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51. I've been coaching youth ball for about 14 yrs. They have built a new H.S. in our area, scheduled to open Fall of 1999. The football program is brand new,the coach top notch. I've expressed interest in being an assistant coach on his freshman team.  I've never interviewed for a Assistant H.S. coaching position before. Any words of wisdom would be appreciated. I tell any aspiring coach the same thing. First of all, Don't bother trying to impress the head coach with how much football you know. You'll just bore him. And don't apologize because your only experience is at the youth level. That's coaching, too. I'm sure he would be happy to have the former defensive coordinator from a Division-! college step into his program and take over his defense, but the reality is that what most of us need is people we can trust to do what we want, with a minimum of supervision. Impress him, instead, with your:


Willingness to work hard

Willingness to take correction

Eagerness to learn his system

Ability to teach his system

Enthusiasm for the game

High personal standards

Ability to get kids to respect you

Ability to get kids to love the game and play hard

Utter loyalty

I have been very fortunate in having assistants who measured up in all those areas. Lack of any one of those qualities would have been a first-round knockout for me.

Notice that football knowledge is nowhere on the list. It's helpful, of course, but if a man has all those other qualities, I believe that I am enough of a teacher myself to bring him up to speed in the X's and O's. If he doesn't, I couldn't care less how much football he knows.

But if you are the kind of guy who possesses the qualifications I listed above, I can't imagine any coach in America who couldn't find a use for you on his staff. The trick is to make your qualities known to him. Sure, you can tell him how loyal you are, how hard-working, etc., etc. But if he's like most people, he's going to want proof.

In football, from the highest level to the lowest, from professional to high school, this most commonly takes the form of a phone call from another coach who knows you both, and can vouch for you. Maybe this is because it takes a coach to know what another coach wants, or maybe it's because, from my experience, football coaches are unusually trustworthy people, and we can count on another coach's word.

Ideally, you want to find someone who knows you and knows him, too. The best reference is someone he knows and respects; the next best is someone he knows of and respects; and the third best is someone in some kind of football position elsewhere whom he doesn't know but whose opinion he might be inclined to value just because he is a football guy.

In your particular case, if you have no football reference, parents of kids you have worked with might be of some use as references. You want to be very wary, though, of creating the impression that you are bringing your own constituency along - that those kids have some special loyalty to you, and that somewhere down the line, you might be used by the parents as their pipeline to the innermost workings of the program. (It's that loyalty thing again.)

Another thing that's fairly common in climbing the football ladder is "working for a reference." In other businesses, people who do this are called interns. At the college football level they're called graduate assistants, at the high school level, volunteer assistants. They often work their buns off, but sometimes that's the best way to get a paying job.(Who knows you better than someone you've already been working for?)  I can tell you that at my last program, I had a couple of volunteer assistants, and they knew that they were being given a chance to demonstrate their qualifications, and if they did, they were the first guys in line for any paid position that opened up.One of them made the step up after one year of showing me what he could do. If the personal reference route isn't possible, then a good way to  convince the coach of your worth is to offer to prove yourself as a volunteer assistant.

One final word of advice. Do not offer your services and then throw roadblocks in the way - "I won't be available until after Labor Day"..."I have to work Friday nights"..."I can't make all the practices"... "I'm always on call"...etc., etc. Clear your schedule first.  He's looking for help, not another personnel problem to have to deal with. From the sound of your letter, I wish you lived closer.

52. I have 4 decent offensive linemen; the fifth is not very good. I have one good tight end and a good split end. What is the best way to use my personnel?  This does present challenges for any offense. The immediate suggestion that comes to mind would be "Tackle Over" and "Tackle Under." On the short side, you would have a guard and your lone tight end. On the strong side, you would have a spread (split) end, and in tight, next to your strongside guard, both tackles. This really doesn't ask a lot of your outside tackle - the one who isn't quite so good.  All that he will ever have to do is block down, wall off the inside LBer, seal down in the wedge, post up for a double-team, or shoeshine on plays away. He ought to be able to do those things. He never has to pull. And he never has to drive block a defender all by himself. And since that position isn't eligible anyhow, there's no loss involved  in replacing a tight end with a tackle. On the shortside, your TE should be able to at least "X" block with the guard, because you do want to be able to run the "Lead" play (shown in "Dynamics II") in between them; otherwise, he isn't being asked to do anything that he doesn't do in a balanced line situation. To the strong side, you can run almost everything. Super Power would probably best be run as "Super-O", but if your QB can run, you can run Power Keep (shown in Dynamics II); to the short side, besides the Lead play, you can, surprisingly, run the Super Power (Dynamics III). You can run traps and counters either way. Rolling out to the strong side, you pick up an extra protector; with "Roar" and "Loud" motion, you can create a "trips" situation to either side. There will be a little extra teaching, however, when you flip the formation, because both of your ends and both of your tackles will have to change sides (make sure that the lesser of the two tackles is always on the outside).

53. I have decided to switch to your double wing but still keep using the Delaware Wing-T terminology that we have been using. Do you foresee any problems?  No. I'm sure that you can make the move fairly seamlessly. I can see only two minor problems that I'm sure you can deal with: (1) you'll have to translate our playbook into your terminology, when it would be awfully easy just to be able to make copies of it for your staff's use; (2) communication with other double wing coaches will require a "bridge language" so you can understand each other.  My system is definitely a lot easier to grasp when you're teaching it for the first time,  so I can see it being of great value in your youth or middle-school programs.  I would also suggest that if you ever take another job and have to start teaching it from scratch, you consider making the switch, for the sake of your new assistants and new players - especially the youth coaches and players. It will be uncomfortable for you for a while, but it will be worth it. I'll draw a parallel: if you're familiar with the early DOS computer operating systems, you might  remember all those key strokes you had to memorize in order to give commands. They were a pain to learn, but once you became familiar with them, you could get pretty good at using your computer. But not everybody was willing or able to learn the commands well enough to take full advantage of computing.  And then along came the Mac operating system, and then Windows, and people discovered that using a computer didn't have to be that complicated. Some of us who had made the effort to learn the key-driven commands were a little ticked - admit it - that thanks to the relative simplicity of these new operating systems, rank newcomers could now do everything we had been doing, without having to go to all the trouble we'd gone to. But finally, grudgingly, we also made the switch - and discovered that it was well worth it.  I think we can all learn from Mac and Microsoft -  at some point, we need to consider making the move from something we're comfortable with (but might be difficult for others to learn) to an easier-to-teach, easier-to-learn, easier-to-use operating system. 

54. In what order would you install the offense with a new team?  

 (1) Tight 88 (no motion, no pulling linemen - just to get the hang of the numbering)

 (2) Tight 88 power (to get the backside linemen into it - no motion, though)

 (3) Tight 88 super power (to work on the QB toss & turn - still no motion)

 (4) Tight RIP 88 super power (FINALLY - motion. But only a little bit.)

 (5) Tight LIZ 99 super power (Have your G's, T's TE's and A & C teach the flip side to each other)

 (6) Tight RIP 6-G (same action as 88 but hits inside- easier to teach than the trap)

 (7) Tight RIP 47-c (same basic QB action as 88 Super Power & 6-G, but he keeps spinning)

 (8) Tight 2 Wedge

 (9) Tight RIP 3 Trap 2 (Optional with younger kids)

55. I notice on your tapes that your teams don't sprint to the line of scrimmage. Why is that? I have always been a believer in hustling up to the line. In my clinic talks, in talking about getting the most out of your double wing, I refer to "Red Light" areas, meaning things you'd better put a stop to (such as wide splits) because you're not actually going to be running our offense, "Yellow Light" areas (such as the way you teach blocking) in which you might do better doing it our way, and  "Green Light" areas (such as the stance of the wingbacks) in which we may differ, but it's a coach's prerogative, and it may not make the slightest bit of difference.  I put going up to the line (although the way we do it is important to me) in the latter category. I like the walk-to-the-line concept for four main reasons: (1) it gives our kids more time to think about - even to talk about - their assignments as they walk to the line. It's like giving some kids a little extra time on a test. I've seen a little extra time make a big difference for some kids in the classroom. For some of the kids on my offensive unit, I believe it has made a similar difference. I don't care if they're asking about assignments on their way to the line. It's better than sprinting out of the huddle confused. It's nice if they know their assignment when they're in the huddle; but it's crucial that they know it when they're at the line. When we notice that they're just sauntering to the line, not using the time productively, we deal with it; (2) It enables us to "shorten the game," whenever that's important (you ever notice how fast punting time comes around when you're running a no-huddle and you throw three straight incompletions?); (3) I have been coaching at a small school the past three years, and most of my kids have gone two ways. They get all the exercise they need once the ball is snapped. I don't particularly need them doing wind sprints between plays; and (4) I think our kids develop a certain swagger that reflects their confidence in their ability to move the ball.

The flip side, of course, is that it we have to make sure we get the play in quickly enough to avoid a delay penalty, and, as most coaches believe , there are certain virtues in displaying hustle.

There certainly are times when we sprint to the LOS - perhaps to conceal an unbalanced set , or just to catch the defense loafing after they have become accustomed to our slower pace- and there are also times when we run from no huddle, mainly to change the pace of the game. 

56. What are the coaching points for the fullback and quarterback on the 6-G/7-G play? As those of you who have bought "Dynamics III" and/or the newest edition of the playbook - or have attended a clinic in the last year - are aware, for the past two seasons we have had our fullback round off his course, with the result that he now hits the line square, and more often than not cuts back against the grain.  It is a perfect complement to the power game, in that it takes advantage of a defense that flies outside to stop the super power. It is not necessary for the fullback to deepen, but it is necessary for him to slow his initial operation down some. We tell him to keep his shoulders square and his toes pointed straight ahead, while he takes an open step (with the playside foot), then a cross-over step. At that point, he will be as wide as he needs to be (watch him here - he will have a tendency to want to run wider). The coaching words we use are "Open, Crossover, Hit the Hole Square." The main thing for the fullback is not to be in a hurry, to wait for the ball but not look for it - instead, to look for daylight. The QB should reverse pivot deep and just past the center line - on a 6-G we tell him to step with his left foot at 5 o'clock. The main thing for him is not to crowd the fullback by pivoting in front of him, into his path. Continue widening to make the handoff, then continue outside after the handoff as if running an option.

57. The speed burner I thought I had is not playing for me after all. That leaves me with a strong offensive line and virtually no backs from last year. I will probably have to move a couple of linemen (guards, who were good athletes and fast as far as guards go) to the the A and C. I will have to move a Tackle from last year to B back. We will be big as usual, but a lot slower. I think I am going to go with the no-huddle this year. Any suggestions? Sounds like your personnel will dictate your philosophy - you will be a ball-control team, whether you wanted to be or not. From personal experience, the lack of speed translates to far fewer yards per play. What somebody else does and gains 25 yards with because of some athlete's skills, you will have to work your tail off to do, and gain maybe five or six. Fewer yards per play means it takes you more plays to score. And the more plays you run, the more opportunities for something to go wrong - it's just simple probability.  This really cuts down on your margin of error - you will have to pay special attention to play-calling and execution (drastically limit the number of plays you run), to ball-handling, and to penalty prevention.  And, of course, to playing sound defense (you can't afford to get far behind) and the kicking game. As for the no-huddle, I'm not sure that in a situation such as you describe, you want to be picking up the pace. Since you will not have the potential to score quickly and come back from a couple of scores down, you will want to hang onto the ball as long as possible to keep it out of your  opponents' hands. That includes the dead time between plays. It might be more analogous to basketball before the shot clock - make the first basket or two and then slow the game down.   

58. What kind of a playbook do you give your kids? Although the first year I coached in Finland I mailed a playbook overseas so that my players could get started before I arrived, I have not handed out a playbook to a high school kid since 1978. There are lots of reasons for this, apart from the fact that based on what I know of the study habits of American kids, I doubt that most kids would spend much of their spare time reading a playbook anyhow. One major reason is that we have so many other excellent teaching tools at our disposal - charts, drawings, videos, demonstrations, hands-on instruction, walk-throughs, kids teaching kids, etc. - that a playbook pales in comparison to any of them. Every year one or two kids do ask me if they can have a playbook to take home. I think it's a cop-out, because they're usually kids who haven't been paying attention in practice. I tell them that they are going to have to learn it right out there on the field with everybody else - that we will be patient, and we will answer any questions they have, and just in case they don't have any questions for us, we'll have a few for them, in trying to find out what they don't know. For my purposes, a playbook is used as technical documentation for coaches. And then it is our job, as teachers, to find out the best way to get our point across to every kid, and the best way to determine whether he really did understand what we taught him. By the way, you want to listen carefully to the kids when you're trying to teach them something. They'll often give you some great ideas on better ways to explain yourself.

59. What are you referring to when you talk about a defensive end in a "6" or a "9" technique? It is football jargon that describes the place where a defensive lineman lines up, and, usually, the technique he employs.

This particular numbering system, which describes a man as a "2" or a "4" and so forth, is widely used among football coaches, and it was first described by the great Paul "Bear" Bryant in his 1960 book "Building a Championship Football Team," a subject he was well-qualified to write on.

I found Coach Bryant's description of the system and why he employed it to be especially interesting, in view of my efforts to encourage Double-Wing coaches to consider employing my offensive terminology because it's easy for kids to understand (the underlines below are mine):

"After coaching for a number of years," Coach Bryant wrote, "and always trying to find something that would make football easier to understand for the average player, I came upon a system of defensive numbering that has proven very valuable to me since then. In the past I have used many defenses. I always employed the technique of giving each defense a name. Most of the time the name had little in common with the defense, and this confused, rather than helped, the players. After discussing the possibility of the numbering system with my own and other college and high school coaches, while at Texas A & M in 1956 I finally came across a feasible plan for numbering defensive alignments. I must give credit to O. A. "Bum" Phillips, a Texas high school coach (the same Bum Phillips who would later coach the Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints- HW), for helping work out the solution as he experimented with the numbering system with his high school football team.

"In the numbering of our defense now, we give each offensive man a number, as well as the gaps between offensive linemen." (See illustration)

Whether it was invented by Coach Bryant or Coach Phillips, and whatever its failings, it is the by far the best and most widely-accepted method devised for communicating to another football man, in as few words as possible, precisely what you mean. It's useful on both sides of the ball, enabling a defensive coach to align his personnel, or an offensive coach to describe how opposing defenses are lining up.

In the particular case you describe, a defensive end in a "6" technique is head-up on our TE; in a "9" technique he is on the TE's outside shoulder, or perhaps out in the gap between the TE and our wingback).

(I will write more about this if there is interest in it.)

60. (By popular request, expanding on #59 and the subject of the Bear Bryant-Bum Phillips numbering system): As Coach Bryant wrote, "Our present method is the simplest one I know for getting players into various defenses quickly with a minimum ampunt of talking. We feel it eliminates much confusion. We have found that players take a great deal of pride in learning only a few techniques, which they are able to execute well. We know it makes our jobs easier as coaches, and we can do a better job of coaching the boys."

For example, Coach Bryant wrote, whenever a coach talked to a tackle, he would be able to talk in terms of a particular technique (4, or 5, say), and the player would understand him immediately. When the coaches were discussing plays, or in a staff meeting, they could identify a particular technique immediately, and everyone would understand each other. Coach Bryant also discovered that the method was useful in making out his practice schedule, because he had only to specify, "End coach work on 7 technique," and his wishes would be immediately understood.

Using the system, tackles and ends could be taught individual techniques which, when used in combination with each other, would enable them to be deployed in a variety of defensive fronts. This was done by calling a two-digit number: the first digit described the tackles' alignment (and technique), and the second digit aligned the ends. The linebackers would make the calls, and align themselves accordingly.

Two examples shown here are "59" (an odd front, with the nose man not shown), and "27" (an even front).

More to come...

61. (Continuing with the Bear Bryant-Bum Phillips numbering system): The system was invented during the time when limited substitution meant that players went both ways, and coaches could not routinely shuttle players in and out with instructions. It enabled Coach Bryant's linebackers to call defenses on each side independent of one another ("3-7, 1-7", for example), in effect giving him a multiple system. "To eliminate any confusion," he wrote, "merely designate which side is to call first, and the other linebacker can adjust his call so (in the case of an even front) there is not a large gap in the middle of the defensive line." Basic rules for the linebackers were that they must have a man in, or capable of covering, every gap, and, to keep from having to cover too much territory themselves, they were never to call two successive numbers (2-3, or 6-7). Needless to say, Coach Bryant's linebackers were like quarterbacks on the field (quarterbacks also called their own plays back then) and had to know the strengths and weaknesses of every defense against every possible offensive set, as well as how to make changes in a hurry. After the players were lined up, if a linebacker wanted a man to change his charge half a man to the inside, he would add a zero to his number: calling out , say, "20" would instruct the man in a "2" technique to charge one-half man to his inside; adding a "1" to the man's number ("21") would instruct the man in a "2" technique to charge one-half man to his outside. By calling out the number of both men on his side ("21-71", for example), he would be able to change the charge of both of them.

62. (Next installment on the subject of the Bear Bryant-Bum Phillips numbering system): Description of the defensive techniques (in Coach Bryant's own words):

0- The defender lines up head on the offensive center. Depending on the situation, the distance he lines up off the football will vary. On a short yardage situation, he will line up close to the center's head. On a long yardage situation, normally he will be about one yard off the ball. He will use either a three- or four-point stance, with one foot staggered. His technique is to play the center's head with a quick hand shiver on the snap of the ball. When he makes contact with the center, he brings his back foot up so his feet are even with each other. If the quarterback goes straight back to pass, the 0 technique man is responsible for a draw play, and then he rushes the passer. If it is a run instead of a pass play, he will keep the center away from his blocking surface, not permitting himself to be tied up in the middle of the line, and he will pursue the ball taking his proper angle depending on the type of running play.

1- The main job of the player(s) employing the 1 technique is to control the offensive splits, forcing the guards to keep their splits to a minimum. He is also responsible for keeping the center off of the defensive linebacker. If both guards are playing in this technique, only one will "slam" the center, and the other will take a long step toward his guard, playing him from inside-out. He must always be aware of the trap coming from the inside, however. If the play is a back-up pass, he is responsible for the draw first, and rushing the passer second. If it is a running play, he will slam the center or guard and then pursue the football.

2. The 2 technique is similar to the 0 technique. One difference is the guard (note: you might now call him a tackle) is head on the offensive guard, instead of on the offensive center. The distance he lines up off the ball in a staggered stance will be determined by the tactical situation. On the snap of the ball he plays the guard with a hand shiver, and immediately locates the football. If it is a back-up pass and there is no man in a 0 or 1 technique, he will look for the draw play first, and then rush the passer. If it is a running play, he will look first toward the inside for a trap, and then pursue the football.

3. The 3 technique is similar to the 1 technique. The 3 man is responsible for keeping the offensive tackle's split cut down, and on occasion to keep the offensive guard or tackle from blocking the defensive linebacker. He, too, lines up with the feet slightly staggered, and about one foot off the ball. Depending on the defense, when the ball is snapped he will play either the guard or tackle with a quick flipper or shiver, preferably with the hands. He is to watch for the trap at all times. If the play is a straight drop back pass, he will rush the passer from the inside. If it is a running play, he will pursue the football

To be continued...


63. Next Installment of the Bear Bryant-Bum Phillips numbering system (in Coach Bryant's own words):

4. The 4 technique man lines up head on the offensive tackle and abut one to one and one-half feet off the ball. He will have his feet staggered, and on the snap of the ball he is to play the offensive tackle with a quick hand or forearm flipper. If it is a running play toward him, he must whip the offensive tackle, be ready to stop the handoff, and help out on the off-tackle play. If it is a straight back pass, he will rush the passer from the inside. If the play goes away or to the far side, he will control the offensive tackle and pursue the football. On his angle of pursuit he should never go around the offensive tackle, but pursue the football going through the tackle's head.

5. The 5 technique man lines up on the outside eye of the offensive tackle, with the feet staggered (outside foot back in most cases). On the snap of the ball he employs a forearm flip charge into the tackle. As he makes contact, his back foot is brought up even with his front foot. He has 75% off-tackle responsibillity, and he should never be blocked by only one man. If it is a straight back pass, he should rush the passer from inside-out. If the play comes toward him, he should whip the tackle and make the play. He must be certain to keep the offensive blocker in front of him at all times as the 5 man will be eliminated from the play very easily if he tries to go around his blocker. If the play goes away from him, he must pursue the football. He is instructed not to cross the offensive line of scrimmage when employing a 5 technique.

6. The 6 technique player lines up head on the offensive end. If the end splits too far, the 6 man is to "shoot the gap." He is primarily responsible for keeping the offensive end from releasing quickly on passes, and he must keep the end from blocking the linebacker. He is responsible for the off-tackle play. Consequently he must not be blocked in our out. The game situation will determine how far he lines up off the ball, but it will usually vary from one to three yards. If the play is a straight back pass, he is responsible for rushing the passer fom the outside-in. If the passer runs out of the pocket, the 6 man must not permit him to get to the outside. He must either tackle the passer or force him to throw the football. If the play comes toward the 6 man, he whips the end with a flip or shiver charge, and helps out on both inside and outside. He never crosses the line of scrimmage unless it is a back-up pass. If it is an option play toward him, he must make the quarterback pitch the ball or he must tackle the quarterback. If the flow goes away from him, he trails the play. He should be as deep as the deepest man in the offensive backfield so he can contain the reverse play back to his side, not permitting the ball carrier to get outside of him.

7. The 7 tehnique player line up splitting the inside foot of the offensive end. He is responsible for forcing the end to reduce his offensive split. We want him to line up with the outside foot staggered, and he must never be blocked out by the offensive end. He has 75% inside responsibility and 25% outside responsibility. When the ball is snapped, he uses a hand or forearm flipper charge on the offensive end and brings his back foot up even with his front foot. His main responsibility is to whip the offensive end, and to close the off-tackle play. If the play is a straight drop back pass, he is the outside rusher and he must not permit the quarterback to get outside of him. If the play goes away from him, he is to trail the ball carrier. He plays just like the trail or chase man on the 6 technique. He should be as deep as the deepest offensive backfield man so he can contain any reverse play coming back to his side of the line. He should not let such a play get outside of his position.

To be continued...

64. Final Installment of the Bear Bryant-Bum Phillips numbering system (in Coach Bryant's own words)

8. When we speak of a man playing an 8 technique, we are speaking of a "true end," or a defensive end who lines up outside of the offensive end. The 8 man will be from one and one-half to three yards outside of the offensive end's normal position, with his inside foot forward, and his shoulders parallel with the line of scrimmage. If it is a straight back pass, the defensive end, without taking his eyes off the passer, will turn to his outside, and using a cross-over step will sprint to his outside trying to get width and depth to play the ball to his side. His depth should be 8-10 yards deep, similar to a linebacker's position covering the flat. He stops running when the quarterback stops to set up. When the ball is thrown, he sprints for the ball. If the play comes toward the 8 man, we want him to cross the line of scrimmage about two yards, getting set with his inside foot forward, shoulders parallel with the line of scrimmage, and playing the outside blocker. He is the outside contain man, and he must never permit the ball to get outside of him. He never makes the quarterback pitch on option plays. If it is a running pass toward him, he is the outside contain and rush man. If the flow goes away from him, he must make sure it is not a reverse play back to his side before he takes the proper angle of pursuit, which is through the area where the defensive safety man lined up originally.

9. The 9 technique splits the outside foot of the offensive end. He should line up 14 inches off the line of scrimmage, with most of the weight on his outside foot, which is back. When the ball is snapped, the 9 technique man will take a short step with his inside foot toward the offensive end, and at the same time he will deliver a hand or forearm shiver to the head of the offensive end. If the offensive end blocks in and the play comes toward him, the 9 man immediately looks for the near halfback or the trapper, expecting to be blocked by either offensive man. If a running play comes toward him and the quarterback is going to option the football, he must make the quarterback pitch the ball. If the quarterback is faking the ball to the fullback, the 9 man must "search" the fullback for the ball first. The 9 technique man never crosses the line of scrimmage. If the offensive play is a straight back pass, the 9 man delivers a blow to the end, and drops back two or three yards looking for the screen or short pass. He is in a position to come up and make the tackle if the quarterback gets outside of your outside rusher and the quarterback decides to run with the football. If the flow goes away, he is the trail man and has the same responsibilities as the 6 and 7 technique man, which I explained previously. The most important coaching point is that the man playing the 9 technique must deliver a good blow to the offensive end on every play.

65. While the kids at my new school are receptive to change, I'm having problems with faculty and staff at the school. I'm trying to change the attitudes about the football program here and I'm running into resistance. One pathetic example is: The football players wanted to change the decal on the helmets. We had a plain letter and no stripes on the helmet. So I came up with a Muscular looking mascot to put on the helmet. The kids really liked it. Well a secretary in the office saw my idea while I was ordering the decals and she freaked out. Started going off about how that was not our mascot and how I was going to get myself into trouble. ( All over a sticker on a helmet) The design didn't have a weapon and was not offensive. Well to make a looooong story short, the school board had to vote on my decal design!!!!! Can you believe that? (This secretary had told me that she didn't make many football games: so why would she care what we have on our helmets anyway?) Then the Jr. High football and J.V. Girls basketball coach (same guy) heard me talking to the football players about our FOOTBALL fundraiser we are going to do and what we are buying with it. Well, this coach started telling me that I needed to involve other coaches in my decisions about what I was going to buy with the FOOTBALL money. Obviously I told him that if he wanted some stuff for the weight room he would need to go to the booster club. He wants a decline press and a roman chair. Nice stuff, but not essential when your weight room has 2 bench presses, 2 squat racks (one broken), 1 incline press, a broken hip sled, and less than 1500 lbs. of weight. He was "concerned" because the stuff I'm going to get is going to take up space he uses for elementary PE kids to play with scooters. What a joke!! Some people don't want to be good. The principal told me that the football budget was in the hole because of low gate receipts. I told him to sell tickets we need to win games, and to win games, we need to get stronger than our opponents, and to get stronger we need a respectable weight room. He agreed. So here we go! What would you do in my situation? A lot of people in the community have told me that I'm doing what needs to be done and to keep going. Needless to say that is what I'm going to do.First of all, if your principal stands by you, you'll be okay. Second, if you have ever read Gulliver's Travels, one of the great life-lessons in it comes when Gulliver is captured by the tiny people of Lilliput. Taken to their kingdom, he discovers to his amazement that as tiny as the people and their kingdom are, as little as they seem to have to fight over, as trivial as their concerns appear to him, they act exactly like people many times their size in the way they fight over whatever there is to fight over. Welcome to Lilliput, Coach. Now, consider yourself its agent of change, its guide to the bigger world of winners. Only the programs that are good year in and year out - Nebraska, Penn State, Florida State, etc. - resist the sort of change you want to bring about. In fact, they should. Their success is institutionalized. All too often, a coach comes into a solid program and makes an unnecessary change, seemingly just to put his own personal stamp on things. (One of the things that got University of Washington people upset with former Coach Jim Lambright was his decision to change the helmets from the traditional gold to purple. And one of new coach Rick Neuheisel's first moves was to go back to the gold helmets worn during Don James' regime.) But when you step into a losing situation and are trying to change an attitude, consider some people who have changed the attitude of entire states - partly with a change in their look. Make sure you tell the local folks about Hayden Frye and his makeover job at Iowa. Ask them if they remember how dismal the Hawkeyes were before he re-styled them in the image of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and added the fighting Hawk to the helmets. Ask people how successful Kansas State was before Bill Snyder brought in his work ethic and the new Wildcat logo. Ask them if they remember what happened when Gary Barnett added black to Northwestern's purple-and-white color scheme. Sure, those makeovers accompanied a lot of hard work and good coaching and good kids - but those coaches are convinced that their cosmetic changes helped bring about the major attitude changes necessary to turn those programs around. As for the rest of the Lilliputians who contune to resist your efforts, I think the best advice for dealing with them comes from Harry S. Truman, a President back when having "a set of stones" was still a requirement for the position: "I think the proper thing to do is to do what I think is right, and let them all go to hell." (Which, by the way, might very well apply to a certain junior high coach - a true Lilliputian. He ought to be reporting to you anyhow, or, better yet, spending his autumns getting his J.V. girls ready for basketball.)

66. We completed our first scrimmage yesterday. We ran 40 offensive plays, but with the exception of the last series we pretty much had no gain. It seemed the Defense was able to string out our outside run. I'm not sure what "outside run" you refer to, but there is no play we run that any defense ought to be "stringing out." First of all, we never run any play just to see if we can get outside - only when it is apparent that defenses are packing in tight to stop our power game. If, however, you are referring to the powers as "outside runs," then your kids are not running them correctly. Our power plays are not designed for the runner to get outside; they are predicated on our being able to hit inside the average defense, which if it is well-coached has been taught to prevent you from running outside. We have "reach" and "sweep" plays to get outside, but we never run them as base plays, daring the defense to stop us, and we don't run them as speculative plays, just to see if they might go. For us, they serve the same function as counters - capitalizing on something the defense has done to stop a base power play - so we wait to use them until in our judgment they are there.

67. My team played a practice game yesterday using your offensive system. It went well, except for the fact that before the game I notified the officials, on your advice, about the wedge blocking and how my wingbacks would be pushing on the back of the tackles and not the runner (hopefully). The head official told me it is illegal to do so. He said he'd been officiating for 30 years and had always enforced that rule accordingly. I asked him to show me the rule and he didn't have a book. He said it had to do with illegal use of hands. I can find no rule which supports his claim. The only thing close is rule 9-2-1 Art.1 which says you may not "grasp or encircle any teammate to form interlocked blocking". Have you had problems with officials on this matter? Your man seems ignorant of the rules, but like a baseball umpire, seems to think he can create his own strike zone. In literally hundreds of conferences with officials, I have yet to encounter a single complaint from a single official, the vast majority of whom I believe to be conversant with the rules of the game, and not eager to enforce rules that don't exist. The tactic we teach is itself a reaction to officials' concern that our wingbacks might be assisting the runner. So long as our men are merely pushing on the tackles, there is nothing that proscribes their doing so. Your man has evidently been making the wrong call for 30 years and is probably so supremely impressed with his judgment and knowledge of the rules that he is beyond correction. To appease him, you might ask him what he would say if your backs were merely to form the drive blocking surface and block against the backs of your tackles. He'd probably say it was illegal because it had something to do with clipping your own man.

68. I did not email you our score because I was somewhat embarrased. Let me explain. I have been using the Double Wing exclusively for nearly 3 years now with much success. Thanks entirely to your system we did win the conference last year! Needless to say we have become known as a '"running" and "power" team throughout the league. The personnel this year, though very good kids that I am proud of, are not as fast or quick as my previous teams, thus we have had a "slow" start. If you recall we won our first scrimmage and tied our second. The second scrimmage opponents played our DW very well and we were only able to score once. They literally shut down the majority of our powers and wedges. Very unusual for one of our teams. When our third scrimmage began (a couple of nights ago) it seemed as if that team also was going to shut down our running game! Like any other good coach would do, we began passing. Very successfully. We scored 2 quick touchdowns with Thunder, Thunder-Switch and then "morphed' the defense into a playing our Thunder again and ran our Tight Thunder - Rip/Stop- A-Screen. An immediate 40 yard gain that we then finished off with a wedge to score! Why was I embarrased? Being a "vet" DW coach I do take some pride in being known as a power team and ball control offense. This is the first time in my 14 years of coaching youth ball that I get the feeling I may have to pass (and use the DW to set it up!) Though we dont have the speed or quickness, we do have the "big bodies" to pass block and some kids with some soft hands. What's to be embarrassed about? Our Double-Wing is not a religion - it is a flexible system of attack.You can't afford to be be bull-headed and use horse cavalry when the other army has tanks, and you don't want to be leading an infantry charge into machine-gun fire. The British lost the American colonies because they were fighting European-style on American terrain; some would say that we were at a similar disadvantage in Viet Nam. Too many generals have lost wars because they stubbornly pursued a way of fighting that wasn't suited to the conditions or their resources. If some of our military leaders had their way, we never would have built aircraft carriers. You have to be a smart enough leader to know what your strengths are and use the system to your best advantage. Otherwise, "When your only tool is a hammer, every problem had better be a nail."

70. (I know, I know. I don't issue a uniform number 69, either) "Our squad has 60 players on the team and a staff of 5. Today as we prepared for the 1st game of the season on the road, it has been known by players and staff only 45 can go. All players were told if you don't go on this road trip you will definitely go on the next. You would think that is a fair "politically correct" thing to do. Well little "Johnny" didn't make the cut, goes running to mommy....who goes whining to the H.C. of varsity,that her precious, has attended all jv practices and deserves to go. He is devastated. Does the JV coach stands his ground????...nope. The JV coach explains little "Johnny" was left off in error and will travel. Well call me a hard ass,but "johnny" should NOT go, showing up to practice does not equate to paying your dues, just like showing up to work if you don't produce and hustle from beginning of practice until the end, you shall reap no reward for your hard work. Oh, to make matters worse,the list of the kids who "made it" was posted for all to see. "Johnny's" mom should want to know what Johnny can do to improve so that there is no question that he has earned his way. I told the coach u have just opened a can of worms for the season,because Johnnys mom WILL PASS THE NEWS to other parents,whose pride and joy is not on the traveling squad for game one. I expect to see more parents make the plea,via phone or in person, with the same story. Where are the Alpha-Coaches????Will the parents be calling plays too??" Sounds like "Invasion of the Soccer Moms." This "entitlement" garbage runs totally counter to the concept of football as a meritocracy - a place where excellence and achievement rule. First of all, let me state clearly that I believe every kid who attends all the practices, does all the work, and follows all the team rules deserves a certain amount of playing time at the level he is competent to play at. It is not fair to demand a kid work his tail off without the expectation of some playing time. How you slice the pie of playing time is, of course, a matter of coaches' judgment, but I do believe that every kid meeting the qualifications I described above must get to play some. That having been said, I would just ask this: why in the world do you need to take 45 kids to a game, unless there is a reasonable expectation that they will play? (Unless we're talking about California, where JV games are played imediately befpre the varsity game.) I sure don't want any JV player to think for one minute that we are taking him on a field trip. It has been my experience that those younger kids who tend to be loud and giggly on the bus, who are usually the ones talking in the locker room, can be a huge distraction to the older guys, who should be concentrating on the task in front of them. And having a bunch of non-players standing on the sideline will inevitably lead right into the next "entitlement": playing time in the varsity game. Now you will have parents complaining because you didn't put their kids in the game. Furthermore, I can almost bet that once travelling with the varsity team is accepted as an entitlement, it will be devalued: somes kids will begin deciding that they don't want to go. What an insult to your program: rejection by a JV! Although occasionally I will "reward" small numbers of kids with trips to games that they are not going to play in, I feel no compulsion and I am under no orders to do so; nor have I ever felt any need to "dress up" our sideline with superfluous kids. Perhaps someday I will find myself in a situation where we have 22 starters, and our special teams are all filled by competent back-ups, but I doubt it, so instead I will continue to dress a maximum of 25 kids, five or six of whom come as a "reward" for merit - outstanding practice performance during the week - not attendance, and with the clear understanding that they may not get in the game. We sell it to the kids as a privilege that must be earned, and not a right - er, entitlement. If this mom doesn't like it, perhaps she and her kid should take a hike. Oh- and the JV coach would appear to need a little refresher course on defending the program - not to mention a set of stones.

71. I am a young future football coach who stumbled across your web site. Could you please tell me where I can order a football playbook template (stencil) from? Thanks in advance. Nice to have you on board, coach! I haven't used a stencil or template for years, so I don't know where to tell you to go. At the very least, a drafting-supplies store would have something that would let you draw neat circles, etc. I used to make my own templates, using a stiff piece of plastic and punching holes in it with a strong hand punch. Now, though, I do everything on my computer using a program called Microsoft Works. I imagine you can still get it somewhere. I am sure there are others, including Appleworks, which is made just for Macs, but Microsoft Works has been good to me. It is relatively inexpensive and pretty easy to use, and it's an integrated program, containing a word processor, a database and a spreadsheet. It also has a simple drawing feature that allows you to draw circles, ovals, squares, and so forth, as well as letters (for the defensive guys) and lines. That is how I drew every play in my playbook. Then, the beauty of it is that you can save your work for future use. If you ever need to revise the drawings or the wording, you can do so without having to re-draw the entire play.You only have to draw a formation once- then you can copy it and paste it to page after page. I use the database for rosters, and the spreadsheet for scouting and film analysis; the word processor is good enough for most of what I have to do. Bill Gates did not pay me for that testimonial.

72. We lost a tough one the other night because we gave up a late score. We were winning and I told our defensive coordinator to play prevent defense, which he did - for one play. While I turned to talk to my quarterback, he went back to running the defense he wanted to play. We lost. What's more, when we were unable to ccome back in the last minute after we fell behind, he started bad-mouthing the offense. Fire his sorry ass. Even if your A.D. says you still have to pay him, pay him - but get this cancer out of your program. The absolute number one thing that any assistant must provide is utter loyalty to the head coach. If he can't provide that, he has to go. Even if you have to coach by yourself, you are lots better off than keeping a guy around who is just waiting to shove it between your ribs. It is a horrible example for your kids to see, and no matter what kind of a truce your A.D. may propose, this guy may clam up, but he is not going to change. He will just go under cover. In a sense, you are fortunate to have been given, this early in the season, an open demonstration of the kind of person he is. Put it this way - by the end of this season, one of you will be gone. And the longer he stays, the greater the chances that you will be the one.

73. I had to make a tough decision yesterday and switch QBs. Not really a "tough" one after seeing the films, but a difficult one since the QB's dad is a friend of mine. I have been on his butt for 3 weeks now to get out and block on the Super Powers and he is just not doing it. The CB was making tackles all day against us and he is just not sticking his nose in there to block. This is not a "tip" so much as a compliment for making a tough decision. That is what makes a football coach. There come those times in every coach's life when he has to put personal feelings aside and do what's best for the team.It often falls into the category of keeping a kid around because doing so might save him, or letting him go because doing so is in the best interests of the team. In our society, the vast majority of people make the easy, feel-good decision. "Hey, give him another chance!" That's why so many modern "educators" will stick an unruly, unmotivated jerk in your class, even if it means short-changing the rest of the kids in our class. A real football coach makes tough decisions that most people nowadays don't have the stones to make.

74. We are in our first year of trying to turn around a perennial loser, and we are struggling with the offense. And the defense. And we have a losing attitude. Our younger kids are doing fine, but the varsity is struggling. We have yet to win. When you take over a losing program, you have to resign yourself to the idea that things are going to take time, because there are just so doggone many things wrong and even if you fix one of those things it's not usually enough to get things turned around. You buy a beat-up old house and you fix the plumbing, but there's still so much else to be done that nobody even notices. I have usually found - having gone through a few such situations, and going through one right now - that it is important that you to be the one to retain his perspective - to constantly be on the lookout for signs of improvement, however small ; to believe as a staff that you are making improvement, and to you keep looking for ways to show the kids where they are getting better doing the things that you are teaching them. And forget about how ready the kids say they are, how much they say they want to win. It is almost certain, no matter how much bluff and bluster you hear from them, that deep-down, they think of themselves as losers and believe in their hearts, going into a game, that something bad is going to happen to them. (I tell our kids before every game, "something bad is going to happen to you tonight." The point is that football games - just like life - are chock full of unpleasant surprises, but they're only killers if we let them be. Often, what separates winners from losers is how they react to adversity.) I also know that it is very rare in a turnaround situation for things to happen quickly. Rather than miracles, it takes drudgery, hard work to eliminate the things that beat you - turnovers, foolish penalties, missed assignments, big plays by opponents, poor tackling, mistakes in the kicking game. And don't ever feel locked into the personnel situation - it is perfectly natural for you still to be making personnel changes. It's possible, in a new program with a new offense, for you to be making such changes right down to the final game. I am always looking for a way to do something better. Fortunately, a relatively simple, easy-to-learn offensive system can make this possible. And whatever offense you are now running, assuming that you had given it the amount of thought and research it requires, I would urge great caution in making any drastic change in the system. That's because of the way it would be perceived by the kids - "the coaches are already panicking. " Chances are, if they've been losing a while, they've seen vacillating leadership before. I think it can give kids the idea that turning things around is the coaches' job, and not theirs. You certainly don't want the kids to get the idea that you are looking for a miracle cure, because in football, there is no such thing. What these kids need, I think, is clear and unequivocal signals from the staff that (1) it knows what it is teaching and (2) believes completely in the soundness of what it is teaching and (3) isn't going to accept anything less than their best. A staff that says, "This isn't going away. You can't make it go away. You might just as well make up your minds to run it correctly, because the same plays you're running now, you're going to be running the last week of the season, and next year, too." Remember Bill McCartney's great quote - "you have to convince the kids that the reason a play failed was that they failed to execute."

75. Our JV team was told, I believe incorrectly, that when we run Over Tight (An unbalanced set, with the Left End lined up on the right, next to the Right End- HW), our Offensive Tackle on the left side needs to report as an eligible receiver. Sounds like JV officials, too. They have their days of the week - Friday and Sunday - confused. This happens in the NFL, but in high school ball, it doesn't matter whether he "reports" or not - he is not and can never be eligible so long as he is wearing an ineligible number. Period. The rules don't prohibit him from lining up on the end of the line. All they say (Rule 7, Section 2, Article 5-a) is that you must have seven men on the line of scrimmage, and five of them must be wearing ineligIble numbers. The rules don't specify where they have to be on the line. As for your tackle's having to "report" himself as "eligible" - (Rule 7, Section 5, Article 6) "the following players are eligible pass receivers: (a) All A players eligible by position and number include those who, at the time of the snap, are on the ends of their scrimmage line or legally behind the line (possible total of six) and are numbered 1-49 or 80-99." Note that there is no provision for a player wearing an ineligible number to become eligible by reporting himself as such, regardless of where he lines up. Your left tackle may be eligible by position, but by number, he is not, and won't be until he changes jerseys.