Sunday, December 09, 2007

College Football Game Predictions for Division I-AA (FCS), Division II, Division III, and NAIA Playoff Finals 2007

College Football Game Predictions for Division I-AA (FCS), Division II, Division III, and NAIA Playoff Finals

Is it better to have a top offense or a top defense in college football? When we compare team total offense stats with total defense stats, teams with top defenses are much higher-ranked on average than those with top offenses, all other things equal. In fact, the total defense stats are what make the SEC the toughest football conference in the country.

Almost unheard of is a team that ranks number one in both offense and defense in an NCAA division, but there is one such team in 2007, the Mount Union Purple Raiders in Division III. Here are some interesting stats about Mount Union in their first 12 games this year:

Just how good is Mount Union in Division III this year? We need not look only at their won-loss record. The stats tell us a devastating story. Mount Union has put up 6584 yards total offense in 12 games for a per game average of 548.67. The 6584 yards is one yard more than the total offense of 6583 yards in 12 games for Tulsa, ranked Number One in the NCAA Division I-A (FBS) this year.

But here is where Mount Union differs from all Division I-A (FBS) teams with highly ranked total offense teams. Their defenses are invariably weaker, but also here Mount Union is ranked Number One, as the defense has allowed only 1541 yards total offense in 12 games for a per game average of 128.41. That is an incredible nearly 100 yards better than Ohio State, ranked number one for 12 games in NCAA Division I-A (FBS), allowing 2703 total yards for a 225.3 per game average.

The Mount Union team stats for the 14 games of the season thus far can be found at Mt. Union Purple Raiders. Scoring-wise they are averaging 54.1 to 5.2 points per game. They are averaging 548.3 yards total offense and 156.9 yards total defense, i.e. the total offense average has been maintained in the playoffs, in spite of tougher competition. Opponents have put up more yards in the playoffs, but in part this is due to playing reserves in the last quarters against opponent first teams. The quarter scoring gives a view of the strength of this team, with the lesser scoring in the second half due to the first teams often no longer playing on the field:
Mount Union.........  284  264  135   74  -   757
Opponents........... 6 16 10 41 - 73
The average score in a game this year at halftime was about 39-2. That's phenomenal coaching AND playing. See Larry Kehres.

Here are our predictions for the playoff finals in Division I-A (FCS), Division II, Division III, and NAIA.

Game Matchup
Betting Line
(+ home favored)
vs. Spread
Delaware vs.
Appalachian State


See NCAA Division I-AA (FCS) bracket. By margin of victory ratings, Massey Ratings have Delaware 71st and Appalachian State 69th. Appalachian State, which vanquished Michigan to start the season, is the defending champion and going for a threepeat. Delaware is a perennial powerhouse.
Valdosta State
vs. Northwest Missouri State


See the Division II playoff bracket here. The Bearcats have impressively knocked off Chadron State and Grand Valley State in their last two games, the number one and number two ranked Division II teams in the country. The Bearcats beat the Lakers 34-16 to end the nation's longest win streak of 40 victories in a row. The Valdosta State Blazers beat unbeaten California of Pennsylvania but we think they have little chance now of beating Northwest Missouri State.
University of Wisconsin - Whitewater
at Mount Union


Mount Union is a football juggernaut this year, as shown inter alia by the Division III football bracket. Mount Union is the defending champion and going for a threepeat. Mount Union has 37 straight wins. They have beaten UW-Whitewater in the Division III playoff final the last two years and are unlikely to lose this year, as the Purple Raiders may have their best team of all time. Mark Gillispie at The Plain Dealer writes: "While the Mount offense has averaged more than 50 points a game ... it has been the defense that has produced some of the more eye-popping numbers this season. Mount Union's defense has put together what might be the most dominant season in the history of modern college football." The Massey Ratings put Mount Union at 83rd among all college football teams in the nation - prior to the win over Bethel, so they will move up a couple slots this week.
Sioux Falls (South Dakota)
Carroll College (Montanta)
in Savannah,


Sioux Falls is the 2006 NAIA defending champion but Carroll has a long tradition of NAIA national championships having won four in a row (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005) prior to 2006. Both teams played Morningside during the 2007 season, with the Cougars of Sioux Falls winning 34-28 and the Saints of Carroll College winning 27-16. The championship game matches the two best defenses in NAIA football.
Grambling State (8-3)
at Jackson State (7-4)


This game is for the SWAC Football Championship - SCG 2007. Grambling State beat Jackson State 30-20 during the regular season.

College Football Bowl Game Predictions 2007-2008

College Football Post-Season Division I-A (FBS) Bowl Game Predictions
using the Betting Line (Spread) at FOX Sports as of December 8, 2007.

Please do not rely on our predictions to make any wagers. We disclaim any and all liability for any reliance on any predictions that we post. Some weeks our predictions are good and some weeks not. We post these predictions in good fun. May the best team win. For these bowl predictions, this year we looked closely at total offense and total defense stats. Showing their decline of football fortunes, for example, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame ranked a far distant
last among all Division I-A FBS teams in total offense this 2007 season, so that these stats are useful in calculating a team's relative strength.

Game Matchup
Betting Line

vs. Spread
plus comments
San Diego County Credit Union
Poinsettia Bowl
December 20
9 p.m.
Utah (8-4) vs.
Navy (8-4)
Utah is favored by

A good Utah rushing defense (38th in the nation) is matched against the Division I-A (FBS) number one rushing offense. The Utes did allow Air Force 334 yards rushing early in the year. Navy has scored at least 24 points in every game. Can Utah muster more offense than that?
Utah (total offense 80th, total defense 14th)
Navy (total offense 24th, total defense 99th).
R+L Carriers
New Orleans Bowl
December 21
8 p.m.
Memphis vs.
Florida Atlantic
Florida Atlantic is favored by 2.5

These are two very similar teams in terms of the rushing and passing offensive and defensive stats. Both Sagarin and Massey rank Florida Atlantic higher. The Tigers lost to Middle Tennessee State and Arkansas State, which Florida Atlantic beat. The Owls coach is no other than Howard Schnellenberger, who won a national championship at Miami of Florida.
Memphis (total offense 23rd, total defense 100th)
Florida Atlantic (total offense 45th, total defense 85th). Bowl
Birmingham, Alabama
December 22
1 p.m.
Southern Miss vs.
Cincinnati is favored by 11

Southern Miss (total offense 62nd, total defense 46th) was a disappointment all year. Cincinnati (total offense 28th, total defense 51st)lost by a mere 4 points to Louisville, 7 to Pitt and 5 to West Virginia - otherwise, they would have had a perfect season and be ranked number one in the nation, though their stats do not warrant it.
New Mexico Bowl
Albuquerque, NM
December 22
4:30 p.m.
Nevada vs.
New Mexico
New Mexico
is favored by 3

New Mexico (total offense 84th, total defense 23rd) lost surprisingly 20-12 last year to San Jose State so we are wary of the Lobos in this bowl game and give the nod to Nevada (total offense 7th, total defense 71st).
Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl
December 22
8 p.m.
BYU is favored
by 6.5

UCLA beat BYU 27-17 during the regular season. Bowls as reruns? After the firing of Karl Dorrell of UCLA, defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker is the interim coach. If Walker is not hired as head coach by UCLA, he might go to Washington State. UCLA has a lot of talent, but has not played well much of the season. UCLA (total offense 96th, total defense 34th) BYU (total offense 15th, total defense 10th)
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
December 23
8 p.m.
Boise State vs.
East Carolina
Boise State is favored
by 10.5

A strong 10-2 Boise State team (total offense 10th, total defense 21st) faces a 7-5 East Carolina team (total offense 71st, total defense 98th) that really does not appear to be the right opponent for the Broncos in a bowl game, especially given their defeat of Oklahoma last year.
Motor City Bowl
Detroit, Michigan
December 26
7:30 p.m.
Purdue vs.
Central Michigan
is favored
by 9

Purdue (total offense 37th, total defense 60th) Central Michigan (total offense 22nd, total defense 106th)
Pacific Life Holiday Bowl
San Diego, Calif.
December 27
8 p.m.
Arizona State vs.
is favored by 1.5

Arizona State (total offense 52nd, total defense 27th) Texas (total offense 53rd, total defense 14th)
Champs Sports Bowl
Orlando, Florida
December 28
5 p.m.
Boston College vs.
Michigan State
Boston College is favored by 3.5

Boston College (total offense 27th, total defense 26th) Michigan State (total offense 33rd, total defense 40th)
Texas Bowl
Houston, Texas
December 28
8 p.m.
TCU vs. Houston
is favored
by 3.5

TCU (total offense 64th, total defense 16th) Houston (total offense 4th, total defense 49th)
Emerald Bowl
San Francisco, CA
December 28
8:30 p.m.
Maryland vs.
Oregon State
Oregon State
is favored
by 4.5

Maryland (total offense 88th, total defense 42nd) Oregon State (total offense 77th, total defense 12th)
Meineke Car Care Bowl
Charlotte, NC
December 29
1 p.m.
UConn vs.
Wake Forest
Wake Forest
is favored
by 3

UConn (total offense 83rd, total defense 31st) Wake Forest (total offense 98th, total defense 39th)
AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Memphis, TN
December 29
4:30 p.m.
UCF vs.
Mississippi State
is favored
by 3

UCF (total offense 32nd, total defense 58th) Mississippi State (total offense 112th, total defense 28th)
Valero Alamo Bowl
San Antonio, Texas
December 29
8 p.m.
Penn State vs.
Texas A&M
Penn State is favored
by 5.5

Penn State (total offense 57th, total defense 9th) Texas A&M (total offense 54th, total defense 83rd)
PetroSun Independence Bowl
Shreveport, LA
December 30
8 p.m.
Alabama vs.
is favored
by 3.5

Alabama (total offense 75th, total defense 28th) Colorado (total offense 72nd, total defense 64th)
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
Fort Worth, Texas
December 31
12:30 p.m.
California vs.
Air Force
is favored
by 3.5

California (total offense 55th, total defense 54th) Air Force (total offense 40th, total defense 44th)
Roady's Humanitarian Bowl
Boise, Idaho
December 31
2 p.m.
Georgia Tech vs.
Fresno State
Georgia Tech
is favored
by 4

Georgia Tech (total offense 66th, total defense 11th)
Fresno State (total offense 50th, total defense 77th)
Brut Sun Bowl
El Paso, Texas
December 31
2 p.m.
South Florida
vs. Oregon
South Florida is favored
by 6.5

South Florida (total offense 39th, total defense 22nd) Oregon (total offense 12th, total defense 62nd)
Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl
Nashville, TN
December 31
4 p.m.
Kentucky vs.
Florida State
is favored
by 1

Kentucky (total offense 25th, total defense 65th) Florida State (total offense 82nd, total defense 36th)
Insight Bowl
Tempe, Arizona
December 31
6 p.m.
Indiana vs.
Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State
is favored
by 4

Indiana (total offense 63rd, total defense 68th) Oklahoma State (total offense 9th, total defense 103rd)
Chick-fil-A Bowl
Atlanta, Georgia
December 31
7:30 p.m.
Clemson vs.
is favored
by 2

Clemson (total offense 47th, total defense 6th) Auburn (total offense 101st, total defense 8th)
Outback Bowl
Tampa, Florida
January 1, 2008
11 a.m.
Wisconsin vs.
Tennessee is favored
by 3.5

Wisconsin (total offense 44th, total defense 36th) Tennessee (total offense 55th, total defense 73rd)
AT&T Cotton Bowl
Dallas, Texas
January 1, 2008
11:30 a.m.
Missouri vs.
is favored
by 3

Missouri (total offense 5th, total defense 59th) Arkansas (total offense 16th, total defense 45th). Arkansas interim coach is Reggie Herring. Some assistant coaches may join Houston Nutt in Mississippi. We do not expect the Razorbacks to be at full speed against the Tigers.
Gator Bowl
Jacksonville, Florida
January 1, 2008
1 p.m.
Texas Tech vs.
Texas Tech
is favored
by 5.5

Texas Tech (total offense 2nd, total defense 50th) Virginia (total offense 100th, total defense 17th)
Capital One Bowl
Orlando, Florida
January 1, 2008
1 p.m.
Michigan vs. Florida
is favored
by 10

Michigan (total offense 74th, total defense 24th) Florida (total offense 13th, total defense 32nd)
Rose Bowl presented by Citi
Pasadena, California
January 1, 2008
4:30 p.m.
Illinois vs. USC
is favored
by 13.5

The USC defense has been their strength this year, which will help them against Illinois, but the Trojan offense is weak. USC (total offense 41st, total defense 2nd) Illinois (total offense 36th, total defense 41st)
Allstate Sugar Bowl
New Orleans, LA
January 1, 2008
8:30 p.m.
Hawaii vs. Georgia
is favored
by 9.5

If Hawaii beats Georgia, as we predict they will, the Warriors are the true national champions, regardless of the outcome of the Ohio State - LSU BCS championship game, where the winner is then merely the BCS champion. As far as a comparison of offenses and defenses are concerned, Hawaii wins hands down. The Warriors will be able to contain the Georgie offense, but not vice versa.
Rushing Offense -
Hawaii 113th, Georgia 36th
Passing Offense -
Hawaii 2nd, Georgia 84th
Total Offense -
Hawaii 3rd, Georgia 69th
Rushing Defense -
Hawaii 39th, Georgia 28th
Passing Defense -
Hawaii 43rd, Georgia 24th
Total Defense -
Hawaii 33rd, Georgia 19th
Hawaii gave up a big block of bowl tickets assigned to their fans. A scandal worthy of investigation.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Glendale, Arizona
January 2, 2008
8 p.m.
Oklahoma vs.
West Virginia
Oklahoma is favored by 6.5

This is a great matchup because the Sooners 8th ranked rushing defense meets the Mountaineers 4th ranked rusing offense, just as Oklahoma's 37th ranked passing offense meets West Virginia's 12th ranked passing defense.
Rushing Offense -
Oklahoma 30th, West Virginia 4th
Passing Offense -
Oklahoma 37th, West Virginia 113th
Total Offense -
Oklahoma 18th, West Virginia 19th
Rushing Defense -
Oklahoma 8th, West Virginia 16th
Passing Defense -
Oklahoma 68th, West Virginia 12th
Total Defense -
Oklahoma 18th, West Virginia 4th
The difference we think
will be Sam Bradford.
FedEx Orange Bowl
Miami, Florida
January 3, 2008
8 p.m.
Virginia Tech vs.
Virginia Tech
is favored
by 3

This is a great matchup for Kansas. Virginia Tech is the most overrated team in the BCS, having such a terrible offense (99th nationally) that it has punted 84 times this year, the third-most in Division I-A FBS football. Even if their superb defense (total defense ranked 5th nationally) holds the Jayhawks some of the time, the Hokies have no chance to win this game, because their offense cannot keep the Kansas offense off the field. The Kansas defense is nearly as good (total defense ranked 13th nationally), and their offense is far superior (6th nationally). How the Massey Ratings can rank the Hokies first in the nation is a great mystery after their 48-7 loss to LSU.
International Bowl
Toronto, Canada
January 5, 2008
12:00 p.m. noon
Rutgers vs.
Ball State
is favored
by 10

Rutgers (total offense 26th, total defense 15th) Ball State (total offense 30th, total defense 87th)
Mobile, Alabama
January 6, 2008
8 p.m.
Bowling Green vs.
is favored
by 4.5

Tulsa led the nation in total offense in Division I-A FBS football but their defense was just terrible (111th), so that one just never knows what to expect in a game. Bowling Green ranked 43rd in total offense and 79th in total defense. Added together that gives only a slight edge to the Golden Hurricane.
AllState BCS
Championship Game
New Orleans
January 7, 2008
8 p.m.
Ohio State vs.
is favored
by 5

Not everyone likes Ohio State, but the fact is, Jim Tressel owns more national championships than any other Division I-A FBS coach, topped in the NCAA only by Larry Kehres at Division III Mount Union. LSU has two losses and should not be in this game, which properly belongs to regular-season undefeated Hawaii.
Rushing Offense -
LSU 12th, Ohio State 20th
Passing Offense -
LSU 53rd, Ohio State 87th
Total Offense -
LSU 21st, Ohio State 59th
Note: Since the defenses of these teams are so good, the offenses are thus both worse than their stats.
Rushing Defense -
LSU 14th, Ohio State 3rd
Passing Defense -
LSU 9th, Ohio State 1st
Total Defense -
LSU 3rd, Ohio State 1st
LSU does not have the Florida offense that destroyed the Buckeyes last year and so will have trouble winning.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Selected Secrets of Good Coaching

The SportPundit discovered by chance some years ago that he had a natural talent for coaching as he co-coached an amateur European youth football (soccer) team in Germany. The result was an undefeated team and recognition in the German soccer magazine Kicker.

In our first regular season game, we faced the league champion of the previous year, who had won 6-1 against our team's players the year before. 6-1 is a virtual blowout in soccer.

This time, we emerged victorious 11-1. Although our talent base was thin, we fielded the better TEAM game after game, and maintained that same average goal difference throughout the season, scoring 56 goals and giving up only 5 goals in our conference. In other words, we gave up fewer goals the entire season than the same players had given up in their first game the previous year.

Although we had the same players, we had a vastly different TEAM.

What were our coaching secrets?

Please note that the following coaching "secrets" are not secrets to good head coaches, whether in sports, law, executive or other corporate matters. Indeed, the reason that we have such an extraordinarily high opinion of the head coaching abilities of someone like Larry Kehres of the Football Division III Mount Union Purple Raiders, is because we have seen Kehres, college football's winningest coach, publicly express exactly the same principles that we have applied independently as a coach ourselves.

But one need not listen to us - listen to Kehres. As one veteran rival coach remarked about Kehres: "How does he win all the time?... I wish I knew, because then I might beat him one day." That reminded me of a comment made by one of the local coaches to a friend of mine about my own coaching: "How does he always win?"

Here are some "secrets" about winning as a coach that we have in common with Larry Kehres.

Secret Number 1 : Recruit the Right Players and Hold Them to Higher Standards
(This can also apply to the recruitment of the right personnel in any organization)

Stephanie Storm quotes Kehres:

"You have to recruit good people, then assist them in their development."

Milan Simonich quotes Kehres at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette concerning his recruiting of players:

" "I only ask them three questions, but they're important.... Are you a good man? Do you have a passion for football? Do you plan on getting the grades you're capable of?" "

Stephanie Storm in the Akron Beacon Journal of November 28, 2003, writes:

"Football might be the focus of the coach's life, but he teaches his players that their values ought to extend beyond the field.

During football season, players' grades actually improve.

Coach says it's important that we hold ourselves to higher standards, especially when so much attention is focused on us during the season,'' wide receiver Randell Knapp said." [emphasis added by SportPundit]

Kehres expects his players to give their best, every day. As quoted by Nancy Armour at

""I'm proud of the fact that our men do learn that you have to do, day in and day out, what you're supposed to do," Kehres said. "I don't expect (victories). However, do I expect a certain level of performance throughout the offseason in terms of what we do and then, in the season, in how we practice so that we would have a chance to go down that path? Yes, I expect that.""

Secret Number 2: Prepare Your Team to Play with Passion and as much Perfection as they are Capable of

Larry Kehres says
that "The job of a coach is to prepare his team."

This involves training in all of its aspects, including mental and physical preparedness.

As Milan Simonich writes at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"He [Kehres] took a solid program and turned it into a spectacular one by emphasizing precision, mental preparation and weight training."

Players on and off the field must know what responsibilities they have and what action they are to take in any particular game situation. A player who is undisciplined off the field is not likely to exercise discipline on the field. It is the whole player that counts.

The onus hereby is on the COACHES. Kehres is quoted by Al Eisele at the Huffington Post:

" "I always try to get the assistant coaches who work with me to understand that if there's no learning by the kids, there's no teaching.... I've tried hard to get the coaches to accept that as the only measure of performance, and there are just no excuses accepted. If there's no learning, there's no teaching....." "

That standard of teaching and learning demands extremely knowledgeable and effective education of players.

Stephanie Storm in the Akron Beacon Journal of November 28, 2003, writes:

"Kinnard and many other team leaders point to the precision with which the program is run, the attention to every detail all the way down to scheduling the number of minutes for each practice drill, as a main reason for their overwhelming success."

The result of that philosophy is awesome.

Milan Simonich writes at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"He works for perfection," said Matt Caponi, a senior defensive back and a Baldwin High School graduate. "That's how his offense has been for the last three years -- perfect." ...

On the field, Kehres lays down a singular challenge to everybody who pulls on a helmet. "I expect them to play better than they ever thought they could," he says."

Coaches, when is the last time one of your players called your offense - perfect?

Jack Ewing, president of Mount Union College, is quoted by Milan Simionich at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as saying about Larry Kehres and the football team program:

"This is a culture of excellence that I have never seen before."

Every coach creates a "culture" of some kind by his coaching. What is yours?

Secret Number 3 : A Coach Must be Absolutely Objective at All Times

Effective coaching demands absolute objectivity about the skills, strengths and weaknesses of players and coaches, on both sides of the ball. Wishful thinking is at the heart of bad decision-making.

If you have a weaker team than the opponent - accept it. A weaker team can beat a stronger team if the coaches correctly recognize that they are weaker and take proper measures to try to offset that weakness. Here we can point to Stanford's incredible record upset of USC this year 24-23, even though Stanford was the underdog by more than 40 points. Prior to that game, as Ted Venegas, Columnist for wrote at Yahoo sports:

"The Cardinal have completely revamped their approach defensively. Before this season, they ran a passive 3-4 defense which was of the read and react variety. This year, they do nothing but attack.... Defensive coordinator Scott Shafer came to the conclusion that Stanford did not have the talent to remain passive, so they have to force the action."

The Stanford upset of USC was enabled by good coaching under the leadership of football director and head coach Jim Harbaugh and the Stanford coaching staff, who objectively recognized their weaknesses and compensated for them.

The principle also applies to basketball. Tubby Smith, former basketball coach at Kentucky and now in his first year at Minnesota where the team is sporting a 5-1 record as opposed to 2-6 last year with much the same players and a similar schedule, says about coaching:

"If you're not skilled enough offensively, defensively you can make up for it with hustle and sheer determination and effort," Smith said. "We feel like we have to overachieve."

Secret Number 4 : A Coach Must Work Optimally to Develop the Players He Has

Stephanie Storm in the Akron Beacon Journal of November 28, 2003, in "Team Concept Rules" writes about Larry Kehres' assessment of players as follows:

"When he [Kehres] thinks back to the start of the run that began Mount Union's dominance, Kehres remembers a meeting held among the team's staff in the early '80s when he was an assistant.

'We just decided to quit pouting about what we didn't have and concentrate on improving the players we had,' Kehres said.

'We went with the idea that if some of the players we recruited weren't as good as some others when they arrived, it was our job to help them catch up,' Kehres said. 'It was sort of, "Come on, let's quit whining and feeling sorry for ourselves and make the most of what we've got."

What happens when you do not develop players properly (required in college ball) but expect them to perform automatically (as is more likely in the NFL) can be seen at Notre Dame, where Charlie Weis, a former NFL offensive coordinator, went 3-9 this year as the head coach of the Irish. As Posted at (and cited at BlogIron) by Kevin Donahue:

"Charlie Weis is an outstanding offensive mind - without question - but he is failing as a head coach.

There is nothing in his resume to suggest that Weis is capable of developing talent. He certainly didn't have to develop players in the NFL, just show them the plays, tweak here & there, and collect the trophies. But now - with his team needing it the most - Weis is not developing talent at Notre Dame.

Good recruits are coming into the Notre Dame system and - but for their own inner passion to excel - languishing under Weis. There is no such thing as marked improvement, it is simply a transaction with Weis. It almost as if the recruits are NFL free agents, signing with the team and then expected to use their talents to improve the team. There's nothing to suggest that Weis is actually taking a player from one level and ELEVATING his game to the next level. And this is Weis's Achilles' heel - he isn't developing players.

Nebraska had the same problem with Bill Callahan, who had proven himself as an offensive coordinator, but not as a head coach, having inherited a Super Bowl team for one successful season and then going 4-12 the next year. It is one thing to develop offensive plays for professional football players at the top - both Callahan (Oakland) and Weis (New England) were offensive coordinators for Super Bowl teams - but it is an entirely different matter to head coach a college team, that may not have the talent at all to execute effectively many of the plays that a brilliant offensive mind can come up with. Plus, equal attention has to be paid to the defense. The job is simply a different one and a coach must adapt coaching to the personnel that he has.

Secret Number 5 : A Coach Must Adapt the Style of Play to the Players Available

Stephanie Storm in the Akron Beacon Journal of November 28, 2003, quotes Kehres about the style of play that a football team should have, dependent on the players available:

"Some years you don't have the kind of players you need to say, run the option,'' he said. 'As a coach, you can't just do what you want to do. You have to match it to the ebb and flow of the kind of players you have."

Especially coaches who rely on a "fixed system" and then try to force that fixed system upon their players, whether those players are suited to that system or not, are not likely to be successful. Larry Kehres adapts continuously - to the times and to his players.

Let us tune in to Division III football and the blog, the D3 Football Daily Dose, where commenter Mainjack writes as follows about Mount Union's head coach Larry Kehres ("LK" in the posting quoted below), :

"I’ve been a bit surprised that no one has mentioned how LK has adapted his teams over the past 15 years to stay ahead of the curve. In the early 90’s when the west coast offense was first starting to creep into the language, LK embra[c]ed it, and blew people away with his 5 wideouts and wide open passing. Back in those days as soon as MUC got anywhere near mid-field, they were going for the bomb. As the 90’s came to a close, and defenses were figuring out the west coast schemes, LK went to a very good running back, a blocking fullback and a tight end. Chuck Moore and Dan Pugh helped remake the Mount union offense, and allowed the passing game to be as successful as it needed to be. Now you have Kmic absolutely carrying the load behind a massive offensive line, with deep threat possibility in Garcon, and two or three other receivers doing damage on short routes……when necessary.
Football is cyclical, but LK has always stayed one step ahead of where the game is going, which is why they have not had many down years (if you can call one loss a down year)."

Secret Number 6 : A Coach Must Concentrate on the Basics

One of the things that shocked this writer about the Callahan-coached Huskers was that they seemed to have forgotten how to block and tackle with passion, i.e. the most basic skills required of a top football team. Coaches who spend all their time designing plays and looking at films of opposing teams are not going to be successful if the basics are thereby neglected. The game must still be played - on the field - not just on the drawing board.

One coach who understood this was UCLA's fabled basketball coach, John Wooden, who made his highly touted players run basic basketball drills like shooting layups continuously, as he explained, so that layups would be made automatically during game situations and not be missed. The same applies to tackles in football.

Indeed, the attention to fundamentals by John Wooden was legendary. As written by Kyle Colvett for Inside Tennessee at

"The most basic of football skills and behaviors need to be emphasized. John Wooden, he of the ten NCAA basketball titles at UCLA, the Wizard of Westwood, used to begin the practice season with an entire session on how to put on socks and shoes. Players were troubled by blisters and foot problems and he discovered that the players didn't smooth out all the wrinkles around their heels and around their little toes, places where the blisters were prone to occur. He sometimes noted that they didn't lace their shoes properly or that they wore shoes that were a size too large. Such details mattered."

Secret Number 7 : Yelling and Screaming is NOT Good Coaching, but Ritual and Routine ARE : Sports Psychology, Mental Fitness and Mental Discipline

See in this regard, for example, Secret Ingredient at, which is about sports psychology. We mention it here because sports psychology is immensely important, and as pointed out there, quite correctly:

"Studies show that yelling and screaming does NOT work with 94% of youth football players… and it can make it even harder for them to improve...

Varsity high school football coaches that use routines and rituals with their teams are three times as likely to have a winning record...."

That is absolutely correct. We have seen time and again on playing fields where coaches, parents, relatives and fans are screaming and yelling at their players, all to no avail.

SCREAMING AND YELLING is a sign of poor coaching, poor parenting, poor relations to other people, and poor spectating. It is a sign that you are unable to cope rationally with the situation that faces you. It is evidence of a lack of mental fitness and an absence of mental discipline. This does not mean that one can not be intense and enthusiastic, but it does mean that coaches yelling and screaming at players is simply a waste of time. John Wooden is quoted as saying:

"Intensity makes you stronger. Emotionalism makes you weaker."

The job of any coach is the same as that of any parent or educator, it is the job of rational instruction. Such instruction often best involves ritual and routine, to improve focus and reduce error.

One of the secrets of Tiger Woods, the best golfer of all time, for example, is ritual and routine. As written by Bill Cole, founder and CEO of Procoach Systems, Silicon Valley, California, in What Makes Tiger Tick?:

"[Tiger] maintains personal rituals before playing and practicing, and before each shot he takes."

Cole points out clearly that physical AND mental fitness must be elements of proper instruction for successful coaching. With respect to the mental fitness of Tiger Woods, Cole observes these strengths, which a coach should try to implement in his coaching and inculcate in his players:

1) Very high personal standards (Larry Kehres agrees) and accountability
This applies to conduct off and on the field

2) Unrelenting mental discipline
On our soccer team, for example, we demanded and enforced strict mental discipline. Players were not allowed to yell at other players or to argue with referees - these were grounds for us, the coaches, to immediately remove a player from the field. Players were expected to concentrate on THEIR playing of the game and on nothing else.

3) Confidence-building by focused practice - achieving permanence of skills through practice
For example, we often see people at golf driving ranges, senselessly hitting one ball after the other as fast as they can, gaining nothing from the exercise. Practice must be focused on gaining permanence in a given skill. Practice must focus on "perfecting" something, which means that time must be taken to concencrate on what is being done. John Wooden is quoted for this:

"Do not mistake activity for achievement."

4) Focus on the process - not focus simply on winning or losing
Studies show that the difference between equally-talented champions and non-champions is the absence of fear in champions - they are not haunted by the fear of losing, but concentrate on the process of winning, doing what it takes to win, regardless of the specter of losing.

Some selected sites touching upon good coaching are:

"Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming." - John Wooden
No-How Coaching by Coach John Gagliardi, some of whose No-Hows are:
  • No fear of being different
  • No throwing away money
  • No top-heavy staff
  • No reverence for titles.
  • No busy work
  • No substituting Mission Statements for doing the job
  • No withholding honor earned
  • No substituting reams of paper for action
  • No being a jerk
  • No focusing on mistakes.
  • No substituting putzing for achieving
  • No celebrating the heros only
  • No overloading by overanalysis
  • No fear of taking a risk
  • No giving power to setbacks
  • No settling for less than the best
  • No focus on winning everything for soccer coaching
Football Training - soccer coaching links
Football Coaching Strategies - by the AFCA - detailed at Human Kinetics
  • Running game—Tom Osborne, John McKay, and Darrell Royal
  • Passing game—Bill Walsh, Steve Spurrier, and LaVell Edwards
  • Defense—Dick Tomey, Barry Alvarez, Dave Wannstedt, and Jerry Sandusky
  • Kicking game—Spike Dykes and John Cooper
  • Philosophy, motivation, and management—Eddie Robinson and Joe Paterno
The AFCA (American Football Coaches Association) has more books
- check your online bookshop
Football Tools - Training Systems, Playbooks, DVDs etc.
Better Coaching - Australian Sports Commission
Better Rugby Coaching by Dan Cottrell
Coach Carl - Cycling
New Sports Technology and Coaching Solutions- e.g. XOS Technologies
ACTO - Association of Coach Training Organizations (Corporate) see their directory

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