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|ONE "Do You Love Football?"||1||(14)|
|TWO Doing It the Knight Way||15||(10)|
|THREE Notre Dame, Dan Devine and the Best and Worst of Witnessing Greatness from the Inside||25||(14)|
|FOUR If You Can't Throw the Perfect Pass, Draw the Perfect Circle||39||(16)|
|FIVE Whether You're Cutting Film or Cutting a Rug, You Can't Volunteer Too Much for Knowledge||55||(26)|
|SIX Finding Harvard in San Francisco||81||(26)|
|SEVEN When Opportunity Calls, You Answer on the First Ring||107||(30)|
|EIGHT "Boy Wonder or Boy Blunder?"||137||(28)|
|NINE If the Head Coaching Jacket Fits, Wear It||165||(12)|
|TEN Who's Chucky?||177||(20)|
|ELEVEN Changing Teams Doesn't Mean Changing Expectations||197||(20)|
As far back as I can remember, I've lived and died on every gameday. I don't think I can ever recall a time when football -- in oneform or another -- didn't have a major influence on everything Ithought, everything I said, everything I did.
High school. College. Pro. Our family was moving aroundwith each coaching job my dad held at all three levels. Or I wasplaying quarterback in high school. Or I was hoping to see thefield as a college quarterback. Or I was changing coaching jobsmyself in a never-ending quest for knowledge and improvement.
Football really is all I know. Other than going to the beachonce in a while and watching the waves, it's really the onlyinterest I have outside of my wife and our three boys. I'm not ascratch golfer. I don't know how to bowl. I can't read the stockmarket. Hell, I have a hard time remembering my wife's cellphone number. But I can call, "Flip Right Double X Jet 36Counter Naked Waggle at 7 X Quarter" in my sleep.
I love the competition of the game. I love the players whoplay it. I love the strategy, the variables. I love the smell of thegrass, the sound of the stadium. I love the thrill of victory. I liketo see how we respond to the adversity that a loss brings and tothe sudden changes that we have to deal with, whether it's afumble, an interception, a fifteen-yard penalty, or somethingworse, like our right tackle suffering a broken ankle. What's theweather going to be like? What kind of crowd will we have?
Football is the ultimate team game. There are just so manypeople who play a role. There are trainers, managers, coaches, players, fans, media. It's just so exciting. I consider myself fortunateto have been able to see it at such close range for so long.
The game day experience is what really gets me juiced. I'mup at 3:17 A.M. most days, and that includes the morning of agame. Home or away, we stay at a hotel the night before, andI'm always waiting for the newspaper guy to make his deliveryto my room at five-thirty. At breakfast I'm waiting for the eggsto come out, even though I don't eat very much. If we're on theroad I'm waiting for the first bus to the stadium to arrive at thehotel (for home games I usually catch a ride with Bill Muir, ouroffensive coordinator and line coach).
Once I'm at the stadium I sit at my locker and for the nextthree, four or five hours before kickoff I go over my sidelinesheet, which contains the offensive game plan, minus the diagrams.We probably carry about 125 passes and maybe 30 runsinto each game, but the typeface on the sideline sheet has beenreduced small enough so that they all fit on both sides of aneight-and-a-half-by-eighteen-inch piece of paper that I laminateand can refer to while I'm calling the plays from the sideline.
I have columns for different situations -- first-and-ten, first-and-fifteen,second-and-one-to-five, second-and-six-to-nine, second-and-ten-plus, third-and-short (one to three yards), third-and-medium(four to six yards), third-and-long (seven to ten yards),third-and-extra (beyond ten yards) -- and the calls I can make ineach of them. I have columns for different spots on the field,such as the "red zone," which I break down into plus-five, plus-ten,plus-fifteen and plus-twenty, with five or ten runs andpasses in each. I have columns for goal line, short yardage, playpasses, nickel passes, nickel runs, nickel blitzes, Cover Nine (ourterm for two-deep zone). I might even have a Keyshawn Johnsoncolumn, and at some point I'll look down at it and say, "I'vegot to get him involved. I've got to get him going." Okay, okay,I've got to get him the damn ball.
I prioritize the calls that I've gone over with the staff and the quarterbacks the night before the game, but when I get to thestadium I say to myself, Okay, what if I use number one? Whatif I use number two? Do I really like number three? What ifthey start playing a lot of Cover Nine? Do I have enough CoverNine throws in the game plan? I'll make notes to myself on thesideline sheet, which also has the first names and numbers ofeach of the officials (just in case I have any reason to have a nicechat with them during the game) and the names of three of themost important people in my life -- my sons, Deuce, Michaeland Jayson. I'm usually feeling pretty guilty late in the weekwhen I'm at the office working on the game plan instead ofbeing home with those guys and my wife, Cindy. Seeing theirnames helps me to maintain a little sense of balance when I needit the most, such as in the middle of a game when the runningbattle between your head and your heart can easily tilt you toomuch in one direction or another.
I take different colored Sharpie fine-point pens -- red, blue,green and black -- and use certain colors to highlight sections ofthe sideline sheet and to write notes. Using these colors is theonly thing I'm superstitious about. I'll say, "Ah, the green pen'sin a slump; I'm getting it out of here. I'm using black and redthis week." If we kick somebody's ass, if we play a really goodgame, I'll say, "I'm going to stay with red for the next couple ofgames. Red's hot." It's silly, I know, but you don't want to messwith the mojo.Do You Love Football?!
Excerpted from Do You Love Football?!: Winning with Heart, Passion, and Not Much Sleep by Jon Gruden, Vic Carucci
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