FNF Coaches Talk — PJ Fleck on delegating responsibility, Texas may allow coach-to-QB communication, year-round football academies

Welcome back, Coaches! Happy New Year. We hope you enjoyed your break. Here are three stories from the holiday break.

1. Minnesota coach PJ Fleck trusted an interim OC to call his team’s biggest game of the season (Danny Schaechter Twitter)

Coaches love to talk about delegating responsibility, but we all find it difficult to give up control when the stakes are highest. PJ Fleck talks about how he managed to delegate responsibility in his team’s biggest game of the season.

What is one instance when you’ve been proud of yourself for delegating an important task to an assistant?

2. Texas high school athletic association may allow coach-to-quarterback communication systems (Dallas Morning News)

The state of Texas’ University Interscholastic League utilized instant replay for the first time for its 12 state championship games from Class A to 6A.

In December, UIL athletic director Susan Elza met with the Texas High School Coaches Association football advisory committee and came away impressed with the amount of interest in possibly trying a coach-to-quarterback communication system. The technology would be placed in the quarterback’s helmet, allowing them to talk to a coach while on the field instead of relying on hand signals.

“It was a small gathering, but every coach in there was like, ‘Oh yeah,’” Elza said. “There are a lot of new systems in place out there that are relatively inexpensive.
“The THSCA will be helping vet that for us through their regional meetings. They’ll come back to us with information and tell us if they would like us to approach the football rules committee with that change. I’m interested to see where that goes.”

The UIL continued to use instant replay for just the state championship games, taking advantage of 11 camera angles that are provided with all of the games broadcast on Fox Sports Southwest or FOX Sports Southwest Plus. The UIL consulted with coaches and officials who utilized replay at last year’s state title games, and “the conclusion was that it was good,” Elza said.

“There were really no true adjustments that we had to make,” Elza said. “The bottom line is, you just want to get the call right. Our officials are good. They do their job on the field. It’s those bam-bam plays that you want to get reviewed.”

How would you feel about your state allowing a coach-to-quarterback communication system?

3. Is a year-round football academy the route to being the best? (Kitsap Sun)

Here’s one that is sure to make high school football coaches cringe.

Many of the top high school football players in the country have joined the football academy revolution that’s been building for several years. Much like a select soccer program or travel baseball program that offers individual instruction and offseason training/competition, a football academy aims to give its players an advantage by the time they return to their high school teams.

Rather than being overjoyed at the thought of players being afforded a more year-round experience, West Sound High (Wash.) coaches admit they are leery about the singing the praises of football academies. They wonder about the financial cost. They wonder about the type of football being taught and learned.

“The thing that high school coaches are the most wary of are the guys that run these places that promise these kids to make them above and beyond what they are,” North Mason coach Frank Hepler said.

In addition to personal training, another way academies are able to entice players is 7-on-7, a modified version of football that features all passing and limited contact defensively. Think flag football with padded headgear.

Academy 7-on-7 teams are generally formed based on tryouts and the cost to play isn’t cheap. Hardee said his family was scheduled to pay $2,700 to play 7-on-7 with HEIR. Hardee didn’t pay the full amount since he tore a knee ligament shortly before the season began in February.

What are your thoughts on year-round football academies?

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