Smart Notes 3/9/2010

The Tao of Christian Okoye:

(H/t Clay Travis).

2. Talking 3-4. It seems the big trend this year is for teams to move to a 3-4 style defense, and Texas A&M is no different. New defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter, most recently of Air Force, talked some shop:

Q: What’s going to be difficult about the transition from A&M’s defensive scheme last year to your 3-4?

TD: They did some of that stuff last year, they ran little bit of a 3-3 package, so the transition that way helps a little bit. Our [run] fits are going to be a little bit different, but the fact that they ran some four-man and some three-man fronts helps in the big picture. Our terminology is going to be different, so they’ve got to learn a new language. But the fact that they played some quarters last year is also going to help us. Those things, when you talk about the transition, we’re not starting from ground zero. It’s a chance to kind of build on what they did before, and it doesn’t have to be a wholesale change.

DU: Back to Von for a bit. What were your early impressions of him once you saw him up close?

Q: So how does [Von Miller] fit into your system?

TD: We’re going to use him in a couple of different ways. He’s going to play what we call a Joker position, which is an outside linebacker who does a couple different things. He’s going to be a guy who’s in the rush at times, and then drop [into coverage] at times. We’re going to put a lot on his plate and see if he can handle it, which I’m sure he’ll be able to. He’s a very sharp young man, and again, I think, hopefully he’ll give us a chance to play multiple fronts with some of the personnel that could give people problems.

If I had to pick one trend right now, it would be teams trying to find a player they can use in ways similar to the “Joker” position DeRuyter described above, as a guy who is a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker. The reason this is so useful is that you can basically play entirely different defenses — or at least give very different looks — using the same personnel. And when he discusses “fits” or “run fits,” he is referring to the gaps and responsibilities defensive players have on run plays.

3. Jim Tressel does interview with LGBT magazine. This is last week’s news, but is still worth mentioning. (H/t EDSBS.) People have emphasized several quotes (available here), but I thought this one in particularly was wise, as it obliquely hinted at the pressures on an athletes to understand themselves in a world where everyone defines them early based on their talents:

“What we have, quite often, with our athletes, and with a number of young people in any sport, is that from the time they were 6 or 7 years old, their identity has been through sports. You’re the tallest, you’re the fastest, you’re the best player. All their feedback has come in terms of their role as a player, and they are often hesitant to go beyond that narrow role. … The greatest achievement we can have as coaches is that a young man leaves us with a concept of who he is, what he wants from life, and what he can share with others — someone who is ‘comfortable in his own skin,’ and that identity can go in a number of directions.”

In typical Tressel style, he is speaking in somewhat fuzzy abstractions, but here that’s okay. Indeed, it reminds me of the Myron Rolle issue, where in many cases it is simply not okay to be both a football player and anything else.

4. Okay, Coach. Mike Leach is set to be deposed Friday. I haven’t said much on this, because (a) I don’t know anything non-public, and (b) I’m a little worried about the direction it will go. Leach is clearly upset, and I think it’s also clear that Texas Tech used the situation and the James family to give him the heave-ho. I don’t know whether that constitutes a violation of his contract or anything else, though the most likely result will be a settlement. But this kind of thing has to make you wonder (h/t Blutarsky):

Meanwhile, Leach’s attorneys have subpoenaed documents from Frenship Independent School District. They are seeking any correspondence between F.I.S.D. and Texas Tech University and/or Tech’s new head football coach, Tommy Tuberville. Court documents imply that Leach’s legal team is especially interested in any conversations about enrolling members of the Tuberville family in the school district.

Obviously they want to know if Tuberville’s family moved in before he was officially fired, as that could show all manner of bad faith on behalf of Texas Tech. But I’d be surprised if they did find anything. I think it was pretty clear that Texas Tech took the approach to Leach that Leach so often used on opposing defenses: shoot first (i.e. “fire” away), and ask questions later.

5. Goodbye, Donald; Hello, Oregon. Disney has relinquished its hold over Oregon’s mascot after sixty-years:

For those unaware of the UO’s singular relationship with Disney, a deal dating back to a handshake between Walt himself and then-athletic director Leo Harris allows the university to use certain images of Donald Duck. Up until this week, those images included the rotund fluffy UO mascot costume worn by anonymous students when they prance the sidelines at athletic events or pose with boosters at fundraisers and parties.

Under its formal licensing agreements with Disney, the UO had to get Disney’s permission to use the Duck in any setting outside those described in the agreements, which set out strict rules for how the UO can use Disney trademarks. And when the Duck strayed — and yes, the Duck has strayed — the university had to scramble to smooth any ruffled feathers in the Magic Kingdom.

No more as far as the Duck mascot is concerned. The UO/Disney licensing agreement remains in effect for the printed logos on sweat shirts and the like. But the costumed Duck mascot now answers only to the university.

In an agreement finalized this week, Disney acknowledges that the current incarnation of a costumed character featured at the University of Oregon’s athletic and promotional events (the Oregon Duck) is not substantially similar to Disney’s Donald Duck character.

“What a wonderful thing for Disney to do,” said Matt Dyste, the UO’s director of marketing and brand management. “It’s marvelous. It’s incredibly gracious on their part.”

Dyste said the change came about through routine discussions between the university and Disney over the licensing agreements.

But Disney’s rationale doesn’t appear to be entirely eleemosynary. No, UO’s mascot has been in the news after

the mascot late last year posed in a rap video produced by a trio of Duck football fans. In another high-profile episode, the Duck mascot in 2007 roughed up a rival mascot at a football game.

Also, the revised agreement still gives Disney joint control over print images of the UO mascot, with the University sharing half of its 12% revenue on merchandise like T-shirts and hats with the media giant. (H/t Doc Sat.)

  • OldSouth

    I want to know the Smart Football stance on Tecmo. Specifically, whether it is the greatest game of all time, or the greatest game conceivable by man.

    I tend to find sympathy with Leach, probably without a valid reason to do so. Probably his law background and his inventiveness. Still, he comes off from my armchair position as very stubborn sometimes, and if that’s the case, I wonder if it interferes with his relationship with his counsel. I’m sure he can hold his own for a 9-5 deposition, but I can almost see him shooting himself in the foot. He is wont to do that.

    Also, thanks for the link to the 3-3-5 article, it’s a nice intro for those of us who don’t coach or have as sophisticated a background as y’all.

  • Ken

    Glad I wasn’t drinking anything. I’m still laughing over Okoye, the great Okoye.

  • Todd

    Without question, the greatest game conceivable by man OldSouth. I agree with you about Leach’s stubbornness, but the more that I read about the specifics of the case, the more I feel that this will swing heavily in Leach’s favor.

  • Mr.Murder

    The thing about Leach’s removal is that they’ve dragged this to a point he can’t really find another team for the upcoming season. That is doubly dirty and may well have kept him from relocating within the Big12.

  • Ben

    KC with Okoye was good in Tecmo Super Bowl, but the best by far were the Lions. Barry Sanders could rush for nearly 1,000 yards per game, and Jerry Ball at NT was simply ferocious.

  • JasonC

    Sanders and Okoye were beasts. I like to play with the Eagles. I would switch their plays to the run-and-shoot plays (hybrid of Detroit and Oilers), put Sherman as the RB and move Byars to the other spot which gave me kind of a 2 TE set with Jackson & Byars in the slots. Barnett and Williams were capable enough at WR (when Williams wasn’t injured). I would run some with Sherman early in the season to have some balance, but since he wasn’t that good, QB Eagles (Cunningham), became my primary runner during the season. Therefore, I had 4 pass plays and 8 viable run plays using either Cunningham or Sherman.

    It was kinda like WV with Pat White, but with lesser RBs and better passing.

  • frank

    Kudos to Tressel. It’s time coaches, players, and the general public grew up and showed some maturity when it comes to gay people: it shouldn’t matter, it’s nobody’s business.

    When player’s commit crimes people often respond by saying the number of athletes committing crimes is no different than the general population — which makes sense. However, this reasoning extends to gays as well: so whatever the current accepted statistic is on the percentage of gay people in society, it is much larger than zero — which is the number of current athletes in major college programs and in the pros, who have come out. Come on, it’s obvious that there must be SOME gay athletes playing today. Why should they have to hide? Why shouldn’t they be allowed to be “authentic,” true to themselves?

    It’s time for more maturity and tolerance in sports and society. Tressel is leading the way. Good for him.