Saturday, September 23, 2017

Yancey Magic, 300 Wins, and What Really Matters

Longtime coach and friend, Shane Harmon, tapped me on the shoulder right before kick-off last night and said, "Did you know tonight could be Fred's 300th?"

And as a guy who takes GREAT PRIDE in knowing things and doing what is right... I felt a huge sense of panic.. NO... I didn't know and NO... I wasn't prepared to honor my friend on such a historic milestone for this guaranteed future Hall of Fame coach.

I do know he got his 250th BCS win last season and was given a nice ceremony and a gold helmet with 250 painted on it.....

So I wandered out to him during the humid pre-game warm-up and asked him if he knew he was at 299...he did.

Then I joked with him... 'Coach, I'm not ready to honor your 300th- I guess I could get a black sharpie, a gold helmet and write 300 on it".... we both laughed and we both knew... Coach really doesn't care, he really doesn't... to him it is a number.

Don't get me wrong, we know it is special, but I have spent too much time with him over the years to know that the accolades don't register for him... but I also know it was pre-game and the fires were burning... he would trade them all to get the NEXT one.. and not for him... not for him... he WILLS the wins for one reason.... he feels like he OWES it to the kids. He wants it so bad for them that he aches... but the reason he aches for them may surprise you.


Those of you who know my story, know that I coached football for 28 glorious years... all but 7 of those with Coach Yancey.

But it was my 7 seasons as a head coach that I really understood Yancey magic... it was why his 2 pt calls worked and mine didn't, why his fake punts scored and mine fell short.

But you want to know why? I know.. while I just wrote the word 'mine' 2 times....he doesn't even think in those terms.....

There is no Yancey magic... He is just a humble servant of God, loving kids, and has a burning fire for winning.. for all the right reasons.

Don't get me wrong.. He is a fantastic coach.. excellent x's and o's... but there is something more and deeper... and it is why his former players and parents LOVE him.

300 WINS

Oh my goodness... does anyone know what an accomplishment this is?

It isn't just perseverance, it is a long time of excellence.


When the game was over.. I hugged his neck and congratulated him... "Congrats coach, 300 is special." He squeezed me extra hard... 'You know you had a big part of this, coach."

And the tears filled my eyes.... he NEVER is selfish... he always deflects to others...

and I'm still crying now.. because I can't stop praising the Lord for allowing His grace to make a man/coach like Fred Yancey.

BCS Coach, Fred Yancey won his 300th game as a head-coach and the 259th at Briarwood – a school and Shelby County coaching record- last Friday night at Fairfield.

Coach Yancey is now 300-111-1 overall in a career that has spanned 34 years. He has compiled a 259-91 record at Briarwood since 1990, and is just the sixth football coach in AHSAA history to record his 300th win in the AHSAA.

Coach Yancey, who ranks third in AHSAA history with most wins at one school, has guided the Lions to 24 straight playoff appearances. He has a 54-22 playoff record and has won 3 state championships.

Throughout his career, Coach Yancey has modeled a consistent Christian testimony and taught countless players and students how to be a winner on the field and in life.

Congratulations, Coach Yancey!

-records source AHSAA

What a man.... what a legacy!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Early Analysis of the Tide

I had an amazing time last weekend in Tuscaloosa. The Alabama game day experience is incredible and any chance we get to do it, we always enjoy it.

Also loved my view- A high endzone seat is great for an old coach like me and I love finally watching formations and safety rotations from both teams. It also helps to get some thought on the chess game of adjustments and personality of the play callers.


It is just too early to accurately get a team report. I'm a guy who likes to see what teams grow during a season and how they handle the grind, injuries, internal chemistry, and outside messaging.

But here are some of my take aways from a beautiful day in Alabama:


As my blog post said a week ago, Hurts is dramatically improved. His poise is his greatest asset, he plays under control and makes good choices which is hard to do in the pace of a game. He seems to have a great time clock on his scrambles and is deadly with his feet.

He threw two bad balls (which is a great game number). Two weeks in a row he has had a vertical throw go out of bounds, which was always a big no/no to me. But his second deep throw to the right was just a bad decision and a bad ball. In cover 1 (man free) the Qb needs to be aware of the FS, and Hurts threw a hang up too far inside and it should have been picked.


As far as 'plays', Alabama has shown nothing new from last year. It is what most teams do these days... a lot of gun, formations, shifts, motions, and personnel packages. Alabama loves to run the power O or Pin and pull off of jet sweep motion. The do some RPO's that are fast screens or runs. They do some zone read, but they also have called QB runs.

My guess is that there are some plays still in the toolbox but yet to be used, which is a beauty of this year's schedule-

Here is how it works....

The game tapes are flooding in... and before long, every team will have an MO and though you try to break tendencies, you still go with what you are good at-

Here is where Daboll will excel- an NFL approach is the be as basic as you need to be to get the job done. The game plan is more clinical than mood of the moment.

I had a lot of chats with Norm Chow when he was coordinating with the Titans... he said he was most surprised with 2nd and short yardage philosophy between the colleges and pros. In college- 2nd and 2 is a 'shot down'- get a big play. In the NFL, it is 'get a 1st down' call- because 3rd and 2 in no gimme in the NFL.

Daboll went power run on most of his 2nd and shorts.

I like what he is doing.... not flashy but efficient- very clinical and sound- and we are snapping the ball in plenty of time- there won't be the 'whistling Kiffin' wanting to check to HR throws - but in the long run, that approach can cost you some opportunities.

I haven't seen that slot- possession receiver yet- the one we will use to play off of Ridley- Who will be our Amendola?


I was impressed with Fresno States offensive gameplan. This was a well schemed offense and had yin plays in for Bama's yang.

I did notice that the 2nd time the play was called- Bama had already adjusted... it was especially cool to see when Fresno called Chip Kelley's rail route flood play- it was a big gainer the 1st time and 2 yds the 2nd time.

I do think Bama's defense wasn't stoked- they played a lot of 'catch the block' instead of 'attack the technique" and it allowed runs to go two more yards or give QB one more count in the timeclock to throw.

The chewing by Pruitt was expected, justified, and predictable - as all DC's are LOL.

FG kicker seems to be settling down- he seemed jittery in game 1.

Our punter is something else- Jk Scott.... fun to watch him- his apex on the punts is just how you want them.


The Fla State win is money in the bank- and despite HUGE losses at the OLB position, a place like Bama has TIME now to build.

And that my friends is what the whole season now depends on... and there are NO GUARANTEES that it will happen. Even though the head coach and the system is as outstanding as it can be, it is now up to the players to lead, work, and compete.

A championship team will block out the outside noise and intensely focus in the film room and meetings, and relentlessly compete in the weight room, on the practice field, and on Saturdays.

There will need to be team leaders who demand it happen.....

Along the way, there will need to be injury luck and a will to win when the momentum shifts due to bad breaks.... etc.


I haven't seen last years D-line push- but rarely does that happen at that level... that is why those guys went so high in the draft.

And (this will sound crazy) but will the Bama Nation allow this team the time it takes to build?

All players are on social twitter and the noise comes in.... are the wins big enough? What player will be labeled as unproductive and get his mind on his performance and not the team? How loud is the doubting or dissension?

What will surprise everyone but me is how competitive CSU, Vandy, And Ole Miss will be.

For fans sleeping and lounging on the butterslide of expectations, it will be opportunities for fret.

But if the team will take these a moments to mend and opportunities to grow...we can continue to enjoy unprecedented achievements.

I do like the culture of my team and the way they play!


Friday, September 08, 2017

Our Prayer Regarding Irma


We come to You with hearts that are yearning and needful. We are truly grateful for the truths in Your Holy Word regarding the love and compassion You lavishly demonstrate in countless ways. You also, Oh Lord, are the powerful creator and sustainer of all things.

Lord, You are never absent in a storm like Irma. Indeed You are ever present in that storm... and though it turns within the properties of nature that You designed, it also swirls in the majestic control of Your mighty hand.

Father, I am like most humans in that I don't understand that... and if I am honest I don't like that. But I am so thankful that You have many promises that we can cling to when life doesn't make sense or when we don't like it.

You are so patient as we cry out in misunderstanding and dissatisfaction.

Lord, if I am honest I will say to You that what Paul says in Romans is true... but frustrating...

"But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, 'Why have you made me like this?' [21] Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? (Romans 9:20-21 ESV)

So Father, we pray for Your will and Your mercy. We understand that this storm has already struck places and many calamities fall in different ways everyday. Your love stands true in the midst of any human condition. Your gracious offer of  eternal salvation to all who call upon Your name far outweighs even the darkest human story.

But Lord, You also encourage us to pray... to wrestle with You... to knock... to seek... to ask.... You encourage us to pray in faith and You teach us to pray in unity of numbers and perseverance.

And ultimately, we trust Your every answer.... sometimes "Yes", sometimes "No", and sometimes "Not yet". We know that Your ways are not our ways and Your purposes are just and Your acts are good.

We bow before You as sinners. We come before You as a people who often ignore You and cling to idols who offer nothing but lies.

And yet, Your heart is still so full of compassion. You demonstrated Your love in space, time, and history.

[7] For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—[8] but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:7-8 ESV)

So Father, we cry out to You- the ONE WHO CAN turn the storm called Irma and we ask that even as Your people pray, the steering winds would pull north and east and steer the mighty creation of Your majesty out to sea.

Father, if it be Your will to not relent in that way- we know that You are gracious and loving. Your children know how to pray as Job prayed, "Though he slay me, I will hope in him" (Job 13:15 ESV)

We also pray Lord that You would move the hearts of Your people to rally to the needs of others. We thank You for 1st Responders and countless thousands of others who give cups of water and words of healing in Your Holy Name right in the darkest places of human suffering.

Lord, when You move the storm... may many people recognize Your mercy and fall their knees in thanks. We know the skeptics will mock and jeer.... they will say that it is only soul-less 'science' and resist You in hardened rebellion.

But Lord, may they even see Your majesty and peace and patience and love while the door of mercy is still open.

So Lord, Your people pray and we wait. We are not helpless or hopeless. May we be found dressed- clothed in the righteousness of Jesus- ready to respond to Your call in the peace that passes all understanding and the power of Your Holy Spirit.

So thank You for even the privilege the pray... to ask that You move the storm so that all the world may see Your ways and be amazed.

In The Name of The King of Kings and Lord of Lords... Jesus Christ.


Update 9/11/17

In some ways I had to chuckle that  my prayer to steer the storm northeast, ended up going northwest with the eye coming right over my city....

But the command to pray, the call to pray, the collective power of prayer has not changed.

God is Lord and I am not- and my trust in Him never wavers.

His plans have very little to do with me and yet, He is ever mindful of my needs moment by moment.

I see the storm so far as very merciful in terms of what could have happened- and God's people are ever present and helping. Thank you to all of those heroes that we never hear about... God sees you!

The Lord is good, His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to All generations!

How does one Biblically respond to a Hurricane?

#1 God is in control- He was not absent from the storm. He was the fury of it. He was the pilot of it. Nothing happens outside of His sovereignty.

#2 The rain falls on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matt 5). Irma represented judgement for some and graduation to heaven for others. See Jesus commentary in Luke 13 on human disaster. The question is always- "Am I ready for my death?"

#3 God is love and compassionate. In the storm, is also God's love. It is the same love shown on the cross. Where was God when Irma struck? He was in the same place as when His Son hung on the cross. He is in control and full of love.

#4 For the believer. tragedy is turned to triumph. Rom, 8:28 promises that all things work for good. How can that be? The reaction to the tragedy shows God's truth. It shows mans depraved nature (Rom 3:23) in the looting and crime. It shows the existence of God in how we value life (we spend money and risk lives to save lives). It gives God's people a chance to show compassion (II Corin 1). It wakes us up from trivial lives of idolatry.

What is more comforting? Irma with no God in control or Irma being used by God to fulfill His purposes?

How you answer that question shows what risk you have taken for eternity.

See Joseph's faith in Genesis 50.

Psalm 74:9 You stand up to judge those who do evil, O God, and to rescue the oppressed of the earth. 10 Human opposition only enhances your glory, for you use it as a sword of judgment. 

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

In Defense of Hurts

I debated whether I should write and post this.... just adding to the noise.

But coaching and evaluating Qb's was something I did as a career for over 25 years. It was one of the great honors of my life and I have a special interest and passion for that special position.

My comments AND almost all other opinions expressed about Jalen Hurts are short-sighted... unless we know the calls, the expectations, and the teaching from the coaches- we are (I am) speculating at best.

But a majority of the sports talk I have heard this week from the 'experts' is troubling to say the least and irresponsible to say the worst.

This is typical of most of this week's analysis

However, I was blown away by Hurts progression from last year to this year by the end of the 1st quarter.

Those who know me, know some of the things I didn't like about Hurts last season...even though I loved his performance as a true freshman and came away super impressed with his production last year.

I had concerns about his grip and didn't like his motion last season. The ball tilted down in his hand and he had a 'long stroke'- which means he didn't release the ball as fast as I think a QB should playing at that level of football.

This is Hurts grip in National Championship game- see the downward tilt?

This was last Saturday- much better ball position

By the way, Peyton Manning had the same issues as a true freshman at Tennessee. I was privileged to watch Coach David Cutcliffe and Peyton put in the work to 'shorten his stroke' and 'improve his grip'.

To say it paid off is an understatement.

Saturday night I saw a completely revamped plant and release by Jalen. He was much more balanced and fluid on his throws when he was given protection.

Many of his throws were a balanced, plant and a quicker release than last year.

His worst throw was actually his first down the field throw that sailed out of bounds. His best throw was a back shoulder rocket that carried Ridley just out of bounds.

Without having the benefit of a true game field view (the standard TV view is limited) I saw in many ways a typical first game offensive performance against a really good defense.

The hardest thing for us to understand as fans is that Alabama resembles the style of an NFL team, not a college team. Most NFL games are tight... a 4 yd run is a bonus... and the ultimate wining edge is hidden yardage in special teams and turnovers.

Coach Saban is a defensive minded coach, which means... if his defense is clicking, he wants an offense that will run clock, wear the other team down, get explosive plays when the situation allows them, and not turn the ball over.

The average fan doesn't like that kind of game.... and it isn't as glitzy as the fun and gun style that a lot of teams play.

But I will say this.... that style wins under pressure, when it matters most.

The detractors will say.. "Sure, until you get beat by Clemson."

But go back and watch that game.... it was an amazing football game...a clash of styles... and we watched a special QB put the ball in super small windows and earn the championship. Congrats to them.

You know what else about that game? A true freshman QB in Crimson pulled up in the pocket and scrambled for a TD that could have won the game as well.

We are blessed to have a great kid as the starting Qb and I am also thankful to have a quality back-up as well... my guess is that we will see both develop this year and always excited to cheer on these guys as they go on a long journey full of ups/downs and everyone gunning for them each and every week.


Saturday, September 02, 2017

In Defense of Coaches

Some of you may know by now that I have recently been appointed to be the Athletic Director of our high school. I take on this role with great excitement and a sense of the responsibility that comes with the job.

I have been blessed to have a great team of people to work with and I am under no illusion that I can guide this ship as a solo effort.

From time to time, I want to dedicate blog space to thoughts about my new position and my desire to always encourage and support our coaches.

Coaching is not for the faint of heart. In some ways, it has never been harder. We live in a world of high expectations and free wheeling opinions. Our media has tuned our ears to accept outspoken critique and instant judgement.

Before I am mis-understood.... this doesn't mean that coaches should be defended in all circumstances... coaches are human being who do things at times that are indefensible. Some of these are serious enough to result in very tough consequences. But our so called 'tolerant' society is not quick to forgive and there isn't a lot of 'bearing with' and 'forgiving'.

My biggest concern in this area is when players, fans, or parents get caught up in a vicious cycle of negative talk that builds on itself to the point that a coach is damaged in the process.

How can this happen?

Part of it is the fruit of a culture of endless 'opinionating' and prognosticating. I had a well respected college head coach tell me a decade ago that ESPN was making his job harder. He said, "My players hear week in and week out a powerful message of how good they are, how likely they are to win or lose, how good I am, and whether I am on the hot seat or not. They are swayed by slick music and graphics and it is frustrating that they will take more stock in what a commentator will say more than a coach who is with them and invested in them."

And though it is hard to feel a ton of empathy for those who get millions in buy out clauses, it still hurts .... and when those same free wheeling comments drop to high school and jr high school teams, the results can be devastating.


There are times a coach should be let go.... incompetence and of course unethical or immoral behavior.

But the bar to change coaches has never been lower....

In some cases, it isn't even about the won-loss record... sometimes the call to remove a coach is simply 'my kid isn't happy'.

My philosophy is to be slow to ever replace a coach... I would rather work with a coach than take a chance on an unknown quantity.


I am a parent of athletes... so I see this as a former player, coach, and parent.... we must always be careful about what we say concerning those who have been placed in a position of authority in our children's life.

The ability for a coach or teacher to have the credulity to speak in our children's life is related in degree to whether we have built up that person or torn them down in the eyes of our children.

The power of the parent cannot be underestimated.... that parent can set that coach up for success or failure wth just a few statements in their presence.

But it isn't only a parent or fan problem.....

I have seen examples too many times in my professional life where players began to distrust their coaches and it prevented their ability to ever improve as a team.

But even then, I am still slow to hold that against a coach.... I would rather graduate the negativity than succumb to internal negative spin.


My main commitment and philosophy as an athletic administrator is to provide a support system where they feel free to coach and, at the same time, feel a healthy pressure to improve.

All coaches need to improve.... most I have known in my life WANT to improve.

And a program with stability and encouragement will show a better track record than those who change with every whim.

It is easy to write these things...much harder to stand in them...

But if there is a coach in my program.... he or she won't have to believe my words.... they will only have to watch me work.

My advice to fans, parents, and players.... step in with both feet and support the TEAM and don't worry about the coach.... that part is going to work out just fine.