Are you better off without holding a spring game?
The spring game is a rite of passage in college football, and it's easy to see why. The benefits are numerous. A spring game serves as a rallying point to get recruits on campus, a day of outreach with a fan base that you won't see again until the fall and, most importantly, a carrot at the end of a month-long stick for your players.
But there's also some risk involved with holding a spring game.
With fans and recruits trekking to campus, a spring game locks you into practicing on that date - rain or shine. With only 15 practice dates in between last season and next, a spring game puts one of those precious practice dates in the dangerous hands of Mother Nature and Murphy's Law. A thunderstorm, a flu bug or any other malady leaves you seven percent less prepared than your competitors.
Pittsburgh won't hold a spring game this year, and the guaranteed chance to maximize every workout is why head coach Paul Chryst made the decision to axe the Panthers' spring jamboree.
“The thought behind [the decision], honestly, is to get one more good work day out of them,” Chryst told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Most, if not every spring game I’ve been a part of, you really end up sacrificing a lot. It sounds crazy, but just being locked into a place, bad weather. … You’re kind of locked into that day. These days are really valuable for us.”
Chryst believes the benefit of a 15th practice will outweigh the cost of foregoing a chance to let fans get a peek at the 2014 Panthers.
“It’s a little bit selfish doing what’s best for the program,” Chryst said. “You appreciate [the fans]. You don’t want it to come off as not being appreciative. It’s not the intent. But there is real conviction that for this group of guys, the guys in the building … you feel really good that this is the right thing. You hope the people appreciate that.”
Most schools won't change their thinking on holding a spring game - and perhaps rightfully so - but it's worth giving an extra 10 seconds of thought.
Clawson's to list when taking a new HC job includes important conference call
There are a million things on your to do list as a newly appointed head coach. For Dave Clawson, whose head coaching career has taken him from Fordham, to Richmond, to Bowling Green, and now to Wake Forest, one of the first things on that long list is to get on the phone with former players.
Clawson told Wake's Gold Rush Magazine that one of the first things he has done at each one of his stops as a head coach has been to set up a conference call with former players. The call is meant to not only open his door to alums, but it also allows an open forum for questions, and gives him a first hand account of the history of the program.
"I've done that everywhere I've been. You want the perception of people who know what it;s all about, but it also lets former players stay connected to Wake Forest."
"A lot of times, a former player's biggest connection is with their former head coach, but we want to let them know that here is a place that you can walk in and be comfortable - it's their school, and this is their program." Clawson explained in the article."
Clawson added that it also allows him to get a sense of the kinds of people that are attracted to the school as wel.
That's an interesting way to kick off a new job, but it makes a ton of sense. Whether you're just taking over a high school program, or at a major FBS school, your alumni base is vitally important to your success. Clawson finds
Babers on uptempo approach: 'The art of knowing without knowing'
If you've every tried to install a no huddle or up tempo philosophy, you know how it's a gradual process to get your players operating, and thinking, at breakneck speeds.
Reporters at Bowling Green's first spring practice on Thursday came away very impressed with the tempo that Babers (an Art Briles disciple) operated practice at, even calling it "lightning".
Babers was quick to correct that observation.
"That's not lightning," Babers said as he interrupted him. "I'll tell you what. They're thinking about what they're doing right now, just imagine them not thinking about what they're doing and just moving and reacting."
"The art of knowing without knowing. When they get to that point, they'll have something. They'll be better, they'll get better everyday." Babers explained.
Under Dave Clawson last season, the Falcons ran just over 70 plays per game. Expect that to go up quite a bit in 2014 once Babers and his staff get guys understanding how to operate at "lightning" speeds. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see BGSU in the top 25 in plays next season.
Important notice for all DFOs
The director of football operations spring meeting is coming up (May 5 & 6) in Dallas this year. As in prior years, the open session of the meetings will begin around noon on Monday and will conclude around noon on Tuesday. Agenda to come soon. Hotel rooms may be booked at this link.
In preparation for the meetings a few guys have proposed some new ideas... and Arkansas State's DFO Jason Andrews has flat out laid it down. Andrews is challenging every DFO nationwide in a "DFO Dance Challenge". See the short tease below and tweet back at them @RedWolvesFB to let him know you plan to upstage him in Dallas in May. Let the games begin...
Grading the FootballScoop/SB Nation Coaching Draft
In case you missed it, the FootballScoop staff combined forces with the SB Nation staff Wednesday to hold the world's first-ever Coaching Draft. We got to put, for instance, Les Miles and Art Briles on the same coaching staff. It was a great deal of fun.
As a refresher, we picked a 12-man coaching staff (head coach, nine assistants, one strength and one recruiting director... at least that was the idea) chosen among the current roster of 128 FBS head coaches, and two lower-level head coaches as graduate assistants.
We posted the teams yesterday, but today SB Nation's very own versions of Mel Kiper, Jr., and Todd McShay, except 100 times better - Spencer Hall and Celebrity Hot Tub (seriously, that's what they call him even internally) - handed out their grades.
Prepare your eyes for the best thing they'll read all day.
Video: UTSA does more much for military appreciation than tweak uniforms
Over the past few seasons, it's become commonplace for most FBS programs to tweak their uniforms, or logo colors on their helmet to pay tribute to the military.
Some programs do a little more, and some do a little less, but I think it's safe to say that no program goes quite as far as UTSA when it comes to educating their players about military appreciation.
This video was shown to UTSA players to help give them some insight into why they changed the logo and uniform to red, white and blue. Five UTSA grads who became soldiers and spent at least one tour of duty overseas were brought in to help deliver the message, and it's one that a lot of players will be able to immediately relate to.
The service members talk about what it means to wear the uniform, what the stars and stripes mean to them, and they also go on to define what leadership is. It's full of some very powerful messages.
This is a great idea on top of changing up the uniforms a bit, and the video is very well put together.
Photo: Take a look at Texas Tech's new all-black helmet
Texas Tech has primarily worn black helmets every year since 1975 - they've sprinkled in some white and gray in recent years - but never have they gone to this extreme.
This is a photo tweeted by Texas Tech safeties coach Trey Haverty on Thursday morning. Haverty has tweeted a bunch of different prototypes, so it appears he's just having some fun. But, in my opinion, the all-black option below wouldn't be a bad look to use in real life.
What do you think?
ESPN announces another ground-breaking idea, especially for FCS programs
Fresh off the success of its BCS Megacast for last month's BCS National Championship, ESPN has announced its latest plan to super-serve the college sports market.
On Thursday, ESPN announced plans for 15 new conference networks spanning across Division I. They are, in alphabetical order: ACC, America East, Atlantic Sun, Big South, Big West, Central Intercollegiate Athletic, Horizon, Mid-American, Metro Atlantic Athletic, MEAC, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Southern, SWAC, Sun Belt and Southland. The Big Ten and Pac-12 already have their own networks, the SEC is in the midst of launching its own and the Big 12 schools individually own their own networks or quasi-networks, which is why they aren't included. But virtually everyone else in Division I is.
Here's the catch, these aren't traditional networks that may be seen on terrestrial television. They'll be streamed through WatchESPN via Apple TV or Roku, which does limit the audience. But, still, if you're the Northeast Conference, this is a boon for you.
“These new conference channels on WatchESPN will showcase the breadth and depth of our college sports coverage,” said ESPN vice president of college sports programming Rosalyn Durant. “But most importantly, they will allow us to better serve the fans.”
Each network will cull together content shown on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, clips and on-demand video from ESPN.com, etc., as well as show live content and replays of previously aired games. The networks will launch today and ramp up to conference tournament season, but expect, for example, football games between Nicholls State and McNeese State to be shown on the ESPN-owned and branded Southland Network this fall.