FNF Coaches Talk — Coaches Who Made the Leap From HS to NFL, Wing-T Offenses, No College Football on Friday Nights

Welcome back, Coaches. Take a look at these three stories.

1. The Trailblazing Coaches Who Went From Friday Night Lights to the NFL (The Ringer)

Here’s an interesting article for high school coaches — one that shows that it might not be as difficult as it once was to make the jump from HS to the NFL.

Football’s fairly recent realization that good ideas can come from anywhere has led to the firing of some stubborn, old-school coaches, while schemes are rising up from all levels of football. So many of the changes in the past decade can be explained by the rise of the high school coach in the NFL.

The author of this story, Kevin Clark, asked people around the NFL why coaches with high school experience might be equipped to be successful in the pros. The answers are varied but focused on a few themes:

  • Schemes can change quicker than at any point in the history of football, due to technology advances, smarter coaches, and rule changes, among other factors.
  • The same muscle that forces high school coaches to adapt to their talent changing every single year comes in handy at the pro level now more than ever.
  • In high school, coaches are forced to adjust their entire game plans if their receiver gets a cold.
“You learn that you have to coach what you’ve got,” said Jess Simpson, one of the best coaches in the history of Georgia high school football who was hired as the Atlanta Falcons’ defensive line coach in March.. “This year you might be able to run this offense. The next year, it might have to be totally different. Defensively, the same thing. Your kicking game might change; you had a great kicker then all of a sudden, you’re holding tryouts because no one can kick a ball.”

Coaches also said there is more of an emphasis on the actual installation of plays. Hammering home the details of every play becomes more essential because of the lack of talent and depth at the high school level.

“Here is what you get,” said Chiefs general manager Brett Veach. “At high school, there is such an emphasis on technique, the fundamentals of the game.”

Which of your strengths as a coach would translate well to the pro level?

2. Old-school offenses still have a place in today’s high school football landscape (AZ Central)

We hear so much these days about RPOs, spread offenses and other uptempo variations, so it’s always interesting to hear that some old-school coaches are sticking to their tried and tested schemes and outscoring other attacks.

Several Arizona schools are still running variations of the double-wing, which has been around since Pop Warner developed it in 1912.

It took off in 1994, when Don Markham led Bloomington High School in California to a 14-0 record, scoring what was then a national record 880 points a year utilizing the double wing, a year after the school went 1-9.
It started with the T-formation in the late 1880s.
There are variations. The Wing T, which some schools in Arizona still use, was quite popular in the 1980s and ’90s in Arizona with a back lined up a step behind one tight end. Earl Putman at Phoenix Moon Valley and Jesse Parker at Mesa Mountain View used to punish defenses out of the Wing T with big plays.

The interesting part of this story is the revelation that many coaches who are still running these old-school Wing-T offenses are doing so for the same reasons coaches started running the spread 10-15 years ago. Very few teams run the Wing-T anymore, so it forces opposing defenses to have a crash course on the Wing-T in a week’s time, while the old-school teams are practicing the offense all year.

Danny Norris, with offensive coordinator Damien Logan, resurrected Phoenix North Pointe’s program last year with the Double Wing T.

When Norris took over Gilbert Christian’s football program this year, he had to get the community to buy into the offense.

“Installing the offense at Gilbert Christian was originally a concern for me but the young men in the program have come to love it,” said Norris, whose team is 4-3 in 3A. “Gilbert Christian has been known to be an ‘Air Raid’ offense, dating back to their days in 8-man so this was a big transition for the community.
“I think our players like the offense because it’s a ball-control offense that chews up the clock and defenses generally have a difficult time stopping us from getting 3.5 yards a play. This offense wears a defense down and makes them dig their feet in and prepare for contact every single down.”

What factors do you consider in choosing an offensive and defensive scheme for your team?

3. NFHS Executive Director: Let’s Keep Friday Nights in the Fall for High School Football (National Federation of State High School Associations)

We’ve seen this issue create some debate in Texas, and now it seems it has gotten the attention of NFHS executive director Karissa Niehoff.

A few days after Ohio State beat Northwestern in Evanston last Friday night, a matchup televised on the Big Ten network, Niehoff penned a letter that is extremely critical of college football teams that play on Friday nights.

High schools should not have to adjust their schedules to accommodate colleges playing on Friday nights. High school coaches, administrators and fans are opposed to colleges playing on Friday nights. The NFHS and its member state associations are opposed. Even leaders in the Ohio State administration did not initially support the idea of the Buckeyes playing on Friday night. Friday nights are for high school football and should remain that way.

Niehoff keys in on what she feels is the primary problem in college football: TV money. In addition to the Big Ten Conference, teams in the Pac-12, Mountain West, Atlantic Coast and American conferences, as well as Conference USA, have played on Friday nights. Niehoff lobbies for a resolution when these current television contracts expire.

… It is the desire of everyone within the high school community that new deals would preserve Friday nights for high school football.
Friday nights offer communities a traditional time and place to congregate and support their students. As was the case last week in Ohio, a college game on Friday night impacts interest and attendance at high school games.
Let’s maintain Friday nights in the fall for high school football. It is a win-win for everyone.

How would you like to see this situation resolved?

What’s driving the conversation in your locker room? Email Managing Editor Dan Guttenplan or Tweet us @fnfcoaches. Don’t forget to use that hashtag #FNFCoachesTalk