FNF Coaches Talk — Game Day Schedule Changes on Senior Night, Kyle Shanahan’s Rise, Special Needs Night

Happy Friday, Coaches. We hope you’ll enjoy these stories either before your game or over the weekend. Good luck!

1. How a Game Day Schedule Changes on Senior Night for a Coach with 41 Seniors (ET Varsity)

We all like to stick to the script on game days, and as creatures of habit, we don’t like to get off schedule.

But this time of year, as we wrap up the regular season, we have to start thinking about things like Senior Night. Most of us honor our seniors on the field before the game by having a ceremony for them and their parents.

But what would you do if — like Longview Lobo (Texas) head coach John King — you had 41 seniors to recognize?

King said the first break in schedule takes place during the pep rally at 3:20 p.m.

This one is different as the 2020 class, including quarterback Haynes King, will be honored.
“It’s something that I’ve thought about since we started this season,” King, after a pause to gather his thoughts, said. “I knew it would get here too fast. It gets emotional, the week of senior night, with the pep rally with the moms and their families.”

Here’s the second break in the norm of this particular Friday.

One-by-one, the seniors, along with their families, are honored at midfield.

It’s on script, it’s prompt and it’s emotional. For once on a day where King knows every minute, he doesn’t know what this time will be like.

“I really don’t know how it’s going to be,” he said. “It’s something we’ve talked about all week long.
“It’s a special group of kids that I’ve known for a long, long time. I had the chance to watch them grow up to be fine young men, teammates and friends. You get to recognize them and their families with a chance to hug their neck and thank them.”

How does your game day schedule change on Senior Night?

2. 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan got to top of the profession through film study, development of people skills (San Francisco Chronicle)

Kyle Shanahan has been around the NFL for most of his life — and never coached at the high school level — but there are a lot of interesting lessons in this story regardless of what level you’re coaching.

In some ways, Shanahan’s rise to the top of the NFL coaching food chain seemed inevitable. He’s the son of two-time Super Bowl winning coach Mike Shanahan. He’s just 39 years old, coaching one of the most decorate franchises in NFL history. And now his team is 8-0.

Sounds easy enough, right?

But one thing we forgot before reading this article is that Shanahan has been through some adversity. He was in Washington with the Redskins from 2010 to 2013 — an unsucessful stretch that ended with his father getting fired as head coach. Then he was the offensive coordinator in Atlanta in 2016 when the Falcons blew a huge lead in the Super Bowl against the Patriots.

And it’s not like he was taking over a marquee team when he took over the 49ers three years ago. In fact, entering this season, the Niners were 25-55 over the previous five seasons. Shanahan presided over a nine-game losing streak to start the 2017 season.

So, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Shanahan.

One attribute that’s always set him apart is his relentless desire to study film.

Soon thereafter, Mike Shanahan recalled, his son meticulously dissected video of Rice and fellow 49ers wide receiver John Taylor. Kyle learned every route, studied every nuance, absorbed every detail.
This habit extended into adulthood, when he started coaching.
“Kyle was always willing to look at more tape and study the game,” Mike said. “He wanted to find out what everyone in the league was doing. He understood there was only one way to stay on top — to work at his craft — and he does that every day.”

Any coach would tell you breaking down film is one thing. Relating it to players and motivating them to work hard is an entirely other. Shanahan has grown in the latter category over the last few years. This next section is an important one for high school coaches. If you introduce a new scheme or play, you better be ready to explain WHY you’re installing it and how it will work.

Backup center Ben Garland, who also played for Shanahan in Atlanta in 2015 and ’16, shared an example of his coach’s sharp mind. Shanahan occasionally introduces a play Garland and other players think is “kind of crap” — until Shanahan offers a detailed explanation, including how it will set up another play later in the game. Then it all makes sense.

What traits have you developed over the years to make you a better coach?

3. A Special Needs Night Provides Football Community with ‘Experience of a Lifetime’ (Marshall County Tribune)

This is a great idea for all teams, and also an uplifting story for a Friday afternoon.

It was billed the ‘Maryville (Tenn.) Football Experience.’ Maryville High hosted a special needs football night — complete with customized T-shirts, play sheets, rosters, team chaplain Roger Murphy as the public address announcer and more for students in the Maryville City Schools district.

“The idea wasn’t ours originally. I think it or something like it has been done at other schools, whether it be like a Special Olympics thing or special needs football night,” said Rebels head coach Derek Hunt, diffusing any credit for an evening he steered into existence with the help of Maryville staff and students. “To be honest, it grew legs when we were down in Costa Rica with a bunch of our football guys.
“When we asked ourselves as a football team, ‘What more do we have to give? What can we give to our community as a football team?’ Well, the football experience is something we certainly have to offer. So we kind of came up with it then, inviting every CDC (Comprehensive Development Classroom) class in our school district, and it grew from there.”

Hunt’s idea needed district approval, layers of logistics to be engineered and a selfless approach to giving back from all sides. What mushroomed was an event with nearly 30 special needs students from the district, another 30 players, cheerleaders, staff members, parents and more.

Davidson, Maryville City Schools’ Federal Programs Director, shed insight onto the district’s approach to making the ‘Maryville Football Experience’ not just a reality but a dream come true for participants.

“I stood there and could hardly operate for the inspiration I was getting and the mist in my eyes.”

“Coach Hunt came to me towards the end of our summer and said that the team and a lot of coaches wanted to do something special for kids unable to attend a regular football game and kind of target kids who really wouldn’t be able to attend at all without a lot of support,” Davidson said. “We picked kind of the target population, had three meetings and brainstormed how best to get the right audience there. It required asking all kinds of legal questions and problem-solving.”

Are you willing to share a story of a community outreach project led by your team?

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