This was from my column in the Maysville paper and later added it to BLACK SHOES & WHITE SHOESTRINGS. With Coach Coverdale moving to Cincinnati, thought you guys would enjoy this.
I hear an expression several times through the season (including last week) and every now and then during the offseason: The Firm.
The Firm is Smith, Smith, Coverdale and Holcomb: specifically, Homer Smith, Chuck Smith, Andrew Coverdale, and Mike Holcomb.
John Arn, our former offensive line coach and defensive coordinator, came up with the phrase. Shawn Thompson, the defensive coordinator before John, was the first to announce that the way to get me to do something was to call Chuck Smith and tell him the situation, and Chuck would call me and make me do it.
My coaches sometimes claim that if an idea does not come from The Firm, I am not going to do it. That's not true, but I will admit those four guys are great coaches and great resources when I have a question.
I never met Homer Smith, but he is regarded as one of the greatest offensive minds in the history of the game. He held several positions, including the offensive coordinator job at both UCLA and Alabama. He was also the head coach at Army in the 1970s. Coach Smith passed away in April 2011. Coach Smith put together a number of manuals on football, coaching and teaching. I have most of them. His ability to explain football concepts and the teaching of the game was incredible. He wrote one complete manual devoted to practicing football, and you can apply the information in his manuals to any offensive system. Sometimes in preparing for an opponent, when I see a coach being creative in getting players across the midline, I immediately think of Coach Smith.
In 2005, Fleming County had the best team they have put on the field in my 19seasons here. Jordan Fritz was their quarterback and we were coming off a 1-9 season. Our offensive game plan came straight from Homer Smith’s concepts. Our kids executed the game plan to near-perfection and we won a game that many thought would be a blowout loss for us. If a young guy wants to learn the
game of football, I would get my hands on everything written by Homer Smith.
The other Smith is Chuck Smith, whom I have written about before. I regard Chuck as one of the best defensive coaches and high school head coaches in the history of the state, winning five (six) state titles at Boyle County. What he did with the linebackers at Kentucky was also outstanding. Besides being a great coach, Chuck’s philosophies on football and people are consistent with mine.I sometimes call and ask Chuck football questions, but most of the time when I call him it is about dealing with people -- staff, players, administration, etc. I even called Chuck to ask him if writing this column was a good idea. As you might have
figured out, he said yes.
Andrew Coverdale is the offensive coordinator at Trinity in Louisville. When we were getting ready to play Breathitt County in the 2003 Recreation Bowl, Coach Coverdale was kind enough to let us use video from the Shamrocks' 2002 state championship game versus Male. Male and Breathitt County ran similar defenses, and I wanted to see how Trinity attacked the Bulldogs' defense.Trinity's QB was Brian Brohm. Ours was Dustin Grutza. We got a lot of good ideas from that video. Dustin and our kids executed that game plan exceptionally well in the Rec Bowl versus Breathitt County. Through the years, when I have had ideas and questions about offensive concepts, Coach Coverdale has been a great resource.
Mike Holcomb is the head football coach at Letcher County Central and led Breathitt County to three state titles. Most people believe when Hal Mumme came to UK in 1997, that is what started the advent of the spread passing game in the state of Kentucky, but Coach Holcomb had the Bobcats throwing the ball and winning back-to-back state titles in 1995 and 1996. Mumme, Mike Leach, Tony Franklin and Chris Hatcher are outstanding football coaches who helped make Kentucky high school football more wide-open, but the first to make it go were Coach Holcomb and Mike Whitaker at Leslie County, who had a pretty good QB named Tim Couch.
Because of my experiences playing QB in high school, we have never had a five-step-drop pass play from under center on any team I have coached. The timing required and the pass protection ability needed by the O-line is tough on a high school player. Whenever we had a five-step pass play called in high school, I knew I was going to get blasted. As I got older and matured, I realized if I was going to get hit, I might as well complete the pass, and I quit worrying about it. When we finally put in a five-step pass package at Mason County, we did so from the shotgun to help with the protection issues. Coach Holcomb was the coach I went to for help in setting up our five-step passing concepts. I don’t know anyone that has a better grasp of the passing game than Mike Holcomb.
Though I do use guidance from The Firm, most of my decisions are really our decisions as a staff. I do pull rank at times and make the call as the head coach, but when I do go along with an idea that I am not crazy about from one of my assistants, I just tell them to “make it work.”
And yes, I got that from Chuck.