Mike Strange: Kicking coaches are a thing of the past

Mike Strange
Tennessee kicker Derrick Brodus (42) watches to see if his kick was good during their 51-44 loss against Georgia Saturday, Sep. 29, 2012 in Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga.  (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Michael Patrick, copyright © 2012

Tennessee kicker Derrick Brodus (42) watches to see if his kick was good during their 51-44 loss against Georgia Saturday, Sep. 29, 2012 in Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga. (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

If Tyler Bray's footwork needs tweaking, Jim Chaney can help him.

If Curt Maggitt wants to improve his pass rush, Sal Sunseri will show him how.

If Rajion Neal's ball security needs a pointer, Jay Graham will provide it.

If, however, one of Tennessee's kickers needs a pointer — and apparently they do — who you gonna call?

Triple A?

Tech support?

Kickers Anonymous?

The position that influences the outcome of so many college football games has no position coach.

"When they (the NCAA) cut, cut, cut, cut,'' Derek Dooley said Thursday, "that was the first position that got compromised.''

Once upon a time, college football programs had kicking coaches. Tennessee had a great one, George Cafego, from 1955-1984.

Today, programs might have special-teams coaches but he probably isn't a specialist who can fine-tune a kicker.

In the offseason, the kicker can hire a private coach on his own dime. But come football season, a kicker is a man, more or less, without a coach.

Tennessee's kicking game has issues and has for several years.

This season, only five games in, UT's kickers have failed on four extra-point tries, going 21-of-25.

It hasn't cost a game yet, but it might. Extra points are supposed to be automatic. They were for John Becksvoort. He hit 161 in a row from 1991-94.

I researched as far back as the Becksvoort era and there was never a season when UT missed four extra points.

Michael Palardy missed twice and lost his job to Derrick Brodus. Brodus missed twice and now it's Palardy's turn again when the Vols go to Mississippi State on Oct. 13.

When it comes to field goals, Palardy and Brodus are a combined 8 of 10. Nothing wrong with that.

Penn State would take it. Sam Ficken became notorious for missing four field goals in a game the Nittany Lions lost to Virginia earlier this year.

UT fans should remember the 2010 UAB game. The Vols won in overtime, only because UAB's kicker missed five field-goal tries in regulation.

NCAA rules provide for only eight position coaches. They also prohibit UT from bringing in a "volunteer" helper to work with the kickers.

So where do Palardy and Brodus turn? To Dooley.

"I haven't admitted that because (I've been) waiting until we performed well to say it,'' Dooley confessed.

"But I meet with 'em. I learn each year. I spend a lot of time with the kickers and have my whole career.''

For the sake of argument, I wondered, why not hire a kicking coach and let the tight ends work

things out on their own. Don't kickers impact a game more than tight ends?

"It's a good argument,'' Dooley said. "I've thought about it.''

But he rejected it, calling tight end one of the most complex positions. You have to know how to run block, pass protect and understand pass routes.

So he campaigns for adding staff, like a kicking coach. Football, he argues, has the highest coach-to-athlete ratio yet is under the most scrutiny, the most pressure to succeed.

But in this era, his is a voice in the wilderness.

"They look at me like I've got three heads,'' he said.

One of them, it turns out,is for coaching the kickers.

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2012 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 22

chuckfromwoodberry writes:

And we are reaping the bitter fruit of that reality.

FWBVol writes:

It does seem shameful that most schools don't have a kicking coach. But the fact is, even if you throw in punters too, at most a kicking coach would deal with three or four players. And while most teams only carry three, or maybe, four tight ends, CDD made some valid points about the complexities of playing tight end and the need for a tight ends coach.

MooseandSquirrelVol writes:

Simplist solution that comes to mind is for the special teams coach to be required to work with a kicking coach for at least a couple weeks during the off-season.
I know that would take away from recruiting but SOMETHING needs to be done.

chuckfromwoodberry writes:

Fuad offered his services at NO CHARGE but Dooley said no. Can we please spend the money and get a coach that can win?

alfrizzle097 writes:

in response to chuckfromwoodberry:

Fuad offered his services at NO CHARGE but Dooley said no. Can we please spend the money and get a coach that can win?

The article specifically states they can't bring in a volunteer. Just saying.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to alfrizzle097:

The article specifically states they can't bring in a volunteer. Just saying.

Some folks not read good.

snafu14u#241639 writes:

in response to alfrizzle097:

The article specifically states they can't bring in a volunteer. Just saying.

what about during the off season? BonzaiVol

VolinCalif writes:

in response to snafu14u#241639:

what about during the off season? BonzaiVol

I think it said the kicker could spend his own dime in the off season. So a vol. should be just fine. At least I would think if it were free that the kid shouldn't have to pay just to meet a rule.

claiborneh writes:

I have been posting regarding the lack of a kicking coach for years. Usually they assign a GA who knows little about kicking, nor has ever kicked himself. The GA basically watches them stretch and acts like a figure of importance. It's B.S.
This article also brings to light that when kickers say they have been working hard, or that they are going to get better or get back to practice and correct the issues, it's also B.S. because they don't even have a kicking coach videoing, correcting, leading, or holding them accountable.

Scoon writes:

in response to VolinCalif:

I think it said the kicker could spend his own dime in the off season. So a vol. should be just fine. At least I would think if it were free that the kid shouldn't have to pay just to meet a rule.

Free? Free? Did someone mention 'free'??

Hey Coach Cal, I wanted to ask you to draw upon that sage wisdom of yours to advise me on how to best deal with all these reoccurring nightly insomnia issues that I keep having. You see, for quiet some time now, as a matter of fact, for quiet a number of years ... I have this nightly visitor (call him my phantom if you will) who just keeps a calling upon me night after night after night, interrupting and robbing me of the much needed rest of how it was really meant to be. He doesn't really mean to, but you see, in his playful nature, what he is actually doing is robbing me of that rhythmic time meant for rejuvenation of mind, body, and spirit. Basically, when all the rest of the world has fallen asleep into peaceful slumber, old scooner here remains all wide-eyed and bushy-tai ... uh, hold it! Wait a minute!! Hold Everything! What in the world am I doing?? Why am I talking to you about this ?!?!?! Here I am asking you, Coach Cal, what to do about my insomnia issues when you yourself were obviously all wide-eyed and bushy-tailed around 2:something, this morning. Good grief, singing to the choir. Hello pot, my name is kettle.

atnvol#283282 writes:

I can't help but wonder how some of the other schools address this....especially the ones that seem to have success every year in the kicking game.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

I've see boys horsing around at fields make PATS. The answer is to take away those 3-300 lbs rushers. NO FEAR!

SCVFL writes:

Maybe the VOLS could hire a good kicking coach as a Sports Management Professor and he could teach kicking and punting in the classroom. Or maybe it could be a PE class...I guess PE classes still exist...they were required for all students when I went to school in the late 60s-early 70s. OPPS!...giving away my age.

GO BIG RNG...VFL

SCVFL writes:

Again showing my age, but when I was in High School, we had a football coach that had been a kicker in college and he use to tell us that his practice was kicking a can all the way home everyday after school. Oh yeah, I forgot kids do not walk to and from school anymore.

GO BIG RNG...VFL

murrayvol writes:

Annual budgets at most FBS schools are north of $50 million. Football provides the lions share of revenue.

I get the NCAA forcing schools to trim their budgets to level the playing field. I don't get them refusing to allow a willing volunteer (no pun intended) to coach up the kickers.

murrayvol writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

Some folks not read good.

And comprehend less.

Chappy writes:

in response to chuckfromwoodberry:

Fuad offered his services at NO CHARGE but Dooley said no. Can we please spend the money and get a coach that can win?

Read the article before offering your two cents.

VOLFLIAM writes:

in response to chuckfromwoodberry:

Fuad offered his services at NO CHARGE but Dooley said no. Can we please spend the money and get a coach that can win?

Chuck... Did you not just read the above article ????? Are you not from around here ??? Idiot !! Maybe you need a reading coach...LOL

Tru138 writes:

in response to chuckfromwoodberry:

Fuad offered his services at NO CHARGE but Dooley said no. Can we please spend the money and get a coach that can win?

Ya gotta go deeper than just scanning the headlines and looking at the pictures.

Colts_VolFan writes:

It is the special teams coaches responsibility to learn everything he needs to know to make the team better. If he doesn't know kicking, then we need to find a different coach.

BruisedOrange writes:

Okaaay... let's think outside the box.

(But first--thank you Mike for a long-needed, informative article!)

Does the SEC want to remain the top conference in the NCAA? What if:
the SEC uses a loophole to hire a kicking/punting guru "available" for video-based consultation during the season, with regular visits to SEC campuses during the off-season.

After one year, the NCAA would close the loophole, but the need would be spotlighted. Throw in a lawsuit to declare punters and kickers a "discriminated minority" (irrefutably true--no contest) and college kickers will get some kind of coaching again.

[Admittedly, I just sat down from a strenuous hike at altitude, but... worthwhile idea--eh?]

expfcwintergreen writes:

Why not have the tight ends split their practice time between the wide receivers and offensive line coaches? Kicking is too important for the players to be self-taught.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features