FNF Coaches Talk — How a Minnesota Coach Created a Dynasty, The Analytics Era, Apply to Become Penn State’s Offensive Coordinator

Welcome back, Coaches! We’ve got three stories for you as you take a break from your holiday shopping.

1. The secrets behind Minnesota football powerhouse Caledonia and its amazing winning streak (Grand Forks Herald)

We always like to peel back the layers of any coach that has created a dynasty in his respective state.

Sixty-seven straight football wins by the Caledonia (Minn.) High football team — the longest streak in the nation — is tough to ignore.

Native son Carl Fruechte took over as Warriors head football coach in 1997. It is Fruechte, above all, who determined way back when what those steps needed to be in order to get this program to the “promised land.”

What lay in front of him wasn’t at all promising when he took over in 1997. Fruechte knew this first hand, having been a Caledonia football assistant before landing the head job.

“We had a bunch of kids (in 1996) who weren’t very interested in football at the time,” Fruechte said. “It was a disaster and eye opening. The sport has to mean something to kids, and it has to mean more than just winning games. You talk about culture and you talk about getting more buy-in from parents and kids.”

This article laid out the keys to his program’s success.

  • It’s that it is vitally important to have not just a few buy in to what you’re doing and selling, but just about everybody. He’d certainly heard that football was a numbers game. But now he knew it for sure. “I realized that I had to create depth on my teams,” Fruechte said. “I started to rotate everyone in (to games). I needed to get everyone involved.” Part of that initial “getting them involved” happened in the Caledonia hallways, and at the Caledonia school lunch tables, and at the Caledonia supermarket.
  • Among Fruechte’s 13 assistants, six have been with him for 10 years or longer and six are former players of his. That longevity and familiarity has been crucial to this program’s unmatched consistent success.
  • It literally is Fruechte who starts things off for this program five days a week, almost 365 days a year. He’s the one who opens the Caledonia High School weight room door each of those days, appearing just as the sun is rising, at 6:30 a.m. He also likes it when his players — and any athlete in any sport at Caledonia, boy or girl — choose to “get out” with him. That means taking him up on his daily invitation for these crack-of-dawn workout sessions. During the football off-season, that is weight lifting Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and speed work Tuesdays and Thursdays.

What more could you be doing in the offseason to create a winning atmosphere?

2. The Decade When Numbers Broke Sports (Wall Street Journal)

It’s crazy to think the use of analytics was extremely limited in football as recently as 10 years ago, but this Wall Street Journal article suggests that the rise of data/analytics has been a 2010s trend.

The 2010s were about implementing analytics and letting numbers dictate strategy. It was an inevitable progression—for better and worse.

The NFL went through a similar data binge, from the way teams analyze players to the plays they call, even if gruff coaches still want to deny it. The best way to understand this transformation is to study the record books: Every passing record is owned by someone who’s still playing.

But the strange thing was how long it took and how many kicks in the rear end it took NFL teams to realize this. As football changed its rules over the last decade to protect quarterbacks and wide receivers, and when innovative offenses from high school and college infiltrated the NFL, passing became more lucrative than it had ever been. There have been so many changes to the NFL’s product that the league in 2010 and 2020 have about as much in common as football and foosball.

It’s not just that teams are passing the ball more. It’s how they’re doing it. NFL teams now take 64.1% of their offensive snaps out of the shotgun. They took 62.6% of snaps from under center a decade ago. The ratio has flipped.

But there is a fundamental tension in the relationship between teams and their league that could forebode trouble going forward. A league is responsible for the overall health of the sport. A team is responsible for winning games.

When did you start using analytics to help dictate strategy? How has that evolved since?

3. Think you can be Penn State’s next offensive coordinator? Here’s how to apply (Penn Live)

This is kind of a tongue-in-cheek story, but if you feel like you’re qualified to be a FBS offensive coordinator, have at it.

If you’ve thought about applying to be Penn State’s next offensive coordinator, we have good news to share.

The school has officially posted a job titled ‘Assistant Coach 4 (Offensive Coordinator).’ The listing went online Wednesday and will remain open until it is filled by head coach James Franklin.

Now, posts in comment sections of this site and social media replies tell us that there are many Lions fans who are certain they can design and execute an offense that will run circles around the best and worst defenses in the country.

Successful candidate will be assisting the Head Coach in the development and maintenance of a competitive program, by championing a clear vision and strategy for a winning program aggressive in the pursuit of Big Ten Conference as well as success on a national level.
Responsibilities include: providing direct coaching and instruction, scouting, evaluating and recruiting of student athletes. This candidate should possess established leadership/mentor role among student-athletes and other supportive staff while promoting sportsmanship and responsible behavior both during and outside of athletic competition; serves as a positive, inspirational leader for the football program, athletics department, and University.

What is your dream job as a football coach?

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