Many years ago I was in college and worked at a service (gas) station in the evenings. Just to give you an idea of how long ago that was, there was not yet anything called self service gas stations. It was UNLAWFUL to dispense your own gasoline back then. So, I did not sit at a register and take customers money. I came out to the drive and asked, “Yes sir, or yes ma’am?” In addition to the customer asking for gasoline I would often be asked to check the tires or check the oil. Washing customers windows was automatic. By the way, gasoline prices usually hovered between $.30 and $.35 a gallon. Yes, I said 30 CENTS. Now and then a “gas war” would erupt in town and gas would work it’s way down to $.25 a gallon. Anyway, I met a lot of interesting people and would chat with them as I washed their windows or sometimes they would get out of their car to carry on a conversation as I went about my business. I loved it when one of my favorite high school coaches came in so I could talk a little football. Coach Haycock, from Spalding Institute would always get out of his car to talk a little ball with me. One day just before the season began, I said, “So coach, what kinda offense are you gonna run this year?” Coach said, “We’re going to be multiple.” At the time, I’m not sure if I knew what that meant except they were going to do a lot of stuff out of different formations. You see, when I was in college I thought I knew football. After all, I had played high school football and watched it on TV! Little did I know how much I did not know. But that’s a story for another day.
One Thing Great or Many Things Well?
Time to talk a little philosophy. There are a lot of ways to play football, coach football, and organize football. So many schemes, cultures, offenses, defenses, etc. They’re all good and can be effective. As I’ve said many times before, learn an offense or defense inside and out, teach it and coach it to your staff and players AND believe in it.
When you first sit down to review or develop your playbook, you most likely already have a personal offensive (or defensive) philosophy. You know how you want to run your offense, what overall scheme, what tempo, run more, pass more, balanced, etc. You might also address the issue of doing one thing great or many things well. Now, by one thing great we don’t mean ONE PLAY, we’re talking one scheme or maybe one series. Maybe triple option is your game or maybe you’re going to be a power team and you need to run power from all formations. On the other hand, your goal might be to be multiple. Multiple formations, a lot of plays, some option, some power, under center sometimes, shotgun sometimes. Is there a right or wrong approach?
We did an unscientific poll on twitter and simply asked, “Would you rather do One thing great, or Many things well? It came out a 60-40 split with ‘Many Things Well’ winning. That’s fairly even, but a nod to MTW.
The case for One Thing Great.
Let’s take a look at some examples of this philosophy and also some coach’s comments. If you’re running flexbone there is one thing you had better be able to do great – Triple Option! If you’re going to run the Wing-T you’d better be able to run the Trap/Bucksweep series. If you’re running the I, ISO is a must. Some coaches will decide to stick with just a couple of formations and base plays and become absolute experts at this base offense. Can’t argue with that and many have been successful. Comments included:
“Easier to coach and easier for the kids to learn.”
“Be known for something. But, be it known, doing one thing great is a difficult journey. Many things can be tried with little effort.”
“To be most successful I want to become great at one and surround myself with other greatness. Hone your craft!”
“One thing great Coach!”
“Keep it simple.”
Many Things Well.
As you can tell, even way back when I pumped gas there were coaches that wanted to be multiple. When I was a defensive coordinator I found it difficult to prepare for a team that ran many formations, motion, shifts, and a wide variety of plays. But even then, most teams have their base four or five plays. It still forces you to prepare for everything, so that’s an advantage. Comments included:
“In today’s game, diversity of attack offensively and ability to defend multiple ways defensively is imperative IMO.”
“We don’t do one thing great; we do several things well.”
“We want to be multiple in our offense – tough to prepare for.”
I think comment number one is really significant and I could not argue with that philosophy at all. Just take a look at today’s game, not just in the pros or college, but high school as well.
So What’s Best?
There is no best – there is only what’s best for YOU, your program, your culture. That’s the wonderful thing about football, there are so many ways to coach it successfully. You probably knew I would come to that conclusion. I’ve been around long enough to see so many different philosophies be victorious that I am open to just about every approach. Speaking of different approaches, we’ve got several impressive ones available at Chiefpigskin.
Want One Thing Great? Check out the Crusader Flexbone run by Tim Rulo in Missouri. Or how about running the Wing-T by Mike Johnson or Job Linboom? Want ideas on doing Several things well? I’m so impressed with Craig Buzea at Homewood-Flossmoor High School in Illinois that I urge you to give it a look. Then of course, there is the defensive side of the ball. Jake Gilbert’s Westfield Shamrocks in Indiana play a 4-3 defense that is so versatile and multiple you’ll wonder how they teach it all. But they sure do – they’re the defending state champs and off to another 2-0 start against tough competition. You won’t be disappointed with this video. On the other hand, the Simplest 3-5-3 run by Nate Albaugh in Champaign has been popular with coaches across the country. Whatever you need, we’ve got it.
Remember, we here at Chiefpigskin are absolutely committed to helping ALL football coaches (including ourselves) become better at what we do. As we build our library we hope you’re building yours. Keep checking us out and see what’s new.
Coach L. Albaugh – DBLITY