Inside the Annual DFO Meetings: How to Plan a Bowl Trip
Let's jump forward in time a few months, to Dec. 8 to be exact. The college football regular season has just ended the day before and now it's Selection Sunday - the day 70 teams fortunate enough to qualify for bowl games learn where they will close their season. Once the matchup is announced, most on campus nod and then put it out of their mind for the time being. Players study for finals, coaches go recruiting and fans look forward to the next basketball game.
But while everyone else temporarily goes their separate ways, one man hunkers down in his office and devises how exactly to move the small army that is a football program, its accompanying entourage and their equipment to set up shop at a far away location for a week's worth of time and come back in one piece. And does it all well behind the curtain of what the average fan sees on game day.
As TCU's Director of Football Operations (DFO), Mike Sinquefield told a crowd of his peers and one member of the FootballScoop staff on Tuesday morning, he has been just about everywhere by now. In his 13 seasons at the post, TCU has competed in the Western Athletic Conference, Conference USA, the Mountain West and now the Big 12, which means they've run the gamut of the college football postseason experience. They've been close to home (2003 Fort Worth Bowl) and far away (2011 Poinsettia Bowl). They've been to new bowls (in three trips to Houston, TCU has played in three different bowls with three different names run by three different staffs), and they've been to old bowls (the 2011 Rose Bowl).
From the minds of one of the experts, take step seven levels inside the College Football Machine and see how you move a football team, its coaching staff, equipment staff, video staff, student support staff, administration, band and their families, to a new location for a week's stay and live to tell about it.
Plan ahead: Sinquefield's bowl prep starts in August by gathering full legal names of anyone and everyone who may possibly make the trip. Of course, you can be a little more certain about things when you haven't missed a bowl game since 2004.
Be as thorough as you can be on your site visit: In one of TCU's trip to Houston, the Horned Frogs happened to be their hotel's first guests after being closed for a decade. As commonly happens with new facilities, not all of the kinks were worked out upon TCU's arrival, which meant in this case a member of the TCU traveling party was met with a stream of black water after turning on the shower. They didn't return to that hotel.
You can't stress this one enough: Get everything you can figured out ahead of time. Does your defensive line coach need a white board for position meetings? If your practice site is 45 minutes from the hotel, what's the best way for the video staff to get film cut up for the coaching staff as fast as possible?
The most important meal of the day: If Bowl A offers your coaches, players, administrators and, most importantly, their wives and children a free breakfast every morning, you'd better figure out how to provide that same experience in the following years even if Bowl B and Bowl C don't cover that expense because a $7 per diem won't get you very far in, say, downtown Los Angeles.
You'd rather fly than drive: When your school plays with driving distance of campus, traveling party members get the feeling they can come and go as they please, reservations or not. With farther away bowls, you're either on the airplane or you're not.
It's up to you to fill the free time: The bowl staff will provide events for your coaching staff and events for your players, but most of them don't include the wives, the assistant athletic directors and student trainers. Find out which events will let additional parties attend and which ones will let you buy more tickets because, ultimately, everyone in your party wants to do what your coaches and players are doing.
When at all possible, get creative: Minds were blown across the room as Sinquefield detailed TCU's solution to handling players' per diem cash. Instead of handing each player $400 cash that can't be replaced if lost or spent within two hours' time, the Horned Frogs give each player a debit card that triggers a set amount of money at pre-ordained times.
Once again, don't forget: This year's free perk is next year's expectation among your travel party.
So next bowl season, when the average fan loads up a plate of leftover ham and pumpkin pie and settles into the couch for a night of bowl action, remember the DFO, who moved a small army, laid out its itinerary, balanced its budget and provided them breakfast to boot.
Creating a video like this will help you establish expectations
The coaching staff down at Grapevine HS (TX) gets it. They understand how to motivate and connect with their players using video as one of many tools at their disposal.
After hearing at a coaching clinic how Les Miles and his staff put together clips each week aimed at showing his guys "who we are", and seeing the "Wide Receiver Blocking Done Right" video from Texas A&M from back in December, the staff decided to put together a video of their own.
This video was shown to the receivers just before the start of spring ball to help put them in the right frame of mind and set the expectations of the unit. The design of the video is outstanding and we hear that its aim of illustrating the desired identity of the receiving corp worked out exactly as they drew it up.
This is another great example of a video that coaches at every level can do in order to illustrate the vision and expectations of your position group, or specific side of the ball.
O'Brien: 'We were 8-4. We don't have the market cornered on anything'
When you think of programs that have historically turned non-scholarship players into major contributors in a few short years, Penn State's name likely comes to mind.
In the big picture of things, Bill O'Brien has played a small part in that reputation with just one year under his belt, but he has put his mark on things by renaming the program a "run-on" program in an effort to recognize the hard work and effort of his non-scholarship guys on a year round basis. Also, when O'Brien first arrived on campus he reached out to programs like Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin to better understand their ultra successful formula for targeting, and developing non-scholarship players.
There's no doubt that developing players, especially with the scholarship restrictions in place under NCAA sanctions, is a top priority for O'Brien and his staff.
Asked about successfully identifying and developing "under the radar" players yesterday, O'Brien humbly explained that they don't think they do things any better than anyone else, they're simply focused on getting better.
"We don't think we do anything any better than anyone else. We just believe that we know what we want, we go out there and we try to evaluate prospects. We try to recruit the right way, scholarship or non-scholarship, and when they get to Penn State we try to put them in the proper role where they can excel."
"We certainly don't feel like we have the market cornered on scholarship, non-scholarship...or really anything. We were 8-4, so we don't have the market cornered on anything. We're just trying to get better."
Video: This recruiting pitch is about as good as it gets
When it comes to recruiting pitches, having one of the best college environments in the country is about as good as it gets. Numerous outlets, including ESPN and Sports Illustrated have crowned Madison, Wisconsin as the best college town in America.
After listening to ESPN's Scott Van Pelt rave about the town, overall college environment and then watching this video, it becomes pretty tough to argue.
Madison has a ton to sell to prospective student athletes.
Stanford linebackers - #PartyInTheBackfield
Late last month Stanford put together a great hype video for their defensive backs. On Wednesday they released an equally great video, this time highlighting the exploits of their linebacking corps.
As Stanford puts it, Disciplined + Cold-Blooded + Hunters = #PartyInTheBackfield.
Video: Minnesota introduces interesting strategy to excite students
Minnesota has come up with an interesting idea to drum up excitement from the student body to increase ticket sales.
In this clip, Goldy the Gopher goes around campus, hiding around corners and jumping out to scare passing students. While Goldy isn't the most intimidating mascot, he does help get the overall message across at the end of the day.
Plus let's be honest, who doesn't enjoy seeing people get scared silly?
With that in mind, who would be the best / most efficient mascot in the country to reenact this situation with? Our vote would have to go to Mike the Tiger at LSU. How about you?
UCF is looking to add black helmets this fall
Central Florida is planning on breaking out some new black helmets for the 2013 season.
During an event in front of a few hundred fans at Bright House Networks Stadium, head coach George O'Leary showed those in attendance two helmet designs that are being considered.
However, the addition of black helmets has not changed O'Leary's stance on rolling out an all black look anytime soon.
"I don't tell them what to wear except black-on-black, they're not wearing black-on-black," he said, drawing mixed reactions from the crowd including fair amounts of boos and laughter the Orlando Sentinel pointed out.
"Too bad, I'm not listening to you." O'Leary added, smiling.
Here's a look at the two helmets that were being showed off.
Larry Kehres steps down at Mount Union
One of the most dominant reigns in college football history came to an end Wednesday as Mount Union (D-III - OH) head coach Larry Kehres announced his retirement from coaching. He will remain on as the school's athletic director, while assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Vince Kehres will take over as head coach.
Kehres, a Mount Union graduate, returned to Mount Union after two years as a graduate assistant at Bowling Green and one year in the Ohio high school ranks as an assistant football coach and head swimming coach in 1974. He was named athletic director in 1985 and assumed the Purple Raiders' head coaching duties in 1986.
Mount Union ruled Division III and the Ohio Athletic Conference with an iron fist for much of his 27 seasons. Under his guidance, the Purple Raiders posted 23 conference titles, 21 undefeated seasons and 11 national championships. In a 13-year stretch from 1996-2008, Mount Union won the Division III crown nine times. Kehres' most recent title came in his last game as head coach, leading the 15-0 Purple Raiders to the 2012 national title while ranking first nationally in passing efficiency, scoring offense, rushing defense, total defense and scoring defense.
"The best part of the job was developing relationships with players and continuing those relationships following their graduations," Kehres said in the school's release. "Coaching the Purple Raiders has been a tremendous experience for my family. We have shared many great experiences with our players, fellow coaches, trainers and their families. We plan to continue to enjoy working with Mount Union coaches and athletes."
He steps down with a career record of 332-24-3 and an unthinkable .924 winning percentage.
Simply put, Mount Union's run of dominance under Kehres will never again be duplicated in college football history. This is a career where nearly 80 percent of his regular seasons ended with a perfect record, where the last time Mount Union didn't win the Ohio Athletic Conference and reach at least the Division III quarterfinals came in 1991, where his 12th best season ended with a 14-1 record and national title appearance, where his last regular season loss came eight seasons before his retirement. Look at it this way - every single player on Mount Union's roster has seen the Purple Raiders win the conference championship every year of their entire life.
Vince Kehres, also a Mount Union graduate, has spent 13 years on the coaching staff, the last eight as defensive coordinator. He has had a hand in 10 of Mount Union's 11 national titles as either a player or coach.
"Obviously Mount Union football has been a part of my entire life," stated Vince. "I have a passion for coaching and working with young men and I can think of no better place to do that then at Mount Union. I promise this program will continue to uphold the values and ideals that have made Mount Union what it is in the world of college football," said Vince Kehres. "Our mission remains the same -- bring quality young men to this place and allow them the opportunity to grow and be successful on and off the field."