Hey Bob Wylie, what do offensive line coaches have in common with mushrooms?
“They keep us in the dark, feed us s— and expect us to grow,” he says. “We’re fungus, basically.”
Wylie has been coaching offensive linemen for three and a half decades at 16 different stops across college football, the NFL and CFL, where he is in the midst of his first season as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' offensive line coach. In addition to his duties in the fall (or summer, now), every May for the past 19 years Wylie has run the Coaches of Offensive Linemen (COOL) clinic in Cincinnati.
Greg Bedard of theMMQB.com profiled the COOL clinic and the coaches who frequent it this week, and it's an interesting outsider perspective into clinic culture. For instance, anyone who has been to a sizable clinic can certainly appreciate this observation, "These sessions, normally conducted out of sight of media and very much off the record, are like traveling carnivals. You’ll smell cookies being baked in the hallway, bait to get a coach to hear a sales pitch on uniforms, pads, game-film programs, books, etc."
What began in the Bengals' offensive line room in the early 1980's has transformed into a full-fledged operation - complete with mushroom logos (what else?) plastered throughout - with more than 400 attendees every May. COOL clinic veterans say there isn't a better place to talk offensive line in the country. "It's the best, by far," said Stanford offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren.
COOL clinic tradition reserves a speaking spot for the offensive line coach of the defending champions in college (Friday) and the NFL (Saturday). Cable couldn't make it, but Florida State's Rick Trickett provided this gem on making his players swap positions: “Those tackles do not like going back in to guard, I can promise you that. They think they have their stuff down. They go inside and they say, ‘Stuff happens a lot faster.’ Well, no s—. Try playing center. They like it outside. Of course they do. Any moron can play tackle. It’s all man on man out there. How complicated is that?”
You probably won't learn anything from the writing given the audience it was written for, but Bedard's article is an excellent homage to offensive line coaches, their rough exterior undercut by their love for each other.