Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach Bill Muir used transparencies and video footage to support his lesson on short yardage offense
To many football coaches, reaching the NFL is the pinnacle of achievement in their field, just as it is for the players. With that achievement comes a responsibility to the sport's future success and development.
At least, that's the outlook of Tampa Bay Buccaneers coaches Monte Kiffin, Bill Muir and Richard Bisaccia, all of whom eagerly provided the know-how for Wednesday's Buccaneers Coaching Academy.
Along with Head Trainer Todd Toriscelli, Kiffin (defensive coordinator), Muir (offensive coordinator) and Bisaccia (special teams coach) spent most of the morning and afternoon on Wednesday sharing their gathered coaching experience with over 120 local high school football coaches at the popular and free Bucs clinic.
"These coaches are the life blood of our sport," said Muir, who has been coaching on the NFL level for two decades. "They have the opportunity to reach out and touch people in a very formative sense. And you never know what these coaches will inspire their players to achieve. My high school football coach gave me a great opportunity and most of the things I do in life I can directly trace back to his influence and to be able to help these coaches here pass that knowledge along to the next generation of coaches and players is an extraordinary thing."
The Buccaneers Coaching Academy is a hands-on program focusing on several essential areas of football knowledge and player development. The high school coaches in attendance were briefed on the topics of coaching philosophy, offensive, defensive and special teams skills and strategies, coach/player communication and player health & safety.
The academy, sponsored by Publix Super Markets and in conjunction with the National Football Foundation, is an effort to facilitate the growth of football and to insure the positive development of all those participating. The goal of the academy is to elevate the quality of football coaching at the high school level.
Each coach attending the academy also received a free Coaching Academy gift pack that included a coaches playbook, canvas attaché, and mini-dry erase board. The clinic was provided for free to all of the public high school football coaches in Hillsborough, Polk, Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota, Hernando and Pasco counties.
The participating coaches arrived at Raymond James Stadium for the clinic at 7:30 a.m. The event then began with a discussion on coaching philosophy by Young Chul Chung, a doctoral student in Sports Psychology from the University of North Carolina. Young asked the coaches to explore the reasons that they got into coaching and what they get out of working with the kids. The coaches were also given several hypothetical situations and asked to justify their decisions based upon their stated coaching philosophy.
After Young's session, Muir jumped feet first into a discussion on the intricacies and fundamentals of the goal-line and short yardage offense. Using play diagrams on transparencies followed by video footage featuring the proper execution of the plays, Coach Muir held the attention of the assembled coaches for nearly an hour. He could have spoken for hours, but eventually had to defer to Bisaccia due to time constraints.
Though Muir proved a difficult act to follow, Bisaccia was more than up to the task, keeping the audience's attention with footage of the proper techniques for kickoff coverage and drills Bisaccia helped relate to the coaches methods for teaching these techniques to their young players.
"Coming from the college ranks just this year, I know the impact that a quality coach can have on a players development, both as a individual and a player," said Bisaccia. "Being able to provide these high school coaches with the tools to do their job better, can only improve the quality of people and players that the game develops."
The mastermind of the Buccaneers highly touted defense took the stage after Bisaccia. Always an engaging public speaker, Kiffin impressed upon the coaches the importance of knowing their players' talents, skills and abilities and fitting them into the team's scheme and philosophy.
"I enjoy coming out and being able to talk to these guys," said Kiffin. "We all coach the same game. It's 11 on 11 in high school, just like it is in the NFL and to be able to pass some of my knowledge to the high school coaches is a lot of fun for me. I have a great respect for the job that these guys do."
After a short break for lunch and another presentation by Young on coach-player communication, Toriscelli took the stage as the Bucs' final speaker. His address centered mostly on dehydration – its effects on performance, how to recognize heat stroke and heat exhaustion and the most effective measures to prevent cramping in players.
After last year's string of heat-related deaths, including that of Minnesota Viking tackle Korey Stringer, Toriscelli's chosen topic was obviously a critical one for high school coaches. He provided the attendees with a working model they can implement to help prevent serious injuries that can result from the loss of fluids.
Toriscelli also answered several questions regarding the proper steps to be taken when problems do arise on the football field. "I thought the number and quality of the questions were excellent," said Toriscelli. "It shows that they were interested in the health and safety of their players and you can't ask anything more from a coach, from my standpoint."
Though Toriscelli's session ended the speaking portion of the clinic, the coaches still had one more meeting to attend – a skills demonstration hosted by their fellow high school football coaches. At this demonstration, the coaches were treated to passing, offensive line, running back, defensive back, defensive line and linebacker drills, instructed by such notable coaches as Billy Turner (Chamberlain), Sam Roper (Seminole) and former Buccaneers great Richard "Batman" Wood (Wharton).
Did the academy achieve its goal of passing on the collected knowledge of its featured guests to the next generation of coaches? Debra Dawkins, Blake High School defensive backs coach and the only woman in attendance, seemed to think so.
"It's been really, really exciting," said Dawkins. "Just the knowledge and philosophy that I can take back to the players is great. The coaches were wonderful and the information regarding the dehydration of athletes was very important. I would definitely come back to an event like this."
Dawkins wasn't the only one impressed with the quality of the academy. Wood, who has coached in the NFL and the NFL Europe League, saw great depth in the information that was passed along to his fellow coaches.
"It was a great opportunity to come out and listen to what their perception of football is," said Wood. "They've experienced the big time and it's great that they recognize that high school football is where it all starts. I know they're busy, so it's great that they could come out and spend time with us."