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Malott’s Believe It or Not I Might Just Go Pro Edition

A blog about the Colts, fantasy football and potentially coaching college/NFL football!

Los Angeles Rams v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

How about them Colts!? More specifically, how about that rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson absolutely balling out of control? Yes, the Colts lost at home and are 2-2. Yes, for the entire first half, the Colts were getting buried by the Rams. However, they pulled it together as a squad and really only lost this game because the NFL overtime rules are stupid. The OT rules should just let both teams touch the ball on offense and play until someone gets a stop. I live for bonus football!

If you or anyone you know is butthurt about the Colts losing this game, be reminded the Colts were without their two most important offensive linemen by position in their starting center and left tackle. Against Aaron Donald. Also, IMHO starting running back Jonathan Taylor has been faking an injury along with attempting to extort the Colts out of an early payday under the guise of wanting a trade all because of his doofus agent. No recent tape no leverage ding dong. There, I said it. Also, as I was writing this, HC Shane Steichen said he expects Taylor to play this week. Weird because if he didn’t the Colts would NFI him and not pay him.

Let me apologize to Mateo for not writing a weekly article to plug our podcast. For those of you following along at home, I have taken a step back here at Stampede Blue and begun my football coaching career, so no more talking about sports betting and no post game wrap. Part of trying to get a body of people to make good decisions all day is to not feel like a total hypocrite myself. I can’t expect people to be ethical and moral if I’m not willing to do so myself. I told myself that I wanted to start with nothing. I wanted no numbers, no money, no staff, no facilities and to have to grow it on my own. My first season as a high school football coach went off the rails in that we had to cancel our season with a game remaining due to a lack of eligible players after a post-game brawl that got the police involved. Don’t leave! I’ll tell you everything!

For starters, a high school football program and a responsible coaching staff are the only thing standing between your school not having a wrestling or basketball program in the winter due to grades. See, we had pre-practice meetings where we installed and reviewed plays and watched film after Week 5 because our school did not film our games or have a Hudl account until then (or bother to have an administrator and a trainer at every game). We then walked through the installs multiple times to make sure people knew where to line up and what their job would be once the ball is snapped or kicked. Then we’d go through the plays “on air” or without resistance and the kids had a hard time remembering what to do through the first few games. We had them bring a notebook and draw the plays themselves. I drew the plays up in color and posted them on social media for them to use their phone to study and still, the kids would forget where they line up and what their job is on kickoff and kickoff return, for example. We tried to teach them multiple ways to make sure we were hammering home the details and appealing to multiple learning styles.

Eventually, my head coach (an educator for more than 20 years now) decided to run a grade check on our players because gestures generally. The first thing we found out is that most of our team did not have access to their grades and as a result, hadn’t turned in any homework for the year. We had to help more than half our players get access and then it took another few weeks to get actual grade reports in hand. We found that more than half our team would be academically ineligible if report cards came out today (then). We decided to declare them academically ineligible in order for them to focus on school and get their grades up not to play football but so they’d be academically eligible for winter sports and more importantly, on-track to graduate in time. I know, we’re awful people, but to our credit, all but two players got their grades straightened out and returned to the team. We had our best game of the year the week after we did that, too.

We preach that your education is the key to your future. Football is but a door, the same way wrestling and basketball are just doors. If you don’t have your grades and education under control, your athletic ability has little meaning to you after high school. I tell them a story from when I was in high school and yes, I’m going to tell it below. I played high school sports with not one, not two, but three of the best athletes you’ve never heard of.

First, let’s talk about Steve M. If you played basketball in the Indianapolis area in the late 90s/early 00s, especially any adult leagues, you knew who Steve M. is/was. The reason you, dear reader, have no idea who I’m talking about is because Steve M. didn’t play basketball after high school because he didn’t have a 3.0 or better GPA and test scores mirrored his poor effort to get an education. I tell my players this! Dude was a 6’5” shooting guard that could dunk and also had unlimited range. He was jacked and could jump out of the gym! I promise you, college scouts came calling and left shaking their head when they found out about how poor of a student he was.

Then, there are the H. brothers Justin and Merco, Jr. (RIP). I promise you on everything I have in my being these two are the best athletes, football and wrestling, that my high school has ever seen. They were bullies and bad students, but dammit we won a lot of games because of them. I recall vividly when Joe Tiller (RIP), the former Purdue head coach and my coach in college, came to my high school to recruit the younger Justin and again, loved his play but asked about his GPA and left in a bad mood because a sub-2.5 GPA doesn’t cut it at Purdue. The older brother Merco, Jr. did last one day at Ball State but quit the football program after being asked to run gassers, a common method of conditioning not lost on a Division I program no matter how insignificant, but again, your GPA is a good predictor of future success and neither of these boys achieved their potential because they were not focused enough on their education. Their GPA and test scores set the stage for these boys to ultimately underachieve athletically post-high school. I’m just saying they could have been Olympic athletes is all. I mean no disrespect.

I had a 3.86 GPA through the first semester of my senior year, but 9/11 happened in the fall and my grandfather died the week of homecoming, so my grades did slip a bit after all of that trauma, but still. I also scored very high on the SAT before I could drive, so unlike the people mentioned above, I knew that I was going to any college I wanted and that all I had to do was continue to get good grades and the rest would take care of itself. I was not a good student in that I did not take good notes, I did not study hard and I am still the worst procrastinator you’ve ever met. I was so over-involved in high school that it no doubt had a negative impact on me my senior year, but that’s neither here nor there.

I’m not writing this to beat my chest. I’m writing this so you, dear reader, understand how passionately I speak to these student-athletes I coach about handling your grades, homework and education over everything else. Even over football. I gave my head coach my copy of The Alchemist and would endeavor to give every athlete I coach a book to read to start our journey together. I think it sets the stage for my expectations as your coach. I expect you to be learned at the very least. Smart players play hard. It takes what it takes.

Our brand new high school football program only had 4 players on my first day, played 8v8 instead of 11v11, and never had more than 14 players active for a game. Along with that, 9 of those 14 were freshman and most of our players had never played organized and padded football. As a result, every single game was a bloodbath. We gave up 50+ points in almost every game flatly because all of the adults in these kids’ lives are so quick to give up on them, so they’re quick to get discouraged and give up on a play because someone else didn’t do their job. I’m calling it “boom-bust ball” because either everyone does their job and we stop them or someone misses a tackle and everyone else stops what they’re doing, stands straight up with their hands on their hips and watches the opponent score.

When I found out that I’d be coaching 8v8 football to start my career, I did a cursory Google search for the sport and found an old playbook from the Indoor Football League. It featured a 3-2 Cover 1/0 defense and the offense was largely useless because if you recall, the IFL allowed for what I call the “U-motion”, which basically just means the receiver can be moving perpendicular to the line of scrimmage at the snap (not legal basically anywhere else), rendering the offensive plays inert. I showed them to my head coach and said “hey I think every team we play is going to run that 3-2 Cover 1/0 defense that I got off of the Internet”. My head coach scoffed at me, but guess what? Every team we played against ran a 3-2 Cover 1/0 defense.

In our 4th game as a program, we had over 500 yards of offense. My first-year senior quarterback had over 300 yards in the air and 4 total touchdowns that game in addition to 5 rushing touchdowns over 50 yards in his 5 games (including two 80+ yard touchdown runs in a single game). My first-year senior wide receiver had over 200 yards receiving and 3 total touchdowns in that game. We ran a controlled RPO/Air Raid system and tried to spread the ball around to keep the defense guessing. We even added a modified Power I package based on personnel and never got to use it in a game and I’ll tell you why.

We found that we were going to be without several linemen very early on in the season, and my observation is that my athletes were verbally abusive to their bigger teammates and as a fat boy myself, I wouldn’t want to block for someone that identified me as a fat person plus other dirty words. Also, we had to tell these children not to use the N-word, for example, and ultimately, since they have no composure, bearing, self-respect or tact, it cost us penalties only in the very last game and spilled over to the bus ride home. I almost pulled the bus over to calm them down because after our 5th consecutive loss, immature children are going to look to point fingers. I took accountability for our shortcomings and told them to focus on their individual effort, but those words don’t mean anything to someone that isn’t used to listening to someone that actually has their best interest.

When we got back to Broad Ripple High School, two other high school football teams, their fans and their buses were parked right in front of our locker room door as our facilities are being used by another IPS school since we had an away game scheduled. We tried to gather all our players up and stick together on our way in the building. As we entered the building, there was a fracas just a flight of stairs away in front of us involving two of our players (the same two that cost us a penalty in game for cursing at each other). One levied death threats involving firearms and the other flew into a murderous rage and had to be literally physically held down until the building could be emptied so he didn’t commit the act he was threatened with.

The police are involved and that will get handled however it gets handled (it’s out of my hands). The bigger problem in my eyes is that one of our linemen actually instigated that fight (according to his teammates). You see, this sort of self-destructive behavior pairs very well with the unfocused teenage mind, but this is entirely on the adults in these kids’ lives. Verbal abuse is permitted and not punished because expulsion is good for a kid that’s going to get to stay at home alone all day (in their mind), and outside of football (which they have no problem missing practice and even games!), they don’t have anything else you can take away from them except letting them fail and failing to teach them to stop being so vulgar (I know! It’s wild to hear me of all people trying to get these kids to stop cursing!) and being verbally abusive has made them have a “me against the world” mindset knowing they’re probably not going to graduate high school and aren’t going to college, they see everyone, even their teammates, as adversaries instead of allies. That’s where this freshman class’s head is right now. This is what I’m fighting against.

My thought process is that you can always start by out-working the problem. The problem we had is a lack of numbers. This means our existing players are going to have to play more than just both ways. We had several players than never left the field unless they were injured. With us having to play Iron Man football, the onus is on me to create some iron men. I begged for a badge and a key to the facilities. For 8 weeks, my wife and I woke up at 4:45am, text the players to guess attendance, and if just two kids said they were in, we drove the half an hour one way to the facilities and worked them out. Frankly, if we had not done that, I can’t tell you how much worse this would have been. I guarantee you one of our seniors gets injured and misses his only season of high school football. We called it The Athletic Club. Most people call it 16-hour work days. I did that for $500.

Once the attendance started to pick up (at one point, 7 players or half our team showed up to morning workouts!) and we had a variety of kids in the weight room, we found out that most of our kids were not eating a healthy breakfast because the school was not prepared to feed them a full meal and my players were fighting for their life for food all day, so my wife and I cooked them breakfast. I brought my little Weber grill and made them eggs with bell peppers and cheese on the discus pad near our practice field. My contract pays $500 at the end of the season, so The Athletic Club and the breakfast we made came out of our own pocket. It takes what it takes.

Now that my season is over, I have reached back out to Soldiers to Sidelines, a 501c3 aimed at creating soldier coaches, for the next steps in their membership training program. Their response is that there is an in-person football coaching clinic November 4th-6th with the New York Jets in MetLife Stadium and I need to be there. Keep in mind, this past summer I attended Scout School with the New York Jets and got to meet the first ever female NFL scout, Connie Carberg, and I’d love to meet her in person. It’s going to cost $1,000+ that I don’t have plus with the contract I signed stipulating I can’t make any money during the season outside of the contracted $500, I need your help after October 7th. I’m going to need flight and hotel covered plus about another $1,000 for unforeseen expenses.

I’m going to set up a GoFundMe and a Patreon this week (for the monthly and long-term supporters) and I have Venmo (Jared1Malott) and Cashapp ($LikelyAlien). Funny story, I have never asked anyone other than my mother for money, so I don’t even know which is faster and costs less to transfer. I cannot borrow more money at this point or I would just do that, but we borrowed our asses off to get through this first season and just paid our mortgage payment. I need money to make this trip to Newark, New Jersey happen and we are already up shit’s creek financially, so waiting until October 22nd or later (our next paychecks) is less ideal because costs increase the closer you get to the event.

I was told coaching is a lonely road. I don’t want that to be the case. Football is my longest relationship dating back to when I was 8-9 years old. I absolutely believe in my ability to make the leap from high school to Division I or the NFL with the intent on being a head coach there. Making my reservations now as opposed to later significantly reduces the cost and flatly, attending is something I get to put on my resume as how I got a coaching job in the NFL or again, at a Division I program. I spent a week with professional college and NFL scouts this past summer. I’d love to give them a reason to contact me.

I’m in the process of selling all of my personal belongings otherwise to make this happen. If you know anyone that wants to buy a Magic collection spanning 15 years, a Steam Deck or a Zelda-themed Nintendo Switch please let me know. Hell, I’ll sell my collectors edition Star Wars PS4 and all my games. I literally will sell it all just to get to the next level because I believe in myself. I only really need a couple thousand dollars, but no matter what comes next, I know that my success at the high school level hinges on my ability to feed my players on a whim and that costs money, plus we know coaches get paid nothing until they’re overpaid. My hope is to be able to support other athletic programs because of the outpouring of love. Outside of selling everything I own and asking for support from this community, I don’t know what else to do, but I would hate to miss this opportunity or have it cost double down the road, you know what I mean?

I’ve been asked to work strength and conditioning with the Purdue Poly North women’s basketball team for a couple of weeks before their season starts. I’ve met their new head coach. He’s an Air Force Veteran who most recently coached professionally in China, and we hit it off one morning. I hope to instill a work ethic similar to my football players in the women that play for this tenured head basketball coach because if I can teach them to work out and eat right, this head coach can teach the sport.

In my opinion, Purdue Poly North has the two most experienced football and women’s basketball head coaches that I have ever been around (20+ years coaching each and both played their respective sport for four years at the Division I level) and the future is bright for these programs so long as we get the support we need. I would like to deliver a unique experience to the players I get the opportunity to coach in that I don’t feel lonely and unsupported in my journey. No, my hope is that someone reads this, sees value in what I’m saying and helps me get where I’m going. People will sign up to play for you and work hard for you if they see that an organization like the New York Jets took the time to train you. Anyway, if you look back at the comments on my posts, I’ve been asked to give up the details regarding how to support me, so please don’t think of this as something I cooked up to grift off of this community. I was asked by a community member to set up a fundraiser for myself to aid in my coaching journey.

Oh hey! Did you know that I record a podcast every week during the NFL/NBA regular season and playoffs (so basically we only record every other week in the offseason)? Here are the last few episodes!