Nike Coach of the Year Clinic: Day 1

Tag: Nike COY clinic

27Feb 2013
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Nike Coach of the Year Clinic: Day 1

USC head coach Lane Kiffin

On Friday several of the other coaches and I left work early for the Nike Coach of the Year clinic in Pittsburgh, PA.  Due to some travel issues, we missed the first presenter (Pitt offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph).  That made me sad, because we were stuck with assistants . . .

Pitt QB coach Brooks Bollinger and WR coach Bobby Engram
In case you don’t remember, Bollinger played quarterback at Wisconsin and Engram was a wideout for Penn State.  Both are pretty young coaches, so they probably deserve a little bit of slack.  However, neither one seemed particularly focused, so they ended up bouncing from topic to topic without saying much of substance.  Therefore, I didn’t jot down any notes about what they presented.

Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops
I got a lot from Stoops, who was Florida State’s defensive coordinator for the past couple seasons, prior to being hired at Kentucky this offseason.  I expected him to be a little funnier and more fiery, but he was a pretty straitlaced speaker.  However, I got a lot from him.  He talked about essentially running a 4-1-6 defense against the spread, leaving just one linebacker in the middle.  If the defensive linemen read pass, they take one game and try to get to the quarterback, while the middle linebacker looks for screens and draws.  If the defensive linemen read run, they try to two-gap their man and get to the football.  Obviously, with only five guys covering six gaps, the defensive linemen need to help out the middle linebacker.  By putting just five guys in the box, FSU could cover the four (or five) wideouts adequately.

Connecticut head coach Paul Pasqualoni
Pasqualoni was the first coach to really show some fire, but he was a very serious guy.  He used to be the head coach at Syracuse and has since worked for the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys.  I have some philosophical differences with Pasqualoni, who prefers a 3-4 defense that eschews penetration from the defensive linemen in favor of creating an “umbrella” at the line of scrimmage and making it “muddy” for running backs.  He likes his defensive linemen to have a balanced stance (feet nearly even), take short steps, and get their hands on the opposing linemen’s shoulder pads.  I don’t know that I’ve sat through a clinic presentation by a defensive line coach who’s more 3-4 (I’m more familiar with even fronts), so it was interesting.  It’s all on the way to learning more and getting better as a coach, though, so maybe I’ll be able to use his tips sometime down the road.

USC head coach Lane Kiffin
Kiffin walked in wearing a white T-shirt and jogging pants.  For whatever reason, I expected him to be shorter and a little pudgy, but he’s actually a tall, very fit guy.  He was supposed to be talking about his version of the West Coast offense, but he ended up talking more about his coaching philosophy than anything else.  It was sort of an odd choice of topics, because he constantly talked about getting kids to believe in their coach, not BSing players, and telling them what they need to hear rather than what they want to hear.  That message doesn’t really jive with his public persona, so I’m wondering if it was meant as a little bit of a public relations message.  Perhaps he’s trying to rehab his image.  Regardless, he was a pretty funny guy and made several self-deprecating jokes like “Do you guys have any questions, maybe about how to take a preseason #1 team and run it into the ground?”  He also put together a list of questions he likes to ask about an opponent’s defense each week.  Here’s the list he shared:

  • Who’s their best pass rusher?
  • What do the defensive ends do on nakeds?
  • Do they stem their defensive line?
  • Who is the best blitzing linebacker? What’s his technique?
  • Do their linebackers Green Dog with man coverage?
  • Do they have defensive back pressures?
  • Do they use zone pressure, man pressure, or a combination?
  • What are blitz tendencies by down and distance?
  • What are blitz tendencies by personnel groupings?
  • What are tendencies by field position?
Overall, it was an interesting and informative day with Stoops and Kiffin the highlights.
1Mar 2012
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2012 Nike Coach of the Year Clinic

I don’t know whether to be happy or sad about the fact that I’ll be sitting through a Nick Saban
presentation on Friday evening.

I’m leaving this afternoon for the Nike Coach of the Year Clinic in Allentown, PA, and I’ll be there until Saturday.  Speakers include Steve Addazio (Temple head coach), Bob Surace (Princeton head coach), G.A. Mangus (South Carolina quarterback coach), Larry Fedora (North Carolina head coach), Bill O’Brien (Penn State head coach), and Nick Saban (Alabama head coach), along with several other college and high school coaches.  I have some posts ready to go in my absence, but obviously, any breaking news in the next couple days will probably not be covered until I get back on Saturday or Sunday.

Last year’s clinic was summarized in sections from Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3, so check those out if you’re interested.  In particular, check out [former] Yale coach Tom Williams’s comments on Michigan from Day 2.  If you’re relatively new to reading the site, football hasn’t changed much in the last year, so you might still find it relevant.  Last year’s speakers included Danny Hope (Purdue head coach), Kirk Ferentz (Iowa head coach), Mike McQueary (Penn State’s former receivers coach), and Paul Johnson (Georgia Tech head coach), among others.

I will be posting a summary of the presentations next week (or sometime soon).  In the meantime, look for tomorrow’s scouting report on Murrieta (CA) Vista Murrieta athlete Su’a Cravens.

18May 2011
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Self-Indulgent Post of the Week: A Visit from Todd Bradford

Maryland defensive
coordinator Todd Bradford

As a football coach and fan, I had an interesting experience today.  University of Maryland defensive coordinator Todd Bradford (official Maryland bio here) stopped in to our school to visit our head coach.  When he walked in, I immediately recognized him from the Nike Coach of the Year Clinic, which I attended back in March.

As coaches often do, he was in the area doing some recruiting.  I had a few minutes to chat him up.  We talked a little bit about his presentation at the coaches clinic, I asked him how his spring practices went, etc.  He had some interesting things to say about the team’s preparation.  Maryland opens the season on September 5th with a televised night game against Miami, which ought to be exciting for the Terrapins, who don’t frequently get a chance to play in prime time.

Coach Bradford asked if I’m from the area originally, and I told him I was from Michigan.  He asked where, and when I told him, he said, “Yeah, I know where that is.  I used to coach at Eastern Michigan.  Ypsilanti.”  I said I went to school right next to Ypsilanti at the University of Michigan.  His response was, “I always wanted to coach there.  That’s a great place.  I used to work their summer camps, you know, but once I went to Wisconsin [where he coached defensive backs from 2000-01], I couldn’t work the camps anymore, since they’re in the Big Ten.”

We talked a little bit longer about recruits at my school and in the area, but obviously, that’s not conversation that should be relayed here.  Shortly afterward, I left him with the head coach and carried on with my day.

As you might know, college coaches spend a lot of time on the road trying to create relationships with local programs and schools.  There was a great article about the life of college basketball recruiters in last week’s issue of Sports Illustrated.  We’ve heard about Darrell Funk, Mark Smith, and Fred Jackson making school visits in recent weeks, and those are the types of things they do when spring practices and the fall football season aren’t in full swing.  They hit the road and visit every school they can, hoping that relationships built will help them land a recruit or gain some support in the coming months and years.

Nothing earth shattering happened and the more interesting parts of the conversation should remain undisclosed, but it’s not every day that you get some one-on-one time with an ACC coach.

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