Well, I am ready for a nap. I have driven a cumulative twenty hours to see two football games – one high school, one college. The first was to Bowdon, Georgia to see my son play his high school game. I returned to Chattanooga and departed the next morning for Auburn, Alabama to take him and some friends to see the Florida-Auburn game. What I witnessed was worth the amount of driving.
In the first game the high school team returned to their style of football, they ran the ball. At the beginning of the season the coach was worried, with a young offensive line and not-yet proven running backs, that he couldn’t run the ball. The Tigers used finesse to get through the first part of the season, and then the coach’s former defensive coordinator beat him for the first region loss in two years. It was a profoundly ugly loss, poor officiating (the refs wanted to be part of the game and so they called every little foul they could call), and poor game planning by my son’s team’s coaching staff. Everyone left the game borderline angry and disappointed. The next week was a bye, and then a game against a terrible team that did nothing but rest the starters. So last Friday night, the team drives two and half hours to meet the #9 ranked team in the state with speed equal to my son’s team. It wasn’t looking too good for us. Well, the Tigers came out and played smash-mouth-run the football football. It caught the other team off guard, and as the game wore on, our guys gained confidence and pushed harder. The other team didn’t lay down; they kept battling but it was as if they were playing uphill at this point. Our offense ran the ball, made first downs and controlled the tempo of the game. The staff had a plan and the kids bought into and played above where they had played all season.
Okay, I roll in at one in the morning Satuday, get up and turn around and head back south down U.S. 27 to pick up the boys to go to Auburn. Florida has had a very rough stretch — new coach, new schemes, and now injuries at key positions. The offensive coordinator is one of the best in the business, five super bowl rings speak for themselves, and he schemes his offense to fit the players he has on the field. The Gators had under 200 yards total offense. They played well on defense but special teams and the offense were just awful.
So here is the question, the Pygmalion proposition if you will. Was the high school team lucky to challenge the kids and get a win by chance? Were the Gator coaches prudent to scale back the expectations and breadth of scheme to fit the “limited” skills of the players on the field? Now before you answer, the opposing defenses had something to do with the outcome as well. But the Darlington Tigers decided to do it as Frank Sinatra says, “My Way.” The Gators on the other hand made the most of what they had. So which is it for me? Do I decide to do it “My Way” or do I take what I have been given. I think the correct answer is — it depends. There are times for me that it has been worth it to “go for it,” and I have learned that there are times to accept the situation for what it is and work with that to get the best outcome possible. For the Tigers it was the right call, to issue the challenge and rise to that; for the Gators, well there is still some work to do.
I had a blast at both games, and now I am ready for a nap!