Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Archive for October, 2013

Who Calls the Plays?

Posted by admin October - 29 - 2013 - Tuesday 1 COMMENT

I had a discussion with a young head coach the other day. He was talking about his Offensive Coordinator and some of the play calls he’d made recently. I asked him if he was the Defensive Coordinator since he gave his OC the responsibility of calling the Offense. “No,” he said. “The coach I replaced had coordinators call the offense and defense so I just left it that way.” In my opinion… baaaaaaad mistake! Especially on the high school level.

There are 2 things involved here, head coaches, that you need to consider: 1- who is the hardest-working member of your staff? and 2- who is the most knowledgeable member of your staff? If your answer to either question is “me”; i.e., the head coach… then I would encourage you to reconsider who you give the responsibility of calling your offense and/or defense on game night. Two of the most successful coaches in the Tidewater Virginia area where I live “do it all!” They are offensive and defensive coordinators on their state-championship caliber teams. It can and should be done in certain situations. It all goes back to those 2 questions I posed.

Here’s my thinking. We run the Delaware Wing T offense. I have run it for 24 years. I know it pretty well! I came into a new coaching situation 3 years ago where nobody knew about the Wing T offense. I could have tried to teach one of my assistants how to install it in practice and attack defenses in games but… why delegate this to someone else when I was the one who knew the most about the system?

I chose to take the OC job and teach my assistants their positions first and then the system as a whole. What I did do was take the hardest-working coach on my staff and name him our DC. We have studied and learned together– going to clinics; reading material at different coaching sites on the internet and meeting with other high school and college coaches to “talk defense.” He has grown into the job and done a fantastic job. He knows, however, that the ultimate decision is up to me as the head coach. We’ve formed a tremendous working relationship that has developed into a good friendship, too.

I don’t believe you just “hand the reins” over to an assistant without considering that YOU (the HC) should call the plays on one side or the other during games. The last point is this: when it’s over on Friday night and you come out on the short end of the stick… who’s going to catch the flack? It’s you!

I understand the importance of encouraging assistant coaches to invest in your program. Each of my assistants have assigned tasks— both on-the-field and off-the-field responsibilities— that alleviate me from having to do those things. They take their responsibilities seriously because I let them know how important they are to our program’s success and how much I appreciate them performing those tasks. When we “talk” offense, I listen to their input. But, ultimately, what we run is my decision.

If you are the most knowledgeable defensive coach on your staff, then you need to be running the defense. You’ll find out if you have an assistant who is willing and able to learn to be a coordinator. Until that time comes, you call it.

I might add… if you did not answer the question above (who is the hardest-working coach on your staff?) in the first person, then you need to re-think if you are qualified to be a head coach!!! How can you ask your assistants to go the “second mile” when you are not leading the way in your work ethic?? Think about it from an assistant’s perspective! A leader is out front— setting the example for the rest of the people to follow. Get out front head coaches and… lead!!!


Posted by admin October - 22 - 2013 - Tuesday Comments Off on DO RIGHT

If you’ve never heard Lou Holtz’s speech, Do Right, you need to listen to it! When I read my morning devotion this morning on the same subject, it made me think about doing just that… the right thing— always!

The story goes: “Today we mourn the passing of an old friend— common sense. He devoted his service to schools, hospitals and churches; he got jobs done without fanfare and foolishness. For decades, silly rules and frivolous lawsuits didn’t affect him. He cultivated practices like: sharing with others, teaching kids spiritual values, and living within your means. He survived the Industrial Revolution and the Great Depression. But he couldn’t withstand the ravages of declining moral and spiritual values. He watched as leaders became more and more corrupt and good people became apathetic. He saw the Ten Commandments outlawed in public buildings, prayer banned from classrooms and criminals enjoying more rights than their victims. He watched in despair as teachers who needed parental permission to dispense an aspirin, couldn’t tell a parent that their child wanted an abortion. Common Sense was predeceased by truth, trust and responsibility. His funeral wasn’t well attended; few realized he had gone!”

It’s been noted that in a recent Gallup Poll, 50% of those interviewed said they believe that there are “no absolutes” when it comes to good and evil! Take a moment and look around you and you’ll see the results of that thinking.

But, God doesn’t share this opinion! The Bible says, “Test all things; hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thess. 5:21).

This is interesting… God told the leaders of the nation of Israel (in the Old Testament) not to remove the ancient boundary markers. God establishes boundaries for our own protection.

So…. stand up for what is right! Don’t fear criticism. You do know that “darkness” has never been a friend of “light” or wrong a companion of right, don’t you? I encourage you to walk in the light of God’s love and… do the right thing!


Posted by admin October - 16 - 2013 - Wednesday Comments Off on Prioritizing

It’s always interesting to me how life takes these little bumpy paths— right when you least expect it. Life is good and God is even better!!! I have a LOT to be thankful for.

Then, I go to my urologist this morning for my checkup and he drops the bomb on me! “Your PSA levels continue to be too high. I want to do a biopsy to check for the possibility of prostate cancer.” Gulp! I wasn’t expecting that.

I have been praying on a daily basis for 3 women who all are battling cancer. Two of them are moms of my football players– the other is a member of the church community group that I lead. I take this duty very seriously. It’s kinda hard to wrap my head around the fact that now I need to ask prayers of others that this is just a “false alarm.” You get to my age and I’m just thankful for good health and a joyful life. I will be putting to the test what my Christianity teaches me: “Live each day full of joy and peace; loving Jesus and serving others.”

THAT is my priority (more than ever) till we get the results of the biopsy.

“Did everyone get to play?!”

Posted by admin October - 8 - 2013 - Tuesday Comments Off on “Did everyone get to play?!”

We’ve been fortunate the last 2 weeks that the teams we played weren’t as strong as us. Both games resulted in blow-outs. Both were also on the road… so my wife did not make the trip to see us play. I texted her the score at the end of each game and here was her response: “Congrats! Did everyone get to play?” I thought about that… cuz she’s been asking the same question for years! I finally asked her, “why do you always ask if everyone got to play?!” Her reply smacked me right in the face!

She responded: “Remember when Bryan (our son) made the Bronco League (baseball) All Star team that summer he was 10?” “Ummmmm… yes, I remember,” I replied. “Well, remember sitting up there in the stands with the rest of the parents watching the game while our son sat on the bench?” OK…. I’m thinking, yes I’m remembering that now. She paused for effect. “Remember, how we swallowed our pride and accepted the fact that maybe he wasn’t good enough to start but… good enough to make the team and get to play some?” “Yes, I remember.” “Well, Lew, remember how disappointed… then angry we became when the game they won by 8 runs didn’t even have any subs get to play?!” The old feelings began to boil up in me again as I thought back to that day some 25 years ago.

“Lew… that’s just how the parents of your players feel when they see you up by 4-5 touchdowns and their son doesn’t even get in for a few plays!” she said. I tried to alibi my way out of it with something like, “It’s hard to get everyone in when there’s a running clock.” But, I knew she wouldn’t buy it. And… I knew she was right!

Guys: even if it’s just 1 or 2 plays— empty that bench! Let those kids get a chance to play in a game! We had a boy in the game the other night for the last series on defense. He’s 5’8 and 145— we put him at defensive end and told him “go get the ball carrier.” He pulled a “Rudy!” Remember the last scene in the movie where Rudy got in and sacked the qb? That’s what happened for our player. The rest of the team went WILD on the sideline and that boy has an experience he’ll never forget!

Get ’em ALL in the game, Coach!!!