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Here's how one head coach improved his team this summer: By starting a book club

The summer time is for running, lifting weights, some 7-on-7, and generally doing everything the rules allow to be prepared when fall camp opens. At St. Joseph Central Catholic in St. Joseph, Mo., the Indians have done all that, but without a doubt the best move head coach Jeff Wallace has made has nothing to do with football whatsoever.

Wallace has orchestrated a five-week study of Season of Life, Jeffrey Marx's book on the football-centric journey to manhood of former NFL player Joe Ehrmann.

"By far, I can easily tell you this is the best thing I've ever done in football," Wallace said.

When they're not running and lifting, the Central Catholic football team is sitting around talking about life and getting to know one another. And they believe it could make all the difference this fall. 

"It's really cool how we're able to not talk about so much 'oh did you see the hit I laid on that guy?' Or 'did you see that catch I made?' It's more about, we're getting more personal and I'm getting to know my teammates a lot better," said senior Eric Siemens.

Here's one way you know you're coaching the right way

Bruce Pearl, the new head basketball coach at Auburn, told an awesome story at the Auburn Basketball Letterman reunion a few days ago that packed quite the punch, a recent article in ESPN points out.

While the head coach at Tennessee seven years ago, Pearl received a voice mail from one of the best players (if not the best) in Auburn basketball history, the one and only Charles Barkley. It's a message that he has saved to this day.

"Don't get me emotional about this, but the truth of the matter is he called our basketball office one day," Pearl at the letterwinner reunion. "He says, 'Coach Pearl, this is Charles Barkley, you do not need to call me back. I've just been watching your teams play and I love the way you coach and I love the way your teams play.'"

In the hyper-competitive business that is coaching, it's good to have a morale booster when times get trying.

"I have it on an old cellphone. Believe me, there are times when we get down on ourselves and lose confidence in what we do and I've listened to that message a time or two. I had never met him, I didn't call him back because he said don't call me back, but I kept that message. I absolutely still have it today."

And now, of course, the story has gone full circle, as Pearl is now the head coach of Barkley's alma mater, the Auburn Tigers.

Twenty questions every recruit should be asking

Say what you will about the man, but John Calipari knows how to recruit. The man has turned the green room at the NBA Draft into an annual family reunion for Kentucky basketball, placed Kentucky in the Final Four three of the past four years and is on a personal run of seven Elite Eight appearances in the past nine years, dating back to his tenure at Memphis. 

It takes many aspects to form a winning team, but having better players than your opponents is at the top of the list. This man knows how to find them. 

Posted on his website CoachCal.com (the man is nothing if not a self-promoter), here are Calipari's 20 questions every recruit should be asking (and, obviously, with a basketball-heavy slant):

  • Does your program offer multi-year (four-year) scholarships?
  • How many players have graduated from your program over the last four to five years?
  • How many players have graduated from your school and gone on to the NBA?
  • How many players have come back to finish school after they have left to pursue other dreams? Who pays for it?
  • How many of your players were insured through the disability program last season? If none were, why not?
  • What is your team grade-point average?
  • Where does your Academic Progress Rate retention rank among other schools?
  • What type of media training do you offer?
  • What kind of social media training program do you have in place? What are your social media policies?
  • How many double-figure scorers have you averaged in the last four to five years? If you only have one or two a year, what does that mean for me?
  • Have you ever coached anyone like me? If so, who?
  • How many McDonald’s All-Americans have you coached? How many of them went on to the NBA?
  • How have your teams fared with three or four McDonald’s All-Americans on the same team?
  • How many freshmen have you started within the last four to five years?
  • How many draft picks have you had over the last five years? How many drafted were not McDonald’s All-Americans? How many of the total were first-rounders and were any of them No. 1 draft picks during that time?
  • How many of those players have gone on to make the NBA All-Rookie team?
  • How many games will my family be able to watch on national television?
  • How many of your home games are sold out? How many of your road games are sold out?
  • How have you done in postseason play? Any Final Fours?
  • What is your core philosophy?

 

The goal of any good recruiter should to not only have answers readily available when these questions come up, but to provide this information so cleanly and clearly that the questions never even need to be asked.

(HT SI.com)

Bronco Mendenhall has spent the off season with the bigs, here's why

The Deseret News published an interesting article last night on Bronco Mendenhall and his decision to spend most of the off season with the offensive line.

The big fellas up front at BYU are coached by offensive coordinator Robert Anae, who was a BYU center and guard back in the early 80's, and who has coached the offensive line at every coaching stop since his playing days ended, and Garett Tujague (another former BYU offensive lineman). Over the last several months, both well versed offensive line coaches had an extra set of eyes in their meeting rooms and on the practice field when Mendenhall made the decision to lend a helping hand to the position group.

According to Mendenhall, the main focus of collaborating was to find ways to create a more dominant culture in the trenches.

"When I’ve seen BYU play at its best, the teams I’ve watched in the past, they are physically dominant, they are very tough. They are on the edge of playing within the rules because they are so aggressive.” Mendenhall explained. “We’d like our offensive line to take more chances at finishing blocks and developing a mindset that is more dominant. There is a cultural element that needs to happen.”

The new up tempo, run heavy approach that Anae installed, starting last season, has presented a unique obstacle to the coaching staff; finding a balance between being very well conditioned up front, while still being able to physically dominate opponents. After all, the new run heavy scheme is quite the departure from the very successful pass happy offenses of BYU's past that Bronco previously referred to.

"Now, in our specific system, we have to be able to be conditioned at a level that is unlike any BYU offensive line ever. Last year we got by with a large number of players playing, basically being the equivalent of a single player. What we needed to do was increase the conditioning program for our players, especially the offensive linemen."

"The body fats and their conditioning had to be re-targeted. It wasn’t a transition, but we were transforming them. It was a physical transformation and a cultural transformation, not a performance transformation.”

That's an interesting way of looking at the intended transformation.

The other area that Mendenhall has found himself able to contribute with from being with the offense is helping players and the offensive staff understand the "why" behind how defenses are lining up and attacking them offensively.

“Since the end of last season, I’ve spent every meeting through spring practice sitting with our offense and the main perspective I could lend is not what (defenses) are doing but why they are doing it. So many offensive coaches can identify what front it is, what the twist is or what the blitz is (by the defense), but a lot of times that stops short of knowing the rationale behind it."

“If you can address the why strategically, you can actually stay ahead of that.”

Read the full piece here.

Clemson assistants will earn nearly $4.5 million in 2014

Clemson has locked up Dabo Swinney's coaching staff for the next two years, and the group will earn $4.42 million before incentives in 2014 according to a report by the Associated Press.

Interestingly enough, the only Clemson assistant not to sign a new contract was the highest-paid of Dabo's assistants. Offensive coordinator Chad Morris will remain on the six year, $13 million contract he signed following Clemson's 2011 ACC Championship that will pay him $1.3 million in 2014. He is now college football's second highest-paid coordinator, trailing only Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and his $1.385 million salary.

Defensive coordinator Brent Venables will receive a raise from $800,000 to $875,000 in 2014. Venables was already college football's seventh-highest paid assistant in 2013, according to USA Today's coaching salary database.

Co-defensive coordinator/defensive ends coach Marion Hobby will receive a $25,000 raise to $400,000, while defensive tackles coach Dan Brooks, offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell and tight ends coach/special teams coordinator Danny Pearmen will earn $340,000 apiece in 2014.

Next, defensive backs coach Mike Reed will net $285,000, wide receives coach/recruiting coordinator Jeff Scott will make $275,000, and running backs coach Tony Elliott rounds out the staff at $265,000.

The position coaches' contracts expire Jan. 31, 2016, while Venables' deal runs through 2017. The assistants are also eligible for bonuses ranging from $10,000 for an ACC championship appearance to $85,000 for a national championship. 

Swinney signed new eight year, $27.15 million contract in January.

Clemson is 51-23 under Swinney, and 32-8 (20-4 ACC) since 2011.

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