"We're going to be like a fire department"
Last spring, Hendrix College announced that they were bringing football back after a 52 year absence. In March they named Louisiana College associate head coach Justin "Buck" Buchanan their new head coach.
With an extensive background as both a player and coach at the D-III level, Buchanan understands what small college football is all about.
“It’s real college football,” he explained during a recent speaking event. “The players may be an inch or two short or a second or two slow to play at another level. If you watch our games, you’ll see players who are going to be future doctors and lawyers and teachers and coaches and professionals who are playing the game like it’s meant to be played. You will be seeing players who will play as hard as any at a college level because they are playing it because of the love of the sport and each other.”
Buchanan went on to share a story about a small fire department that had been called on to respond to a large fire. The big departments were already on scene and had just started to set up when an old fire truck from the small department blasted through the barricades and put out the fire with only sand and old blankets. Buck used the story as an analogy for how him and his staff plan to get the Hendrix football program back on track.
“We are going to be like that small fire department and just go rushing in and start working. We are going to build a great program with a great foundation and great young men, And just like that little fire department, we are going to reap the rewards. Our institution will reap the reward and our young men will reap those rewards.”
Longhorn's 2012 slogan: "RISE"
Mack Brown addressed the media during his summer press conference yesterday, and talked about a new position the offensive staff is working on, as well as the motto that the team has agreed on using for 2012.
Co-offensive coordinators Bryan Harsin and Major Applewhite, along with receivers coach Darrell Wyatt have been brainstorming creative ways to get the ball in the hands of their best players, and have come up with a hybrid position to utilize.
"We also are working on a new position as such, Bryan and Major and Darrell are calling it 'T and Z' right now, which is part tailback, part Z receiver, for [RB] D.J. Monroe and [ATH] Daje Johnson. We feel those guys are speed guys and can get the ball in their hands and help us with explosive plays. They're working hard this summer on getting packages to get D.J. more involved".
Brown also talked about the importance of "RISE", the slogan that the team has decided to use this season.
"We asked the players to come up with their own motto and slogan for the year. They came up with RISE. The R in RISE is for relentless, the I is for intensity. They want the S to be swagger. A number of our coaches and Bennie thought it should be sacrifice first, then you get your swagger. They said you don't come off 85 with swagger, you have to earn that right, you earn that through time. Then the E is for emotion.They even designed a logo for it. We do feel like last year's team was, again, all over the place and was not capable of doing some of this stuff themselves. Bennie and the staff came up with “brick-by –brick.” This is what we're going to do, this is how we're going to do it, keep your mouth shut and let's start earning our way back so we can work and get our team and credibility back."
Mack explained each coach went through each of the words that were chosen and told the team what the word mean to them before they actually decided to do it. When it came to the "S", each side had a different view. In the end, the coaches always win.
"They wanted to keep swagger. We're going to make them earn the 'S.' 'Sa' starts before 'Sw.' We're going to make them start with one to get to the other. Then we took the basic meanings out of the encyclopedia and put it up on the board so that everybody understood if this is who they wanted to be, if this is what they wanted to represent themselves with their Tshirts, armbands, whatever, but don't act like you have intensity unless you do. Don't say relentless unless you're going to be that way, don't say you're going to play emotion and play flat. You all brought it up, said it, now do it."
Learn from your players
Pepper Johnson played in the league for over a decade as a linebacker before eventually becoming an assistant with the Patriots, where he has spent his entire coaching career. Johnson started out with the outside linebackers before spending the past 8 seasons working with the defensive line.
Just like riding a bike, Johnson got back in the groove of things with the linebackers without skipping a beat this off season. Part of the reason he's made a smooth transition back is because of his thirst for knowledge during his time as a player, and also by not being afraid to ask players for valuable insight.
“As a player I learned everything I possibly could about football. Coaching the defensive line as close as I was working with them as a player, I felt I know a lot about it. The things I had questions about I asked players, and I had long conversations with a lot of players I highly respect while I was playing the game.”
Johnson added that moving from coaching defensive linemen to linebackers was simply, "Instead of coaching guys going forward, I’m coaching guys running backwards in coverage." Clever.
D-III Video: "The clock is ticking"
Head coach Mike Swider and D-III Wheaton College open up with 2011 Northern Athletics Conference champion Benedictine (D-III- IL) on August 30th.
During their 8-2 mark last season, every game that the Thunder racked up at least 21 points ended in a victory and they went on to score at least 35 points in five of their ten games.
The staff put together a motivational video for the players, complete with sound bytes from Coach Swider and video highlights from the 2011 season, as a reminder during the off season that "The clock is ticking...be ready".
The importance of an off the field staff
An interesting ESPN article pointed out that Alabama has an impressive 146 off the field positions that make up the Tide's athletic program. Included in those 146 positions are everything ranging from secretaries to player development and recruiting assistants to help ensure that the athletic program runs like a well oiled machine.
When offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier walked into the football building for the first time, he couldn't help but be impressed with Saban's "organizational structure".
"He's so detailed in preparation. To have that structure in place and be able to come into a situation where you're able to integrate into the system and not create the system, it's been a huge advantage for me." Nussmeier explained.
The off the field staff are the ones breaking down film and tendencies weeks in advance, and gathering information and game film on potential recruits. Essentially, they're making the coaches jobs much, much easier so that they can concentrate on coaching.
When athletic director Mal Moore is asked about their investment in the support staff he simply points to the Tide's record to justify it. Two national championships in three seasons has other programs taking note of how things are done in Tuscaloosa.
Georgia is one of those programs with a similar approach. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham explains that there's no way he could do it all himself. "Let's say that Week 1 we're playing Buffalo, while we're doing that game plan, [the support staff is] working on the next opponent. That way when I come in on Sunday, I have a book in front of me that has the depth chart, their favorite formations by personnel, what kind of personnel they run, has their runs drawn up, their passes drawn up, has a tendency section. I can have the identity of this team within 25-30 minutes."
Grantham credits the NFL for much of how college programs now operate.
"People mimic each other, The game has gotten so precise and so detailed that it forces people to do those things to stay up with everybody."
At North Texas, Dan McCarney uses voluntary interns as members of his support staff, drawing inspiration from environment that Urban Meyer had created during their time together at Florida. The Mean Green don't have the budget that some of the major college programs do, so McCarney highlights the personal impact it has as the major benefit of lending a hand in areas as important as football operations and recruiting.
"That's one thing that you can't help but impact you from a positive way by getting more young people, more young guys involved and give them a chance. And then it's really neat to see them mature and flourish."
Plenty more quality content can be found in the original article which can be read here.
Arkansas unveils new uniforms
Arkansas has issued a press release of their new Nike uniforms, including the much talked about alternate uniform.
The new uniforms were aimed to pay respect to the traditions of Arkansas football past, as well as creating a cutting edge look for the future in order to turn heads of recruits as well as the fan base.
John L. describes the new look as "lighter, tighter, and cooler".
Fishin with Coach Hatch
Last week we showed you our first video of the year nominee, in which some of his assistants tried to educate Murray State head coach Chris Hatcher about the fine art of fishing.
Hatch was on the water this weekend and believe it or not, he didn't win the tournament...actually he came in 136th out of 142. But, the ever positive coach saw the positive saying, "Did beat a few folks, beat a couple of pros".
Watch Hatch describe it in his own words...
"The better you are, the less you have to do"
Gary Nord worked under Howard Schnellenberger for a number of years, and also served as the offensive coordinator and eventually head coach at UTEP. The past three seasons, Nord has ran the offense for Danny Hope at Purdue.
The Boilermakers have struggled through numerous injuries to key players the past couple seasons, which prompted the Big Ten Networks Tom Dienhart to ask Nord what the playbook will look like in 2012.
Nord's response was simple and to the point, and should speak volumes to coordinators out there in similar situations as fall approaches.
"I’m not necessarily interested in having a deep playbook. Usually the better you are, the less you have to do. When you aren’t very good, you have to do a lot to keep them off balance and try to trick them all the time. That’s not the way you like to call plays. You like to be able to call them and be successful at them because you are better than the other team. The better you are, the less you have to do."