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  • Linfield head coach Joe Smith’s letter to his fallen player

    Linfield football

    As Saturday night turned into Sunday morning last week, Linfield College sophomore football player Parker Moore was stabbed to death in a random act of violence at a 7-Eleven across the street from the McMinnville, Ore., campus. The slaying has rocked Linfield’s football program, campus and community.

    As each person has tried to make sense of this senseless act in his or her own way, Linfield head coach Joe Smith penned a long, heartfelt letter remember Moore and mourning his loss. The letter was originally published on the Linfield football alumni group’s blog, and republished here with their permission.

    Dear Catdome Family,

    The past few days have been the most difficult of my life, and certainly the most trying and painful period our program has experienced. It has ripped our hearts out. I believe the greatest strength of our program is its closeness. This truly is a family. It is pillar number 1. We say Family, we break huddles to Family, it’s written in the locker room; but it is more than words. We actually live Family. It is the single greatest characteristic that makes our program what it is. It’s Thor’s hammer; it’s Sampson’s Hair.

    It is also what has made this so painful for all of us. Not only is each member of our team hurting personally, but they have to see the hurt in their fellow teammate’s eyes and the pain is doubled. A former Wildcat just a few years out, wrote to me “I never had the pleasure of meeting Parker, but that doesn’t matter, once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat. If one is hurting, we all are hurting, if one of us is in need we pick each other up.”

    I could not agree more. It has been very hard, but that very sentiment shared to me is helping our program process, embrace, and eventually grow from our loss of Parker.

    The incredible outpouring of love and support from hundreds of former players, supporters, as well as so many people from the McMinnville community is overwhelming. Businesses and many churches in town have sent their support, many sending incredible letters and wishes. Driving home past the reader board at Walgreens last night, I had to pull over as I found that so powerful and impacting. All of this outpouring is humbling and has truly helped our students and staff. On behalf of our program I want to publically thank you all.

    I have to agree with sentiment that in the midst of tragedy is when you find out what you are made of. Saturday night at that 7 Eleven I was able to witness first-hand the finest police officers and paramedics one could want, perform in their darkest moment. The way in which they handled the scene was impressive to me. They were professional and yet compassionate. I applaud them for what they do, and I am in their debt. Thank you. The officers and paramedics that tried to save Parker’s life on that floor, in the ambulance, and in the helicopter; thank you. To the Mac PD officers that physically stood between Parker and evil, thank you for protecting ALL in that 7 Eleven. You are heroic to me.

    The way in which Linfield has come together to show solidarity and support has given me a renewed hope for this generation. Just when I think my kids can only live digitally, these young men and women showed so much compassion and insight that I was taken aback. I am so proud of our students here. The memorial fence is a testament to the caring and insight and yes, wisdom, that our young adults here possess. I am so proud of Linfield and our students.

    The way that colleges all around the country have reached out and expressed their condolences, letting us know we are in their thoughts and prayers, has really helped our team. Many high schools throughout Oregon and the NW have reached out as well. Thank you.

    The Northwest Conference has particularly struck a chord with our team, as the support from our fiercest competitors made a difference for us. Each program in our conference reached out to me personally, some even going further, such as Pacific’s image they posted, Lewis and Clark’s picture of their team honoring Parker, and Whitman’s candlelight vigil. Chapman specifically honored Parker, as is Wesley with a moment of silence planned for their playoff game. To all I say, “thank you”.

    The way that Parker Moore lived his life is a testament to his faith and his upbringing. There is no doubt that the Moore family raised an incredible young man. The impact he has had on our campus is what has made his loss so unbearably great. He was a young man that transcended social barriers because of his genuine love and concern for others. In many ways Parker was the total package. I really do believe he embodied all that is good at Linfield, and all that we strive for men in our program to become. A consummate teammate. Team first at all cost. A man of character, his word was his bond. A man of action. He was a worker that loved the grind. Teddy Roosevelt was writing about Parker when he penned the “man in the arena”. A true leader. Some people are born with a magnetic personality and strength of personality that draws people to them. Parker was that man. From a young age I know he exhibited that. What made him a true leader was his compassion and caring for people. His middle school math teacher, Ryan Adams, wrote a letter that portrays Parker EXACTLY as the image I have in my mind of what I believe Parker would have been like at that age. A young man that cared more about others more than himself.

    Now besides being a man of action, Parker could talk. That is for sure, and he was funny. He had that gift of timely wit, and knowing when a nickname would stick, and ride it. Since he cared about people, he got people. He knew what would be funny, what would interest others, and would go with it. His positivity was contagious. Our team will miss that smile and that positive humor and spirit more than I can write. Many have described Parker as a light on campus, and I sure agree with that.

    Many around our campus have celebrated the well roundedness and compassion of Parker, and that is so true. However, make no mistake about it, Parker was a linebacker. When he sat in my office with his father contemplating colleges, he asked what we thought about him. I told him, “you are a football player Parker, and you are our kind of man. We want you.” He was created to enjoy physical combat, it was in his DNA. Parker could run and hit. And he loved it. Parker loved to compete, especially if he could hit something while competing. Parker embodied the compassionate warrior that so many of our players strive to be. He was STRONG in ALL the best ways.

    Parker Moore is the young man that every father wants their son to grow up to be. I am so proud of him. The example he has given this team, this college, and hopefully all who read about him, will live on in all the young men who come through this program. As Lucas Jepson wrote to our team, “Parker Moore is not gone, he’s with us all every step we take. He will be making sure we all represent that Linfield L to the fullest with every step and every moment we encounter. It’s a chance to rise up and be leaders and change a life.” I know that the young men on this team will use Parker as an example to live up to, and will be better men from having known him. I know that will have a ripple effect in our communities and world, and Parker will have made a larger impact than he could imagine. Our coaches will ensure that every future player gets to know Parker and what he stood for.

    I know Parker loved our football field, and it was clearly a favorite place of his. Parker was a strong man of faith. As hundreds stood on the L in the middle of our field last night at our student led candlelight vigil, I could not help but realize our Parker was at his new favorite place, watching down on his school brought together as one. I know he has heard the words “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

    I love you, Parker.

    Coach Smith

  • Will Les Miles let the Marine play?

    LukeBoyd

    Anniston Star

    LSU closes its regular season on Thanksgiving night at Texas A&M, and with that the unique career of Luke Boyd will come one step closer to ending.

    Boyd played wide receiver for one season at Division III Farleigh-Dickinson, then moved to Baton Rouge to be with his high school sweetheart, Tina, who ran track at LSU. Boyd couldn’t afford tuition at LSU, so he worked a myriad of jobs around town and eventually joined the Marines. In the years since he’s married Tina – the two have a child and another on the way – completed a tour of duty in Afghanistan, enrolled at LSU and walked on the football team. It’s amazing that Boyd finds the time to play football as an active duty Marine, a full-time engineering student, a father and husband while also, as he describes in his Twitter account, self-renovating his home.

    Promoted to staff sergeant over the summer, Boyd is a wide receiver and has practiced with the second unit on the kickoff and punt teams, but he has not played yet this season. As a senior, he’s running out of chances.

    “Everyone wants a chance to get on the field, knock some heads,” he told the Baton Rouge Advocate over the summer.

    And now David LaCerte, secretary for Louisiana’s Department of Veteran Affairs, has petitioned Les Miles to give Boyd his “Rudy” moment.

    Boyd re-tweeted the letter, adding a “#humbled.” It’ll be interesting to see if Les can find a snap for Boyd on Thanksgiving night.

    Luke Boyd

  • How much does tonight’s game at Duke mean for Larry Fedora and North Carolina?

    Larry Fedora

    If you’re North Carolina’s head coach, it’s generally not a good idea to lose to Duke.

    For two full decades, Tar Heels coaches managed to avoid that lowly fate. The Blue Devils beat UNC just once from 1990-2011, and that was a 30-22 decision in which Duke held on for dear life to beat a 2-10 North Carolina team. Larry Fedora, though, hasn’t enjoyed that same success. Facing no doubt a much different Blue Devils program than his Carolina predecessors, Fedora is 0-2 against Duke.

    In 2012 North Carolina dropped a 33-30 game, allowing Duke to register a game-winning touchdown pass with 13 seconds to go. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Tar Heels, and sent Duke to its first bowl game since (seemingly) the Mesozoic era. Last year, the Heels dropped another heartbreaker, 27-25, after Marquise Williams was intercepted with under 20 seconds to go while driving at midfield for a potential game-winning field goal. The loss slunk North Carolina to 6-6 and lifted Duke into the ACC title game.

    And now we get to tonight, where not much has changed since last season. Duke is again the class of the ACC Coastal, needing wins tonight and next week against Wake Forest to clinch a rematch with Florida State for the conference championship, and North Carolina is once again sitting right on the nose of mediocrity. Fedora’s bunch started the season ranked 23rd by the AP and Coaches’ polls, and enter tonight at 5-5 – and 15-13 since that first loss to Duke in 2012. The Heels are six-point underdogs tonight in Durham, and a loss sends them into a toss-up game with N.C. State for bowl eligibility.

    The 2014 North Carolina defense might as well call themselves the Achilles Heels, because they haven’t stopped much of anyone this season. After ranking 39th in yards per play and 43rd in scoring defense a year ago, North Carolina places 125th – fourth from the bottom – in scoring defense and 121st in yards per play allowed. East Carolina dropped 70 on this group on Sept. 20, and Clemson hit half a hundred a week later. Half of North Carolina’s 10 opponents have scored at least 40 points and all of them, even FCS Liberty, have scored at least 27 points.

    Fedora’s teams can always score, though, and this one is no different. The Tar Heels rank 20 spots ahead of Duke in scoring average, and a shootout figures to favor North Carolina and its gun slinger Marquise Williams over Duke and Anthony Boone.

    North Carolina has not lost to Duke three years in a row since Steve Spurrier patrolled the opposite sideline in Durham, and before that it hadn’t happened since the 1950’s. It would befit Fedora to avoid repeating history tonight.

    As this video from last week’s win over Pittsburgh shows, Fedora started moving on to tonight’s game nearly immediately after the win over the Panthers was secure.

  • Video: Harvard pranks Yale students into protesting their own football program

    The Harvard-Yale game is this Saturday, and it’s the biggest edition of The Game in a long, long time. Harvard is 9-0, Yale is 8-1, the Ivy League title is on the line, and College GameDay will be there to rile everyone up.

    For the second year in a row, Harvard students have pranked Yale leading into The Game, and this one is pretty brilliant. The Crimson have won seven in a row and 12 of the past 13 in the series, so a group of Harvard students posed as Yale students forming the Yale Society of Undergraduate College Kids Standing Against Sports Spending (get it?), protesting that since Yale can’t beat Harvard in football, the program should be shut down entirely and use the millions of dollars spent on the football program toward academics.

    I’m assuming the prank was so successful because this is absolutely the type of protest Yale students would organize.

    (HT @SBNationCFB)

  • Have we reached an era where coaching methods matter as much as the results?

    coacharmaroundplayer

    I think that we can all agree that the days of the old school, in-your-face-nearly-anything-goes coaching tactics are done with, or at the very least, coming to an end. Our players, the times, parents, and coaching methods, are all changing.

    Last night I was reading an article on a women’s basketball program (Memorial University) up in Canada and their head coach Doug Partridge when I came across a statement that made me stop and think. However, before we get to that particular quote, we have to touch on Partridge’s coaching style.

    During a game over the weekend, Partridge grabbed one of his players by the chin, looked her in the eye and let his temper get the best of him as he attempted to coach her up. The approach made the player upset, as well as his administration, who decided to suspend him for a game.

    Asked about his conduct during the game, Partridge responded by explaining that he was not ashamed of his actions, but he was embarrassed.

    “It is a different era. It is a different time. And I can continue to be the way I am but, within a period of time, the end of my career would no longer be my choice. At some point in time, someone would say, ‘We’ve had enough.’ I am going to need to adapt.”

    “One of my best friends always says, ‘You can’t stand over a flower and yell at it, ‘Grow.’ Well, I think it is time for me to stop yelling at the flower.”

    That’s a great analogy.

    Now, back to that sentence that got me thinking. Following Partridge’s statement on needing to adapt to the way that today’s players respond to coaching, author Joe O’Conner wrote in his piece on the National Post:

    “He is going need to stop yelling, and grabbing chins, and get with the modern times — where the methods seem to matter as much as the results.”

    I had to immediately stop reading and ask myself: Is he right? Are our methods as coaches just as important as the results?

    I’ll start by saying this: regardless of your success, the days of an administration or community putting up with a coach grabbing a player’s face mask to get his point across on the sideline are dwindling…and in a hurry. Right, wrong, or indifferent, society has changed. Blame it on social media, or people/players/parents getting “soft,” but that’s the new way of the world.

    Personally, I would argue that our methods in the coaching profession are more important than the results. I’ve had the opportunity to coach on some teams that really struggled, as well as teams that were a step away from a state title or a national playoff berth. Through those experiences I really subscribe to the belief that the lessons we instilled as a coaching staff were far more important than our successes, or failures, as a team.

    But we live in a results based world, so finding an athletic director that shares that same vision may prove difficult.

    In short: Methods>Results, in my opinion.

    I know not everyone shares that viewpoint though, so I’m really interested to hear varying opinions on this one from our audience. Do you feel that we’ve reached an era in coaching where the methods are just as important as the results?

    Leave your opinions in the comments, or you can reach me on Twitter (@CoachSamz) or at doug@footballscoop.