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Reader comments about The Contrarian Edge for Football Offense

Posted by John Reed on

You may find this interesting. I have been a high school coach in Texas for 37 years, spending time in every public school classification this state has to offer, (even one, class B 11 man which no longer exsists). Retired, took a job as a private school which played 6 man, we moved up (even though we still don't have the recomemded number of boys) to 11 man football this fall. To prepare I RE-read your clock management, read your Youth Football, Contraian Football (extremly helpful), 10-1 defense, and single wing books last summer.
We went 11-1 won our district (first year I have ever won 11 games) and went two rounds into the private school Division III (smallest division) playoffs. Your books were extremly helpful, I found after 40 years in coaching, your Youth Football concepts more helpful than ideas I have picked up from college coaches.

Most of the schools we played were bigger. We have 103 students and we beat schools with enrollents of 400, 300, and 700 students, and again it was our first year to play 11 man ball. Thanks for your help. Keep me informed if you publish more books.

havae been listening and studing under good and great coaches since my junior year in college (1968) and I must say that you offer a fresh prespective. I have enjoyed and gained a great deal. THANK YOU.

Coach Reed,

Don't think I ever gave you a report on our season. Faith Academy of Marble Falls. First year in 11-man football after 10 in six man. We adopted the single wing and got info, and most important, philosophy from your books. Result, we went 11-1 in Texas TAPPS league. Thanks, hope you do some more writing on football.

Let me go back to the beginning. Coached public school ball in Texas for 37 years, 34 as a head coach. Started in smallest classification (aprox 100 in high school) and worked from A to AAAAA (over 2,000 in school) Retired, moved to Texas Hill Country, Got hired to coach six man football at private school. Third year we go 11-man. Twenty seven players, five have played 11 man ball before. Have got to introduce game, train, teach and prepare in a matter of months. Found a copy of your "Coaching Youth Football" and remembered reading Clock Management book several years ago. I really liked that book(compare your book with Homer Smith--Wow you win) I have been looking up for ideas and concepts, Some High Schools, but mostly Colleges for my ideas on football for years, decided I would work the other way for a while. Read Youth Football which guided me to Contrarian Edge Book I love that book, have recommended to many and to my son who is an offensive coordinator at AAAA in Houston. You would get a kick out of the responses I get, "what we coach in Texas with the best HS programs in the nation an you want me to read some youth, and sub-varsity coach?" Oh well, it took me 30 years to find you. Contrarian book led me to Air Mirror Defense, and finally Single Wing, (left it for last because I actually learned a little about SW coaching against it.)

Well you see I read or skimmed most of your books who deal with football. Maybe all coaches don't need to see your way of approaching the sport, I did. As a 64 year old coach who was coached to be a "watch chain Guard," back in the 60s by excellent coaches, I BADLY NEEDED TO LOOK AT THE GAME THROUGH FRESH EYES. Have spent this spring (Most of your books I read in spring 12) contacting some of the old, (some in 80s) coaches who last ran Single Wing in Texas. I have found some fascinating info and stories. Have you ever heard of Paul Tyson, Waco High school 1920s to 1940s? Don't know how long I will stay with SW (Have to fight the parents with a stick) and we have not gotten the 10-1 defense to work well yet, but then at 64, how much longer will I even coach.

Always been near military people, grew up in San Antonio with huge respect for Military Academies (hobby is military history) so maybe I hear your voice clearer than others. (By the way my blocking back from 2012 has gotten an appointment to Naval Academy, not bad for private school with slightly over 100 students) Thanks for all your ideas, GOD BLESS YOU.

PS Write some more books.

R Roberts


Fellow USMA [West Point] ('92) grad (and 150s [Army intercollegiate 150-pound limit or sprint fooball team] player) here.

First, I want to send you kudos for your books. I coached my son's 4th grade and 5th/6th grade teams and credit your books for helping/counseling me as a youth FB coach. Although I did not run a single-wing offense, I ran a contrarian offense that followed many of your principles: direct snap to the running back, minimize passing (even/especially on typical NFL passing downs), signaling plays in to the QB, etc. In season 3, we saw many teams running the direct snap, while in season 1, none were, and we'd often hear comments from the opposing team suggesting we were crazy for doing it until they were too busy figuring out how to stop it. In fact, most teams incorrectly identified it as a shotgun formation, which I guess it might look like if you're used to watching the NFL on Sundays.

Additionally, I avoided the typical coaching mistakes that I saw other coaches making. We had a combine during the first week of practice (no pads allowed anyway), which allowed us to position players by strengths/weaknesses vs. casting (where they looked like they should play). I had a pre-season parent's meeting and covered the importance of little Johnny learning one position well to set him up for success in doing the basics (blocking/tackling) vs. trying to learn/play many positions which would just encourage doubt/hesitancy which would put him out of position and make it hard for him to block/tackle successfully. I limited the parents on my coaching staff to two (myself & one close friend who I could trust not to fall into the typical parent traps) and recruited some younger, successful football players from work to round out the coaching staff.

It's amazing what crazy ideas parents will accept when their kid is on a winning team. We went 21-1 over those three seasons, and it was my first time coaching youth football. We lost the second-to-last game to a very good team because of a fumble which gave them one more possession and 6 more points than we had. Perhaps if we would have been playing the GAP-air-mirror D, for which I have your book, we would have won that game, although our D had many, many shut-outs, and in most games held the opposing teams to one score or less. I had parents of our football players suggesting that I coach their kids' hockey teams, although I've never played organized hockey. If you would have written youth hockey books, I might have considered it!

Sure, you can use my comments. I think I've probably bought all of your books…but the two I used the most were the base Youth Football book and the contrarian offense book.

I bought the GAM book, but I had a really good D-coordinator (the other dad), and his D was so dominant in all but our second to last game. He also reminded me today that there were restrictions placed on us that prevented us from deviating too much from the norm—linebackers had to play 3 yards off the ball and couldn't move forward until the ball was snapped, linemen had to be on the LOS, etc. We played a symmetrical 5-5-1 and occasionally slipped a linebacker up to a 6-4-1, which was one of our forms of a stunt; the other method was just to stunt the linebacker on the snap.

I don't have your book in front of me, but there's an offense where the QB/RB lines up in the middle and has a half-back on either side of him (power-T?). We found the timing to work better if we moved the halfbacks a yard behind the QB or the QB in front of the halfbacks (can't remember which), so it looked almost like a wishbone, except instead of a fullback in a 3-point, we had the QB/RB in a 2-point receiving the snap. After we had installed our offense, at some point I caught a HS game on TV late at night in a hotel room that was running out of this formation, so I was bummed to learn I had not invented it. I still don't know what it's actually called. Believe it or not, we were running a triple-option by the end of the 3rd season. After the first season, the league scrambled most of our returning players to other teams; we had the least number of 6th graders than any other team and most of our new 6th graders were first year football players. However, they gave me back my two QB/RBs (mistake, my two best athletes) and of course my and the other coach's kids. I turned out that the new 6th graders were pretty athletic and thanks to having never played a down, didn't have any bad habits, learned our contrarian offense quickly because they didn't have to re-learn, etc.

You're right. With leadership comes disciplined teams, and disciplined teams with decent athletes can beat undisciplined teams with better athletes in my opinion. Of course, disciplined players look like better athletes when they're winning and undisciplined players don't have a chance to showcase their better athletic ability. I heard lots of complaining from opposing team parents that thought we had a stacked team. (Maybe they didn't notice my 65 lbs offensive guards.) With respect to typical parent conflicts, I think what I found was that winning forgives everything; if you're winning, it doesn't matter if Johnny's playing OG or HB; he's having fun.

Again, thanks for your advice/counsel I found in the books. It was invaluable.


John, you sold me [on the contrarian approach] a long time ago, I’m a HS coach that has used dozens of contrarian concepts many suggested by you, and what do the parents and kids say? “Win or lose your games are fun to watch”, or “gosh my kid is having fun and really learning the game” or “I didn’t know that was legal” or “I hope you’re our coach next year” or “Coach Nass has a million of them”.

Steve Nass, Lake Mills WI

Stanford multiple shift plays in 2011 Orange Bowl

My contrarian and clock management books advocate multiple shifts and motions before a single play to run out the play and game clocks as part of a slow down. You run as much off the clock as possible, but while you are doing it, before the snap, you force the defenses to run back and forth sideways for forty seconds to wear them out.

I had never seen that actually done in a game unil the 2011 Orange Bowl. Stanford did that a couplo of times during the game. I don’t know if their coaces got it from either of my books.

A play I invented and put ino my Contrarian book just appeared on YouTube at See “Fake reach corner pass” on pages 97and 98. Indeed, Here is the subhead under the play diagram on page 98:


If this goes for a touchdown, it will probably be on ESPN. Even if it fails, it will be written up in the local newspapers and ill bethe talk of your league. Good. You want opponents to fear that you might do anything at any time.

Note that the book came out in 2008. My son called me to tell me the play was on ESPN on 11/20/09.

Your books on football coaching are fantastic. I've had them for 5 years now and still learn things each time they're read. Great antidote to the nonsense that passes as coaching these days. Thanks!

Shawn Frasier

Thank you very much.  I bought John’s coaching, single wing, GAM defense, and contrarian offense books and my teams have gone:
2005       3-4-2
2006       4-4-1 (purchased Johns books here)
2007       7-2
2008       8-1

Larry Rollings

Today I am ordering two more copies of your Single Wing book for my other offensive coaches -- there is simply too much good, insightful information in there for them not to read it first hand . . . and I need them on the same page.

Again, thank you for the excellent publicatoins.  I have all the other football books now, some in multiple copies.

John T. Reed’s latest book,The Contrarian Edge for Football Offense...dissertation on football strategy at all levels, and a fun read for any fan. His main message can be summed up as “Do the unexpected,” but the devilshness is in the details. As John says, “It’s not just being different. It’s how you are different.” More than just another coach with a typewriter, Reed is an entertaining writer who knows how to explain his coaching clearly and with an ever-present sense of humor. Even if you don’t agree with all of John’s ideas, you’ll find your own ideas challenged.

Bob Carroll, Executive Director, Professional Football Researcher’s Association, Editor of The Coffin Corner, co-author of The Hidden Game of Football: The Next Edition, Pro Football: When the Grass Was Real, Total Football: the Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League, Total 49ers, Football Legends of All Time, The Football Abstract

I have your books on single wing offence, air-gap defence, youth football and contrarian football... excellent stuff!  In our spring league in Victoria, British Columbia Canada, we took a team that was 2-11 last year and finished 8-3, with pretty much the exact same players.

Keep up the good work!

Dave Wong

Dear Jack,

Contrarian Offense is fantastic. In fact, when I receive your "Clock Management" book, I will own all of your football coaching books. I have coached defense exclusively for the past three years, and your contrarian philosophies on the defensive side of the ball have served us well. This past year we had the third ranked scoring defense out of thirty teams at the Junior Varsity level (11-13 years old) in our league. We were ranked first in scoring defense until we suffered a bad loss in the playoffs. The eventual champion beat us 8-6.
They scored at least 25 points on every other opponent. Our defense looked very different than the 4-4's most other teams were running. We used a combination of Gap-Air-Mirror, 9-1-1, and 8-1-2 (two safeties). We were under-sized, (5 defensive starters will continue to play JV football this coming season) our linebacker (70 tackles) had only played defensive tackle previously, our safety (50 tackles) had never played football at all...

Jack, I enjoy reading your books and your ideas really work!

Bob Hughes
Asst. Coach
Bothell Cougars Varsity
Greater Eastside Junior Football Association

John Reed has done it again. A giant in the self-publishing arena, his latest coaching book joins many others plus his books on real estate, succeeding, and self-publishing. In it he parses all the rules of football and finds misconcpetions that can be exploited. He also examines conentional wisdom and shows how taking “the road less traveled” can make a big difference in the won and lost column. Everything from a no-huddle hurry up offense to an excruciating slow-down strategy plus five (possibly different) receivers on every play and the forgotten art of the lateral pass.

Julian Olejniczak, Editor, Assembly (West Point Association of Graduates alumni magazine)

I've been reading through "The Contrarian Edge for Football Offense" and it has got my head spinning.

Sam Thorngren, Head Coach
Butte County High School
Arco, Idaho


I am writing this e-mail just to say that I have found that the philosophies and schemes outlined in your football books DO work. I have coached youth football for 11 years. I own all of your football books, and everything you have written is practical and applicable at the youth level. I have not necessarily followed everything verbatim as you outline it in your various books, but sometimes I have tweaked things here and there to fit our personnel. We have never won a championship, but we have been to the playoffs every year except one, and that year we had 14 first year players on a squad of 28. Our teams have beaten vastly athletically superior teams many times over the years. I think that you are 100% accurate in your analysis of the capabilities and limitations of the typical youth football team. I look forward to the next book you publish.

Bob Hughes
Shoreline WA

Hi Coach Reed-
I have enjoyed your books over the years and have used the no huddle (with your play calling board) for three years. I'll never go back, the improved conditioning and amount of plays we run are a big advantage. I will try it without a cadence this year at the varsity level.
Thanks and keep up the great work,
Dylan Shelley


I thought your book was great.  Thanks.  It is an intense read, though, the points just keep on coming without a break.  I didn't disagree with any of it.

Pete Palmer
Co-Author,The Hidden Game of Football, ESPN Pro Football Encyclopedia, The Hidden Game of Baseball, Total Baseball, Baseball Encyclopedia

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