the kick hit one of them in the rear end.  Dayton recovered, and the rout was on.

Needless to say, from that point on it's always been a big thing with me to make sure that our up-front guys understand that their first job is to make sure they see the ball kicked. But then, there are those games...

36 years later, as we prepared to receive the opening kickoff, I sat in the press box and watched Toledo's kick bounce right in front of one of our front guys, who appeared unaware of where it was.  The ball rolled past him and Toledo  recovered. One play in and we were rocked, and before we could regain our poise - before a minute had elapsed in the game - they had us down, 7-0.

This time, though, there would be no rout. Our kids regained their composure, and after recovering a Toledo fumble on our own 35 yard line, drove 65 yards in eight plays to score with 2:35 left, but missed the extra point try and trailed, 7-6.

Toledo lost another fumble, but after we were forced to punt, they drove 80 yards to score with 43 seconds left in the half to take a 14-6 lead.

The third quarter consisted almost entirely of two long drives. 

Toledo took the kickoff on the 35 (we'd kicked out of bounds) and drove to our 10 yard line, where our outside linebacker, Skyler Wells, intercepted a slant pass and was downed on our three.

At this point, with the exception of 40-some seconds at the end of the half, we had gone nearly ten minutes without running an offensive play.

Aided by two major penalties - one for pass interference and the other for a face mask - we managed to drive the 97 yards in 15 plays, punching it in from four yards out on fourth down with :13 remaining in the period.  The longest play was a third-and-one sneak that QB Alex McAra turned into an 18-yard gain.  The successful two-point conversion tied the game at 14-all.

Aided by two major penalties - one for pass interference and the other for a face mask - we managed to drive the 97 yards in 15 plays, punching it in from four yards out on fourth down with :13 remaining in the period.  The longest play was a third-and-one sneak that QB Alex McAra turned into an 18-yard gain.  The successful two-point conversion tied the game at 14-all.

Then ensued one of the damnedest drives I've ever seen, much less been a part of.

Toledo pulled off a nice reverse and returned the kickoff to our 27.

On the next play, our outside linebacker Gabe Hernandez tackled the Toledo runner as he headed out of bounds, and, as Gabe made sure to hold him up, the two rode together all the way to the track, where Gabe let go and was accosted by an indignant Toledo player who left his team area and pushed Gabe, then took off his helmet (never a smart move) and challenged him.  To Gabe's credit, he stood and did nothing.  To the officials' discredit, although they managed to  "see" the personal foul, they missed the action behind the bench.

They marched off the penalty and the quarter ended, with the score tied, 14-14 and Toledo on our 12.  We stiffened, and after three plays, they faced a 4th and 15 on our 17.

And then all hell broke loose.  Toledo tried a double-reverse pass.  One of our defensive ends sniffed it out and tackled the intended passer, who managed to fling the ball jet before he hit the ground.  Gabe Hernandez, without time to realize that it was fourth down, intercepted on the 15 and took off for the Toledo goal, but at the 20 the ball was knocked loose from behind, with enough force to cause the ball to roll out to the 39 where following a scramble - video shows - it was clearly touched by a Toledo player who by that point was lying out of bounds. Despite the fact that we were last in possession and Toledo never regained possession before touching the ball while out of bounds, Toledo was awarded the ball - and a first down.

It took them four plays to get to a first-and-goal on our five, and one play to get to our one yard line.  But we bowed our backs  and stuffed a quarterback sneak.  And then came a play I'll remember forever.  From the one, they ran a dive at our left side, where the runner was met at the goal line by our free safety, who was quickly joined by at least three teammates who drove him backward.  The runner's forward progress was no longer even an issue - not only was he headed backward, but in fact he was facing his own goal, looking at the referee, who stood stone-still and mute.  For some reason the guy didn't blow his whistle, and for some reason - perhaps because they were gun-shy after the earlier personal foul penalty - our kids let go of the runner, and after a brief pause, possibly surprised that he'd been set free, he alertly did a 180 turn and loped across the goal line.

With 7:34 remaining, we took the kickoff and drove to their 31, but with a little more than two minutes left, we threw incomplete on fourth down.   Toledo took over and ran out the clock and  that was that.  Our kids played hard but we didn't play our best game.

For what it's worth, in the game that followed ours, which determined whom we would have played in this week's semifinal game, top-ranked Napavine put a 52-7 shellacking on Raymond, whom we managed to beat earlier in the season in two overtimes.

I'm not happy with the loss, but if our season had to end, I'd much prefer it end in a 21-14 hard-fought loss than a 52-7 whupping.

As a postnote, at our players' request, we held a final "practice" Monday afternoon.  In pouring rain.  And e
very single kid was present.

 playoff crowd
Part of the crowd at the North Beach-Toledo game, seen from the press box.

************ What does it mean  when Buffalo can  trounce the Jets  after being snowed in and unable to practice all week?

*********** The Football Writers Association of America/National Football Foundation
Grantland Rice Super 16 Poll - Week 11
1 Alabama

2 Florida State

3 Oregon 

4 Mississippi State


6 Baylor

7 Ohio State

8 Georgia


10 Michigan State

11 Kansas State 

12 Arizona 

13 Arizona State 

14 Wisconsin 

15 Auburn 

16 Missouri

First-Round games, if there were to be a 16-team playoff:
Florida State-Auburn
MIssissippi State- Arizona State
Baylor-Kansas State
Ohio State-MIchigan State

*********** One reason I'll be happy to see 2016 get here is that I'm really looking forward to no longer having to hear  "folks" used as the all-purpose word to describe anyone from  hard-working Americans, prisoners, political opponents, refugees and terrorists to  victims of crime, earthquakes, blizzards and hurricanes.

*********** The NFL can wear all the pink it wants, and it can blather on about espousing family values, but who's it kidding when every game we watch on TV  exposes us to panels of "experts" the likes of Michael Irvin, Randy Moss, Keyshawn Johnson and Deion Sanders?  Anybody remember what model citizens they were as players? What great team players? If the Patriots hadn't signed  LeGarrette Blount, we'd probably be listening to him this weekend.

*********** See how Yale could beat Alabama:  My Team is Better Than Your Team


*********** When you have the game won, take the win and go home.

Should you ever consider getting cute, keep this in mind:

In 1999, Baylor coach Kevin Steele, his team leading UNLV with only 12 seconds remaining and the Rebels out of time outs,   chose to run the ball rather than take a knee. The Bears fumbled and UNLV returned the fumble for the winning touchdown.

*********** Our game Saturday started at 1 PM and was over by 3:30. We were out of the stadium before 5, so my wife and I went and unwound and watched the USC-UCLA game on the TV set behind the bar.

How did I know who was playing?

Well, neither team was wearing black.  Or gray.  Or cam. Or anything designed specially for the game by NIke/Adidas/UnderArmour.

Jeez, it's nice to  know who's playing without even having to be told.

*********** If you want to poison your relationship with your quarterback, and make any future quarterback wonder whether he can ever trust you, this is how to do it. It's  Redskins' coach Jay Gruden, talking about Robert Griffin.

“Robert had some fundamental flaws. His footwork was below average. He took three-step drops when he should have taken five. He took a one-step drop when he should have taken three, on a couple occasions, and that can’t happen. He stepped up when he didn’t have to step up and stepped into pressure. He read the wrong side of the field a couple times. So from his basic performance just critiquing Robert, it was not even close to being good enough to what we expect from the quarterback position.

“Just take your drops the right way and throw the five-yard stick route when you’re supposed to and do the best you can. Sometimes he worries a little bit too much. We’ve just got to try to get him better. His frame of mind is in the right place. It just doesn’t come out the right way sometimes, but he wants to get better. He knows he has a long way to go to get better. If he stays on the right track as far as work ethic and listening and preparing, then he’ll get better.

“It’s his job to worry about his position, his footwork, his fundamentals, his reads, his progressions, his job at the quarterback position. It’s my job to worry about everybody else. And, yes, everybody else needs to improve. There’s no question about it. But it’s not his place. His place is to talk about himself, and he knows that. He just elaborated a little bit too much.”

flagFRIDAY,  NOVEMBER 21,  2014"Barack Obama is the President that Richard NIxon always wanted to be."  Jonathan Turley, Professor, George Washington University School of Law

*********** Sorry for the brief "NEWS" today.

On Saturday at 1 PM in Centralia, Washington Tiger Stadium, the North Beach Hyaks (10-0) play the Toledo Indians (10-1), in the Washington State Class 2B quarterfinals in the first game of a double-header.

Should we win, our opponent in the state semi-finals will be the winner of the game that follows ours,  between the Raymond Seagulls (9-1), whom we beat six weeks ago in two overtimes, and the Napavine Tigers, 10-0 and ranked number one in the state.

The semi-final game will take place in the Tacoma Dome next weekend - on, uh, either next Friday or Saturday.  We probably won't know until Monday.  (Good luck planning Thanksgiving dinner.)

Our local newspaper picked us to win, 42-36.  I don't know whether we're good enough to score 42 points against them, but given that we've allowed a total of 53 points all season - 13 of them in garbage time - I'm really going to be surprised if they're able to score 36 points against us.

Sorry I don't have more today.  Things have been pretty hectic out here on The Edge of the Continent after our first playoff win in over 30 years.

Friday morning, our kids will be bussed to pep rallies in their honor at our district's two elementary schools, in Ocean Shores and Pacific Beach.

Friday afternoon, we'll bus to Aberdeen to practice on artificial turf (from this point on, all playoff games must be played on artificial turf). (Could it be our last practice?  What a dreadful  thought.) 

Saturday, we play the first game of a double-header, so we'll serve the kids breakfast at 8:15, and by 9 we'll be on our way to Centralia, roughly a two-hour bus trip, where we face Toledo (10-1) in the state Class 2B quarterfinals.

Kickoff is at 1 PM.  By 4 PM, when the next game starts, we'll have sent  the team bus back to Ocean Shores, and we'll either stay around to scout our next week's rival, or…

Damn.  I hate to even think of the possibility that it could all be over.

american flag TUESDAY,  NOVEMBER 18,  2014"The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, the young know everything." Oscar Wilde

*********** As if Michigan didn't have enough problems, defensive lineman Frank Clark is in jail in Sandusky, Ohio, held without bond on a charge of domestic violence.

Doesn't "domestic violence" mean ("allegedly") beating up someone he's shacked up with? (Such as a "fiancee?")

Doesn't it make you wonder whatever happened to athletic dorms?

Doesn't it make you wonder how these poor college kids who, they tell us,  go to bed hungry every night, manage to pay for off-campus housing for two?

Doesn't it make you laugh when a college coach refers to his players as "kids?"

*********** On a chilly Friday night in Aberdeen, Washington, the North Beach Hyaks played solid on defense throughout and came alive offensively in the second half to defeat the Pe Ell/Willapa Valley Titans, 27-12, and advance to the quarterfinals of the state Class 2B playoffs.

Call it nerves.  Call it cockiness.  Chalk it up to the fact that we hadn't played in game in two weeks - and hadn't faced a tough opponent in four weeks.

Whatever the reason, our offense was barely recognizable in pregame and for most of the first half.  We clearly weren't ourselves.

Failing to field a punt (big mistake on an artificial surface), we had to start out inside our ten-yard line; we managed to pick up a couple of first downs, but two procedure penalties stalled us.

Same basic thing the next drive. And the next.  More stupid procedure penalties in one half of ball than in the previous nine games combined. 

Add to that a play when we had only 10 men on the field.  WTF?

Worst of all, we seemed passive, listless, letting the opponents take it to us.

Fortunately for us, our defense held. 

Our defense has been good all year. Coming into this game,  we'd given up just 41 points all season, seven of them scored against our JVs during mop-up time.

Facing a team on a seven-game winning streak in which it hadn't scored less than 34 points in any game, our defense kept PWV out of the end zone until we could finally put a little drive together in the closing minutes of the half.

Starting at our own 20 following a PWV punt, we drove deep into Titan territory, assisted along the way by two penalties, until finally, facing a fourth-and-goal at the ten-yard line, Saul Gonzalez kicked the first field goal of his career with 52 seconds left  to send us off at halftime with a 3-0 lead. (Not that we hadn't been practicing field goals every day for an entire season - we knew that Saul could make it.  We just hadn't ever had occasion to kick one in a game.)

In the halftime locker room, even allowing for the fact that we were facing a very tough opponent, we all agreed that we'd played probably our worst half of the season -  and yet there we were, ahead by three points.

And, although I had no proof, that last drive had given me a sense that we'd begun to find ourselves - that the game had begun to swing our way.

After opening the second half with a short drive, we punted the ball away, and on their first play from scrimmage, PWV fumbled - and we recovered - on their 37.

That business about asserting ourselves?  Check.  Time for the old Double Wing (remember that?)   From this point on, the plan was to pound.

Like drives of old, it took us nine plays to get in.  Pound, pound, pound.  The only run longer than six yards was the scoring play itself, a ten-yarder with Elijah Towery carrying it in.

The two-point conversion made it 11-0, and so long as our defense could hold up, we were in reasonably good shape.

The Titans evidently didn't see things that way, and put on an impressive drive of their own, down to our 14.  There, though,  once again they fumbled, and once again, we recovered.

And drove.

This drive took us 13 plays - seven at the tail end of the third quarter, six at the start of the fourth - to go 86 yards, with Towery scoring from three yards out.  Pound, pound, pound. The only play of more than eight yards was Towery's 20-yard run down to the three to set up the score.  The conversion made the score 19-0, and now, with 9:56 left, I began to feel we had a decent chance of winning.

Uh-oh.  As we'd seen them do so many times over the last several games, on their next play from scrimmage PWV went 61 yards for a touchdown.   Their try for two points was stuffed, and we led, 19-6.

And then, despite all our work, every practice, on covering onside kicks, I'll be damned if they didn't do one - successfully - and take over on our 48.

First down, around left end, got them one.  Second down, around left end, got them two.  Third down, a bootleg right, and the quarterback, pressured, threw incomplete.   Fourth and seven, another bootleg right, and Towery, who'd already scored our two touchdowns on offense, sacked the QB for a 12-yard loss.

Taking over on their 43, we needed nine plays to punch it in, with Jordan Chong carrying it in from three yards out. Pound, pound, pound. The only long play was Chong's 12-yard carry down to the five.  We did need one fourth-and-five conversion, on which we relied on what most of you would recognize as a classic Double-Wing play.

We added another two point conversion (figure it out - three of those suckers are the equivalent of a touchdown) and the score stood 27-6 with 4:15 left.

And then, inexplicably, PWV did our job
for us, and ran out the clock.  As we backed off in anticipation of passing, they instead pounded the rock themselves, and took 11 plays to get 39 yards, from midfield (after our short kick) down to our 10 yard line, where with six seconds remaining they threw for a consolation score.

Finally, take-a-knee time. Game over.

Post-game was a bit strange.  The kids were happy, of course, but scarcely the way I'd seen them over the past several years, when wins were scarcer.  There was almost a sense of relief that we'd finally accomplished a playoff win, the school's first since 1983.  Maybe, too, it was the exhaustionn of  a bell-to-bell struggle with a very tough team, a struggle that took more out of them than they realized.

Our local paper, the Aberdeen Daily World, had predicted we'd lose, 28-27.  Quipped our coach, Todd Bridge, afterward, "At least they got our score right."

*********** After our win Friday night, we had to wait until Saturday afternoon to know who our next week's opponent will be.

Now we know. It's 10-1 Toledo, 65-32 winners over Concrete.

Toledo proved to be as explosive against Concrete as they were when I scouted them last week, especially  their running back Taylor Hicks. Hicks ran for 393 yards and six touchdowns as the Indians scored 45 points in the second half, 31 of them in an astonishing  third quarter.

After a back-and-forth first half, Concrete, a Double-Wing team, led, 26-20 at the intermission.

And then came one of the damnedest sequences of events - and one of the most dramatic illustrations of the importance of the kicking game - you could ever see.  By the time it was over, Toledo was in control, and Concrete was reeling.

Taking the second half kickoff and driving quickly for a score, Toledo then onside kicked successfully and quickly scored again. Then, twice Concrete mishandled Toledo pooch kicks, and twice more Toledo scored.

By the time  the Toledo onslaught was over, the third quarter was barely halfway through and Toledo led 51-26 - and Concrete had yet to run a play!

Needless to say, this is not the sort of situation any team likes to face, and it's certainly not what the Double Wing was designed for.  Concrete fought gamely, but from that point on it was a  lost cause.

In our only game against a common opponent, Toledo beat Pe Ell/Willapa Valley, our first-round opponents, 20-14 in the second game of the season.

*********** WIAA Playoff bracket-


************ At a time when ethnic, religious, and tribal groups are killing one another across the globe, why are concepts of hyphenation, identity politics, or mandatory bilingualism in official documents preferable to the exceptional American idea of a melting pot, a common culture, and a shared national language?

The selfish position is the current one of burdening the host society by accommodating the language of the guest.

The surreal position is that of ingratitude of guests toward the generous host country by demanding that its laws either be ignored or changed to fit their own particular agendas and preferences.

Victor Davis Hanson, Natonal Review Online

*********** It was senior night at Villanova, and with 30 seconds remaining and the Wildcats'  49-31 win over Albany secure, the last two plays of the game were carries by four-year walk-on Wildcat senior Fred O'Connor.

Albany coach Greg Gattuso was enraged.  He said Villanova's Andy Talley should simply have run out the clock.

He told Coach Talley as much and he told the Philadelphia media as well.

"I was very disappointed with Coach Talley at the end of the game," Gattuso said. "Thirty seconds left, [he] doesn't want to kneel. He mentioned Joe Paterno (for whom Gattuso played in college)  to me, and how he looked up to him. I can promise you this, he's no Joe Paterno after this, doing something like that."

Said Coach Talley, "Joe Paterno is a legend, I would never pretend to be like Joe Paterno or anybody else. I am Andy Talley. Check my record, pal. When he gets to that point, he can come talk to me about coaching."

Gattuso went on: "I think that was so little class it shocked me. I just think it's a rookie coach mistake, and if it was a young coach it would be one thing, but somebody of his stature to do something like that is shocking to me."

Gattuso continued, "We ran the ball in the fourth quarter, we didn't use timeouts, we didn't onside kick," he said. "I think we did it the way you have to. We are certainly going to try to score, I think everybody wants to score. When there is 30 seconds on the clock, the great ones kneel, period."

I would be tempted to say, "What is this, baseball, where you're not supposed to be stealing when you're up by five runs?" (Or is it four runs?  Six? Seven?)

Said Coach Talley,  "We wanted to get a senior running back in the game who is a four-year walk-on, and we wanted to give him the ball."

Coach Talley noted that Albany's final touchdown was scored by its starting tight end.

"He kept his first team in through the whole game, and for him to come in here and criticize me - are you kidding me?" Coach Talley said. "I made my bones in this program. Let him go get 10 playoffs and a national championship and he can come here and rip me."

Now, I've met Coach Talley and
I've been impressed with him  as a coach and a gentleman.  I would be proud to have a son or grandson play for him and his staff.  (In fact, one of my grandsons, Wyatt Love, just graduated from Villanova.)

So I take offense when someone takes a shot at a man who to me stands for what college football should be about.

Coach Gattuso?

Not that he would be interested in any advice from me, but from long experience saying things that I later regretted…

When you win, say little.  When you lose, say less.


The Rest of The Story… The walk-on running back at the center of the squabble was a kid named Fred O'Connor. 

Fred O'Connor, I thought? Any relation to Fred O'Connor, from Trenton State?

I met that Fred O'Connor in the spring of 1974, when I was working with the WFL Philadelphia Bell and
I was looking at Trenton State as a place for our training camp.  Fred O'Connor  had just been named head coach at Trenton State (now College of New Jersey), fresh from a stint as an assistant at Villanova. 

Shortly after, before he ever coached a game at Trenton State, Fred took a job with another WFL team, the Washington Ambassadors, soon to become the Virginia Ambassadors and, ultimately, the Florida (Orlando) Blazers.

When the WFL folded, Fred hooked up with the Chicago Bears, and went on to a long career in the NFL, including a brief term as interim head coach of the 49ers.

The kid, it turns out,  was that Fred O'Connor's grandson. And his dad once assisted coach Talley at Villanova.

If I had been coach Talley, I'd have done exactly what he did.  I've have made damn sure that that kid carried the ball in his last home game as a senior. 

And if that guy on the other side of the field didn't like it, well,  screw him.  He doesn't coach my team.

As Joe Paterno once told Lou Holtz, "You can only coach one team at a time."

*********** Relax, Tallahassee Police.  Rest easy, Florida State. This time, it's not about you…

The NFL - that organization that presumes to "help" us mere high school coaches do our jobs better, was confronted in Monday's New York Ties by yet more evidence that its teams not only harbor criminals on their rosters - nothing new there - but in many cases have routinely cultivated incestuously close relationships with local law enforcement agencies that enable players to receive special treatment when they run afoul of the law.


*********** Can you say, "Marcus Lattimore?"

Georgia running back Todd Gurley, who missed several games this year because of NCAA sanctions, injured his knee Saturday against Auburn, ending his season and - who knows? - perhaps his career as a football player.

*********** The Old Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier, pulled one out in OT over his one-time employer, the Florida Gators, and put an end to the agonizing tenure of Gators' coach Will Muschamp, who just couldn't get over the hump.  Muschamp was once  the designated successor to Mack Brown at Texas, but he couldn't wait, and jumped at the Florida job when it was offered.  Now, he looks forward to a future - a very comfortable one to be sure, given his buyout at Florida - as someone's defensive coordinator.  He'll do well.

And in the meantime, since he's Florida's coach until the end of the season, we can only hope that he can rally the Gators to beat Florida State.

*********** Does anybody else get angry the way I do whenever I see Jimbo Fisher on TV?  To me, he embodies the infiltration into the college game of the Al Davis "Just Win, Baby" philosophy.

*********** Speaking of FSU… their latest squeaker, an edging of Miami, doesn't make them look like a playoff contender.  And Notre Dame's two straight losses sure have taken the luster off the Seminoles' narrow win over the Irish.

american flag FRIDAY,  NOVEMBER 14,  2014"To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be who have tried it. " Herman Melville

************ MIchael Bloomfield is an astronaut. So is Leland Melvin. So, too,  are Mike Hopkins and  Butch Wilmore.

There's something else: they all played college football.

Wrote Ben Cohen in the Wall Street Journal (September 16, 2014), "A surprising number of recent astronauts were shaped, in part, by their experiences play college football."

Bloomfield played at Air Force;  Melvin played at Richmond and was good enough to be drafted by the Lions;  Hopkins was captain of his team at Illinois;  Wilmore played linebacker at Tennessee Tech.

Even in space, they manage to follow their favorite teams, and have even taken a football aboard flights and thrown it around while in space.

But football has been more than just a diversion in their lives.

Wrote Cohen, "Football isn't just a topic of conversation among thee astronauts. They say the discipline, teamwork and decision-making involved in playing the sport at a high level help them in their high-pressure jobs today."

*********** North Beach vs. Pe Ell/Willapa Valley

By Rick Anderson
Aberdeen Daily World

An unbeaten team on the cusp of a historic season and one of the state’s hottest 2B clubs could produce a sizzling first-round state contest.

The third-ranked Hyaks have already achieved several milestones this year. This week, according to state prep historian Ralph Lovelace, they are seeking their first postseason victory since 1983.

North Beach features a diversified ground game in which the likes of Jordan Chong, Cameron Keller, Skyler Wells, Saul Gonzalez and Elijah Towery — plus quarterback Alex McAra — take turns running behind a big, talented offensive line.

“They’re big and they’re physical and they’ve definitely got speed in the backfield,” Pe Ell/Willapa Valley coach Josh Fluke said of the Hyaks. “They’ve got just about everything you need in a football team.”

In its first year as a combine, Pe Ell/Willapa Valley has reeled off a seven-game winning streak in which its average victory margin has been 36 points.

“I think they took, four-five-six weeks to jell and now they’re playing,” North Beach coach Todd Bridge noted. “I think if they had Napavine and Toledo (the two teams that have beaten the Titans) at the end of their schedule, they would have shaken some things up.”

The Titans are also deep in the backfield, with Trevor Cook, Kaelin Jurek and Seth Flemetis productive ball-carriers. They have also taken the unusual step of rotating their quarterbacks, with Jason Fluke and Aidan Arrington splitting time at that position.

“They can both throw at any time and they’re pretty good runners,” Coach Fluke said. “We like to switch them up and it’s been working pretty good.”

Friday’s winner will go on the road next weekend to take on either Toledo or Concrete.

- See more at: http://m.thedailyworld.com/sports/local/six-twin-harbors-teams-begin-state-quest-weekend#sthash.orNH6c2K.dpuf

*********** After two weeks of more or less steady rain and wind, we opened practice on Monday with unusual weather conditions - sunny, with crystal-clear skies and dry air.  Yeah, dry.  Dry and cold and coming at us out of the east at up to 35 mph.  Some of it's good - it's been almost been enough to dry off our field.  And some of it's bad - it plays hell with our passing game.

Our first-round playoff game Friday night against Pe Ell/Willapa Valley is set for seven o'clock at Aberdeen's historic Stewart Field.  Stewart Field is unique in that its wooden grandstands - all covered, as is the norm in the Pacific Northwest - surround three sides of the field, and, with no running track, are quite close to the field.

I coached a game  here in 1980, in November, and the condition of the field was atrocious.  Not a problem now, though - it's now  a Field Turf surface.

We were on it last Friday, and we'll practice on it again today (Thursday).

The Pe Ell/Willapa Valley Titans qualified for the playoffs by shutting out Rainier, 36-0, in a play-in game..  Their offense is primarily Double Tight, Full-House, with, as you might expect, a heavy emphasis on the running game.  All three of their backs - and their quarterback - are breakaway threats. 

They pass sparingly, but when they do, they are extremely effective.

Many - including the local newspaper - favor the Titans because although they have two losses they play in a  tougher league than we do.

Aberdeen coyote*********** We won't have to worry about any guano on the field when we play at Aberdeen's Stewart Field tomorrow night.  Wiley the coyote will see to that. Apparently, if not for him, the gulls would rest on the logo because the paint retains warmth from the run. But old Wiley (the groundskeeper says he doesn't actually have a name) keeps them away.  He actually swings in the wind, and his tail wags.  And his eyes are scary as hell.

*********** Oh, dear.  Even our local paper, the Aberdeen Daily World,  has lost faith in the Hyak Magic…

Class 2B

North Beach Hyaks (9-0) vs. Pe Ell/Willapa Valley Titans (8-2): This is the “Irresistible Force vs. Immovable Object” match-up of the state playoffs. The Titans, in their first year as a combine, are the irresistible force as the hottest team from the Central 2B League. They have given up the second-fewest points in what is known as the best 2B league in the state. The Hyaks, the Pacific 2B League champions, are the immovable object as the team of destiny on the beach. They are in the midst of their best-ever football season.

What will give first? … Titans 28, Hyaks 27.

veterans day

********** With no school on Veterans' Day, we elected to practice in the morning, from 9 to 11.

At 11, we stopped practice and spent a few minutes talking with our players about the origin of Veterans Day, going back to the Armistice that marked the end of World War I, in 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

As we talked, one of our senior captains, tackle Daniel Fruh,  mentioned that at the assisted care facility where his mother worked, there were some World War II veterans, and said it would "make their day" if some of our guys were to pay them a visit on Veterans' Day.

That was all it took to round up six players, plus a younger brother, and we all met at the facility at 12:30.

There, we were introduced to Mr. Leo Shumard (seated) and Mr. Woody Howard.

Mr. Shumard  was on the Battleship USS Maryland when Pearl Harbor was bombed. He had just finished breakfast when he heard "this terrible racket."  He recalled looking out a porthole and seeing a plane fly by, almost close enough to touch.  

Mr. Howard, a fighter pilot, was shot down over occupied France.  He was discovered and cared for by the French Underground until he could be rescued.

He grew up on a farm in Maine, and said that the little bit of French he'd learned in high school saved him when he told his French rescuers, "Je suis un pilote américain."  (I'm an American pilot.)

It was a wonderful way for those young boys (and a coach and his wife)  to observe Veterans Day by personally honoring two heroes - who were once young boys themselves.

*********** Should we defeat Pe Ell/Willapa Valley (PWV, as it's becoming known), our quarter-final opponent would be the winner of Saturday's game between Toledo (9-1) and Concrete (9-1).

Concrete CoachesLooking ahead, last Friday night I was in Centralia, Washington to take in the Toledo-Ilwaco "play-in" game; so, too, were two coaches from Concrete: on the left, assistant coach Chad Clark, and head coach Ron Rood.

Coach Clark and I go back at least ten years, when he was coaching his son's team and he bought some of my materials, and we've corresponded and swapped video over the years.

From a personal point of view, I'd rather see Concrete win, because those guys are friends.  From a football point of view, it's a tossup, because Toledo was downright scary in their 55-14 win over Ilwaco (whom we beat, 52-0 in the first game of the season), while Concrete runs that  $%#@$% Double Wing.

You know - that Pop Warner offense?

Oh, well.  If things break so that we wind up playing Concrete, we'll just have to go on the Internet and get some ideas from all those geniuses on there who've boasted over the years about the "great success" they've had against the Double-Wing by, um, blitzing, crabbing, cutting the fullback, pinching, cross-keying, slanting, stacking, penetrating, reading, stemming, with odd fronts or even fronts, man coverage or zone coverage, two-deep or three deep secondaries, etc.

I'll be  on all the forums to let you know how we did. My screen name will either be DBLWNGKILLER or DBLWNGKILLEDME

*********** Out as MIchigan AD is Dave Brandon, whose experience as CEO of Domino's Pizza didn't seem to prepare him for the task of running a major college athletic department.

Writes Andy Staples, in Sports Illustrated,

"He reportedly responded to emails from a angry fans by suggesting they find another school for which to root, one of many indicators that he didn't "get" college football. He failed to understand that rooting for Michigan and not Ohio State is not the same as choosing Domino's over Pizza Hut."

*********** I saw a wonderful ad for Shriners' Hospitals in which a grateful mother of a young child tearfully thanks the Shriners.

Understandable. They saved her little boy. 

And now, she says, "He wants to be a race car driver some day."

Yeah, but she probably won't let him play football because he might get hurt.

*********** Hugh, I have learned from you and others how you document and how you teach something very well. You never know when it will come up. My AD is always stunned at what I do and he said he has never seen that in his time. I told him I have learned and my advice is make others in this school district start doing those little things. On a side note I used your "talk it, walk it, run it, rep it" in discussion today in the faculty in-service. It was in response on how do you teach, and an old teacher said "it blows that outcome-based sh-- out of the water." Thought you enjoy that. Thanks for the insights..

Mike Foristiere

Mattawa, Washington

*********** Great scene in The Boz documentary -

he's showing his son all the recruiting letters he got and shows him Princeton and his kid can't believe he didn't go there. "You could have gone to an Ivy League school!?!"

Hilarious. Great doco.

Love, Ed
(Ed Wyatt, Melbourne, Australia)

************ They even know about the Hyaks Down Under


*********** It appears that I was right all along on the NCAA's outrageous, unauthorized  overreach in the Penn State/Joe Paterno case:

That the NCAA overreached in penalizing Penn State is now evident from its internal discussions. Emails obtained in litigation show that NCAA officials doubted their authority to sanction Penn State at all. The NCAA was relying not on its legitimate authority, but rather on its correct perception that Penn State was “so embarrassed [it] will do anything.”



*********** My grandson, Matt Love, is off to Japan to teach English.  Knowing that my wife and I actually lived in Finland, he asked me if I had any tips.  I wrote,

If I could give you any advice, it would be this:

1. Learn as much as you can about where you are and do as much as you can to show your appreciation of it.  Do everything you can to learn at least a little of the language.  I think that you will find people helpful if you will show them that you're genuinely interested.  Of course, you will, I'm sure, find a lot of Japanese, especially young ones, eager to learn English from you.

2. Avoid the opposite of showing appreciation, which is making a big deal of all the things that they don't have - the things from home that you miss, whether it's food, music, TV, whatever. Be open to anything.   I've seen a lot of young Americans miss out on a great opportunity to enjoy a foreign culture because they were obsessed with the things from home that they didn't have.  

*********** Okay, so I'm a "yeller." It's the way I was brought up. Football is not a passive game.  Raising my voice is a part of the intensity that makes me who I am.

I also know that in our culture, kids grow up rarely hearing someone raise his or her voice.  Look askance at a kid nowadays and he'll tell people that you "yelled" at him.

But while hollering is not necessarily in synch with the direction our culture's headed, it's still necessary to have people's attention if you expect to teach them anything, and sometimes, in the near-chaotic conditions of a hard practice, it's the only effective way to communicate.

Asked by Dan Patrick in Sports Illustrated when  the last time was that he yelled at his QB, Dak Prescott, Mississippi State's Dan Mullen answered,

"Yesterday at practice. I probably yelled at him three or four times. I have a pretty high standard. Its a friendly yell.  I would call it 'loud constructive criticism.'"

*********** Coach,
As usual I have been reading your news.

On Tuesday’s edition You said:
*********** Poor LSU fans. Saturday, their Tigers blew a lead and lost to Alabama in OT.  To make matters worse, most Tiger fans are also Saints' fans,  and Sunday they had to live through a repeat of Saturday's debacle.
The lead they blew was the result of a fumble gift on the 10 yard line by T.J. Yeldon, with 2 minutes remaining and the score tied 10-10.  (As you have often said, ball security is ALL that matters in the 4 minute drill! Not straining for extra yardage.) resulting in a field goal (thank goodness it wasn’t a TD) and the lead with 51 seconds remaining.
The lead they ‘blew’ was a drive by BAMA for a tying FG by what had been the worst offensive half of BAMA football since their last trip to Baton Rouge in 2012 (which eerily had a very similar ending).
Then, the OT victory.  Roll Tide!
Hope you are well, Coach. Keeping up with your team at Ocean Shores I’d say you are doing ‘quite well’!  Congratulations.
Emory Latta
Providence Christian
Dothan, AlaBAMA! lol

I count on Coach Latta to keep me grounded where Bama football is concerned! And yes, although from the LSU perspective they "blew" the lead, to Alabama's credit, it took a great drive to set up the field goal that sent the game into OT. 

american flag TUESDAY,  NOVEMBER 11,  2014“To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil."  Charles Krauthammer

Honor our veterans on Veterans Day -
and the other 364 days.

*********** Another highly intellectual college cheer, sent by Charlie Wilson, Crystal River, Florida

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

E to the x, dy/dx,
E to the x