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

american flag FRIDAY,  APRIL 28,  2017  - “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” Michelangelo

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












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

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


*********** THE EAST COAST COACH WYATT CLINIC has been cancelled - 

Our dog’s recent surgery - operations on both knees - has forced a change in my plans.

This coming weekend I’m headed to Kansas City, and I have to leave my wife at home to handle the care and the rehab.

That won’t work for the Raleigh clinic, though, because she has plans that she can’t change.  That means that I’m going to have to be around to handle the care, and that means having to cancel - or at least postpone - the clinic.

It disappoints me because I was looking forward to seeing some old friends for the first time in a couple of years, and in working with old friend Dave Potter - not to mention seeing our daughter and son-in-law.

I’ve already been in touch with those guys who’ve sent in their registrations telling them “the check’s in the mail,”  but just in case your check IS in the mail right now, I’ll be mailing you a refund.

*********** The NFL’s holding its draft outdoors - in front of the steps leading to the Art Museum - the steps up which the fictional Rocky ran in training for a fight.

It figures that a phony organization like the NFL would capitalize on a phony story - a feel-good movie about a nonexistent hero.

Actually, as arrogant as they are, I fully expected them to insist on holding the draft in our nation’s birthplace - Independence Hall -  with the Liberty Bell gonging in the background to signify when a team goes on the clock.

And High Commissioner Goodell, dressed like Benjamin Franklin, spectacles and all.

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

ESPN is moving that bowl game from a baseball stadium to a soccer stadium.  Same place the FCS Championship game has been played the last few years.  Nice venue, but it's still a soccer stadium.

That's CHUCK BEDNARIK in your quiz.  Frank Gifford knew who CHUCK BEDNARIK was.  Old Chuck tackled Gifford so hard (I believe it was in a Championship game) that Bednarik knocked Gifford out cold.  The collision literally knocked Gifford off his feet!  Some called it a cheap shot, but watching the old film of it, and knowing that a "clothesline" tackle was legal back in those days,  Not the way we teach it today, but WOW, Gifford had to be asking for the license plate of the truck that hit him.

Speaking of North Catholic and what Coach Raves did for them, have you heard about what's going on with the head coach of DeSoto HS in the Dallas area?  Check it out: 

Have a great week!

Joe Gutilla
Austin, Texas

The story could turn out to be very sick.  A very successful coach in a football-crazy town in Texas is fighting to keep his job.  He’s white, the town is majority black.  But get this - the opposition to him does not appear to be coming from the players or their parents.  In fact, it appears that it may be white-inspired.  This is crazy.

*********** I was speaking with Mike Lude on Tuesday.  Mike is 94 years old, but in terms of his physical condition and mental acuity he’s the equal of a man 25 years younger. 

He lives in Tucson, and he’s rehabbing from knee replacement surgery and he says the doctor - the team ortho guy from the U of Arizona - considers him his poster child for recovery and rehab.

Mike said he knew he was in trouble when his knee kept him from going out on his morning four-mile walks, but now he’s only about six weeks away (“once all the kinks are out,” according to his doctor) from resuming normal walking.

Every talk with Mike is a guided tour for me, back into the days of football before and after World War II, and this time was no exception.  For some reason, the name of Nick Skorich came up.  Nick Skorich played with the Steelers, from 1946 to 1948.  He was a 5-9, 200-pound guard in the days when the Steelers were still playing single-wing football - in the NFL.  And then he retired from playing and took a high school coaching job at Pittsburgh Central Catholic.

That’s when Mike met him.  They were both at Michigan State,  the summer before Skorich took over at Central Catholic.  Mike was coaching the line at Delaware under Dave Nelson, but because in those days college coaches had only nine month contracts, he had the summer off and was was taking classes to finish up his master’s.  Scorich, finding himself having to teach in a high school, was doing the same thing.

Mike said they hit it off and became great friends, and for the next four years, until Scorich left Central Catholic to become a Steelers’ assistant, Mike said Delaware got “lots of players from there.”

Scorch moved from the Steelers to the Packers, but after one year in Green Bay he joined Buck Shaw’s staff in Philadelphia, and when Shaw retired after the 1960 championship season, he became the Eagles’ head coach.

HIs first year, with former backup QB Sonny Jurgenson taking over,  he was quite successful, going 10-4 and winning the long-gone “Runner-up Bowl.”

But in his second year, the Eagles went 3-10-1, and worst of all from the standpoint of Philly fans, they were thumped, 49-0 at home by the Packers - the same team they’d beaten two years earlier to win the NFL championship.

When the team went 2-10-2 in his third year, he was gone.

He was hired by Blanton Collier in Cleveland in 1964 - the year the Browns upset the Colts (Baltimore) to win the NFL title, and after the 1970 season, when Collier retired, he succeeded him as head coach.

Under him, the Browns went 9-5, 10-4 and 7-5-2, but when they finished 4-10 in 1974 he was fired again.

Until his retirement, he served as NFL Supervisor of Officials.

*********** To the degree that they have facilitated a massive transfer of wealth from non-native gamblers to tribes in need of revenues, Indian casinos have been a great success.

But as to whether they’ve done anything at all to advance the public’s awareness and appreciation  of American Indians’ history and culture, I submit this quote by a 69-year-old Battle Ground, Washington woman, interviewed on opening day of the Cowlitz tribe’s massive new casino in LaCenter, Washington, just north of Portland:

“I’m excited to be here to celebrate the Native American culture.”

*********** A lot of games here in the Northwest - especially in this, the rainiest winter/spring in anyone’s memory - are postponed because of weather.  But the skies were clear Tuesday when the Columbia River High girls’ golf team had to cancel its match.  Seems they got stuck in traffic.  The Grand Opening of the new Cowlitz Indian casino caused traffic on northbound Interstate 5 to come to a standstill for hours, and when it was apparent that they weren’t going to get to the course on time - there being no alternate routes - they managed to turn around and head home.

*********** Jim Otto and his number (00) reminded me of a guy who played for us in Philadelphia named Benny “Jabo” Johnson.

Benny was “sold” to us by his agent, a guy who named Ed Gottlieb.  Not to be confused with Eddie Gottlieb, the basketball Hall of Famer, this guy insisted on being called “Judge” Gottlieb (because, I suppose, he had been a judge somewhere).

If there’s one things that the World Football League can be said to be famous for, it’s the fact that it really gave rise to the agent.  Seemingly out of the woodwork came guys astute enough to realize that there was money to be had peddling players to teams that knew absolutely nothing about their clients, and on a larger scale, playing one league against another.

Ed Gottleib was an agent, and to hear him tell it, a damned good one.  He would rattle off names of his clients, names I’d never heard before, in the manner of someone who mentions something obscure and possibly spurious but knows that you won’t challenge him for fear of seeming ignorant.

He negotiated hard on behalf of Benny Johnson.  Benny had played a few years with the Oilers. Benny would consider coming to Philadelphia, but on one condition: he had to have one of two numbers - either 33, because that was the age of Christ when he was crucified, or 0 (zero) because that symbolized universality, or infinity, or the world being round, or somesuch nonsense.  I was only interested in getting him signed without giving away everything we had (which wasn’t much), and since Cecil Bowens (a very promising running back from Kentucky) had already insisted on 33, Benny had to be happy with 0.

Benny was a decent football player - although not as good as Gottlieb had made him out to be - and pretty nice guy.

I vividly remember him in the locker room in the Astrodome in August, 1974.

After opening the season with a 33-8 win over the Portland Storm, in front of a huge home crowd )that’s  story for another time), just seven days later we were beaten by the Houston Texans.

It was a really poor performance, and worst of all from the standpoint of our coach’s ego - which could barely squeeze into the Astrodome - we were shutout.  11-0.  Ugh.   What made things worse was that evidently it was the first time in our coach's career,  (he'd spent a half season or so as head coach of the Chargers and several years in the minor leagues before that ), that he'd ever been shut out.

Well, the coach, Ron Waller, as vulgar a man as ever stepped on a football field, really lit into the team.  I don’t remember exactly what he said -  smart phones were far in the future - but I do remember exactly what Benny Johnson said.

I was standing next to him, and, looking straight ahead, he said, “Man, we didn’t TRY to lose!”

*********** Clipboard Nation may be worth a look.  Can’t tell at a quick glance whether it’s going to cost money, but since they ran an ad in the AFCA Newsletter, I have my suspicions.  Take  look and let me know what you think.

*********** Humor - and wisdom - from the Internet…

It's time for a clear, serious grammar lesson… 

In a recent linguistic competition held in London and attended by, supposedly, the best in the world, Samdar Balgobin was the clear winner with a standing ovation which lasted
over 5 minutes. 

The final question was:  How do you explain the difference between COMPLETE and FINISHED in a way that is easy to understand?

Some people say there is no difference between COMPLETE   and FINISHED.
Here was his astute answer:

When you marry the right woman, you are COMPLETE.

When you marry the wrong woman, you are FINISHED.

And when the right one catches you with the wrong one, you are…………


He won a trip around the world and a case of 25 year old Scotch.

***********  I just remember seeing that old NFL Films "Crunch Course" (still have that on VHS somewhere) where they show that hit over and over.  And Gifford talks about how it was a clean it, because if it wasn't he probably wouldn't be there to talk about it.  No QB's looking for flags in those days.

That's the same film where Deacon Jones talks about hitting guys with this gleam in his eye that makes you wonder if it weren't for football that he would have done something really bad to some poor fool.

And Dick Butkus talks about his favorite film scene being the head rolling down the stairs in "Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte."

And, I wish I remembered who, one old-timer talked about the men of the 101st Airborne being brave, but being on kickoff team may be a bit like that.  

Todd Hollis
Elmwood, Illinois

Kickoffs sure have changed, now that they limit “wedges” to two men!

*********** QUIZ - As they walk off Franklin Field, Philadelphia Eagle Chuck Bednarik is the player in the middle is consoling Paul Horning (5) and Jim Taylor (31),  two members of the losing Packers following the 1960 NFL championship game.  He doesn’t look that tired, but he should - he just finished playing the entire game on both sides of the ball - center on offense and linebacker on defense.  At the age of 35.

The son of Slovakian immigrants, he grew up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania speaking Slovak as his first language.  At 17, right out of high school, with World War II going on, he joined the Army Air Corps.  In all, during the war, he flew 30 combat missions over Germany.

Following the war he played college football as a single wing center and linebacker under famed coach George Munger, and was a three-time All-American.

Although not a back, he finished third in the Heisman voting following his senior season.

He played his entire NFL career for one team; they won the NFL title his first season with them, and he was still playing when they finally won again, 11 years later.

He was 10 times named All-Pro.

He is a member of both the College and the Pro Football Halls of Fame - he made it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility - and in 1969, long after his playing days were over, he was voted “Greatest Center of All Time.”

He took great pride in being the last of the true, old-school two-way players, and in his later years he publicly scoffed at the very idea that Deion Sanders, a notorious non-tackler, could double as a wide receiver and be seriously considered a two-way player.

Bednarik centering

Bednarik over Gifford

KC Smith sent along the photo at right, one of the most famous in NFL history, and wrote,  “Iggles stadium.."The Linc" has a 30 foot copy of that picture in the upper concourse area.  While I don't believe Chuck was a hatchet man, I don't think he minded people thinking he was capable of being one.”

I wrote: It’s somewhat unfortunate, because it’s a frozen moment,  just one nanosecond of action,  and it has forever portrayed Bednarik in the minds of many as a hatchet man.  He didn’t actually stand over the downed Frank Gifford for several seconds.

However, I’m with Coach Smith - He did take great pride in being a hard guy. I just don’t think he would have appreciated being considered a dirty player.  He was tough enough playing it straight.

On the left, he's shown as a center at Penn. My high school coach, Ed Lawless, played with him there. Ed was right out of high school, and Bednarik was right out of World War II.  Ed said that nobody screwed with Chuck.  Said he was like a caged lion in the locker room before games.  And he said that he had to be watched closely in scrimmages because he’d take  shots at anybody;  more than once one of the coaches, a gentlemanly sort, would have to say, “Now, Charles, you have to remember, these are your teammates.”

Josh Montgomery - Berwick, Louisiana
Ken Hampton - Raleigh, North Carolina - #5 is Paul Hornung and #31 is Jim Taylor just beaten by the Eagles in 1960 NFL Championship game.  They were both 25 years old and Chuck Bednarik was 35 years old.
Shep Clarke - Puyallup, Washington
Greg Koenig - Cimarron, Kansas - .What a football player! And what a nickname: Concrete Charlie! (A fitting nickname - even though it came from his off-season job with a concrete company!)
Dennis Metzger - Richmond, Indiana - The picture is from the only championship game that Vince Lombardi’s Packers lost.  #5 is Paul Hornung and #31 is Jim Taylor, who along with Bart Starr may have been as good a backfield that played together in that era.  And all three of them are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin
John Vermillion - St. Petersburg, Florida
Mark Kaczmarek - Davenport, Iowa - That championship game was the 1st football game that I really was fully & completely aware of as I watched the Pack with my family in Hillsboro, WI
Mike Yanke - Cokato, Minnesota - SI did an excellent article on Bednarik a few years ago. In that article he was quoted about playing the game of his life at age 35, while NVB received the MVP award (a new car) for 9 of 23 passing.  Thanks for doing these heritage pieces.
John Bothe - Oregon, Illinois
Todd Hollis - Elmwood, Illinois
DJ Millay - Vancouver, Washington - played for the Eagles and was a waist gunner on a B-24. He was in one of the (many) books I read about WWII in high school.
Jerry Lovell - Bellevue, Nebraska
Pete Porcelli - Watervliet, New York
Joe Gutilla - Austin, Texas
Kevin McCullough - Lakeville, Indiana - three Hall of Famers
Will Stout - Wasilla, Alaska
KC Smith - Walpole, Massachusetts
Sam Knopik - Kansas City, Missouri

*********** QUIZ - He was born in a small town in Pennsylvania and got his first job at the age of 14 driving mules in  coal mine.  He didn’t play high school football (he was working) and when he entered college he played in the first football game he ever saw.

His first coaching job was in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, where he spent 11 years as high school head coach

His first college head coaching job was at an Ivy League school, and after going 7-2 and 8-1 in his final two years there, he was hired by a large state school in 1950.  He brought his former quarterback along with him to help teach his system, and the quarterback decided he liked coaching so much that he passed up a chance to go to law school and instead remained as an assistant coach.

When he retired after 16 years,  he’d compiled a 104-48-4 record.  He never had a losing season there.  His only non-winning season was his last, when his team finished 5-5.

His successor? It was that same Ivy League quarterback who’d come with him 16 years earlier to help out, and had remained on his staff the entire time.

Building on the solid foundation that was already built, that successor would take the program to the very heights of college football, winning 409 games in his 46 years there.

american flag TUESDAY,  APRIL 25,  2017  - "I don’t care what's written about me so long as it isn’t true."  Dorothy Parker

*********** Recently, I gave a fellow named Jerry Haymore  permission to reprint an article of mine on his new Web site. The Web site, “Fear the Wing,” is dedicated to advancement of the single wing in its many forms, and it looks very promising.   I highly recommend a look.

My article, about TCU great Dutch Meyer and his then-revolutionary Spread Formation (developed in the 1930s to take advantage of the great arm of a guy named Sammy Baugh)…

*********** (On the subject of Dan Rooney)


My wife went to North Catholic.  Actually went to homecoming with Dan Rooney's grandson.  She remembers him (the grandson) was a very nice guy who did not have any of the issues that could go along with being from such a wealthy family.  Everything I've hear about the Rooney's leads me to believe that they have stayed pretty well grounded in who they are/were.  What an interesting story about how he "won" the Steelers!  Talk about "found money."

A little on North Catholic.  When Anne was in school the soccer team outscored the football team FOR THE SEASON.  Central Catholic was the powerhouse (Dan Marino is an alum).  

Anyway, the Trojans were a perennial bottom feeder.  Until just a few years ago.  Pittsburgh judge Bob Ravenstahl took over as the football coach.  His d-coordinator was the father of my wife's best friend, so I've heard all of the stories about the team first hand.  Anyway, Coach "Rave" turned that thing around (74-30 in nine seasons).  He even took them to their first state championship!  (both WPIAL and PIAA - so he won at Heinz Field and at Hersey!).  This was 2013.  

But, North Catholic was building a new school in the "North Hills" and the clientele was going decidedly up-scale.  The school (donors) wanted a splash, so Coach Rave was out before the 2014 season, coming off a state championship, and in was a former Steeler, a "name" guy, Jason Gildon.  North Catholic would be moving up in classification and needed a guy who could coach "with the big boys."  After all, that team would have Gildon's two sons, Mike Tomlin's son, Joey Porter's son.  Well, on December 8, 2016, Jason Gildon's contract was not renewed.  Now, his record was good (17-6), so there's something more to it (unless the semifinals are no longer good enough for North Catholic).  The whole thing is such a contrast to the Rooney's and the way they run the Steelers.  

I sat with Coach Ravenstahl at his daughter's wedding this past New Year's Eve.  He's coached for a long, long time.  And he's been to the top.  This past year he took over, "un-retired" (he was given the option of retiring or firing at North Catholic), at Vincentian Academy, a team that had gone 3-15 in its first two years as a varsity program.  So, he was starting at the bottom again.  He said things were tough.  The best player was the worst teammate and numbers were paper thin.  Coach Rave played the kid, and if he could go back he'd do it all differently, sit the kid, take his lumps, and the losses (which came anyway).  It was very interesting that I found myself looking at the championship ring on this man's finger while listening to him talk about the things he didn't do correctly or needed to do better in the future.  I don't know if he will get it turned around at Vinentian, but they are better for having him.  And as for North Catholic...I wonder if they've seen the peak and are starting a tumble down the other side.  I suspect they need to take a little look at the namesake on that stadium and figure out how things are supposed to be done.  

Todd Hollis
Elmwood, Illinois

North Catholic brings back memories… The Yale Captain my sophomore year was a guy named Jack Embersits.  He was a 175-pound guard/nose guard (two ways) who was - still is - the hardest hitter I’ve ever seen.  I spent my entire season on the scout team offense getting drilled by him.  He was a Pittsburgh kid, from North Catholic, and the story at the time was that when he went to Yale on his recruiting visit he said, “You mean we get to play on grass?”  That story was given credence by one of my roommates, a guy from a section of Pittsburgh called East Liberty, and subsequently by old films of John Unitas’ playing on bare fields.

*********** Is it my imagination or are the crowds at the spring games down somewhat?

I didn’t see Alabama’s crowd, but LSU wasn’t even half full.  Penn State had a decent crowd, but if that had been a regular-season crowd, the people in the athletic department would have panicked.

LSU, considering that this was the Tigers’ first spring with a new OC, was doing an awful lot of complex-looking  formation stuff - shifting and motions.  They didn’t sit still very often.

As a matter of fact, a couple of times they lined up in what we’d call “WEST” or “EAST” formation.  And then proceeded to send a man in motion.

*********** ESPN has acquired the Miami Beach Bowl and plans to move it to Frisco, Texas.

Good riddance, I say, to any game played in a baseball stadium, as this one was.

Needless to say, it will undergo a name change.

*********** Ralph Russo of the Associated Press list the Power 5 teams with the toughest non-conference schedules:

The teams, and the games that put them on the list:

Oregon: Nebraska, at Wyoming (what genius came up with the idea of scheduling an away game at 6,000 feet?)

Florida: Michigan (at the Jerry Dome), Florida State

Florida State: Alabama (in Atlanta), at Florida

South Carolina: NC State (at Charlotte); Clemson

Pitt: at Penn State; Oklahoma State

USC:  Western Michigan; Texas; at Notre Dame

Georgia: Appalachian State; at Notre Dame; Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech: Tennessee; at UCF; Georgia

How about on the other end - the non-Power 5 conference teams who have to schedule up?

Western Michigan? The Broncos open at USC, then visit Michigan State the next weekend.

Fresno State? The Bulldogs open at home against FCS Incarnate Word, then travel to Alabama; the following week, they’re at Washington.

*********** I was wondering if anyone was going to catch, and make mention of, the Hillary "anal" remark!

How appropriate was that?!  I almost fell out of my seat when that happened! There was not even a flinch, on the set, from anyone there!

Could it be that they all, subliminally, agreed with it!?

J.C. Brink
Stuart, Florida

*********** A guy wrote in to our local paper, upset that for the seventh straight summer there’ll be no AAA baseball in Portland.  The main reason is that the rich Easterner who owns the local MLS soccer team got exclusive rights to the baseball stadium and converted it (at whose expense, I don’t know) to a soccer-style stadium.  With no place to play, the baseball team, the Beavers, moved to Tucson.

In a sense, evicting baseball to make room for soccer is a metaphor for what’s happened to Portland, and to America in general:  soccer has become the normal sport to play.  Little kids start playing soccer when they’re still in diapers,  and never get around to playing baseball.  Before you know it, little Tanner has turned seven and he’s been “selected” to play on an elite travel team and - presto! - one more degrading step toward the Europeanization of America.

The guy who wrote the letter said it’s his hope that one day the Portland Timbers, who play “a so-called sport where most of the time nobody wins”  will move to Europe (“where they belong”) and baseball will return to Portland.

*********** Steve Kerr, coach of the Warriors, made the trip to Portland this past weekend for his team’s playoff game against the Trail Blazers - and then had to stay in his hotel room and miss Saturday night’s game, suffering from headaches, nausea and neck pain.

He’s had two two back operations since the Warriors’ NBA title win in 2015, and things haven’t gone well.  He missed 43 games last season.

He told reporters, “I can tell you if you’re listening out there - if you have a back problem, stay away from surgery.  I can say that from the bottom of my heart - rehab, rehab, rehab.  Don’t let anybody get in there.”

*********** A coaching friend wrote: Saw an interesting bit on a news program this morning.  Rogers has a new "automated" tackling dummy.  They demonstrated it on the news program, and had a video of it.  The guest speaker was Buddy Teevens, head coach at Dartmouth.  His program uses "them" extensively.  Since incorporating the dummies into his practices his defensive players apparently have not had the need to practice "live" tackling for the last couple of years.  Not sure how good Dartmouth's defense has been lately but Teevens did say the device has cut back injuries by 80% since he started using it. They are controlled by a remote (kinda like Madden).  Sign of the times?  The cost?  $1,500.00 EACH.

The Teevens story has been getting a lot of ink since last summer.

The robots might be good for giving college players “live” reps, but somebody at some point had to actually teach those guys how to tackle - that’s us - and throwing themselves at a dummy, motorized or not, isn’t going to teach our kids.

Once we’ve taught the basics well,  at our small school we would then need, oh, at least four of the damn things to get close to the same number of reps that we now get.  PLUS some responsible managers or coaches to operate the robots.  PLUS a smooth surface to operate on. Our school district can’t even maintain our “grass” field, let alone spring for artificial turf, so I'm thinking maybe our parking lot would work…

*********** Americans may have cut back on their smoking, but because of increases in the price of cigarettes, they’re spending more.

I read this in the Wall Street Journal and I’m still in a state of disbelief:

According to an market-research firm called Euromonitor International, “Americans spent more at retail stores on cigarettes in 2016 than they did on soda and beer combined.”

Jim otto snapping*********** Jim Otto was a pro football ironman if ever there was one.

He was a native of Wausau, Wisconsin who played his college football at Miami.

As a center, he played played 15 seasons and never missed a game - 308 consecutive games - because of injury. This despite having nine knee operations during his career.

In all, he had 28 different operations on his legs.  Not all of them went well and several times his life was in danger as a result of infection.

Several years after his retirement, he had to have a leg amputated.

He played his entire career with one team: 10 years in the AFL and five in the NFL.

He was an All-Star every years of his AFL career and is on the All-Time All-AFL team.  He made All-NFL three times, and he’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In all those years, despite playing for a team that boasted of a “Commitment to Excellence,” he played on only one championship team - an AFL championship team that then lost in the Super Bowl to the NFL champion.

His distinctive number, 00,  in all likelihood will  never be worn again by any player at his position.  It was given to him his second year as a pro, and was meant to be a play on his last name (“OUGHT-OH”).


MARK KACZMAREK - DAVENPORT, IOWA - growing up, he was one of the few non-Packers I admired...maybe b/c he was a Wausau native!
JOE GUTILLA - AUSTIN, TEXAS - Used to watch him snap the ball to one Daryle Lamonica, the "Mad Bomber".  Lamonica was our hometown hero in Clovis, CA.  The high school football stadium was named after him.  Every kid growing up in Clovis at that time knew about the Mad Bomber.
MIKE CAHILL - GUILDERLAND, NEW YORK - He’s in the U of Miami Hall of Fame
DENNIS METZGER - Richmond, Indiana - I didn’t realize that he played before the championship Raiders.  And the Super Bowl loss would have been to a team that had a commitment to excellence; Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay packers.

Leaving Franklin Field*********** QUIZ - As they walk off Franklin Field, the player in the middle is consoling two members of the losing team following an NFL championship game.  He doesn’t look that tired, but he should - he just finished playing the entire game on both sides of the ball - center on offense and linebacker on defense.  At the age of 35.

The son of Slovakian immigrants, he grew up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania speaking Slovak as his first language.  At 17, right out of high school, with World War II going on, he joined the Army Air Corps.  In all, during the war, he flew 30 combat missions over Germany.

Following the war he played college football as a single wing center and linebacker under famed coach George Munger, and was a three-time All-American.

Although not a back, he finished third in the Heisman voting following his senior season.

He played his entire NFL career for one team; they won the NFL title his first season with them, and he was still playing when they finally won again, 11 years later.

He was 10 times named All-Pro.

He is a member of both the College and the Pro Football Halls of Fame - he made it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility - and in 1969, long after his playing days were over, he was voted “Greatest Center of All Time.”

He took great pride in being the last of the true, old-school two-way players, and in his later years he publicly scoffed at the very idea that Deion Sanders, a notorious non-tackler, could double as a wide receiver and be seriously considered a two-way player.

american flag FRIDAY,  APRIL 21,  2017  - “‘Free’ is very expensive for someone.” Maine Governor Paul LePage

***********  Well-meaning people who want to make football safer (and, as many of us suspect, some not-so-well-meaning people who want to eliminate football altogether) have been pushing for some time to reduce injuries by reducing exposure to injury-causing collisions and falls and whatnot. And what better way to do that  than to cut down on practice time?

Why, sure.  Think of how much safer gymnastics would be if kids didn’t spend so much time practicing all those flips.  Think of the ski-jumping injuries that could be prevented if they didn’t make so many practice jumps.   Motocross?   No kids would get hurt practicing  if all they  had to do was line up on race day and - ride.

And football?  Why can't our kids just learn to tackle on Friday nights?

Larry Kidbom, head coach since 1989 at D-III Washington University in St. Louis wrote a very good response to those who haven’t thought this through - who would reduce football injuries by reducing practice time.
To make our game safer, many people are rallying behind the thought of practicing less. This is far from the truth. Each practice opportunity is an opportunity to teach our players to block better, to tackle properly, and to play with speed in a game where awareness is created best through repetition. As a coach, I need time with our players to do that. Most coaches teach tackling in a confined space. Proper tackling is important not only to the tackler, who needs to use proper technique; it is important for the person who is tackled. He needs to learn to fall safely, and absorb the hit.

*********** There are the Alabamas and the Oregons and the like, where no luxury is overlooked in their football facilities.  And then there are the Duquesnes, where not so long ago there were no locker rooms, and players had to take their equipment back with them to their dorms. And then they had to leave their stuff in the hallways, not in their rooms, because it smelled so bad.

I imagine the hallways didn’t smell so great, either.

And then up stepped the late Dan Rooney, President of the Pittsburgh Steelers - and a Duquesne grad. (In case you didn’t know, it’s pronounced “doo-KANE,” and it’s named for the French Fort that once stood on the site of present-day Pittsburgh.)


IN 2016…

*** Seventeen FCS schools averaged 100 per cent or more of capacity:
Appalachian State - 113%
Oklahoma - 106
Ohio State - 105
Kansas State, Nebraska - 104
Michigan - 103
Baylor - 102
Utah - 102
Ole Miss, Oregon - 101
Alabama, Georgia, Michigan State, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Old Dominion, TCU - 100

*** Thirteen teams drew over 1 million fans to their games (home and away, neutral sites and post-season games)- NOTE: SEVEN of them are SEC schools, and FIVE are Big Ten schools
Alabama - 1,365,657
Michigan - 1,260,897
Tennessee - 1,248,060
Ohio State - 1,220,416
Texas A & M - 1,175,229
Penn State - 1,167,449
LSU - 1,098,072
Auburn - 1,070,171
Clemson - 1,058,626
Nebraska - 1,047,833
Florida - 1,037,498
Georgia - 1,030,318
Wisconsin - 1,009,017

*** Seven schools averaged more than 100,000 fans at their home games, and FIFTEEN of them averaged more than  80,000 per game.  Here’s the significance of that, something that has to stick in the craw of the NFL suits, who would have us believe that they, and they alone, ARE football:  Only one NFL team - the Dallas Cowboys, who averaged 92,539 - would have broken into that list of 12.  Next highest NFL team - the Giants, at 78,789 - doesn’t make the cut.

Michigan - 110,468
Ohio State - 107,278
Texas A & M - 101,917
Alabama - 101,821
LSU - 101,231
Tennessee - 100,968
Penn State - 100,257
Texas - 97,881
Georgia - 92,746
COWBOYS - 92,539
Nebraska - 90,200
Florida - 87,846
Auburn - 86,937
Oklahoma - 86,857
Clemson - 80,970
Notre Dame - 80,795

*** For the 19th straight year, the SEC led all conferences in average attendance:
SEC - 77,507
BIG TEN - 66,151
BIG 12 - 57,531
PAC-12 - 50,073
ACC - 49,734

*** 16 Bowl games drew crowds of 45,000 of greater:
The Top Ten (I asked the “sponsors” for a little something  in exchange for including their names, and none of them returned my calls, so I left their names out.)
Rose Bowl - 95,128
Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl (Semi-Final) - 75,996 (I’ll make an exception for Chick-Fil-A)
CFL Championship game - 74,512
Fiesta Bowl (Semi-Final) - 71,279
Music City Bowl - 68,496
Texas Bowl - 68,412
Orange Bowl (67,432)
Alamo Bowl (59,815)
Cotton Bowl (59,615)
Sugar Bowl (54,077)


FCS average attendance top five:
Montana - 25,377
James Madison - 19,844
Florida A & M - 19,710
Jackson State - 19,660
North Dakota State - 18,556

DIVISION II average attendance top five:
Grand Valley State - 12,549 (third year in a row at Number One)
Tuskegee - 10,130
Miles - 9,624
Pittsburg State - 9,612
Fort Valley State - 8,850

DIVISION III average attendance top five:
St. John’s (Minn.)  7,787 (the Johnnies have led D-III for 15 of he past 16 years)
Wisconsin-Whitewater - 5,718
Wabash (Indiana) - 5,512
Wesleyan (Connecticut) - 5,280
Hampden-Sydney (Virginia) - 5,125

*** The MAC Championship Game in Detroit drew 45,615 fans, topping the previous high of 28,085. That was back in 1998, when Toledo played Marshall on Marshall’s home field.  You think that Western Michigan’s exciting season might have had anything to do with this year's increase?

*** Miami’s average attendance per game was up 23 per cent from 2015.

*** This past year’s Army-Navy game drew its highest TV audience since 1992.

*** Old Dominion, which drew 120,708 to six home games in 2016, has sold out every game since it brought back football in 2009,

*** If college football’s your game, Birmingham is the place to go to find kindred souls.

For the 15th straight year, the Magic City was the Number One local market for ESPN’s college games.

*********** College wrestling took another hit with the announcement that Boise State was dropping the sport.  This hits high schools as well - one state champion from our area who’d committed to Boise State now finds himself in search of a school.

Unlike all the other wrestling programs that have fallen by the wayside in an effort to achieve a mythical “gender equity” (there were 117 Division I wrestling schools in 1988-89, and just 76 this past season), Boise’s wasn’t the victim of Title IX.

Wrestling just wasn’t bringing in enough revenues to offset its costs.  Well, duh.  At Boise State (and most other places) only two sports pay for themselves - and the other 14 the school offers. Football and, to a lesser degree, men’s basketball, pays the bills.

Funny that they brought up costs, because at the same time they announced they were dropping wrestling, the Broncos announced they were adding baseball.

Seven other schools play baseball in the Mountain West, Boise State’s conference.  That means a lot of travel.  It also means a much bigger budget than wrestling got - Fresno State’s and Nevada’s baseball teams have budgets of over $1 million.

*********** I swear he was identified as a Democrat from Missouri, but some guy on TV named Calloway sure had a strange way of praising Hillary Clinton, referring to “Her place in the anals of American history…”

I gave you the set-up.  It's up to you to furnish the punch line.

*********** Another nice Tom Harmon write-up:
Good point about scholarships and the Bootin’ Babe of Adams State.  D2 has only 36 schollys to give, which makes it even more incomprehensible, BUT they can split their scholarships…so maybe this ballyhooed publicity stunt is actually about a financial award deal.
Just got a great book from the library called “”The All-Americans” by Lars Anderson.  It features four stories about war and football, much like the Tom Harmon saga.  If you’ve never read it, I guarantee you will enjoy it.
Will give you an update on Hillsdale spring ball soon.
Shep Clarke
Puyallup, Washington

(Shep Clarke’s son, Wain, is contending for a starting outside linebacker spot at Hillsdale College - you know, that private college in Michigan that still adheres to solid American values and has never taken a nickel of taxpayers’ money.   Good point about the slicing and dicing of scholarships - no one actually said it was a FULL scholarship.)

*********** Barry Switzer once said, in so many words, that what Bill Snyder accomplished at Kansas State was the greatest coaching achievement in the history of college football.

And that was before he left Kansas State, then returned after a few years for a second act, one that’s still ongoing.

The people in Kansas know what he’s done.  Drive the back roads of the Sunflower State and see the K-State “Power Cat” logos on mailboxes and barns and you get a feel for the passion that he’s built.  The state may have two state universities - Kansas (“KU”) and Kansas State (“K-State”) but if ever there was a state with a city-and-country divide between its two schools, this is it.  City folks?  They’re Kansas Jayhawks.  Country and small-town folks?  “EMAW!” - Every Man a Wildcat!

Coach Snyder’s  been there so long now that lots of you young fellers may only know of K-State as a football power, but it’s impossible to describe how forlorn the K-State program was when he took over.  

But back in the 70s, a guy used to put out a weekly newspaper feature called “The Bottom Ten,” a spoof on the popular “Top Ten” ratings.

The state of Kansas usually got special mention for having TWO teams in the Bottom Ten.

But occasionsally, Kansas would escape.  The Jayhawks would have a decent year from time to time.  I mean, John Hadl, Gale Sayers, Bobby Douglass, Nolan Cromwell - they were damn good athletes.

Kansas State?  The “Mildcats” were ALWAYS at the top (or bottom, if you will).

And then came Bill Snyder.

A great article describes how he discovered he couldn’t win by going after all the four- and five-star recruits, because after spending time and resources on recruiting them,  they’d wind up going to the Oklahomas and Nebraskas anyhow.  So he took a “road less travelled” (any Robert Frost fans out there?) approach - he went after the kids who got overlooked, the kids that the big-time guys were too busy to recruit.

It meant a lot of spade work - getting out into the hinterlands, where the big guys never went,  and establishing relations with lots and lots of high school coaches, in small schools that might only occasionally - if ever - have a K-State prospect.  It meant talking to anybody and everybody who might know something about a recruit - teachers, principals, even cafeteria workers - to find out what he was really like.  And it meant trying to gauge the upside of a kid who wasn't yet  a finished product in football terms, because he went to a small school where he played three sports instead of concentrating on just one.  And it meant coaching that kid up.

As a result of numerous trips to Kansas, I became  a huge fan of Coach Snyder and the K-State Wildcats.  He is an absolute marvel and the kind of man I would advise a young coach to emulate.

He undoubtedly has had many enticing offers to go elsewhere during his time at Kansas State, but he remained a Wildcat to the core, and K-State fans expressed their gratitude by naming their stadium in honor of him and his family.

If I needed anything further to admire him for, it would be his working with the US Army, at nearby Fort Riley.  Along with then Lieutenant Colonel (now General) Pat Frank, Battalion Commander of the Black Lions, he helped develop a working relationship between the Wildcats and the Black Lions - holding joint training exercises with soldiers and K-State players, putting on camps for the kids of Black Lions while they were deployed in Iraq, and hosting Black Lions and their families at K-State games.

***********  I’m not one for conspiracies.  I’m not one of those who think that Aaron Hernandez’ “suicide” was faked by the Massachusetts Correctional staff. But I do believe his death has to be connected in some way with Donald Trump and the Russians.

*********** You've got to hand it to Urban Meyer - the guy can recruit.  He could go out and get people like Aaron Hernandez, Percy Harvin and the Pounceys  - and then convince a Tim Tebow to play on the same team with them.

*********** “I think in some ways I knew more American history when I finished grade school then many college students know today. And that’s not their fault - that’s our fault.”  Author David McCullough


JOSH MONTGOMERY - BERWICK, LOUISIANA (“The most interesting facet of the story is this: when the heck would anyone, nowadays, find two backs that talented from Kansas and Wake Forest?”)
MIKE FORISTIERE - MATTAWA, WASHINGTON (“Looking forward to the clinic in Kansas City.”)
GREG KOENIG - CIMARRON, KANSAS (“The other guy in the photo is Gale Sayers, the ‘Kansas Comet’”)
TOM HINGER - WINTER HAVEN, FLORIDA (“That doesn’t look like James Caan in that photo.”)
KC SMITH - WALPOLE, MASSACHUSETTS (Brian Piccolo, from Pittsfield!”)
CARL KILBURG - HEBRON, INDIANA (“The Bears used to hold preseason practice just down the road from where I live, at St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer, IN. Sadly, the college is closing its doors after this semester ends.”)
JERRY LOVELL - BELLEVUE, NEBRASKA (“Sayers was an Omaha Central grad....the starting point of I-Back High......went to Kansas instead of Nebraska.”)
DJ MILLAY - VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON (“Brian's Song was the first movie that ever made me cry.”)

*********** Brian Piccolo was born in Western Massachusetts but grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he played high school football at St. Thomas Aquinas, well know for the football players it’s produced.

He was a very good running back at an ACC school, and led the nation in rushing his senior year, earning him ACC Player of the Year honors.

Although undrafted by any NFL club, he managed to hang on and make a career of it, finally earning a starting backfield position.

Gale Sayers, the guy on the left in the photo was his roommate on road trips and was much better known. A movie, “Brian’s Song,” was made about their friendship.

Brian Piccolo's  career was cut short by the cancer that ended his life in 1970 at the age of 26.

(The movie really was a tear-jerker, a wonderful story of the kind of friendship that at that time few Americans outside of sports could imagine - a black guy and  white guy loving each other and able to joke about their racial differences. What a shame that we can’t return to those days when so many of us still shared the dream of racial harmony.)

(1) Reputedly, his last words (to his wife, Joy) were, “Joy, can you believe this sh—?”
(2) He was not the first Piccolo to earn fame on the gridiron, not the first from Western Massachusetts.  He was preceded by Luigi Piccolo, from Leominster - who as "Lou Little" played college football at Penn and pro football for the Frankford Yellow Jackets, then served as head coach at Georgetown and Columbia.

*********** QUIZ - He was a pro football ironman if ever there was one.

An offensive lineman, he played played 15 seasons and never missed a game - 308 consecutive games - because of injury. This despite having nine knee operations during his career.

In all, he had 28 different operations on his legs.  Not all of them went well and several times his life was in danger as a result of infection.

Several years after his retirement, he had to have a leg amputated.

He played his entire career with one team: 10 years in the AFL and five in the NFL.

He was an All-Star every years of his AFL career and is on the All-Time All-AFL team.  He made All-NFL three times, and he’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In all those years, despite playing for a team that boasted of a “Commitment to Excellence,” he played on only one championship team - an AFL championship team that then lost in the Super Bowl to the NFL champion.

His distinctive number, which in all likelihood will  never be worn again by any player at his position, was given to him his second year as a pro, and was meant to be a play on his last name.

american flag TUESDAY,  APRIL 18,  2017  - “When you see ten problems rolling down the road, if you don’t do anything, nine of them will roll into a ditch before they get to you.”  Calvin Coolidge

*********** Maybe it’s because they’re often in even closer contact with the players than coaches; maybe it’s because players learn they can trust them; and maybe it’s because it doesn’t matter to them how good the players are out on the field.  Whatever the reason, some of the most influential people in the lives of college football players have been equipment managers and trainers.

One such person was Dick Hall, longtime equipment manager at West Point (Army).

Back when Homer Smith was Army’s coach, a player named Bobby Johnson was elected captain for the 1974 season.

But when he was diagnosed with cancer in his arm, and told his football days were over, he didn’t want to remain as captain when he wasn’t going to be able to play.

That’s where Dick Hall came in.  He told Johnson, “If all your teammates think that much of your leadership that they want you to be a captain, that is what you’re going to do.”

Years later, Johnson remembered how important that advice was. ”Dick's words meant everything to me," he said, "and helped me do the harder right than to pursue a lesser path. While in Walter Reed (Army Medical Center) for the entire summer, I had to first deal with the fact that I had cancer and could not play football again. Dick let me know that there were other ways to lead and that my responsibility was to the team and not myself. His words allowed me to be the captain of the team and show my support in everything I did. His words got me through one of the most challenging times in my life and I will forever be indebted to him."

*********** “As for the ideal play for a given situation, there is none. Great calls are only great after they have beaten the defense.”  That was Pepper Rodgers.  Or Homer Smith.  The two were co-authors of “Installing Football’s Wishbone T Attack.”  Pepper Rodgers was a Georgia Tech graduate and a very smart guy.  But Homer Smith was a Princeton graduate and an extremely erudite student of the game so I’m going  with him.

*********** Charlie Wilson, of Crystal River, Florida, really likes belly series football and wishbone football.  He’s coached them and he’s researched them and he knows them and their histories as well as anyone I know.

wishbone tWhen he answered the question about Mark Harmon he mentioned the bible of the wishbone, “Installing Football’s Wishbone T Attack.”  It's a big book.  It is outstanding,  with all sorts of information and tips
valuable to any coach of any system;  it's an absolute must for anyone wanting to run the bone as well as it can possibly be run.  It was written by Pepper Rodgers and Homer Smith.  At the time it was published, Pepper Rodgers was head coach at his alma mater, Georgia Tech, and Homer Smith was head coach at Army.  But its reason for being was the great success they’d enjoyed with the wishbone at UCLA, their previous stop, when Rodgers was head coach and Smith was the offensive coordinator.  I’ve heard them both at clinics, and they were excellent, and the book is a reflection of the fact that they were both very smart and articulate coaches.  You can find copies, but they’re not cheap - around $35-$40.  On the other hand, as a collector’s item, that’s not expensive at all, and when you consider that so much of the stuff the mail order guys try to sell you nowadays -  unstoppable offenses on a series of three $39 DVDs -  is crap, $40 is well worth the money. (Ever wonder how come, if every offense is unstoppable,  half the teams on Friday night lose?)

I would add that for anyone wanting an understanding of the very basics of the wishbone offense, I’ve never seen anything better than Darrell Royal’s “Wishbone T.”  When I bought it, back in the late 70s, it was on 16 mm film.  I actually got to speak (very briefly) with Coach Royal himself when I bought it.  I thought it was so well done - still do - that it was the inspiration for the first video I produced, “Dynamics of the Double Wing.”

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

Things aren't the same anymore (I sound like my dad).  But in all honesty NOW I know WHY he felt the way he did about my generation, and why so many of us now understand why our fathers felt that way.  What we knew, and what we felt as youngsters...and how we viewed things, and were taught as youngsters is...well...history.

I've tried and tried to convince people that young people today are virtually the same as they have always been...and in "some" ways they are. MOST ways they are NOT!    

I know you're not a big fan of Lou Holtz, but he said it best in one of his books I read, "One of the differences between people today and a generation ago is that today people are concerned primarily about their rights and privileges.  A generation ago people were primarily concerned about obligations and responsibilities."

Betcha that ESPN guy who interviewed you is more concerned about his rights and privileges.

Anyway...enough negative.  Here's wishing you and Connie and your entire family a Blessed Easter!

#99 in that picture was Tom Harmon of Michigan and that movie actor son of his is former QB of LA Pierce CC and UCLA's Mark Harmon.  After Mark Harmon graduated from LA Pierce CC Mark was offered full rides by Oklahoma and UCLA.  Chose UCLA over Oklahoma.  Can't say I could blame him with one Steve Davis running the Sooner wishbone offense.

Joe Gutilla
Austin, Texas

Right on Tom Harmon.

Wrong on Lou Holtz -  I LOVED the North Carolina State and Arkansas and Minnesota Lou Holtz. One of the wittiest guys I’ve ever heard, with the coaching to back it up - and then he had to go to Notre Dame and go Saintly on us.

Don’t even get me on "Doctor Lou."  Like Madden and so many others who get overexposed, he became a self parody!

*********** You’ve probably heard - the story’s been making the rounds - of Konrad Reuland and Rod Carew.

Reuland, a former Baltimore Raven, was just 29 when he died unexpectedly of an aneurism back in December.

In a sense, though, Konrad Reuland lived on - his donated heart and one of his kidneys were transplanted in Rod Carew, the Hall of Fame baseball player, now 71.

Recently, the Reulands met with Rod Carew, and assured him that he was now a part of their family.

“We lost a wonderful man, so it had to go into a wonderful person,” Mrs. Reuland told Rod. “I couldn’t be happier that it went to such a wonderful man.”

Amazing twist - when Konrad was 11 years old, he came home excited about having just met Rod Carew.

*********** Spring games - I love ‘em.  Indiana looked okay on Friday night.  Hell, nobody looks bad in a spring game.  Nebraska had a nearly  full house.  Amazing.  Tanner Lee, Huskers' transfer QB from Tulane,  looked pretty good.  Michigan and Ohio State both looked good, of course, but at the very start, Ohio State’s game looked like the Pro Bowl - glorified two-hand touch.  Meantime, on my other set, the Utah game looked like war.  Quite a contrast, until Meyer loosened the leashes. USC looks scary good.  Arizona State?  Hard to tell.  Stanford must have had a women’s field hockey game going on in their stadium, because they played their spring game on a practice field.  Weird. The camera angles sucked and it wasn’t worth watching.  Minnesota looks pretty good.  They were pretty good last year, and they seem to have adapted well to the new coach.   Minnesota starts out with an easy schedule, so it might be a while before they lose, but I predict that at some point this “Row the Boat” business is going to get old. 

*********** You have to admit, it’s kind of funny that one of the best known football stadiums in America named for a college - is named for a college that doesn’t have a football team.

We're not talking Harvard Stadium or Yale Bowl.  We're talking  University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals. It’s named for a for-profit college that not only doesn’t have a football team, but doesn’t really have a campus, either.  Instead, it offers classes in lots of different cities, and it evidently thought it was good advertising to pay to put its name on a pro football stadium.

But now, nine years into a 20-year stadium-naming contract, it wants out. 

Maybe they can get out of the lease, but if they can’t - they should consider doing  what real colleges do, and sell the naming rights to “their" stadium - the one they’re already paying to put their name on.  I can think of one company that could use some good advertising right now. How does United Air Lines Field at University of Phoenix Stadium sound? 

*********** The women have responded.  Not content to sit back and watch males posing as “transgendered females” take over their sports, they’ve found  a small opening in the male sports front - placekicking.

An Arizona girl named Becca Longo has just “made football history” (blah, blah, blah) by being awarded a scholarship to kick at D-II Adams State, in Colorado.

What’s stranger actually  than the idea of a woman place kicking is the notion of a college spending a scarce scholarship on a kicker. Customarily, kickers walk on and then, if they prove to be good enough, they're awarded a scholarship.

Nothing against Ms. Longo.  She seems like a good kid and evidently is a pretty good kicker.  But Iike so many kickers, she's not a football player, and I’ve argued for years that the whole concept of specialists - non-players -  that do nothing but kick is an aberration that mocks our game.

(Once again, The Wyatt Rule: no player on a team may kick the ball in any fashion more than once in any game.)

Meantime, prepare to get sick of reading and hearing about the exploits of the female “football player” from Adams State.

*********** Everybody gets a statue nowadays, or so it seems, so why not a statue of Ken Griffey, Junior outside Seattle’s Safeco Field?

Well, I’ll tell you why not.  Hell of a player and all that, but  I can remember the day that precious “Junior” jilted Seattle - demanding to be traded to another team to be closer to his family.

And just like that, poof - he was gone.

Many years later, his career nearing its end, he wrapped things up with a year or two in Seattle - and now, evidently, all is forgiven.

*********** An Australian psychologist theorizes that claiming to be transgender is in because it’s cool -  the newest way that young people can call attention to themselves.  (“Gay” now having become commonplace, it’s no longer cool.)

One responder to the article said, “I think a lot of the kids who would have had eating disorders 20 years ago are the ones now claiming to be transgendered.”

*********** The announcement in the newspaper began formally enough,  paying proper respect to age-old conventions:

Mr. and Mrs. ——— are pleased to announce  the engagement of their daughter ————  to ——————.

Blah, blah, blah.

But then ...

“The couple reside in ————, Washington and plan a winter wedding in 2018.”

“They became engaged while vacationing in Belize.”

 I sure do struggle  with the realities of today’s shackup culture:


CHARLIE WILSON - CRYSTAL RIVER, FLORIDA - Tom Harmon against Ohio State -
(PS: Son Mark had a Style as well.  Look at the cover of Rodgers and Smith's Installing... and that reaching, wide base look and then look at    Nice genes.
KEVIN MCCULLOUGH - LAKEVILLE, INDIANA - Where would NCIS be without him?

Tom and Mark Harmonharmon movie poster

ABOVE LEFT - That's Tom Harmon and Mark in 1965. Mark was 13 years old.  According to Mark, Tom was a great father:

ABOVE RIGHT: Just think: If Johnny Manziel had stayed in college for four years,  we might have had "JOHNNY FOOTBALL OF A & M"

tom harmon with planeharmon helmet

ABOVE LEFT: Tom Harmon in front of his bomber, which was shot down over China. He was awarded the Silver Star, the third highest award a member of the Army (it was still the Army Air Corps then - no Air Force yet) can earn, after the Medal of Honor and Distinguished Service Cross.

ABOVE RIGHT: A good look at the leather helmet whose construction inspired the paint job that's replicated on today's Michigan helmets. (I read somewhere that his nose was broken 13 times, an occupational hazard for tailbacks in the pre-face mask era.  Photos from later in life - like the one above with son Mark -  show that he undoubtedly had a nose job.)

1. In his final game against Ohio State, won by Michigan 40-0, he ran for three touchdowns, threw for two TDs, kicked four extra points, and punted three times for an average 50 yards.  And - remember, that was Iron Man football - he intercepted three Buckeyes’ passes.
2. Shortly after graduation, he starred in the movie, “Harmon of Michigan.”
3. He briefly played pro football with the Los Angeles Rams, but gave it up to pursue a career in broadcasting
4. He married actress Elyse Knox, and Elyse was married in a wedding gown made of the silk from the parachute he used in landing inside China.
5. He and Elyse had three children.  Son, Mark, was an outstanding wishbone quarterback at UCLA and is a well-known actor. One of their daughters, Kristin,  married popular singer Ricky Nelson; the other, Kelly, was married to automobile executive John DeLorean, and after their divorce she has managed to do quite well as an actress and a model (the Tic-Tac Mint Lady).

*********** A native of Gary, Indiana, Tom Harmon is perhaps the greatest athlete ever to come out of the Hoosier State.  In high school he was the national scoring leader in football with 150 points and a star on the school basketball team. He won state titles in both the 100-yard dash and the 220 low hurdles, and in the summer he threw two no-hitters in baseball.

But it was in college where he became the best-known football player in America, as one of the greatest single wing tailbacks ever to play the game.

In his three years as a varsity player, his team went 19-4-1.  He also found time in the off-season to play on the Michigan basketball team for two seasons.

He led the nation in scoring in both his junior and senior years.   He rushed for 2151 yards and 33 touchdowns and threw for 1396 yards and 16 touchdowns.  He averaged 38 yards per punt and he kicked 33 extra points and two field goals. And he played all 60 minutes eight times.

He was a unanimous All-American both years, and after his senior year received every individual honor it’s possible to win.

After he graduated, he starred in a movie based on his college football career.

In World War II he served as a pilot in the Army Air Corps, and twice had to parachute from his planes before they crashed, once in a jungle in South America, and once behind enemy lines in Japanese-occupied China.   For his bravery in action he was awarded the Silver Star.

After the War, he briefly played professional football, but gave it up to embark instead on a long and successful career as a broadcaster.

He and his wife, a former actress,  had three children: one daughter married a famous singer, another a well-known automobile executive.  His son was an outstanding wishbone quarterback at a major college and is now a well-known actor.

quiz*********** QUIZ - He was born in Western Massachusetts but grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he played high school football at famed St. Thomas Aquinas, well known for the football players it’s produced.

In college he was a very good running back, leading the nation in rushing his senior year, and earning  ACC Player of the Year honors.

Although undrafted by any NFL club, he managed to hang on and make a decent career of it, finally earning a starting backfield position - shorly before being diagnosed with cancer.

He died of it in 1970 at the age of 26.

The guy on the left in the photo was his roommate on road trips and was a much better known player. A movie was made about their friendship and the way they dealt with his illness.

ANSWERS TO - be sure to include your name and your town

american flag FRIDAY,  APRIL 14,  2017  - “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake."  Napoleon Bonaparte

*********** Dan Rooney is dead, and I am saddened. To make things sadder still, with him has died one of the last remaining ties to the old NFL guys - the Rooneys, Halases, Maras and, yes, Marshalls -  who built from scratch the football league that the corporate types have turned into Big Football.

*********** A few weeks ago I spoke at length with a writer from ESPN about the current switch to a softer, deader shotgun snap.  And then I provided him with a little bit of research on the topic, from my copy of Pop Warner’s 1927 book as well as notes from the 1938 University of Pittsburgh coaches clinic.  He told me he’d let me know when the story came out, and Tuesday, he did:

Hey Hugh, the story ran today. Here's the link!

Jared Shanker — ESPN -

I should have known better than to cooperate with The Worldwide Leader.  Should have let him do his own f--king research.

I read the article and wrote back,

Nice article.

I may or may not have mentioned that I had been teaching this at clinics since 1998, well before the current crop  of shotgun coaches even came on the scene.

I think that  when one does the research I did to provide you with the Warner quote, it’s customary to give some credit.

And - very important point - I have way too much respect for the great coaches of the past to have ever referred to  Coach Sutherland (or Jock Sutherland) as “Jock.”


Hugh Wyatt

I heard from a few people who know better

Kurt Heinke Facebook post

***Coach Wyatt,

I saw this article and immediately thought of you and how you've taught the Center's snap when in gun, one handed or two handed.

Thought you'd like to see this article for yourself before ESPN College Game Day makes a segment out of it this fall, I'm sure they will.  😉


Brian Mackell
Glen Burnie, Maryland

***Sorry if you already saw this or had it in the news.  Isn’t this the way you have always taught it?

John Bothe
Oregon, Illinois

Lud Wray centering
Lud Wray, whom I write about farther down the page, is shown in a 1921 photograph taken while he was playing for a team called the Buffalo All-Americans.  He is definitely not preparing to make a spiral snap.

*********** Forgot to mention that the Miss State scrimmage was called to an abrupt end by Dan Mullen after a defensive back took a pretty nasty shot at a teammate, hitting him in the head with his helmet and knocking him silly.

Mullen sent the offender in and called a halt to the proceedings, and that was that.

This relatively modern trend of defenses  gearing up to injure - to “intimidate” - an opponent is ugly enough as it is, but to see it taking place against a teammate is just another leak in the football ship.

As a history major, I know this:  nothing is forever. You think football’s too big to die?  I grew up in a time when horse racing and boxing were as big as pro football.
Whatever happened to them?

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

The statute of limitations does not apply to college mascots.  You will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, sentenced to live the rest of your born days being chastised by the head Indian, er...Native Warren herself.  Oh the agony!!

Joe Gutilla
Austin, Texas

(I have a stockpile of Tomahawk missiles just in case Elizabeth, the Indian Queen,  ever gets anywhere near my fort, er, house.)

***********  Amherst (Mass.) announced that its official mascot will be the Mammoths...

Unofficially, they’d been the Lord Jeffs, but research disclosed that Lord Jeffrey Amherst had been guilty of spreading disease among Indians by distributing infected blankets.

I’m telling you… the day is not far off when Yale - yes, Old Yale, which has been a college since 1701 , and was named in 1716 in honor of a gentlemen named Elihu Yale -  will be forced to deal with the fact that the benefactor for whom it's named  made some of his fortune in the slave trade.

***********  Longtime Texas high school coach and  Texas Tech head coach Spike Dykes passed away April 10. He was 79..

In all, he coached for 41 years, all but three of them in the state of Texas.

He was by all accounts a great character, and much loved.

A native of West Texas, he began his career as a high school coach, serving at seven different Texas high schools,  and didn’t become a college coach until he was 34, when Darrell Royal hired him in 1972 as an assistant at Texas.

After Royal retired, Coach Dykes assisted at New Mexico and Mississippi State,  then returned to coach high school football in Midland, Texas.  After four years there, he joined the Texas Tech staff as defensive coordinator in 1984.

When he was named  head coach at Texas Tech two years later, he was 48 years old.   The Red Raiders had had just one winning season in eight years, but during his 14 years in Lubbock, he led Texas Tech to a school-record four consecutive bowl games, and  six wins against both Texas and Texas A&M.

Evidently, because he’d been so many places and known so many people, there are Spike Dykes stories told all over Texas. Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News told a few of them…

An early stop on Spike Dykes' long, winding road to Texas Tech and everlasting glory as the king of coaching characters was San Angelo, where he worked for Emory Bellard, inventor of the Wishbone. Unfortunately, Spike was also the swimming coach. To say he wasn't particularly suited for the position is being kind. Had he fallen into the pool, he might have drowned.

Nevertheless, he coached 'em up as best he could, in a style uniquely Spike's.

"Remember to hold your breath," he told his charges, "and never get too far from the bank."

Sherrington told of the time his first meeting with a boss nearly went south…

His first day in San Angelo, Spike had lunch with the school superintendent. Over chicken-fried steaks, a bottle of ketchup proved stubborn, so Spike gave it a couple of hard whacks.

Looked up, and the ketchup had squirted across the table, smack dab on the superintendent's tie.

"My first day on the job," he'd say, recounting the episode, "and I thought I was gonna get fired."

And yes, that’s his son, Sonny Dykes, who was head coach at Cal.

*********** Negative motivation has its uses. 

Back in the early 80s, when basketball coach Paul Graham was an assistant to Dave Bliss at SMU, Coach Bliss invited him to go golfing at a prestigious Dallas country club. Coach Graham, unfortunately, had never so much as picked up a golf club. Predictably, he wound up providing a lot of laughs for the other three guys in the foursome.  Burned up, he went out and got himself some clubs and began to practice obsessively: he put up a net in his backyard and got up at 5 every morning to hit balls into it; he went home for lunch every day and did the same; and  after work he came home and hit balls until well after dark. Every chance he got, he went to the driving range, where he hit balls by the hour. "All I could think about was those people laughing at me," he told Ken Goe of the Portland Oregonian.  Amazingly, the next time they played, he beat the boss by three strokes. "You've been practicing," Coach Bliss observed. Answered Coach Graham, "Coach, you'll never laugh at me again." (

A story for your kids showing how a real competitor reacts to failure.)

***********  With the exception of Alaska and Southwest, I hate airlines.  With those two, flying is almost pleasurable.

I used to like Northwest, but then Delta acquired them, and there they went.

And I used to like Delta, too, back when they were a southern airline, and reflected southern  courtesy and civility.  Now, Delta might as well be Air Greyhound, a cold, uncaring corporate giant like all the rest, whose sole aim is to make more money this quarter than the last by trying to see how many people they can cram into aluminum tubes before bones begin to break.

I especially despise the snarly attitude of today’s flight attendants, the crusty descendants of the bubbly, friendly, helpful young women who once made flying a joy.  Now, they stand around idly by,  arms folded, totally unconcerned as passengers  board planes with enormous items of “carry-on” and then try to cram them into the overhead bins.  And God help you if you somehow misunderstand something they say and give them the impression that you are being uncooperative. They have more power than the Supreme Soviet ever did, and with a seeming eagerness to use it.  And, worst of all, as you depart the plane, those same flight attendants will stand by the exit and chat with one another as if they hadn’t seen each other in four or five months, far too engrossed in their chatter to acknowledge the departing passengers and thank them for spending hundreds of dollars with their company.

It’s one of the things that’s been lost as America has checked the social graces, and  businesses have become Walmart-ized.  It used to be that if you bought just one lousy chair, the guy who owned the furniture store down on Main Street would hold the door open for you and thank you profusely on your way out.  Same thing when you bought a necktie at the men’s wear store. Now, nothing in particular against Walmart, or Home Depot or Staples, but - if you don’t use self-checkout - you’ll get checked out by some bored, indifferent “associate” who NEVER says “thank you,”  acknowledging that without people like you and your business they might be out of a job.  Oh, no.  YOU’RE the one who says “thank you.” (Ever noticed that?)  And they, routinely, respond with, “No problem.”  (WTF ever happened to “you’re welcome?”)

Anyhow, on the subject of snarly airlines, United is now in deep for their handling of one Dr. Dao, a guy whom they dragged bodily from a plane because, we’re asked to believe, they “needed his seat.” And while I question the good sense of a guy who didn’t simply get up and leave the plane when he was asked to do so,  especially once the bulls arrived, I can’t help thinking that if the bad publicity and the big lawsuit that's sure to come will help knock some of the attitude out of these a$$holes who run the airlines, then it’s all to the good.

***********  I was listening to the attorney for Dr. Dao, the guy who now stands to become very rich after the way United and Airport Security physically ejected him from an airplane.  As he droned out about how Dr. Dao was “standing up for airline passengers everywhere,” I turned to my wife and said, “It’s just a matter of time before somebody compares this guy to Rosa Parks.”

Well. The lawyer guy mentioned all the mail they’d been receiving, from all over the world (now, how in the hell do you suppose people found out that fast where to send their letters?), and he wasn’t more than two minutes in before he mentioned one letter writer from Ireland who said that Dr. Dao was “a modern-day, Asian Rosa Parks.”

Holy sh—.  Talk about stolen valor.

This guy's being mentioned in the same breath with Rosa Parks?  With a woman whose courageous stand started a city-wide movement that led to the lifting of a law requiring black people to sit in the backs of buses?   (A movement that led  to other civil rights advances; a movement that first brought to prominence a young Atlanta pastor named Martin Luther King, Jr.)

*********** It’s getting to be that time again this year…  A few years ago, when a local area high school’s principal retired, they narrowed the field of applicants to succeed him to six, and then to two.  Of the two,  one of them was from outside the district and the other was the current assistant principal. The job was finally offered to the outsider, a person with impressive credentials. But three of next year's seniors, who’d attended a "Meet the Candidates" night held by the school board,  took exception to the board's selection and circulated a petition, eventually  signed by more than half the school's student body, asking the board to reconsider its decision.  At the same time, a similar petition was submitted to the board by several teachers.

The board held firm, but good luck to the new principal coming into that climate. (The assistant principal, no doubt disappointed, denied any involvement in the petitions, but  seemed to tip her hand by telling the local paper she wasn't sure whether she'd stay on to assist the new principal.)

What really got my attention as I read the newspaper article was a comment by one of the student petitioners. He told the newspaper that there should have been student input in the decision, because "We're the final customers."

Whoa.  Time out.

Uh, actually fella, as long as you're going to use a business model, let me clear something up for you: students are not the "final customers" of a school.  Neither, although you'd never know it from the way administrators cave in to them, are their parents.

Customers, by definition, are purchasers - those who pay for a product or service. That would mean, then, that the customers of public schools are the taxpayers, the ones who pay for the product. It would be helpful to all concerned if educators would try to remember that. (Parents, of course, to the extent that they’re also taxpayers, are certainly among the customers, but by no means are they the only ones.)

The students are the product that the taxpayers are paying for, and somehow, to carry the analogy further, I don't see the people at Ford or General Motors, whose business it is to care what customers think, asking the cars for their input.

*********** Darwin Award  Nomination:  A 25-year-old Connecticut guy ran his car into a stone wall at 1:20 in the morning and was charged with operating under the influence.  His car was unregistered and uninsured.  And he was wearing a tee-shirt that read “HOLD MY BEER AND WATCH THIS.”



His given name was deBenneville Bell, but for almost his entire life, he was “Bert.”  He was truly a man of the people and a football lifer.  He’d known hard times in his days as a coach and owner, but football was in his blood, and he proved to be the perfect man for the NFL at a life-or-death point in its history.

There were no airs about him; he conducted a lot of the league business from the kitchen of his suburban Philadelphia home, where he could be reached, day or night, by anyone with league business to talk about.

One little-known bit of pro football history concerns his being an owner.  When the original Philadelphia-area NFL team, the Frankford Yellow Jackets, went out of business following the 1931 season, the league took over the franchise.

The NFL then spent a year looking for someone to operate a team in Philadelphia until July, 1933, when it awarded an expansion franchise to Bell and his partner, Lud Wray.  (Historical note: It’s not accurate to say that the Eagles were a continuation of the defunct Yellow Jackets.)

Wray, a college teammate of Bell’s, had played professionally and was head coach of the University of Pennsylvania (Penn, not Penn State) for three years until he was fired after the 1930 season.  Penn, used to success,  finished a disappointing 5-4, although to be fair to Lud Wray, the losses were to Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Cornell and Navy.  (His only comment at the time of his firing was a quote from the Sermon on the Mount: “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”)

NRA posterIn 1932 Wray coached the NFL Boston Braves (later to become the Washington Redskins), but in 1933 he hooked up with Bell to acquire the Philadelphia NFL franchise.   Bell and Wray named their new team the Eagles, after the symbol of new President Franklin Roosevelt’s National Recovery Administration.  

As part-owner of the Eagles, Wray became their first head coach.  (Lud Wray was legendary around Philadelphia.  When I was a high schooler, our coach, a Penn guy, would often refer to jumping jacks as “Lud Wrays.” Perhaps he invented them?)

Want another historical tidbit?  In 1933, with the hiring of Lone Star Dietz - who may or may not , it turns out, have been a real Sioux Indian - and the signing of several Indian players, the Boston Braves’ owner, George Preston Marshall, renamed his team - the Redskins.  Ironically, years later, Marshall, who had no objections to signing Indians,  would be the last NFL owner to sign a black player.

***********  My brush with Bert Bell took place when I was around ten or eleven.  Along with some other kids, I was at the Union League in downtown Philly to receive some sort of award.  (The Union League is about as prestigious as a city club can get.  It was formed in 1862 to support President Lincoln, and it has thrived ever since as THE club that Old Money belongs to - and New Money aspires to belong to.)

Anyhow, it was a pretty big event, and there were all sorts of representatives on hand from Philadelphia’s sports teams - players and coaches from Penn, the Phillies and A’s, the Warriors and the Eagles.

At some point, we kids scattered around the room to get as many autographs as possible.  I was already a very serious sport fan, and I knew all the stars from their pictures in the sports pages.

But I also knew who that older guy was over there, sitting at a table with a bunch of other guys about his age.  It was Bert Bell!  Holy sh—!  The Commissioner of the NFL!  (Historians will tell you that the NFL hadn't arrived as a big-time sport yet, but I didn't know that.)

I approached him and asked for his autograph and I remember the reaction to this day - his tablemates needled him and he laughed uproariously at the idea that some young kid would bypass all the big-name stars in the room and ask him for his autograph.  But he wouldn’t let a kid down, and I walked away with his signature.

QuizAs much as any man, Bert Bell was responsible for the fact that in professional football, alone among major sports, a team in a small market like Green Bay could compete against  major-market franchises.  His dedication to providing a level playing field for all teams, and for always putting the interests of the league first, built the NFL to the point where it attained equal footing with college football.

He was born to a wealthy, aristocratic Philadelphia family, and attended the exclusive Haverford School. He attended Penn, where he was a four-year starter at quarterback, then remained at his alma mater as an assistant coach.  Off the field,  he acquired such a reputation as a hard-living playboy that his father disowned him.

He fell in love with a showgirl and managed to get her to marry him - but only after promising her he’d quit drinking.  He kept his pledge, and never took another drink.  In the depths of the Depression, he took $2500 he'd borrowed from her, and joined with a few partners in acquiring a pro football team.

He would own two different NFL teams (three, if you count the time during World War II when a manpower shortage forced him to merge his team with another team in the same state as his). For a brief - very  brief - period,  he coached as well as owned one of his own teams. By most measurements - either gate receipts or win-loss record - he was not successful as an owner. By any measurement, he was not  successful as a coach - his “career” win-loss record is 0-2.

But when he was put in charge of the league's fortunes, he proved to be the indispensable man.

He succeeded the first commissioner the NFL had ever had, and immediately upon taking office, had to deal with competition from the All-American Football Conference, a well-bankrolled rival league that challenged the NFL's domination of pro football. 

Then, after successfully bringing about a merger between the NFL and the AAFC,  he had to contend with raids on NFL rosters by the Canadian Football League.

Bell also inherited a potentially-disastrous point-shaving scandal involving members of the New York Giants, causing him such consternation about gamblers tainting the game that he established a league anti-gambling policy that exists to this day. (It’s likely that he would have resigned before presiding over a league in which Las Vegas fielded a team.)

Undoubtedly because he had first-hand experience as a “have-not” owner, he promoted the concept of the draft,  in which NFL teams would draft college players, and do so in the inverse order of their league finish the previous season.

He also established the NFL practice of starting out every season by matching strong teams against strong teams, weak against weak. "Weak teams should play other weak teams while the strong teams are playing other strong teams early in the year," he insisted. "It's the only way to keep more teams in contention longer into the season."

He also was responsible for professional sports' first - if limited - form of free agency, by which a player wishing to jump teams after his contract expired could play an "option year" with his old team, after which he would be free to go anywhere.

Under his leadership, pro football became the first major sport to become truly national, when Dan Reeves was given permission to move his Cleveland Rams to Los Angeles.

Fearing the the potential of television to ultimately destroy the live gate that all NFL teams then depended on, he rammed through a "blackout" policy which prohibited televising of any team's home games, whether sold out or not.

"Television creates interest and this can benefit pro football," he conceded. "But it's only good as long as you can protect your home gate. You can't give fans a game for free on television and also expect them to pay to go the ball park to see the same game."

Bell remained totally opposed to a policy, since adopted,  of waiting to see if a game sold out, and then televising it once it was. He argued, ”It's not honest to sell tickets to thousands of people on the premise of no television, and then after all the tickets are gone, to give the game away on television."

Partly as a result of his insistence on the blackout,  attendance per game more than doubled during his tenure as commissioner,

Bert Bell died with his boots on, suffering a heart attack while attending a late-season game in 1959 between the Eagles and Steelers, the two teams with which he'd been involved as an owner.

He was first to grant recognition to the NFL Players' Association, and the NFL Players' Pension Plan was named in his honor.

He was a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's first class.

Thanks to the sound foundation he built, he turned a prosperous league over to his successor, Pete Rozelle, who would take it to the very top of American sports.

quiz photo***********QUIZ:  A native of Gary, Indiana, he is perhaps the greatest athlete ever to come out of the Hoosier State.  In high school he was the national scoring leader in football with 150 points and a star on the school basketball team. He won state titles in both the 100-yard dash and the 220 low hurdles, and in the summer he threw two no-hitters in baseball.

But it was in college where he became the best-known football player in America, as one of the greatest single wing tailbacks ever to play the game.

In his three years as a varsity player, his team went 19-4-1.  He also found time in the off-season to play varsity basketball for two years.

He led the nation in scoring in both his junior and senior years.   He rushed for 2151 yards and 33 touchdowns and threw for 1396 yards and 16 touchdowns.  He averaged 38 yards per punt and he kicked 33 extra points and two field goals. And he played all 60 minutes eight times.

He was a unanimous All-American both years, and after his senior year received every individual college honor it’s possible to win.

After he graduated, he starred in a movie based on his college football career.

In World War II he served as a pilot in the Army Air Corps, and twice had to parachute from his planes before they crashed, once in a jungle in South America, and once behind enemy lines in Japanese-occupied China.   For his bravery in action he was awarded the Silver Star

After the War, he briefly played professional football, but gave it up to embark instead on a long and successful career as a broadcaster.

He and his wife, a former actress,  had three children: one daughter married a famous singer, another a well-known automobile executive.  His son was an outstanding wishbone quarterback at a major college and is now a well-known actor.

ANSWERS TO - be sure to include your name and your town

american flag TUESDAY,  APRIL 11,  2017  - “When people get used to preferential treatment, equal treatment seems like discrimination.”  Dr. Thomas Sowell

*********** Surprise!  Boys can run faster than girls.

In Connecticut, a high school boy who “identifies” as a girl (calling himself/herself “Andraya”) has been smoking everybody in girls’ track.  And to show what a wonderful job our schools do in teaching tolerance, it seems, from what I can read, that everybody’s just fine with it.

It’s only a matter of time before an all-boys (identifying a girls, of course) relay team cleans up at a girls’ state meet.

*********** “In preparing boys to become tough combat officers, it is especially important to enforce a rugged, though sane, approach to injuries.  In battle, it is fatal for the living to grieve over the dead or wounded.  In football, we operated on the assumption that in 70 or 80 per cent of the injuries, the player could carry on.  If you got softhearted and gave him two days off, he’d need a lot more than that before he got back into action.” 

That was Colonel Earl “Red” Blaik, legendary Army football coach from 1940-1958, in his memoirs, “You Have to Pay the Price,” written in 1960.

(Just in case you wondered where all those insensitive football coaches got all their “play while hurt” ideas - those ideas helped build the culture that helped us win World War II.

And they’re the same ideas that today’s libs have been working so hard to shield our little boys from.

After all, who needs toughness in today’s more enlightened time?  What we need is sensitivity.  Toughness?  Not when we live in an age where we can pay other people’s children to defend our country.)

*********** Maybe I shouldn’t be telling you this, because from what I understand, it’s going to cost a bunch of money to undo something  I did 40 years ago, but considering that the statute of limitations has long since passed, here goes…

Banks BravesIt was 1977 and I’d been hired as head coach and AD at Banks High School in Banks, Oregon, a small town about 30 miles west of Portland.  As one of my first orders of business, I set out to come up with a cool logo for the helmets.  There’s a bit of design in my background - I once spent the better part of a year in college intending to major in architecture, and before getting into high school coaching I’d worked in advertising and marketing and for a commercial printing firm - so it was a pretty easy task.   Banks’ teams were the Braves - and, boy, did I have a great Brave. Well, actually - Dartmouth did.  From the letterhead of some of the stuff their coach had sent me back when I was in high school, I’d saved the logo - a profile of a Brave,  most likely a Mohawk or a member of another Iroquois Confederation tribe.  He was very cool looking, my idea of a true Indian brave. He was definitely no one to mess with.   I photocopied the logo, sized it correctly, then cut it and pasted it inside a large “B,”  gold with blue trim.

And I sent the artwork off to a decal supplier, and that was that.  Looked nice.

I only stayed at Banks for two years, and then I moved on to a job much closer to home in Vancouver, Washington (Banks had been an hour’s commute one way).  But the logo stayed, and wound up on everything - uniforms, message boards, and the gym floor.  What the hell - glad they liked it.

But eventually,  Banks got caught up in the state of Oregon’s hysteria over anything deemed remotely offensive to Indians - er, Native Americans, er, Natives.

The state  managed to remove most traces of offending nicknames and logos from most state high schools, but Banks somehow held on.  Finally, faced with the inevitable, they managed to work out a compromise with a nearby tribe:  they could keep the nickname - but that damned logo had to go.

What to do about a new logo?  Well.  From the AP’s story…

The district’s new mascot, designed by the tribe and district with help from Nike, will now be two capital B’s aligned back-to-back and surrounded by a zig-zagging line. Viewed horizontally, the B’s look like a mountain range and symbolize the town’s location at the crossroads of coastal mountains and a fertile valley.


Me?  I truly thought that that guy was one great representation of a brave - still do.  And I thought that naming your teams after a class of people known to fight fiercely and to the finish was paying tribute to them - still  do. 

I had nothing to do with the nickname.  But I confess to being the logo guy, and for that I apologize to any and all native Americans offended by it.  No insult or offense intended.  (Dartmouth having long ago dropped their “Indians” nickname in favor of “Big Green,” I rather doubt that anybody there will hold my shameless use of their discontinued symbol against me.)

In the meantime, Banks schools estimate it’ll take some $95,000 to replace the now-offensive logo on all school property - uniforms and facilities.   (That’s where I figure the statute of limitations comes in. If it doesn’t, I’ll just bill them $2500 a year for the use of my art work and call it even.  And hope that Dartmouth doesn't find out.)

*********** I should hate Harvard, I suppose, but I don’t.  Yes, they’re my old school’s archrival, but they’ve always been good competitors and they’ve never been snotty about the fact that for the last decade, in football, they’ve played Navy to Yale’s Army.

So I rooted for their hockey team in the Frozen Four, and felt bad when they lost in OT to Minnesota-Duluth.

An interesting sidenote was the role a Navy SEAL played in helping the Crimson hockey team get as far as they did.

*********** Not to accuse the NFL of hypocrisy or anything, but less than a month after approving - by a vote of 31-1 - the relocation of the Oakland Raiders to the once-forbidden city of Las Vegas, it appears that Big Football could fine several of its players who took part in something called the Pro Football Arm Wrestling Championship.  The competition, set to be shown on TV in May, took place in - omitted - a casino, where league rules prohibit player appearances.

This ought to be good: one of the players is the Steelers. James Harrison, who has never been known to back down from a fight. 

Stay tuned.

*********** They may not be the real thing, but to me, college football spring games are still a lot better than anything else we’ve had to watch since the national championship game, and Saturday I gorged myself on watching Ole Miss, Purdue, Auburn and Mississippi State. 

Couple of observations:

1. Teams sure are looking more and more alike offensively.  The differences are very subtle and probably not discernible to the average viewer. The danger is that if they’re all doing somewhat the same thing, it becomes more than ever a question of who has the best players - which means more pressure to recruit, which means a greater likelihood of cheating.

2. Nobody had given the equipment guys the NCAA’s new “pants and knee pads must cover the knee” memo yet.

*********** It’s been more than two years since former Army fullback - and Black Lion Award winner - Mike Viti made his walk across America to honor the more than 6800 soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen who died in battle since 9/11, but I was reminded of it once again when my friend Greg Koenig  sent me a nice article he’d come across.

Mike is now back at West Point, coaching the Army fullbacks.  I told Greg I can only imagine what a great fullback he’d be in Army’s current offense - the wishbone - or, for that matter, the Double Wing.

*********** Tim Tebow may have been mocked by the Main Stream Media during his days in the Big Time - his openly-expressed Christian beliefs being so, you know, controversial - but in his new life as a minor league baseball player, he is one of the biggest things ever to hit Columbia, South Carolina.

*********** Tony Romo???  Doing CBS’ top game every Sunday???

I have nothing against the guy and I actually thought he was a pretty good quarterback overall.

But geez - it’s not as if he was so popular - except perhaps in Cowboy land - that you’d expect CBS to slip him right into its number one broadcast team.  But there you go.

Oh, well.  It's not necessarily permanent.   You can always get injured in the broadcast booth…

Buff DonelliCORRECTLY IDENTIFYING BUFF DONELLI-  In a more formal time, when it wasn’t always considered proper just to call a person by his nickname, he was often referred to in print as Aldo “Buff” Donelli.  But NOBODY ever called him that.  NOBODY ever called him anything but “Buff.”

JOE GUTILLA -  AUSTIN, TEXAS - When I read your quiz this morning I was immediately reminded of the Saturday I spent at Nickerson Field in Boston watching one of my former high school players.  

He was offered a full-ride to BU out of JC, and while I was coaching in NH at that time he invited my wife and I down to Boston to visit, and watch him play as BU's starting NT against UNH.

In one of the most thrilling college football games I've seen.  BU lost in double OT 52-51 when their game tying PAT to send the game into triple OT hit the back of the helmet of one of the BU linemen, bounced around, and was picked up by a BU player who apparently ran it into the end zone to WIN the game, only to have the play nullified because fans had stormed the field.  It was crazy.  

Which leads me to the quiz.  The coach was Buff Donelli.  The school was... Boston University.  And the player was Harry Agganis.

JOHN VERMILLION - St. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA - By the way, I loved all the cool info about Alan Ameche. Also, you're right on about ESPN's moving of Sage S. I haven't been able to watch that abomination of a network for quite a while. In fact, I love your blog, period. Thanks.

KC SMITH - WALPOLE, MASSACHUSETTS - Buff Donelli coached the Golden Greek!
KEVIN MCCULLOUGH - LAKEVILLE, INDIANA - I was able to hear coach Gillespie talk at Notre Dame......stressed fundamentals and's bad about Sage Steele......a good reporter( IU grad) who was punished for reporting the other side of the coin

COLUMBIA PRE-SEASONAlthough formally he was always referred to as Aldo “Buff” Donelli, no one ever called him anything but “Buff.”

He is, and will almost certainly remain,  the only American college football coach ever to score a goal in a World Cup soccer game.

And in all likelihood he will remain forever the only person ever to coach a college team and a professional team at the same time.
Buff Donelli grew up playing soccer, but he was also an outstanding football player.  He played college football at Duquesne, where he punted and kicked field goals with either foot.  An outstanding soccer player, he scored America's only goal in a 7-1 loss to Italy in the 1934 World Cup. It would be 56 years before an American team would score another goal against Italy in World Cup play.
In 1941, while coaching Duquesne,  he was hired to coach the Pittsburgh Steelers at the same time. He coached the Steelers in the morning and the Dukes in the afternoon, but after five NFL losses, commissioner Elmer Layden ordered him to relinquish one job or another, and he chose to stay with Duquesne.  Good decision: Duquesne finished undefeated.

After stints as an assistant at Columbia and as head coach of the NFL Cleveland Rams,  then military service in World War II, he was hired at Boston University.

With B.U. teams that featured the great Harry Agganis (the “Golden Greek”), he compiled from 1947 through 1956, a 46-34-4 record, once finishing in the A.P. top twenty.
From Boston U, he moved to Columbia, succeeding the legendary Lou Little at Little’s request.

He coached at Columbia from 1957 through 1967, during which time his son, Dick, played quarterback.  In 1961, he coached the Lions to  their only Ivy League championship ever, one they had to share with Harvard.

His greatest player - Harry Agganis

Quiz***********  QUIZ - As much as any man, he was responsible for the fact that in professional football, alone among major sports, a team in a small market like Green Bay could compete financially against  major-market franchises.  His dedication to providing a level playing field for all teams, and for always putting the interests of the league first, built the NFL to the point where it attained equal footing with college football.

He was born to a wealthy, aristocratic Philadelphia family, and attended the exclusive Haverford School. He attended Penn, where he was a four-year starter at quarterback, then remained at his alma mater as an assistant coach.  Off the field,  he acquired such a reputation as a hard-living playboy that his father disowned him.

He fell in love with a showgirl and managed to get her to marry him - but only after promising her he’d quit drinking.  He kept his pledge, and never took another drink.  In the depths of the Depression, he took $2500 he'd borrowed from her, and joined with a few partners in acquiring a pro football team.

He would own two different NFL teams (three, if you count the time during World War II when a manpower shortage forced him to merge his team with another team in the same state as his). For a brief - very  brief - period,  he coached as well as owned one of his own teams. By most measurements - either gate receipts or win-loss record - he was not successful as an owner. By any measurement, he was not successful as a coach - his “career” win-loss record is 0-2.

But  put in charge of the league's fortunes, he proved to be the indispensable man.

He succeeded the first commissioner the NFL had ever had, and immediately upon taking office, had to deal with competition from the All-American Football Conference, a well-bankrolled rival league that challenged the NFL's domination of pro football. 

Then, after successfully bringing about a merger between the NFL and the AAFC,  he had to contend with raids on NFL rosters by the Canadian Football League.

He also inherited a potentially-disastrous point-shaving scandal involving members of the New York Giants, causing him such consternation about gamblers tainting the game that he established a league anti-gambling policy that exists to this day. (It’s likely that he would have resigned before presiding over a league in which Las Vegas fielded a team.)

Undoubtedly because he had first-hand experience as a “have-not” owner, he promoted the concept of the draft,  in which NFL teams would draft college players, and do so in the inverse order of their league finish the previous season.

He also established the NFL practice of starting out every season by matching strong teams against strong teams, weak against weak. "Weak teams should play other weak teams while the strong teams are playing other strong teams early in the year," he insisted. "It's the only way to keep more teams in contention longer into the season."

He also was responsible for professional sports' first - if limited - form of free agency, by which a player wishing to jump teams after his contract expired could play an "option year" with his old team, after which he would be free to go anywhere.

Under his leadership, pro football became the first major sport to become truly national, when Dan Reeves was given permission to move his Cleveland Rams to Los Angeles.

Fearing the the potential of television to ultimately destroy the live gate that all NFL teams then depended on, he rammed through a "blackout" policy which prohibited televising of any team's home games, whether sold out or not.

"Television creates interest and this can benefit pro football," he conceded. "But it's only good as long as you can protect your home gate. You can't give fans a game for free on television and also expect them to pay to go the ball park to see the same game."

He remained totally opposed to a policy, since adopted,  of waiting until to see if a game sold out, and then televising it once it was. He argued, ”It's not honest to sell tickets to thousands of people on the premise of no television, and then after all the tickets are gone, to give the game away on television."

Partly as a result of his insistence on the blackout,  attendance per game more than doubled during his tenure as commissioner,

He died with his boots on, suffering a heart attack while attending a late-season game in 1959 between the Eagles and Steelers, the two teams with which he'd been involved as an owner.

He was first to grant recognition to the NFL Players' Association, and the NFL Players' Pension Plan was named in his honor.

He was a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's first class.

Thanks to the sound foundation he built, he turned a prosperous league over to successor, who would take it to the very top of American sports.

ANSWERS TO - be sure to include your name and your town

american flag FRIDAY,  APRIL 7,  2017  - "I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they’d never expect it."   Jack Handey

*********** Hi Hugh,

I seldom miss the news even when vacationing in South Carolina so the story on fixing the " home made hair cut" made me chuckle. For thirteen years we ran those basic run and pass plays you taught us on your first visit in 1995. Over the years we added some formations and from time to time a trick play or two. However we stuck with the basic DW and resisted making major changes.  I seldom missed a clinic when you were in the east and enjoyed picking the brains of other DW coaches. It seemed as if I always learned something to make the DW work better. We averaged ten wins a year and a hand full of championships. We did it by listening to what you had to say,  concentrating on the little things, teaching fundamental football, and working hard on special teams.

During that ten year period we won four western Maine titles, we were second place finishers four times and we played in four state title games winning two. We averaged ten wins a year for the thirteen years we were there and only failed to make the play offs that first year. But what  success we had was because of you and along the way we added the small drop step for the QB, the hockey stick for the QB, more unbalanced formations, moving wings up, the stack, the Wildcat, the xx lead and a variety of line drills such as the circle for line pulls and the bench to teach the stance. All things we learned from you and the clinics and many other small things too numerous to mention lol. Also over the years the tip page invaluable.

Today I would probably move to the open wing but over the years  package DW, was good to us.

So I chuckled when I read your advice to the staff that went out own their own and asked for help. Having lived it I knew what you said was dead on.

Jack Tourtillotte
Rangely, Maine


I appreciate that.

There’s just so many guys out there right now who got their Double Wing from God-knows-where and there’s so many of them who’ve done a crappy job of running it’s led an awful lot of people to believe that “it doesn’t work.”

I guarantee you that if you and Tim had still been coaching at Boothbay, you’d have won a couple more state titles since 2007.

Enjoy SC!

Before becoming principal at Maine’s Boothbay Region HS, Jack Tourtillotte had been head football coach at Old Town, Maine.  At Boothbay, once he had things under control as principal, he was able to double as offensive coordinator under head coach Tim Rice.  Before Jack and Tim Rice took over in 1996, Boothbay, with just 285 students the smallest school in the state of Maine playing football, had won just 30 games in the 30 years between 1965 and 1995 and the community had seriously debated dropping football.

Things got off to a slow start.  In 1996, sitting at 0-7, Jack, figuring he had nothing to lose, decided to try the Double Wing, based on what he’d read in an article I’d written for Scholastic Coach Magazine. Not only did they win their next game, but in the one after that they upset a playoff team to finish 2-7.  In Boothbay, a two-game winning streak was enough to keep the old-timers talking all through the long winter; they had no idea that what they’d seen was the start of a golden era for Boothbay football.

What sold Jack on the Double Wing was  the fact that in the season’s final game, Boothbay bobbled the opening kickoff before recovering it on their own four - and then put on a 96-yard drive that took 26 plays and ate up 18 minutes.  That’s when Jack had me out to Boothbay to put on a clinic for his staff and a few other New England-area coaches.  What a great time we all had!

The Boothbay Seahawks kept improving, and by 1998,  they made it to the state final game before falling to Stearns High of Millinocket, 12-6.  They came so close: the game was tied 6-6 with three minutes to play, and a Boothbay drive had the Seahawks on the Sterns 38 yard line.  A 25-yard criss-criss counter took the ball down to the Stearns 13, but the Seahawks were called for holding.  Backed up to midfield, the drive stalled and they had to punt - and Stearns returned the punt for the winning score!

Tim Rice was named Maine Coach of the Year for all classes.   Over the next nine seasons, the Seahawks made it to the state finals four more times, and won the state championship twice.

And then, following the 2007 season,  Jack and Tim retired.

I’m nobody’s fool.  I had just taken the head job at Ocean Shores, Washington, and I needed a good assistant, and I managed to con Jack into joining me there for the season.   Jack did a terrific job as my line coach, and although our defense was always touch-and-go, our Double Wing was so effective that we went 7-3 with a team that had gone 1-9 the year before.  (We lost those three games by a total of 11 points.)

 Jack and a college teammate of mine originally from Alabama named Mike Creamer stayed with us at our place and helped me greatly.   Jack loves life and can have a good time anywhere and he was great company.  He and Mike quickly hooked up with a group of bridge players in town.  That kept them busy a couple of nights a week, and several evenings after practice,  Jack,  a true  Mainer,  would make great use of the local seafood, treating us to his home-made clam chowder and fried oysters.  A highlight for my wife was when Jack’s lovely wife, Sue, came out to join us for a week.  (Sure was nice of her to lend me Jack for the season.)

*********** Wayne Duke, former commissioner of the Big Ten died last week.  In his 18 years as commissioner, he did a number of things to improve the Big Ten and college sports in general.

He forged the idea of revenue sharing - no matter their teams’ records, all schools shared in the conference’s revenue.

He opened up the Big Ten to more bowl games. When he took over, only the Big Ten chamapion played in a bowl game - The Rose Bowl.  That policy was changed in 1975, allowing more schools to appear in bowl games - and producing more conference revenues for its members to share.

He was the leader of a drive  to limit football scholarships, ending the practice of the conference “haves”  stocking up on players.

He hired C.D. Henry from Grambling as assistant commissioner, the first black assistant commissioner of any conference.

He hired Phyllis Howlett, the first female assistant commissioner of any conference.

During Duke’s time on the NCAA Division I Basketball Committee,  he saw the tourney expand from 25 schools to 48 (and, ultimately to today’s 64+), and the opening of the tournament to schools other than conference champions, and the televising of all games.

*********** I was looking for some info on an old-timer, thumbing through “The Game That Was,”  by Myron Cope.  Myron Cope was a longtime Pittsburgh radio guy and a huge Steelers’ fan.  He’s the guy who came up with the idea of the “Terrible Towel” - the gold towels that Steelers’ fans wave at games.  The book contains stories of the old days as told by some of the greats of the game:  Ed Healy… Indian Joe Guyon… Red Grange… Johnny Blood…. Ole Haugsrud… Dutch Clark… Clarke Hinkle… Cliff Battles… Art Rooney… Don Huston… Tuffy Leemans… Sammy Baugh… Alex Wojciechowicz… Bulldog Turner… Bullet Bill Dudley… Steve Van Buren… Marion Motley... Bill Willis… Bobby Layne… George Halas.

It was published in 1970, when lots of those guys were still alive, and author Cope just let them tell their stories in their own words.  To say the least, they were colorful guys.

Tough, too.  Guys who came up the hard way.  It mightn’t be a bad idea for today’s “white privilege” bunch to read about these guys and countless others like them - even after they made it to the “big time!” - before going any further.

I really got caught up in the reminiscences of Bulldog Turner.  (His real name was Clyde, but as he told Cope, “nobody calls me Clyde except my wife.  And that’s when she’s mad.”) The longtime center-linebacker for the Bears and a perennial all-Pro, Turner was a big, rough Texan,  one of the toughest men who ever played the game. And he was as “country” as they came.

He told one story about how, ineligible to play on his high school team in Sweetwater, Texas, he ran away from home to try to convince some college - any college - to take him.  (Things were a bit looser in those days):

I’ll tell you how country I was. I got up to Lawton, Oklahoma (to Cameron State Agricultural College) and I went in there and met the athletic director and the coach and all. I had been better than two days getting there.  It was wintertime, and I was half frozen.  The coach looked over at me and said, “Son, why don’t you come over to the cafeteria with us and have lunch?”

Well, that word cafeteria scared me to death.  Never heard of it.  Didn’t know what the hell a cafeteria was.  So rather than expose my ignorance, I said, “No thank you.  I just ate before I came in.”  Which was a damn lie, because I hadn’t eaten in two days by this time.


Embarrassed, he headed south to Wichita Falls, Texas

Wichita Falls is not too far down from Lawton, yet it took me a couple of days to get there.  See, I noticed these Mexicans coming by me on the highway in big new cars, and I said, “I’ll be damned! Down where I live, Mexicans don’t drive many of them cars like these.” But directly one of them came by without a hat on, with just a band around his head, and finally it dawned on me - “Goddammit, these are Indians up here!”   They had struck oil and they was driving these big ol’ cars, but the difficulty was they wouldn’t pick you up.  So I was two days getting to Wichita Falls, and then I spent the night there, which made five days and five nights without a meal.

In the morning, I hitchhiked down as far as Throckmorton (home of the great Bob Lilly, BTW - HW), not far south of Wichita Falls, and I was starving to death.  I walked into a filling station, which was also kind of a grocery store, and I asked, “How much them apples?”  The man had some green apples there, and as I told you, I had bought some new gloves when I left home and I wanted to find out what I could get most of for my gloves.  I said, “I want to trade my gloves for something to eat.”

The man said, “I’ll trade you a sack of them apples for your gloves.  They’re twenty-five cents a sack.”


Here was George Halas’s method of operation in practice.  First, he’d say, “Give me a center!”  Then he’d say, “Bausch!”  He’d say, “Give me two guards!” Then he’d say, “Fortmann and Musso!”  Well, the first time I heard George say, “Give me a center!” I didn’t wait for nothing more and ran out there and got over the ball.  I noticed he looked kind of funny at me, but I didn’t think anything about it.  I later found out that Pete Bausch was the center - a big, broad, mean ol’ ballplayer, a real nice German from Kansas.  But all I knew was George drafted me number one and I had signed  a contract to play center, and I thought when it come time to line up, I should be at center.   From the beginning, I was over endowed with self-confidence.   I feared no man.  So I just went out there and got over the ball, and I was there ever since. They didn’t need Pete no more.


Remember my telling you how ol’ Ed Neal (300-pound Green Bay middle-guard - today, a nose tackle”)) would beat my head off? Well, I said to Halas one day, “You can run somebody right through there, ‘cause Ed Neal is busy whupping my head.” I suggested we put in a sucker play - we called it the thirty-two sucker - where we double-teamed both of their tackles and I would just relax and let Neal knock me on my back and fall all over me.  It’d make a hole from here to that fireplace.  Man, you could really run through it - and we did, all day.  But later, ol’ Ralph Jones - he used to be a Bears coach and was coaching a little college team - Ralph told me he had brought his whole team down to watch the Bears play the Green Bay Packers that day, and he told them, “Now boys, I want you to see the greatest football player that ever lived.  It’s Bulldog Turner.  I want you to watch this man on every play and see how he handles those guys.”  But see, ol’ Ralph didn’t know about that sucker play, and later he said to me, “Goddamn if you wasn’t flat on your back every play!”


You know, I was captain of the Bears for about seven, eight years.  I was never appointed captain but I made myself captain.  See, George Wilson was appointed captain, but a lot of times George would by a bit swollen making a decision, so when a decision would come up that had to be made that took some thought, I would go up there with him and I’d say, “George, you get them in the huddle. I’ll tell the ref what we want.” And George would go back there in the huddle, although, of course, he’d been on the team several years before I was.

After Wilson quit, I still never was appointed captain.  We just didn’t have an official captain for about five years while I was doing it all myself.  One day, finally, something come up in a meeting and Halas said, “Turner’s your captain.  Talk to him.”  But up till then he had never appointed me, ‘cause to be a captain you didn’t only have to be a good player and a leader of men, but your off-the-field activities had to be real good, too, which mine weren’t too good.  So he never would appoint me captain.

Those men followed me, even up to the quarterbacks, who in many cases asked me what plays to call.  One time in 1949 we were playing a prison team up in Michigan or somewhere.  It was an exhibition game to raise some money for charity, and we furnished the prison team with a certain number of players.  Anyway, George Blanda was a rookie then, and the coaches were fixing to cut him.  But he was in the game and we had a fourth-and-one situation inside the fifty-yard line, which it seemed like a pretty good call to go for the first down.  Blanda came back to the huddle and he couldn’t think of a play.  He said, “I don’t remember those plays.  Wh- wh-what plays we supposed to call to make one yard.

I said, “I’ll tell you one.  It’s called twenty-nine direct cross buck.”  Now, that was one of those plays were you’re gonna go all the way or you’re gonna lose ten yards. But Blanda didn’t know that.  He said, “Yeh, okay.  We’ll run the twenty-nine direct cross buck.”  Well, our halfback took off around the end, and he had gone forty yards when he remembered he was supposed to hide the ball behind his back. So there, where it didn’t matter, he put the ball behind his back and went the rest of the way for a touchdown.  The coaches thought that was a damn smart play to call, and they kept ol’ George Blanda on that account.”

*********** “The Ugliest Title Game Ever? Asked the Wall Street Journal’s Ben Cohen and Andrew Beaton…
The writers make a great case for the affirmative.

North Carolina’s win over Gonzaga was supposed to be a game of college basketball’s two best teams that showcased all the sport had to offer. What happened instead might have made James Naismith think again before he repurposed his peach buckets.

LeBron James spoke for millions at home when he tweeted: “I can’t watch this anymore, man!

There was one saving grace that kept Monday’s game from dragging on even longer.

*********** Also in the Journal, a piece by one of my favorite writers, Jason Gay, on the NCAA’s insane decision to play its biggest basketball games in football stadiums:

I was there and also not there. I’m not trying to be cute. As Roy Williams might say, I was just so daggum - dadgum - far away.

There seems to be some sort of celebration brewing on the court. Or maybe it’s another television time-out. Is there any time left on the clock?  I’m not really sure. The basketball game is so far away, it could be a wedding.  Or a cat show.

My seat for the title game was not the worst seat in the house, but I’m comfortable saying it was the second-worst.  One row from the tippety-top of the University of Phoenix tuna can, it was a certifiable nosebleed, a Bob Uecker special.  I’m not even sure it was still in Arizona.  Technically, I believe it was closer to San Diego.

To  get there, I had to climb escalators, and stairs upon stairs. I had to spend a week at base camp on the 100 level in order to acclimate to the altitude, and then another week acclimating on the 300 level.

*********** A couple of guys have written to me about the latest unstoppable offense, this one called The Texas Slot-T. 

I may be way off base on what the Texas Slot-T is all about, but from what I’ve been told, it sounds very much like the  "Slot" formation which I’ve run off and on for years. John Dowd, in the Rochester, New York area, comes to mind as one of “my guys” who did a nice job with it several years back.  I haven’t used it much since 2008.

I first saw it in an article in Texas Coach Magazine  20+ years ago, and then I got deeper into it thanks to my getting to know a great coach from Illinois named Gordie Gillespie, who ran it at Joliet Catholic and then at St. Francis College.

(To say he was successful at Joliet Catholic is an understatement: in his 27 years there, he won five state championships, including four in a row from 1975-1978.  HIs overall record was 222-54-6, and in 1991 the Chicago Tribune chose him as the coach of its “All-Time Illinois High School Football Team.”)

Gordie and a friend of mine, Ralph Balducci, had dinner at our place, after which Gordie critiqued some of our Double Wing stuff.  He later sent me some video of what they were doing at St. Francis.

*********** Denny Oram is being buried tomorrow, in Frederick, Maryland.  When I first met him,  it was the summer of 1968, and we were to become teammates on a newly-organized football team called the Frederick Falcons.  It was an amazing group of people - a couple of kids right out of high school, a couple of us who were college graduates, three or four guys who were coaches and teachers at the Maryland School for Deaf (and were deaf themselves), and most amazing, blacks and whites - among the latter some guys who could legitimately be called rednecks - playing together in a town that was still struggling, not always successfully,  to put its tradition of segregation behind it.  (For those who don’t know their history, Maryland, although it remained in the Union, was  a slave state - Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglas, two of the greatest names in the history of the anti-slavery movement, were born into slavery in Maryland. Harriet Tubman helped runaway slaves to escape from Maryland.  And in rural Maryland especially, even in the 1960s, traces of the segregated South remained.)

I hadn’t played in a football game since 1959, the fall of my senior year, when I injured my knee early in the season, and never returned to play.

And now, after nine years of dealing with the disappointment of knowing that something that was so important to me was gone forever, the thrill of knowing that I was actually playing football again was indescribable.

Amazingly, the team turned out to be pretty good.  We went undefeated - tied one game early in the season, but won all the rest.  If you’ve ever been on such a team, you know the feeling you get, the feeling that you’re special - that you’re destined to win.

Where most semi-pro teams are poorly run, poorly-organized, minimally disciplined  grabass operations, the Falcons were well-run.  The head coach, Dick Shipley, a former Maryland football player in the days when the Terps were national champions, ran the whole thing.  

Dick’s long dead now, but he had a powerful influence on me when, a couple of years later,  I found myself thrust into the position of head coach  myself.

Dick Shipley had an uncanny knack for getting the best out of people - he could be hard when he had to be, easy when he had to be.   He had a very good sense of humor that made things fun, but there was no doubt when he was serious.  And he had an admirable ability to get an extremely diverse group of people to play as one, with one goal, without their even thinking about what he was getting them to do. 

Most people in the community, I’m sure, saw Dick Shipley as just a football coach trying to win games, but looking back at the times - remember, it was only months after Dr. King was assassinated - he was subtly bringing about changes in racial attitudes that had stood for a couple of hundred years. 

Dick seemed especially fond of Denny Oram, a quiet, shy black kid who sometimes seemed to lack direction, and without football might very well have been running with the wrong crowd.

Denny Oram and I never really got to know each other.  We had almost nothing in common.  I was white, he was black.  I was 30 and he was just 18.  I was a college graduate, married with four kids. He was a recent high school graduate and single. I had a really good job with a brewery, and he was looking for work.  I was vocal, while Denny may have said two words all season.  But we both loved football, and we shared the bond that teammates everywhere share.  We played beside each other and respected each other as teammates.

Tomorrow, Denny Oram will be buried.  And Don Shipley, Dick Shipley’s son, who was a young boy back when I played, will deliver the eulogy.

I pray that Denny had a good life.   May God rest his soul.

***********  Recently,  ESPN,  which has been hemorrhaging subscribers partly  because of its left-leaning approach, announced it was going to tone down the politics.

Funny thing, though - they started out by toning down one of their very few on-air people who aren’t flaming lefties.

Sage Steele has been replaced on ESPN’s NBA Countdown.  Nothing to see here, we’re told.  She’s simply been “reassigned.”  Right.  “Purged” is more like it.

(Sage Steele is special to me because she’s the daughter of Gary Steele - respected by Army football people everywhere as the first black player to play at West Point.)

Sage Steele’s sin is that she’s one of a growing number of black (or mixed-race) persons being crucified (figuratively) for not toeing the leftist line - for daring to express conservative views.

1. She criticized Colin Kaepernick for refusing to stand for the national anthem.

2. She had  the temerity to complain about missing a flight because of the airport immigration protests:  “So THIS (a photo of the mob outside the LAX terminal) is why thousands of us dragged luggage nearly 2 miles to get to LAX, but still missed our flights.  Fortunately, a 7 hour wait for the next flight to Houston won’t affect me that much, but my heart sank for the elderly and parents with small children who did their best to walk all that way but had no chance of making their flights. Love witnessing people exercise their right to protest!  But it saddened me to see the joy on their faces knowing that they were successful in disrupting so many people’s travel plans.  Yes, immigrants were affected by this as well.  Brilliant.

That was, I thought, pretty compassionate.  She admitted that she could deal with it, but felt for “the elderly and parents with small children.”  Immigrants, too.  Sad she was “saddened” by the attitude of the protestors.  And for THIS, she was vilified by the sort of cretins who seem to think the sacrosanct “right to protest” includes carte blanche to deprive others of their rights.

3. She said - OMG - that the worst racism she’s faced has been from blacks. Here’s what she said: "There are times that I believe that we, as African-Americans, can be hypocritical, and that is to not look ourselves in the mirror when we are saying certain things and blaming other groups for one thing when we are doing the exact same thing. The worst racism that I have received, and I mean thousands and thousands over the years, is from black people, who in my mind I thought would be the most accepting because there has been that experience. But even as recent as the last couple of weeks, the words that I have had thrown at me I can't repeat here and it's 99 percent from people with my skin color. But if a white person said those words to me, what would happen?"

The vile comments that she’s been exposed to on Twitter simply confirm what I’ve feared for some time - we’re f—ked.

So much for that “dialogue on race” we’re constantly being told that we need to have.

*********** After mentioning a number of illustrious graduates of Brooklyn’s Erasmus Hall High School, alma mater of Sid Luckman, I did a bit of digging, and came up with even more…

Bob Arum - Boxing promoter
Jeff Chandler - Actor
Norm Drucker - NBA referee,  then NBA Supervisor of Officials
Waite Hoyt - Hall of Fame pitcher and long-time Cincinnati Reds’ play-by-play man
Marty Ingels - Actor/comedian/agent
Ned Irish - Founder of the New York Knicks and their president from 1947-1974
Dorothy Kilgallen - Newspaper journalist and TV game show panelist
Bernard Malamud - Pulitzer Prize-winning author
Norma Talmadge - Movie star of the 1920s
Eli Wallach - Actor on stage, screen and TV


Josh Montgomery - Berwick, Louisiana
Dennis Metzger - Franklin, Indiana
Tom Hinger - Winter Haven, Florida
Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin
Jerry Lovell - Bellevue, Nebraska - One of many Colts with a successful off-field career. (You’re right. Mainly because the owner, Carroll Rosenbloom encouraged them to stay in Baltimore in the off-season and helped many of them get established. HW)
Don Gordon - South Deerfield, Massachusetts - “These are fun!”
Mark Kaczmarek - Davenport, Iowa - Alan "the Horse" Ameche...pretty easy for a "Cheesehead" having grown up in Hillsboro, WI...My Dad's college coach was Milt Bruhn's asst. Clark Van Galder, so one of my earliest football memories is a tour of the UW facilities & seeing a replica Heisman in the mid to late 50s (at 7 or 8) & attending the Purdue game...I think I was more impressed by the Purdue band's big bass drum than any of the football - (Ameche helped recruit one of my HS teammates.  He was very impressed that The Horse was driving around in a new Nash Rambler - made in Kenosha. HW)
Ken Hampton - Raleigh, North Carolina - (I almost put his restaurant partner, Gino Marchetti, until I reviewed the questions details more closely.)
John Vermillion - St. Petersburg, Florida - one of my all-time favorites. Reserved and tough as hell, a guy I wanted to be like in high school.
Joe Gutilla - Austin, Texas
Kevin McCullough - Lakeville, Indiana
John Bothe - Oregon, Illinois
Joe Ferris - Florence, Wisconsin
Tom Davis - San Marcos, California
Jim Franklin - Flora, Indiana

*********** I went to high school in Philadelphia, at Germantown Academy (“G-A,” as everyone calls it.) It was an old school - its original building was built in 1760 - and over the years, it got closed in by the city, leaving no room to expand.  We had a 1/5 mile, five-lane cinder track around our football field, and a 90-yard practice field adjoining it.  That was it.  Besides the varsity team, we had 70-, 80-, 90-, 105-, 120- and 135-pound teams, and somehow they all practiced and played there. We played baseball, there too, in the spring - home plate was in one corner of the football field, and it was, oh, maybe a 250 foot stroke to hit one of the school buildings in right field. I saw many a home run when a ball hit to right field went down the driveway between buildings and all the way out into School House Lane.

The other teams in our league - the Interacademic League - had far better facilities and much more room. Our big rival, Penn Charter, was less than a mile away - when we were younger, on the “pound” teams, we’d actually walk over there to play them.   But its campus was huge, a giant spread of green in a rather nice, leafy neighborhood.

Sometime in the 1960s, a wealthy Philadelphian offered to donate his estate in suburban Fort Washington to G-A for a new, modern campus, one that would put G-A on a par with its competitors - Penn Charter, Episcopal Academy, Haverford School and Malvern Prep.  Just one condition: they had to admit girls.   (As I heard it, he had granddaughters and he wanted them to go there.)  Done.  Few of us grads liked the decision, but in terms of the long-term viability of the school, it was the only choice.  G-A families were moving to the suburbs.

Which brings us to Alan Ameche.  After his retirement, he moved to Malvern, Pennsylvania, in the far western suburbs of Philadelphia. Being Catholic, he figured on sending his sons to the nearby Catholic school,  Malvern Prep.  From that point on, it would be an understatement too say he was an “involved” parent.

From “Alan Ameche,” by Dan Manoyan - 2012

Alan Ameche had a nickname around Malvern Prep School and it wasn’t “the Horse.”

At the Malvern, Pennsylvania school, which all four of the Ameche sons attended, the senior Ameche was known respectful as “the Owner,” as in the owner of the football program.  Technically, of course, high school football  programs don’t have owners, but owner pretty much described Ameche’s role within the program.

After his premature retirement from the Colts, he had plenty of time on his hands (money was not a problem - he and partner Gino Marchetti had done okay when they sold Ameche-Gino Foods to Marriott- HW) - some might say too much time - and Malvern's football program was, to say the least, his pet project. Ameche did everything for the down-and-out program,  from supplying it with the best equipment to hand-picking its coach. But perhaps his biggest contribution to the program was donating his four sons - Brian, Alan Jr., Michael and Paul.

“I remember when we first moved to the Philadelphian area, it was about the time my older brother (Brian) was just getting ready to start high school,” Alan Jr. said.   “My dad knew he had four sons that were going to be playing football at Malvern Prep over what?  A 10- to 12-year span, and Malvern Prep was not competitive in football at that time.  The year before my brother got there, I don’t think they won a game in the league, and they had a history of going winless.

“My dad had it in his mind that if his kids were going to go to that school, that things had to change.  He singlehandedly made that change.”

One of Ameche’s first moves was to get rid of the man who was football coach at Malvern at that time.  After an 0-8 season in Brian’s freshman year and two wins the following year, when Alan Jr. joined his older brother on the varsity, Ameche had seen enough.

Ameche lobbied to have the current coach replaced with successful local youth coach Jack “the Shark” McGuinn.  It turned out to be a good move, because McGuinn coached at Malvern from 1969 through 1977, posting a 64-14-1 record.

“I remember we started two-a-days my sophomore year and one day we came to practice and we had a new coach,” Alan Jr. said. “He got rid of the coach…He was there one day and gone the next.   There was a guy my dad had in mind who was a very successful grade school coach and the next thing we knew, he was the coach.

“The new coach drove us relentlessly and made us win football games.  The first year we were the co-champions of our league.   That’s what this guy did.  He was such a tough coach that he took the same group the previous guy had and went on to establish a dynasty at Malvern.  Malvern is still a dynasty.”

But Ameche didn’t stop with appointing his handpicked choice for coach.  He went after players.

“My father not only created a change at coach, he went to the headmaster and said, ‘We’ve got to get some players in here,’” Alan Jr. said.  “The teams we were competing against in our league were recruiting players, so he felt we had to recruit some players to keep up with them.  They were bringing in kids to play for them and Malvern wasn’t.  My dad changed that.”

To that end, Ameche started a scholarship program at Malvern. The program served a double purpose.  It bolstered Malvern’s football program while giving a quality education to underprivileged kids.

“My dad told the coach go out and pick five kids a year from the Catholic grade school system in Philadelphia, which is a very big system,” Brian Ameche said.  “By our junior year, we were league champions.

“My dad was known around the school as the owner of the football team.  The game films would come to our house and be shown in our living room.  The coaches would all come to our house to watch the films with our father before the players would see them.

“We had several Universal gyms set up in our three-car garage, and players were actually required to come over to our place and work out on a regular basis.  We were essentially the physical fitness center for the football program.”

*********** An interesting side note to the Alan Ameche story:

He married Yvonne, his high school sweetheart, while still in college. When he won the Heisman, she was already the mother of two children.  They raised six children and remained married until his death in 1988.

The Heisman Trophy group is a tight group, and she continued to attend the annual award ceremonies.  At one of them, she met former Army great (and Heisman winner) Glenn Davis, whose wife had died, and in 1996 she and Davis were married. Davis died in 2005.

So, yes - Yvonne Molinaro Ameche Davis was married to two Heisman Trophy winners.

You want more?  The Ameches’ daughter, Catherine, married the brother of John Cappelletti, 1974 Heisman Trophy winner.

***********  QUIZ

He was a very good college football player, but soccer was his first love. 

As a college football player, he drop-kicked with either foot.

As a soccer player, he was good enough that in 1954 he was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

In 1934, in a World Cup qualifying match in Rome,  he scored all four goals in a 4-2 US win over Mexico.  (It would be the last time the US beat Mexico until 1980.)

In the next round, in a 7-1 loss to a far superior Italian team he scored the only US goal.

And then he became a football coach.

In 1941, he coached an NFL team and a college team - at the same time.  He coached the pro team in the mornings and the college team in the afternoons, and he did this until the NFL commissioner told him he had to choose one or the other.

The pro team was then 0-5.  He chose to stay with the college, and went undefeated that season. A small western Pennsylvania Catholic school, it was 29-4-2 in his four seasons there.

From 1946 to 1956, he was head coach at a large Eastern college.  While he was there, he coached one of the greatest football players of all time, a son of Greek immigrants who would be drafted Number One by the Cleveland Browns but would choose, instead, to play baseball for the Red Sox. Although it discontinued football in 1997, the school in those years played a national schedule, and he took it to a 46-34-4 record and at one point a top-25 ranking.

Moving on to an Ivy League school in 1957, he coached there until his retirement in 1967.

William Campbell, who played under him there, would go on to coach at the school himself, and then go on to great success as a businessman in Silicon Valley.  Campbell donated the weight room at the college in honor of his coach.

american flag TUESDAY,  APRIL 4,  2017  - “The left doesn't care about winning the debate; they want to cancel the debate.” Mark Steyn

*********** Sure glad I don't coach basketball.  I couldn't have made it through that NCAA final game without strangling at least one official. Seriously, though, it's a rare football game that the officials can take total control of the way they did that one.

***********  My son, Ed, wrote… According to my research – if Gonzaga wins – they will be the 3rd smallest school to win the title. Gonzaga has a total of roughly 7,400 students. Holy Cross (1947) is tiny, only 2,500 or so students and La Salle (1954) is about 6,000 total.  Georgetown (1984) has fewer undergrads than Gonzaga but something like 10,000 grads.

Which got me going…

I’m sure that  LaSalle was a lot smaller in 1954 - but so, most likely, was Gonzaga.

Funny, at the time, growing up in Philly,  we never gave a thought to how small LaSalle was. They had Tom Gola and that was enough, we thought.  After all, their big rival was USF, and it wasn’t very big, either.

I get the sense, looking back, that possibly basketball was the consolation prize for those who didn’t/couldn’t play football.

Lots of small schools were good. Holy Cross, of course. (Cousy, Heinsohn.)  NYU was good, and so was LIU.  CCNY won both the NCAA title and the then-prestigious NIT - in the same year.  Bradley was very good.  So was Dayton.  Duquesne was a power.  St. Bonaventure, Niagara and Canisius were good.  St. Johns, of course, was plenty good.  DePaul and Loyola and St. Louis were good.   Basketball then was primarily an Eastern game, a big-city game, a Catholic-school game.   At least two of the three usually applied.

It’s almost as if there was an NCAA rule that good big-time football schools were barred from having good basketball programs. 

I don’t remember many big football schools being very good in basketball. Indiana won an NCAA title in the 1950s.  Football?  Gimme a break. Oklahoma State was always pretty good in basketball, but nothing special in football.  Cal won the title once, but their glory days in football ended in 1952 and they had only one winning season until 1968.  Cincinnati was not at that time much of a football school. Kansas had a couple of decent seasons in football in the early 1950s, but back then, nobody in the Big Eight beat Oklahoma - which, by the way, wasn’t all that good in basketball.  North Carolina won in 1957 under Frank McGuire, a New Yorker who was one of the first to figure out he could win by convincing New York kids to come south to play basketball.  But in football? The Tarheels had TWO winning records (back to back 6-4 seasons) between 1949 and 1963. Kentucky was pretty good in football in the late 40s and early 50s, actually winning the SEC in 1950, but after the 1953 season their coach, a fellow named Bear Bryant, got tired of coaching at a basketball school and moved to Texas A & M, and UK football’s played second fiddle ever since.  Ohio State, with Lucas and Siegfried (and Knight) may have been the first real football power than I can recall winning the NCAA title.  They won the NCAA championship in 1960 but haven’t done it since.  But, as if to confirm my theory, the Buckeyes’ football team that year (the fall of 1959) suffered through a 3-5-1 season, their only losing record in the 19 seasons between 1947 and 1966.

UCLA?  In 1954 UCLA (coached by Red Sanders) was football all the way. A guy named John Wooden was their basketball coach, but he didn’t get his Bruins to a Final Four until 1962, and a National Championship until 1964.

*********** When I was a kid, the barber shop where I’d go - McFarland’s, on Germantown Avenue - had a sign that read “Haircut… $1.00”  (this was a long time ago, guys).  Right underneath: “Repair a home-made haircut… $2.00”

Moral:  Next time, leave it to the pros.

Not too long ago, I found myself trying to repair a homemade haircut, er, Double Wing.  A team had been running a “Double Wing.”  Sort of.  I have no idea where they got it. What they were doing, I suspect, was running a few plays that they’d seen somewhere.  They may even have found some “assignments” on the Internet.  Or perhaps they’d reverse-engineered some plays that they saw online, and  then, assuming that the players they saw were doing what they were supposed to be doing,  they put into their own words what they thought they saw them doing.

What they didn’t find out, though, was the key to running any system effectively - WHY those players were doing what they were doing, and HOW their coaches had taught them those things.

So these guys wound up walking around with a home-made haircut.   Fortunately, before they decided to give up and junk the idea of the Double Wing as something that “doesn’t work,” they were smart enough to recognize that they had a problem, and  that they needed a fix.

They were bright guys and eager to learn. They were coachable.   They took good notes and they asked plenty of good questions.  They were surprised at all the things they hadn’t been doing, and all the things they had been doing (but doing wrong).  

Best of all, though, they were encouraged because they saw those things as things they could immediately  improve on.  When we parted, I think we were all confident that they were on their way to a dramatic fix.

I sent them off with this advice:  Install a simple package, and teach it well.  Know what you’re going to teach, practice teaching it to your staff before you try teaching it to the kids, and then, make sure to be patient. “Talk it, Walk it, Run it, Rep it.”

Above all, make sure it’s taught correctly.  You only get one chance to install it correctly, then the cat’s out of the bag. You don’t want to be wasting time going back and having to correct things that weren’t taught right the first time.

I advised the head coach of the importance of not losing his “stones” - keeping things simple often means having to deal with others - including your own assistants - who’ll insist on “opening up the playbook.”

Resist, I told him.  Keep a steady hand on the tiller and be a model of patience and persistence. To paraphrase something I heard another coach say, when they ask if you have any other plays, tell them, “Of course I do.  And just as soon as we show we can run these plays to perfection, I’ll give you another one.”

*********** I was talking last week with John Simar, who, when I first met him more than 15 years ago, was President of the Army Football Club - the association of former West Point football players.   John played a key role in getting the Army Football Club to sponsor the Black Lion Award at West Point and present it every year to a football player on the current Army squad.  Each recipient’s name is added to a permanent plaque in the football locker room, beginning with the very first winner, Will Sullivan, of Atlanta, in 2004.

Knowing John had worked with Lou Saban at West Point, I asked him to tell me a few things about Saban.

He was a very smart guy, John said.  And as you might expect of a guy who didn’t last long at a job, he was a bit insecure.  (Paranoid might be the appropriate word.)

But what struck me was a story John told to illustrate that Lou Saban had a good heart.  John said he and Lou were in Cleveland, recruiting, and off to the side, as they entered their hotel,  an elderly custodian who was sweeping the sidewalk happened to drop his broom. Seeing this, Saban went right over and picked it up and handed it to the man.  Returning to John, he said, “We gotta take care of each other.”

John Simar’s story is one worth telling…

John played football at West Point under Tom Cahill, graduating in 1972.  His first coaching assignment was at West Point in 1979 as Homer Smith’s recruiting coordinator. After Smith was fired, he was retained as recruiting coordinator by Lou Saban.  Saban left after one season, but John stayed on as recruiting coordinator under Saban’s successor, Ed Cavanaugh. John stayed in that position until Jim Young was hired in 1983, when John added coaching the tight ends to his recruiting duties. That lasted just one year, and then Young made one of the most dramatic changes - and brought about about one of the most dramatic turnarounds - in college football history.   After going 2-9 in his first year, Young junked his pro set offense and went all-out wishbone, with a senior named Nate Sassaman, who hadn’t run a play as an option quarterback since high school, at the controls.  John Simar was put in charge of coaching the wide receivers (“wide blockers,” he says they jokingly called themselves).  In their first year running the ‘bone, Army went 8-3-1, beating both Air Force and Navy and narrowly losing to Michigan State, 10-6, in a bowl game.   Certainly a highlight of the season was going into Knoxville and playing a good Tennessee team (they beat Alabama that year) to a 24-24 tie.  After the change  to the wishbone, Coach Young had only one losing season - 5-6 in 1987 - and he finished with an overall record at West Point of 51-39-1.  (He is the last Army coach to go out with a winning record.)  When Jim Young retired, John Simar, who had switched to coaching running backs in 1987, stayed on with new coach Bob Sutton, who had been Young’s defensive coordinator (and now serves in that capacity with the Kansas City Chiefs).

John left West Point following the 1994 season to become Director of Athletics at Charlotte (NC) Country Day School, and in 1999 he was named Director of Athletics at the prestigious Lawrenceville School, in New Jersey.  The Lawrenceville position, it should be pointed out, entails greater responsibilities than most colleges, with 64 teams in 34 different sports - 32 teams each and 17 sports each for both boys and girls. The list of sports includes indoor track, water polo, crew, squash and fencing in addition to the usual sports offered by large, well funded high schools.

John retired from Lawrenceville in 2013, but stayed active in sports by spending the 2014 and 2015 seasons helping coach the Princeton sprint football team.

Here’s the kind of guy John Simar is: In 2005, at age 55 and retired from the Army for more than 10 years, John volunteered to return to the Army, taking a leave of absence from Lawrenceville in order to spend a year with US troops in Kuwait as a “morale welfare recreation coordinator.”

Why?   “I didn’t want to do a fund-raiser or send handy wipes over,” he told the Middletown, NY Times-Herald-Record. “I think all (West Point graduates) owe a service that never ends. I see all these 25-year-old young men with two tours in Iraq, some going on three. I wanted to help them in some way.”

*********** "Make the big time where you are."  Frosty Westering

I'll bet if I were to say "Jimmer Fredette," an awful lot of you would say, "Hey!  Whatever happened to him, anyhow?"

Well, what happened to him was that he has become the biggest name in basketball  in the biggest basketball-loving nation on earth - China.  He's playing for a team in Shanghai coached by Brian Goordjian, a friend of  my son who has coached in Australia and has gone on to become the Red Auerbach/Phil Jackson/Pat Riley of China.

***********  If you had any doubt that the end times are near, this is from Sports Business Daily:

NASCAR is considering making its cars quieter, according to several sources, a move that could make it easier for fans to talk to each other during races and engage more socially.

Quieter cars could be targeted more toward millennials, who place heavy importance on the social experience of attending sporting events. For example, many teams in stick-and-ball sports have developed standing areas where fans can gather and socialize instead of being restricted to a standard seat.
Safe spaces at NASCAR tracks.  Thanks, Millennials.

When they said, “It’s all over but the shouting,” this must have been what they meant.

*********** Hi Hugh,

We are in the middle of an April first snow storm and it reminded me of another over twenty years ago. You arrived in Boothbay in the middle of another April first storm and it changed SeaHawk football for a decade and I made a life long friend. My where has the time gone it seems like only yesterday.

I thought about coming out for the Kansas clinic but we are staying a month in South Carolina so it did not time up. Please say hi to Connie.

Good luck at the clinic.

Jack Tourtillotte
Rangely, Maine

I’m so glad that you reminded me!  My football travels have afforded me the chance to visit some great places and meet some great people, and my visit to Boothbay and meeting you and Sue ranks right at the top.

I recently showed some people the video I shot of Dan Kaler.  Of course they loved it!

My only regret about that visit 20+ years ago is that Connie couldn’t be with me - she was home working to support us! - because she loves New England even more than I do, and she’s a snow lover.

Great to hear from you - our love to Sue.

*********** Whether Gonzaga wins or not…

*********** Whether North Carolina wins or not…

*********** Found this in a Notre Dame program from 1980…

Jim Gruden


Josh Montgomery - Berwick, Louisiana
Don Gordon - South Deerfield, Massachusetts
J.C. Brink - Stuart, Florida
Mike Benton - Colfax, Illinois
Joe Gutilla - Austin, Texas
John Vermillion - St. Petersburg, Florida
Ken Hampton - Raleigh, North Carolina
Tom Davis - San Marcos, California
Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin
Kevin McCullough - Lakeville, Indiana (Growing up in southeastern Indiana,with no pro-football around we got “Da Bears” as our home team on the Indy stations……I remember the day my pops brought me home "the History of the Chicago Bears" right away i knew Sid Luckman…)

Mark Kaczmarek, of Davenport, Iowa wrote - The great Sid Luckman...My daughter lived on the SW corner of Prospect Park in BKLYN for a couple of years before moving to Park Slope...part of my exercise routine, while in NYC, included walking around the park & I would on occasion head a little farther South as I walked to the East, on the Southern border of the park's ball diamonds & tennis courts, to see old Erasmus High historic was closed,as a HS, in the 90s...Al Davis, Neil Diamond, Roger Kahn, Sam Rutigliano, Jerry Reinsdorf, Micky Spillane, Babs, & Mae name a few who were also grads

Good for you. And there was  Lainie Kazan and Beverly Sills and Bobby Fischer and Billy Cunningham and…

All this was pointed out to me once (with great pride) by Bruce Weber, an Erasmus Hall grad and publisher of Scholastic Coach.

(Erasmus Hall, which is no more, has such an illustrious list of graduates, people who have attained success in a wide variety of fields, that there is a web site devoted to them.)

*********** Sid Luckman was George’s Halas’ choice to be the quarterback in his T-formation.  Halas worked out a deal with the Steelers’ Art Rooney to draft Luckman, then trade him to the Bears.

But despite Halas’ machinations, Luckman wasn’t sure he wanted to play pro football.  He had a chance to go into the trucking business with his brothers.

He wound up signing, of course, and went on to become the prototype of the modern pro T-formation quarterback - a guy who did all the passing while leaving the running to the other  backs.

In 1940, he led the Bears to a 73-0 win over the Washington Redskins in the NFL championship game. Just three weeks earlier, the Redskins had beaten the Bears, 7-3.  The Bears had made it to the Redskins’ six-yard-line, but on the last play of the game, Lucian’s pass went incomplete because, the Bears’ receiver argued, he was held on the play.  There was no interference call, and Halas’ complaints (“I probably used all the words I had learned in the Chicago streets and in ball parks and training camps and maybe even made up a few new ones,” he wrote in his memoirs) were to no avail.

The Redskins’ owner, George Preston Marshall, was a character on his own, and he let Halas have it.

“The Bears are a bunch of crybabies,” he told the newspapers. “They can’t take defeat. They are a first-half club. They are quitters. They are the world’s greatest crybabies.”

Let that be a lesson.  Three weeks later, the Bears were ready.  On their second play from scrimmage, Bill Osmanski ran 68 yards untouched, and the rout was on.

PRO QBSIn the photo at left, Sid Luckman is in the middle, between two players the Bears drafted in 1948 - and paid a lot of money for..  On the left is Johnny Lujack, described by his college coach, Notre Dame’s Frank Leahy, as “the greatest all-around football player it has been my privilege to coach.”  High praise, indeed, coming from a man who coached 16 consensus All-Americans.  At Notre Dame, Lujack played quarterback and safety, and was the Irish placekicker.  He lasted only four seasons with the Bears before returning to Notre Dame to assist Leahy, but while with the Bears he started a number of games while Luckman was hurt, and in the 1950 season, he set an NFL record of 11 rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (it’s since been broken).

On the right is the famed Bobby Layne, from Texas. He’s a story in himself.  Layne was traded by the Bears not long after the photo was taken (“my biggest blunder, Halas called it”), and went on to a long career known as much for his love of partying after (and sometimes before) games as for his grit and competitiveness on the field.

How about this one - in 1950, they brought in a rookie quarterback who as a place kicker would make 156 straight extra points over the next five years.  A young guy named George Blanda.

Over the years, Halas “lent” Luckman to various colleges to help them learn the intricacies of the T-formation.  Notre Dame’s Frank Leahy had Luckman assist him at several spring practices.  His own college coach, Lou Little used him.  Halas seems to remember Army’s Earl Blaik having Lucian up to West Point, and while I can’t find any way of confirming it, it appears plausible.

Despite being called “Papa Bear” by newspaper guys, George Halas was anything but warm and fuzzy. He has been described as cold, hard, stingy, tough, crude and more.  He grew up hard, on the streets of Chicago, and his upbringing dictated the way he would run his football team; for years, the Bears’ very existence was hand to mouth, and he simply couldn’t afford to let sentiment influence the decisions he had to make, as owner and as coach.

But evidently he had a soft side where two of his players were concerned.  One was the great running back Gayle Sayers.  The other was Sid Luckman, the player who helped him revolutionize offensive football.

Among his many mementoes,  Luckman treasured a letter he received from George Halas on May 24, 1983, five months before Halas died.  (A football coach would understand.)

My Dear Sid,

“I love you with all my heart.”

When I said this to you last night as I kissed you, I realized 44 wonderful years of knowing you were summed by by seven words.

My boy, my pride in you has no bounds.  Remember our word, “now!”  Every time I said it to you, you brought me another championship.

You added a luster to my life that can never tarnish.  My devoted friend, you have a spot in my heart that NO One else can claim.

God bless you and keep you, my son.  “I love you with all my heart.”

Sincerely yours,


Quiz subject*********** The son of Italian immigrants who settled in the Midwest, he was a high school standout who went on to star as a running back for his home state university.

Playing two ways in college, he was an outstanding running back and linebacker and helped his school earn its first-ever Rose Bowl berth.   He won college football's highest individual honor after his senior season, even though he’d had a better season his junior year.  He’s a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

His size and strength made him hard to bring down, and earned him a nickname that stuck with him throughout his career.

He was an NFL first-round draft choice and was named Rookie of the Year. He scored a touchdown the first time he ever touched the ball as a pro, and he scored the winning touchdown in “The Greatest Game Ever Played.”  He was a good receiver and blocker, too, but a combination of an Achilles heel injury and a clash with head coach Weeb Embank - and the fact that he was already involved in the business that would make him wealthy - led him to retire after just six NFL seasons.

In retirement, he became quite successful in business, helping run a large mid-Atlantic quick-food restaurant chain that he and a teammate started.

The father of six, his oldest son was an All-Ivy defensive end at Yale.

He underwent triple bypass surgery when he was only 46, and died at age 55 just a few days after a second bypass procedure.

american flag FRIDAY,  MARCH 31,  2017  "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." --George Orwell

*********** Obviously I’m pretty excited about having two schools from the Pacific Northwest in the Final Four.  But I don’t kid myself - while  Seattle is a legitimate producer of big-time talent, there are few northwest kids on the roster of either Oregon or Gonzaga.

Oregon has three guys on its roster from Canada.  (One of them, Chris Boucher, a 6-10 rebounder and shot blocker from Montreal, was injured  in the Pac-12 tournament, and their appearance in the Final Four despite his absence shows how solid they are.)

And as my son, Ed, points out,  people shouldn't get too carried away with the ‘little school in the Northwest’ thing with Gonzaga.

Only “big-time” sports guys, who mainly only know what they read, would push that narrative.

Gonzaga is Gonzaga and has been for at least ten years.  They might play in a lesser-known conference - and on the West Coast at that - but only that and  the size of their arena (which they have sold out for years) keeps them from being considered "elite" at the level of the Dukes, Kansases, Kentuckys and North Carolinas.

They can recruit.  Anywhere. In addition to their star, Przemek Karnowski, the 7-1 bearded senior from Poland, they have freshmen from Denmark (6-11), France (6-10) and Japan (6-8) on their roster.  They have quality transfers from big-time programs - Cal, Missouri and Washington - and only one of them, Niger Williams-Goss, from suburban Portland, is a Northwesterner.  And he actually played his high school ball for Basketball Prep - er, Findlay Prep - in Las Vegas.)

But South Carolina, the legitimate “surprise” team in the tournament, can go out and find the kids, too.  The Gamecocks have players on their roster from Australia, Canada, Gabon, Estonia and Senegal. And two or three South Carolinians.

North Carolina actually has six North Carolina kids on its 15-man roster, and four of them see significant playing time.

What makes this Final Four especially exciting is that only one of the schools - North Carolina - is what you’d call a truly “elite” program.  But they’re all really good, good enough, as they’ve all demonstrated, under tough conditions, that it won’t be a surprise if any one of them wins it all.

To me,  considering what they’ve accomplished under Mark Few, Gonzaga illustrates as much as anything the importance of the  coach in college basketball success.

But then, come to think of it,  so does Oregon.  And South Carolina.  And, yes - give Roy his due - so does North Carolina.

Moral: Of course it takes good players.  But it takes good coaches to find them and land them.  And develop them and keep them in school. You can’t get to the Final Four without having a damn good coach.

*********** I got a good chuckle recently when a newly-hired coach said that one of the ways he intended to succeed at his new job was to get the numbers up - and to do that, he was going to “recruit the halls like crazy.”

As soon as I saw that, I said, “he’s got to be young.”

Sure enough, he was.

Young coaches think that they’re the first ones ever to think of something.  I was one once, and I plead guilty.

This “numbers” thing is getting to be a royal pain in the ass for football coaches everywhere.   The NFL has  created a situation where their  ignoring the seriousness of concussions in professional football players has (likely) led to  a significant number of former players suffering from long-term effects of head injuries.  And as a consequence,  the media (and parents) have jumped to the conclusion  that football, even the kind  played by kids, will surely lead to long-term dementia in their children.  The end result is the decision by the head of the household, which increasingly, in American families, is Mom: “My son’s not playing football.”

Add to that a general laziness in our male population borne out by statistics showing a dramatic increase in obesity among our youngsters, and the addictive powers of video games (Madden lets you be the star without all the hard work and sweat) and you’ve got large numbers of kids who wouldn’t play football if they were paid to do it.

Increasingly, even in small schools, kids are concentrating on a single sport, and at an earlier age. Soccer is notorious for that.  Basketball grabs off a lot of the athletic kids. And depending on the size of the school and the section of the country, year-round baseball, ice hockey and lacrosse are becoming common.

Top it all off with our feminized society’s growing antipathy toward masculinity and masculine pursuits, and football becomes the bullseye  on the anti-testosterone target. 

But that hasn’t stopped administrators from continuing to evaluate their football program by the number of kids standing on the sidelines at games.  They conveniently overlook that fact that unless those kids are all players, or potential players, every one of them represents a potential malcontent, with trigger-parents eager to share their unhappiness with school board members.

They love to tell coaches about all the big kids “walking the halls” who ought to be playing football, but in many cases they know exactly what the coaches know about those big kids - they’re unathletic, they’re soft, they’re lazy, they have terrible work habits, and they’re spoiled rotten.  They’ve never had to do anything in their lives that they didn’t want to do - yet somehow they’re going to go out for football and work their asses off while a coach is there correcting everything they do?  Get real.

Which gets me to the naive young coach who’s going to recruit the halls.  He obviously hasn’t considered that in a school of, let’s say, 600 or so kids  the previous coach, who’d been there, let’s say, five or six years, knew every boy in the school.  Maybe he was the PE teacher, too, which meant that at some point he had every boy in class at least once, and he got to see what kind of an athlete he was.  It’s hard to believe that that former coach didn’t make at least one pass at any kid showing even the slightest bit of promise.

So to all those newly-hired head coaches who think they’re the first ones who’ve ever thought of “recruiting the halls,” I say: good luck winning with those kids.  Soon enough, if you last, you’ll one day be an old coach yourself - and you’ll know why those kids were walking the halls.

*********** The late Herman Masin, longtime editor of Scholastic Coach magazine, was still using a mechanical typewriter when he retired in 2008.

That’s stretching things a bit, but to guys like Herman, a lover of sports and a great writer, I suspect that as much as anything, his typewriter linked him to the past and the people he’d come to know though his 72 years in his position.

There’s nothing like the sound of keys clacking away under the fingers of someone hurrying to get his thoughts onto a page, a sound that led the gangsters of the 1920’s to jokingly refer to a machine gun as a “typewriter.”

Once you heard the sound of a busy newspaper newsroom, it was something you'd never forget.

To anyone who’s made the transition from typewriter to computer, there’s no question that typing with the computer has huge advantages over the typewriter.

When I was working in personnel with a pro football team, part of my job was to update our roster.  During training camp, that was an especially tough assignment, with players coming and going so frequently that the roster could change several times a day.  With more than 100 guys on the roster, there was no time to type up a new roster every time someone was cut or someone was brought in, so the only solution was to “cut-and-paste.” 

If John Smith came in and we assigned him - let’s say - Number 42, we’d type up John Smith’s info on a separate sheet of paper, in the same format as our roster, then cut that info into a strip.   Then, we’d cut the main roster between Number 41 and Number 43 and pull the two pieces apart to make room for John Smith’s info to fit between them.  With a little paste (rubber cement, actually) we’d stick the strip with John  Smith’s info on it underneath and adjust it until the info fit in as well as possible, and that was that.  For the moment.

When a player was cut, we trimmed his info from the main sheet and brought the remaining two pieces of the main roster together.  And so forth.  (I told you it was a bitch.)

We would make photocopies of that for distribution to coaches and the PR department, who’d distribute it to the media.  We’d do the best we could, but it was inevitable that lines would start to look crooked.

Eventually, we’d have to start fresh.  When you’re typing a 100-man roster - Number, name, height, weight, age, college, and prior pro experience  - it’s a long, tedious job.

Oh - you didn’t want it in numerical order?  You say you wanted it in alphabetical order?   You a$$hole.  Why didn’t you say so?  There goes another hour or two shot to hell.

Nowadays, of course, you simply enter the data once and then you can insert or delete as you wish.   You want alphabetical or numerical order?  No problem.  We can sort that roster by number, name, age - any characteristic you want.

How many copies you want?  All you have to do is tell your printer to print and tell it how many.

You probably never heard of carbon copies.  You probably had no idea  that that “cc” in an email means "carbon copy." It's an old secretarial abbreviation.

Before Xerox and other dry copiers came along, if you needed just one or two copies of something you were typing, you slipped a sheet of carbon paper under the sheet you were typing on, and then another sheet of plain paper under the carbon paper.  And then, assuming you hit the typewriter keys hard enough, the ink-like material on the back of the carbon paper would make a duplicate image of your key-strike on the second typewriter sheet.  You’d be making a “carbon copy.”

It was not a very forgiving process.  I won’t even mention the problems you ran into when you made a mistake on your original (and, obviously, on your carbon copy, too).  Carbon copies were messy, and there was a limit on the number of them you could make from one original.

In the main, computers are an incredible improvement.  But there are ways in which technology has made our lives worse, and I would definitely consider the virtual keypad of the iPhone or the iPad to be one of them.  Yes, they represent taking a step backward in order to take several steps forward - but they’ve still taken us backward.

And the keyboards on even the best of laptops aren’t even close to the real thing.

For anyone who’s ever actually used a real typewriter, there’s nothing like the feel of actually hitting a mechanical key. Best is a big desk typewriter, then a portable, and finally, an electric.

Now, for people like me - there’s QWERKYWRITER! A mechanical typewriter keyboard that works with your iPad.

Now - I can’t wait to get one.  The feel and sound of a real typewriter keyboard, with the incredible advantages of a powerful computer!

While talking about mechanical typewriters - you want to see something ingenious?  Check out a musical compositon called "Typewriter."

***********  I suspect that the 31-1 vote allowing the Davis family to move the Raiders to Las Vegas indicates that someone - not saying who - got FBI files on the other NFL owners.  Otherwise, it’s hard to justify the decision.

It’s funny how they’re already talking in terms of “Raider Nation.”  Oakland?  Who the hell needs Oakland.  It doesn’t matter where we play.  Raider fans are Raider fans.   Raider Nation, blah, blah, blah.

So for the next two years, the Las Vegas Raiders will play in Oakland.  Why does that sound like a bad idea?  Oh, wait - I forgot. Those people in the stands?   They don’t care whether it’s “Oakland” or “Las Vegas.”  They’re just proud, patriotic  members of Raider Nation - wherever the team plays - and they’re just honored to be able to host the team for the next two years, until it moves to a more suitable place.   It’s their patriotic duty.

Meantime, my friend Doc Hinger and I have been doing a little brainstorming.

First of all, whether it’s Oakland for the next two years or Las Vegas three years from now, there are going to be empty seats in NFL stadiums.  We already see them in Jacksonville.  Well, we don’t actually see the empty seats - they’re covered.  And - amazingly - we've been seeing them in Los Angeles. We’ll be seeing them in LA again next year.

Here’s my thinking:  when they can digitally impose yellow first-down stripes and multi-colored corporate logos on football fields… when video game developers can produce highly life-like characters…

Why wouldn’t someone be able to develop “virtual crowds” - images of people that can be digitally imposed on unoccupied seats?

Sure, they’d still look empty  to those poor schlubs at the stadium - but who cares about them?  To the people who really matter - the TV viewers who are turned off by the sight of empty seats, the advertisers who need constant reassurance that the NFL is still highly popular,  the NFL bigwigs whose lifeblood is the continued growth in popularity of their product -  it’s important to see people in the seats.

So get with it, developers.

Now, here comes Doc Hinger’s idea:  we’ll put “real” people in those seats. Maybe you.   For a price.  Want to be in the stands at this Monday night’s Saints-Rams game?  Yes, yes, I know you live in Buffalo and you can’t get off work, but we can put you there.  We’ll superimpose your face on a “real” person.  We’ll even be able to tell you what section you’ll be sitting in (maybe even the exact seat) so you can tell your friends and - we still have to work this out with the networks -  arrange to get you on camera and give you a rough idea when you’ll be on.

That’s it, up to this point.  We haven’t figured out costs yet, but you’ll hear soon.  In the future, we plan on being able to let you choose from a variety of team shirts (even your favorite player’s number) or, if you wish, to let you go bare-chested (males only, which may get us in trouble with the ACLU).  Face-painting is also a possibility. 

Eventually, we’ll allow you to choose your action:  sad and dejected,  wildly excited, sleepy - or drunk.

Stay tuned.

*********** Correctly Identifying C.R. Roberts

John Vermillion - St. Petersburg, Florida
Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin
Tim Brown - Athens, Alabama
Jerry Lovell - Bellevue, Nebraska
Ken Hampton - Raleigh, North Carolina
Mark Kaczmarek - Davenport, Iowa
Kevin McCullough - Lakeville, Indiana

*********** C.R. Roberts was a big (6-1, 215-pound) USC single wing fullback who went on to play for four seasons in the NFL, all with the 49ers.  1956, when Roberts travelled with the Trojans to play against the University of Texas, he became the first black player to play against a white player in the state of Texas.  (For the record, USC won, 44-20, and Roberts rushed for 251 yards in 12 carries.)

There’s no telling what kind of stats he could have wound up with - he had scoring runs of 73, 50 and 74 yards in the first half alone - and didn’t play at all in the second half.

Roberts recalled that  SC coach Jess Hill was concerned about continuing to play him “because there was getting to be a lot of tension in the air.”

That the game was even played was remarkable, beginning with the stand taken by the USC players when they refused to go to Texas without their black teammates.   And then, when hotels refused to accommodate the black players, Coach Hill moved the team. 

In an interview years later, Roberts recalled black and Hispanic spectators - required to sit in the end zone - getting very excited at the sight of a black man on the field, and then even more excited by his performance.

“Just by getting to play in that game,” he said, “I felt I had won.”

With the 49ers, he teamed with Y.A. Tittle and R.C. Owens and J.D. Smith to form what came to be called the “All-Initial Backfield,” or “Alphabet Backfield.”

*********** In C. R. Roberts’ own words  (slightly edited to correct misspellings of Darrell Royal’s and Walt Fondren’s names)

In my last year at SC. there was a controversy.

There was a racial problem when we played Darrell  Royal's University of Texas Longhorns deep in the heart of Texas. In 1956 Blacks were forbidden to stay in the downtown hotels in Austin, Texas. We had three black players on our team. They were Lou Byrd, Hillard Hill and myself. Coach Jess Hill was told that he could not bring any black players with the team because they would have no place to stay and athletic competition between blacks and whites was forbidden in the state of Texas.

Coach Hill threatened to cancel the game. Texas then agreed to let the black players stay in the YMCA outside of town. I refused to stay anyplace other than with the team even after they found another YMCA downtown. Texas relented, and I got on the team bus to leave for the game.

Going to the game was different for me this time. On our ride to the airport the bus driver turned on a black radio station for us for the first time. I will never forget that ride to LAX, The sun was shinning beautifully, and the Clovers were singing one of my all time favorites “One Mint Julep”. I felt so good that I didn’t know what to do. It seemed to me the rest of the trip to Texas was uneventful, although the rest of the world had a different perspective.

We arrived at the hotel in downtown Austin and they refused to check us in. Jess Hill took the team to another hotel presumably owned by an SC alumnus and we were finally admitted. That night, they even admitted blacks and Mexicans into the end Zone seats for the first time.

At the Football Stadium:

It was sheer bedlam at the University of Texas Stadium as you see and hear the fans cheering. Tonight you could believe it when everyone tells you that football is “Texas Heaven” because Texas fans sure love their football. But as I warmed up I could hear some of the loudest cheering coming from the end zone.

Blacks and Mexicans were encouraged to see football in this stadium for the first time, and tonight they were cheering for us, USC.  Boy that made me feel good. I remembered the coach’s words before the game. “CR don’t worry about what they do and don't  listen to any names they call you. I assure that we are all safe.”

During the game I started out playing both ways, linebacker and fullback. Right away I went head hunting for their quarterback Walt Fondren. He was special. His coach was the great Darrell Royal and he was called the million-dollar quarterback because his daddy was rich and he could throw the hell out of that football.

Starting the game I was feeling good. I had tackled their quarterback at least two times when the coach called me over and took me out of the game. After only a few plays I was taken off defense and told to play offense only. I figured this was a good idea because the crowd was getting ugly every time I made a good tackle or two.

I am not sure but during the second quarter it seemed that the coach would take me out of the game every time we got ahead or the crowd got upset (I was happy because there could have been a riot). I played a little while (offense only) during the third quarter and never got back into the game again.

I remember that we played some good football during that game but I remember what happened after the game most of all.

For me, the after game excitement made this the best trip we took all year. Every black hotel worker in Austin must have come to my room to see us that night. The hallway outside our room was packed with people all night long.

They had come from far and wide just to see us. Everyone was so proud just to see us staying in the hotel that I don’t remember ever going to sleep. My roommate Lou Byrd and (now Mayor of Inglewood) I just talked to everyone all night.

History was made:

We had beaten Texas 44-20 that night and I had played only 12 minutes on offense. I was the first back in USC history to carry the ball for 251 yards in one game. I held the record for the most yards gained in one game for 23 years. My record of 251 yards and three touchdowns in twelve minutes of playing time still stands today.

This was a significant game. That day in Texas was the first time a Division One University had ever played an integrated team in that conference. We integrated the Southwest Football Conference for the first time. The same school USC and Sam Cunningham would integrate the Southeast Conference some years later when they played in Alabama.


In the photo at left,  taken after the USC-Texas game, Roberts and his backfield running mate, the great Jon Arnett, dump cups of water on each other.  Couple of things to note:  (1) considering those were the days long before serious weight training became the norm, Roberts was trim and very well-muscled; (2) Notice Arnett’s jersey.  Like most top-grade jerseys of the time, it was kept from coming off by a tail that passed under the crotch and buttoned in the front - see the three button holes above the crotch.  I wore such a jersey in college and still have it somewhere.  I have no idea why they were made this way other than probably to keep the shirt tail from coming out.  (To this day, I can’t stand the sight of a football jersey not tucked in.)

***********Here 's a video with some clips of C.R. Roberts against playing Texas in 1956.  He’s playing fullback in the SC single wing, and he breaks a couple of long ones on buck-lateral plays.  USC is still wearing the Northwestern stripes.

Interestingly, although I knew that Jim Brown  had integrated  the Cotton Bowl in January of 1957,  I’d never known until I did this research, that  C.R. Roberts had first broken the color barrier in Texas months earlier.

*********** Not to be the one to spoil a good story, but as a history major
I did learn something about research...

It’s widely stated that when C.R. Roberts and USC played at Texas in 1956 it was the first time a black player competed against a white player in that state.
Wikipedia says it so it must be true.

Uh-oh, kids.   Never, never use Wikipedia as your primary source.

Until Kevin McCullough brought it to my attention, I had completely forgotten that some time ago I had written on here about the legendary Wally Triplett.  Wally Triplett is special to me because he’s a Philly guy - he went to Cheltenham (Pennsylvania) High, which is the arch-rival of my wife’s high school, Abington High.  Cheltenham is a rather wealthy area, but for most of its existence, it’s had its “colored section,” an area called LaMott, in honor of Lucretia Mott, a prominent abolitionist.   Wally Triplett, to be precise, is from LaMott.

In addition, I worked for a couple years in Baltimore with Wally Triplett's cousin, the late John Triplett, a great person who was an outstanding football player himself at Morgan State.

Of this, there is ABSOLUTELY NO DOUBT: years before C.R. Roberts faced the Longhorns in 1956, Wally Triplett played football in the state of Texas against white people.

In 1948,  when Penn State played SMU, Wally Triplett became the first black player to play in the Cotton Bowl.  (The Cotton Bowl, in case the people who contribute their knowledge of history to Wikipedia don’t know, was played then, as now, in Texas.  And SMU, like all major college teams in Texas at the time, was all-white.)

Therefore, until someone else comes forward, Wally Triplett of Penn State is the first black man to play football against a white player in Texas.

Not in any way does this diminish the importance of CR Roberts and his accomplishment, and I certainly wouldn't want to be the one to say to him, "Mr. Roberts, I hate to have to tell you, after all these years of thinking you were the first..."  As we all should know, even eight years after Wally Triplett, courageous blacks in the South were still having to break down racial barriers, one by one, on the football fields and elsewhere.

Wally Triplett had several other firsts, including being the first black player to letter at Penn State, and the first black player to be drafted by the NFL.

Mr. Triplett is still alive, in his 90s, and living in Detroit (he played pro ball with the Lions) in the same house he’s lived in since 1957.

An article in back in November tells this man’s remarkable story.

It’s entitled, “A Lions’ Legend: Hidden and in Plain Sight” and it’s a great read.


*********** QUIZ - The son of Jewish immigrants, he was a graduate of Brooklyn’s famed Erasmus Hall High School. He is one of the greatest players ever to come out of an Ivy League school.  Although a single-wing tailback in college, as a pro he became  the first great T-formation (under center) quarterback in NFL history.  He led his team to the most one-sided win in NFL history - in a championship game, yet.  He's shown in the photo at left as a college player, and in the right photo, as a pro, he's the one in the middle, with his backups on either side.

american flag TUESDAY,  MARCH 28,  2017  "A man always has two reasons for what he does - a good one, and the real one."
John Pierpont (J.P.) Morgan

*********** Sure am glad I asked the question - what is the only member of a power 5 conference that has never played in a major bowl game or made it to the Elite Eight in basketball?  - before the answer (South Carolina) not only crashed the Elite Eight but made it to the Final Four.

*********** After their shameful creation of stupefyingly easy majors, and then recruiting players so lazy and indifferent to education that they wouldn’t even attend the classes - much less do the “work” - it’s wonderful to learn that North Carolina’s Luke Maye, whose last-split-second shot beat Kentucky Sunday night, is serious enough about his studies - and the reputation of his basketball team - that he was right on time for Monday morning’s 8 AM class (Business 101).

HIs classmates gave him a standing ovation.

Maye is a Carolina kid.  His dad, Mark, played QB for the Tarheels in the early 80s.  In high school in Greensboro, Mark Maye was all-state in football, basketball and baseball.  At UNC, an injured shoulder limited his career, but after graduation he returned to NC as a graduate assistant - where he met his future wife, a UNC basketball player.  Good choice.  She is 5-11.   Their son, Luke, grew to be 6-8.

*********** Would love to see UCLA in those uniforms again.  Of course I don't think Nike would get it right anyway.  

When I played high school ball back in the late 60's our school colors were blue and gold and we proudly wore the UCLA insert on our jerseys.

Here's a question...did the USC insert show up at the same time the UCLA insert did?  Or did the Trojans come up with their own version of the "insert" after UCLA did just to aggravate their crosstown rival?

Joe Gutilla
Austin, Texas

I used to love those uniforms. Even the numbers were different from the block style that everyone else wore.

I know that UCLA was first with the inserts.  I have photos from 1955 and 1956, when UCLA was wearing the Inserts and USC was wearing “Northwestern” stripes (one wide one between two narrow ones) on their sleeves.

By 1959, though, I have a picture of USC’s famous McKeever twins in USC uniforms with shoulder inserts.  One-color inserts.

Sanders said he added the inserts to make his players look faster.

I loved ‘em because my Colts  (Baltimore)  wore ‘em.

Now, after  it became too expensive to have those low-wage workers in third world countries sew in the inserts, apparel companies are trying to create the same effect by printing the stripes.  It ain’t the same, looks dumber than hell, but I guess it fools the millenials.

*********** My son, Ed, came across this hour-long ESPN feature on the WFL, where I spent two years of my life - and got 20 years of football experience… 

The best part of it to me is that it devotes quite a bit of time to Vince Papale, on whose “true story” the movie “Invincible” was (loosely) based.  Just in case anyone might have thought I was a crackpot, claiming that there was no truth to the story that Papale was just a bartender whose only football experience consisted of Sunday morning games of rough touch, before the Iggles games,  the ESPN show provides conclusive video evidence that Papale had two seasons of professional football experience when the Iggles signed him.  Nice story, but the guy had considerably athletic ability and tremendous drive and he was not unknown.

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

Red Sanders?  UCLA

Good Q and A regarding the open wing and double wing. Any run oriented coach now faces this dilemma. We all want the ability to run for 300 yards and control the ball for 30 minutes. But we also need to move the ball against a superior defense at times.  Run dominated coaches receive more criticism and hiring predjudice than ever before.

One thing I think that helps is working in the summer on your pass routes with the QB and ends first before camp starts. Installing them, maybe some 7 on 7. Kids are willing to work on that.

Then during camp getting to your base offense and run game. If they have been in your system for a while they will pick that up quick. I do believe you still start the OL with run blocking first and foremost though. They can pick up pass pro later.

Also I feel you need to be realistic enough to realize that some teams are better than you. You  can have as many "packages" as you want and you will still not beat them. 50% of all teams lose on Friday night.

The key is trying to determine what is missing from your base attack that might help you win a game without working on so much stuff that you weaken your base.

Sorry for the ramble.

John Bothe
Oregon, Illinois


First of all, you’re right on Red Sanders.

And secondly, you’re right on the mark with what I’ve been thinking.

We do not teach pass blocking per se, and when we do, it’s fairly aggressive, at least on the  playside.

We’re not into blitz pickup and that sort of business.

We still throw a lot of play action, but even when we do that, we usually hinge back on the defense.

Being stubborn, and being creatures of the football culture, we supposed to believe that we can beat anybody, but the longer I’m in it the more I’ve come to terms with the truth of your statement:  50% of all teams lose on Friday night.

Please “ramble" any time it means sharing your wisdom.  There are a lot of guys out there who would love to know what you know but are afraid to ask because they might look stupid.

*********** INTERNET WISDOM—
Ted Nugent, the Michigan Mad Man, is one of the  few conservatives in the entertainment business, but he easily offsets a couple of hundred of the liberal lemmings who would follow Hillary off a cliff.  He was, the story goes, being interviewed by a liberal journalist who also happens to be an animal rights activist, and the subject of deer hunting - Nugent is an avid bow hunter  came up.

"What do you think is the last thought in the head of a deer before you shoot him?,” The journalist asked.  “Is it, 'Are you my friend?' or is it 'Are you the one who killed my brother?'"

Nugent replied, "Deer aren't capable of that kind of thinking. All they care about is “what am I going to eat next”, “who am I going to screw next”, and “can I run fast enough to get away”.  They are very much like the Democrats in Congress."


Josh Montgomery - Berwick, Louisiana
Charlie Wilson - Crystal River, Florida
Don Gordon - Greenfield, Massachusetts
KC Smith - Walpole, Massachusetts
John Grimsley - Jefferson, Georgia
Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin (Who kindly included a few play diagrams of Red Sanders’ balanced-line single wing)
Joe Gutilla - Austin, Texas (“When I played high school ball back in the late 60's our school colors were blue and gold and we proudly wore the UCLA insert on our jerseys.”)
Ken Hampton - Raleigh, North Carolina (I love this quote from Coach Sanders about UCLA vs. USC rivalry:  "Beating 'SC is not a matter of life or death, it's more important than that.”)
Mark Kaczmarek - Davenport, Iowa (on UCLA’s importance of beating SC, "it's not a matter of life or death, it's more important than that!”)
Tim Brown - Athens, Alabama
John Bothe - Oregon, Illinois
Jerry Lovell - Bellevue, Nebraska
Tom Davis - San Marcos, California
Dave Potter - Cary, North Carolina
John Vermillion - St. Petersburg, Florida

Wrote Charles Chiccoa in Bruin Report Online

He loved good music and good whisky. The music was Dixieland, the whisky Jack Daniel's.

(he) was a Southerner by birth and predilection. He had some of the prejudices of the South when he first arrived in southern California because he didn't realize they were prejudices. They were, if such a thing is possible, innocently acquired. The crime, if any, was heredity. But (he) used the epithet for Negroes, for instance, so innocently in his early career that he once used it addressing a mixed audience. It had never occurred to him it would be offensive because he had not intended it as such. As it turned out, it was the white persons in the audience who raised a public protest. The Negroes accepted it in the spirit in which it had been used—as part of a joke.  Sanders, in short, treated Negroes as friends, not as special citizens before whom it was necessary to put on a special set of manners.

With a largely southern coaching staff brought with him from (the South), Sanders played more Negroes than almost any university in the entire country, certainly more than his principal coast rivals. It has been claimed that this was because (the school) enrolled more, but this argument is invalid. Football players are not selected from the student body a tlarge in this day and age of big-time college football. They are selected as carefully as members of the Union League Club, and it is perfectly possible to find a topnotch football squad of one or many colors and one or many creeds.  (He) saw only football players, not minorities.

As for those powder-blue UCLA jerseys…

In the black and white world of the fifties, Sanders brand new powder-blue jerseys, tan pants and gold helmets made the Bruins appear entirely gray on TV and in the newspapers, a very cool monochrome. It was believed he changed from UCLA's traditional royal blue to this curious pale blue in order to make it harder for opponents to read the fat little white numbers on the distant, wide angle shots of scouting film

*********** Wrote the LA Times’ Keith Thursby, in 2008, the 50th anniversary of Red Sanders'  death…

“Red Sanders was the first Wizard of Westwood.”

Sports Illustrated did a feature on him

His story in three parts…




*********** Red Sanders gave us football coaches two witty quotes that have earned the ultimate tribute: they have become cliches, worn bare by coaches, fans, sports writers and sports talk guys.

His first claim to immortality described  the UCLA-USC rivalry:  "it's not a matter of life or death, it's more important than that!”

HIs second has been attributed to numerous others, but research shows clearly that Red Sanders - not Vince Lombardi, not Joe Kuharich, not Murray Warmath - was the first to say

  “Winning Isn’t Everything; It’s the Only Thing?”

Quote Investigator: The earliest strong match located by QI appeared in the “Tallahassee Democrat” of Tallahassee, Florida on February 7, 1950. The saying emerged from a dialog recounted by the columnist Fred Pettijohn. The name “Frnka” looks odd but is correct. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI:

Tulane football Coach Henry Frnka recently asked UCLA mentor Red Sanders. “Winning isn’t everything, is it, Red?” To which Sanders replied. “No, it isn’t everything; it’s just the ONLY thing.”

There is evidence that Vince Lombardi and other coaches employed this saying in subsequent years, but based on current knowledge Sanders achieved victory; he won the motto creation competition.

*********** The saddest quote ever attributed to Red Sanders was probably the last thing he ever said.

His female companion in the hotel room where he died said his last words (to her )were, "Football is a great game. You should come out this fall and see a few games."

VANDERBILT 1948 STAFF*********** This is the Vanderbilt staff in 1948, just prior to their leaving, en masse, for UCLA.

Red Sanders, of course, is seated at his desk.

Seated on his left is Tommy Prothro.  Prothro, a Memphis native, played at Duke, where he was a blocking back (single wing quarterback) for the great Wallace Wade.  At Duke, he played baseball (his father was a former major league baseball player and manager) and lacrosse. After graduation, he spent a year as an assistant at Western Kentucky, then entered the Navy and after the War, he was hired in 1946 by Sanders to be his freshman coach at Vanderbilt. He was promoted to the varsity after one year, and  went along when Sanders was hired by UCLA in 1949 (he brought his entire staff of four assistants with him).

At UCLA, Prothro was Sanders’ backfield coach.  Following the 1954 season, he was hired as head coach by Oregon State, and in 1957, running the single wing that he knew best, he took the Beavers to the Rose Bowl.  Eight years later, he had the Beavers in the Rose Bowl again.  They haven’t been back since.

Prothro left Oregon State for UCLA in 1965, and coached the Bruins for six seasons.  In 1961 he moved to the NFL where he coached the Los Angeles Rams for two seasons and the San Diego Chargers for four years.

He was considered a brilliant tactician, and was well known as an expert bridge player.

He coached two Heisman Trophy winners - Terry Baker at Oregon State and Gary Beban at UCLA.

You talk about irony: Oregon State has played in just three Rose Bowl games.  Prothro was their coach in two of them.  But in the third, the famous 1942 Rose Bowl that was moved to Durham, North Carolina because (less than a month after Pearl Harbor) of wartime restrictions on large crowds on the West Coast, he started against the Beavers as Duke’s quarterback.

Standing at left is Jack Myers, who went on to quite a career himself.  He was Sanders’ line coach (in those days of two-way football, that meant coaching both offensive and defensive lines) at Vanderbilt and UCLA.

A West Virginia native, Myers played college football at Tennessee, where he learned his (balanced-line) single wing play under the great General Robert Neyland.

In 1957 he left UCLA to become head coach at Iowa State, but left after one year to become head man at Texas A & M. In 1962 he joined Tom Landry’s staff with the Dallas Cowboys, first as offensive line coach and then as offensive coordinator, and served through the 1986 season.

Red Sanders and Ronnie Knox*********** In the photo at left, Red Sanders is shown with Ronnie Knox.  To put it in a way you younger guys might better relate to,  Ronnie Knox was Lonzo Ball in a football uniform.  He was supremely gifted.   And his father, Harvey Knox, was the 1950s edition of Lavar Ball.  Harvey Knox was actually worse, because he was pretty much the first of his kind, and he did his act on a national stage.   Since him, we’ve had many years to grow accustomed to meddling, intrusive parents.  And of course nowadays we have agents, the real kind and the street kind.

To much fanfare, Ronnie chose to go to Cal - which was then the great power of the West - but then, after some conflict between Harvey and Bear’s coach Pappy Waldorf, he  transferred to UCLA.    A side effect of the Harvey and Ronnie Knox saga was the exposing a pay-for-play scandal at major West Coast schools that led to the breakup of the old Pacific Coast Conference.

Ironically, although Ronnie Knox was a very good passer, he wasn’t that great in the UCLA system because he wasn’t the kind of runner that the single-wing requires in a tailback.

Read more on Ronnie Knox and you'll find out that when Ronnie wound up with the Chicago Bears, Harvey bumped heads with George Halas.  Big mistake, Dad. Wrong guy.
* Why Ronnie Knox Quit California

* The Sordid Tale of Ronnie Knox and the Dissolution of the PCC

***********  The 1954 Rose Bowl is a feast for Old School Football nuts.  It featured Michigan State’s “Multiple Offense” (an unbalanced full-house T from which the Spartans would occasionally shift and, in their early days, would snap the ball through the QB’s legs directly to the fullback, the  first step in  spinner series, against the UCLA balanced line single wing - both right and left formations - and, according to the announcer, former Michigan State coach Biggie Munn, a Bowl game surprise - a short punt formation.  At about the 13 minute mark they run a pretty nice screen from it.

*********** This year’s Coach Wyatt Kansas City Clinic will be Saturday, April 29 at the same place as last year, the Quality Inn and Suites, 1201 Branch St.,  Platte City, Missouri. 

The major emphasis will be on (1) new ideas in the Open Wing, including a sharing of experiences by coaches in attendance, and (2)   a slimmed-down Open Wing package that won’t take away emphasis from your base Double Wing offense.

In other words, you do not have to remove your Double Wing tattoo.  But you might want something useful and productive to do with your kids during the summer. 

And in addition, there’s that old football adage that when you’re down by as many touchdowns as there are possessions remaining, it’s probably time to go to Plan B.

Although there are other hotels in the area, I recommend the Quality Inn.  It’s quite nice, and they’ve set aside a limited number of rooms at a special rate of $79.99 (same as last year).  They expect a busy weekend, so to make sure you get a room - and the rate - call soon (816-858-5430) and be sure to mention Coach Wyatt Clinics. 

If you’re flying in, there’s no need to rent a car - the Quality Inn runs a shuttle to and from the airport.

*********** For the first time in two years, there will be a Coach Wyatt Clinic on the East Coast - Saturday, May 13 in the Raleigh-Durham, NC area, at East Wake High School, in Wendell, North Carolina (just east of Raleigh).  More Details on Friday.

Quiz subject carrying the ball

*********** QUIZ: One of the best players ever to come out of San Diego, in 1956  he became  the first black player to play college football against white players in the state of Texas, and in that game he ran for 251 yards - a school record that held up for 23 years.  In the pros, he played in a backfield consisting of four guys whose “names” were C.R., J.D., R.C., and Y.A.

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

***********  Coach,

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Long-winded answer.  Great question.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope that this is not true.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I would confess to dozens of crimes I never committed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay, just joking.  Purely hypothetical.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tim Brown - Athens, Alabama

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

Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconson

Ken Hampton - Raleigh, North Carolina

Joe Gutilla - Austin, Texas

Kevin McCullough - Lakeville, Indiana

Tracy Jackson - Dallas, Oregon


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

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

He was married to an Olympic diver.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

I'm talking about “alternate uniforms.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***********  You can’t make this up…

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***********  Good morning Hugh,

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

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

Have a great day my friend!

Joe Gutilla
Austin, Texas


Great hearing from you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I wrote this over a year ago…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, well.  Go Huskies.

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

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

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

Ben Schwartzwalder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you!!

Marlowe Aldrich
Saint Francis Junior High Coach
Billings, Montana

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

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

Mirrors are next.

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

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

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

Todd Hollis
Elmwood High School
Elmwood, Illinois


I very much appreciate the kind words.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In short, talk is cheap.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here's a sample:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kind regards,

Eric C. Heintz
Puyallup, WA

Thanks, Coach.

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

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

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

Appreciate the note.

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

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

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

It's illegal.

Here's what the Rule Book says...

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

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

Face Tackling NFHS

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

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


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

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


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ed and wombat

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


Josh Montgomery - Berwick, Louisiana

Ken Hampton - Raleigh, North Carolina

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

Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin

Tom Davis - San Marcos, California

Kevin McCullough - Lakeville, Indiana

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

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

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

Read more about Lou Saban, a very interesting man

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyhow, the guy can coach.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We must:

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

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

use the element of surprise as a devastating scoring play;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

He can do it.  Other guys have.

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

It’s been done.

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

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

Who’s the player?

Correctly identifying Nile Kinnick of Iowa:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s that video:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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
































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

He wrote…

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

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

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

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

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

Great family man with 11 children.

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

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

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

That was Coach Reade's philosophy of formationing.

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

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

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

He only pulled linemen on wing counter and fullback trap.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


And there is Pennsylvania Dutch talk.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Pennsylvania Dutchman on “Dutchified English”

A Pennsylvania Dutchman on Pennsylvania Dutch food

A Pennsylvania Dutchman on Snack Foods

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

Douglas Madenford:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pop Warner Center Snaps

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

Not hard to tell which one Pop Warner favored.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Correctly identifying South Carolina:

Ken Hampton - Raleigh, North Carolinia

Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin

Jerry Lovell - Bellevue, Nebraska

Ed Wyatt - Melbourne, Australia

Kevin McCullough - Lakeville, Indiana

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Dietzel and Frank McGuire, that’s who.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who’s the player?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Cut expenses and increase income.” 


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

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

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

From the official Sugar Bowl site…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Real men wore singlets.

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

What is this world coming to?

Pete Porcelli
Watervliet, New York

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

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

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


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

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

Super Power Right and Left

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

Wedge at 2

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

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

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

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

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

He inherited a winning program, and he kept winning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heres' the gist of the story...

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

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

Houston Cougar Sign
Everyone's a Lobo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But “In the act of?”


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

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

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

Jack Lambert was prophetic:

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

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

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

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

Todd Hollis
Elmwood, Illinois


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

2008 – ISSUE 5 – By Hugh Wyatt –


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First, though, Bob Reade’s coaching credentials…

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



146-23-1 IN 16 SEASONS

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

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

Yeah, typical.

One was an Episcopal priest.  A female.

She has a tattooed “sleeve.”

She once played on a local roller derby team.

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

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

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

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

With me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WTF?  I thought. Sign of the devil?

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

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

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

Hook em

(I sent her the photos.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In digest form: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How’s that basketball team been doing, anyhow?

Well.  Since you asked…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope things are well-
Brian Rochon
Plymouth Michigan

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

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

Point Roberts

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

As described in court documents...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Identifying Eldridge Dickey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Head Shop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kiss Cam

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

Tom Walls.
Winnipeg, Manitoba

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

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

What the hell - what could possibly go wrong?

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

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

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

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

Joel Mathews
Independence, Missouri

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

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

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

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

Every Friday, the Journal has a “MANSION” section, devoted mainly to articles about how what my mother used to call “the other half” lives.

If you want a humbling experience, a look at its classified ads for palatial homes all over the US will let you know what your place is in the economic pecking order.  There’s a home on Squam Lake in New Hampshire for $8.9 million… A “spectacular colonial” in Greenwich, Connecticut for $7.9 million… An ocean-front estate in La Jolla, California for $18 million… A Tampa Bay waterfront estate for $7.5 million… A Berkeley, California home with “San Francisco Bay views” for $3.7 million… Ocean Lawn (the “former Firestone estate”) in Newport, Rhode Island, for $15 million…

You get the idea.

Two articles, at first glimpse unrelated, appeared, one above the other, on the front page.  Their juxtaposition may have been unintentional, but it sure was ironic.

The article above the fold told of a couple from Maine who sold their place back in New England and built a 4,100 square foot “ski-in, ski-out” home for some $2.2 million - in Telluride, Colorado, so their son can train with the “Telluride Ski & Snowboard Club.”  (The kid’s 11 - A nation sits on pins and needles waiting for him to become old enough to make the US Olympic team)… 

Another couple has already moved three times in the last three years - first, selling their “dream house” in Beaverton, Oregon - at a $25,000 loss - and renting a place in Scottsdale, Arizona, then buying a house in Morgan Hill, California, and finally moving back to Scottsdale.   Meanwhile, Dad was asked to return to his employer’s home office in Oregon, so he’s rented a place in Oregon while the rest of the family stays in Arizona.  All this so their now-17-year-old son can play on a youth ice hockey team in the hopes of earning a scholarship to the college of his dreams…

A British couple who’d been living in the Bahamas moved to Bradenton, Florida so their soccer-playing sons, 13 and 9, could attend IMG Academy.  The tuition at IMG, a sports-intensive school,  is $50,000 a year for day students.  No doubt to save on having to pay the higher boarding-school tuition, they decided to rent a nearby apartment - for $9,000 a month. 

Again, you get the idea.

The article below the fold was decidedly not about living the high life.  It was about basketball great Larry Bird, and how he grew up. He was the fourth of six kids in the little town of West Baden Springs, Indiana. “Our house looked like most other houses in the area,” he recalled - “like poor people lived inside.”

HIs father worked as a finisher in a piano factory, and his mother worked two jobs - mornings as a cook at a diner, and evenings at a convenience store.

“My folks had too many kids,” he told the Journal’s Marc Myers. "We didn’t even have enough money for a car.” But “everything was within walking or running distance, so it didn’t much matter.

“Space was tight at our house.  I slept on the front porch, which had windows but no heat.  In the winter, I slept with a big quilt.  I can sit here and whine about it, but you know what? That’s the way most people in our area lived.

“In the back of the house there was a long, narrow porch.  We took a coffee can, cut out the top and bottom, and nailed the can above the doorway.  Then we’d dribble rubber balls and shoot them.  When it rained, we played in there all day.

“In the summer, I was outside all the time.  My mother would order us out early so she could deal with the house and have some peace. I played all sports - baseball, football and basketball. I’d run a mile to play basketball on an asphalt court outside the school.”

When he was 12 or so his family moved into a bigger house in the nearby town of French Lick, but for the last three years of high school he lived with his maternal grandmother.

“She had one bedroom and two beds,” he said. “One for her and one for me.  My older brothers had lived there before me.  She liked the company and never put pressure on me.”

Grandma lived across from the high school, and in and out of school - Spring Valley High in French Lick -  he worked hard to perfect his game,  “pushing myself to train harder than other players,” and “practicing shooting for hours.”

The rest is basketball history.

In 1972, his parents divorced.   His father, who suffered from  his experiences in the Korean War, “had his demons,” Bird recalls, and he did a bit of drinking; after the divorce, Bird says, “his life sort of unravelled.”

And then, in 1975, he killed himself. “I still miss him,” Bird said.

Today, Larry Bird and his wife live in Indianapolis, in a three-story, five-bedroom home.  “It’s way too big,” he says.  “I never thought I’d live in a house like that.”

Reading the two articles on the same page, I can’t help wondering how much better Larry Bird could have been if only his parents had been wealthy enough - and indulgent enough - to move someplace where he could get more professional instruction than his high school coach could offer.  (Sarcasm alert, for those who don’t know me.)

Seth Wrestling

North Beach’s Seth Bridge (above, on the left) is shown winning the Washington State Class 2B 285-pound championship Saturday.

Seth is the son of North Beach head coach Todd Bridge and his wife, Chris, and was a four-year starter on the North Beach football team.  (Technically, he started one game as an eighth grader.  During spring practice of his eight grade year,  a starting tackle went down the day before our spring game, and Seth had to step in.)

Seth has worked hard to become a state champion wrestler.  Since  he's   by far the biggest kid in his school - not to mention the  wrestling team -
it's been especially tough finding someone to  practice against.

*********** The woman responsible for Roe v. Wade, the case which enabled the Supreme Court to discover, hidden away in the Constitution for nearly two centuries, a right to abortion, died Saturday.

The decision was handed down in 1969.   It’s hard to believe that it was done on behalf of a 22-year-old woman, unmarried, unemployed and pregnant for the third f—king time.  (She said at the time that the third  pregnancy was the result of a rape, but confessed afterward that that was a lie.)

Too late.

Late in life, she underwent a religious conversion - a couple of them, actually - and took up the fight against abortion.

Too late.

*********** My friend, Doc Hinger, is one lucky guy.  He lives in Winter Haven, Florida.  Winter Haven is in Polk County.  Polk County might be the last place where you’d want to commit a crime.

That’s because the sheriff of Polk County is the great Grady Judd.

How great?

Just one example:  In 2006, a guy who’d killed a deputy sheriff after being pulled over for speeding was shot at 110 times, and  hit  68 times.

Why so many bullets?
Sheriff Judd was asked, and he replied,

"I suspect the only reason 110 rounds was all that was fired was that's all the ammunition they had.”

Doc told me that last Saturday night he attended a dinner to raise funds for Wounded Warriors.  Lots of donated items were auctioned off: shotguns, fishing tackle, guided hunting and fishing trips.

One of the items was lunch with Sheriff Judd at the Polk County jail.

It went for $2000.

*********** Guts Department…

Somebody had to eat the first oyster.  His identity is lost in the mists of history.

And somebody had to get the first full-body MRI scan.  That somebody was Dr. Peter Mansfield.

Dr. Mansfield, who shared a Nobel Prize in Medicine for his discoveries that led to the MRI scanner, died last week.

Partly because he was the only one on the research team thin enough to fit inside, he volunteered to be the first one to enter the full-body scanner that he and his team had built. 

It was not  a decision easily made.

At the time, no one understood what the risks might be of doing so.  One scientist told Dr. Mansfield that the change of directions in a magnetic field might cause his heart to stop.

Dr. Mansfield, however, said he had done his own calculations - and he disagreed.  
So in he went. 

As his wife stood nearby to see him off - perhaps forever - he was bolted into the machine.  When the scan was complete, it took 10 minutes to get him out.

He was a lifelong learner and an inveterate tinkerer.   “We had to be careful what we gifted him,” said a granddaughter,  because he insisted on taking things apart to see how they worked. One Christmas he took apart an electric razor he’d received, and the family had to go buy him another one.

*********** Identifying Willie “Satellite” Totten

Josh Montgomery - Berwick, Louisiana

Scott Whaley - Oskaloosa, Kansas

Ed Wyatt - Melbourne, Australia (Relatives of Coach Wyatt and employees of Coach Wyatt Worldwide play solely for fun and are not eligible to win cash prizes)

Greg Koenig - Beloit, Kansas

Mat Hedger - Langdon, North Dakota

John Bothe - Oregon, Illinois

Mark Kaczmarek - Davenport, Iowa

Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin

Tom Walls - Winnipeg, Manitoba

Tracy Jackson - Dallas, Oregon - Coach Cooley came to Portland for a clinic once in cowboy boots and a cowboy shirt.  He said to me that his offense was "was something else'.  They were really the talk back then. 

Tom Davis - San Marcos, California

Dennis Metzger - Richmond, Indiana

30 years ago at Mississippi Valley State,  Willie Totten's  coach, Archie “Gunslinger” Cooley, a man way ahead of his time, turned him loose - let him call his own plays, and at the line of scrimmage. It was no-huddle, “fast break football.”

In Totten's first game as quarterback of the new offense, his team won, 86-0.

A radio guy said, “They just pass and pass. The ball looks like it’s floating in air like a satellite.” That earned the guy a nickname that stuck with him.

His career stats: 952 completions in 1629 attempts… 13,170 yards… 141 TDs

When he left college, he held 56 NCAA Division I-AA (FCS) passing records.

He wasn’t drafted by the NFL, and although he did play a few seasons in Canada, his only action in the NFL was as a replacement player during a strike.

On the other hand, his favorite receiver in college went on to become one of the greatest receivers in NFL history - a guy named Jerry Rice.

Willie Totten  was head coach at Mississippi Valley for eight seasons.

The school’s stadium is now named for him and Rice.

*********** Nicknamed “The Lord’s Prayer” by his college coach at Tennessee State,  he was the first black quarterback to be taken in the first round of any pro football draft.  His misfortune was that he was stereotyped as a “black quarterback,” and tried out at other positions than quarterback, without ever really getting a good chance to show what he was capable of.

american flag FRIDAY,  FEBRUARY 17,  2017

*********** It's official. The school board of Cimarron, Kansas met Monday night and approved the hiring of Greg Koenig as their new head coach.  Cimarron is in the southwest corner of the state, midway  between Dodge City and Garden City. 

The Cimarron Blue Jays have gone 6-4, 6-4, 7-3 the past three years,  and based on the conversations Greg’s had with the people in charge, the community wants more.  Based on what I’ve seen on MaxPreps there are some talented kids returning. 

As one sign of how serious they were about the hiring, there were only three people in on the interview - the Superintendent, the Principal, and the AD.   In my experience, there is an inverse relationship between the number of people on the interview panel and how desirable the job is. (A large interview panel suggests that there are way too many people in town who’ve been given the idea that their opinion is important.)

Greg told me about something very significant that took place in his interview, something with a lesson in it for all of us.

He was asked what the community could expect to see in his teams.

Greg said that they would play hard, disciplined football.  They would not beat themselves.   And they would conduct themselves at all times in a way that would make their community proud of them.

As Greg was saying those things, he noticed that the  superintendent was nodding, as if he agreed.

And when Greg was finished, the Superintendent said that his former school had faced Greg’s Beloit team in a playoff game a couple of years ago.  Beloit was overmatched - it was one of those games where the only way they had a chance was to play the best game they were capable of and hope for a few breaks,  and things didn’t work out that way.  But get this - the superintendent’s wife happened to be on the Beloit sidelines taking photos, and she told her husband after the game how impressed she was by the way my the Beloit players and staff had conducted themselves, even in a losing effort.

The moral? As Greg says, “Someone’s always watching.”

*********** ”Mindlessly checking Facebook makes you an awful lot like a lab rat habitually pressing a lever hoping for a pellet."   Geoffrey Fowler, Wall Street Journal

*********** I NEVER thought I’d agree with Patty Murray on anything.  She’s one of “my” Senators, a dismal liberal so typical of what Washington, the Evergreen State,  churns out.

There she was on TV, barely able to say three words without looking down at her notes, going off on the President’s nominee for Secretary of Labor.

On she droned.  Like most libs, she didn’t like the fact that the guy is opposed to a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

But suddenly, I sat up straight and shouted  “Damn!  She’s right!”

Her bone of contention was that the company the guy has headed - the one that runs fast-food  restaurant chains known as Hardees in the East and Carl’s Jr. in the West - runs commercials that are degrading to women.

Now, not being a woman, I don’t know whether or not they’re degrading, but let’s just say that if one of my daughters or grand-daughters was lounging, scantily-clad, on the hood of a car while opening her mouth suggestively to eat an enormous, dripping Carls’ Jr. burger, I wouldn’t be bragging about it.   Get Soft Porn - and a burger - at Carl’s Jr.!

Let that be a lesson to today’s anything-goes, screw-good-taste advertisers: someone is watching, and some of them still have standards, and it does matter how you sell your product.

*********** My wife and I have allowed ourselves to get hooked on a weekly soap on BET called The Quad.

It’s set on the campus of a historically black college called Georgia A & M (“GAMU”), and much of it centers around its president, a very attractive, bright and ambitious woman who was forced out of her last job because of a “personal issue,” which, we learn, involved  an affair she had with a graduate student. GAMU, it turns out, was not in a position to be overly picky, because it’s in terrible financial shape. 

There are all sorts of great side issues.  There is the murder of a young woman, and the immediate arrest of her boyfriend, a kid from Chicago who didn’t want to go to GAMU in the first place and only came on the insistence of his mother, who had had enough of the gang violence in Chicago.  There’s the football team.  The Mountain Cats.  (“Mountain Cats?”  The school’s in Atlanta.  Unless we’re talking Stone Mountain, a huge rock east of town, there ain’t a mountain within 100 miles.)   They’re lousy but their coach is doing everything he can to turn things around. They  decide to recruit a white quarterback, a kid from Texas. The kid’s father is a real stage mom who can’t believe his kid was passed over by the Texases, Alabamas, etc., and is desperate to find him a place to play, so he agrees to let him go to GAMU.  (You know he’s desperate, because he’s a real, hardcore white racist, and I can’t believe he’d agree to let his son go to an all-black school, but there you are. After all, it is  soap opera.)

When the president and her husband broke up and she took her new job (since he’s on the faculty at the old school, he stays), they decided that their college-age daughter would accompany Mom and transfer to GAMU - against her will.  It’s not working out well.  The kid is, well, a bitch.  She’s nasty and snarly and she parties WAY too much and is beginning to cause a lot of problems for her mother.

The band is the classic black college band.  If you’ve seen the bands from Southern, Florida A & M, etc., you wonder how they can dance the way they do, in beautiful choreographed fashion, and still play music.  But they do. Oh, do they!

One of the things that our new president learns very early is that the band director really runs the university. 

His program is self-funding, and as a result he answers to no one.  When the Prez tries to take him on, she’s told by a trustee to leave him alone.  But he realizes that she’s going to be a thorn in his side, and when another member of the college administration, upset because he didn’t get the job of president, shows him photos of the president’s daughter in some compromising positions at a party, they hatch a plot to blackmail her.

Sound like any band directors you’ve worked with?

His pre-game talk to the band:

The stands will empty out after halftime - after the band is through.

The football team is our opening act

We're not AT the event... we ARE the event.

Oh - and that graduate student who was boinking her back at her old school?  He’s transferred to GAMU.

Stay tuned.

*********** One minute he was there…

Coach Eric Driskell, of Blue Valley High School in Leawood, Kansas, a Kansas City suburb, was dining Sunday and talking football with other coaches from the Kansas City area - “doing what he loved - talking football,” said his wife - when he suddenly collapsed.

He had suffered a brain aneurism, and despite the efforts of medical professionals and the prayers of students, players, families, fellow coaches and community members, he passed away Wednesday. 

Coach Driskell had been head coach at Blue Valley, his alma mater, since 2010, and in his first season there, Blue Valley won the state title. In 2013, Blue Valley won it all again.

In his seven seasons as head coach, Blue Valley made it to the state finals five times.

Blue Valley was state runner-up in both 2015 and 2016.

Last fall, he was honored as Kansas Coach of the Year by the Kansas City Chiefs.

God rest Coach Driskell and comfort his family and all the people whose lives he’s touched.

***********  Good morning Coach.

Hope all is well. I was wondering if you guys have team socks? If so, what style?

I ask because we are looking at getting team socks. Last year we went to a uniform style that resembles the Ohio State throwbacks that they wore a few years ago. Trying to find a sock that is similar in design.


In the interest of uniformity we go all black.

Many of the kids simply wear black full-length performance gear under their uniforms so we don't have to issue stockings to them.

In my opinion stockings look great but you start to defeat your purpose if you don't stay on top of things and people start to put their own individual stamps on things. The NFL gave up trying to enforce their stocking rule and now most of their teams look like sandlotters from the knees down.

Good luck!

*********** Good-bye, G.I. Joe.  Hi there, Logan Everett.

Further evidence that they’re out to neuter our boys comes from  Mattel, maker of American Girl dolls,  in its announcement that in an effort to be more “relevant,” it will begin selling a boy doll called “Logan Everett.”

Yeah, “Logan Everett.” Think “Logan Everett” is going to be white?  Ya think? 

This is one case where I don’t expect to hear about a lack of diversity.   Not from the black community, at least, where little boys are more likely to be playing sports and roughhousing, not playing with boy dolls.

*********** For quite some time I’ve wondered what, exactly, the Army got for its money by sponsoring the All-American Bowl - you know, one of those ego-stroking high school all-star games punctuated by the little sideline mini dramas in which kids reveal to us which colleges they plan on going to.  Until they decommit.

All Army advertising is, ultimately, aimed at recruiting, and somehow, some smart guy  convinced the Army higher-ups that all the money they spent was worth it in return for the TV exposure (not sure what the ratings are, but I doubt that they beat out golf), but also - and here I had to shake my head - because it got their message into the schools of the participants.  See, when it’s announced that a kid’s been selected to play in the game, there’s a big assembly,  with Army people on hand to deliver the invitation.  Can’t you see all those kids up in the stands just waiting for the assembly to end so they can rush down and enlist?

But that’s it.  Nobody outside those schools affected has the slightest idea what’s going on. Time for some simple math: There are roughly 50 kids on each of the two teams.  That’s 100 kids total playing in the game.  If they all come from different high schools, that’s 100 high schools, tops, where they put on the show.

Um, there are more than 14,000 high schools in the United States playing football.  That’s 13,900 that aren’t being reached.

An efficient expenditure of taxpayer money? When you spend all that money to get your message to fewer than 1 per cent of America’s high schools I’d call it a waste.

Somebody in the Army must agree.  They’ve just announced they’re cancelling their sponsorship after the 2018 game.

*********** Those who contend that youth tackle football is overly dangerous, and Flag Football is the answer to reducing injuries, will be disappointed to read the results of a study by University of Iowa researchers just published in The Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine.   The NFL, with millions invested in promoting flag football, won't like it either, but screw them.

If you’re into scientific studies, you can read all about it here:

In simpler form, you can read the abstract below

Or, if you’re really rushed, you can just skip to the bottom of the article, where the lead author sums it up.

Or just take my word for it: youth football isn’t as dangerous as it’s being popularly portrayed.

Youth Football Injuries: A Prospective Cohort

Andrew R. Peterson, MD, MSPH*, Adam J. Kruse, MS, Scott M. Meester, BS, Tyler S. Olson, BS, Benjamin N. Riedle, MS, Tyler G. Slayman, MD, Todd J. Domeyer, MD, Joseph E. Cavanaugh, PhD, M. Kyle Smoot, MD
First Published February 10, 2017


There are approximately 2.8 million youth football players between the ages of 7 and 14 years in the United States. Rates of injury in this population are poorly described. Recent studies have reported injury rates between 2.3% and 30.4% per season and between 8.5 and 43 per 1000 exposures.

Youth flag football has a lower injury rate than youth tackle football. The concussion rates in flag football are lower than in tackle football.

Study Design:
Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3.

Three large youth (grades 2-7) football leagues with a total of 3794 players were enrolled. Research personnel partnered with the leagues to provide electronic attendance and injury reporting systems. Researchers had access to deidentified player data and injury information. Injury rates for both the tackle and flag leagues were calculated and compared using Poisson regression with a log link. The probability an injury was severe and an injury resulted in a concussion were modeled using logistic regression. For these 2 responses, best subset model selection was performed, and the model with the minimum Akaike information criterion value was chosen as best. Kaplan-Meier curves were examined to compare time loss due to injury for various subgroups of the population. Finally, time loss was modeled using Cox proportional hazards regression models.

A total of 46,416 exposures and 128 injuries were reported. The mean age at injury was 10.64 years. The hazard ratio for tackle football (compared with flag football) was 0.45 (95% CI, 0.25-0.80; P = .0065). The rate of severe injuries per exposure for tackle football was 1.1 (95% CI, 0.33-3.4; P = .93) times that of the flag league. The rate for concussions in tackle football per exposure was 0.51 (95% CI, 0.16-1.7; P = .27) times that of the flag league.

Injury is more likely to occur in youth flag football than in youth tackle football. Severe injuries and concussions were not significantly different between leagues. Concussion was more likely to occur during games than during practice. Players in the sixth or seventh grade were more likely to suffer a concussion than were younger players.

The authors stress that their study was “internally funded,” and received no funding from any “football interests,” such as the NFL or its front, USA Football.

The study’s lead author, Andre Peterson, associate professor of pediatrics and orthopedics at the University of Iowa, reduces it to one sentence:

“I think the take-home here is that youth tackle football is relatively safe, and that flag football may not be a safer alternative.”

*********** I was way high up in the channels, browsing, when I came upon  Bob Davie on the New Mexico Lobos football show, and he was talking about recruiting.   He said not to put too much stock in the 4-star and 5-star ratings by the so-called recruiting gurus, and just in case someone might think it was sour grapes because he hadn’t recruited many,  he pointed out that of the 88 starters (offense and defense) on the four teams in the recent NFC and AFC championship games, only four of them had been 5-star high school recruits.

*********** Stars for Adam Wesoloski, of Pulaski, Wisconsin, and Dave Potter, of Raleigh, North Carolina, who recognized that all the men on the list played football for black colleges - the term now is HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities):

But I stumped everyone with the real significance of this list.

E - Harold Jackson,  Jackson State
E -    John Eason,  Florida A&M
T -    Claude Humphrey,  Tennessee State University
T -    Elvin Bethea,  North Carolina A&T State University
G -    Willie Lanier,  Morgan State
G -    Norman Davis,  Grambling State
C -    Pete Barnes,  Southern University
QB-Eldridge Dickey,  Tennessee State University
HB-Willie Ellison, Texas Southern
HB-Monk Williams,  Arkansas–Pine Bluff
FB-    Bill Tucker, Tennessee State

Claude Humphrey, Elvin Bethea and Willie Lanier are all in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

It’s the Pittsburgh Courier’s 1966 Black College All-America team - its 50th anniversary.

In those days, there was an incredible amount of talent in black colleges, most of them in the south, relics of the days of segregation when southern blacks were refused admission to their own state colleges.

It’s not that there weren’t some outstanding black athletes who left the South to play on northern teams.  One of the first northern coaches to recruit the South was Minnesota’s Murray Warmath, himself a southerner, and in 1959 he recruited Bobby Lee Bell out of Shelby, North Carolina.  Bell started as a sophomore on Minnesota’s 1960 national championship team (which then, after being named National champion, lost in the Rose Bowl to Washington) and was an All-American in 1961 and 1962 before going on to a Hall of Fame career with the Chiefs.  Duffy Daugherty at Michigan State recruited so heavily and so successfully in the South that they referred to it as his Underground Railroad.

But “white” colleges as a rule didn’t recruit black players in large numbers, and most of those who did steered clear of the South, partially out of concerns about admitting students from segregated high schools that so often provided substandard education.

That meant that the black colleges had their pick of a very large number of some very talented athletes.  Those players’ subsequent success in the NFL bore that out.   Bill Nunn knew that. 

Bill Nunn -   Bill Nunn, Jr., actually - started with the
Pittsburgh Courier , a weekly with  a mostly black readership, in 1948 as a reporter.  In 1950 he chose his first Black College All-America team.

Bill Nunn not only brought recognition to players who played outside the mainstream - “behind God’s back,” as Tennessee State coach John Merritt sarcastically put it - but
he developed a keen eye for talent,  which eventually helped him put his stamp on the pro game.

When he chided his hometown Steelers for not aggressively going after the players he'd been recognizing, they responded by hiring him as a scout., and sending him south.   That was 1967 - the year following the All-American team shown above. The players who wound up with the Steelers as a result of his work played major roles in the great Steelers dynasty of the 1970s:  Mel Blount (Southern); L. C. Greenwood (Arkansas A. M. & N.); Ernie Holmes (Texas Southern); Frank Lewis (Grambling);  Donnie Shell (South Carolina State) ;  John Stallworth (Alabama A. & M).

A great read -

*********** 30 years ago his coach, way ahead of his time, turned him loose - let him call his own plays, and at the line of scrimmage. It was no-huddle, “fast break football.”

In his first game as quarterback of the new offense, his team won, 86-0.

A radio guy said, “They just pass and pass. The ball looks like it’s floating in air like a satellite.” That earned the guy a nickname that stuck with him.

His career stats: 952 completions in 1629 attempts… 13,170 yards… 141 TDs

When he left college, he held 56 NCAA Division I-AA (FCS) passing records.

He wasn’t drafted by the NFL, and although he did play a few seasons in Canada, his only action in the NFL was as a replacement player during a strike.

On the other hand, his favorite receiver in college went on to become one of the greatest receivers in NFL history.

He was head coach at his alma mater for eight seasons.

The school’s stadium is now named for him and his favorite receiver.

american flag TUESDAY,  FEBRUARY 14,  2017  "I'm not a good motivator. I'm just good at weeding out those who can't motivate themselves." Lou Holtz

*********** Several years ago, when I was traveling a lot, I happened to be in Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) waiting for a flight, when I came across an article in the Baltimore Sun about a young University of Maryland graduate named Kevin Plank who’d just started a company making performance undergarments, mostly for athletes.  He called the products - and his company - Under Armour.

I thought, what the hell - I’ll give the guy a call.   He answered.  Couldn’t have been nicer.   We talked for about ten minutes and I came away very impressed.

Since those early days, his company’s success has been spectacular, and Under Armour recently disclosed plans to build a spectacular corporate  campus, plus retail and lodging, in a rundown waterfront area.  It’s a real shot in the arm for a city desperately in need of one.

But no good deed goes unpunished, and now Kevin Plank, who’s brought hundreds of jobs to his city,  who puts tens of millions of dollars into the pockets of athlete-endorsers, is under assault from some of the very athletes who happily cash his checks -  because he happened to say, after attending a meeting with President Trump along with other business leaders, that he came away believing the President would be good for business.

Holy sh—.  Judging from the reaction of those ingrates, you’d have thought he’d proposed killing the first-born of every minority family in the free world. 
So what else can you do but crank up the PR machine? Under Armour’s  people are tripping all over themselves to get out the word that Kevin Plank’s simple statement did not mean that he supported one single part of Mr. Trump’s agenda.

I'm surprised that no one has suggested that he  fly planeloads of refugees to the United States and give them all food and housing and executive jobs at Under Armour. 

Meantime, apart from all the amateurish political posing  by  millionaire athletes, life goes on, and Under Armour has produced a pretty funny video of real Boston types glorifying a  Tom Brady who sounds like the football version of Chuck Norris.

The Legend of Tom Brady…

*********** Coach Wyatt,

I was surprised and disappointed with how Army dealt with their part in the wakeyleaks scandal.  I would have thought their punishment for lack of ethics would have been far more severe.  I hate when those in authority overlook a great teaching moment.  Oh well....

The Lou Holtz article on rebuilding is spot on, and what I will be emphasizing in our own "rebuild" here at EWHS.

As for Grayson Allen ("Grayson Allen kid is a jerk, plain and simple."), there is something really wrong with that kid.  He has either been raised incorrectly, coached incorrectly or he is psychologically-impaired.  I'm all for a coach who stands up for his kids, but there comes a time when then life lesson being taught should be "when you take privilege for granted, you lose the privilege".  Playing in Duke's program should be a privilege.

"Think Matt Rhule wishes he hadn’t left Temple?"  I dunno, but he employed Brandon Washington for THREE YEARS before they went to Baylor together. Hmmm. Brandon Washington, David Reaves, Mike Price, George O'Leary...I think of guys with such great opportunities staring them in the face and how they blow it before ever coaching a single game there.

As for the Oklahoma State Sex for Signing scandal, this is from David Beaty (the head coach at Kansas) on the hiring of his new staff of coaches including Joe DeForest:

“The response was overwhelming from people who wanted to come here and be a part of this university,” Beaty said. “It was really cool and it just speaks volumes about what it means to be a Jayhawk."

Joe DeForest was an AC at Oklahoma State who lined up encounters between recruits and "hostesses."  When asked about one particular incident where DeForest castigated a hosting player for not making sure that the recruit had gotten laid, DeForest didn't deny it.  He simply didn't remember it: "I do not recall that conversation ever occurred."

Michael Sam?  I can't believe his homosexuality cost him a job in the pros.  I can believe it would cost him a try-out.  But why would teams bring him in (already knowing who he was), only to cut him later if the reason for cutting him was that he's gay?  Note to Michael Sam:  they already KNOW that you're gay.  It's not like it was some secret surprise revelation that came to pass once you'd signed a free-agent contract.  

And as for the first black QB from the South (you mean, from Fayetteville, NC!) to win a national championship, that's Jimmy Raye.  But I didn't know that Tony Dungy used to "play in in the yard."  Good stuff!

Dave Potter
East Wake High School
Wendell, North Carolina

Coach Potter was just named head JV coach at East Wake High School by new head coach Sean Murphy, who recently made the move from Baltimore’s Archbishop Curley High.

*********** The NFL is at it again.  To assure that it’ll continue to be in the news in the dead time between the Super Bowl and the combine, Big Football has decided to come down on the side of Transgender Types wanting the use the bathroom of their choice.

“The NFL embraces inclusiveness,” an NFL spokesman said. “We want all fans to feel welcomed at our events, and NFL policies prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard.

“If a proposal that is discriminatory or inconsistent with our values were to become law there, that would certainly be a factor considered when thinking about awarding future events.”

A few online responses:

I identify as a Border Collie and the bigoted NFL refuses to allow me to poop and pee n open spaces.  They won't even allow me to sniff the butts of total strangers.   When will the NFL finally embrace trans specism?

News Flash for the NFL: Obama is no longer President. Take your Progressive agenda elsewhere or you will lose more viewers than you'll gain. Enough said.

Smart move, NFL, playing to your massive transgender fan base.

The NFL can shove it. I am sick to death of them sticking their noses into political matters. Same with the NCAA. The Super Bowl was great and Houston was a superb host, but I am done with it. My money and time will not go to support an organization that seeks to undermine the very basic core values of a moral and upright society.

*********** Got a call last week from Denny Creehan.  You’ve probably heard of him, because he’s done all sort of clinics and his videos have been on sale for years. I’m going to go out on a limb and declare him the leading expert on the Delaware Wing-T offense.

After stints as head coach at Edinboro, San Francisco State and South Dakota, he became DC at Arkansas State,  Rutgers, and Duke.

After a year as special teams coach at Army under Todd Berry, he moved to Canada and spent five years as a DC there, first at Calgary and then at Hamilton.

He took over as head coach of D-II West Virginia Wesleyan and in two years took a program that had won only nine games in the previous four years to a 9-2 record in his second year there, earning him 2010 West Virginia Conference Coach of the Year.   And with most of his key players returning, he licked his lips anticipating a big year in 2011.

But in the off-season, his brother Richard became president of Alderson-Broaddus, another West Virginia school.  Alderson-Broaddus didn’t have a football team and new president Creehan wanted one.

The right person to start one was his own brother, Denny.  Would Denny leave West Virginia Wesleyan to become AD and build the football program?

Not many guys get to start their own college programs, and Denny accepted.

By 2012 Alderson-Broaddus, with mostly freshmen and sophomores,  was competing against college JV teams.

By 2013, they were on their way as a full-fledged varsity program, and finished 4-7.

But then they took off, going 7-4 in 2014, 7-4 again in 2016, and 9-2 this past season.

And then, because of the passage of a conference rule stipulating that Athletic Directors couldn't double as head coaches (or vice-versa), he chose to stop down as coach and remain as AD.

(Anybody looking for a damn good Wing-T coach?)

Needless to say, we talked a lot about the Wing-T and the Double Wing. The Wing-T is his baby, of course, but unlike so many of today’s coaching geniuses who’ve been raised playing Madden,  he likes - and respects - the Double Wing.  He said that he’s often toyed with the idea, after he retires, of taking over a high school team somewhere and running the Double Wing.  He said that in his travels he’s seen a lot of schools with “big, tough, slow kids” where you could kill people if you ran it right.

He said that except for when they’re reach blocking, he still teaches shoulder blocking (which as we’ve all been told, is now obsolete.)

He noted that interest in the Wing-T overall seemed to be waning somewhat - said that where he once would do three Glazier clinics a weekend, for five or six straight weekends, he now mostly does them on request.  He suggested one big reason: back when Delaware was still running the Wing-T, they’d have more than 500 coaches at their spring clinic.  But Delaware hasn’t run the Wing-T since Tubby Raymond retired in 2006, and with the Blue Hens no longer carrying the Wing-T banner, as they’d done since 1951, there isn’t a D-1 model for younger coaches. 

Right now it appears that Wing-T football, while definitely not extinct, is down.  Likewise, fewer people are running the Double Wing.  In my opinion, they’re simply in a down cycle.  Now’s the perfect time, it would seem to me, as spread shotgun offenses take over the game, to consider the benefits of being unique - before you lose that advantage once the cycle starts on the upswing again. 

That reminded me of Ara Parseghian’s comments in the 1974 Kodak Coach of the Year Football Clinic Notes.  (Notre Dame had just won the National Championship, running the Wing T.)

“Two years ago we decided to go to the Wing-T. This was a strategical change.  We had been a three-back I-formation team for a number of years.  I have observed, over my coaching tenure, a cycle in football. Football, offensively, goes in a cycle.  It goes from one to the next.

“The first cycle was the split-T that Bud Wilkinson was using and doing a tremendous job with at Oklahoma. Next went to the Belly-T (at Georgia Tech) where Bobby Dodd was the head coach and Frank Broyles was the assistant.  We then went to the Wing T, which Dave Nelson of Delaware ran and Forrest Evashevski of Iowa used when he won the National Championship.

“Then we went to the pro attack, the flanker back, the great pass receivers, the draw and the screen. Then came the I-formation as popularized by John McKay which gives you a better power off-tackle play, and better run action passes off the two-back attack.

“Then came the advent of probably one of the most dramatic things I have seen in my 24 years of coaching, which was the triple option.   The triple option again necessitated  some immense defensive thinking and it continues to do that.  That is the challenge we’re in now.  The wishbone is a formation which employs the triple option.  The Houston veer is a formation with incorporates the triple option.  You can run the triple option from just about any formation, depending on where you want to put your fullback and your halfback.

“This change turned all defensive philosophy back.  Go.  You’ve got to move.  You’ve got the number one man, you’ve got the number two man, you have the quarterback, you have the pitch. Everything you saw defensively was this and I reorganized this two years ago.

“It was then that I JUMPED A CYCLE and went back to the Wing T.

“The Wing T necessitates a quieter backside, it necessitates a quite reaction on the front side.  You can’t go taking off right now.

“So we jumped a cycle, and the second year, which was this year, we became even more familiar with it, more knowledgeable than e were the first year.  We executed it better.  I believe we had an opportunity to jump a cycle and we will continue with this thinking in he event that everybody follows this particular trend.  We would think again about jumping a cycle.

Aquinas Black Lion

It’s a very special occasion when the Black Lion Award is presented at Aquinas Institute, in Rochester, New York.  Aquinas is the alma mater of Major Don Holleder, whose heroism inspired the Black Lion Award.  That’s Don Holleder’s portrait in the background.  In the photo (Left to Right)  Athletic Director Anthony Bianchi;  Major Tom B. Kasper, Jr - Chief of Operations 401 CA BN (Holleder Army Reserve Center); Aquinas Institute Black Lion Award winner Tyler Olbrich; Major General Norbert Rappl, Aquinas Class of 1948; Coach Sean Torregiano

***********  Yale has removed the name of John C. Calhoun from one of its 12 undergraduate residential colleges.  Calhoun was valedictorian of his class at Yale and went on to be a congressman and a senator from South Carolina, then secretary of war, secretary of state, and vice-president of the United States. But, as were so many wealthy and influential southerners of the pre-Civil War period, he was  a slave owner.  In addition, he was a staunch defender of the practice of slavery. 

For that, the Yale administration has with great relish been referring to him as a “white supremacist.”   But as Roger Kimball wrote in Monday’s Wall Street Journal, “Who among whites at the time was not? Take your time.”

So down has come the name of Calhoun, and up has gone the name of - Grace Hopper?  Grace who?   A Vassar graduate, it turns out, one who never spent a day of her life as a Yale undergraduate.  (True, the late Ms. Hopper did hold two graduate degrees from Yale.)  I suppose I should feel ashamed to admit this, but until her name was announced to the alumni, I’d never heard of her.  So much for the value of my Yale education.

As I’ve written before, this would have been the perfect opportunity to honor Levi Jackson, a New Haven native, who brought great credit to Yale throughout his life. He was the first black captain of any Ivy League football team, and as the first black higher-level executive of the Ford Motor Company, he was responsible for developing Ford’s minority dealership program.  Surely, Yale was aware that this is Black History Month? 

But instead of honoring one of her own, Yale chose instead to name an undergraduate residential college (house), a place where undergraduates will live for their four years as undergraduates,  for a relatively unknown person who had zero connection with Yale as an undergraduate student, spent just two years in New Haven as a graduate student, and was seldom identified with Yale.  But what the hell - she was a woman.  

 I’m bummed but not surprised.  My waste basket has become, and will remain,  the receptacle of unopened Yale requests for donations.

This isn’t over, either.  The removal of Calhoun’s name will not satisfy those who pressed hardest for it.   As the old French saying goes, “Appetite comes from eating,” and after this feast,  there will be considerable appetite for even more dramatic changes.

Brace yourself:

Yale University was named for Elihu Yale, after the  wealthy British merchant donated some 800 pounds worth of books.  But get this:  Elihu Yale didn’t just own slaves - he was a slave trader. Now, that’s really ugly.

Who knows were this will lead?

Down with Yale?  Maybe.

How does Obama University sound?

*********** Say a prayer, if you will, for a great coach and a great person.  Kansas State coach Bill Snyder has been diagnosed with throat cancer and is undergoing outpatient treatment in Kansas city.   At this time it’s not expected that it will interfere with his duties as head coach.’s-bill-snyder-diagnosed-with-throat-cancer/ar-AAmP2FO?li=BBnba9I

***********  Correctly identifying Jimmy Raye, a native of Fayetteville, North Carolina, as the first black quarterback from the South to win a national championship:

Dennis Metzger - Richmond, Indiana - I believe that you are referring to Jimmy Raye, QB for Duffy Daughtery’s Michigan State team.  It would be 1966 and the 10-10 tie with Notre Dame that I remember.  I was a huge Ara fan and always surprised with the decision to “settle” for the tie.  Two very good teams with a lot of famous players.  Bubba Smith, George Webster and Gene Washington for the Spartans and Terry Hanratty, Coley O’Brien, Nick Eddy and maybe the best known, Rocky Bleier.  And I know that I have left many out.
Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin
Dave Potter - Raleigh, North Carolina -
(Fayetteville is less than 90 minutes south of me)

In the foreword to the book “Raye of Light,” Tom Shanahan's biography of Jimmy Raye, Tony Dungy wrote,

Growing up as a boy in the early 1960s in Jackson, Michigan I was a Michigan State Spartans fan.  Jackson is located about 30 miles south of East Lansing, and I kept up with how the Spartans were doing.  In 1963, I got one of the biggest blessings God could have given me. My dad, who was a college professor, decided to attend Michigan State to work on his PhD.  Our family lived on campus in University Village the next three years,  and I couldn't have been happier.  Dad took me to a lot of MSU football and basketball games.  I can remember the “Dollar Days,” when Dad and I sat in the end zone at Spartan Stadium for one dollar each.

Football Saturdays at Michigan State were special events for me. I was a sports nut and I tried to attend as many games as possible.  I had always rooted for Michigan State and now that we were living in East Lansing it seemed everyone was a fan. 

But there was one other reason I became so enamored with the Spartans when I went to watch them play.  There were African-Americans on those teams - and they were not just simply on the team,  they were playing major roles.  As a nine or 10-year-old, I couldn't really tell you at the time why that had such an impact on me.  I just knew that there were guys going to school and playing at Michigan State who looked like me.  I also knew from watching college football on television that wasn't the case everywhere.  But now in my boyhood dreams I could visualize myself one day playing in Spartan Stadium.

One of the stars on that team who I was drawn to was Jimmy Raye.   Jimmy was unique to me because he was not just a talented African-American player.  He was the quarterback.   I know that's not very newsworthy in this day and age, but in 1965, his sophomore year, it was stunning.   Jimmy also played the game with a flair that caught your eye.  He could throw and he was a great athlete.  But I also noticed, even at my young age,  that he was the leader. there was no question who was in charge out on the field and who his teammates looked to in clutch situations.  That's the biggest reason why in all the backyard games I was Jimmy Raye.

*********** Next question:  All of these players played for historically-black colleges.   Most of them  played in the NFL.  Some of them became pro stars. What is the significance of this particular list?

Harold Jackson
John Eason
Claude Humphrey
Elvin Bethea
Willie Lanier
Norman Davis
Pete Barnes
Eldridge Dickey
Willie Ellison
Monk Williams
Bill Tucker

american flag FRIDAY,  FEBRUARY 10,  2017

*********** All this business about the Federal District Court judge (in Washington, I'm embarrassed to say)  declaring that President Trump’s executive order is unconstitutional?   In doing so, the judge was exercizing a power that has come to be known as “judicial review” - the right of a federal court to determine whether a law passed by Congress is or is not constitutional.  It's a right nowhere to be found in the Constitution, and one which the Supreme Court pretty much arrogated to itself in 1803,  in a case  known ever since as Marbury vs. Madison.

I’m not exactly the world’s foremost authority on United States history or the Constitution, but I did major in history and I taught it for a number of years, and it has constantly puzzled me how the other two branches of government seem to have stood by and, sheeplike,  allowed the third branch, the only one whose members are unelected and the only one whose members serve for life, to have the ultimate power, when the design of the founders was for them to be co-equal.

Thomas Jefferson, the President at the time of Marbury vs. Madison,  distrusted any power not vested in the people, and was highly displeased with the decision:

“The Constitution, on this hypothesis, is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they may please.

To Jefferson, the power to deal with the constitutionality of a law lay not with the courts, but with the people, through the power of the vote:

“You seem to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions; a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men, and not more so. They have, with others, the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps.... Their power (is) the more dangerous as they are in office for life, and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots. It has more wisely made all the departments co-equal and co-sovereign within themselves.  When the legislative or executive functionaries act unconstitutionally, they are responsible to the people in their elective capacity.   The exemption of judges from that is quite dangerous enough.  I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society, but the people themselves.” (September, 1820)

Even 20 years after Marbury vs. Madison, Jefferson’s position was that its conclusion  was not “settled law,” but instead an “obiter dissertation” - something said “in passing” by Chief Justice John Marshall - that people had come to accept as law.

“This case of Marbury and Madison is continually cited by bench and bar, as if it were settled law, without any animadversions on its being merely an obiter dissertation of the Chief Justice… But the Chief Justice says, ‘there must be an ultimate arbiter somewhere.’ True, there must; but… The ultimate arbiter is the people…” (June, 1823)

Although the Supreme Court has more and more taken on the powers of a lawmaking body, and while the other two branches of government customarily defer to its rulings, nowhere is it written that they are obligated to do so.  And, it might surprise people to know, the Court has no ability, no power, to enforce its rulings.  It makes rulings that amount to law, then depends on the executive branch to enforce those rulings.  And there have been occasions when a President has refused to do so.

One famous instance was in 1833, when the President of the United States, Andrew Jackson, refused to enforce a court ruling, reportedly saying, “John Marshall has made his decision.  Now let him enforce it.”   Yes. Jackson had sworn to uphold the Constitution, but nowhere did the Constitution require him to obey or enforce the rulings of the Supreme Court.

Powerless to do so, the court’s ruling could not be carried out.**

Theoretically, Donald Trump has the power to defy the recent court ruling, and it has no power to prevent him from acting.  If he were to go ahead, we would be in for quite a ride, but in my humble opinion, his doing so might ultimately bring an end to the judicial activism that started with Marbury vs. Madison and has taken so much of American government - and American traditions - away from the people.

If Mr. Trump should plow ahead, it would get ugly.  Quickly.  Expect to hear “Consitutional Crisis”quite a bit.   And expect immediate calls for his impeachment.  The Democrats aren’t likely to get a majority of the members of the house to bring charges, but even if they can, they almost certainly can’t get two-thirds of the Senate to vote to convict.

Get your popcorn.

Actually, rather than put us through all that,  he should just change one word in his original Executive Order and issue it as another, new Executive Order. Rinse, repeat. Rinse, repeat.

** It’s unfortunate that with President Jackson, the case at hand happened to concern Indian Removal.  Without Jackson’s enforcement of the court ruling, the result was  the removal of Five Indian nations from the Southeast to Indian Territory (Oklahoma) via the so-called the Trail of Tears.

*********** Maybe you happened to notice a commercial for Busch Beer during the Super Bowl. 

Maybe you thought, WTF?  A commercial for Busch? 

A cheapo?    Er, a “subpremium” as industry analysts say?  A price beer, as the insiders say?  A beer whose main selling point is its low price?  You don’t see price beers advertised that much because the companies build a certain amount for advertising into the price, and the low price of the “sub premiums ”means there’s not much in the budget for advertising.

So why would A-B InBev spend $5 million to buy 30 seconds of air time during the Super Bowl - and use it to sell Busch (whose average price nationally is $16 for a 24-pack)?

Why do they intend for Busch to once again become a NASCAR sponsor?

The secret?  Despite all the TV advertising you see for this import or that, despite the fact that there seems to be a new microbrewery opening somewhere just about every day, that fact remains that beer drinkers still drink Busch.  And Keystone.  And Miller High Life. A lot of it.  In fact, One beer in every five sold in the US is a price beer.

No, price beers don’t generate as much profit - or marketing dollars - but they account for a lot of beer,

And the two US giants - AB InBev and MillerCoors - which between them account for roughly 2/3 of all beer sold in the US, have a big stake in holding onto the supremum market.  Taking advantage of the marketing leverage and cost advantages their great size affords them, they sell by far the most price beer.

And their sales have been dropping.  In fact, sales of price beers dropped 10 per cent from 2010 to 2015.

Partly,  growth in craft beers is a factor - but in overall volume, sales of all craft beers combined are less than half that of price beers.

And partly, it’s because the entire beer market itself is shrinking.   For various reasons, not the least of which has been the relaxing of advertising bans on hard spirits, people are drinking less beer overall.

But mainly, it’s because they took the subpremium market for granted.  And shortly after Anheuser-Busch was acquired in 2008 by InBev, they began jacking up the prices on the cheap beers, even more so than on their higher-priced brands.

Consequently, says one industry expert, young people, whose “gateway drug” used to be cheap beer, turned instead to cheap hard stuff.

The result foretells tough times ahead for bit brewers, says another expert.  “We’ve lost a generation,” he says, “and I think we’re going to pay a price for it.”

Moral:  Expect to see a lot more ads for Busch, Keystone and Miller High Life.

***********  Straight off the wire:

RICHMOND, Va. – In the first 36 days of 2017, violent crime is up 25 percent in Richmond, a statistic city police aren't proud of, but it’s something they are working to combat.

Already in 2017, South Richmond resident Jasmine Miles has seen home invasions, shootings, stabbings, robberies and murders close to her home.

"I’m already in this area and I could potentially have children and bring them into this environment,” Miles said. “It’s scary. It makes me not even want to procreate.

(Urban violence has some unusual side effects.)

*********** From the latest issue of AMERICAN FOOTBALL MONTHLY

From Hall of Fame Coach Lou Holtz:

“In rebuilding a program, what are the most important aspects on which to focus?”


In the very first meeting, I would tell them they had no choice in who became head coach because they did not have a vote. And, if they did, they would not have voted for me, and I understood that. I wanted them to understand that I had a choice. I had a great job and didn’t need to move my family, but I came there because I wanted to be with them, because I thought if we worked together something great would happen.

The second thing is that I had to hire a good staff. The most important thing about a good staff is that they must be good teachers. If they are good teachers, that meant they could communicate with people. If you can communicate with people, you can not only be a great coach on the field, you can also be a great recruiter. And, most importantly, the character and integrity of our staff had to be outstanding. If you have great character on your staff, you will get along with and help one another.

Then, we talked to the team and about how we were going to win. We had a plan for how to win and it was absolutely crucial. When we lost, I could talk to them about the fact that we lost not because of what the opposition did, but because of what we did. They could choose any game that they wanted and I would go over the plan and show them how they failed to live up to the plan, and that this was the reason we lost.

Here are some points to follow:

1. Who is toughest? We must be the toughest team on the field, not dirty, but mentally and physically tough.
2. We had to be the best fundamental football team. Everybody had to be tough, but everybody also had to execute the blocking and tackling.
3. The 7 commandments. We must win the turnover battle, we can’t give up cheap touchdowns, we can’t have foolish penalties, we can’t have missed assignments, we can’t play poorly on 3rd down, we must play well on the goal line, and the kicking game has to be perfect.
4. Togetherness. It was so important that we believed in and trusted one another.
5. We had to believe that we were going to win.

This was all in the plan and one thing is obvious, we controlled most of the things in the plan, so our future was going to be determined by what we did and not by what the opposition did.

The last thing I felt was important was to have each player ascertain where he wanted to be one year from now; academically, athletically, socially, financially, religiously. Then, the athletes had to answer these questions honestly:

1. What price are you willing to pay financially to achieve it?
2. What sacrifice are you willing to make to do it?
3. What skills and talents do you have to acquire to have it happen?
4. Who do you have to work with to have it done?
5. What problems and obstacles are you willing to overcome to get it done?
6. What is your plan to do it?

We had to answer these same questions in relation to our goals as a team – to win a championship and go to a bowl game.
I could go on and on about coaching on the field and handling different things, etc., but I’d tell the athletes this motto, “There is never a right time to do the wrong thing, and never a wrong time to do the right thing.” I advised them to discipline themselves. If you discipline yourself, others will not have to discipline you. Discipline is not what you do to somebody, it is what you do for somebody. Everybody on our team was held accountable for the choices they made.

This is just the start of how you turn a program around.

*********** There’s no question that there has been a coarsening of America.  It’s been the topic of a number of great articles and talks.  It’s getting worse, unfortunately.

Yes, there really were more dignified times in America, times when people listened to each other - even their opponents - and were considerate of each other’s feelings.

But lest anybody think that people “way back then” were a bunch of pussies (yes, thanks to the Women’s March, we can now feel free to use the word, the way we used to), I submit in evidence the President of the United States, Mr. Harry S. Truman.

Mr. Truman’s daughter, Margaret,  was an aspiring singer.  She was Mr. Truman’s only child, and he took immense pride in her.  You coaches out there will understand when I say he was “that” kind of parent.

In December of 1950, after Margaret sang at Washington’s Constitution Hall,  Paul Hume, music critic for the Washington Post, reviewed her the way he might have reviewed an ordinary person:

"Miss Truman is a unique American phenomenon with a pleasant voice of little size and fair quality  (she) cannot sing very well,  is flat a good deal of the time - more last night than at any time we have heard her in past years - has not improved in the years we have heard her  (and) still cannot sing with anything approaching professional finish."

Not that big a deal nowadays,  when young singers go on TV shows and submit themselves to sometimes humiliating evaluations of their talents - but this was the President’s daughter.

Here was the President’s response:

The White House

Dec 6, 1950

Mr. Hume:

I’ve just read your review of Margaret’s concert.  I’ve come to the conclusion that you are an “eight ulcer man on four ulcer pay.”

It seems to me that you are a frustrated old man who wishes he could have been successful.  When you write such poppy-cock as was in the back section of the paper you work for it shows conclusively that you’re off the beam and at least four of your ulcers are at work.

Some day I hope to meet you.  When that happens you’ll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!

Pegler, a gutter snipe, is a gentleman alongside you.  I hope you’ll accept that statement as a worse insult than a reflection on your ancestry.

H. S. T.

(Hume sold the letter not long afterward for $3500.   After a few changes of hands, it now resides in the Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri.)

“When all else fails, tell them all to go to hell and take a brisk walk.”  Harry S Truman

*********** I’ve been an Army football fan through thick and thin. Mostly thin, as those of you know who’ve followed Army football in this century know.

When Army defeated Navy this past season, it was only the second time I’d seen them do it since 2001 - that was FOURTEEN straight losses to Navy.

Since 2001, I’ve seen six coaches come -  and five of them go.

Since 2001, I’ve seen two winning seasons. I’ve also seen an 0-13 season (an all-time record), two one-win seasons, three two-win seasons, and six three-win seasons. To save you the addition, that’s 12 of the past 17 seasons in which Army has won three games or less.

But I knew what those coaches and those kids were up against. The Academy has extremely high standards, and being accepted is just the start of it:  the academic demands and the rigors of cadet life are unrelenting.  On top of that, there were the usual demands placed on college football players. And during most of this time, the strong likelihood that upon graduation players would wind up not in the NFL but in Iraq or Afghanistan made recruiting difficult.  On top of all that, the  Army football players I’ve met have all been impressive young men, and the former Army players I’ve met have been the highest calibre men I’ve ever been associated with; I continue to be impressed by their love of their school and their steadfast devotion to Army football.  And then, there’s West Point itself and its history.  I dare you to walk around the place and not come away with a profound sense of awe.

So I’m an Army guy.  No, I’m not a West Point graduate.  Actually, I’m an Ivy-Leaguer - a Yale graduate.

But screw Yale.  Yale stands for nothing.  Yale has allowed itself to become a featherbed for whiney malcontents, ready to demonstrate at the drop of a hat and so sensitive they’ll protest anything.  Its reputation as the “Gay Ivy” doesn’t, to be frank, engender pride in my alma mater.  Nor did its admission of a former Taliban officer.  Nor does its consistent refusal to provide an ROTC program. 

Enough of that.  I’m an Army guy.

I live 3,000 miles from West Point, but this century I’ve been to five Army games (one of them Army-Navy) and three spring games.  I’ve been to five practices and one Army Football Club golf outing. 

I'm all in.

So I’m greatly dismayed by the news that after an investigation, it was determined that an Army assistant coach received strategic information from a friend with whom he’d once coached while on the staff at Wake Forest - a Benedict Arnold-type who, probably bitter at his being fired by Wake, betrayed the University’s kindness in giving him the job of color man on their radio broadcast team, and the football team’s trust in allowing him unusual access to their plans, practices and meetings.

The Army coach apparently received the information the last two years.

While there remains some question as to what use the Army coach made of the ill-gotten information, or whether he shared it with any one else, certain things are evident without the need for any investigation:

1. Army played extremely well against Wake Forest in 2015 and 2016. Army upset Wake Forest this past season, and in 2015 lost to Wake on a last-second field goal.  (Not that the passing of information made any difference.)

2. His receipt of the information was a clear violation of the American Football Coaches Association Code of Ethics:
Article 6.1 - It is unethical under any circumstances to scout any team, by any means whatsoever, except in regularly scheduled games. The head coach shall be held responsible for all scouting.   
3. For an unknown but seemingly considerable  length of time (while Louisville and Virginia Tech were coming clean) he concealed the fact that he was in possession of the information

4. At an institution  where at one time nearly the entire football team was dismissed from the Academy for violation of the honor code (“"A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.”), the punishment appears to be absurdly lenient:

1. Two weeks’ suspension (in February)

2. A $25,000 fine (it may surprise you to know that in similar cases there have been ways found to assist in payment)

3. “Ethics training”.  Um, the guy’s 40 years old. His ethics are hard wired.  Plus, he’s a member of the AFCA,  and it’s not asking too much of him to be familiar with its Code of Ethics.

I was very disappointed with the weasel-worded statement of the Athletics Director, one Boo Corrigan.  (A man named Boo!): “Although no NCAA rules were violated, these actions do not represent our values.”

Well, no.  No NCAA rules were violated.  As if that made it less of an ethical violation. 

The Academy Superintendent, Lieutenant General Robert Caslen, put it a lot better:

"Our commitment is to foster a culture of excellence and winning in everything we do.  It does not mean that we win at all costs. Rather, it means winning in accordance with our values and who we are as an institution and a nation. When we win, we will do so honorably, remaining true to the values and standards that define us."

It was exactly what I’d expect from a man whom I greatly respect, and it’s a major reason why I love Army football.  Unfortunately,   the leniency of the punishment implies a lack of understanding of the seriousness of the offense in the coaching profession, and renders General Caslen’s words no more meaningful than if they’d come from the president of a big-time football factory.

*********** My son, Ed. who covers sports in Australia, wrote me after I sent him an article about the kid in LA (Chino Hills) who scored 92 points in a recent game.
The Chino Hills game – don’t know if you watched – was hands-down the ugliest basketball you’ll ever see. The other team’s coach was angry with Ball’s teammates for fouling and trying to get him the ball but his team played no defense. It was like Loyola Marymount in the Westhead era, but with no Kimble or Gathers.
Let’s be honest, basketball in the US is a joke. From AAU teams to stacked high school teams to farcical ‘college students’ – it’s far worse than football. Only the sheer athleticism and the population keep us up there with the best in the world because the coaching isn’t doing it at any level.
Look at the struggles Coach K is having. That ‘one and done’ thing worked out for him two  years ago but he could end up tarnishing his legacy if he’s not careful. This Grayson Allen kid is a jerk, plain and simple. Not a Laettner type either, a real punk in my opinion.
Enough ranting  - did you see that video I sent you about the Pats on that two-point conversion? Evidently it should have been flagged – receivers can’t block defenders while the ball is in the air and in their area.

Agreed on the basketball. Disregard for fundamentals and emphasis on showmanship - and it starts young.

As for the two-point conversion (the first one, a flanker screen from trips formation, with the other two receivers blocking DBs.)

Based on NCAA (and NFHS) rules, there is no offensive pass interference.  Blocking downfield is legal so long as the pass is not completed beyond the line of scrimmage, as this one clearly was not.  That’s the basis of all the wide receiver screens that are at the heart of the spread offense that’s  so prevalent in college. To college offensive coordinators, it's a running play: keep throwing it out there to those athletes and sooner or later a tackler will miss.  

A cursory look at the NFL rules would seem to indicate  that they differ from the NCAA (and NFHS) rules.  There is no allowance for whether or not a pass clears the line of scrimmage,  and that would mean that two of the Patriots were guilty of offensive pass interference.

So it would seem that you are correct.  Given the animus toward the Patriots, I’m surprised some member of the Resistance hasn’t had anything to say about it.  Maybe it’s because football isn’t their game.

*********** Years ago, while in Finland, I was talking with a guy about pro wrestling.  He laughed and - as best I can reproduce his accent - said. “I cannot belief people watch dot sheet.”  (“Dot sheet” = that sh-t)

ESPN’s latest “30 for 30” — “This Was the XFL”  - brought to mind that long-ago conversation.

To me, it was easily the worst 30 for 30 I’ve ever seen, first because it brought back to me what a sleazy concept the whole thing was, and second, because it reminded me that  they had a legitimate opportunity to take a run at the NFL, and they blew it. 

Now, no one will ever even come close to threatening Big Football.

What arrogance to think they could push a brand of football accented by  wrestling-style faux violence, slutty “cheerleaders” and ridiculous stage names (“He Hate Me”) on American football fans.

Who wanted to watch dot sheet?

*********** Think Matt Rhule wishes he hadn’t left Temple?

He was a hot commodity.  It’s rumored that he turned down the Oregon job, only to find himself in Sin City, USA - Waco, Texas.  (Somehow, Waco, a dry city and the home of Chip and Joanna, and Baylor, the world’s largest Baptist University, would be about the last place I’d go looking for sex scandals, but there we are.)

I’ll bet he wishes he’d asked to take the job on a six-month trial basis, just in case they weren’t really telling him the truth about having everything cleaned up.

And I’ll bet he wishes he’d known his new strength coach a whole lot better.

*********** Going back at least to Colorado and the Gary Barnett days,  I’ve considered offering sex with campus dollies as a
pretty slimy recruiting tool.

Since then, schools like Oklahoma State and Baylor (and undoubtedly many, many more) have elevated Sex for Signings to an art form, but it’s no less slimy.

And then I read a recent article revealing that more and more, millennials are having no-strings-attached sex - BEFORE dating.  (Might as well find out if she’s any good in bed before taking her to a movie.)

Which means, if true,  that more and more, young people in general are slimy. 

So what the hell - if college women are that easy…

Just one question:  Where’s Title IX on this? Now that they’re paying players a small “cost of college” stipend - sooner or later the Recruiting Honeys are going to want to get paid, too.

*********** I had to laugh when I read that Kevin Scarbinsky of referred to Alabama as the Saban Home for Wayward Coaches.

Father Saban sure did wonders rehabbing Lane Kiffin. 

But what he did for Steve Sarkisian was a near-miracle. 

Sarkisian coaches just one game at Alabama and he’s all ready to go, hired on by the Atlanta Falcons to run their offense.  That there Nick Saban sure does run one hell of a rehab program down there in Tuscaloosa, don’t he? 

I’m predicting that sooner or later, something bad will come of this hire.  I’ve found a lot of wisdom in an old adage:

“The best predictor of future performance is past performance.”

*********** All those who think that Atlanta’s defense cost them the Super Bowl raise your hand.

All those who think it was the offense’s fault, raise yours.

Well, you people who think it was the defense’s fault must be right, because the Falcons just fired their defensive coordinator.  (In fairness, the Falcons defense went into the game  ranked 25th best in the NFL, so maybe that’s why.)

Meanwhile, the offensive coordinator, the one who knew that his team had the 25th-best defense in the NFL and therefore should have been hanging onto the ball - but instead decided to throw it,  all but handing it back to the Patriots… he’s the new head coach of the 49ers.

*********** Michael Sam… remember him?  I’m trying to place the name.

That can’t be the guy who was the first openly gay player in the NFL -  because he never played in the NFL.

Anyhow, he thinks he knows why he never made it in the NFL.

***********  Indentifying Gary Steele as the first black player at Army (1966)

Greg Koenig - Beloit, Kansas
Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin
Tim Brown - Athens, Alabama
Kevin McCullough - Lakeville, Indiana (Gary Steele…..very interesting reading about him!…..probably would have been a good  pro even after serving his time in army…..had a greater calling …..sounds like a strong parent)

*********** Here’s a good one for you:

Hailing from North Carolina, he played for a northern college (whose coach’s recruiting of southern black players was joking nicknamed the “Underground Railroad).  He became the first black quarterback from the South to win a national title.  Tony Dungy used to watch him play in college, and recalls, “I was (him) in the backyard games.” He became a long-time NFL assistant coach and his son is now an NFL executive.

american flag TUESDAY,  FEBRUARY 7,  2017  "The graveyards are full of indispensible men." Charles de Gaulle
Boston  Globe Headline
In terms of premature headlines, this one, composed early in the game when the Pats were out of it, made it to the newsstands in the early editions.  It’s right up there with the 1948 “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN” mistake , and the rumor is that people are paying upwards of $100 for copies.

*********** It only took them LI games, but the NFL finally gave us a Super Bowl that lived up to the impossible-to-live-up-to hype that grows greater with every year.

The threatened anti-take-your-pick-of-grievances protests could have been going on in the stands and we wouldn’t have paid attention.

I didn’t have a dog in the fight - I’d have been happy with either team winning.

I’m excited for the Patriots, for whom I had only recently been forced to give in and admit my admiration, and sorry for the fans and players of Atlanta.  The win was theirs to take, and it looked as if the city of Atlanta and its sports fans would at long last be able to celebrate a championship.

The Falcons were on fire in the first half, and Matt Ryan had to have the best day, statistically, of any losing Super Bowl quarterback.   Julio Jones has got to be the best receiver in the game right now.  And everybody knows it, without his having to remind us every time he makes a catch.

The Patriots looked dead on their asses for the better part of three quarters.  Who knows why they caught fire?  Could it have been that somehow Atlanta stopped holding their receivers?  God knows they were doing enough of it.

The TV ratings weren’t as great as anticipated, probably because by halftime the game looked like a runaway.  A Patriots’ field goal just before halftime had made it 21-3.  Big deal.  They might have scored a touchdown but Martellus Bennett was holding.

The Patriots missed an extra point kick - then made two straight two-pointers.

The Patriots screwed up an onside kick, touching it before it went 10 yards.

Although there were only two of them kicked, field goals played a major role in the game. The tie at the end of regulation time was made possible by the field goal just before the half that the Patriots had to settle for, and the one in the third quarter that the Falcons weren’t able to attempt because a holding penalty pushed them back too far.


Very nice gesture by the team captains to shake hands with President and Mrs. Bush

Belichick on camera saying “Bullsh—!”

Actually, there were very few antics. Very little showmanship. Very little woofing at each other. Just football.  Most of the showmanship was by defensive linemen following sacks.

It was nice to see two teams wearing real, tasteful authentic-looking football uniforms.

The delicious knowledge that all the anti-trumpers who were so eagerly relishing the thought that  Brady, Belichick and Trump - the “Trump Lovers” - were about to get theirs were left absolutely stunned by the Patriots’ incredible win - remindful of the way a recent election left them.

In the spirit of American sports, disappointed and dejected Falcons’ fans accepted their bitter loss without rioting.


Blount’s fumble - I sure hate to see so much effort being expended to pry the ball loose. There's something so - unfootballish - about it all.

Holding (what's new?)  - one call prevented the Pats from scoring a TD just before the half; another in the third quarter took the Falcons out of field goal range

The National Anthem was weak and lame and went 2:04 (The over/under was 2:07)

I guess Lady Gaga was good.  When I say a football team is good people who don’t know football take me at my word, so when people who follow that sh— say she was good, I’ll just believe them.  God knows they put enough into the production.  I thought the people looked, um, weird (by my standards, you understand).  Other than her showing what I thought were more crotch shots than she needed to show, she sure did stay in motion.  I was reminded  of the person who years ago said people who called Sammy Davis, Jr. (a once-popular song-and-dance guy) talented, were confusing talent with energy.  I have to admit I am sort of pissed because I really did expect her to do something to inflame the crowd, like getting all those lighted drones to spell out “F—K YOU, TRUMP!”

Considering the booing that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell got as he presented the Lombardi Trophy to Robert Kraft, it’s probably just as well that Ms. Gaga played it safe.

I didn’t think that it was appropriate for Bill O’Reilly to interview Barack Obama shortly before an earlier Super Bowl, and I didn’t think it was appropriate for him to do the same with Donald Trump this time, new President or not.  After all the talk about what Lady Gaga might (or might not) do, I would have much preferred they let us concentrate on football.   On the other hand, Fox - and numerous advertisers - seemed to think they had us locked in a room and they could shove anything they wanted down our throats, so why not an interview with the President?

The pendulum continues to swing from football to entertainment.  I’d be willing to bet that half of the time allotted for the pre-game show was devoted to Charissa Thompson interviewing this entertainer or that, none of whom, it goes without saying, I’d heard of.

It does bother me that when I tune into to f—king FOOTBALL game, I have to play second fiddle so much of the time to people who don’t particularly care about football but know who every single singer, actor and entertainer is in commercials,  what every song is, and what movie it came from.


Mexico Avocado ad - Secret society catches a member streaming what’s been taking place

Humpty-Dumpty Turbo Tax ad - shouldn’t sit on the wall and do your taxes

The ghost of Spuds Mackenzie (Bud Light) was sort of funny.

The Nintendo Switch looks like a clever device.


There was a dearth of really clever, amusing commercials.  At the same time,  there was an overabundance of “Finish your diversity - it’s good for you” messages

Result? This was easily the lamest crop of Super Bowl commercials I can recall - and I’m going back to 1996 when I taped all the commercials to review with an advertising class I was teaching.

There’s never a shortage of bad taste:

Mister Clean is back  - in tights as a metrosexual.   He cleans and dances and cleans and dances - and his watching him shake his tight butt gets the woman of the house aroused

Something called “itsa10 Hair Care” took a veiled shot at the President by saying that we’re in for four years of awful hair.

Women in the T-Mobile ads  got turned on by threat of being “punished” by their current carrier

Febreze showed people headed for the bathroom during commercials: “I love you bathroom break - but sometimes it stinks.”  What’s next - Farts? “My family loves my baked beans, but…”

Lots of ads for movies and games - looks like lots of really weird sh—  coming up, with enough explosions and weapons and gore to create at least one mass murderer down the line

Cam Newton’s still finding work - “If that’s a Buick then my kid’s Cam Newton!”

Who knows if the Lady Gaga extravaganza was worth it to Pepsico?  Somehow, I doubt that people went out afterwards and cleaned out their stores of all their Pepsi Zero Sugar. (didn’t think I’d remember, did you?)

We were hectored by people who insisted on foisting their vision of a better America on us.

Google Ad, “Country Roads” playing in the background - had to show a rainbow flag flying outside a house

No matter “Where you’re from… who you love… who you worship… we all belong”

And crown thy good with brotherhood… “AND SISTERHOOD!” added to our country’s song.

Coca-Cola’s “Together is Beautiful” (“America the Beautiful” sung by God knows how many people who can’t be bothered to learn the words in English)

Samuel Goldwyn once told a screenwriter who pitched a story that he said contained a message: “If you want to send a message, call Western Union.”

That brings to mind Audi and that godawful soap box derby race in which the cute little girl defeats those ugly, fat-faced boys, while Daddy, narrating, says, “What do I tell my daughter? Do I tell her that her grandfather is worth more than her grandmother.”  See, it’s not about selling cars at all.  It’s a message about giving women “equal pay for equal work.”  Somehow the myth persists that there’s a woman in a workplace doing the same job, with the same amount of experience at the job, as a man, and being paid less than him.  Boy -  considering all the noise that’s been made about this, and all the legal means at her disposal, that’s one dumb woman.

“You don’t look like you’re from around here!”  “Go back home!”  Fortunately, Adolphus Busch didn’t listen to the native-born American bigots, or we never would have been able to see the great American company he founded, Anheuser-Busch, sold to foreigners.

The NFL got really preachy with their “inside these lines” spot.   Showed us a female ref.  Showed us the Seahawks locking arms (their sanitized version of taking a knee). Said, “There’s more that unites us.” Then, they gave us a shot of the field,  inside of which was the outline of the United States.  Oh, I get it - they didn’t mean the sidelines at all, but instead meant within our nation’s borders.  Clean your plate. Finish your diversity. It's good for you.


“Social Media Check-In with Katie Nolan.”   Wow. I was really interested in what people were saying on Twitter, and I’m sure millions of others were, too.

“Be the player” - Fox’s  attempt at VR (“see what the quarterback sees”) didn’t work.

Honda yearbook photos come to life - “All dreams are within reach”

Skittles ad - boy throwing Skittles into his girl friend’s upstairs window

Somehow I missed the fact that the Snickers ad was actually taking place - live - as we watched.

Morgan Freeman sat in an airplane and mumbled something.  It was Turkish Airlines.  Not sure what the point was, because I doubt that more than one per cent of the people watching had any plans to go to Turkey, and I suspect that those who did might choose another, better-known  airline.

Not sure what Martha Stewart and Snoop had to do with T-Mobile,  but I couldn’t think of a much less likely pair.

Go Daddy stuff was dumb as ever

The American Petroleum Institute.  Oil is good.  Go out and use all you can.

Sprint - Fake your death to get out of Verizon contract

After a really strenuous workout, sweaty millennials pass around the Michelob Ultra


84 Lumber - a little girl and her mother leave their town in what appears to be Mexico and undergo all sorts of nasty experiences as they head to… Oops.  “Go to our Web site to see the rest of the commercial.”

WTF?  Well.  Being me, I had to go there, and it ends with the little girl and Mama coming to a wall.  And then - finding a huge door in the wall - a door which opens and admits them to - AMERICA!  I think that 84 Lumber, which apparently has aspirations of taking on Lowe’s and Home Depot and smaller but nonetheless significant chains like Menard’s, seemed to be implying that if you’re willing to come here, we’ve got a job for you.  Maybe they weren’t saying that at all.  Who knows?  All I know is that they spent close to $10 million to send a message that looks like an invitations to come North.  An “advitation,” if I may coin a word.


*********** Best moment:  Robert Kraft, Patriots’ owner, after accepting the Lombari Trophy,  let us in on the news that “a lot has transpired over the last two years” (he didn’t need to say “Deflategate”) and that he was sort of happy that his team won.

*********** Second best moment:  the Patriots’ Hall of Fame linebacker Willie McGinest (whom the TV people didn’t bother to identify), carrying the Lombardi Trophy through the post-game crowd, telling Patriots’ players, “Kiss this mother—ker!”

*********** Third best moment: “24 Legacy” - that damned show really did live up to all the hype during the game and now it’s got me hooked and I’ll watch it on Monday night.. 


*********** I have my doubts about whether an owner belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Maybe a founder, such as Art Rooney (Steelers) or Tim Mara (Giants).  Maybe George Halas or Lamar Hunt.  Otherwise, as one NFL coach is reputed to have said to a middling owner, tryng to get him out of his hair, “My job is to coach. Your job is to own.  Go own.”  Whatever that entails.  But if there is to be an owner in the Hall of Fame - Jerry Jones?  You mean the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, a team that hasn’t been in a Super Bowl since 1996?  In all the years since then, 17 different teams have appeared in the Super Bowl - that’s more than half the teams in the league - and Dallas wasn’t among them. WTF has Jerry Jones done other than make himself richer than sh— by finding clever ways not to have to share his revenues with other owners, forcing those other owners to go and get themselves newer and bigger stadiums with more luxury boxes and “club seats” and restaurants and lounges?

*********** Dave Potter, in Durham, North Carolina - actually, he’s recently moved to Cary, NC - sent me a link to the telecast of the1970 Michigan-Ohio State game.  From start to finish - commercials and all - it’s all  classic.   The pre-game was as good as many of today’s games, but maybe that’s because in those days, the NCAA controlled the TV rights to all games, and they very niggardly allowed us to watch only one game - or on special occasions,  two games - per week.

Most amazing to me was the national anthem, played by the Ohio State band and sung - REALLY sung - by the people in the stadium.  It was stirring.  But it made me sad and angry, too, to think how we’ve pissed that away.  Most of those patriotic Ohioans are dead now, and in their place at today’s football games are new generations of numbskulls who think it’s perfectly appropriate to have entertainers “perform” our national anthem, degrading it as they wish.
 (at 10:22)

Other great features:

The color guy was Forest Evashevski, a great Michigan football player and after that  a longtime Iowa coach.

The Colt 45 commercials. (I was working for the National Brewing Company, maker of Colt 45, at the time they were made.)  In one, a guy sits at a table in a bull ring when suddenly the bull notices him and goes out of his way to knock the guy - table and all - into the wall.  The guy (a well-known Canadian comedian named Billy Vann who starred in all our commercials) isn’t even fazed.  He casually brushes himself off, returns to his seat, and smiles as a waiter pours him a Colt 45.  Now THAT excites him!  The joke to us at the brewery was the notion that anyone in the world would actually drink Colt 45 from a fancy goblet, when we all knew very well that 90 per cent of all Colt 45 sold was consumed straight from the can - usually a 16-ouncer. (The “40” was just coming onto the scene.)

In another Colt 45 commercial, the guy sits at a table as a logger cuts through a tree, which just misses him as it falls.  This time, the waiter merely places the can in front of him, then lifts the ring-tab on the top, and a nearby archer (dressed like Robin Hood), opens the can by shooting an arrow through the ring.

There are other commercials for Roy Rogers Restaurants (Roy himself tells us how great the grub is), and Polaroid cameras.  Imagine seeing the photo you shot just seconds later!

There’s a comedian named Pat Paulson - he once ran for President - touting the engine-cleaning qualities of Mobil gasoline.  (In one of his comedy routines, he made fun of the anti-Vietnam protestors and their “Make Love, Not War!” chant -   “I got news for you,” he told them.  “In World War II - we did both.”

And one of the sponsors was TWA.  Remember TWA?  Remember Eastern Air Lines?  Remember Pan Am? 

There was an interview with a YOUNG Bo Schembechler, Michigan’s coach.  It was his second year at Michigan.  He was 41, but he’s already had  heart attack.  He’d been an assistant to Woody Hayes, the Ohio State coach.  He said there were no bad feelings between him and Woody Hayes.

There was an interview with Ohio State coach Woody Hayes. You could tell he was still smarting from last year’s upset loss to Michigan, the Buckeyes’ only regular-season loss in three years.  He said there were no bad feelings between him and Bo Schembechler.

There was a moment of silence for the victims of the plane crash only a week earlier (November 14, 1970) in which all 75 passengers, including 37 members of the Marshall University football team and five members of the coaching staff were killed.

There were great previews of the two teams.  Michigan had a great tight end named Jim Mandich.  Their captain was a guy named Dan Dierdorff.  (The same.)  Ohio State had a great quarterback named Rex Kern and a super running back named John Brockington.

We saw the Ohio State band do its famed “script Ohio,” including the  “dotting of the ‘i’.”

We actually met the starting seniors from both teams - unlike today’s tiny little graphics that we see between plays early in the game, we saw them, live.  Saw their faces, learned their first and last names, and discovered that they all had home towns.

Oh- and they all wore real shoulder pads.

All this, and I haven’t even started to watch the game yet.  I can hardly wait.

Demand for game tickets was so great, they told us, that people were getting as much as $100 a ticket.  Imagine!  (By today’s standards that might get you a parking place closer to the stadium than a half mile away.)

************* I continue to be shocked at the ignorance of big fast food companies, hiring people to create their ads who’ve obviously never eaten a hamburger or watched anybody else eat one.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone eat a juicy hamburger - certainly not a Big Mac - with one hand, yet that’s all we see in the McDonald’s and Carl’s Jr/Hardee’s commercials.  Even little women with tiny hands.  It’s like nobody gives a sh— about the ingredients falling on their laps and the juices getting all over their clothes.

I’ll believe that I’ve been wrong all these years when I see a real expert on eating big, messy sandwiches - Guy Fieri on “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” - eating them one-handed.

*********** In 1955, Jack Hecker was the captain of legendary coach Doyt Perry’s first Bowling Green team.  An end (at a time of two-way play, and before there was such a term as “tight end”) he was twice named all-MAC, and was the first Falcon to be named to play in the Blue-Gray game, at that time a prestigious post-season all-star game.

After a brief high school coaching career in Ohio, he moved on to coach college football, first at Toledo, then at Miami (the “Cradle of Coaches”) and, for 23 years, at Army, where he retired in 1999. 

Coach Hecker passed away on Sunday.

He was revered by the Army guys who played for him and coached with him, and he reciprocated their love - his email address was “armyjack.”

He was a co-founder of the Army Football Club - the association of former West Point football players and coaches - and in 1997 he was instrumental in establishing the club’s annual golf outing, modeling it after the one held annually at Bowling Green.

A bit of irony: Coach Hecker died on Super Bowl Sunday; his late brother, Norb, was the first head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.

*********** Two Oregon high school administrators lost their jobs when it was learned they exchanged texts mocking two former students at the school, one for being overweight, the other for alleged drug use.

The principal and the vice principal/AD at Creswell High School, a small school about 15 miles south of Eugene were first placed on administrative leave, then resigned their positions in the face of community criticism.

The two students in question, both girls, had transferred to another, nearby school this school year, and the father of one of them said she did so to escape bullying.

If you’re an administrator/teacher/coach, I want you to look me in the eye and tell me that you never, ever said anything disparaging of any student.  Look, not all students are angels.   If they were, everyone would want to be a teacher.  Nobody would leave the profession.

But this is the Twenty-First century, where the President of the United States can’t even call another world leader with assurance that the contents of their call won’t become public.

School people:  beware of the written word, in any shape or form.

Take the fact that nothing can be assumed to be confidential and then throw in today’s climate in which you can’t say anything negative about any student, no matter how reprehensible, and you can count on it: if a kid’s arrested for burning down the school and you text that he ’s a criminal - you’ll get fired.

***********  Identifying the great Floyd Little:

Josh Montgomery - Berwick, Louisiana
KC Smith - Walpole, Massachusetts
Dave Potter - Durham, North Carolina
Jerry Lovell - Bellevue, Nebraska
Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin
Tom Walls - Winnipeg, Manitoba

KC Smith, a Harvard guy, had to stick the needle in, writing “Bulldogs let him get away” - Actually, although he was a New Haven kid, and Yale’s Carm Cozza was well aware of him, Yale had no shot at Floyd Little.   He had his sights set on bigger things.  As I understand it, he was all set to go to West Point but because of low SAT scores he didn't qualify academically, so West Point arranged for him to go to Bordentown Military Academy.  There he wound up signing with Syracuse (not the first nor the last time this sort of thing has happened to Army). Who knows why?  Maybe it was the escalation of the war in Vietnam, which was beginning to take its toll on Army football recruiting.  Maybe it was the fact that he didn’t want to be the first black to play at West Point.  (Since he graduated from high school in 1961 and Army’s first black player did not play until 1966, Little’s senior season at Syracuse, Floyd Little almost certainly would have been Army’s first black football player.)

*********** Next question- Since it wasn't Floyd Little... who was the first black player to play for Army?

american flag FRIDAY,  FEBRUARY 3,  2017  “Who are the greatest generals?  The victors.”  Napoleon Bonaparte

*********** Several years ago, while coaching at North Beach, I was contacted by a guy named Jeff Jagodzinski. I recognized the name.  He was helping a small college in Florida get its program under way, and he was curious about the Double Wing.  I got to like the guy. 

The reason he was at that small school: he’d made one bad decision.

He’d been the Packers’ offensive coordinator - and Brett Favre’s quarterback coach.

And then, in 2007 and 2008, he’d coached Boston College to a 20-8 record.  His 2007 team was ranked 11th nationally.

And then it all came apart: after the 2008 season, he was approached by the Jets about their head coaching vacancy.

But when he asked his AD for permission to interview, he was told that if he interviewed with the Jets, he’d be fired.

He interviewed with the Jets anyhow.

Bad decision.  He didn’t get the Jets’ job, and he was fired at BC.

Since then, he’s paid a hell of a price for that misstep.  He’s worked in a number of spots, most recently at Georgia State, but he’s not currently on its staff.

The Jets didn’t do all that well in the deal, either.  They wound up hiring Rex Ryan.

Which brings us to another Ryan.  Matt Ryan.  Jeff Jagodzinski was his coach at BC.

*********** The guy who first taught Matt Ryan how to throw a football was his uncle,  John Loughery.   He’d been a starting quarterback for Boston College himself,  back in 1980.  But before the start of his junior season, 1981, he tore ligaments in the thumb of his throwing hand, and he never got his starting position back. His replacement was a freshman named Doug Flutie.

*********** In doing a little bit of research, I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal of January 25, 2013 - almost exactly four years ago.

It was about the NFL, and its title was “The Year Everything Changed.”

Among other changes in the game, 2013 was supposed to be the year that the running quarterback took over the game.

To support their argument, the authors, Kevin Clark and Jonathan Clegg, noted that five NFL quarterbacks - Robert Griffin (the Third), Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton, Michael Vick and Russell Wilson - all had averaged more than 30 yards rushing per game that season, the most since 1970.

Yes, the college game had begun to take over the NFL.  Now, defenses had to prepare for the pistol, and the option game, and God knows what else those crazy college coaches kept coming up with.    Blah, blah, blah.

Yeah, right.    As for all that change that we were told about four years ago - turns out that changing the NFL game is like changing Washington, DC - like making a U-turn with an aircraft carrier.

A mere four years later, of those five quarterbacks cited, Wilson’s the only one who at this point could be considered an established,  successful NFL quarterback.  Vick is out of the league.   Kaepernick and Griffin are fighting for playing time.  Newton, for all his fantastic natural ability, had a couple of good years but he slipped off in 2016 to the point where now a good 2017 could earn him  Comeback of the Year honors.

And this year’s Super Bowl,  despite the prediction of four years ago, looks as if someone called Central Casting and asked them to send over two “Prototype Pro Quarterbacks.”

Yes, Matt Ryan was a triple option quarterback in high school, but that was long ago and now, even by NFL standards, he’s not what you’d call a running quarterback.  He’s not afraid to run on occasion, but his own father once described him as “two steps slower than a statue.”  Maybe so, but he’d still beat Tom Brady in a foot race.

***********  Matt Ryan grew up in Exton, Pennsylvania but he went to high school in Philadelphia, at William Penn Charter School, better known there as “Penn Charter,” or “PC.” From Exton, Penn Charter is about 30 miles or, if you measure things by the time spent in Philly traffic, at least an hour away.

(Full disclosure:  Penn Charter’s arch-rival is Germantown Academy. That’s where I went. The two schools first played each other in 1887, and since then they’ve met  each other every year without a break in the series, making it the longest uninterrupted schoolboy rivalry in the country.  It’s fair to describe our feelings toward each other back in my high school days as verging on hatred.   Now, I’m way too old to hate PC. Now, I take almost as much pride in Matt Ryan’s being from PC as I would if he were from “GA.”)

But why Penn Charter?  Why would Matt Ryan have travelled all that distance, spent all that time, to go there?  I mean, it’s a really, really good school and all that, but still…

Exton’s a fairly affluent area; its public schools are quite good.

Private schools?   There are three of them in same conference as Penn Charter that are considerably closer to Exton.  The nearest one, Malvern Prep, is maybe five miles away.  And it’s even a Catholic school.  (Matt Ryan went to Saints Philip and James Elementary School, so I’m making an educated guess that the Ryans, being Irish, are also Catholic.)

So why Penn Charter, again?

I’d have to answer, “The Little Quakers.”

The Little Quakers are a youth football team founded in 1953 by a young Philadelphia sportsman named Bob Levy.  Bob Levy had money.  He owned a stable of race horses, one of whom won the Belmont Stakes, and he contributed generously to any number of area sports, including the tennis program at his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania (Penn). But he really loved football, and he loved his high school, Penn Charter. 

Penn Charter’s teams are called the Quakers.  Now.  But back in 1953, when Penn football was still very big, and  the Quakers played the best teams in the East, Penn Charter was known as the Little Quakers.  (I don’t know when they dropped the “Little” from the name.)

So it’s easy to see how Bob Levy’s team got its name.

64 years after Bob Levy got them under way - he also coached them for a number of years - The Little Quakers are still in business.  Their overall record, posted on their Web site:  251-38

They’ve sent countless alumni on to college, and many - including Matt Ryan - to the NFL.  Current Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook is a Little Quaker alum. (Ironically, he went to Malvern Prep.)   One of this year’s Little Quakers was a young man named Marvin Harrison, Jr.

The Little Quakers were never meant to be your ordinary youth team.  From the start, they were intended to be an all-star team. (Unintentionally, they were the forerunners of one of the biggest poxes on youth sports - the travel team.)

Their season is short.  They hold tryouts - typically, 200 or more will compete - but not until school eighth-grade seasons are over (they have an age limit of 15), so that means that their season is short.

Typically, they’ll play a three- or at most four-game schedule against area teams, culminating with one  that involves significant travel.  They’ve gone to Florida, Texas, California - even Hawaii. This past season, they played in the Chicago area. Part of their trip was a visit to Notre Dame.  At least one of their “local” games is played in Penn’s hallowed Franklin Field, one of the oldest existing stadiums in America, where greats such as Grange and Harmon and Blanchard and Davis once played.

And then, that’s it.  Four games, five tops, and by mid-December, they’ve turned in their gear.

The next year, they’ll start all over with a fresh group of kids.

Why eighth graders, you might ask?

Well.   That’s the last point at which high school coaches in most states can still approach kids without violating rules against recruiting.  Once they’re in ninth grade and high schoolers, you only speak to athletes from another school at your peril.

Obviously, because their players are pretty good for their age, I’m sure that area private schools scout the Little Quakers.

And who would be in a better position to scout them than the people at Penn Charter?  Penn Charter is where the Little Quakers meet and where they practice.  The Penn Charter head coach, Brian McCloskey, also assists the Little Quakers head coach.  (In fairness,  he’s a Little Quaker alum himself.)

Penn Charter claims that it doesn’t give athletic scholarships, and I believe that.  But Penn Charter is exremely well endowed, and it claims to award more than $10,000,000 a year in financial air.  No qualified young person is going to be turned down because he/she can’t afford to go there.  Certainly not a good football player.

But the emphasis is definitely on “qualified,” because Penn Charter is known to be a school of great integrity, and its academics are second to none.  No knucklehead, no matter how good a football player he might be, is going to make it there.

If on occasion they wind up with a Matt Ryan, all well and good.

But more often, they wind up with young men not quite so talented as Matt Ryan who can still benefit from the Penn Charter experience.  (God, I can’t believe I’m writing this.)

As an example of the way the Little Quakers work hand in hand with Penn Charter for their mutual benefit, the school’s Web page tells this story about Brian McCloskey, the current Penn Charter coach:

Brian McCloskey grew up in Kensington, a working class neighborhood in Philadelphia. Imagine row homes, teamsters, hard-working people sitting on the stoops listening to Phillies games. “People knew who you were and who your parents were.  Back then, neighborhood kids didn’t go to college.  The mentality was you’ll go to high school, you’ll get a job, you’ll start a family and have a great life. That’s what people did.”

It was impossible to know at the time, but at just eight years-old McCloskey took the first in a series of steps that would forever shape his path. He started playing football at the nearby Fishtown PAL (Police Athletic League), and his coach, Tommy Thompson, decided that McCloskey was going to play quarterback.

“For whatever reason, he thought I could be that guy,” McCloskey recalled. “He gave me the playbook. I didn’t even know what some of the plays were. I went home and cried to my dad that I couldn’t do it.” But McCloskey did play, and continued playing quarterback exclusively for the rest of his football career.

During his freshman year at North Catholic, McCloskey was presented with another opportunity, a spot on the Little Quakers, a team established in 1953 by Bob Levy PC ’48 to provide eighth and ninth graders opportunities to play for great coaches and experience life beyond the boundaries of their neighborhoods. For McCloskey and dozens of young men like him, it was also a steppingstone to admission at Penn Charter and the prestigious James Fox Memorial Scholarship. “That’s what changed my life.” McCloskey said.

“If I don’t go to PC, I don’t go to college,” McCloskey said. He knew that a college education would make a difference, but he also knew that getting there wouldn’t be easy. “I thought if I was going to do it and go to college, Penn Charter would give me the tools to be able to succeed.”

The Fox scholarship, established in 1969 by Robert and Penny Fox in memory of their son James, is a need-based award that has made a PC education possible for almost 40 football players from the Little Quakers team. For many, it transformed their lives.

“In the neighborhood, you go to North (Catholic)  and then you go to work. But now I’m amongst 90 kids at Penn Charter who are all going to college. I can’t be the only person who doesn’t go. I had to study. I had to work hard. I got a lot of help from faculty who spent extra time with me” he said. After PC, McCloskey enrolled at Ursinus College, where he played football and received a degree in economics and business administration. And he returned to Penn Charter.

McCloskey, who is currently dean of students at Penn Charter, is quick to point out that he is only one of many people whose life was transformed by a Penn Charter education made possible through the Fox Scholarship. There are ongoing relationships among the scholars and with the Foxes. “They invite us all back for dinner every year.” McCloskey said, “and we all say thank you.”

From an old article in Sports Illustrated by a former Little Quaker named Jack Maley—

The Little Quakers are an all-star team of 13- to 14-year-olds from Philadelphia and the surrounding area, including south New Jersey. To play for the Quakers in 1971, you had to weigh less than 135 pounds and survive an annual tryout that attracted about 200 hopefuls. For me, the tryout sessions were intimidating. After three or four sessions the crowded field of multicolored jerseys was whittled down to 45 players. That year I was one of the lucky (and somewhat talented) 45, and I played quarterback.

Our team had a cast of characters right out of Dickens, if he'd known anything about the wishbone and flex defenses. Lacoste alligators mixed it up with leather jackets. There were whites, blacks and a kid who said he was part Mohican—we called him Chief, of course. We also had Catholics, Protestants, Jews and even a 14-year-old atheist. It was not easy to mold us into a team. But Bob Levy, the chairman of the board of a storage business who founded the Little Quakers in 1953 and is the team's coach (with a 132-14-4 record) and one of its financial supporters, whipped us into a unit.

Twenty-nine years ago Levy, says the Little Quaker press guide "...had a dream.... Levy loved children and he loved football. The dream was to put together a football team of youngsters...who had not yet reached the high school level." And put together a team he did. The Little Quakers are one of the most successful boys' football teams in the country.

Everything about the Little Quakers is first class. The team has personalized equipment bags, separate offensive and defensive practice jerseys, home and away uniforms, nine assistant coaches, an administrative staff, a manager, a physician, two trainers, an executive director and a game director. Practice is held on an AstroTurf field, and I still have the turf burns to prove it. Not even bad weather could spoil a Quakers workout, because we could practice inside Haverford College's sprawling athletic complex whenever the need arose.

For me, besides the high level of competition, the most attractive part of playing for the Little Quakers was their away-game schedule. Instead of piling into the coaches' dented station wagons and driving over to the adjacent neighborhood, the Little Quakers boarded buses and planes to places like Hawaii, California, Florida and Arizona. The 1971 schedule included two long trips—one to Houston and the other to Fort Lauderdale.

***********  “As we peer into society’s future, we - you and I and our government - most avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow.  We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss of their political and spiritual heritage.  We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.”  President Dwight D. Eisenhower

*********** My son's friend, Sam Farmer, covers the NFL for the LA Times.   Over the last 20 years he became something of a Super Bowl press-conference legend for asking when Los Angeles was going to be getting another NFL team.  Now, with one team already  in town and another on its way, he said, "I'm tempted to ask - when will Los Angeles stop getting NFL teams?"

*********** I think the Los Angeles Times may have the best sports section of any paper I know of.

Overall, it seems to be a pretty good paper, but evidently it hasn’t always been that way.

Back in the 1950s, the humorist S. J. Perelman told of taking a train cross-country:

“I asked the porter to get me a newspaper and unfortunately the poor man, hard of hearing, brought me the Los Angeles Times.”

*********** Anheuser-Busch Inbev, the giant Belgian-owned brewing company once based in St. Louis, just won’t give up trying to trick the American people into thinking that Budweiser  is American.

They’re going to run a commercial during the Super Bowl that takes us back 150 years or so to when a German immigrant (legal, I presume) named Adolphus Busch managed despite enormous difficulties to make it to the United States, where he met up with a chap named Anheuser and they collaborated  to produce a beer that they called  “Budweiser.”

In one of the scenes, though, the recently-arrived Adolphus Busch, walking down the street, is told, “Go home!”


Couple of things just don’t ring true there:  (1) It’s not as if Americans were unaccustomed to Germans.  In colonial times, in fact, the Pennsylvania legislature actually debated making German the official language; (2) how did this rude fool know that Adolphus was a foreigner?

No matter. As we all know, Adolphus Busch didn’t go home.  He stayed, and built a giant, prosperous brewing company, one that made himself and generations of his family extremely wealthy.

But not wealthy enough for some of them.  To get even more money, the  descendants of Adolphus Busch sold the firm.  They told it, in effect, 
to “go home.”

*********** The next time you take a job and simply out of the goodness of your heart you agree to keep some holdovers from the old staff without carefully “vetting” them… Think of President Trump and Nancy Yates.

*********** After 11 very successful  seasons as head coach at Beloit, Kansas, Greg Koenig is moving on.

Greg has accepted a position at another school, but no announcement can be made until his hiring is formally approved by the school board.

We first hooked up when he was coaching at tiny Las Animas, Colorado, and we’ve remained close through subsequent stops at Colby, Kansas and then Beloit.

At Beloit, he compiled a record of 93-13 overall, and 62-8 in conference play.  At one point his Trojans had a 28-game conference win streak.

HIs teams made it to the state playoffs nine times; they made it to the state semifinals three times, and to the finals in 2013.

He had two 10-win seasons, one 12-win season, and one 13-win season.    He never had a losing season.

I can’t say more about his new position until it can be announced, but Greg is extremely excited, describing it as one of those opportunities that come along once in a coach’s career.

*********** Identifying the Waltons - 6-6 NFL offensive lineman Bruce and 6-11 NBA center Bill

Josh Montgomery - Berwick, Louisiana
Ken Hampton - Raleigh, North Carolina
Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin
Kevin McCullough - Lakeville, Indiana
DJ Millay - Vancouver, Washington

The photos are from the October, 1966 issue of a magazine called “Sunrise - Illuminating New England sports.”  They show the guy relaxing at home, but  at the time, he was one of the top college running backs in the country.  He was featured because he was a New Englandah - From New Haven, Connecticut.”   Guess who?
New England kidNew England kid 2

american flag TUESDAY,  JANUARY 31,  2017  "Always remember that the future comes one day at a time."   Former Diplomat and Secretary of State  Dean Acheson

*********** Steve Goodman, a Black Lion who survived the Battle of Ong Thanh in Vietnam, died last week at his home in Coral Springs, Florida after a long illness.

Most of you don’t remember the old black-and-white World War II movies, where the members of the company were a cross-section of America. 

No doubt the idea was to show that we were all in the fight together. 
(Well, not exactly all - no blacks and whites serving together. Not yet. That’s another story, and one that was corrected in time for the next war.)

But in those movies there was always a southern country boy,a small-town kid from the Midwest, a clean-cut, fresh-faced, blonde-haired kid from the suburbs.  Maybe an American Indian.  Maybe a Mexican kid from California.  But always - always - a street-smart New Yorker.  Maybe Italian, maybe Irish, maybe Jewish.

That would have been Goody, as he was affectionately known by his fellow soldiers - a big, tough Jewish kid from the streets of Brooklyn.  The legend was that Goody was in the Army at the “suggestion” of a judge.

Goody was loved by his mates as a guy who would do anything for them, including getting anything for them, and as often as not without regard for what the regulations called for.

Author David Maraniss, whose great book “They Marched Into Sunlight” describes the Black Lions in battle, told how Goody operated.  Deep in the jungle of Vietnam, where the Black Lions had their base camp,  the luxuries of everyday life were hard to come by, to put it mildly.   Goody’s job required him to make twice-monthly trips to the supply base at Long Binh, where he would see, as he told Maraniss later,  “everything from soup to nuts… Coke, Pepsi, piled as far as they eye could see. Mountains of stuff.”

What a shame to see all that stuff sitting there, Goody must have thought, when my buddies could make good use of it. And so the always resourceful Goody, described by Maraniss as the battalion’s “unofficial acquisitions expert,” found ways - no one ever asked - of seeing to it that his mates got their share.

If he profited, no one knew.  But he was, after all,  acknowledged by everyone who knew him to be the master of the deal.

How good was he?  One Black Lion, Tom “LT” Grady, once told a gathering of Black Lions, admiringly and only half-joking, that Goody could start out with a 99-cent Bic lighter and in 30 days he’d have swapped it up to a 747.

For all his legendary deal-making and “requisitioning,” though, Steve Goodman was a good soldier.

Maraniss wrote about Goody's efforts in helping to evacuate wounded comrades from the battle: “Steve Goodman, nearby, helped a platoon sergeant who weaved toward him, weakened by two gunshot wounds. Goodman held the sergeant and started carrying him back. The weight, the heat, the sun pounding down once they emerged from the wood line, the uneven footing through the tall grass and the mushy swamp along the draw - it was a difficult journey for Goodman.  He fell flat on his face, the sergeant collapsing in a heap over him.  Then he gathered himself, picked up his load, and moved on.  Finally reaching the same huge tree under which Major Holleder died, Goodman placed the sergeant down in a dry spot in the sun and collapsed.  He needed a short rest before going in for more.”

If men who have been in combat seem reluctant to talk about it, it’s understandable.  It’s because, even years later,  the memories are still so painful, gruesome even.

Maraniss wrote about Goody’s coming upon the body of his friend, Steve Ostroff, a Jewish kid from California:

“Horror has so many faces. Here was a freakish one.  Ostroff’s smoke grenades had exploded on him, and ‘he was all different colors; he was yellow and red and green from the smoke grenades.’ Goodman was numb.  He couldn’t believe what had happened.”

Goody stayed in touch with his buddies over the years, and got together with them at their reunions.  I met him twice - once at West Point and once at Green Bay - and loved the guy.

Goody took great pride in presenting the Black Lion Award at a Christian school where my old friend Jake Von Scherrer was the AD.  (The delightful irony of a Jewish guy presenting the award at a Christian school wasn’t lost on him.)  In the photo below, that's Goody on the left.

Goody’s service will be held tomorrow in Coral Springs.

I mourn for him - and for my friends in the Black Lions.  They’ve lost a brother.

Steve Goodman Palmer Trinity

*********** Found this in a copy of  Australian Geographic…The first known use of the word “selfie”

Back in 2002, Nathan Hope went out for  a mate’s (if you don’t know, in "Strine" - Australian - a mate is a buddy. A pal.  It definitely does not refer to two men living together as “husband and husband” - HW) 21st birthday and had a little accident.  On 13 September, he went onto an online forum (using the pseudonym Hopey) to ask about the dissolvable stitches that were now in his lower lip.  People asked him how he came to get these stitches, and at 3:19pm he typed:

“Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer (sic) and landed lip first (with front teeth coming in a close second) on a set of steps.  I had a hole about 1 cm long through my bottom lip.”

He then posted a “self-photograph” showing the stitches in his lower lip…

And then, he made history.  According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) he posted the very first written use of the word “selfie” in any medium (paper or electronic):

And sorry about the image quality.  It was a selfie."

*********** The NFL spent most of halftime of the Pro Bowl (aka “Men in Tights”) showing us some sort of  flag football championship.  (I probably should have capitalized "Flag Football" because this was NFL Flag Football, your first clue that the NFL doesn’t leave anything to chance.

Your second clue that the NFL seems to see flag football in its future was that they put it on national TV during halftime of one of their games.

They sure as hell didn’t do that to entertain their audience.  If they’d wanted to do that, they’d have hired some slut to sing and dance.

Personally, I’m not so sure that flag football has the kind of a future that the NFL envisions for it.

For one thing, considering the pressures athletic directors already face for use of their fields, that’s an awful lot of acreage for just 14 kids.

I see it as recreational, relating to real football in much  the same way that slo-pitch softball relates to baseball.

But I don’t see much carryover to real football - you know, the kind where they block and tackle and run the ball and all that other dumb stuff.  But just on the chance that some kids should ever wind up on your team with only flag football experience… prepare to teach them to carry the ball correctly and to refrain from signaling “first-down” after gaining the necessary yardage.

Oh, and to block and tackle and all that other dumb stuff.

Frankly, I see flag football feeding Madden.  And Fantasy Football, where nobody needs linemen.  (I look around schools and don’t see too many undernourished kids these days. To be blunt, I see a lot of chubbies. And once flag football takes over - what are we supposed to do with all the big, slow, unathletic  kids?)

Flag football does have a future someplace, but ironically, it appears that it's  as a women’s sport - in Florida, where it’s a state-sanctioned high school sport.

*********** Some time ago, I suggested that our concussion paranoia might eventually bring us to a study of some creatures who do a WHOLE LOT of head banging and seem to do okay - woodpeckers.

*********** Who are these brothers?  One of them played in the Super Bowl; one played in the NBA finals.   They’re the only pair of brothers to earn that distinction.   (If it helps you - they went to the same college.)  ANSWER TO

Zegalia and Czonka


Josh Montgomery, Berwick, Louisiana
Joel Mathews, Independence, Missouri
Ralph Balducci, Portland, Oregon (Go you one better. Syracuse ran an unbalanced line.  Larry Csonka FB, Floyd Little TB, and Tom Coughlin WB. THAT WAS FOOTBALL! Remember, my family lived by Syracuse.)
Jerry Lovell, Bellevue, Nebraska
John Dowd, Spencerport, New York (He coached at RIT when they had a football team.  They have not had one since the 70s. Went to Waterloo HS)
Adam Wesoloski, Pulaski, Wisconsin
Ken Hampton, Raleigh, North Carolina
Tom Davis, San Marcos, California
Kevin McCullough, Lakeville, Indiana

*********** The basic Syracuse unbalanced T formation of Floyd "Ben" Schwartzwalder

Syracuse Schwartzwalder unbalanced

Note the hand-drawn diagrams.
This was long before Playmaker Pro,
and at the very dawn of  Xerox dry copying. 
(Anybody remember mimeographs and Ditto copiers?)

***********  I was thumbing through the 1996 Oregon-Cal game program and came across a question posed to a number of coaches:

How much should a coach be responsible for a player's off-the-field conduct?

While other coaches said, basically, that you couldn’t expect them to be responsible for what more than 100 young men did in their free time, Eddie Robinson, one of the greatest of them all, disagreed:

Maybe I'm a little old-fashioned. I just feel that we're responsible for him off the field as much as we're responsible for him on the field. I don't like the idea that I coach him and that's all of it. I want him to be a good person in the dormitory. I want him to be a good person across the campus and when he's taking classes. I want him to be a good person when he goes home.

*********** If you suspected that players in the Pro Bowl - that is, those who bothered to show up - were giving it less than their best, you were right.

As the old saying goes, “You get what you pay for.”

Esteemed  philosopher Richard Sherman put it another way:  "You pay them what you pay them and you get this performance…”

See, all that those guys were being paid for their efforts , or lack of same,  was $61,000.

And THAT’S if they were on the WINNING team!

If their team LOST, they only got $30,000.

I mean, come on -  would YOU give it everything YOU had for only $61,000?

How about for $30,000?

THIRTY THOUSAND LOUSY DOLLARS!  Why, with a coaching stipend thrown in, with luck a teacher can make that much by Christmas time!

Sherman (the philosopher) said that if you want to get the maximum out of the players you'll need to pay them better.  A LOT better: “I guarantee you less guys would miss the Pro Bowl if you told them you are going to pay them their normal salary for one more game."

(Somebody at Stanford should have taught him that it’s “fewer” guys - not less - but that’s beside the point.

The point is that when pro football players  think that playing a single game of what amounts to touch football  for the equivalent of what a typical teacher-coach earns in an entire  school year is beneath their professional dignity, there's a disconnect between them and normal people that's not in the NFL's best  interest.

*********** Army’s Andrew King, a 6 foot, 245 pound senior linebacker from Queens Village, New York, was honored as Army’s 2016 Black Lion Award winner at the team’s annual banquet held Saturday night.

At West Point, The Black Lion Award is sponsored by the Army Fooball Club, the association of former Army football players, and it’s presented to that football player who best exemplifies the character of Don Holleder, an All-America defensive end for Army who was killed in action. Don Holleder's daughter, Katie Fellows, was on hand to present the award to Cadet King.

Andrew King Black Lion

That's Andrew King (in the middle along with Katie Fellows, daughter of Don Holleder and Head Coach Jeff Monken

In addition to the Black Lion Award, King won three other major awards.

He won the Thruston Hughes Memorial Award, established in 1939 to honor the team MVP.   He was a major factor in leading Army to its best season in two decades, finishing with a career-high 97 tackles, including 11 tackles for loss and five sacks.
He received the Lt. Gen. Garrison Davidson Award for having the highest military grade among all team members, and earning distinction in the areas of honor, country, sportsmanship and leadership.

And finally, he and fellow linebacker Jeremy Timpf shared the Creighton W. Abrams Memorial Award given to team captains.

***********  Greetings Coach,

Catching up with the news again after a bit of an absence. Seeing a couple of references to Coach Fry, I thought you might like this story in the event you've not run across it in the past. 1946 Texas HS championship game between Odessa (team Fry played for) and San Antonio Jefferson (led by another famous player, Kyle Rote). Includes newspaper accounts, play by play and a couple of video clips. The link is here:

Best Regards,

Jeff Hansen
Casper, Wyoming

*********** Even at Penn, few people now know the name Frank Riepl, but in November 1955, he made national headlines.  A sophomore on a Penn team suffering through a 15-game losing streak, he was seeing his first action when he fielded the opening kickoff deep in the end zone - and returned it 108 yards.  Against sixth-ranked Notre Dame.  The guy who kicked it that deep was a fellow named Paul Hornung.

*********** WEAR YOUR DICKEY!

Got one on this morning Coach!

Have a great day!

Dennis Metzger

Richmond, Indiana

american flag FRIDAY,  JANUARY 27,  2017  “Take notes on the spot: a note is worth a cart-load of recollections.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

*********** Antonio Pierce on says diva receivers aren't worth the trouble - says that if you look at Super Bowl winners over the last 20 years or so, you’ll find very few of them had anything remotely resembling one.

Sure enough,  neither of the teams in this Super Bowl has a diva receiver. Julio Jones?  Nope. Maybe the best in the game, but not a “me” guy.  Julian Edelman?  Not a chance.  Gronk?  A wacko, maybe, but a diva? No.

In fact, of the four teams in the two conference finals, only Antonio Brown made the cut.

*********** I mentioned some time ago that there’s a guy that the big-time quarterbacks go to for work on their throwing, and he’s not a quarterback coach.  He’s not even a football coach.

His name’s Tom House, and he’s been a major league pitching coach.  That’s baseball.

NFL quarterbacks came to rely on House’s knowledge of the science and mechanics of throwing to keep them at the top of the game.   His client list has grown both of this year’s Super Bowl quarterbacks, Tom Brady and Matt Ryan, as well as Drew Brees and Carson Palmer.

So much did demand for House’s expertise grow that he added Adam Dedeaux, former USC and minor league baseball player and son of legendary USC baseball coach Ron Dedeaux.

Dedeaux, who recently bought the business from House, has an impressive client list of his own, including the Eagles’ Carson Wentz.

*********** He’s a 17-year-old kid who hasn’t played a down of American football, yet he’s already had scholarship offers  from Arkansas, Fresno State, Hawaii, LSU, Miami, Michigan and Oregon State.  Expect there to be plenty more.

Maybe, just maybe,  it’s because he’s 6-9 and weighs almost 400 pounds - and can move.

The kid's  name is Daniel Faalele.  He’s part Tongan, part Samoan, and his home is Melbourne, Australia.  At the present time he’s enrolled at Florida’s IMG Academy, where he’s learning  the game of football from the ground up.   It’s “ like taking a newborn out of the womb,” in the words of IMG’s offensive line coach.   He’s also learning “on the job” as a member of the scout team.

(Are you paying attention, you people who are thinking about scheduling IMG next year?)

A possible bonus for the school that lands him:  he has an 11-year-old brother who’s already  6 foot, 250.

*********** NFL TV Viewership this past season was down 8 per cent from 2015.

Granted, the 2015 audience was the highest in 10 years, but 2016 represented a drop nonetheless.

It was down even more early in the season,  partly due to competition from the presidential debates; some of the lost audience has returned  since Election Day, but not all - it’s still down.

They’re still throwing all sorts of reasons out there - too many commercials, too many games, too many bad games, etc. - but they still can’t bring themselves to come out and say the K-word.  (Kaepernick.)

*********** I don’t know how I missed this, but the Pro Bowl is this weekend.

Damn.  And I was hoping there’d be a football game on.

Maybe this is the year that they’ll finally say to hell with it and forget about the pads.

*********** Wouldn’t it be nice if Roger Goodell would grow a pair and stand up to the NFLPA, and say, “This is reprehensible conduct, definitely not the sort that the NFL wishes to have associated with its name, and therefore I am suspending Adam Jones indefinitely and without pay.  From this point,  whenever Mr. Jones is identified with the NFL, it will have to be as an ex-player.”


************ Listen - If they can hold a Womxn’s march and wear pussy hats...

Why can't we have a men's march -  and all wear  our dickeys? (look it up.)

*********** It started like this, with a note from Todd Hollis...

John Urshel is impressive.  So is Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.

Todd Hollis
Elmwood, Illinois

ME:  Did you know that Urschel is also a Canadian?


And that led to this…

COACH HOLLIS:  So, if Duvernay-Tardif gets his MD and is still playing, could he diagnose an opponent with a concussion and make him leave the field?  I'd hate to be the ref that tells an MD "no" when he diagnoses a concussion.  He'd become the most valuable player in the NFL...

3rd and long on the opponent's 49 yard line, 25 seconds to go, Pats down by two.  Urschel trots on the field to 'play' defensive tackle.  "Sir, my professional opinion as a medical expert is that Mr. Brady is showing concussion-like symptoms after that hit.  He should leave the field and see the NFL's independent medical expert."

Heck, Belichick, always looking for an edge, may be the coach that would sign him just for that purpose, and laugh all the way to the Super Bowl while everyone else says "why didn't I think of that?”  

*********** Derek Hunter, in Townhall

Things changed last Friday at noon. Whether for the better or worse depends on one’s political persuasion. But one thing is certain – the way words were used, which words were used, and even some definitions are now changed, at least for four years.

The “White House” no longer will be cited when something goes wrong. It will be President Donald Trump’s fault. When something militarily goes awry, the Pentagon will not be the anonymous noun used to assign blame. It will be President Donald Trump.

The personification of government buildings and branches so Americans would not associate failures and scandals with the president is a thing of the past. Welcome to the new era of one man, President Trump, being responsible for every government failure.

When Obamacare launched, it was the Department of Health and Human Services that failed. President Obama was an innocent bystander. When the Internal Revenue Service targeted American citizens because their political beliefs differed from that of Obama, the blame softly moved toward alleged rogue agents in a field office.

Now, if an FBI agent gets a speeding ticket in Los Angeles, expect Trump to be blamed.

*********** Years ago, when they first began televising football games live from coast to coast, my buddies and I thought it was really cool to sit in our living rooms in the East and watch games from the West Coast.  (On black and white TV, of course. Twelve-inch diagonal screen - most of you have computers with larger screens.)

But talk about exotic - in Philly, it was dark out, yet there they were, playing in bright sunshine.  ALWAYS in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.  ALL the games seemed to come from there.

It was always USC or UCLA or, best of all, USC against UCLA.  Damn, those were good teams.  And the funny thing is, I can still name off an awful lot of players from those Trojan and Bruin teams from the 1950s.

There wasn’t anything  cooler than watching one of Red Sanders’ UCLA teams come out of the huddle and go into single-wing left in “serpentine” fashion.

They did things different out there.   Their cheerleaders didn’t use megaphones.  Who the hell could hear you, even with a megaphone, past the tenth row?  No, they used loudspeakers. 

And they did card tricks.  In this day of the selfie, it probably seems corny to go to all that trouble to put on a show for other people without even being able to see the results yourself, but thank goodness for those people of another age, because some of their card tricks were really clever.

There were, of course, those occasions when one side or the other would sabotage the opponents’ card tricks - once, USC pranksters tricked the  UCLA card section into unknowingly insulting their own school with the giant message “WESTWOOD SUCKS.” (Westwood being the part of town where UCLA is located)

One card trick that my buddies and I laughed our asses over was a USC tribute to a dog named “George Tirebiter.”  What a clever name, we thought.  Those college kids!

George, we were told, was something of an unofficial USC mascot - a small dog that hung around campus and shared an addiction common to many canines that run loose - he liked to chase cars.

Alas, his hobby ultimately proved to be his undoing, but thanks to that card trick, George Tirebiter still lives on in my memory.

George Tirebiter
From Wikipedia...

George Tirebiter I, a canine mutt once famous for chasing cars through the campus, first appeared at football games in 1940. Tirebiter I was adopted by students and became a campus hero.

Mean and nasty, Tirebiter I reached true fame by attacking the Cal human mascot during a game in 1947.

He posed with homecoming queens and once drew cheers when riding in the second car of a parade in the Coliseum.

Although he survived having UCLA shaved on his hind quarters during a publicized dognapping by the Bruins in 1947, Tirebiter I finally succumbed under the tires of an automobile in 1950. A funeral was held.

He was succeeded by George II for three years, and then George III for five years.

*********** Sean Murphy, longtime head coach at Baltimore’s Archbishop Curley High School, has been named head coach at East Wake High in Wendell, North Carolina.

In 20 years at Archbishop Curley, he was 127-84, and his 2014 team was undefeated.

He has his work cut out for him: East Wake, which has had just two winning seasons in the last ten,  was 2-9 in 2016.  One bit of brightness: they’re dropping down from Class 4A to 3A.

*********** After the Portland police came down hard on rioters last Friday night, they told the mayor that if he didn’t fire the police chief by Wednesday, they’d “shut down the city.”

Uh-oh.  You’d think they’d have read their newspapers or wherever they get their information and found out that this was a different mayor -  not the one  who gave them the run of the city following the election.

This one, the same one who told the police to get tough Friday night, told the police to get ready for Wednesday.  To  strap it on.

You’ll love the video of the police as they surprise some of the morons with a couple of very nice takedowns.

And, in case you think Portlanders are all anarchist fools, you’ll also enjoy the reactions of the bystanders.

*********** Go West, young man.  Especially if you’re an out-of-work football coach.

Eric Sondheimer covers LA-area high school sports for the Los Angeles Times, and he does so in a manner befitting arguably the most talent-rich area in the country.

He wrote that as of this week, there were 50 head high school football coaching positions open in Southern California.

I thought, “Holy sh—!”  Even in an area as large and populous as that, that’s a lot of openings.

And that led me to thinking about all the reasons for such a large number as that:  today’s kids… today’s parents… the virtual free agency of players and the constant poaching of star athletes.

All sorts of scenarios raced through my mind, so I wrote Eric asking what he thought might be causing it.

He replied that there were even more openings last season.

There went that story.

*********** I was corresponding with Don Shipley, whose late Dad, Dick Shipley, played on Maryland’s 1953 national championship team, and coached me in my semi-pro days in Frederick, Maryland.   We got talking about a really good linebacker named Steve Zegalia who’d played at Syracuse and then, being a bit undersized for the NFL, played on some really good minor league clubs.  He was from Easton, Pennsylvania, and I first saw him playing for the (get ready for this) Schuylkill Coal Crackers.  In those days, when Ben Schwartzwalder was coaching the Orangemen, all you had to know about a guy was that he played at Syracuse and you knew he was tough.

Steve, sadly, died too young.  In this photo that Don (himself a Syracuse grad) sent me, Steve Zegalia is in the back row, third from left.  The guy on the left in the front row is a big running back from Stowe, Ohio named Larry Czonka.  Bet you can’t tell me who #49 is.  You’ll kick yourself in the ass when I tell you.

Zegalia and Czonka

american flag TUESDAY,  JANUARY 24,  2017  “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.”  Dwight D. Eisenhower

*********** From the point of view of a person who just likes a good football game,  the NFL came up short as usual.  They gave us a couple of stinkers on Sunday.

For me, four things still stood out:

1. The Steelers.  They're no longer special.  I’m not sure they’re even Steelers anymore, but instead, a bunch of imposters wearing black and gold.  Assistants getting arrested and then immediately reinstated… players betraying the intimacy and confidentiality of the locker room by televising the coach’s post-game speech… Talk about lack of focus.  Talk about things that would never have happened on a real Steeler team.

2. Matt Ryan had a hell of a game.  He played his high school ball at Penn Charter, in Philly.  Penn Charter is the arch-rival -  the archest of arch-rivals - of my old school, Germantown Academy.  Our rivalry -  “in my day” - was on the order of Alabama-Auburn, and I couldn’t imagine myself ever pulling for a PC guy.  But time heals - even old World War II vets finally came around to driving Japanese cars (well, some of them, anyhow) - and he’s no longer a hated enemy.  He’s real Philly Irish - I wish him all the best.                          wish him all the best. 

3. Bill Belichick.  The guy has proved himself, over and over, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve come to consider him the best in the business.  No, he doesn’t reveal a lot of personality in public.  That’s his game face.  Would it be better if he smiled brightly and  tossed out witty  quotes -  and lost half his games?   Sorry, I don’t buy the “Belicheat” business, either.   Yes, he’s pushed the rules.  Show me a successful coach in that business who hasn’t. 

4. Tom Brady.   I don’t like the way pro football has increasingly become a glorified version of 7-on-7, and I’ve made that clear.  But given the nature of the game and what it calls for, Brady is absolutely the best.  And for a close look at the person that he is, for all his wealth and fame, I defy you to read Tim Layden’s article in the latest Sports Illustrated - about Brady and the relationships he’s had with all the receivers he’s thrown to over the years - and not come away with a newfound respect for the guy.

*********** To give you some idea of the pull and power of the NFL, you have to check out the list of 2016’s top-viewed programs, from this week’s Sports Business Journal…

First Place - by a wide margin - was the Super Bowl, with 111, 864,000 viewers
2, 3, 4 - the Presidential Debates - but 2 and 3 were on 10 networks, and 4 was on 9 networks
5, 6, 7 - NFL Conference Championship games
8 - World Series Game 7
9, 10, 11 - NFL Playoffs
12 - NFL, Redskins-Cowboys Thanksgiving Day
13 - The Oscars
14 - NFL Playoff
15 - Olympics
16, 17 - NFL Playoffs
18 - Olympics
19 - NBA Finals, Game 7
20 - Olympics
21 - NFL “National Window” - Cowboys vs Steelers
22 - Olympics
23 - NFL “National Window” - Cowboys vs Packers
24 - NFL, Vikings-Lions Thanksgiving Day
25 - NFL “National Window” - Cowboys vs Giants
26 - Olympics
27 - NFL - Sunday Night - Cowboys vs Giants
28, 29 - Olympics
30 - COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS -     Alabama vs Clemson

In short, of the top 30 progams…
NFL - 16 programs - 5 of them involving the Dallas Cowboys
Olympics - 7 progams
Presidential Debates - 3 programs
NBA Playoffs - 1 program
World Series - 1 program
Oscars - 1 program
College Football Playoff - 1 program

My Summation:  The NFL is really, really powerful.  We knew that.  But they ought to have a special award for Dak Prescott, because the Dallas Cowboys, thanks in large part to Prescott’s phenomenal rookie season, were a significant part of the NFL’s pull. 

*********** Whatever you may have thought about the inauguration, to me the  absolute best things about it were that it showed that while people have lost trust in any number of our institutions - often for good reason -

(1) The Secret Service is still as good as it gets.  One can only imagine the challenges they faced in protecting all those dignitaries from people wishing them ill.

(2) The Police, provided they are allowed to do their jobs, are quite capable of doing them, and doing them well.  And based on their showing in DC, they’re no longer going to stand passively by and take sh— off of protesters (remember Baltimore)?

*********** "Someone's going to try me and I'm going to make an example out of them. They're going to do it, especially if they've been getting away with some things to try to see if it's real and they'll see. My job is to plow the field, find the snakes and cut their heads off.”

That was new Oregon coach Willie Taggart, laying down the law to the Oregon players in the first meeting.  Telling them there was a new sheriff in town.

And then he left to recruit - before he could give that same speech to his staff of assistants.

Too bad.  Because it wasn’t long before his new strength and conditioning coach appeared to perhaps go a bit overboard in a conditioning session that wound up with three players hospitalized.

Not waiting to see what the new sheriff would do, the University itself moved quickly, suspending the coach for a month without pay,  and re-drawing the organizational chart so that the strength and conditioning coach no longer reports to the head coach.

Strike one.

Then, around 2 AM this past Sunday, Oregon’s new co-offensive coordinator,  David Reaves, was pulled over by Eugene police for “multiple traffic violations,” and charged with DUI.  Within hours, Reaves was as good as unemployed, after the announcement from the AD’s office that “the process to terminate his employment with cause has commenced.”   Reaves had been on the job less than a week.  He was due to make $300,000 a year with a two-year contract.

Strike two.

We’ll still have to wait a little longer to see what Coach Taggart will do when a player “tries” him, but it does appear that the players aren’t the only ones at Oregon reporting to a new sheriff. 

If you’re an assistant coach and you’re listening - it ain’t Coach Taggart.

If you’re Coach Taggart, and you’re listening - Oregon football, in case you were living on another planet and didn’t know,  has close ties with Nike, a multi-billion-dollar company.  And for all the goofy marketing tactics and weird-ass uniform combinations,  Nike has a good reputation - and its people  will not take kindly to having it smeared by the actions of a mere college football coaching staff.

Craig Howard and Tim Tebow 2Craig Howard and Tim Tebow

*********** 64 is plenty young for a coach to still be coaching.  It’s certainly way too young for him to die.

But Craig Howard, 64 and still coaching - and still winning - at Southern Oregon University, died unexpectedly Thursday night at his home in Ashland, Oregon.

He was born, raised and educated in Oregon and he did most of his coaching there.

A native of Grants Pass, Oregon, he played college ball at Linfield, the small school powerhouse in McMinnville, Oregon, and then embarked on a high school and small-college coaching career in the Northwest until in in 2003, he moved across the country and took at job at Nease High School in Jacksonville, Florida. 

Nease had seen coaches come and go, but Howard took  Nease to the state 4-A championship in his third year.  In all, his Nease teams made three appearances in the state title game.  He achieved his great success by introducing his wide-open, fast-paced spread offense to Florida football, and capitalizing on the unique talents of a big, strong quarterback named Tim Tebow.

Nease earned the distinction of playing in the first high school game to be televised nationally on ESPN, the 2005 opening game at Hoover, Alabama.   And Tebow, who would go on to win the Heisman Trophy, was named Florida’s Mister Football.

In his eight years in Florida, Coach Howard compiled a 76-23 record at four different high schools before taking the head job at Southern Oregon.

In 2014, Southern Oregon won the NAIA national title.  In his six years there, he was 50-23.

He is well-remembered for his time in Florida.

Writes Justin Barney in

His calling card was offense, and running it as fast as his teams could possibly run it. Howard got out in front of the coaching pack with his innovative and fun spreads that changed the way the game was played in the area. While most high school football teams were still married to predominantly wing-T and I-formation rushing offenses, Howard went all-in on the spread, lining up four and five receivers regularly on Friday nights long before it was the norm.

Said former player and assistant Matt Tobin, now the head coach at Ponte Vedra High,  “The greatest gift Craig Howard ever had, it was not as much his offense as this magical touch he had; he could get kids to work harder than they’ve ever worked and smile and enjoy every bit of it. He’s meant so much to my life and the lives of hundreds of players that played for him. He’s taught so much more than just football. It was about being a good person, the way you treat others, all of that stuff.  He doesn’t realize the impact he had.”

Said Joey Wiles, who coached against him while at St. Augustine,  “He helped make me a better coach, it forced me to learn something that was not traditional in high school at the time.  Then you throw Tebow into the mix. He raised the level. He had four by ones, three by twos, every form of spread that could be called, he called. I don’t know anybody more passionate about the game of football than Craig Howard. It’s a really sad day for the profession and the people in St. Johns County.”

Wrote Tim Tebow on Twitter, ”Heartbreaking to lose my coach Craig Howard today.  More than a coach, he was a mentor & father figure. He changed my life & I will miss him!"

When you’ve earned that kind of praise from a person of Tom Tebow’s character, you were quite a man.

*********** I never got caught up in the Jake Browning-for-Heisman business, but the Washington quarterback sure looked really good most of the season. He showed he had a live arm and he could go deep. Could he ever.  And in John Ross, Dante Pettis and Chico McClatcher, he had as good a set of deep threats to throw to as any QB in the country.

But I was disappointed in his play toward the very end of the season.  His arm seemed dead.  He couldn’t put any zip on the deep outs and he wasn’t going long.  Against Alabama, I found myself wondering how the hell you could expect to move the ball when without a fullback your running game was  based on finesse, when your quarterback wasn’t much of a runner so you couldn’t employ misdirection,  and when, despite having three of the best receivers in the country, you seemed unwilling to go deep.

So what did that leave them?  Dink-and-dunk, which is what, except for a gadget pass, they mostly did.

In the Peach Bowl, Browning was 20 for 38 for 150 yards.  Talk about throwing short - that’s an almost unbelievably puny 3.94 yards per attempt.  Even in the NFL, where throwing short - and throwing short, and throwing short -  is a staple part of the offense,  the most impotent  team can do better than that. 

I shook my head.  I questioned the coaching.

And now, weeks after the season and Washington’s  performance against Alabama in the semi-final game, comes the explanation: since the season ended, Browning has had surgery on his right shoulder.

They say that he injured it against Arizona State, and they decided to keep quiet about it in order to protect him from further injury.  I question the date.  They played Arizona State on November 19, but a week earlier, in the Huskies’ loss to USC, Browning didn’t look like himself.

What they’re saying, at any rate, is that they didn’t have a replacement capable of playing as well as a starter who's unable to make the throws.  So they chose to struggle the rest of the way even though they were incapable of doing the one thing that made them special  - going long.

Not saying they would have beaten Alabama, but they went into that game with one wing shot off.  Now, I’m a Washingtonian and I like the Huskies, but the purpose of the Playoff is to come up with the four best teams, and they weren’t one of them.  Not without their number one quarterback at full strength. 

This wouldn’t have happened in the NFL, of course, where teams are required to report every injury.  Oh, wait - I forgot about that Richard Sherman knee injury that the Seahawks never reported.

*********** The word “women” has the word “men” in it,  so it's anathema to feminists, implying, in their minds,  that women are mere extensions of the real thing.

As a result, some feminists have tried to push the word “womyn,” on us.

But  they’ve run into resistance from their fellow femmies.  See, putting that “y” in there reminds them of the “y” chromosome - and (gasp!) masculinity.  (Just can’t get away from those horrid men, can you sisters?)

This explains why the event that took place in Seattle Saturday was called - I couldn’t possibly make this up  - the WOMXN’S MARCH ON SEATTLE

*********** This is a commercial.  Well, okay - technically, it’s a PSA, a Public Service Announcement.  But either way, it’s one of the great commercials of all time.

*********** We rightly deplore the tyranny of the old Soviet Union, but when I see all those spoiled a**holes rioting in the streets of our cities it sure makes me wish we had a Siberia to send them to.

*********** It depends on whose mission matters most, doesn’t it?

A veteran coach shared his mission statement with me…








He added at the end… “Worked everywhere but here!”

I knew that he no longer coached "here."  I said that it looked pretty good to me, and asked what went wrong…

HIs reply…

We didn't make the play-offs...PERIOD.

Board had that as an expectation, but didn't account for a tremendous change in school culture. (We are now over 60% "free & reduced" & have 16 languages.)
From 2001-2005 (when my friend coached there) we went 16-20...

5 coaches and 11 years later - they've won 12 games total…

Yup. They “went in another direction.”  Sure did.

*********** I was watching Fox and its coverage of the creeps rioting in DC,  and as a reporter was talking about a small fire that had just been set,    a little kid - maybe 10 years old - came up and told the reporter that he was the one who started it.

What he said, actually, was that he “kind of started the fire.”

The kid, who wore an earring, said his name was Carter.

When the reporter asked him why he’d started the fire, the little sh—, quite proud of himself, said, “because I felt like it and I’m just sort of saying, screw the president.”

First executive order: find the parents and lock them up.  In our liberal West Coast states, Child Protective Services takes kids away from parents for a lot less than that.

Second executive order: give the kid five good smacks in the ass with the principal’s paddle, the one that hasn’t been used in years.  A good historian could probably trace the decline of our once-great nation to the end of paddling.

*********** Dishonest Media Department.

First paragraph, first sentence.

“A Vancouver Man who hurled bricks through windows in the Vancouver Heights neighborhood was sentenced Thursday to 15 months in prison.”

Last paragraph, last sentence.

“It’s likely (the man)  will be deported after he serves his sentence…:

Do you see how cleverly the lefties in the news media play their little game of professing to report the news impartially?    They start out identifying him as a “Vancouver man,” and wait until the last f—king sentence to say that he may be deported -  never once coming out openly and stating that the guy’s f—king illegal.

*********** Watching the inauguration festivities on Thursday, I had a great idea…

No more Grammy-Award-Winning this or thats “performing” our national anthem (emphasis on “our,” not “theirs.” )

No more  saxophonists trying to show us how long they can hold a note, or precious little children who nobody has the heart to say no to?

Instead, before all games, let’s play a recording of Lee Greenwood singing the first verse of “Proud to be an American,” followed by the rest of us singing the chorus.

Almost like a musical Pledge of Allegiance.

I can hear them now -  the lefties, howling about all those references to God, and defending our country.

Hey - you don’t want to sing?  Don’t sing.  You don’t want to stand?  Don’t stand.

Doesn’t matter.  Just don’t blame all the people around you when they stand and sing and you feel left out of things.

american flagFRIDAY,  JANUARY 20,  2017  "We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst." C.S. Lewis

***********  As school administrators love to tell coaches when they hand them the black spot... "we're going to go in another direction."

I pray for President Trump and for our country.  

And for a severe plague to be visited on all those fools "demonstrating" in the streets.

*********** A voice of wisdom in the Eugene (OR) Register-Guard comments section on the incident in which three Oregon players had to be hospitalized after tough off-season workouts:
First, this new strength coach is in trouble if the players want to sue. His qualifications are lacking. No exercise science or anatomy. Just a recreational degree along with marketing. Second, the new head coach mentioned bigger and stronger. This strength coach is doing the opposite. You don't dominate your opponent by doing pushups and updowns. You get fit but not dominant.

The way you get dominant is to lift big weights: Bench 400+, Parallel Squat 600+, Power Clean 300+. You do multi-joint lifts. You supplement this with flexibility, speed and jump training (plyometrics). This is basic stuff.

If the Oregon Duck football team doesn't get smart quick with their strength and conditioning, they will have to find another way to gain an edge. It won't be in the weight room.

Dr. Greg Shepard
Master of Science from U. of Oregon in exercise sport science
Doctorate from BYU.
Former strength coach at three Division I teams and a pro team.
For those of you who don’t know Dr. Greg Shepard:  He is VERY well respected in the strength and conditioning community.  He is the founder of a firm called Bigger Faster Stronger (well-known among coaches as BFS, which is employed by hundreds of schools around the country).

*********** If ours is such a male-dominated culture, as the harpies like to claim…

Then how come Male-to-Female "transformations" (or whatever the hell you call them) outnumber Female-to-Male by 6 to 1?

*********** Former longtime Oregon O-line coach Steve Greatwood on working at Cal (and wearing blue and gold):

“That is one thing that I like about here, you know what the colors are. There are only two of them."

*********** Mike Tomlin on Antonio Brown, the Steelers' unofficial locker room videographer:

“I’ll be bluntly honest here: It was foolish of him to do that, it was selfish of him to do that, and inconsiderate for him to do that,” Tomlin said of Brown. “Not only is it a violation of our policy but a violation of league policy. Both of which he knows.

“We’ll punish him, and do so swiftly and do so internally,” he said. “I’m sure he’ll appropriately absorb all of those things as he moves forward. But larger than that, he has to grow from this. He has to. He works extremely hard and is extremely talented, and those things get minimized with incidents such as this. It wears on teammates when they have to answer questions about things other than our preparation or football-related.”

Ben Roethlisberger on his teammate:  “It’s an unfortunate situation that we’ve got to deal with right now. That’s a sacred place where things are said and hugs and tears, and it’s kind of a special place. So a little disappointed with AB for that. Coach talks and then I talk, and you just don’t want everyone to know what’s going on in there with the family. And also, I wish AB would have been listening to Coach and myself instead of being on the other side of the locker room filming.

“I’ll talk to AB, but like I said, it’s not like it needs to be addressed in front of the team by me or anything, that’s coach’s job. He’s the boss, he’ll address it however he feels appropriate. It’ll be water under the bridge here for me right now as soon as we’re done talking about it.”

*********** Coaches… While you’re getting ready  for next season…

Are you preparing for the possibility of National Anthem protests by your players?

How about by your faculty?

*********** Ravens’ offensive lineman John Urschel is one bright dude.

He is the only NFL player enrolled in a Ph.D. program. Not anywhere, either -  at MIT.

His field of study - spectral graph theory, numerical linear algebra and machine learning - really sets him apart from his teammates, most of whom, if they even graduated from college at all, majored in something that ends in “studies.”

He has published several articles, one of which, if you’re looking for some light reading, was “Spectral Bisection of Graphs and Connectedness.”  Let me save you the trouble - it’s about math.

At Penn State, he won the Campbell Trophy, awarded by the National Football Foundation for excellence in football, academics and citizenship.

In the off-season, in addition to his studies, he’s also an adjunct research associate at Penn State.

He told the Wall Street Journal he’d like to continue playing football “for as long as physically possible.”

Asked by the Journal if he’d rather be known as a mathematician or a football player, he says, “I’d like to be know as a football player by football people and a mathematician by math people.  Anyone else? I want to be known for both.”

*********** Maryland hasn’t won a bowl game since 2010.

The reason?  Kevin Anderson.

Kevin Anderson is the Maryland AD.

One of his first acts after taking over was to fire the football coach -  Ralph Friedgen, a Maryland alum who’d just coached the Terps to a 9-4 season, good enough to earn him recognition as the ACC Coach of the Year and Maryland the number 24 spot in the AP poll.

Anderson’s choice to replace Friedgen was UConn’s Randy Edsall, who’s coached the Huskies to the Fiesta Bowl, then insulted the entire “UConn nation” (geez, I hate that cliche), not by taking the Maryland job, but by notifying his players by text and email and, as they flew back to Connecticut,  taking a different flight to Maryland.  Got to get started on that recruiting, don’t you know?

What did Edsall wind up doing to justify all Anderson’s effusive praise ("This man is a builder and a champion”) at his introduction?  How about a 2-10 season in 2011?  Okay, okay, he needed to get his players in there... Friedgen left the cupboard bare -  whatever excuse you want - but turning a 9-win team into a 2-win team?

The Terps went 4-8 in 2012, then actually qualified for bowls and finished with 7-6 records in 2013 and 2104, losing in both bowl games.

But 2015 got off to a horrible start, and with Maryland at 2-4, Edsall was cut loose.  An interim coach finished the 3-9 season.  Edsall walked off with a $2.6 million payout, the result of a contract extension AD Anderson, in his wisdom,  had just given him just four months earlier.

So Anderson, having fired Ralph Friedgen, a guy with a 75-50 record, replaced him with Randy Edsall, a guy who would go 22-34, and never beat a top-25 team.

The jury is definitely out on Edsall’s replacement, D. J. Durkin.

The 2016 Terps qualified - barely - for a bowl game with a 6-6 record, then lost in the bowl game to Boston College and finished 6-7.

But the record is deceptive. Maryland started out with four straight wins - over Howard (2-9), Florida International (4-8), Central Florida (6-7) and Purdue (3-9).  Apologies to fans of those schools, but they weren’t very good this year.  Other wins came over Rutgers (2-10) and Michigan State, a surprisingly bad 3-9.

They’ll start out 2017 at Texas, against Towson and UCF, and at Minnesota.  Another 4-0 start is not likely.  And after that, with the exception of Rutgers and Indiana and, perhaps, Michigan State, the schedule is murderer’s row.

The report card on Kevin Anderson: since his decision to kick Ralph Friedgen to the curb, Maryland has gone 29-40.  They’ve made it to two bowl games - by the skin of their teeth - and lost them both.  And an athletic department dependent on its share of Big Ten revenues to stay solvent had to pay $2.6 million to make a coach go away.

I’m reminded of Nebraska, which many years ago fired Frank Solich and hired Bill Callahan.   Like Maryland, Nebraska brought in an AD whose ego far exceeded his knowledge and judgment to do the firing; like Maryland, Nebraska fired an alum  (Solich) during a 9-win season.  And like Maryland, the Huskers haven’t been the same since.

***********  Coach Wyatt,

I agree with you about the importance of mission statements.  I require every coach on my staff to have one.  They don't have to be wordy or even eloquent.  They just need to state their (primary) reason that they coach.  I wrote the mission statement for the Durham Eagles years ago:

"The Durham Eagles Athletic Association is dedicated to creating an environment of
discipline, self-respect and success to aid in the
academic, athletic and social success of our student athletes"

I also have a personal mission statement:

"I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

I think personal mission statements are important because they serve as a reminder to you about the reason(s) you coach.  Having a mission statement allows you to reflect on whether your mission has changed, and whether you are are fulfilling it.


Dave Potter
Durham, North Carolina

Thanks Dave-  Good contribution.  

I read someplace where someone said that the mission statement should be precise and measurable.

I disagree.  I don’t think it’s about a destination.  I think it’s about what keeps you on course - your guiding star.

Runaway slaves travelled at night, in the dark, guided only by the North Star. Freedom was their goal, but to me, their mission was “Keep Going North.”

Steven Douglass called his abolitionist newspaper “The North Star."

(Dave Potter has a long record of coaching success.  This past season, he coached the JV team at Raleigh’s Green Hope High to an 8-1 record.  Dave’s coaching goes beyond wins and losses, though.  He puts a strong emphasis on character development.  Many of you are aware of his “Meet and Greet” drill in which he teaches his players the importance of making a good impression when meeting someone.)

*********** I hate the NFL, but Green Bay is something special.

On a visit to Green Bay back in 2009 with some Black Lions, we sat at a bar and spoke with a couple celebrating the fact that after 27 years on the waiting list they finally had Packers’ season tickets.

Hearing that, a younger guy nearby looked over at us and told us, glumly, that he'd only been waiting for seven years.

***********  Army’s legendary coach Earl “Red” Blaik was outstanding in every aspect of coaching, not least of which is taking good care of the people he’s ultimately dependent on - the news media.  Colonel Blaik (he was a West Point graduate himself) knew the importance of taking care of the New York media, and he was especially close with a small group of them who joined him every summer before the start of practice at a retreat at his cottage on Bull Pond, on the West Point military reservation.

In his autobiography, “Call me Coach,” Paul Dietzel told of his early days as head coach at West Point. (Picture a time when a coach would leave LSU, where he’d won a national championship, to coach at Army.  That’s how prestigious the Army job was then, and that’s exactly what Paul Dietzel did.)

He decided to bring back the Bull Pond tradition, and tells of the time he invited well-known Nashville sports writer Fred Russell to join in the fun.  (You’ll notice in the story a young officer named Bill Battle.  That’s the same Bill Battle who became a great coach at Tennessee, then started a fabulously successful company called Collegiate Licensing Company, and now serves as AD at Alabama.)

During my times at West Point Army football received generous treatment from the New York papers.  The only difference was that in 1948 when I was the plebe line coach Army football was on the front page.  Four years later when I came back as Colonel Blaik's offensive line coach with Vince Lombardi coaching the offensive backfield,  news of Army football had moved back to about page three.  The New York professional teams had crept onto the front page.  When I returned in 1961 as head coach, Army football was back on about page five or six.  In hopes of remedying the situation I decided to continue the Bull Pond encampment that Colonel  Blaik had started years before. I invited all the New York sports press including Tim Cohane,  Til Ferdenzi,  Red Smith, Allison Danzig,  the renowned sports cartoonist Willard Mullin and Fred Russell of the Nashville Banner.

Freddy had always been a great jokester.  Years earlier he arranged to have Vanderbilt coach Red Sanders put in jail as a joke and then confessed to the prank much later.  I knew Freddy was flying up for our retreat so I made arrangements to give him a welcome that would be a taste of his own medicine.   Right next to Bull Pond was a firing range where they fired the big howitzers.  Bill Battle in his uniform as Officer of the Day met Freddie in New York City and drove him up to West Point.  As they came by the firing range some of our coaches who were hiding began firing off  big blockbuster firecrackers. Bill quickly stopped the car and said "I didn't know they were firing here today! They didn't tell us they were firing! What's the matter with these people?  Let's get out of here!" Then Bill jumped over a pile of dirt and into a trench. Freddy was right behind him.  I had our regular cameraman capture the entire "bombardment" episode on film.

While our coaches were firing off the blockbusters they threw handfuls of rocks and gravel into the air in the vicinity of Freddie and Bill.  Bill apologized to Freddie and said "I hope they don't get more accurate!"  Freddy by now  was pretty worried.  After about 5 minutes of the "shelling,"  our coaches stopped.  Bill said, "It's time. They only fire for a few minutes at a time, so let's get out of here while they've stopped, and I'll take you on out to Bull Pond. 

They get back in the car and proceed to Bull Pond, where Bill just drops him off without saying a word.

Freddy of course tells us about the shelling in vivid detail.  Then I said, "I heard the firing,  but I didn't know they were firing today or we wouldn't have driven you through there."

"Well, they are firing, and we had to get  out of the way," Freddy said excitedly.

Meanwhile our photographer developed the film and spliced in the introduction that I already prepared.   That evening after dinner and drinks we sat down for movies like we always did.  Everyone was prepared for our usual fare of one of  Tim Cohane's favorite Susan Hayward films, but on the screen appears the title "Freddy visits West Point."  The next thing you see is gravel flying and Bill and Freddy running and jumping into the ditch.  Every once in a while you could see Freddy peeking out over the top of the trench.  It was hilarious!  The film concluded with,  "This is the End.  Happy you're here,  Freddy." We turned off the projector and Freddie was completely flabbergasted.  We laughed about it many times since. I'm sorry he's no longer around to share the memory as he was a fantastic gentleman.  a splendid writer and a wonderful friend.

*********** Trophies for Everybody!

Barack Obama gives the Presidential Medal of Freedom to… Joe Biden.


*********** Q. How strong is the Alabama-Auburn rivalry? 

A. Strong enough to bring Auburn fans out to Toomer’s Corner en masse to celebrate Bama’s loss in the title game.

*********** The Super Bowl is coming up, and along with it NFL boasts about how many “billions” of people will be watching, world-wide.

Don’t you believe it.  Yes, the  NFL is amazingly popular here, but in world-wide terms, not so much.

Yes, people elsewhere will tune in, but most of them, if they’re watching at all, will be watching the halftime show.

In India, the world’s second most populous country,  the top 14 rated telecasts, and 16 of the top 20, were - cricket matches.

The #1 telecast, an international match between India and the West Indies, drew 86,000,000 homes. 

By comparison, last Sunday’s Green Bay-Dallas game drew 48,500,000.  Pittsburgh-Kansas City drew 37,600,000. 

You want to goose the Super Bowl ratings?  Dump Lady Gaga and put on a cricket match at halftime.

*********** When the Seahawks were winning big, they acted like a**holes, but people overlooked it.

Richard Sherman ran his mouth and he was praised because he was so “articulate.”

Doug Baldwin took a dump (figuratively) in the Super Bowl and got a pass.

Now, though, they’re no longer the big winners they once were.   But they’re even bigger a**holes.

Writes Matt Calkins in the Seattle Times…

This season, Seahawks have crossed the line from brash to just plain unlikable

*********** To say that Nick Saban stands head-and-shoulders ahead of his peers in the SEC is to understate it:

1. Since his arrival at Alabama, every other conference member has fired at least one coach.

2. Other SEC schools have had to pay those fired coaches more than $50 million to go away.

Source: Wall Street Journal, November 5-6, 2016 - Andrew Beaton and Ben Cohen

*********** Heard during a bowl game:

17 current NFL players played their high school football in the Mobile, Alabama area.

*********** “Who amongst you goes by the name… Fenwick?”

Damn shame Southwest didn’t save this one for the Super Bowl:

american flag TUESDAY,  JANUARY 17,  2017  "Celebrity is obscurity biding its time." Carrie Fisher





*********** New Cal head coach Justin Wilcox is well-known as a defensive guy - he's been DC at Boise State, Washington, Tennessee, USC and Wisconsin - but he didn't waste any time shoring up the offensive side of the ball. 

His pick for OC? Beau Baldwin, highly successful head coach at Eastern Washington.  The guy is an offensive whiz.  I suspect that after seeing his name linked to bigger jobs - jobs that he didn't get - he decided it was time to get some big-school experience.

Cal's new O-line coach?  Steve Greatwood, who spent most of his career  as Oregon's O-line coach. He's as good as there is. Passed over along with the rest of the former Oregon staff  by incoming head coach Willie Taggart, he was  out of work for  three weeks, tops.

*********** Only one  of the weekend's  four games - Green Bay vs. Dallas - was what you'd call exciting. Unlike so many receivers,  Green Bay's actually looked like professionals,   catching everything thrown to them.  The long pass that Rodgers threw, going to his left, to set up the winning field goal, was very impressive.  And even more impressive was Jared Cook's catch of that pass. Tough for Dak Prescott to miss a shot at the Super Bowl; I think that the Atlanta-Green Bay game will produce the eventual Super Bowl winner.

New England is good and all that, but I don't think that either the Patriots or the Steelers are strong enough to beat  the NFC champion, whoever it is.  Come on, Pittsburgh - you got Big Ben and Le'Veon Bell - and all you can do is kick SIX F--KING FIELD GOALS?

But  then, it's the NFL, where teams blow hot and cold from week to week, so who the hell knows?   (Actually, in my case, who the hell cares?)

*********** Aren't cell phone cameras great? Isn't Facebook wonderful?  You'd expect professional football players to be a bit more mature than high school kids, and then you hear about the Steeler who just HAD to share his coach's post-game speech with the world.

*********** So Kansas City's  Kelce went off on the refs after the game because they called holding  against the Chiefs' left tackle, nullifying the two-point conversion that would have tied the game.    Not the first time he's shown poor judgement.   Show him the video.

Worse even than Kelce's ranting was the willingness of that left tackle to commit such a blatant infraction that no official could have ignored it.

*********** 48.5 million people watched Sunday's  Green Bay-Dallas game.

The game  had a 26.1 rating and a 46 share, the network said Monday

"Rating": a 26.1 rating means slightly more than 25 per cent of all TV households in the entire US were watching that game

"Share" : a 46 share means close to half of all the households that were watching TV at that time were watching that game

Pittsburgh-Kansas City  was watched by 37.4 million people on NBC and its digital platform

*********** I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that it doesn’t snow that much in the Pacific Northwest, “west of the mountains.”

It’s one of the things we miss after growing up in the East. 

Yes, we get our share of precipitation, but it’s mostly rain.  And the rain comes from moist air that blows in off the Pacific.

Only when the moist air coincides with cold air blowing in from the east do we get snow.  And when we do, we don’t usually get that much.  And after we get it, it’s usually gone in a day or two.  Governments don’t bother investing in snow removal equipment because “it’s not needed.”  And they haven’t used salt on the roads out there in the 40+ years we’ve lived here.

Well, this week, we got snow.  We got a bunch.  First significant snowfall in maybe four years.


Portland, just to the south of us, got hammered.  Ten inches in places.  We got maybe five inches.

And this time it’s staying around.  It’s been freezing for about four days straight, and the snow that came on Wednesday night fell on top of a base of ice, so there’s no point in shoveling it - you’ll just remove the snow and expose the ice.

Schools have been closed most of the week, and since they don’t normally build “snow days” into their calendars, this means they’ll have to extend their school years well into June.

My wife and I?   We’re like little kids.  We’re warm and comfortable and we’ve got plenty of food. We don’t need to go anywhere, but we’ve got 4-wheel drive vehicles.  Our dogs love it.  There’s no traffic on our streets, so I can take Lainey, our dingo, on our usual morning walk without needing the leash.

Makes me homesick for Western Maryland.

*********** In view of DeShaun  Watson’s outstanding performance in the biggest game of the year, I feel the need to reprint an article I wrote a little over a week ago…

Thanks, LSU, for exposing Lamar Jackson as the flash in the pan he proved to be - and the Heisman Trophy for the farce that it has become.

Imagine the Most Valuable Player in the country coming from a team that lost its last three games:  to Houston, to Kentucky, to LSU, all games in which his failure to perform to Heisman levels cost his team dearly.

The voters obviously didn’t take his play in the Kentucky loss into consideration.  Hell, most of them didn’t even see the way he played in the loss to Houston. But how do these two-game stats sound: four fumbles and three interceptions?

LSU?  Fuhgeddaboutit.  The high-powered Cardinal offense, with the Heisman Trophy winner at the helm,  couldn’t produce so much as a single touchdown against the Tigers.

Here’s an idea:  let’s take into consideration a player’s entire season and at the same time provide an incentive for players to stick around long enough to play in “meaningless” bowl games.  Make the Heisman voters wait until after the bowl season to cast their ballots.

Can’t disagree with Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, after DeShaun Watson had run and passed Clemson to a big Fiesta Bowl win over Ohio State : “We’ve got the best player in the country.”

The only loser  in my proposed arrangement would be ESPN, which depends on holding the Heisman Awards on the Saturday night before the bowl season starts.

So who’s kidding who?  ESPN runs college football, and unless ESPN wants it to happen, it isn’t going to happen.

*********** So prevalent has video shot by phones - “vertical video” - become that an opinion piece in Videomaker Magazine asked “Is it time to accept vertical video?”

“Will vertical video” it asks,  “go beyond the Internet and social media to become prevalent for television and theatrical releases?”

At first, I laughed dismissively at the thought of people flocking to theaters to watch hand-held videos of mall riots and after-school boxing matches.

But actually, it’s conceivable that today’s young people, whose attachment to their phones starts before they’re even ready for school, who aren’t tied by tradition or habit to ANYTHING, will one day be receptive to sitting in movie theatres and in front of TV screens or computer monitors and watching things “portrait-style.”

But it’s not likely to happen.  There’s simply way, way too much invested in the making, showing and viewing of images in the 4 x 3 or 16 x 9 “landscape” mode.

So until the precious children take over the world (which may not take as long as most of us would like), anytime the creative types want us to watch a movie shot by a camera held vertically, I suggest someone invent a bracket that enables us to rotate our TV sets 90 degrees.

***********  Meryl Streep:  ”Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners, and if we kick 'em all out, you'll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts," she said enthusiastically, "which are not the arts."

Well, no, they’re not arts.  But then, I could make a strong  argument that dressing up in a costume and pretending to be someone else while reading some lines that someone has written for you isn’t, either.

That’s part of what’s wrong with the NFL - way too many aspiring  actors - “artists,” if you will - out on the field.

But there is something to be said for combining acting and football.  You could definitely get me to go to the movies if I thought there was a chance that every so often I’d see one of those Hollywoodt lefties get targeted.

*********** Coach,

My suggestion for the name of the new Frederick Douglass HS sports teams is "Title," as in Title IX, the source of this mess.

Jim Franklin
Flora, Indiana


So True.

Or maybe the “Title Niners?”

Good to hear from you, as always.

***********  When Clemson won, Vegas lost - BIG.

Despite the best manipulations of sports books, there was far more money bet on Clemson than on Alabama, and when Clemson won, the pros in Vegas lost big.

No worries.  They’ll get it right back.

*********** Mike London got his head coaching start at Richmond, where he won the FCS championship.  HIs work at Richmond earned him the job at UVa, but things didn’t work out for him there.  Now he’s starting over at Howard University, a historically black university that’s in need of his coaching skills.

*********** Whoopee-doo.  The Chargers are coming to Los Angeles.

That faint noise coming out of LA? It's a yawn.

Writes Bill Plaschke in the Los Angeles Times:
Every relationship is built on honesty, so the San Diego Chargers should hear this as their moving vans are chugging up the 5 Freeway on their noble mission of greed.

We. Don’t. Want. You.

*********** Fox is bringing back a new version of the 1980s  game show Love Connection.

Trigger warning (yes, conservatives sometimes need them, too):   In this rendition,  the show will include same-sex couples.

*********** Charlie Wilson, a great fan and historian (and coach) of the Wishbone, sent me this:

Darrell Royal was the first college coach to use the wishbone formation in 1968, and he popularized it by using the three-running back option offense to win two national championships.

But Royal, who died Wednesday, didn't exactly invent the offense or even name it for that matter.

"He did popularize it, but more than that he organized it," said Mickey Herskowitz, the former Houston sportswriter who is credited with coming up with the name for the option-based offense.

"Emory (Bellard) had the details and the concept, but Darrell managed it and put the final touches on it."

Bellard, who was Royal's offensive coordinator in 1968, drew up the formation to breathe life into a stagnant UT offense.

The Longhorns debuted the wishbone in a 20-20 tie with Houston. They lost the next game and then won 30 straight with two national championships.

"For two or three weeks, writers had been trying to describe it, and one night, looking at it, just through binoculars ... I decided it looked like a wishbone, so that's what I said in my story," Herskowitz said.

Royal quickly adopted the name and always made sure to credit Herskowitz wherever he went. He did the same for Bellard.

"He gave Emory Bellard credit for the wishbone," Spike Dykes, a Royal assistant who coached Texas Tech for 13 seasons, told the Associated Press. "He totally, completely had no ego"

Jerry Briggs of the San Antonio Express-News contributed to this report.
Jason McDaniel is a freelance writer.

*********** I was reading through my Coach of the Year Clinic Notes from 2010 and came across a nice presentation on zone blocking by a coach named Herb Hand, who at the time was at Tulsa.

Tulsa was pretty good back then, and the guy’s presentation was pretty good, so just for the hell of it I did a little online search for him, to see if he was still coaching -  and if so, where.

I found him, and I also found an amazing story…

*********** I know most of you watched President Obama’s farewell address, hanging on every word, but to those of you who would rather have had something else to watch on TV, I apologize.

I’m a member of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and I urge you to join.  Besides supporting our sport, membership does have its privileges, and one of them is being able to attend the Annual AFCA Convention.  It’s always held the second week in January, and in order to allow college coaches to attend guilt- free (and paranoia-free), a recruiting armistice is declared. 

One of the biggest events of the convention is the awards ceremony, during which championship coaches from the past season are honored and the Coach of the Year is announced.

And for members who weren’t able to attend the convention, as well as for the general public, Tuesday night’s awards ceremony was televised on CBS Sports.  Like all AFCA members, I’d been notified of it by email, but it was only when I turned on the TV and started hearing how wonderful the last eight years had been, blah, blah, blah that  I remembered the AFCA show.

I quickly switched to it, and it was great.

It was great to see Colorado’s Mike MacIntyre receive the Coach of the Year Award and hear him acknowledge his late dad, who coached at Vanderbilt and died last year; Bobby Ross, who coached him at Georgia Tech; and David Cutcliffe, who gave him his first job (at Ole Miss) and who, he said, was such a great help to him when his dad’s health was declining.  Coach MacIntyre also got the Comeback of the Year Award, for winning the Pac 12 South title after three straight losing seasons at Colorado.  He said that possibly the greatest thing about getting a contract extension at Colorado was that it meant that for the first time in his life he’d get to live in the same place for five years.

I also thought it was great seeing Don Nehlen, winningest coach in West Virginia history and builder of the Mountaineer program, win a lifetime achievement award.  I thought it was especially great seeing the warmth between him and his presenter, one of his former quarterbacks, Jeff Hostetler -  who happens to be his son-in-law.

My apologies for not thinking to post the broadcast info on Tuesday’s NEWS.  My wife, who watched the show with me, said she’ll make sure I won’t forget next year.  (That way, you can blame her if I do.)

*********** The next time I’m having tea with Yale President Peter Salovey, I plan to stump him with this one: quick, Mr. President - without looking - tell me the University’s mission statement.

I guarantee you, he can’t.

Peter Drucker, the esteemed author and management authority, had a thing about mission statements: they should, he said, be simple, clear and operational.

A major advantage of keeping it simple is that people can remember it.

Do you have one?   You should.

I have one that I arrived at over many years of coaching, and it’s pretty simple:

1. I’m going to treat kids right;

2. I’m going to set high standards and hold the kids to them;

3. I’m going to teach the kids more football than they ever thought possible;

4. I’m going to give them an experience they’ll treasure for the rest of their lives.

That’s it.

I suppose I could think of several additional, worthy things that might belong in there, but here’s the thing:

I believe in their paramount importance, they guide everything I do, and they’re all achievable.

AND - I can remember them and recite them at any time.

Yale had been doing all right, I thought, making it through the first three hundred or so years with a rather simple and straightforward mission statement, but now, thanks to what must have been the combined input of a committee of, oh, two or three hundred interested parties, it’s got a new one, and it’s a beauty.

“Yale is committed to improving the world today and for future generations through outstanding research and scholarship, education, preservation and practice.  Yale educates aspiring leaders worldwide who will serve all sectors of society.   We carry out this mission through the free exchange of ideas in an ethical, interdependent,  and diverse community of faculty, staff, students, and alumni.”

So now, instead of something that “faculty, staff, students, and alumni” could recite at any time, the poohbahs have created, in the words of a fellow alumnus named D. F. Greene, of Baltimore, “what Drucker called ‘a hero sandwich of good intentions.’”

*********** NW Missouri State got more and better coverage than the FCS title game.  I think that is an absolute travesty...the student athletes at all levels of football work extremely hard, give them all their due.  If the FBS championship can run 4 1/2 hours, I'm sure ESPN can allow for 30 minutes of postgame on one of it's 100 different channels.

Brad Knight
Clarinda, Iowa

*********** From a spectator’s standpoint, the worst aspect of football right now is the constant interruptions caused by penalties.

And 75 per cent of the penalties, I’d venture to say, are either offensive holding or defensive pass interference.

Offensive holding is mostly a crime of intent - guys intend to hold, and figure they’ll either get away with it or if they don’t, 10 yards once in a while is a small price to pay for the privilege of being able to hold the rest of the time.   I’m going to cure the offensive holding crap right now:

I’d require all offensive linemen (except the center, obviously) to wear boxing gloves.  The thumbless kind. Day-Glo orange, so officials can see when they’re outside the framework of the defender’s body.

In a day and age when teams routinely pass for more than 300 yards a game, a ten-yard penalty for offensive holding is simply not sufficient deterrent. I’d increase the penalty. I’d either make it 15 yards, as it once was, or I’d leave it at 10 yards, but with a loss of down.  Either way, they simply have to reduce the incentive to take a chance on getting away with it.

The second worst is pass interference - it has way too much influence on the game - and I’m still ruminating on a damn solution.  Deterrents aren’t going to be as effective as with offensive holding, because an awful lot of pass interference results from spontaneous, unintentional play without a lot of forethought. I’m actually inclined to allow a defender a little more leeway than at present, because, frankly, I see penalties being called for less contact between two guys going after a pass than I do on a basketball court.

I would suggest taking a long look at offensive pass interference as well, because although I confess to wanting Clemson to win Monday night, it’s pretty clear that Clemson’s winning score was attributable to what under current rules was an illegal pick - i.e., pass interference.

Another 10 per cent of penalties seems to be illegal blocks in the back on returns.  And that’s just the ones they catch.   (Is it actually possible to have a return without a block in the back?)  This is one penalty that’s avoidable, and I’d try to eliminate the gray area that officials find themselves in by requiring that contact must clearly be made with the front of the defender. The front.  No ifs, ands, or buts.   You need to block a guy?  Block him while he’s still in front of you.

*********** Hugh,

Open Wing - Great stuff.  We've been running the formation, but not utilizing it the way you have.  I really like what you are doing with this.  If you don't mind, I would like to email you as questions come up as I watch the dvds?

Todd Hollis
Head Football Coach
Elmwood High School
Elmwood, Illinois


I was hoping you would do just that.

It is very much "open" - a work in progress - and I don't pretend to have all the answers. Questions and observations from coaches who've had a chance to look under the hood will help us all.

*********** Amazing video of the California Highway Patrol helping a FedEx trucker driving a double-trailer rig down an icy mountain highway. The guy's fighting to keep his rear trailer from jackknifing after its brakes locked.

american flag TUESDAY,  JANUARY 10,  2017  “I tell young players who want to be coaches, who think they can put up with all the headaches and heartaches, can you live without it? If you can live without it, don’t get in it.” Bear Bryant

*********** How about that Clemson-Alabama game? For once, a big game lived up to the billing.  There's no truth to the rumor that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent out orders to all remaining NFL playoff teams to play "exciting football" and he got back emails from all of them asking, "What's that?"

Even if it hadn't been such a great game, I still would have enjoyed it more than any game this season simply because I was tuned to ESPN News, which featured six college coaches watching the game and discussing it among each other. If that's ever available by subscription during the regular season, I'm in.

Meantime... Paging Coach Lane Kiffin... Coach Saban says all is forgiven.... Just please come back and call plays...

*********** The NCAA and ESPN made it clear Saturday that Youngstown State and James Madison - all of FCS, for that matter - were second-rate:

(1) The FCS championship game was played in a soccer stadium, and extra points were kicked against the backdrop of a giant sign advertising a NATIONAL SOCCER HALL OF FAME or some damn thing;

(2) The color analyst assigned to the game was inept in providing us with basic info, informing us that this player or that was “from Virginia,” or “from Pennsylvania”;

(3) Following the game,  I expected to see the post-game interviews and whatnot.  How silly of me to think they would stay with that, instead of cutting, abruptly, to a very, very meaningful basketball game between Maryland and Michigan.

*********** Hazel Dell, Washington is a suburb of Vancouver, Washington (not to be confused, as it usually is, with Vancouver, BC) and for years its Babe Ruth Baseball program, Hazel Dell Metro, has been one of the tops in the State.   Since it founding in 1959, Hazel Dell Metro teams have made it to the Babe Ruth World Series 18 times.

Now, Hazel Dell Metro has announced that it will no longer be fielding teams.   Reason?  A lack of volunteers, and a lack of players.

A lack of players?   Guys, this is BASEBALL. 

President Jack Laub, who’s been with the organization since 1987, said enrollment has declined since 2004:  “Lots of kids are now going to the travel teams.”

In a strange way, it’s a win-win: the travel teams get the best players; the stage dads get their kids more exposure - and the Hazel Dell coaches no longer have to deal with those fathers.

And the other kids, the ones who don’t have the ability or the money to play on a travel team?  Well, evidently, screw them.  Let them play video games.  Or soccer.

*********** The 49ers are, indeed, screwed up.  First they fire their GM and their head coach in one fell swoop, and now they’re in the process of interviewing candidates for the two positions - AT THE SAME TIME.

Does anybody else think it’s going to be a bit awkward if they first hire a head coach - and THEN hire the GM?

Do you think that the GM might get the impression that while he’s technically in charge of things, they didn’t trust him enough to let him hire the head coach?

If you’re the GM, how are you going to deal with a coach who was hired by the owner?

*********** I was doing a little research when I happened to see a video of a train pulling a big, black and gold double-deck passenger car with “HAWKEYE EXPRESS” lettering.  WTF? I thought.  Is this some private rail car owned by a bunch of Iowa boosters?

Digging deeper, I came across something very cool - something that I’d never heard of before.

And then I had to stick the needle in my friend Brad Knight. He’s a coach in Clarinda, Iowa, and he’s a huge Iowa Hawkeyes’ fan - why, I texted him, in all the years we’ve known each other, didn’t he ever tell me about the Hawkeye Express?

Brad texted back “I took for granted that everybody on earth knew about it. Every time I went to an Iowa game growing up that I can remember we parked and rode it to the game.”

The Hawkeye Express is a train, a real, honest-to-goodness  railroad train, consisting of a diesel locomotive and six double-deck coaches painted in Iowa black and gold.   On game days, it hauls as many as 5,000 fans from a parking lot in suburban Coralville, delivering them right to the gates of Kinnick Stadium.

Saves the hassle and expense of finding a place on-campus to park… gets you to the stadium in a fun, festive atmosphere… gets you out of there and on your way faster - a lot faster - after the game.

*********** When you’re in a hole… stop digging.  Cal decided to stop digging.

Its athletic department is deep in a fiscal hole… its football program has gone 19-30 over the past four years… it’s lost seven straight to arch-rival Stanford… its offensive-minded coach neglected the other side of the ball, resulting in one of the worst defenses in all of FBS… its one-year rent-a-QB is on his way out… oh - and the coach went after at least four other jobs in the last two years.

The Cal people, angry at first that the coach, Sonny Dykes, would go looking after they’d given him a contract extension, now are pissed that he didn’t get any of those jobs. Now, they’re going to have to pay him to go away.

Admittedly late in the coaching-change game, they decided on Sunday to let Dykes go, even though it’s going to cost them - big.  He’s under contract through 2019, and his contract calls for a severance of 70 per cent of his remaining salary of close to $6 million. Do the math - he’ll walk away with roughly $4 million.

Nevertheless, the word is that prominent donors to the program threatened to cut off support if Dykes weren’t let go.

Anybody got Chip Kelly’s phone number?

*********** When a horse has run his race,  that’s it.  You don’t take him out and have him run another quarter mile.

So please explain to me, Steelers,  why, when you’re leading 30-6 in the fourth quarter, you still have your starting quarterback in the game.

*********** Those “receivers” on the Raiders…  The Lions…  The Giants… 

They only get paid if they catch those balls, right?  They don’t get paid when they drop them, do they?  

*********** There were some exceptional plays in the NFL playoff games over the weekend.

Otherwise, the football was pedestrian at best - four dull-ass games whose average margin was 19 points; four games in which only one of the losing teams was able to score more than one touchdown.

What was amazing was how many of those exceptional plays were the result of improvisation, how few of them  the result of designed plays.

Maybe it’s the pro game’s becoming more and more like the NBA, and  maybe that’s what the mass of NFL fans want.

Maybe it’s just the coach in me.

But to me, the beauty of football is in the planning and the execution.  No other sport can compare to it.  The beauty of football  is when plays are successful because they’re run as designed, not because someone makes a spectacular catch, or someone misses a tackle, or the quarterback is able to stand in the pocket untouched for six seconds until someone finally comes open. 

And that, I contend, is the major difference between college football and pro football.

*********** When you’re the head coach of an NFL team you can’t be pleased but you can’t be all that shocked to learn that one of your team members has  been arrested and charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, resisting arrest, public drunkenness and disorderly conduct at a local bar.  I mean, it IS the NFL.

What has to be a bit surprising, though, is finding out that it's one of your assistant coaches.

*********** College commissioners all agree that their football games are taking too long.

In just four seasons, the average length of college games has increased by seven minutes, from 3:17 in 2013 to a record 3:24 this past season.

But lest you get the idea that it’s because hurry-up, no-huddle teams are running more plays, the average number of plays per game has essentially remained unchanged: 143 per game in 2013, and 142.6 in 2016.

"There is a consensus, if not unanimity, the games need to be shortened,” says Karl Benson, commissioner of the Sun Belt Conference, “ but there is also a strong belief that we don't want to reduce the number of plays in a game," Karl Benson said. "So until the majority agrees that shorter games will require fewer plays, we will be at a standstill."

Big 12 games took the longest, an average time of 3:36.  Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said that staying “under 3:25” would be an “appropriate aspiration.”

"Staying under 3:25 is an “appropriate aspiration," Bowlsby said.

Only one Big 12 team, Kansas State at 3:24, would have made it under Bowlsby's 3:25 goal. Of the five longest-playing teams, four - Texas Tech (3:48), Oklahoma State (3:47) , Baylor (3:45) and Texas (3:44) - were from the Big 12.  Cal of the Pac-12 was the party-crasher, finishing tied with Baylor at 3:45.

The most common suggestions on how to shorten games were:

a running clock on first downs (until the final two or five minutes of each half),

shortening halftime

limiting the number of replays

reducing the number of timeouts

a shorter play clock

changing in-game substitution rules

limiting the number of commercial breaks

"You don't want to lose the substance of what makes college football special," said MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher. "I don't know if you can call halftime sacred, but I don't know if we want to change what is part of the pageantry of college football."
Added Miami athletic director Blake James,  "You don't want to cut halftimes because of the difference between our games and the NFL," he said, pointing to college marching bands as a difference.

My suggestion? Stop the clock after incomplete passes - but only briefly.   The virtual timeout after an incompletion, not starting the clock until the snap, is a relic that dates back to 1920.

*********** The teams at the all-new Frederick Douglass High School in Lexington, Kentucky will not be called the Stallions.

Not after a petition was circulated calling the nickname “inappropriate and sexist.”

“Using stallions as the mascot for the Frederick Douglass High School seems wrong on so many levels,” a signer of the petition told the Lexington Herald-Leader. “It leaves out 50 percent of the student population - girls - and is in keeping with the spirit of Title IX that promotes gender equity in sports. Calling the female athletes Lady Stallions doesn’t make any sense. We should get our horse terms right in the Bluegrass. And even if it were an all-male high school, would we want to promote an image that has to do with breeding?”

A stallion, the petition states,  is a male horse that has not been castrated, used for breeding or is slang for a powerful and virile man who has a lot of lovers.

“What message does this send to our daughters and granddaughters? Our sons and grandsons?” it asks.

“How did they come up with this? “ asked the drafter of the petition in an interview.”The connotation of stallions pertaining to a girls’ softball team or basketball team just seemed really, really strange to me - a male breeding horse.”

Well, since you asked…

Frederick Douglass was a famed abolitionist, an escaped slave whose owners had, against the laws at the time, enabled him to learn to read and write.  So well did he educate himself that his writings and speeches in opposition to slavery were an important force in mobilizing the anti-slavery movement.

But as remarkable and important  a man as he was, it's difficult to make a connecttion between Frederick Douglass  and athletic performance.

“Stallions” came about because Lexington is the heart of the horse breeding industry for which Kentucky is famous, and the school is located on land that was once a part of a famed thoroughbred farm owned by the Madden family.

Said the superintendent of schools, “When construction began on Frederick Douglass High School, we discovered that one of the Maddens’  famed stallions had been buried on the property where the new school was being built. The Stallions mascot was originally chosen to honor the rich of tradition of our land here in Central Kentucky.”

No matter.  Stallions is out.  But since they’ve already chosen a horse’s head as the school logo, they’d like the new name to have  a horsey theme.  “Thoroughbreds” has been suggested.

I guess "Studs" is out of the question.

*********** Gary Pinkel was one of the best coaches in the history of Missouri football.  He was a Don James guy - played for Coach James at Kent State, and coached under him at Washington.  My friend Mike Lude was AD at both Kent State and Washington, and thinks very highly of Coach Pinkel.  After we spoke on the phone last week, Mike sent me this…

Coach Pinkel,

I wanted to thank you for everything that you’ve done for my teammates, our university and me.

Thank you for recruiting me. It was a dream come true to be offered a scholarship to my home-state school. Thank you for walking into my living room, looking my parents in the eyes and promising to take care of me for the next four years. You followed through on that promise.

Thank you for always protecting my teammates and me. No matter what happened inside or outside of the locker room, we all knew you had our backs. In a day and age where most coaches only care about proving their innocence, you always protected the team.

Thank you for being a disciplinarian. I look all around sports today and see guys who get away with murder just because they can sack the quarterback. Not at your program. Thank you for always doing what was right for the team, no matter how it affected us on the field. You made me proud to wear that uniform on Saturdays.

Thank you for showing me what it looks like to be a man. In a society full of cowards, and certainly a generation full of cowards, you forced us to be men. You taught us that regardless of circumstances, regardless of what we felt like, regardless of adversity, our job was to fight like hell and find a way to be successful.

Thank you for showing me how to handle adversity. Even when adversity hits, and it always does, you showed me how a man handles it. You showed me that the real men of this world aren’t required to be perfect; they’re just required to take responsibility for their mistakes and promise to be better.

Thank you for holding me accountable. In a time where everyone wants to blame someone else for their shortcomings, you expected better of me. Today, if a student fails a test, it’s the teacher’s fault. If a player isn’t playing enough, it’s the coach’s fault. Not in your program. Not on your watch. And I thank you for that.

Thank you for giving me a chance, caring about me as a person as much as a player, and setting me up for a great life after football. In a time when graduation at big schools is often an afterthought, you made it a priority.

Thank you for changing the culture of the school I love. You brought Mizzou football from the depths of the ocean to the peak of the mountain. You resurrected a team that was a college football doormat and turned it into one of the most well-respected programs in all of college football. You did that. Thank you.

Thank you for making Mizzou your destination job when most would’ve treated it as a stepping stone.

I’ll leave you with a quote of your own to encourage you during this time.

“What do we do when adversity hits? WE FIGHT LIKE HELL!”

And I know that’s exactly what you’re going to do in your MANY years left.

I love you, Coach Pinkel, and I’m proud to know you.

T.J. Moe

(T.J. Moe played wide receiver at Missouri from 2009-12. He was an All-Big 12 selection in 2010 and a team captain as a senior in ’12. He originally wrote this to Gary Pinkel last month.)

american flag FRIDAY,  JANUARY 6,  2017  “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and it looks like work.” Thomas Edison

*********** College football’s not completely over.  There’s still Monday night’s Game of the Century.

And, in case you forgot, because the semifinals were what seem like months ago, there’s Saturday’s FCS final  between James Madison and Youngstown State.

Hey all you playoff guys - yes, the winner of this game will be called the National Champion.  Not taking anything at all away from the two teams in the final -  but should JMU (13-1, with a loss only to North Carolina) lose to Youngstown State (12-3, and winner over Eastern Washngton in the semi-finals by a split hair),  are you really prepared to argue that the playoff has settled once and for all the question of which is the best team in all of FCS? 

But isn't that what you keep saying an FBS playoff will give us?

*********** Just before Christmas, my wife and I spent a week or so back East, and in driving from Durham, North Carolina to Hagerstown, Maryland, we zipped past Lynchburg, Virginia.  Zipped past, that is, until I saw the stadium off to the right of the highway, and then I zipped off - taking the first exit I could find so that I could have a closer look at things.  Liberty’s the school that Reverend Jerry Falwell built.  Turner Gill’s the head coach football coach. And judging by the stadium and the nearly-completed indoor practice facility (projected to be ready for use this spring), they are very bullish on their football program. One minor quibble: I’d have put the home stands on the opposite side so that the fans could look out at the Blue Ridge in the distance.



Farther north, in the Shenandoah Valley, we left the Interstate to get a shot of James Madison University’s stadium. Years ago, when I was selling packaging, Harrisonburg used to be in my territory, but back then, the school was known as Madison College, and it was exclusively for women. It's  come a long way since then.  Saturday, the JMU Dukes will play Youngstown State for the FCS championship.  Go Dukes!



I took the pictures because stadiums fascinate me and I figure most guys who read my page will never get to visit Lynchburg or Harrisonburg.  But also because they show that we shouldn't let the TV people fill us so full  of  the Alabamas and the Clemsons that we lose sight of the great football that's played at places such as Liberty and James Madison.  The better FCS schools have very good players and very good coaching and nice stadiums - most of them right on campus -  and their fans are every bit as passionate as the ones at the Power 5 schools.   My wife and I often think about how nice it would be to live in a place with a good FCS program.

*********** Watching Arkansas football struggle to get back on its feet has to be tough on the people in a state that lives and dies with the Razorbacks. It has to be especially tough on people of my generation, geezers who remember the heyday of the Hogs under Frank Broyles.

Hayden Fry writes about working as an assistant on Broyles’ staff.
One reason Arkansas was becoming a big winner in college football was because Broyles had assembled an exceptional coaching staff.

Doug Dickey, Jim McKenzie, Wilson Matthews, Dixie White, Steed White and Bill Pace were full-time assistants.  Barry Switzer and Fred Akers were graduate assistants.   All made their niche as head coaches - Dickey at Florida and Tennessee, McKenzie at Oklahoma, Pace at Vanderbilt,  Switzer at Oklahoma and the Dallas Cowboys, Akers at Texas and Purdue.   Dixie White, who was later head coach at Northwest Louisiana, invented the “scramble block,” a technique that allows small linemen to tie up bigger opponents.  When I left Arkansas my replacement was Johnny Majors, who was later head coach at Iowa State, Tennessee, and Pittsburgh.

Arkansas had unbelievably talented coaches, but the catalyst was Broyles, a brilliant head coach with a charismatic personality that made him a highly successful recruiter.  I have never been around anyone else quite like him. He had a photographic mind that allowed him to sit in the film  room, look at a play one time on the screen,  turn on the lights and tell his coaches what every player did on both sides of the ball. Then he'd go to the blackboard and diagram the whole thing.   And if you asked him about the play 15 years later, he would do it again. I’ve never known anyone else with that kind of memory.  He was just amazing.
*********** As the playoffs approach, it’s time for the NFL powers-that-be to take a look at the NHL and its Conn Smythe Trophy.

The Conn Smythe Trophy, named for the one-time owner, coach and GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs,  is awarded every year, following the final game of the Stanley Cup Final series, to the player adjudged most valuable to his team for the entire playoffs.   Hockey is the only sport with such an award.

Unlike the other major team sports, football comes down to just one game,  and as a result it’s quite conceivable that a guy could come out of nowhere and make one sensational winning catch at the very end of the Super Bowl and be named MVP - completely overshadowing, in one play,  another guy (or two, or three) without whose overall accomplishments the team wouldn’t even have been in the Super Bowl.

*********** Every time there’s some sort of atrocious behavior on the part of a college football player,  the coach talks as if there was nothing he could have done to prevent it.

I call bulls—.  I mean, who the hell recruited those guys in the first place?  Who went out and brought them in, from vastly different cultures, many that don’t even have a slightest understanding of the culture of a university, and just turned them loose?   What did you do to prepare them to live with other college students -  including females who might say “no” to them?

Next, he’ll fall back on the old copout, “You can’t possibly expect me to keep tabs on 100 or more players.”

I call bulls— on that, too, because actually, Coach, I can.  With a dozen or so paid assistants and a small platoon of graduate and volunteer assistants, there’s more than enough management to know what’s going on.

That’s how they do it in the Army.  It’s disingenuous of you, Coach, to act as if you’re just one poor guy trying to keep track of all those players.

Of course, the Army’s smart enough to house their soldiers in barracks.  You’d find it easier, too,  if you’d house your players in (dormitories),  instead of letting kids who aren’t old enough to drink legally live in off-campus housing.

You’re basically, to paraphrase P.J. O’Rourke, giving them a fifth of whiskey and the keys to the car.

WTF do you expect is going to happen?

*********** In Pennsylvania, where I grew up - and I presume in at least some other states - there’s a crime called “corrupting the morals of a minor.”
6301.  Corruption of minors.
(a)  Offense defined.--
(1)  (i)  Except as provided in subparagraph (ii), whoever, being of the age of 18 years and upwards, by any act corrupts or tends to corrupt the morals of any minor less than 18 years of age, or who aids, abets, entices or encourages any such minor in the commission of any crime, or who knowingly assists or encourages such minor in violating his or her parole or any order of court, commits a misdemeanor of the first degree.
(ii)  Whoever, being of the age of 18 years and upwards, by any course of conduct in violation of Chapter 31 (relating to sexual offenses) corrupts or tends to corrupt the morals of any minor less than 18 years of age, or who aids, abets, entices or encourages any such minor in the commission of an offense under Chapter 31 commits a felony of the third degree.
Now, Minnesota may have no such law.  Either that, or the prosecutor in Minneapolis (I guess that would be Hennepin County) didn’t seem to notice that a 17-year-old high school kid on a recruiting visit took a very active part in the, uh, gang sex.  We’re talking about an issue close to an adult male’s having sex with a female who’s below the age of consent.  Whether or not the parties agree  that it was consensual is beside the point.

*********** Minnesota’s been through a lot, between the poor health of Jerry Kill that caused him to retire, and the actions of his successor, Tracy Claeys, who “took a stand,” as some of his defenders would explain putting himself in a position of (1) supporting the boycott of a bowl game; (2) appearing to support calls for the resignation of his athletic director and the president of the university; and  (3) giving those who look for any chance to attack males (and football) an opening to accuse Minnesota of “condoning rape” by challenging the actions of the university in punishing several players accused of, uh “nonconsensual sex.”

Damn.  First Gary Pinkel of Missouri and now Tracy Claeys of Minnesota.   Two good coaches in the last two seasons gone,  after allowing themselves to get caught up in player protests that called for their university presidents’ heads. 

Fellas, never forget this: In every organization there is a chain of command. 

Everybody on earth - except perhaps for the President of the United States - has a boss.  Four-star General Douglas MacArthur, probably America’s best-known and most popular soldier (thanks in large part to his  artful self-promotion) found this out when he openly defied President Harry Truman.   Truman, MacArthur’s boss,  relieved the General  of his command.

Moral:  If you allow yourself to become associated with a movement that’s calling for your boss’s head, it’s not likely to end well for you.

As Emerson said, “When you strike at a king, you must kill him.”

*********** Who’s going to get the Minnesota job?

Minnesota is in the midst of turmoil, but unless there’s something going on under the surface that I’m not aware of, it looks like a good job.

It’s in a major metro area, the beautiful Twin Cities, with all the attractions of a big city plus all sorts of great career opportunities for graduates who choose to stay in the area.  Unlike a number of schools in its division, it’s close to a major airport with  non-stop flights to and  from nearly any place in the country.

It’s got nice facilities.

You can win there.  It’s in the weaker of the two Big Ten divisions.  Next year, in its first eight games, it opens at home against Buffalo, then plays at Oregon State, Middle Tennessee at home, Maryland at home and at Purdue. After that they’ve got Michigan State and Illinois both at home and Iowa away.

In other words, they have an outside  chance to be 8-0 in early November  when they go to Ann Arbor to play Michigan.

True, the state of Minnesota can’t supply it  with  enough Big Ten-calibre players every year, which means recruiting in Florida or Texas, but then, that’s a problem shared by other schools in its division such as Iowa, Nebraska, Purdue and Wisconsin.  Only Illinois and Northwestern are in a state that produces enough home-grown talent, and Northwestern, with its higher academic requirements, still has to go outside the state for much of its talent.

My short list of candidates:

1.  Les Miles.  Good man.  Good coach.  A winner at LSU and before that at Oklahoma State. He’s a Bob Schembechler guy - a midwesterner who can recruit Midwestern kids and coach power football. 
He was accused at LSU of not being exciting on offense but he would bring much needed stability and big-time credibility to the program. He's at the right stage in life - young enough to still have the fire, but old enough  that if he takes the job he's going to stay there.

2.  Chip Kelly.  Damn good coach.  His teams play exciting football. Said he’s open to anything.  Can he coach in cold weather?  Hey - the guy’s from New Hampshire, for pete’s sake.   One concern: he's coached at Nike University and he's coached in the NFL; would Minnesota be enough for him?

3.  PJ Fleck?  Minnesota, even in turmoil, is a big step up from the MAC, especially financially, for both him and his assistants.  Poor Western Michigan.  When he was passed over on Round One of this year’s coaching openings, they thought they were safe for one more year. He has yet to sign a new contract, and they may regret not having gotten it done.

4.  Dark Horse: Bo Pellini.  He’s run a big program and he’s proved at two places that he can put a winning team on the field. His Youngstown State Penguins will be playing for the FCS national title this Saturday.  Given the situation at Minnesota right now, he would have to convince them he can do a much better job in the PR area than he did at Nebraska.

*********** It would be fair to say that certain big-time football programs have too much money when they’re able to pay highly-qualified guys to hang around the program, “just in case.” 

These guys can’t actually coach, because that would violate an NCAA rule restricting the number of paid coaches a school is permitted, a rule whose intent is to give, say,  Wake Forest a fighting chance against a Florida State.  Or an Alabama.

As a result of the ability of well-to-do programs to stockpile highly-qualified assistants, Alabama was able to let its offensive coordinator go, and replace him in a heartbeat with a former Pac-12 head coach who’s been kept around the program in a non-coaching position.

And Ohio State has been stockpiling  a former SEC head coach (Joker Phillips), keeping him  around as a “quality control assistant.”

Look, you know they were paying those former major college head coaches  good money to be “non-coaches” because otherwise either one of them could have been actually coaching someplace else.

*********** And while we’re talking about the rich getting richer,  there are the Alabamas, the Clemsons, the Ohio States bringing  back former players to play on their scout teams, a practice that even high school associations have been  smart enough to outlaw.

Hard to believe this has been legal all this time and those schools just found out about it, but anyone can see the advantages:  a lesser team’s defense prepares  by tackling some fourth-string walk-on trying to impersonate the upcoming opponent’s best runner, while  Bama’s defense goes up against  Trent Richardson, a former NFL first-round draft pick.

Which brings up a question. You don't suppose those guys are risking their bodies for nothing, do you?  
They've  been around the block.  They've played in the NFL, some of them.   And I have a feeling that  they knew how much they were  worth back when they were “student-athletes.” 

So what if they're being paid? What’s the NCAA going to do - take their eligibility away?

What's next? Is there anything  to prevent Alabama from hiring somebody else's  former players?

Is this something for agents to look into? 
What kinda quarterback you want? Pocket or roll-out?  You want shotgun or under center?  You want a lefthander? That I can do. Got just the guy. Three years All-Sun Belt.   Been to two NFL camps.  He's in good shape. Playing semi-pro ball. Cost you ten thousand bucks - plus roundtrip air fare -  for two practices.  When do you need him there?  Who you got next week? They got that big runner, right?  I got a guy  you'll like.
***********  On December 17, two sporting events took place at just about the same time.

One was the Las Vegas Bowl, a “meaningless” bowl game between two non-power 5 teams, San Diego State and Houston.

The other was a basketball game between two of the biggest names in college basketball, Kentucky and North Carolina.

The meaningless bowl game, on ABC,  drew 3.7 million viewers.

The big-time basketball game, on CBS, drew 3.6 million viewers.

So in case you were wondering  why ESPN televises all those “meaningless” bowl games -   It's because PEOPLE WATCH THEM.

*********** I don't know how or why I'm the Keeper of Odd Knowledge in regards to the Triple Option but that's the way it appears to be.

1. F'rinstance, I had a discussion with Ted Dembroski who was a TE at Houston and was on the field when the "Mistake" was made by the OT and the Veer was discovered.  It's unverified and perhaps unverifiable, if Dr. Dembroski has passed, but the conversation did occur and it is consistent with the known facts.

2. On to the Wishbone.  In an E-Mail exchange from over 10 years ago on a completely different subject, one Rod Green told me about his Coach Ken Dabbs and how the Wishbone came to be.  Then:

"Yes, I fondly remember the ''69 Texas/TCU game, 69-7, and the 71 TCU game, 89-10. The '69-'70 Texas teams averaged about 56 points per game while giving up an average of 7. In '70 there is a great game against SMU when all four players in the Texas backfield each rushed for over 100 yards. I believe that may be the only time in history. After '71, Oklahoma began buying teams and Texas was still trying to play it straight. Didn't work out so well for us, as SMU was buying teams as well.

"I played halfback in the wishbone in high school. We put the full backfield triple option in for the '68 season after our coach visited Texas before their own '68 inaugural season. We moved the fullback up two steps only after Texas did it in game three of '68. Our high school team went 14-1 that year, losing to Abilene Cooper who had a fella named Jack Mildren at quarterback. Our own quarterback was Alan Lowrey, who quarterbacked Texas to a 12-1 season in 1971 (losing only to Mildren's team once again!).

"Back then men were men, and kids with earrings couldn't get a scholarship. I remember in '69 against Arkansas for the National Championship, end of the fourth quarter, last chance for Texas, ball on the Arkansas five. Halfback Jim Bertleson returns to the huddle with a broken nose and blood gushing down his face. What does Street do? He calls for an off tackle slam by Bertleson. Five yards, national championship. That is the way football used to be played. Sigh... the memories!"

3. So there is a History of variations in lining up in "The Wishbone". From Coach Royal, ISBN 0-292-70983-8, p. 57:

"We had to modify it as we fooled around with it and played some games.  We had our fullback too tight to begin with, and we didn't realize it through scrimmages.  But I called Emory one night afer a ball game and said, 'Emory, I think we'd be a lot more effective if we'd get that fullback back a little deeper.'  He said, 'You know, I was just going to call you on that.'  He said, 'I already had the idea' - so so Emory and I thought a lot alike."

4. Well, that's it isn't it?  The first Wishbone had the FB up too close and they backed him up a step, changed QBs and it's off to 30 in a row (See also: ).

5. Not so fast, Bucko...There is still a rumor floating around that Bellard first ran the 3-back Triple from the T.  He looked at the Mesh and moved the FB up too close to the QB and simultaneously compressed the HBs to get the Lead Back Principle.  The first 3-Back Triple, however, was said to be from the Full House T.

Go to ~ 2:05.  The commentary is telling: "Bellard did it with the Wishbone..."  Yet, the somewhat odd, not-very-exact chalk diagram is NOT the Wishbone but the so-called Inverted T Set.  A Look at Bellard and Royal reveals that these are two much younger Coaches.  I believe that this may be considered good evidence that the Wishbone came later.

Bellard always came back to the T, from the T-Bone at Texas A&M to the Wingbone and the ill-fated diamond Bone at Mississippi State.

Charlie Wilson
Crystal River, Florida


Great to hear that you are still cogitating.

Just as great to read your work.

I also heard the story of the veer’s “discovery by accident” from an assistant of Bill Yeoman’s who previously had been an assistant to Mike Lude and was on the field at the time.

Interesting how the recollections of either moving the fullback up or moving him back seem to conflict.

I watched the video and I have to say that I was spellbound by a great retelling of a great game.

The shot at 2:05 is definitely not a wishbone.  But what MSU ran in the Egg Bowl was.

Here’s one for you: who’s the guy standing between Bellard and Royal in the scene at 2:05?  I say Sammy Baugh!

*********** Is there a more f—ked up franchise than the San Francisco 49ers?

They just fired their GM and their head coach, which in the latter case also means their entire staff.

The GM’s firing was well-deserved, if only because it was his ego that caused Jim Harbaugh to be run out of SFO.

The coach’s firing?  One year is scarcely enough time to get anything done, but he was as good as gone as soon as the GM was sent packing, because any new GM is going to want to have his own man coaching the team.

But otherwise… Lombardi couldn’t have won with that bunch of clowns.

And now they’re about to get their fourth coach in four seasons.

It gets worse.

Consider the Len Eshmont Award, called  "the 49ers most prestigious annual honor” on the team's Web site...
The Len Eshmont Award

The Len Eshmont Award, the 49ers most prestigious annual honor, has been given each year to the 49er who best exemplifies the “inspirational and courageous play” of Len Eshmont.  A member of the original 1946 49ers team, Eshmont coached at Navy and Virginia following his playing days with the 49ers. Eshmont passed away in 1957.
Listed below are the 49ers annual Len Eshmont Award winners since its inception in 1957:
1957   QB Y.A. Tittle
1958   FB Joe Perry
1959   HB J.D. Smith
1960   S Dave Baker
1961   DT Leo Nomellini
1962   DE Dan Colchico
1963   T Bob St. Clair
1964   DT Charlie Krueger
1965   QB John Brodie
1966   HB John David Crow
1967   LB Dave Wilcox
1968   LB Matt Hazeltine
1969   CB Jimmy Johnson
1970   S Roosevelt Taylor
1971   LB Ed Beard
1972   DE Tommy Hart
1973   S Mel Phillips
1974   T Len Rohde
1975   CB Jimmy Johnson
1976   DE Tommy Hart
1977   S Mel Phillips
1978   RB Paul Hofer
1979   RB Paul Hofer
1980   DT Archie Reese
1981   TE Charle Young
1982   WR Dwight Clark
1983   RB/ST Bill Ring
1984   LB Keena Turner
1985   FB Roger Craig
1986   QB Joe Montana
1987   WR Jerry Rice
1988   NT Michael Carter
            RB Roger Craig
1989   QB Joe Montana
1990   DE Kevin Fagan
            LB Charles Haley
1991   WR John Taylor
1992   QB Steve Young
1993   WR Jerry Rice
1994   QB Steve Young
1995   FB William Floyd
1996   DT Bryant Young
1997   DT Dana Stubblefield
1998   DT Bryant Young
1999   DT Bryant Young
2000   DT Bryant Young
2001   RB Garrison Hearst
2002   S Tony Parrish
2003   LB Julian Peterson
2004   DT Bryant Young
2005   DT Bryant Young
2006   DT Bryant Young
2007   DT Bryant Young
2008   WR Isaac Bruce
2009   TE Vernon Davis
2010   LB Takeo Spikes
2011   DT Justin Smith
2012   DT Justin Smith
2013   LB NaVorro Bowman
2014   RB Frank Gore
2015   WR Anquan Boldin

Do you get the idea?  Did you check out some of those names?  We’re talking special people and good players, many of them Hall of Famers.

This year’s winner,  as voted by the team:  Colin F—king Kaepernick.

*********** A top California QB is leaving his mates behind and transferring to IMG Academy.,amp.html?client=safar

And so creeps professionalization into high school sports.  Emphasis on the verb  “creep.”

This whole thing is sick and IMG and any school that schedules IMG should be boycotted by reputable schools. Their mission is incompatible with ours. Better yet, they should get the Archbishop Murphy treatment.

Funniest tweet I saw all bowl season was right after the Rose Bowl:
Sam Darnold announces he will return to USC and not transfer to IMG.

*********** I knew you'd like the anthem performance before the Rose Bowl!  The WW2 veteran/1942 Duke player was a GREAT addition, and then when the B2 Batplane did the flyover...well, it's hard to find the words.

Another pleasant surprise was the traditional uniforms that both USC and Penn State wore.  No white-outs or black-outs or Elton John outfits.

The only Husky highlight:  Browning's coffin-corner quick kick.  Talk about a blast from the past!

Good job by Army!

Sarkisian -- who nose?

Shep Clarke
Puyallup, Washington

Duke has a nice exhibit in their football offices that includes material on the 1942 Rose Bowl.

Very good point on the Rose Bowl uniforms.  It was nice to watch two teams that - so far - haven’t sold their souls to apparel companies.

The Huskies were overmatched, but it was still a thrill for me seeing them run out onto the field.

And Sark?  Well, if that’s what keeps him off the sauce...

This has been an amazing two (or more) weeks of college football.  Real, exciting football, played by players who still really care about their teammates and still really care about winning.

I am constantly amazed that the NFL, where I’d be willing to bet most players don’t even know the names of all their teammates and are only about the paycheck, has been able to brainwash so much of the American public into thinking they’re watching the best the game has to offer.

They are undoubtedly the best football players in the world, but the teams and the plays are nearly interchangeable and the games stodgy and tedious, played indifferently by wealthy performers  whose chief concern is promoting their personal brands, protecting their incomes  and saving their bodies.

***********  Sent by my son, Ed, a former Seattleite who now lives in Melbourne, Australia:

 Dad: from an article on my friend Keith Robbins who owns a couple of bars in Seattle, including Tini Bigs, which is closing after 20 years.
“For the most part, I hired people who could bartend and socialize, which I think is something that has gone away,” he says.

“Your bartender used to be your shrink.  You used to be able to go to your bartender and tell them all your problems.  Now, the bartenders don't have time to hear your problems because they’re making a 16-ingredient cocktail.”

american flag TUESDAY,  JANUARY 3,  2017  "My view of the presidency is, one, you're very fortunate to be elected president, and when you're finished, you ought to go - get out of Dodge and go." former President George H. W. Bush

 Gunshot wounds

A Big Bowl Highlight…

I heard them talking about all the Louisville players who couldn't play, and I saw the “Louisville Injuries” graphic on the screen.

But when I got to the bottom, I said “WTF?” I mean, I know it’s Louisville and all that, but still…  “Gunshot wound?”

Turns out Messrs. Famurewa and Hearns were shot at a quasi-team function.  Actually, it was a party celebrating Lamar Jackson's Heisman Trophy win.

Two more really good reasons why Lamar Jackson shouldn’t have won the Heisman Trophy…

*********** This guy Marty Smith that ESPN’s been using as its Bama reporter - He might be great for the NASCAR audience, but he sure looks out of place on a college football telecast.

*********** I’m still waiting for Jim Harbaugh to say that the “alleged” offside by a Florida State defensive lineman on the final play of the game is why Michigan lost. 

Actually, there were many reasons.

But just in case: what did that have to do with the fact that Jimbo Fisher had his team better prepared and ready to play right out of the gate?

*********** Ed Orgeron got his first win as LSU’s official head coach, and it was a good one - 29-9 over Louisville.

*********** If you believe in karma… Louisville has now lost three straight since its “miraculous” (intelligence-enhanced) second-half  performance against Wake Forest.

*********** Thanks, LSU, for exposing Lamar Jackson as the flash in the pan he proved to be - and the Heisman Trophy for the farce that it has become.

Imagine the Most Valuable Player in the country coming from a team that lost its last three games:  to Houston, to Kentucky, to LSU, all games in which his failure to perform to Heisman levels cost his team dearly. 

The voters obviously didn’t take his play in the Kentucky loss into consideration.  Hell, most of them didn’t even see the way he played in the loss to Houston. How do these two-game stats sound: four fumbles and three interceptions.

LSU?  Fuhgeddaboutit.  The high-powered Cardinal offense, with the Heisman Trophy winner at the helm,  couldn’t produce so much as a single touchdown against the Tigers.

Here’s an idea:  let’s take into consideration a player’s entire season and at the same time provide an incentive for players to stick around long enough to play in “meaningless” bowl games.  Make the Heisman voters wait until after the bowl season to cast their ballots. 

Can’t disagree with Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, after DeShaun Watson had run and passed Clemson to a big Fiesta Bowl win over Ohio State : “We’ve got the best player in the country.”

The only loser  in my proposed arrangement would be ESPN, which depends on holding the Heisman Awards on the Saturday night before the bowl season starts.

So who’s kidding who?  ESPN runs college football, and unless ESPN wants it to happen, it isn’t going to happen.

*********** The beat-down of their Buckeyes had to kill all those Ohio State fans in the stands in Phoenix.  For some of the rest of us, it really exposed the Playoff people and their insistence on jumping the Buckeyes into the playoffs over other, more deserving teams.

In retrospect, Penn State should have earned the spot after beating Ohio State to win the division title, and Wisconsin to win the Conference title.  Yes, there was that three-point loss to Pitt in the second game, and that loss to Michigan earlier in the season (11 games ago)…

But you could have said the same thing about Oklahoma.  Yes, they lost two of their first three - but they won out and they won their conference.  What complicated things for the Sooners was that one of the losses - 11 games ago - was to Ohio State, and it was a bad loss.

And then there’s USC. No, they didn’t even play for their conference championship. And yes, they had three losses. But in my estimation the Trojans were among the nation’s top two or three teams by season’s end. 

MY POST-BOWL SEASON TOP 16 - a 16-team playoff in retrospect, with emphasis on bowl performance

1. Alabama/Clemson winner
2. Alabama/Clemson loser
3. USC
4. Penn State
5. Oklahoma
6. Washington
7. Wisconsin
8. Florida State
9. LSU
10. MIchigan
11. Oklahoma State
12. Virginia Tech
13. Stanford
14. Ohio State
15. Tennessee
16. Miami

*********** Arkansas’ Bret Bielema sure runs a classy program down there in Fayetteville.

One of his guys shoplifted items worth more than $250 from the sponsoring department store - the same department store that gave each of the Razorbacks a $450 credit to spend there as he wished. 

Another was thrown out of the game for spitting in an opponent’s face.

Well,  maybe his players are a little undisciplined.  So what?  The guy wins.

Wait - didn't his team lead by 24-points at halftime, and then get outscored 38-0? 

Never mind.

*********** Announcers seem to feel that the bigger the game, the more they’re supposed to talk, when in fact, when the game itself  is the star, they need to say less.

*********** One of the highlights of the bowl season for me was the national anthem before the Peach Bowl, played by the combined bands of Alabama and Washington. 

And then the Penn State Blue Band did an exceptional job with the anthem before the Rose Bowl.

*********** There was a scarcity of replays in the Bama-Washington game, especially of plays in which the conduct of the defensive backs was questionable.  I suspect many would have shown Bama P-I.  Not a word from the announcers.

*********** Washington wasn’t good enough to beat Bama.  I wish the interception return just before halftime hadn’t happened, because I think that 17-7 more accurately reflected the difference between the teams.

The Huskies played well on defense. I know that Alabama fans are blaming their poor offensive performance on Lane Kiffin, because that’s easier than admitting that perhaps the opponent might have decent coaching and a few scholarship athletes themselves.

On offense, the teams could have played for a couple more hours and I don’t think the Huskies would have scored again.  Personally, I thought they should have taken a few more shots downfield, but I’m well aware of the calibre of Alabama’s defensive backs.  My concern is with the running game, which had neither power nor deception. My belief is that if you’re a spread team, at some point you’re going to need either a running quarterback or a fullback/H back - or both. 

The Huskies’ loss to Bama was amazingly similar to their other loss, to USC.  Frankly, I thought that USC beat Washington worse than Bama did.  In both cases, the Huskies’ offense was stymied by a powerful defense, and in both cases, they faced a strong running game. But the Trojans, with Sam Darnold at QB, have a much better passing game.  And they pulled off their win in Husky Stadium, while Alabama did it in the Georgia Dome, a two-hour drive from Tuscaloosa.

*********** So a week before this year’s Game of the Century, Lane Kiffin is out as Bama’s offensive coordinator. Nick Saban says “we mutually agreed” on the move.

That Ole Nick.  He’s one funny dude. A laugh a minute.  “Mutually agreed” my ass.  When Saban makes a decision, even when it’s him against his entire staff, it becomes a “mutual agreement” in a nanosecond.

Yes, I suppose you could blame Kiffin’s dismissal on Alabama’s lackluster offensive performance.

Yes, considering that three of the four most decisive plays of the win over Washington involved Bo Scarbrough’s ball carrying (his two touchdown runs and his third-and-long run for a first down from deep in Bama territory), I would have given him the ball more - a lot more.   But then, if I had, the yahoos would have complained that I didn’t use my quarterback enough. 

If you hadn’t noticed, Bama fans are hard to please.  There are times when I think that Saban has so spoiled them that not even a 100-0 win with 11 opponent corpses littering the field would satisfy them.

So strong is their belief in their superiority that they can’t even imagine that maybe,  just maybe, an opponent could possibly stand up to them. Even for a series or two. Certainly not Washington.  Why, that’s impossible - Washington’s not even an SEC team. It has to be somebody’s fault. Damn right - it’s Kiffin’s. Fire his ass.

(You have to admit that his cocky air made him the perfect scapegoat.)

So now he’s ex-coach Kiffin, and it’s in his best interest to simply go along with Saban's “we mutually agreed” story.

And just in case he might have any ideas about going Tommy Elrod on Saban, I’m guessing there’ll be a special detachment of Alabama State Police watching him closely until after the Clemson game.

In the meantime, if you happened to catch the shot of Bama’s new offensive coordinator, one Steve Sarkisian (of Washington and USC fame), up in the press box during the Bama-Washington game - I’d look for the Tide to be running more pick plays.

*********** Way, way too many people have come to the defense of the Alabama captains snubbing the Washington captains in passing up the customary post-coin-toss handshake.

The most common excuse I’ve heard is that they already shook hands once - before the coin toss.

Well, yes, they did.  It’s a football tradition.  An introductory handshake.

But for those who’ve ever been down on a football field before a game, it’s also a football tradition to shake hands after the toss.  This time, it’s a sort of “good luck” handshake.

I’ve coached a long, long time and it’s always the same.  I’ve recorded every bowl game this year, and it’s always the same: handshakes before, handshakes after. 

Unless, I guess, you’re Alabama.

You guys that excuse those oafs?   You probably don’t even know that the reason you didn’t get the job of your dreams is that after the interview you just turned and walked out the door without shaking hands.  What the hell - you already shook hands once, back when you met everybody.  Right?

I’m sorry, there’s no excusing churlish behavior. It was poor sportsmanship, plain and simple.

*********** What a great weekend!   Lots of meaningless bowl games on  Friday, on Saturday and - with a little time off on Sunday for the pay-for-play bozos - on Monday.

Georgia could be a contender next year.  With a year behind him, true freshman QB Jacob Eason ought to be really good.

Stanford had it when it needed it and beat North Carolina.

Tennessee looked really good and Nebraska looked really bad.  Damn shame that  Tennessee didn’t have a better season, because Josh Dobbs would have been a worthy Heisman candidate.

Otherwise, he’s got all the credentials, and on top of that I’m partial to a kid who’s a bona fide student - the kid’s majoring in aeronautical engineering.

But as we all know,  unless your team has a really good season, as Louisville did, you can forget about the Heisman.

Washington gave Alabama a game for the better part of a half, but Bama was clearly better.

Clemson made the Playoff Selection People look like fools for selecting Ohio State ahead of Penn State, the Big Ten champion.

So, I might add, did Penn State, taking USC down to a final-second field goal in what I rank as one of the greatest bowl games I’ve ever seen.   The only time that the NFL can produce that many exciting  plays is in a Pro Bowl, and that's becausenobody tackles. I didn’t want the game to end. I wanted to keep on watching, and I have to admit that I was pissed when Penn State got reckless at the end instead of simply going into OT.   How about that USC freshman QB, Sam Darnold?  How about Penn State running back Saquon Barkley? How about Penn State’s QB, Trace McSorley?

Western Michigan was game enough, but Wisconsin was simply too much for the Broncos.  I was reminded of Hawaii vs Georgia, back in 2007 or so.

Florida QB Austin Appleby finally beat Iowa in his fourth start against them.  Maybe it’s because in his previous three starts he was playing for Purdue.  Iowa, meanwhile, lost its fifth straight bowl game.

*********** How did the conferences do in the bowls?



BIG 12:

SEC: 6-6

PAC 12:

*********** Most  exciting play in an entire NFL Sunday: The Eagles’ Carson Wentz threw a TD pass to Zach Ertz, then ran and got the football from him and tossed it to a fan sitting in the first row of the stands wearing an Eagles jacket. The lucky fan was a guy from nearby Millville, New Jersey:  Mike Trout, the MVP of the American League.

*********** Jim Leavitt is in a nice spot at Oregon.  He’s going to be the highest-paid assistant in the Pac-12, making well over $1 million a year.  And should he leave for another job, presumably a head job, he has an interesting buyout clause in his contract.   If he leaves before the end of this two-year contraact, it’ll cost him $500,000 - but he won’t have to pay anything should he leave to take the head coaching job at Kansas State.

I suppose that’s one way of letting them know you’re interested, but I told my pal Greg Koenig, in Beloit, Kansas that I hope he cleared that with Bill Snyder, first because I don’t think Coach Snyder’s ready to leave yet, and second because I have a feeling that Coach Snyder’s going to want to have some say in naming his successor.

*********** Sorry.  I will NOT listen to Beth Mowins.  When I hear her voice, I immediately hit the “MUTE” button.

*********** I’m not a fan of mixed martial arts or whatever they call it, and I’m repulsed by the sight of women fighting, so it’s fair to say that I don’t follow Rhonda Rowsey.

But I do know who she is, and I do know that in her last fight someone beat the sh— out of her, and I knew that after a year’s layoff she was supposed to fight someone on Friday night.

Is it true that she only lasted 48 seconds?   But she’ll take home a paycheck of more than $3 million?

*********** Just when we start to think the world revolves around us, along comes something like this…

Hayden Fry was well known in the football world.  He was a longtime coach at Iowa and before coming to Iowa he’d been the head coach at SMU and at North Texas.

In his book “A High-Porch Picnic,” he tells of the time he was at Iowa and had a radio call-in show on station WHO in Des Moines, whose signal reached all around the country.

One night they got a call from a trucker in Colorado…

CALLER: I happened to be listening to your station and I heard the name Hayden Fry.

HOST JIM ZABEL: That’s right.  Hayden’s on the line with us.

CALLER: I’m from Odessa, Texas and played high school football with a fella named Hayden Fry.  Could this be the same person?

ZABEL:  Indeed it is.  Go ahead and talk to him.

CALLER:  Hayden!  This is Henry Johnson. How in the world have you been?

ME:  Great! How are things with you?

CALLER: They’re going OK. I’m out here in Colorado driving through a snowstorm.  Been driving for the same trucking company since high school.  How about you, Hayden - what are you doing now?

american flag FRIDAY,  DECEMBER 30,  2016  "Culture eats strategy for breakfast."  Peter Drucker

*********** Today’s quote - "Culture eats strategy for breakfast"  is attributed to business management guru Peter Drucker.  It's every bit as applicable to football as it is to business.

Let’s face it - we’re all going to lose at some point.   And when you do lose, if you haven’t established the right sort of culture, you are going to have finger pointing and recrimination.  Maybe some nasty scenes.

At North Beach, where we took over a program that had won only three games in the previous two years and in our fourth and fifth years won 19 straight regular season games, what kept our eyes on the prize was the culture that we worked hard to instill.  

Here’s an interesting slide show that deals with why culture beats strategy in business …

*********** Even in the early days of television,  when all TV sets were black and white (and a large TV set was 12 inches - diagonal) there were a few visionaries who predicted that if football teams kept giving their product away to fans, there would come a day when there wouldn’t be anybody in the stands - and then, they might as well play the games in a TV studio.

Most people paid them little mind, because first of all, whenever you saw a game on TV there were plenty of people in the stands.  Besides, it’s human nature not to worry too much about something that’s years down the line.

Judging by bowl game “crowds,” we’re just about there.

Why should the TV people care?  Well,  empty stands are a turnoff to TV viewers.  People are less interested in  watching a game - even free, on TV - that nobody cares enough to attend.

What to do?

They’ve tried giving tickets away.  No luck. That’s called “papering the house.”  You realize how tough it is to do?  How tough it is to give people free tickets and then have them actually attend the event?  Not many people in your average bowl city give much of a crap about watching Washington State play Minnesota or Pitt play Northwestern.

I think the answer lies in VR. (For those of you not in the know, that’s Virtual Reality.)  They can fill all those empty seats with Virtual Crowds - tens of thousands of avatars with painted faces, holding up giant foam fingers,  little picket fences,  large letter “D’s.”

They can jump up and down at appropriate times.

You want noise?  No problem at all.  We can even give you a band if you want, complete with school fight songs. (We can even give you a marching band, but it’s going to cost more, and besides, they don’t even show real, live marching bands on TV anymore anyhow.)

Colors can change according to the participating teams.  You want a white out?  You got it.

As the technology advances, you’ll be able pay to have your face put on an avatar. For one game or for the season.  Up in luxury box, even.  Then you can sit in a bar with your buddies, watching the game on TV, and at a time out, you’ll be able to see your virtual self, up there in the stands,  looking up the image of your “self” on the JumboTron.

*********** “Teacher, husband abuse boys,” read the headline.  And then came the first paragraph: “A Minnesota elementary school teacher and his husband had sexual conduct with eight underage boys…”

Did you get that “his husband” crap?

Sorry, lads.  Go ahead and partner up.  Go ahead and “marry” if you insist on calling it that.  But get this straight:  A HUSBAND does NOT have a HUSBAND.   A HUSBAND has a WIFE.  I don’t know where this sh-- came from, but our society hasn’t suddenly been gifted with some unique enlightenment never before possessed by mankind over thousands of years of civilization, and I’m sure as hell not going along with your little game of make-believe. 

Liberal newspapers abet the deceit by going along with this husband-and-husband, wife-and-wife bulls— when  we all know they don’t have to.  Take the Washington Redskins, for example. Millions of people call the Redskins by name, but high-and-mighty newspapers, claiming the high road, pompously refuse to use the “R” word. 

That's because, we’re told, the name is offensive.

That, I'll grant you.  But so, too, is calling a man’s homosexual partner his husband, yet they have no qualms about offending us by doing so.

It’s simple: they just enjoy giving us deplorables the finger.  And then they wonder where their readers have gone.

*********** Rest in peace, Lavell Edwards. 

Few coaches have ever had as great and as lasting an impact on the place they coached as Lavell Edwards had on BYU, and few left a more indelible stamp on the game of football. 

He coached the Cougars from 1972 through the 2000 season. During that time, he won 257 games

He had just one losing season - 1973, his second as head coach at “the Y.”

From 1974 through 1999 the Cougars went to bowl games 22 of the 26 years, and at one point they went to 17 straight bowl games. (No 5-7 bowl teams in those days.)

He had one unbeaten team - the 1984 team that went 13-0 and won the national championship.

His emphasis on a pass-first offense, and his ability to develop the quarterbacks necessary to make it work, had a tremendous influence on the game of football.

A 1996 article in the Deseret News showed his unique approach to making  BYU competitive…

Edwards was conservative, Republican and Mormon, but when it came to football he was rather liberal and certainly open minded. He decided to utilize the LDS Church's missionary program to his advantage. Other coaches at BYU, although faithful LDS Church members, had discouraged athletes from either going on missions or rejoining the team after missions. It was believed that a player could never regain his form after taking two years off for a mission.
Edwards, a former Mormon bishop, didn't believe it. He decided, in his words, "to take a negative situation and turn it into a positive one."  Spiritual considerations aside, Edwards realized the advantages of missions - namely, the mental and physical maturation that two years would give a young man - and encouraged players to pursue missions. Missionaries have become a staple of his program and have counterbalanced the recruiting handicap that is presented by the school's honor code, which requires students to promise abstinence from drinking, smoking, pre-marital sex, etc.

Edwards also had another bold plan. He decided to install a passing attack. As an assistant coach, he had observed that the Cougars' most successful years were in the mid-'60s, when they utilized the passing skills of Virgil Carter. He reasoned that since BYU couldn't sign the big, overpowering blue-chip recruits, it was futile to try to build a running attack. However, the school could recruit players who could pass and catch. The passing game would be the equalizer. It would attack brawn with finesse.

This was progressive thinking, especially for a man who had coached the single wing. Prior to the late '70s, it was a football axiom that teams must establish a running game. Only three things could happen with the pass, the establishment said, and two of them were bad.

He had been coaching high school in the Salt Lake City area when the recently-hired head coach at BYU came in wanting to install the single wing and hired Edwards because, in Edwards’ words, “I think I was the last living Mormon to know anything about the offense.”

Let this be a lesson to young coaches not to be easily discouraged:  in his eight years as coach at Granite High School, Lavell Edwards never had a winning season!

Good Lavell Edwards quotes:

*********** Dear Coach Wyatt,

How are you?  Did you once have a diagram for Lou Little's KF-79 play?  Also, Lou Little gave his backfield personnel letters instead of numbers.  I recall K is for Kicker/TB.  F is for Fullback.  Q is for Quarterback/Blocking Back.  W is for Wingback.  Am I correct?  Or did he use H for the wingback?  I am having a senior moment on this.

KF-79, if I recall was a Tailback Half Spin play.  K receives the snap, and K half spins.  K hands off to F.  K fakes to left TE and then follows him to the right.  F (Barabas) bootlegs around the left side for the lone touchdown.  Am I correct?

Bill Statz
Columbia, South Carolina

Here you are... The play that won the Rose Bowl for underdog Columbia.


And here's the game film:

*********** Hard to believe it was eight years ago that Jack Tourtillotte, a longtime coaching friend from Maine, retired as principal at Boothbay Regional High and took me up on my offer to come coach with me at Ocean Shores, Washington. 

Jack as offensive coordinator and Tim Rice as head coach revived a Boothbay program that the community was ready to shut down and, running the Double Wing expertly, took it to several state finals and at least one state championship.

Jack’s stay with us was a blast. Jack lived with us and more than paid his way by doing a great job of coaching the offensive line, and cooking up some great meals.  Never had better friend oysters.

Inheriting a team that had gone 1-9, we finished 7-3, the school’s first winning season in years,  and Jack played a major part.  The kids loved him and didn’t seem to notice that he was working their asses off.

Jack’s been living the good life now, enjoying the four seasons with his wife, Sue, in their place in the mountains in Rangely, Maine, and traveling to the far-flung places where their daughters and sons-in-law and grandkids keep moving to.

But we still stay in touch, and I recently sent Jack a set of my latest videos on the Open Wing.  He was kind enough to send me his appraisal, and trust me - Jack is a Mainer, if you understand what that means, and he wouldn’t B-S me—

Good Morning Hugh,

Snowing here on the mountain and it really it is quite beautiful. One of those gentle morning snows with no wind and  like being in a snow globe.

Although I am no longer actively coaching I continue to follow the sport closely and enjoy looking at all kinds of coaching materials. The DVD set you sent me is by far one of the best, and I have literally spent hours going over all parts of it, Any coach looking for the power of the DW and the finesse of the shot gun passing game would love this material. Although we had a great run playing in five state championships with the Double Wing I believe with this stuff we might have played in one or two more. It truly is great material and a must for coaches, worth every penny.

Have a Merry Christmas and my Love to Connie and your family.


PS: Hard to believe you have ever made a better DVD set than the material I have just been through.

*********** 212 years of coaching experience sat at one table in Eugene, Oregon this week.

Oregon Staff

Around the table from left to right: Former Oregon coaches Gary Campbell, Steve Greatwood, Rich Brooks, Neil Zoumboukos, Don Pellum, Joe Schaffeld, John Ramsdell, Nick Aliotti

If these guys had had the same players Oregon had last season they’d have been in a bowl game.


*********** Miami is going to be VERY tough next year.   I wouldn’t ordinarily be a big fan but I like Mark Richt, going back 20 years or so to when he was Bobby Bowden’s offensive coordinator at FSU and I bought a quarterback-training tape that he made.  Good man.  (Wonder if Georgia misses him yet.)

*********** Is Texas A & M suffering from the Curse of Johnny Football?

*********** Northwestern is the Big Ten Ivy and all that, and I like to see them be competitive, but I don’t think they’d have beaten Pitt if they hadn’t taken out not just the Panthers’ starting quarterback but also  their All-American running back with dirty hits.

*********** Without Joe Williams and his 200+ yards rushing, Utah doesn’t beat Indiana.

Williams’ big night was no fluke.  Earlier this season, he ran for 332 against UCLA.

But the even bigger story is that five weeks before that big game against UCLA, he’d retired.  That’s right - quit football.  Said he was tired of non-stop football.

"I knew he was down a little bit at the beginning of the year," Utah running backs coach Dennis Erickson said. "He fumbled a couple of times. Mentally, he was drained a little bit. Physically, he was not feeling very good."

Erickson, who’s been around the game as head coach at Idaho, Wyoming, Washington State, Miami and Oregon State, noted that the demands of big-time college football have become a bit excessive.

"Anymore, man, it's 24/7 for 12 months. There's a lot of toll taken on these players both physically and mentally."

Fortunately for Joe Williams - and for Utah - he decided to come back and play football.

Williams is from Allentown, Pennsylvania and his route to Utah was a circuitous one.  After high school he signed with UConn, but spent a year at a Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia (the same place where Eddie George, among others, prepped) then wound up at a Juco in New York City called ASA.  That’s where Erickson found him.   God knows how he did.  That’s what I call recruiting.

ASA is a story in itself.  My friend Tom Hinger lives in Winter Haven, Florida, and he’s a huge baseball fan. Every spring, he enjoys going to the nearby Chain O’ Lakes Sports Complex to watch  college baseball teams from all over the country, and a couple of years ago he told me about a team from New York called “ASA.”

He said they were pretty good.  They were mostly Hispanic kids, from Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic.

He got to chatting with some of them, and asked them what “ASA” meant.

To a man, the answer was the same:  “I don’t know.”

*********** After a first half in which Wake Forest moved the ball quite effectively against Temple, there came the mandatory halftime coach’s interview. The sideline guy tried to trap Wake coach Dave Clawson into commenting on the recent scandal in which Wake offensive information found its way into the hands of opponents, and Coach Clawson parried the question with a skill worthy of a White House press secretary.


How much of the (first half) success do you think has to do with being able to use the full playbook?


Again, we're - right now -  we're executing well and we're playing well. Nice try.

*********** The Washington State Cougars made good on their threat to boycott the Holiday Bowl Tuesday night, and… Oh wait - wrong team.  

Anyhow, that’s how it looked, as they ran into an inspired Minnesota team and did everything possible to convince a national TV audience that it was they, not the Gophers, that had been in disarray when they should have been preparing for a bowl game.

The Gophers played hard but, frankly,  not well enough to beat the team that had won eight straight Pac-12 conference games and had gone into its final game playing for a spot in the conference championship game. Not that team. But then, this was a different Washington State team, one whose inept performance  was an embarrassment to the Pac 12.

I remember back during the season, as the Cougars rolled through the opposition, people would look at their opening-game loss and ask, “How could this team have lost to Eastern Washington?”

Well, there are two answers.

There was the one I gave back in mid-season, a perfectly plausible one:  “Eastern Washington’s better than you think.”

And then there was second one, the one I gave on Tuesday night - by playing the way they did against Minnesota.

*********** When Minnesota’s staff is done teaching their players how to treat women, and when they’ve adequately explained how a recruit - a high school kid - was allowed to get involved in the “alleged” gang rape that “allegedly” took place earlier this year, I'd suggest they  turn their attention to this:

The Gophers had EIGHT targeting calls this past season

One player alone, Safety "Duke" McGhee, had THREE

*********** The Arkansas people can't be happy with the Razorbacks' blowing a 24-0 halftime lead against Virginia Tech.

It  was a blowout, well on its way to being by far the worst of all the bowl games - even worse than  Minnesota-Washington State - and then...

Someone please tell ME it was a meaningless bowl game - or, better yet,  tell those Virginia Tech kids who went wild on offense and defense  and scored 35 straight points.

*********** Oh - and tell me that South Florida and South Carolina  were treating the Birmingham Bowl like a meaningless bowl game.

***********  Coach Wyatt,

Hope you and your family had a great Thanksgiving.  I took a survey today from the NHFS in regards to rules changes and proposed rules changes.  To say the least it was a very frustrating survey for me to take.  I just do not understand all the hubbub with the free blocking zone it seems to be coming from what I call the grass basketball group.  Along with that there were questions about being in favor of changing the grounding rules which once again appear to be coming from the grass basketball group.

How did we get to this point in football?  Teams forfeiting and not playing games.  In Oregon the South Eugene team forfeited a playoff game.  All those teams forfeiting to that one team in Washington.  A couple of teams in our league regularly scored 60-70 on folks and wonder why people are pissed at them.  I came up through the old school ranks and these young espn crowd guys just do not seem to get this is high school football.

Thank you,

Arnold Wardwell
Veneta, Oregon

Coach - Grass basketball is, it appears, the officially-sanctioned remedy for the concussion hysteria that threatens our game.  Ironically, though, it does seem to me that the more the game tilts toward passing, the more severe the hits become.  Without any data to support me, I believe that by far the greatest number of recipients of targeted hits to the head are either quarterbacks or receivers.

As for the forfeits - I totally blame lazy athletic directors and state associations for not dealing with the competitive imbalance that they have allowed to develop.  Like it or not, demographics play a huge role in football especially, and leagues that contain equal numbers of haves and have-nots and don’t change from year to year drive home to one group of kids that they are God’s anointed, and to another that they have been screwed over. I have been there and experienced this.  

They simply have to get off their dead asses and set up leagues in which every football team has a reasonable chance of success, instead of leagues where the basketball teams don’t have so much travel.  Maybe it’s time to set up separate leagues for football than from all the other sports.

And it’s time to use some kind of relegation system similar to what’s used in Europe: the best teams move up next year, and the worst teams move down.

Good luck doing that in Washington, where the current classification system is now in the first year of a FOUR-YEAR cycle.  Imagine - a paper mill shuts down in your town next week and people start moving out, and you’re stuck playing bigger schools for the next three years.

For sure,  resorting to something as simple as enrollment size is a lazy way out and a copout.  On one hand there are the private schools whose kids and parents are driven to succeed. Those schools “opt up” and compete well against schools much larger than they are.  On the other hand, to use one example I’m familiar with, there is a large high school in Vancouver whose enrollment consists to a great extent of recent immigrants, speaking at least a dozen different languages, with absolutely no exposure to American sports (unless you consider soccer an American sport.  I don’t.)

*********** I had a nice conversation Christmas Eve with my friend Mike Lude.  Going back to 1949, he’s been an assistant coach - at Maine and at Delaware - and a head coach - at Colorado State - and he’s been the AD at Kent State, Washington and Auburn.  He’s still active in NACDA, the association of athletics directors.  There isn’t much he hasn’t seen, and I value his opinions greatly.

I happened to mention that I thought it was unfortunate that star players such as Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey had decided to forego playing in their teams’ bowl games, and Mike countered by saying that it’s become routine for coaches to bail on their teams before their bowls.

I had no answer for that, and while I certainly don’t oppose a coach leaving to take what he sees as a better job, I did find it a bit awkward when, just hours after Temple’s kids had played their hearts out for an interim head coach, the guy who just weeks ago had been their head coach and - for many of them - their surrogate father was being interviewed during the game between Boise State and Baylor, his new team.

The fact that it involved Baylor reminded of a story that Mike once told me.  It was the mid-50’s and he was coaching the offensive line for Dave Nelson at Delaware.  Nelson had just been offered the job at Baylor. Delaware was coming off a couple of very good seasons.  Baylor, though not the power that it’s been recently, would be a considerable step up.  Those were the days of the old Southwest Conference,  composed of the major Texas schools - Rice, SMU, Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A & M and  TCU - plus Arkansas.

Mike said that as they debated the pros and cons of the move over the period of a couple of days, letters piled up on Dave Nelson’s desk (those were the days before twitter.  Email, even). They were letters from Baylor boosters urging him to take the job.

With Nelson’s assistants urging him to make the move, he hesitated.  Mike said that what finally caused him to stay at Delaware was that pile of letters.  Nelson pointed to it and  said, “Can you imagine how big that pile will be if we don’t win?”

*********** It broke my heart to read this -   Dr. Thomas Sowell’s announcement that he'd written his  last column.  

A black man born in poverty in the South and raised in Harlem, Dr. Sowell became an esteemed economist and a well-known writer with a decidedly conservative viewpoint.  He stood out as one of the very few people anywhere with the standing and the credentials to point out bluntly and honestly what needs to be done to enable the vast majority of black Americans to take full advantage of what America has to offer, and for that alone, all Americans owe him a great debt.  He is a great American and he will be missed.  I don’t see his replacement anywhere.

*********** I’m not sure what Gatorade is trying to promote, but I look at that scary “FEAST TIME” commercial for the Gatorade protein bar and I can’t help thinking of those Youtube scenes from malls on the day after Christmas.

*********** Just another reason not to pay much attention to the NFL - and definitely not to coach there: players who basically say “screw you” to the coaching staff and deploy their own game plan.

american flag TUESDAY,  DECEMBER 27,  2016  “I’m not two-faced.  If I were, I wouldn’t use this one.” Lou Holtz

*********** I’m with Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, who said “No disrespect to anybody that would call any bowl game ‘meaningless,’ but if you’re making that kind of statement, you never played in one and you never coached in one.”

He and I disagree on only one thing
: to anybody that would call any bowl game "meaningless,’" I say, screw you.

Meaningless to you, maybe, but last I heard, nobody really gives a sh— about what you think.

I have yet to see a bowl game this season - not the Popeyes Bahama Bowl, not the Dollar General Bowl, not the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl - where the kids on the winning team weren’t celebrating.  The games sure meant something to them.

And please don’t tell me that this is a “trophies for everybody” situation.  Those kids worked hard to get ready for this past season, and after that long period of work and sacrifice - dating back to last January - they’ve won enough games to qualify for a season-ending adventure.  They earned it, dudes.  Funny - I bet you guys who would deprive those kids of a bowl experience (because it's "meaningless") are the same people who bitch and complain that colleges - even ones that can't afford to do so - should pay their players.

Trophies for everybody?  I saw a lot of disappointed losers.  Those guys  wanted to win.

Meaningless games?  Other than winning or losing, since when is a “game” supposed to have ”meaning,”  anyhow? I’ve been coaching since 1970 and I have no idea how many games I’ve coached, but in looking back, I can’t say that there were very many that had any “meaning” in the media sense of the word.  They were just games.  Two teams lined up and played each other and did their damnedest to win and one of them came out on top.  That’s it.  It never occurred to me or to  my players or to our opponents that some typewriter jockey thought our games were meaningless.

I think the biggest mistake I made in recent years was when the Big Dogs concocted  the so-called Playoff, I didn’t trademark the term “Meaningless Bowl Game” so no twink could sit in his parents’ basement and use it without crossing my palm with silver.

*********** It’s no secret that - long-term - our game is in trouble.  Participation at the lower levels - youth, middle school and high school - continues to decline. 

Yes, the concussion hysteria handed down to us by our good friends in the NFL plays a part, but looming even larger, in my opinion, is perhaps the greatest threat our game has ever faced -  the fact that players are being exposed  to willful attempts to injury them.  Rules makers, officials and coaches shy away from dealing with the pernicious practice of targeting for what it really is - criminal assault.  It’s the football equivalent of a hockey player smashing an opponent over the head with his hockey stick. 

Be honest - would you let your son walk through a neighborhood where you knew someone might sneak up on him and knock him out cold?  I didn’t think so. So why would you expect other people to let their kids play a game where people rather routinely do just that?

Let’s face it - when a player shrugs his shoulders and tucks his upper arms in against his side and takes a shot above the neck of an opponent he is not attempting to make a tackle.  Therefore, it’s reasonable to conclude that he has another intention than tackling.  That intent, simply,  is to injure he opponent.

What do we hear whenever a pit bull attacks someone and people call for outlawing pit bulls?  Why,  it’s not the dog’s fault - it’s the owner’s fault.

So let’s apply that reasoning to targetting - it’s not the player’s fault.  It’s the fault of the  “owner” - his coach.  Let’s put in a rule calling for ejection of the coach, and see how fast targeting becomes a thing of the past.

*********** I’ve written a good bit about the end of the dynasty at Oregon, and a little bit about the same thing happening at Nebraska.  There’s Michigan, too, where the breakup of the Schembechler-Moeller-Carr era came with their ham-handed hiring of Rich Rodriguez.  So much for Bo’s famous “A Michigan Man Will Coach a Michigan Team.” But if you’re looking for a classic breakup of a dynasty, you can’t do better than the University of Delaware.

Dave Nelson and Mike Lude arrived at Delaware in 1951 from the University of Maine, and when Nelson stepped aside after the 1965 season to work full-time as athletic director, he turned the reins over to one of his assistants, Tubby Raymond.

Raymond, with Nelson still his boss, adhered very closely to the prevailing philosophy of the program - why shouldn’t he? It won -  and that’s the way things  remained until he retired following the 2001 season.

That was 51 years of the same basic program - 51 years of running one offense, andoffense that by the time of Raymond’s retirement was known far and wide as the Delaware Wing-T (even though it actually had been “invented”  by Nelson and Lude at Maine).

When K.C. Keeler was tapped to succeed Raymond, everyone knew that that was the end of the Delaware Wing-T - he was a spread guy -  but at least he was a Delaware man. He’d played linebacker under Tubby Raymond.

In his nine years as head coach at New Jersey’s Rowan University (formerly known as Glassboro State) he’d built a Division III powerhouse.

Overall, his Rowan teams had gone 88-21-1.  He’d been to the D-III final game five times, and to the semi-final game twice more. 

At Delaware, he was an instant success.  In 2003, his second year as the Blue Hens’  head coach, they won the FCS national championship.

In 2004 he took them to the quarterfinal, and he took them to the finals in 2007 and 2010.

But he slipped to 7-4 in 2011, and in 2012, after going 5-6, he was abruptly fired.  He said he wasn’t given a reason.

Now look - when a guy’s been at a place 11 years and his teams have gone 86-52 over that time,  you simply don’t go and fire him unless something’s been going on behind the scenes.  Something political, maybe. Who knows?

Whatever the reason,  Delaware, hasn’t done well since.  In the four years since they fired K.C. Keeler, they’ve gone 21-25.  Keeler’s successor, Dave Brock, came in with good credentials, but he’d never been a head coach, and he went 7-5, 6-6 and 4-7 before being fired midway through this past season with the Blue Hens at 2-4.

Worse yet, Delaware, once the FCS leader in average attendance, has seen its average decline from 20,000 per game in 2010, when Keeler took them to the finals, to 16,000 per game in 2015.

Their recently-hired head coach, Danny Rocco, has been a head coach at two different schools, and he’s been successful at both places.  At Liberty, he was 47-20,  and at Richmond he was 43-22, including an FCS semifinal appearance in 2015.  We will see.

Keeler, meanwhile, has done okay for himself. After taking the 2013 season off, he came back with a vengeance at Sam Houston State, where in three years he’s been to the FCS semifinals twice and, this past year, to the quarterfinals. His overall record is 34-10.

***********  Quite early in Oregon’s search for a new head coach, I proposed Willie Taggart as a good candidate (I said, “Phil” - Phil Knight and I are very tight - “you ought to take a look at that Taggart guy at South Florida,” and the rest is history).

So of course, I approved of his hiring.

But in the short time he’s been on the job, I do have a quibble: although he’s hired only two assistants so far, it appears that he isn’t going to retain a single person from the current staff.

Granted, I have a personal interest in this because I know some of those Oregon guys.

Now, he’s the head guy and it’s his call.

But I’d like to see him succeed, and, frankly, you can’t have had the kind of success that Oregon’s enjoyed over the last decade without having built some recruiting equity among high school coaches in the Bay Area and Southern California, two places that are key to success in the West, and I doubt that he can go out on the open market and find guys with the contacts of, say,  offensive line coach Steve Greatwood and running backs coach Gary Campbell.

*********** Here’s what the TV people won’t let you see…

It’s a major difference between college football and the pro game.

It’s a major reason why 100,000 Ohio State people won’t miss Buckeyes’ home games…

It’s a very stirring sight (and sound) as…

The crowd roars at the sight of the first band member coming out of the tunnel…

The band marches on and assembles…

In crisp lines, the band marches down the field, playing “Buckeye Battle Cry”

Once at the other end of the field, while it plays “Across the Field” it forms a giant “M,” then pays tribute to Michigan by playing The Victors

Next,  the band assembles in its “Triple-Block O” formation on the far sideline, then “unwinds” and marches into its famous “Script Ohio.”
The crowd rises and joins in singing “Carmen Ohio,” The OSU alma mater, at the end of which, as the band slowly and dramatically plays the last three notes, everyone - or damn near everyone - holds their arms overhead and forms “O-HI-O”

Then the band sings the Buckeye Battle Cry

And then they form a diamond-shaped “OHIO” that actually serves a dual purpose as…

The tunnel! For the entrance of the team! And here come the Buckeyes!

I think that at this point, if you’re an Ohio State fan, your heart rate is up there in the 200 beats-a-minute neighborhood.  You’re ready to go out there and play yourself.  Put me in, Coach.

But wait… We’re not done yet.

Now the band forms a giant rectangle, accompanied by what aren’t exactly boos, but more like the “ewww” of 100,000 Ohio State fans, as the Michigan team runs onto the field.

Turns out that the rectangle the band had formed is an American flag, which unfurls as the band plays the National Anthem.  It manages to do so in one minute flat.  (Try timing it the next time some multiple-platinum “artist”  steps up and “performs” it at an NFL game. It’s going to be in excess of two minutes.  Aretha Franklin did it on Thanksgiving in a record 4:35.)

Anyhow, that’s all that you missed.  It's something that the pros can never compete with.

But hell, you’d rather look at two talking heads up in the press box, wouldn’t you?

*********** While back in North Carolina recently I saw an old friend, a neighbor of my daughter and son-in-law whose kids grew up with my grandkids.

He’s a great guy, a good ole boy who can tell stories in the great southern  tradition. (You American literature guys undoubtedly know that a disproportionately large number of good writers have come out of the South.)  I enjoy his company so much that once, at a family “pig-pickin’”, I stayed outside with him all day in the Carolina heat and humidity, drinking beer as the pig roasted and he told stories.

This past visit he had the story to end all stories.

I can’t come close to telling it the way he did, so I’ll give you the shortened, Yankeefied version.

He was bitten by a tick, and now he’s allergic to red meat - anything that comes from a mammal.

He got violently ill one night and when his face and lips swelled and he had difficulty breathing, he had to be rushed to the hospital, suffering a reaction not unlike what a bee sting can cause to those allergic to it.

But a reaction to - what?

Fortunately, thanks to Duke University’s Medical School, Durham is a major medical center, and someone there was able to trace his condition to the bite of a tick.

Not just any tick, though.  Something called the Lone Star tick.

A researcher at Vanderbilt University was first to make the connection between the bite of the Lone Star tick and a severe reaction to red meat.

He did remember walking in the woods and picking a tick from behind his ear, but didn’t think much of it, because it wasn’t the first time.

He had a few severe reactions  after the first one, enough to convince the doctors that they were indeed,  caused by the tick bite.

And so there he is - unable, for the rest of his life, probably, to eat so many of the foods that make life in the South so special. (Especially, if you live in North Carolina, pork BBQ.)

His doctor, on the theory that it might be possible to gradually develop an immunity, suggested that he try tiny portions of red meat.  He says, nothing doing - he doesn’t want to go chance going through another reaction.

His wife, trying to put a good face on things, said that with the healthier diet he’s now forced to eat he’ll probably live ten years longer.  He said that it’s only going to seem like it’s ten years longer.

*********** At Thanksgiving time, the San Jose Mercury News observed the holiday by interviewing John Madden, who for years was associated with NFL games on Thanksgiving Day.

In the interview, he had some very interesting things to say about the current state of the NFL.  To put it briefly, he agrees with most of us: the NFL has way too many bad teams.  This results in a lot of bad games, which is what you get any time one of the teams playing is a bad team. You get a good game when two good teams are playing each other, and since there are so few good teams, this doesn’t occur very often.

On the NFL’s slumping television ratings:

“What happens is there are not a lot of good teams, and they have too many windows to put these games in. When you think of an early Sunday window, a late Sunday window, a Sunday night window, a Monday night window, a Thursday night window. They all want good games, and there’s not enough good teams.

“Just look at the list of teams playing. It takes two. It’s not just one good team. You have to have two to have a great game, and there’s not a lot of great games. And we’re spreading it out more and more with fewer good teams, which makes it doggone impossible to have good games. If the games aren’t good, that’s part of it. Now there are other things: the Millennials, iPhone, and the stuff people do as they live differently.

“Something has to be done about Thursday night football. It just doesn’t work. It’s not only a fan thing, it’s a team thing. It’s a safety thing. It’s a competitive thing. It doesn’t work. I know about money, and I know about business. Maybe you have to tweak stuff a little more. To help teams, maybe you get a bye the week before.

“On Thanksgiving, Washington has to travel to Dallas to play in Dallas, and they played Sunday night. That’s wrong. That’s an oops. You play a team on Sunday night and make them travel and play on Thursday. I remember in my coaching days, as players get older, it takes them longer to heal up from a Sunday game, and guys weren’t ready to play until Thursday or Friday.”

*********** A video shot at last week’s Raiders-Chargers game in San Diego caught a security guard, uh, “pleasuring himself” as he stood in front of the Chargers cheerleaders to, you know, protect them from lecherous perverts and such.

*********** Going back through some old magazines, in the National Football Foundation’s November 2010 Footballetter, I came across an interview with Terry Donahue.

A lot of you probably never heard of Terry Donahue, which is a damn shame. He hasn’t coached for more than 20 years,  but in his 20 years as head coach at UCLA he was 151-74-8 and in those days before you only needed to finish 6-6 to go to a “bowl” game, he took the Bruins to bowl games 13 times.   Between 1982 and 1989 he won eight straight bowl games, a record at the time.   His teams won 10 Pac-10 championships and they were ranked in the Top Ten five times.

As a player, assistant and head coach at UCLA,  he appeared in six Rose Bowl games. 

When he retired after the 1995 season he was only 51, and although he had a number of other jobs in football after that, including General manager of the 49ers, he never coached again.

I found most interesting his response to the question of who were the instrumental coaches in his life:

With Tommy Prothro you really learned about the importance of fundamentals. He was a great believer and a great teacher of fundamental principles. You had to be able to bend your knees. You had to play with leverage. He would always say “I am going to make you a worse football player before I make you a better one.”

With Dick Vermeil you really learned about work ethic. He worked so tirelessly and so hard at everything he did. Whether it was coaching football, recruiting, working with the alumni, it didn’t much matter.  Dick was going to put in 20 hours a day, and show you the value of hard work.

From Pepper Rodgers, in addition to learning a lot of really good offensive theories, he showed me the importance of recruiting. He would really emphasize the importance of having the best players, and the importance of winning at recruiting so that you could win on the field.

So I think that all three of those guys had a huge impact on my own philosophy in life.

*********** Random Bowl Observations…

*** As fanatical as Hawaiians are said to be about their football… what does it take to fill Aloha Stadium?  The Hawaii Bowl featured their own college team, and the stadium was half empty.

*** Best performance so far - Ryan Higgins, Louisiana Tech QB.  Higgins threw for 409 yards and four touchdowns In the Bulldogs’ 48-45 win over Navy,

*** Second best so far - La. Tech receiver Trent Taylor, with 12 catches for 233 yards and two TDs

*** Navy has now lost three games in a row. But look out next year, when they’ll have two - and maybe three - excellent triple option QB’s returning.

*** Appalachian State (“App State” as the kids in North Carolina call it)  only became eligible for bowl play last year.  They made it and they beat Ohio in the Camelia Bowl.  This year, same bowl, different opponent.  They beat Toledo, 31-28.

*** Miami (Ohio) missed an extra point earlier and it trailed Mississippi State, 17-16 as it attempted a last-second field goal.  The kick was blocked.

*** Eastern Michigan was playing in its first bowl game since 1987.  Old Dominion, which only moved up to FBS in 2013, was playing in its first bowl game ever.  Somebody had to win, and it was ODU,  24-20.

*** Western Kentucky has only been in FBS since 2010.  Their head coach left to take the Purdue job.  No matter.  The Hilltoppers whacked Memphis, 51-31.

*** Two teams from dry country played in a downpour - in San Diego - as BYU beat Wyoming, 24-21.  It was first-year Cougar coach Kalani Sitake’s first bowl win over a former Mountain West rival.

*** Idaho soundly defeated Colorado State, in a closing statement as an FBS team.  In his post-game comments, the Idaho QB referred to the University President (who approved the drop down to FCS) as “tone deaf.” “We know we can compete, we belong here,” he said.  “No matter what anyone thinks, even our tone deaf president. Maybe he doesn’t think we belong here, but I think we belong here.”  He later, um, apologized.

*** Houston got thrashed, 34-10, by San Diego State.  The Houston kids had been through a lot, losing their coach and all that, but still, you’d think they’d have played better for their new coach, Major Applewhite.

************ A major reason why I like college football better than the NFL is that we get to see the talents of a kid like
San Diego State’s Donnel Humphrey. He's a heck of a runner, but he's small, which means that  in the NFL we'll probably only see him on kick returns. 

The post-game sentiments exchanged between him and his dad after the Aztecs' win over Houston were moving.

*********** AD of the year has to be… Heather Lyke, of Eastern Michigan.  Get this:

Two years ago, while Eastern Michigan was in the midst of a 2-10 season, athletic director Heather Lyke began helping football players secure passports in the event the team qualified for the Bahamas Bowl, which takes a MAC team each season. That faith was rewarded as the Eagles (7-6) won seven games this season for the first time since 1989.

american flag FRIDAY,  DECEMBER 23,  2016  "America without football scares me a helluva lot more than America with it."  Kevin Plank, founder and CEO of Under Armour (and former Maryland football player)

*********** MY ANNUAL CHRISTMAS WISH FOR FOOTBALL COACHES EVERYWHERE (First printed in 2000, and  every Christmas since):

May you have.... Parents
who recognize that you are the football expert; who stand back and let you coach their kids; who know their kids' limitations and don't expect them to start unless in your opinion they're better than the other kids; who don't sit in the stands and openly criticize their kids' teammates; who don't think it's your job to get their kid an athletic scholarship; who schedule their vacations so their kids won't miss any practices; who know that your rules apply to everybody, and are not designed just to pick on their kid...

... A community that can recognize a year when even Vince Lombardi himself would have trouble getting those kids to line up straight... Opponents who are fun to play against; who love and respect the game and its rules as much as you do, and refuse to let their kids act like jerks... Students who want to be in your class and want to learn; who laugh at your jokes and turn their work in on time... Freshmen who listen carefully, hear everything you say and understand all instructions the first time... Officials who will address you and your kids respectfully; who know and respect the rulebook; who will have as little effect on the game as possible; who will let you step a yard onto the playing field without snarling at you... Newspaper reporters who understand the game, always quote you accurately, and know when not to quote you at all... 

A school district that provides you with a budget sufficient to run a competitive program... A superintendent (or principal)  who schedules teachers' workdays so that coaches don't have to miss any practices... An athletic director who has been a coach himself and knows what you need to be successful and knows that one of those things is not another head coach in the AD's office; who can say "No" to the bigger schools that want you on their schedules; who understands deep down that despite Title IX, all sports are not equal... Assistants who love the game as much as you do, buy completely into your philosophy, put in the time in the off-season, and are eager to learn everything they can about what you are doing. And if they disagree with you, will tell you - and nobody else.. A booster club that puts its money back into the sports that earn it, and doesn't demand a voice in your team's operation... A principal who figures that when there is a teachers' position open, the applicant who is qualified to be an assistant coach deserves extra consideration; who doesn't come in to evaluate you on game day; who makes weight-training classes available to football players first, before opening them up to the general student body; who knows that during the season you are very busy, and heads off parent complaints so that you don't have to waste your time dealing with them; who can tell you in the morning in five minutes what took place in yesterday afternoon's two-hour-long faculty meeting that you missed because you had practice... A faculty that will notify you as soon as a player starts screwing off or causing problems in class, and will trust you to handle it without having to notify the administration... A basketball coach who encourages kids to play football and doesn't discourage them from lifting, and doesn't hold "open gym" every night after football practice... A baseball coach who encourages kids to play football and doesn't have them involved in tournaments that are still going on into late August... A wrestling coach who encourages kids to play football and doesn't ask your promising 215-pound sophomore guard to wrestle at 178...

A class schedule that gives you and at least your top assistant the same prep period... Doctors that don't automatically tell kids with little aches and pains to stay out of football for two weeks, even when there's nothing seriously wrong with them... Cheerleaders who occasionally turn their backs to the crowd and actually watch the game; who understand the game - and like it... A couple of transfers who play just the positions where you need help... A country that appreciates the good that football - and football coaches - can do for its young men... A chance, like the one I've had, to get to know coaches and friends of football all over the country and find out what great people they are... The wisdom to "Make the Big Time Where You Are" - to stop worrying about the next job and appreciate the one you have ... Children of your own who love, respect and try to bring honor to their family in everything they do... A wife (like mine), who understands how much football means to you... Motivated, disciplined, coachable players who love the game of football and love being around other guys who do, too - players like the ones I've been blessed with. A nation at peace - a peace that exists thanks to a strong and dedicated military that defends us while we sleep.

For all assistants - A head coach whose values and philosophy you can support

Sounds like the things I have - may you be blessed to have them, too.

And one special wish for those coaching brothers who find themselves "between positions" at this time of year - May your Christmas joy not be dimmed by the fact that you are temporarily without a team, and instead brightened by the belief that your next job is just around the corner. (And if my experience is any indicator, it will be a far better one than the last one, anyhow!)

Merry Christmas!

*********** Sure had to be  bittersweet for Idaho as the Vandals administered  an ass-whupping to Colorado State. Without an FBS conference to play in - the Vandals were  kicked out of the Sun Belt Conference, largely for travel reasons  -  Idaho will be dropping down to  FCS in 2018 and playing  in the Big Sky Conference.

*********** Over the years, as I’ve visited my daughter and son-in-law in Durham, North Carolina, I’ve come to feel a certain allegiance to NCCU - that would be North Carolina Central University.  It’s an HBCU - Historically Black College or University - and it’s located in Durham.

On one visit, I spent a couple of hours talking defense with their defensive coordinator, a coach named Damon Frenchers.  And two years ago, the people at NCCU were kind enough to let me use their facilities for a clinic.

NCCU Eagles football has been decent lately - this past season, after losing their opening two games to Duke and Western Michigan, they ran off nine straight to finish in 18th place in the FCS standings.  Saturday, the Eagles played the Grambling Tigers, ranked 14th,  in the Celebration Bowl,  for the national HBCU championship.

Although Grambling was heavily favored, the Eagles nearly pulled off the upset, losing by a point, 10-9, in heart-breaking fashion.

Down 10-3 with 2:14 to play, they scored to pull within a point with a 39-yard touchdown pass.

But wait - the kid who scored the touchdown?  Understandably excited, he threw discipline to the wind, ripping off his helmet in celebration.  Why so many players seem to think it’s not a celebration unless you take your helmet off, I’ll never know, but that’s what the kid did - and it cost the Eagles 15 yards for excessive celebration.

And the kick for the extra point, no longer a semi-sure thing, was blocked.

To his great credit, the kid who was penalized sounded appropriately contrite.   “I’m not selfish,” he said.  “It was the heat of the moment. I was excited to bring the team back with the outstanding play. I apologize.”

Well said, but no matter.  He did it and it cost his team a chance to win a bowl game.

Just one more way to lose a game that we as coaches have to anticipate and try to prevent.  Just one more thing you want to make sure you’ve drilled into your kids’ heads.)

*********** Coach Wyatt...

Hope you and yours are well today!  

The Corinth Community Recreation varsity Pirates (12 and under) finished the regular season with an undefeated 8-0 record.  The Pirates outscored their opponents on the average of 36-3 each game with the double wing being our base formation.  We did get creative this year and actually threw the ball a couple of times each game from the open wing formation.  We are the JCYFL Varsity Champions!

It was a great group of young men and hopefully we all learned a lot about football and more importantly, life itself.

One of our local towns, Clayton, holds an all-star game each Thanksgiving, the Turkey Bowl...we elected to participate and came in second to a strong East Wake All-stars team.  We defeated the host Clayton team and then had to beat the Durham All-Stars twice to reach the finals.  There was some great football played that weekend by lots of fine, young men.

Life is good in Johnston County and hope to see you at a clinic this year!  Thank you for all you do!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

D. Ross Renfrow, Ed.D
Johnston County Schools
Smithfield, North Carolina

Coach Renfrow and I go way back, to when he was a high school head football coach and hosted one of my Double Wing clinics.  Every football coach  should be lucky enough to have a person with his credentials running their  school system.

*********** Wake Forest won big at NC State Saturday, finishing a perfect 16-0.

No, not Wake Forest University.  Wake Forest High School.

And no, they didn’t play against NC State.   They played in NC state’s Carter-Finley stadium, where they  beat traditional state power Greensboro Page, 29-0 to win the state 4AA (largest classification) championship.

Wake Forest the high school is located in the town of Wake Forest, which is in Wake County, about 20 miles northeast of Raleigh.

Wake Forest the University is 100 miles to the west, in Winston-Salem.

It wasn’t always that way.

Back when it was still perfectly legal and acceptable to make and sell cigarettes, the tobacco industry ruled the state of North Carolina, and made some families very wealthy.   One was the Reynolds family of Winston-Salem, who owed their wealth to the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, makers of such popular cigarette brands as Camels, Winston, Newport, Kent, Pall Mall.

In 1946, the Reynolds family set out to provide their home city with a college. With the donation of 350 acres of their estate, Reynolda, and funds in addition, they persuaded Wake Forest College to relocate to Winston-Salem. The move was completed in time for the start of classes in fall of 1956.

Wake Forest is a special place to me.  My grandson, Connor Love, is a soph at Wake and loves the school.  And Dr. Darlene Lawrence, wife of my good friend Dwayne Pierce, was the first black cheerleader at Wake Forest.  She’s known Connor since he was small, and, needless to say, was delighted when she learned that Connor had chosen Wake Forest.

*************Now that  LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey have decided to forego playing in their respective team’s bowl game, you just watch: sitting out the final bowl game is going to become the new status symbol.

The funny thing to me is the way the NFL money has so penetrated the thinking of people that a great number of them think it’s perfectly all right for Fournette and McCaffrey to go for the money, since that, they seem to believe, is  the ultimate reason for their playing college football anyhow.

So much for playing with - and for - your teammates.

Funny, also, I thought, was the reaction to the Minnesota players who threatened to sit out their bowl game in solidarity with teammates who, they believed, had been kicked out of the university without sufficient cause.  In view of some of the horrendous verdicts that have been handed down by the kangaroo courts that colleges have been instructed by the federal government to employ in cases of sexual misconduct, I could find some sympathy with their protest. 

But then someone leaked copies of the police report and the university’s report as well, and it became awfully difficult to align oneself with the suspended/expelled players; to their credit, once they became aware of the ugliness of the incident for which their (former) teammates were removed from the team and the university, the players ended any talk of not playing.

But no matter - the damage had been done.  The players who originally protested were crucified in the court of public opinion.  How dare they threaten not to play in the bowl game?  Who did they think they were, anyhow?

So let me get this straight - when it’s a cause you believe in very strongly, you have no right to refuse to play in a bowl game?

But if it’s about money - if it means that by not playing in the bowl game you can avoid the risk of an injury that could cost you millions - why, go ahead and sit it out.


Look - I believe that every player should be prepared to play in every game his team's scheduled to  play. A deal’s a deal.  I was opposed to the Minnesota kids’ boycott and I’m opposed to Fournette’s and McCaffrey’s virtual insurance policies.

But if I had to choose between a sincerely held cause and money, I’d have to side with the kids from Minnesota.

*********** Let Fournette go. McCaffrey, too.  Let them go where the money leads them.

Royce Freeman, who in my opinion has a chance to be at least as good a pro as either Fournette or McCaffrey, will be back for his senior year at Oregon.

At 5-11 and 230, he has the power to run through people, but he has exceptional moves and breakaway speed.  And he can catch.  Oh - and  as a youth in Imperial, California, he played in the Double Wing under coach Matt Marrs.

Freeman was rated a preseason Heisman prospect, but he was hobbled by injuries for much of this past season.  He hurt his shoulder against Nebraska, although he did come back and play well in the Ducks’ last three games, and he did wind up with 771 yards rushing and nine TDs.

Certainly a desire to return to the form of his previous two seasons - he rushed for 1365 yards as a freshman and 1836  as a sophomore - had to have something to do with his decision to return.  So, too, might be the opportunity to break LaMichael James’ Oregon career rushing record (he needs 937 more yards) and rushing TD record (he needs 10 more).

But give new Oregon head coach Willie Taggart some of the credit, too.

Said Freeman, “The prospect of playing for Coach Taggart my senior year was certainly a factor.”

Count this as a recruiting win for Willie Taggart.  In business they used to say that it was a lot more profitable to keep the customers you already had than to spend all your time going after new ones and risk losing the old ones.

*********** Chalk up another big coup for new Oregon coach Willie Taggart with the hiring of Jim Leavitt as defensive coordinator.  I wouldn’t have been displeased if Leavitt had been hired as the head coach, but I really like this arrangement.

*********** It’s not every coach who’s able to get a Brigadier General to present the Black Lion Award, but Lee Weber, of Wamego, Kansas, pulled it off. 

All he had to do was ask General Pat Frank, who as Lieutenant Colonel Pat Frank was once Battalion Commander of the Black Lions.  General Frank is now Deputy Commanding General of the 1st Infantry Division (“The Big Red One”), stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas, and he was on hand to present the award to Wamego High’s Caleb Ubel.

Showing good upbringing, Caleb wrote General Frank to thank him:

Good Morning,

I hope this email finds you well. I would like to say Thank You for taking time out of your busy schedule to come and present the Black Lion Award. It is an honor to accept it from a Brigadier General, and an honor to be apart of the award! Going up there and accepting the award felt like winning the Heisman Trophy in my opinion! Thank You and have a Merry Christmas, sir!


Caleb Ubel

It’s not too late to nominate one of your players for this season’s Black Lion Award.  Find out how:

*********** Why isn’t this guy coaching football?

The Louisville women’s basketball team lost to Maryland, and Jeff Walz, the Louisville coach, had a few things to say afterward…

About the entitlement culture -  the trophies-for-everybody mentality that rewards losing as much as winning.

Amazingly,  he hasn’t been fired yet.

*********** Hello Coach,

How are you? Years ago you wrote a little something about a Spinner T offense that a team in Oregon ran at some point. Could you tell me about it?

We've been kind of interested in the way New Mexico's backfield action is and perhaps there is something we can adapt to our single wing but without the option. Not sure if there's anything to it but something fun to look at a little in the off-season.

Adam Wesoloski
Pulaski, Wisconsin

You are referring to Phoenix, Oregon and their spin-T.

Jack Woodward was coach for 26 years at Phoenix, Oregon.  He won state titles in 1961 and 1963.

His successor, Ron Williams continued it and and won state titles in 1979 and 1985 and was runner-up in 1982 and 1984. That was quite a run, and at th time I remember a lot of people talking about it.  According to the Medford paper they ran it once in 1999.

The spinner series, featuring a direct snap to the fullback, was a key part of Biggie Munn’s Michigan State Multiple offense.

The team lined up with the QB under center, and the ball was snapped between the QB’s legs to the fullback.  From that point, it was essentially a single-wing play, just as if the QB had lined up as a blocking back.  That’s how Munn treated it in his book, “Michigan State Multiple Offense” (1953) - just a single wing play from “T formation.”

One MSU fullback that I remember (because he was a Pennsylvania guy, from Hazleton), Gerry Planutis, was a good runner and a good enough ball handler to make the spinner series w