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
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.

Will We Ever Dance Again? The Past, the current and the future of the Miami Hurricanes

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

It had been two years since I had attended a University of Miami football game before Saturday’s contest vs. Clemson.  The reason I haven’t are numerous but irrelevant to the story.  What is relevant is that Saturday’s atmosphere prior to kickoff seemed eerily similar to Randy Shannon’s last game on the Hurricanes sidelines.  I was there for Shannon’s last game as I was working with the marketing department as part of my commitment while finishing my degree.

Putting a finger on exactly what was in the air is difficult,  all I know is that it just seemed to be the same. So when Clemson drove right down the field on their first drive and put the ball in the end zone,  my mind said “yeah, that’s about right.”  What ensued thereafter was not similar to Shannon’s last game and caught all of college football by surprise.  Clemson walked down the field on their four ensuing possessions and accumulated a 35-0 lead early in the 2nd quarter.  While the operations were different,  sitting in the stands in the 2nd quarter of the game,  I felt I was watching Al Golden coach his last game for the Miami Hurricanes.  Walking into the stadium in 2011,  I had the same feeling.

The mass of Miami Hurricanes fans will be ugly in regards to Golden as he makes his way out South Florida.  There’s no doubt he should bear the brunt of the blame for the lack of performance by the Canes during his tenure.  Golden came in with a detailed plan to catapult the program back to it’s glory days.  The plan was almost too detailed.  Golden ultimately had a focus on the things that don’t matter in Miami and for this football program.  The failed elements of the plan ranged from his game day attire to spring practices in obscure cities out of the region.  In between, he demanded he hold on to a defensive system that did not fit the type of talent available in this fertile recruiting ground (a cardinal sin for any coach).

The first signs of trouble came in game #1 vs. Maryland in which the Terps repeatedly ran quick screens to their WRs with raving success.  The insistence on recruits practicing on both sides of the ball during camps was another sign of trouble but hardly his biggest.  Golden’s stubbornness in recruiting was the knock in the engine for me.  His assessment of talent in the area was so off that it was alarming.  It was so off that in the beginning I had to ask myself “am I tripping?”  After a quick resolution to that thought in which my answer was no,  I realized that this would eventually bleed onto the field of play.  The obvious thing for everyone to think would be that I mean there would be a lack of talent so Miami would eventually start losing but that’s not what I was thinking.  You will always get talent at the University of Miami.  Talent will never be a problem here so long as we play Division I football.  What I was referring to was this:  if Al Golden is this willing to be this way off and this stubborn about recruiting this area,  he will be just as or more stubborn on other things of great importance.  In the end,  this is exactly what played itself out for the last 4.5 years at Miami.  I saw the trouble ahead.

We all endured the mind boggling replies to questions about Al’s defensive schemes.  Week after week we watched mis-alignments,  in-adequate use of talent, etc. Week after week we listened to it get defended in much the same way the outlandish recruiting moves were.  In Al’s first couple of seasons,  we saw players leaving early who were not assured NFL roster spots.  That should have raised an eyebrow.  In years 2 and 3 under Golden,  we started to see coaches voluntarily leave the coaching staff for lateral moves or to no other coaching jobs.  Eyebrows and I’m talking both of them, should have been raised.  What came next were bizarre press conferences, a saga with the Penn St. vacancy and an eventual discord with the fan base that grew tired of the slogans.  Golden wanted to come and change everything about the University of Miami program.  The question is why did he think he could?

There are many out there who think we can insert a new coach at Miami and all of the tears will be washed away.  This has not been the case with the last three hires. While I have detailed Golden’s failures,  I will now turn around and tell you that the situation and atmosphere at Miami built the Al Golden you just witnessed.  I can guarantee you that had Golden come into Miami in 2002,  he would not have been this way.  He would have had to fall into the Miami way.  However,  at the time that he came in,  Miami’s identity was eroding and Golden saw an opportunity to place his own emblem on a program that was 10 years past  it’s glory.

The University of Miami program in it’s heyday was the most unique college football program the game had ever seen. The stadium was the most unique. The home win streak was never and has never been done again.  The on the field antics and bravado was unique.  The dominance on the field was unique.  The amount of NFL talent was unique and the city of Miami was unique.  On my way into the University of Miami in 1992,  we were called together for a team meeting by officials for the NCAA who showed a video tape of things that would no longer be allowed in college football.  The video depicted 10 clips from college football and roughly 6 to 7 of those clips were of Miami Hurricanes celebrating on the field.  The NCAA rules committee thought this was unacceptable.  Three years later,  on my way out of Miami in 1994,  the NCAA had reigned down on us with sanctions and then Miami Herald reporter Dan Le Betard published an article in Sports Illustrated stating why the University of Miami should cancel their football team.  LeBatard built his now successful career on that article.  My point is that after a decade of dominance,  people were tired of seeing Miami prosper.  Miami was now under attack.  It was as if someone out there studied Miami and thought,  how can we stop this from happening.  Step one,  take away their swag so start penalizing them for their celebrations.  Second, go down there and find some dirt on them.  Basically, find them doing things that every other major college football program is doing and nail them for it.  The deconstruction of Miami football dominance had begun.

In between the legislative moves to disarm the Canes,  other factors brought the rest of college football even with Miami.  Other programs started imitating the the personnel that made Miami unique.  Defensive linemen got more athletic,  linebackers got slimmer and faster while defensive backs became more aggressive.  When schools could not find this talent in their regions, they made major investments in recruiting talent in the same South Florida areas Miami pulled their talent from.  With a long history and fat pocket boosters,  getting the money needed to get the talent out of area codes 561, 954 and 305 was not a problem. Slick talking assistant coaches replaced hard core talent developers as the emphasis was now on physical metrics and athleticism. You can all thank the University of Miami for those things.  The University of Miami brought flavor to college football and the media took notice.  When the media took notice,  college football grew and so did the revenue.  The very team that college football was attempting to silence was the very team making all of America pay attention.

While college football was growing at a rapid rate and college football teams were busy imitating the most dominant program in the game,  Miami was trying to climb out of the NCAA sanctions hole that it was in from 1995-1998.  It was as if someone had come out on the track and pulled on Miami’s shorts during a race and allowed the others in the race to catch up.  With one last diabolical plan and college football still in the infancy of it’s current boom,  Miami was able to break free of the shorts hold and sprint the finish line furiously.  Butch Davis creatively accumulated talent while tap dancing through the loopholes in the sanctions.  Inspired and angered by the NCAA slap down,  talent made it’s way to Miami.  What was created was the most awesome gathering of football talent in college football history that flexed it’s muscle in 2001 in a way few have ever seen.   Miami had climbed the ladder to the top again but how much energy did they use to get there?

What Miami created by 2001 was a great team but unfortunately not a new dynasty.  In the three prime years 2000-2002,  Miami managed one championship and by 2003,  the decline had started.  In 2004,  college football was on it’s way to it’s most prosperous ERA.  Television rights, merchandising, mega-stadiums and super conferences were making colleges rich.  The University of Miami was not a major player in any of that.  A choice to join the ACC instead of the SEC meant Miami would be pigeonholed into playing teams of little interest and connection to the South Florida crowds.  Wake Forest, North Carolina, NC State, Duke and the like do not inspire a transient South Florida fan base to forgo a night they may never forget on South Beach, the Grove or the Ft. Lauderdale Strip.  In 2008,  the University of Miami was kicked out of it’s beloved dwelling the Orange Bowl.  The site of so many triumphs, history and strength was now the uneven match of a construction bulldozer.  Combining the lack of appeal of an ACC schedule with dead like atmosphere of Sun Life Stadium has worked to strip the Hurricanes of two major advantages they had in college football.  During this time,  other major college football programs built palace like football facilities, boosted their recruiting budgets and descended upon South Florida like the feds on a cocaine lab.  Miami in response has attempted to imitate these other programs who have budgets far exceeding their own.  The administration has seemed to be halfway committed to a dominant football program and more focused on being Harvard of the palm trees.  This had shielded the effort to return to the glory years.

At this point,  Miami has been stripped of it’s swag, kicked out of it house and has had it’s local talent pillaged as the rest of college football has taken delight in it’s plight. The bravado and in your face style of before angered many, inspired others and has ridden Miami to this low point.  The climb out of the hole will be steeper than ever before in Miami’s history.  It’s been 14 years since a national title and much has changed in college football.  The next staff at Miami can’t be all about recruiting.  The next staff can’t be all about marketing.  The next staff can’t be about slogans.  The only language South Florida understands is winning if you want them at football games and Al Golden could not speak the language.  There are a number of factors that will lead to future success for Miami.  The biggest of those factors will be talent development.  You can always get talent at Miami but the success will rely on aging that talent from 18 years old to 21 years old.   A staff that can do this or at least get this started will be on their way to getting Miami to dance again.  That’s when the penalty flags will start to fly once more. Website Down

As many of you have been able to figure out,  the main website is down and has been since Saturday October 17th. is currently hosted by a company named Arvixe which was recently acquired by a company called Endurance International Group commonly referred to as EIG.  Apparently being acquired by EIG is the death of a web host as I have come to learn.  In this particular case,  EIG’s purchase of Arvixe has resulted in downed servers wreaking havoc on virtually all websites hosted by Arvixe,  GridironStuds included.

We are currently seeking to have the site restored while simultaneously shopping around for a new,  more reliable and customer service minded host.  While we would like to rush to another host,  we will take our time to find an appropriate one so as to avoid, as best we can,  a future situation as this one.

Rest assured, has outstanding things planned upon the return of the site and into 2016.  The future at is very bright and we are excited about it.  We will keep you updated on our progress right here on our blog as the situation develops.


Chad Wilson

The 5 Star Handicap – Why Being Highly Rated Can Be A Curse

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

There’s the saying that you don’t know what you don’t know.  Nowhere is that more true than for the high school teenager.  Across the country and the globe, parents are going about the difficult task of trying to tell their teens what lies ahead of them in the real life descending upon them.  On the high school football gridiron,  football coaches are doing the same and for their top players,  the words of wisdom can fall on the deafest of ears.

Being a college football recruit can be a great experience.  Human beings always thirst for acceptance whether we want to admit it or not.  What says acceptance more than newspaper articles, magazine write ups, radio interviews and television appearances.  Such is the life of a top recruit in the 21st Century.  The more publicity,  the further out of touch with reality the recruit becomes.  Some recruits have a solid support system that can do a “decent” job of keeping the teen grounded but many other recruits do not.

High school football features athletes at various stages of physical and mental development.  Often times, there are players who have achieved the physical development a lot sooner than those that are around them.  In the game of football, that gives that individual a tremendous advantage.  For some top recruits it’s easy to go out and play when you are physically better than your opposition in 90 if not 100% of your games.  The games become easy,  the practices become boring and the bad habits settle in.  It becomes difficult to listen to those telling the recruit to work hard, keep grinding, challenge yourself when what the recruit is doing is leading to dominant performances week in and week out.  No matter how much or how hard you try to tell them that it won’t be this way in college,  they just can’t picture themselves not dominating at the next level.

The situation I described is a set up for failure for a lot of some of the top recruits in the country.  A small portion do continue to get by because they are just that much of a physical force.  All top recruits think they are that type of physical force.  Reality awaits them.  Other recruits are pushed through at their colleges because those programs are hell bent on making that 5 star recruit a success.  Reality awaits this player at some point.  Along the way,  the top recruit is not picking up the tools that equal long, consistent and steady success in the game of football.   When they land on campus that freshman season,  they are pounded in the face with reality.  Their lack of a work ethic,  intolerance for film study and distaste for conditioning makes them a 3rd team participant.  This leads to anger, despair and talk of wanting to transfer. Eventually it could lead to giving up on football altogether. The tough news is that your 1 star work ethic is not welcomed at any campus.  It may be tolerated elsewhere like a lower profile school but it will have it’s consequences.

As the media spotlight on high school football players continues to grow like wildfire,  the epidemic I have described in this article continues to spread like the plague.  We are reaching the point now where by the time they have reached their senior year,  these athletes have been getting some 7-8 years of media attention for their play on the gridiron.  The job of keeping a young athlete humble and hard working is getting tougher and tougher these days.

#1 Priority For Your Youth Football Player is Have Fun

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

Youth football is all the craze down here in the state of Florida.  Parks across the state on a Saturday morning in the Fall  are packed with onlookers filled with hope, pride and emotion.  Somewhere in those oversized pads and helmets is the next Aaron Rogers, Adrian Peterson or Richard Sherman.  Ask any or all of the parents in attendance and they’ll tell you that their kid will be the next NFL superstar.

As a father of two that have gone through the youth football ranks,  I am blessed to have the wisdom to reach back to the parents that are now embarking on the youth football journey.  I know my message will fall on many a deaf ear and blind eye because emotion fuels the heart when it comes to children.  However,  if I can reach the mind of a few,  I can help some kids have a chance to succeed in this sport but more importantly have a healthy relationship with their parents.

As a coach of youth football for seven years,  I would like to say I’ve seen it all but that’s not true,  the stories are still coming.  However,  I have seen plenty a parent ruin a kid’s love for the game with undue pressure to perform at unrealistic levels.  I was once told by an assistant coach who’s son was on the team that his son was “The Michael Jordan of the football team.”  Well what do you say to that?  The truth of the matter is that at ages 6-13,  the game will rarely ever be as important as it is to the parent.  Ages 6-18 are the fun years.  Those are the years where there are no bills, office politics, relationship drama, etc.  The last thing a kid needs is to endure hair losing pressure from a parent that’s keeping stats and charting performances of a player that is still waiting for his two front teeth to drop in.

I always told overzealous parents that wanted to predict their child’s assured trip to Canton this line “We don’t know anything until your child goes through two things,  puberty and girls”.  Those two elements have destroyed more certain athletic careers than any injury you can name.  So until they encounter those enormous hurdles,  let them enjoy the ride.

How do we allow the youngster to enjoy his time on the youth football field?

(1)  Support his game day performance good or bad especially if you never make it to practice.  The worst is the dad who I never saw all week going off on his kid on game day.  You have no clue how that performance on Saturday matched up with what was done Monday through Friday.  That 10 yard run that you thought should have been a 60 yard touchdown might be the first time he ever got out of the backfield with a ball in his hand.

(2)  Don’t coach his technique or scheme if you aren’t on the coaching staff.  The best way to screw junior up is by having him do things your way when that’s not the coach’s way.  You won’t believe the incredible techniques I have seen dropped on my coaching staff on a Monday night practice. Now the coaches have to spend the next three days getting the young man back on to the same page.  Needless to say he won’t be ready mentally for Saturday and guess what Pops,  you’ll be going off on him again around 3 PM Saturday afternoon.

(3)  Advise and I mean advise not punish him for the life skill things you see him doing or not doing.  Put away your whistle mom and dad.  The only coaching you should engage in should be on your son’s punctuality, effort, leadership and camaraderie.  These are the life building skills that will be the most important part of your child’s youth football experience.  Advise him on those things.  If you see him finish first in the pre-practice lap or not finish last if that’s where he normally finishes then please acknowledge that!  Tell him how that will make him better.  If you see him encouraging a teammate that just screwed up on game day, tell him how that will make him a dependable adult.  Your acknowledgement encourages this behavior in the future.  It also helps you when you “calmly” approach him about punching a player after the whistle, sitting on the end of the bench by himself or disrespecting a coach.  He will listen if he knows you will also recognize his good.

(4) Sometimes all you need to say when the game or practice is over is “good game” or “great practice”.  That one phrase on you way to a trip to McDonalds could be the Vince Lombardi of motivational speeches.  Now he can’t wait for tomorrow’s practice or next week’s game.  He wants to try and make mom and dad proud again.

As I reflect back on my time as a youth coach and parent,  I realize that the best games the kids played were the “throw up tackle” or “kill the man with the football” games after the real game was over.  I often saw kids that were not very good in practice or games turn into Michael Jordan in the post game “throw up tackle” contest.  One day,  I did have to ask why this was the case and here was the answer:

“because there were no coaches and parents there yelling at me.  I was just having fun”

With that,  the young man said a mouthful,  now will you listen?

Three Game Highlight Video Is Gold for Seniors

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

It’s your senior season and you have not received much recruiting attention.  The reasons for this could be multiple.  First,  you may not have played much so far in your high school career.  Perhaps you did play but you did not show much up to this point.  Another reason could be that you are interesting to colleges but they just want to see more.  Whatever the reason may be,  waiting until the end of your senior year to update or correct this perception of you with recruiters is risky business.  You can jump start your senior year recruiting by putting together a 3 game highlight video.

By now you have played three games in your senior season.  Hopefully you have been active enough to display your talent on film.  Don’t wait until your senior year is complete to put together a highlight video.  Doing so could mean that you are well into December or possibly even January.  Waiting until then to display your work is a recipe for disaster.  It is difficult to get recruited in those months if you are a senior.  It’s not impossible but it is indeed,  very difficult.  You can get yourself on the recruiting board at some schools by releasing a three game highlight video.

The rules on the 3 game highlight video are the same.  Try not to pack the highlight video with the mundane, routine plays that any ole Tom, Dick and Harry can make.  After all,  this is an attempt to show a college that you are better than the rest and worthy of playing at the next level.  A four yard run that did not involve any feat of athleticism or strength does little to make your case and may lead a recruiter to believe that this is the best you can do.  So if that’s all that you have through three games then you may want to forgo the three game highlight and realize that you need to step up your play.

If you have a good 10-12 plays that show you are something special,  go ahead and put one together.  Start with the best play first and go backwards from there.  Your 3 game highlight video is not a feature film with a plot and a build up to a climax.  You have to get to the point so if you ran back a punt for 77 yards,  that’s play #1 and not play number 19.  You have to slap that recruiter in the face right now with your abilities.  Keep the film short.  College football teams are in season and the coaching staffs do not have a great deal of time to watch recruiting film when their next conference opponent needs their attention.  A 1:30 long film is just fine so long as it shows off the best of you.  If you have been ballin through these first three games,  don’t waste any time,  make the video and get it out to colleges today.

If you are in need of recruiting help,  again my message is get it now,  do not wait for December and January.  If you aren’t trying to be the last one in line for the new Jordan’s then use the same mentality when it comes to recruiting.  Early bird gets the worm. provides recruiting help for high school football players from coast to coast.  Contact me today and let us put together a strategy for you.  Email for info.

Why Recruiting Service Can’t Be ALL Free

By: Chad Wilson
Twitter: @GridironStuds

Perhaps I’ll stir up some nests with this article but my real hope is that it appeals to the common sense of most, the good sense of others and the reality for those that are left (fat chance on that one Chad!).  I have heard the word from some who think it’s ok to demonize those who charge “kids” for recruiting help.  Those that charge and do a good job are not the enemy my friend and I’ll explain to you why.

There are several options when it comes to recruiting help.  Let me lay them out to you.  First you can get recruiting help for free.  Nothing really wrong with that unless you expect that help to be of strong quality.  Let’s take a look at this.  If the help is of strong quality then it will at some point be in high demand. If it’s in high demand then it seems many will be using it.  If many are using it then how much help can it be?  Those offering free help are usually doing so with great intentions.  However,  free recruiting help being used by the masses often means sending out a link to your highlight tape along with basic information on you typically through social media.  That’s harmless.  However,  it has limited effectiveness when hundreds are being helped this way.  Hopefully a school will notice your link, click on it and watch you.  Simple math and probability says the more that use it, the less of a chance that is.  A service like this is good but goes best when accompanied by additional help.  For free services to get more in-depth,  it would need the help of additional people and additional people need to be paid and where’s that money going to come from?  This is simple economics at work,  supply, demand and compensation.

Second,  there are services that don’t charge the “kid” but charge the colleges.  On the surface this sounds great.  The recruit doesn’t have to pay for anything,  the recruiting service gets funds to operate and everything seems like Heaven.  Here’s the other shoe that’s about to drop.  A service paid by the schools only, will never have every school as a customer.  In fact,  they will only have a handful of schools as a customer.  So,  guess who that recruiting service is going to send your information to. Guess where that recruiting service needs to steer you to in order to keep that college as a customer.  This is common sense.  So for example,  the best place for you, the recruit, to go to is Utah but they are not a customer of  this recruiting service so Utah won’t get your information.  Instead,  your information will be sent to Syracuse.  Perhaps Syracuse is not a fit for you but they are paying that recruiting service $5,000 per year so guess where you are going.  Services like this, while they may help, don’t have you as their priority.  It’s a tale of common sense.

Finally,  there are the services that charge the recruit for help.  Those are the ones that people with an agenda like to make the enemy.  You hear things like “oh how could you charge the kids?”, “Unbelievable that you would take money from a kid to help them!” and an assortment of other things.  Cast a deaf ear to that noise.  Recruiting services are entitled to charge a “kid” the same way that a trainer is entitled to charge a “kid”.  Both services are in the business of helping the individual that stands to gain the most and that’s ……  you got it, “the kid”.  As with the first two examples,  there are business in this category that don’t do a good job.  It is in your best interest for you to do your research to determine who provides quality work and who does not.  This is like anything else you pursue in life.  You, the recruit, try to find out who’s a good coach, what’s a good school, who makes great shoes, games, etc.  Same applies here.  However,  a service that charges “the kid” now works for the kid.  If they are to stay in business,  they must serve the interest of the kid.  They are not limited in the schools they can approach and since money means limited customers,  it means you don’t get lost in the shuffle of 1,000’s upon 1,000’s of customers.  This is not rocket science,  I promise. provides free services for potential college football recruits.  It’s free to create a profile on our site and add your highlight video.  With college coaches visiting the site,  you do have the chance for a coach to see your information.  On top of that,  we also offer “premium” services.  You know what premium means.  This means you need to pay and it also means you get more in-depth help with your recruiting situation.  That means we are going to put in some extra work to get you seen by colleges.  It also means we are going to do it right.  So the morale of the story is,  there’s nothing wrong with free as the headline may have suggested just taper your expectations when you go this route.  You may get help from a service that charges the schools and not you but you will severely narrow the choices and finally,  a service that charges recruits is not the devil,  it’s actually the one by circumstance that has the biggest burden of helping the intended subject and that is “the kid”!