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Tom Crean has an idea football coaches should borrow

You're probably already aware of this but, in case you aren't, Indiana basketball is a big deal. A very big deal. It's in the echelon of blue-blood college programs - along with Kentucky basketball, Alabama football, North Carolina basketball, Oklahoma football and a couple dozen others - that people orbit their entire lives, their entire identities around. They were dressed in Hoosier crimson shortly out of the womb, and they'll be buried in Hoosier crimson when their time comes, but not before dressing their kids and grandkids in that same Hoosier crimson. 

It was those people I thought of when I saw this tweet from Indiana head basketball coach Tom Crean today:

While it's obviously great public relations to give fans a chance to be a part of their favorite team's locker room, that's not what I like about this. 

I like it because those are the people Indiana basketball plays for every night. The players are the ones who wear the uniforms, train in the weight room, and play in the famed Assembly Hall, but many of them were brought in from other states to be a Hoosier for anywhere between one and four years before they're off to somewhere else. The people writing what it means to be a Hoosier, they'll never wear the uniforms, but they cared about Indiana basketball 10, 20 and 30 years ago, and they'll still care just as much 10, 20 and 30 years from now. 

And it'll be those peoples words on the players' minds next season when Wisconsin, Michigan or Michigan State are in town for a big game, because those are the people who will recite that night's box score from memory a quarter century from now. 

If I'm, say, Mark Helfrich, and most of my roster isn't from Oregon, I want the words of some life-long Ducks fan that has hated Washington from the time the Huskies clubbed the Ducks on an annual basis on the mind of my players before they run out to face Washington this fall. 




Documentary: The life of a JuCo coach

Take a look at this documentary following the life of a JuCo coach from the good people at Santa Monica College. SMC is the Junior College program where legends like Isaac Bruce, Steve Smith, and Chad Johnson honed their craft for two seasons before eventually going on to successful careers in the NFL.

The thirteen minute documentary focuses mainly on offensive line coach John Landwehr, and head coach Gifford Lindheim and how they've worked their way through the coaching profession, the challenges of being a JUCO coach, their coaching style and career aspirations, and how coaching at the JUCO level affects their family life and how they make major life decisions.

Coach Landwehr provides some interesting perspective because as the documentary is being filmed, he's working through his final days at SMC because he has accepted an offensive grad assistant job at Marshall. While it's a great opportunity over 2,000 miles away, it's a journey that he'll take alone (at first at least) while his longtime girlfriend stays behind and works.

Coach Lindheim provides some great insight into his coaching and recruiting philosophy, and the way that he approaches his job everyday. After listening to some of his answers, and how he interacts with player it's easy to see why he's able to easily connect with players, and why coaches will work for next to nothing in order to have their name attached to the SMC program. If you're looking for a a reason why the program has returned to the top of the food chain in a powerful California JUCO system, look no further than coach Lindheim.

Everyday we all see coaches names on The Scoop page and High School Scoop page, but it's so easy to forget that each one of names are actual people working their way through the profession, making sacrifices and life altering decisions while striving to change the lives of every player they come in contact with. This documentary is a great reminder of that, and I highly recommend carving out 13 minutes this afternoon for it.




The five things Google looks for when hiring

I don't need to sell you on the merits of Google, but here I go anyway: The company reported nearly $60 billion in revenue in 2013. That's nearly $16 billion more than 2012. Its stock is currently trading for nearly $530 a share. Chances are you've used one of its products today, probably multiple times. By any account, it's one of the most successful companies on the globe.

The tech behemoth could limit its hiring to name brand institutions from the Ivy League and its peers and be done with it but, like everything else Google does, it looks at hiring differently than everyone else and, again, like everything else Google does, it's more successful than just about everyone else. In fact, on some teams, as many as one out of every seven Google employees has no college education at all. 

Google doesn't care what you know. It cares if you know how to think. Google doesn't care if you have leadership experience on your resume. It cares if you know when to step up and lead, and when to step back and follow. 

There are five factors Google looks for in any potential new hire:

1) General cognitive ability. "It’s learning ability," said Google's senior vice president of people operations (seriously, that's his title) Laszlo Bock told the New York Times. "It’s the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information. We assess that using structured behavioral interviews that we validate to make sure they’re predictive.”

2) Leadership. "In particular emergent leadership as opposed to traditional leadership. Traditional leadership is, were you president of the chess club? Were you vice president of sales? How quickly did you get there? We don’t care. What we care about is, when faced with a problem and you’re a member of a team, do you, at the appropriate time, step in and lead. And just as critically, do you step back and stop leading, do you let someone else? Because what’s critical to be an effective leader in this environment is you have to be willing to relinquish power.”

3) Ownership. "“It’s feeling the sense of responsibility, the sense of ownership, to step in.... Your end goal is what can we do together to problem-solve. I’ve contributed my piece, and then I step back.”

4) Intellectual humility. This, Bock says, is where the value of a degree from pick-your-top-end-school diminishes. “They, instead, commit the fundamental attribution error, which is if something good happens, it’s because I’m a genius. If something bad happens, it’s because someone’s an idiot or I didn’t get the resources or the market moved. ... What we’ve seen is that the people who are the most successful here, who we want to hire, will have a fierce position. They’ll argue like hell. They’ll be zealots about their point of view. But then you say, ‘here’s a new fact,’ and they’ll go, ‘Oh, well, that changes things; you’re right.’"

5) Expertise. “If you take somebody who has high cognitive ability, is innately curious, willing to learn and has emergent leadership skills, and you hire them as an H.R. person or finance person, and they have no content knowledge, and you compare them with someone who’s been doing just one thing and is a world expert, the expert will go: ‘I’ve seen this 100 times before; here’s what you do.’"

To translate this into hiring football coaches, perhaps your staff would be best served by challenging hiring norms, where three years as a GA and five years as a position coach means a coach is ready to become your coordinator because... he spent five years as an assistant and three years as an assistant. If your defensive line coach takes another job, maybe the best replacement spent the past five years outside of coaching. Or maybe the best replacement isn't a defensive line coach at all, but it's an offensive coach with an innate gift for connecting with and inspiring everyone he touches.

Here is, we thought, the most important paragraph in the piece. 

 “If you take somebody who has high cognitive ability, is innately curious, willing to learn and has emergent leadership skills, and you hire them as an H.R. person or finance person, and they have no content knowledge, and you compare them with someone who’s been doing just one thing and is a world expert, the expert will go: ‘I’ve seen this 100 times before; here’s what you do.’ ” Most of the time the nonexpert will come up with the same answer, added Bock, “because most of the time it’s not that hard.” Sure, once in a while they will mess it up, he said, but once in a while they’ll also come up with an answer that is totally new. And there is huge value in that.

Let's again translate this into football terms. There's value in hiring an offensive line coach with 25 years of experience and every imaginable blocking scheme and technique emblazoned into his brain. But, then again, designing a blocking scheme isn't a taxing intellectual endeavor (sorry, O-line coaches), and most smart people can deduce the best way to block a stretch play, and the inexperienced person may even come up with a scheme no one else would have considered. But if that inexperienced coach is a superior motivator and is a joy to be around, don't worry about the blocking schemes, he'll learn those eventually. 

If it works for Google, it can work for you. 

 




AthletiCloud - High School Coaches need to see this

Every few years you see a product and you immediately "get it" and think to yourself, "Wow, how have we not had this before?" Well, prepare yourselves for that moment; because I have seen it and invite you to do the same below. 

Allow me to introduce you to AthletiCloud, a simple, cloud based, mobile management app for high school teams. 

I have used it and over the next few weeks I plan to pass along a number of the "success stories" from other coaches who are using the platform; but allow me to show you some of the capabilities...

I'll share a few screenshots below; but really, to get the full effect, go ahead and visit AthletiCloud.com and have a look for yourself.

They offer free 30 day trial; but honestly at only $99 per team (per year), really this is one of the biggest no brainers I've seen in a long time. 

OK, a couple of the key features:

Team & Group messaging from your phone

Messaging

Need to text the team that practice got moved...or maybe text the parents of the JV team that the bus had a flat tire...or maybe you only want to text the quarterbacks...or perhaps just the coaching staff...all of that can be done simply and easily from your phone with the app. 

Emergency

AthletiCloud

You're off-site and a player has a medical emergency. Open the app, pull up the player, push one button to text his emergency tree (defined by his parents) to alert them that you will be calling shortly and then call the pre-defined contacts. An incredible timesaver during what can be a very stressful and challenging time. Plus the app contains all of the players medical clearances, etc...

Mobile Attendance 

Attendance

Not only can you quickly and easily take attendance wherever you want on your phone or iPad; but you can also set the system to take action based on the results...this is something you need to see. 

Task Management

TaskManager

Need to assign tasks for the staff...well, no more sending emails which might or might not get read, no more keeping binders of paper...the task management featured (designed by a long-time football coach) will quickly become a feature you absolutely rely upon to keep the staff and team on the same page. 

There are several other features I plan to highlight over the coming weeks and months (emergency, equipment, team banker, etc...). I truly believe this is one of those platforms that nearly every high school team in the country will benefit from and I look forward to sharing stories like the one below from coaches across the country as they adopt the platform. 

Visit AthletiCloud.com now.

Full Disclosure: I have personally met with the principal owner of AthletiCloud and have used, and provided feedback on, many of the features of the system. AthletiCloud is an advertiser with FootballScoop. 




HS program delivers their 2014 motto with this video

The Liberty North high school (MO) football program is heading in a new direction in 2014. The coaching staff decided to get together with the outgoing senior class to deliver their message of being "selfless" to the future players of the program.

The most powerful things about this video is that the outgoing seniors were part of the first football team fielded at Liberty North back in 2010. That first season they went 0-9 and have since laid the foundation for the future success of the program. Now this video allows them to leave a different legacy with the program.

The word "selfless" was chosen because the staff felt the word can serve as the solution to every problem that the 2014 team encounters, including problems on the field, in the classroom and in the community.

The coaches answered what the word meant to them, and asked the outgoing seniors to do the same. The result was this video that communicates the concept to the team.

Not only did we find this to be an excellent idea that was very well executed, but we felt it definitely worth sharing with the rest of the coaching community.




Meet the new face of sideline reporting in college football

This is Allie LaForce.

Allie La Force

She is 25 years old. She graduated from Ohio University just three years ago.

And come this fall, she'll be the new face of sideline reporting in college football.

In his weekly media column, SI.com's Richard Deitsch reported Monday that CBS is promoting Tracy Wolfson off the SEC on CBS crew to its lead NFL crew, where she'll now work with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. The network has chosen the fast-rising LaForce to replace Wolfson. 

"CBS Sports management both publicly and privately have been pushing LaForce's star for the past couple of months," writes Deitsch. "She had a very good NCAA tournament, asking smart and pointed questions and showing versatility with the content of her interviews."

After playing basketball at Ohio, LaForce landed a job at a Cleveland Fox affiliate WJW before CBS Sports executive discovered her clips on YouTube and relocated her to Southern California. In addition to her work on the NCAA Tournament for CBS and Turner, LaForce has covered the NFL for CBS and hosts CBS Sports Network's daily late-night show "Lead Off" along with Doug Gottlieb. 

If you've followed the NCAA Tournament, you may be familiar with this piece of her work:

Though she will not appear on college football's biggest games, ESPN owns all the broadcast rights to the upcoming College Football Playoff, CBS's SEC package (which drew a 4.2 rating in 2013) is the highest-rated television package in college football in the 15 Saturdays from Labor Day weekend through Conference Championship Saturday. 




Marshall is offering a $3,000 incetive for students to come to the spring game

Marshall has rolled out an interesting incentive to get students to show up for the spring game on April 17th. Last year they drew more than 5,000 in attendance (more than Syracuse, Arizona, and Stanford), and coming off a 10-4 season they'll likely top that this season.

Just to be sure, the athletic department has rolled out a $3,000 incentive for students to show up

If a student can run a faster 40 than one of the Thundering Herd players, they'll receive a $3,000 prize to go towards tuition and books next fall. Not only would the three g's be nice, but the real grand prize here would be campus wide bragging rights until graduation.

No word yet on forty yard dash celebs Rich Eisen or Penn State receivers coach Josh Gattis will be in town that day as the top challengers.

 Interesting idea from the athletic department. Props for creativity.




Pat Fitzgerald recommends his players vote against unionizing

Northwestern players will make college athletics history, one way or another, on April 25 when they hold a formal vote whether or not to unionize the Wildcats' football program. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald has made his recommendation to the players - and he wants them to vote it down.

"I believe it's in their best interests to vote no," Fitzgerald said Saturday. "With the research that I've done, I'm going to stick to the facts and I'm going to do everything in my power to educate our guys. Our university is going to do that. We'll give them all the resources they need to get the facts."

Fitzgerald, as the first head coach to face this issue head-on, is in a very precarious position. He is not allowed to interrogate players about their voting plans, and he also can not make promises in exchange for a vote against unionization. 

It is worth noting, though, that with many of the issues College Athletes Players Association (CAPA) is pushing for through Northwestern football - the extension of medical benefits beyond players' time on campus, larger coverage scholarships, control over players' likeness - the Big Five conferences, of which Northwestern is a member, are already looking to cover for their student-athletes.

"I just do not believe we need a third party between our players and our coaches, staff and administrators. ... Whatever they need, we will get them," Fitzgerald said.

No one is exactly sure what will happen when the issue goes to a vote later this month, but many think players will vote it down. It has been speculated that, should players win the right to classify themselves as employees, their scholarships would then be deemed salary and, thus, become taxable income. At a private school with most of the roster hailing from out of state, that could be a significant expense, which may be part of the reason why Northwestern some players have indicated their displeasure with the movement. 

"Things do need to change, and I hope the NCAA sees that," senior running back Venric Mark said. "But at the end of the day, Northwestern treats us very well, and we do not need a third party to come in between us and the coaches."

Our guess here is that the vast majority of coaches support Fitzgerald on this issue while simultaneously hoping a unionization debate never travels to their campus. For those coaches, there is no better role model for this unprecedented situation than Pat Fitzgerald.