There are two ways to know the ins and outs of West Virginia’s offensive game plan for their Oct. 25, 2018 meeting with Baylor. The first would be to attend every meeting, every film session and every practice as Mountaineers offensive coordinator Jake Spavital, which, if you aren’t already on WVU’s payroll, is impossible. The other way would be to spend your Friday evening inside Veramendi Grandballroom E at the Embassy Suites in San Marcos, Texas.
That’s where the first Tony Franklin OC Magic clinic took place over the weekend, which is a clinic in the same way one of those 15-pound hamburgers is technically a meal. Whereas most clinic talks last for 45 minutes to an hour and focus on one subject, each talk at the OC Magic clinic was blocked out for two-and-a-half hours, and plenty went more than that.
All attendees (FootballScoop estimated around 100, most of them high school coaches) were in one room, where a list of seven speakers — Texas’ Herb Hand, Houston’s Brandon Jones, Arizona State’s Rob Likens, Syracuse’s Kirk Martin, Saguaro High School head coach Jason Mohns, Spavital and Franklin himself — addressed the entire class, for two-and-a-half to three hours at a time. (FootballScoop was on hand for Spavital, Jones, Mohns and Hand.)
“I’ve always wanted to get better, and so you come (to a clinic) and you pick up this, you pick up that. Nobody ever taught me how to be a coordinator and I didn’t know if anybody had ever done it, so I started looking and there never had been anything,” Franklin told FootballScoop. “I called these guys that I knew and they were some of the best coaches in football. I just said, ‘Hey, this is my idea, what do you think of it?’ Then it was just a matter of selling it.”
Franklin has been in the sales business for 19 years where, in addition working as Kentucky’s offensive coordinator, Franklin launched the Tony Franklin System, selling his knowledge and expertise to high school coaches around the country. The side gig has followed him to offensive coordinator jobs at Troy, Auburn, Middle Tennessee, Louisiana Tech, Cal and, now, Middle Tennessee again, where Franklin and his employees offer events and around-the-clock consulting (including halftime of actual games, Franklin tells me) to his clients.
OC Magic was a chance for Franklin to super-serve his existing clients and attract new ones by giving them a stem-to-stern experience of building an offensive philosophy and a weekly game plan from those who do it at the highest level of college football.
“After you’ve been doing this for a while, you start to get more affirmation in clinics than you do new ideas, and you get both, but more affirmation,” North Caddo (La.) High School offensive coordinator Reagan Smith said. “There’s definitely been times that I’ve said, ‘All right, I’m doing that right. I’m doing it like the people at the highest level are doing it.’ And then there’s moments like, ‘Man, that’s intriguing.'”
“A lot of the things we’re doing right now, we’re know doing right because we’re seeing it verified here,” Pomona (Colo.) offensive coordinator Rich Griffith added.
Franklin said the idea for a super-sized clinic had been rolling around in his brain for five years, and the plan was to originally execute the inaugural OC Magic in January around the AFCA Convention. (Hence the San Marcos location, roughly 45 minutes north of San Antonio.) But Franklin hit a “state of overwhelm” and pushed it back to May. The plan is to continue to hold Magic clinics for offensive and defensive coaches moving forward.
“I really liked what Coach Likens was talking about as far as communication, and it really seemed like they had a plan of whether or not they were going to go for it on fourth down and whether that changes their third down calls,” Nate Shallenberger, running backs and special teams coach at Klein Cain (Texas) High School, said. “He also spoke about the open communication between himself and the head coach; they were on the same page about not only what those situations were, but very honest about, ‘Hey, if I don’t get a first down here, are you cool with it? Do we just want to run some clock in a 4-minute situation? Xs and Os you can kind of find anywhere on the Internet, but getting the experience that people have had over the course of several years and how that’s helped them to become better play-callers is really more what I’m looking for.”