Wise Guides Plotting, scheming and motivating behind the scenes, these sideline sages are the best at preparing their teams

August 10, 2003

THE X'S AND O'S WIZ
RALPH FRIEDGEN, MARYLAND

He is the man behind a near-mythical 600-page playbook, from
which Maryland draws 15 basic running plays with more than 100
variations and 100 pass plays with nearly 1,000 variations. The
third-year Terps coach, who spent 31 years as an assistant,
credits his father, Ralph Sr., a former high school coach, for
teaching him how to turn X's and O's into W's. "I don't think
there are geniuses in football," says Friedgen, who often comes
up with ideas for new plays in church. "I'm just a guy who works
hard and prepares hard."

THE BEST WITH THE LEAST
RAYMOND MONICA, TEMPLE

Think you've got a tough job? Try coaching at a school that
hasn't had a winning record in 13 years. Yet the 37-year-old
Monica presides over a top-notch defense for one reason: He's the
best in the nation at getting ordinary players to do
extraordinary things. Temple is just one of eight Division I-A
teams that ranked in the Top 20 in total defense in both 2001 and
'02. Playing a 4-2-5 base defense, the Owls often fill the box
with nine players, daring teams to beat them through the air.

THE PASS MASTER
NORM CHOW, USC

The man USC coach Pete Carroll says is "arguably the best
offensive coordinator in the history of college football" has
coached six of the NCAA's top 12 career passing efficiency
leaders and designed offenses for teams that hold 11 of the top
30 single-season passing yardage totals in NCAA history. Yet ask
him to define a particular system behind the collegiate careers
of prolific passers like Steve Young and Heisman Trophy winners
Ty Detmer and Carson Palmer, and he shrugs. "There's no system,
really," says Chow. "You try to magnify the strengths of the
players you have."

THE MOTIVATOR
TYRONE WILLINGHAM, NOTRE DAME

Willingham eschews hokey motivational techniques for simple
encouragement. One example came last year when, in his first team
meeting as Irish coach, he put together a PowerPoint presentation
for his players. The final slide they saw contained one word:
WIN. They did. Last season, working with essentially the same
team that went 5-6 in 2001, Willingham guided Notre Dame to a
10-3 record. "It's difficult sometimes for coaches to implore the
kids and tell them how hard it's going to be," he says. "It's not
like a light switch."

THE DEFENSIVE GURUS
BOB AND MIKE STOOPS, OKLAHOMA

When they were assistants at Kansas State in the early 1990s, Bob
and Mike Stoops developed a defensive philosophy based on three
principles: create confusion, attack constantly and tackle
soundly. Every year the Stoops brothers tweak their D--they play
far more zone now--but since they arrived in Norman in 1999 the
results have been consistent. The Sooners are one of two teams in
the nation that have ranked in the Top 10 in total defense in
each of the last three years. "We attack from different areas of
the field," says Mike Stoops. "We have great athletes, which
makes it easier, but our athletes are also great tacklers."

THE ORGANIZATION MAN
DIRK KOETTER, ARIZONA STATE

Koetter is so meticulously organized, one has to wonder if he's
in the wrong profession. He logs the name of everyone who calls
his office and the time and purpose of the call. He takes notes
during every meeting he has with a player and keeps them in that
player's file. He has also been known to type an agenda before
addressing the local media. Why go to the trouble? "Only a
handful of plays can turn [a season]," he says, "but those plays
can be changed by what we do the rest of the year. It is not
magic. It is attention to detail."

THE RECRUITING KING
MACK BROWN, TEXAS

How has Texas's Mack Brown hooked three consensus top five
recruiting classes in just six years? He is a master at using a
soft touch to make a hard sell. With ample fatherly charm, the
51-year-old Brown often has recruits over to his lakeside house
and also shows off the Longhorns' extravagant facilities, which
include a spacious locker room and players' lounge. "We pride
ourselves on a family atmosphere," says Brown, "and our goal is
to win championships with nice kids who are graduating."

COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPH BY PETER GREGOIRE PLAY IT FORWARD Maryland's Friedgen keeps teams off balance withan exhaustive offensive playbook that features more than 115plays with 1,100 variations. COLOR PHOTO: HARVEY LEVINE (MONICA) COLOR PHOTO: JOHN CORDES/ICON SMI (CHOW)
COLOR PHOTO: SHANNON STAPLETON/REUTERS (WILLINGHAM) COLOR PHOTO: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/ICON SMI (BOB STOOPS) COLOR PHOTO: JACKSON LAIZURE/AP (MIKE STOOPS) COLOR PHOTO: DENIS POROY/AP (KOETTER) COLOR PHOTO: BILL HABER/AP (BROWN)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)