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Outsmarting Your Opponent

Rocky Long is crazy. Yesterday, he told reporters that as head coach of the San Diego State football team he is planning on always onside kicking and always going for it on 4th down.

Rocky Long is genius. By telling his opponents he is not going to traditionally kick the ball off and not planning to punt on 4th down, they have to prepare for that potential even if he has no intention of doing it.

This is Rocky Long’s Moneyball moment. After 40 years as a head coach he has a wild idea and he’s toying with the gamble. He sees something that his opponents don’t. And he’s convinced that this could give him the competitive advantage over more talented teams that he needs.

He told the Union-Times:

And yes, Long — who apparently hasn’t yet tried it all in his 40 years of coaching — is serious about this. “It makes sense,” he said, seeming almost giddy in talking about the possibilities. “Additional plays would allow you to score a lot more points,” he said. “It also puts a whole lot of pressure on the defense.” source

As a season ticket holder I know that this announcement is influenced by his personnel and not just a crazy idea he woke up with. He lost 4 of his most crucial players to the NFL and wasn’t able to replace them with players of equal/higher quality. (QB, RB, MLB, Punter) Additionally, they are one year away from entering the Big East where he will likely have a competitive disadvantage every single week of conference play. He’s interested in a gimmick because he is desperate to give his team any sort of advantage. And just the threat of this makes other teams prepare for it.

That said, the person he’s learning this philosophy from is pretty successful with it.

The possibly not-so-mad professor of this “punting-is-for-wimps” practice is Kevin Kelley, the head coach of a small private school, the Pulaski Academy, in Little Rock, Ark. In nine years, Kelley’s teams have posted a 104-19 record, winning three state titles. Last season, Pulaski went 14-0 and averaged 51 points per game. source

It’s crazy. But it might just be crazy enough to work.

What’s your competitive advantage?

In ministry, the head coach of the other team is Satan. And he’s been doing some winning lately, hasn’t he? Sick of him winning yet? He has more resources than you. He’s got great recruiters. He’s actually smarter and more experienced than you. You are losing, not because you’re a bad person, but because you’ve been outsmarted.

My prayer is that you’re ticked off about this. My hope is that you’re tired of losing. And my eye glimmers with the possibility that maybe you are ready to start playing with the team you have and not the team you wish you have.

Maybe it’s time to try that idea you’ve always wanted to try but thought was too risky? Maybe it’s time to look around and discover something that’s way outside of the box but is totally working? And maybe it’s time you took a 48 hour retreat and figured something out?

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