2015   CLINICS

Coach Wyatt's "News You Can Use"

american flagFRIDAY,  SEPTEMBER 4,  2015

*********** Wouldn’t it be the height of irony if Tom Brady were to be injured in the opening game - a game he wouldn’t even have played in if he hadn’t appealed his four-game suspension?

*********** Just when I was  thinking about buying an NFL franchise with the money I’ll make coaching this season, a  judge ruled in favor of Brady and the NFLPA, and I suddenly realized that I’d just be buying  a business that’s really run by my employees.  Screw that. Let some other billionaire have it.

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

I’ve been in touch with you in the past regarding the Black Lion.  One of my assistant coaches “Jeff Cziska” mentioned you the other day regarding the wedge and I figured I’d reach out to you directly.
I’m doing my darndest to move from a single wing to a double wing and I’m having a bunch of growing pains.  I’m coaching kids that are 7-9 years old.  It’s not going too well.

I’m wondering what materials you have that might be useful at this age group.

Coach -

The double wing is a lot like basketball, as I once heard it described by a coach - “easy to do, hard to do well."

There are a lot of little tricks “under the hood” that make a huge difference.

I would suggest that this is the best way to go:

1. Practice Planner - a “coach on the field"
2. Hockey Stick (for the QB) - a really effective way to teach your QB his footwork
3. Old School Blocking - getting the line going

To explain the system, I will add at no charge my new, still being tested, “Video Playbook” (not yet for sale) as well as a highlights video of an 8-9-10 year old team running my system very well.

Please give my best to Coach Cziska

*********** A long-time, highly successful youth coach who switched to my system this past spring writes…

What's up Coach we put 34 in 1st half sat in opener - buck, power ,trap, counter, brown, and black both hit for tds all 3 rbs and both ends scored - they were on clock 1 min into 3rd qtr as we finished 42-6 - we had second unit finish game running base wild cat.

Your system has been the best thing that ever happened to me and has given me an energy I had lost running my other stuff -  it's tough to defend us from dtdw - the tighter splits and ice pick has worked wonders - the kids love the circle drill.

When I'm completely satisfied I will send you your own film on what we have done since july.

Alberto Correa
East Hartford Mustangs
East Hartford, Connecticut


***********We have a 6th grader that just came out for football and he is really fragile. What you would recommend to keep his busy and keep his interest up. So far we have not let him have contact, I am worried about him physically. Yet, his parent wants him to play,

You thoughts as always are appreciated.

I’d say that goal number one is minimizing your liability.

That starts with teaching him how to protect himself- How to get into hit position, how to ward off a blow (with a guy holding a shield)

How to fall, fall and get up, fall and roll and get up - lots of agilities

Then, introduce him to tackling, making sure that the “ball carrier” is holding a shield.

Be especially sure to go very slow and not to throw him into a drill too fast for him to handle.

It’s possible that as he gets confidence he may actually start to like it And as he gets confidence, you can create the illusion of putting him in a scrimmage - as wide as possible. (For this reason alone, it helps to have at least one formation that calls for a wide-out).

Hyaks Team Photo*********** A few years ago, I posted a photo of Coach Rick Davis proudly displaying his Dynamics of the Double Wing playbook, festooned with some 15 “Coach Wyatt Clinic” badges from his years of faithful attendance.

Coach Davis was a highly successful youth coach in Duxbury, Massachusetts and a strong supporter of the Black Lion Award program, as well as a regular contributor to this site. 

When he and his wife and their daughter relocated to New Zealand a little over a year ago, he wasn’t about to do without his football, so he started a 16-17-year-old “gridiron” (that’s what they call our football, in rugby-mad New Zealand) team of his own.  That’s another story worth telling, but let’s say that those of you who enjoy fairly regular practice attendance by your players and never suffer a lack of equipment might find coaching American football in a foreign country to be a bit of a shock.

When Rick told me that he’d be visiting the US this summer and, because it’s winter in the southern hemisphere, hoping to take advantage of the off-season to spend some time with a high school program someplace, I offered up North Beach. Of course it would be good experience for him, but it would work both ways - I knew him well enough to know that he would be a real asset to us:  he’s the kind of guy I’d like to be around our kids, I knew that he was head coach Todd Bridge’s kind of guy, and he knew my system as well as my way of teaching the offense. 

Besides, we had an extra bedroom and bathroom in our condo, and he’d be able to do his work.  (Yes, he has a real job.

It has worked out.  Really well. 

He’s been with us from the start of our practice.  He’s been an immense help, especially in working with our younger kids as they learn the ins and outs of the system.

And he’s been a lot of fun to have around.

And now he’s nearing the end of his almost-three week stay.

He heads back to NZ on Saturday, following our opening game Friday night.  (I told him that he should at least stay through the first game, so he could see the fruits of our efforts, an effort he’s been a part of.)

And then, next week, he gets started again with his own kids, back in NZ.

That’s Coach Davis, fourth from left in the back row of the photo, taken Wednesday, at his request, “to prove to my daughter that I really was here and I really was coaching a football team.”

***********  Coach,

The Elmwood/Brimfield Trojans opened the season last Friday against the Mercer County Golden Eagles.  Mercer County is one of the more storied small-school programs in the state of Illinois.  Numerous state championships, runner-up finishes, semifinals, etc.  Needless to say, it was a game that our kids were focused on even back in the winter.  That focus paid off on Friday as we defeated the Golden Eagles 36-12.

With only two returning starters on both sides of the ball we knew we would make our share of mistakes.  Minimizing the impact of those mistakes would be key.  And minimize we did.  Actually, we capitalized on Mercer County mistakes.  Our defense blocked their first punt for a touchdown.  Then our defense came up with a huge safety.  9-0 right off the bat.  We also recovered a muffed punt, had three interceptions and a fumble recovery.  

I think it is a credit to the offense and that our kids understand "the system" that they were able to rush 60 times for 298 yards and three touchdowns.  Also, we were 3 of 4 passing for 32 yards and a TD.  We made our share of mistakes with blocking rules and some technique issues, but the general understanding is there and all mistakes are fixable with reps and explanation.  My goal was to run various sets/formations, but double tight double wing was working so we stayed in it for the entire game.  Keep punching, right?  And now we have those formations in our hip pocket and our opponent this week has not seen any of them.

On a side note, I would like to thank you for being an invaluable mentor to me.  You have quite a "coaching tree" out there and I am happy to be a branch on it.  Friday night's victory was my 100th as a head coach.  So much of the success the Trojans have had over the past seventeen years is due to the double wing offense you helped me install, update and trouble shoot.  Also, the philosophical/moral/ethical guidance you have given has been invaluable.  Coach, I could not have done it without you.  Thank you.

Todd Hollis

See More from Hugh Wyatt

Todd Hollis
Chemistry/Physical Science
Head Football Coach
Elmwood High School
Elmwood, Illinois


I salute you on your 100th win.  That is a great milestone in a coach’s career.

I thank you for your kind words.  I’m honored to have had the chance to be of any influence at all, but you’re the one who’s made it work, and I’m grateful for the association.

Keep coaching!

********* So much for “Au-Barn” and other insults.  Auburn has trounced Alabama in the Wall Street Journal’s grammer, oops - grammar - bowl, which ranks colleges according to the number of grammatical errors found in Internet postings by their various fan bases.

Grammar Rankings

Remember - this may have very little to do with the graduates of these colleges.  For instance, you can be sure that an awful lot of posts about Notre Dame come from so-called Subway Alumni - so-called because at one time, whenever the Fighting Irish played a game in New York, hordes of  blue-collar Irish-American New Yorkers who had absolutely no idea where South Bend was located would arrive by subway at the Polo Grounds or Yankee Stadium to cheer on “their” school.


*********** It’s been 10 years since I last spoke with John Bonamego.

At the time, he was special teams coach of the Packers, and out of the blue he called me, just to chat about the Double Wing and the direct snap version (the Wildcat) and ways that they might be applicable to what he was doing.

We had a really nice talk. I learned that he had been an assistant at West Point for five years, during which he lived in Vince Lombardi’s house. (Lombardi, as you may know, was an assistant at West Point under Coach Earl Blaik.  All coaches at West Point are provided with free on-post housing.)  I remember wondering how much I could get on EBay for Vince Lombardi’s toilet seat.

Anyhow, I liked the guy, and I followed his career, first  to the Saints, then to the Dolphins, then to Jacksonville and then Detroit.

But somehow, I missed the news that he’d been hired as head coach by his alma mater, Central Michigan.

I was excited to learn that because it had to be the job he’d always wanted.

Unfortunately, the way I learned of his new position was in an article in espn.com about another challenge facing him - cancer.

If it’s in you, say a prayer for John Bonamego, a fellow coach and a really good guy.


*********** I wouldn’t say that there can ever be too much college football, but after months of waiting for its return, it’s hard to believe that there were more than a dozen college games on TV - and that was just Thursday night!

*********** Don’t check your eyes.  Or your cable TV guide.  That really is Oklahoma State at Central Michigan.  And Michigan State at Western Michigan.

It’s because the new playoff system “values strength of schedule,” and devalues wins over FCS opponents that used to be bought for a generous paycheck. You won’t see as many Georgia Tech vs Alcorn State fiascos as you used to.

Now, the big guys have to go out and  find more significant wins, wins  over FBS opponents, albeit from second-tier conferences.  Enter the MAC, with competitive teams willing to travel.  Some.

Willing to travel 2/3 of the time, that is.

Central Michigan has agreed to make two trips to Oklahoma State, and Western Michigan two trips to Michigan State.  In return, as their part of the bargain, Oklahoma will be in Midland, Michigan this weekend to play the Central Michigan Chippewas, and Michigan State will be in Kalamazoo to play the Western Michigan Broncos.

***********  Jon Schuetz was all ready for his first day Saturday at what has to be many Nebraskans’ dream job - PA announcer at the Nebraska Cornhuskers’ home games.

He evidently was well qualified, having spent more than 20 years in TV and 15 years as a sportscaster in the Omaha area.

But Tuesday, four days before the Huskers’ home opener, he was dumped.

And it’s all because of something he posted on Facebook back in November, when Cornhuskers’ coach Bo Pelini was fired:

"Harvey Perlman (that would be the university president, who fired Pelini- HW)  is a disgrace. Remember this was the guy who extended Steve Pederson's (former AD) contract only to fire him a few months later. When will he be held to account."

Recently, as often happens that months-old post surfaced.   Uh-oh.

Tuesday came this statement from the university:

"After reviewing the post, highly critical of university leadership and, after thorough internal discussion, we visited with Jon, who was extremely apologetic and agreed with our decision that he cannot represent the university in such a public capacity."


Moral - The Internet,  like herpes,  is forever.


american flagTUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 1,  2015-   "Yeah, that test says he's dumb as a fence post, but when he hits he looks like Einstein to me." Bum Phillips, on the  Wonderlic test

*********** In Houston, a deputy sheriff is shot down in cold blood - executed - by a “dark-complected male” (as initially described).

Naturally, since it’s the police officer that’s the casualty in the war on the police, there’s no official comment from Washington. Does the current occupant of the White House really think that no one notices how one-sided are his comments on incidents involving the police?

*********** In the 1970s, Oklahoma’s wishbone was the terror of college football.  Starting in 1971 under Chuck Fairbanks, and continuing in 1973 under Barry Switzer,  they turned football games into track meets, regularly putting 50 points or more on befuddled defenses. 

In the decade of the 70’s, they scored 50 or more 19 times.  They 50’d instate rival Oklahoma State four times.  And poor Kansas State (for those of you who don’t know that the Wildcats were once called the Mildcats): they were on  the “50” list four times, once giving up 75 points and another time 63. (They caught a break one year when they “held” the Sooners to 49.) The Sooners put more than 60 on Oregon and Rice twice each, and once on Wake Forest.

(It wasn’t exactly the 70s, but in 1980, in one of the most entertaining games a guy who likes running the ball could ever hope to see, the Sooners beat Colorado, 82-42.)

They had guys like Jack Mildren, Joe Wylie, Greg Pruitt, Joe Washington, J.C. Watts, Thomas Lott, Billy Sims, David Overstreet - and, almost, Marcus Dupree.

But what a lot of people who didn’t see those Sooners play fail to realize is that they also played some tremendous defense.

In 1973 they had three All-Americans on their defensive line.  That’s amazing enough.  But even more amazing - they were brothers.  The Selmon brothers.  Lucious, Dewey, and Lee Roy.

I’m in the middle of  “Bootlegger’s Boy,”  Barry Switzer’s “autobiography” (with Bud Shrake), and I shook my head in amazement at his retelling of the recruiting of those great football players:

Lucious had played fullback in high school at Eufala (Oklahoma). Everybody in town said he was going to be the next Jim Brown.  He weighed 220 and ran a 10-flat hundred and just flattened those high school kids.  But Lucious’ defensive potential was what excited us.

Eddie Crowder from Colorado was our top competition for Lucious. Eddie promised him he could play fullback.  We were thinking of him as a nose guard. Larry Lacewell, who was recruiting Lucious, brought him to the chow hall on day on an official visit.  I looked up and saw Lucious, and then I saw these two massive friends he had brought with him.  They were piling food a foot high on their cafeteria trays.

“Who’s that?” I asked.

Larry smiled.  “Those are Lucious’ two little brothers.  Only sophomores.”

They both weighed 240-250 and were also backs at Eufala, with another two years to go. Dewey was the fullback who had replaced Lucious, and Lee Roy, the biggest, was the tailback. Nobody in high school could tackle them.  But they were even better on defense.  Obviously, Eufala was going to win the state championship.  Which they did.

Even if Lucious had been on crutches with a wooden leg, we would have wanted him because of his brothers.  Lu, you know I still love you.

Mama Selmon didn’t want Lucious to go far from home.  Lucious had four older brothers who were bigger and better athlete than anybody in the family, but they never had the opportunity to show it because of segregation.  Eufala High was integrated in the late ’60s.  Therefore, Lucious and the two younger brothers and the two sisters got to go to Eufala High School.

Lee Roy and Dewey were in the same class, but they were eleven months apart in age. Lucious told us how it happened. The day the old yellow-dog school bus picked up Dewey eight miles out in the country to take him to first grade, Lee Roy was the only boy left home.  He cried and cried and pulled on Mrs. Selmon’s skirts do she couldn’t get her chores done.  The next day when the school bus came by, Mrs. Selmon put lee Roy on it and told him to start the first grade.

*********** Lemme see if I got this right… With days to go before the season opener, Illinois lets head coach Tim Beckman go, accusing him of all sorts of player mistreatment.  It’s so bad, evidently, that he’s not even going to get paid for the balance of his contract.

But otherwise, his entire staff remains on the job, and the interim head coach is the former offensive coordinator.

So you’re telling me that every single member of that staff was either unaware of what was going on, or was aware of it and tried to stop it?

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

Thank you so much for addressing Hawk Tackling in your NYCU today. I was actually thinking about contacting you for your opinion, but you beat me to it. Your take is spot on, in my opinion.

In regards to concussions, I don't think I've told you that our girls basketball program has had 5 concussions in the past 2 seasons. That is 4 more than our football program has had in the past 2 seasons.

I hope everything is going well for the Hyaks. My best to Connie. Take care and God bless.

Coach Greg Koenig
Beloit Jr-Sr High School
Beloit, Kansas

*********** According to a survey by Turnkey Sports and Entertainment and Sports Business Journal, the number one place where fans would want to tailgate before a one game was Ole Miss, and The Grove (Hotty Toddy.)

A very close second was Green Bay, before a Packers game.  (Been there.  It’s very cool, but mainly because it’s almost like a college atmosphere.  But it isn’t.)

Next came Notre Dame, followed closely by Alabama and LSU. (I suspect that not enough people know about LSU or it would be up their higher.)

In sixth place was Pittsburgh, for a Steelers’ game.  Maybe.

Then came Texas, Seattle (Seahawks) and Florida State.

Worth noting is that a full 21 per cent of respondents named some other place..

A very interesting part of the survey that sports teams had better consider before deciding to curtail tailgating (as some pro teams are doing): a full 43 per cent said that they would not buy season tickets to an NFL or college team if tailgating were not available.

***********  Coach,

Great quote by Coach Fry.  We have been blessed the last few years to have excellent numbers.  Simply stated, our #2's are juniors and seniors and are our scout team.  We don't have to take reps against freshmen and sophomores.  We have had some pretty epic battles and it is not odd for our scout defense to come out one top of our team offense (we score we get a point, they make us punt they get a point).  We had our most spirited practice of the season this past Wednesday and I told them this:

"Guys, I'd much rather have our offense struggle in practice because the scout team is kicking our butts than have us running up and down the field thinking we are great.  We had that one year.  See that pole over there?  (We have a 6x6 pole for each year and it gets painted our opponent's color after a win, leaving a stripe below the new color to keep track of the season as a whole.)  That red pole? That team beat one team.  That team looked great on Tuesday and Wednesday, scoring all kinds of touchdowns and looking fantastic.  I'd rather have us lose on Tuesday and Wednesday because Friday will be easier." 

On a similar note, our theme in our classroom sessions this week was based on one of the points of our mission statement:  celebrate effort above ability.  I really enjoy sharing the parable of talents with the boys every year.  How a guy with 5 who only brings 2 is worse for the team than a guy who has 2 but brings 2 every time.  I ended with this video of Bear Bryant talking to freshmen.  


Good luck.

Todd Hollis
Elmwood High School
Elmwood, Illinois


Great video of Coach Bryant.

You are very fortunate to have the numbers to have a scout team made up of junior and seniors, although truthfully, I’m kind of glad that we don’t have to manage the problem of seniors who don’t play much.

Thanks for the note, and best of luck!

*********** Hey, we all know that colleges have their special majors where they can stash their “student-athletes”, especially those athletes who put less emphasis on the student part.

Years ago it was physical education, but PE has long since been bypassed in favor of such nebulous-sounding majors as general studies and ethnic studies and, in the case of North Carolina, African and Afro-American Studies.

At Auburn, it’s been something called “Public Administration,”  and from the sounds of things in a recent Wall Street Journal article, it has existed mainly to keep football players eligible.

Back in 2012, after a panel reviewing  the Auburn political science department, of which public administration is a part, expressed doubt that the major “contributes a great deal to the Department’s education mission,”  the Political Science department faculty voted 13-0 to drop it.

That set off alarms in the athletic department, which led to a meeting between the AD and the university provost and, it is reported, the offer of athletic department money to keep the major open.

And so it goes.

When Auburn played in the national title game two years ago, 12 of its starters were Public Administration majors, and last year, fully 30 per cent of Auburn’s football players were Public Administration majors.


*********** While there are those who say that college football is becoming more like the pro game, I say that it’s becoming a lot like Major League Baseball.

For example, the Oregon Ducks, desperate to replace Marcus Mariota, their Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, did what any good baseball team would do - reached down to AAA  and brought up Eastern Washington’s Vernon Adams, one of the best QBs in all the minors.

*********** The Republican Party could take a lesson from the College Football Playoff system.  From the BCS, even.

Because of the size of the field of its potential candidates, the party has to whittle  the number down for the second debate, and just as they did for the first  debate, they decided to do it by  using the candidates’ ranking in the polls.

Only one trouble - they’re not taking the most recent poll, or even the two or three  most recent polls.

They’re using an average of several polls dating way back to June, before the last debate was even held.

Needless to say, there’ve been some changes since then, not the least of them the rise of Dr. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina.

Fiorina outclassed  the field in the JV debate (she didn’t have the polls to qualify for the last big debate) and has passed some of the original field in recent polls.  But, because she started out so low back in June, her average poll keeps her out of this next debate.

I smell a rat.  It sounds suspiciously like it’s rigged in favor of the big-name guys who started out on top and have been losing ground since.

It’s not  unlike the way major conference college football teams start out high in the pre-season rankings and don’t drop out of playoff contention even after a loss, while  lesser-ranked teams lose one game and kiss their playoff chances goodbye.

At least the college playoff system doesn’t average its rankings, putting a team that was Number One in the pre-season on an equal footing with the team at the top in the final rankings.

*********** Can’t beat the NFL for thrills. The Seahawks beat the Chargers in a 16-15 thriller Saturday night, winning it on a 60-yard field goal with seconds left.

Be still, my beating heart.

*********** I almost had to puke watching IMG Academy roll over some Florida public school.  IMG Academy is unapologetically a football factory, the football version of basketball powers Oak Hill Academy and Henderson Prep.

One of the TV talking heads was asked if he thought this was where high school football was headed - if there would be more IMG academies. Maybe, he said.  He was asked if that would be good for high school football. I don’t know, he said.

I do.  It would be another arrow aimed at the heart of our sport.

And the only way to deal with a monster is to starve it.   Don’t schedule them.   Don't be a chump.

Let ‘em play junior colleges and see how they do.

*********** Greg Gutfeld on the Donald Trump phenomenon:  “It's like he's football and the other candidates are soccer.”

*********** It was a busy weekend for my wife and me.  We left practice at 3:30 on Friday, then drove 2-1/2 hours south to Astoria, Oregon, arriving just in time to watch a nine-team jamboree involving one of our upcoming opponents.

Astoria is a lovely town in a magnificent hillside location near the mouth of the Columbia River, and its new stadium was filled with fans eager to see the football season get under way.

One interesting observation: only two of the nine teams - all small schools - had QB’s under center full-time. One of those two schools was a Wing-T team.

The rest of the teams were in one form or another of the shotgun. 

Most of the teams threw more than they ran, and with the exception of the Wing-T team, they didn’t ask much of their linemen other than standing up to pass block or pushing ahead to run block.

One team stood out for its sportsmanship, or lack thereof.

The entire time the opposing offense was in the huddle and then at the line, their players on the sideline would shout incessantly, creating a constant noise no doubt intended to distract the offense.  Nice.  Maybe someone should tell the coach to try something else: they were 3-6 last year.

american flagFRIDAY,  AUGUST 28,  2015-   ”We are all useful,  but no one is necessary.”   Paul Brown

*********** “The endlessly repeated argument that most Americans are the descendants of immigrants ignores the fact that most Americans are NOT the descendants of ILLEGAL immigrants.  Millions of immigrants from Europe had to stop at Ellis Island, and had to meet medical and other criteria before being allowed to go any further.” 

Dr. Thomas Sowell, Stanford University

*********** Many years ago, I heard longtime Iowa coach Hayden Fry refer to early-season practices as “plowin’ up snakes and killin’ ‘em.”

Now, he wasn’t talking about leaving a bunch of dead reptiles out on the field.

And he wasn’t talking about farmers in his native Texas coming across deadly, burrowing coral snakes as they plowed their fields.

With a southerner’s characteristically adept use of metaphors, he was talking about uncovering  mistakes
- in practice - that  could have proved deadly in games.

It was a lesson that I took to heart.  I took it as meaning that it was an important part of my job not to be deceived by what I saw on the surface - not to see things running smoothly and assume that that meant everything was going fine.  I took it as meaning that I had to work to bring hidden mistakes to the surface, to find out why they happened, and correct them.

You won’t look at a mistake in the same way once you view uncovering it as a chance to kill it before it kills you.

***********  Football coaches (and their administrators) have been bombarded lately with videos showing the innovative way that the Seattle Seahawks now claim to teach tackling. With the sort of arrogance and self-certainty that you’d expect from Pete Carroll, it’s acclaimed as revolutionary, a much, much safer way that originated with rugby, where as most of us know, they don’t wear helmets.

They call it “Hawk Tackling.”

Theoretically, by getting low and aiming the head behind the runner and wrapping up his legs, the tackler’s head is kept out of the operation.  Concussion problem solved.

Now, I don’t live in a cave.  I know the Seahawks are good.

But I’m still amazed at how many high school and youth coaches, sheeplike, immediately changed the way they were teaching tackling - because Pete Carroll told them to.  (In fairness, having seen some of the things that go on, it might actually be an improvement on the way some of them  been “teaching” tackling.) 

People send me links to videos of it, asking me, excitedly, “Have you seen this???”

My reaction?  Um, snore.

A few problems with the whole deal:

1. It’s not readily apparent to me that the  Seahawks  tackle any better than anyone else in the NFL. (They all suck.) They go high (occasionally), they go low (mostly),  they wrap up (sometimes) and launch, arms at the side (a lot).  They miss as many tackles as anybody, but they have superior defensive personnel, and a good scheme, so they play good defense.

2. There is absolutely no evidence that “Hawk Tackling”  produces fewer concussions than the method I have been advocating for more than 30 years. (Hey - if Hawk Tackling is the way to go, why are coaches everywhere being forced to sit through “Heads-Up Tackling” sessions? Shouldn’t we be telling gullible moms to ask their kids’ coaches if they teach Hawk Tackling?  If they’re Seahawks-certified?)

3. By its very structure, Hawk Tackling, done as it’s taught, is arm tackling.  Arm tackling is significantly  less effective, and it can lead to a shoulder injury (which, granted, is preferable to a head injury).

4. Teaching players to tackle around the legs means teaching them to aim low, which increases the chances of the head being dropped and accidentally being struck by a knee or another player’s helmet. Not to sound callous, but I would rather a player have a concussion than suffer a catastrophic cervical spine injury. (I have actually heard Hawk-tackle coaches say “Eyes to the thighs!”  WTF?)

5. Going low and aiming behind the ball carrier is an invitation to be stiff-armed. 

6. Going low to attempt a tackle almost assures that a missed tackle will mean a defender on the ground - and out of the play.

7. Rugby actually has its own concussion crisis right now.  Maybe they should start to teach tackling the way we do.

Obviously people who take their coaching cues from the pros haven’t watched enough pro football - the tackling, the “blocking,” the ball-carrying - to know that the NFL is where fundamentals go to die.

But if you want to teach your kids to tackle like the Seahawks, go right ahead.  Please.  Especially if you’re on our schedule.

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

Just read NYCU and Todd Hollis' commentary.

We did keep it honest and simple. We ran three plays: dive, power and lead. Managed to score twice and opened the game driving for six minutes.

We still got beaten badly (after the first quarter they scored each time they touched the ball), but we did slow it down and didn't let the let hoping cause a play call that would put the kids is a position where they could make a mistake.

Its harder to grind it out with only 3 downs and 20 seconds, but the kids came out feeling like although they got beaten badly that they could run the ball against anyone.

This week we play an opponent who is more our level. I am going to approach this week talking about this being the week when we see big improvements. Not addressing the game or the opponent, just that this will be the week where we see a big jump in how we are playing.

Tom Walls
Winnipeg, Manitoba

PS. Although we are not a DW team, we still run the wedge (on punts) and have six inch splits.


I’m glad that despite having one less down, you were able to keep things manageable and in the process teach the kids a great lesson!

*********** 1. What would your best pass play, formation etc. for 5-6th grade?

Hi Chuck- If I were coaching those kids I’d run Double Wing.  Fairly easy to coach, very tough to stop.

My best play would be a power toss off-tackle (88 Super Power) and my best pass play would be a rollout (88 Brown) that looked just like the power off-tackle


2. What defense would you run for 5-6th graders?

I would recommend a 5-3 because it’s sound, especially against a run, it doesn’t have many moving parts, you can hide a kid at nose (or even tackle) if you have to and if you have a small staff you can divide it into front 5   and back 6   (or front 6 and back 5 if you include the MLB with the line)

3. How do you stop a QB from throwing low ( towards ankles) of receivers.?

The first thing I tell a kid when that’s happening is that he either doesn’t hold the ball with the nose up (which helps cock his wrist) or he’s got a death grip on the ball (very common with kids).  Check his grip to make sure that the ball’s not touching the palm.

*********** John U. Bacon, a writer and teacher, has been a part of the Michigan football scene for some time, and he’s written several books getting behind the scenes in Ann Arbor.

I first came across him when I purchased “Bo’s Lasting Lessons,” a book that took a good look at great Michigan coach Bo Schemechler and how he ran his program at Michigan.  It had a signifacant impact on many of the things I did in the last head coaching job I ever held, at North Beach High in 2008.

The next Bacon book I read was Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football, a look at football in the Big Ten.

And I recently finished his “Three and Out,” the story of the Rich Rodriguez regime at Michigan.

Believe me, I was no fan of Rich Rod when he “deserted” his native West Virginia and bolted for Michigan.  And I got caught up in the “he’s not a Michigan Man” business once he took over at Ann Arbor.

You can’t read this book without liking Rodriguez, and realizing that his failure to get it done at Michigan was not entirely his fault.

In fact, the central thing I came away with was that once you step down as a head coach someplace, the best thing you can do for the program is stay away and keep your mouth shut. Even better than that, you should move as far away as you can.

Damn shame Lloyd Carr, whom I still respect, didn’t take that advice.

Meantime, Rich is getting it done at Arizona, and a friend who watched Saturday’s practice says the Cats look good and QB Anu Solomon looks terrific.

*********** Got to like the football coaches at Fossil Ridge High in Fort Collins, Colorado.  Damn shame they work for one of the most cowardly administrations in the United States - which is saying a lot.

After the head coach required his team to go through some military-type training, he asked every player to select a member of the US armed forces killed in action and research the fallen service member’s background and family.

And on Military Appreciation night, October 15, the players planned to wear camouflage jerseys - paid for by the school’s booster club. Instead of the players’ own names on the backs of the jerseys, they’d wear the names of the deceased soldiers/sailors/marines they’d adopted.

Not so fast, said the Poudre School District.

“PSD cannot comply with this request without giving other causes the same opportunity. Unlike the National Football League, which can use uniforms to support specific causes, public high schools do not typically use school property, such as team jerseys, in this manner.

“As a publicly funded agency, PSD respects the diverse opinions of our community. Thus, the district does not support any one cause over another. PSD policy regarding this matter is intended to protect students from being used for promotional purposes. However, students may support causes through their First Amendment rights.”

Those worms.  Did you get that business about not supporting “one cause over another?

So honoring our fallen service members is just another “cause,”  no better, no more admirable than Occupy Wall Street, or PETA, or Gay Pride?

Funny.  In 2012 at least one team in the Poudre district wore pink uniforms, as part of the well-known breast cancer awareness campaign.

The state association, the CHSAA, does not prohibit the use of a name - any name - on the back of a player’s jersey.

Stranger still, the CHSAA allows the names of commercial sponsors on team uniforms.

Are you listening, Nike?  Are you listening, UnderArmour? Get on this.  Sponsor the name on every kid’s jersey.

Interestingly, I’ll bet there is at least one facility in the Poudre School District that’s named for a former superintendent,    who was quite well paid while he worked for the district, who retired with a pension that would be the envy of thousands of district taxpayers - and who didn’t give his life for his country.  Should a school district (“a publicly funded agency")  be so honoring a former district employee  who merely did his job and was well-paid to do it, when there are plenty of other people in the district at least as worthy of the honor?


*********** It takes a lot for a college football coach’s wife to say, “enough.”

Those women are an amazing group.  They are the ultimate team players, accepting their role as the one who takes care of all the major details of day-to-day living so that their husbands can chase their dreams from job to job.

The ultimate sign of their devotion to the family team - and their husbands - is that there seem to be so few divorces among college football coaches.

Now, maybe it’s because they just love taking the kids everywhere, and attending all those parent-teacher conferences by themselves, and having to move every three years.  I don’t know.

But I used to joke that one reason was that as time-consuming as the job is, no assistant coach would ever have the time to carry on a serious affair.   And for head coaches, while they might be able to slip away for an occasional quickie, today’s wall-to-wall media is sure to catch them.

But then, there’s Steve Sarkisian.  His house in the LA area is for sale.  It’s special enough to have been featured in a recent Wall Street Journal (he’s asking $8 million and change).  It’s on the market because his wife divorced him last year.

It appears, after his drunken, thick-tongued peformance at a major university event, exhorting wealthy boosters (“F—kin’ Fight On, Baby!”) while virginal USC song girls shook their pompons in the background, that we were looking at the tip of a giant iceberg.

To use another metaphor, his wife was the canary in the coal mine. 

Reasonably reliable sources from Seattle say that while Washington’s head coach he displayed a taste for undergraduate females.

Other, even more reliable sources tell of a get-together of former players at a Seattle bar where after clearly having had a few more drinks than a man in control of his faculties ought to have, he boasted of having been contacted about the USC job (as if that might raise his stock among Washington guys), then stood on the bar and led a rousing rendition of a vulgar fight song.

Yeah, yeah.  He needs help and he’s going to get it. 

And nobody saw this coming?

For this, USC threw Ed Orgeron overboard?  

At Ole Miss Orgeron may have, in the words of a distinguished southern lady I know, “verged on the uncouth,” but at USC, compared to Steve Sarkisian, he was Amos Alonzo Stagg.

*********** Since 1983, when John Robinson left for the NFL, USC has had eight head coaches.

During that time, with the exception of Robinson, who came back for a second act, only Pete Carroll won more than two-thirds of his games.

Well, actually, there was one more guy who won more than two-thirds of his games at USC.  True, he only coached for eight games, but he won six of them, which works out to .750.

You like irony?  The guy I’m referring to, whose percentage surpasses that of the legendary John McKay (.749) and of John Robinson (.741), is… (drumroll, please) … Ed Orgeron.

*********** Michigan once fired - er, asked to resign - a far better coach than Steve Sarkisian for what it deemed conduct unbecoming a Michigan coach.  Considering that following an all-time great is never easy, Gary Moeller was doing an excellent job of succeeding Bo Schembechler. In five years as the Wolverines’ head coach, his record was 44-13-3 (.758).  His record in Big Ten play was even better - 30-8-2 (.775).

But his on-the-field record wasn’t enough to save his job after reports surfaced of an incident at a Detroit-area night club in which he was arrested for disorderly conduct. 

Unlike the Steve Sarkisian incident, which happened mere weeks before USC’s opener, Moeller made his big mistake in April, which allowed for a relatively smooth transition to a coach already on Moeller’s staff, Lloyd Carr.

(Moeller went on to coach in the NFL, and spent part of the 2000 season as Detroit Lions’ head coach, after Bobby Ross’ unexpected resignation.  He finished the season 4-3, which makes him the only Lions’ coach in the last 40 years to leave Detroit with a winning record!)

american flagTUESDAY,  AUGUST 25,  2015  “No  battle plan survives contact with the enemy.”   German Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke

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

A great book you should have in your history collection:  "The Boys in the Boat" by Daniel James Brown

(You'll like this) And I quote:

"The first collegiate crew race in America - and in fact, the first American intercollegiate event of any kind - took place between Harvard and Yale in 1852, on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire."

Rowing - far more rugged that I had imagined. It's a great read!

Best regards to you!
J. Rothwell, DC
Austin, Texas

Thanks, John-

Just finished it.  Especially interesting to me because I remember how devoted the rowers at Yale were, because the book was centered around the “U” (the University of Washington) and because the protagonist grow up in our part of the state. Also, the coxswain was from Montesano, Ocean Shores’ county seat.

Thanks for thinking of me.

*********** We’ve made it through the first week at North Beach, and the kids are looking good.  We have 28 players ready to go, and two more (both projected starters) almost recovered from off-season surgery.  That’s 30 kids, in a school of 100 boys.

We lost some really good players, including our entire secondary, but we’ve got some pretty good kids to take their places.

This is the first year that we’re flipping our linemen (as well as our backs and receivers) and based on what we’ve seen of it in spring ball and our summer mini-camp, I’m sold on it. By cutting the number of assignments in half, it greatly speeds up the learning process.

With our small numbers, the other thing that really helps us is our play cards - every player wears a wrist band containing the card for his position, and his card tells him not only the formation and the play, but also his assignment.  It has taken us quite a while to get all the bugs out of it, and to make sure that the abbreviations we use on our cards are understandable to the players, but thanks to the cards, we’ve been able to bring replacements for last year’s starters, and for our two sidelined starters, up to speed.

So, no, we don’t require our kids to memorize plays. We teach them to understand what the code words on the cards mean. (What’s the point in letting a poor memory keep a good kid on the sidelines?  What’s the point in not installing a play just because the kids can’t remember their assignments?)

*********** I wrote this back in June, and it’s important that I repeat it…

You’ve read here many times about Bellevue, Washington.  Bellevue is a large and prosperous suburb, just across Lake Washington from Seattle (on the “East Side,” as the locals say). The Bellevue High Wolverines are very, very good. Running their wing-T to perfection, they have won 11 of the last 15 state Class 3A football titles, and until losing in this past year’s championship game, they had a 67-game win streak going.

They’re known for making a point every year of scheduling some well-known program from elsewhere in the country, and they invariably win those games.  Such powerhouse programs as Long Beach Poly, Honolulu St. Louis, and Euless (Texas) Trinity have been among their victims.  And, of course, they’ll always be known as the team that ended DeLaSalle’s 151-game win streak.

Add one more thing for which they’ll be known.

They are cheaters.

As to be expected when a program is wildly successful, Bellevue has long been the subject of rumors.  The revelation that the Bellevue boosters have been paying head coach Butch Goncharoff, who isn’t a teacher, upwards of $100,000 a year only furthered the rumors.  After all, the word went, when boosters have that kind of dough, they can probably find other ways to “help out” the program.

One way, it appears, is providing housing assistance to families of worthy (and talented) young men who hope to improve their lives by benefitting from the outstanding coaching (and, of course, life lessons) offered at Bellevue High School.

At this point, the school has self-reported a single offense to its conference and has been placed on three years probation (wow - no bowl games or TV appearances!), and Coach Goncharoff has been suspended for two games next season. Scare me!  (No mention was made of any reduction in scholarships, so I suppose they’re free to proceed as before.)

Actually, it is  possible that Coach Goncharoff had no knowledge of the circumstances under which talented newcomers kept arriving at Bellevue.

However, after years of bringing in newcomers to take positions away from loyal members of the program, and after years of showing kids that playing by the rules is for chumps, his record and that of Bellevue High is, to say the least, tarnished.

Personally, I’d like to see them forced to play  Long Beach Poly, St. Louis, and Euless Trinity over again, all in the same season - and then finish up at DeLaSalle, which for all its fabulous success has never been accused of buying players.



But that was then.  Back in the golden days of two-game suspensions.

Sunday, the other shoe dropped, with a major article in the Seattle Times detailing how Bellevue used a private school described as a “diploma mill” to keep its players eligible - players whose tuition was paid for by the Bellevue boosters. These are not like your boosters, with their 50-50 raffles and silent auctions.  In 2013, the most recent year for which figures are available, Bellevue’s boosters raised $427,161.  Eat your hearts out, you small-timers, you.

But they need all that money, because in Bellevue, winning doesn’t come cheap.  First, there’s the football coach’s pay.  No lousy $5,500 stipend for him.  No, sir.  The boosters pay him in excess of $100,000 a year.  Needless to say, he doesn’t teach any freshman English classes.  No, sir.  He doesn’t teach at all.  Coaching Bellevue is a full time job, just like in the NFL.

And that’s not the only thing that’s just like the pros. There’s housing, for kids who need a legal residence inside the Bellevue district, because after all, they wouldn’t want to violate state residency requirements, would they? 

The latest scandal, the one that broke in Sunday’s Seattle Times, is a scam involving Bellevue High’s football program and  something called The Academic Institute, described by the Times as “an obscure, 40-student private school.” 

Obscure?  It’s hidden away in an office park.  An office park in Bellevue.

That’s the key.  It’s in Bellevue.

See, state association  (WIAA) rules permit any student attending a school that doesn’t provide a sport to participate in that sport at the nearest high school in the district.  (The same ruling applies to home-schooled kids.)

So essentially, kids who might have struggled academically at Bellevue have been coasting by at The Academic Institute - and playing football for Bellevue.  In recent years, as many as 17 Bellevue players - including current UCLA star linebacker Miles Jack - have gone that route.

Tuition at The Academic Institute? It's $1750 a month.  But, hey - isn’t that what boosters are for?

The upshot of this whole thing is that all those state titles (11),  and all those victories over nationally-known powers belong not to Bellevue High School, but to the Bellevue Boosters' Elite Touring All-Stars.

Considering that the Bellevue football program has been on probation, it would seem that the death penalty (figurative, of course) would be in order for the coaches and school administration.

But not for the football program, because that would be unfair to kids who'll finally get a chance to play for “their" school.   God help them, of course, when years and years of pent-up animosity are taken out on them by rival schools.

There is, of course,  one issue that the state is loathe to take on, and that is the “residence” of minority kids, many of whose definition of “family” and “residence” tends to be more flexible than customary.

I’ve often wondered what the WIAA would do if a kid were to move to a powerhouse program and simply say he was “homeless.”  It appears that all a kid has to do to qualify as “homeless” is to say that he is, right? And by definition, a homeless kid has no residence, right?

Meantime, I feel like a chump.  I’ve been had.  Taken.  Played for a fool.  I really thought they were just a high school team that took the kids that came off the bus in the morning and beat everybody at the same game.  Instead, their buses came from farther away.  In some cases they weren’t even buses - they were limousines.  And they weren't playing the same game as the rest of us.

But I’ll be okay.  I'll bounce back.  I’m going to cash in on this thing.  I’m already at work on my “Say No To Cheating!” organization.  This time next year, maybe you poor bastards will be required by your state association to listen to my presentation. 

Look - they already require us to take workshops and classes - real and online - in First Aid/CPR, Heads Up (subsidized by the NFL to make our game safer, while their players go out on the field and tackle poorly and unsafely), Concussion awareness, Sudden Cardiac Arrest awareness, State rules - did I miss anything?

So what’s one more requirement?  Hell, we don’t have anything better to do in the week before football starts, do we?

Be sure to come up to the front of the room and say "Hello," and buy a copy of my book "No Room for Cheaters!" (which is in the hands of the ghostwriter at this very moment).  I'll be glad to autograph it for you.


*********** If you needed any further proof that pro football has “progressed” from the days when it was poor kids who couldn’t get good-paying jobs playing in front of working stiffs too poor themselves to go to college to now where it’s millionaires playing for the pleasure of other millionaires eating canapés and drinking cocktails up in their skyboxes, how about the announcement that the naming rights to the new Atlanta Falcons’ stadium have been acquired by… Mercedes-Benz?

*********** Coach - How are you and Miss Connie? Wanted to share with you a recent great experience I had, visiting the Reagan Library. Have been there several times but I went there specifically for the Football Exhibit they have. Wow! A must for any football fan. The exhibit is up until Super Bowl Sunday 2016.  If you have any time at all you need to see it. They have items from Yale, Princeton and Harvard too!  (I believe you are a fan of one of those teams!). They have a couple of Heismans too. I am going to send you a few pictures I took on my new 6G plus phone too!  If you make it out please let me know. John Torres, Castaic, California

***********  Out front,  the NFL spends millions promoting itself as the spokesman for our game and everything that’s good about it, but behind the scenes it seems comfortable in its role as a transmitter to society at large of the gruesome traits of a criminal underclass.

Transmitter Number One: Cris Carter.

At last year’s NFL Rookie Symposium, Hall of Famer  Carter offered the kind of advice you’d expect from a  defense attorney.  Or maybe a cellmate:   Get a fall guy.


"Just in case y'all not going to decide to do the right thing, if y'all got a crew, you got to have a 'fall guy' in the crew," he's heard saying on a video that the NFL once thought worthy of putting on its Web site,  but has since taken down.

Sorry NFL Damage Control - the video’s still out and about on the Internet.

Carter's advice on how "to get around all this stuff”:

"Y'all not going to do all the right stuff now. I got to teach y'all how to get around all this stuff."

Apart from the simple fact that he could have just advised them, like Chris Rock, to just "OBEY THE LAW!"

But no...

Meantime, Big Football is so sorry:  “This was an unfortunate and inappropriate comment made by Cris Carter during the 2014 NFC rookie symposium.  The comment was not representative of the message of the symposium or any other league program. The league's player engagement staff immediately expressed concern about the comment to Cris. The comment was not repeated in the 2014 AFC session or this year's symposium."

Yeah.  Not representative of the message.   That’s why they had Warren Sapp on stage along with Carter.

ESPN, which employs Carter,  said in a statement, 'We completely disagree with Cris's remarks and we have made that extremely clear to him.

'Those views were entirely his own and do not reflect our company's point of view in any way.'

Yes, and Bill Simmons’ view that Roger Goodell was a liar and Colin Cowherd’s view that Dominican baseball players were not exactly Rhodes Scholars were entirely their own and did not reflect ESPN’s point of view in any way - but the World Wide Leader fired them anyhow.

But not Carter?  Is something else at play here?


*********** Today’s “DUH” report…

The good news out of Washington State is that DUI arrests are down.

The state patrol attributed the decline to three things:

1. Education

2. Enforcement

3. Fewer troopers on the road (
budget cuts)

*********** You wrote to a youth coach about how to approach a team that would likely beat them pretty badly.  Honesty is certainly in order, as you suggested.  But, from a strategic standpoint, why not also take the "ball control" of the double wing to its limit? Only snap the ball once the official starts his count.  Milk that clock.  Limit their time with the ball, thereby limiting the amount of points they score.  It could give the kids a decent amount of confidence ("They scored less on us than anybody.") or even something better...

We did this a few years back when out manned against the #2 team in the state.  Two things happened.  First, they got really, really frustrated.  Their defense was chomping at the bit and our kids were just sitting in their stances.  Run a play and hurry up and wait.  They bounced around, foaming at the mouth.  We sat in our stance.  They started looking around at each other and at their coaches.  We ran a play and then waited.  We get a first down.  We keep going slowly.  We plod along.  Their offense is not on the field.  Their coaches get frustrated.  We score.  We happen to get the ball back.  Same deal and we score before halftime.  We end up winning the game 19-14.  Our kids were really, really proud of that one.

We did it one other time.  No chance that time of pulling out the win.  Totally out manned and even our "A" effort would have lost to their "F."  But, their starters had to play into the fourth quarter (they pulled them once the running clock started) for the first time in six weeks.  Their coach thought it was a great game plan and really made his kids work and stay focused.  

I think it was Bob Reade that I listened to one time that said he started running double dive to keep the games close "because getting beat 21-0 is a lot better for your kids than getting beat 42-0."  I think Bob knew what he was doing.  He didn't see many of those 21-0 games, except from the other side.

Todd Hollis
Elmwood High School
Elmwood, Illinois


I KNOW Bob Reade knew what he was doing, and if it’s okay for him it’s okay for us, too!

Good stories about using the Double Wing to maximum advantage.

(The youth coach in question has chosen for reasons of his own not to run the Double Wing. I agree with you that it can play a major part in keeping a game close.)

Let’s hope neither one of us has to go back to those days.

*********** Hey coach,

Just got finished reviewing the hockey stick video. Looks great. I am currently coaching my sons 5th grade team and will try to teach it this way. Quick question- when you run 88 brown, do you have the A back block the end on the opposite (play) side, or do you have him stay put and block back side?

Thanks. Hope all is well.

Hi Coach-

I believe in being very conservative when passing from a run-baed offense, so on 88 Brown I have the A Back take a step or two of “virtual motion” (after the ball is snapped) toward the QB as if he is going to carry, then stop and set up to pass block outside the tackle’s block.

So, yes, he blocks backside.

This makes you solid on the backside, especially for those times when your QB pulls up a little sooner to throw back there, such as 88 Brown X Corner (Left end breaking for the left corner) or 88 Brown Y Crossing (Right end crossing to the left side).

It also sets up the possibility for an 88 Brown A Throwback - A back running a Wheel, or an 88 Brown A screen left.

I hope that helps.  Glad to answer any questions that I may have provoked.

*********** A few years ago, an acquaintance, who has hired a coach or two in his time, commented at the time of Steve Sarkisian’s hiring by the University of Washington that he had an uneasy feeling about the guy - and let it go at that.

Sark has since bolted for USC, where now it appears he’s given AD Pat Haden plenty of reason to feel uneasy.

Appearing to have had a bit to drink, Sarkisian took the mic at the school’s annual “Salute to Troy” dinner and put on a performance that’s been described as vulgar, distasteful, unprofessional, and worse.

Let the LA Daily News tell what happened …

Sarkisian stunned the crowd by saying, “Get ready to (bleep) fight on, baby,” from the stage. He also spoke about USC’s road games at Arizona State, Notre Dame and Oregon and said, “They all suck.” But his demeanor also was an issue and at least one group of fans claimed he told a lewd joke at their table.

“I sincerely apologize to my players and staff and to our fans for my behavior and my inappropriate language at our kickoff event Saturday night,” Sarkisian said in a statement. “I have a responsibility to all of them and I let them down. (Athletic director) Pat Haden talked to me after the event about my actions and I assured him this will not happen again.”

Witnesses said Sarkisian was pulled away from the microphone by Haden and senior associate athletic director J.K. McKay. Haden reportedly lectured Sarkisian behind the stage about his behavior.

“I met with Coach Sarkisian and I expressed my disappointment in the way he represented himself and the University at our Salute To Troy event,” Haden said in a statement. “While the details of our conversation will remain between us, I am confident he heard my message loud and clear.”

Said Bill Plaschke in the LA times,

The only message that rang loud and clear through the sports world Sunday was that USC might have a serious problem with its head football coach that might require more than a wrist slap. This would not be only for the Trojans' benefit, but for Sarkisian's sake as well.

Wrote Plaschke,

The biggest issue here isn't the curse word that Sarkisian used on stage — audible in a brief video clip — or that he apparently ripped several other schools by saying, "They all suck." This sort of trash talking is easily forgiven when it comes from excited coaches during pep-rally style events; just ask UCLA's Jim Mora.

The biggest issue is that Sarkisian made these statements while apparently impaired, even though this was one night when he absolutely had to know he would need his wits about him. The judgment here wasn't just lacking, it was nonexistent, which should scare USC into wondering whether this issue could run far deeper than one night and a couple of cocktails.




american flagTUESDAY,  AUGUST 18,  2015-   “In war, the game is always with him who commits the fewest faults. Napoleon Bonaparte

*********** Freshman wide receiver Cordell Broadus has quit the UCLA football team, although he intends to remain a student there and pursue a career in film production.

Ordinarily this wouldn’t be news, but young Broadus is the son of Snoop Dogg, who besides being a noted rapper and pot aficionado  has been a strong promoter of LA-area youth football.

The kid was a highly-recruited receiver in high school at Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman High, and a very good one, as those of us who saw a documentary based on his experiences will attest.

Hope dad can deal with his son's decision.

*********** There’s a product new to the market called Shadowman, an inflated “humanoid” sort of dummy that rests on a sled pulled by a player or a coach so that it resembles a runner. Developed for rugby training, its purpose is to give a tackler an experience more closely resembling tackling an actual runner than any player-held dummy.

It looks promising, except…  except… One of them really isn’t enough for a team of any size to get its players enough reps, and they’re being sold in three-packs for $2400.  That’s $800 each.


Although this may be hard to believe for those non-football types who read about the big bucks that major colleges spend on locker rooms, there are plenty of us out here who don’t have money like that to throw around.


***********  “I don’t feel like I have to come out here and show anybody anything or why I’m better than this guy or better than that guy. It’s more about going out and affirming that for me, I go out and I play, I know I’m the best quarterback on this team. I feel like I’m the best quarterback in the league and I have to go out and show that. Any athlete at any level, if they concede to someone else, they’re not a top competitor, they’re not trying to be the best that they can be. There’s guys in this league that have done way more than me. But, I still view myself as the best because that’s what I work toward every single day.”    Robert Griffin

Oh, dear.  He isn’t kidding. Somebody needs to stop the kid before he becomes an object of ridicule.

*********** Make of this what you will…

The US Women’s soccer team drew a crowd of more than 40,000 to Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field to watch them beat on the Washington Generals - er, Costa Rica - 8-0.

*********** Coach Wyatt,
I was thinking( as you know, that is always dangerous) what would be the need to go into 3 pt stances for my bobbleheads (6-7-8 year olds) ?

The reason I ask is:
- since they barely put their hand on the ground anyway, it seems they could pull, base, down and dbl team block just as easy from a down position (elbows on thighs).


- since being in a 3 pt stance their heads and shoulder pads tend to go crooked and tends to limit their ability to see the defense, it would be easier for them to see from a down position.

What do you think? (Which is also a dangerous question)

Richard Scott
Lodi, California

Hi Coach,

Nothing wrong with thinking. Seems to me a certain coach JT once pondered over this, too. I think your major issue would be an opponent who did a good job of teaching his kids to get in a 3- or 4- point stance and fire out low.  (If anyone can do a really good job of that with 6-7-8 year-olds.)

***********According to a new  survey, 49% of 18-24 year-olds in Britain define themselves as not “completely heterosexual.”


Sorry.  In my book, you either are or you aren’t.

But where is this degenerate sh— coming from, anyhow?

Unless God has rewired all 18-24 year-olds in the UK and not told anybody, there has to be another explanation.

You don’t suppose, do you, that it could possibly be the residue of an educational system that began with “who are we to judge?” and then moved on to “love makes a family” and “Heather has Two Mommies” until now elementary-school kids who once didn’t even know where babies came from think it's cool to question their sexuality?








(sportsbet.com.au is an online sports book - perfectly legal in Australia, where they'll bet on anything)

************ A youth coach writes…

I have a very nice group of kids, who are just not very good.  Right now.

We play the best team in the league next week. Very elite and they run up the score 65-0, 72-0.

What do you think about keeping expectations realistic by telling the kids how good their opponents are? I am just trying to keep getting better and not get anyone hurt or discouraged in this game.

I believe in being honest. You could lose your kids by lying.

Be frank: "these guys are good. We're not quite there yet, but we're going to learn a lot from this game, and the day will come when we're pretty good ourselves and we'll look back on this as a very important experience. And besides, football is such a great game that if we play as hard as we can and don't make mistakes, even as good as they are, we can beat them."

When it's all said and done you want to make sure your kids still believe what you tell them!

Their willingness to believe in us is something very precious that we must handle with care.

*********** You thought Beth Mowins was bad calling college games? You should have heard her do the Raiders-Chargers.

*********** Guy doing the Vikings-Bucs game must have thought we didn’t have television sets.   Yak, yak, yak, yak, yak.

*********** Opening-Game grades…

James Winston …  D   He didn’t play the full game. obviously,  and in his behalf, it’s not the first time in his career he’s come out and played lousy in the first half.

Marcus Mariota …   B-  Made some very good plays.  Made a few bad but they were not his fault.  Better strap it on, based on the pass protection he got.

Tim Tebow…     B+  Considering he was playing with third-group personnel, he played well enough, I think, to convince the ever-innovative Chip Kelly that in Tebow, he’s got a unique weapon that every Eagles’ opponent is going to have to prepare for.

*********** Prior to this past weekend, I heard this NFL expert and that say with a straight face that Marcus Mariota had to show (1) whether he could take a snap from center (he’d played entirely shotgun at Oregon) and (2) whether he could handle the huddle (he’d gone entirely no-huddle in college).

I wanted to say, Holy sh—, guys - that’s the biggest worry?

You trying to tell me that professional coaches can’t do something that any youth or high school coach could do?

I mean, sheesh - it probably took me all of five minutes last year to teach our QB, who’d never played the position before, to make a snap from under center.

I never thought of “handling the huddle” or whatever they call it to be any big deal.  Get the play from the sideline (or, in the NFL, from your head set) and give it to the team in the huddle.

Ready, Break!

Simple as that.  (And you receivers - stop telling me that you're open.)

JERROD HAYNE*********** For a while, there, I was in on a secret.  My son, the Aussie, keeps track of Australian athletes all over the US, and last week he tipped me on one Jerrod Hayne, a former Australian rugby league star who’s been in 49ers’ training camp.

And then, before I could write something about him - Pow! -  the sucker showed the Houston Texans - and the NFL - why the 49ers signed him.

Big - 6-2, 220 -  with sprinter’s speed, Hayne burst off tackle for 53 yards, returned a kickoff for 33 yards, and returned two pints for 24 yards.

Although new to the US game, he’s not exactly green.  He’s 27 years old and a veteran of eight years of pro rugby.



*********** Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey could be one of the nations’ top all-around backs.

He is quite versatile, and he has blazing speed.  No, not just for a white guy.  He really is fast.

He grew up in Denver, where his father, Ed, a wide receiver at Stanford enjoyed a great career with the Broncos.  His mother, Lisa, was a standout soccer player at Stanford.

Okay.  That explains the athletic ability. 

But Dad Ed, while fast enough, was no speedboy.  So where’s he get it?

That would be from his maternal grandfather, Dave Sime (pronounced “Simm”), once the fastest man in the world.  In 1956, back in the days before track went totally metric, Sime held the world 100-yard dash record, and  in the 1960 Olympics, after a photo finish,  he was awarded the  silver medal in the 100.

*********** Before the Geno Smith thing becomes yesterday’s news, it does seem fair to consider what he (evidently) did to goad a teammate into breaking his jaw.

The New York Times, in a recent article, described Smith’s attacker, Ikemefuna Enemkpali, as being pushed to the limit - and beyond - by a teammate who not only stiffed him, but made him the subject of ridicule by teammates.

At an instructional camp back home in Pflugerville, Tex., he made certain to teach boys not just the fundamentals of football but the reality of players who flamed out and the importance of being an upstanding citizen.

He recruited several high school and college teammates as counselors for the camp, including some who play in the N.F.L., and attendance picked up at the prospect that an N.F.L. starting quarterback, Geno Smith of the Jets, would coach, too.
But to Enemkpali’s rising agitation and embarrassment, friends said, Smith was missing.

Smith had promised to come — his image was featured prominently on fliers advertising the camp, and his name was emblazoned on T-shirts given to campers — but he backed out, a friend who had spoken with Enemkpali said, because someone close to Smith had been in a bike accident. Smith never explained that he would not show, leaving Enemkpali to pay for $600 in airfare and limousine fees.

For the next month, Enemkpali, 24, stewed as Smith failed to reimburse him, enduring jokes from teammates about being stiffed, until his frustration boiled over Tuesday in a locker-room confrontation.

One bright note for  the long-suffering Jets’ fans -  Geno Smith might have been their quarterback.



american flagFRIDAY,  AUGUST 14,  2015-   "Never give in--never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."   Sir Winston Churchill

*********** I got an early report from a young coach (hell - when you’re my age, every coach is a young coach!) whom I’ve seen develop over the years, and he was really excited about how well things are going.

I was excited for him,  but not to put  a damper on his enthusiasm, I wrote,

It’s great to hear that you’re enthusiastic.  I know that the going hasn’t been easy, so it’s nice to know that the future is looking brighter.

You will continue to learn, as I find myself having to learn and re-learn every year, that things are never as good as you think they are - there’s always a new challenge lurking in wait for you at every turn - but they’re never as bad as you think they are, either - every “bad” thing that comes up is another opportunity for you to show how good a coach you are and how much you're needed!

*********** Questions and observations...

(1) I hear people asking, “Why would Enemkpali break Geno Smith’s jaw over a lousy $600?”

Let’s turn that one around.

Why would a guy making what Geno Smith makes try to beat a teammate making a fifth of that out of a lousy $600?

(2) Does that sound like a team leader?

(3) No big fan of Rex Ryan here, but did you see how fast he picked up Enemkpali after the Jets cut him?

Could it mean that he knew enough about Smith to think maybe he had it coming?

(4) Can’t say nobody saw this coming.  Remember my saying, just a couple of days ago, how we could save society an awful lot of grief if we’d deal with the ugly fact that large numbers of people seem to feel it their duty to resist arrest and/or obstruct police officers?

Based on an “incident” while he was in college, Enemkpali is lucky that he lived to punch Geno Smith instead of becoming a “White Cop Kills Unarmed Black Teen” headline…

According to ESPN, Enemkpali was involved in a bar fight after his redshirt freshman year at Louisiana Tech in which he struck an off-duty officer. A uniformed officer used pepper spray on Enemkpali but that didn't subdue him, and a taser was used, according to ESPN's report. He was arrested and charged with battery on a police officer and disturbing the peace, which was later changed to simple battery, the report said.


*********** Massillon, Ohio is known for its football, but Massillon was also the hometown of Yankee great Tommy Henrich.

Henrich could do everything well, and was such a clutch player that he got the nickname “Old Reliable” from Yankees’ broadcaster Mel Allen.

And based on something Yankees manager Casey Stengel once said about him, his reliability must have extended beyond the baseball field…

“He’s a fine judge of a fly ball. He fields grounders like an infielder. He never makes a wrong throw, and if he comes back to the hotel at 3 in the morning when we’re on the road and says he’s been sitting up with a sick friend - he’s been sitting up with a sick friend.”

*********** I was watching the Pats-Packers preseason (you know - exhibition) game and after a play the Patriots’ Number 74 lay on the ground, motionless.

Usually, the first thing you hear announcers say when a guy is lying on the field is, “We don’t want to speculate…” but these guys went ahead and speculated anyhow.

“He just went down in a heap,” said one.

“I don’t know if it’s  exhaustion,” said his partner.

Now, look.  I realize that NFL linemen aren’t exactly Triathletes. Or marathoners or boxer or wrestlers. But exhaustion?

Holy sh—, guys. It was still the first quarter.

*********** Adrian Peterson has been a hell of a running back, but for assorted reasons, he’s missed a lot of action in recent years, and now, returning to full-time action at age 30,  he’ faces the reality that running the ball in the NFL is a young man’s game.

According to some very interesting research by the Wall Street Journal, in the history of the NFL guys 30 years old have rushed for 1,000 yards 23 times.

Once past 30,  the decline is swift.  In fact, it’s only been done 21 times total by guys 31 and older: 31-year-olds have done it only 12 times, 32-year-olds just six times and 33-year-olds just twice. 

Only once has it been done by a guy older than 33 - 34-year-old John Riggins, in 1983.

Actually, the peak year is 26 at age 26. There is a steady, year-by-year climb from age 22 up to age 26, where there have been 96  1,000-yard performances.

And then, after 26, there's a similar year-by-year decline. 

*********** ESPN has to be hurting.  In a very short time it’s lost Bill Simmons and Colin Cowherd, two rating monsters.

Although it spun the news of their leaving as the network’s decision to let them go - Simmons for calling Roger Goodell a liar, Cowherd for noting  the simple fact that while the Dominican Republic  turns out a lot of good baseball players, it doesn’t seem to turn out that many world-class scholars - there’s little doubt that cost-cutting played a role.

(Funny how ESPN fired Cowherd a week before he was due to leave the network anyhow.)

Not that ESPN is likely to collapse any time soon, but the hemorrhaging of cable customers as more and more people cut the cord is having its effect on the World Wide Leader. There’s little likelihood that it will cut back on all the games that it broadcasts, but I look forward to cutbacks in the studio area, where I find obnoxious its eagerness to push its leftist views into every aspect of sports news.

*********** This release from the National Football Foundation sent me running to my history books…

IRVING, Texas (Aug. 12, 2015) – The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) announced today that former Princeton kicker Charlie Gogolak and former Cornell kicker Pete Gogolak have been named co-recipients of the 2015 NFF Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award.

“The Gogolak brothers created a lasting legacy as the pioneers of the modern place-kicking motion, and their impact on the game of football has been felt for more than 50 years,” said NFF President and CEO Steve Hatchell. “From humble beginnings, the Gogolaks were raised in Budapest, and the family fled the country during the Hungarian Revolution. With no soccer team at their high school in upper New York State, the two tried out for football, and the rest is history. We are honored to recognize their important contributions to football, as well as their long journey to the U.S., at our Annual Awards Dinner in December.”

First presented in 1974, the NFF Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award provides national recognition to those whose efforts to support the NFF and its goals have been local in nature or who have made significant contributions to the game of football either to the manner in which it is played and coached or to the manner in which it is enjoyed by spectators. The Gogolaks become the 39th and 40th recipients of the award.

Born in Hungary, Pete Gogolak began to play soccer at age 13 for the Hungarian Junior National team. However, the family fled the country during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, settling in Ogdensburg, N.Y. The boys enrolled at Ogdensburg Free Academy, and Pete began playing football since the school did not have a soccer team. Charlie starred a few years later as the school’s punter. Pete played offensive and defensive end. He practiced kicking on the side, mastering a soccer-style kick as opposed to the popular toe kick. Pete earned a scholarship to Cornell by sending in a film of him kicking 45-yard field goals. In his first game for Cornell, Pete converted three field goals, including a 49-yarder.

While at Cornell, Pete connected on 54-of-55 extra points, he and set a major college record by connecting on 44 consecutive PATs from 1961-63. He still holds the school record for consecutive conversions and career conversion percentage (.982). His 50-yard field goal against Lehigh in 1963 was the nation’s longest in a major college game at the time. He booted nine career field goals, including eight of 40 yards or more.

Following his graduation from Cornell in 1964, Pete signed with the Buffalo Bills of the American Football League, bringing his unorthodox kicking style to the professional level. He converted 47-of-75 field goals and 76-of-77 extra points, helping the Bills to two AFL titles in 1964 and 1965. In 1965, he was named Sporting News AFL All-League, and he was selected to the AFL All-Star Game.

Pete became a prime factor in the merger of the AFL and the NFL when he was signed by the NFL’s New York Giants. In nine seasons with the Giants, he set league records for PATs in a game (eight), consecutive PATs made (133), field goals attempted (219) and field goals made (126). Pete also holds Giants’ franchise records for most PATs attempted (277) and PATs made (268). Other kickers began to adopt the new kicking style and by 1973, NFL kickers had increased their field goal percentage to 63.1 percent from 48.6 percent in 1963.

Pete began working at RR Donnelly, a Manhattan based financial printing firm, immediately after his retirement from the NFL, and he served more than 40 years as the vice president of sales. In 1984, he was selected to the Buffalo Bills Silver Anniversary Team. In 2010, the New York Giants announced that he would be included in the team's new Ring of Honor in MetLife Stadium. He is also a member of the American Football Kicking Hall of Fame.

Charlie had never kicked a field goal before he arrived at Princeton, but he sold himself to College Football Hall of Fame head coach Dick Colman. He went on to become a First Team All-Ivy League selection in 1964 and 1965, the first two years the league honored a placekicker, and he was named a First Team All-American in 1965. Charlie converted 16-of-23 field goals in 1965, highlighted by a perfect 6-for-6 performance in a 32-6 win over Rutgers. He kicked a perfect 33-for-33 on PATs in 1965 and 89-for-94 in his career. Charlie finished his career with seven NCAA kicking records and broke his brother Pete’s record by connecting on 50 extra points without a miss.

Charlie became the first placekicker selected in the first round of the NFL Draft when he was taken with the sixth overall pick by the Washington Redskins. In three seasons with the Redskins, he converted 32-of-57 field goals and 72-of-75 extra points. In a 72-41 Redskins win over the Giants in 1966, Pete and Charlie combined for 14 extra points, tied for the most ever in NFL history. Pete played another three seasons with the New England Patriots, converting 20-of-36 field goals and 42-of-42 PATs.

Charlie received his law degree from George Washington University during his Redskins playing days and retired from A.G. Edwards, a Boston based brokerage firm, in 2009. He served on the Princeton admissions committee and the Board of Trustees for the Northeast Harbor (Maine) Library, and he was awarded the Abraham Lincoln Award for Citizenship by the American-Hungarian Foundation. Charlie was also a volunteer for the Boys and Girls Club and formerly coached a boys’ soccer team in New Jersey. He was named to the Ivy League Silver Anniversary All-Star Team in 1981 and is a member of Princeton’s All-Century Team.

The Gogolaks will be honored at the 58th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 8 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City.

***********  I hear the name “Gogolak,”  and I think "Twin Towers."  And "Human Steps."

In 1964 the NCAA opened the door to freer substitution, and in 1965 removed all barriers, permitting the return of platooning, but also increasing the influence of the non-football-playing specialist.  The keeker.

Two of the most famous were the Gogolak brothers, Pete and Charlie, who starred at Cornell and Princeton, respectively. Pete was at Cornell from 1961-1963 (no freshman eligibility then), but Charlie came along as the substitution rules were liberalized.

The two brothers were among the first, if not the first, so-called soccer-style kickers, and quite early on, inventive coaches were quick to notice that the soccer-kicked ball had a lower trajectory than the conventionally-kicked ball, and set out to exploit that weakness.

In 1965, two imaginative attempts to block Charlie Gogolak’s kicks - one called “Twin Towers,” the other “Human Steps” - led to changes in the NCAA rules in the off-season.

Richard Goldstein wrote of the Twin Towers,  in Ivy League Autumns (1996)

twin towers

Charlie Gogolak, now a senior, kicked an NCAA-record six field goals in Princeton’s opener against Rutgers.  Two weeks later, Gogolak was faced with an intriguing challenge when the Tigers visited Cornell.  After a drive stalled at the Big Red 19, Gogolak came on to try a field goal. Cornell then went into a vertical shift, or a “Twin Towers” defense.  Jim Docherty and Dale Deter, a pair of defensive backs, climbed upon the shoulders of two 6-foot-5-inch defensive tackles,  Reeve Vanneman and Harry Garman, the Ithaca version of the Berlin Wall.

Gogolak aimed his kick slightly to the left, seeing an opening, but he missed. “It was like a bad dream,” he said later. “I would have liked to hit one of those guys in the head.”

Cornell was penalized, however, for being offside, giving Princeton a first down, and the Tigers went on to score a touchdown. 

The Big Red tried the Towers maneuver twice more, but Gogolak connected for field goals of 44 and 54 yards as Princeton went on to a 36-27 victory.  (The scheme was banned by the NCAA rule-makers after the season.)

John McCallum, in Ivy League Football Since 1972 (1977), wrote of the 1965 Princeton-Dartmouth game, which both teams entered with 8-0 records. Dartmouth's coach, Bob Blackman, was one of the game's great innovators, and he had a trick up his sleeve...
Human Steps

The “human steps” play was typical of Blackman’s attention to detail. 

The complicated maneuver was the brain child of line coach Jack Musick, a Blackman assistant since 1947. “All we need is a tall, leggy halfback who will get a running start, take two climbing steps off the backs of two crouching teammates and leap as high as he can over the Princeton line,” explained Musick before the game. “But he can’t be the type who’ll worry about how hard he comes down.”

The young man who earned the assignment was Sam Hawken, a sophomore reserve.

“I’m expendable,” Sam said.

Blackman put light, ripple-soled cross-country shoes on the flying Hawken. He put foam-rubber padding on the backs of the crouching linemen.  A mathematician figured the angle of approach, and the play was tested all week in Dartmouth’s Leverone Field House.  When Hawken got so he could knock the crossbar off pole vault standards at 14 feet,  Blackman said, “Okay, we’re ready.”

Before the Princeton game, Hawken broke out in a cold sweat.  “My gosh,” he said.  “For the first time in my varsity career, I’ve got pregame jitters.”

In the first quarter, the Tigers drive down within field goal range.  Blackman sent Hawken into the game.  Princeton seemed to sense that something fishy was up.   They delayed the centering count. Hawken, trained to take off at a certain interval, found himself 14 feet in the air before the ball was snapped.  The upshot was that Dartmouth was penalized 5 yards for offside, its sleeper play had been exposed, and poor Sam Hawken, the human missile, suffered an elbow in the ribs from an irate Princeton lineman for his trouble.

“Actually, though, the play was not a total loss,” Sam said afterward. “Gogolak was so shaken by the sight of me zooming through the air that even though he stood five yards closer on the next play, he hurried his kick and came up short.”

*********** On Sunday, in Seattle, the “Black Lives Matter” (just wondering - have they trademarked that?) crew rushed the stage and took Bernie Sanders’ mic from him.  End of rally.

On Thursday, they didn’t even have to rush the stage at a Jeb Bush talk.  They only had to start chanting “Black Lives Matter!” and Mr. Bush gave up and walked off the stage, thereby (1) making you wonder who’s paying them, (2) calling into question Mr. Bush’s ability as President to prepare for situations much more threatening than that, (3) blowing just about any chance he might have had to get the conservative vote,  and (4) setting up Donald Trump’s next killer line: “I defy them to try to disrupt  one of my rallies.  Because I am very wealthy - in case you hadn’t heard - and I have a very large private army. In fact it’s so large that I have loaned it out on occasion to some of my many friends who run other countries, and as a matter of fact  if President Obama continues to cut our armed forces, I may have to lend it the United States. That's how rich I am.”

*********** On his Web site,  “Coach Iannucci” (which happens to be the maiden name of my son-in-law’s mom)   makes a great case against the self-styled experts who insist that unless you’re running a spread offense, you’re not preparing your quarterback for the “next level.”

With all the hoopla out there, players (and parents) feel they can't make it if they don't run a spread offense in high school and college. Brett Farve ran the Wishbone! So did Steve Young! Dan Marino was in the wing-t! As was Joe Thiesman! More recently Demetrius Thomas came out of a flexbone college. But announcers keep preaching it. Result is kids transfer. Parents complain to schools. Alumni complain to schools. (see reason number two above) Coaches, to keep their jobs, change to something they don't know as well.

Truth is - if you're good enough; you're good enough. College coaches also get paid to teach you. They get paid a lot more then me. If you have the ability you should be able to be taught and progress. To make this statement is ludicrous. It's like saying if you've run the 100 meters in high school then you can never learn to run the 200 meters in college. (By the way didn't Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham not even play college football? So it's better not to play then to play in a different offense?)



*********** A coach who’s been playing around with the Go Army Edge app asked,  “Do you think they could add a setting that only puts 8 players on the field?”

Answer:  I doubt it, because of the relatively small number of 8-man teams, but here's your workaround:

Get to the EDIT screen on any play.


Highlight two linemen and one back and one by one drag them to a sideline. (You have to keep them on their side of the LOS and you can't move them OOB. But way off to the side like that they'll be out of the way and off the screen when you zoom in closer.)

Now you've got your 8-man offense.

Do the same thing with the defense and you're good to go.



american flagTUESDAY,  AUGUST 11,  2015-   "The job of teachers is to liberate minds, not capture them."  John Agresto,   Former president of St John's University, Santa Fe, NM

*********** I continue to support Dr. Ben Carson.

I think that as more people get to know who he is, his ratings will soar.  Unlike nearly anyone else in the race, he has no negatives.

(Please don’t remind me  that he has no experience in politics or government, as if that’s a knock on him. Considering the corruption and incompetence among those in Washington who do have experience, I consider it a very strong argument in his favor.)

Then there’s Carly Fiorina.  She  may be way back in the pack, but in my judgment she sure kicked ass in the “Not Ready for Prime Time” debate,  and if the Republicans would employ  a relegation system like that of European soccer, she has definitely earned the right to move up to the first division for the next Republican “debate.”

Now, as for who drops down…

*********** Take a quick peek at the Go Army Edge football app...


for more info -  http://www.goarmyedge.com

Please feel free to hit me with questions or comments.

*********** I spent the better part of last week in Mecca.  Football Mecca, that is.

I think I can make a strong case for Northeast Ohio as the Mecca of football.  One of a very few Meccas at the least. 

Let's see... Urban Meyer, the Stoops Brothers, Bo Schembechler.  For starters.

I was in Canton, Ohio for the launch of the GoArmyEdge app, the Army’s football application of the virtual reality expertise that it’s used in combat simulation software as well as its “America’s Army” game.  The launch was successful, and it was quite exciting to be in on the operation, watching professionals at work.

Canton is the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the major reason for its location there is that Canton is where, in 1920, a group of owners of “professional” football teams met in an automobile dealership to form what became today’s National Football League.

I was too busy all week to tour the Hall of Fame, but I did get a somewhat inside look at Football in the Heartland, and I came away impressed.

Canton also happens to have been the home of one of the very first professional football teams, the Canton Bulldogs, which in 1906 began a rivalry with the Tigers of nearby Massillon, a rivalry between the two towns which, after the  demise of both pro teams, has been taken by the two towns’ high schools.   Now, in one of America’s great rivalries, the Canton McKinley High Bulldogs and the Massillon Washington High Tigers face each other on the last Saturday of every regular season.

Canton McKinley

Canton McKinley, shown in the photo above, is one of America’s most storied football programs, ranking 8th in all-time victories among all US high schools.

McKinley has excellent facilities, including an auditorium that would serve most cities as a first-rate concert hall, and a 25,000-seat stadium that sits smack-dab between the school building and the nearby Pro Football Hall of Fame, and serves as the site every year of the Hall of Fame game.

McKinley’s most famous football alumnus is probably Marion Motley, great fullback and linebacker for the Cleveland Browns in the 1940s and 1950s.

Two of Canton McKinley’s former coaches went on to become well-known college coaches: Floyd “Ben” Schwartzwalder at Syracuse and Don Nehlen at West Virginia.

The McKinley Bulldogs have won 10 state titles and they’ve been state runners-up on three other occasions, and over the years they’ve won more games than all but one other school.  They’ve won more games overall than all but one other Ohio high school.

Anyplace else in the country, and they’d be legendary.

Ah, but just 20 minutes or so to the west is Massillon, home of the Tigers, and a legitimate claimant to the name “Titletown.”

Massillon Tiger Stadium

Massillon has won 24 state titles and nine (mythical) national championships, and ranks number one among all Ohio high schools in all-time wins.   Only two other high school programs in the country have more wins than Massillon.   (Number one is Valdosta, Georgia.  Number two is Fort Thomas, Kentucky, Highlands.)

Massillon leads Canton McKinley in their all-time series, 68-52.  Just five games have ended in ties.

I first heard of Massillon when I was in high school, and it’s always been an almost mystical place to me.  I’ve long known,  for example, that every baby boy born in Massillon is given a football by the booster club.

Well-known former Tigers include legendary coach Paul Brown; Harry Stuhldreher (on of the famed Four Horsemen); Horace Gillom (Cleveland Browns punter who revolutionized the kicking game by punting from 13 yards depth); Browns’ great Tommy James (who besides being a great defensive back held for the great Lou “The Toe” Groza) and his younger brother, Don, who quarterbacked two state championship teams and went on to coaching fame at Washington; and more recently, all-pro linebacker Chris Spielman.

For sure, if your aim was to coach at the college level, you couldn’t have picked a better place than Massillon. At least nine former Massillon head coaches have gone on to become college head coaches.

Everyone should know of the great Paul Brown, who went directly from Massillon to  Ohio State where he won a national title, then built a wartime power at Great Lakes Naval Training Station, then built the Cleveland Browns (named for him, if you didn’t know) from scratch into a powerhouse, then did the exact same thing with the Cincinnati Bengals. His record at Massillon was 80-8-2.

But there was also Earl Bruce.  He was 20-0 at Massillon, and went on to coach at Tampa, Iowa State, Ohio State, Northern Iowa and Colorado state.

Chuck Mather was 57-3 and went on to Kansas, and Bob Commings, who was 43-6-2 at Massillon, moved up to Iowa.

Tom Harp went 17-2-1, and moved on to head coaching jobs at Cornell and then Duke.  Bob Seaman was 20-9-1 before going to Wichita State. Lee Owens was 35-15 and went on to be head coach at Akron, and Rick Shepas, who was 53-27 at Massillon, is now the head coach at Waynesburg College, in Pennsylvania.

Not to be overlooked is Lee Tressell, father of Jim, who went 16-3 at Massillon, then moved on to Baldwin-Wallace where he compiled a record of 155-52-6.  Who knows how many more he might have won if he hadn’t died in April of 1981, at the age of 56?  Just months earlier, his last Baldwin-Wallace team had gone 10-1. 

Did I say Canton McKinley had nice facilities?  Massillon has Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, which is said to seat 22,000, and tops most US high schools by having a magnificent indoor practice facility that most colleges would envy (the building with the large white roof in the photo).

Storefronts all over town proclaim their loyalty to the Tigers and their new coach (“WELCOME COACH MOORE AND FAMILY”), and an entire store in downtown Massillon is devoted to Massillon Tigers souvenirs and attire.

Massillon the town is rather nice.  Having lost most of its largest employers, it’s no longer the prosperous heartland city it once was, but you can still sense the pride in its people. There’s none of the down-on-its-luck, poor-me attitude that you might expect to find, and instead of Rust-Belt decay, the downtown sports a number of rather nice places to eat and drink.

(We “had” to stay in Massillon because it was Hall of Fame week, and rooms all over the area were scarce.  It was the best thing that could have happened for me.)

*********** The top 50 winningest high school programs, through 2013


*********** If Michigan had only left things alone, they could sell Tom Harmon’s Number 98. Or Al Wistert’s Number 11.
But no.  They had to pull some “heritage” stunt and let modern-day players wear those hallowed numbers, as part of their “Legends” campaign - and now they can’t sell Tom Harmon’s number for fear of being sued by… Devin Gardner (?)

***********Doggone that Aldon Smith!  Here we thought he’d turned his life around.

A 49ers team source told ESPN's Josina Anderson: "He [Smith] was on a track and he was making good decisions. But I'll say one thing, there shouldn't be a rush to judgment. We need to figure out what happened and not go into a instant panic. There is usually much more to a story. Let's not overreact and say his career with the 49ers is over just yet.”

But wait - here’s the GM himself.

"Aldon's like any young player," Baalke said. "He's growing up, he's maturing. You see that with a lot of these guys. Some of them get themselves in a few more situations that you wish they didn't ... [but I'm] really pleased with the way he's handled things, the way he's working both personally and professionally. I think he's doing an outstanding job. He's always been a great teammate. He's always had an excellent work ethic. Those are things he's even stepped up.

Yeah.   And a day later he stepped out.

Coming soon, to an NFL team near you…


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

There were a couple things from your news that drew my attention and since I had a question for you I figured I would send some comments.

You mentioned the newspaper wanting you to list your 3 best players.  We have a media day here where we are to take 2 players.  I am sure that the media wanted me to bring my 6’3” 255b junior lineman, he is on the list of about 15 "players to watch" in the league.  I took 2 seniors, ---- and ----, you probably remember them.  They are both great leaders.

I read your reply to the coach asking you how to call plays and saw your wrist coach.  I have yet to call a play using the column colors and was thinking of getting rid of those.  Instead, I was going to print the plays on different colored paper.  For instance all my OPEN plays would be on blue paper (Blue 21 would be West 6C…), my tight plays would be on a different color so when I call for Yellow it is a play from the tight wrist coach…a third wrist coach if needed would be a different color.  Does that make sense?

The main thing I was wondering about is if you were ever in a situation like I am.(I am guessing that you have been)  I have 33 kids signed up but 6 of them didn’t play for me or quit last year during 2 days, so I basically have 27 kids.  The 9th grade class is a very good one, I can easily bring up 6-8 of them and they would get playing time.  I am considering bringing up all the 9th graders.  Most of them would only get into the JV games, but with low numbers I need the depth.  The AD mentioned leaving the 9th graders down and canceling the JV schedule.  I realize you don’t have all the info but interested in your opinion.



In my mind, putting the good of the team foremost, you did the right thing.  I’d have done the same.

Last year, our kids had two cards: a white one, with the Open Wing plays on it, and a Gold one, with the Double Wing plays on it.  Most wrist coaches have enough windows for two or three cards.

Just off the top… My thinking would be to keep those freshmen together and bite the bullet and cancel the JV schedule.  One drawback to binging up freshman is that their classmates lose the kids who would otherwise be their leaders.  I don’t think I would take their best kids from them just to flesh out a JV team.

I don’t think that any kids will decide not to play because you don’t have a JV team, but I’ll bet you’ll have some 9th graders who won’t turn out if you cancel the freshman schedule.

But as you pointed out, I don’t know all the facts…

*********** Doc Hinger and I were talking about Saturday night’s CFL game between the Ottawa Redblacks and the Michael Sam - er, Montreal - Alouettes.

With all the hoopla last year about Michael Sam, who turned his coming out  into a media circus, Doc asked a question that I hadn’t heard before: “Who do you suppose his roommate is?”

Think about that a minute.  CFL teams don’t operate on lavish budgets, which means that on road trips,   they almost certainly assign two guys to a room.

Do they just arbitrarily assign someone to room with the openly-gay Sam?  Hmmm. How do YOU think even the most tolerant of players would react to the idea of coming back to the room and finding their roommate “entertaining” another guy?

Or do they ask for volunteers?   Apart from the potential awkwardness of rooming with a male who might conceivably find you attractive,  how much of a concern might it be that you yourself could become the object of whispers?  (Suppose Michael Sam and his roommate were simply to oversleep, and then walk in late to a team meeting.)

Or do they assign him to a room all his own, and run the risk of some “LGBT Rights” organization accusing them of discrimination?

Good luck, Alouettes. (Anybody remember the way Tony Dungy was pilloried for predicting that having Michael Sam on your team would cause a distraction?)

*********** Back when I was in grade school, they taught us to respect railroad crossings.  Stop, look and listen.

Also, not to cross in the middle of the block.  And to look both ways before crossing. 

And not to chase a ball that goes into the street.


Well, for our own good.  So we wouldn’t get hurt.

Most of us heard most of what we were told, pretty much obeyed (except when it was a new ball), and - what do you know? - we’re still alive.

So with that lesson in mind,  why aren’t we requiring every school in America to teach our kids - males, at least - to do as police officers say?  Not to run, not to resist, not to make any false moves, not to pitch them any sh—?

Instead, all ass-backwards, we put it on the cops, is if they should respond to resisters  with love and kisses. 

And  as we keep searching for new, more advanced beanbag rounds  to try to deal with the growing numbers of defiant  a&&holes who refuse to follow a simple command, we get closer and closer to the realization that nothing yet invented has replaced the old-fashioned night stick. (The "wooden shampoo," in police jargon.)

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

I hope you and Connie are doing well in the COOL Pacific Northwest. The heat and humidity have been rough here in the Carolinas this summer so I am jealous. I've been playing with the GoArmyEdge app that you recommended and i'm impressed. I wish I'd had this thing in June so I would have more time to get a playbook together.

It looks like we may be short a coach this year so I need some advice on coaching/practicing with only one offensive coach. I seem to remember that you were in a similar situation at some point in your career. Can it be done, and if so, what is the best way to organize and run practice? We do have a base offense in from summer workouts.

I took Sarah to the Carolina Panthers training camp on Monday. That was an eye opening experience. I have never been that close to a pro team before and the size, speed, and athleticism was just mind blowing. I'm used to smaller, slower people in football uniforms. Sarah got to meet Luke Kuechly at the fence before practice and he signed her #59 jersey. She was so nervous she could hardly speak! Hilarious! Heck of a nice guy; I'm a fan.

Enjoy your time off. Teams around here have already cranked it up with scrimmages starting next Wednesday.

Take care!
Jim Crawley
China Grove, North Carolina

Hi Coach-

First of all, great story about Sarah.  I am impressed by what I’ve read about Luke Keuchle, and I’m definitely impressed by him as a player!

Glad you’ve had the gumption to take a look at the GoArmyEdge app.  I wish I could have let you in on it back in June, but it wasn’t ready for release then.  The strides that the developers have made just since then are really impressive.

I think that this season with the app is going to be pretty much a feeling-out process for most coaches, but the more experienced you have with it the more proficient you're going to be in the off-season.  You may yet find uses for it this year. Right now, for example,  I’m busy loading last year’s opponents’ plays into our defensive playbook.

I have coached the Double Wing with NO assistants - ZERO - on offense or defense.

In that case, during offensive session I coach the entire offense the entire time and assign the scout defense to the defensive leaders.

If you mean you have one offensive assistant in addition to you, that’s what we’ve got now at North Beach.  I coach the backs and ends and run the entire offense; the head coach coaches the line.  A third assistant helps with the O-line and handles our scout team defense.

Fortunately, it's not a complicated offense.  If we had five or six offensive coaches I wouldn’t know what to do with them.

Good luck this season.  Let me know if you have any questions or observations about the GoArmyEdge app that can help us make it better!

********** Jason Gay, of the Wall Street Journal, is a great one with a phrase.  Here he is on  Rhonda Rousey, pre-fight...

"Rousey burrows her eyebrows and maintains a fixed, menacing glare. She does not look like someone who is nervous. She looks like she has just found the person who stole her dog."

*********** I was an Eagles’ fan almost from birth, but at the time I went away to college, it wasn’t easy to follow your team if you lived in another city.  I went to college in Connecticut, and found myself in Giants’ country.

Back then, in the late 50s, the only NFL games you ever saw on TV were your hometown team’s away games -  by NFL rule all home games were blacked out - so your choice was either to follow the team in your adopted area or not follow pro football at all.

Although they were archrivals of the Eagles (there were no Jets yet), I found myself growing to like those Giants.  First of all, all the locals I knew were Giants’ fans, and knowledgable ones at that, so if you wanted to talk NFL football, you had to learn their language.

To this day, I can tell you more about those Giants than I could about any of today’s NFL teams.  I can still name the starting offensive and defensive lineups.

New York was then the center of all entertainment and media, and to be a New York Giant meant being in the national spotlight.

And as television was assuming a greater role in sports, the Giants were the right team at the right time.

First of all, they were good.  In retrospect, based on the future Hall-of-Famers on their roster, they were really good.  Roosevelt Brown, Frank Gifford, Sam Huff and Andy Robustelli are in the Hall.  Such standouts as Kyle Rote, Roosevelt Grier, Jim Katkavage and Charlie Conerly should be. Longtime Giants owner Wellington Mara once called Conerly, the quarterback, “the best player who’s not in the Hall of Fame.”  Their offensive and defensive coaches (the term “coordinator” hadn’t yet been invented, and besides, they didn’t have many other assistants to coordinate) were guys named Lombardi and Landry, respectively.

But most important of all, they were good guys. Sponsors could trust them not to embarrass them or their products. They were a close-knit group, most of them out-of-owners who lived in the same apartment building during the season.  Their wives and families grew close.  In those days  before free agency,  rosters didn't change much from year to year, and  players and their families formed deep, lifelong friendships.

The Maras, by all accounts were good owners.  To this day, they do more than pay lip service to their motto, “Once a Giant, Always a Giant.” 

What I’m leading up is saying that  Frank Gifford’s passing has hit me hard.

Yes, I know - he had a good life, and he was well up there in years, and sooner or later we’re all going to go anyhow.  But there’s a certain comfort in knowing that people you remember fondly from the past are still around, and when you lose one it’s like coming to the end of a good book.

In fact, Gifford’s death sent me back to his book, “The Whole Ten Yards,” in which he dispelled any idea that he was a stereotypical  California surfer boy.  Oh, no.  He was a Bakersfield Driller. His father was an oil field worker who traveled to wherever the work was. Before he even started high school, Frank had lived in 47 different towns.  He played his high school ball in Bakersfield, an oil field town at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley.  In Gifford’s words, “My high school in Bakersfield had more than five thousand kids, definitely the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.  Many of them were the children of farmers and oil workers.  They were tough kids - black, Spanish, poor whites, kids like me.  Consequently, the school enjoyed a great football tradition.” 

The first person I thought to call  when I heard the sad news of Frank Gifford’s death was Mrs. Perian Conerly, Charlie’s widow.  Mrs. Conerly still lives in their hometown of Clarksdale, Mississippi.Through the years, largely because of a few things I’d written about her husband, I’ve come to know Mrs. Conerly, an absolutely wonderful lady just brimming with stories of the old Giants, and capable  of telling them with a southerner’s turn of phrase  in the most beautiful Mississippi accent you could ever imagine.

She tells of the days of moving into the apartment building as soon as the Yankees moved out.  She tells of the nights on the town after big Giants’ wins. And she tells of the players, the good ones and the occasional bad ones.  Frank Gifford was her husband Charlie’s roommate on the road, and they were best friends.  One whose name I won’t mention was, in the eyes of his teammates, a rare “bad one.”  After the Giants’ 1956 NFL championship win, he voted against giving a share of the winner’s money to the equipment manager. (For the record, it was $3,779.19)

We talked about two fairly recent deaths that touched her -  Pat Summerall and now Frank Gifford, two old Giants who stayed in constant touch with her over the years.  Now, she said, she hears occasionally from Rosie Grier, and that’s about it. The old Giants are just about gone.

Mrs. Conerly and I laughed as she recalled Frank and her Charlie welcoming Vince Lombardi, who’d just left Colonel Blaik’s staff at West Point, to the world of coaching pro football players.

Early in his first Giants’ training camp, Lombardi’s efforts to introduce a college-style option play were meeting with resistance from his quarterback, Charlie Conerly. Every time Lombardi would send in an option play, Conerly would run something else. 

Conerly was then in his 30s, a Marine veteran who’d seen combat in the South Pacific in World War II, and an NFL veteran who had been sacked so many times early in his career that the Giants’ head coach  had to travel to MIssissippi to talk him out of retirement;  he had no interest in being smacked by opposing defensive ends.    

Possibly reluctant to confront Conerly, a man of few words but a highly-respected team leader nonetheless, Lombardi went instead to Conerly’s friend, Gifford.

“Why doesn’t Charlie run that play?” he asked Gifford.

“Because,” said Gifford, “Charlie doesn’t want to run that play.”

Thus began Vince Lombardi’s conversion from coaching West Point cadets to coaching grown men.

In Lombardi’s behalf, Mrs. Conerly said, “He realized he didn’t know everything.  And he wanted to know everything.”

Following his football career, Frank Gifford became one of the greats of sports broadcasting, one who saw his role as  enabling the viewer of a game to get maximum enjoyment from the experience.

During his long run on Monday Night Football, he did a masterful job of keeping the game itself in focus while playing interlocutor between two guys who didn’t always  conceal their dislike for each other - Don Meredith, the wise-ass country boy,  and Howard Cosell, the insufferable, ever-pontificating  know-it-all.  

Way back in 1993 Gifford wrote, “I look at sports as entertainment first and the cutting edge of change second."

Unfortunately, he added, ”a few of my ego-driven colleagues have gotten fun and games confused with their personal mission to right the wrongs of the world.”


american flagFRIDAY,  AUGUST 7,  2015-   “Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.”  Laurence J. Peter, author of The Peter Principle
*********** I like Buffalo and I like its people. And I’ve liked the Bills for a long time.
As you know, the Bills, like Buffalo itself, have struggled a bit.  A coach there once said to me,  referring not just to the Bills but to the Buffalo area in general, “We can’t catch a break.”
Now, I could deal with Rex Ryan as the Bills’ head coach.  Maybe he can get them going, and at the least he’s got Bills’ fans excited.
But with the announcement that their new starting right guard is Richie Incognito, they may have lost me.  

***********   Now, it’s official.  As I write this, I’m in Ohio.  Massilon, Ohio.  (Heard of it?) This afternoon, in nearby Canton, in partnership with the NFL Hall of Fame, the US Army officially launched the Go Army Edge football app, with all the benefits to coaches that I described earlier.  At the same time, the Indianapolis Colts announced that they have been serving as developmental partners with the Army.

If today's news is short, it's because I've been putting in long hours.

I posted this news last week, but at the request of higher-ups I had to withdraw it, until today's “official” release.

The past several months I’ve been privileged to take part in the “beta-testing” of a revolutionary new football product being developed by the US Army.  Before you think “boots on the ground,”  you might be interested in knowing that at the Redstone Arsenal, an enormous facility in Huntsville, Alabama, the Army Game Studio has been developing things that would blow your mind.  For quite some time the Army has been using virtual reality to construct combat simulation games, to help soldiers prepare for the kinds of things they are likely to encounter in some of the world’s most inhospitable places.  I was in Hunstville a couple weeks ago for a tour of the facility, and let me tell you - among other things, I went on a “virtual” ride through hostile territory  in a real Humvee, and it was one intense experience. Many of you may be familiar with the “America’s Army” video game, which was developed here.

That’s just to establish the Army’s credentials for developing an app that will enable a coach to draw plays and then see them carried out in 3-D, not unlike a video game.  You can diagram your play and the assignments of your players, then run the play against the defense of your choice, with the defenders taking their predicted paths.  To demonstrate a play to your kids in the most realistic possible fashion, you can “dress” your team in its uniforms (home or away) and this week’s opponents in theirs.

You can show a play from just about any angle imaginable. Also, up-close.  How close? How about through the eyes of any one of the players?

But that’s for when you get good at the app.

The first use that most coaches will find for the GoArmyEdge app will likely be the pre-packaged drills.  Among their many uses,  they enable you to teach your team to recognize an opponents’ formations, as they come out of the huddle, in far less time than it would have taken you out on the field.

On the offensive side of the ball, it’s possible, for example, to drill your linemen on blitz pick-up against a variety of defensive fronts and stunts.  (And nobody gets their heads dinged!)

As you get accustomed to the drills already packaged for you, you may see some of your own you’d like to employ.

The support videos associated with the site are very instructive and helpful.  One of the best parts of this whole deal is that if you’re not a techie type and you’d rather just use the results of the app without getting into the nuts an bolts of it, you probably have a guy on your staff who will run with it.  Not only that, but if you’re a teacher, you may have a student or two interested in getting involved in football as your technical aide.

One of the many uses I’ve found for the GoArmyEdge app is sharing ideas with other coaches. I draw a play on the GoArmyEdge app  then record it with a screen recording program.  The result is a “clip” that’s no more than a few megabytes in size, easily mailable.

I first became involved with the GoArmyEdge app when I heard that Joe Ross, a former Army football captain and football assistant whom I’d gotten to know at West Point, was involved in something that involved applying the Army’s virtual reality expertise to our game. I have a lot of respect for Joe, and after I contacted him and offered to help test the app, I found myself getting pretty deeply involved.

Along the way, I’ve introduced other coaches to testing the app.  I showed it to one coach in our area who has a generous budget and his first reaction was, “I want it.  What does it cost?”

My answer was, “You can’t have it yet, and when you can have it, you can’t buy it.  It’s going to be free.” 

There are other products on the market, none of them capable of doing what the GoArmyEdge can do, and they range from costly to astoundingly expensive.  I got excited about the GoArmyEdge app because I’ve worked in plenty of resource-poor schools, and I could see what a field-leveler it could be.

(Did I say it’s free?)

Yes, you - and your kids - will see some Army recruiting ads on the app, but a look at a potential career in the Army is a small price to pay for something that on the open market would be unaffordable to most high schools, yet won’t cost you a cent.

If you’ve followed my site over the years, you may have noticed that I’ve never had a paid ad on it.  I have endorsed a few products that I’ve used - and paid for - myself, but I’ve never taken a dime for doing so.
Full disclosure - I am working for the Army Game Studio. Not, I should point out, as a salesman. (Why would  you pay a salesman to sell something that’s free?)

To get started:  GoArmyEdge

Let me know what you think.  Let me know if I can help.  I'm pretty good at it by now.  And the developers are interested in your thoughts and ideas.

*********** I promised these on Tuesday...


2 Wedge- You'll see a quarterback sneak using wedge blocking, and a quarterback follow


66 and 77 Super Power - we do not call them "88" or "99" because there will never be a Tight End-Wingback double team.


Super Criss-Cross 47-C and 56-C


*********** The team came together at the end of practice, as we always do, and our head coach, Todd Bridge, got talking on the matter of toughness.

He looked over at me and said, “Back in Coach Wyatt’s day, guys were tougher.” As evidence, he said,  “They didn’t have face masks.”

The second part, the face mask business was true;  but not, in my opinion, the first part.

“No, we weren’t any tougher than you guys,” I told the team.  “But there were a lot more tough guys.   Back then, if  you were physically able to play football, you played football.” 

No, sir - no one able to play would have ever considered not playing,  for fear of being ostracized by the guys who did.  No one had ever heard anyone say he wasn’t going to play because he didn’t like the coach.  So what?  You weren’t supposed to like the coach.  Maybe you feared him, maybe you didn’t - but you did what the hell you were told, just like everybody else, because it was important to play football.  It’s what men did.

“You guys,” I said, “you guys that are here - you may not be as large a percentage of the population as you would have been 50 years ago, but you’re every bit as tough as the guys I played with.”

And so, I suspect, are your kids, on your team.

I didn’t add that they may be even tougher than the guys of my day, because they’ve resisted so many of the things luring them away from football, especially when you consider that any excuse is accepted unquestioningly. (After all, who are we to judge?)

They don’t like the coach? Okay.  They’re going to work on their basketball? Okay.  They’re going to get their grades up? Okay. They need to get a job? Okay.

Now, they’re afraid of getting a concussion.  Okay.

Or - but they don’t come out and say it - they’re going to play video games or smoke weed.  Either way, Okay.

american flagTUESDAY,  AUGUST 4,  2015-   “Motivation is simple. You eliminate those who aren't motivated.”     Lou Holtz

*********** “I feel like sometimes I'm the LeBron of football, especially at my position because I can do so much.”

Thus did Jamaal Charles of the Kansas City Chiefs assess his importance in the grand scheme of things.  No false modesty there.

Look, Jamaal - you're good, yes, but you're invoking the name of  a guy who might turn out to be the best to ever play his sport.

That, you are never going to be.

In fact,  just at your position - running back - a few names such as Jim Brown, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith and, yes,  O.J. Simpson come to mind.  There are others.

I can honestly say that whenever  I’ve heard people discuss the greatest running backs of all time, your name has never come up.

*********** Our local newspaper, the Aberdeen (Washington) Daily World, does a nice job of covering area high school sports, so it’s tough to have to quibble about a request they’ve made.

But in addition to the usual things they’ve asked area high school coaches to do in helping them put out their pre-season, football preview section - rosters, schedules, records, etc - they’ve asked us to list our “three main players,” whom they intend to photograph alongside the head coach.

Uh-oh.  Guys, I’ve been around the track enough times that I can recognize a trap when I see one.    Lemme tell you - don’t fall for it. 

If the newspaper wants to do it for us, we can  always explain it away to our kids as some eager newspaper guy  with space to fill and a deadline to meet.

If we were a college coach, we would simply say, “That’s the guys in the sports information department putting that sh— out. (Which is true.)  They have a job to do and I have no control over what they do.”

But we’re high school coaches, which means  we ARE the sports information department.  And if we’re dumb enough to pick “three main players,” then we’re the ones who are going to have to go back on everything we’ve been telling the kids about team, team, team - about everybody, including the scout team players, being important to our effort.  There goes our credibility.

We’re the ones who are going to pick three and piss off at least that many.  We’re the ones who are going to have to explain to kids - and their parents - why we made the selections they did.  Do you really thin they’ll understand? (Remember, in some parents’ eyes, that decision of ours has just  cost their kid that college scholarship that they were banking on when they blew the college savings on that trip to Disneyland.)

We’re the ones who are left to coach a team pulled apart by resentment and envy.

So guess what?  We’re not going to single out (or is “triple out?”) “three main players.”

We have seven senior lettermen starters.  (We’d never pick out an underclassman, because the short route to destroying your team, and putting a target on the underclassman’s back, is to alienate your seniors.)  I could make a god case for including any one of those seniors in our “Three main players.”

So here’s our solution:  we’re going to tell the seniors that, and then, as they watch, we’re going to put all seven names in a hat, and draw three of them.

Every one of our players is a “main player,” starting with seniors, and those just happened to be the three whose names came out of the hat.

*********** The 60s were a very confusing time.  I’m not talking about Woodstock or the Vietnam War of the protests.

I’m talking about the Gene Washington’s. For several years, there were two wide receivers in the NFL named Gene Washington.  They were both very good.  One was from Stanford, and one was from Michigan State.

Stanford Gene Washington played for the 49ers from 1969-1977

MSU Gene Washington played for the Vikings from 1967-1972 and the Broncos 1973-1974

Stanford Gene Washington was a California kid,  from Long Beach Poly, which has sent a player or two to the NFL; MSU Gene Washington was a Texas guy, one of a number of outstanding black players from the South recruited by Duffy Daugherty back in the days when southern college football teams were still all-white.

At Michigan State, Gene Washington was part of a tremendously talented team; in the 1967 NFL draft, four Spartans were drafted in the first round.  (Take into account that The NFL was smaller then, which meant the first round itself was smaller, and four in the first round is even more impressive.)  Spartans Bubba Smith and Clint Jones were drafted #1 and #2; George Webster was drafted #5 and Washington #8.

Now, years later, MSU Gene’s daughter is in the process of producing a documentary entitled “Through the Banks of the Red Cedar,” a story of her father and other black athletes like him who came to Michigan State from various place in the South.


*********** Regardless of how the service academies do against each other, my perception of their performance in recent years has been (1) poor Army just can’t seem to recruit enough of the kids they need to compete at the big-college level; (2) Navy sure does a heck of a job with the players they’re able to recruit;  (3) Air Force does a heck of a job. Period.

As a long-time Army football fan, it pisses me off.

The interesting thing is that, at least at first glance, they’re all triple option-oriented teams.

Navy’s triple option attack goes back to the arrival in Annapolis of Paul Johnson. And when Johnson moved on to Georgia Tech, he was succeeded by a long-time assistant, Ken Niumatololo.

Army’s triple option in its current form also goes back to Johnson.  Army coach Jeff Monken was an assistant to Johnson at Navy (along with Niumatololo) and moved with him to Georgia Tech before taking the head coaching job at Georgia Southern. Army also ran the triple option under Monken’s predecessor, Rich Ellerson, but there are significant but subtle differences between the version run by then-OC Ian Shields and the one currently being run. (It should be pointed out that Shields’ Army offense was consistently near the top nationally in rushing, and this past season, as head coach of Lenoir-Rhyne, he led the Bears to an 11-1 finish, their first undefeated regular season in 52 years of football. Lenoir-Rhyne led all of Division II in rushing with 416 yards per game, an NCAA record.

Air Force’s triple option goes back to Fisher DeBerry’s arrival in 1984, and it has survived in assorted versions.  Current Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun  played four years at quarterback under DeBerry, so no one can question his triple option chops, but after four years as both grad assistant and full-time assistant at Air Force,  he left for other jobs that broadened his education as a coach.  Two of his most significant positions were two years at Wake Forest as Jim Grobe’s offensive coordinator.  In those two-years, the Deacons went 6-5 and 7-6, with a bowl-game win over Oregon, and they haven’t been able to put together back-to-back winning seasons since. 

Calhoun spent four years as an NFL assistant, including a year as OC of the Houston Texans, before taking the Air Force job.

That’s all by way of saying that although he knows his triple option, and he remains a believer in its importance to success at a school whose academic demands and highly-structured life make it difficult to recruit NFL-bound players, Calhoun’s offense is capable of great diversity - “They have a bank of offenses,” is the way New Mexico coach Bob Davie puts it - and you never know which one you’re going to get.

"They're actually a multiple-formation, multiple-concept offense," Davie told Fox Sports. "They're not Navy or Georgia Tech, where they're in double-slot (formation) a majority of the time. The thing that they do great is that it's too elementary to say they're just a triple option team. You have to spend a majority of your week preparing for triple option and they may not run any triple option against you. They'll be in the I-(formation). They'll run spread, no-huddle, up-tempo.”

Said Davie, “I played against Nebraska when I was at Texas A&M and Notre Dame, and no one did more than Nebraska. And you had to prepare for it all. They could dust off different packages even between series."

Part of the reason for their versatility, I believe, is not only Calhoun’s intelligence (he’s an AFA grad himself) and experience, but the fact that five offensive assistants are Air Force grads, and a sixth one, a Furman grad, is entering his ninth year on the staff.

Somehow, I get the idea that a staff like that is on the same page.

I’ve long admired the Zoomies. They’ve played  in a tough conference - had to, because of travel considerations - and succeeded, which has given them status in the football community.  But they’ve been my third favorite service academy team, behind Army and Navy.

But things change.  Now that we at North Beach have a player who just made it through Cadet Basic Training, and so did my friend Greg Koenig,  Air Force has moved up to Number Two.


*********** I find it funny that in all the talk about Republican candidates, one name is seldom mentioned: Dr. Ben Carson.

And yet, Dr. Carson’s poll numbers are excellent.

If I didn’t know better, I’d suspect a conspiracy to keep him in the background because he is that person most disliked by the liberal media - a black conservative.  A highly appealing one at that.

The most recent national poll, the one to determine which candidates will take place in Thursday night’s “debate” (anything that Donald Trump has anything to do with is not likely to come under the definition of a debate), reveals some very interesting information.

For example, the leading candidate right now is Donald Trump, based on his high “favorable” rating. But his “unfavorable” is off the charts.  You either like the guy - or you loathe him.

Next in line come Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker.

Bush’s favorable rating is 51 per cent, but his unfavorable is in the 40s.

Rubio and Walker are in the high 40s favorable, with unfavorables down in the teens.

But watch Dr. Carson in the debate.  His favorable is 40 and his unfavorable is an extremely low 10.   What this means is that, given that few people even know who he is yet, and given how well he comes across in interviews and speeches,  the debate is almost sure to increase his favorables, and highly unlikely to increase his unfavorables.  Simply put, the man is likeable.  There is nothing not to like.

Best of all, I think he is Trump-proof. What's Trump going to say about him - that he has no experience in government?   That he's never done anything?

Trump doesn't dare try his usual  insult-and-attack  approach with Ben Carson. If he does, he can only make himself look bad and  give Doctor Carson's campaign a tremendous boost.

Actually, I would love to see Trump take a shot, and see the look on his face as the Doctor calmly and mildly - and publicly - destroys him.

(I think back more than 60 years to the scene in the Senate where Joseph Welch, a dignified old Massachusetts lawyer, brought the much-feared Joe McCarthy down by asking, "Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"

*********** Hey Coach,

How would you send plays in to your offense at the middle school level?  



I would find a way to get a wrist band for every one of my kids, and then I’d call out the play’s coordinates to the QB.

Here’s an explanation of the play cards: http://www.coachwyatt.com/playgrid1.html

Iplaycard’ve since expanded it to the point where each of our players has a card for his specific position, and in each square on our cards it says not only what the play is but also what his assignment is.

Since you shouldn’t have as many plays, you can make the squares bigger, allowing you to put more info inside each one.

I've shown here a basic example - a portion of a JV QB’s card (the varsity QB’s card would have the blanks filled in).  The colors at the top are just to give us another way to call a play. For instance, “10-1,” “1-10,” “RED-10,” and “10-RED” are four ways of calling the same play (“77")

It’s a lot of work for you, but once it’s done you’d be amazed at how it improves your team’s performance.

Good luck if you decide to do this.

***********  Yet another online course we have to take.  

Subject: “sudden cardiac arrest.”


We were told it has to be completed and the certificate of completion of the course  turned into our AD before we step out on the field to coach.

Aargh.  Another politician somewhere made points the way those poltroons always do - by making other people pay or do.

Exactly how many high school football players have died of “sudden cardiac arrest” in the last 50 years?

Let's see... First Aid... CPR... State Rules... Concussion Protocol... Sudden Cardiac Arrest...

Next year, Heads-up Tackling.

Just over the horizon for high school coaches in rural, small-town  America:  Preventing Gang-related Shootings.

Is somebody on the inside trying to kill our game?

*********** The Double Wing as a Surprise Offense



Counters have always been home-run plays for us.  Typically, our counters average considerably more yards per play than the power plays that set them up.   So why not run counters more?  For the same reason a pitcher with a good changeup doesn't throw it more often: it works best when it's least expected.

We run several different counters, all using the same blocking scheme upfront, but for us the easiest one to teach also happens to be the one that best mimics the action of the Super Power. We call it our “Super Criss Cross.”

Here’s how easy it is, once you can run Super Power:

Across the front, only one man’s assignment changes.

Both tight ends do the same thing.

The playside line and the center do exactly the same thing.

The backside tackle’s assignment is the same – he runs a circle. 

Only the backside guard’s assignment changes: he is the kickout man, and he will block inside-out on the first defender past the opposite tight end.

In the backfield, the QB's assignment is the same.  (After the toss, we may eventually get to the point where he gets downfield in a position to take a lateral from the ball carrier.)

The fullback's assignment is essentially the same as if we were running Super Power, except that instead of kicking out at the point of attack, he winds up filling for the pulling backside tackle.

(In an advanced stage of this play, we add the tag “lead,” which means that instead of filling to the backside, he’ll will take a large counter step -big enough to clear the QB -  toward the pulling tackle then change direction and lead through the hole and onto the playside corner.)

The original ball carrier, the one who catches the QB’s toss and would be carrying if it were Super Power,  aims slightly deeper than on Super Power. He is under control.  He catches the ball with both hands and without trying to get any special handle on the ball, hands it forward – shovels it, with both hands - to the opposite wingback.

The ball carrier has taken a 45 degree open step with his inside foot, enough to turn his shoulders to face the point of attack – but no more – and, without hesitation, goes.  That first step is necessary to avoid a collision with the fullback, who has to go first, but it also sets the ball carrier on the correct path.  Without delay he runs that path to the hole, taking the ball with his playside elbow up.

Since the double wing burst on the scene in the 1990s (I'd like to think my videos had something to do with its popularity), it's been a tremendous boon to youth coaches, and at the high school level it's enabled coaches all over the country to win state championships.  I've had good luck with it myself in a three different program turnarounds in Washington state.  And, deployed properly, I believe it could be effective at higher levels.

Caution:  You might fall in love with the simplicity of the whole deal and be tempted to do a little more, but start getting in deeper and you’re going to find yourself adding formations and motions and additional plays. At some point, your base offense is going to suffer.

Besides, to be fair, running the Double Wing full-time does come with a few caveats:

1. To fans and parents and administrators conditioned by watching the NFL, it's "not football."  (Expect to hear that several times a game.  Even more if you're not winning.) But if you use it sparingly, and give it a sexy name, they'll applaud you for being innovative.  They might even start calling for you to run it.

2.  When it's your sole offense, it could chase off some talented skill kids. 

3.  Its passing game depends on the element of surprise, so it's not ideal in long yardage situations or when you have to come from behind.  Of course, being a very good ball-control offense, the double wing can help keep you from falling too far behind.

4. There are so many possibilities, so many different things you can do, that there's a constant temptation to do more.  Don’t give in. Warn your staff about this.  And discipline yourself..

5.  Depending on your personality, even if you're successful you can get bored.  Personally, I enjoy watching our kids knock opponents off the ball, and I don’t mind running the same play a half-dozen times in a row, five yards at a time.  That doesn’t bore me.  But that’s me, and that doesn’t make me right.

6. The double wing has been around long enough now that it’s recognizable, and when word gets out that you’re a “double wing coach,” doors will close. You won’t get interviews.  The general public and the media, which expect entertainment in addition to winning, will mock you.

6.  On the surface, it looks simple.  Don't believe it.  It takes work to run it consistently well, and you have to have some perfectionist in you.  There’s a lot of moving parts and plenty of things that can go wrong.  If you keep your package simple, you’ll limit those things.  Resist the temptation to run all the plays that your football knowledge (and your assistants) will tell you are there.  Keep it pared down what you do run – run it well.  Remember, even after opponents learn that you can run the double wing, you’ll still going to be able to run it a whole lot better than their scout team.

My advice is to keep it as your surprise. Use it as a change-up.  Take a lesson from Warren Spahn, one of the best left-handed pitchers of all time.  "A pitcher needs two pitches. One they're looking for, and one to cross them up." 


*********** Coach Todd Hollis, of Elmwood, Illinois, sent me a photo of a bottle of Yuengling’s Beer, and said it was from “God’s Country.”  Needless to say, I immediately thought he was somewhere near the Yuengling brewery (the nations’ oldest), in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.

He wrote back,


I actually had this beer in Columbus, Ohio.  We were visiting my wife's sister on our way home and found out the Pirates triple A club, the Indianapolis Indians were in town to play the Columbus Clippers (Atlanta Braves).  I figured having the Yuengling was legitimate given the Pittsburgh club was playing.  

Our first stop was in Harrisburg.  We spent an evening and the following day at Hersey Park.  Pretty good amusement park.  Lines were quick and the chocolate factory tour was neat.  The next day was Gettysburg.  Unbelievable.  I have to admit that I teared up when I stood on the field where the Confederacy began their final assault (Pickett's Charge) on the Union forces.  To think of all of those men marching across field right into the artillery and superior position (higher ground) of the Union was terrifying to me.  I can't say enough about how it affected me being there.

We picked up cousins and a sister-in-law in Philadelphia on our way to the New Jersey shore (Stone Harbor).  The beach was great for two days.  Then back to Philadelphia for a few days.  No tourist attractions for us there.  Just family.  And a real-deal Philly cheese steak.  That was very, very good.  And a local beer, Victory, has some very good beers.

Hope your summer has been a good one.  How will the Hyaks be?

I replied -

Got to say that you spent my ideal vacation.

Once-a-summer trips to Hershey Park (now "Hersheypark”) as a kid are some of my fondest memories.  Back then, we could actually walk right through the chocolate factory.  Occasionally, the ladies whose job was to pick out the Hershey kisses that didn’t have the little paper ribbons in them would slip them to us.

My favorite food at the park was the french fries, washed down with paper cups of Pennsylvania Dutch Birch Beer.

Stone Harbor is very, very nice.  My wife’s Aunt and Uncle used to have a place there, on the bay.  It’s always been considered one of the more upscale South Jersey shore towns.

We just concluded a 3-day mini-camp at North Beach.  We looked very good.  We have a good player at every position.  But that’s it.  No spares.  If nothing goes wrong, we're going to be pretty good.  But, of course, this is football, and something always go wrong, so…

Have a great rest of your summer.


american flagFRIDAY,  JULY 31,  2015-   “If your football coach doesn’t win, it doesn’t matter how good a businessman you are.”   Bump Elliott, former Iowa AD, on the first priority of a major college AD

*********** We’re right in the middle of our annual three-day mid-summer mini-camp at North Beach, designed to (1) bridge the gap between spring ball and the official, state-sanctioned start of football on August 19; (2) set things up for our senior-led conditioning which takes place next week; (3) get them somewhat physically prepared for our rigorous circuit training, which takes place the following week-and-a-half.

A lot of this nonsense would be preventable if we didn’t have an 18-day “dead period” between August 1 and the start of football, during which we can’t do anything but condition our players.

We do our best to condition our kids, but the weather here doesn’t always cooperate. It was supposed to be “hot” on Wednesday  and Thursday - meaning, at Ocean Shores, 70 degrees - but it never got over 68.  Eat your hearts out, you guys in the Southwest, South, Midwest and Mid-Atlantic.  Actually, my hat’s off to you.  I don’t know how you manage to do the things you do in that heat and humidity.

*********** Mike Pyle died last week.  Very sad.

In terms of what they accomplished in the NFL, he is among the greats of Yale football, along with Calvin Hill, John Spagnola, Dick Jauron and Gary Fencik, among others.

I didn’t know Hill, Spagnola, Jauron or Fencik, but
I knew Mike Pyle.

He was in the class behind me, a very talented class that would go undefeated in their senior year, 1960.  Mike and his older brother, Palmer, starred at Chicago-area powerhouse New Trier High. Palmer was a standout lineman at Michigan State who would go on to a pro career, and Mike was recruited by most major colleges.

I never did find out why he came to Yale, but he was a pro prospect from the time he arrived.  He had a great career at Yale and captained the 1960 team,  and it was a great source of pride to Yalies everywhere when he not only earned a spot on the hometown Chicago Bears’ roster, but quickly became the starting center, and then a team captain.  (These were the Butkus-Ditka Bears, as tough as they come.)

I last saw him in 2000 at a team reunion (they were kind enough to invite guys who had played with them when they were underclassmen) and he looked great and seemed to be in perfect health.

And then, somewhere in the years since, dementia set in.  A teammate who saw him in 2010 said he wasn’t doing well then.

His family, I gather, contends that his dementia was football caused.  I am no doctor, but I would think that if football-related trauma is ever conclusively determined to be  connected to  later-in-life dementia, a career as an NFL center would give the family a strong argument.

***********  Morning Hugh,

I wanted to touch base with you while this is fresh in my mind. We had our first scrimmage yesterday, and if you remember I emailed you about Tommy playing QB and my concerns. You had some very helpful feedback.

Although we handled the other team quite efficiently, it was a night that was typical for most scrimmages, lots of mistakes and easily correctable things.

Tommy had a good game, going 2/3 passing and running for two touchdowns. However, there were two moments I was very pleased with.

On his first pass (play action to the FB) he threw it behind the FB. He ran back to the huddle and before I could say anything he said: "I didn't set my feet." He would latter complete that pass twice.

Second, and this is where I knew I made the right decision making him our QB, on a lead play he fumbled the snap, but didn't panic and picked it up quickly and still made the hand off.

He showed the ability to self correct and not panic when under pressure.

You have given a lot of good advice, however the one about not making the kid with the strongest arm the QB, but rather the one who wants to lead, should be tattooed on every head coach's forearm. Not only for the betterment of the team, but for the HC's sanity.

I will try and forward you the video of the recovered fumbled snap.

Hope all is well.

Football is fun.

Tom Walls
Sunrise Coyotes
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada


I’m so glad to hear that it’s working out.

I’m sure that if it had been my call, Tommy would have been my quarterback, too, so it is important that you didn’t let the fact that he is your son prevent you from making him yours.

I know that you are experienced enough to coach him the same as if he were someone else’s son, and I know that Tommy is athletic enough and bright enough that there couldn’t be any sensible objections to his selection.

The main thing is that Tommy is having a good experience.  I’m sure he is.

Thanks for the note and tell him I said “Good Luck!”

*********** DEVELOPING OUR QB--- I talked earlier about the grip.  Before going any further, It's absolutely essential to stop right here and stress the importance of not giving a kid a ball that's too big for his hands.  (Ever seen the way little kids try to shoot a big basketball, pushing it from a shoulder with with both hands?  Some of them will develop bad habits so deeply ingrained that they never will learn to shoot properly.  The little guy who's resting a big football ball on the palm of his hand and then pushing it finds it works is in the same situation.)

I'm constantly surprised, although I no longer should be, at the number of kids - decent athletes - who've never played baseball. I constantly see the effect that the growth of soccer is having on our kids, taking them down a road that affords little or no opportunity to develop skills transferrable to other sports.

Assuming that a kid hasn't thrown a football before, and you've given him the basics of a decent grip,  you need to give him a few drills to help him get used to that grip.   One such drill is the "air dribble": just have him hold the ball in front of him, nose down, and let the the ball go and quickly catch it.   Repeat, over and over.   It's definitely not  bad idea to give him some exercises to strength his grip and his wrists.  There are plenty of ways to do this.  Wrist curls aren't a bad idea.  Grips aren't bad, either.  I've found with our QB that picking up bags of sand by their tops is a great exercise because he has to grip tightly to keep them from dropping.

Right at the start, you need to get across the concept that throwing involves the wrist - that he needs to learn to be a little "wristy." (This is made tougher if they've never thrown a baseball, or if as little kids they've been having some success "push-passing" a football too big for their hands.

The wrist is involved in the correct release of the ball, which is more like a baseball pitcher throwing a screwball - most definitely not a curve ball.  One way to get this across is to have a kid try throwing a volleyball (or - gasp! - a soccer ball) for accuracy.  To do so, he'll have to throw the ball so that at release, the thumb on his throwing hand will be pointed downward, the little finger upward, the wrist  turned outward. (That's the screwball release, as opposed to the thumb-up, wrist-in release of a curve ball).

Now for the spiral.  Cosmetics aside - bystanders like to judge a passer by the tightness of his spiral, and they take great delight in quacking like  duck when a kid throws a wobbler - it is important aerodynamically for a thrown ball to spiral.  To teach a kid how to throw a consistent spiral, I haven't found any better drill than having him lie on his back and throw the ball straight up, concentrating on the screwball release, thumb pointed toward his feet as he lets go of the ball.  If the ball goes straight up and comes right back down to him, his release is good, and the ball is probably spiraling.  If he's having trouble, first check to make sure that he hasn't unconsciously changed his grip.  If the grip is okay, he's probably gripping the ball too tightly.  If the spiral just isn't coming, I'll tell him to get the sense that he's starting the spin with his middle finger.  (Slowed-down video will show that the forefinger actually is the last finger to touch the ball - but this tip does seem to help get the spin started.)

For sure, though, the ball should slip off the fingertips.   (if it helps, I once heard a college QB coach relate the release to "flicking a booger.")

This is a drill I expect a kid to do at home, on his own.  I can definitely tell when I next see him whether he's done what I asked.

When he can do this successfully 100 times in a row, he's ready to stand up and throw a spiral with confidence.

The feet are all-important in passing a football, but at first, while the player is getting accustomed to the rather complicated process of throwing a football, I try to isolate the things he needs to concentrate on, so I keep the lower body out of it.

To teach the basic mechanics of throwing I've used all sorts of "cross-training" devices.  In Alex's case, I've had him throw softballs (weighted and regular) and tennis balls, rolled-up newspapers (got that from Jim Harbaugh) and rubber mallets. Even darts at a dart board.  A lot of kids seem to have difficulty cocking the throwing wrist, and the newspapers and the rubber mallets seem to help as much as anything in teaching that.

Before going to mallets, I first tried hatchets, on the theory that throwing a tomahawk is very much like what I'm trying to teach.   Old-timers may remember Ed Ames, who played an American Indian character on a TV show, giving a hilarious demonstration of errant tomahawk-throwing on the Johnny Carson Show. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0L5QC9ZJkM8

Great idea, the tomahawk throw, except that there's a not a lot of good targets to throw at, and there's only so many places where you can safely have hatchets flying around.   In addition, with the Quinault Reservation just 20-some miles to the north of us, and several native kids on our team, I wouldn't want anyone for one minute thinking that I'm being disrespectful in any way.)

Full disclosure - a great way to help a youngster work on his throwing is the Passback football.  I sell Passbacks.  And I use them.    I don't really care whether you buy one from me - you can buy them other places, too.  The main thing is, they're very helpful, and they give kids something they can do on their own.

*********** The CFL very helpfully runs a video short on all its telecasts to the USA, explaining the major differences between the Canadian game and the NFL game. You know, the usual: the much larger Canadian field, only three downs to make 10 yards, multiple men allowed to be in forward motion at the snap, and one point for the kicking team if the return team can’t bring a kick out of the end zone.

But for some strange-ass reason, they completely fail to mention the rather significant fact that a Canadian football team has 12 men.

*********** The Double Wing as a Surprise Offense




GAP-  (Since our gaps are nearly nonexistent, a man in his gap will actually cover quite a bit of the tight end.) Basic Gap technique: if he should have to block a man in his gap by himself, he takes a side step into the gap with his inside foot, to prevent penetration, then drive-blocks the man to the inside, forming the inside wall of the hole. (In reality, he seldom has to block that man by himself, unless the tackle to his inside is unavailable to double-team because he also has a man in his gape.)

A man head-up on the Tight End who slants inside becomes a GAP man at the snap, just as if he’d lined up there, and the Tight End blocks him accordingly.

DOUBLE – If there is no one in his gap but there is a man on the tackle, he will double-team that man with the tackle. (Actually, because of our tiny gaps, a man on the Tight End’s inside shoulder is also on the tackle’s outside shoulder, which means, unless the tackle also has a man in HIS inside gap, a double-team with the tackle.) The tight end’s helmet is on the outside of the defender's helmet, the tackle's helmet is on the inside, and they work to get (and stay) hip-to-hip as they drive the defender straight back (not down the line) into the path of scraping linebackers. We work on combo techniques, but in reality we seldom come off the double-team, and that’s fine with me.

BACKER – With no one either in his gap or head-up on the tackle, the Tight End will block any backer from his inside shoulder down to a Mike, and if everybody’s taken, he works upfield.

On those occasions where a “6” technique tries to jam our tight end and keep him from blocking down, we will double that man.  The tight end makes a call signalling the wingback and the tackle. This is not common, because it usually means that the corner becomes the force man, and if we have the right man at fullback, we consider that a mismatch in our favor.


His rule is (G-O-A-L) Gap, On, Angle Late

GAP – Basic Gap technique. (IF HE’S GOING TO BE BLOCKING A MAN IN HIS INSIDE GAP, he communicates this to the Tight End, so that if the Tight End happens to have a man in his inside gap, too, he’ll know that they won’t be double-teaming that man.

ON -  Unless the Tight End has signaled that he and the wingback will be double-teaming a “6” technique, a man touching on the tackle always means a double-team with the Tight End.   The tackle’s helmet is on the inside of the defender's helmet, and  the tight end’s helmet is on the outside, and they work to get (and stay) hip-to-hip as they drive the defender straight back, into the path of scraping linebackers.

(If the tight end is not going to be double-teaming with him, the tackle drive blocks the man on him, with his helmet on the outside of the defender’s helmet.) 

ANGLE LATE – When he’s uncovered, he can’t fire out immediately because that will leave a gap in our playside.  He delays slightly by taking a short jab step with his outside foot, looking first to the outside; then, if there’s nothing coming from the outside or from head-up, he comes off on a 45 degree angle track to his inside. Depending on the defense and its movement, he could wind up double-teaming with the guard, or picking up a blitzer, or continuing up to a backside backer.

PLAYSIDE GUARD – GOAL- Gap- On- Angle Late

GAP – Basic gap technique.

ON – Drive block a man on, helmet outside the defender’s helmet. If he’s on the outside eye, that means he’s actually  in the tackle’s gap, and because of the tackle’s “GAP” rule, it means a double-team with the tackle. 

ANGLE LATE – (If uncovered) He delays slightly to make sure the area is safe, then come off to the inside at a 45 degree angle, blocking anything on his track. Depending on the defense and its movement, it could be a blitzer, it could result in a double-team on the nose, or it could take him to a backside LBer

CENTER (We like our center to have good size because we don't want him being driven back, which can interfere with our pulling linemen.  He doesn't have to be particularly athletic, because we don't expect him to pull and we seldom ask him to block a linebacker.)

ON – He blocks a man head-up- he protects the playside by stepping to playside and keeping his helmet outside the defender’s helmet.

GAP – If there’s a man in the backside A gap, he blocks him aggressively. 

AREA AWAY - If there’s not a man ON him or in the backside A Gap, we tell him not to go to them – to let them come to him. To “Hold the fort.”  We don’t want him to be overly aggressive and leave his area to go after a “2” or a “3” technique. He snaps the ball, and without giving ground, turns slightly to face the backside. He waits and blocks the first thing to come. (It might be a backer.)

They don’t “pull” in the usual sense. They “slide & glide playside.” At the first sign of an opening, they head straight upfield and lead the runner through the hole, looking for pursuit coming from the backside (their inside).

Teaching our backside circle isn’t really much different from teaching linebackers to fill. To keep the shoulders square, we have to keep the hips square, and to keep the hips square, we have to keep the toes pointed upfield.  We stress that “slide and glide,” moving sideways without crossing the feet.  In our “circle drill,” we stress keeping the eyes upfield.

This is an absolute must: they have to "stay on the rail," to "stay in the inside lane.”  They scrape the paint off the playside linemen. They have to slide, because if they turn their toes they’ll turn their shoulders, and if they turn their shoulders, they won’t get stay in their lane, and they’ll drift too wide and out into the runner's path. (And they’ll also fail to pick up scraping LBers coming from the backside)

Incidentally, when watching another Double Wing team play, the way their backside linemen run their circle is a dead giveaway to how well they understand the concept of the play.

This isn’t that easy to teach, and it has to be reinforced constantly, because the player's natural tendency is to turn too much toward playside, and once at the hole, to head to the outside.

BACKSIDE END-  Cutoff/Turnback

Staying square, the Tight End slides toward the center – one giant slide step is often enough -  and cuts off the first thing coming to the backside of the center’s block; if there’s nothing coming, he turns back and blocks the nearest chaser.  Sometimes it's enough for him just to shove a defender deep and off course with his outside hand.

This is not as tough as it sounds.  With our “splits,” he's no more than two yards from the center, and unless there’s a nose man, he’s closer still to the man the center blocks. Given how deep we line up, he should have no trouble cutting off a "3" technique or a blitzing “50” linebacker.

(In the past we have had him "shoeshine,” cutting off a “3” at the ankles, and sometimes we still do.  But we've grown wary about being called for a chop block - of coming in low on a defender who's already being engaged by our center - so instead we're increasingly likely to use this “Cutoff/Turnback” technique.)

"O" CALL – Sometimes, such as when we don’t have a Tight End on the backside, it’s not sound to pull our tackle, so we “O” block it, meaning only the backside guard runs the circle, and the tackle employs the Cut off/turnback technique

“DOWN” CALL – On occasions when opponents will line up in a Gap-8 we may make a “DOWN” call and block down across the front.

Finally, to round out our surprise package, we want to be able to hit people with a counter.


***********  Coach Wyatt,

Having my first coaches meeting tonight with 4 high school assistants and 2 junior high coaches. Feel prepared but always thinking of what maybe I am missing. Plan is to have my base plays be:

88 Super Power & 99 Super Power
47-C & 56-C
3 trap 2
2 Wedge

I have reached out to —— who was our head coach for over 30 years who ran the Wing-T offense for a number of years with tremendous success. He first loved your system because of your dedication of teaching the first step and attention to detail. I hope with embracing the past will help build the trust with community members who still have doubts of me and this system. Any advice for what to include in my first coaches meeting and also my parent meeting next week?

Stress the selling points of the Double Wing-

Use the below powerpoint or make up your own

The main thing is to

(1) sell the offense


(2) sell the idea of starting out very basic and stressing execution

Attached are guidelines for assistants and for  parents.  Actually “guidelines” isn’t strong enough.  Where assistants are concerned, they are absolutes.  Non-negotiable.

I would never hire a guy until I’d first gone over them, but it’s still not too late to go over them.  I think you will find the parents’ guide to be very useful.

Good luck!

*********** Is anybody else as impressed as I am by the positive attitude of all those little kids in the Shriners’ Hospital commercials?

*********** Good morning from Lakenheath AFB, UK!

We have been "over here" visiting our oldest son, Sean, daughter-in-law Ashlen, and our 2 grand-daughters as Sean serves in the Air Force. Very interesting place. Scotland is beautiful! And it is very strange to regularly drive by Churches and other buildings older than our country!

Of course I have been keeping up with your News. As I read your sections about your young QB, my mind keeps flashing back to 2007-2009, and all the time and effort you put into helping Caleb be a better QB. I don't think I can ever thank you enough for the impact you had on my sons' life. Not just in making him a better football player, but in making him a better man. Thank you just doesn't seem to be enough, but I do thank you.

As Caleb got involved with coaching the freshman team at an Idaho HS last year, he would text me messages about how he used this drill or that technique that he "stole" from you. So your teaching and coaching style is being passed on to another generation!

As they say in Scotland, Cheers and have a brilliant day!

DJ Millay
Vancouver, Washington

*********** In need of a good laugh? Check out the University of New Hampshire's  “Bias-Free Language Guide.”

What would the fools who write this crap do if they had to make an honest living?


american flagTUESDAY,  JULY 28,  2015-   “A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.”   Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

***********  Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, who was all set to start - and star - at quarterback for Ohio State last year before suffering a season-ending injury, has chosen to take one for the team.  Miller, who probably could start at quarterback for 96.375 per cent of the teams in the country (don’t ask me where I got that figure), has helped Urban Meyer resolve his quarterback quandary, not by transferring, as most present-day players would do, but by electing to move to wide receiver.

No, Ohio State is not authorized to present the Black Lion Award, but if it were,  Braxton Miller would be off to an early lead  in the Major College category.

(Since there’s a “watch list” for every other award under the sun, I guess the Black Lion Award can have one, too.)

*********** With more and more NFL teams abandoning the traditional practice of going away someplace to training camp, often holding it right at their in-season practice facilities, the Pittsburgh Steelers are a notable holdout.

This will be their 50th season of holding training camp at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

Not only does this give fans unusual access to their beloved “Stillers” in a beautiful, small-college setting, but the annual influx of fans is welcomed by the town’s hotels, restaurants and, yes, taverns.

In addition, the Steelers hold an annual evening practice in the high school stadium for the benefit of local youth organizations.


*********** It’s hard enough to find a CFL game on TV as it is, what with the Pan Am Games and the Special Olympics  on ESPN, but then when you do find one (on ESPN 3) it seems you can’t avoid a blowout.



PLAY 2. SUPER POWER (Despite what USA Football would like you to believe, this terminology as it relates to a Double Wing off-tackle play is mine, just as “The Toss” is someone else’s)


With a guard pulling, our QB’s going to have to get the ball out of their path immediately, before they can knock it loose.  We don’t want him up close to the center. To get him to back off a bit, we stress “elbows locked.” 

We teach an exchange which works best for our ball-handling purposes. It’s not the conventional strong-hand-on-top, weak-hand-on-bottom exchange used by NFL teams. We want our QB to take the ball with hands along the side seams of the ball, thumbs together on the top. If you’re already teaching something different,  by all means stay with what works for you.

After taking the ball,   we ask our QB to “pull and push” – to pull the ball to his privates, then push it, underhanded, to the runner. He will “turn and toss, toss and turn,” then fake a keep to the outside.

In our early days of running this play, we had our QB toss, turn, and lead through the hole to block the playside corner.  Many people still teach it that way.   I don’t.

After putting time  into developing a quarterback, I just couldn’t see throwing him into that meat grinder at the point of attack.   Instead, since 2008, I've had my QB toss and roll out to playside, starting out on a path shaped something like a hockey stick.  It’s the same path he takes on most of our double wing plays, so it really simplifies our teaching. In addition, it sets up a rollout or a QB keep. 

On the other hand, if you’re not using your regular QB, and the guy you’ve chosen is a tough kid, and this isn’t going to be anything more than a surprise package for you anyhow, having your QB toss and lead through is worth considering. When we do want our QB to do this, we use the tag “LEAD.”  I should caution you that the timing and the tightness of the pivot required for him to toss and lead through will require a little extra work.
“Punch and Pull”

As the ball’s being snapped, the QB takes a short “punch step” with his playside foot, lifting it only enough to turn it to facilitate his pivot to the playside. (Otherwise, that pivot foot is likely to get stuck in the ground or turf, keeping him from making the necessary turn.)

He immediately pulls the ball to his privates – not to his chest! - elbows at his side, nose of the ball pointed down (both to conceal the ball, and to keep it from being knocked loose by the pulling backside guard). This is why we have him take the ball the way we do.

You may have a few problems at first with a pro- or I-formation QB who’s used to pulling the ball up to his chest with his elbows folded, as if to pray, but with the Double Wing, unless he learns to keep the ball low right from the start – to take it right to the privates -  he’s likely to have difficulty making the toss.

Continuing with the turning momentum that started with the punch step, he swings the backside foot around toward 5 o'clock (if it’s playside right) or 7 o'clock (if playside left).

"Toss as you turn... Turn as you toss"

At just about the same time that his swinging backside foot hits the ground, he lobs the ball - gently, with his palms up - to the runner. (This is not a basketball-style chest pass.  If that's the way the QB’s doing it, it’s probably because he brought the ball up too high in the first place.)  The running back is only a couple of yards away from him, so it has to be a soft toss ("toss a baby"), and a low toss.  To make sure it’s low, the QB’s hands should never come above his waist on the follow-through.

Once the ball is gone, it's gone.  The QB doesn’t look to admire his work.

He brings his hands back together, covering his privates, elbows back against the side, concealing the "ball." He fixes his eyes on the playside corner and sprints outside. We want to see if the playside corner is ignoring him and ducking inside to make the tackle.

If the corner ignores him, we call a keep.  It’s totally naked, and totally between the coach and the QB.  The rest of the play goes on as designed. When the intended runner sees the QB turn without tossing to him, he “catches” an imaginary ball and runs off tackle. He  “scores without the ball.” Once you’ve run the keep a time or two - letting future opponents know that you might do it - it does begin to influence their force man and keep their corner under control.


He steps first with the near foot, directly at the QB’s feet – He does NOT get any additional depth

The greater his depth,  the greater the likelihood that he'll bounce outside the hole

The greater his depth, the greater the distance between him and his lead blockers

The greater his depth, the greater the chance that he'll get caught from behind by a chaser or tackled in the backfield by a blitz off the front-side edge

The greater his depth, the more time the defense has to meet him at the point of attack

He catches the ball and tucks it away with the outside arm and – this is a key coaching point -  he pushes on the pulling tackle's back with his inside hand.  (If your runner isn’t able to do this, it's a sure sign that he's too deep).

Now, he pushes that tackle through the hole and gets us “5 tough yards” as he looks for daylight.


The wingback’s base assignment is to block the First Backer to the Inside (FBI), but depending on the defense, we may assign him to block someone else such as the corner or a walked-up safety.

He does have one Basic Rule: unless specifically told otherwise, he must never touch a defender on the line of scrimmage. This sometimes requires him to go "over the top" of a defensive end in order to get to the FBI.

Possible exceptions to the Basic Rule:

When the end man on the line is playing a tight "9" technique on our tight end and squeezing down hard when the tight end blocks down, we may assign the wingback to block down on that 9 tech, "pinning" him against the tight end. Technically, this moves the point of attack a hole wider, but it doesn’t require any adjustment on anyone else’s part.

Sometimes, when a defender, either a lineman or linebacker, plays head-up on our Tight End and tries to prevent him from blocking down, the Tight End may signal to the wingback for a Double-Team on that man.   We rarely see this, because that normally means that the corner has to do double-duty as the force man and a deep outside defender.


He aims to scrape off the playside tackle's tail and block inside out ("helmet in the hole") on the first defender to appear past the tackle.

At the snap (or before), he fixes his eyes on the tail of the playside tackle – that’s his aiming point

He steps first with the near foot, right at that aiming point, and stays on that path – he doesn’t fix on a particular defender
We stress proper leverage – “helmet in the hole.”  At contact, the point is not to try to knock out the defender with one punch. We’ve seen too many cases of a defender bouncing off the “killer block” and making the play. We do want to make solid contact, but keeping inside-out leverage and staying "welded" to our block by continuing to drive the feet (we believe in the “12 step cure”) is far more important.  12 steps is enough to last the entire play, and that’s what we stress on all our blocks.  

*********** “The question is not whether Iran can be trusted to uphold the nuclear deal now being negotiated in Vienna (it can’t), but whether the Obama administration and its P5+1 partners can be trusted to punish Iran when it violates the agreement.”     The Weekly Standard


*********** Jackie Mason on the Iran deal…

"Do you know that in the restaurants of New York, they have an inspection system. You can surprise any restaurant without notice that you can walk in and inspect them… So we are protected in this city from a bad tuna fish.  We’re not protected from a bomb but we’re protected from a bad quality of a tuna fish.”

*********** There are a handful of TV shows I like to watch, including Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Swamp Men, Axe Men, Mountain Men, American Pickers and Pawn Stars.  There are a few more.

But for all around fun, you can’t beat one of the Househunters-type shows on HGTV.

Whether they’re showing island property in the Caribbean, apartments somewhere in Europe, log cabins in  Western North Carolina or million-dollar homes in Malibu, you can always count on the realtor being hard of hearing.

The format is always the same:  a couple is in the market for a home.  The couple sits down with a real estate agent who listens carefully as they list what  they have to have - location, amount of acreage, number of bedrooms, size of garage, etc. - as well as the budget they have to work with.

The realtor listens intently, nodding occasionally, but my suspicions are always aroused when someone doesn’t bother to take notes - and these realtors seldom do. 

And then they’re off, to look at three different properties, one of which the couple almost always selects.

(These people are not as hard to please as my wife and me, obviously.   We must have looked at close to 100 places before buying the one we did.  But it paid to be particular - we’ve lived in the house for over 25 years.)

Anyhow, here’s where it gets amusing.  The house-seekers’ time is valuable, and so, I presume, is the realtors’, and yet after starting out with a list of  properties that’s been whittled down to the three most suitable, they wind up looking at at least one property, often two, sometimes three - that completely miss the boat in one or more categories.

As they tour one of the  houses,  I want to scream, “DIDN’T YOU HEAR THEM SAY THEY NEEDED THREE BEDROOMS?” But like sheep,  the prospective homebuyers scarcely make a peep, and continue on their tour.  If they do raise a mild objection, the realtor simply follows the slimy politician’s tactic of squirming out of it by pointing to that bright shiny object over there.

“We really need three bedrooms.”

“Let me show you the downstairs.”

“What about the three-car garage for my car collection?”

“Wait till you see the master bedroom.”

It really gets good when they’re shown a place that does check all the boxes, and then the realtor says, “It’s a little over your budget…”


Well.  Dumb me. When it finally comes time to choose the one they’ve decided to buy, I’ll be damned if at least half the time they don’t decide to buy one that’s over their budget.  I guess during the commercial break they went out and held up a liquor store, but one way or another, they found money that they didn’t have when they set out to look for a house. Somehow they can afford something that they couldn't afford.

(Remind you of any country you live in?)

The whole deal gets me thinking about college recruiting.

“I said I wanted I wanted to be an engineer and you don’t have an engineering major.”

“Wait till you see our locker room.”

********** Last week, I mentioned the importance of finding the kid with the right mentality to be your quarterback... But what if he can't throw a football?  I'm here to tell you that, given a certain amount of athletic ability, he can be taught.  (On the other hand, if you go with a good thrower who's a knucklehead, you can't teach him not to be a knucklehead.)

Over the last two summers, in working with Alex McAra, our quarterback, I've made great use of a passing net called the "SKLZ QUICKSTER QB TRAINER." 


I really like it because it's simply not a productive use of a coach's time to be catching the ball when he needs to be observing.  You can't always have someone on hand to catch the balls (nor do I always want someone else around when I'm coaching a QB).  With this QB Trainer, all I have to do is watch the QB throw, and occasionally film him.

It's portable and easily assembled and disassembled, so that when Alex goes home for the weekend, he takes it with him, along with a couple of footballs.  He's able to set it up in his backyard and work on drills on his own.  In inclement weather, we can set it up indoors.

(I don't accept advertising, and  I was not paid, or given anything, for making those statements.)

I have to stress that the things I do are by no means all my inventions, although over the years I have found a few relatively unique things that help me teach.  The main thing to know  is that there are a lot of very good people out there who do a great job of teaching quarterbacks, and they go about their teaching in a vast range of ways.  There is no one way to teach a passer, and just because I do something different from someone else doesn't make that person wrong.

In the early going, it was just the two of us. That's important, because you need to pace yourself and not rush into things.  You have to keep kibitzers away, and until the player has developed some self-confidence, there's no point in having receivers around.

Because of Alex's availability, for the last two summers we've worked out for two hours on Tuesday afternoon, two hours on Wednesday morning, and two hours on Wednesday afternoon, with time between the two Wednesday sessions to go over some video.

By the third week of our sessions, the first hour of each session was devoted to individual work, and during the second hour  we began throwing  some very simple routes to receivers. In other words, Alex had spent seven hours working only with me and the training net before he ever threw to a live human being. I didn't want to do anything to damage his confidence.   In week four, we expanded the routes (and the QB's setups), added a few two-man combination patterns,  and even,  in the Wednesday afternoon session, a little man-to-man coverage for him to look at.

We had some invitations to some 7-on-7 sessions, but I didn't see anything to gain by throwing a young quarterback into a situation he wasn't ready for.  Alex is a pretty tough kid, and he showed me that he didn't let things get him down, but to me, 7-on-7 is a test, not a lesson, and we weren't ready for the test yet.


Finding the GripWith a virgin QB, everything starts with the grip.  I've found that a good way for a player new to throwing a football to discover his grip initially is to "tee it up" in a plastic cup, nose of the ball pointed to the sky, and  have him reach down and pick it up as if he were going to have to throw it.   There's no one definite grip, but there are certain fundamentals that you have to adhere to.  One is that the palm does not touch the ball. (It's common, when younger kids have to throw a ball that's too large for them,  to rest it on their palm, which results in their "pushing" the ball).   The ball should be held primarily by the pads of the fingers and thumb.  The fingers  should be spread apart equally.   (Hard to say about the laces - the size of a player's hand may determine where and how he positions his fingers on them.)  Another fundamental is the "clamp" - the ability to hold the ball between the thumb and a single finger opposite the thumb.  There are differences of opinion as to whether that opposite finger should be the middle finger or the ring finger, but  the distance from the nose of the ball to the thumb pad should be about the same as from the nose of the ball to the tip of that opposite finger.

In the photo, the passer should be able to "clamp" the ball with his thumb and just his middle finger or  ring finger.

(For sure, if you've got a kid whose thumb is really close to the nose, there's a very good chance that the ball's resting on his palm.)

The QB has to deal with two conflicting needs - the need to grip the ball lightly, while at the same time the need to secure the ball - so the player with a large hand has a distinct advantage,

Because so many passers now throw after receiving a direct snap, it's important for the quarterback to learn to find his grip while he's going about his business, doing the other things he needs to do on a play.  There are those passers who can simply grab a ball and throw it, regardless of where the laces are, but for most passers it's preferable that he grip the ball in the same spot every time, and  he simply can't hold up the entire operation while he finds his grip.


***********  Coach Wyatt,

Having my first coaches meeting tonight with 4 high school assistants and 2 junior high coaches. Feel prepared but always thinking of what maybe I am missing. Plan is to have my base plays be:

88 Super Power & 99 Super Power
47-C & 56-C
3 trap 2
2 Wedge

I have reached out to —— who was our head coach for over 30 years who ran the Wing-T offense for a number of years with tremendous success. He first loved your system because of your dedication of teaching the first step and attention to detail. I hope with embracing the past will help build the trust with community members who still have doubts of me and this system. Any advice for what to include in my first coaches meeting and also my parent meeting next week?

Stress the selling points of the Double Wing-

Use my powerpoint or make up your own

The main thing is to

(1) sell the offense


(2) sell the idea of starting out very basic and stressing execution

Attached are guidelines for assistants and for  parents.  Actually “guidelines” isn’t strong enough.  Where assistants are concerned, they are absolutes.  Non-negotiable.

I would never hire a guy until I’d first gone over them, but it’s still not too late to go over them.  I think you will find the parents’ guide to be very useful.

Good luck!
*********** Hillsdale College, in South-Central Michigan, is dear to my heart, for a number of reasons.
Hillsdale is the alma mater of my friend Mike Lude, and it’s where he played football for the legendary Dave Nelson.  Nelson moved on to assist at Harvard for a year, but when he took the head coaching job at Maine, he brought Mike with him.  There, the Wing-T was invented.  Only after Dave and Mike moved on to Delaware did it become known as the Delaware Wing-T.  (Actually, they originally named it the “Winged-T.”)      
Hillsdale, a conservative liberal arts institution, believes strongly in the importance of our Constitution - as it was written.      
And, to its great credit, Hillsdale doesn’t take a nickel of federal money. Technically, if the feds were to try to strong-arm it into complying with this stupid edict or that, it could tell them to pound sand.      
Not that Hillsdale would.  It is much classier than that.      
Hillsdale maintains a solid football program which manages to win while at the same time adhering to the school’s values.     
I have often mentioned the importance I attach to having a personal mission statement.      
Recently, Head Coach Keith Otterbein shared his reasons for coaching - his Mission Statement, if you will - with the Hillsdale Gridiron Club:     
My Purpose as a Coach     

I coach to help my players become better men by teaching and demonstrating the positive characteristics of dedication, discipline, sacrifice, and integrity in all phases of their lives. By sharing my faith and modeling a single-mindedness in pursuit of our goals, I will display empathy, honesty, and integrity and lead our players to be responsible for their own actions. The high standards set and life lessons learned in our program will allow players to experience success both on the field and in the classroom during their college experience and help them become better husbands, fathers, employees, members of a community, and church members who will positively change the world.      
Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord, and not for men.
        -Colossians 3:23

*********** Step aside, Donald Trump.  Next to this guy, you sound mealy-mouthed.

They call him the Cajun John Wayne. He's Lieutenant Clay Higgins of the St. Landry Parish (in Louisiana, that's a county) Sheriff's Department, and he does a version of Crimestoppers that makes me wish I lived closer so I could hear him every day.

Listen to how he addressed a guy who stole something from a local supermarket/restaurant...

"If you're the man that committed this felony, look at me son, I'm talking to you. The sheriff likes Stelly's restaurant, and so do I. The food here is good, and the folks are friendly. We're going to identify you, arrest you and put you in a small cell. After that, I'm gonna have a cheeseburger here with fries and a Coke and leave a nice tip for the waitress. Meanwhile, your next meal will be served through a small hole in a cell door."

You have got to see and hear this guy!


american flagFRIDAY,  JULY 24,  2015-   “I am a soldier.  I fight where I am told and I win when I fight.”    General George S. Patton


*********** In terms of equipment, baseball has seen tremendous changes on the defensive side.  Take a look at the gloves the old-timers used, and then look at today’s jai alai baskets, that have made the two-handed catch all but obsolete.

But in terms of offensive equipment, there's really just one major piece of equipment - the bat - and organized baseball has done everything it can to resist change in that area.  No aluminum bats.  No, sirree.  No cork, no pine tar.

So what are they going to say about the Axe Bat?


*********** Arizona State (home of the the Sun Devils) has sent Clay High School in Green Cove Springs, Florida (home of the Blue Devils) a cease and desist letter over the high school’s use of a trident/pitchfork logo that, except for a difference in colors, is the same as ASU’s.

In a sort of response, Clay High School put a sardonic post on its Facebook page:

Arizona State University's General Counsel has sent an official certified letter to little ole CLAY High School telling us to no longer use their pitchfork designs as our logo. Apparently it is really important to them that the Blue Devils do not use it. (FUN FACT- ASU athletic department has made $75 million in total revenue from 2013-2014 and $65 million in the 2012-2013). We did ask the Arizona State's trademark department if we could pay to license it, but we were shot down. We want to make sure we don't put the Sun Devils out of business (because a high school with only a student body of 1200 and that is thousands of miles away can do a lot of damage to a PAC 12 college), so we will be taking any ideas, sketches, and thoughts up for a new logo for CLAY High School. Send yours to whhill@oneclay.net.

I sort of understand ASU’s point. 

But in my case, if USA Football had just asked me first  if they could use my terminology, my play names, and my unique numbering system  in “their” Double Wing playbook, instead of simply going ahead and doing it, I’d have gladly said, “Why, of course. And while you’re at it,  by all means feel free to go ahead and pass it off as your original work, even if it is actually mine. Because, after all, you ARE the (self-anointed)  ‘national governing body for amateur American football in the United States,’ and I bow before you.”

(Actually, I’d have said “Screw You,”  even knowing that  would mean they’d declare me an outcast, denying me certification as a coach -  and there would go 40+ years of coaching experience down the gurgler.)

*********** I mentioned the coaching greats on Blanton Collier’s staff at Kentucky in the 1950s.

And then there’s Hayden Fry’s 1983 Iowa coaching staff:  Barry Alvarez,  Kirk Ferentz, Dan McCarney, Don Patterson, Bill Snyder and Bob Stoops all went on to become college head coaches.

But for sending the greatest number of assistants on to become head coaches themselves, I doubt  that anyone can rival Army’s Colonel Earl “Red” Blaik, who coached at West Point from 1940 through 1958. His record is even more impressive when you realize that he frequently had only three assistants and never more than four.

20 of Colonel Blaik’s Army assistants went on to become head coaches:

Paul Amen... George Blackburn... Chief Boston... Eddie Crowder... Paul Dietzel... Bobby Dobbs... Sid Gillman... Jack Green... Andy Gustafson... Dale Hall... Tom Harp... Herman Hickman... Stu Holcombe... Frank Lauterbur... Vince Lombardi... Johnny Sauer... Dick Voris... Murray Warmath... Bob Woodruff... Bill Yeoman

Two former assistants - Dietzel (at LSU) and Warmath (at Minnesota) - won National Titles.

Two others -  Gillman (Chargers, AFL) and Lombardi (Packers, NFL) -  won professional championships. Lombardi, as most people know, won two Super Bowls.

*********** It seems that whenever a college or apparel manufacturer releases photos of a uniform redesign, they all use the same model:

He has a 28-inch waist (I think it’s a gay-designer thing)

He wears a size 8-3/4 helmet.

He has an enormous head of hair (dreads, I guess you’d say) which hangs down his back.

He stands defiantly, as if daring you to try to share the sidewalk with him.

Just put a new set of threads on him, they'd have us believe,  and anybody - in this case, The U - gets its swagger back…


***********  “Many white people in Oregon have no idea that our schools and state are immersed in white culture and are uncomfortable and harmful to our students of color, while also reinforcing the dominant nature of white culture in our white students and families.”

So says a handout provided by an organization which for $100,000 a year puts on a week-long so-called White Privilege Conference in an Oregon School District.  It’s called the “Coaching for Educational Equity” conference and it’s mandatory for administrators (optional for teachers) in the suburban Gresham-Barlow Schools.

The idea seems to be to let teachers know that they’re racist, and that’s the reason why children “of color” misbehave and underachieve.

A conference manual suggests that such values as “promoting independence, self expression, personal choice, individual thinking and achievement” are characteristic of  “white culture.” (And not, presumably, black culture. Which begs the question: what the hell ever happened to plain old American values?)

“Dropouts?” Don’t ever use the word.  They are “pushouts.”  They were driven from school by  white privilege.

And never, never say, “Where are you from?” See,  that’s code for saying “You’re not American, are you?” (Actually, any time I think I detect a Southern accent, I’m likely to ask, “Where are you from?”  Well, never again.  Not me.  I don’t want somebody from Tennessee to think that I think he’s not an American.)

Part of the program’s advice on how to become an “Anti-Racist White Ally” is to first admit to being a racist.  It begins with the declaration, “All white people are racist. I am racist.”

Welcome to  Racists Anonymous:

“My name’s Sonny, and I’m a racist.”  “

"Hi, Sonny.”

But before you say it isn’t worth all that taxpayer money, listen to  one attendee: “The examination has brought me to where I can recognize that I am a white male racist with power and an inherent stake in the dominant culture for that is what has allowed and given me social and financial success.”

Just think - that could be you.

But I doubt it.

Guy's a suckup.  Instead of asking WTF they're doing spending all that money to make people listen to all that horesh--,  I’ll bet he checked “OUTSTANDING" on his conference evaluation sheet, and then went over and told the superintendent that it was the best conference he’d ever attended.


*********** Ever notice how often it’s Mommy’s boyfriend?

The place that a child is most likely to experience physical abuse, and particularly sexual abuse, is not in a daycare run by Satanists, or in a church youth group overseen by a pedophilic priest, or even in a classroom run by one of those hot-to-trot teachers who periodically dot the news. It is at home, when that home includes a male to whom the child is not biologically related.


Frank Buncom IV***********In the photo at left , Frank Buncom IV is shown accepting the National Football Foundation’s San Diego Chapter Scholar-Athlete Award.

Back in February, I wrote,

* 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 Frank 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.



*********** Letter from a Volunteer Coach (In this case, a hockey coach - but it could be you)

My wife hears things like this more often than I do, because many of you don’t know who she is. She tells me what you say. I have received... angry emails, full of “suggestions,” about who should be playing where and how I... lost that day’s game for the kids. I thought I’d write an open letter to all of you parents, even though I might never send it. I’ll start it this way: “I am a volunteer.”

I’m the one who answered the call when the league said they didn’t have enough coaches. I understand that you were too busy. I have some news for you. I’m not retired. I’m busy too. I have other children and a job, just like you do. Not only do I not get paid to do this – it costs me money. I see you walk up to the game 15 minutes after it started, still dressed for work. Do you know I’ve already been here over an hour? Imagine if you had to leave work early nearly every day. I’ve never seen you at a practice. I’m sure you’re plugging away at the office. But I’m out here, on the field, trying my best to teach these children how to play a sport they love, while my bank account suffers.

I know. I make mistakes. In fact, maybe I’m not even that great of a coach. But I treat the kids fairly and with respect. I am pretty sure they like coming to my practices and games, and without me or someone like me, there’d be no team for them to play on. I’m part of this community too and it’s no picnic being out here on this stage like this. It’s a lot easier back there with the other parents where no one is second-guessing you.
And I also know you think I give my son or daughter unfair advantages. I try not to. In fact, have you ever considered that maybe I’m harder on him than on the others? I’m sure he hears plenty of criticism at school from classmates, who hear it from you at home, about what a lame coach I am. And if, even unconsciously, my kids are getting a slight advantage because I know them better and trust their abilities, is that the worst thing in the world, considering the sacrifice I’m making? Trust me, I want to win too. And if your son or daughter could guarantee we’d do that, I’d give them the chance.

After this game is over, I’ll be the last one to leave. I have to break down the field, put away all the equipment and make sure everyone has had a parent arrive to pick them up. There have been evenings when my son and I waited with a player until after dark before someone came to get them. Many nights I’m sure you’ve already had dinner and are relaxing on the couch by the time I finally kick the mud off my shoes and climb into my car, which hasn’t been washed or vacuumed for weeks. Why bother cleaning it during the season? Do you know how nice it would be if, just once, after a game one of you offered to carry the heavy gear bag to my car or help straighten up the field?

If I sound angry, I’m not. I do this because I love it and I love being around the kids. There are plenty of rewards and I remind myself that while you’re at the office working, your kid is saying something that makes us all laugh or brings a tear to my eye. The positives outweigh the negatives. I just wish sometime those who don’t choose to volunteer their time would leave the coaching to the few of us who do.


*********** This is a repeat, but I can’t repeat it enough.

Unless you want to spend your coaching career working with head cases at quarterback, you need to read this…

For some time I've insisted that my quarterbacks must meet three knockout criteria:

1. Does he really want to be our quarterback?  Is he willing (and able) to take the heat?  Will he do the extra work required, in-season and out?  Will he be the first on the field and the last off the field?  Does he have the stones to be a leader, to tell teammates what to do?  Will be put himself in my hands?

2. Is he coachable?  Does he have football intelligence?  Is he a quick learner?  Can he take correction positively?  Can he make corrections?  Does he want to please me?  Or does he have "someone else" giving him "coaching tips" (if you know what I mean)?

3. Can I trust him?  Will he always be straight with me?  Can I count on him to be there?  Will he be my surrogate when I'm not there?
Can I count on him to do the right thing -  to get good grades and stay out of trouble?

They're "knockouts" because  if a guy can't measure up in any of those areas, he can't play quarterback for me.

(Notice that athletic ability and passing ability, although they do figure into the equation,  are not essential parts of the criteria.)

Of course, if there are two candidates who pass tests 1, 2 and 3, the one who is the better athlete will get the nod.  And if there are two whose athletic abilities are equal, the better passer gets the nod.

But in a small school, we rarely have the luxury of a highly competitive situation.  We have to make our decision quickly, because the "loser" of the competition is normally good enough to play someplace else, and we need him to start getting reps there.

At North Beach, we just lost a very good quarterback to graduation, and we had no one behind him.  No one.

Looking at 1, 2 and 3, we had one guy who qualified - who really wanted the job.  Alex McAra, a rising junior.

Fortunately, Alex was a good athlete.  Even now, a year later, he’s only  about 5-7, 145 -  but he's very quick, very smart, and very tough. He’s placed in state track in the 300 hurdles two years in a row now.  If you know track, you know what a tough event the 300 lows are.

He was our guy.  Only one sllght problem:  he couldn’t throw.


*********** A Florida Man…

Stellar Florida reporter Tom “Doc” Hinger sent along the story of a young man in Winter Haven who at the very least might be able to get you a tough yard or two down on the goal line.  For sure, it won’t be because he’s not willing to stick his head in there…


*********** College football is healthy, reports the National Football Foundation-

Four Programs Launching in 2015
    •    East Tennessee State University (Johnson City, Tenn.): NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision, Independent (Subsequently joining Southern Conference in 2016) – President Brian Noland, Athletics Director Richard Sander, Head Coach Carl Torbush.
    •    Finlandia University (Hancock, Mich.): NCAA Division III, Independent – President Philip Johnson, Athletics Director Chris Salani, Head Coach Tim Driscoll.
    •    Kennesaw State University (Kennesaw, Ga.): NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision, Big South Conference – President Daniel S. Papp, Athletics Director Vaughn Williams, Head Coach Brain Bohannon.
    •    Lyon College (Batesville, Ark.): NAIA, Central States Football League – President Donald Weatherman, Athletics Director Kevin Jenkins, Head Coach Kirk Kelley.

Eight Programs Launching from 2016-18
(Listed chronologically and then alphabetically.)
    •    Cincinnati Christian University (Cincinnati, Ohio): NAIA, Conference TBA (2016) – President Ken Tracy, Athletics Director Beth Rogers, Head Coach David Fulcher.
    •    Davenport University (Grand Rapids, Mich.): NAIA, Conference TBA (2016) – President Richard J. Pappas, Athletics Director Paul Lowden, Head Coach Lou Esposito.
    •    Morthland College (West Frankfort, Ill.): Division TBA, Conference TBA (JV Schedule in 2015, full varsity schedule in 2016) – President Tim Morthland, Athletics Director and Head Coach Mike Rude.
    •    University of Texas of the Permian Basin (Odessa, Texas): NCAA Division II, Lone Star Conference (2016) – President W. David Watts, Athletics Director Steve Aicinena, Head Coach Justin Carrigan.
    •    University of West Florida (Pensacola, Fla.): NCAA Division II, Gulf South Conference (2016) – President Judith Bense, Athletics Director Dave Scott, Head Coach Pete Shinnick.
    •    University of Alabama at Birmingham (Birmingham, Ala.): NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, Conference USA (2017) – President Ray L. Watts, Athletics Director Mark Ingram, Head Coach Bill Clark.
    •    University of New England (Biddeford, Maine): NCAA Division III, Conference TBA (2017) – President Danielle N. Ripich, Athletics Director Jack McDonald, Head Coach TBA.
    •    Clarke University (Dubuque, Iowa): NAIA, Heart of America Athletic Conference (2018) – President Joanne Burrows, Athletics Director Curt Long, Head Coach TBA.

Six Programs Launched in 2014
    •    Arizona Christian University (Phoenix, Ariz.): NAIA, Central States Football League
    •    College of Idaho (Caldwell, Idaho): NAIA, Frontier Conference
    •    George Fox University (Newberg, Ore.): NCAA Division III, Northwest Conference
    •    Limestone College (Gaffney, S.C.): NCAA Division II, Independent
    •    Missouri Baptist University (Saint Louis, Mo.): NAIA, Mid-States Football Association
    •    Southeastern University (Lakeland, Fla.): NAIA, The Sun Conference

12 Programs Launched in 2013
    •    Alderson Broaddus University (Philippi, W.Va.): NCAA Division II, Independent
    •    Berry College (Mount Berry, Ga.): NCAA Division III, Southern Athletic Association
    •    Florida Tech (Melbourne, Fla.): NCAA Division II, Gulf South Conference
    •    Hendrix College (Conway, Ark.): NCAA Division III, Southern Athletic Association
    •    Houston Baptist University (Houston, Texas): NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision, Southland Conference
    •    Mercer University (Macon, Ga.): NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision, Southern Conference
    •    Oklahoma Baptist University (Shawnee, Okla.): NCAA Division II, Great American Conference
    •    Reinhardt University (Waleska, Ga.): NAIA, Mid-South Conference
    •    Southwestern University (Georgetown, Texas): NCAA Division III, Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference
    •    Stetson University (DeLand, Fla.): NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision, Pioneer Football League
    •    University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Charlotte, N.C.): NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, Conference USA
    •    Warner University (Lake Wales, Fla.): NAIA, The Sun Conference

Five Programs Launched in 2012
    •    Bluefield College (Bluefield, Va.): NAIA, Mid-South Conference
    •    Lindenwood University-Belleville (Belleville,Ill.): NAIA, Mid-States Football Association
    •    Misericordia University (Dallas, Pa.): NCAA Division III, Middle Atlantic Conferences
    •    Point University (West Point, Ga.): NAIA, The Sun Conference
    •    Wayland Baptist University (Plainview, Texas):  NAIA, Central States Football League

Nine Programs Launched in 2011
    •    Ave Maria University (Ave Maria, Fla.): NAIA, The Sun Conference
    •    Concordia University Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor, Mich.): NAIA, Mid-States Football Association
    •    Ohio Mid-Western College (Sharonville, Ohio): Independent
    •    Presentation College (Aberdeen, S.D.): NAIA, North Star Athletic Association
    •    Robert Morris University (Chicago, Ill.): NAIA, Mid-States Football Association
    •    Siena Heights University (Adrian, Mich.):  NAIA, Mid-States Football Association
    •    Stevenson University (Owings Mills, Md.): NCAA Division III, Middle Atlantic Conferences
    •    University of Texas at San Antonio (San Antonio, Texas):  NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, Conference USA
    •    Virginia University of Lynchburg (Lynchburg, Va.): Independent

Six Programs Launched in 2010
    •    Georgia State University (Atlanta, Ga.): NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, Sun Belt Conference
    •    Lamar University (Beaumont, Texas): NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision, Southland Conference
    •    Lindsey Wilson College (Columbia, Ky.): NAIA, Mid-South Conference
    •    Notre Dame College (South Euclid, Ohio): NCAA Division II, Mountain East Conference
    •    Pacific University (Forest Grove, Ore.): NCAA Division III, Northwest Conference
    •    University of South Alabama (Mobile, Ala.): NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, Sun Belt Conference

Five Programs Launched in 2009
    •    Anna Maria College (Paxton, Mass.): NCAA Division III, Eastern Collegiate Football Conference
    •    Castleton State College (Castleton, Vt.): NCAA Division III, Eastern Collegiate Football Conference
    •    Old Dominion University (Norfolk, Va.): NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, Conference USA
    •    University of New Haven (West Haven, Conn.): NCAA Division II, Northeast-10 Conference
    •    University of the Incarnate Word (San Antonio, Texas): NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision, Southland Conference

Eight Programs Launched in 2008
    •    Campbell University (Buies Creek, N.C.): NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision, Pioneer Football League
    •    College of St. Scholastica (Duluth, Minn.): NCAA Division III, Upper Midwest Athletic Conference
    •    Colorado State University–Pueblo (Pueblo, Colo.): NCAA Division II, Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference
    •    Dordt College (Sioux Center, Iowa): NAIA, Great Plains Athletic Conference
    •    Grand View University (Des Moines, Iowa): NAIA, Heart of America Athletic Conference
    •    Kentucky Christian University (Grayson, Ky.): NAIA, Mid-South Conference
    •    Lake Erie College (Painesville, Ohio): NCAA Division II, Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
    •    The Lincoln University (Lincoln University, Pa.): NCAA Division II, Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association

*********** I will pass the Carnegie definition of heroism on to all of the ELA teachers at my school. Not only does it add substance to the standard "My Hero" project, but like "Penalty of the Day," by clearly explaining the rules, kids are more likely to follow it rather than winging it.

Tom Walls
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Glad you can use it.

Not enough people know about the Carnegie Medal, but that’s intentional because their concern is that some people might unnecessarily endanger themselves or others in an attempt to “win" it.

***********  A Pitt football player was charged with speeding and driving under the influence of drugs. Speeding? He was clocked at 117 on a downtown bridge.



In 2012, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors voted to allow high school student-athletes time to get acclimated to the new academic requirements for athletic eligibility. Those high school freshmen are now incoming seniors, and the requirements apply to them, the class of 2016.

The new NCAA Division I academic standards:

Instead of a 2.0 core grade-point average, athletes must have a 2.3 high school GPA.

They must have completed 10 of their 16 core courses before their senior year, and seven of those for courses must be in English, math and science.

They also must meet increased college entrance test scores. For example, states NCAA.com, with an SAT score of 1,000 an athlete must have a 2.0 high school core-course GPA in order to receive aid and practice, and a 2.5 high school core-course GPA to be able to compete

Hmmm.  I am bracing myself, waiting for the first “advocate” to argue that tougher standards are going to deny  African-American youngsters the chance to play in the NFL, as if this is the purpose of America’s colleges.

american flagTUESDAY,  JULY 21,  2015-   "Arms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property... Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them." Thomas Paine

*********** Stop me if you've heard this one: Your story about soccer vs. baseball in Cuba reminded me of something I read about the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Evidently one of the first "tells" about the presence of Soviet technicians came from recon photos of newly-constructed soccer fields near the various launch sites. 

Some G2 guy noted that "Cubans don't play soccer, they play baseball", and this triggered a further review of the situation which eventually revealed the presence of the IRBMs.

Shep  Clarke
Puyallup, Washington

*********** Bill Arnsparger died the other day.

Heck of a coach.  "Genius" is thrown around too loosely, in my opinion,  in describing football coaches, but  he sure was a  defensive expert.

I got to know him a bit when I was interning at LSU and he was the head coach there. Had dinner at his house once. My friend, Bob Brodhead, was AD at the time, and he caught a little hell when he hired Arnsparger, who had a little age on him, and whose one experience as a head coach, with the New York Giants, had not turned out well.   It was an especially tough sell to Tiger fans because Bob had just fired Jerry Stovall, a very popular former LSU player.

Arnsparger did well at LSU, but things between him and Bob began going south when he felt that Bob was spending too much money on other sports, and he went public with his opinions.

They fell out, and then, not long before the start of a season, Arnsparger  left LSU abruptly to become the AD at Florida.

Arnsparger, although a native Kentuckian, was a Miami guy.  Miami of Ohio, that is. A teammate of Bo Schembechler.  His name never comes up when people mention all the coaching greats with ties to Miami, but he belongs on the list.

He was on Blanton Collier's staff at Kentucky in the 50's.  How's this for a staff: Five of the assistants became NFL head coaches:  
Arnsparger,  Howard Schnellenberger, John North,  Chuck Knox  and Don Shula.   Collier himself went on from Kentucky to succeed Paul Brown as head coach of the Browns -  in 1964, the last time the Browns  won a title, he was the head guy.




The Wedge was the first Double Wing play we ran last season. It went all the way.

It's the play that really pisses people off - opponents especially, but some fans, too.  They think it’s ugly. They call it a scrum.  And worse.

My history with the wedge goes back to my high school days, in the 1950s.  We ran an unbalanced single wing, and we took great pride in our wedge play. We always had a tough kid at fullback, and we always knew we could get tough yardage running him behind our wedge.  That experience stuck with me, and over the years, at every place I've ever coached,  I've run the wedge. I’m very proud of the role I’ve played in popularizing it with my Double Wing video.  There have been other advocates of various types of Double Wings, but to my knowledge none of them included a wedge until they saw mine.

The wedge is a very old play, and just as the wedge itself may be the simplest tool known to man,  the wedge play itself is quite simple.  In concept, that is.   But just because it's simple to describe (I've heard TV guys say, "it's just a wedge"), and just because it doesn’t involve fancy ball handling, that doesn't mean it's simple to run it well.

Take it from a master of the play, famed Princeton coach Charlie Caldwell, who wrote in 1951:

We are one of the few Single Wing teams really stressing wedge type blocking, and we use it a great deal. We would use it as part of our offense, even if it, of itself, did not work out too well, because it teaches, as nothing else does, the important elements of sustaining blocks and carrying through on offensive charge.  It takes us four or five weeks to get a good wedge charge organized.  In the learning process, we work on the ability to sustain, follow through, and keep the legs driving, all of which are needed for effective power blocking.

The wedge may be likened in some respects to the snowplow.  The maximum amount of drive must be delivered at the apex of the wedge to effect the initial breakthrough.  Every bit of power developed at the apex is used solely to drive straight ahead. On either side of the apex, power is used in two ways: to contribute to the straight-ahead thrust of the apex, and, at the same time, to prevent infiltration from the sides.  The apex of the wedge, in order to obtain maximum power, is designed to take advantage of the opportunity to put three offensive men against one defensive man. We try to assign three men definitely on one, and with this ratio we should be able to get the wedge under way at this most crucial point.  The rest of the team folds into the apex and blocks space rather than assigned men. This is because it is impossible to tell, at the start, exactly how the wedge will develop in terms of opening up the defense.

One final note from Coach Caldwell: "Do not be discouraged if it takes a long time to get a wedge charge that is really effective. No time spent on this is wasted, as the stress on sustaining the charge is fundamental to any good offensive blocking."

The Wedge starts at its apex -  the point.  Where is that? It’s on a  defensive lineman.  We’re looking to get a triple-team either on a nose man or, in the case of an even front, the first down lineman to the playside.  If, instead of a man head-up, there’s a man in the A gap, then we settle for a double-team on him.  Everyone else, other than the QB or the ball carrier, essentially closes ranks and pushes on the wedge itself.   That’s a lot of momentum.

A key point worth repeating:  We wedge on a lineman.  We don’t wedge on a bubble. This seems counterintuitive, but if the point man of your wedge were to fire straight ahead into a bubble, with nothing to slow him down, he’d get out ahead of the blockers on either side of him before they could seal against him, almost assuring that there will be “infiltration.”  But by making contact with a defender, the point man’s charge is slowed just enough for the rest of the line to make contact with him and become part of the "plow."

Three things can defeat a wedge:

Penetration.  We’re forming a human snow plow and we can’t let any defender break through. We do everything possible to prevent a breakthrough: we’ve already taken tight splits; we have the inside foot back, and we stress stepping first with that inside foot, sealing the inside gap and getting behind the teammate to our inside;  and we attempt to put a forearm (not a hand!) in the ribs of that teammate.  The idea of blocking a teammate and not an opponent is also counterintuitive, and a lot of linemen just don’t get it at first, so right from the start,  we drill our men on the idea that unless they're at the apex of the wedge, their assignment is to "fold into the wedge" and push on it.

Getting caught by someone coming off the edge.  This does happen, but rarely.  Because our fullback is so close to the quarterback, it's nearly impossible for an edge rusher to do anything more than catch him from behind after he’s made a few yards.  If this should ever appear to be a problem, though, we'll have our wingbacks fake some kind of sweep or counter action in the backfield.

Coming to a stop or breaking apart.  The wedge is a single, moving thing, and from the very first day of practice, against air, we work on folding in, running together, and staying together - for 40 yards. In fact, the first couple of times we do this wedge drill, we start out with the players already fitted into where they’d be after their first steps. And then they start from there.  We don't want to see anyone lagging behind the wedge, but we also don't want to see anyone getting out ahead of it, either. You'd be surprised how difficult this can be at first.  If you make bets with your guys that someone's going to fall before 40 yards, they’ll take it more seriously, but even so, the first time or two, you’ll probably win.  Once opponents know you can run the wedge, many of them will try to stop it by sacrificing their interior defensive linemen, teaching them to submarine.  Tough duty. For a kid who last week was standing up and sparring with a zone-blocking team, submarining and getting ground up by a wedge is not a pleasant way to spend a game.  In anticipation of such tactics, we do stress stepping high, and we work on running over objects on the ground. (We use bags, because we just can’t seem to get volunteers to do it.)  A word to anyone teaching their kids to submarine: Don't blame us if your kid gets stepped on - you're the one who put him in harm's way.

The wedge is normally considered a short-yardage play, but for me it’s always been an anytime play.  And as with any play, it’s most effective when it’s least expected.

One final word.  Show the play to officials. When opponents know that we run this play, they constantly carp about our locking arms and about our assisting the runner, neither of which we do. 

We make it a point to make sure sure that officials see that we make contact with our shoulders and not with our hands, and we’re very careful not to let anyone even get close to looking as if he’s pushing on the runner. 

If the officials haven’t seen the wedge before, you’ll need to caution them not to blow the whistle unless they’re sure that they know where the runner is.   You’d be surprised how many times the pile just keeps moving upfield, with the runner hidden somewhere inside it.

*********** One of our daughters visited us recently after having first spent a little time in Southern California.  Although she went to college in California, it had been a while since she was last exposed to Cali-Culture, and she said she had to fight to keep from laughing out loud when she was at a restaurant and their “server” stopped by the table and asked, “Is everything amazing?”

*********** A friend whose young son is an aspiring quarterback writes…

Thanks for the advice about coaching him. The only concern I have is that he is so obsessive about football, that he gets very upset with himself when things don't go right.

He is an ideal student and player when someone else is coaching or teaching him. When it is me or my wife, he can be very difficult.

Any advice on getting him understand that mistakes are going to happen and that he needs to set a calm example. Other than what I just wrote:).

The most important thing you can teach (——) is that he is not perfect; it is good to seek perfection, but the danger in doing so is that you can waste so much time beating yourself up because you made a mistake that it will affect everything you do from that point on.

He has to get it out of his mind that he is destined to be perfect.  It’s all in his control, and if he makes a mistake, he needs to immediately figure out what went wrong and why.  Getting angry or disappointed with the result gets in the way of finding the solution.

In my teaching my QB, I stress the importance of a particular technique and what it does.  And as we progress, when something goes wrong, I tell him the likely reasons why.  And then we progress to my asking him why he thinks something went wrong.  Now, almost always, he knows.

The next step, then, is making the correction.  I stress “over-correcting”:  if the last pass was too far to the right, show me that you’re able to self-correct by making sure that the next pass is clearly to the left of the last one, even if that means it’s too far to the left.  As we get better at making the corrections, we can begin to make tiny once.

But the stress is always “why do you think that happened?”

This approach puts it in his hands to get better.  There’s no sense getting angry.  There’s no special Quarterback God who’s going to magically make him better.  It’s all in his control.

The absolute best thing about my QB - and he has a lot of good qualities -  is that he simply does not get down. Mistakes do not affect him. He’s at the point now where he doesn’t make many, but If anything does go wrong, he does not communicate it to the team, and he doesn’t take it with him to the next play.

I take it as a compliment to my teaching that he understands the thing(s) that could have caused the error and is now quick to figure out what it probably was.  But that’s the extent of his ever worrying about what went wrong.

I also made sure that he wasn’t shoved into any drill or situation before I felt he was ready.  This meant that he threw a lot into a net before I had him throw to a receiver.  I didn’t want him to feel that he had to please anybody except me or himself.  I made sure to let him know that he had no reason to be disappointed - that I was pleased with his progress and that was all that mattered.

This meant that I didn’t let him throw in any 7-on-7 competitions last summer.  He simply wasn’t ready.  He didn’t see the things that he needed to see and he couldn’t make the throws that he needed to make, and I didn’t want to take the chance that the almost certain lack of success he would have might destroy his confidence.

BIG point: No one else coaches the quarterback.  When I have to correct him, I do so judiciously.   99 per cent of the time, it’s totally between us.

But on the rare occasion that he does do something that indicates he just wasn’t thinking, I will get on him in front of the team, because its important for his teammates to know that he gets his ass chewed, too.

It’s possible that because until now he never had a lot of success athletically,  he never had unrealistic expectations of perfection and so he never got down when things didn’t go perfectly.

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

Just got back from 4 days of coaching at the Jim Harbaugh University of Michigan Football Camp.  I guess about 5000 coaches applied to be a part of it and I was lucky enough to be chosen - guess they wanted some cultural diversity and brought a couple of California coaches along.

There were over 1,200 kids in grades 9-12 including about 140 quarterbacks (my group) that we put through drills, one on ones, and 7 on 7 plus games and competitions into the night.

Harbaugh and his entire staff were there every day leading drills and working with all of the high school and college coaches who worked the camp.  I had a great experience and also got to exchange ideas with the other coaches.  One of the "best" things was each of us had our own locker in the UM team locker room in the "Big House" (see pics).  Now I have proof that I had my own locker in the Michigan Wolverine team room!

Hope all is well!

Your former Thunderbird,

Jake von Scherrer
Athletic Director & Head Football Coach
Turlock Christian School
Turlock, California

*********** The dishonesty of the people in charge is one reason why Donald Trump has a following…

A deranged white kid with all sorts of problems kills nine black people in a church in Charleston and the self-appointed experts instantly know why he did it.

Not long after, a deranged Muslim kills five US servicemen and the full force of the FBI is assigned to try to find a motive.

*********** It does appear that Donald Trump is going down in flames.

Hate to wish this on anybody, but maybe a little time in a North Vietnamese "Tiger Cage" would bring him to his senses.

A master of self-promotion, Trump has been able to say the most outrageous things and still wind up benefiting, just by getting his name out there.

It has amazed me that simply by being Donald Trump, he has been elevated by the media, leveraging the excessive attention they’ve given him to jump ahead of far more reasonable, far more qualified, far more electable Republican candidates.

The Wall Street Journal said it well: "His only discernible principle is the promotion of his personal brand. His main message seems to be that because he's rich and doesn't care what anyone thinks, he can afford to tell everyone to go to hell."

He’s used his pulpit to suggest that, while allowing for the fact that some Mexican immigrants (“I assume”) are probably good people, the vast majority of those streaming across our porous southern border are criminals.  And, of course, he's trashed the entire country of Mexico. Somehow, I just don’t see “Mexico Sucks” as a winning campaign theme.

And now he’s taken on Senator John McCain.

I don't love John McCain. In my opinion, he's has been in the Senate too long.  He is totally unpredictable, and capable of some bewildering stances. 
He's something of a loose cannon at times.   As a presidential candidate, he was a disaster.

In those regards, he’s fair game.

But Trump chose to attack him for… for what?  He seemed to imply that because McCain’s plane was shot down over North Vietnam, because he served years in a North Vietnamese prison - even refusing to be released ahead of his fellow captors - there’s something wrong with him.  There’s something unpatriotic about him.

Bad stuff, Donald. 
Dumb, dumb, dumb.

But he did say, evidently,  one thing that’s worth discussion.  He said - evidently - that John McCain is not a hero. 

Trump aside -  is John McCain a hero?

The subject of heroism came up a few weeks ago when my wife and I had lunch with retired Air Force General Perry Smith and his wife.

General Smith’s father-in-law, Marine Colonel Jimmie Dyess, was killed in the South Pacific in World War II.  For his heroic actions in combat, he was awarded the Medal of Honor, making him the only person to earn both the Medal of Honor and the Carnegie Medal for Heroism.

Years earlier, as young man, he was awarded the Carnegie Medal for a heroic rescue in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Carnegie Medal was endowed by, yes, Andrew Carnegie, who made a fortune in business and pioneered the idea of giving back to society the wealth that he had earned. (There are Carnegie libraries all over the United States, established by him to bring literature to ordinary working-class Americans and their children.

You might be interested in what the criteria are for the Carnegie Medal, because it describes a hero in the strictest sense of the word.  By their criteria, a hero is not your mother or father, just for "being there for you." It’s not your third grade teacher,  for inspiring you to be all you can be.  They're examples, they're role models, they're inspirations.  But they're not heroes.

Neither is the winner of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest or the winning quarterback in the  Super Bowl.

Description of a hero...

Requirements for A Carnegie Medal

A civilian who voluntarily risks his or her own life, knowingly, to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the life of another person is eligible for recognition by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission.


The act of heroism must have occurred in the United States, Canada, or the waters thereof (12 nautical miles). The act must be brought to the attention of the Commission within two years of the date of its occurrence.


The act of rescue must be one in which no full measure of responsibility exists between the rescuer and the rescued. Persons not eligible for awards are: Those whose duties in following their regular vocations require them to perform such acts, unless the rescues are clearly beyond the line of duty, and members of the immediate family, except in cases of outstanding heroism where the rescuer loses his or her life or is severely injured. Members of the armed services and children considered by the Commission to be too young to comprehend the risks involved are also ineligible for consideration.

Factual establishment

There must be conclusive evidence to support the threat to the victim’s life, the risk undertaken by the rescuer, the rescuer’s degree of responsibility, and the act’s occurrence.

(You'll notice that there's nothing in there about how many records a person's sold or  how many home runs he hit.)

General Smith remains actively involved with the Medal of Honor and also the Carnegie Medal, and he said that it is amazing how many acts of true heroism take place in the United States and Canada.

He said that the organization evaluates as many as 10,000 reports of heroic acts every year, and from that number, recognizes roughly 80 heroes.

Note that the requirements include the risk of one’s life to save another person.

That’s a hero.

it excludes those whose duty it is to do rescue work, but that’s simply because the Carnegie Medal is designed to honor civilians.

Certainly, police, fire fighters and service members risk their lives to rescue others.

When they do they are heroes.

By this definition, to be a hero requires an act of heroism.  An element of risk of one's own life.

John McCain? A brave person.  An honored veteran who served his country.  A hero?  I dunno. Maybe. Maybe not. Depends on your defintion of the word.

But  he's certainly not a coward -  nor a traitor nor a shirker - and I’m sure as hell not going to go on national television and insult him.

Donald, watch what you say.

*********** Meanwhile, as Donald Trump raises hell about Mexicans, it’s causing us to take our eye off the ball…

According to U.S. Census Data, the United States admits roughly 100,000 Muslim immigrants legally each year.

Pew Research estimates that  as a result of immigration, the population of U.S. Muslims will more  than double by 2030 - from 2.6 million in 2010 to 6.2 million.

Here's the amazing part - ALL of this is through LEGAL immigration. Our government is allowing it. 

According to federal government statistics, in 2013 Florida alone  "welcomed" 43,184 refugees.

Most of them were from Cuba, which is understandable, but  next in order of numbers were  Iraq, Myanmar (Burma), Congo, Sudan, Somalia, Colombia, Afghanistan, Jordan, Pakistan, Syria, and Palestine.

Can you say  "home-grown terrorists?"


*********** When you run an unbalanced line (like a 4 man surface) does the ball carrier keep the same aiming point?

For example on a G or Power does the ball carrier aim for the same gap or OL that they did in base formation?



We have never had to overcoach this. A few practice reps and they’re good to go.  We do stress running with the eyes up at all times anyhow, as well as understanding who’s going to be doing the kicking out and who’s going to be leading through and they never seem to have trouble finding the hole.

If anything, the pulling linemen require as much work on this as the backs, since the guys leading through get used to where they’re likely to turn upfield.

I suspect that our nonexistent line splits help make this less of a problem.

american flagFRIDAY,  JULY 17,  2015-   “Ability is nothing without opportunity.”   Napoleon Bonaparte

*********** It’s probably not nice to bring this up around All-Star Game time, but if baseball doesn’t realize it’s looking at some serious problems down the line, consider this…

(1) According to a 2014 ESPN Sports Poll that measures fan interest, among those 12 to 17 years old soccer ranks second in popularity, behind only pro football.  And among that same age group, MLS (“Major League” Soccer) is tied in popularity with Major League Baseball.

(2) According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, baseball is losing out to soccer among young kids in, of all places, Cuba!  Cuba, for God's sake!  With all the great beisbol players the Island nation has turned out!  It took the Commies long enough, but they finally managed to brainwash their little kids into taking up a Commie sport. And now we normalize relations with them!

*********** For quite some time, my friend Mike Lude, who has served as AD at the University of Washington and at Auburn, has been telling me that there is a limit to what sponsors are going to be willing to pay TV networks, so that the TV networks can justify paying the fees they pay conferences for broadcast rights, so that colleges can continue their current arms race that features Jumbotron screens and luxury locker rooms and stadium expansions and  indoor practice facilities and million-dollar contracts for coaches - sometimes even assistant coaches.

In economic terms, Mike calls it a bubble.

The first sign of the bubble may be the recent news that ESPN, long a money-making machine, could be headed for trouble.

ESPN, like ABC, is owned by Disney.  ESPN produces 25 per cent of Disney’s annual revenue.

But the fun may be over.  ESPN makes its money by charging cable companies $6.61 per subscriber - a full $5 more than the next highest-price channel.  And because ESPN requires cable companies to carry it on their basic cable level,  that  means that every cable subscriber gets - and pays for - ESPN, whether they want it or not.

One big problem for ESPN: there’s considerable pressure being brought on cable and satellite systems to “unbundle” - to allow subscribers to pay only for those channels they want, and if that happens, the news is not good for ESPN: only 20 per cent of cable and satellite subscribers said they;’d be willing o pay separately for ESPN.

Another  big problem: younger viewers especially are “cutting the cord” - finding other ways to get the TV they want to watch - which is costing cable systems  enormous numbers of subscribers.  Fewer subscribers, at $6.61 each,  means a lot less money for  The World Wide Leader.

Now, here’s where it gets dicey.

All those huge player contracts we read about?  All those Jumbotron screens and stadium expansions and  indoor practice facilities? (And multi-million-dollar coaching contracts?)

They’re all made possible by the enormous sums paid by networks, ESPN chief among them, for TV rights.

ESPN alone is committed to rights contracts amounting to roughly $6 billion a year, for the next ten years.

But ESPN’s annual revenues are beginning to head south of $7 billion a year, and pressed by Disney to make cuts, ESPN has begun to make some drastic moves. Bill Simmons and his large contract are already gone, and Keith Olberman followed him out the door in the last two weeks.  Other big names may be on the chopping block.  The Mike and Mike Show was set to move from the ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut  to downtown Manhattan, but the company called off the move in order to save on expenses.

You ready for this?  With its revenues almost certain to continue declining, the time may not be far off when ESPN can’t make any more cuts without seriously damaging its product.  (Imagine a football game without three in the booth plus a sideline bimbo. Hmmm…)

But when that day comes, it’ll mean there’s be nothing left to cut except rights payments to sports leagued.

Which would mean that colleges and pro teams that have thought of those payments as cash in the bank will suddenly have to find other sources of money to pay their athletes, pay their coaches, build their Taj Mahals.

You say, “But there’s a contract!” 

Listen - we’re talking about Disney, guys.  Those people didn’t ride into town on a turnip truck.   They would never enter into a contract that didn’t have some sort of escape clause.


*********** “I just know that’s Bruce Jenner and I’ll leave it at that.” Former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, at the ESPYS, where “Caitlyn” Jenner was given the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.

***********  Does a born male who now “identifies” as a female necessarily identify as a heterosexual female?

I was hit with this thought when I saw a photo in our paper of “Caitlyn” Jenner and Abby Wambach, soccer lesbo.

What happens, I wondered, if a man finally gets his wish to identify as a female - and then a lesbian makes a pass at him/her?

*********** That dirty bastard in Chattanooga took the lives of four Marines. Guess Our President will chalk it up to workplace violence.

Yes, they killed the guy, but in return  for even one US Marine killed,
10,000 creeps like him is a bad deal.

*********** Have you ever pictured yourself listening in on a creativity session at an apparel manufacturer, as the Creative Creatures Who Have Never Played a Team Sport design a new uniform for a team, and then, having done so, sit around trying to come up with reasons for doing what they did?

We weren’t able to sit in as adidas designed the new UCLA duds, but reading the adidas news release is almost as good.


The new uniforms pay “homage to the UCLA tradition of grit and toughness…” 

Are you kidding me? “Grit and toughness?”  UCLA? 
With Rick Neuheisel coaching?

I’ve heard lots of descriptions of UCLA teams over the years,  but the words “grit”and “toughness” never came up. In fact, overcoming a perception of softness  was one of the biggest challenges Jim Mora faced when he took the job. 

“A modernized version of the traditional UCLA stripe…”  Yeah, the same stripe that once ran all the way  around the shoulder now looks more  like “the traditional UCLA bars.”

“A ‘Bruin Bold’ font, which was designed exclusively for UCLA and inspired by the bright lights of Los Angeles.”

Wow. Their own font.  With its own name!  And it was “inspired by the “bright lights of Los Angeles.”  Uh, what was that you were just  saying about grit and toughness?

“Each time a player puts on a jersey, he will read the phrase ‘Champions Made here’ written across the ribbing on the collar.’” 

Um - not that it’s going to make any difference in the way they play anyhow, but when was the last time you put on a shirt in a way that let you read what’s on the front of a collar?  Is there such a way?

Oh - one thing further:  “New jerseys are available for purchase now.”   Thought you'd want to know.


*********** Coach, Thanks for the writing on a "surprise" offense. I'm looking forward to the next installment.

If you are already a double tight hard core run team which do you feel is a better surprise?  A single wing type package/unbalanced set or a spread formation package with a couple of patterns and a run play?

Thanks for your input.

John Bothe
Oregon Illinois


Good question!

I think possibly a single wing - unbalanced.

While an opponent might be surprised to see you come out in a spread, the chances are they already have a spread defensive package.

And the chances are that if you’re a Double Tight/Double Wing team, you probably don’t have the skill people to run much of a spread attack anyhow!



If this idea of a fairly simple-to-teach change of pace/change of philosophy surprise package interests you, here’s what’s required:

1. If you’re not doing it already, you’ll need to teach the under-center exchange, and you’ll need to work on it a little bit every day.

2. You’ll need to teach your QB his basic steps, which I call the "hockey stick" because of the general shape of the path he takes. It’s not tough to teach.

3. You’ll need a blocking fullback. It’s essential to running Super Power. It helps if he’s a runner, but it’s absolutely necessary that he be a good blocker. There are laws of physics that you just can’t get around, so he ought to have good size. And he definitely has to like contact.  If you don't have a fullback in your program, one of your linebackers might be able to do the job, or maybe even a spare guard. (I’d ordinarily suggest moving a tight end back there, but you’re going to need them right where they are.)

4. You’ll need a couple of tight ends.  If you don't have any, take a look at your defensive ends or linebackers.

5. You probably have wider line splits than we do. You’ll need to reduce them.  We’re pretty much shoe-to-shoe, but never more than a dollar-bill (six inches).
* It reduces the distance a pulling lineman has to go to get to the hole

* It makes it easier to reach defenders

* It helps our backside tight end to cut off pursuit

* It reduces the likelihood of penetration

* It cuts down on blitzing

* It makes our rules blocking rules clearer, because, for example, it simply isn't  possible for a lineman to have a man "ON" him and another one in his inside gap

* We’re always in position to run a wedge

Coaching point – you may have to narrow your linemen’s stances, too.  Even though their feet may be close to each other, unusually wide stances will create space between the linemen’s shoulders, in effect creating space for defenders to penetrate.  (Not to mention that fact that too wide a stance robs a lineman of the ability to take much of a side step either way.)

6. I advise moving your linemen back off the ball as much as possible. 

* It helps pulling linemen get past the center without having to turn their shoulders to get depth. (We want them to slide, keeping their shoulders square.)

* It reduces the possibility of penetration by moving the “gaps” farther away from the defensive linemen

* It helps combo blockers to “read on the run”

* It frustrates those people who (illegally) teach their defensive linemen to try to tackle our pullers

* It facilitates cut-off blocking on the backside

7. In line with something I heard Woody Hayes say years ago, if you really want to protect your inside gaps, you’ll have your linemen put their inside hands down. You may not want to deal with this, but we insist on it.  Once you see how much easier it is for your linemen to pull to the opposite side when their inside hands are down (and inside feet are back), how much this helps them protect their inside gaps, and how much more effectively they can block the wedge play, you might be convinced.

8. One way or another, you’ll need a way of calling the plays.  If you can't adapt this package to your current play-calling system, it's scarcely worth confusing your players with a new, unfamiliar numbering system just to run a short surprise series.  You might simply use generic names like "Super Power Right," “Super Power Left,” etc.

9. You may want to simplify the learning  of new assignments.  You may want to bypass the learning entirely. Who has time for memorization?   We’re living in an age when people don’t memorize how to get places and don’t remember phone numbers, and I don’t see anything sacred about having to memorize assignments. So we use wrist cards for every player, not only to tell them what play we’re running, but also what each person’s assignment is.


WINGBACKS- If we were going to run the Double Wing extensively, we’d take advantage of its big-play potential by sacrificing size (and blocking ability if necessary) in order to get speed at the wingback spot.

But since we're talking here about a surprise offense that may only be called on to get you a couple of yards, or to go ten yards or so in four downs, I'd consider thinking in terms of employing three fullback types in the backfield.

Alignment: Shoulders square 
Stance: I prefer 3-point, inside hand down, but whatever works for you
Depth: I teach down hand at the depth of the tight end's heel
Width: I teach “one full man” outside the tight end, but you could go a little tighter.


He’s in a "false 3-point stance" with little or no weight on the down hand – his head and eyes are up, his tail is down

We want him hidden behind the QB so he’s hard to key from the other side of the ball, and shallow enough so that he has a better inside-out angle on his kick-out

His heels are at 3-1/2 to 4 yards. Too shallow is better than too deep. For us, he’s only too shallow if he can pick up his down hand and touch the QB’s  butt

*********** Sixty percent of workers 18-34 say if their boss prevented them from using a mobile device to take care of personal tasks, they would quit!



*********** There won’t be any American football in the 2020 Olympics.  We shouldn;t be upset.

Let’s not kid ourselves - the main thing that our Women’s World Cup win means is that we have Title IX - which compels our schools to provide equal amounts of support for men’s and women’s sports - and other nations don’t.

So I was somewhat saddened to learn that American football will not be an Olympic sport in 2020, because it would have illustrated what we - or any other nation - can do when we have such a head start on the opposition.

Excited about the America Women’s gold medal?

Take any decent D-III football teams and we’d win Olympic Gold. Take any three of them and we'd win Gold,  Silver and Bronze.

It’s not that football - our football - elsewhere in the world is bad.  It’s just that it’s not very good, and more than that,  it’s not very important.

And in most places, the national association that attempts to oversee the sport’s development gets (1) All-Star Fever and (2) NFL Fever.

All-Star Fever is what happens when the national organizations get money - sometimes from participants, sometimes from the national governments for the promotion of the sport among its citizens - and instead of spending it to promote and develop football at its grassroots, they spend it to promote and develop themselves.

(FIFA is a great example, but anyone with any experience dealing with government bureaucracies or large charities will understand.)

They promote themselves by making sure that they’re in attendance anytime and anywhere IFAF, the World Organization,  holds a meeting or a function.  After all, imitating the manner of the United Nations, this is their place to shine - the one place where they can rub shoulders with the Big Boys as their equals.  When they return home, they act even more lordly than before. Please try to explain to me how this helps the sport in places where kids have no helmets or shoulder pads. (When they do have helmets, they’re often of a quality that you, here in the US, wouldn’t even send off to be reconditioned.)

Another way they promote themselves this by lavishing money on their “national teams,” all-star teams whose training and travel expenses suck up large sums  that at this point in their development would be better spent  attracting youngsters to the sport and training coaches and officials.

To give you a rough idea of how shaky is the condition of American football at the international level, the “World Championship” now taking place in Canton, Ohio was moved there on short notice  from Sweden, where it was originally scheduled to be played. But  IFAF had its own FIFA-like scandal, highlighted by moneys unaccounted for.

“World Championship” of American Football?

Give me a break.  The US team, made up mostly of former D-III players, will kick ass as usual.  (Yesterday, they edged France, 82-0.)

Few countries even come close to playing at anything approaching D-III level.  Germany has a large number of teams and they take the sport pretty seriously.  For some reason, Germany isn’t at this year’s “World Championship.”

Canada, of course, takes its football seriously, but Canada has far fewer people than we do, and doesn’t have anywhere near the large numbers of former college players just below pro-calibre that we have;  if a Canadian college player is any good, there’s a strong chance there’s a spot for him in the CFL, whose teams are required to have a certain number of Canadians on their rosters.  And in case you hadn’t noticed, the CFL season is already under way.

Mexico, where the Dallas Cowboys years ago built interest by playing games there, has also fielded decent teams, but anyone who doubts the dominance  of soccer among Mexicans has only to see makeup of the crowd at any USA-Mexico game - even when played in the US.

Australia might be expected to be fairly decent, but Australia is a small country whose athletes, in addition to cricket, baseball and basketball, are already divided among  four different “codes” (styles) of football: Australian Rules, Rugby Union, Rugby League (they are two distinctly different sports) and, of course, soccer.

And then there's NFL Fever. Foreign associations think that since the NFL is the highest level of American football,  that must be where the best coaching is.  Well, yes, of course it is. For the NFL's needs. 

But we’re not talking about  anything remotely resembling the NFL. We’re talking for the most part about undeveloped  players - grown men, to be sure
(It’s not unusual for a 19-year-old guy to suddenly decide he’d like to try the sport) and very athletic  - whose range of understanding of the game and its fundamentals  varies widely, from high school level  all the way down to Pee Wee.  Mostly Pee Wee.

Yet whenever they bring in an American coach to put on a clinic, it’s always an NFL coach.  Yes, those guys are the best there is, but I doubt that any of them can remember the last time he taught a guy who’s never played before how to tackle.  Or block. Or get in a stance.

I doubt that there's one who could take a guy who’s never thrown a ball - baseball or whatever - and teach him how to throw a football.

It’s like bringing in Richard Petty to teach your 16-year-old how to drive. 


american flagTUESDAY,  JULY 14,  2015-   “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”  Jackie Robinson

***********  In New York, when a group of anti-police demonstrators started to burn an American flag,  they were set upon by a group of bikers - motorcyclists, many of them vets - and had to call for help from - of all people - the police.

“They took off like little b---hes,” said one biker. “They lit the f--king flag and took off running once they got slapped once or twice.”

Sure would love to buy those guys a beer.



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.


AND NOW THIS, from “First Over There,” a recent book by Matthew Davenport about the First Infantry (the Big Red One) and more specifically the 28th Infantry Division, the first American unit to fight overseas. It was in that first engagement, in the Battle of Cantigny, that the fighting prowess of its soldiers earned them the nickname “The Black Lions of Cantigny.”

 As a commander, Colonel Ely had no gift for sustained analysis and his decisions were sudden and firm, sometimes made without full fact.  Back in Seicheprey, when he heard of a rumor that Lt. Sam Ervin had fallen asleep at his post, Ely ordered him out of the regiment. But the rumors were false, and even after the division’s judge advocate cleared Ervin of the accusation, Ely would not relent.  Though Ervin had the option of serving as a billeting officer behind the lines, his sense of service had been unalterably wed to front-line duty with his buddies in the 28th. It took the lobbying efforts of Ervin’s friend  Lt. George Redwood to convince the unforgiving Ely to accept Ervin back into the regiment, but Ely would not readmit him as an officer. Thus, so he could stay with the 28th Infantry, Ervin resigned his commission and enlisted as a private.

Did you get that?  In order to be at the front, fighting with his buddies, Sam Ervin resigned as an officer and started in at the very bottom!  What an amazing story, and one that stands in bold contrast to so many of today’s young football players, who will casually move from high school to high school (and, sometimes, to yet another high school), seeking only to improve their own recruiting status.

Now - For those of you old enough to remember, yes, it’s that Sam Ervin - Senator Sam Ervin, from North Carolina.

Sam Ervin was a native of Morgantown, North Carolina, and when the US entered World War I, he left the University of North Carolina just prior to the start of his senior year to enlist in the US Army.

For his heroism in battle at Cantigny, Private Sam Ervin received the highest honor the US Army can bestow - the Distinguished Service Cross.  In addition, he received the second-highest honor, the Silver Star, as well as two Purple Hearts.

Following the War, he returned to UNC to graduate, then went on to get his law degree at Harvard.

As a Democratic senator from North Carolina, he frequently referred to himself as “just an old country lawyer,” but in fact he was widely respected for his folksy wisdom.

Early in his career, he was instrumental in bringing to an end the reign of Senator Joe McCarthy, and toward the end of his career, he was chosen to lead the Senate committee whose investigation into the Watergate scandal led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

*********** The legend goes that during the trial of Shoeless Joe Jackson on charges of having conspired to throw the World Series, a little kid said to the baseball hero, “Say it ain’t so, Joe.”

Legend doesn’t record what Jackson said.  (Philip Roth, in The Great American Novel,” has him saying, “It’s so, you little sh—.”)

I find myself at the point where I want to say to  Bill Cosby, “Say it ain’t so, Bill.”

We’re both Philadelphians. We grew up together.  Sort of.  In parallel universes.  I grew up in White Germantown and he grew up in Black Germantown.

But our experiences growing up were so similar it was scary.  We both played football in the streets.  And when we played baseball, our bases were sometimes manhole covers, sometimes lamp posts, sometimes the front bumpers of (parked, of course) cars.  Sometimes our “balls” were short lengths of tire, or rubber balls cut in half.

Cos went to Germantown High School and I went to Germantown Academy.  I guess in keeping with the times, they should purge all our school’s records from the Philadelphia newspapers because, in looking back, it’s obvious that our school simply didn’t admit blacks.  (Neither, for that matter, did any of the other schools in our league.)  My punishment  for the sins of my elders was not getting  to play football with Bill Cosby.  He was a very good player, and I can only imagine how many laughs we’d have had.

Of course I’ve followed his career.  Of course I admired the guy. Of course I took pride in coming from the same area. 

And of course I refused, for the longest time,  to believe the charges leveled against him.

But now, I’m faced with the sad realization that those charges are quite possibly  true, and that a guy I long admired may have been concealing a dark, sordid side.

What hurts as much as anything is that as an actor and comedian he generated a lot of racial good will, and as a sort of racial  elder statesman he was one of the few people who could say  things that needed saying but few dared to say.   No doubt the recipients of his criticism are taking great delight in his comeuppance.

There’s something I just don’t get: Why would someone as well-known and well-liked as Bill Cosby have to drug women to have sex with him?  Considering the morals of our country, the guy must have had all sorts of women - attractive women, at that -  throwing themselves at him.

Anyhow, if I were his lawyer,  that would be our defense.

***********  Hi Coach Wyatt,
I hope all is going good for you and Connie.

Well, I passed all the exams and got my certificate just like so many others coaching youth and high school football.  Why don't they ask some real football questions instead of this "feel good" version that pretends to teach you something.  I found his article from another coach that also "passed" the exam and I had to share it with you and other coaches that may have similar feelings about this new required program.
Best regards.
Ken Hampton
Raleigh, North Carolina

Thanks to funding from the NFL, USA Football, an organization that came out of nowhere to anoint  itself  the “national governing body for amateur American football in the United States,” has  leveraged that preposterous  claim into a supposed authority to  “certify” coaches.

Hey - you can do that, too!  All you or  anyone else  has to do is get yourself a Web site and a name - and claim to be   the “national governing body for amateur American football in the United States.”

To flesh out your site,  find  some generic coaching advice - there’s plenty of it on the Internet. Cut and paste and you’re good to go.

Oh, wait - You’ll have to design a certificate and get some retired NFL executive to sign it, and presto- you’re almost there.

But first, before you  can start collecting money from gullible coaches willing to pay for “certification,”  you’re going to have to run a campaign warning mothers to make sure that their little boys’ coaches are “certified.”  By you. 

Explain why your certification is better than any competitors’. (I mean, this is America, right?) 

Unfortunately, the best way to get this across to those mothers is TV, and that’s going to cost money.

Which is why it helps to have the NFL behind you.



Back in February, X & O Labs published a study entitled "Defending Unconventional Offenses."

Its key finding was that “unconventional offenses” – in this case, the single wing, the wing-T, or the Double Wing – gave opponents problems, to the point where 84 per cent of the coaches polled said that if they were faced with one of those three offenses, they’d have to change some or all of what they normally did defensively.

One experienced coach said, “I don’t think anyone can play your base defense against a Double Wing. You can’t play a 4-3 and sit there, because they will find a weakness along your front and double team that kid. They don’t have gaps, so you can’t play a gap controlled scheme. There are no splits. An outside scheme and head up are much different. You need to create single blocks on the line of scrimmage. There are no run-throughs and we don’t stunt. We try to get one-on-one blocking as much as possible.”

That X & O Labs study got me to thinking – and sent me to one of my books. In "Simplified Single Wing Football," written in 1964 by the legendary Ken Keuffel, Ken devoted an entire chapter to the idea of a non-single winger using the single wing as a "Surprise Offense" - something an opponent wouldn’t be prepared for:

"Introducing a surprise attack is really not that much of a gamble provided this offense is limited enough to be taught simply and quickly.  Then, even if it is not successful, you will not have had to sacrifice so much practice time that you cannot run your regular offense reasonably well. But if you have even moderate success in one game with the few plays you run from a surprise offense, your future opponents will have to spend considerable practice time preparing for not only what you have already shown but for what you might add to that attack."

Back when Coach Keuffel wrote that, the single wing was just about extinct. So, his reasoning went, with 99 per cent of teams at all levels running some sort of "T-formation" (quarterback-under-center) offense, what could be further from what opponents had been preparing for than a surprise single wing? 

But now, 50 years later, as increasing numbers of teams employ some sort of spread, direct-snap (shotgun) attack, what could be more surprising than a double-tight Double Wing - an “unconventional offense” that a large percentage of coaches admit they don’t trust their base defense to stop?
I've been using a Double-Wing since 1990, when I was coaching in Finland and I experienced first-hand a power off-tackle play run by an opposing coach, a Californian named Don Markham.  He was running his entire offense from what many of you would refer to as the Delaware "500" formation – the classic two tight ends/two wing backs double wing – but with virtually no splits. At that time, I was running the Delaware Wing-T myself, but I wanted to run that off-tackle play, and after some experimentation, I found that I could do it - I could tighten my splits and run that play, and still retain the rest of my Delaware package.

I called that off-tackle play "Super Power," and along with a counter play that I'd been running since the early 80s and an up-the-middle wedge play that dated back to my high school days running the Penn single wing, it became the basis of my double-wing system. In the mid- 90s, after helping a friend win a state title with it, I produced a video that became a success and over the years has enabled coaches from coast to coast to have run the double wing.

In some cases, their success was almost immediate:  One Monday, several years ago, I spent an hour or so on the phone with a coach from Ardmore, Alabama who’d seen my Web site.  It was mid-season, and saddled with the state’s longest losing streak, he was looking for anything that would help him move the ball. After our talk, he went out and installed a few plays that afternoon, and that Friday night Ardmore went out and ended the losing streak. He went on from there to win a few more games and give his kids a successful season. Sure, the new offense played a part, but who’s kidding who?  So did the element of surprise.

Just this past season, that element of surprise worked for me, too.

At North Beach High, a small school on the Washington coast, we’d had a very good season in 2013 running a spread shotgun (or “Wildcat” - did I say I came up with the name “Wildcat?”). But I missed that double wing Super Power, so last pre-season I began working on the idea of jumping in and out of a simple Double Wing package, just to catch people off-guard. 

Step one was teaching the T-formation snap to our quarterback.  Even if you’re totally committed to a shotgun offense, you still ought to be doing this, because you never know when you might need it. Our QB was completely new to the position, and he was still learning the ins and out of our direct-snap offense, but he picked up the T-snap quickly.  So did our centers, whom we taught to snap using the same grip on the ball and the same basic snapping action for under-center snaps as for shotgun.  (We treat this like any other fundamental: it’s an everyday thing. Every practice we work our QBs and centers together for ten minutes, and I’ll often devote as much as 5 minutes of that time to the T-snap.)

During our early offensive team work, to prepare for eventually running some double wing, I’d occasionally have the QB line up in shotgun, then step up under center, take a T-snap, and hand off to our fullback on a wedge play. Except for the center, QB and fullback, this was nothing new for our kids, who’ve been running the Wedge as part of our base offense for the past three years. In fact, every team I’ve coached, going back to 1970, has known how to run the Wedge.


From there, we began to occasionally close up our “Open Wing” formation into a true double-tight, double-wing, and in the second week of the season, after very little practice, we unveiled it in a game.  Our first double wing play – the Wedge –went 30 yards for a touchdown.

We ran it a few more times that game,  then put it back under wraps, until our fifth game. By that point, we’d “kicked it up a notch,” adding the Super Power, right and left.  Our linemen already knew the blocking rules and techniques for it, too – they’d been running a similar play from the Open Wing.  The QB was taught his steps during his period with the centers, and our backs and ends ran through the plays during a part of our daily 15-minute group session. As a result, when we came together as a team, we never had to devote more than 10 reps at the end of an offensive session to our Surprise Offense.

In that fifth game, once we had the game under control, we decided to go Double Wing exclusively, intending to go conservative and keep the score down. We were as surprised as our opponent  when in the fourth quarter alone, using just one play - Super Power, right and left,  we rushed for over 150 yards and two touchdowns. 

With today’s Hudl there are few secrets, so with a couple of weaker teams coming up next, we decided to put the Double Wing back in the closet for a few weeks. We had tougher teams coming down the line, not to mention the stormy, late fall weather that’s a fact of life on the Washington coast.

We didn’t show the Double Wing for a couple of weeks, but we did add a third play – a counter.  With a number of ways to run a counter, I chose our Super Criss-Cross  because the ball handling’s fairly easy for our backs and the backfield action looks exactly like Super Power.  (“SUPER” for us means the QB is going to toss the ball rather than hand off)

And as with our other plays, the line already knew how to block this counter, because they’d been running counters out of our base offense.

Game eight was a must-win game for us, and after a week of rain, our field was a muddy mess.  By game time, with a stiff wind behind it, the rain was coming sideways. 

Midway through the second quarter, ahead 8-0, we decided to go to our “surprise” package as our foul-weather offense -  and we wound up winning big.  We ended up rushing for 381 yards, with the Double Wing accounting for 236 of them. (We didn’t  attempt a pass.) 

Two weeks later, that same simple double wing package helped us to a school-record tenth win in a row. Although we had splurged a bit, adding a simple sprint-out pass, we still didn’t have a sweep, a trap or a bootleg, ordinarily three staples of our double wing attack.  Nor did we have an unbalanced package, another one of our standbys. 

But our opponents didn’t know that.  They’d played us in the past and they knew what our double wing was capable of, and they couldn’t afford to take the chance that we didn’t have more in our package. Besides, they didn’t have that much time: they still had to prepare for our base shotgun Open Wing.

As expected, the game became a defensive struggle, and leading just 3-0 at the half, we decided to go whole-hog Double Wing the rest of the way.  

We ran Super Power, Criss-Cross, and Wedge. With the exception of one sprint-out pass for an eight yard completion, that was it.  In that second half, we rushed 31 times for 168 yards.

We had scoring drives of 8, 13 and 9 plays. We never punted and we never gave the ball up on downs. We were five-for-six on third down conversions, and on that one third down where we didn’t convert - we made it on fourth down.

Our Double Wing series may have started out as a “surprise” package for us, but it turned into a bit more - a very handy sidearm, you might say. Overall, we ran 93 Double Wing plays, for 764 yards  and 10 touchdowns. It wasn’t totally a grind-it-out ball-control deal, either:  9 of our Double Wing plays (one in ten) were for 20 yards or more.


american flagFRIDAY,  JULY 10,  2015-   "Shallow brains have short memories."  Ralph Waldo Emerson

*********** The Ohio State University Marching Band - for my money, one of the best there is - will perform before the  October 25 Buffalo-Jacksonville game at London’s Wembley Stadium.

Finally - a reason for Londoners to go to that game.

Imagine.  A college band playing at halftime.  What will those geniuses at the NFL think of next?

Next thing you know, they’ll be trying the same thing in the United States.

Letting them play the national anthem, even.

Naaaah.  Not while there's some Grammy-Award winning artist to "perform" it.

********** What this says about what’s happening to American men ought to be enough to scare anyone.

A friend of mine, a high school coach, told me about an incident last year in which he’d informed a player that if his performance didn’t improve, he’d lose his starting spot.

Nothing wrong with that.  Football isn’t welfare, and if a kid isn’t performing up to expectations, it’s the coach’s duty to do what’s right for the team, and tell the kid exactly what my friend did.

My friend is also a teacher at the school, and he happened to have the kid in class. At a parent-teacher conference shortly afterward, the kid’s mother lit into my friend for what he’d said to her son.

When I heard the story, I didn’t know who I was most pissed at - the little snotnose puke, for running home to Mommy with his sob story about what that awful coach had told him…

Or the kid’s emasculated father, who - get this - sat through the whole scene without saying a word.

***********  Amazing fact:  More than half the current NFL quarterbacks  attended The Manning Passing Academy, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this summer,  as counselors or campers.

During that time, it’s estimated that more than 20,000  campers have attended.

This summer’s attendance has been limited to 1200, with campers coming  from 47 states and Canada.

*********** The city of Bristol straddles a state line; half of it is in Virginia, and half is in Tennessee.

Bristol is the home of Bristol Motor Speedway,  and in 2016, Virginia Tech and Tennessee will face each other at the Speedway in what’s being billed as the “Battle of Bristol.”

***********  De’Andre Johnson is now a former Florida State quarterback. 

You’ve probably seen the video of the lad, a mere freshman, hitting a woman in the face in a Tallahassee bar.  Think of it - a freshman, and he’s already hitting women.  What a future he might have had.

No way I can defend the punk.  I rather doubt that it’s the first time he’s struck a woman, based on the way he responded to her throwing a punch at him.

Some are also calling for charges against the woman, and I’m inclined to agree with them.  It’s time we decided what it’s going to be: is it going to be women on police forces, women in combat, “women can do anything men can do?”  Or is it going to be “A man must never strike a woman?”

Thanks to its football team, Florida State and Tallahassee are being made to look more and more to me like an unsavory place.  This kid is - was - a freshman, who graduated from high school in January.  What’s that make him - 18?  Sure hope that bar loses its license for a while. 

Meanwhile, Florida State may think they got rid of a headache when they cut  the kid loose, but based on the kind of “support” he’s been getting on Twitter from his now-former teammates, (“Just wrong place and the wrong time”… “good kid bad situation”) this is just a start.  Surely there will be more guys in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nice recruiting,  Jimbo.

What a waste of potential.  De’Andre Johnson might have become the next Jameis Winston.  In at least one sense of the word.  Now we’ll never know if he could have gone on to steal crab legs or be charged with rape or stand in the middle of the student union and holler vulgarities. 

At least at Florida State.  Guaranteed somebody else is already recruiting him.  Hey, kid made a mistake.  Nobody's perfect.


*********** Watch time-elapse video of the replacement of the artificial turf field at Army’s Michie Stadium…


*********** Shows how much attention I pay to the movies.

I just learned that actor Bradley Cooper, star of American Sniper, grew up in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, the neighboring town to Abington, where my wife grew up, and he graduated from Germantown Academy, my old school.

Ocean Shores July 5*********** As much I love Ocean Shores and its funkiness, there’s one day of the year when I make sure to stay away - July 4.

Start with a small police force, about what you’d expect of a town of about 5,500, and give it 12 square miles to cover.

Throw in tens of thousands  of people down for the weekend from Seattle, Tacoma and assorted places.

Put most of them on the beach, which fortunately is more than five miles long, and more than a quarter-mile wide at low tide, because…

Washington’s fireworks laws are rather lenient, not to mention the fact that just 25 miles to the north of Ocean Shores is the reservation of the Quinault Indian Nation, whose tribal laws permit the sale of fireworks not legal elsewhere, and there's enough firepower to bring ISIS to its knees.

Finally,  add alcohol.

And this is what July 4 at Ocean Shores looks like on July 5.  
Some call it patriotism.

Amazingly, by the time we returned on July 7, the beaches were once again clean.  The city knows the drill.

*********** There are more  Americans in Australia than there are Australians in the US.

No other country can make a similar statement.

*********** Some twit of a singer named Ariana Grande was in a California doughnut shop Saturday and, perhaps not realizing she was on camera,  licked one of the doughnuts on display.

That’s the video portion.  It’s sick enough.  But it’s the audio that has people in a rage.

Grande is heard saying, as the baker brought out freshly baked donuts, "What the f**k is that? I hate Americans. I hate America. That's disgusting."

That was Saturday. By Wednesday, she’d made a fast U-turn and - perhaps on the advice of someone more intelligent -   “apologized” (don’t they all?).

Turns out, she’s actually a patriot.  Step aside,  Nathan Hale.

"I am EXTREMELY proud to be an American and I've always made it clear that I love my country," she “said” in a statement.

"What I said in a private moment with my friend, who was buying the donuts, was taken out of context and I am sorry for not using more discretion with my choice of words."

Actually, here’s the full context of what she really said:

Her friend happened to be talking about ISIS, and Ms. Grande said, “What the f—k is that?”

When the friend told her that ISIS hated Americans, she said, “I hate people who say, ‘I hate Americans,’ and  ‘I hate America.’  That’s disgusting.  I LOVE America.”


*********** Anyone who thinks that once the Redskins change their name (Washington Lobbyists?  Regulators? Bureaucrats?) that will be the end of that need only see how quickly the Confederate Battle Flag issue (there actually were several different “Confederate Flags,” but then, who cares about history?)  has morphed into attacks on the American flag and demands that various places - the Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument, Washington, DC itself - be renamed. 

I’m down for Corruption City.

*********** In New Zealand, the Harmful Digital Communications Act which went into effect  this week,  provided for two years in prison and a $50,000 (NZ) fine for anyone convicted of “causing harm by posting digital communication”

“Harmful communications”  include  “intimate visual recordings” - meaning  nude or seminude photos or video “shared” without a person’s permission.

Oh- and telling someone to “kill yourself” can get you  three years in prison.

Most of us have had our fill of Internet trolls, people who hide behind the anonymity of the Internet to hurl vulgar insults without fear of consequences.  Let’s all chip in and buy them all-expenses-paid vacations in New Zealand.


***********Coach.....hope all is well.....my brother-in-law was a Pekin Chink.....he says the students were proud of the name.....i'm going out on a limb with out any research and saying it is Finland that is gaining more from America than it is losing......spending a great july in Fresno with my grand kids.....

Kevin McCullough, Lakeville, Indiana

*********** John Crawford played running back and defensive back at SMU from 1950-1954 and captained the 1954 team.

He went on after college  to serve in the Air Force, and then spent a career in business as an executive of a large Texas bakery.

He attributes a lot of his success in business and in life to some simple advice his college coaches gave him:  Follow instructions.

“Find out what your coach wants you to do, how he wants you to do it, then do it.”

Great advice.  Hey - Long after football’s over, simply substitute “boss” or “wife”  for “coach,” and you can’t go wrong.

(As a matter of fact,
  if more people had been able to substitute “police officer” for coach,  we wouldn't have the current  epidemic of people resisting arrest, and our country would be spared a great deal of unnecessary grief.)

*********** Satire (I hope)  from The Onion

Massachusetts Supreme Court Orders All Citizens To Gay Marry

BOSTON—Justices of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled 5-2 Monday in favor of full, equal, and mandatory gay marriages for all citizens. The order nullifies all pre-existing heterosexual marriages and lays the groundwork for the 2.4 million compulsory same-sex marriages that will take place in the state by May 15.

Those who don't choose to marry in private will be married in concurrent mass ceremonies at Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium, and the Boston Convention and Exposition Center. Any citizen who is not gay-married or is still in an illegal heterosexual relationship after that date will be arrested and tried for non-support.

Massachusetts has one of the highest concentrations of gay households in the country, at 1.3 percent, according to the 2000 census. Under the new laws, the figure is expected to increase by approximately 98.7 percentage points.


american flagTUESDAY,  JULY 7,  2015-   "Whenever a film's credits contain the words "inspired by actual events" or "based on a true story" you can rest assured that what you are about to see is a bald-faced lie." Joe Queenan, Wall Street Journal

*********** In 1985, when Amherst and Williams, two highly elite small Massachusetts colleges, met in football for the 100th time, alumni of the two schools gathered at various sites in the US - as well as London - to watch on closed circuit TV.

But earlier, when ESPN had approached Amherst coach Jim Ostendarp about televising the game nationally, he declined. When asked why, by the Wall Street Journal, he said, "We're in education. We aren't in the entertainment business.”

*********** Google “Florida Man” some time and see what comes up.

Not sure what it is about Florida, but crazy stories come out of there, all starting with, “Florida Man…”

Just last week it was “Florida Man Stabs Chief Osceola Over Gumbo Recipe”

Here’s a sampling of headlines courtesy of  news.mic…

Florida Man attempts to smoke crack in ICU, almost burns down hospital.

Florida Man flashes buttocks at IHOP after impersonating a police officer to get free food.

Florida Man bites off neighbor's ear because he wouldn't give him a cigarette.

Florida Man escapes adult novelty store with $300 Jenna Jameson doll in tow.

Florida Man caught masturbating in McDonald's parking lot, claims his privacy was invaded

Florida Man sets apartment complex on fire after manager told him to stop masturbating in front of windows

Florida Man arrested for smoking pot in hospital maternity ward

Florida Man tattoos black widow spider on his face to combat arachnophobia

Florida man arrested after urinating on in-law's carpet during Thanksgiving gathering

Florida Man pokes girlfriend in the eye after she served him waffles instead of pancakes.

Florida Man attempts to leave store with chainsaw stuffed down his pants

Florida Man offers police officer $3 and chicken dinner for sex

Florida Man accidentally butt-dials 911 while cooking meth with his mom

Florida Man attacks ATM with hatchet after it refuses to take his check

Florida Man launches chair at mailman because he had no mail for him

Florida Man removes facial tattoos with welding grinder

The big July 4 "Florida Man" fireworks story came out of  Maine, but damned if it wasn’t about  a guy from Orlando.

22-year-old Devon Staples was evidently joking around, holding a large firecracker - a mortar tube - on his head while playing with a cigarette lighter.

And then the mortar went off.

“There was no rushing him to the hospital,” his brother, Cody, told the New York Daily News. “There was no Devon left when I got there.”



*********** Some of Oregon’s top high school football coaches have noticed that as college coaches get much of the information they need from outside  sources, the high school coach’s role in  recruiting has diminished.

Wrote Jerry Ulmer, in the Portland Oregonian…
"I'll still get a lot of the initial contact with the Division I schools, but then you slip out of the scene," Lake Oswego coach Steve Coury said. "They don't need you to get film. The high school coach is becoming the guy that everybody forgot about."
If colleges cut high school coaches out of the loop, they do so at their own risk, Jesuit coach Ken Potter said. He recalled the recruitment of Jesuit fullback Owen Marecic, who starred at Stanford.
"Five years ago, I said Owen Marecic was the best football player I've ever coached, and he was offered one scholarship by one school," Potter said. "At times, I think the college coaches rely on websites and other personnel that I don't think know the kids as well as the high school coach. But if that's the way they want to recruit, then they can go ahead. There will be lots of mistakes made."

South Gate Back Bar

*********** Few sights are as interesting to me as a back bar with character.  The one above is at one of my favorite stops,  the South Gate Tavern in Highland Falls, New York, just outside the South Gate (duh) of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.  The last time I was in there, a group of West Point upperclassmen were celebrating something or other by drinking a concoction of assorted spirits of the sort that doesn’t seem quite so pleasant when you’re no longer a college kid.  This particular drink was called the “AMF.”  HINT: the “A” is for “Adios.”  (Got one you like?  Send it to me with a little info)

***********  “We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK." Barack Obama   (Like when was the last time you thought about  asking Pakistan’s permission before having another hot dog?)

*********** Headline in our local paper:

Men 4 Times More Likely to Die in DUI Crashes

Well, no sh--, Sherlock

Wonder what genius collected taxpayers’ money to conduct that study

I am in the process of applying for a federal grant to conduct a similar study showing that men are more likely to…

Get falling-down drunk.

Engage in bar fights.

Dip snuff.

Drag race.

Injure themselves with fireworks.

Buy expensive bass boats.

Shoot holes in “Deer Crossing” signs.

I think I can bring the whole study in for $100,000 or so.

*********** I was reading recently about a great athlete of long ago named Dwight Edelman, from Centralia, Illinois, and I learned that the Centralia High teams are called the Orphans.  Supposedly the nickname originated when the Centralia basketball team showed up at the state championship in raged-looking uniforms, and a radio announcer said they looked like a bunch orphans.   They won the tournament, and from that point on took great pride in the nickname.

And that got me to three of my very favorite nicknames.  (This from a guy who’s coached Spudders, and still coaches Hyaks, and lives in a town whose teams are the Papermakers.)

Tops on my list is Orofino, Idaho High School.  The state mental institution is located in town, and as sort of a backhanded tribute to it, the high school’s teams are the Maniacs.

You can’t get any more logical than the Indiana School for the Deaf.  Their teams are the Deaf Hoosiers.

An award goes posthumously to Pekin, Illinois High School. Until 1980,  Pekin’s teams were known as the Chinks.

(To make it understandable, “Pekin” was once the name of a certain large city in China that underwent three or four name changes before finally arriving at Beijing.)

Pekin’s mascot would dress “Chinese,” and bang a gong whenever Pekin scored a touchdown.

A few years before the school finally made the change from Chinks to Dragons, several Chinese-American groups visited the school to try to persuade it to make the change.  When the idea of changing the nickname was submitted to the student body,  it went down to defeat.

***********I try to like NASCAR - I really do.  But I can’t remember when watching a sports event  was a bigger waste of my time than that July 4th fiasco from Daytona.

Apart from the fact that you really have to know your cars and drivers to be able to follow the race, what with the constant camera switching…

Why does the leader appear to be punished and the laggards rewarded whenever there’s a wreck on the track?

I’m a sports fan of reasonable intelligence, but I can’t tell you a damn thing about caution flags and what drivers can do then.  All I think I’ve figured out is that after many, many laps of trying to separate the good cars and drivers from the bad, some fool makes the kind of move that out on the highway would get him shot in a road-rage incident, and after the resulting wreck and caution flag, we fans are treated to a restart, with everybody back in the yawn-inducing tight pack for many, many more laps.

A few more crazy moves, a few more wrecks, a few more caution flags and restarts later and before you know it the race is over and some guy who never led until the last restart is down on the track burning rubber.

Couple of thoughts:

(1) When you try to complicate something as essentially simple as who can get around the track the fastest, you’re setting up barriers that keep new fans away. Why is it that NASCAR seems to assume that everybody watching knows its rules? Why not a concerted effort to let newbies know what’s going on?  If it’s hard for an interested outsider to just tune in and understand, how are you going to get  new fans? 

(2) There were way too many wrecks. Fortunately, it didn’t appear that anyone was hurt in any of them.  But that leads me to this question: with the welcome stress on driver safety, is it possible that cars and barrier walls have been made so safe that guys are willing to try some ridiculous things, resulting in  all the wrecks and all the stoppages in action?  The unintended consequence of the football helmet, designed for its wearer’s protection but too often used as a weapon, comes to mind.

*********** Then there’s this ESPY crap coming up.

I find the notion  that the dignity and the name of Arthur Ashe would be on an award to  a human freak show like Bruce “Call me Caitlyn” Jenner to be repulsive.

The idea that ESPN will intends to equate Jenner flamboyant  exhibitionism  with the grace and courage with which Arthur Ashe faced death is appalling.

But then they promote the show with an inexcusable falsehood.

Their promo quickly cuts from the late Jim Valvano talking about  humor - to a bearded LeBron James sitting in an audience somewhere and laughing - to Jim Valvano talking about thinking - to an adult Peyton Manning sitting in an audience somewhere, nodding his head as if to say, “So true!” - back to Valvano again, talking about showing emotion - to a mature Robin Roberts sitting in an audience somewhere, tearing up.

By skillful editing, the intended  impression is that Mr. James, Mr. Manning and Ms. Roberts were sitting  in the audience, listening to - and moved by - Jim Valvano’s speech.

The problem:  Jim Valvano died in 1993, not long after he made a speech at the ESPY awards, from which  the excerpts used in the commercial were taken.

At the time he made that speech, Robin Roberts was a young woman, who’d been on the job at ESPN just a couple of years, and had yet to face cancer herself; Peyton Manning was 17 years old, a senior in high school and still trying to decide where to go to college.  LeBron James was eight years old, and probably still uncertain whether he liked football or basketball best. 

*********** Philadelphia Eagles’ all-time great running back Steve Van Buren loved the ponies. One day not long ago, before he died, a fan asked him if he ever felt any bitterness about the money being paid to today’s players, many of whom aren’t half the player he is. “No,” he said. “It wouldn't matter how much money I made. I'd blow it all at the track anyway.”

*********** There is only one country in the world where the number of native-born Americans living there exceeds the number of natives of that country living in America.

*********** I recently acquired 'Total Football II', an enormous book copyrighted 1999. It's edited by Bob Carroll, was subtitled the 'Official Encyclopedia of the NFL', and has an article on strategy that has an interesting claim. It said that Bud Wilkinson encountered Earle Neale's 5-2 in the College All Star game after the Eagle's first NFL championship, and that he took it back with him to Oklahoma and tinkered with it.

(Books like 'Total Football' were obsoleted by online sites like 'pro football reference'. Something of a pity that, as the articles in Total Football aren't bad -- horrible diagram of a 4-3 flex defense, though).

I see no mention of the Oklahoma in Dana Bible's book "Championship Football" (1947), nor in Steve Owens 1952 book, "My Kind of Football", but if you get online and find video of Oklahoma in 1952, they're clearly playing it. Most sources talk about the Oklahoma being played in the "1940s". If it were being played in, say, the middle 40s, then Total Football II's claim would be false.

There may be something to the Bud Wilkinson-Greasy Neale story (NOBODY ever called him "Earle") but whatever the inspiration, the Oklahoma defense was devised as a means to combat the cutting-edge offense of the time, the Split-T, which started out with Don Faurot and spread like wildfire through the various  service-based football programs of World War II, which had brought together college coaches from all over the country.  

Bobby Dodd and Ray Graves are both acknowledged in Gomer Jones' book on Oklahoma football (which he wrote with Bud Wilkinson).  It is possible that they deserve some credit for inventing the Oklahoma defense.  Dodd hired Graves in 1946. Prior to that, Graves had been with the Steagles/Eagles from 1943-1946. It's quite possible that that's where the Greasy Neale influence comes in.

On the other hand, in Bobby Dodd's biography, "Dodd's Luck" it's noted "For the 1951 season, Graves installed the "monster defense" (the Monster Man was a roving linebacker-defensive back hybrid).  Graves had learned the monster, which was designed to stop the split-T, from Oklahoma's Bud Wilkinson."

*********** Coach,
I was reading your web site and saw where you said you had met Howard Mudd.  I never met Howard, but I arrived at Hillsdale College in Michigan in the fall of 1964 and played on the JV football team.  Our first two games were with Iona State Prison and Jackson Federal Prison.  That was quite an experience for a 17 year old.  The head coach at Hillsdale was Frank “Muddy” Waters and the QB coach was Al Dorow, former NY Titan QB.  Coach Waters later coached at Michigan State.  I played varsity baseball in the spring of my freshman year at Hillsdale and decided at 5’6, 154 lbs I should stick with baseball and transferred to a Junior College in Florida the next year.  The time at Hillsdale was a unique experience and I really enjoyed it and learned a lot while I was there. It led me to following Howard Mudd’s career in the NFL.  It is amazing how paths cross throughout our lives.

Ron Timson
Leesburg, Florida

Hi Ron-

I had no idea that you had a connection to Hillsdale, for which I have so much respect as a college.  Imagine a school that won’t take a nickel of federal money so that it can be free to act without political pressure.

I didn’t realize when Howard Mudd was out here that he is mostly a Hillsdale guy.  I knew of the Michigan State in his background, but only learned later about Hillsdale.

Mike Lude, who coached at Maine, Delaware and Colorado State, and then served as AD at Kent State, Washington and Auburn, is a Hillsdale alum and a very devoted one at that.

Wain Clarke, of Puyallup, Washington is the son of a friend, Shep Clarke.  He’s a very good football player and he’s headed to Hillsdale as a freshman.  I’d like to think that a meeting he and his dad had with Mike helped to sell him.

Coincidentally, my freshman football coach at Yale, Gib Holgate, had been a successful head coach at Hillsdale.

Go Hillsdale!

*********** West Virginia and Pitt have begun talks to revive the Backyard Brawl.   Guess Pitt’s getting tired of looking at all those empty seats whenever those zero-rivalry  rivals from the ACC come to town.

american flagFRIDAY,  JULY 3,  2015-   "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace." Thomas Paine


*********** A guy who once played Chief Osceola, that faux Indian warrior who rides a horse into Doak Campbell Stadium and plants a spear into the ground at midfield before every Florida State game, was stabbed to death in an argument with a co-worker.

The dispute evidently was over  the amount of spices to put in the gumbo at the Panama City seafood restaurant  where they worked.

With all appropriate respect for the deceased, my friend Doc Hinger, an adopted Floridian, wondered if the headline shouldn’t have read “Chef” Osceola.


*********** Should I stay or should I go?

As I write this, I’m in Ocean Shores, Washington, 200 miles from home.  It’s a sunny, breezy 70 degrees.

We’re supposed to go home to Camas for the weekend.  The forecast 
this weekend   for  Camas and the rest of the Portland area is temperatures in the high 90s.

I hate hot weather.


*********** Last Sunday, North Beach High took part in the annual Grays Harbor Football Camp.  (Our whole area, surrounding the body of water by that name, is simple referred to as “The Harbor.”)

Dana LeDuc, former Seahawks and Rams strength coach, has a home in Ocean Shores and every summer he brings in a cast of former NFL guys he’s worked with to put on a Saturday golf tournament to benefit youth football in our area, followed by the Sunday day camp.

This year, I had the pleasure of meeting, among others, Howard Mudd and Jim Hanifan.  They’re two all-time great offensive line coaches.  (Check it out if you don’t believe me.)

Three high school teams were on hand for the afternoon’s 7-on-7 competition, and because the other two teams had more than enough players and we had barely enough, we took on a couple of “strays” - kids from other area schools who had come on their own.

One of them was quite good and a good kid to boot. An “OKG” (Our Kind of Guy) in the words of Washington coach Chris Peterson.

Let me digress a minute.  Jon Eagle, the coach at our local high school in Camas was suspended for four games next season because he met with a kid from another school and his grandfather.  The kid had evidently expressed an interest in coming to Camas and Jon met with him and granddad and - grandpa swore to this - told the kid he was better off spending his senior year at his current school.  No matter.  According to his league, Jon should have referred to the kid to his AD and had nothing more to do with it.

Jon’s a good guy.  I’ve coached against him and I coached on his staff for a couple of years at another high school.  I certainly never knew him to cheat.  He’s a very good coach and he’s been very successful - he’s coming off two straight undefeated regular seasons, including loss on the final play of the 2013 state championship game - and I suspect that the whole kerfuffle  was motivated in part by envy.  His suspension has since been reduced to two games and ultimately, after an appeal to the state association, to no games.  At least that’s where it stands now.

What I’m getting at is that I wanted to tell that kid, that OKG, last Sunday how good he’d look in a black-and-gold North Beach uniform, and how well I thought he’d fit into our offense -  the very one he’d been playing in all afternoon. 

Oh, how I wanted to tell him that. But oh, no.  Not me.

I wanted to tell him that the brother of one of our kids had just moved out of their house and they had a room just for him.

But I just couldn’t..

I wanted to ask him how he enjoyed catching passes from our QB (who’s much better than the one at his high school). 


And I wanted to ask him how much fun it would be playing for a winner  (his team sucks, and has for years).


Not me.

But suppose one of our kids were to tell him those things… (Just kidding. Honest)

*********** Henry Riggs died last week at the age of 80.

Mr. Riggs was, in his own words, Stanford’s “sales manager,” but his real title was Vice President of Development - that’s the guy who raises money for the school - and directing a staff of 190 people, he raised more than $1 billion in the school’s Centennial Campaign.

In 2011 he wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times accusing many colleges of charging higher tuition simply because they could - and also because for fear that  if they didn’t keep raising tuition, they’d give prospective students the impression that they were less than first-rate.

*********** John Vermillion, a West Point graduate, has been a reader of my site, and he wrote and  asked me if I’d be interested in reading a book he wrote.

I told John that I couldn’t promise anything - I have a large and growing “need to read” pile, and I’m eager to get at it once I’m done with what I’m currently reading.

But then he gave me a quick rundown:

I love West Point, but am not happy with the direction it has moved for quite some time. I wrote “The Supe: A Novel of West Point”, not for money or to see my name, but because I wanted to call attention to many of the subjects you have mentioned on the blog.

(For those not familiar with West Point, “Supe” is short for Superintendent - the three-star general responsible for the overall supervision of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. HW)

Half my fellow graduates will hate me for it, half will accept it. The protagonist is based loosely on a former Army player - quite well-known - who, if I were free to say his name, you could reply to me with a thorough biography. He was the greatest leader I encountered in or out of the Army. He has proffered his respect many times for Don Holleder.
This Supe is a retired Marine General coaxed from retirement. He takes on the Academic Board, the Board of Visitors, the Secretary of the Army, Title IX, the LGBT people, and ultimately the President.

I intend to demonstrate the power and influence one genuine leader can have in returning our military, and our country, back in the direction of Founding Principles. Football is an integral part of the story.

I said, “send it.”

I received the book and read it, and allowing for my bias because  I understand the subject and I sympathize with the book’s premise - that West Point itself has been bending under political pressure to reflect the softness and corruption of our overall culture - I found “The Supe” quite readable and interesting.

Based on what I know and what the author writes, I share his assessment of the current situation in our country, in our Army, and at West Point. John Vermillion writes knowledgeably about a number of aspects of West Point with which I’m familiar, and a number of others with which I’m unfamiliar but in which I’m quite interested.  It’s obvious that where he isn’t writing from first-hand experience, he’s filled in the gaps with solid research and  access to good sources.

"The SUPE" is a Roman a Clef.  A previous superintendent is easily recognized, as is the former football coach (who stressed keeping the players slim and trim and not wanting to work them too hard). So, too are the current AD and current football coach

And it’s not hard to recognize New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who seems preoccupied with a perceived epidemic of sexual assault at the military academy.

The “Supe” in question, a mixture of George Patton and Chesty Puller, is persuaded to come out of retirement and take on the Herculean task of cleaning out the Augean Stables that, thanks to political pressures,  West Point has become.

I  wish author Vermillion had given more thorough treatment to the process by which such a man was coaxed out of retirement and, despite being  from another branch of the service, assigned to the superintendency of the US Military Academy.  I just can’t see the ever-vigilant advocates of special causes letting that one slip by.

But I do understand his having to choose between answering the reader’s question as to how in the world this could have been pulled off, which could have gotten readers bogged down in the ugliness of politics, and the need to keep the reader’s interest by moving on to the meat of the story: Patton/Puller comes to West Point.

Without telling any of the story, let’s just say that there aren’t many entrenched interests at West Point or in Washington, D.C. that this Super Supe, who owes no favors to anyone, isn’t willing to take on.  If only.

In my opinion, the author writes well, with one mild quibble: if he’d been able to interest a major publisher in his book, he’d have had the assistance of a professional editor, and the dialogue between his characters would seem less scripted.

Yes,  the author may anger some fellow West Pointers, but his  book  carries an important   message:  that their beloved alma mater, one of America’s most hallowed institutions, is under attack, from within and without. For this reason alone, I’d wish for “The SUPE” the greater exposure it merits.

One more thing - like me, the “Supe” doesn’t think that a losing football program is compatible with an institution whose mission is to train leaders to win our nation’s wars.

*********** “$13 million is cool, but where’s my security?”  quoth Dez Bryant, who doesn’t think that his current $13 million contract provides him the lifetime security that the world owes a man unfit to do anything other than catch footballs.

*********** Perry M. Smith,  a retired Air Force Major General, was Don Holleder’s roommate at West Point and a second-team All-American lacrosse player. As a fighter pilot, he flew 180 combat missions over Laos and North Vietnam, and later served as Commandant of the National War College.  General Smith is a teacher, an author and a lecturer on leadership topics, and served as CNN’s chief military analyst for seven years, resigning in 1998 in protest over a story falsely accusing the US military of using lethal nerve gas against our own troops.  He has assisted in editing “Medal of Honor,” a collection of stories about many of America’s Medal of Honor recipients. Mrs. Smith is the daughter of the late Lieutenant Colonel Jimmie Dyess, USMC,  who is the only person to earn our nation’s two highest awards for heroism, the Medal of Honor and the Carnegie Medal.

What follows are the next five of General Smith’s  30 “common sense, often-forgotten tips for good leadership,” reprinted with his permission.  He calls them “30 Blazing Flashes of the Obvious,” but if that’s all they were, we’d see a lot more good leaders in our society.

16. Thank the Invisible People

There are lots of fine people doing great work who seldom get thanked because they are “invisible.” They work so quietly and so competently that they often are not noticed by the leader.

17. Don’t Send Out “I Don’t Trust you” Messages

People who say “I never want to be surprised” or “Check with me before you start anything” or “I’m off on a trip; I’ll call in every morning for an update” are sending out very strong “I don’t trust you” messages to their subordinates. People who know they are not trusted will never contribute at their full potential.

18. Serve, Don’t Humor, the Boss

Too many leader see their big tasks as keeping their bosses happy, getting o the bottom of the in-box, or staying out of trouble.  That is not what leadership is all about.  Leadership is serving the mission and serving your people.

19. Criticize Up, Praise Down

Leaders met deflect at least some of the bad guidance they get from above. Is it being loyal to your boss and to the institution you serve to tell the bosses when they are wearing no clothes?

20.  Be Physically Fit

Everyone has a “health age.” If you exercise daily and watch your diet, you can make yourself  fur or five years younger than your chronological age.

*********** Harvard is Yale's oldest and biggest rival.  Harvard has now beaten Yale eight straight times - a streak surpassed only by Yale's ten straight wins between 1876 and 1889.

It's not just eight straight, though - it's 13 of the last 14.

Without question,  one major reason for Harvard's dominance in recent years is coach Tim Murphy, for whom I have the utmost respect.

Read this article about him in the school newspaper, written before last season's Yale-Harvard game.   It doesn't have a thing to do with his offensive or defensive system.  It's about the kind of man he is and the effect Harvard football has on the men he coaches.

At a time when our game is under attack,  the last thing we need is enemies inside the walls - coaches who undermine the game by cheating, teaching vicious tactics,  demeaning and brutalizing their players. Read the following article from the Harvard Crimson, and I think you'll agree that we need more coaches like Harvard's Coach Murphy.



Months before Harvard’s commencement ceremonies, Crimson seniors go through a graduation ceremony in Murphy’s school.

It comes this week actually, after the team’s final practice before The Game. Seniors take a final walk around Harvard Stadium, speaking personally with each player—starting with the freshmen and ending with Murphy.

“He pauses and gives you some feedback one way or another where he found value for you in the program,” Riegel remembered. “That’s pretty inspiring stuff.”

Then comes the final team meal—a steak dinner, Riegel says—and a chance for each senior to address the team at large. The dinner is scheduled to last two hours, but Riegel says it often runs long. The seniors have a lot to say.

Holuba said it took him his full four years to understand the complete value of Murphy’s system.

“Looking back at the role model he is and what he actually brings out of you when you leave Harvard football and come into the workforce, you don’t have the same kind of people around you who expect so much out of you,” he said.

Now working in New York, Holuba said he still shows up to meetings 10 minutes early—on “Murphy Time.”

“Hell, I still wake up scared thinking I was late for a Harvard football practice,” he added.

“I don’t know if I would be bold enough to say I fully understand Coach Murphy,” Riegel said.

Judging the success of Murphy’s school in character education is difficult, Scalise admits.  “In a sense, we only know if we’ve done a good job 15 to 25 years from now, and we have anecdotal evidence that we’ve served a lot of people very well,” he said.

Holuba said he does not need to wait to judge Murphy’s tenure.

—Staff writer Jacob D. H. Feldman can be reached at jacob.feldman@thecrimson.com.


*********** “Once an army is involved in war, there is a beast in every fighting man which begins tugging at its chains... a good officer must learn, early on, how to keep the beast under control, both in his men and in himself."     General George C. Marshall

*********** Coach Wyatt,
I am writing you to tell you how the new virus know as OUT OF SEASON TRAVEL LACROSSE (and Baseball) have infected my team beyond measure for our summer practices.  And AAU Basketball has a few of the players also.
This epidemic is beginning to get out of control because I have players on roster that have yet to attend a weight training or conditioning session or any practice that we have held.
The best part is that my projected starting QB sustained a concussion on Sunday and is now out of commission until released.  His injury came from playing in a LAX tournament over the weekend.
My back up QB, won't be at practice until mid to late July because of his LAX summer schedule.
Factor in the family summer vacations and we are getting around 55 to 60% attendance at practice.  The words frustrated, angry, disappointed and any combination of those words in a Thesaurus is where I am at right now.  But, amidst it all, I still coach, I still teach those that show up.
The most aggravating part for me is that last year at this exact time, I had a committed group of about 20 players that I knew were my 7 on 7 team.    As of right now, with this season's team, I can't have a consistent practice because I now have NO QUARTERBACK and the emergency 3rd QB is out of town on vacation until after the 4th of July.
I now have to get creative with what I can and can't do with the offense.  I will still do my best to teach the offense but it may end up being a dumbed down version based on personnel or should I say lack there of.
It is extremely frustrating beyond measure because even when I was a youth coach I never have been in a situation where parents and players are now treating football as the bastard Quasimodo step-cousin and putting all these travel sports ahead of football.  Is this a conspiracy of all those moms that don't want there babies to play the rough hard hitting contact sport of football?  Yet, I see more kids getting demolished by kill shots at LAX games, and with lesser padding or equipment.
It almost makes me want to tell kids that I recruit that they must be fully committed to football above all else and any other sport that play that is out of season comes second.  But I know I can't do that, even at a private school but it makes me want to really evaluate the type of players I go after going forward.
I'm frustrated Coach Wyatt, but I won't allow my frustration to prevent me from coaching and teaching the game I love.
Coach Vex Annoy


I’m really sorry to hear that you’re going through this.  With its ability to start kids at a young age and to go year-round, lacrosse has the potential to become Soccer on a Stick.

However, it’s reality, and...  

“What can’t be cured - must be endured.”

As long as they’re turning out for football, I personally don’t care whether football is their favorite sport, or second favorite, or whatever.

The biggest problem is that this keeps you from getting a jump on things, but there’s no doubt in my mind that if you can suffer through this your kids will be ready to go when the time comes.

We simply can’t put too much pressure on these kids because the reality is that if we force them to choose sports, we'll lose a lot of them.  Football is too good a game for us to encourage kids to play something else.  It’s a pain in the ass that we can’t plan summer activities the way we’d like, but it wasn’t all that long ago that parents would have thought we were nuts to suggest that their kids work out all summer long preparing for football.  So maybe we’re back where we started. At the very least, those kids will still turn out for football, and when we get them, and while they’re playing, it will be their favorite sport.  That’s the way it used to be when everybody played the sport in season.

While they're with us, we have to do whatever we can to make it an unforgettable experience.  I think we can do that. I know you can.

Wish I could be more encouraging, but I know you, and you’ll be fine.

*********** "A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But  it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less  formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly.

“But the  traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers  rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government  itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents  familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he  appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men.

“He  rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that  it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear. The traitor is the  plague." - Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 B.C.)

*********** Hey Coach,

I am all in now! I have decided to implement the double wing at ——. Unfortunately, I've been spending this summer working on what we've been doing the past 3 years. For that reason, I will carry out this year with the same offense. I plan to incorporate as much as I can (terminology, formations, technique) this year with the varsity but begin the process of implementing it with my youth programs and middle school.

I want a system and looked into the Wing-T and even bought a book covering the Wing-T for information. Having already tightened down our splits and seeing how much that helped with below average linemen, I am committed to that so the double wing seems like a system for me. I've gone ahead and purchased information and look forward to diving in. Any guidance for how to implement with my youth programs and middle school? Thanks again coach. I am so excited!


In my judgment, if this is the way to go you should go with it. Now.  Not next year.  Now.

Tim is precious. I find it hard to believe that you would waste a year, and waste your seniors’ last year of football.

If what you’re already doing is what you think gives your kids the best chance to win, then stay with it.  Nest year, too.  Run it in your middle school and youth programs.

But if you are convinced that something else is best for your program, do it now, and tell your kids why you’ve decided.  You’re the head coach and it’s your decision.

Whatever you see as your best chance to win - jump in feet-first right now.  It’s not even the Fourth of July.  Bear Bryant didn’t decide to convert to the wishbone until after he’d been all the way through spring ball.

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

Sorry for the delayed response to your email.  Had to leave town for a couple of days this week.

I met with my assistant & explained to him that the direction of our offense will be set by me - the head coach.  If we cannot make this work then there might need to be a change with the coaching staff.  He agreed that our communication needs to improve.

When I asked him about getting info from a head coach at a local high school, I reminded him that he isn't paid by that school district or on that coach’s staff.  I am open to new ideas or methods of coaching as long as it fits with our program.

I also reminded him that I expect loyalty from every coach in the program.  

I want to thank you for your time & perspective.  I will keep you posted on how things go.

Have a great rest of your summer!


I appreciate your getting back to me.

I think it’s important that you now do a tightrope walk between allowing him freedom to coach and making sure he doesn’t start to stray.

I think that the best way to do this is to make sure that he shows you - before every practice - a detailed schedule of what he intends to run that day.  And then, if you’re not able to actually view the goings-on, to go over things with him afterwards.

If that doesn’t do anything else, it will continually emphasize to him that he is accountable to you for what he is doing.

And in the meantime, it’s essential that you have complete documentation of everything that he’s teaching so that in the event he should decide to walk, you or someone you designate can step in and resume things fairly seamlessly.  (This shouldn’t be a problem if he’s teaching what you expect to be taught, the way you expect it to be taught. And it's a major reason why you don’t want him freelancing to begin with.)

Don’t let him - or anybody else - make himself indispensable.

Thanks again and keep me posted.

Best of luck!

***** Coach Wyatt ...

I'm trying to make a ring for our circle drill out of PVC pipe... I've got the sections, got the connectors, but I can't seem to get the pipe sections to bend enough to connect them together...
How did you construct your ring?


Maybe you’re using a wider diameter pipe than you need.  I use 1/2” which is flexible enough to form the hoop.


american flagFRIDAY,  JUNE 26,  2015-   “Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.” Napoleon Bonaparte

*********** Got a call from my friend Doc Hinger Thursday afternoon. I was driving, and the reception on the hands-free device was scratchy, but as best I could make out, he was telling me that the All Blacks were going to be on TV at 4:30.  My time.  Against the Alouettes.  

“Got your sports confused,” I told him. “The All Blacks play rugby.  The Alouettes play football.  Canadian football.”

“I didn’t say All Blacks,” he told me. “I said Ottawa Red-Blacks.  They’re playing the Montreal Alouettes. On ESPN2.”

That’s when it hit me.  Yee-haw!  Football is back! Canadian football, to be sure, but as far as I’m concerned, if the NFL were to disappear tomorrow,  and ESPN2 would continue carrying the CFL games, I’d become a big CFL fan.
Can’t think of a team up there that I don’t like.

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

I have a couple of questions on how you would handle a situation that I am having with one of my assistant coaches. The past few seasons I have turned over the offensive play calling duties to one of my assistant coaches.  I made this decision based on my experience as a player and coach wanting to make the pieces fit on a small school coaching staff.  My (I hate using the term OC) play caller wants to have his "fingerprints" on the offense. I/we have used your playing calling system since 2003 on every staff that I have been associated with.  My guy continues to push the usage of overly worded play calls. I have had many discussions with him about what I want from the offensive side of the football.  With very little return on my suggestions. I am at the point of taking over play-calling duties if I cant get the other coach to change

In the 1st staff meeting & every staff preseason staff meeting since I have stated that "Utter Loyalty" to me the head coach is a must.  Yet, I feel my guy goes out of his way to try and buck the system that I have established.

In our last meeting he stated that we need to get away from the DW because we do not have the linemen that we had last season. I replied that it would be a huge mistake & that I have seen in past experiences at other schools, going away from our principles (tighter splits, blocking angles, etc) will have a negative impact on our teams performance.

Since 2008, I have been using direct snap variations for this great offense. But I will never abandon what has gotten me to this point in my coaching career.

Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated!!!


Tough situation.

First, be prepared to fire him.  It sounds as if you are.

So long as you’re not afraid to do that, he can’t back you into a corner.

In my opinion, you have already let him take this too far, to the point where he is beginning to think of this as his offense.  

Then, explain to him that you’re ready to fire him; that you’d prefer not to have to do it, but that you are the head coach, you’re the one who’s ultimately going to be held responsible for the success of the team, and with that responsibility goes the direction of the offense and the defense.

We all have a boss.  You’re his.  He answers to you. His responsibility is to run the offense - whatever offense you decide on - to your satisfaction. Period.

It’s not his offense.  It’s the team’s offense, and it’s your responsibility to decide what offense you will run. It’s not his decision whether or not to run one offense or another. If he thinks a change is in order, it’s his responsibility to sell it to you.  (I rather doubt that he’s done the homework to enable him to sell you on something new and different, because your “last meeting" is awfully late for him to be making what sounds like an off-the-wall suggestion.) 

He obviously thinks he’s a star.  But there can’t be any stars on a football staff.

When I need to put things in perspective, I think of a quote attributed to John Neff, who was a long-time coach at Waukegan, Ill., and a very successful one.  The quote was told me by a coach who once worked for him:

No player is more important than the team.

No coach is more important than the staff.

No game is more important that the season.

No season is more important that the program.

I personally think that if you go in armed for bear and simply lay things out the way they’re supposed to be, you should offer him the option of keeping his job under the restrictions he should have been under from the start.

I would let him know that because of what I consider to be repeated acts of disloyalty (citing examples)  if he is going to continue, he will be on a very short leash and I will be keeping a close eye on him.

There is always the chance that since you have probably never put it to him as bluntly as I have here, he won’t have realized that he has been disloyal, and your little talk will help him understand his place in the picture.

But he may decide not to accept your proposal, which will save you the trouble of firing him.

General Perry Smith said it well in my latest NEWS:

“Leaders should not allow themselves to become indispensible, nor should they let any of their subordinates do so.”

Good Luck.

*********** In a radio news piece about the South Carolina confederate  flag issue, I heard  a guy who self- identified as a history teacher say, “I can’t believe anyone would want to fly that flag.”

To think that that’s the sort of people that “teach” our kids “history.”

The sort of people who think it’s their job to teach kids “what” to think, instead of “how to think.

The sort of people who don’t even know the “what” of history, much less the “why.”

We only learn the lessons history if we can understand, for example,  why so many people  in post-World War I Germany would vote for Adolf Hitler. We don’t learn from the sort of people who  “can’t believe anybody would vote for that guy.” 

Which is why, a history major,  I deplore what passes for history today.

*********** I hate to continue to keep drilling you with questions. I am eager to learn and really hate to fail. I am completely on board with teaching fundamentals on a continual basis. My problem is I don't even know where to start. I guess I just need guidance where to start. Again, you've provided so many things already and I know you have your own stuff to take care of. I greatly appreciate all the help you've already given me. Thanks!


The first thing I do is share my Personal Mission Statement with players, parents, administrators, assistants - anybody who needs to know.

I tell people that this is what guides me, and if they ever see my deviating from it in any way, I want to know.

It’s easy for me to remember:

1.  I’m going to treat kids right

2. I’m going to set high standards for them and hold them all to those standards

3. I’m going to teach them more about football than they ever knew existed

4. I’m going to give them an experience that they’ll be proud of for the rest of their lives

Nothing at all in there about winning.

I can’t promise wins, but I can promise them that I’ll live up to my Mission Statement.

That’s a start.

Hugh Wyatt

PS - I don’t mind your “drilling” me.  Keep firing away.

*********** "Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute,” were the words of South Carolinian Robert Goodloe Harper, at the idea of having to pay bribes, essentially protection money, to a foreign country.

Now, as another sign of the way our world keeps turning upside-down, we are cutting back on the size of our army and navy, while at the same time,  we’ve decide it’s okay to pay tribute.

From now on, thanks to a bizarre, new. feel-good ruling, if a loved one is taken hostage overseas, you are free to pay ransom to the kidnappers.   As former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani says, we have just created a new business opportunity for criminals worldwide.   And for crowdfunding sites.

My chief  concern is that now, any American tourist or businessperson or student, anywhere in the world, is going to be seen by the forces of evil as a target of opportunity, and ordinary Americans will wind up enriching criminals - and subsidizing  terrorism - with their ransom payments.

How long do you think it will be before the ransom payments come not from individuals or companies, but directly from Uncle Sugar?

After all, who else is going to pay the ransom when poor “folks” are kidnapped and their families can’t come up with the money?  Surely there’s a   politician  already at work right now on the idea of a Ransom-Aid Card, preloaded with a suitable ransom amount, to be distributed to  anyone whose income falls below the poverty level.

*********** Joe Paterno was once asked what he considered the worst mistake a coach can make. “I make it every year,” he answered. “I keep putting the guy with  potential out on the field instead of the guy who gets the job done.”

*Clay Harrold at OS********** Doggone.  I just got back from a couple of days in Ocean Shores, where I coach,  and found out that I’d missed an out of town visitor by mere hours.  We don’t get that many visitors out there on the edge of the 48.

Coach Clay Harrold, of Pekin, Iowa was passing through Ocean Shores (actually, there’s no such thing as “passing through” Ocean Shores - he had to intend to go there) and took the time to have his picture taken under our scoreboard.

He wrote, “I expect this scoreboard to be lit up like a Christmas tree on the home side this season! Ocean Shores, what a slice of heaven! Hope all is well. Take care!”

"A slice of heaven?"  It is for me. I love Ocean Shores.  But it is definitely not Malibu or Waikiki or Bali.  On the other hand, it was beautiful and sunny Thursday, and it did get up to 70 degrees...

 (Lt. Jim Davis was a member of the Ocean Shores Fire Department who lost his life in an ocean rescue.)

*********** ————— guided me to the news letter on your site last night and I can already connect with a few of them. I've already had a volunteer coach who applied for the job and went to the community and tried to get board to not vote for me. I followed tip #72 and I fired his ass!

The few problems I am having now is getting numbers to weights (getting about 23 out of 40 kids). Also can't get great buy in from my coaching staffs. I definitely am the most driven coach on staff. Need to work to get others excited. I have the fear I will push people away and be stuck doing this job on my own. Everyone of my staff members grew up in this small community and their football knowledge does not extend past their time spent here.

I plan to continue to grind and start getting people to get on board with me. I continually tell myself no one is more important than the program and if people can't commit then I don't need them. Too harsh?


To be frank, you have stepped into a tough situation as the outsider surrounded by locals.

It’s going to take time to convince the holdovers that you’re competent and in the meantime you’re going to have to deal with some people like the guy you had to fire.

One thing I would urge you not to do is to give anybody a title yet.  They would all love to head for the local tavern and tell everyone that they’re this coordinator or that coordinator when right now what you need is helping hands, willing to do anything.

The responsibilities should go to those people who show a willingness to work, and you’re going to have to find out who they are and you’re going to have to earn their loyalty.

Since the team has been winning, I would assume that someone still on the staff knows what he’s doing.  Maybe I’m wrong.  Work your butt off to find out who they are (or who he is) and find out what they think about what needs to be done.  Put some trust in them.

Although I have summarily had to fire guys who I could see were going to be even bigger problems down the line, I think it’s best to present your new assistants with assignments that they can either accept or not, and if they choose not to accept they are, in effect, resigning.    It’s better all around if the choice to leave is theirs, so they can maintain their image in the community.   It lets them save face, and makes it easier for you to defend to your administration.

As for the weight room numbers, I would be shocked if you told me that you were getting 90 per cent attendance at every session.  That’s just not realistic, with a new coach.  I  would make every effort to connect with the seniors, who no doubt feel cast adrift with their senior year coming up. It’s not a cliche that it’s their team. Convince them that you want to help make their senior year as successful as possible, and to do that you'll need their help.  Listen to them.  

One more thing - try to do something to make the weight sessions fun.  Throw the ball around afterwards.  Have relays or  tire flipping competitions.  Play softball.  The great Bob Reade said that the main object right now should be building a team.

You can get the idea across that first they work, then the fun is their reward.

Just some thoughts.

*********** Perry M. Smith,  a retired Air Force Major General, was Don Holleder’s roommate at West Point and a second-team All-American lacrosse player. As a fighter pilot, he flew 180 combat missions over Laos and North Vietnam, and later served as Commandant of the National War College.  General Smith is a teacher, an author and a lecturer on leadership topics, and served as CNN’s chief military analyst for seven years, resigning in 1998 in protest over a story falsely accusing the US military of using lethal nerve gas against our own troops.  He has assisted in editing “Medal of Honor,” a collection of stories about many of America’s Medal of Honor recipients. Mrs. Smith is the daughter of the late Lieutenant Colonel Jimmie Dyess, USMC,  who is the only person to earn our nation’s two highest awards for heroism, the Medal of Honor and the Carnegie Medal.

What follows are the next five of General Smith’s  30 “common sense, often-forgotten tips for good leadership,” reprinted with his permission.  He calls them “30 Blazing Flashes of the Obvious,” but if that’s all they were, we’d see a lot more good leaders in our society.

11. Avoid the Cowardice of Silence

During meetings, so-called leaders often sit on their hands when it is time to raise a hand and speak up.  Leadership requires courage - courage to make waves, courage to take on our bosses when they are wrong, and the courage of convictions.  Every Robert E. Lee needs a James Longstreet to tell him exactly the way it is.

12. Fight Against Paranoia

Welcome criticism, help people understand that it is OK to have “love quarrels” within the organization.  Loyalty and criticism are mutually supporting while slavish loyalty is deadly. Avoid the defensive crouch. Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

13. Be Goal-Oriented

Leaders, even at a lower level, must try to set some long-term goals for their people and for their organization.  People want to know where they are going and in what order of priority.

14. Follow the Platinum Rule

The golden rule is marvelous, but in leadership situations the platinum rule may be even better: “Treat others the way they would like to be treated.”

15. Don’t Waste People’s Time

The best question a leader can ask a subordinate during a counseling session is, “How am I wasting your time?” Not everyone will tell you, but cherish the ones who do, for they will help you grow and prosper as a leader.

*********** Harvard is Yale's oldest and biggest rival.  Harvard has now beaten Yale eight straight times - a streak surpassed only by Yale's ten straight wins between 1876 and 1889.

It's not just eight straight, though - it's 13 of the last 14.

Without question,  one major reason for Harvard's dominance in recent years is coach Tim Murphy, for whom I have the utmost respect.

Read this article about him in the school newspaper, written before last season's Yale-Harvard game.   It doesn't have a thing to do with his offensive or defensive system.  It's about the kind of man he is and the effect Harvard football has on the men he coaches.

At a time when our game is under attack,  the last thing we need is enemies inside the walls - coaches who undermine the game by cheating, teaching vicious tactics,  demeaning and brutalizing their players. Read the following article from the Harvard Crimson, and I think you'll agree that we need more coaches like Harvard's Coach Murphy.



During preseason practice, Murphy invites the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention & Response to speak to his players.A representative of the office tells the players about their potential to prevent instances of sexual assault as physically larger people and recognizable members of the community.
The session made Holuba more passionate about the issue, and he said six to 12 other guys worked with OSAPR as well. Teammates got involved with Harvard Men Against Rape and the White Ribbon Campaign.

In 2006, then-captain Matthew C. Thomas ’06-’07 was charged with assault and battery against his ex-girlfriend. Holuba said he and his teammates wanted to help the program move past the incident and show the benefits he sees in football.

“I think football, especially lately with all the things you are hearing—you hear so much of the bad,” he said. “But I think for me, everything I associate with football is good values.”

Murphy decided to remove Thomas from the team following the charges. Recently, he has said the decision was difficult but necessary.

Holuba said Murphy’s decision to do so was emblematic of his constant message that “it doesn’t matter who you are or what your role is, you are held responsible for your action.”

Further than that, Holuba said Murphy reminds his players that they are not entitled to anything because they play football, just like he reminds them each week that they are not entitled to a win. You are not better than everyone else because you are on the football team, he says.

After instilling values in his players, Murphy lets them teach as well. He has set up a mentorship program to connect each freshman with an upperclassman from a similar place or who plays a similar position.

Holuba said his mentor was much more helpful than a University-assigned peer advisor, tutor, or other mentor.

“Not in a disparaging way, but the general student body has no idea what Division I athletics requires as far as a time commitment,” he explained.

Jaron Wilson ’14 was Hayes’s mentor.

“We became best friends, and that friendship will last a lifetime,” Hayes said.

Of course, all of this infrastructure could exist without having 11 guys line up against 11 guys and hit each other each Saturday.

But Hayes says the sport teaches, too.

“The game of football is unlike any other game in life,” he said. “There are so many life lessons to be learned. You learn so much by being part of a special team, overcoming so much adversity, pushing yourself for your own good but also for your teammates, your coaches, everybody who has invested so much into you being successful. You learn so much through football that you can use throughout all life.”

Director of Athletics Bob Scalise sees other benefits.

“You have to know how to compete within a framework of rules and in a way that exhibits good sportsmanship,” he said. “You also have to learn how to deal with not winning all the time, what do you do all the time.”

american flagTUESDAY,  JUNE 23,  2015-   "When I lost my freedom in Cuba, I had a place to come to. If we lose our freedom here, where are we going to go?" Rafael Cruz, father of Texas Senator Ted Cruz

*********** Say this for the NFL: once it recognizes that it has a problem, it gets right on it…

“Our biggest concern right now is the length of our games. We played one last year that ran something like three hours and 40 minutes. That’s something that will have to be studied by the competition committee.”

Don Shula,  in Scholastic Coach Magazine, August, 1985

*********** Question on Iowa drill. Do you put bigger, line type guys in the middle line of that drill?

Yes, for sure. I don't believe in setting kids up for failure, when it's not likely they'll ever be by themselves on the outside.

If you decide to try it out,  I would just suggest that you spend as long as it takes simply “teaching the drill” at “teaching speed” so they understand your expectations regarding breaking down, staying square, maintaining leverage, closing on the ball carrier, etc.

I find that when we start right out at full speed it’s harder to spot mistakes, and the mistakes get ingrained and are hard to correct.

*********** Bill Brown died last week.  He was 52.  Bill played one year of high school ball for me, in my first year at Vancouver, Washington Hudson’s Bay High, in 1980, before going on to play four years at Pacific Lutheran University under the great Frosty Westering.

He was a wide receiver and defensive back - fast, with good hands, and a hard hitter.

In 1988, when I needed an American football player for my team in Finland, the Jyväskylä (don’t try to pronounce it) Rangers, I convinced Bill to come along as a player/coach.

Bill was a great help to me and to the players, with whom he got along famously.

One of the most unforgettable moments of that summer in Finland was the evening we were driving home and came upon a car, stopped in the middle of an intersection, with a crowd of bystanders surrounding it.

Unable to get past, we got out of our car, and seeing that the driver of the car was slumped over the wheel, we raced over, opened the door, and put him - an older gentleman - on the ground, where we began performing two-person CPR (that’s what you were supposed to do, back in the Dark Ages). 

We kept it up for what seemed like an hour before the professionals finally arrived and took over.

One of the paramedics who arrived on the scene happened to be an acquaintance, and he shook his head  on learning that we two Americans took immediate action while the large group of onlookers did nothing.  He said it was a constant problem for him, and a reflection of two things - the American’s nature to jump right in, and the Finn’s nature not to. They are, in general, a shy people. He said that he constantly had to tell people that when they came upon a man in a condition like that they had to act: “DO something,” he said he would tell people. “Even if you just kick him in the ass - do SOMETHING!”

Back in the states, another of my former players who was a firefighter in Vancouver said that although he’d performed CPR dozens of times, he’d never  been able to save a life.

But miraculously, the recipient of our efforts, a man named Toivo Sormunen, survived, and although he spoke absolutely no English, it was obvious that Mr. Sormunen was delighted to see us when we visited him during his recuperation.  His son, Pasi, who was about my age, even came to our next game to thank us.

It was a day I’ll never forget.  It was June 18, 1938, my fiftieth birthday.  On June 18, 2015, Bill Brown was laid to rest.

*********** The late Dick Shipley coached the Frederick Falcons, a semi-pro team I played on in Frederick, Maryland in the late 60s. Dick had started both ways at tackle on  Maryland’s 1953 national championship team, and he not only knew his football but he knew his people. Our team was about 1/3 local black guys, 1/3  local white guys (“Frednecks”),  and 1/3 out-of-towners, some with a little bit of college, and in a town that hadn't changed much from the days when Maryland was a segregated state, I learned a lot from him about how to get different people to work together.

Over the years, I’ve stayed in touch with his son, Don, who along with my son, Ed, was a ball boy in those days, and Don remains my lifeline to the old Falcons of days gone by.

George MungerThe other day, Don sent me a photo his mother had sent him of his uncle shaking hands with Penn coach George Munger, and I knew right away where it was taking place.

The photo was taken at Camp Tecumseh, near Center Harbor, New Hampshire, where George (at his insistence, NOBODY called him anything but that) was Camp Director for many years.  I worked there for two summers between my soph and senior years in HS (my coach was a counselor, and arranged it).

It was a wonderful place, an all-sports camp before there were such things.

There were some amazing athletes at Tecumseh when I was there, most of them from the Philadelphia area, but a handful from Washington, DC.

I am guessing that the photo was taken in the early 60s. By then, George had been retired as Penn  coach for several years, but even when he was Penn's head coach, he spent his summers as camp director at Camp Tecumseh.

Imagine one of today’s major college head coaches (and Penn in the 40s and 50s was definitely big time) spending his entire summers running a boys’ camp.  George was friends with Penn State’s Rip Engle, who used to spend his summers sailing at his place in Rhode Island, which I assume was owing to his having coached at Brown before going to Penn State.

*********** I like Nike Air Cross Trainers.  I like the fit and I like the comfort.  But not so long ago, I had to throw out a pair that was still in good shape because the suckers squeaked.  Constantly. Loudly. 

“Sneakers” my ass. No way I could have sneaked up behind someone and, say, given them a friendly goose.

But I haven’t even been able to find anything better, so a month ago, I went out and bought another pair, first walking all over the store in them to make sure that they didn’t squeak.

I wore them all through two weeks of spring practice, and loved them, but then - too late to return them to the store - I’ll be damned if the right shoe didn’t start to squeak.

“This is ridiculous,” I thought.  No way was I going to quit this time.

I actually thought about getting a hypodermic syringe and injecting WD40 into the heel, but wisely, on the theory that in a nation of 250 million people, and with all the shoes Nike sells, I couldn’t be the only one with this problem, I googled “SQUEAKY SNEAKERS.”

Sure enough, someone claimed to have a remedy.  Clearly, I wasn’t the only one who’d ever  suffered from squeaky sneakers.

The problem, I learned, was air pockets in the cushion soles and heels. (Well, yeah. Isn’t that why they’re called Nike “Air?”)  I suppose it was something on the order of the Whoopee Cushion effect.

The answer, I was told, was to remove the insole, shake a liberal amount of baby powder into the shoe, replace the insole, then put on the shoe and walk a while.  The powder would plug up those noisy holes.

Then, if that did the trick, I was to take off the shoe, remove the insole, shake out the excess baby powder, and replace the insole, and I'd be good to go.

If that didn’t do the trick (in my case, it didn’t), I was instructed to repeat the process.

That I did, and the second time did the trick.  My shoes are once again “sneakers,” in the true sense of the word.


*********** Perry M. Smith,  a retired Air Force Major General, was Don Holleder’s roommate at West Point and a second-team All-American lacrosse player. As a fighter pilot, he flew 180 combat missions over Laos and North Vietnam, and later served as Commandant of the National War College.  General Smith is a teacher, an author and a lecturer on leadership topics, and served as CNN’s chief military analyst for seven years, resigning in 1998 in protest over a story falsely accusing the US military of using lethal nerve gas against our own troops.  He has assisted in editing “Medal of Honor,” a collection of stories about many of America’s Medal of Honor recipients. Mrs. Smith is the daughter of the late Lieutenant Colonel Jimmie Dyess, USMC,  who is the only person to earn our nation’s two highest awards for heroism, the Medal of Honor and the Carnegie Medal.

What follows are the next five of General Smith’s  30 “common sense, often-forgotten tips for good leadership,” reprinted with his permission.  He calls them “30 Blazing Flashes of the Obvious,” but if that’s all they were, we’d see a lot more good leaders in our society.

6. Learn by Failure

In my professional career, I have learned much more from my failures than from my successes. I have become tolerant of the honest failure of others.  When a major setback comes along, try to treat it as a marvelous learning experience, for most certainly it will be just that.

7. Protect Innovators

For three years I had a Medal of Honor recipient from Vietnam, Arky COL Jack Jacobs, working for me. He is by far the most innovative person I have ever known. Well over 50 per cent of his ideas were awful, but buried among these bad ideas was an occasional pearl of great wisdom.  I learned that I had to protect Jack and my organization from his bad ideas, while encouraging him to present all of his ideas, so we could use his great ones.

8. Beware of Certainty

Leaders should be a bit skeptical of anyone who is totally certain about his or her position. All leaders should have  a decent  doubt especially when dealing with “true believers” who are always sure they are right.

9. Be Decisive

Top leaders usually must make prudent decisions when they only have 60 per cent of the information they need. Leaders who demand nearly all the information are usually months or years late making decisions.

10. Don’t Become Indispensable

Organizations needs indispensable institutions, not indispensable people. Leaders should not allow themselves to become indispensible, nor should they let any of their subordinates do so.

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

As you probably already know, Coach McKissick retired.  I personally owe him a lot, as he has always been willing to open up his office and heart to me, and just about any football coach willing to sit listen and learn.  The game, and our community, will miss him.

Also, we are terribly saddened about the horror that transpired just down the road in Charleston.  Even worse, the alleged evil gunman was a student at the school where I last coached, a bit more than 100 miles up the road in Lexington.  I taught freshman math while he was a freshman, but he was not in my class.  I don’t remember him, but just knowing I was in the same building with him turns my stomach.

Take care.

Jody Hagins
Summerville, South Carolina

It is sad that Coach McKissick (winningest HS coach of all time) has finally hung it up.  When you get to be my age, It’s always encouraging to have guys like him out in front, still blazing trails for the rest of us.

The horrible, horrible murders in Charleston are being made even worse, if that’s possible, by the opportunists who seek to use them to advance their causes - and their own hatred - but at the same time, inspired by the Christian love displayed by the members of that church,  they seem to be bringing many people face to face with the truth that we simply can’t continue as a nation divided.

There are too many people of good will in all races, and it really pisses me off when years and years of good works by good people in the furtherance of racial harmony can be blotted out in the minds of some by the twisted act of a demented loser.  How many black people are now convinced, more than ever, that when the chips are down you can’t trust a white person?   How many young blacks might use this heinous act as justification for acts of racial hatred of their own?

I read “White Knoll High” (the murderer's high school) and thought right away about you, but I didn’t wish to push such a repugnant subject.

I’m glad that you don’t have to deal with the mental picture of that kid once sitting in your classroom.

*********** I am absolutely overwhelmed by the true Christian love being displayed by those wonderful people of the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston.  They are an example to us all.

*********** For those who don’t know their history - for those who can't comprehend the cruelty of the cold-blooded murder of nine churchgoers in Charleston - this was not the first time in our history that the sanctity of a church was violated by a murderer.

it will be 41 years ago next week that Mrs. Alberta King, the mother of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was murdered as she sat at the organ of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, that holiest of  places, that epicenter of the Civil Rights movement,  where her husband was pastor and where her son was raised…

From Wikipedia

Alberta King was shot and killed on June 30, 1974 at age 69 by Marcus Wayne Chenault, a 23-year-old black man from Ohio, as she sat at the organ of the Ebenezer Baptist Church. Chenault stated that he shot King because "all Christians are my enemies", and claimed that he had decided that black ministers were a menace to black people. He said his original target had been Martin Luther King, Sr, but he had decided to shoot his wife instead because she was close to him. One of the church's deacons, Edward Boykin, was also killed in the attack, and a woman was wounded. Alberta was interred at the South View Cemetery in Atlanta. Martin Luther King, Sr. died of a heart attack on November 11, 1984 at age 84 and was interred next to her.

Chenault was sentenced to death; although this sentence was upheld on appeal, he was later resentenced to life in prison, partially as a result of the King family's opposition to the death penalty. On August 3, 1995, he suffered a stroke, and was taken to a hospital, where he died of complications from his stroke on August 22, at age 44.

*********** There’s a new brewpub opening this week in downtown Vancouver, Washington.  I don’t think I’ll be stopping in for a pint any time soon.  It’s called the Heathen Brewing Company.

*********** Watching the College World Series (Go Vandy!) I have to say that it will be time to cash in our chips when major league managers start wearing flat-brim caps.

*********** No one was happier than my wife and I to see Dustin Johnson miss a short putt and blow a chance to win the US Open.  Check him out sometime - the guy is a lowlife.  His "fiancee" (and mother of his child) is Wayne Gretzky's daughter. Shame on Wayne Gratzky and his wife for raising a daughter with such execrable taste in men.

PS: If you happened to watch the telecast of the Open, from University Place, Washington - the skies out here in the Northwest really are that blue.

*********** Hello coach Wyatt,
I would like to ask some questions, if I may!
When running 88 power, from "cat" formation, do you give an inside or outside handoff to the A back?
Would the outside handoff offer more deception when 47-C is to be run?
Have you decided on weather to flip the entire "O" line, continuously, or not?
Thanks coach!
Here's hoping for a great 2015 season for all D.W. coaches!

J.C. Brink
Stuart, Florida


I find that the inside handoff to the A Back (in  front of the QB)  is far preferable  because with an outside handoff the runner will likely go too wide.

It doesn’t compromise the counter in any way because motion takes the faking A Back behind the QB and if your QB spins as if to handoff to the A and then continues to spin to make the real handoff, the counter is a devastating play.

I would not slip the line if all I ran were Double Tight.  It is only an advantage to me when I have an “open side” and a “tight side.”

That should help!

*********** I’ve looked all over the app store and for the life of me I can’t seem to find the app that all those people at the golf tournaments  have on their phones - you know, the one that blares out some  halfwit shouting “GET IN THE HOLE!”  the instant anybody hits a shot. 

*********** My name is —— -and I am the new head football coach at ——. I've recently taken a look at one of your blocking DVD's  I used a lot of the techniques in your video for off tackle power and counter. I'd be interested in any new information on offensive line and also tackling.  I appreciate your time, thanks!

Congratulations on your new job.  Glad to help in any way I can.

I see that you’ve ordered a couple of my videos, which I think you’ll like.

I’ll throw in a bonus of “A Fine Line,” which has some good stuff on it.

If I can give you a tip - don’t be apologetic about the time you spend on blocking and tackling.  Teach them religiously.  Doing those things well is the key to consistently sound football teams. Any initial resistance you mighty encounter will fade away once people realize that you are not going to budge, and after a while, it will simply become accepted as “the way we do things around here.”

*********** Harvard is Yale's oldest and biggest rival.  Harvard has now beaten Yale eight straight times - a streak surpassed only by Yale's ten straight wins between 1876 and 1889.

It's not just eight straight, though - it's 13 of the last 14.
Without question,  one major reason for Harvard's dominance in recent years is coach Tim Murphy, for whom I have the utmost respect.
Read this article about him in the school newspaper, written before last season's Yale-Harvard game.   It doesn't have a thing to do with his offensive or defensive system.  It's about the kind of man he is and the effect Harvard football has on the men he coaches.

At a time when our game is under attack,  the last thing we need is enemies inside the walls - coaches who undermine the game by cheating, teaching vicious tactics,  demeaning and brutalizing their players. Read the following article from the Harvard Crimson, and I think you'll agree that we need more coaches like Harvard's Coach Murphy.



Murphy says the lessons he preaches in speeches given either right before kickoff or Friday before a team meal stem from those he learned growing up in football.

A 170-pound tackle at Silver Lake High School, Murphy overachieved in the eyes of his coach John Montosi, playing at Springfield College and eventually becoming an All-New England linebacker.

Murphy then became an unpaid graduate assistant at Brown University, and he worked 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. at a Pawtucket, R.I., mill.

Recounting the story at Springfield’s 2012 commencement, Murphy said, “If you want something in life, you are going to have to grind it out.”

Given that Murphy has been a constant presence on the Harvard sideline and in the football offices, outlasting two University presidents, it would be easy to see the job as his destiny. But that’s a notion he fights each time he addresses his team.

“Almost on a weekly basis we say we are not destined to win, we are not more entitled to win than our opponent, [and] we are going to have to go out and earn it,” Murphy explained.

But that’s just one part of his consistent message. Murphy also reminds his players that “at some point, you are going to have to fight through some bad stuff—fight through some adversity.”

“Fellas, if we want this one,” he tells them, “We are going to have to work, and we always have to embrace the challenge of any adversity that comes our way.”

“I know life is not that simple,” he said, “but at times it’s almost that simple.”

Murphy added that those lessons come from the coaches he learned from.

“I have been very fortunate to have [had] good role models at just about every level of every sport I played [at] and that was their message,” he said. “When things get bad, you have to embrace it, fight through it, and when you do, it’s very empowering.”

Former center Jack Holuba ’13 called Murphy a “stern man and a no B.S. kind of guy.” Both he and Riegel said the same thing when asked when they were most surprised by their coach.

“For being such a serious man and maybe not the most gregarious at times, the way he reacts when you win—he leaps into the crowd and everyone is going nuts,” Holuba said. “The passion he has for the game is really admirable…. You remember that football is fun.”

Of the celebration, Riegel said, “That caught me off-guard the first time it happened…. He just doesn’t let his emotions run wild as a head coach, [so] to see him go nuts gets everyone fired up.”

Players said the way Murphy acts in those moments and others helps back up his lessons.“[Murphy teaches in his] talk to us but also in the way he carries himself—the way he manages his program, the way he leads us, [and how he sets] that example,” captain Norman Hayes said.

american flagFRIDAY,  JUNE 19,  2015-   "The best way out is always through."  Robert Frost

*********** If you call this “history”…

A “transgender woman” made history (of a sort) Wednesday night by becoming the first transgender person to sing the National Anthem at a professional sporting event - a major league baseball game.

As you might have guessed, it took place in California. Not San Francisco, as you might also have guessed, but close enough - in Oakland.

*********** I read the update on your jamboree performance.  The kids that you have look real good, no fat slobs in that bunch.
I noticed you said that you were not able to run team defense against them and I understand why with your numbers.  What were you able to do in practice to get them ready as far as drills?
Thanks a lot.
John Bothe
Oregon, IL


Our kids are in pretty good shape and they’re in fighting trim. They all lift.  Ten of the 11 offensive starters were on the track team. It would have been all 11 except that a projected starter was sidelined by a failed physical.  Our QB took fourth in state in the 300 hurdles, and our slot back was third in the 400 and second in the long jump.  Our 4 x 100 relay team, composed of our QB, slot back and split end, plus a fourth kid, finished sixth.   The tight end and four of the five linemen were weight men.  Our right guard took first in the shot, our left guard took fourth in the shot and our left tackle took fourth in the discus.  Our head football coach, Todd Bridge, was instrumental in getting do many kids out for track. He’s also the weight coach on the track team, so you can be sure there are no fatties.

Our defensive preparation consisted  entirely of  alignment and assignment.  For three days.

For 40 minutes we would line up as an entire team against our JVs “running” from the different offensive fronts that we expected to see (based on what we knew of the teams from past experience and - get this - HUDL highlights) and before each play two of us coaches would talk the players  through the basics of their positions, and then we’d run the play.  Since our only decent passer is also our free safety, a coach had to serve as QB.

And then while the scout offense - all newbies - would huddle up for another play, we would go over the previous play - running it again, if necessary - and then we’d prepare them for the next one.

Except for some Cover 3 against a team that ran tight single wing for five plays, we were in cover one the entire time because we didn’t want any confusion on assignments.  As it was, we gave up two TDs, both of them passing - one because in goal-line press coverage our man lost track of his man and looked back at the QB, and another because when the QB was forced to scramble and our man - who had been on the backside of the play - lost his man.

We didn’t do any position drills at all.

Iowa DrillHowever - we do spend 15 minutes every day on tackling drills of every sort, and an additional 15 minutes on an open-field tackling drill which we call “Iowa Drill.”  I got the drill from Paul Herzog in St. Paul, who got it from Iowa.  (We may have tweaked it a little in our interpretation.)

Three lines of “tacklers” cover an area that initially is no wider than 1/3 of the field.  A “return man” lines up two yards away.  The Coach throws the ball and the tacklers sprint downfield, break down, stay square, keep their leverage and make a gang tackle.  No one gets taken to the ground in any of our tackling drills.  Not only is this a lot safer because it prevents the injuries that come from falling, but we believe that it fosters the idea everyone gets a piece of the action.

We start out slowly, two-hand touch, so that we can check technique.

As we get better, we pick up speed, and as the season progresses, we widen the “field."

We reward return men when they score.  A tackling group that allows a score does “up-downs,” as do return men who fumble.

We have two coaches on this drill, and while it’s going on, I’m working with the centers and QBs on their snaps and then with the addition of ends or backs to refine  the “play of the day."

*********** Christ, when will someone with balls put an end to this  idiocy?

Cal Berkeley says calling the US the “Land of Opportunity” offends minorities.

(I know, I know - it’s “exclusionary” to  specify “someone with balls.”)


*********** So now Pope Francis calls for a cultural revolution in order to save the planet from  a “structurally perverse” economic system in which the rich exploit the poor, turning Earth into an “immense pile of filth.”

First Barack Obama and now the Pope. With apologies to sincere Roman Catholics everywhere - where do they find these people?


*********** A world out of kilter  cries out for Monty Python.

Who among those of us who laughed at the Life of Bryan could have foreseen that the hilariously preposterous pretext of one of their sketches would one day be passed off as normal?


*********** I certainly couldn’t have said it better…


Last night evil walked the streets of Charleston. My heart aches for the families of the victims. I pray for the families left behind. I pray for the community scared and hurting. I also pray you and I can conquer hatred.

In my lifetime I have seen such great progress. Though racial based hate is still very much alive as last night so violently reminded us.

But I worry about a new hate that is growing in our great nation. I fear our intolerance of one another is the new battle ground of evil. Today many feel it is ok to hate someone who thinks differently than you do.

The left hates the right. The right hates the left. This attitude is poison. Poison that will sicken all of us.

Just because someone is for Obamacare and another is against doesn't change the fact we are all brothers and sisters. All Americans.

As a brain surgeon I can assure you that all of our brains look the same, no matter what our skin color or party affiliation.

The America I know and love has fought evil all over the world to protect evil's victims. At home we must dedicate ourselves to not hating anyone based on their politics.

Our leaders have walked our country down this path and it is up to us to change course.

Please join me in praying for those who lost their lives last night. Please join me in praying for comfort for their families. Please join me in praying for our great nation, that we may heal ourselves before it is too late.


Ben Carson

*********** Coach Greg GIbson writes from Virginia Beach...

Things going well out here in Virginia. Still remember the clinic you put on at my school at Orange HS in CA in 2002. Still running Superpower 14 years later with 113 wins. Thanks coach!

***********    It’s hard to believe that my left-wing alma mater could possibly bring itself to honor a Republican, even an alumnus who served his country in with distinction in war and in peace, including serving as President of the United States, but I’ll be damned if they didn’t do just that.

From the Yale News -

The Yale College Council (YCC) has presented its inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award to former President George H.W. Bush ’48 in recognition of his accomplishment in and dedication to public service.

The Yale College Council Lifetime Achievement Award was recently established by the YCC and co-sponsored by the Yale President’s Office in order to recognize alumni for outstanding work in a particular field and to cultivate richer dialogue between current students and alumni. President Bush was a nearly unanimous choice of the Yale student leaders who made the selection for the inaugural award.

Five members of the YCC traveled to Bush’s Walker Point residence in Kennebunkport, Maine, on May 15 to present him with the award. They had lunch with the former president and First Lady Barbara Bush, and chatted informally with the couple during their visit. Barbara Bush also took the students on a tour of the residence.
“It was great to honor Bush not just for his service as president, vice president, and ambassador for the nation but also for his dedicated service to Yale,” says Joseph English ’17, the incoming president of the YCC.

The newly established YCC Lifetime Achievement Award is the first award in Yale’s history to come directly from students, notes English. Members of the YCC created the award with the goal of bringing prominent college alumni back to campus to interact with undergraduates both en masse and in smaller, more intimate settings. The award will honor alumni for their work in a specific field (Bush received the Yale College Council Lifetime Achievement Award in Public Service). Honorees will be recognized for having been a “passionate member” of the Yale community during their time in Yale College, for their “unparalleled and selfless commitment” to their field during their professional career, and for being a source of inspiration for Yale students.

This year, members of the YCC chose Bush for the award, but in subsequent years, the entire student body will be invited to submit nominations for the award, according to English. Originally, they hoped to have Bush come to campus, but guided by recommendations from his staff, it was arranged for the students to travel instead to Maine to present the award to the 90-year-old alumnus at his compound.


*********** Perry M. Smith,  a retired Air Force Major General, was Don Holleder’s roommate at West Point and a second-team All-American lacrosse player. As a fighter pilot, he flew 180 combat missions over Laos and North Vietnam, and later served as Commandant of the National War College.  General Smith is a teacher, an author and a lecturer on leadership topics, and served as CNN’s chief military analyst for seven years, resigning in 1998 in protest over a story falsely accusing the US military of using lethal nerve gas against our own troops.  He has assisted in editing “Medal of Honor,” a collection of stories about many of America’s Medal of Honor recipients. Mrs. Smith is the daughter of the late Lieutenant Colonel Jimmie Dyess, USMC,  who is the only person to earn our nation’s two highest awards for heroism, the Medal of Honor and the Carnegie Medal.

What follows are the first five of General Smith’s  30 “common sense, often-forgotten tips for good leadership,” reprinted with his permission.  He calls them “30 Blazing Flashes of the Obvious,” but if that’s all they were, we’d see a lot more good leaders in our society.

1. Know yourself

All leaders should realize they are, in fact, five or more people. They are who they are, and who they think they are (and these are never quite the same); they are who their bosses think they are, who their peers think they are, and who their subordinates think they are. 

Leaders who work hard to get feedback from many sources are more likely to understand and control their various selves, and hence be better leaders.

2. Develop Mental Toughness

Leaders must be brutally honest with themselves or they will slip into the terrible habit of self-deception. Even the best leaders make mistakes.  By smoking out these mistakes and correcting them quickly, a good leader can become a superb one.

3. Be Magnanimous

Leaders who share their power and their time can accomplish extraordinary things   The best leaders understand that leadership is the liberation of talent; hence they gain power not only by constantly giving it away, but also by not grabbing it back.

4. Squint With Your Ears

The most important skill for leaders is listening. Introverts have a great edge since they tend to listen quietly and don’t usually suffer from being an “interruptaholic.”  Leaders should “squint with their ears.” Too many bosses are thinking about what they will say next, rather than hearing what is being said now.

5. Trust Your Instinct and Your Impulse

If something smells bad, sounds funny, or causes you to lose sleep at night, take another look. Your instincts combined with your experience can prevent you and your organization from walking off a cliff.

*********** Harvard is Yale's oldest and biggest rival.  Harvard has now beaten Yale eight straight times - a streak surpassed only by Yale's ten straight wins between 1876 and 1889.

It's not just eight straight, though - it's 13 of the last 14.

Without question,  one major reason for Harvard's dominance in recent years is coach Tim Murphy, for whom I have the utmost respect.
Read this article about him in the school newspaper, written before last season's Yale-Harvard game.   It doesn't have a thing to do with his offensive or defensive system.  It's about the kind of man he is and the effect Harvard football has on the men he coaches.

At a time when our game is under attack,  the last thing we need is enemies inside the walls - coaches who undermine the game by cheating, teaching vicious tactics,  demeaning and brutalizing their players.  Read the following article from the Harvard Crimson, and I think you'll agree that we need more coaches like Harvard's Coach Murphy. 

School of Murphy

In a football world dominated by scandal, Harvard coach Tim Murphy has created his own gridiron culture.



Harvard coach Tim Murphy has built his own "school within a school" through his time with the Crimson program.

“Now, we all begin a new phase of our partnership,” reads a letter sent from Harvard football coach Tim Murphy to the parents of each incoming freshman player. “Over my twenty years at Harvard, our football team has functioned most effectively as a ‘school within a school.’ In this role, your son will learn many of life’s lessons that cannot be learned in the classroom. It is my goal to help him prepare for life using football as the vehicle. The next few years will present him with new opportunities to grow and our football program can be one of the cornerstones of this process.”

Football is under attack. Just last week best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell said, “Football is a moral abomination.” Days later, The New York Times published thousands of words on how the NFL has improperly dealt with cases of domestic abuse. The national newspaper of record previously wrote, “At Florida State, Football Clouds Justice.”

There has also been the Ray Rice scandal, the Adrian Peterson scandal, and before those, the Steubenville High School rape case involving high school players and Kansas City Chief Jovan Belcher’s murder-suicide.

Concerns about concussions have been raised as well. Playing football has been linked to cases of Alzheimer’s, depression, and even suicide.
LeBron James, Kurt Warner, Brett Favre, Terry Bradshaw, Troy Aikman, and even President Barack Obama have all expressed concerns about letting their sons, real or imaginary, play the violent game.

Football has been compared to ill-fated Big Tobacco, and people have begun asking how much longer it will be around at all. Others have wished for a return to the simpler game of gridirons past.

There was a time when the game was hailed as a more civilized teaching ground for young men than the battlefield. Back then, it was seen as a place for proper training for life in an industrial society.

When the Ivy League presidents discussed football in 1945, they concluded, “Under proper conditions, intercollegiate competition in football offers desirable recreation for players and a healthy focus of collegiate loyalty.”

But in 2004, professors at the University of Idaho and Washington State University concluded, “The environment of athletics has not been supportive of teaching and modeling moral knowing, moral valuing, and moral action. Perhaps, because there are very limited consequences for immoral behaviors in the sport environment, but very large consequences in the real world.”

They had studied 72,000 athletes using a test of moral reasoning.

At times, the evidence can seem overwhelming—damning. And it’s mounting.

But then there is Murphy and his “school within a school.” Is it possible that he has maintained the proper conditions the Ancient Eight alluded to 69 years ago and has created a different “environment of athletics” that fosters morality rather than restrains it?

Take a tour of the Murphy School and decide.


When potential football recruits visit Harvard, they are not the only ones making evaluations. Murphy is learning, too.

Former defensive lineman Adam Riegel ’13 explained that coaches expect host players to decide whether the high schooler would be a good fit within the team’s culture.

Murphy helps make that decision, too.

“I’m not good at much, but I know how to work hard, and I have a very good feel for people,” he said. “I look for an almost palpable character.”

Murphy said he feels the importance involved in helping select more than one percent of each incoming class and that he wants to choose players that will represent Harvard well. But he admits there are selfish reasons for looking for high-character guys, too.

“I think character is where it’s at,” he said. “Those kids who have great character seem to exceed whatever their athletic and academic potential is perceived to be.”

Riegel said character is even more important given that the players are not bound to the team by athletic scholarships.

If a host player recommends an athlete who then leaves the team, “he wasted a spot for someone who could have helped the team, who could have been a contributing member, and more importantly, could have become a best friend to one of the teammates,” Riegel explained.

Picking the best applicants is the first step in Murphy creating the school he wants to lead.


american flagTUESDAY,  JUNE 16,  2015-   “It is hard to make government representative when it is also remote.”  G. K. Chesterton

*********** Our son Wain displayed ambidexterity at an early age:  Ate right, threw left, kicked equally well with both feet, etc.  Gina and I began teaching him the word "ambidextrous", and he proudly told us one day "I'm Indianapolis!"

Shep Clarke
Puyallup, Washington


Remember when Jack (as in Jack in the Box) and his wife attended their son’s elementary school show and to their great consternation heard him tell the audience that when he grew up he wanted to be a vegetarian?

And then he went on, “Because when our dog got sick we took him to the vegetarian - and now he’s all better!”



*********** At North Beach, although we had to replace the entire strong side of our line and break in new starters at split end and B-Back, we were encouraged by the way our kids looked on offense, but we had only two short scrimmages in ten days of spring ball.

On defense, the personnel situation was more dire: we had to replace two defensive ends, two defensive tackles,  two corners and a free safety.  Fortunately, we had two tackles who backed up last year, but we had no returning defensive ends, and only one returnee with any experience in the secondary.  And with our numbers, we didn’t scrimmage our defense at all, because our newcomers simply couldn’t give us a decent look.

But we do spend a lot of time on tackling and associated drills, and we think that our kids will always hit hard.

We weren’t wrong about that.

At our jamboree in Woodland, Washington Saturday, three opponents went against us for a total of 33 plays, and gained just 103 yards - 92 passing (9 of 18) and 11 running on 15 carries. We gave up two TDs on pass plays, and intercepted two passes.

Our offense, with the exception of two sloppy snaps and a few blown assignments by new linemen, executed pretty well.

We ran 33 plays and piled up 269 yards - 25 rushes for 213 yards, and 56 yards on 4 of 8 passing.  We scored eight TDs and didn’t turn the ball over.

We played just 13 kids in the varsity games, and unless a few kids currently on the JVs get their grades in shape, we're likely to remain that way - an Iron Man team. 

Our JVs won all three of their contests.  This is huge for us, because it’s just our second year of even having a JV team.  You can’t imagine how it hurts your turnout when you don't have a JV team and the freshmen are scared away by the prospect of having to scrimmage the varsity every day, with no game of their own to look forward to.

Best of all, we didn’t get anyone hurt.

In fact - check this out, all you football haters - there were eight schools on hand, and six of them (including us) brought their JVs.

Do the math: that’s 14 teams, playing 66 plays each (33 on offense, 33 on defense) - a total of 924 snaps.

924 times 11 players on each play= 10,164 player-plays.

And not a single player even needed to be helped off the field.

*********** To give you some idea of what we’ve been doing at North Beach the last couple of years, here’s a sample play from Saturday’s jamboree.  It’s 3 Trap at 2, a familiar play to all Double Wingers.

Although there is the obvious change in the center snap and the manner of the handoff, there is absolutely no change in the assignments of the linemen from what’s in the playbook.

You will notice that on this play the twin receivers on the left side are running either a split end (smoke) screen or a slotback (bubble) screen.  The split end determines what they’ll run and communicates it before the play to the QB.

You will also nice that the QB threatens the backside after the handoff.

This single play offers three possibilities:

1. The QB going immediately to the screen - “catch and release” - while everyone else runs the play as called;

2. The QB gives to the B-Back on the trap as designed;

3. The QB pulls the ball and keeps to the backside, with the option of still being able to throw to the screen receiver, who has not crossed the line of scrimmage.


***********  “Stanford Softball in shambles” read the headline in the Stanford Daily.

It’s what happens when a college AD tries to act like a high school principal, trying to please disaffected athletes and their parents by offering them the coach’s head on a platter.

Evidently a group of Stanford softball players, but not by any means the entire team, and - get this - their parents, complained to the AD, and the result was the resignation of a highly successful, longtime coach, and the split of the team right down the middle.


*********** The US Open starts this Thursday at Chambers Bay, in University Place, Washington, an upscale suburb of Tacoma.  If you tune in, I expect you’ll see some beautiful shots of Puget Sound, which borders the course.

The Open is always a challenge for even the best of golfers. The USGA, which runs the tournament, goes out of its way to toughen up the courses where the Open is played, and this year it’s gone to extremes.

Unlike most of the Pacific Northwest courses, where giant evergreens are everywhere, there is just one tree on the entire Chambers Bay course.  But there is rolling terrain, and there is likely to be wind.  And there is fescue grass.  Found on Scottish courses, fescue doesn’t grow well in most places in the US, but the Pacific Northwest’s mostly cool, mostly moist climate is similar to that of the British Isles. 

And golfers who can’t even stand the sound of a clicking camera are going to have a hell of a time dealing with the freight trains that rumble by along the shoreline, 60 of them a day.  It’s the  BNSF main line between Seattle and Portland. (Actually, between British Columbia and Southern California.) 

No sense waiting for the train to pass before taking that shot - those suckers are more than a mile long.

Hale Irwin, now retired from the Tour, won three US Opens, which by anyone’s standards makes him a highly successful golfer.

But before that, he was also a very good football player, the captain of the University of Colorado Buffaloes his senior year.

“I was undersized,” ,” he recalled recently. “I couldn’t run, I couldn’t jump.  But I got the job done because I dedicated myself to the goals of not only that team, but myself on each play. You weren’t going to beat me with heart. You weren’t going to beat me with desire, or effort. That’s what I think it takes in today’s world. You have to put forth the effort.”

*********** At just 5-10, 160, J. J. Birden had to walk on at Oregon, but he had a good enough career with the Ducks that he was given an opportunity to play in the NFL - and he turned that opportunity into a nine-year NFL career.

Now, he’s written a book entitled,   When Opportunity Knocks - 8 Surefire Ways to Take Advantage!


*********** So Michael Sam has left the Montreal Alouettes, the last team this side of semi-pro or Europe that he could have played for.

The rumors are that he was upset over some comments made about him.

Remember when Michael Sam, potentially the first openly-gay NFL player, was being compared to Jackie Robinson?

I have no idea what might have been said to or about Mr. Sam, but if Jackie Robinson had been that sensitive, baseball might still be all-white.


No sympathy. When all is said and done, he chose to put himself in the spotlight, almost guaranteeing that his gayness would be an issue:

No one forced him to go on Oprah with his story…

No one forced him to kiss another man on the lips on national TV…

No one forced him to go on Dancing With the Stars…

Sheesh. Remember when he was GQ’s “Man of the Year?”

Yeah, just like “Caitlyn” Jenner winning the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.

*********** First it was Renee Richards.  Born Richard Raskind, he/she underwent “sex-reassignment” surgery, then sued (successfully) for the right to play tennis professionally as a woman.

Then it was Bruce Jenner, who as a male won the Olympic decathlon championship and sold us all on the virtues of Wheaties, and now  “self-identifies” as a “woman” who goes by the name of “Caitlyn.”

Then it was Rachel Dolezal. Yes, she was born white, but she “identified” as a black woman, leveraged that fraud to gain admission to a black college, and wound up as head of the Spokane, Washington branch of the NAACP.

Nothing wrong with a white person at the head of an NAACP branch.  Many of the organizations’ founders were white.  But posing as a black person, even to the extent of telling everyone about her "struggle?" Making accusations of racial harassment against whites?

Where does it stop?

Maybe here:

“Yes, officer, I know how it must look to you. Yes, I know the girl in bed with me is only 14.  But even though I was assigned a birth date of 1965, I identify as a 15-year-old.  I’m just a teenager trapped in a middle-aged body.”

*********** I’d love to be able to go back to 2013 and see what Rachel Dolezal  had to say about the elderly  WWII Veteran (white) who was beaten to death in a Spokane parking lot by two criminals (black) in a crime that would surely have been the topic  of an indignant  presidential speech and a full-out Justice Department investigation  if the races had been reversed.


*********** New Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi has taken a giant step toward a return to Pitt’s glory days, ditching the stupid block-letter “PITT” helmet decals in favor of the script “PITT” worn on the helmets of the likes of Dorsett and Marino.

And check out the amazing Helmet Wall at the new site of the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.


************  Good morning, Coach.

Enjoyed watching your guys on Saturday. You have quite a bit of speed and quickness on that team! I watched your first set on offense and on defense. I loved the way you had all your guys celebrate when a TD was scored...trying to get our RB's to congratulate the o-line when they score a TD.

DJ Millay
Vancouver, Washington


Thanks for the note.

Some of the quickness is natural, of course, but some of it is knowing what to do so there’s less thinking involved,  being in shape, and being coached constantly to stay on your feet and stay in the game.

Glad you noticed the celebration.  That wasn’t natural at first.  We tell them that a touchdown is never a routine thing, and it’s a team achievement that calls for a celebration - and if it doesn’t come natural to you, then as my friend Greg Koenig likes to say, “fake it till you make it.”

*********** If you like your health plan…

At the start of spring ball, we were counting on a certain second-year player to step up and fill one of the two open spots on our offensive line.

He’s a good-sized kid, 6-3, 215, with lots of growth potential, and our head coach was very impressed with his work ethic over the winter and spring.

On day one, he was running with our first unit, and looking pretty good.

On day two, he was told that he couldn’t participate any more until he was cleared by a specialist.  Seems that in the cursory physical that all the kids got, the doctor saw something that he wouldn’t clear, and with that, the kid’s dad made an appointment with a specialist.

As isolated as we are in Ocean Shores, seeing a specialist means a trip to Olympia, an hour and a half away. The first date dad was able to get an appointment was June 12, a ten-day wait.

There went spring ball for the kid, a real blow.

When the 12th arrived, dad took the kid to the specialist, where he was told that the necessary insurance papers hadn’t yet arrived, and therefore there was nothing that could be done until they did.

Now, get this - Dad offered to pay cash, and was told that wasn’t legal.

What did he think this is, America or something?

So back home they went, until the paperwork shows up.

american flagFRIDAY,  JUNE 12,  2015-   "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." Oscar Wilde

*********** This year’s spring practice at North Beach High concludes with a jamboree Saturday in Woodland, Washington, about 2-1/2 hours to the south of Ocean Shores.  We’ll be scrimmaging against Kalama, Rainier (Oregon) and host Woodland.  They’re all a class up from us in size (we have only 100 boys in our school) but we think we’ll hold our own.

We’re sort of green (we lost seven starters to graduation on defense and five on offense) and we’ve only scrimmaged twice these last two weeks, against our number twos, so this will give us some great experience against some tough competition.

On offense, we can put a good player at every position.  At our level, that’s pretty good. On defense, after graduating our entire secondary, we have a few question  marks.  And overall we’re very thin: when a starter goes down, we start shuffling players around.  We’ll see.

One factor we may have to deal with is the “heat.”  It’s supposed to be in the high 70s.  Don’t laugh - in Ocean Shores, a seven-mile-long peninsula buffeted by winds off the frigid North Pacific, it hasn’t been above 60 degrees for the last two weeks. Sunny and cool - my kind of weather.

*********** Recently, I saw the name “Lachowicz” somewhere.  I’d only known of one other person with the name. 

That was Ted Lachowicz (pronounced “La-HOE-vitch”)  a very good defensive  lineman at Syracuse back in the early 70s, when the legendary Ben Schwartzwalder, an ex-World War II paratrooper,  was turning out teams almost as hard-nosed as he was.

Ted Lachowicz  played nose guard for Old Ben. How tough would that have made him? On one occasion he was named national Lineman of the Week.

He was a native of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania (called “Shendo” by the locals), a once-thriving town in the heart of the hard coal region. There was a time when all you had to say was that a kid came out of Shenandoah, or Minersville, or Mount Carmel, or Mahanoy City, or Frackville, or Pottsville, or Shamokin and it was as good as saying  that he was a good football player.

Now, times have changed. The populations of towns like Shenandoah are far less than what they were 50 years ago. People no longer heat their homes with coal, and with the mines closed, thousands of people moved elsewhere in search of jobs.

I knew Ted Lachowicz because I tried to sign him  to a World Football league with the Philadelphia Bell.  He wound up playing for the Florida Blazers, but I remember being impressed with him as a person - what a really nice guy he was, and not at all the stereotypical big-college defensive lineman.

And then, as we all do, he got on with his life.

After seeing the last name again for the first time in years, I googled his name, and I’ll be damned if he hasn’t had a very successful career as a businessman. 

Check this out:

EBV Founder and President
Retired, Babcock & Brown Investment Banking
Mr. Lachowicz was a member of the senior management team for the Australian investment bank, Babcock & Brown from 1994 until 2008. Mr. Lachowicz held numerous positions at Babcock & Brown, such as, Managing Director - International Lease Group and until late 2005, managed the U.S. Structured Finance Unit. Mr. Lachowicz was a senior partner with Babcock & Brown prior to Babcock & Brown's public offering in 2004. Mr. Lachowicz is a private equity investor and has been active in various real estate developments including condominium and commercial real estate projects. Mr. Lachowicz is a Director of the investment firms, Deson & CO, Prime Asset Management and L&R Partners. He also is a Director of Acueity Healthcare, Inc., a breast cancer venture capital company.
From 1984 to 1994, Mr. Lachowicz was an Executive Director with D'Accord Financial Services, which was partially sold to The Industrial Bank of Japan and later sold to Dresdner Bank. Prior to D'Accord, Mr. Lachowicz held management positions at Ryder Truck Rental, Peat, Marwick, Mitchell, and Westinghouse Corporation. Mr. Lachowicz is active in several philanthropic organizations and serves as President of the EBV Foundation, and is a member of the Advisory Board for the Whitman School of Management and the Executive Committee of the Athletic Policy Board at Syracuse University. Mr. Lachowicz holds a B.S. in accounting from Syracuse University and is a non-active CPA in Florida and California. Ted was awarded a scholarship and lettered three years in the Football Program at Syracuse University.


By far the most noteworthy of his accomplishments has been the establishment, in partnership with his wife, of the EBV (Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Veterans With Disabilities) Foundation.


*********** I hope that all those young basketballers who don’t turn out for football for fear they might get hurt - and all those basketball coaches who coddle them - have been taking note of the performance of Matthew Dellavadova in the NBA Finals.

He’s proving that even in the NBA, there’s room for a guy  who plays aggressive defense and dives for loose balls. Yes, he’s a good all-around player, and he makes his share of shots, but he’s mainly on the floor because he’s not afraid to do whatever it takes to help his team, even at risk to his body.

That’s not a skill.  That’s an attitude.  An attitude best developed on the football field.  Smart basketball coaches understand that.

*********** According to the Pendleton, Oregon East Oregonian newspaper, The Oakland A’s Pat Venditte is as capable of throwing the ball in the water as he is on land.

A headline in the paper said Venditte, who in the same inning got batters out pitching both right-handed and left-handed, was “amphibious.”

What the headline writer meant to say was that Venditte was bisexual.  Sorry - make that ambidextrous.

*********** The glove that made it possible for Pat Venditte, A’s pitcher, to become the first player in 20 years to pitch both right-handed and left-handed in the same major league game, is an interesting story in itself.


*********** Villanova alumni Diane and Howie Long recently donated $1 million to their alma mater, and in recognition of their gift, the school’s new weight room in Villanova Stadium will be named The Howie Long Strength Training Center.

*********** The Land of the Free, Twenty-First Century Version…

New York City is going to require “salt warnings” on restaurants menus…

San Francisco is discussing a ban on soft drink advertising.

*********** Hello Coach Wyatt,
I am using your double Wing offense as part of my offensive package and I am enjoying it very much. A great piece of work by you.
I was wandering if you could help me with a couple of quick questions regarding “Power”
Firstly, I am wondering if on the Power play, the TE to the call side has a man Head-Up on him does he still follow the rule, “Down to Backer” avoiding the man who is head up on him and having the FB kick out the man who is head up on the TE as he is the first man outside the Tackle?
Secondly, if there is a defender in the C-Gap the TE block Down on him, my question in this regard is, Does the offensive tackle help with that block if he does not have a man on him, or does he follow his rule and block the man down from him i.e towards the guard, leaving that C gap player for the down block of the TE?
I hope these questions are clear and if possible can you please get back to me as soon as possible as I am in need of this information.
Thank You and again, I love your program.
Gino DiVincentis
Calgary, Canada

Coach DiVincentis,

It’s nice to hear from you.

I’m glad you’re enjoying the system.

Our TE’s rule - in my system - is never “down to backer.” Our general rule is that if there is a man ON the TE, he communicates that to his wingback and they double that man.  Otherwise, our TE is “GAP-DOWN-BACKER” and the wingback’s is First backer Inside.

The B-Back’s assignment is always to run a track at the inside hip of the TE and block inside-out on the first defender he sees. In the case of a TE-WB Double-team, that could be a corner back.

Any running back who doesn’t have the vision to see where the hole is probably doesn’t have much of a future as a running back.

Your other approach to a man on the TE is for the TE to still block gap-down-backer and the wingback to block First backer Inside and leave that guy alone for the B-Back to kick out.  The problem there is that your TE and WB have to make sure not to touch that guy, because he’s going to be on the outside of the hole.

In your second case, a man in the C-Gap is touching both the tackle and the tight end, so unless there is also a man in the tackle’s inside gap, which is the tackle’s first concern, they will double that man.

Please let me know whether or not this is helpful.


The inaugural College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship between Ohio State and Oregon drew an average 33.4 million viewers and an 18.2 US household rating for ESPN, giving the game the largest audience and highest rating in cable history. The first-ever CFP semifinals on New Year’s Day delivered the second- and third-highest audiences in cable TV history. Ohio State’s upset over Alabama at the Allstate Sugar Bowl drew 28.27 million viewers, while Oregon’s win over Florida State in the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual drew 28.16 million viewers. ESPN’s broadcasts of the CFP Semifinals and National Championship game combined to average 29.8 million viewers and a 16.0 US household rating.

Ohio State led all teams with 1,304,138 fans attending 15 games in 2014.

Ten other teams also eclipsed more than one million spectators during the season: Alabama (1,268,385), LSU (1,195,540), Texas A&M (1,118,202), Tennessee (1,117,276), Michigan (1,095,856), Penn State (1,058,388), Georgia (1,048,408), Auburn (1,028,828), Florida State (1,025,951) and Nebraska (1,006,253).

·         Montana claimed the FCS attendance title with an average of 23,777 fans per home game, followed by James Madison (19,816), North Dakota State (18,571), Montana State (17,056) and Liberty (15,682).

·         Grand Valley State (Mich.) captured the Division II attendance title by averaging 11,699 fans per home game, followed by Tuskegee (Ala.) with 9,960, Pittsburg State (Kan.) with 9,813), North Alabama with 9,065 and Albany State (Ga.) with 7,752.

·         Saint John’s (Minn.) netted its 13th Division III attendance title in 14 years with an average of 7,752 fans per home game, followed by Hampden-Sydney (Va.) with 7,252, McDaniel (Md.) with 5,497, Wisconsin-Whitewater with 5,455 and Emory & Henry (Va.) with 5,341.

For the 14th consecutive year, Birmingham, Ala., was the highest-rated metered market for ESPN’s regular-season telecasts, averaging a 9.2 rating. It was followed by New Orleans (4.2), Greenville (4.1), Knoxville (4.1), Atlanta (3.8), Memphis (3.8), Jacksonville (3.5), Oklahoma City (3.4), Tulsa (3.1), Columbus (2.9) and Nashville (2.9).

Thirteen bowl games had crowds in excess of 50,000: Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual (91,322), CFP National Championship (85,689), Allstate Sugar Bowl (74,682), Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic (71,464), AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl (71,115), VIZIO Fiesta Bowl (66,896), Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (65,706), Valero Alamo Bowl (60, 517), Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (60,149), Capital One Orange Bowl (58,211), TaxSlayer Bowl (56,310), National University Holiday Bowl (55,789) and the AutoZone Liberty Bowl (51,282).

Explain this one to me:  Army hasn’t beaten Navy in 13 years, and yet…

CBS Sports’ broadcast of the 115th Army-Navy game on Dec. 13 was the highest-rated and most-watched in 15 years, averaging 6.3 million viewers and earning a preliminary average national household rating/share of 4.1/10, up 5 percent from last year’s 3.9/8.

*********** A Modest Proposal… Instead of adding new bowl games and making it possible for more and more teams with losing records to be “rewarded” for failure, I propose that the NCAA use a relegation system, similar to what the Europeans do with their sports:  after the bowl season, the three poorest-attended bowls become “former” bowls, to be replaced by new, more ambitious bowls.  This year, there is a virtual tie for third place, so I’d send four bowls  into oblivion:

Popeyes Bahamas Bowl - Western Kentucky 49 – Central Michigan 48 (13,667)

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl - Air Force 38 – Western Michigan 24 (18,223)

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl - Bowling Green 33 – South Alabama 28. (20,256)

Miami Beach Bowl - Memphis 55 – BYU 48 (20,761)

Get your sh— together, fellas,  and come back and try again in two years.

*********** Bruce Shepard, the tool who as one of his first acts as Western Washington University’s president was to eliminate the football program, has announced that he will retire at the end of the 2015-2016 school year.  

Short of his being run over by a log truck any time soon, this is the best news that members of the Campaign to Bring Back WWU Football, of which I have been a supporter,  could have hoped for.

Don’t let the door hit you in the arse, Brucie.

*********** Randy Foristiere, son of coach Mike Foristiere, is just a little over two weeks from being sworn in as a West point cadet.

His dad and mom, Mike and Cielo, are a little proud, to say the least.  Randy played all but his season year at Boise’s Capital High, but he played this season at Wahluke High in Mattawa, Washington, when Dad got the head coaching job there. As a running back, he made the All-League team.

Then, in a strange twist, he had to return to Boise to graduate, because he was being considered for an appointment to West Point by Idaho legislators.

Before Randy finally committed, Dad Mike said he and Randy had “that talk,” with Mike asking him “Are you sure this is what you really want to do?” question.

Randy gave him every reason he could think of for wanting to be an Army officer - he’d wanted to do this since he was in eighth grade, he’s been studying the history of West Point and reading biographies of some of its illustrious graduates.

And finally, to let Dad (and Mom) know for sure that he was committed, he said,  “Dad, if anything should ever happen to me, I want you to remember - this was my choice.”

*********** Graduation Day at North Beach High was a great moment for Hyak football. There were three valedictorians.  All had 4.0 high school GPA’s, and they were all football players.

Caleb Bridge will be attending Air Force Academy; Jordan Chong will attend the University of Washington; and Steven Fry will attend Eastern Washington University.

Interestingly, one of the higher-ups at the school had to be informed that Caleb was not going "in the Air Force," but to a college so selective that it admits no more than 10 per cent of the people who apply.

It also required some upward recalculation of the scholarship totals when they were informed that the value of four year education at a service academy is somewhere around $400,000 -  bringing the North Beach total to $500,000.

***********  From prison, Lawrence Phillips wrote to his old coach, telling him how awful it is on he inside, and how awful some of the other inmates are.


Seeing ourselves the way others see us is, wrote the Scottish poet, Robert Burns, a great gift:

 "O wad some Power the giftie gie us To see oursels as ithers see us!” 

Translated from Scottish dialect, it doesn’t rhyme, but here’s the meaning:

Oh would some power the gift give us,

To see ourselves as others see us.

It's sad - pathetic, really - to think that for all his misconduct, Lawrence Phillips doesn't see himself as a criminal.

*********** I don’t have a lot of use for  the creeps whose sole aim in life seems to be finding “racism” in the most innocent of actions and words, but…

I do go along with those who wonder if women’s soccer goalie Hope Solo (whom I would conservatively describe as white trashy), would be playing in the World Cup if she were a black male and had done the things she’s done.

Actually, as a matter of fact, I can’t imagine any of the major sports allowing a white male to get away with acting like that, either.

*********** With the exception of a 19-year-old Alabama player who was killed in an automobile accident, and a 47-year old former Tulane player who died of ALS, you’d never know from looking at the football obituaries reported in this week’s National Football Foundation newsletter  that having played football supposedly shortens one’s life…

Former Brown tight end Bob Priestley passed away May 20. He was 95… Former Doane (Neb.) football player Kevin Hunt passed away May 22. He was 66…  Former Boston College football player John Miller Jr. passed away May 27. He was 81… Former Appalachian State football player Bill Bradley passed away May 30. He was 75… Former Miami (Ohio) football player James W. Phillips passed away May 31. He was 73… Former Northwestern football player and Big Ten Medal of Honor recipient Bud Melvin passed away June 2. He was 77… Former Arizona football player John Mellekas passed away June 2. He was 81… Former Alabama football player Bill Sanford passed away June 4. He was 73… Former UAB football player Greg Maclin died June 5 after a car accident. He was 19… Former New York University end Irving Mondschein passed away June 5. He was 91… Former Tulane defensive lineman Jay Rink died from ALS complications on June 6. He was 47… Former Mississippi halfback Farley Salmon passed away June 7. He was 88. Salmon received the NFF Ole Miss Chapter’s Distinguished American Award in 1996… Ron Douglas, believed to have been the oldest Nebraska football letterman, passed away June 7. He was 100… Henry Carr, a defensive back and halfback at Arizona State in 1963 who also won two gold medals at the 1964 Olympics, passed away May 29. He was 73…

american flagTUESDAY,  JUNE 9,  2015-   "In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all - security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again." Edward Gibbon

*********** “What boys need are role models, parental supervision, encouragement to pursue excellence in all that they do, especially in education, where we just do whatever is necessary to keep them in school.

"They need direction to stay on the straight and narrow, a push to participate in athletics and extracurricular activities, help to pursue a healthy lifestyle, recognition that they must be accountable for their actions, and reinforcement of good performance.”

General David Petraeus.

*********** You’ve read here many times about Bellevue, Washington.  Bellevue is a large and prosperous suburb, just across Lake Washington from Seattle (on the “East Side,” as the locals say). The Bellevue High Wolverines are very, very good. Running their wing-T to perfection, they have won 11 of the last 15 state Class 3A football titles, and until losing in this past year’s championship game, they had a 67-game win streak going. 

They’re known for making a point every year of scheduling some well-known program from elsewhere in the country, and they invariably win those games.  Such powerhouse programs as Long Beach Poly, Honolulu St. Louis, and Euless (Texas) Trinity have been among their victims.  And, of course, they’ll always be known as the team that ended DeLaSalle’s 151-game win streak.

Add one more thing for which they’ll be known. 

They are cheaters.

As to be expected when a program is wildly successful, Bellevue has long been the subject of rumors.  The revelation that the Bellevue boosters have been paying head coach Butch Goncharoff, who isn’t a teacher, upwards of $100,000 a year only furthered the rumors.  After all, the word went, when boosters have that kind of dough, they can probably find other ways to “help out” the program.

One way, it appears, is providing housing assistance to families of worthy (and talented) young men who hope to improve their lives by benefitting from the outstanding coaching (and, of course, life lessons) offered at Bellevue High School.

At this point, the school has self-reported a single offense to its conference and has been placed on three years probation (wow - no bowl games or TV appearances!), and Coach Goncharoff has been suspended for two games next season. Scare me!  (No mention was made of any reduction in scholarships, so I suppose they’re free to proceed as before.)

Actually, it is  possible that Coach Goncharoff had no knowledge of the circumstances under which talented newcomers kept arriving at Bellevue.

However, after years of bringing in newcomers to take positions away from loyal members of the program, and after years of showing kids that playing by the rules is for chumps, his record and that of Bellevue High is, to say the least, tarnished.

Personally, I’d like to see them forced to play  Long Beach Poly, St. Louis, and Euless Trinity over again, all in the same season - and then finish up at DeLaSalle, which for all its fabulous success has never been accused of buying players.



*********** Could lacrosse be another soccer?

The standing joke is that in the US, soccer is the sport of the future - and always will be.

Millions of kids play organized soccer from the time they put on shoes. Cities and soccer boosters spend millions building massive complexes where at any one time hundreds of little kids run around in mad search of a ball to kick, while their adoring parents build their lives around sitting at the field in lawn chairs watching them. (Just in case you were looking for a form of torture that would be acceptable to the rest of the world.)

And then they reach puberty and - forget it.

Pay to watch a soccer game?  Really?

Other than every four years, when it’s World Cup Time and our Inner European takes over, soccer is of as much interest to the American sports public as Formula One Racing.

Ever checked the crowds at MLS games?  The MLS raves about the growth in its attendance, but the reality is that most teams’ average attendance is less than 20,000, a figure low enough that it would put a college football team’s FBS status in jeopardy.

And then there’s lacrosse.  For several years now, it’s been the fastest-growing team sport in America.  It’s a good sport, requiring stamina and skill and a degree of toughness.  (It does have a certain amount of contact.)  It’s especially popular among middle class parents who see it as an alternative to football and all its concussions, blah, blah, blah.

And for a while there, it appeared that it might have some potential as a spectator sport. Why, ten years ago, in 2005, the NCAA lacrosse final in Philadelphia drew 44,920 people.  The next year, again in Philly, the crowd was even bigger - 47,062.

And then, the next year, it was held in Baltimore, the cradle of the sport.  And it drew a crowd of 48,443 in 2007, and in Baltimore again in 2008, 48,970.

There was, it seems, no limit to the climb.

And then it started. In 2009, the game was played in Foxboro, Massachusetts, in front of a crowd of 41,935.  A decline, yes, but nothing alarming.

But that was the last time the final game would draw a crowd of more than 40,000.

Not only that, but attendance has declined every year since then:

2010-  Baltimore     - 37,126
2011-  Baltimore     - 35,611
2012-  Foxboro       - 30,816
2013-  Philadelphia - 28,224
2014-  Baltimore     - 25,587
2015-  Philadelphia - 24,215

Has spectator interest in our fastest-growing team sport already crested?  Is this soccer all over again?

*********** I was at a wedding Saturday in Ocean Shores, Washington and I mentioned that we had to hustle home (to Camas, Washington, three hours away) because we wanted to see the Belmont.

The what?

You know, the horse race?  We might see a horse win the Triple Crown.

What’s that?

(Just in case horse racing’s powers that be think that the average person really cares about their sport.)

Those same people could have told you who was the quarterback of the Patriots.  And they’d know which teams LeBron James and Steph Curry played for.  They probably even know what the Stanley Cup is.  But the Triple Crown?  Huh?

Nevertheless, we arrived home in time to watch American Pharoah become the first horse in 37 years to win the Triple Crown.

I grew up in a time when horse racing was a major sport, and Maryland, where we lived for 14 years when we were first married, was at the time a major horse racing state.

I’m sometimes asked who the most famous sports person I’ve ever met, and I have yet to beat the night I was having a few drinks in the Sheraton Belvedere Hotel in downtown Baltimore when I looked at the little guy standing next to me and did a double take.  It was unmistakably Eddie Arcaro, even now, almost 50 years later,  one of the greatest jockeys in history.

I turned to him and said, “It’s not every day I find myself standing next to the greatest jockey in the business,” and stuck out my hand.  He shook it and we had a nice conversation and a few more drinks.

Since 1919, only 12 horses have won the Triple Crown, and Eddie Arcaro rode two of them - Whirlaway and Citation.

(Meantime - don’t put it past Our President to invite a horse to the White House.  And tell everybody what a big fan of racing he’s always been.)

*********** With those nasty dudes who escaped from New York’s maximum-security Dannemora Prison still on the loose, it occurs to me that this doesn’t necessarily have to be such a bad thing.  Not if it ends like this:

The two killers are both white, so racial profiling is not going to happen,

But as they’re driving their (stolen) car down the New Jersey Turnpike a state trooper notices a burned-out tail light and pulls up behind them, lights flashing.

They pull over and as the trooper approaches the driver’s side window, the driver points a gun at the officer. The cop quickly pulls his own gun and empties the clip into the car, killing both occupants.

Of course, the ACLU complains about unnecessary force, but the public in general is relieved that two murderous escapees are no longer a danger to society, and supports the officer.

There are no “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” rallies, no  marches blocking rush-hour traffic.

Did I mention that the cop was black?

*********** I was talking with a friend of mine, comparing spring practice experiences, when he happened to mention that of the 10 guys on their staff, he’s the only one who goes into the locker room after practice. The rest of them, he said, just take off.

I didn’t say “WTF?” but I thought it.

Apart from the liability isue, there was something else. “Then when," I asked,  "do you talk about the kids?”

He said they didn’t.

That’s when we have the time to talk about this kid and his problems, that kid and the improvement he’s showing.  There simply isn’t time to do it before practice.

We make it a point to circulate among our players after practice, making a special point of asking the younger kids how practice went.

If we have to leave early, we clear it with the head coach, because otherwise, none of us leaves until the last kid is gone. 

I can’t imagine leaving right away because I’d miss out on one of the rituals that makes coaching at our place so gratifying - every day, on entering the locker room before practice and leaving at the end of the day, every kid shakes the hand of every coach.

*********** For me, the greatest moment in sports is watching the walk-by (or whatever they call it) at the end of a hockey playoff series.

It’s really impressive to see the respect they show for each other, and for the game they love.

*********** Great graduation advice from a Navy admiral - “Make your bed”


american flagTUESDAY,  JUNE 2,  2015-   "The word 'racism' is like ketchup. It can be put on practically anything - and demanding evidence makes you a 'racist.'"  Dr. Thomas Sowell

************ Gokul Venkatachalam, 14, of Chesterfield, Missouri and Vanya Shivashanker, 13, of Olathe, Kansas are co-winners of the National Spelling Bee.

It’s become a relatively meaningless competition in which kids are sorted out on the basis of whether they can spell words that no one has ever heard or will ever hear if they live to be 100.

Vanya’s last word was “scherenshnitte.”  (I told you you’d never heard it.)

Gokul’s was “nunatak,” which sounds like a small town in the far north.

When asked what he was thinking when he got the word right, Gokul said, “Me and Vanya were going to be the champion.”

WTF? “Me and Vanya?”

Me champion.  Vanya champion.   Is good.

Maybe Gokul ought to  spend just a little less time on his spelling and a little more time on his grammar.

************* It’s going to cost millions in cancellation payments to schools they won’t be playing this year, and it’ll probably take a couple of years to get a program going again, but…



*********** George O’Leary has come out in favor of playing a spring game.  Good on ya, Georgie.

For quite some time I’ve been wondering the same thing: what’s stopping the major colleges from doing it?

Oh, sure, the Nebraskas and the Ohio States and the Alabamas can draw their 80,000 plus just to watch intra-squad contests, but for the rest of the major teams, they’re missing out on a potential payday.

A winner for everybody.  Money for both teams.  A goose in fan interest at a time when nothing else is going on, other than the NFL draft. A partial answer to coaches’ worries about injuries because only half the players on the field will be their guys. The chance to see players - and new ideas - under near-game conditions.

Worried about whether the NCAA would approve?  Screw the NCAA.  That’s the reason for the “autonomy” we’ve been reading about.


*********** The Prince Shembo thing - a bigass grown man kicking the life out of a tiny little defenseless Yorkshire Terrier - has the potential to do more damage to the NFL than anything that’s happened in recent history, and I’m surprised I haven’t read more about it.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:  “The dog had a fractured rib, fractured liver, abdominal hemorrhage, thoracic hemorrhage, extensive bruising and hemorrhage in the muscles in her front leg and shoulders, head trauma, hemorrhage and edema in lungs, hemorrhage between the esophagus and trachea, and hemorrhage in the left eye with internal injuries, police said.”

This is going to be viewed by the public - women, especially -  as much crueler than Michael Vick training pit bulls to fight; much more brutal than Ray Rice punching his wife-to-be.

This is going to raise the as yet unanswered question that should have been asked long ago: where the f—k do they find these people, and why the f—k do they keep so many of them around?

I propose a way that the NFL can save itself from itself:

Reduce the size of the rosters.  F—k the union.  Survival is at stake here.

Cutting back rosters to, say, 45 players would have an enormous salutary effect on players’ behavior:

First of all, in many cases, it’ll be the misfits that teams get rid of first.

Second of all, teams will be more inclined to avoid signing misfits in the first place.

Third of all, most players fortunate enough to land a spot on a  team would be smart enough to figure out that jobs are scarcer than they once were, and should they get cut by their current team, there will be fewer openings for them to latch onto other teams.


*********** Get this: Remember Lizzy Seeberg, the 19-year-old freshman at St. Mary’s College in South Bend, Indiana, who committed suicide shortly after she claimed she was sexually assaulted by a then-unnammed Notre Dame football player?


*********** Jeez. Most Democrats think illegal aliens should be allowed to vote. You don’t suppose it’s because they know they’ll vote for the party of free stuff, do you?


*********** It may be surprising to some to hear me defending Johnny Manziel, so I’m not going to go that far. 

I am, however, going to tell him that he really needs to take a page from the NBA handbook.

Manziel apparently was just hanging’ wid da boyz at a golf tournament when some dude pestering him for an autograph persisted to the point where Johnny Football wound up a water bottle at him.

So where were his boyz during all this?  Surely they knew that nothing good was going to happen if things continued to escalate. Couldn’t one of them, with a whole lot less to lose than Johnny Football, have intervened?  Is he going to have to start paying them?

Look- do you think for a minute that that pest would ever have badgered a well-known NBA star - say, Alan Iverson - to the point where Iverson had to throw  a bottle of water at him?

Of course not.  Way before the guy even got close enough to say a word to the NBA star, a member of Iverson’s notorious posse would have confronted the guy and said something to the effect of, “As you can probably see,  Mr. Iverson is enjoying one of those rare moments when he can go out in public and just be an ordinary person without the hassle of autograph requests.  So, please, won’t you do him and yourself a favor and find a better time or place to approach him?”

(Yes, yes, I know the actual words would be a bit different.  But in responding to  the lawsuit that the guy would file after being knocked cold for pressing his case, that’s how the member of the posse would recall saying it.  I defy you to find me a witness who would say otherwise.)

*********** Our North Beach track team finished second in the state meet this past weekend.  Without football players, they’d have finished maybe 30th. Top performer was Air Force Academy-bound tackle Caleb Bridge, who broke the meet record in the discus by 12 feet with a throw of 185 feet, and (technically) tied for first in the shot put with teammate Jonny Law at 53-9-1/2.  Jonny, a guard, was awarded first on the basis of a better second throw. Guard Tim Poplin finished fourth in the shot, and tackle Seth Bridge took fourth in the discus.  QB Alex McAra took fourth in the 300 low hurdles, and running back Saul Gonzalez took second place in the long jump and fourth in the 400.

*********** Monday was our first day of spring ball, and what a difference a year makes.

We lost seven starters from last year’s 10-1 team, and we have just 12 players with any varsity experience.  13, actually, but one player’s grades are so bad that we’ve demoted him to JV status.

Add to that nine kids who were JVs last year, nine incoming freshmen and nine upperclassmen who for various reasons - chief among them academic ineligibility - have never played before, and we’re looking at 40-some kids out there. 

We’re not used to numbers like this.  I finished my 2008 season there with 21 kids.  Now,  with just three coaches, we have to get a varsity team ready to play in a jamboree in two weeks while taking another 25 or so newcomers and teaching them how we play the game, but more important, how we do things.

I think that in the latter area - getting our expectations across to our kids - we do as good a job as anybody anywhere.

Basically, no one ever steps on our field until he’s had our rules & expectations explained to him, and signed off on them.  Just to make sure, we go over everything before spring ball, summer camp, and fall practices.  We’re now at the point where we coaches no longer go over the rules - we have our upperclassmen do it.  It’s good for getting across to newcomers that this is our culture (“this is the way we do things”),  it means a lot more coming from veteran players than from the coaches, and it’s a great experience in leadership for the veterans.

It took us about an hour of practice time to go overt the rules, but it’s well worth it.  I know from my teaching days how much better the school year went when I spent the first day or two of every class just letting kids know what I expected (and what pissed me off - they’re entitled to know that so they can make a conscious choice before doing it).

After that, once we hit the field, my concerns about working with that (for us) large number of kids proved baseless because of the great help we got from three former players.  (Another benefit of working really hard on the rules and expectations is that you keep turning out kids who would make good assistants.)

We ran a simple series of plays - power, misdirection, play action - to the right and to the left, and our first unit did so rather smoothly.  We’re taking a look at flip-flopping our line (as well as our ends and backs, which we already do), and that went off without a hitch.  The linemen were impressed by the discovery that they were getting two plays for the price of one - that their assignment on a play was the same when we ran it to the right as when we ran it to the left.

We ended as we end every practice, with our receivers catching ten passes in a row - cleanly - while standing with their arms around the goal post. (This forces them to catch with their hands.) If anybody drops or mishandles a ball, he goes to the end of the line.  It’s been a big help to us in the past, and from the way we bobbled balls today, we have a lot of work to do in the pass-catching department.

*********** The night before flying out of Baltimore, my wife and I had dinner at G & M, a great restaurant in Linthicum Heights, Maryland, and I was almost blown away by a beer advertisement on the barroom wall.

Mister BohIt was the one-eyed man himself, none other than Mister Boh!

Mister Boh was the symbol of National Bohemian Beer (“National Boh” to one and all), “brewed on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay,” as the slogan went.  Their ads were cute and clever and loved by all - little cartoon characters, led by a bird named “Chester Peake” who celebrated the good life as it was supposedly lived in the Chesapeake Bay region. (Conveniently, they never mentioned the slums of West Baltimore.)

Shortly before I arrived at the National Brewing Company in 1966, National Bohemian  had the highest share of a major market of any beer in America, somewhere around 60 per cent.  We owned the market.

By the time I came on board, it was no longer “National Boh,” but a more sophisticated “National Beer.”  A sure sign that the name change don’t meet with much approval: EVERYONE in the entire company continued to call it “BOH.”  We took our beer breaks (yup- on tap all day, any time we wanted) in the “Boh Room.”

Jerry DiPaolo, our Baltimore Division Sale Manager, must have been a real pain in the ass to our ad agency because the entire time I was there - three years - he kept up a constant barrage of “Bring Back Mister Boh.” To no avail.

No, as usual, the ad agency guys knew more about selling beer than the guys who actually sold the beer, and they kept burying Mister Boh deeper and deeper beneath the newer and more stupid campaigns they foisted off on us.

One of them was “Every Man Should Have a Beer he Can Call His Own!” featuring ads in which a guy would order a beer and the bartender would hand him a bottle whose label would read not “National” Beer but, instead, “Rusty Jones’” Beer. It was as dumb as it sounds.

I spent a year as product manager of National Beer, and although I had some great times and certainly enjoyed all the free beer I was entitled to, I wasn’t able to do anything to stop the sales slide that regional brewers all eopver Amrica were experiencing.

It probably wouldn’t have made a damn bit of difference, what with the invasion of the Bud-Schlitz-Miller out of town beers, but they never did bring back Mister Boh or the Land of Pleasant Living, and it wasn’t that long before the National Brewing Company was sold to Carling, and Carling was sold to G. Heileman Sons, and so forth.  You get the idea.

Now, only the brand, National Bohemian, survives, made by God-knows-who in some brewery - far from the Shores of the Chesapeake Bay.

And, many years too late, they brought back Mister Boh.

(NOTE: Mister Boh never got the name “Natty Boh,” by which many people younger than I am know him, until long after the brewery went under.)

american flagFRIDAY,  MAY 29,  2015-   "The number of New York Times articles claiming soccer is "catching on" is exceeded only by the ones pretending women's basketball is fascinating.”  Ann Coulter

*********** If the NFL were in charge of soccer, the goals would be wider and higher, offensive players would be allowed to throw the ball into the net, goal-keepers would have their hands tied behind their backs and every game would end 21-20.

Mike Bianchi, Orlando Sentinel

*********** A friend texted me Thursday.  He was pissed.  He’s been a high school head coach for 17 years  and he was just informed that  he’s going to have to spend all day Saturday at a “Heads Up” clinic, in order to be “certified.”  He noted that it’s crap like this that’s making it harder and harder to get good assistants.

Which got me to thinking about all the time we spend on things done in the name of “player safety” but really  to try to buy kevlar against the ever-present threat of a lawsuit.

Which got me to further thinking, about the old days when men were men and football was football and coaches were coaches - and they didn’t really care all that much about our feelings.

GA Pre-season practice

I recently came across a photo of the Germantown Academy football team, before my junior season.  It  originally ran in the football preview section of the  Germantown Courier, a weekly newspaper that served our section of Philadelphia and its five or six high schools.  It was taken in August of 1954, during our pre-season two-a-days.    I’m third from the right, the guy with his arms crossed.  Three of our biggest linemen (and they were big - two of them went on to Wisconsin, and one of them played several years in the AFL with the Broncos and Patriots) are in three point stances, ready to hit our three coaches.

Yes, three coaches.  That’s all we had. All we needed, really. They’re wearing scrimmage suits, which enabled them to go up against us in contact drills.  Can you imagine doing that with your kids nowadays? Can you hear the howls after you knocked one on his ass?

We thought nothing of it.  First of all, there was no need for concern about our hurting the coaches. They were tough guys, and still young enough to deal with us.  They were all WW II vets, and they’d all played college football. And besides, although we had some pretty talented guys, we were a small school and always short on manpower.  In fact, before I left for college my freshman year, I spent a week scrimmaging against their starting eleven. Maybe that was a rules violation.  Who knows?

The head coach, Ed Lawless, is the one on the left. No one messed with him. He went into the Marines after high school, and on his return he was a single-wing blocking back at  Penn, which at that time was playing a major college schedule and drawing 70,000 people a game. (Despite serving in World War II, he was called up again during the Korean War and missed an entire season while an interim coach took over.)

One thing to note is that with its very limited budget, our school took several years to fully convert from leather to plastic helmets.  Most of the guys on the right of the photo are wearing  the Riddell Suspension helmet, in which the head was encased in a web of canvas straps riveted to the inside of the plastic shell.   The two guys on the left must have been at the end of the line when helmets were handed out, so they’re wearing two
different  makes of leather helmets. The guy third from left is wearing a plastic helmet made by a competitor of Riddell. (The down lineman nearest us is wearing yet another brand of plastic helmet.)

No one is wearing a face mask.  I didn’t wear one until the next season, and I was one of the first on our team to wear one.  It just didn’t make sense to me to run off-tackle with my face exposed, so I bought a gray plastic bar and installed it myself.

No one that I knew ever wore a mouthpiece.

You may have noticed, by the way, how white we were.  Philadelphia was a very segregated city.  There wasn’t a single black kid in our league, and in my two years of varsity football I never played against a black player.  In my teaching years, I used to get a rise out of my classes when I’d tell them - no lie - that going to all-white Germantown Academy instead of mixed-race Germantown High School, cost me the chance to play in the same backfield with Bill Cosby.  (He was pretty good.)

*********** RE: The Great American Novel

I can smell the shrimp boat fleet from here…FUNNY BOOK!!!

Mark Kaczmarek
Davenport, Iowa

VERY FUNNY… The shrimp boats dockin’!

You have definitely elevated yourself in my estimation.

But that’s only one man’s opinion.  Fella name a' Smith.  First name a' Word.

 *********** Check out this little kid who wrestles…


*********** "The media and the political class don’t know what to do with us quite yet. They discount me by saying things like 'Ben Carson has no political experience.'

"For once the ruling political class is right. I have never voted for a budget we could not afford. I have never voted to raise the debt limit. I have never voted to raise taxes. And I have never promised a lobbyist anything for a donation.

"It defies logic that the political class thinks this is what America needs more of.

"This country doesn’t need more politics. This country needs a revival."

Dr. Benjamin Carson

*********** The Indy 500.  Where to start?

I get up on Sunday and turn on the TV.  It’s 8 AM Pacific Time. I’m greeted by a female voice.  Lindsay Czarniak.  The event of A. J. Foyt  and Parnelli Jones and Bobby and Al Unser,  and we have to listen to breezy Lindsay. VERY important for the female audience.

The National anthem.  Here we go again.  As soon as I hear “Award-winning…”  and “American Idol…” I should know what to expect… But I’m never prepared for these idiots whose goal is to see how many more notes they can manage to hit than the song calls for.

You’d have to wonder whether  Christianity is on the ropes when the Archbishop of the Diocese of Indianapolis has to keep looking at his notes to read the invocation.  That's "Jesus.  J-E-S-U-S."

“Back Home Again in Indiana?” Sheesh.  Who were those guys? Bring back Jim Nabors.

The race itself? Damn those commercials.  Endless commercials, taking up 2/3 of the screen while something that we can barely see is going on down on the track.

Guess you had to be there.


*********** You’ll have to excuse me if I wonder what business our attorney general, on the job maybe  a month, has pursuing FIFA officials who allegedly awarded soccer tournaments and the media rights to them in exchange for payoffs - payoffs, if you can imagine that.

Meanwhile,  here on the home front, no Congressman ever leaves office poorer than he entered,  and 47 per cent of Americans say they would vote for a woman who, with a little help from her husband, makes the FIFA gang look like Walmart shoplifters.

*********** As long as the US seems to think it has an obligation to protect the integrity of world soccer, while allowing ISIS to behead Christians with impunity, I have an assignment for Vladimir Putin: Mr. Putin, consider the NFL, which until a month or so ago was a non-profit, but one that pays its Commissioner 40+ million dollars a year. 

It extorts millions from the taxpayers in its cities, routinely using the lure of hosting a Super Bowl as leverage to force them to pay for luxurious new stadiums that most of them will never see the inside of.

This screams out for an investigation, and I can think of no one more qualified to do it than  Mr. Putin, who has as much business investigating the affairs of the NFL as Attorney General Loretta Lynch has going after FIFA.

*********** While they’re investigating, how about looking into whether a handful of NFL owners, those lucky enough to own a high-quality quarterback, tricked their fellow owners into goosing the importance of the passing game by arguing that it would be good for attendance and TV ratings.  

*********** We seem to have lost the will to take on outlaw nations militarily, and seeing as how we haven’t  won a war since 1945 anyhow, the FIFA scandal is going to have to be as close as we get to acting like the world power we once were.

This time, I guarantee you, we are going to win.  The Chinese may be about to surpass us economically and militarily, and we can’t match the Russians when it comes to guts, but this time, we’ve got something no one can match us in. Lawyers.

*********** Just as a measure of how little soccer means to Americans… for months, Brady and the underinflated footballs has been front page news, but not once during that time - ever - did I hear a fellow American complaining about FIFA taking bribes.

*********** I suspect that the NFL could be behind FIFAgate (what the hell - what’s one more stupid "gate" spinoff of the original Watergate?).

Is it to take our attention off of Brady’s appeal?

Is it to kill off any chance of soccer's ever again holding the World Cup in the US?

*********** Look at it this way - the FIFA deal isn’t all bad if it keeps Loretta Lynch  too busy to stick her nose into the workings of big-city police departments.

*********** If the little people of the world are really that upset about the FIFA guys taking bribes, they can always do what the gays do - boycott FIFA’s sponsors. (Coke, adidas, KIA.)

*********** Shep Clarke, of Puyallup, Washigton, sent me a Memorial Day story about immigrants serving their adopted country in World War II:

“Six Pittsburgh-area mothers, all of Polish descent, had 33 sons in service. Anna Lozowska, Maryanna Sawinska, Katarzyna Antosz, and Mrs. Joseph Wojtaszek each offered five boys to the cause. Honorta Lachowicz provided six sons. Stella Pietkiewicz took the prize with seven.”


Amazing story.

I hate to say it, but I am skeptical about how many of the beneficiaries of our vaunted “diversity” (you know, "diversity is our strength," and all that rot) would serve their new home that way those Polish-American people did.

On the other hand, I’m not all that sure about a lot of multi-generation  Americans, either.

Mike Viti*********** Mike Viti, who as an Army fullback and team captain wore the Black Lion patch in the 2007 Army-Navy game, will return to West Point as the football program’s Director of High School and Alumni Relations.


*********** There’s a cover article in a recent Sports Illustrated about some female mixed martial arts champion.  If you like your women coarse and aggressive and physically scary, you’ll enjoy reading it.

Myself, I was revolted at the thought that this is where women’s sports - women in general, for that matter - are headed.
It’s really ironic that as our feminized society, our schools especially, do their damnedest to neuter our boys, we  glorify angry amazons.

*********** Good Afternoon Coach on down blocks are we still using base techniques such as gap on hard penetrating DT'S head across numbers inside ear hole or with icepick it doesn't matter ?  

We are prepared for backside shoulder if it’s a real penetrator, but otherwise we get the whole surface on the guy’s shoulder on near number and drive him

On double teams are we looking for a vertical push working to on or over side LBER or lateral movement working down LOS to that backside LBER .
We want to drive the man vertically to get him into the path of a scraping LBer

I'm asking because we will only teach what mission call's for ( I wonder were I got that from) are you still teaching reach block with bucket step or is everything fire step ?

It’s not so much a bucket step - it’s more like a 45 degree step to the outside because we want to do two things - (1) get outside position on the man, but (2) close the distance ASAP

***********Write this guy up for dereliction of duty:

Posted one Air Force Academy grad on his class' official Facebook page...

"Now.... It's off to fight Global Climate Change!  Onward Weather Warriors!"

american flag TUESDAY,  MAY 26,  2015-   "Man is a strange animal. He generally cannot read the handwriting on the wall until his back is up against it."
Adlai Stevenson

*********** Would you describe a bowl game as "essentially an exhibition" and "a bit of a novelty." I picked a fight with a journo here who used those terms. I think she actually was on the right track in her description (which was for Aussies) but I felt it wasn't appropriate. Not sure the players see it as an exhibition. And coaches do get fired after poor bowl efforts.

Ed Wyatt
Melbourne, Australia

A bowl game is not an exhibition, not a "friendly."

Starting with when there was only one - the Rose Bowl, which was designed to be matchup between the best teams from the West and East Coasts - bowls were designed to settle something, to pit the "best" of leagues or regions. (Also to stimulate tourism in cities in warm climates.) Only recently have they lost that purpose,  with fifth-place teams playing sixth place teams in places like Detroit, but in the minds of the public, bowl games still have much more meaning than an exhibition.


*********** Memorial Day, once known as "Decoration Day," was originally set aside to honor the men who died in the Civil War. (There was a time when certain southern states did not observe it, preferring instead to observe their own Memorial Days to honor Confederate war dead.)

The Civil War soldiers called it "seeing the elephant." It meant experiencing combat. They started out cocky, but soon learned how suddenly horrible - how unforgiving and inescapable - combat could be. By the end of the Civil War 620,000 of them on both sides lay dead. Hundreds of thousands of civilians were left dead or homeless.

"I have never realized the 'pomp and circumstance' of glorious war before this," a Confederate soldier bitterly wrote, "Men...lying in every conceivable position; the dead...with eyes open, the wounded begging piteously for help."

"All around, strange mingled roar - shouts of defiance, rally, and desperation; and underneath, murmured entreaty and stifled moans; gasping prayers, snatches of Sabbath song, whispers of loved names; everywhere men torn and broken, staggering, creeping, quivering on the earth, and dead faces with strangely fixed eyes staring stark into the sky. Things which cannot be told - nor dreamed. How men held on, each one knows, - not I."

Each battle was a story of great courage and audacity, sometimes of miscommunication and foolishness. But it's the casualty numbers that catch our eyes. The numbers roll by and they are hard for us to believe even in these days of modern warfare. Shiloh: 23,741, Seven Days: 36,463, Antietam: 26,134, Fredericksburg: 17,962, Gettysburg: 51,112, and on and on (in most cases, the South named battles after the town that served as their headquarters in that conflict, the North named them after nearby rivers or creeks - so "Manassas" for the South was "Bull Run" for the North; "Antietam" for the Union was "Sharpsburg"  for the Confederacy).

General William T. Sherman looked at the aftermath of Shiloh and wrote, "The scenes on this field would have cured anybody of war."

From "Seeing the Elephant" - Raw Recruits at the Battle of Shiloh - Joseph Allan Frank and George A. Reaves - New York: Greenwood Press, 1989


"We have shared the incommunicable experience of war. We felt - we still feel - the passion of life to its top.... In our youths, our hearts were touched with fire." Oliver Wendel Holmes, Jr.

At a time in our history when fewer than five per cent of the people who govern us have served in our Armed Forced, it is useful to go back to another time, to men such as Oliver Wendel Homes, Jr.

Oliver Wendel Holmes, Jr.  was born in Boston in 1841, the son of a famous poet and physician. In his lifetime he would see combat in the Civil War then go on to become a noted lawyer and, finally, for 30 years, a justice of the Supreme Court. So respected was he that he became known as "The Yankee From Olympus."

He graduated from Harvard University in 1861. After graduation, with the Civil War underway, he joined the United States Army and saw combat action in the Peninsula Campaign and the Wilderness, and was injured at the Battles of Ball's Bluff, Antietam, and Fredericksburg. He was discharged in 1864 as a Lieutenant Colonel.

The story is told of Holmes that in July 1864, as the Confederate general Jubal Early conducted a raid north of Washington, D.C. President Abraham Lincoln came out to watch the battle. As Lincoln watched, an officer right next to him was hit by a sniper's bullet. The young Holmes, not realizing who he was speaking to, shouted to the President, "Get down, you damn fool, before you get shot!"

After the war's conclusion, Holmes returned to Harvard to study law. He was admitted to the bar in 1866, and went into private practice in Boston.

In 1882, he became both a professor at Harvard Law School and a justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. In 1899, he was appointed Chief Justice of the court.

In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt named Holmes to the United States Supreme Court, where he served for more than 30 years, until January 1932.

Over the years, as a distinguished citizen who knew what it meant to fight for his country, he would reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day, and of the soldier's contribution to preserving our way of life...

On Memorial Day, 1884, 20 years after the end of the Civil War, Mr. Holmes said,

Accidents may call up the events of the war. You see a battery of guns go by at a trot, and for a moment you are back at White Oak Swamp, or Antietam, or on the Jerusalem Road. You hear a few shots fired in the distance, and for an instant your heart stops as you say to yourself, The skirmishers are at it, and listen for the long roll of fire from the main line.
You meet an old comrade after many years of absence, he recalls the moment that you were nearly surrounded by the enemy, and again there comes up to you that swift and cunning thinking on which once hung life and freedom--Shall I stand the best chance if I try the pistol or the sabre on that man who means to stop me? Will he get his carbine free before I reach him, or can I kill him first? These and the thousand other events we have known are called up, I say, by accident, and, apart from accident, they lie forgotten.
But as surely as this day comes round we are in the presence of the dead. For one hour, twice a year at least--at the regimental dinner, where the ghosts sit at table more numerous than the living, and on this day when we decorate their graves--the dead come back and live with us.
I see them now, more than I can number, as once I saw them on this earth. They are the same bright figures, or their counterparts, that come also before your eyes; and when I speak of those who were my brothers, the same words describe yours.

From Justice Holmes' address to the graduating class of Harvard University on Memorial Day, 1895

The society for which many philanthropists, labor reformers, and men of fashion unite in longing is one in which they may be comfortable and may shine without much trouble or any danger. The unfortunately growing hatred of the poor for the rich seems to me to rest on the belief that money is the main thing (a belief in which the poor have been encouraged by the rich), more than on any other grievance. Most of my hearers would rather that their daughters or their sisters should marry a son of one of the great rich families than a regular army officer, were he as beautiful, brave, and gifted as Sir William Napier. I have heard the question asked whether our war was worth fighting, after all. There are many, poor and rich, who think that love of country is an old wife's tale, to be replaced by interest in a labor union, or, under the name of cosmopolitanism, by a rootless self-seeking search for a place where the most enjoyment may be had at the least cost.

I do not know the meaning of the universe. But in the midst of doubt, in the collapse of creeds, there is one thing I do not doubt, that no man who lives in the same world with most of us can doubt, and that is that the faith is true and adorable which leads a soldier to throw away his life in obedience to a blindly accepted duty, in a cause which he little understands, in a plan of campaign of which he has little notion, under tactics of which he does not see the use.

Most men who know battle know the cynic force with which the thoughts of common sense will assail them in times of stress; but they know that in their greatest moments faith has trampled those thoughts under foot. If you wait in line, suppose on Tremont Street Mall, ordered simply to wait and do nothing, and have watched the enemy bring their guns to bear upon you down a gentle slope like that of Beacon Street, have seen the puff of the firing, have felt the burst of the spherical case-shot as it came toward you, have heard and seen the shrieking fragments go tearing through your company, and have known that the next or the next shot carries your fate; if you have advanced in line and have seen ahead of you the spot you must pass where the rifle bullets are striking; if you have ridden at night at a walk toward the blue line of fire at the dead angle of Spottsylvania, where for twenty-four hours the soldiers were fighting on the two sides of an earthwork, and in the morning the dead and dying lay piled in a row six deep, and as you rode you heard the bullets splashing in the mud and earth about you; if you have been in the picket-line at night in a black and unknown wood, have heard the splat of the bullets upon the trees, and as you moved have felt your foot slip upon a dead man's body; if you have had a blind fierce gallop against the enemy, with your blood up and a pace that left no time for fear --if, in short, as some, I hope many, who hear me, have known, you have known the vicissitudes of terror and triumph in war; you know that there is such a thing as the faith I spoke of. You know your own weakness and are modest; but you know that man has in him that unspeakable somewhat which makes him capable of miracle, able to lift himself by the might of his own soul, unaided, able to face annihilation for a blind belief.

On the eve of Memorial Day, 1931, at the age of 90, Mr. Justice Holmes wrote to a friend:

"I shall go out to Arlington tomorrow, Memorial Day, and visit the gravestone with my name and my wife's on it, and be stirred by the military music, and, instead of bothering about the Unknown Soldier shall go to another stone that tells beneath it are the bones of, I don't remember the number but two or three thousand and odd, once soldiers gathered from the Virginia fields after the Civil War. I heard a woman say there once, 'They gave their all. They gave their very names.' Later perhaps some people will come in to say goodbye."

Justice Holmes died on March 6, 1935, two days short of his 94th birthday, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. So spry and alert was he, right up to the end, that it's said that one day, when he was in his nineties, he saw an attractive young woman and said, "Oh, to be seventy again!"

A 1951 Hollywood motion picture, The Magnificent Yankee, was based on his life.

*********** Several years ago, I visited the First Division (Big Red One) Museum in Wheaton, Illinois, where I read these lines, and thought of all the Americans who died in service of their country - men who in the memories of those they left behind will be forever young...

If you are able
Save a place for them inside of you,
And save one backward glance
When you are leaving for places
They can no longer go.
Be not ashamed to say you loved them,
Though you may or may not always have.
Take what they have left
And what they have taught you with their dying,
And keep it with your own.
And in that time when men feel safe
To call the war insane,
Take one moment to embrace these gentle heroes
You left behind.
by Major Michael D. O'Donnell...
shortly before being killed in action in Vietnam, 1970

***********After graduation from Harvard in 1910, Alan Seeger lived the life of a bohemian/beatnik/ hippie poet in New York City's Greenwich Village.  In 1914, he moved to Paris, and when war with Germany broke out, like a number of other young Americans,  he joined the French Foreign Legion to fight with the Allies. On July 4, 1916, nine months  before America joined the war on the side of the Allies, he was killed in the Battle of the Somme. He was 28. A year after his death, his poems were published.  The best known of his poems was "I Have a Rendezvous With Death," which according to the JFK Library, "was one of President Kennedy's favorite poems.
I Have a Rendezvous with Death
By Alan Seeger 
I HAVE a rendezvous with Death     
At some disputed barricade,     
When Spring comes back with rustling shade     
And apple-blossoms fill the air—     
I have a rendezvous with Death          
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.     
It may be he shall take my hand     
And lead me into his dark land     
And close my eyes and quench my breath—     
It may be I shall pass him still. 
I have a rendezvous with Death     
On some scarred slope of battered hill,     
When Spring comes round again this year     
And the first meadow-flowers appear.     
God knows 'twere better to be deep     
Pillowed in silk and scented down,     
Where love throbs out in blissful sleep,     
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,     
Where hushed awakenings are dear...  
But I've a rendezvous with Death     
At midnight in some flaming town,     
When Spring trips north again this year,     
And I to my pledged word am true,     
I shall not fail that rendezvous.

*********** Poppies once symbolized the Great War,  or The World War,  or - The War to End All Wars (so-called because, in the conceit that seems to follow every war, people  just knew that after the horror of that conflict, mankind would do anything in its power to avoid ever going to war again.)

Following the World War, Americans began to observe  the week leading up to Memorial Day as Poppy Week, and long after the World War ended, veterans' organizations in America, Australia and other nations which had fought in the war sold imitation poppies every year at this time to raise funds to assist disabled veterans.

It was largely because of a poem by a Canadian surgeon, Major John McCrae, that the poppy, which burst into bloom all over the once-bloody battlefields of northern Europe, came to symbolize the rebirth of life following the tragedy of war.

After having spent seventeen days hearing the screams and dealing with the suffering of men wounded in the bloody battle at Ypres, in Flanders (a part of Belgium) in the spring of 1915, Major McCrae wrote, "I wish I could embody on paper some of the varied sensations of that seventeen days... Seventeen days of Hades! At the end of the first day if anyone had told us we had to spend seventeen days there, we would have folded our hands and said it could not have been done."
Major McCrae was especially affected by the death of a close friend and former student. Following his burial - at which, in the absence of a chaplain, Major McCrae himself had had to preside - the Major sat in the back of an ambulance and, gazing out at the wild poppies growing in a nearby cemetery, composed a poem, scribbling the words in a notebook.

When he was done, though, he discarded it. Only through the efforts of a fellow officer, who rescued it and sent it to newspapers in England, was it ever published.

Now, the poem, "In Flanders Fields", is considered perhaps the greatest of all wartime poems.

The special significance of the poppies is that poppy seeds can lie dormant in the ground for years, only flowering when the soil has been turned over.

The soil of northern Belgium had been so churned up by the violence of war that at the time Major McCrae wrote his poem, the poppies were said to be blossoming in a profusion that no one could  remember ever having seen before.

In Flanders Fields... by John McCrae        

In Flanders fields the poppies blow   
Between the crosses, row on row,   
That mark our place; and in the sky  
The larks, still bravely singing, fly   
Scarce heard amid the guns below.        

We are the Dead. Short days ago   
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,   
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie   
In Flanders fields.        

Take up our quarrel with the foe:   
To you from failing hands we throw   
The torch; be yours to hold it high.   
If ye break faith with us who die   
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow   
In Flanders fields.

*********** Robert W. Service is one of my favorite poets. I especially like his poems about the Alaska Gold Rush - who hasn't ever heard "The Cremation of Sam McGee?" -  but this one, about a young English soldier going off to fight in World War I,  and the grief of his father at learning of his death, is heartbreaking, and especially poignant on a day when we remember our people who gave everything, and the loved ones they left behind..

"Where are you going, Young Fellow My Lad, On this glittering morn of May?"   
"I'm going to join the Colours, Dad; They're looking for men, they say."   
"But you're only a boy, Young Fellow My Lad; You aren't obliged to go."   
"I'm seventeen and a quarter, Dad, And ever so strong, you know."        

"So you're off to France, Young Fellow My Lad, And you're looking so fit and bright."   
"I'm terribly sorry to leave you, Dad, But I feel that I'm doing right."   
"God bless you and keep you, Young Fellow My Lad, You're all of my life, you know."   
"Don't worry. I'll soon be back, dear Dad, And I'm awfully proud to go."        

"Why don't you write, Young Fellow My Lad? I watch for the post each day;   
And I miss you so, and I'm awfully sad, And it's months since you went away.   
And I've had the fire in the parlour lit, And I'm keeping it burning bright   
Till my boy comes home; and here I sit Into the quiet night."        

"What is the matter, Young Fellow My Lad? No letter again to-day.   
Why did the postman look so sad, And sigh as he turned away?   
I hear them tell that we've gained new ground, But a terrible price we've paid:   
God grant, my boy, that you're safe and sound; But oh I'm afraid, afraid."        

"They've told me the truth, Young Fellow My Lad: You'll never come back again:   
For you passed in the night, Young Fellow My Lad, And you proved in the cruel test   
Of the screaming shell and the battle hell That my boy was one of the best.        

"So you'll live, you'll live, Young Fellow My Lad, In the gleam of the evening star,   
In the wood-note wild and the laugh of the child, In all sweet things that are.   
And you'll never die, my wonderful boy, While life is noble and true;   
For all our beauty and hope and joy We will owe to our lads like you."

*********** Hugh Brodie, an Australian, enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force in Melbourne on 15 September 1940. In 1942, Sergeant Brodie was listed Missing in Action. Before he left us, though, he wrote "A Sergeant's Prayer"

Almighty and all present Power,
Short is the prayer I make to Thee,
I do not ask in battle hour
For any shield to cover me.

The vast unalterable way,
From which the stars do not depart
May not be turned aside to stay
The bullet flying to my heart.

I ask no help to strike my foe,
I seek no petty victory here,
The enemy I hate, I know,
To Thee is also dear.

But this I pray, be at my side
When death is drawing through the sky.
Almighty God who also died
Teach me the way that I should die.

*********** Like many other phenomena in life, history has a tendency to be fickle. In 2001, some thirty-four years after the Battle of Ông Thanh, and the subsequent withdrawal of U.S. forces from Vietnam in 1973, which was followed by the "honorable peace" that saw the North Vietnamese army conquer South Vietnam in 1975 in violation of the Paris Peace Accords, most historians, as well as a large majority of the American people, may consider the U.S. involvement in Vietnam a disastrous and tragic waste and a time of shame in U.S. history. Consider, however, the fact that since the late 1940s, the Soviet Union was the greatest single threat to U.S. security. Yet for forty years, war between the Soviet Union and the United States was averted. Each time a Soviet threat surfaced during that time (Greece, Turkey, Korea, Berlin, Cuba, Vietnam, and Afghanistan), although it may have been in the form of a "war of national liberation," as the Vietnam war was characterized, the United States gave the Soviet Union the distinct message that each successive threat would not be a Soviet walkover. In fact, the Soviets were stunned by the U.S. reactions in both Korea and Vietnam. They shook their heads, wondering what interest a great power like the United States could have in those two godforsaken countries. They thought: "These Americans are crazy. They have nothing to gain; and yet they fight and lose thousands of men over nothing. They are irrational." Perhaps history in the long-term--two hundred or three hundred years from now--will say that the western democracies, led by the United States, survived in the world, and their philosophy of government of the people, by the people, for the people continues to survive today (in 2301) in some measure due to resolute sacrifices made in the mid-twentieth century by men like those listed in the last chapter of this book. Then the words of Lord Byron, as quoted in this book's preface, will not ring hollow, but instead they will inspire other men and women of honor in the years to come.

From "The Beast was Out There", by Brigadier General James Shelton, USA (Ret.)

Jim Shelton is a former Delaware football player (a wing-T guard) who served in Korea and Vietnam and as a combat infantryman rose to the rank of General. He was in Viet Nam on that fateful day in October, 1967 when Don Holleder was killed. Ironically, he had competed against Don Holleder in college.

Now retired, he has served as Colonel of the Black Lions and was instrumental in the establishment of the Black Lion Award for young American football players. General Shelton personally signs every Black Lions Award certificate.

The title of his book is taken from Captain Jim Kasik's description of the enemy: "the beast was out there, and the beast was hungry."

*********** He's now dead and gone, but  George Jones' music will live on. His "50,000 NAMES" - a tribute to the 58,000 Americans who died in Vietnam - may be THE American Memorial Day song.

(Warning - this could make you cry.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpBiVpSggNs


K I A ... Adkins, Donald W.... Allen, Terry... Anderson, Larry M.... Barker, Gary L.... Blackwell, James L., Jr.... Bolen, Jackie Jr. ... Booker, Joseph O. ... Breeden, Clifford L. Jr ... Camero, Santos... Carrasco, Ralph ... Chaney, Elwood D. Jr... Cook, Melvin B.... Crites, Richard L.... Crutcher, Joe A. ...... Dodson, Wesley E.... Dowling, Francis E.... Durham, Harold B. Jr ... Dye, Edward P. ... East, Leon N.... Ellis, Maurice S.... Familiare, Anthony ... Farrell, Michael J. ...Fuqua, Robert L. Jr. ...Gallagher, Michael J. ...Garcia, Arturo ...Garcia, Melesso ...Gilbert, Stanley D. ...Gilbertson, Verland ...Gribble, Ray N. ...Holleder, Donald W. ...Jagielo, Allen D. ...Johnson, Willie C. Jr ...Jones, Richard W. ...Krischie, John D. ...Lancaster, James E. ...Larson, James E. ...Lincoln, Gary G. ...Lovato, Joe Jr. ...Luberta, Andrew P. ...Megiveron, Emil G. ...Miller, Michael M. ...Moultrie, Joe D. ...Nagy, Robert J. ...Ostroff, Steven L. ...Platosz, Walter ...Plier, Eugene J. ...Porter, Archie ...Randall, Garland J. ...Reece, Ronney D. ...Reilly, Allan V. ...Sarsfield, Harry C. ...Schroder, Jack W. ...Shubert, Jackie E. ...Sikorski, Daniel ...Smith, Luther ...Thomas, Theodore D. Jr. ...Tizzio, Pasquale T. ...Wilson, Kenneth P. .... M I A ... Fitzgerald, Paul ...Hargrove, Olin Jr


By retired Air Force General Perry Smith (Don Holleder's West Point classmate, roommate and best man)

"If you doubt the axiom, 'An aggressive leader is priceless,' ...if you prefer the air arm to the infantry in football, if you are not convinced we recruited cadet-athletes of superior leadership potential, then you must hear the story of Donald Walter Holleder. The saga of Holleder stands unique in Army and, perhaps, all college gridiron lore." Hence begins the chapter, "You are my quarterback", in Coach Red Blaik's 1960 book, You Have to Pay the Price. Every cadet in the classes of 1956, 57, 58 and 59, and everyone who was part of the Army family at West Point and throughout the world will remember, even 50 years after the fact, the "Great Experiment". But there is much more to the Holleder story. .

Holly was born and brought up in a tight knit Catholic family in upstate New York. He was an only child whose father died when Don was quite young. Doc Blanchard recruited high school All American Holleder who entered the Point just a few days after he graduated from Aquinas Institute in Rochester. Twice turned out for academic difficulties, he struggled mightily to stay in the Corps. However as a cadet leader he excelled, serving as a cadet captain and company commander of M-2 his senior year.

Of course, it was in the field of athletics that Don is best known. Never a starter on the basketball team, he nevertheless got playing time as a forward who brought rebounding strength to a team that beat a heavily favored Navy team in the early spring of 1954. That fall, the passing combination of Vann to Holleder quickly caught the attention of the college football world. No one who watched those games will ever forget Holly going deep and leaping into the air to grab a perfectly thrown bomb from Peter Vann. Don was a consensus first team All American that year as a junior.

Three football defeats in 1955 after Holly's conversion to quarterback brought criticism of Coach Blaik and Don from many quarters but the dramatic Army victory over Navy, 14 to 6 brought redemption. Shortly thereafter, Holly received the Swede Nelson award for sportsmanship. The fact that he had given up all chances of becoming a two time all-American and a candidate for the Heisman trophy and he did so without protest or complaint played heavily in the decision by the Nelson committee to select him for this prestigious award.

Holly's eleven year career in the Army included the normal schools at Benning and Leavenworth, company command in Korea, coaching and recruiting at West Point and serving as the commanding general's aide at Fortress Monroe. After graduating from Command and General Staff College, he was off to Vietnam.

Arriving in July, 1967, Holly was assigned to the Big Red One--the First Infantry Division-- and had considerable combat experience before that tragic day in the fall--October 17. Lieutenant Colonel Terry Allen's battalion was ambushed and overrun--the troops on the ground were is desperate shape. Holleder was serving as the operations officer of the 28th Brigade--famous Black Lions. Hearing the anguished radio calls for help from the soldiers on the ground, Holly convinced his brigade commander that he had to get on the ground to help. Jumping out of his helicopter, Holly rallied some troops and raced toward the spot where the wounded soldiers were fighting.

The Newsweek article a few days after his death tells what happened next. "With the Viet Cong firing from two sides, the U. S. troops now began retreating pell-mell back to their base camp, carrying as many of their wounded as they could, The medic Tom "Doc" Hinger was among those who staggered out of the bush and headed across an open marshy plain toward the base, 200 meters away. But on the way he ran into big, forceful Major Donald W. Holleder, 33, an All-American football player at West Point..., going the other way--toward the scene of the battle. Holleder, operations officer for the brigade, had not been in the fight until now. ' Come on Doc, he shouted to Hinger, 'There are still wounded in there. I need your help.'

"Hinger said later: 'I was exhausted. But having never seen such a commander, I ran after him. What an officer! He went on ahead of us--literally running to the point position'. Then a burst of fire from the trees caught Holleder. 'He was hit in the shoulder recalled Hinger. 'I started to patch him up, but he died in my arms.' The medic added he had been with Holleder for only three minutes, but would remember the Major's gallantry for the rest of his life." Holly died as he lived: the willingness to make great sacrifices prevailed to the minute of his death.

Caroline was left a young widow. She later married our West Point classmate, Ernie Ruffner, who became a loving husband and father to the four Holleder daughters. All the daughters are happily married and there are eight wonderful and loving grandchildren.

The legacy of Donald Walter Holleder will remain an important part of the West Point story forever. The Holleder Army Reserve Center in Webster, New York, the Holleder Parkway in Rochester and the Holleder Athletic Center at West Point all help further Don's legacy. In 1985, Holly was inducted into College Football Hall of Fame. A 2003 best selling book, They Marched into Sunlight, by David Maraniss tells the story of Holleder and the Black Lions. Tom Hanks has purchased the film rights to the book.

An innovative high school coach, Hugh Wyatt, decide to further memorialize Don's legacy by establishing the Black Lion Award. Each year at hundreds of high schools, middle schools and youth football programs across the country, a single football player on each team is selected "who best exemplifies the character of Don Holleder: leadership, courage, devotion to duty, self-sacrifice, and--above all--an unselfish concern for his team ahead of himself." Starting in 2005, this award is presented to a member of the Army football team each year.

Anyone who wishes to extend Holleder's legacy can do so by approaching their local football coaches and encouraging them to make the Black Lion Award a part of their tradition. Coach Hugh Wyatt can be contacted by e mail (coachwyatt@aol.com).

All West Pointers can be proud of Donald Walter Holleder; for him there were no impossible dreams, only challenges to seek out and to conquer. Forty years after his death thousands of friends and millions of fans still remember him and salute him for his character and supreme courage.

By Retired Air Force General Perry Smith, classmate and roommate, with great assistance from Don's family members, Stacey Jones and Ernie Ruffner, classmates, Jerry Amlong, Peter Vann and JJ McGinn, and battlefield medic, Doc Hinger.

*********** "Major Holleder overflew the area (under attack) and saw a whole lot of Viet Cong and many American soldiers, most wounded, trying to make their way our of the ambush area. He landed and headed straight into the jungle, gathering a few soldiers to help him go get the wounded. A sniper's shot killed him before he could get very far. He was a risk-taker who put the common good ahead of himself, whether it was giving up a position in which he had excelled or putting himself in harm's way in an attempt to save the lives of his men. My contact with Major Holleder was very brief and occured just before he was killed, but I have never forgotten him and the sacrifice he made. On a day when acts of heroism were the rule, rather than the exception, his stood out."

    Black Lions medic Dave Berry


In 1954-55 I lived at West Point N.Y. where my father was stationed as a member of the staff at the United States Military Academy.

Don Holleder was an All American end on the Red Blaik coached Army football team which was a perennial eastern gridiron power in 40s and 50s. On Fall days I would run home from the post school, drop off my books, and head directly to the Army varsity practice field which overlooked the Hudson River and was only a short sprint from my house.

Army had a number of outstanding players on the roster back then, but my focus was on Don Holleder, our All-America end turned quarterback in a controversial position change that had sportswriters and Army fans buzzing throughout the college football community that year.

Don looked like a hero, tall, square jawed, almost stately in his appearance. He practiced like he played, full out all the time. He was the obvious leader of the team in addition to being its best athlete and player.

In 1955 it was common for star players to play both sides of the ball and Don was no exception delivering the most punishing tackles in practice as well as game situations. At the end of practice the Army players would walk past the parade ground (The Plain), then past my house and into the Arvin Gymnasium where the team's locker room was located.

Very often I would take that walk stride for stride with Don and the team and best of all, Don would sometimes let me carry his helmet. It was gold with a black stripe down the middle and had the most wonderful smell of sweat and leather. Inside the helmet suspension was taped a sweaty number 16, Don's jersey number.

While Don's teammates would talk and laugh among themselves in typical locker room banter, Don would ask me about school, show me how to grip the ball and occasionally chide his buddies if the joking ever got bawdy in front of "the little guy". On Saturdays I lived and died with Don's exploits on the field in Michie Stadium.

In his senior year Don's picture graced the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine and he led Army to a winning season culminating in a stirring victory over Navy in front of 100,000 fans in Philadelphia. During that incredible year I don't ever remember Don not taking time to talk to me and patiently answer my boyish questions about the South Carolina or Michigan defense ("I'll bet they don't have anybody as fast as you, huh, Don?").

Don graduated with his class in June 1956 and was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. Coincidentally, my Dad was also assigned to the 25th at the same time so I got to watch Don quarterback the 14th Infantry Regiment football team to the Division championship in 1957.

There was one major drawback to all of Don's football-gained notoriety - he wanted no part of it. He wanted to be a soldier and an infantry leader. But division recreational football was a big deal in the Army back then and for someone with Don's college credentials not to play was unheard of.

In the first place players got a lot of perks for representing their Regiment, not to mention hero status with the chain of command. Nevertheless, Don wanted to trade his football helmet for a steel pot and finally, with the help of my Dad, he succeeded in retiring from competitive football and getting on with his military profession.

It came as no surprise to anyone who knew Don that he was a natural leader of men in arms, demanding yet compassionate, dedicated to his men and above all fearless. Sure enough after a couple of TO&E infantry tours his reputation as a soldier matched his former prowess as an athlete.

It was this reputation that won him the favor of the Army brass and he soon found himself as an Aide-de-camp to the four star commander of the Continental Army Command in beautiful Ft Monroe, Virginia.

With the Viet Nam War escalating and American combat casualties increasing every day, Ft Monroe would be a great place to wait out the action and still promote one's Army career - a high-profile job with a four star senior rater, safely distanced from the conflict in southeast Asia.

Once again, Don wanted no part of this safe harbor and respectfully lobbied his boss, General Hugh P. Harris to get him to Troops in Viet Nam. Don got his wish but not very long after arriving at the First Division he was killed attempting to lead a relief column to wounded comrades caught in a Viet Cong ambush.
I remember the day I found out about Don's death. I was in the barber's chair at The Citadel my sophomore year when General Harris (Don's old boss at Ft Monroe, now President of The Citadel) walked over to me and motioned me outside.

He knew Don was a friend of mine and sought me out to tell me that he was KIA. It was one of the most defining moments of my life. As I stood there in front of the General the tears welled up in my eyes and I said "No, please, sir. Don't say that." General Harris showed no emotion and I realized that he had experienced this kind of hurt too many times to let it show. "Biff", he said, "Don died doing his duty and serving his country. He had alternatives but wouldn't have it any other way. We will always be proud of him, Biff."

With that, he turned and walked away. As I watched him go I didn't know the truth of his parting words. I shed tears of both pride and sorrow that day in 1967, just as I am doing now, 34 years later, as I write this remembrance. In my mind's eye I see Don walking with his teammates after practice back at West Point, their football cleats making that signature metallic clicking on concrete as they pass my house at the edge of the parade ground; he was a leader among leaders.

As I have been writing this, I periodically looked up at the November 28, 1955 Sports Illustrated cover which hangs on my office wall, to make sure I'm not saying anything Don wouldn't approve of, but he's smiling out from under that beautiful gold helmet and thinking about the Navy game. General Harris was right. We will always be proud of Don Holleder, my boyhood hero...

Biff Messinger, Mountainville, New York, 2001

***********  A retired Navy captain wrote in the Wall Street Journal about the strict criteria for awarding the Medal of Honor (frequently called the Congressional Medal of Honor)...

"Remember the Marine Corps requirement: Fall on a hand grenade to save your fellow Marines and the grenade fails to explode, you get a Navy Cross; if the grenade explodes, you might get the Medal of Honor."

The Medal of Honor was meant to be awarded sparingly,  Of the hundreds of thousands of men who fought in in our Twentieth Century wars, here are the numbers of Medals of Honor Awarded:

WW I  124
WW II  464
Korea 135
Vietnam  246

There were 1522 Medals of Honor awarded as a result of Civil War. Actually, there were more than that,  but  over 900 were later rescinded.

One reason was that in the Civil War, the Medal of Honor was the only medal awarded for valor. Another reason was the enormous number of casualties suffered in that war.


*********** Other nations lost men in the same wars we did, and they, too, honor their men who gave all, in poem and song.

Sad?  Ohmigod.  What can be sadder than the loss of a young man, one of a country's finest,  in a distant war?

One such song is known by some as "No Man's Land" and by others as "The Green Fields of France" - but either way  it's a sad lament about a young soldier named Willie McBride, killed in battle in 1916 while still a teenager.

Trigger warning: This is VERY sad.


Another very sad ballad, "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda," is the story of a young Australian sent off to fight in World War I.  He was shipped off to Gallipoli where thousands of "Anzacs" (Australians and New Zealanders) were slaughtered by Turkish machine-gun fire. (I highly recommend the movie, "Gallipoli")

Although he escaped death, his legs were blown off, and his story in the song  is told from the perspective of a now-old man.

Trigger warning: So is this..


*********** Trophies for everybody. There was a time when most Americans knew why we put aside one day a year called Memorial Day -  to honor, to memorialize, those who lost their lives in service of their country. 

Not, as the 60 or so people who bought paid ads in our local paper seem to think, to remember some loved one who never died in battle - never even served in the Armed Forces, for that matter - but simply did what we’re all destined to do one day.  Died.  I hate to ruin their holiday by telling them that Memorial Day is not about remembering Aunt Clara, but somebody's got to.

There are other days for that.

And there are also other days for saying “thank you for your service” to veterans or active duty personnel.  364 others, if you’re really sincere.  And there's a special one, called Veterans’ Day, when our nation honors and thanks its veterans.

Oh, well. Come to think of it: is there even one holiday - one single holiday - that hasn’t been given another meaning, one often more significant now than the original one?

New Year’s Day - Bowl Games

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday - It’s still too new a national holiday to tell what the public will do with it

Presidents’ Day - Sale! Sale! Sale! (Used to be two separate holidays. Now, few school kids could tell you which presidents it refers to.)

St. Patrick’s Day - Scarcely observed in Ireland, it’s a massive drunk in much of the US

Easter - Bunnies and Easter eggs.  Spring Break.

Mother’s Day - This is the one that stands out.  If anything, it's grown stronger.  Traditionally, this was the day when the phone company’s circuits failed. Do NOT schedule anything else on this day.   Do NOT get drunk.

Cinco de Mayo - A holiday that means nothing in Mexico has been turned into a Hispanic St. Patrick’s Day

Memorial Day - The start of summer; the Indy 500

July 4 - Fireworks and beer and hot dogs (And baseball double headers, for those old enough to remember.)

Labor Day - The end of summer; the start of college football

Veterans Day - Used to be called Armistice Day, when  we celebrated the end of a horrible world war

Hallowe’en - Used to be for kids to go trick-or-treating. Now, that’s no longer safe,  but no matter, kiddies - adult partiers have made it the second-biggest beer sales day of the year

Thanksgiving - Don’t you mean “Turkey Day?”  The only time the Lions are on  national TV?

Christmas - The “holiday” in “Happy Holidays.”
aka "Winter Holiday."

*********** In this past  weekend’s Wall Street Journal, a writer named Jerry Ciancolo urges  us, the next time we pass a War Memorial with the names of dead Americans on it, to stop - and  “Touch the names of those who never came home.”

He asks that we dispense with referring to “hollow abstractions” such as “ultimate sacrifices,” and to think in everyday terms.

Many of those young guys, he reminds us...

never set foot on campus.  They never straightened a tie and headed to a first real job. They never slipped a ring on a sweetheart’s finger. They never swelled with hope turning the key to a starter home.  They never nestled an infant against a bare chest.  They never roughhoused in the living room with an exasperated wife looking on. They never tiptoed to lay out Santa’s toys.  They never dabbed a tear while walking their princess down the aisle. They never toasted their son’s promotion.  They never rekindled their love as empty nesters.  They never heard a new generation cry out, “I love you, Grandpa!”

A lifetime of big and little moments never happened because of a bullet to the body one day in a far-off land.  For those who crumpled to the ground, the tapestry of life was left unknit.

A moment’s reflection is all it takes to realize that every name on your town’s monument was a real person.  One who bicycled the same streets as you, who sleepily delivered the morning Gazette, who was kept after school for cutting up, who sneaked a smoke out back, who cannon-balled into the local pond in the dog days of summer.

On Memorial Day - with your smartphone turned off - pay a visit to your local monument. Quietly stand before the honor roll of the dead, whisper a word of thanks, and gently run your finger across their names. The touch will be comforting.

*********** For nine years, we lived in Western Maryland, first in Frederick, then in Hagerstown, and one of our favorite things to do with our kids was to pile in our van and drive to Antietam Battlefield, just 20 miles from Hagerstown.

Gettysburg wasn’t that far away, either, and we went there a few times, but Gettysburg was usually crowded and, well, Gettysburg is cluttered. Every unit that ever fought there, every state that ever had units that fought there, seemingly every family that had a soldier who ever fought there, has erected a monument somewhere on the battlefield, to the point where it’s very difficult to picture what things must have looked like in 1863.  Throw in souvenir shops and similar catchpennies that await the throngs of tourists, and…well, let's just say that Gettysburg is being loved to death.

And then there’s Antietam, site of the bloodiest single day of the war, where a Union victory gave Abraham Lincoln the chance he had been looking for to announce the emancipation of slaves - well, in the Confederate States, at least.  A symbolic gesture, true, but an enormous gesture - one that brought to an end the claim that the war was being fought just to “save the union” - from that point it was just as much to end slavery.

My wife and I paid another visit to Antietam last week, but this one seemed especially poignant, coming so close to memorial Day.

The Antietam battlefield is just outside the lovely old town of Sharpsburg, Maryland.  Southerners called it the Battle of Sharpsburg, Northerners “Antietam” because of the creek that flows through the area. (Southerners named battles for nearby towns, northerners for nearby geographic features, e.g., Manassas is better known as Bull Run. Winners, as we know, write the history.)

Sharpsburg looks, with the exception of the paved road running through it, much as it would have in 1862, and although it may have an ice cream parlor or two, it has not succumbed to commercialization. Neither has the nearby, slightly larger town of Boonsboro.

The battlefield itself is beautiful, rolling Maryland farmland, nestled against the western slope of South Mountain.  Although marked with a few columns and statues and informative signs here and there, it has for the most part been spared the pressure to honor everyone who ever fought there, and as a result, it’s possible to tour the area and see it just as it might have looked in 1862 - right before all hell broke loose. 
Bloody Lane thenBloody Lane Now

No place is the contrast between the bucolic peacefulness of the countryside and the butchery that took place there greater  than at the Sunken Road, a wagon lane between two fields worn down by years of use.

With Confederates entrenched in the sunken road, fence posts piled up on both sides to reinforce their position, Union forces attacked, and after three hours of fighting - to no conclusion - more than 5,500 men on both sides were either killed or wounded.

My photo was taken on Monday, May 18.  It was beautiful and peaceful, the way it's been, with one brief interruption, for hundreds of years, and I found it impossible to picture the horror that took place there more than 150 years before, along that quarter-mile stretch of road that has been known ever since as Bloody Lane.


american flagFRIDAY,  MAY 22,  2015-   “It is not the proper role of the university to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable or even deeply offensive." MItch Daniels, Purdue University President

********** It was inevitable, I suppose, but on YouTube these days, you can find quite a few of the great games as they were broadcast.

Pepper and Homer's last game against USC.  You can open Installing Football's Wishbone T Offense and follow along as the game progresses.  Virtually the entire playbook.

UCLA beats Ohio State.  Remember John Sciarra?

Arkansas demolishes Oklahoma.  Here again, you can open Holtz's The Offensive Side of Lou Holtz and find any play on the TeeVee, chapter and verse.

How much disk space do you have?

Charlie Wilson
Crystal River, Flor

John Sciarra.  Mark Harmon.  Ron Calcagni.

The list goes on.

The way the cost of storage keeps coming down, I could afford to download that stuff

*********** At just about this time 40 years ago,  I flew west to start work with the Portland Thunder, in my second go-round with the World Football League.  My wife and kids weren’t able to join me until school was out in Maryland, where we were living, and their drive across the country in our VW minibus - my wife, four kids, a dog and a cat - is a story in itself.

I had high hopes that this time the WFL was going to make it, but I didn’t have any illusions: I had already seen the league fold under me once, leaving me and a couple hundred coaches and front-office people and assorted other workers  jobless, and I had my eyes open this time. Sort of. My boss-to-be, Bob Brodhead, had solid NFL experience, and he was in demand by a number of WFL franchises.  He was talking seriously to ownership groups in Jacksonville, San Antonio and Portland.  I’d been to all three cities the year before, and although I liked them all, Portland had blown me away. Of all three places, I told Bob, Portland was the place I wanted to be if the league ran out of gas.  I don’t know if that made any difference with Bob (and I would have gladly gone with him to any one of the three cities), but he wound up choosing Portland, and the decision had a huge impact on my life and that of my wife and kids.

(On my first-ever trip to Portland, in 1974, I was of course impressed by the beauty of the surroundings - the trees, the mountains, the river.  But what really did it for me was the summer weather. Having grown up in hot, muggy Philadelphia, and then having lived in hot, muggy Maryland, the most amazing thing to me was that while the temperature was in the 90s, it just didn’t seem uncomfortable.  It was my first real experience with hot weather without the humidity, and after growing up in the steamy East and never realizing that it wasn’t that way everywhere, it sold me on living there.)

*********** We just returned from a week-long trip back East.

Its purpose was a clinic/camp, one that I decided on rather late, after a winter-spring of assorted events conspired to make me cancel this year’s normal clinic schedule.

A secondary purpose, since my wife and I are originally from the Philadelphia area and we lived for the first 15 years of our married lives in Maryland, was a chance to visit some old friends and some old, familiar places. And eat some old familiar foods.

We flew into Philadelphia, with a change go planes in Chicago.  Note to Nebraska athletic department:  that may have been your track team in Midway Airport last Wednesday.  I’m not sure, because normally, when I see teams on their way to an event, they’re dressed in team attire. My guess is that for Christmas, this group of young, athletic looking people each received a different item of clothing saying “Nebraska Track.”  That had to be the case, because no one was wearing a complete Nebraska sweat suit, and I doubt that any two people were wearing matching outfits. My wife’s comment said it all for me: “What a motley-looking crew.”  I actually tried calling the NU athletic office to report that a large mob was moving through an airport posing as their track team, but I got one of those “your call is important to us” messages, so screw them.  Maybe I should have called the football office to tell them to send the track team even more of their money so they can actually look like they represent a real Big Ten university. 

Our first stop in Philly after picking up our rental car is on York Road in Abington, a northern suburb where my wife grew up. We go back and forth - Lee’s Hoagies? or Steak and Hoagie Factory? They’re both good.

A hoagie, a cheese steak, and a six-pack of Yuengling’s, and we’re set for dinner back in our hotel room.

The next day, I had lunch with three high school classmates, all of them football teammates.  Two of the guys, Hap Gwynn and Mike Carrozza, have taken on the challenge of getting our unbeaten 1955 team inducted into the school’s sports hall of fame. Good luck.  Shortly after we graduated, a generous gift of land from the publisher of one of Philadelphia’s newspapers, enabled the school, Germantown Academy, to move from its location in the congested, declining Germantown section - where it had been since 1760 - to a distant beautiful, leafy location far out of the city, in Fort Washington.  Part of the deal, though, was that in addition to the move, the school would admit girls.

Done. Welcome, ladies.

Bye-bye, Germantown.

We loved our school and we opposed the changes, but in reality, they enabled our school to take giant bounds forward from the middle-class private school we knew to the first-class prep school that exists today.  I’m fairly certain that if Germantown Academy had remained in Germantown itself, the school would have gone bankrupt long ago.

Sports hall of fame?  If it matters to anyone (it doesn’t to me) we’re fighting the battle of the sexes combined with the perception that we weren’t even wearing helmets back then and besides, who cares about something that happened way back in the last century?

I mean, there’s already been a girls’ cross country team inducted.

Then there’s this Germantown vs. Fort Washington thing.

GA-PC 1929Despite a history of sports that dates back to its first football game in 1887, there has only been one team admitted to the school hall of fame from the Germantown, all-male days - the 1952 football team (which may have been the best in the city).

The photo at left is from the 1929 game against archrival Penn Charter, the 33rd consecutive game between them. Begun back in 1887, GA-PC is the oldest uninterrupted high school rivalry in the country.

Meantime a championship girls’ cross country team is in.

Oh, well.

(The best treatment of the impermanence of fame - and one of my all-time favorite books - is Philip Roth’s “The Great American Novel,” a hilarious story of an elderly sports writer, spending his last days in some old folks’ home, whose recollections of an ill-fated Patriot League and a baseball team called the Ruppert Mundys, right down to the smallest quirks of every man on the team, are as real as yesterday too him, but to those around him simply the babblings of an old fart who’s lost his marbles.)

On Friday I stopped off at a Fedex Kinko to get some handouts printed for the clinic, and, this being Philadelphia, it didn’t take long to get a sports conversation going.

I handed my materials to the guy behind the desk, and he took a look and said, “Looks like you got a lot of running plays, Coach.”

Which led to my discovery that he’d played high school football at Roman Catholic High and then played a year or two at Temple before injuring his knee. 

Another guy jumped in and we got going on Blair Thomas, who’d played at his high school (Frankford High) and then Penn State, was the Jets’ first round pick, and played six years in the NFL.

And then we got to Rasheed Wallace, another Philly guy, and they were really excited when I told them I was from Portland, where “Sheed" got his start.

From there my wife and I drove  west, to the town of Wrightsville, where the clinic was to take place at Eastern York High School.

We drove along Route 30, through the so-called “Dutch Country” around Lancaster.  Do NOT say LANN-caster.  There, it is LANG-kister. (“Pennsylvania Dutch,” we Pennsylvanians were always taught, was a corruption of “Pennsylvania Deutsch,” and I can remember not so long ago when many people in the area spoke a German dialect.

It is very cool to drive the back roads and see farming still being done by horses and mules. And - if you’re not in a hurry - to be held up on those same roads by horse-drawn buggies. This is one of the few places in th country where you can still see “road apples” on the roads. The Amish and other Plain People stick to their old ways, but a few of them have figured out that city folks will pay money for rides in real Pennsylvania Dutch buggies.


If you only take one trip to this area in your life, you have to make sure to visit Intercourse. That’s Intercourse, Pennsylvania. It was once called Cross Keys, but I can picture the town council meeting when Mr. Stoltzfuss stood up and said, “No one now even knowest that we are on the map. But lettest thou change the name to Intercourse and we will be known far and wide,  and people will pay us visits ever after to buy tee-shirts and cheap souvenirs and take selfies.” 

Mr. Stoltzfuss (a fictional character with a name very common in the area) could not have foreseen the damage done over the years to the town budget by having to replace all those  “Welcome to Intercourse” signs stolen by teenage boys.  Not to mention the budgets of the nearby towns of Bird-in-hand and Blue Ball.

Friday night before the clinic, my wife and I were treated to some real local color by host coach Dave Kemmick, who took us to dinner at Lancaster Liederkranz.  I’ll let them tell it:

Our Mission

In the year 1880, on the fourth day of July, in the city of Lancaster, a group of men of German origin met and organized a Singing Society to be henceforth known as the LIEDERKRANZ.   The object of this organization was to meet fraternally, sing and preserve native songs and music as well as perpetuate social customs of the Homeland.

In the year 1909, the Lancaster Manerchor and the Arbeiter Manerchor consolidated with the LIEDERKRANZ in order to promote the cultivation and improvement of the German chorus as well as sociability.  These principles remain valid.

We continue today as a dynamic family organization dedicated to perpetuating and amplifying our founders'  original purpose through song, dance, language, art, education and international cultural exchange.

The atmosphere, the food and the beverages are reflective of the Lancaster area’s German heritage, but Liederkranz is not some cutesy-poo German-themed tourist attraction. It is decidedly American.  The food and drink are excellent, and because  the help - cooks, waitresses, bartenders - are all volunteers, the prices are astoundingly reasonable.

I especially liked the sauerkraut and the German potato salad.  And the Spaten - great German lager bier.  Mmmm Mmmmm. 

Clinic Saturday started out as my visits in the Mid-Atlantic area have for the last ten years - breakfast with Coach Jason Clarke, of Baltimore.  It’s been great getting to know him and his family over the years, and watching him develop as a coach.  It’s a sign of his dedication that he’ll get up early enough to drive from Baltimore to meet at 7 AM.

The clinic itself couldn’t have gone better from my perspective.  Eastern York High is located in a beautiful spot on a hill with a great view of the Susquehanna River.  Its facilities are excellent - we met in the morning in a choral music room, and after lunch we went outside and worked with Eastern kids on their artificial turf field.

Eastern York PlayersI did my best in the AM to introduce what we were doing to the coaches in attendance so that when we went outside in the afternoon they could jump in and coach if they wanted or simply observe, if that was their preference.

The kids, after a season under Coach Kemmick and his staff, were quite coachable and hard-working.

Among the coaches who’d come a long distance were Paul Herzog, of St,. Paul, Minnesota, who flew in to Baltimore and drove the rest of the way, Tom Caudill, of McDermott, Ohio, who drove seven hours to get there, and Don Gordon of Greeenfield, Massachusetts, who drove six hours.

Chris Galloway, of Elverson, PA has been a long-time regular, and out of the goodness of his heart, he brought me another Pennsylvania Care Package of scrapple and Lebanon bologna. (Look them up.)

Also on hand to lend their expertise after working with the Open Wing at last year’s Durham clinic were Dwayne Pierce of Washington, DC and Brian Mackell, of Baltimore’s Archbishop Curley HS. Coach Mackell volunteered last year to be a “beta tester” of the Open Wing, and his JV team won the district championship.

In a two-hour span, the Eastern kids were introduced to 20 plays - 10 right and 10 left - and variations of them, and did a respectable job of running them.  To be fair, they were not total novices: many of them had had some exposure to the offense before.

No sooner had we left the field than the humidity that had been building up gave way to a brief but powerful downpour.


A coaches’ debriefing session took place at Wrightsville’s Burning Bridge Tavern, so named because it is at the western end of the bridge that crosses the Susquehanna River to Columbia, PA.  More than 100 years ago, during the Civil War, a wooden covered bridge at the same spot was set afire by retreating Union forces, an act that almost certainly saved the city of Lancaster from being taken by Confederates.


The next day, we spent a little time exploring Lancaster, a very old city that’s home to Franklin and Marshall College, and then, driving  around the city of York, I naturally had to stop outside the Harley-Davidson factory to take a picture.


************ John Harbaugh doesn’t like the idea of going for two from the one-yard line.  Says it’s going to get people hurt.  Says more people will try quarterback sneaks, and with the other backs pushing from behind, it’s not going to look like football - it’s going to look like rugby.

Two questions, Coach H:

1.  “Other backs pushing?”  But Coach Harbaugh - isn’t that illegal? (Wink. wink.)

2. Um - so kicking an extra point from the 15 yard line - where kickers still make more than 95 per cent of their kicks - does look like football?

Speaking of rugby, I’d have proposed that football employ the rugby rule that states that the kick for the extra point must take place from a line drawn straight back from the spot where the ball was touched down - literally touched down -  in the end zone.  That would really screw those guys who fly  across the corner pylon, holding  the ball out so it passes through scoring territory.  But it’s never touched down!  Haw, haw - the PAT try will be from somewhere on the f—king sideline!

*********** Next time you watch an NBA game and see all the fans wearing the a tee-shirt in the home team’s colors… it’s part of “shirting” - a carefully-orchestrated scheme to get fans “involved,” an incentive to attend the game live rather than sit home and watch it on the 60-inch TV.   Fans arrive at the arena to find a tee-short on every seat, and then, just to make sure that they get the idea, those who are slow to put on their tee-shirts are single out on the Big Screen and ordered to “Put your shirt on!”

“I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon,” Peter Sorckoff, chief creative officer and senior vice president for marketing for the Atlanta Hawks, told the New York Times. “The way it looks on television is important to teams and to broadcasters. And I really believe in the sociological and psychological impact it has on people. I think people want that. That’s why they are coming to the game. They want more of that.”

It’s a not-too-subtle nod at the fans’ narcissism - the belief that they can “make a difference” in sports, just as they have been told they can do on the Planet Earth.

Said Scott Sonnenberg, Chicago Bulls’ vice president for corporate sales, to the Times:

“Nowadays, you can watch a ballgame at your house, on a huge flat screen, practically in a movie theater.  But when you come to a game, you want to feel you’re a part of it, that you can impact the game. To have those red T-shirts, they feel like they’re part of it, they are impacting the outcome.”


*********** Let Islamic terrorists commit an atrocity and the cry goes up - when are all the “good” Muslims going to denounce them?

Likewise, when a black gang commits some crime, there’s a similar cry - when are all the “good” black people going to denounce them?

So, after the shootout in Waco, it’s only fair to ask - where are all the “good” white people denouncing motorcycle gangs?  Hmmm?  Hmmm?

*********** Not that I would ever say anything bad about motorcycle gangs.  Oh, no.  Not me.

A few years ago, at the urging of my friend John Torres, I read a very interesting book.  John Torres, a very good youth coach, spent a career in the ATF, the last couple as Special Agent in Charge of the Los Angeles office, which means he had plenty of first-hand experience with motorcycle gangs and their “business”  activity, which included “marketing” firearms.

The book was “Under and Alone,” by a guy named William Queen, an ATF agent who spent a couple of years undercover with the Mongols, a motorcycle gang  so violent that it’s been said, “They make the Hells Angels look like Cub Scouts on a Vespa.”

Very good read.  Very scary.  I think I'll pass on saying anything bad about the Mongols.

*********** Imagine- Barack Obama and his speech-writing stooges lecturing  Coast Guard Academy  cadets on “dereliction of duty.”

PRESIDENT OBAMA AT THE COAST GUARD ACADEMY GRADUATION: Climate change will impact every country on the planet. No nation is immune. So I am here today to say that climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security. And make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country. So we need to act and we need to act now.

After all, isn't that the true hallmark of leadership? When you're on deck, standing your watch, you stay vigilant, you plan for every contingency. If you see storm clouds gathering or dangerous shoals ahead you don't just sit back and do nothing. You take action to protect your ship, to keep your crew safe. Anything less is negligence. It is a dereliction of duty. So to with climate change. Denying it or refusing to deal with it endangers our national security. It undermines the readiness of our forces.

Uh, are you ordering us all to buy Priuses, Sir?

*********** The number 44 is big in Syracuse, New York. It was worn by all-time great Syracuse University running backs Jim Brown, Ernie Davis and Floyd Little, and it’s  so embedded in Syracuse tradition that it’s part of the school’s ZIP code:

Syracuse University
900 South Crouse Ave
Syracuse, NY 13244

In 2005, new AD Daryl Gross made a big deal of retiring the Number 44, and did so with the blessings of Brown and Little (Ernie Davis, of course, being deceased).

Gross, it could be argued plausibly, was the worst thing ever to happen to Syracuse football. One of his first orders of business was to replace Paul Pasqualoni, who in 14 years as the Orange head coach had been 107-59-1.

Since then, under three different coaches, Syracuse has gone 45-77.  (It’s actually worse, since because of NCAA violations five of those wins were vacated, making it 40-77.)

As a sign of how difficult it must be to win at Syracuse, a 25-25 record there was considered good enough to qualify Doug Marrone to become head coach of the Buffalo Bills.

Now, having done all he could to destroy Syracuse football, Gross is gone, kicked upstairs, and the new AD  intends to unretire the number 44, with the idea of awarding it to a player on the current Syracuse football team, as determined by a committee. He says he has the approval of both Brown and Little.

One prominent Syracuse football alum, Donovan McNabb, doesn’t like the idea, tweeting,

It bothers me to see the decision being made by my alma mater to unretire the legendary 44. The great RBs who wore the number put SU on the map. What message are we sending across college football and to the football world that it's ok to un retire such history that was so strong

Wrote Josh Montgomery of Berwick, Louisiana, “I agree with McNabb.  The idea is crap.”

I understand McNabb’s point, but consider this - If they’d retired Jim Brown’s 44 at the time - which they would probably do,  nowadays - Ernie Davis might not  have gone to Syracuse.  And if they’d retired it after Ernie Davis, Floyd Little might not have gone there, either.

I don’t have any problem at all with conferring it on a guy who has earned the right, as opposed to using it to recruit a kid.


*********** For Caleb Bridge, North Beach High senior and oldest son of Hyaks’ head coach football coach Todd Bridge, next Saturday is going to be one of the biggest moments of his life.  Up to that point.

Next Saturday, in Spokane, Washington, he’ll attempt to finish first in state Class 2B in both the shot put and discus.  Currently, his best discus throw leads all classes.

And then, regardless of what happens, it’s on to even bigger things.  In less than a month, he’ll report to the US Air Force Academy to begin life as a cadet.

Great kid.  One of the best I’ve ever been around.


*********** Bob De Carolis, Oregon State athletics director for the past 17 years,  announced last week that he would be stepping down on June 30.

Given that he was not offered an extension to his current contract, it appears that OSU has decided to “go in another direction.”

Sure hope they know what the hell they’re doing. But I doubt it.

Not  many athletic directors have been faced with the challenges he has; fewer still have been so successful in spite of them.

When he took over, Oregon State was working on the longest losing-season streak in college football history: 28 f—king years!

How bad was it?  For 26 of those years, from 1972 through 1997, the Beavers never won more than four games.

They had eight one-win seasons and eight two-win seasons, and in 1980, under the great Joe Avezzano, they went 0-11.

One of Bob DeCarolis’ first acts was to hire Dennis Erickson, who already had a national championship at Miami to his credit.

Ericsson replaced Mike Riley, who’d left to coach the Chargers, and broke the losing string his first year, with a 7-5 record.  When he left four years later to coach the 49ers, Erickson had compiled a record of 31-17.

To follow up on the departure of Erickson, he brought back Mike Riley, who didn’t miss a beat.

Since Erickson’s arrival in 1999, Oregon State’s football record is 116-83. In that span, the Beavers have had only five losing seasons.

DeCarolis leveraged football’s success into a rename of Parker Stadium to Reser Stadium, in return for a nice donation, and into an expansion of Reser from 35,000 to today’s 45,000, with plans to increase to 55,000.

When 60-year-old Mike Riley, who went to school in Corvallis (his dad was a coach at OSU) and seemed to be as intertwined with a school as a coach could be, decided to take a fling at Nebraska, DeCarolis responded with an unbelievably bold move, hiring away Gary Anderson from Wisconsin.  Wisconsin, for Pete’s sake!  How’d he do that?

Baseball? He hired Pat Casey.  How about a College World Series win, the first ever for a team from the Northwest, in 2006?  How about a repeat in 2007?

Basketball?  Not so great.  The program, once a power under the late Ralph Miller, has foundered.  He made an unfortunate hire in Craig Robinson, a Princeton grad who happens to be the brother of Michelle Obama, but his latest hire - Wayne Tinkle, from Montana - looks like a great one.

Taking a team totally devoid of talent, he pushed it to a 17-14 record this past season.

Other sports?  Can’t say.  I’ve only touched on the ones that can bring in any money. When you’re Oregon State, they’re the only ones that really count.

Look - Oregon State is a nice place in Corvallis, a nice town.  Its alumni are unbelievably supportive.  But just a half hour down the road, in Eugene, is Big Brother.  Mighty Oregon.  Nike U.

And keeping up with Oregon, not to mention the other big hitters in the Pac-12 Conference, is tougher than it’s ever been.

They’ve already put together a committee to find DeCarolis’ replacemen. Its makeup is not confidence-inspiring: the faculty athletic representative to the Pac-12; two well-to-do alumni;  the women's basketball coach; a female gymnast Erika Aufiero; an associate professor in OSU's College of Business; the OSU vice president of finance and administration; the senior associate athletic director; the student body president; another (female) associate athletic director.

Whoever they come up with,  they’re not likely to find anyone who’ll do as well as Bob DeCarolis did.

*********** Say a prayer for  the Seahawks' Jesse Williams, first Australian native to win a Super Bowl ring.  The former Alabama defensive lineman was diagnosed recently with a type of  kidney cancer.


*********** Yale running back  Tyler Varga, a Canadian, was selected 19th overall by the Calgary Stampeders in the 2015 Canadian Football League Draft, but has signed instead with the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent.

american flagFRIDAY,   MAY 15, 2015-   “There are two things that divide organizations: winning and losing - and credit and blame.”  Jeff Van Gundy, ESPN Analyst and former NBA head coach

*********** Things you’d never find out about if you weren’t in Philly:

When the NFL owners meet next week, they’ll discuss new proposals to rework the extra point rules.

The Eagles are pushing for the 15-yard line to be the line of scrimmage for PAT kicks, and for moving the ball to the one yard line for two-point conversions.

Tom Mahon of the Philadelphia Daily News  says that now he understands why Chip Kelly signed Tim Tebow.  He says that with the 6-3, 240-pound Tebow in the backfield, this ought to be called the "Tebow Rule."

Perhaps throwing a bone to the defense in return for moving the ball to the one, the Eagles also propose that two points be awarded the defense should it return an interception or a fumble recovery on a two-point conversion.

The proposals sure would inject some interest into an otherwise useless play. And also drive gamblers crazy.

*********** Hope to see you Saturday at the clinic in Wrightsville, Pennsylvania - http://www.coachwyatt.com/clinics15.html

*********** Randy Foristiere, son of long-time coach and friend Mike Foristiere and his wife, Cielo, was all ready for his senior year at Boise’s Capitol High, when dad Mike got a head coaching job at Wahluke High, in Mattawa, Washington.

Off he went for his senior year at Wahluke.  Just one hangup - he had hopes of attending the US Military Academy (you know - Army West Point) and had a decent shot at an appointment from Idaho.  But he had to graduate from an Idaho high school.

So he played his senior season at Wahluke, and running in his dad’s double wing, gained 1701 yards on 216 carries, and made all-league first team running back.  And then he returned to Boise to graduate from Capitol High.

That’s how bad he wanted West Point.  And now, with an appointment to the US Military Academy, he and proud Mom and Dad will be off to West Point, New York in another six weeks for Reception Day (“R” Day to insiders), where he will officially be sworn in as an Army cadet.


*********** Outside Winnipeg, Manitoba, for the last two years Tom Walls and his wife, Shandy, have dedicated practically every waking moment to building a youth football league from scratch.

Their efforts have borne fruit, and after a successful first season, the new league is on solid ground,  but as Tom observes, you can’t take anything fro granted:

Interesting second year with our new program. Kids not returning cite the time commitment of football as being the biggest reason for not coming back. One kid, who played for me last year, said, in front of his dad: "Three times a week is just such a time waster."

As he walked away, the dad said to me, "Because he uses that time to play video games."

Those are the kind of moments that try men's souls.
Interesting and at the same time distressing.

Just read an article in the Wall Street Journal by a researcher from Stanford or some such place who theorizes that American (and perhaps Canadian) males are being neutered - turn into antisocial human drones by the double whammy of video games and, as they “progress," online porn, both of which provide immediate gratification and in return demand  no effort, no risk of rejection, no commitment.

Other than time.

Distressing, did I say?  Depressing.

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

Got the practice planner, it's great.  It is obvious to me I have been out of the loop for too long.  Couple questions.  Hockey stick?  Using this terminology for quarterback.  Can you give me a quick update on this?  Also, I see 6-G-O.  I know 6-G, are we pulling our backside guard on 6-G now? 

The passing plays you have on the practice planner, I am coaching middle school and i was going to keep it simple with red, blue, 800 etc.  What would you recommend in the passing game for middle school?

Its good to be back , but I have some work to do.

Hi Coach-

Yeah, there’ve been changes.  In politics, they call it “evolving.”

The Hockey stick is one of the biggest changes.  It’s the QB’s path that we teach on most of our plays.

Once I teach him his steps, it’s then a simple matter of telling him, as, for example, on 47-C, “Hockey stick right, handoff left (left hand)"


Also, I have “evolved” into 6-G-O and 7-G-O because the backside guard wasn’t doing us much good as it was, and this way - we teach him to slide sideways and turn up through the FIRST OPEN DOOR (not necessarily the hole) - he makes a big difference.

I would recommend 88 Brown and 99 Black because they come off the same action as Super Power.

Good luck and don’t hesitate to ask questions.

*********** After he received the Distinguished Service Cross - the Army’s second highest honor - for rescuing two soldiers from a burning vehicle in Iraq, Army Sergeant Christopher Waiters, of Lacey, Washington was made an honorary captain of the Jets at a 2012 game.  Now, he doesn’t know whether the honor was sincere or part of a deal the Jets made with the Army, and says  it was "pretty shameful" of the Jets to take money from the Army in return for saluting troops at their home games.

Shame on the NFL for taking the Army’s money in return for pretending to be super-patriotic.

And shame on the US Army for facilitating the sham.

As greedy as the NFL and its teams are, it makes you wonder where they’d stop - do you think, if Russia came up with the money, the NFL would take it and help them promote tourism in the Crimea?



*********** Let’s hope that the third time’s the charm for Skyler Morninwheg. 

The son of NFL coach Marty Morninwheg, he was a high school all-star at Philadelphia’s St. Joe’s Prep while his dad served as the Eagles’ offensive coordinator. who committed to Penn State, then decimated in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky debacle.

He signed with Florida, and after a red-shirt year, started two games in 2013 as a red shirt freshman,  going 44 of 63 for 344 yards and three touchdowns, but didn’t throw a pass in 2014.

Now, with a new regime in Gainesville, and two years of eligibility remaining, he’s decided to transfer to Columbia, where he’ll be eligible to play immediately. (Kid must be smart to be able to get into Columbia. Makes you wonder why he didn’t go to a Duke, a Stanford, a Northwestern, a Vanderbilt in the first place.) 

The Lions and their new coach, Al Bagnoli, can use him.  They’re working on a 21-game losing streak. 

*********** In Australia, a sports-mad country, football is very popular.  Not NFL football, either. College football.

Melbourne StadiumOutside the US and Canada, Australia is one of the few countries in the world that even understands the importance of college football in our overall sports picture, and the reason is undoubtedly timing.

It just so happens that when it’s Saturday afternoon in the US, it’s Sunday morning in Oz, which means that a great many Aussies are able to watch our best college games, which our major networks are happy to send their way.

Too bad, NFL- by the time you come on every Sunday, it’s Monday in Australia, and most Aussies who would otherwise love to watch your games are at work.

Now, to see how real the interest is, there’s an Australian group talking seriously about a post-season bowl game in Melbourne.

With 53,000-seat Etihad Stadium as the site, they have ambitions

They’ve already been to Phoenix to meet with officials of the Pac-12 and Mountain West Conferences, with a game between representatives of each league set for the end of  the 2016 season.

One problem, of course, is that although the old story is that Australians will even watch two flies crawl up a window - and bet on which one gets to the top first - they have seen enough college football by now to know what “good” is, and a game between the Pac-12’s 11th-place team and the Mountain West’s 7th-place team will be a hard sell.

Me, as soon as it’s a go, I’ll be looking at cheap flights*

* Good luck.

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

The future of our game depends on us.  Unfortunately, I think some are not on board.  "We" are not ogres, but a few are enough to soil the reputation and image of our entire profession and sport.  I don't know all of the particulars, and there are multiple sides to all stories, but if this article is marginally accurate, coaches and administrators failed this young man (and his teammates).  We have to be better than this.


Todd Hollis
Elmwood, Illinois


Alleged:  bunch of kids on a football team repeatedly threw footballs at another kid's head, hitting him enough to cause cause a concusssion and possibly worse.

It’s too bad that this had to happen in football, the current Public Enemy Number One of sports.

But in the absence of adult supervision, which seems clearly to be the case here, it could as easily have happened on a basketball or baseball or lacrosse team.  Only the ball would have been different - and perhaps even more dangerous.

There are far too many other factors involved in the case for me to comment intelligently on it, but IF those kids threw at a teammate’s head, and it happened more than once, then I say shame on the coach(es) who should have been in charge.

I can’t say that it couldn’t happen at North Beach, but I can say that we do everything we can to make sure that our kids know that we expect them to respect each other - and even then, even though we  trust our kids, we would not leave them unattended and unsupervised.  That’s how most bullying/hazing incidents occur, and that’s usually the first thing an attorney looks for.  (It’s a major reason why I will never take a team to an overnight camp.)

PS- I don’t give administrators a pass on this, either.  I think that the number one thing they need to impress on coaches is that their kids must be supervised at all times, and I think that this is not often enough emphasized.

*********** I’m getting really tired of this “trigger warning” bullsh** - the notion that professors must give advance warning about the material they will be covering, lest it set off (“trigger”) alarms in the millennials in their classrooms who may or may not have experienced real trauma in their pasts.

Before we bury the last of the “Greatest Generation,” we mustn’t forget that they weren’t perfect: they gave us the Baby Boomers, who gave us the useless pukes we now call the millennials.

Of course, when back those children of the Depression and World War II set out to “make our children’s lives better than ours were,” it was a reasonable aspiration.  But with each succeeding generation it has meant raising the bar, to the point where today’s kids are raised with the expectation that they’ll be given cars when they turn 16, they’ll spend a week in Florida after high school graduation, they’ll go to college and major in something totally useless with a name that ends in "Studies," living a four-year party (from which they feel th need to take a "break” every spring) that’s subsidized either by rich parents or student loans. When they graduate,  if they get a job they’ll expect regular rave reviews from their employers and a corner office within a year. They’ll expect to be able to dress as they wish and work the hours they choose, and play pingpong when they feel stressed.   If they don’t get the corner office soon enough, they’re gone. If they do get one, they’ll stay another six months before moving on.  If they don’t get a job, they’ll move in with Mom and Dad and play video games.

It may be time for universities to post Comprehensive Trigger Warnings in their admissions brochures - and in their letters of acceptance::

Caution: This is an institute of higher learning. Applicants are warned that the educational process  can occasionally  result in exposure to thoughts and ideas that may make one feel “uncomfortable” and may even “trigger” unwanted thoughts and memories of past traumatic experiences.

While they’re at it, they might as well add,

It goes without saying that students holding conservative beliefs should apply elsewhere.


*********** Tommy Brady’s going to appeal.

Gee.  What a surprise.  He’ll probably get off with two games, most.

I’ve always felt that appeals are unfair because the appellant has nothing to lose, even if he’s guilty as sin.

Win? He gets a break.

Lose? Nothing changes.  He's no worse than he was.

Seems to me there ought to be some sort of  “up or down” effect - a lessening of the penalty if he wins, but an increase in the penalty if the appeal turns out to be baseless, a waste of everyone’s time.

Hey Tom - how's this sound? Two games if you win, eight games if you lose.

*********** “We have seen over and over that many professional athletes, no matter how naturally gifted, push the boundaries of the rules. Sometimes they violate them to gain even the slightest advantage.  We call that gamesmanship to make ourselves feel better for excusing cheating.”

John Smallwood, Philadelphia Daily News

*********** There was a book put out a few years ago called, Bowling Alone. It was a study of declining socialization and rising technology amongst Americans. The author proved his thesis through the use of statistical information. He concluded that most Americans would prefer to go bowling alone. I am sure you remember how popular bowling leagues were in the 1950s.

I had a college coach in the 1990's who addressed the falling participation of white kids by shrugging and saying: "White kids don't want to loose to black kids. That's why they won't play football anymore. You don't loose to anyone when you skateboard or inline skate."

Tom Walls
Winnipeg, Manitoba

I  know all about Bowling Alone.  Yes, kids would rather be in control, with a video game, than just be a small part of the picture out on the football field.

I think what's what we got for teaching them how important they are,  how they can “make a difference” and “change the world”: a bunch of self-centered narcissists.

I don’t think that it’s so much that white kids don’t want to lose to black kids. Black or white, it doesn't matter. The losing is beside the point.  So many middle-class white kids have been so protected and pampered that they don’t ever have to make an effort to compete in anything. That’s a major difference between the middle-class white culture and the inner-city and rural black culture, in which competition in one form or another is a part of every nearly every aspect of those kids’ lives.

The one culture produces skateboarders and video gamers, and the other produces football players.

God help us when the Chinese invade.  Or the Russians.  Or the Iranians.

***********  Do you have a Playbook specifically for the offense you ran the last two seasons?  Wow. I watched the DVD.
Ocie Johnson
St. Louis, Missouri

Coach Johnson,

I’m working on it.  Hope to have it ready by midsummer.

Stay in touch or keep checking my NEWS page!

Nice to hear from you.

*********** The University of North Dakota is still without a nickname.  Barred from falling themselves the Fighting Sioux, they finally resorted to holding a contest to come up with a new nickname.

So far, they’ve received hundreds of entries.

Half of them say, “Fighting Sioux.”

american flagTUESDAY,  MAY 12,  2015-   “A pluralistic and diverse society like ours can exist only if we all tolerate people who disagree with us.”  Governor Bobby Jindal

*********** This incredible example of using one’s talents in serving others was sent to me by my friend Mike Lude, a World War II Marine veteran.


*********** Hope to see you Saturday at the clinic in Wrightsville, Pennsylvania - http://www.coachwyatt.com/clinics15.html

*********** So Brady got four games.  Sure hope they can make it stick.

Anyone else out there remember when the NFL had a real commissioner, and he gave Paul Hornung and Alex Karras - both very big stars at the time - one-year suspensions for betting on games?

I hear a lot of people saying that what  Brady did wasn’t that big a deal. (To be fair, most of those people do seem to be Patriots’ fans.) They like to point out that his stats against the Colts were even better after he was required to play with balls that complied with the NFL rules.

Only one problem here: it’s not whether the illegal actions taken on his behalf (with or without his knowledge or direction) had the intended effect; it’s whether the intention of the actions was to give him an edge.  An unfair edge.

It’s a given that as tough as the competition is in the NFL, sometimes the slightest little thing can provide a winning edge. And as much as there is at stake for them, NFL coaches and players are constantly on the lookout for anything that will provide that edge.

It may be performance-enhancing drugs; it might be stickum applied on fingers or PAM sprayed on a jersey. It might be stolen sideline signals or artificially piped-in crowd noise.

Who can say whether any of those things ever were the difference?  But taken all together, it’s hard to argue with the philosophy of the old Jewish mothers who would say about feeding someone chicken soup to cure a cold - “it can’t hurt.”

Whether or not Brady (or the Patriots) benefitted is not the issue.  It was that the attempt was made to gain the unfair advantage. 

And that Brady was in on it.  (Are you telling me one of the best quarterbacks in the game can’t tell whether a ball is over- or under inflated?)

And that Brady refused to cooperate with the investigation.

And that, thoughout, Brady has acted like a jerk.

Come on - all he had to do was fess up, and say something lame, like “Jeez. If I thought it would be this big of a deal I never would have asked those guys to let a little air out.  I didn’t think it was any different from rubbing the new footballs to get the slick sheen off them. I take full responsibility. If anybody was offended, I apologize.”

And then?  A small fine ($100,000 to him is a small fine) and off you go, Tom.  Try not to do that kind of stuff any more.

Damn sight easier than four games without pay.

*********** I think of the Patriots’ equipment guys and I’m reluctant to criticize them. Knowing how little they make in relation to the people whose every wish they cater to, I think a lot of people agree with me.  And people like us are probably the reason why Brady and the Pats (sound like a 70s rock band?)  have thrown those guys under the bus. Why, those were just a coupla guys who loved their Patriots, and wanted to do what little they could to help their guys win!

But you know what?  Even if they were put up to deflating the balls, and even if they were “tipped” heavily for doing it, I still have problems condemning them.  I was there once. Almost.

With the Philadelphia Bell of the World Football League, I worked for one of the most unscrupulous persons who ever coached a game of football, and considering some of the people who’ve coached our game, that’s saying a lot.

My title was Director of Player Personnel, but since my boss was both head coach and general manager, and he didn’t have much interest in the administrative side of the job - contracts, travel arrangements, etc. - I wound up handling a lot of that.

He drank heavily.  On the job. Dawn to dusk (and later).  At least a fifth a day. He drank vodka - vodka and Fresca - apparently thinking that no one would notice the alcohol on his breath.  But come on - people didn’t have to smell his breath to know something was amiss.  Did I say he was a nasty drunk? All you had to do was see the darkening of his personality and the sharpness of his tongue as the day went on.  I learned very quickly that if I was going to get anything done, I had to get to him before the booze did, which meant that I had to get up plenty early to go over details with him.

Like so many powerful people of low morals, he was surrounded by lackeys and flunkies and lickspittles of the same level of character.

Prior to our opening game in 1974, a home game against the Portland Storm, one of those hangers-on was dispatched to the West Coast to “skunk” our opponents - to spy on their practices.  This, if you didn’t know, has always been taboo in football.

But neither our coach nor his entourage seeemd to think anyting of it.  This was a guy who once helped the Pottstown Firebirds win the Atlantic Coast Football League championship over the Hartford Knights on a frozen field, instructing his receivers and running backs to remove the front three cleats from their shoes.  Unlike today, when the post is a part of the cleat, and the whole deal screws into a recess in the sole, in those days the post stuck out of the shoe, and removing the three front cleats exposed three thin metal spikes, ideal for digging into frozen turf.  And opponents’ legs.

For what it's worth, we beat Portnad. We were the btter team. We'd have won without the spy work.

Now here’s where I come in, with the retrospect of 40 years.  What would I have done if may boss had asked me to do it?  I had a wife who was finishing college and four kids living at home, and after several years of living hand-to-mouth while I tried to work my way into a job in college or pro football, I finally had a good-paying job in pro football.  After all that struggle to get to where I was, would I have had the strength to throw it all away by saying,  “No?”

For sure, if I were tempted, I would have been hesitant to consult my wife, because she would surely have said, “Don’t even think about doing that.”

Fortunately, I never had to make that decision, and fortunately, I’ve grown wiser and stronger with the years.

Interestingly, the “scout” who was selected to fly to Portland and check out our opponent was a guy named Joe Gavel.

He claimed to have played baseball at Michigan State, but he had a near man-crush on the head coach, and quickly insinuated his way into the inner circle by demonstrating a willingness to do just about anything the coach wanted done.

After the WFL folded and we all went our separate ways, I often wondered what happened to Joe Gavel.

Somewhere after that, he served seven years in prison for selling stolen luxury automobiles.

From there, he must have figured that his chances of playing in the big time - in Philly, at least -  were limited by his last name.

No problem.  He changed his name to “Joseph Rico.”

In 1983, he and a guy named Ronald "Cuddles" DiCaprio killed a drug dealer whom they had stiffed after he’d given them $14.000 to obtain some drugs for him.

DeCapro’s  former wife, who became the prosecution’s key  witness, said that shortly after the killing, they came to her house and bragged about it.

She said that “Rico” was very excited at the thought that the murder might make him a “made member” of Philadelphia’s notorious Scarfo crime family, headed by Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo.

The former wife wound up in the federal witness-protection program.

Joseph Rico wound up behind bars. 

In 1992, the aspiring  mobster formerly known as Joe Gavel was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

He didn’t go down without a fight, though. In 1994, he appealed his conviction on the grounds that in selecting the jury, the prosecutor had used seven of his 20 peremptory challenges against Italian-American jurors. Only one problem - Joseph Rico  was not by any stretch an Italian-American, a fact well known to the prosecutor and surely brought out in the trial.



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

Wasn't sure if you heard the latest from the NFL.  Did you know the NFL asks the military to pay for those huge shows of "patriotism" to salute our armed forces and veterans on NFL Sundays?  I guess they blow their wad on the Super Bowl, NFL Combine, and Draft Day extravaganzas so they figure the best way to show their "patriotism" is to have the military pony up.  Kinda like that USA Football thing.

You may be wrong.  I think the NFL will blow itself up a lot earlier than you think.

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


Just read about it.  Thanks for the tip.

That’s about as bad as it gets.  Here I thought that the NFL was doing it on their own, buying a little Patriotic Kevlar.  Phony patriotism fits their modus operandi.

There was no NFL in 1776, but Samuel Johnson could have been thinking about The League when he said, “Patriotism is the last resort of a scoundrel.”

It bothers me to think that they conned the Defense Department into paying for these faux tributes!

And to think that the military didn’t even have to be conned - that they willingly paid to take part in the charade, making it look as if the NFL or its teams were doing it as a matter of goodwill.  Evidently there’s  jock sniffing at the highest levels.

You had to mention the USA Football scam:  the NFL running those TV commercials telling moms that if their kid’s coach isn’t “Heads Up certified,” he ain’t sh—, and then USA Football charging the coaches to get ”Heads Up Certified."

You’re right - the NFL bubble may burst sooner than even I thought.

Other than a lot of good guys - assistant coaches, manager, trainers, scouts, stadium vendors - losing their jobs, it can’t come soon enough for me.



*********** Volkswagen, what are you thinking?

It’s a VW commercial, and as “Mommas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” plays in the background, a momma is outside the convenience store, filling up the Passat.

Inside, three little bastards (hers) vandalize the place - one empties the slurpee machine into his mouth; a second shakes up a giant two-liter bottle of soda pop, preparatory to letting it squirt; a third dispenses what appears to be enough mustard to cover Nathan’s July 4 hot dog eating contest.

The poor attendant stands by, helpless.

And then we cut back to Momma, who calls, “Boys” in her sweetest voice, and the next thing we see is her driving off as the little darlings sit quietly in the back of that damn evil Volkswagen Passat.  The one that delivers destruction wherever it goes.

Some day, some poor devil is going to have to coach those little pr—ks, and I can assure you that the first time the coach has to discipline one of them, Momma is going to be in the principal’s office saying that she knows her sons, and none of her sons would do what the coach is accusing him of doing, and she won’t leave until the coach is fired.

Thanks a lot, Volkswagen.

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

I don't run a traditional wing-t. We run foot to foot or pretty close. We also use a lot of formations and rocket sweep. A lot of what we do is based on the Double Wing. I guess in some ways we run a Double Wing style offense dressed up as a Wing-t. I'm sure neither group would claim us though.

Thank you again

Jacob Morris


It’s not important that you belong to any group.  The important thing is finding and making use of things that can help your kids be successful.

And no matter where it all came from, it’s YOUR system.

*********** Isn’t it strange how we debate whether or not defending our first amendment rights is worth angering radical Islamists, but we have no qualms whatsoever about glorifying sexuality ithat's abhorrent to them?

There we are, watching two relatively attractive, relatively young women, cutting from one to th other as they separately practice hand gestures.  It soon becomes clear that they are learning sign language.

And then, and then… the two of them approach a young girl, and one of them gestures to her:

The translation: “Hi, beautiful.” (She's apparently deaf.)

Then another gesture.

Then another translation: “”We’re going to be your new mommies.”

It’s a Wells Fargo commercial.  For what, I have no idea.


american flagFRIDAY,  MAY 8,  2015-   If you are a Patriots fan, this report is the equivalent of walking downstairs to find Santa passed out on the couch while your parents assemble your Christmas bike.”  Jason Gay, Wall Street Journal

*********** There is rich, and there is very rich.  And then there is Larry Ellison.  Mr.  Ellison, the billionaire co-founder of Oracle Corporation, has spent millions on an Americas Cup sailboat and crew whose only purpose is to win a race every couple of years.

Mr. Ellison also has a 288-foot yacht - don’t even ask what it cost - that features, among other things, a basketball court, and “a crane to launch racing boats.”  Part of the reason for that “crane to launch racing boats” is for those days when Mr. Ellison and the boyz are shooting’ hoops and a ball goes overboard. He actually pays a guy to zip around in a speedboat retrieving the balls.  No lie.  Now, that’s rich.

*********** It’s “more probable than not” the Patriots broke NFL rules by  removing air from their footballs, and Tom Brady was “at least generally aware” of what was going on.

Weasel words, at first glance. But in the absence of video evidence or a signed confession by Brady,  they are damning. 

The Big Guy had everything - and he still had to f—king cheat.

From the standpoint of anyone who raises or coaches boys, the Patriots-Brady episode contradicts everything we try to instill in our kids: play the game fair and square. Give it your best shot, and live with the consequences. But above all, respect the game.  It was here before you.  Leave it better than you found it.

But not the Patriots.  Not the NFL.  Not today’s American society.  Just win, baby.

And that’s why we’ve become such a cynical society.  That’s why the president can say, “You didn’t build that,” and plenty of people will believe him.

Why should they think that the guy who owns the factory that employs them got there through hard work, when they know full well how so many prominent people play the game? When the Patriots can cheat to get to the Super Bowl, when  a candidate for president - and her husband - can give “speeches” for hundreds of thousands of dollars to people trying to buy their influence, when no congressman has ever left office with less money in his bank account than when he entered?

That’s why I’ve always had it in for the guys who consider themselves coaches but tell their kids that “it isn’t holding if you don’t get caught.”

If Roger Goodell doesn’t come down hard on Brady-Belichick-Kraft, he risks losing what he likes to refer to as the “integrity” of the game to the cynicism that infects every other aspect of our lives.

This is much bigger than Ray Rice et. al., because the actions of the many miscreants who infest the League have zippo to do with the integrity of the game itself .  Criminals may  demean the league's image, but they don't lead anyone to question whether the game is on the up-and-up.   The day that happens, The League is done.

If Mr. Goodell is worried about what the owners might think if he suspends Brady-Belichick-Kraft, he needs to consider a couple of things:

(1) There are 31 other owners that can’t be appreciating  Robert Kraft’s showboating actions and comments, including his demanding an apology, and I suspect they wouldn’t mind seeing him brought down a peg or two.

(2) Goodell’s got to have enough money socked away by now that he can tell those rich f—kers where to put it if they don’t like it.

*********** If it were up to me, I’d give Brady a choice:  a season-long suspension, or one game playing running back.

*********** Watch live as Auburn builds the largest video board in college athletics at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The new board will be ready in time for the 2015 football season.     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3UUe_Fqhiw

*********** Answer: Bowden Wyatt, Bob" Devaney, Fred Akers, Pat Dye, Dennis Erickson, and  Joe Tiller - all coached at Wyoming - and all were successful enough at Laramie to move on to even more success at bigger jobs.

Ken Hampton
Raleigh, North Carolina

Adam Wesoloski
Pulaski, Wisconsin

Dennis Metzger
Richmond, Indiana

Mark Kaczmarek
Davenport, Iowa

(Speaking of Wyoming, I love the Walt Longmire series of mysteries by Craig Johnson)

Kevin McCullough
Lakeville, Indiana

*********** Vern Gagne died Monday. He was 89. He played football at the University of Minnesota, but he gained far greater fame in pro wrestling, where as a straight guy who refused to resort to tricks or gimmicks, many consider him to be the greatest ever.


*********** Such is the influence of  TV  that most of us think that a criminal trial is a mano a mano contest between the prosecutor and the defense attorney, a no-holds-barred fight to the finish. The prize: conviction or acquittal.

But that’s not actually the case.

I am not attempting to say whether or not the Baltimore police were responsible for Freddie Gray’s death.  No, it doesn’t look good for the police, especially in view of the prosecutor’s near-promise to provide “justice” for the angry masses, but I certainly don’t know what the truth is.

Neither, though, does the prosecutor, whose official title is  Baltimore City (Baltimore is not part of any county) State’s Attorney (that’s what the district attorney is called in Maryland).

But that’s her job - finding out the truth.  Seeing that justice is done. Not for Fredie Gray, not for you, not for me. For the state.

And not, despite what many people believe - and what all those people who cheered her fightin’ words seem to think - to do whatever it takes to get the conviction that her public demands.

In a famous case, Berger v. United States, in 1935, the Supreme Court wrote, “It is as much (a prosecutor’s) duty to refrain from improper methods calculated to produce a wrongful conviction as it is to use every legitimate means to bring about a just one.”

More often than not, this principle protects the man arrested on the street, but it’s no less important that it apply in this case to the police.

From the Legal Dictionary:

In theory, a prosecutor's job is not to convict and send to prison as many persons as possible. The basic function of a prosecutor is to seek the truth about criminal actions. Thus, if a prosecutor discovers evidence that puts the defendant's  guilt in doubt or relieves the defendant of criminal liability, the prosecutor must turn that evidence over to the defendant. If a prosecutor lacks evidence of a defendant's guilt, he or she must drop the charges or decline to press charges. In practice, prosecutors find that they are judged in the court of public opinion on the number of convictions that they obtain.


Sadly, because the district attorney/state’s attorney/prosecutor is often an elected official, that last sentence explains why there are such people as unscrupulous prosecutors, who do not necessarily view protection of the innocent as part of their job.

*********** There were plenty of people - I was one of them - who predicted that a college football playoff system would eventually kill off lesser bowls.

Declining attendance at those bowls would seem to confirm our judgment.

That saddened me because I had argued for the idea of a post-season trip to play a bowl game as a reward for players for a good season.

But now, to kill that argument, along comes… Bowlflation.

How about three more lesser bowl games?

Not counting the final playoff game, whose teams have already played in other bowl games, there will now be 41 bowl games this year. 82 bowl teams.  Do the math - since there are 128 FBS teams, this means there are going to be a lot of bowl-bound teams with losing records.

Three new bowl games?  Whoopee.  Six more losing teams get post-season bowl invites.

Trophies for everybody.
Used to be that a sub-.500 season was cause for a coach’s firing; now, it’s a reward for, well, almost breaking even.  Or, to put it another way, for not being one of the 46 underachievers who couldn’t even qualify for a bowl game.

So the fools of college football  have to  do their best to imitate the early days of the NBA, when with only six teams,  they’d play an entire season just to eliminate two teams from the playoffs.

*********** Our little backwater out here on the far edge of the map is being blessed with a visit by Our President, with all the inconvenience it entails.  Yes, Mr. Barack Obama is visiting Portland, Oregon.

There’s no important reason for the visit.  It’s just for a fundraiser.  But in order to justify use of Air Force One and all the secret service accompaniment, there will be a visit of some sort in connection in some way with some sort of government business.

But meanwhile, clear the way, please, for His Majesty.

Interstates 205 and 84 will be closed for most of the afternoon.

So will much of downtown, until 8 PM Thursday.  Even to pedestrians and - no one is spared - bicycles.  (You piss off the bicyclists, Barack, you could lose the Portland vote.)

I-84 will be closed in BOTH directions, so that His Royal Highness’s 20-car motorcade (say that slowly) can move unimpeded in the opposite lanes.  Or maybe both lanes.

Don’t know why this is, but there will be no light rail service while the “Commander in Chief” (that’s how the official release described him) is moving around.

Friday morning (during drive time, of course) he and his entourage will motor out - past gridlocked commuters - to Nike’s headquarters in suburban Beaverton.

Maybe they’ll name a shoe for him.

From there the plan, right now, is to have him jet out of town before the evening commute, but you never know.  Maybe he’ll see a bunch of kids playing hoops at a playground and stop by for a photo op.  The peasants caught in traffic will understand.  

But I ask you, those of you who would tell me that Dr. Ben Carson’s lack of political experience will handicap him: with the current occupant of the White House spending as much time as he does  flying around raising funds, playing golf, or vacationing, who’s really running things back in Washington as it is? 

*********** Marv Hubbard died…

Man, what a stud.  The lack of fullbacks like him in today's pro offenses represents one giant step
toward flag football.


*********** Danielle Pudddefoot was “driving the struggle bus,” as she put it.

It almost certainly meant she was hungover.

But if her head was hurting, that wasn’t not the only reason.

Back on April 30, she and her teammates on the Bridgeport University women’s soccer team had a few drinks prior to their team banquet, and at an afterparty in a dorm, she went off on some (former) teammates, head-butting one and throwing another into a wall, before repeatedly banging her own head against a wall until she passed out.

See, she had led the team with 25 points, and as a senior, she expected to win the “players award,” and when she had to sit there at the banquet and watch someone else get it, well - wouldn’t you have done the same thing?


***********  In England, authors of schoolbooks  have been instructed  not to write about sausages or pigs or anything that could be perceived as pork-related” for fear of causing “offence” (it’s England, remember)..


*********** Glad to see that UConn has taken that stupid dog face off the front of its helmets.


*********** In response to my noting that there often seems to be a football coach on the scene when he's needed, Coach Todd Hillis of Elmwood, Illinois, wrote,

Coach, Here's another:


Thanks for reminding me.  The guy says he’s not a hero, but he is.

America needs people like him - and his wife.  

american flagTUESDAY,  MAY 5,  2015-   "A man who has no consideration for the needs of his men ought never to be given command.”    Napoleon Bonaparte

*********** I don’t hide the fact that I’m a Republican.  I’m sick of sleaze and sick of lies and sick of people who know what’s best for us, and people who are intent on radically changing the country that I love.

I like the people in the running for the Republican nomination.  But  if I had to bet my life on any one of them, based solely on what I perceive about his character, I would side with Dr. Benjamin Carson.  I have great admiration for the man.

Yes, I know - he has no political experience.  To me, though, that’s an argument in his favor. As Charles Krauthammer points out,  our last President who wasn’t a professional  politician was Dwight D. Eisenhower.

*********** There are plenty of us who think that Tom Bradley should have been Penn State’s head coach.

A Penn Stater, he was one of three brothers who came out of Bishop McCort High in Johnstown, Pennsylvania to play for Joe Paterno.

Older brother Jim became an orthopedic surgeon and has been the Pittsburgh Steelers’ team surgeon for more than 20 years.

Younger brother Matt died in 2002.

Tom was hired as an assistant by Paterno in 1980, and for the last five years of the Paterno era, he was the Nittany Lions’ defensive coordinator, succeeding the highly successful and highly-respected Jerry Sandusky, who retired to devote full-time attention to his program to help boys in need.  Right.

And when Coach Paterno was unceremoniously let go as the Lions’ head coach, it fell to Tom Bradley to head the team the rest of the season.  (Win a bet: collect the money from the guy who bets you that Bill O’Brien succeeded Joe Paterno.)

Probably wanting to cut any ties with the Paterno regime, Penn State chose not to retain Tom Bradley,  and he got out of coaching temporarily. 

Last year, after spending a couple of years as a TV analyst, he caught on at West Virginia, and now Tom Bradley, a guy who spent his entire coaching career within a driving distance of Johnstown,  Pennsylvania, is starting all over again - at UCLA.


(Brother Jim Bradley, Steelers’ team surgeon, is not one to go to if you’re looking for dirt on the late Coach Paterno. In an interview with statecollege.com, he told how the coach really did put academics first.)

“I needed an organic chemistry course my senior year to graduate and do what I wanted to do,” Bradley  recalled. “I went to Joe and he said it wasn’t a problem, take the course, just come to the rest of practice. He was so into education. It was a special place, it really was.”

Later, when Bradley applied to medical school, Paterno wrote a letter of recommendation. Five pages. Hand-written. When the future doctor went to say thank you to his past coach for what was a magnificent reference, Paterno waved it off.

“Ahh,” Bradley said, doing a bit of a Paterno imitation, “I had to think of something to say.”


*********** The clipping has been on my billboard for years.  I treasure it.  It’s why everybody should read his local newspaper.  Thoroughly.

“A burglar who pried a door panel off broke into Big Jim’s Cafe, 10915 N.E. Fourth Plain Road Sunday, but took only a framed $1 bill. A deputy said there was too much grease to take fingerprints.”

*********** You may not know this, but…

Because all Cadets/Midshipmen at our service academies (Army, Navy, Air Force) are considered to be on academic scholarships, the academies not required to abide by the NCAA’s limits of 85 scholarship players total or 25 players per season.

For that same reason, the service academies do not recognize the National Letter of Intent, and technically, right up until “R” Day, in June, when new cadets are sworn in, they are free to sign players who have signed Letters of Intent with other colleges. 

*********** Boy, is my wife pissed...

Although she's a graduate of Hood College, in Maryland, Smith College, in Northampton, Massachusetts, which she attended for two years before we got married, has always had a special place in her heart.

Not any longer.  Not with Saturday's announcement  that Smith,  long a prestigious  women's college, is going to begin admitting "transgender women,"  meaning people born as men who now "identify" as female.   Hmm.    Say hello to your new roommate, girls.

Smith will not, however, 
admit those trannies who were born female but "identify" as male. 

In announcing the policy change, Smith administration noted that  "concepts of female identity have evolved."

Yeah, evolved.   Despite the way mankind (sorry, personkind) has lived  for thousands of years, we're now so advanced, so enlightened  that in the space of maybe ten years we've seen a whole new species  "evolve."


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

So often I hear things like "kids today don't..." or "young people today lack..."  

This weekend my daughters participated in Special Olympics for the first time.  Talk about an experience in which effort is celebrated to the nth degree over ability level.  What a joy it was to see competitors high five and hug each other, win or lose.  To see real joy in the faces of kids and adults alike brought about simply by competing and increased by people cheering and clapping for them.  To see that these individuals get a chance to shine on the same track that the best athletes in their school and communities compete on.  

Dozens of Illinois State University football players were volunteering to help.  The fastest, strongest, biggest athletes in the state were there helping children in wheel chairs during their softball/shot put competition, holding a rope the length of a straightaway so a blind competitor could hold on to it to run the 100m (she won, by the way), measuring for the standing and running long jump.  When I asked a group of these players if they were from ISU football the answer was a quick "yes sir."  They all looked me in the eye.  When I congratulated them on a great season (0:38 from winning the I-AA national championship) the response was "Thank you.  Thank you very much."  And when I thanked them for helping it was "You are welcome.  It's our pleasure."  

So, I walked away confident that "kids today DO..." and "young people today HAVE..." and our game has a lot to do with that.

By the way, the Hollis girls both won gold!  Meg Hollis won the 200m and Alina Hollis won the tennis ball throw.   It was a pretty special day.

Todd Hollis
Head Football Coach
Elmwood High School
Elmwood, Illinois

Those ISU players showed that when coached right, football is a wonderful vehicle for guys to learn the importance of unselfishness and looking out for others.

Congratulations to Meg and Alina - and kudos to those guys from ISU for helping to make it much a great day for all those kids.

*********** Other than the fact that Bowden Wyatt, Bob Devaney, Pat Dye, Fred Akers, Dennis Erickson and Joe Tiller all had successful careers as college coaches, what other very significant thing did they all have in common?

Michelle Cupcakes************ Not bragging about  my daughter-in-law, MIchelle, you understand,  but in addition to being an extremely talented  TV producer,  she dabbles in cupcakes as a sideline.

*********** My wife was reading me an article about the humor that’s sometimes found in obituaries when she came to this one: “He left behind a hell of a lot of stuff his wife and daughter have no idea what to do with.”

I think she was trying to tell me something…

*********** "in the not-too-distant future, there's going to be as many elite basketball players on other continents as there are in the US.  Once, that was unthinkable.  If I'd suggested to you that there'd be 75 international players (in the NBA) a decade ago, you'd have laughed at me.  I'm telling you, does anyone think that Yao Ming is the last great player to come out of China?”  David Stern, 2004

*********** Hello Coach,
Today's "News" brought this to mind.
Rockville - Cold Spring - Richmond is near St. Cloud, MN. The shooter was confronted by football coach/PE teacher Mark Johnson, a heck of a guy, with a commanding presence.
Mick Yanke
Cokato, Minnesota

Hi Coach-

Wow.  I had almost forgotten that one.

I see that the Wikipedia account does not identify the hero as a football coach.  Figures.

*********** “There has never been a president who knows what it’s like to menstruate, be pregnant, or give birth,” writes Kate Harding,  which is why she says she's voting for Hillary.

“I intend to vote with my vagina,” she proclaimed

Now that, I’d like to see.  On second thought...


*********** “Every hero becomes a bore at last.” 

So said Ralph Waldo Emerson, who lived in the 19th century and never even met Joe Namath.

You know, that Joe Namath.  Alabama. New York Jets. Flashy playboy in the mink coat.

Every wonder how Namath, a high school star from Western Pennsylvania, wound up at Alabama, anyhow?  He was all set to go to Maryland, but his College Board scores were too low, so - please don’t take this the wrong way, Bama grads - the Maryland coach at the time, Tom Nugent, recommended him to Alabama’s Bear Bryant, and the rest is history.

On to the heights of Broadway fame, and all that that entailed.

But now here’s Namath, who’s proven time and again over the years that those College Board people knew what they were doing,  saying that if he had it to do all over again, he wouldn’t have played football.

Yeah, sure.   Finally,  he realizes that all that fame, all that glory, all that money, all those beautiful women throwing themselves at him couldn’t compare to a career working in a steel mill. 

If he were lucky, he’d have made it to retirement before the mill shut down, and now he’d be sitting on a stool in a dingy bar  in some near-deserted one-time mill town, regaling anybody who wanders in with the same, tired tale about how he took the high school team to the conference championship back in ’61.  And making drunken passes at the barmaid.


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

As the proud owner of both "A Fine Line" and " "Blocking The Old School Way" I was wondering if you could pass on some advice. What do you think about the "Trap Chute"?? In neither DVD you use a chute for teaching. Do you feel it is not worth it as a teaching aid?


John Carbon


Trap chutes are rather expensive but if you have the budget for one, I’d say they’re worth good.  But they’re not indispensable.

In my videos, and in my teaching, I’ve tried to stress making do without expensive toys.   Most of my experience over the last several years, including overseas, has been in low-budget places where we’ve had to get by with what we had, such as hand shields, and since that’s the situation most coaches find themselves in, I’ve taken the minimalist approach in my videos.  

There’s no question that our linemen could play lower.  Everyone’s could.  And a trap chute can you help teach that.

*********** After reading my article about the Finns and their dedication to their defense, Shep Clarke, of Puyallup, Washington found this great piece about a Finnish sniper’s exploits in the Finns’ Winter War against the Russians…


american flagFRIDAY,  MAY 1,  2015-   If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”  Red Adair, famed oil well fire fighter

*********** If you know me, you know that I'm not the cynical type, given to wondering what’s really going on.  Oh, no.  Not me.

So I don’t think for a minute that anything other than anger, frustration, poverty, feeling disrespected, wanting to be heard, wanting answers, wanting justice, etc. might be behind the Baltimore rioting,

But still.  Perhaps you’ve noticed, as I have, that it sure has pushed Mrs. Clinton’s lies about where her money’s been coming from and Mr. Obama’s capitulation to Iran off the front pages.

*********** I hope that Tennessee will be a place worthy of  Marcus Mariota, a place where he'll be appreciated.  And well coached.

Actually, a part of me wishes that he wouldn't even go to the NFL.  Ever. Not unlike Tim Tebow, he’s almost too good a person to have to make his living with that mess of hoodlums and lowlifes, but other good guys seem to manage.

Anyhow, I can't match the NFL's dollars.

Fortunately, I don't think there's anything that even the slimeballs that infest the NFL can do to change the kind of man Marcus Mariota is.

In an article in Wednesday’s Portland Oregonian, Andrew Greif went to Saint Louis School, Mariota’s high school, in Honolulu, to talk to the people who knew him when.

There was his football coach, Vinny Passas: “He’s able to make the next guy feel important and welcome and show his true genuine side of being a brother and the brotherhood we have here. It really shows.  It’s contagious because when you are around guys like him, guys tend to act like him.”

There was science teacher, Lulu Lulu, who’s taught at St. Louis for 23 years, and who’s known Mariota since middle school. “You know how people always want to find a negative?” he asked. “Yeah, good luck.”

On the wall of his room is a poster the describes what it means to be a “Saint Louis Man” (it’s an all-male school):
The Saint Louis Man…

* Believes in God
* Prays
* Accepts Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as his Mother
* Makes Moral Choices
* Respects All People, Especially Women
* Values Friends
* Nurtures Friendships
* Communicates Honestly and Effectively
* Disciplines Himself to Meet His Obligations
* Matures into an Exemplary Person
* Makes a Difference in the World
* Promotes Peace and Nonviolence
* Thinks Critically and Creatively
* Accepts Differences
* Lives the Golden Rule: Treat Others as You Want to be Treated

A photo on the poster shows a tall teenager helping a younger boy tie his necktie.  The tall teenager is Marcus Mariota, and the photo was not posed.  It was taken when Mariota stopped in the middle of a photo shoot to help the little guy.

The poster is signed, “Mr. Lulu, Thank you for everything.  Marcus Mariota.”

Four years ago, Marcus Mariota won the “Saint Louis Man Award,” given to the senior who best embodies those qualities.

Assistant head of school Sione Thompson, himself a St. Louis graduate and a former Arizona football player, will become principal in July.  Greig noted that President Obama is a graduate of rival Punahou School, but when Thompson was asked who he’d want to be the face of his school, he said, “I’m a Marcus fan. I love him to death. I wouldn’t trade him for the world.”

*********** Ryszard Szaro died not long ago in Warsaw, Poland.  He was 67.

He was the first native-born Pole to play in the NFL, and in recent years he devoted much of his time to the development of American football in his native Poland.

I - we, the guys on the Philadelphia Bell - knew him as Richie Szaro, the kicker from Harvard.

We didn’t know that he was one of the greatest football players to come out of New York City; that he’d only arrived in America in 1962, and that just a few years later,  in 1966,  at St. Francis Prep,  he’d been a Parade All American as a running back.  And as a kicker. (He was good with either foot.)

We didn’t know that his senior year  he had set a New York High School single season scoring record with 164 points.

We didn’t know that going into the final game of the season -  the city championship game - he needed 11 points to break the old record of 144, and he wound up scoring 30.  He ran back the opening kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown, scored three more touchdowns, and kicked six PATs in the St. Francis win.

We knew he went to Harvard, but we didn’t know that it was an extra point that he missed against Yale - kicking left-footed because he’d injured his right foot - that required Harvard to go for two (and make it) in the historic 29-29 “Harvard win.”

What we did know was that he was a kicker.  He was bit eccentric. He was quite intelligent. He was aloof. He was very proud, which unfortunately came across as effecting an air of superiority.   And he had a strong leg.

A very strong leg.  Our special teams coach, Joe Gardi, didn’t particularly care for him, nor did our head coach, Ron Waller. I was director of player personnel then, and, under orders to find a new kicker to replace Szaro, there was a stretch of a couple of weeks where I was bringing in a new kicker candidate every day.

Didn’t matter.  None of them could beat out Richie Szaro.  None of them had his leg strength.

It took us a while to figure out what was going on.  Upon their arrival, Szaro would befriend the new kickers,  then take them out on the field and engage them in some friendly competition, just between fellow kickers.  All members of the same fraternity and all that. Mainly, the question was  who had the stronger leg.  No question there. He’d wear them all out. 

And then Joe Gardi would come out and look at them wonder why they didn’t have any "pop" in their kids.

That was Richie Szaro.

I clearly remember one exchange between him and our equipment manager, Bob Colonna, a small, rotund character (one player, Bob Miranda, called him the Human Beach Ball), a very domineering type who, like most equipment managers, protected “his” equipment as if he’d paid for it himself.

On this particular day, Szaro said, “Hey, Collona.  How about a tee-shirt?”

Replied Colonna, in his Brooklyn accent, “I ain’t got no tee-shoits.”

“Aha, Colonna.  Double negative.  That means you do have some.”

“Aaah, f—k you, Sizzarro.”



*********** Marcel Pronovost died at 84.

He played 20 season in the NHL, from 1950-1969, 15 of them with the Detroit Red Wings.

Brought up at age 19 to join the Red Wings for the playoffs, he won a Stanley Cup before he’d even played a regular season game.

Think hockey is tough now? (I do.)  It was brutal then. No helmets, no face masks, no mouth guards.

There were only six teams in the league - Rangers, Red Wings, Black Hawks, Bruins, Maple Leaf and Canadiens - and players fought hard to hang onto scarce jobs.

He was known as a “take one for the team” guy, and his face showed it.

“He was often bloodied, and his nose was broken at least a dozen times; the hockey writer and historian Stan Fischler, noting that Pronovost’s “stitch count eventually reached into the hundreds,” called him “the most embroidered man in hockey.”

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1978.”

*********** Before the Orioles played the White Sox on Wednesday in an empty stadium, Orioles’ management contacted several WNBA coaches to try to find out what it’s like playing without a crowd on hand.

*********** Hugh, I'm sure you already made the connection, but the news of the school shooting at North Thurston validates everything that Jim and John Harbaugh said, as quoted in your recent postings.  In this beautiful Age of Enlightenment, when manhood has been rendered obsolete, who intervenes to defend others and puts his own life at risk in unarmed combat with a crazed gunman?  Not the obese feminist with purple hair and a nose ring.  Not the skinny-legged hipster with an "ironic" beard and Buddy Holly glasses.  No, the guy who saved lives was a 6-foot-5 football coach.  In a Flight, Freeze, or Fight situation, he instinctively chose the correct course of action and neutralized the threat.  I am 100% certain that his football background contributed hugely to the successful resolution of the event.

I guess I would expand the Harbaugh Doctrine to include other contact sports, since I recall that the charge of the passengers on Flight 93 was led by a judoka and a rugby player, but the principle remains the same.

Of course, there was no such thing as a "school shooting"  in sleepy Spokane in the 60's and 70's, but if there had been, I have no doubt that hard-nosed coaches like Steve Shea or "Ultra-violent Ray" Peterson would have done exactly the same thing. 

Shep Clarke
Puyallup, Washington

Not that it matters that the guy was a former football coach - but there was no mention in any of the major media stories about the guys’ even being a former coach.  Just “a teacher.”

Wouldn’t want to glorify those neanderthals we call football coaches.

But in my days as a teacher - back in the days before they had “resource officers” walking the halls - whenever trouble broke out they always called for the football coach.  Hmmm.  Why me?  Why not the art teacher?  Or the home ec teacher? (I date myself by even mentioning “home ec.”)

*********** In 2004, according to a Birmingham News survey, Daphne, Alabama High School's Glenn Vickery was the highest-paid high school football coach in the state, at $86,180.

Recently, Hoover HIgh School football coach Josh Niblett became the state's highest paid high scool coach, at $125,000 a year.

Justin King, in al.com, reportes that there are now nine Alabama high school football coaches imaking at least $100,000 per year. On the other hand, there is a reall have/have not situation going on:  more than 110 public high schools pay their head football coach less than $60,000 per year.

Said  Hoover's Niblett, "It started off with the money college coaches were making, but I think if you go to other states like Texas or Georgia you will find guys making a lot more than $125,000. The numbers those guys are making -- and not teaching -- are unbelievable.”


*********** My son, Ed, lives in Melbourne, Australia - a sports-crazed city in a sports-crazed country.  Melbourne’s biggest sport by far is “Footy” - Australian Rules Football - the iconic Australian game featuring fist-passing, tackling, long punts and officials who signal goals with what looks like a “guns drawn” gesture.

Footy is wildly popular in Melbourne, a large city with a metro population of 4.5 million.  Crowds of 100,000 at Australian Football League games are not unusual.   And it’s hard to find a Melbournian of any age or sex who doesn’t “barrack for” (don’t say “root for” - “root” can mean something, uh, vulgar in Aussie talk) one of the Melbourne area’s ten teams.

That’s right - ten of the Australian Football League’s 16 teams are located the Melbourne area.  (Think of an NFL with 18 of its 32 teams located in New York.)

And that’s a problem for the Footy people, because despite outsiders’ perceptions, “Footy” is not exactly the National Game.  Elsewhere in Australia, where the big sport is more likely to be Rugby Union or Rugby League, “Footy” is seen as Melbourne’s game.

Wrote Ed, recently, “Footy's in a strange place - it's an obscure sport that grew up and tried to spread its wings, but now realizing it's not so easy to tackle the other sports in places like Sydney and Brisbane.”

Put another way, Footy is in the position that we at National Beer once found ourselves in.

We had more than 50 per cent of the Baltimore market. Astounding for any consumer good.  But elsewhere, we were nothing.  Elsewhere, Schmidt was big in Philly and Schaefer was big in New York. Iron City in Pittsburgh, Stroh’s in Detroit.

But peoples’ horizons were expanding beyond the limits of their hometowns.

And outside their home markets, those leading local brands weren’t very strong.  But everywhere you went, there were Bud-Schlitz-Miller,  not first in any of those markets, but a strong second or third in every market.  And their strength was that they were truly national.  You could go anywhere and get Bud-Schlitz-Miller.  And if you lived in Detroit and travelled (or moved) to Philadelphia, you were more likely to order Bud-Schlitz-Miller than to try Schmidt’s.

And a whole generation of kids grew up and went away to college, or into the service, and discovered that they couldn’t get their local favorite anyplace else in the country. Yes, Bud-Schlitz-Miller were a little more expensive, but to a nation of kids who didn’t have any understanding of the Depression, as their fathers did, what the hell was a nickel a bottle?

Then, the killer - along came network TV sports, and Bud-Schlitz-Miller, with their nationwide distribution, could justify advertising on it.  National couldn’t afford to pay millions to reach beer drinkers in faraway markets where we didn’t sell beer.

And so forth.

My fear is that left to its own devices, without a major effort to become more than just the Melbourne Football League, Footy could become a bit of esoterica, like Finnish baseball (pesapallo). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFJMZnEmxrk

*********** I’m sure you’ve received this (and many more like it)  from someone you know whose email has been hijacked…

Have you or anyone you know clicked on the link?

Hi! How are you?

Have you seen this http://forgedwithlove.com/born.php before? Oprah had been using it for over a year!

Ryan Brown

*********** News from the UK: Finland has fired warning shots at a suspected foreign submarine off the coast of Helsinki in the early hours of Tuesday morning, amid growing military tensions with neighbouring Russia.

Carl Haglund, Finland's defence minister, did not say whether Russia was involved, but the incident was reminiscent of a Swedish hunt for a foreign submarine in its waters last October that many thought to be Russian.


My advice to the Russians if they push Finland too far: pack a big lunch.

Finns are a different breed altogether. They are not, technically, Scandinavians.  They live in a northern land, they border on Sweden and Norway, and their flag uses the same pattern as those of the other Scandinavian nations. But the Finnish forbears were not Vikings, like the others.  They originated somewhere in Central Asia, and they speak a language totally unlike those of the Swedes, Danes and Norwegians.  Totally unlike any other in the world, for that matter, except Estonian.

And - unlike their obstinately neutral neighbors -  the Finns know what it means to fight.

Caught, geographically, between the larger kingdoms of Sweden and Russia, they spent time under the dominance of both, and they didn't begin to experience true  independence until 1917, following the Russian Revolution.  Even  then, they had to endure a civil war of their own,  between Reds (Communists) and Whites.

They share a long border with Russia, and they do a lot of business with Russia, but it’s hard to find a Finn with much good to say about Russians.

In 1991, I was in Finland coaching football.  We had a few days off, so my wife and I were doing a little traveling, and we found ourselves sitting in a pub near the railroad station in the town of Kouvola, waiting for our train.  As we sat and drank our beer and talked, an older gentleman sat quietly at the same table.  Nothing unusual there.  Finns are not talkative people.  They listen a lot and say a little.  It was hard to tell whether this man was eavesdropping on our conversation, because many older people speak only Finnish, but suddenly he nudged me and said, in halting and  heavily accented English, "May I say something?"

"Well, of course," I said. He'd obviously been working up the courage to speak to us. "Ole hyvää. (Be my guest.)"

Said the gentleman, "I… hate… f--king… Russians."

I laughed. But I understood. A few years earlier I had attended the high school graduation of one of the younger guys on my team.  I didn't understand a word, but it was a nice ceremony, not unlike an American graduation.  But then, when it was over, the graduates marched to the town church (the state church is Lutheran, and Finns, although not particularly religious, are virtually all nominal Lutherans).  And there, in the churchyard, they laid flowers on the graves of soldiers, young men from their town who'd died fighting in what they call The Winter War and the Continuation War, both against the f--king Russians.

Finns speak with great pride of the fierce resistance their forefathers put up at the outbreak of World War II, when the Russkies invaded eastern Finland.

Put simply, for months the Finns, although vastly outnumbered and outgunned - and unassisted by any of their fellow Scandinavians - stood up to the Russians in the Winter War,  finally having to concede land in what is known as Karelia (in Finnish, Karjala).

But for the Russians the price of victory was enormous. One result was that it emboldened Hitler to invade Russia.

Karjala Label(Side joke:  "Karjala" - pronounced "CARR-ya-lah" - is also a popular brand of Finnish beer.  Finns, especially after they've had a few, like to joke, "We are taking back Karjala - glass by glass.")

The lessons of their wars with Russia were not lost on the Finnish people.  The first lesson was not to provoke the Big Bear, with which it shares a border of some 1,000 miles.  During the Cold War, when Finland was the only free Western nation bordering on the Soviet Union, its leaders successfully struck a delicate balance between dealing with the East and belonging to the West.

The second lesson was to be able to defend itself - to make sure that Russia understood that while it certainly had the power to defeat little Finland, the price of doing so would be too great to make it worth the effort.

Finland has a small but strong army, part of what  it diplomatically calls its "Puolustusvoimat” - a compound word meaning “defense forces.”  The emphasis is on the words “defense.” (“Nothing to fear from us, Ivan. It's not for aggressive purposes.  It's simply for our protection. Protection from what? you say.   Uh...")

To this day, every Finnish male is required to serve a year of "national service" -  either in the military or in "alternative service," such as in a hospital somewhere. I’ve read someplace that more than 80 per cent of men choose the military service. In reality, though, I’ve never met  a Finnish guy who hasn't been in the military, and whenever I would ask whether anybody, anywhere, ever chose alternative service,  the standing joke would be, "I think I heard of  some guy up in Kuopio who worked in a hospital there…”

After their year of service, Finnish men become part of the reserve, and can be called up on short notice.

(There is no comparable  draft of women.  In fact, there is no hue and cry about a “war on women”  in Finland, perhaps because in my observation Finnish women enjoy an independence and  equality unlike many places in the world and they seem refreshingly free of the feminist preoccupations  of so many American women.)

As a result of their military service,  a large percentage of  Finnish men know how to use a gun.  And  many of them, unlike most other Europeans, own guns themselves, and love to hunt. Finnish-made Sako rifles are among the best in the world.  (A Finnish breed of dog, the Karelian bear dog, fearlessly hunts bear and wild boars.)  http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/dogs-101/videos/rare-dog-breeds/

Finns are well aware of the need to be ready to defend their beloved Suomi (the Finnish word for Finland).  The Finnish education system is second to none anywhere,  and school children are taught their country's history as an essential matter of their nation’s survival. 

tuntematon sotilasThe heroism of the men who fought to defend their country and its hard-won independence is legendary among today's Finns.  A story of their travails - Tuntematon Sotilas ("The Unknown Soldier") - could be called the national story.  Many Finns have told me that anyone who wants to know the Finnish character needs to read it. (And watch the movie.) The book, by the way, is available in English.

My last coaching job in Finland was in the small city of Hamina, less than an hour's drive from the Russian border, and I recall one time sitting with several of my players - all of them army veterans, of course - and asking what would happen if the Russians were to invade.

They seemed surprised by the question. I’m sure they’d never been asked it before.  One of them, Juha Skinnari, a warrant officer in the Army, answered, very matter-of-factly, "We will fight." The others nodded somberly in agreement, as if he had just said, "The sun will rise in the east tomorrow.”

There's one more thing about Finns that you'd have to live among them to fully understand. It's a national characteristic encapsulated in one Finnish word that defies translation: Sisu. It can mean guts. Grit. Hard-headedness. Toughness. Resilience. Endurance. Doggedness. Willingness to fight on in the face of hopeless odds. (They make pretty good football players.)

So lately  the Russians have taken to antagonizing the Finns, coming way too close to Finnish territory with planes and ships, including submarines. 

Perhaps it's just to remind their little neighbor that Ivan is always there, and he has the upper hand. Perhaps it's to warn Finland, although a part of the European Union,  not to even consider joining NATO.

Whatever the reason,  though, I would suggest to the Russians that they open their history books (if Putin hasn’t burned them all)  and read about the Winter War.

I can save them the trouble by telling them this: you can eventually take the Finns down - there's a lot more of you, and you have them outgunned -  but they’re never going to quit.  It's going to be hard, nasty work, and you’re going to pay a terrible price.

Think of them as highly civilized Afghans. 

american flagTUESDAY,  APRIL  28,  2015-   "Four brave men who do not know each other will not dare to attack a  lion.  Four less brave, but knowing each other well, sure of their reliability and  consequentially of mutual aid, will attack resolutely."   Ardent du Picq, French Military Officer

*********** In our win-at-all-costs society, few kids are ever given a chance to learn about sportsmanship.  In professional sports especially, there’s little left  that has anything to do with sportsmanship, with respect for the game and one’s opponents.  But there stands hockey, a sport that in my estimation few athletes from other sports would have the toughness to play, as  an example to the others.

Easily the noblest tradition in all of sports is hockey’s handshake line, which takes place after the final game of a series.  None of the “good job…good job…good job” or “nice game… nice game…nice game” insincerity of the high school football walk-through. Those guys, who only minutes before were committing mayhem in a manner unseen in any of the other team sports - and on skates, yet - actually take the time to talk to each other.

It’s one of my favorite moments in sports. It’s everything that sports ought to be about.

********** There’s a special place in my heart for Baltimore. Although we lived in East Haven, Connecticut my senior year in college, we moved not long after to Baltimore, when I took a job with Container Corporation of America, and we lived there for five years. Our three youngest kids were born there.

And even though we moved from there to Frederick, Maryland, I still worked in Baltimore for two more years. 

What surprised me, having grown up no more than 100 miles to the north, in Philadelphia, was how southern Baltimore was.   To my wife and me, Baltimore was a very, very exotic place, with a deep pride in its rich history, and an accent all its own.  We would laugh at pronunciations like POH-lice, FAR Department, zinc (as in kitchen sink) and paramour (power mower).  A person who had trouble telling the truth was a LAHR. Only natives knew how to pronounce Baltimore correctly: “BAWL-mer.”

And what a great sports town! We had the Orioles - what fun it was to walk down to Memorial Stadium, plunk down $1.25 and spend a hot summer night sitting in the upper deck talking baseball with black guys.  Talk about knowledgeable fans.  Basketball?  Before they moved to DC and changed their name, we had the Bullets, with Earl the Pearl Monroe, and Wesley Unseld. We had a great American Hockey League team in the Clippers.  That was really good hockey then, because the NHL at that point had only SIX teams. Football? I’ll go to my death bed maintaining that no city ever loved its football team - no, not even Green Bay - the way Baltimore loved its Colts.

Baltimore had East Baltimore Street, aka “The Block,” where all-the-way strip clubs catered to the basest of male appetites. Needless to say, tourists (male) came from miles around to have those appetites sated. 

When I lived there, Baltimore was a segregated city. Its ghettoes were bad then, and they're no better today.  But there was a large and growing black middle class.  And, in truth, a lot of Baltimore's  white neighborhoods weren’t all that great, either.  And then there was O’Donnell Heights, derisively called “Hillbilly Heaven,” where whites from West Virginia and southwest Virginia, who’d come to work in the factories, lived.

There was industry galore. At the time, Bethlehem Steels’ Sparrows Point mill employed 30,000 people. Armco Steel had a mill there, and so did Eastern Stainless Steel. There were glass factories and automobile factories and chemical plants.  There were the railroads - the B & O, the Western Maryland and the Pennsylvania.  And there was the port. Anyone who was willing to work could find a job.

There was plenty of racism - I said it was a southern town. Maryland was a southern state.  Maryland, never forget, was a “border state” during the Civil War - it did not secede, but the main reason it remained in the Union was that it was allowed to remain a slave state. The alternative was to force Maryland to secede, in which case the nation’s capital would have been surrounded by Confederate states.  (That’s a major reason why the Emancipation Proclamation, if you didn’t know, did not apply to border states.)

One of the worst riots in American history took place during the Civil War on the streets of Baltimore when a mob of southern sympathizers attacked Union troops marching through town between two railroad stations.

Other than working together, when I lived in Baltimore (mid-60s) whites and blacks pretty much lived in separate worlds. Separate neighborhoods, certainly.  There simply weren’t any bars or restaurants then  that served both whites and blacks.   The brewery I worked for was a real pioneer in its hiring of black sales people, but come on - was it enlightenment or was it just plain good business to hire black salesmen to sell beer to black taverns and liquor stores? And before that, when I was selling packaging and I wanted to go to lunch with a black customer (yes, I had one, and a very good one - the Parks Sausage Company) I had to call around to make sure that my customer would be spared the embarrassment of being denied service.

I was living and working in Baltimore during the riots of April 1968, following the assassination of Dr. King, and things were bad, but not as bad as they were in DC  (I happened to be working there on the day Dr. King was killed, and it was scary), and  nothing at all like the way they were in Detroit.  We also had a brewery there, and during the riots there were National Guardsmen with machine guns up on the roof.  I saw Detroit not long after the riots, and it was devastating. Rioters had put the torch to many of the city’s businesses and big old houses.

From that point, interestingly, Baltimore and Detroit seemed to go in different directions.

Baltimore, at least its central core, experienced quite a renaissance, with the cleanup and revitalization of the Inner Harbor and the gentrification of Fells Point and Canton, two once rundown harborside neighborhoods that I have to admit I once saw no hope for. Oriole Park at Camden Yards really helped.  So, too, did the fact that Washington at the time had no baseball, so the Orioles drew not just from Baltimore but from the DC area, some 40 miles away. Lots of those Washington people saw  Baltimore, and liked what they saw - especially the prices of its real estate.  And then - sorry, Cleveland - in came the Browns/Ravens, to replace the hole left in Baltimoreans’ hearts by the kidnapping of their Colts.

Detroit went the other way. Once vibrant, it’s  become a synonym for a city in an advanced state of decay.

Most historians will trace the decline of Detroit to the riots of ’68. Whites and blacks who could afford to get out moved to the suburbs, leaving behind poor people with increasing demands for city services and decreasing ability to pay for them.

My fear is that this could be the tipping point for Baltimore. I pray that it’s not.

There is no economic solution to Baltimore’s problems. Bethlehem Steel is gone. So are Armco and Eastern Stainless, along with the glass factories, the chemical factories, the automobile plants. 

And what are the chances, with everyone in the world able to see in real time what Baltimore’s mobs are capable of, of ever bringing in any company that would provide gainful employment?

And where is the company that would take its chances in a city whose mayor’s idea of leadership during Monday's rioting was to order the police to remain passive and then go into hiding herself?

What chance is there of controlling violence when the police are not under orders to protect property and lives, but to protect “the right to protest?”

What a terrible thing that a relatively small group of young mobsters was allowed to defile that city.

Who can blame anyone - white or black - for wanting to get out of a city populated by mobs that its leadership seems unwilling or unable to control?

What we saw was no protest. As one commenter on TV observed, the rioters had zero connection with Freddie Gray, the young man whose death the protests are supposedly all about, adding, “They probably would have killed him if he’d bumped into them on the dance floor.”

*********** Hayden Fry probably did as much as anyone in Iowa football’s long history to put the Hawkeyes on the national map. In his 20 years there, Iowa was 143-89-6, went to 14 bowl games, won three Big Ten titles, and went to three Rose Bowls.

His coaching tree is legendary.

In 1983, while at Iowa, he had no fewer than five future FBS head coaches on his staff: Barry Alvarez, Kirk Ferentz, Dan McCarney, Bill Snyder and Bob Stoops.

Before Iowa, he coached at SMU, taking the Mustangs to three bowl games.    And on May 1, at the SMU Hall of Fame Banquet, he’ll become the first ever recipient of SMU’s Legends Award, given by the SMU Lettermen’s Board.

Perhaps most noteworthy of Coach Fry’s accomplishments at SMU was the recruitment of one athlete: this year will mark the 50th anniversary of the enrollment at SMU of the great Jerry LeVias, the first black scholarship athlete in Southwest Conference history.


*********** A fourth-grade teacher in Olathe, Kansas gave her class an assignment: to ask someone about their favorite poem and what it has meant to them.

One of her students, Claire Gottschalk, wrote to Kansas State coach Bill Snyder, asking him those questions, and - a sure sign of the man’s character - she received, in return, a note from Coach Snyder.

I think so highly of the man that I wouldn’t have expected anything else.

It was hand-written, in K-State purple ink:

“Yes I do have a favorite poem called Grandpa.  When you read it, you may understand why it has been a favorite of mine for a long time.  My ‘Grandpa’ was a guiding light in my life.”


The old man sat with eyes closed, dozing in his chair
Until a little voice he heard say “Grandpa, are you there”.

He gazed upon a little boy while waking from his nap
Then reached down with a sweeping move and placed him in his lap
The child was carrying a book that he wanted him to see
He held it up and asked him “Grandpa, will you read to me”?

The old man cleaned his glasses then opened up the book
And suddenly the two of them a wondrous journey took
They ventured lands so far away, sailed seas not sailed before
Met knights and kings and wizards on every distant shore.

Together they fought dragons, saved damsels in distress
Freeing lands of monsters and the treasures they possess
When the old man closed the cover to end their magic ride
He told the boy “We’re much like books, what’s important is inside”.

But one day when the boy arrived and rushed to Grandpa’s chair
Much to his disappointment, his Grandpa was not there
He ran to find his mother for surely she would know
Why the chair was empty, where did his Grandpa go

She sat him down and asked him if he remembered in each book
The adventures and the journeys that he and Grandpa took
He took you there to show you the things that you can find
The wonders that are yours to see if you open up your mind

But he still walks beside you in the stories you have read