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There are 926 high school football teams in Texas. It often seems to me that at least 923 of them run a four WR, one back, zone read option, shotgun offense–whether it fits their personnel or not.

As a proponent of football “diversity,” I’m sad, and occasionally a little bit bored. One of the things I have always loved about high school football, and especially Texas high school football, is the wide and creative range of styles and systems coaches bring to their programs.

Look.  The Spread is great.  It’s great if you have a guy who can legitimately sling it, four frisbee-catching dogs, a bell cow running back, and a big, strong offensive line that can both zone block and pass protect. Of course, if you’ve got all of that, you’re in great shape regardless of what system you run.

But increasingly, I’m seeing what I am now calling “Malignant Spread Creep.”  Everybody does it because everybody is doing it. Homogeneity is great for milk. I don’t think it’s necessarily good for football.

Here’s what else I’m seeing. Overmatched team runs The Spread.  Overmatched team throws two (ugly) incomplete passes. Overmatched team then either takes a sack or throws a pick on third down.  Overmatched team takes 30 seconds off the clock. Rinse and repeat for 48 minutes. Scrawny little rag-arm (sorry, just keepin’ it real) quarterback gets the living hell beat out of him.  Team has the ball for all of about fifteen minutes.  Opponent winds up with four possessions per quarter.

Insanity.

I’ve heard the arguments for running The Spread. Summertime 7-on-7 has advanced the passing game. Literally spreading the field can help physically overmatched teams (but only if you RUN the ball out of it!).

And then there’s this one.  “The Keee-ids like it.”

You know what The Keee-ids really like?  Winning.  Or at least having a chance to win.

I’m a big fan of “counter-programming” the competition. (It actually is the guiding philosophy behind Radically Rational.)

Make it difficult for your opponent to prepare for you. Make your opponent have to do something he doesn’t like or want to do. Give your opponent a limited amount of time to figure out what to do with you. Stress your opponent mentally.  Freak ‘em out a little.

If everybody runs the same stuff, then everybody’s preparation is essentially the same, every week.  That keeps good teams in their comfort zones and dooms lesser teams to blowout humiliations.

I’m no codger, and this is not an old man’s “back in my day” rant.  If you’re good at The Spread and have the athletes for The Spread, spread the love!

I love high school football and I am blessed with the opportunity to do a lot of radio and television play-by-play.  I love preparing for the games almost as much as I love the games and the broadcasts.  I get to play with my school supplies, like poster boards and colored pens.  I love making my charts.

But I can’t remember the last time that chart included depth windows for “TE” or “FB.”

Might wanna think about it. “Counterprogram” your opponent.  Run some clock. Limit your opponent’s possessions. Maybe at least think about introducing your quarterback’s hands to your center’s butt. Get the game into the fourth quarter. And at least give the Football Gods a fighting chance to come through for you.

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Paul's Bio

I clearly have the attention span of your median fruit fly.Look! Airplane!

Sorry. I’m back.

It’s both a curse and a blessing. I’ve never bought this stuff about, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” But I do think that a wide range of life experiences helps us grow as people, and helps us better relate to other people. I’ve been fortunate. And I am beyond grateful.

I show up on time. I go like hell. I’m a good listener. I hold myself accountable. I own my mistakes. And I have a natural and an insatiable curiosity. I’m never afraid to say, “I don’t know,” when I don’t. But then I try to find out.

The flip side is I’m a lousy ballroom dancer and my clothes sometimes fit me funny.

Stuff matters to me. I care. But while I take that stuff seriously, I try hard to never take myself seriously. As a result, I have sometimes been told, “Paul, it’s hard to tell when you’re serious and when you’re just having some fun. Which is it? Serious or fun?”

My answer is “yes.” But I think that is a legitimate criticism. I promise I’m going to work on that.

This has been the quickest and strangest half-century I’ve ever experienced. During that period, I’ve been afforded amazing opportunities in news and sports journalism across all platforms. I have taught wonderful students at the high school and collegiate level. Always, I learned more from them than they did from me. I’ve been a high school administrator. I spent ten seasons as a high school varsity football coach. I’ve been an advertising executive. I’ve hosted nationally syndicated television entertainment shows. In maybe the biggest honor I ever received, I was selected by NASA to be “Chet The Astronaut” for the “Land The Shuttle” simulator at Space Center Houston. (All I can say there, is “Do as I say, not as I do.” I put that thing in the Everglades more often than not.) Most recently, I just wrapped up a decade as a television news director, during which time our teams distinguished themselves in holding the powerful accountable, achieving both critical and ratings success.

What does all that mean? It means I am profoundly grateful. It also means I’m ready for “next.” So here we are. Radically Rational. It’s an idea I woke up with in 2017. I scribbled “Radically Rational” on a piece of notebook paper and used a magnet to stick it on our refrigerator. I saw it every day, and it just would not leave me alone.

I am second in charge at Radically Rational, LLC. My wife, Jo (also known as BB), is the president. Clearly, I have failed in my attempt to sleep my way to the top of this organization.

I hope you will learn that I’m loyal as a Labrador. But I will admit that this doggie can bite every now and then. My promise to you? I will show up on time. I will go like hell. I will listen to you earnestly and attentively. I will hold myself accountable. I will never be the least bit hesitant to say, “I don’t know,” when I don’t.

But then I’ll try to find out. Let’s do it.