FNF Coaches Talk — New Play Clock Rule, Arizona Coach Shares Strategy with Opponents, Empathy for Your Players

FNF Coaches Talk

Welcome back, Coaches. Here’s a collection of top stories from the day.

1. New play clock rule is having ripple effects in high school football (The Times Record)

Many of us are aware of a subtle change to the rule book before the season — one that has caused a few ripples in high school football this season.

In February, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), tweaked the play clock, going from 25 seconds to 40 seconds. Under the old rule, after a play was finished, everything waited for the referee to spot the ball, blow the whistle and signal for the 25 seconds to begin counting down.

Now the rule has the clock starting at 40 seconds from the moment the play is over and the ball is dead. According to the NFHS website, the change was made “to have a more consistent time period between downs.”

According to Cony (Maine) coach B.L. Lippert, that objective has been accomplished.

“To me, it’s absolutely the way to go,” he said. “I just like the consistency of it all. I just like the fact that we know it’s 40, so it doesn’t matter home or away or any of that stuff. It’s just a matter of 40 seconds.”

Maranacook coach Jordan DeMillo gave the new rule his approval as well, saying that 40 seconds versus 25 is better for players with a developing understanding of the game — particularly in the new eight-man format, which the Black Bears are playing this season.

“I’ve actually enjoyed that rule change, and I think the other teams might have enjoyed it as well,” he said. “All of us are running slightly different offenses, and getting that little bit of extra time to be able to get that right play call in there has been a little nice this season. Had it been a 25-second clock, I probably would have run into a few more delays … just because I’m running all new formations.”

How has the new play clock rule affected your season so far?

2. Arizona high school coach gave game strategies to opponents (Ahwatukee Foothills News)

We can’t figure out this one.

A Mountain Pointe High School (Ariz.) coach for two years shared game strategies with opposing teams. Justin Hager, who resigned Friday in lieu of termination, was hired in 2016 as an assistant coach for the Pride varsity football team.

“Our entire campus is shocked at these findings. It is the responsibility of all adults on a high school campus to act with integrity and to put students first in all we do,” Mountain Pointe Principal Tomika Banks said in a press release. “Mountain Pointe students, families and staff are heartbroken to learn our trust was violated by someone we cared for and considered a member of our family.”

Tempe Union officials said they discovered an email address linked to Hager that showed he had shared protected information on the school’s football program since 2017.

Hager shared play calls, formations and at one point a list of players deemed ineligible, giving opposing coaches a “competitive edge,” according to a letter that Tempe Union Athletic Director Bruce Kipper sent to David Hines, the executive director of the Arizona Interscholastic Association last Friday.

“While we do not understand the motive behind these actions, our district does not condone cheating and is devastated to find that a trusted adult on our campus was actively working to undermine the success of our students,” Kipper wrote.

Coaches — You’re going to have to help us out with this one …

Why would a coach ever share his game strategy with an opposing coach before a game?

3. Empathy for your Players with Brian Kight (USA Football Blogs)

Vulnerability among football coaches is not something that is necessarily prevalent, especially with their players.

Brian Kight, founder of dailydiscipline.com, believes this is something that can drastically change your program.

“If you struggle with emotional control on the sideline, you can live that standard by opening up about why you struggle, opening up about how that inhibits you, opening up about what happens to you in games and how your mind changes,” says Kight. “[By doing that] you allow [your players] to open up about how they struggle.”

Relenting the fact that you, as a head football coach, are not perfect, also allows you and your athletes to meet in the middle.

“I have a problem with a coach that lacks the self-awareness to see that he doesn’t actually apply the standard to his own life,” says Kight. “Then [the coach] just hammers on players to do it, demands it from players or gets angry if a player doesn’t uphold the standard and that coach hasn’t held up a mirror to see if he’s lived that standard in quite some time.”

How important is it for a coach to show players he can admit when he makes a mistake?

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!