So You Didn’t Sign On National Signing Day. Is It Over for You?

By: Chad Wilson – Editor – GridironStuds Blog
Twitter: @GridironStuds

While National Signing Day is a cause for celebration and joy for 1000’s of high school athletes across the country every year,  for many more the thought of that first Wednesday in February brings a ton of anxiety, angst and misery.  Many athletes,  football in particular, think that if they don’t find a school to sign with on National Signing Day (NSD) their football career is over.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

The truth of the matter is that National Signing Day represents the first day that a high school athlete can signing a letter of intent to a college institution not the last.  As a result of the thought and mindset that one must sign on NSD or all is lost,  many athletes and their families make critical mistakes.  Sure,  it is great to be a part of all of the festivities in the gym or school auditorium.  The feeling is that you are being recognized and rewarded for all of the handwork and dedication you have given to your sport not only during your high school years but often times before that.  While I can certainly feel you there,  the urge to be a part of that ceremony should not supersede what is in your best long term interest.  Many marriages culminate with a huge ceremony that costs $1,000’s but unfortunately the stats show that quite a few of those end up in a courtroom before a judge.  Likewise,  many marriages still going strong after several decades began with a simple courtroom procedure and ended up with a lifetime of ceremonial moments.  The point is that a bad decision celebrated is still a bad decision.

Many high school football players will grab any offer that comes their way just so that they can say the signed on signing day.  That sounds like a marriage that is headed to the courtroom.  Signing with a school, sight unseen or when you really don’t feel like it’s the place for you,  will not allow you to have happy thoughts when you reflect back on signing day.  Using my wedding example,  some couples spend money they don’t have to throw a huge ceremony and spend the rest of their marriage fighting about it.  It’s an awful feeling enrolling at a school and going through the rigors of football when you are at a place you really don’t want to be.  Being a student athlete is hard enough as it is when you love the school,  think about the toll on your sanity when you are at a school where you don’t like the town, the weather, the coaches, the people or anything else having to with the university you chose.

The smart thing for a student-athlete to do is bet on yourself.  Don’t become overwhelmed by the pressure of signing day and jump on an offer from a school you are likely going to want to leave in six months.  In my article You Thought You Loved Football then They Gave You a Scholarship,  I detail the true life of the common college football player.  It was not an article to downgrade the college football experience,  it was a plea to the many athletes that mistakingly think football is for them when it is not.  Ask yourself if you are really serious about football.  If you are,  ask yourself if the school you are hustling to sign with on signing day provides you with the football experience you can live with.  If it doesn’t,  ask yourself if the education you will receive is enough to override the football experience you know you won’t enjoy.  If your answer to both of those questions is no,  then continue your search and don’t be afraid to both create and pursue other options.

Some athletes may really need to go to a junior college first.  Are you really talented and suffered some misfortune?  Perhaps you were injured during a crucial time of your recruitment.  You undoubtedly were one of the top guys in your region before you had the setback.  If that’s the case,  you may want to go to a junior college,  get more film and improve your college football options in one or two years.  Division I college football is full of junior college transfers.  Perhaps you didn’t really take off until your senior season and thus were left off the list of many top universities.  This happens to many prospects and as a result,  the college just didn’t have enough time to feel comfortable with you as a recruit.  In that case,  waiting a bit after signing day may open up an opportunity for you at a FCS or Division II school as opposed to a very expensive lower tiered school that will require you take out loans to attend.

This advice may run counter to what many think which is “you better jump on that scholarship money”.  That thought is all well and good but too many student-athletes wind up coming back home after a semester or two,  disgusted and not wanting anything to do with college.  For some,  had they waited and given their decision a little more care outside of wanting to be on the NSD stage like their friends,  they could have put themselves in a better position.

As with any important life decision,  there are risks and this one is no different.  Saying no to a scholarship offer could result in another one not being offered.  I have learned in life that important life decisions require two things.  First and most important,  an adequate assessment of one’s self and abilities.  Be honest with yourself about both your athletic and academic abilities.  Also,  be honest about your love and dedication to your sport.  Second,  important life decisions typically require putting pen to paper.  Write down the pros and cons.  Write down your goals.  Put on paper the options that exist and look at it frequently before pulling the trigger.  At the end of the day,  your college decision is as important as any other decision you will make for the duration of your life.  It should not be something done to follow a friend, feed an ego or be part of a crowd.  You can make a very courageous, important and joyful decision about your future after the first Wednesday in February.  There’s no rule against that.

Why The Order of Your Clips in Your Highlight Video Matter

By: Chad Wilson – Editor In Chief – GridironStuds Blog
Twitter: @GridironStuds

Running a recruiting website I have seen my fair share of highlight videos over the years.  I can conservatively say that I have seen some 10,000 highlight videos in my time.  As with anything,  there are good highlight videos and there are bad ones.  Many of the times,  the bad videos stem not from the player being bad but from the video being poorly put together.

Many high school prospects want to take the lazy route when it comes to putting together their highlights on Hudl.  By lazy,  I mean they just want to tag the plays from each game in the order in which the games were played and then submit the video.  So if your biggest play of the year didn’t happen until week 7,  viewers of your video are going to have to wait quite some time to get to the best of you.  I am not making an understatement here when I say that’s a poor strategy.

As they saying goes,  first impressions last a long time,  so what’s the first impression you want to make on the viewer of your highlight video?  If it’s a college coach, you better make sure you punch him in the face with your talent immediately.  The construction of your highlight video is not some cinematic production that includes a plot that you need to keep a viewer engaged until the end of the movie.  That thought process is great if you are writing an episode of Law and Order or Scooby Doo but it’s a no go in the highlight video world.

Many prospects feel that when they send a letter or their highlight video off to a coach,  that’s the only letter or highlight video he receives.  Some mistakingly believe that the coach has all day to watch your highlight video.  Newsflash, there are 1,000’s of you interested in that school and that’s from your state alone.  A college football coach does not have 5 minutes to wait to see if you did anything spectacular in your highlight video.  If your highlight video is not popping in those first 30 seconds then that back button or x button on the browser is getting clicked.

Your first play is your best play.  Your second play is your second best play and so on.  Think of it as a reverse SportsCenter Top 10.  Within that first minute,  the college coach has probably decided if you can play for their program or not.  If he gets to the 4 minute mark in your highlight video,  it’s because the first 3;59 was just so damned good not because he really wants to see who murdered the lady in Apartment 2B.

Don’t be lazy,  pay attention to how you put that highlight video together.  It may be the difference between getting put on the recruiting board or in the trash.

For more help on recruiting matters,  email us at GridironStuds Recruiting

In This Climate, A Coach Needs to Graduate With His Heisman QB

By: Chad Wilson – Editor GridironStuds Blog
Follow Me On Twitter: @GridironStuds

When he stepped away from the game following the 201o season,  former University of Florida football coach Urban Meyer was widely criticized by the Gator faithful for making up a reason to leave.  Feelings aside,  there’s no denying that Urban Meyer is a very successful football coach and you don’t get to this point without knowing a little something.

2010 was also Tim Tebow’s final one in Gainesville.  Tebow did everything you could do in college football including win a Heisman and a national championship.  In fact,  Tebow garnered two rings and multiple trips to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony.  For anyone who was paying attention,  it was quite clear that there was only one Tim Tebow and not likely that there would be another one any time soon.  As much as recruiting talent and developing it,  knowing when to walk away from a job and find the next place to go has as much to do with your success as the previous two attributes mentioned.  Now one must take Meyer at face value when he says he was experiencing health issues and needed to go but whether intentional or coincidental,  Meyer’s move out of Gainesville with Tebow is a shrewd move other coaches would do well to follow.

Gone are the days where you are allowed to coach 20 years at the same program.  Fan bases and athletic directors don’t let you reach the mountain top and slide back down.  Once a coach reaches nirvana,  he better be staying there or his time to walk the plank will come rather quickly.  Just ask Les Miles.  To avoid the pink slip,  coaches must adequately assess the reasons for their success and be honest about who they are.

Over the last 10 years it has seemed to me that when a coach is blessed to have recruited and developed a very special talent at quarterback and reaches the pinnacle of success,  he better start penning his exit strategy.  No one is denying that it takes a strong ego to succeed as a college football coach.  However,  that ego has to be put on pause when examining this situation.  Ego will tell you that if you developed one Heisman Trophy winner then you can develop another.  I’m not saying it’s impossible but I am saying it’s highly unlikely.  When your QB takes you on the wild ride to the Downtown Athletic Club and then the confetti parade in January,  it’s best to exit the stage with him when his eligibility is up ala Urban Meyer.

Let’s take a trip through recent history shall we?  I use the last 10 years because that’s the period of time in which I think the coaching situation in college football has made the most changes.  Over the last decade,  coaches have become more mobile either by their choice or by the choice of those who employed them.

Vince Went Down But Mack Stuck Around

Anyone watching Vince Young run around the Rose Bowl turf vs. USC like he was in the backyard with his baby cousins,  had to know that he was a one of a kind talent.  Many would argue that Young should have been the Heisman winner for the 2005 season but nevertheless,  if there was any doubt,  Vincent showed it vs. USC in the title game and brought Texas their first national title in 35 years.  Obviously comfortable where he was,  Mack Brown remained as Texas’ coach beyond Young and did enjoy some subsequent success.  Brown even led the Longhorns to another BCS title game vs. Alabama in 2009 but came up short vs. Nick Saban.  Four double digit win season would follow but Mack was constantly compared to the 2005 season.  The narrative was constantly “he can’t do it without Vince Young”.  Suddenly the double digit wins gave way to a rash of mediocrity and an eventual exit from Austin for Brown.  I can’t help but wonder what Brown would have done had he left Texas for another program with the smell of success on his breath in 2006.

Cam & Gene Were Really Mean

Talk about that one moment in time.  Before Cam Newton stepped on the Auburn University campus,  Gene Chizik’s Tigers were an 8-5 football team.  However,  for the one magical 2010 season with Newton at the controls,  Auburn was the toast of college football.  Much like Vince Young,  Newton combined a dazzling combo of precision passing with undeniable QB runs to befuddle defensive coordinators and madden opposing fan bases.  Newton was and continues to be sub-human as he is built like a DE and moves like a DB.  Even the most novice football fan could clearly see that Newton was the straw that stirred the drink for the Tigers.  Auburn rode the Cam train for the rare double of Heisman Trophy and national championship.  I am not sure what job offers came Gene Chizik’s way during or after that 2010 season but he would have been well served to take one of them.  Cam was one of a kind and getting past Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide and the assortment of other college football heavyweights without your AK-47 at QB was a monumental task.  As Cam left,  so did Auburn’s prominence.  Ironically,  the year after Cam left,  Auburn went right back to 8-5 and then turned on their head to 3-9 two years later before Chizik was tossed out like expired potato salad.

No Johnny No Football

We all took the magical ride with Johnny Manziel in 2012 didn’t we?  Captured by his risky playing style and equally carless lifestyle,  Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin and the Aggies rocketed to college consciousness.  With Manziel at the controls,  Texas A&M did things their fans never thought they would be able to do.  One of those things was beat the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide as they did in Manziel’s first season as the starter.  Manziel was so good that he caused Saban to try to get the hurry up offense outlawed and when he couldn’t, he started implementing elements of the offense into his program.  Manziel would win the Heisman Trophy in 2012 and return in 2013 for his junior season.  A&M,  once again,  was a pain in people’s rear end but not as good as the year before.  Nevertheless,  Manziel led the Aggies to a dazzling comeback in the bowl game vs. Duke to win 52-48.  Anyone watching had to see that the reason the Aggies won,  was Johnny football.  Sumlin was a hot prospect for open coaching jobs after 2013 season but turned down the offers.  I could see him thinking that it was more about his system since he had great success in Houston but had he taken a closer look he would have realized that Manziel was a one of a kind at a program that would always be behind the 8-ball.  In his second year post Manziel,  Sumlin is on the hot seat and needs to win next year or could get pink slipped.  Boy was that fast.

Of course there are outliers.  Bob Stoops has managed to stay in double digit win territory after Sam Bradford won the Heisman in 2008 and Oklahoma played for the title vs. LSU.  Art Briles has kept Baylor relevant since Robert Griffin III climbed the stairs in Superman socks to hoist the Heisman in 2011.  Bradford is not what I would describe as a one of a kind of QB.  Don’t get me wrong,  as a Sooner he was outstanding but you don’t look at Bradford and put him in the Young, Newton, Manziel category.  RGIII would fall closer to that type of a one of a kind QB and Briles deserves credit for continuing to move forward his offensive system and program.

What should be interesting to us all is what’s going on in Tallahassee and what will happen at Clemson after this 2015 season.  In more ways than one,  Jameis Winston was a very unique, special and talented quarterback.  The likelihood of another Jameis Winston entering college football and falling into the hands of the Florida St. Seminoles once again would be low.  Florida St. reached the mountain top in Winston’s 2nd season as he won the Heisman and the Noles won the title. One season later, with Winston still at the controls,  Florida St. was beaten soundly in the inaugural college football playoffs first round by Oregon.  Two years later, the Seminoles suffered two regular season losses and ended the 2015 season with a loss to the Houston Cougars from the AAC.  Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles were a 2-3 loss team prior to Winston’s arrival.  One year after Winston’s departure,  the Noles dropped three games.  While three losses may have been ok prior to 2013,  now that FSU fans have seen the view from the top,  losing two to three games will stir up the faithful.  Perhaps Jimbo knows this as he flirted with bolting for Baton Rogue during the season but withdrew his interest and got Les Miles unstrapped from the electric chair.  One is only left to wonder if like Brown, Chizik and Sumlin before him, not walking off the stage with his one of a kind Heisman winner will hurt Jimbo Fisher’s career.

Chip Kelly had more reasons than just his QB leaving to exit Oregon (research his NCAA sanctions) but I am of the opinion that Kelly would have departed from Oregon without NCAA pressure when his three year starter and Heisman Trophy winning QB, Marcus Mariota made his way out of town.  Though he failed in Philadelphia,  Kelly would be highly sought after in the college ranks if he wanted to make that move simply because he did not hang on in Oregon to experience the decline that comes when your special guy behind center is no longer there.

So who’s up next?  We’ve watched Dabo Swiney dance and quote his way through the 2015 season.  You can’t deny his infectious nature and ability to coach.  However,  before DeShaun Watson’s arrival at QB,  Clemson was that team that would win just enough to end up in a big game and then get taken behind the woodshed.  With Watson,  Clemson has avoided the very term named after them “Clemsoning”.  Now,  all seasons after Watson will be compared to the time he was dressed in Orange.  It will no longer be acceptable to lose 51-14 at home to Florida St. in a big ACC game or fall 70-33 in the Orange Bowl to West Virginia.  While I don’t expect Clemson to fall back to those levels,  I am saying that just losing those games will be enough for the fans to get riled up,  the administration to get active and for Swiney to get axed as the Tigers’ head coach.  Stay tuned y’all.

What’s In Ranking A Youth Athlete? The Loss of Self, That’s What.

By: Chad Wilson – Editor GridironStuds Blog
Follow Me on Twitter: @GridironStuds

I have three children and anyone who knows me knows I love them with all my heart.  When they were young and all at home,  I wonder if ranking them on a daily or monthly basis would have helped get more things done, earn better grades or achieve more in their chosen sports.  Could you imagine?  One big grease board in the kitchen with the current rankings of the Top 3 kids as of so and so date.

I think we all know how that would’ve gone.  Surely there would have been arguments with the wife over who should be ranked where and what married couple is striving for more arguments?  I can also imagine the back stabbing and sabotage that may have gone on to grab that #1 spot.  We may have well raised three full on Donnie Brasco’s if that grease board would have been the play in our household.  This is not even to mention the destruction of psyche,  future adulthood problems and social ineptitude that would have developed from such a system imposed on impressionable minors.  You can also forget about the whole family / team dynamic being built,  that’s out the window.  Yea, the top ranked kids idea would not have been an idea that benefitted from escape out of the deep corners of the mind.

While ranking your offspring does not appear to be a good idea,  at some point,  ranking youth football players appeared to be an interesting thing to do.  Seems like fun right?  The high schools do it. The colleges do it.  The pros do it so why not do it with the youth players?  Why not recognize those who are really getting it done on the field?  See the first two paragraphs of this story.  Not everything done at the adolescent and adult levels need to be passed down to the youngsters.  They may look like titans and little men in their uniforms running around impersonating their favorite Sunday afternoon stars but the truth of the matter is they are soft pieces of Play Doh still being formed into their eventual shapes.   Have you ever seen what happens to Play Doh when it ends up in the wrong hands?  The Good Lord knows I have.

Young football players may know where the 4 hole is, they may understand what it is to buzz to the flats or even kick out on the end man on the line of scrimmage.  However,  the real nuts and bolt of the game of football are not adequately installed in youth football players nor are they properly uploaded to the servers of many high schoolers.  Rankings distort the team dynamic,  which in my opinion,  is the single best lesson football teaches our youngsters.  This game is about playing for the guy next to you,  sacrificing for the greater good and working towards a common goal.  Once individual awards become the focus,  those principals begin their rapid decline.  For the young individual achieving them,  the burden is now placed upon them.  What happens when you are ranked first this year but fourth next year because you had less carries?  When does junior or rather dad flip out on the coach?

I am never one to stop the enterprise of an entrepreneur.  It seems ranking youth football players is a worthy financial endeavor.  So the preverbal toothpaste is out of the tube.  Whit that being the case,  what do the parents and adults in the lives of youth football players need to do to avoid mental disaster for our new generation of gridiron studs?  Business will be business and ideas move at the speed of light.  As parents you must now adjust at the speed of light.  You can’t be that parent telling your child you don’t want him looking at dirty magazines in the store when Porn Hub has a cookie stored on millions of teen phones worldwide.

Parents must keep their kids grounded.  Your #1 ranked class of 2022 running back must still take out the trash, do his homework and get to practice on time.  He still should dress like his teammates, warm up with his teammates and not seek special treatment.  Your top 100 class of 2042 defensive end needs to double down on his studies and face harsher penalties for any retreat in his academic status.  If you are doing this right,  your child achieving that ranking should impose greater pressures but not on the field,  off the field.  If you want this ranking to be a positive mental tool,  then use it to ask junior to achieve more away from the gridiron.  Along with improving academically,  be at church every Sunday and if that is given,  be on time more often and be harsher on him than before for being late.  Use his new ranking status as reason for him to do more community service.  The message should be well,  you are ranked now so more eyes are on you.  Build yourself up into the little man you need to be and that has nothing to do with making a run stuffing tackle on 4th and 1.  Ultimately,  the ranked young man’s identity can not be wrapped up in his football status.  This sounds obvious but it can easily happen.

There’s a swell of pride in parents when their child is recognized for being exceptional.  Kids hear their parents speaking to others about them.  If being highly ranked becomes the lone topic for discussion when parents are around friends and family members then youngsters start to equate their entire worth around their football abilities.   As much as parents don’t want to realize this,  the superior football abilities of a youth football player can quickly erode as they travel into adolescence.  If all the top ranked youngster has been was a recognized football star then what’s his mental state when he’s not the #1 ranked high school player or dominant prep player?  As parents and adults we must guard against this with our entire being because the repercussions can be tragic.

Young minds are still forming and we’ve all seen what has happened to the youth and teenaged Hollywood stars.  Before youngsters have figured out how life works and how they operate they are being told they are the best at something and everyone else is beneath them.  That’s a lot of pressure for an adult,  let alone an individual missing a pair of front teeth.  Rankings aren’t going away so the parents of Top 10 kids better display #1 type management skills.  Can I get a Amen?

Why Virginia Tech Can Quickly Bounce Back

GridironStuds Blog – Guest Post

For the past 23 seasons, Virginia Tech has made a bowl game—the second longest streak in the nation (behind Florida State’s 33), but also one that is in constant jeopardy.

While the Hokies remain a prominent program, the reality is that the past four years the team has not been very good, or at least as good as it once was. While Frank Beamer was beloved in Blacksburg for all he did to build the program, the modern college football game passed him by. And this year, Virginia Tech will play Tulsa, not exactly a member of college football’s elite, in the Independence Bowl. Even worse than that, perhaps, is the fact that the linemakers at Betfair have Virginia Tech as even money to just win the game. That’s definitely not good news for Hokie fans.

As more college teams adopted spread offenses, or at least advanced pro styles, Virginia kept an outdated playbook focused on straightforward power runs with little creativity or imagination. That hurt the Hokies in recruiting as the state’s top skill position players left the area for programs that provided them a better opportunity to shine for pro scouts.

Beamer, of course, announced his retirement at the end of this, which comes at a perfect time. He leaves with his bowl streak intact and maintains a level of dignity that a number of other aging college coaches were not afforded. Virginia Tech got to hire Memphis head coach Justin Fuente, one of college football’s top offensive minds as reported by He could return the school to powerhouse status, especially in a mediocre ACC.

Here are some reasons Virginia Tech can quickly bounce back:

It starts with offense. Virginia Tech faired poorly in conference play with the ball, finishing 11th out of 14 teams in total offense (ahead of just Syracuse, Wake Forest and Boston College). While the Hokies did score 25.4 points per game, they scored only 22 touchdowns in eight league games and many drives ended with a field goal. In the high-scoring world of college football, that will not cut it. Compare that to Memphis, which led the American Athletic Conference with 42.7 points per game. Yes, the AAC is not quite as good as the ACC top to bottom, but it’s still a solid league with quality teams. Plus, Memphis did beat Ole Miss earlier this year while scoring 37 points in the process. That alone legitimizes the Tigers’ system.

Help in recruiting. Virginia is not Florida or Texas when it comes to high school talent, but the state is solidly in the next tier. With large programs in the Washington, D.C. suburbs, Richmond and Norfolk, the state has turned out a number of high-profile players like Russell Wilson, Chris Long, Jerod Mayo and Percy Harvin. Even some recent major recruits, like Da’Shawn Hand, who was the nation’s top-rated recruit in 2014, left the state (Hand is from Woodbridge, Va., but went to Alabama to play in college). As you may notice, none of these players went to Virginia Tech. The Hokies, of course, had their best success when Michael Vick was at quarterback and Vick grew up in Newport News, Va. Getting the state’s top players to commit to the Hokies will be huge (and you can read more about it on SportsWar).

The ACC. The Atlantic Coast Conference is home to two of the top programs in college football right now: Florida State and Clemson. Luckily for Virginia Tech, though, the two are in the conference’s Atlantic Division while the Hokies play in the Coastal Division. What that means is that the Hokies do not play Florida State or Clemson every year and must only beat out North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Miami, Duke, Virginia and Georgia Tech for a spot in the conference’s championship game. While some of those schools are occasionally good (like North Carolina this year), it’s not exactly Murderers’ Row.

With a fun offense luring new recruits to a weak division, fans in Blacksburg may be cheering for one of college football’s best teams sooner than you think.

4 Things the FHSAA Can Do to Improve the Florida HS Football Championships

By: Chad Wilson – Editor GridironStuds Blog
Twitter: @GridironStuds

We all know the passion that exists for football in the state of Florida. With that said,  attendance to football games in the great state for football would have outsiders wondering just how much passion is there.  High School football games rarely sell out in the state and our state championship games in the Orlando’s Citrus Bowl resemble the attendance at a game for an 0-13 NFL football team playing in the snow.

On my Football Friday GridironStuds Show on 12.11.15,  I told my audience of the attendance to the state of Texas Class 5A division 1 football game between Allen and Pearland High School in 2013.  That staggering number was 54,347 and was greater than several bowl games that year.  Here are the figures from some of the other games during that championship weekend:

  • Texas Class 4A Division II championship: 33,745
    Texas Class 5A Division II championship: 30,285
    Texas Class 3A Division II championship: 22,071
    Texas Class 4A Division I championship: 20,142

Not too shabby.  We all know the immense passion that exists for high school football in the state of Texas.  It is perhaps the leader in the country for high school football game attendance.  You can argue that it is unfair to compare any other state to Texas when it comes to attendance however,  why not compare yourself to the best,  especially when we are talking about Florida and we are talking about football.

On estimation,  the State of Florida high school football championships draws about 4,000 per game. So the total attendance for all eight games combined on  each year will be 32,000.  Again,  I will refer you to the single game numbers I posted for the Texas games above.  Doesn’t make you feel warm and fuzzy inside does it?

While we may not be able to equal the fan passion for high school football in Florida that they have in Texas,  there are definitely some steps the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) can take to improve the attendance to the championship games.

Here are 4 Things the FHSAA can do to improve attendance to the high school football championship games

1. Put All Eight Championship Games Into One Weekend

Currently the state of Florida divides it’s championships into two separate weekends. Class 1A-4A on one weekend then Class 5A-8A the following weekend.  This makes it extremely difficult for some interested parties to attend games that may occur in separated classifications.  A person or family from Miami who has a relative playing for Booker T., who is in class 4A , may also be interested in seeing Miami Central play the 6A championship game.  For that person to do so they would have to drive to Orlando on one weekend watch Booker T.  then drive three hours back to Miami only to rinse and repeat the following weekend.  Such plans are a deterrent for sure.  Instead,  Florida should consider what Texas does with their championships.  While Texas has 12 different division champions to crown, thus making it impossible to do it all in one weekend,  they do compile 10 of those 12 championship games into one weekend starting on Thursday.  In Texas, class 1A which includes two divisions is 6-man football.  Classes 2A up to 6A, which is split into two divisions each,  is traditional 11 on 11 football.  Texas plays class 2A through 6A Championships all in one weekend.

Here’s a proposal for the state of Florida

Class 1A:  Thursday 4 PM
Class 2A: Thursday 8 PM
Class 3A:  Friday 12 PM
Class 4A:  Friday  4 PM
Class 5A:  Friday  8 PM
Class 6A:  Saturday 12 PM
Class 7A:  Saturday  4 PM
Class 8A:  Saturday  8 PM

For those who love their jobs so much and can’t take two days off of work,  the following schedule may be more appealing.

Class 1A: Friday 10 AM
Class 2A: Friday   1 PM
Class 3A: Friday   4 PM
Class 4A: Friday   8 PM
Class 5A: Saturday  10 AM
Class 6A: Saturday    1 PM
Class 7A: Saturday    4 PM
Class 8A: Saturday    8 PM

Yes,  this means that the Class 1A – 4A teams would have one week off before playing their championship games because of the 16 team brackets but is that such a bad thing?  At least this way there are no separate trips, hotels and weekends for the fans.  This makes it much easier for them to attend games other than the ones their relatives are playing in.  Surely this would increase attendance.  This would also make the state championships an event as opposed to just another game. It would be more exciting to know you can go one weekend and see two, three or more games and view some of the best talent in all of the country.

2. Change the Single Game Pricing to One Day Pricing

Currently,  when you attend the championships in Orlando,  you pay $12 to view a game.  Upon completion of that game,  you must exit the stadium and if you are interested in seeing the next game that day,  you must pay an additional $12 to re-enter the stadium to view it.  Come on now! We are talking high school football,  not the polo championships.  Football is a middle to lower class sport.  Asking a single individual to pay $24 bucks or a family of three to layout $96 to see two football games is not the most intelligent thing to do from a business standpoint.  Without a doubt,  that is a deterrent to viewing a second game.  Most people will just say to heck with it,  get in their car and hit the road.  Now,  the state is missing a chance to squeeze a hot dog, hamburger and soda out of each individual that put the Chevy on the highway.  You have a better chance of getting concession funds from a patron than money for game tickets.  The payment to re-enter just seems like a smack in the face.  It’s not a necessity to buy that game ticket but the hamburger at halftime of the second game I stayed for is.

If the FHSAA is so concerned about a loss of revenue which I really think they should not be,  raise the price from $12 to $15 and tack an extra dollar or two onto the cost to park on the stadium grounds.  A consumer would be more willing to pay those dollars knowing they can view two, three or possibly four games during that day.  The state of Texas does this.  It costs $15 per day to enter the stadium and once you are in you can view as many games that day as you like.  Heck human nature says that once you plant your butt in a seat,  it’s hard to get out of it.  Folks may just stay just for the heck of it.  Again,  you will get more concession sales when that happens too.

This type of pricing also adds to the event type feel of the state championships.  I can see people saying “Are you going to Championship Weekend?”  Turn the games and the weekend into an event like the SEC Championship Weekend I just attended in Atlanta.  The FHSAA could also consider offering the tickets to each day of the event at a reduced price if you buy online.  This guarantees you the money.  A person who bought a ticket in advance is going to make sure to show up too.  You can even offer pricing plans for two and three day attendance.  A three day pass to Florida State Championship Weekend would be a hot commodity in years to come.

3. Get the Games Back On A Larger Network than Brighthouse Sports

I don’t know who’s cousin works for Brighthouse Network but it seems completely bush league to me for the championship games to be broadcast on a station that really only serves the Orlando area. Oh by the way, Orlando also happens to be the city where the games are played.  I’m going to stop short of calling that asinine. Folks in the panhandle and South Florida who can not make it to Orlando are forced to pay $6.95 to Brighthouse so that it can be live streamed on the computers they may or may not have in their homes.  Again,  this is a deterrent.  Someone go tell Brighthouse to go dominate the broadcasting rights to local Orlando high school tennis matches and leave the state football championships alone.  Florida looks foolish to the rest of the nation under this current situation.  In fact,  folks who stay home get to become interested in Georgia, California and Massachusetts football because that’s what Fox is able to show the Xfinity and U-verse customers. Those customers make up a larger majority of the state.  Get the championships back to Fox Sports.  Not only can more people view it on television in Florida,  you may get folks outside of Florida to see the great athletes playing the game in our state.  By viewing it on TV,  it may entice folks to attend in person in future years.  Need I remind the people of the FHSAA that the NFL really took off when it’s games started getting broadcasted on television?  Get us out of this Brighthouse Network nightmare ASAP!

4. Market the Championships as an Event Weekend and Lure More Casual Fans to the Games

I just recently attended the SEC Championship Weekend in Atlanta.  It was more than just a game.  It was an entire weekend of football that marketed the Southeastern Conference and the two schools involved.  This is exactly what should be done in Florida.  Plan and host events during the weekend.  Invite Florida high school football legends to the city for the festivities.  Find some way to honor those famous players who are are retired from the NFL or had great college football careers.  Perhaps you have an award banquet that week to honor the top players in the state..  If these things happen to be too much because the games are being played all day then set up booths and pavilions outside of the stadium with interesting people and activities.  Ask the network with the broadcasting rights to film these events and give them some airtime.  Ask corporations to sponsor some of the events and activities.  Use this weekend and the games to promote anything that the state thinks should be of interest to the citizens of Florida (i.e. education, Lotto, sports, politics, etc.).  The possibilities are limitless.

We could be doing so much more but the current set up we have in Florida for our championship games is screaming for people not to attend.  The young men on those football fields have worked so hard and have made far too many sacrifices to have to run out to sparse crowds littered throughout monstrous venues.  Florida high school football players deserve to be cheered for just as loud as Texas and Georgia high school football players and the coaches deserve to be compensated as generously as the coaches from those states too but that’s a whole different article.

Aquinas’ Kincade Is the Throwback Runner that Colleges Need

By Chad Wilson – Editor GridironStuds Blog
Twitter: @GridironStuds

I was at the Flanagan vs. St. Thomas mega matchup on Friday Night standing next to a couple of Aquinas legends in Michael Irvin and Tony Sands.  One of those legends had a son playing in the game,  Michael Irvin Jr.,  the other one might as well have been looking at himself playing on the field in the form of running back Jaxson Kincade.

I joked with Tony Sands saying ” man you need to get in the game and run that counter.”  As a kid I would go watch St. Thomas games on Friday nights to get inspiration for our optimist games for Pasadena Lakes the next day.  I have distinct memories of Sands running the counter play for Aquinas and gashing defenses unmercifully.  Standing on the sidelines as a grown man I swore I was watching the 2015 version of Sands playing for St. Thomas.

2016 RB Jaxson Kincade would not be described as a big back but he sure does run big.  At 5’9″ 180 lbs.  Kincade is probably three inches taller than the aforementioned Sands who went on to have an all star career for Kansas and once held the NCAA single game rushing record with 396 yards.  Kincade has the same kind of potential that Sands had.  When you watch Kincade’s film you quickly notice how he attacks the defense with no hesitation.  There is little wasted motion in the back field and no excessive cuts at the second level.  Kincade’s vision allows him to baffle defenders who have a bead on him and his powerful frame allows him to slip through the fingers of those who manage to get a hand on him.

Against a Flanagan defense packed with Division I prospects and is easily one of the best in South Florida,  Kincade churned out crucial yardage to move the Aquinas offense downfield in the highly publicized battle.  St. Thomas has had major injuries in their backfield this season but Kincade’s durability has allowed St. Thomas to continue winning games like the one on Friday night vs. Flanagan.

Kincade’s head coach Roger Harriott was also an undersized running back for Aquinas that went on to great college production at Boston University and Villanova. Kincade is an updated version of both Aquinas legends Sands and Harriott.  If history is any indicator,  this Aquinas Raider is a division I prospect ready to put his name in the record books at a college football program.

Check Out Jaxson Kincade’s Senior Year Highlights on Hudl – Click Here

It’s A One Sided Stadium – A Funny Story With A Lesson On Working With What You Got

By: Chad Wilson – Editor GridironStuds Blog
Twitter: @GridironStuds

Any teen will tell you that they know everything.  As a teen you absolutely know how life and everything in it works. Any adult will tell you that their dumbest years were years 13-19,  yep the teen years.  Those years before adulthood are filled with “I’d never”, “there’s no way I would ever” and “when I get older, it’s going to be like this.”

Being an aloof 16 year old in 1988,  I sat down on the couch one Saturday afternoon in Moreno Valley, California flipping through the TV channels (this is what we did before Snapchat & Instagram).  On my glide through the channels I stopped on a college football game and found something humorous about the contest.  In the background from one of the camera angles,  I could see cars on what seemed to be the street driving around in the background.  What kind of college football game was this I thought.  I’d never play football at a school that plays in a stadium like that was another thought.  These two teams,  it seemed,  were playing in a high school stadium.  It definitely wasn’t the big time football they were playing at USC or UCLA or at Miami, Florida St. and Notre Dame,  the titan programs in college football at the time.  The dudes playing at these schools were unlucky for sure.

By the time my senior season came around in 1989,  I was on a roll.  The fruits of my hard work were paying off.  Out of nowhere I became the big play guy on a Canyon Spring High School football team that was on their way to repeating as California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Champions.  Name a way to score a touchdown and I did it:  rushing, receiving, kickoff return, interception return, fumble return, etc.  I had also earned myself a reputation as a lockdown corner before I even knew or cared what one of those were.  Nevertheless,  when my senior season was done,  I received some recruiting attention but not nearly as much as I had hoped.  The big local football programs I had come to love since moving out to California from Florida,  UCLA and USC,  didn’t see the value in my big play ways since I didn’t have much of a junior year and was all of 163 lbs. on a good day.  Nevertheless, I had to make do with offers from California, San Diego St., UNLV, Cal St. Fullerton and Long Beach St.  To make a long story short,  I chose Long Beach St. on signing day 1990.

I arrived at Long Beach St. fresh off of earning MVP honors in our county’s all star game and opened eyes in early practices.  It appeared I would be one of the only true freshman to earn playing time during the season.  To solidify that,  I needed to do well in the final fall camp scrimmage we would have at the stadium.  I guess the last fall scrimmage was a big deal because we were going to have it at the stadium.  I was excited for a number of reasons.  First, it was my first feel of big time division I football in a stadium like I always dreamed of and I didn’t get to see the stadium when I came on my official visit.

We boarded those buses and made our way through the Long Beach streets to go to the stadium.  At the time,  Long Beach St. did not have an on campus stadium but our coach,  the legendary George Allen, was making strides towards changing that. Our ride through the streets of the LBC (Snoop Dogg voice) took us through a big parking lot and off in the distance I saw what figured to be a high school football stadium as it only had stands on one side.  I followed high school football pretty closely and was wondering which one of the teams in Long Beach played there.  Senior cornerback Oliver Thompson was sitting next to me on the team bus, so I asked him, “Aye, who plays there?” pointing to the stadium in the distance. “We do,” he responded.  I brushed off that answer because the guys on this team were known for playing games so much so that they had coined a phrase called “clownin”.  “Dog, stop playing, who plays there?” I asked again. “I’m trying to tell you, we play in there,” he replied obviously amused by whatever look I had on my face.  I took his smile while answering as another session of clownin the freshman. “Oh, alright, you feel like playing today,” I replied and left it alone. We continued our drive in the direction of the stadium and upon reaching it, came to a stop and players starting getting up.  “What the $#@?” I thought still sitting in my seat waiting for the bus to continue on. “Get your rookie #@$ up,”  O.T. (Oliver Thompson) said.  This was our stadium?  This is where we play?  It was a punch in the gut.  I made my way into the locker room (term used loosely) and observed only hooks on the wall for our belongings.  I swallowed hard,  got dressed and made my way out to the field where I was dealt the knockout blow.  When I exited the tunnel to the field I observed a street like area in the distance with cars moving around. I had seen this scene before.  Dammit man,  I was at that school that I saw on TV two years ago and said I would never play for.  I imagine this was the feeling the Kardashians had when Bruce said he was going all Caitlyn on them.

It was all coming back to me now. I had asked several times during my official visit to Long Beach St. to see the stadium but the nifty coach hosting me, Greg Holt always found a way to distract me with a meal, meeting Hall of Famer Willie Brown or with a well rounded co-ed.  “Oh there’s plenty of time to see the stadium,” he said to me. I guess that time was now that I had signed.  A one sided stadium was no way to land a prized recruit.

On that day,  I overcame the sudden desire to want to transfer and did enough in the scrimmage to make it onto the active roster for the season.  I even managed to start a couple of games my freshman year.  However,  I never fully recovered from that punch in the gut.  I wanted to play big time football and while Long Beach St. would play some big time teams,  home games at Veterans Stadium in Long Beach with a capacity of 12,000 was no Colosseum or the Rose Bowl where my cousin was playing for UCLA.  Were it not for the exceptional campus social life (if you know what I mean) and the outstanding camaraderie with teammates,  I might have made some transfer demands.

Through my time at Long Beach St. it seemed that many of the players had accepted their football situation.  My freshman year we went 6-5 and ended the year with a win to turn things around from previous losing seasons.  Sadly,  legendary coach George Allen would pass away after just one season at the school and with it many of his great plans.  Our second season we were a disaster and not very competitive especially against the powers of college football.  While some accepted and expected losing,  I never did.  When our game against the University of Miami came midway through the season,  I went all out.  While some waited to get their heads cut off by the eventual national champions,  I went balls to the wall and played to the max of my abilities.

At the end of the season,  Long Beach St. cut their football program freeing all players to go where they chose without sitting out a year.  I phoned a childhood friend, Ryan Collins and asked him if he would tell the Miami coaches about me.  He did and the first thing they did was pull out the film of their game against Long Beach St.  Had I accepted the fact that we weren’t good and that Miami would crush us,  I would have never have been offered a scholarship by Miami and become a Hurricane.

The moral of the story here is this:  Some of you may be sitting in a one sided stadium situation but where you are currently has nothing to do with where you want to go.  Underdogs do win games and since we all make bets in life,  always bet on yourself..  Long Beach St. ended up producing some all star talent.  Super Bowl MVP Terrell Davis (Denver Broncos),  current San Diego Chargers head coach Mike McCoy and current ESPN announcer and record setting passer for Howard University Jay Walker all hailed from that team that battled in that one sided stadium in Long Beach.  I am certain they did not reach their place in life by accepting less and the message to you is take whatever you have in your life and maximize it.

You Thought You Loved Football then They Gave You A Scholarship

By: Chad Wilson – Editor GridironStuds Blog
Follow Me on Twitter: @GridironStuds

Remember how much you loved football.? It was football this and football that in high school especially when you were supposed to be busy doing something else. Back in those high school days there were a lot of other things you had to do in your day to day lives that kept you away from the game and made you even more hungry for the pigskin.  They do say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Your every thought was getting a college football scholarship or what you were going to do when you landed at the school of your choice.  Then one day you became a college football player.

This is the mindset of 100’s even thousands of high school football players across the country right now.  Many of them eager to take that next step in life.  For all,  they have no idea what they are stepping into,  for many it will be too much to handle.  Remember that absence and fonder stuff in the first paragraph?  There will be no absence and fonder will be a distant reality for many high school football players.

Upon a college football player’s arrival on campus,  they will find out a number of things,  much to their chagrin. First,  that laid back atmosphere that you thought college was,  that’s for other students,  not you the college football student.  You thought leaving mom and dad’s house would bring you freedom,  you were wrong.  You were just sold to another keeper.  This keeper is often meaner,  more demanding and more present.  Your day is planned from 6 A.M. to 9 P.M.   Remember when the school bell rang at 8 AM?  Well those days are gone.  Remember how you couldn’t wait till football activities at 4 PM in the afternoon.  You don’t have to wait,  it’s in your face at 6 AM.  Workouts and meetings bright and early in the morning.  Then you hustle to a meal before you hustle to class.  The hustle to class turns into a hustle to lunch in the early afternoon which exits to a hustle to guess what,  another round of football meetings.  This would be all good perhaps if you were a starter but you are third string and a back up on special teams.  You want to fall asleep in that meeting but tobacco juice on your face from a screaming coach is not a good look.

Remember all those cool talks you had with Coach Coolio?  Somehow they turned into “your mom gave birth to a %$# 18 years ago” and “we’ll put your $#@# on a Greyhound back home boy!”  What happened to the guy that recruited me?  Oh he’s recruiting someone else right after he MF’s me on this practice field today. That individual period that was 10 minutes in high school practice is now 20-25 minutes and there’s no walking.  Practice is fast paced and filled with the same drills, day after day after day.  You thought you were a college football player and then you saw a muscle bound,  fast running redshirt junior playing your position that has not played a snap yet in his college career.  You start to wonder if you are good enough to play.  You start to wonder if you even like football.  My coach doesn’t make it fun,  watching from the sidelines isn’t fun and practicing day after day without a moment to come for air is not what I expected.

For some,  what I just explained above is the path they are willing to travel to reach their goal.  For many more it’s a grind that they thought they wanted but find out this whole college football thing is not what it’s cracked up to be.  You thought you wanted to be an Ohio St. Buckeye but realize that you would have been in over your head if you had gone there. You can’t even handle things at Northwest Middle State A&M.

It’s hard to know what you’re getting into until you actually get into it but for high school football players,  it would save you a lot of time, money and headache if you would take an honest assessment of where you are now as a high school football player,  compare what current college football players are and ask yourself can you fit into that.  Ask yourself that question once, twice and a couple of dozen times.  Hundreds of college freshman are battling the feeling right now of either wanting to transfer or quit.  Many will follow through on those feelings.  Many could have avoided all of this if they took an honest assessment of themselves while in high school.  Determine if college football really is for you and then determine what level of college football best fits you.  Don’t base your decision on your friends, peers or even rivals on the high school football field.  College football IS NOT high school football.  Let me say it again,  high school football IS NOT college football.  Let that marinate.

5 Things the Next University of Miami Coach Has to Be

By: Chad Wilson
Editor in Chief – GridironStuds Blog
Twitter: @GridironStuds

Now that the banner requests have been met in Coral Gables, Florida the next phase is in effect.  That phase is finding a new coach to go Back to the Future at the University of Miami.  The suggestions have been numerous, comical, non-sensical and nostalgic.  Many fans feel that the next hire will be easy, just or and off we go.  Oh if only it were that simple.  This kind of faulty thinking is what got us here in the first place. If you read my previous article “Will We Ever Dance Again” you will understand the challenges facing the program and the next UM coach.

The list of names have been long ranging from Sebastian the Ibis, to the Rock to Butch Davis.  I’ve been asked who I think the next guy should be and my answer is, I don’t have a who but I definitely have the what.  Why am I so confident?  Because by nature I am an individual that analyzes things. Since we have been away from prominence for so long,  I’ve had quite some time to reflect on just exactly how the University of Miami got on top of college football and why it is so far removed from those days now.

There is no doubt that the state of Florida is unique. There’s no doubt that the city of Miami is unique and that the University of Miami program is like no other in the country. With this in mind,  hiring a guy to head coach the program will not be a simple job.  It will require some careful thought.  Not every coach will do well at Miami.  Your success elsewhere does not guarantee you success here.  We wear shorts on Christmas Day,  where else are you going to do that?

So I want my readers to think of the University of Miami head coaching job as a sprint.  I want you to think of it as a 4 x 100 meter relayl and in comparison,  most every other job in the country is a 400 to 800 meter dash.  To get Miami to the top and to keep it there,  it will take several men like it does in a 4 x 100 meter relay.  Everywhere else in the country one guy could build a dynasty just like it takes one guy to run a 400 meter or 800 meter dash.  I will explain this further below.  Here are the Five things the next University of Miami coach HAS to be:

1.  Be a Non-Conformist

In “Will We Ever Dance Again” I explained how college football has taken steps over the years to melt down the University of Miami program.  The administration at the University of Miami has also aided in this meltdown as they have been steadfast in wanting to change the image of the football team and the University.  Someone came up with the bright idea that the image of a school nestled between palm trees, surrounded by beaches and filled with students who attend class in flip flops should be viewed as a Harvard.  That makes as much sense as asking for Whopper at the counter at Tire Kingdom.  However, I guess this is how the academic community validates themselves.  The University of Miami’s academic reputation has never suffered even when Bernard Clark was doing the running man on the Superdome turf after a national championship.  A brawl with Notre Dame in the tunnel in 1988 did not move anyone to say the professors at the University of Miami are dumb.  However,  the move to change the culture has persisted and for the last 10 years plus the powers that be have prevailed.

The next University of Miami coach has to push back on the powers that be.  The next coach has to challenge the culture change thought.  The next Miami coach has to stand by his players from impoverished backgrounds and support their need to show emotion and passion for the sport that means so much to them.  The next coach has to be willing to have that tough Monday morning meeting with the president about some incident that went down.  The next coach must be able to communicate to the wine tasters that an emotional kid is not a bad kid.  A kid that celebrates a touchdown, a sack or a big hit is not headed for a future on First 48. Who celebrated on field achievements more than Randall Hill?  Mr. Hill is running for Congress my dear lad. The next coach should be ready to go toe to toe with the academic bullies at Miami knowing that at some point you will get worn out and have to go.  In the process though, you will get men that will run through a bed of alligators to make you never taste defeat.  The next UM coach can’t be a yes man that puts our passionate South Florida athletes in a straight jacket because Lord Admiral so and so says it’s unbecoming of a gentleman while wiping Grey Poupon from his stache.  Howard Schnellenberger was a rebel,  Jimmy Johnson a super rebel and Dennis Erickson while not a big rebel, was not a true conformist either as he bolted when he had to say yes too many times.  Butch Davis was a rebel who skirted around the NCAA loopholes and bolted when he had to fight the opposition too much.  So I don’t know if the next coach needs to be Billy Idol but it better be a rebel who’s ready to yell.

2. Not Looking to Retire as Head Coach of the Canes

Miami is beautiful isn’t it? Great weather, G-string bikinis, lovely beaches, G-string bikinis.  It’s the kind of stuff that will make you want to relax and never go anywhere else again if you didn’t have to.  So you can’t hire a guy who’s in this place in his life.  I truly believe that one of the things that may have stopped Jimmy Johnson from be as successful with the Dolphins as he was with the Cowboys was because he had reached the age where he could retire.  If Jimmy had a lot left on his coaching plate,  he would have turned a blind eye to the beauty of the Keys like he did when he was at the University of Miami with brown hair as opposed to patches of gray.  The next coach can’t be wet behind the ears but he can’t be cracking behind the ears either.  The next Miami coach has to come in wanting something more after this job and approach the job with a sense of urgency.  They have to come in feeling like the clock is ticking and not that they have all the time in the World so they can take in all of the South Florida scenery.  They have to feel like if this doesn’t work out,  my career may be in shambles.  The next coach can’t come in here feeling like I’ll give this a try,  I’ll enjoy the time and if it doesn’t work out,  fire me,  give me my severance and I’ll buy a boat that says “Out to Sea” and retire.  No way Jose!

3. Be Looking for A Pro Job Soon

Think of the coaches that had some of the biggest success at the University of Miami.  What they all have in common is a move from the University of Miami to the pro ranks.  Howard Schnellenberger moved on to the USFL.  Jimmy Johnson moved on the Cowboys and the Dolphins,  Dennis Erickson moved on to Seattle and San Francisco and Butch Davis onto the Cleveland Browns.

This coincides with #2 on my list.  What Miami needs is a coach with a sense of urgency but also a coach that wants to shine in his role as the coach at UM so that he can be considered for a job at the next level.  You want a coach that is auditioning for something greater which would be a pro head coaching position.  The University of Miami is a stepping stone.  Some fans may frown at that,  I see it as a plus.  This is a place to cut your teeth for success at the highest level of the game of football.  Getting a coach that wants to be here for 20 years is not the answer.  That coach is likely to get comfortable and that’s not what you do in this town unless you are retired.  When the University of Miami was at it’s best,  it hired coaches who came in,  worked hard, worked fast and in five years had a least one title.  Those coaches did not get fired but left after success which forced the next guy coming in to keep things relatively the same.

The reason Al Golden felt it right to try and change everything about UM football was because the two guys before him got fired.  In his mind,  he needed to scrap everything about UM and change the culture.  He was wrong.  It would be best if the next UM coach did not get fired but left after success.  Miami is a transient town that will only support a team that’s winning.  This is where my 4 x 100 meter relay team example comes in.  A runner in a 400 meter or 800 meter race can start off in the middle of the pack and eventually work his way to the front.  College programs where there is undying support in rural towns for the team can do that.  You can’t do that in Miami,  the fan base will chew you up and spit you out. Each runner in a 4 x 100m relay must sprint like hell,  try to win their leg and then hand it off to someone else.  This is what a Miami head coach needs to do.  Maybe the next coach lays the framework for a dynasty the way Butch Davis laid the framework for the 2001 national title. However, once your leg is up,  pass it on to someone else who has the same urgent state of mind and will keep the identity because the man before him was a success.  Larry Coker wanted to coach Miami forever and retire as the coach.  He got walked down on his leg of the relay.  Get all sprinters in here thank you.

4. Have Previous Head Coaching Experience

The thing in recent years was for organizations to go out and find the hot shot coordinator that people “think” would make a great head coach.  You know where that works?  That works in the NFL and at low profile college football programs.  I don’t think that will work at the University of Miami.  Larry Coker was a coordinator.  I was elated when Miami hired Randy Shannon because I was happy for a man that was a friend but I soon thereafter became worried.  Any person put into a job like this will make mistakes.  When you make the mistakes at a high profile school,  the mistakes get magnified and blown out of proportion.  Make mistakes at Miami and the rabid fan base loses their mind.  Without previous head coaching experience, you will make more mistakes and be less prepared to handle the backlash.  I am certain if Shannon had a head coaching job or two prior to Miami,  I would not be writing this article, none of us would really know who Al Golden is and Clemson would not have flogged us behind the woodshed on Saturday in that fashion.  The fan base in Miami right now is ornery and on edge. They expect success quickly and will attack.  It takes an experienced head coach to handle the bumble bees that buy banners asking that their head coach be fired. A hot shot coordinator needs to cut his teeth elsewhere,  not in the MIA.

5. Be A Great Developer of Talent

The rush in college football now is to grab the slick talking individual and pick some position for him to coach.  This coach doesn’t really need to know much about the actual on the field action,  he just needs to possess the ability to talk a hungry cat off of a fish truck.  The emphasis now is on guys who can go land the recruiting service 5 star and then let him just do 5 star things for three years at our school and ship him off to the league.  This blows my mind but you don’t need to do that at Miami.  First of all the slick talking “recruit a guy” coach will often have a hard time evaluating the actual talent.  He basically is skilled at reading online who the 5 star is and talking him into being “a guy for us”.  There are many 4 and 5 star busts and if you don’t have coaches that can develop talent,  chances are they can’t really evaluate it and then you get stuck.  Some guys can spot an awesome 18 year old but once they are there’s they can do little to turn them into an awesome 20 year old in the program.

There is talent all over South Florida.  Since ranking kids and rating them is a business,  the big recruiting outfits can’t hang 4 and 5 star ratings on many of the kids in Florida that likely deserve them.  You don’t have to be Willie Diamond to go out and grab 3 and 4 star kids from this state.  If you are adept as a coach at developing talent and getting them to reach their full potential,  by age 20 they could play circles around most everyone else’s 5 star recruits that still play like they are 18 years old.  The next University of Miami coach needs to believe in developing talent and wants to put together a staff that can do that.  Miami is not going to win in recruiting with their facilities.  They won’t win in recruiting with the on campus stadium they don’t have.  They won’t win in recruiting with the college town where everyone knows your name.  The University of Miami will win in recruiting when Johnny comes to Miami in 2015 a good player and leaves in 2017, 18 or 19 as a guy the NFL just has to have and makes the Pro Bowl annually.   While everyone else is eating homemade cupcakes, riding bikes underwater and playing the grand pianos in their tricked out facilities,  Miami players can be on the field using techniques combined with athleticism to dominate other programs on Saturdays.  The next coach can flip the script on the out of towners recruiting this area.  Grab the talented kids that the other marquee schools are turning down and then go beat their heads in with them. Can I get a Amen!

Now,  I do not yet have a name that fits all of this.  I can do some research.  Perhaps some of you out there think you know and you can feel free to comment below with who you think that is.  However,  simply grabbing some former Hurricane great and tricking yourself into believing he will succeed just because is setting yourself up for more heartache.  Whether or not the administration and decision makers for the University will recognize what I have written in this article as the keys to success or be willing to hire someone like what I am describing is the $64 million question.  Only time will tell but rest assured,  I’ve done enough reading, analyzing and sorting out to believe strongly in what has been written right here.  The next head coach hire at the University of Miami is crucial.  If the wrong guy is hired,  the consequences can be fatal.  Miami football can be catapulted back to it’s pre 1980 form.  It’s that serious.