Coach's Corner: Sam Knopik 8/6

Sam Knopik

By Sam Knopik Pembroke Hill Head Coach
Posted: August 6, 2011 - 10:41 PM

Long gone are the days where high profile coaches would write solid, sound football coaching books. With multimillion dollar contracts those guys don’t need to write. Now the closest thing we can find from a “big-timer” is a treatise on leadership principles.


Seasoned coaches will know the truth that rarely, if ever, is there a new concept introduced to football that hasn’t been seen before. Out of print coaching books help remind us of this as well as share timeless insights that somehow have been lost on our contemporary play-by-play and color commentators. Younger coaches should take a look at any out-of-print titles and simply read the introduction and concluding chapters. In these brief pages you will find a goldmine of philosophy and football wisdom that no on-line, podcasted, Mega-Clinic can provide.


What follows are some of my favorites, not a top ten list or a ranking that would be too hard as there are too many good ones. Not all of these are football coaching books but they are all football related. Some you may be able to find at the bookstore while others you may need to hit eBay or the library.


No. 5 Football: Secrets of the Split T Formation, by Don Faurot © 1950 Prentice-Hall Publishing


For those of you bleeding black and gold and may have been turned off with the Osborne review earlier, this one is for you.


Prior to his legendary career at the University of Missouri the great Don Faurot coached up the road at Centralia High School. Centralia has had a fine line of great coaches since Faurot including their current skipper, 2003 State Champion Erle Bennett.


It was against Coach Bennett as a young coach I saw first-hand the effectiveness of the concepts addressed in this book. While I was too much of a greenhorn to know what I was seeing at the time, it didn’t take me long to recall the flashbacks of those black uniforms criss-crossing and false keying our team to death once I dug into Faurot’s book.


I have no idea what Coach Bennett’s terminology was or his own basis of offensive philosophy but I do see the principles of Faurot’s Split T book in Erle’s teams of the late 90s. For example, I recall asking another coach on the sideline, “Did he just give the ball to the TE?” Coach Faurot effectively describes and diagrams the End-Around vs. an even and odd front on pgs. 121-124.


How many of you have lined up against one of Missouri Hall of Famer, Phil Willard’s Chillicothe teams? If so, you have probably been forced into defending Faurot’s “T-Punt Formation.” This is as slick a series anyone in our area is running. According to Faurot the coach employing this series can use:

  • Inside, outside, and straight handoffs (discussed in Chapter 3)

  • QB Sneak (Chapter 6) That’s right a whole chapter on the QB sneak! How many of you put this in as an afterthought prior to your first game?

  • The Trap (Chapter 10)

  • The Criss-Cross or reverse (Chapter 9)

  • Various QB Passes (Chapter 18)

  • Fake Punt and pass

  • Fake Punt and run

  • Punt

  • Spread punt


My point in sharing what I’ve seen my own opponents use against me in modern high school football is this: principles of play are timeless. For example, in the conclusion of Faurot’s chapter on defending the Single Wing he warns:


Present day coaches have dressed up the old single wing attack to combine more deception with the system’s admitted power. The result has been a group of single wing offenses which are versatile on the ground and in the air.


When you consider the various read concepts along with the direct snap attacks employed with what we now call Spread it’s fun to see football’s history come to life in front of our eyes.


Have a great summer. Do yourself a favor and take Coach Stanley’s advice. Get away from the office, grab some lemonade and a book that has been sitting on your shelf for too long. See you in August!


Sam Knopik is the head coach at Pembroke Hill High School.