Monday, August 1, 2011

Let the countdown begin

August is officially here and many of us are looking forward to the 2011 football season.

It is only 32 days to the official start of the high-school football season and 33 until the colleges start.

As we endure the worst heat wave in recent memory, I remember the summer before my senior year.

It was 1980 and that was the worst summer I remember prior to the current one.

Just like many players of today, we worked out in the heat and many of us had summer jobs out in the heat.

Most of us were in pretty good shape and a lot more used to the heat than many of today’s players. Some of us had spent the summer working in the pastures hauling hay while others worked in other jobs. We didn't have the game controllers, computers or texting to distract us.

I worked for the county road department that summer in my first real job.

It is amazing how much has changed over the years. We had two-a-day practices early in the morning and in the evening. Both practices were long and we closed the practices by running.

As the school season started, our practices were after school. Most of the practices lasted some three hours. As soon as we could, we put on the pads and started hitting.

We had live blocking and tackling drills and when we practiced, we hit. Full speed. None of the form tackling and short practices like is common now.

But fortunately our coaches did allow us to take water breaks, unlike many coaches did back a few years earlier. A water break was seen as a weakness by the old coaches, not as a preventive measure to keep players from having a heat stroke.

We did not have the summers like the players do now. There weren’t team camps or 7-on-7 leagues.

Prior to my junior year, two teammates and I attended the Barry Switzer Football Camp at OU. I was so pumped, thinking we would get coached by the best coach in college football.

Switzer showed up twice. The first was when the players arrived and the last was for the pictures. His assistants did the coaching. And we quickly figured out while we were getting some valuable instructions, the main purpose of the camp was to find out who could play for OU.

Buster Rhymes, who was a standout at OU later, was at the camp. He came from Miami, as in Florida, and was truly a man among boys. His high school coach was also there. Hmmm.

Bobby Proctor, former secondary coach at OU, was my favorite.

He was hard but could also make you laugh although I thought he was going to get me killed. He had me go up against Rhymes and I saw my life flash in front of me. There weren’t any 6-4, 200 plus pound players who were chiseled and could run a 4.4 in Heavener or on our schedule.

Some of the other assistants were not as enjoyable. Instead of teaching, they screamed. A lot.
Aside from some technical skills I learned at the camp, the major lesson I learned was that my dreams of playing at OU were not going to happen.

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