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On Wednesday afternoon I saw a tweet from Fort Knox head coach Wes Arnold that made me nod my head a little as I read it.

"We need to start a football clinic called the "Realistic Football Clinic" for coaches who have been grinding just to get a couple of wins. We all share ideas that have been successful and work. No offense to coaches that have pipeline of D1 Talent and 120 yard indoor fields."

The truth is, the golden triangle exists. Schools in counties where they only have 25 or 30 kids coming out for the football team every year just don't have the talent pool to draw from they you're going to see at Male and Trinity and Frederick Douglass. There are programs around the state that have fallen on hard times after a demographic change or after a new school opens in the area. There are coaches who are new to things and just haven't yet hit on the formula to get things rolling at their program.

Maybe the greater point is that there are some programs where, as it stands, "getting things rolling" means just getting 2 or 3 wins in a season. Of the 200-some-odd football programs in Kentucky, a lot of them just aren't in a position to have expectations to compete for a state title every year, and for the coaches in those programs, it's a job in and of itself to keep the community excited about football at their school while the coach tries to wait patiently for the possibility of one season where they have enough talent to really make a run at things on the football field or in the playoffs.

In less than 2 days, Coach Arnold's tweet has been re-tweeted over 90 times, and has over 1,000 likes on Twitter. Arnold has 811 followers on Twitter, so it's clear that he's hit on something of some value.

Let's assume that somewhere in the state, we do see a "Coaching Realistic Football" clinic for coaches in the situation Arnold described in his tweet:

- Who are some coaches, past and present, that they should bring in to help coach the clinic?

- What are some of the major talking points that need to be hit upon at the clinic?

- Which programs should they be pointing to and saying, "See, that's what we're talking about. They figured it out."?

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Two coaches that come to mind are Craig Foley at Frankfort and James Bridges at Fulton County. One city, one county. Both have had success and have also seen some losing seasons. Both have very small player pools and low enrollment. I feel like their situations are totally different and also extremely similar. Think they’d have much to add. 

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Jerry Herron from Williamsburg. They’re one of the smallest schools in the state and are consistently competitive. Don’t have fantastic facilities or pipelines of D1 talent. He seems to always get the most out of what he has. 

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Been fortunate to have some really good players over the years. Have also had some glaring issues/problems as well. My expression for when something is rough and my coaches are lost at what we will do next... I tell them, "Guys, I am the king of bad football. Here is what we do now. "    🙂

 

I saw what my Dad, Coach French, Chuck Smith, and Jack Robertson did and how they coached when things were awful tough. That has been a great foundation and usually I can find answers from those times when things hit rock bottom.  Things were pretty rough starting at Mason and Mercer as well. No one wants to go through those rough times, but if you are looking for a guy to build a program, a guy from that background is probably going to be better prepared to build than a guy from a blue blood program. It takes good coaches to win at both types of places, but very different set of issues and problems to deal with. 

 

A school looking for a coach contacted me not long ago for some help in finding a coach/building a program. Wonderful people but in a very tough situation. My advice was NOT to get a blue-blood background coach. That guy would be overwhelmed and really not know where to start. 

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This thread also reminds me.... I was fortunate to visit a blue blood program for a practice one day. Boatload of kids and most of them can play.  

A coach walks by a kid and says, "You are going to have to do something about that stance." And, keeps on walking. He was right. In that program, so many of those kids already had a great stance and he needed to invest most of his time and energy in those guys.

Every place I have been, and even having some good players, we have had at least some guys that we have to coach them on their stance.  Teaching stance is part of our progression, always. Have never been somewhere you don't have to teach stance. 

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I nodded my head as well and then got to thinking. A lot of your small school blue blood programs weren’t always that way. Even in a lot of the successful 3A and 4A schools, they aren’t overrun with D1 talent and definitely don’t have 120 yard indoor practice facilities. It’s a culture and set of expectations that were established and continued until titles were won and then the culture had to be sustained which most don’t realize can be harder than getting a program to a successful point.

Larry French should definitely be the keynote speaker of that event. What he has done with programs is second to none. He has had great success with programs with little football tradition and he has revived programs that had great football history. His tree of coaches have had similar success as well. 

Going back to my first point most of the great small school programs in Kentucky aren’t loaded with D1 talent or have out of this world facilities. It started with a coach that truly believed in the kids and developed them to be much greater together than any of them were individually. Sure there is a kid every now and then that turns out to be a D1 athlete but as a whole they are few and far between. 

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This is a great discussion. I feel like it crosses the boundaries of school, sports, activities, careers, workplaces, etc. For any type of venture to become consistently successful it takes someone believing in the cause, digging their heels in, saying “these are our non-negotiable,” and sticking it out for the long term.

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I think many associate this with small schools but it’s a larger school thing too. Even more so when those larger schools are kind of in no man’s land. 

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In general, not 100 %, but often..... 

the larger the geographic area of the school and the more poverty... the tougher it is to win in football.

 

the more concentrated the area the school draws from and more affluent (old city schools, historically) ... the more likely to have success in football.

 

Think of it like this.. if you live 30 minutes from school and struggle to make ends meet, going to be awful tough to make football practice a priority each day. And, the head football coach of that school needs to understand that... and work to account for it. 

 

On the other hand, If you can walk to school, practice is much more convenient and easier to participate.

 

If there are businesses and individuals in a community that have the resources/money to buy a football program the extras that they need, that is big time. The old city schools had that. 

 

It takes good football coaches to win, anywhere they coach. But, the (1)old city school programs, (2)county schools with small geographic areas/affluent, and (3) big county schools with large geographic areas and poverty... all three are completely different situations with different issues. 

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If I was taking over a low numbers program, I would eliminate the grind by shortening practice but keep it fast moving. I'm sure some kids don't play because of long practices. Sometimes less is more.

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