Thursday, October 15, 2009

Little Boy Coaches?

I had a lot of driving time today, and a conversation on the radio about who should be coaching the Redskins sparked something in my mind. The thought was sort of convoluted, so, you'll have to kinda stick with me. Over the weekend, I saw some Bengal's highlights. I kinda have a soft spot for them, as I caught and episode or two on Hard Knocks this summer. That and the brothers Palmer are bus-driving that team. The lesser Palmer brought UTEP to the spotlight a few years back, when Coach Price took over a program in desperate need of attention. Anyhow, I realized Cedric Benson plays with the Bengals. I forgot about that...You all may remember Cedric and I are cousins. Yep, football cousins. He and I share the same high school football coach. I say share because, though it's in the long past, it can never change. So, I'll use present terms since Cedric and I are still alive. What?Anyway, Coach Parchman was his name. Coach Parchman was what I call, vintage coach. He was the second generation in this coaching progression I'm about to discourse on. Coach had a huge belly, maybe mostly beer, and a rather dry, angry disposition. Even in our little part of Texas high school football in Socorro, Coach waddled around the field slowly, with a straw hat and dark shades. My fondest memory of him was once during two-a-days watching him -- literally -- laid on his side in the middle of the field, whilst we ran wind sprints, puking and gagging for air. During games, Coach never wore a headset (a key in his generation). He screamed at everyone, and everybody was morbidly afraid of him.

No, Cedric did not play at Socorro High School. He did, however, play at Midland Lee, where he and Coach Parchman won three straight state 5A titles. In Socorro, the closest Coach Parchman got to the tournament was reading about it in the papers, but once he landed the gig in Midland, he became a rock star, along with Cedric.

For you non-Texans, I’m going to give you perspective on Texas high school football. In those days, we (Socorro Bulldogs) played on grass in front of aluminum bleachers with a half-lit scoreboard. El Paso is the fourth largest city in Texas (about 600,000 in those days); so, talent was pretty well spread and hard to get. Midland is in the middle of Texas, thus the name – maybe. There is nothing to do in Midland (probably 80,000 in those days) but drill for oil and go to high school football games. So, Midland boasted a concrete stadium, complete with artificial turf and digital scoreboard. Yeah, Coach Parchman got a huge promotion; raise and I don’t think he even had to teach in Midland.

I can already tell this is going to be way longer than I intended.

Jim Zorn is in dire straights in the Danny’s World. The assumption was made this morning on sports radio that little Danny Snyder, who has the patience of Jerry Jones, will be making a coaching change soon, if not sooner. The host said, “He needs one of the visor coaches,” a term I claim to have copyright on, but alas. The visor coaches refer to the breed -- clad in visor -- the likes of Jon Gruden, Sean Payton, et al. These are usually former quarterback coaches, who didn’t quite make it in the pros, but visualized complex offensives schemes and took the spread offense to new heights.

The way I see it, you had the Tom Landry’s of the world. The pioneer coaches, dressed in a suit, walking up and down the sidelines on Sunday afternoon, usually subdued and cool. Then came the big-bellied, screaming coaches, perhaps with John Madden paving the way. Like the pioneers, they didn’t all wear headsets – yet – like the pioneers, trusting assistants were doing all they could do. This brand of coach was varied somewhat by the likes of Don Shula and Bill Walsh, and perhaps a start to the visor era.

The visor era brought an intellectual side to head coaching and youth. These guys came with thick, complex offensive playbooks, and often ran offensives before being given the gig of leading an NFL team. The brand of coaching was exciting and my favorite until…

What do we make of Josh McDaniels?

Have you seen this coach? He is known around these parts as Little Belichick, as he took Coach Weis position with the Patriots before taking over as head coach for the Broncos.

He looks like he’s 15 and should be learning to drive, not running a National Football League team.

But, he’s 5-0.

Is this the new generation of coaches? I guess we’ll soon find out.

Well, the 2008 world champion of poker is only 22.