By: Len Robbins Guest Columnist
September 8, 2013
Around midnight, the online venom was fierce.
There were calls for the firing of the offensive coordinator on Facebook, claims that he was mentally challenged on Twitter, and his home being auctioned off on eBay. Insults were heaved and LOLs leaved.
It was moments after the college football season opener ended, a three-point loss by the Georgia Bulldogs to the Clemson Tigers. And some of the Bulldog nation were vocal about their disappointment in the performance of UGA offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and his offense on the Interwebs, despite the 35 points the unit put up against the country’s eighth-ranked college football team.
I too was chagrined that my alma mater’s football squad lost their season opener. I, though, wasn’t irate at Coach Bobo, the players, or anyone on the Bulldog coaching staff. I was empathetic.
See, I’ve been in Coach Bobo’s shoes before. Not his actual shoes, which are four sizes too big for me. No, I’ve been an offensive coordinator, albeit on a slightly smaller scale – Pee Wee football. And I know that sometimes the players don’t do what you tell them.
“Alright, you, number three, when they hike the ball to you, run right,” I said in the huddle of 7- and 8-year-old boys. “Everybody else – block whoever is in front of you. Break.”
“Coach Len, which way is right?”
Pointing to the right behind the shield of the huddle, I replied, “That way.”
I quickly learned that most 7- and 8-year-olds – like most NFL players – don’t know their left from their right.
Then, number three took the snap, and ran left for a four-yard loss.
The parent hovering over the sideline blamed me for my stupidity in calling that play – loudly.
One thing that the casual fan may not understand fully is that, sometimes, players make mistakes. They don’t do what you tell them.
It’s not called that way from the sidelines or in the huddle.
“Alright, let’s run Renegade 3-1-1, tight end left. And tell Aaron to throw an interception on this play. Let’s mix it up.”
“Let’s run the Hawkeye Toss Sweep Right again. But this time, tell Todd to fumble.”
Those aren’t the calls coach is making.
Sure, you can question what plays are called, when they’re called, and if the players are prepared. Any coach can be second-guessed for anything. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with armchair coaching. I do it myself, a lot, and it’s part of the fun of watching sports.
But, really, some folks need to comprehend that it comes down to players executing. And when they are 7- and 8-years old, or 19- and 20-years old, or 31- and 32-years old, they aren’t going to execute perfectly every time. The other team is trying to prevent that, which I find bothersome in my real and armchair coaching experience.
Then again, sometimes the kid runs the wrong way and scores a touchdown, and the coach looks like a genius.
Is he? Or she? No.
The coach often/always gets too much credit, and too much blame, for the performances of their players. See 11:50 p.m., August 31, 2013. And every 11 p.m. or so for the next 13-to-19 weeks.
Hopefully, 19. Which is still a possibility.
© Len Robbins 2013