Thursday, January 15, 2009
Coaching college football takes a tremendous amount of time and hard work. It takes countless hours and years of dedication to develop philosophies and strategies that are used in each phase of the game. Coaches take years developing their teaching abilities both on and off the field in an attempt to develop and prepare their players to be the best that they can be.
The development of student athletes on the field is important in order to win games and championships however more important that winning games and championships are the life lessons that can be taught through athletics.
I recently attended the AFCA (American Football Coaches Association) clinic in Nashville Tennessee and heard several speakers talk about different strategies and philosophies that are concerned with the game of football however one of the most important messages that I took was from Tom Osborne. He was the former coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers who had many years of success and won several national championships. After his coaching career he went on to become senator of the state of Nebraska and has most recently accepted a job as the athletic director of the Nebraska. Osborne discussed the fact that when he was coaching his players often came from two parent households and the out of wed birthrate was at a very low percentage throughout the country. Today the backgrounds of players throughout the country are very different as the out of wed birthrate is very high as is the divorce rate.
As a result of these factors young people are growing up without support and guidance. One way to reach these young people is through their involvement in sports and the positive environment that coaches can create on both high school and college teams. I think that by being a positive role model as a coach and teaching young people the right way to do things is more important than wins and losses.
Listening to head coach Urban Myer of the national champion Florida Gators being interviewed after they won the game he said that he had a great deal of pride in his team but that he loved his team because of how close they are. An environment which is positive and supportive allows for strong relationships to be built and great things accomplished.
It has become routine that with each season that passes in college football there are more firing and hiring of coaches throughout the country and among any level of competition. Now some coaches are fired because they have not been very successful while other coaches, move on to other programs to advance their careers, however a recent epidemic around the nation has consistently shown a lack of support that a coach has from the administration in the school.
When discussing the lack of support among coaches I think it is important to understand that running a college football program takes the support and dedication of everyone involved in the program. Every person that is involved in the program no matter if this person is the head coach or a student assistant should understand the goals of the program and the standards expected of them. Everyone must be on the same page and loyal to one another in order for the program to be successful. The most important relationship in a college football program is the relationship that the head coach has with the athletic director of the school and the rest of the administration.
A shining example of a program that displays loyalty between the administration and the coaches in regards to understanding of the goals of the program is the University of Buffalo and what the coaches and administers had been able to accomplish in such a short period of time. Turner Gil is the head coach at UB and has in three years turned a very young division one program who had only had a handful of wins into a program that won their conference and gained a post season bowl game invitation.
Unfortunately a positive relationship between the administration at a school and their coaches does not exist everywhere. The most recent firing of the coach at Boston College is the most recent example of such a relationship. This coach led his team to two consecutive ACC championship games and post season play in the two years he was the head coach of the program. With his recent success some NFL teams showed interest in the possibility of interviewing the coach for a job opening. Instead of supporting the coach the athletic director told him if he interviewed with the NFL teams he was going to be fired. The coach interviewed and the athletic director kept his promise.
There is no one set blueprint for success in college football in building and maintaining a successful program, different people have their own methods. However the principles of loyalty and support combined with a shared vision among coaches and the administration at the school will in my opinion ultimately result in success.
Friday, January 9, 2009
I am very happy to see that Oklahoma will stay defeated in BCS games. That is not a misprint I said defeated, under Bobby Stoops the Sooners have not won the big game. The fact that the Sooners have been to nine BCS championship games is very impressive and the fact that they have yet to win is music to this writers ears. As you can tell I am not a huge Oklahoma fan my grandfather was a diehard Nebraska fan and the two schools are bitter rivals so I have grown up to hate the Sooners. I have to congratulate the Florida Gators on their incredible season, the fact that they were able to win two “National Championships” in three years is very impressive. The reason I put national champions in quotations is simply because I believe that the BCS system is still flawed. Even though everyone does not agree with the system two national championships in three seasons is an incredible accomplishment. This being said I think that teams such as USC, Utah, and Texas can also make a claim that they should be considered for the national championship as well. Getting back to the game here are some of the things that impressed me about the Gators……
Tim Tebow is an incredible quarterback so much so that the entire offense philosophy is completely built around him. He is so good in so many different areas of the game that he almost creates a different position. His ability to run the ball the way he does with such power is not typical of other quarterbacks, he is an excellent power runner who makes smart decisions. The offense is exciting to watch because it is like watching a spread option attack with a new twist. My favorite play that the Gators offense runs is a triple option of sorts in which Tebow and his running back run towards the outside shoulder of the tackle and the tight end stays in front of each of them. Tebow has the option of pitching the ball to his running back, throwing a shuffle pass to his tight end, or running the ball himself. The Gators have run this play all season long and no one can seem to stop it. I have to give the offensive staff of the Gators a tremendous amount of praise and respect for the offense and game plan that they were able to implement and run to perfection in a very exciting national championship game.
The Gators defense was also incredible as they were able to hold Oklahoma’s offense, one of the best in the history of college football to only 14 points. The Sooners came in with the Heisman trophy winner Sam Bradford who had an incredible season, and a host of offensive weapons that were very hard for other teams to stop. The Gators were able to stop Oklahoma’s offense with a relentless rush by their defensive linemen, and a very aggressive blitz package that forced the Florida defense to play a lot of tight coverage with their defensive backs. Florida had the athletes to compete with Oklahoma’s skill position players, this frustrated the Sooners and got them out of their comfort zone. The blitz package that was designed by the defensive staff of the Gators was excellent and kept Sam Bradford under constant pressure, thus taking him out of his comfort zone.
The special teams play of the Florida Gators is very impressive as there special teams units are statistically among the best in the country year after year. The Gators use starters from both offense and defense on special teams to gain a competitive advantage on their opponents. Urban Myer the head coach of Florida takes the responsibilities of special teams upon himself and tailors the game plan the way he wants. The Gators take great pride in special teams and it shows up in the win column. They were able to block a Oklahoma field goal that set the tone for the rest of the game. You could feel the wind being taken out of the Sooners sails as the Gators broke through and blocked the kick.
Above all of the highlights this game brought I hope that Tebow returns in a Florida uniform next year. With all of the negative publicity that gets reported about athletes causing trouble and getting arrested Tebow is a breath of fresh air as he sees the most important things he does as the things he does off the field. Tim Tebow is an athlete that is like no other college football player I have ever seen. He is an exceptional leader who truly and genuinely cares about his teammates and their success as much as his own. It is not very often that you see a team leader on offense go into the defensive huddle and get those guys fired up. Tebow does an exceptional amount of off the field work as he has traveled to several different countries and volunteered his time and services for children in different orphanages.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
College sports are a staple of our culture as Americans. Now more than ever more collegiate sports are covered on television thanks to the workings of the many ESPN networks and the 24-7 access and up to the second updates from various sport sites on the internet. If a sport is played through inter-collegiate competition there is a great possibility the post season tournament is covered by some media outlet. Division one schools have the biggest following of sport fans and exposure to televised games but there are many other smaller colleges that compete as well and gain exposure to the media.
Personally I am a huge football fan I and enjoy watching any type of competitive football be it in Pop-Warner leagues, high schools, colleges, or in the different professional football outlets that are available be it the NFL, CFL (Canadian Football League), or the Arena Football League. There are many people who think that professional football takes away from the integrity of the game and that the athletes who play do so simply for money. While players who play in college are playing for the love of the game and the pride of their campus. I find that one of the reasons that college football is so appealing is the tremendous amount of passion that the fans have for the game and the pride they have for their school.
The only negative aspect about college football is the system that has been put in use to determine the national champion of division one football. This system called the BCS is a program that uses a poll from the associated press, the coaches, and calculations from a computer to help determine the best team in the country. At no other level of football is a champion determined my a math geek with a calculator and the opinion of outsiders. The rest of college football in division 1AA, 2, and 3 all have post season tournaments that determine a national champion. There is no reason that division one football teams cannot use a playoff system to determine a football champion. The current system has been in use for 10 years and almost every year there has been controversy with the use of the system. Even president elect Barrack Obama is calling for a football playoff among major college football teams.
Supporters of the BCS say the only thing holding a football playoff back is the tremendous amount of money that is generated by the 33 bowl games that are played during college football’s bowl season. The system that I think would work the best includes keeping the components of the BCS with the polls from the coaches and the media as well as the computer calculations and the other bowl games that are already in place. Have the BCS calculations determine the top 8 teams in the nation and have them play in a tournament to determine the national championship, where it belongs, on the field.