As football continues to prosper and grow, looking back at great year leaves me with a few thoughts to share.
1 - Here's to hoping we're beginning to see the return of the humble star. This past year saw Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston, with no shortage of bravado and confidence, have considerable on field college success. However, their off field issues continue to overshadow their accomplishments. In Manziel's case, the off field issues are now hurting his NFL chances. Contract those two with the Heisman candidates from this year, Marcus Mariota, Melvin Gordon, and Amari Cooper. Those young men carried all the confidence that Manziel and Winston did, but without the arrogance and sense of entitlement. Mariota, quietly passing credit to others, Gordon doing the same, Amari Cooper telling subdued stories of how his mother taught him values; they are much better role models. Hopefully, everyone is taking notice of the amount of respect those young men commanded from their team and community without ever asking for it. Arrogance and confidence are divided by a fine line, one that is found more easily when someone is humble. Hopefully this is a model for future classes.
2 - The game continues to adapt at an incredible rate. The play concepts, carry such a strange combination of similarity and diversity. Coaches are continually reinventing existing concepts to make them new and different, finding success in being one step ahead of the opponent. From the zone read, to tried and true power running, to triple option screens, to drop back passing, the game finds more diversity than ever all rooted in the same concepts. This goes on down to the high school level too. Learning to game is becoming increasingly more important, as players will be expected to not only know the basic concepts, but be able to manipulate them in their minds to utilize all different variations of them. The mental knowledge accompanying the physical demands is growing, making football a truly unique endeavor.
3 - Football has become a business at all levels. We've always know that the NFL was a business. More recently, people had begun to say the same about the college level. Now, even the high school level is a business. With recruiting aids, combines, camps, private coaches, etc, high school football is a big money business too. There is a lot riding on every game - reporters make their living covering only high school sports. Some of this is for the better, as some of it helps the kids get better, programs grow, athletes get scholarships and an education, and the community enjoy a great team effort. Some of it is for the worse, as folks are looking to make a quick buck off of some kids playing football. I hope we don't lose sight of the fact that we should be involved in this game because we love it, and keep football in perspective.
4 - Parents are crazy. And this isn't directed at any one set of parents, either. Not just football parents. All parents want so badly to see their child succeed, on and off the field. Sometimes, it's caused a lack of perspective. I saw a great poster on a facebook picture, reminding parents that their kids ability to hit a baseball doesn't define their parenting skills, but how well their kid takes coaching, treats others with respect, and is willing to work hard, does define their parenting. Here's to hoping more parents realize that whether or not their kid can hit home runs, play college ball, run for touchdowns, or even start for their team doesn't matter. What matters are the values that their kids learn: work hard, play fair, show respect and pursue greatness.
2014 was a great year all around - here's to a great 2015, where we all get better and achieve whatever it is we set ourselves to achieving.
SPU's Alex Drayson writes the SPU Football Performance Blog.