Thomson Bulldog Head Coach Luther Welsh will be spending this weekend in Hilton Head with Mrs. Welsh and a large group of family members from throughout South Carolina. They will be enjoying beach music, golf, fine food and refreshment. In, other words, anything but football game tapes. Not only will Coach Welsh get to enjoy this reunion he will also be paying for everyone in attendance. I have been told he has booked several of the larger homes in the Sea Pines Plantation Resort for this special occasion.
Defensive coordinator John Barnett has been forced to change his weekend plans. He had scheduled a sojourn to the Mississippi gulf coast to visit as many casinos as he could get into. Since Hurricane Katrina wiped out these facilities the Barnetts will now head north.
Coach and Mrs. Barnett will now charter a Gulfstream jet to New York City. They will be staying in the exquisite Waldorf Astoria hotel. While there they will hit Broadway for nonstop musicals. His youngest daughter Ashley, a big fan of musicals, wanted to go, but Coach Barnett told her that money would be better saved for her inheritance.
Mrs. Barnett confided in me that if the Yankees were still alive, she would slip out of some boring musical and slip over to the Bronx for some baseball action. Tickets are available from scalpers for only $500. Coach Barnett will likely do some Christmas shopping in Chinatown.
Defensive assistant coach Rodney Garvin and his family will travel south. They will visit their families in Millen before traveling to Destin, Fla. After a day on the beach, Coach Garvin will hop a boat for some fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. Mrs. Garvin will motor the kids down to Orlando so they can enjoy Disney World and then over to Tampa for Busch Gardens.
How, might one ask, can these coaches do this type of traveling in the middle of football season?
It's really very easy. The Bulldogs have an open week on their schedule. The media calls it a bye week so the coaching staff will be waving "bye." They have nothing to worry about until Glenn Hills comes to the Brickyard next Friday night. Since there is no game on the schedule this week there is no point in wasting time practicing.
Coaches get asked frequently what they will be doing on their open week. Their first answer should be that it is an open date, not an open week. Just because the Friday night schedule is empty does not mean that the entire week will be. It doesn't work that way.
Can you just imagine how the team would perform after an open date if they failed to practice for a week so the coaches could vacation? They certainly will take a couple of days off for rest and to allow the bumps and bruises from the long season to get better, but they won't skip the week entirely. Players with more serious hurts may even be withheld from an extra practice or two, but still required to be there.
Open dates, especially coming at the right time, can be very advantageous to a football team. It gives the coaches a chance to personally scout games of their upcoming opponents. It provides more time for film study at a less hectic pace. It helps to have two or three extra practices to install the gameplan. It might even help unclutter the minds of both coaches and players from three nonstop months of Xs and Os.
An open date does not however, provide anyone involved with a football team with a passel of leisure time. The coaches may get a few extra moments of family time without fretting that they should be looking at video of the next opponent. It does not provide the time for mini-vacations. Anyone thinking that it does is badly mistaken. During football season, there is little rest for the weary. The next game is always right around the corner.