A controversial high school football coach from Arkansas told the Dallas media on Thursday that if he coached the Dallas Cowboys, they would have already won a sixth Super Bowl. That coach is Kevin Kelley, who has adopted an unconventional strategy while coaching at Pulaski Academy High School in Little Rock.
With his team in town this week to take on the Highland Park Scotts, Kelley has seemed to enjoy the media attention he has received because of his offensive philosophy that is so out there that it makes Philadelphia Eagles’ head coach Chip Kelly look as conservative as Bill Parcells. So what makes Kelley so unique?
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For starters, Kelley never punts, in any circumstance. Even if his team faces a 4th and 20 from its own 1-yard line, Kelley will not punt. In the past seven seasons, Kelley has punted only seven times.
Pulaski Academy also attempts an on-side kick on every kickoff. Furthermore, their offense is based around trick plays and never-before-seen gadgets designed to confuse the defense.
For a more in-depth look at Kelley’s unique philosophy, watch the video below from ESPN’s Grantland.
And while Kelley’s style of football is interesting to see, what does that have to do with the Dallas Cowboys?
"Kelley recently told the Dallas Morning News that Jason Garrett, “isn’t forward thinking, doesn’t play the psychological game well and doesn’t hold his players accountable enough.” Link"
As a life-long Cowboys fan, it seems that Kelley has taken a page or two from fellow Arkansas native, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones. Just as Jones has been known to make controversial comments and bold predictions, Kelley is now saying that he is a better coach than an NFL coach who won a division title and a playoff game last season.
Kelley even put forth the terms of a possible contract should Jerry Jones decide the hire him. He said he would coach for a base salary of $100,000 given that he received $100,000 for each victory.
The system Kelley has built might sound illogical to almost every football fan in America but its roots are based in the world of academia. Upon hearing a college professor give a statistical analysis resulting in the conclusion that NFL teams should never punt, Kelley was intrigued.
In the ever-increasing world of advanced statistics, Kelley might fit right in.
"“I’m just a fan of numbers; I think they tell a story,” he said. “When I realized that it could help me win more, that’s when I really dove in into everything I could find out about it.”"
While Kelley is an interesting character worth reading about, it seems that his ego has grown too large. Unless he was speaking tongue-in-cheek when he made his comments about Jason Garrett, Kelley is showing ignorance towards professional football.
When speaking of Jason Garrett’s conservative style of coaching, Kelley said, “You just can’t win like that.”
One must wonder if Kelley has had his head stuck so deep in math books that he has forgotten about coaches like former Cowboys head coaches Jimmy Johnson or Tom Landry both of whom captured two titles with the Cowboys while playing a conventional style of football.
As for Kelley’s remarks about Garrett not keeping his players accountable, one must wonder how he has come to this conclusion. Is he in the Cowboys meeting rooms and coaching offices as Garrett deals with professional athletes who make more money than he does?
Keeping high school players, from a school with on 400 students, accountable is a bit easier than overseeing a professional football team. The road to disaster in the NFL is littered with former coaches who thought they could treat professional players like collegiates or high schoolers.
Kevin Kelley is a fascinating football coach. Perhaps he will one day get the opportunity to show that his system could work in the NFL but Cowboys fans will stick with Garrett.
However, if the Washington Redskins fire Jay Gruden (which many in the Washington media think is a distinct possibility) I wouldn’t put it past the Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to make such a crazy move as hiring Kevin Kelley.
Let’s all hope and pray that happens.