In week number two of the college football season, there were some fabulous coaching jobs turned in by head coaches and their assistants. Today, I’ve decided to mention some of them, as well as one of the “not-so-good” coaching examples.
First, credit goes to Tennessee Head Coach Butch Jones and his staff. Remember how bad the Vols defense was last season? In a 20-minute period in the first half of the Vols game Saturday with Western Kentucky, Tennessee forced five turnovers on five consecutive plays by the Hilltoppers’ offense. All five turnovers resulted in a total of 31 unanswered points. For the game, Tennessee collected eight turnovers as they routed the Hilltoppers 52-20. Those interceptions and fumbles gave the Vols a 31-17 lead at halftime, and even though Big Orange fans were less than comfortable with that lead, Coach Jones turned the second half into an offensive show of strength. Tennessee was methodical as they outscored Western 21-3 in the second half on their way to win number two of this still young season.
More importantly than a fumble recovery or an interception was the fact that Coach Jones referenced the heralded maxims of Coach Robert R. Neyland. The bottom line here is this; you can’t successfully coach at the University of Tennessee without understanding and utilizing the General’s Maxims.
Another great coaching job on Saturday was turned in by Mark Richt and his staff at Georgia. There was tremendous pressure on the Bulldogs who started the season ranked fifth in the polls. A loss at eighth-ranked Clemson the week before, set up a do or die situation for Georgia as they faced SEC Rival South Carolina. The Bulldogs scored a 41-30 win over the Gamecocks, as they avoided what would have been a disastrous 0-2 start to the 2013 campaign.
In the same game, we find our worst coaching performance of the weekend. It was on the South Carolina sideline, as in the middle of second quarter, a pair of Gamecock defensive coaches became involved in an all-out free-for-all. A fist fight between two coaches from the same team is certainly not the way to show team unity. It also makes Head Coach Steve Spurrier look bad as well. And “the ole ball coach” will be the first to take responsibility for the actions of his coaches.
That brings us to the best coaching performance I saw all weekend, and it had nothing to do with college football. My three-year-old grandson Coleman is playing soccer at Middle Valley this fall. From the time we arrived at the beautifully kept, and spacious park Saturday morning, we were all impressed with the youth programs at Middle Valley. Kids were playing football in one area, while others were playing fall baseball and girls softball in another. On the soccer fields, hundreds of youngsters were eagerly kicking soccer balls toward the goals, while others listened intently to their coaches.
Team Ireland is coached by veteran youth coach David Sneed, who also teaches English at Soddy Daisy High School. Coach Sneed absolutely worked wonders with a large group of three-year olds. He got them to stretch before they ever started practice, and he made every aspect of the game of soccer a whole lot of fun. He taught as he went, and the results were amazing. Of course the attention span of a three year old doesn’t last long at all. His entire practice and the “first game” of the season all lasted about one hour. Then he gave each kid snacks and something cold to drink, and told them he would see them next week.
Like many others, I had my doubts about introducing Coleman to organized sports at the age of three. But Coach David Sneed eased my concerns right away, and made things a lot of fun for all these kids……just the way it should be!
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Brainerd High School in Chattanooga. He is also the Head Softball Coach at Brainerd. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).