Arkansas isn’t finding any success in the current season with quality players.
The school is losing any national prominence it might have enjoyed during preseason. One way to get that prominence back would be to take steps that not only move the football program forward, but move the sport of football forward as a whole.
Kevin Kelley coaches at Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas.
His teams always go for it on fourth down. They do onside kicks for every kickoff. They run a lot of trick plays. They do not field punts or kickoffs. Most coaches in this country think he is insane.
Kelley has won three state football championships in nine years.
Kelley backs up all of his coaching decisions with hard statistics. Where other coaches argue that he is being reckless and taking risks, Kelley offers evidence that he may be the only sane coach in football today.
Kelley’s tactics have the potential to do for the sport of football what the tactics in Moneyball did for baseball.
Part of the reason Billy Beane took chances during the Oakland Athletics’ 2002 season is he didn’t have anything to lose.
What would Arkansas have to lose if they became advocates for a more progressive style of football? The Razorbacks are already losing on the field with traditional methods and a team that was supposed to contend for a National Championship.
Kelley would need a few years to adopt his methods to the college game. There would be a learning curve. But if he is successful, Arkansas would be at the forefront of a football revolution that would grant the school not only athletic prestige, but intellectual prestige, as well.
Statistics experts are already studying Kelley’s ideas in football and whether they would transfer to other levels.
Remember when basketball analysts picked Duke to beat Arkansas in the 1994 Final Four because Duke players were “smarter?”
Kelley has gained some national attention by appearing on HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. The world would watch Arkansas to see if this experiment would work.
College and professional football teams have adopted a number of tactics from the high school level that “wouldn’t work.”
When a program can’t be any worse off than it already is, why not do something crazy?