Texas HS Football Response to Gregg Easterbrook


Our response to the Gregg Easterbrook article on Texas HS Football's impact on NFL scoring .. Let's go over it one by one.

Barring the unexpected on season-finale Sunday, the NFL will set an overall scoring record. Teams are averaging 23.6 points per game; the reigning record, set in 1948, is 23.2 points per game. If you want to know why scoring is up, don't look to the chuck rule, which has been around since 1978. The leading indicator is Texas high school football.

Last weekend, Texas public schools played their title games. Final scores of the largest-division contests: Allen 63, Pearland 28; Cedar Hill 34, Katy 24. Final scores of the Texas largest-school title games a decade ago: 23-7 and 16-15.

This year's Texas playoffs offered big-school games ending 65-60, 55-48, 56-34, 68-21, 42-38 and 46-22. Prep player Patrick Mahomes threw for 605 yards in a Texas big-school playoff loss. His high school team gained 706 yards on offense, but it wasn't enough.

So.. the results of this year's Texas HS Football playoff games are a direct result of the rise of scoring in the NFL. Yep, sure. You could make the same assumptions to scores in Florida, California, Alabama, Georgia, Wisconsin or Virginia. What does the Mesquite Poteet- Whitehouse thriller have to do with scoring in the NFL? Absolutely nothing.

Several big-division Texas high schools this season averaged more than 50 points per game; Aledo High posted 64 points per game. Some of the results stemmed from the kind of extreme mismatches that can occur in prep competition. Some stemmed from bad sportsmanship. Aledo generated stats by beating up on mismatched opponents, winning a game 91-0 and twice by 84-7, all these contests versus weak teams. The 91-0 victory came over a school that finished 0-10: leading 77-0 in the fourth quarter, Aledo kept trying to score. Aledo High's players, coaches, boosters and principal should feel ashamed of setting such a poor example.

Gregg, Did you even watch remotely a single down of Aledo's season, listen to a radio feed or read the box scores a little more in-depth? The big guess here is you saw the score, saw the headline from the FW Western Hills game and made the assumption that Aledo is classless and filled with very bad sportsmanship. If you had bothered to look at the aftermath of that game, read the quotes from Western Hills coaches and maybe, perhaps just called Aledo coach Tim Buchanan or Western Hills coach John Naylor about the game, there would be no evidence of bullying or bad sportsmanship. The coaches are very happy to talk to you about that. In fact, if you bothered to look at the Western Hills results, you will clearly see that Aledo was not the only team that had their way with them. Furthermore, Aledo had 20, yes, 20 players on this year's THSCA Academic All-State Teams.

But mainly Texas high-school scores reflect a change in the way the sport is played in the Lone Star State, center of football culture. As recently as a decade ago, power-I rushing offense dominated the state's football -- and thus sent on to colleges and the NFL players who were skilled in power tactics. Now fast-snap shotgun spread offenses are the rule throughout Texas. Players schooled in quick-snap pass-wacky advance to nearby colleges such as Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Texas Tech, where fast-paced, high-scoring offense is the rule. A generation ago, Dan Marino's quick release was considered remarkable. Today, quick release is the standard in Texas high school football, and has filtered upward.

It's funny that you pick on Texas for this argument. Sure, scoring is up in Texas. It's up almost anywhere across the country and not just high school. It's up at the college level and in the NFL. The dynamic has changed. Football culture has changed, not just in Texas. It has changed everywhere you look.

Pointing the finger at the spread offense.. it's funny because the spread has been around in one variation or another as early as 1927. There is a book about about a team that ran the original spread offense called “The Inspiring True Story of the Mighty Mites Who Ruled Texas Football” by Jim Dent. TCU ran it as early as 1952. Then there is something called the “Run & Shoot” that originated in Ohio back in 1958 at Middletown High.

There is also an offense called “Shotgun Spread”, which was used by the 1963 National Champion Northern Illinois Huskies. And at the same time of Dan Marino's tenure in the NFL, there was a team called the San Francisco 49ers also running a variation of the spread called the “West Coast Offense”. Point being, high scoring offenses have been around long before just the past decade.

Didn't Andre Ware and Houston Cougars score a bunch of points using a variation of the spread during the 1989 season? Yep. They sure did.

Texas is where the seven-on-seven fad began, roughly a decade ago. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice. In the past decade, Texas has produced huge numbers of boys who spent much of their youth in nearly year-round seven-on-seven, practicing fast-snap tactics. Young Texas-raised quarterbacks, including Andy Dalton, Nick Foles, Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Ryan Tannehill, all from the seven-on-seven generation, have become NFL stars. Texas-raised linemen, backs and receivers have brought the fast-pace ethos to the NFL.

For starters, seven-on-seven is not a your-round activity. It is generally ran from the spring to summer months. Yes, it is true Dalton, Foles, RG3, Luck and Tannehill have all benefited from seven-on-seven activity. So have a number of other stars currently in the NFL.. including Adrian Peterson, Jamal Charles, Aaron Williams and Jacquizz Rodgers.. just to name a few. Also willing to bet, that a number of players from Florida and California have reaped the benefits of it too. It is no secret that Texas has the best run seven-on-seven tournament. But again, in no way is it a year-round event as you say.

A generation ago, few would have expected that Texas high school football, known for grind-it-out power tactics, would have a near-universal conversion to high-tech Xbox offense. The result is fabulous entertainment -- wild shootout-style contests. And offense sells tickets! Some 54,347 people attended the Texas 5A doubleheader, about the same as attended the next day's NFL contest in St. Louis.

As previously mentioned, these high-powered offenses have been around since before the early days of the sport. As far as the attendance at AT&T Stadium is concerned, it was not a 5A double-header as you mentioned. It was a combination of 4A & 5A teams in a triple-header and one of those teams that were involved as the same Aledo team, in which you called classless.

The games at AT&T Stadium had very little to do with high-powered offenses. The teams participating for a reason. They had a complete football team that included not just offense.. they had superb defenses, special teams and coaching on top of earning the right to be there. They were playing for a championship. Of course you failed to mention this too.

The attendance in question was a direct result of the amount of support the Texas HS Football community gave to the student-athletes, coaches, band members, and more. Never underestimate community support. High school football is more than just a game for a vast majority of the communities across Texas. It is an economical and social boost too.

There are downsides. In the crazed Texas system, 672 high schools made the postseason, in pursuit of 12 state championships. Those that reached the title round appeared in 16 games, same as an NFL regular season. Whichever university wins the BCS title will have played 14 game, which itself seem too many -- increasing injury risk, distracting from coursework. In Texas this season, 24 high schools played 16 football games. That's too much of a good thing.Sometimes that is the way the system works.. you call it crazy, we call it necessary. If you knew how many schools actually play football, whether it is eleven-man or six-man, you would certainly have a clue. That number is above 1,400 schools including public, private and charter schools from just about every livable community in Texas.

The big downside is cultural. Texas not only led the charge into Xbox offense, it's led the charge into year-round football for the young. Seven-on-seven is played almost all year, and any boy who wants to start in high school knows he'd best be present at every "optional" seven-on-seven event. Less than a generation ago, most states did not allow public high schools to hold football practices, or even organized conditioning, in the offseason. Now most do. Year-round youth and high school football has become a drain down which the teen years of boys disappear, taking along the time that might have been used to improve grades and get ready for college.

Beating a dead horse. Again, the Xbox offenses you speak of have been around since the early days of the sport and again, as previously mentioned, seven-on-seven is not a year-round event. Had you done actual research or picked up the phone and called a few coaches and even media members, you would have known this. It is not hard. Any common journalist would do this. They go straight to the source rather than assume and present false information as fact.

It might not be coincidence that over roughly the same period that year-round football has become the norm in Texas and other states, African-American women have begun to excel in college while African-American men have struggled. The forthcoming book "Degrees of Inequality," by Cornell University professor Suzanne Mettler, details the poor performance of African-American males in higher education. African-American girls seem to be reaching college prepared, while African-American boys as a group are not. Of course sports is just one reason. But girls play sports and it doesn't hold them back academically. It is predominantly boys who get sucked into the time-draining, all-encompassing culture of year-round high school football -- and 98 percent never receive any recruiting offer, while many fail to attain the GPAs and extracurriculars that would lead to regular admission to college and regular financial aid.

So enjoy the run of high-scoring games at the prep, college and NFL levels -- they are fantastic entertainment! But except for the handful who go on to NFL paychecks -- the odds of a high school varsity player reaching the NFL are 1-in-2,000 -- the kind of football obsession displayed in Texas may be backfiring on boys by diverting their efforts from classroom success.

Where do we go with this and where did race become a reason for kids not to succeed?? The kids, whether they are white, black, asian, natives, or hispanic, all work hard to get into school. They get into college because they EARNED the right to get an education while playing athletics. And the reason many of the kids are in school is because of athletics. A lot of the credit is to the many coaches and parents out there that ACTUALLY keep tabs on their school work.

Another thing about the Texas education system you failed to mentioned is that every school, both public and private is subject to the No Pass, No Play rule, which is in its 30th year of existence. If a student-athlete fails a class, he or she cannot play in athletics. Athletics serves as both an education and a motivation for each kid to succeed on and off the field and in life.

To say that the culture of Texas HS Football is backfiring on the education of our kids is simply not true. It is helping them. We have some of the most dedicated coaches and educators that do not give a rats tail about the win-loss record as long as they see their students succeed everywhere possible. You do not know a thing about the work the coaches and students put in to prove people like you wrong.

About Christopher Lyke

Christopher Lyke is the Contributing Editor and Founder of TexasHSFootball.com, which has been in operation since 2001.

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