Monthly Archives: August 2011

Tiger Football: Friday Night in America

For opening of the 2011 season, a replay from the Coach Hays archive:

We did not come here  for “spirit” or to be “peppy”, others will come for those.

We did not come here for peace, or love, or joy.

We came here to knock your pride into the dirt.

We came here to steal your dignity.

Friday Night in America.

Tiger Football.

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Just Do It

Advertising campaigns are mostly fluff. The slogans and jingles may stick in your head initially. But, like a syrupy pop song, they eventually fade into a distant memory. Some have more staying power. Take, for example, “Where’s the Beef?” or “Leggo of my Eggo!” or perhaps, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.”  Catchy little phrases, but not much substance.

But, there is one ad campaign that runs deep. One that not only has grown to identify its product at its very sight or mention, it can also evoke a deep philosophy for life.

Just Do It.

You know the company. Not my favorite company, nor my favorite brand of athletic shoes or wear. Even so, I immediately identify the company from these three simple words. Just. Do. It.  Effective advertising, but how does that evoke a life philosophy?

Just Do It. If you want something to happen or something to change, how do you go about making that happen? Simple, just do it. If you want to transform yourself or accomplish a great feat, how do you go about it? Simple, just do it.

I love the saying “Every journey begins with a first step.”  Yeah, that’s good stuff, but how many first steps have you taken that are the ONLY steps toward your goal. One step and done. No goal, no dreams, just standing in the same spot.  I have a million of those.

“Just Do It” is more universal, it is more encompassing.  The total package. It covers all the bases.

Have a dream? Just Do It.

Want to write a book? Just Do It.

Want to be the best coach? Just Do It.

Want to be a better father? Just Do It.

Want to be a better athlete? Just Do It.

A “Just Do It” attitude and hard work can accomplish practically anything.

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Boy Logic

I overheard this conversation while priming the gutters on the garage today. My two helper neighbor boys were in the driveway painting the cat’s house (they NEEDED something to do).

Big Brother (BB): “It rains every night.”

Little Brother (LB): “No, it doesn’t!”

BB: “The grass is wet every morning.”

LB: “It is?”

BB: “Yeah, it’s only a little bit wet.”

LB: “Oh, that’s water from the Little Dipper.”

BB: “Oh, yeah.”

Both BB and LB: “Mike, I’m hungry again.”

Me: “Well, have another icepop.”

You truly do learn something new every day. (I think.)

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Football 2011: Unsportsmanlike Conduct #3

Coach Hays’ Unsportsmanlike Conduct #3

Can a coach directly affect the outcome of a football game?  Besides the obvious methods of scouting,  preparation and play calling, I am not a big believer in giving the coach too much credit for players execution on the field (it happens way too often in the NFL and NCAA). I wondered if I could remember a time when I possibly had a direct coaching affect on the outcome of a football game. I thought of three. Here is the final installment. Enjoy!

Unsportsmanlike Conduct #3

The Tiger football team in 2006 had talent, enough talent to possibly go undefeated.  There was one thing they lacked, the “I am going to put my foot of your throat and press down until you give up” mentality. I wouldn’t say they lacked a killer instinct; they could smell the blood and attack as well as the next guy. But, they had a tendency to let their opponent hang in a game and keep a glimmer of hope alive. They just couldn’t smash that ray of hope until the opponent surrendered in defeat. I could never really get them to buy into one of my favorite coach sayings, “If the opponent puts it’s head on the chopping block, do them a favor and CUT IT OFF!”

As coaches, we coped with this group of kids by trying to keep pressure on them in order to keep them focused and on task. We used intense practices, stringent rules, power veer offensive football, an attacking 3-3 Stack defense and performance challenges to help keep them collectively on task. I remember constantly working to teach them to keep the foot on the gas pedal until us coaches pulled them back. No mercy, no letdowns, no BS, once you step inside the white line.

Here is the third and final example of the times I felt, as a coach, I had some affect on the outcome of a game.   This is my personal favorite. If #1 and #2 were maybe’s on me as a coach affecting the outcome of a game, I think I definitely affected the opponent on this night.

Our 4A district in 2006 was selected by the Topeka Capital Journal as the toughest district in the state. One of the four teams in the district was not very good, but the other three all were ranked in the top 10.  To add to it, the league team we played the week before districts started was also ranked in the top 10, so we knew we had a challenging schedule come crunch time. At 4-0 heading into our home week 5 league game against a sub-.500 team, I felt the kids were ripe for a letdown.  They practiced okay during the week, but I could just sense in the locker room and during the down times in practice, they were not very concerned about the upcoming game.  The more loosey-goosey they got, the more cranked up I got. I was nervous and edgy the day of the game. I had a terrible headache, a stomach ache and was bone tired from twisting and turning instead of sleeping the night before.

Game starts. The first time we have the ball, it might have even been our first play, and one of our running backs takes a toss or an outside veer off the corner and breaks free down our sideline for a 40+ yard gain.  Not a bad way to start a game, right? Crowd is cheering, band is playing, players are hollering and coaches are fist pumping in the air.  All is good, right?

Nope, not right with me. You see, I have been trying to get our running backs to finish runs, to lower their pad level and inflict some pain to the defender making the tackle. This particular running back is a great kid and talented athlete,(and the infamous Boy-who-started-his-leg-on-fire) but I was always riding him about finishing his runs. Well, at the end of his 40+ yard run, with only a little defensive back prepared to attempt a tackle, our running back just kind of glances a blow off the defensive back and stepped out of bounds.

Okay, back to everyone being happy, fist-pumping, etc. I run down the sidelines and help the little defensive back up off the ground, then just start screaming the following tirade at our running back.






I stop just as my voice echoed off the trucking company shed a block away and back to the field.  Our running back shakes his head, “I know, I know.” As he trots back to our huddle.

I look up at the opposing 10 players stopped dead in their tracks on the field as I gently guide the little defensive back toward his huddle.  Their jaws are hanging wide open, they are wide eyed and their shoulders drooped down low.

I turned, smiled and walked back to my position in our sideline coaching box. I could tell right then and there that we would win, those kids on the opposite side of the ball wanted no part of what was coming.

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Football 2011: Unsportsmanlike Conduct #2

Coach Hays’ Unsportsmanlike Conduct #2

Can a coach directly affect the outcome of a football game?  Besides the obvious methods of scouting,  preparation and play calling, I am not a big believer in giving the coach too much credit for players execution on the field (it happens way too often in the NFL and NCAA). I wondered if I could remember a time when I possibly had a direct coaching affect on the outcome of a football game. I thought of three. Here is the second time I may have directly had an influence.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct #2

We started the 2008 season 0-5. We lost our starting quarterback in the first game. We lost a couple tough games when we made a costly mistake or failed to make a key play. But, the worst thing we lost was our confidence.  It was a talented group of kids, maybe not an undefeated-type talent group of kids, but not 0-5 for dang sure.  I felt bad for them, they’re good kids and we wanted for them to have success. They just zinged when they should have zanged for the first four and a half games of the season.  Unfortunately, a bad start as this fuels the fires of overzealous, impatient parents which throws extra distraction on the coaching staff and worst of all, extra pressure on the kids themselves.

The fifth game was our homecoming. Most teams up their game for their homecoming games, but not us. The events and distractions of the week, particularly on game day, always seem to throw our kids for a loop. We were playing the Chapman Irish, a team I was confident we could roll over.  We didn’t. We came out flat. We came out with our heads up our collective bootays. At half, we were down something like 26-0, it was so bad I really can’t remember what the exact score was.  Unknown to everyone, except a couple of us other coaches, the admins had suspended Coach Lane at the end of the school day for the next game because he told an off-color joke at halftime the previous week. He is as knocked off kilter as I’ve ever seen him, throwing all of us off our game also.

Outside the locker room at halftime, the coaches are meeting with Coach Lane to talk about first half.  The kids are all in the locker room waiting for Coach to address them with second half adjustments and his usual pump up speech.  I can’t take it anymore. I get so pissed at the whole situation, the way we played, the way the admins treated Coach and I seriously can’t take it anymore, so I go into the locker room.

I don’t consider myself a rah-rah guy.  Oh, I get excited, but not in a peppy sort of way. I am more of a “you guys practiced hard, you’re ready to go, let’s go out and knocked the living !@# out of the opponent. Let’s hit them so hard and so often they regret getting out of bed this morning” kind of a speech maker. I know a statement has to be made now with this team, so I pull all the stops. If our AD would have been in that room, he would have blown a gasket. Here are a few things I remember saying.

What in the HELL do you think you are doing out there?  Oh, I know. Embarrassing the hell out of your families and friends, that’s what you’re doing! You all should be embarrassed with your effort. You are better than this.”

Dead silence. I think a couple of the young player’s heads are about to explode.

I believe in you. The other coaches believe in you. Your parents believe in you.  YOU need to believe in YOU. You need to shine up the shillelaghs and go to battle!”

That’s was my Irish Catholic background talking. Growing up, we actually had a shillelagh, an Irish battle club, hanging on the basement walls of my parent’s house. But the teenage boys from Clay Center, who have limited knowledge of ancient Celtic battle implements (and being teenage boys, after all) think shillelagh is another name for a weenie. A few snicker out loud and that really gets me going.

“You need to shine them up boys! Get out there and knock the living !@#$ out of Chapman. YOU need to take care of business! You are a better team than this. Now get your butts on that field and show it!”

Something clicked. They went out and knocked the living daylights out of Chapman in the second half. It was like watching a bulldozer push a pile of dead trees.  We rallied, but fell two points short.  That was with our star running back fumbling the ball three yards and a huge opening away from dancing into our end zone for a TD, a 60 yard touchdown run getting called back because of a phantom holding call AND an almost completed Hail Mary pass as time expiring.

We were 0-5, but the kids were excited after the game. They found something. They found their confidence. It took a swift verbal kick in the buttocks for that little jump start to get things rolling again. They won the next three games in a row! One coach in particular was, and still is, very proud of this group of young men for the way they held together under so much unnecessary adult stupidity.

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Football 2011: Unsportsmanlike Conduct #1

Coach Hays’ Unsportsmanlike Conduct #1

Good ole Coach Hays is heading into his third football season not being Football Coach Hays.  It is getting a bit easier, I promise.  But, seeing as the season is right around the corner, I thought it appropriate to spew some more Tiger football coaching memories to help get the football juices flowing again.

I was mowing today.  I do some pretty heavy thinking pushing the mower around the yard, so if I fail to wave at you as you drive by the house, don’t take it personally. I mentally drifted to the topic of if and how a coach can directly affect the outcome of a football game. Besides the obvious methods of scouting,  preparation and play calling, I am not a big believer in giving the coach too much credit for players execution on the field (it happens way too often in the NFL and NCAA). I wondered if I could remember a time when I possibly had a direct coaching affect on the outcome of a football game. I thought of three. Here is the first.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct#1

We were playing a JV game at Wamego, a league rival, in 2007. First possession, we turn the ball over deep in our territory. We shut them down first two plays. It is third and long, they snap the ball and their QB rolls out toward their sideline. We have their receivers covered like a blanket, with our pass rushers bringing the heat. The QB steps out of bounds, the umpire blows his whistle and our kids ALL stop. The QB nonchalantly throws the ball to the endzone, where their receiver catches it. Play over, 4th down, right? Not right! They call a touchdown! Their fans are cheering, their sidelines is going nuts, and all our kids are standing there dumbfounded pointing to the out of bounds spot from where the QB threw the ball after the whistle.

I go ballistic! To make the situation worse, the officiating crew ignores me. They line up the two-point conversion. I walk out to the numbers, screaming, but still nothing. Each of those four officials knows they are absolutely, completely wrong, and their solution is to ignore me. All one of them needs to do is tell me they screwed up the call and I will shut up. Not going to happen. As Wamego breaks their huddle and trots to the line, I grabbed my Tiger Football baseball hat from my head and launch it at the umpire. It is the most bush league thing I have ever done as a coach. That hat soars over the left shoulder of the umpire. He blows his whistle, waves his arms for an official’s timeout, then turns toward me on the sidelines. If I were him, I would toss my ass out of the game. Better yet, I would toss myself completely out of the stadium and make me go sit on the bus in the parking lot. Instead,  since he knows he just made a horrendous call on the touchdown, he looks to the ground and slirks over to where I am standing, hatless.

“Coach, you can’t throw your hat.”

“You can’t make a crappy call like that, especially when it is right in front of you AND it’s a touchdown!”


“And YOU blew your whistle and called the play dead.”

“That whistle must have come from the stands. It wasn’t me.”

“Ha ha ha ha…that’s ridiculous. I have four kids who were close to you, and swear YOU blew the whistle!”

He hands me back my hat, still no eye contact.  “Just don’t throw your hat anymore.”

“Just don’t make any more pathetic calls.”

Long story short. We rally from a 6-0 deficit to win 60-something to 6. The boys were so ticked and so fired up after that questionable touchdown play, they completely shut down everything Wamego tried to do.  One series in the 4th quarter,  we were up big and Wamego started a possession on their 40 yard line. The first three pass plays we sacked their QB for big losses back to their 10 yard line. They went for it on fourth down and  we sacked the QB for a safety. Pretty much the story of the game.

Maybe, just maybe, knowing their coach had their collective back that day affected the way the kids performed,  and, ultimately, the outcome of the game. What do you think?


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