Coach Mullen: Give up Special Teams and take over as OC


In most walks of life, people believe the principle “nobody knows what you want better than you do”. It’s human nature. Not matter how much we try to fight it and hand someone else some of that control, we just can’t stop butting in or looking over their shoulder constantly. Nowhere is this more true than in the coaching profession, and more specifically controlling a team’s offense.

Dan Mullen is 40 years old, which is still very young by coaching standards. He still has plenty of fire, plenty of passion for the game of football. And when head coaches still have that kind of fire and passion, they have trouble sitting back and being the CEO of the football program. Especially when they have been a successful playcaller as an offensive coordinator. It is something that gets in your blood. It’s part of your DNA. Just sitting back as head coach and let someone else run your offense is like putting a sex addict on a bus with the Norwegian bikini team, a fat guy in a bakery, or letting an Auburn booster with a roll of hundred dollar bills speak to a group of recruits. There is too much temptation to butt in and do it the way you want from time to time. No matter how much you try to stay out of it and let them do their job, you just can’t.

If there is anything I learned in my 13 years of coaching, is that two people  calling the offensive plays doesn’t work. Calling offensive plays is not just a willy-nilly, random thing to do. As a playcaller, you have to always think a couple of plays ahead, setting the defense up with your tangled web of attack. You have to have an idea in your head of what you want to do on the next 2-3-4 sequence of plays. And there is nothing worse than being in the middle of that sequence, and then having your boss say “no, let’s don’t run that. I want to run this”. It completely breaks your train of thought and sequence. And 9 times out of 10, it doesn’t work. And because it didnt work, it puts you in a hole or even tougher situation to make a better offensive call. Now you have to totally regroup, amend your train of thought and sequence, and decide on the next play in the span of 7-8 seconds so as to not get a delay of game penalty. That is what Les Koenning goes through every Saturday, numerous times per game. Two guys making the playcalls just doesnt work because of the sequencing it takes to be productive on offense. Just like a group in a company putting together a business plan, how effective would you be if your boss came in every hour and changed the direction of your plan? It is certainly his right to do so, he is the boss. But that doesn’t make his workers better by constantly changing the direction of their plans. It becomes extremely hard to work in those kind of circumstances and do anything resembling your best work.

Dan Mullen needs to release control of the special teams to members of his staff. He is not ready to sit back and be a special teams guru like an older coach. He is still too controlling- too hands on. Heading up the offense is a full-time job. Depend of Coach Koenning to gameplan and scout each opponent. Let him give you advice on what he thinks we should do each week vs a certain opponent. Work together to gameplan and make the offense the best it can be. But come Saturday, when it’s time for the offense to flourish, the control freak needs to be in control from start to finish- not just at random points in the game. Half-assing things never brings the best results. Coach Mullen, it’s time for you to be the sequence guy again.