EppsNet Archive: Coaches

More People I’m Sick Unto Death Of: Second-Guessers

8 Feb 2016 /
Super Bowl 50

I spent my lunch hour listening to co-workers second guess the Panthers offensive play-calling in yesterday’s Super Bowl. I don’t like second-guessers, for a couple of reasons.

  1. Once a game is over, it’s easy to say the team that lost should have done something different. Feel free to advance any theory you want since there’s no way to wind back the clock and falsify it. It’s like taking a test when you already know the answers. It gives you an opportunity to make yourself sound smarter than the people who had to take the test without knowing the answers.
  2. What are the odds that someone with his fat ass parked on a sofa watching the game really came up with a better play-calling strategy than the coaching staff of a team with 17 wins and 1 loss?

Jerry Tarkanian, 1930 – 2015

11 Feb 2015 /

I enjoyed watching his teams because unlike 99 percent of college basketball coaches, he didn’t spend the entire game yelling and calling timeouts every minute. He let the kids play and it was fun to watch . . .

RIP Jerry Tarkanian

See You in Hell

31 Jan 2015 /


[See You in Hell is a feature by our guest blogger, Satan — PE]

Greetings from the underworld!

I just read about a father and son teaming up to punch out the son’s high school basketball coach because the teen wasn’t getting enough playing time.

Basketball duo

What a heartwarming story! A lot of young black men don’t have a male role model in their lives.

See you in Hell . . .

Teaching Computer Science: Collected Thoughts

10 Jan 2015 /

If you recognize the person on this next slide, please raise your hand. Don’t yell out the name, just raise your hand.

Derek Jeter

About two-thirds of you recognize Derek Jeter. I thought everyone would recognize him, but still a clear majority.

I’m not a Yankees fan or a Derek Jeter fan particularly but the Captain and I are on the same page on this topic. I have to admit I was pretty competitive as a student. I didn’t want anyone to do better than me and I especially didn’t want anyone to do better than me because they worked harder than me.

This Jeter quote reminded me of a quote from another notable sports figure . . .

Bob Knight

This is Bob Knight, college basketball coach, most notably at the University of Indiana. He won 902 games, three NCAA championships, and he coached the 1984 Olympic basketball team to a gold medal.

Notice that he says “everyone” and “no one.” He doesn’t say some people don’t want to come to practice. There’s a universal aspiration to accomplish great results without a corresponding level of effort. I recognize that in myself, definitely. As far as I can tell, this approach rarely if ever works, even for people we think of as prodigies.

Mozart used to say that anyone who thought composing music came easily to him was very much mistaken. While all the other kids were playing kickball, Mozart was in the house practicing his music lessons. In case you’re thinking that kickball wasn’t even a game at that time, you may be right. The point is that if there was kickball, Mozart wouldn’t have been playing it because he was practicing his music lessons.

One more on this topic . . .

Michelangelo's David

This is a quote from Michelangelo. Nothing great seems to happen without a lot of practice.

Once again, please raise your hand if you recognize the person on this next slide.

Anton Chekhov

He looks Russian.

Yes, he is Russian.

Dostoevsky? Tolstoy? Mendeleev? Pushkin? Boris Pasternak?

No . . . he’s known as an author of plays and short stories.

[A student sitting next to a smart but quiet young man from Russia points to the Russian boy and says, “He knows.”]

Who is it? Chekhov.

Right . . . this is Anton Chekhov. He wasn’t a programmer but his advice is relevant to many different endeavors.

Don’t overcomplicate things. A good heuristic – which is a fancy way of saying “rule of thumb” – is to do the simplest thing that could possibly work. Method A could work, Method B could work — which one should we try first? Try the simplest one first.

Note that the heuristic doesn’t say to do the simplest thing. If the simplest thing couldn’t possibly work, don’t do it. Do the simplest thing that might actually work.

One final slide. I don’t think anyone will know these people so I’m not asking for a show of hands.

2 days in a closet

I saw an article last week about a man and a woman who were “trapped” in a janitor’s closet at the Daytona State College Marine and Environmental Science Center for two days. They got themselves in the closet last Sunday and finally on Tuesday, the gentleman on the right got the idea to call 911. Why that idea took two days to incubate is unclear. Police showed up to let them out and found out the closet was not locked. They could have opened the door themselves.

Maybe the lock was meth’d up, like the woman. “Meth’d” up, get it?

Are they students at Daytona State College? The article doesn’t say. Do any of you have Daytona State College on your college wish list? If so, you may want to take it off. Or just keep it as a safety school in case Harvard and the Sorbonne don’t come through for you.

What can we learn from this story? I don’t want to say “don’t make assumptions” but don’t make unwarranted assumptions. Don’t make assumptions about things that you can easily verify. If you’re in a closet, don’t assume the door is locked. Try it and see. A lot of uncertainty can be dispelled by trying things out.

Assumptions can hurt you as a programmer. You might be stuck because you’re assuming some condition is true that isn’t true. Or you’re assuming that some condition can never be true when it really can be true. Don’t make unwarranted assumptions.

I couldn’t help noticing that a lot more people recognized Derek Jeter than recognized Anton Chekhov. If you want to achieve great renown, if you want to be part of the public consciousness, entertain people in a simple-minded way, like hitting a ball with a stick and running around in a park. People can be entertained by Derek Jeter without expending any effort.

Where Chekhov went wrong is that he failed to anticipate a world where nobody reads anymore. Furthermore, he believed that the role of an artist was to ask questions, not to answer them. His plays and stories don’t have a traditional structure where everything is tied up neatly at the end, so you not only have to put in the time to read them, you have to go into overtime to ponder the moral ambiguities. Who has time for that in their busy lives?

3 Links

26 Jun 2014 /
  1. 9 Things Bruce Lee Taught Me About Programming
  2. What a coach can teach a teacher, 1975-2004: Reflections and reanalysis of John Wooden’s teaching practices
  3. Wolfram Programming Cloud Is Live!

Tedford Relieved of Duties, i.e., Fired

20 Nov 2012 /
Cal head coach Jeff Tedford at the 2009 Cal Fa...

Cal head coach Jeff Tedford at the 2009 Cal Fan Appreciation Day at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, California.

BERKELEY – Jeff Tedford, who has overseen the Golden Bear football program for the past 11 seasons, has been relieved of his duties as head football coach at the University of California, Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour announced Tuesday.

Tedford must have seen this coming back in August when he put his house on the market for a cool $5.35 million.

He was saddled with a doofus quarterback as a throw-in on the Keenan Allen deal and the team’s 3-9 record speaks for itself.

Tedford did a lot of good things at Cal. He took over a 1-10 team in 2002 and won seven games his first season. In 2004, Cal went 10-2, finished ninth in the final AP poll, and in 2006, the Golden Bears went 10-3.

Tedford was getting NFL offers during that time and turning them down. He was loyal to Cal. Rumor has it that Pete Carroll was recommending Tedford for NFL jobs, hoping to get him out of the Pac-10 Conference.

Bleacher Report has a list of the top 5 candidates to replace Tedford. The San Jose Mercury News has a longer list.

Mac Wilkins: What The Discus Can Teach You About Life

28 Aug 2012 /
Modern copy of Myron's Discobolus in Universit...

Modern copy of Myron’s Discobolus in University of Copenhagen Botanical Garden, Denmark (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Deadspin has an excellent “as told to” story on former Olympic discus thrower Mac Wilkins (What The Discus Can Teach You About Life: Lessons From One Of America’s Greatest Throwers)

Wilkins made four straight U.S. Olympic teams, winning a gold medal in 1976, a silver in 1984, and finishing fifth in 1988. He was also the first man to throw the discus more than 70 meters, and he held the world record for over two years, bettering his own mark three times between April 1976 and August 1978.

Some excerpts:

So one day I go out to train and I say, Oh, what the heck. Let’s just give it a little extra effort today. And I did, and I got better and it went farther. And I thought that was kind of fun. What if I could that again tomorrow? And so pretty soon, I’m hooked on, Can I do it better today? And it was fun. I knew I could get better and I enjoyed it.

It was all about, There are no limits. There are no limits. I have no restrictions. I have no inhibitions. And you can achieve anything that you set your mind to. There are no limits.

I thought that the [1980 Olympic] boycott was a stupid thing to do. We continued to sell wheat to Russia. We continued to sell Pepsi to Russia. We bought vodka from Russia. It was business as usual except for the Olympic Games. And, of course, we only boycotted after we won the ice hockey game in Lake Placid that year. So I thought it was very naïve, and I was very disappointed because I really liked Jimmy Carter. And there’s still a war in Afghanistan, even to this day. So it didn’t do anything.

Is there a moral to the story? Well, probably.

I have so many, so many times when I would fall down or fail. Being a teacher/coach, I have to be … well, it’s exactly like being a parent. You have to be a better person than you really are.

Twitter: 2010-07-27

27 Jul 2010 /
  • RT @PetrosAndMoney: Pola is the best coach ive ever been around and a better person and a dear friend…he can make great backs-p #


11 Jun 2010 /
USC Trojans

I’m a special teams coach. I get guys to run 60 miles an hour into each other and like it. I always tell my players: Be the hammer. Not the nail.


John Wooden, 1910-2010

4 Jun 2010 /
John Wooden

I thought John Wooden was going to live forever.

I grew up here in Southern California watching his UCLA Bruin teams dominate college basketball. The main thing I learned from that is that success is a result of preparation. Coach Wooden was a teacher. After he retired, he used to say that he didn’t miss the games and he didn’t miss the tournaments, but he did miss the practices.

College basketball today is unwatchable, in my opinion. The coaches are all bug-eyed lunatics, screaming, waving their arms, tearing their hair out. I’m sickened by these college basketball coaches and their look-at-me theatrics.

Does that help the team win? I watched UCLA win 10 championships and I don’t think Coach Wooden even got out of his chair the whole time. Draw your own conclusions.

Playing Up

6 Apr 2010 /

Last weekend’s WIHA roller hockey tournament in Irvine brings us a lesson in hubris . . .

Give Blood Play Hockey tournament

My kid plays for Revision Devil Dogs, a 16U AA team. Unfortunately, the 16U teams showing up for WIHA tournaments this season haven’t been providing a lot of competition for the boys so they’ve played up the last couple of tournaments in the 18U AA division.

In this one, they found themselves in a situation where if they won their fourth and final round-robin game against AKS by at least two goals, they’d finish in a three-way tie for second and would, based on a complex tie-break formula including goals against, get to play in the final.

A Devil Dog loss, tie or even a one-goal victory would put AKS in the final.

AKS is a good team. They beat the Devil Dogs easily in a tournament in February and seemed to be clowning around the whole time. I’m sure they gave zero thought to the possibility of losing this game.

The AKS coach obviously hadn’t bothered to work through the tie-break scenario because after coming back from 5-2 down to 5-4, he pulled his goalie with about a minute left in the game, allowing a Devil Dog player to score an empty-net goal with 11 seconds left and knock AKS out of the final with a 6-4 win.

The Dogs lost the final 2-1 to top-seeded Reebok HB — still a good result for playing up in a higher age bracket.

Next up: NARCh regional qualifier in two weeks.

NARCh – Day 3

12 Jul 2009 /

Quarterfinals: The Devil Dogs led 1-0 most of the game, but gave up two goals in the last minute to lose 2-1. They’re out of the tournament.

My son was crying after the game when he came out of the locker room — not weeping, but he had tears in his eyes. Don’t tell him I told you. He never cries after games. I was this close to crying myself when I saw him.

I’m now going to violate my policy of never questioning coaches’ decisions. Hockey’s a team game, but if I’m going to lose a game in the last minute, I’m going to lose it with my strongest players on the rink.

I was looking out there with a minute left and a 1-0 lead and I couldn’t see how having the two biggest, fastest kids on the bench gave the team the best chance to win that game. The fact that one of those kids is my kid may be clouding my judgment but I don’t think so.

The last-minute goals came on defensive mistakes. The Dogs have a good goalie who can stop the kind of shots he faced in the last minute, as long as you don’t let kids on the other team stand in front of the net and tip them. It’s not that complicated. Would having different players on the rink prevented those goals from being scored? I say yes, but again, I admit that I’m not totally objective.

It’s pretty sad around here right now . . .


11 Jul 2009 /

“What did the coach say to you guys after the game?” I ask my son.

Long pause.

“I can’t remember,” he says. “But I absorbed it.”

A Missed Opportunity

17 Nov 2007 /
USC Trojans
USC coach Pete Carroll and UCLA assistant Eric Scott were both at Thursday’s Crenshaw game.

Interesting . . . I would have thought Eric Scott would be out robbing the houses of people attending the Crenshaw game . . .


School Choice

14 Oct 2007 /

Another gem from the freshman football mailing list . . .

Of the four high schools here in Irvine, only one — Irvine High — has a stadium on campus. There’s a movement afoot, led by local attorney and parent Emmett Raitt, to build a second stadium.

Football stadium

Here’s an excerpt from Emmett’s email suggesting that parents write to the school board about this matter:

The reasons a second stadium are needed include the elimination of Thursday night games, which lowers student attendance at games; it will ease the overcrowding of the Irvine Stadium facility (and particularly the snack bar, a personal favorite of mine); and it will allow all schools to use District facilities for their graduations, which they do not now do.

Hmmm . . . I can’t see how increasing student attendance is going to ease overcrowding, nor do I think the fact that some local fatso thinks there are too many people ahead of him in the snack bar line justifies spending $10 million on a new stadium.

Now here’s the follow-up email that came out from Rick Curtis, the varsity football coach at my son’s school, Northwood High:

I just read where the Huntington Beach district is putting in 2 new stadiums at Huntington Beach HS (8.5 million) and at Westminster (7.5 million). All Capo Valley Unified high schools have stadiums and each have field turf and all weather tracks at their schools.

All Saddleback Valley high schools have stadiums, except El Toro High School. Each high school also has field turf and all weather tracks at their schools (including El Toro High School).

We need to get to the school board meetings and we need to get organized. . . . These are the people that we are competing against and we are way behind in providing state of the art facilities for our student athletes.

All the districts that he mentions in the email are good academically, but they’re not in the same class as the Irvine district, which is the crème de la crème.

So here’s a no-cost solution:

  • If you want your kid to get a top-notch education, live in Irvine.
  • If you want a quick hot dog while your kid runs around on field turf, move to Saddleback Valley.
  • If you want a quick hot dog in a brand new stadium, move to Huntington Beach.
  • If you want a quick hot dog and corrupt administrators (allegedly), move to Capo Valley.

Problem solved!

The Hard Way

1 Sep 2007 /
Death of Esperanza coach brings team together

This couldn’t have been accomplished with a barbeque or a pizza party?

UCLA Coach Makes a Home Visit

1 Aug 2007 /
USC Trojans

The Orange County Register has an update on last week’s arrest of UCLA assistant football coach Eric Scott on suspicion of felony burglary:

UCLA officials said Monday that the background check on receivers coach Eric Scott was conducted by the university and not an outside agency, as previously stated.

But, again, Athletic Director Dan Guerrero and Coach Karl Dorrell were unaware that Scott had been arrested four times between 1996 and 2005.

The Bruins coach, who was arrested for a fifth time last week on a charge of residential burglary, previously had pleaded guilty or was convicted of misdemeanor carrying a concealed weapon in 2005 and misdemeanor disturbing the peace in 2002.


UCLA: University of Coaches Looting Apartments.

Coach Scott is on administrative leave at this time. I don’t want to jump to any conclusions regarding his guilt or innocence based strictly on his extensive list of priors.

Pacific Cup 2007

6 Jul 2007 /

My son’s roller hockey team won the Pacific Cup final last weekend. For teams in California, Arizona and Nevada, Pacific Cup is the biggest tournament of the year, not counting national championships.

Pacific Cup 2007

The team will be playing at NARCh in a couple of weeks. His 12-and-under team won the NARCh tournament two years ago, but I’m not as optimistic with this year’s bunch.

The problems include:

Continue reading Pacific Cup 2007

Timeouts Considered Harmful

25 Sep 2006 /

Mike Shanahan never calls a timeout to ice the kicker because Jason Elam let him in on a little secret among the kicking fraternity: most of them like the extra time to check out the conditions.

“There goes that theory,” L.A. Daily News

The article goes on to quote several other kickers who say the timeout gives them a chance to get out on the field, go through their whole routine, fix up the field if they need to, and generally improves their chances of making the kick.

Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell says that coaches fear being second-guessed if they don’t try to ice the kicker: “So I think a lot of coaches do that just for that reason, to clear their conscience on using all the timeouts.”

This confirms a theory of mine, that a lot of things coaches — in any sport — do during a game are just for the sake of being seen to have done something, are not only not helpful, but probably harmful.

I Love the BCA!

12 Oct 2004 /

The Black Coaches Association (BCA) is about to issue grades to colleges and universities on their minority hiring practices:

The BCA asked each of the 28 schools that had job openings during the past year to complete a form that was analyzed by an outside firm. Any school that does not complete a form receives an F.

At USC, our traditional football rivalries are with UCLA and Notre Dame. Both of these schools have black head coaches and we kick their tails every year.

Last year’s scores:

USC 47, UCLA 22
USC 45, Notre Dame 14

More black head coaches!

Fight On!

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