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State of the Hogs:
First, I really have no preference in this issue. I wrote that headline to get a rise out of a lot of you guys. Afterall, some of you do the same thing.
But, I will state in a strong way that I don't mind the head coach calling the plays. Conversely, I don't mind the head coach serving as a CEO and hiring someone to call plays. That can work, too. But the key to the whole deal is for the head coach to do it the way he wants to do it. If he is forced into it, or does it because of griping from fans, then it's a huge mistake. I want it to happen only if Houston Nutt wants it to happen.
If Houston Nutt hires an offensive coordinator when he doesn't want to hire one, the ship will sink faster than the Titanic.
I've seen it happen, and it's ugly. Can you remember when Danny Ford hired Kay Stephenson? That was the end of the Ford era. It sank the ship.
I'm not saying Stephenson was a bad hire. He might have been a great offensive coordinator and playcaller if he had been with another head coach. He wasn't a match for Ford and it was a bad hire. And, it was wrong for Ford. It soured everything. It made for a bad situation because one didn't believe in the other, or so I thought. And, it made for such bad staff chemistry that the players were flapping in the breeze.
Danny Ford was a decent coach and a good person. He did some good things for our football program. But, he needed to do it his way. If he couldn't do it his way, I believe his will was broken. He didn't have the drive that he had in the first few years and that's what it takes in every regard to run a college football program. It's a difficult job. It consumes you, and you better be ready to give everything back. If you don't, things fall apart.
I was talking to someone the other day about Stephenson and his hiring. He reminded me that most thought Stephenson was the savior, and hailed his arrival as a great turning point for Ford. In reality, it was the death of Ford as coach. It wasn't going to work, and anyone who knew Danny could have predicted it. It was a sad situation.
That's why I think it's important to let Houston Nutt do it his way. He must believe in what he is doing, and put together a staff that he believes in and that will do it his way. The captain of the ship must sail the ship exactly the way he thinks it should be sailed. I have always believed that, and so do many others that know football.
The easiest thing to do is to say an offensive coordinator should be hired. Putting one in place at this point could be the right thing, if it is the one Houston Nutt wants and a man that is on the same page as Houston Nutt. That's not as easy to do as most suggest.
And, I understood what Houston was saying at his media briefing Monday in regards to Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells. He was pointing to Super Bowl coaches and saying it would have been hard for them to come in and do anything much different than he had done.
To be honest, I believed him. I saw Jimmy Johnson in action at Oklahoma State. With great players, he's a great coach. He proved that at both Miami and Dallas. With average players, he took his lumps just like everyone else. He proved that at Oklahoma State. Go back and check Jimmy's record at OSU. He had trouble recruiting and he had trouble winning against Oklahoma, Nebraska and other top programs. Without great players, no one is going to do much as far as championships.
When I was at the Tulsa World, Jimmy tried an interesting experiement. He allowed the sportswriters that covered the team coach the spring game. We were given the playbook and allowed to call any plays we wanted. We were allowed to build a few plays, without help from the coaches to make sure we didn't get the quarterback killed. That was hilarious. You should have seen some of the plays talented sportswriters designed. None of them could build one play that any of the players wanted to run in the game.
I did draw up one play, the tight end drag. I got it pretty close to being able to run. The coaches helped me finish it so we'd have the proper blocking. You know what, we ran it the first play of the game, and it went for a touchdown. Of course, OSU had an All-Big Eight tight end that was a true freshman and that's a great play in that situation.
But, the point of this is that I knew what play I wanted to run, but I had no idea about the blocking scheme, the backfield alignment and what it took to get the play executed. As it turned out, the play worked because there was a sportswriter on the other side who called an all-out blitz to open the game. So I can thank my claim to fame in coaching to being pitted against another dumb sportswriter.
What I learned was that it's easy to sit there and call for this play or that play to be run, but most times you have no idea what you are talking about. Absolutely nothing. I sure don't have a clue as to what is going on most of the time on the field. You don't know what weaknesses you are trying to cover up on each series. You don't know what injuries prevent this or that from being called.
It may not even be something on offense that your are thinking about when you are calling plays. It could be something that is going on with the defense. Maybe you are trying to run clock. Maybe you don't want your defense on the field.
What I do know is that we've won a lot of games with Houston Nutt. I've been through 10 years with this magazine, and I'm more comfortable with where the program is right now than at any time since we started the magazine. Remember, the first game played in the life of Hawgs Illustrated magazine was the Citadel. I don't want to go back there, and don't think we will as long as this head coach is allowed to run it the way he wants to run it.