19 Point Plan – #15: Quality Control April 13, 2010
We need a spotter.
I’m not a NASCAR guy, but I know enough to know that NASCAR drivers have spotters. Since I couldn’t tell you much more than that, I’ll use my friend Google to find a good quote about NASCAR spotters. Here’s one:
A NASCAR spotter watches his assigned car and protects it as his own. He lives in his driver’s earbuds from Friday’s first practice through Sunday’s checkered flag, helping him tiptoe through traffic and stay focused on the task at hand. While a crew chief chimes in over the radio about fuel strategies and tire changes, the spotter’s words are a driver’s best friend. Consequently, a spotter is equal parts shrink, motivational speaker, messenger, seer, treaty negotiator, driver’s ed instructor and life preserver.
Yep. One of those.
Accepting penalties that give our opponent another chance on third down? Timeouts with 35 seconds left instead of 5 seconds left that allow the opponent to get the ball back? Squibbing when we should kick away, and kicking away when we should squib? All of these frustrations are a thing of the past once we add a spotter.
Let’s face it – our head coach is not the cool, calm, and collected type on the sideline. He paces and races and yells and paces, and his timeouts are a spur of the moment decision. He’s not the calculating type (which is why he’s solid in the recruiting living room). He has his positives, but calm, precise game management definitely isn’t one of them.
I want to change that. I want an eye in the sky (and a voice on the headset) that is doing nothing more than managing the game for 3 hours. Not a decision maker – a guide. Not a coach – a counselor. Equal parts shrink, motivational speaker, messenger, seer, treaty negotiator, driver’s ed instructor and life preserver.
(OK, maybe not driver’s ed instructor.)
The Spotter sees that we have two timeouts but a crucial third down in the middle of a long drive? Get on the horn and tell the coaches that the team looks tired and this might be a well-placed TO. The Spotter sees a flag on the field after Iowa throws an incomplete third down pass? He’s in everyone’s headset immediately repeating “decline decline decline” a dozen times. The Spotter sees Jason Ford trotting out on the field for the final offensive series against Fresno State? Get on the horn and tell anyone who will listen that LeShoure is averaging 16.7 yards per carry.
I don’t want a backseat driver. I don’t want someone who would drop a “Running on second and long? Not something I would do, but whatever, Paul”. Let the coaches coach. Let the coaches scheme. Let them make every decision as it pertains to the product on the field.
I simply want to add an advisor. Someone who isn’t concerned with nickel versus base defense or three-wide versus twin tight ends. Someone with headset access to all the coaches who, over the course of the game, might toss out a “the nickel back that just trotted on the field got lit up by Wisconsin last week” here or a “four passes and thirteen runs from Minnesota since halftime – I think Weber’s rib injury has flared up” there. The coaches can completely ignore the advice (except for timeouts – The Spotter is 100% in charge of timeouts). They can choose to over-rule. The Spotter is nothing more than a Quality Control consultant whose opinions are non-binding. Except for timeouts, of course.
Truth be told, I don’t want it to be an insider. I don’t want it to be a grizzled old coach or a hotshot grad assistant. I want an outsider who isn’t involved in the coaches meetings. Just like DeWalt hires an outside consultant to review their 18-volt cordless drill line and recommend a better trigger solenoid, I want someone who scans the field and sees something the coaches can’t. Someone who isn’t thinking about the player rotations on the final drive – only clock management. Someone well versed in penalty-declining statistics. (What is better? Second-and-14 or Third-and-9? The Spotter’s application should include a 6-page essay on that very topic.)
What’s that? The NCAA has rules that prohibit additional staff being involved in game-day activities? Hush. I’m doing good work here. Besides, as the wise philosopher Ronald Zook once said, “there are many ways to skin a cat”. Gross, but effective. I vote Greg Nord, then. TE coach, recruiting coordinator, and gameday spotter. Done and done and done.
Anyway, where was I? Yes – The Spotter. Correct the clock management problems. Fix the penalty-decline issues. Work on in-game field position decisions. Watch for hot hands. Improve our chances of winning football games.