Some SEC Coaches Still Calling Own Plays

FAYETTEVILLE — Before he made the move to the sidelines, Bobby Petrino sat in the coaches' box and called plays from above.

He'd take in the entire field, gage what the opposing defense was doing and then go to his thick playbook for ideas.

And even though it's been six years since Petrino worked as an offensive coordinator, Arkansas' first-year coach sees no reason to hand over the playcalling duties to someone else on his staff.

"It's just something I've always enjoyed doing, something that I think is one of my strengths as a coach," Petrino said. "And (it) allows you to develop closer relationships with the quarterbacks and the other players."

While most college football coaches don't call their own plays, there are several in the Southeastern Conference who have resisted the urge to give up control of the offense to an assistant coach.

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, perhaps the SEC's most popular and brash playcalling coach, has indicated this spring that he intends to hand over the reins to his son, Steve Spurrier Jr.

But the Ol' Ball Coach was quick to point out during an SEC coaches teleconference on Thursday that he wasn't stepping away from the playcalling duties entirely.

"Well, I haven't given it up completely, let's put it that way," Spurrier said. "... I'm still going to be the offensive coordinator, and I'm going to still have input into the playcalling. Hopefully, it will not be much different."

Spurrier said he decided to relinquish some of his playcalling, so he'd have more time during the week to spend on other areas.

Meanwhile, Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt left little doubt as to who would be calling the plays for the Rebels this upcoming season — himself.

Nutt handled the playcalling duties during his first eight season as Arkansas' coach, and he didn't give up some control until after back-to-back losing seasons in 2004 and ‘05.

But even after former Springdale High coach Gus Malzahn was hired as Nutt's first offensive coordinator in 2006, there was speculation as to how much of the playcalling Malzahn was actually doing.

"I'm back to calling plays now," Nutt said.

But most of the SEC's coaches would rather let an offensive coordinator handle the game-planning, that way it could free the coaches up to address other issues with the team.

Georgia coach Mark Richt said he had no problems a year ago letting offensive coordinator Mike Bobo take the playcalling duties from him. That gave Richt a chance to take a step back, evaluate his team as a whole and spend more time talking with individual players.

"It wasn't hard for me at all," Richt said of no longer calling the plays. "I've called plays for 15 years or more. I know what it's like to have somebody in your ear and guys trying to make suggestions and all that kind of thing."

Of course, Richt didn't stay away entirely. He still studied film, saw what opposing defenses were doing and then wrote down suggestions for Bobo when it came to short-yardage or red-zone situations.

But Richt said Bobo wasn't required to add every play that was suggested to him into the game-plan.

"If he wanted to implement ‘em, do it. If he didn't want to, then don't," Richt said.

Petrino, meanwhile, has no plans of turning the playcalling over to someone else anytime soon.

Even though Paul Petrino is officially Arkansas' offensive coordinator, it's up to his older brother to determine what will be run during a game.

"(Calling plays is) something I felt like when I was an assistant I always wanted to do," Bobby Petrino said. "And there was a time when I moved out of the pressbox, when I was (an) offensive coordinator, down to the sideline to call plays with the idea in mind that when I got a head coaching job, I was still going to do it."

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