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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. 




'We did more tackling TODAY than the past two years combined'

One of the main focus' for Bob Davie's staff during their first two years at New Mexico was to build depth. That depth would not only help them come fall, but in the spring it would finally allow them to practice the way that they feel they need to in order to get the program to take the next step.

Now in their third spring, Davie feels like they finally have the depth they need, and the reward is finally being able to practice the way that they've wanted to for the past few years.

To really put in perspective what that means as far as practice structure, after Saturday's practice Davie said that they were able to tackle more during that practice than they had in the previous 30 spring practices over the past two seasons. That's wild.

"To put it all in context, we probably did more live tackling out here today than we maybe did in our first two spring COMBINED. If you take all 15 practices of year one and year two, we probably tackled more out here today than we did then." Davie explained

"For us, that's what we have to do in order to build a football team. It's like being a bull fighter...at some point you'd better fight that live bull. You can play with the little horns on a stick all you want but you better put that live bull in there."




World's first marriage proposal via Hudl

Well folks, here's something you don't see everyday...

Westfield High School (TX) coach Justin Outten used his team and Hudl to help propose to his girlfriend yesterday. 

Outten explained when publishing this video on Youtube:

Coach Outten asked his team to help propose to his girlfriend. There was a mock fight that was quickly broken up. Coach Outten gathered the team only to have another coach deliver a poster containing the hidden message "Vee will you marry me?" The poster was then revealed to the camera as the players and Coaches plead for an answer. Later that day Coach Outten texted his girlfriend explaining the horrible fight, which made her very concerned for her boyfriend's safety along with the players. The video was presented to her 2 days later on Coach Outten's HUDL video/editing program. When the poster was revealed on the video, Coach Outten dropped to a knee and proposed! Her reaction was also caught on tape. ENJOY!

Congratulations Coach and soon to me Mrs. Outten!

 




Princeton coaches go head to head at practice for Junior Day

While on the road yesterday I came across this tweet from Princeton inside linebackers coach Stephen Thomas, and what I saw literally made me pull over so that I could safely watch it over and over again.

From what I understand, while Princeton was hosting their annual Junior Day event, they decided to give the crowd a taste of something new. That's when two assistant coaches decided to spar in the classic one-on-one pass rush drill. Special teams coordinator / tight ends coach Andy Aurich played the role of the offensive lineman, and coach Thomas played the part of the defensive lineman.

Just for a little primer, Aurich, an '06 grad, was a two-year starter on the offensive line for the Tigers and was part of an offensive line that broke Ivy League records for total offense and scoring. Thomas played defensive back at Buffalo and also graduated in '06. While they're even in age, we all know who had the clear advantage in this one.

The rest you have to see for yourself. Kudos to the video guys for getting the action from more than one angle.

If you happen to see coach Thomas on campus or out and about, be sure to shake his hand because this was impressive. On the flip side, coach Aurich may be in need of a hug if you run into him.

A good amount of trash talking ensued afterward, the best of which came from former Princeton defensive lineman Caraun Reid.




Butch Jones dances after a Tennessee practice

Tennessee held a scrimmage on Saturday, and the Vols apparently performed so well that head coach Butch Jones felt like dancing afterward. 




How you turn a good team into a great one

Bryan Harsin inherited a very good program at Boise State. The Bronco's won 8 games last season...acceptable to some; but certainly not as many as they would have liked. There is no doubt that Boise State has all the makings of a great program; and it's Harsin's job to take them from good to great. 

So what's his plan? 

Well, based off of a few of these all-access videos we've seen, it looks like Harsin has his guys focused on having fun and competing. As far as competing goes, watch the video below, offensive coordinator Mike Sanford points out that in between practice periods Harsin has them stop and do non-football related competitions. Clearly, he's trying to bring out the inner-beast in his guys...and that will pay dividends in the Fall. Really like that idea.

Now, there's plenty of fun in that video as well; but we also caught a glimpse of this staff photo from a recent "Friday Night Lights" event. A lot of Ballers in that group. Um, I think that's an authentic Steve Caldwell special...Love it! A lot fun to be had here folks...

Friday Night Lights




How these two high school programs got better in 15 minutes

Fifteen minutes. Zero dollars. That's how much El Dorado (AR) and Bishop O'Connell (VA) high schools invested to improve their programs this week. 

On Thursday, we posted a glowing review of South Carolina's landing page to chronicle their recent Pro Day, and we strongly encouraged other programs to do the same. The Gamecocks used Exposure.so's template, and paid no more than $99 a year (or $9 a month) for a premium account (disclosure: Exposure isn't a sponsor and, in fact, we hadn't even heard of them until Thursday). Bishop O'Connell head coach Del Smith saw our article, signed up for a free trial, and 15 minutes later he had this:

AAHS

AAHS00

AAHS3

You can check out the whole thing at oconnellfootball.exposure.so. On Friday, El Dorado (AR) High School tweeted at their own creation:

AAHS El Dorado

Again, the possibilities here are endless. Program promotion, fundraising, recruiting 8th graders to play, they're all at your fingertips and it can be done in breaks between classes. Here's the Exposure tutorial again:




Video: Mic'd up with Texas defensive coordinator Vance Bedford

Vance Bedford played at Texas from 1977-81. A native of Beaumont, Texas, Bedford was recruited by Darrell Royal and watched up close as Earl Campbell battered and bruised his way to the school's first Heisman Trophy.

After a short stint in professional football, he jumped into coaching at Forest Brook High School in 1985, and the ascended to college football at Navarro Junior College in 1986. In the near 30 years since then, Bedford has made seven different college stops, plus five years with the Chicago Bears, but never put the burnt orange back on until this year. 

As you'll see in the video below, he's back in his element.