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Johnp2

Scaling It Down....

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We won very easily in our last game. At the half we were up like 40-0. We opened the third quarter with a pick-six. It was the THIRD pick-six in the game at that point.

At this point I started getting a little concerned. I actually reflected on the 100-0 high school basketball game that occured here a few seasons ago and how the coach was destroyed once it got out (he actually lost his job).

When we got back on defense, I told the team, "Hey, since we are up so big here, if you make an interception it would be a class move if you took a knee instead of running it back for a TD."

A few days later, a player's mom sent me an email. She was very tactful and essentially said she would rather her son not be "limited" and instead sit out in a situation like that.

I fully respect (and understand) her mindset. However, I do disagree with this approach. A few important notes on my decision:

1. First, for most coaches that have been in this situation you know it is a no-win situation. Your darned if you do, darned it you don't.

2. My philosophy, above everything, is that we play with class (win or lose). Part of that is ensuring that my players understand how to discipline themselves on the field when we need to scale it back some. This does not mean to go half-speed, but to tweak our approach to slow the game down and prevent the score from getting out of hand. Just as we go vanilla and milk the clock in games such as this...it's merely a tactic.

3. The player 'Joey' had not played much in the game. Sitting him out would run the risk of hearing from a parent "Why should my son have to sit on the bench because our team was so dominant?"

4. If I took the approach to "sit" players because we are up so much, then I would not have players on the field. By that, we really don't have 'stars'--so who do I sit?

I informed the player's mother I respect her feedback, and I would do the same thing again if I am facing an 80 point win, but will ensure I sit her son on the bench.

I know this is a controversial subject and don't want to open up a can of worms here, but I would appreciate your thoughts on the way I handled this. If you do decide to tear into me, please be sure that you've read the post through completion. ;-)

Thanks

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I think your idea to not take back interceptions for scores was good. I also think you handled the parent situation fine. These situations are tough because you know your kids want to score points and have fun. If I'm coaching in these lopsided games I try to give my weaker players much more playing time. Also if you know the game is going to get carried away. Earlier in the game you can call challenging plays your offense will have trouble executing. This will slow them from scoring immediately and give your players a challenge. It could be a difficult triple reverse or double reverse with a pass. Call a difficult play that will be really cool for the kids if they are able to pull it off. I also like the idea of letting a team score late in the game if they are getting beat 50-0. It gives the opposing team something to feel good about and usually puts a smile on the kids face that scores.

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Holy cow, seriously? That's just shocking, the email you described.

Oddly enough, I encountered a similar situation recently, two weeks ago. We were up 33-0, the other team had no timeouts, and to make matters worse they fumbled the kickoff and barely got it out of the goal. So I called a timeout, for two reasons: one, to explain to my kids that we will not blitz and - like you said - we would not return any interceptions; and two, to give their coach a little time with his players, give them a little break. But my kids were told point-blank that they would NOT score a touchdown on an interception, they would take it out of bounds or just drop to a knee.

As it happens, we picked them off on second down. It was a great INT, and the safety took it in stride with nothing but green in front of him. But rather than score, he took it out of bounds at the 2. With about 90 seconds left, I instructed the QB to take a knee three times, that we'd run out the clock.

I'm thrilled with the parents, they cheered them loudly during the kneel-downs. But I had a coach and a parent from the other team who complained that I was "rubbing it in" by having my QB - who is, ironically, my son, and hadn't scored in that game - just take a knee. I tried being nice about it, explaining that I was trying to NOT rub it in, but they persisted. I tried to walk away, but they literally followed me! I finally turned and said (a little too loudly, I think) "hey, we had 2 yards to go and you hadn't stopped us all game - would you rather have lost 40 nothing?" The parent then 'explained' that by taking a knee I didn't give their defense a chance to get an interception. To which I replied rather calmly that we wouldn't have passed it anyway, it would've been four straight runs if need be, and walked away again.

I like to say that no good deed goes unpunished. Situations like these, I know it's right.

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So I'm going to disagree a little with everyone on this topic. We've got a so-so team that might get to a .500 record on the season. We've been on the losing side of Johnp2's game. Many of our parents and most of the boys would not be happy with the other team taking a knee. A couple of the boys wouldn't understand it at all. I understand what you were trying to do, and applaud it, but disagree with the tactic.

With respect to the particular parent, I understand where she's coming from. Of our 10 kids, most interceptions come from 2-3 of the more athletic kids. In this case, if we were up by this much, but one of the non-athletic kids had an interception, let him have some fun that he can talk about all day long.

What we've done in the past in this situation:

When we were on the losing end .... I asked the refs to just let the clock run. And at halftime, the opposing coach kindly came up to me and said: "coach, I've been in these situations before. What do you want me to do?". Since we are much better in pass protection, I told him to pass every play.

When we were on the winning end by a large amount, I had the refs give me a longer than usual timeout so that I could have a "teaching moment" with the boys. One of the refs listened in as I explained that we were up a lot. We were going to win. The other team had never won a game. I told them that we were going to do some funny things to let the other team have some fun. But shhh, just between us. They understood. I pulled my son (the QB at the time) to the side and instructed him to purposely float a ball out under an opponent. A couple of the other team's kids got interceptions and made their day. Our kids had their sportsman teaching moment. And the other coach smiled and understood. Everyone happy, nothing obvious though.

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We had a moment like this last season where we were up by 28 at half against a winless team, so I asked the other coach if he had a kid that "needed" to score. We agreed to have my defense all go right on a reverse and give that kid a TD. The play worked great except the kid, who was all alone, stepped out of bounds on his own , LOL. The other coach just smiled and agreed it was enough to have that run.

John, I agree with how you handled it, but we usually run our weakest kids up the middle 3 times instead of the knee. It's a tough spot to be in.

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Thanks for everyone's responses. To elaborate, we did not get another pick so luckily did not have to take a knee. I informed a few parents during the game that is what we would do (and word spread). Everyone agreed save for the one parent--which again I understand. She stated in her email, "(Joey) should never feel like he needs to shrink him self so that others feel better." Again...she was extremely polite in her dialogue and I took no offense whatsoever. I like them a lot and we simply need to agree to disagree on that one.

Offensively, I can pretty much control everything, right? Extremely simple plays, milk the play clock, etc. Defensively is where I was worried about it getting out of hand.

I thought about approaching the coach but I was a little timid in doing this because he was a new coach, very confident, and frankly was in shock. I had a nice chat with him after the game and he was very understanding.

Taking a knee can be offensive to some coaches, although I'd rather be accused of rubbing it in like that then on the score board.

Regarding playing "lesser-skilled" players---that is where I am stuck. There is very little difference with respect to athleticism with my players, so I don't really have any "good ones" to sit and non-athletic to play in that situation. Ironically, the player whose mom emailed me already scored two TDs in that game, including a pick-six (in about 10 minutes of playing time).

With all that...I too have been on that sort of losing end before way back when we first started playing. I recall one game in particular a coach took a knee on fourth down near our goal line in the third quarter. I informed him I wanted them to go full throttle as that is the only way we'll learn (and he did after that). ;-) Additionally, when we play teams that I know our superior to us (we spent the past two seasons playing 'up' a division) I tell the coaches just because we are friends don't hold back. I expect their best because we're bringing ours.

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I just finished an entire season like that, it's a very difficult situation, to put it mildly. You'll never please everyone in scenarios like you've described.

Things we tried this year:

1) knocking down possible interceptions (if score was out of control)

2) no rusher and played 5 deep, 10 yards back to allow short gains for offense

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