Spring a great time for players, coaches

Updated: April 7, 2004, 10:44 AM ET
By Bob Davie | Special to ESPN.com

Talk to any college football coach, and he will tell you that spring practice might be the most enjoyable aspect of coaching. First, every college football team starts undefeated and because of that, the attitude is upbeat and positive. Coaching staffs get a chance to focus on their own players' development and performance without concerning themselves with opponents and actual game plans.

From a player's perspective, it is a great time of year because you get a lot of individual attention and time is spent on technique. Every player has the chance to improve his individual skills. Spring practice also provides a fresh start for teams and individual players and everyone is optimistic as they look to the future.

Most college football teams across the country share similar goals and philosophies in their approach to spring practice. What we will do over the next week is take you inside different spring practices and show you how each situation is slightly different

Last year, we looked around the Big Ten. This spring, our tour will take us into the Big 12 South conference. This Big 12 South has a great national reputation not only for its level of play on the field, but also for its commitment to facilities and overall athletic budgets. We will look specifically at the University of Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech and their approach to the spring.

Texas has a new defensive coordinator in Greg Robinson, who last year was in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs. We will look at how he is making the transition to college football and how he installs his defensive package.

We will also explore how head coach Mack Brown -- as well as Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione and Texas Tech coach Mike Leach -- have cultivated relationships with Texas high school coaches.

At Texas A&M, we will look at how the Aggies plan to use spring to improve on last year's disappointing defensive performance. We will show you how they identify their problems and their plan to improve. We will also take a peek at their new $ 27 million football facility, which opened in January.

On our visit to Texas Tech, we will look at what makes Mike Leach's spread offense unique and why it is so difficult to defend. We will look inside his practice schedule and philosophy and you will see why he is successful.

Our spring tour is about to begin, but first let's look at the NCAA's regulations regarding spring practice. The current rules college programs are allowed to have 15 days of actual spring practice. Three of those those are totally restricted with no contact allowed. On these days, the players only wear headgear. The remaining 12 days, in which the players are allowed to wear full equipment, are divided as to the amount of actual contact allowed. In four of the days, tackling is totally prohibited. In five of the days, live contact is allowed for 50 percent of the practice. On only three of the days are teams allowed to have 11-on-11 full scrimmages, including the spring game.

It's a tight schedule these coaches face, but it still allows them to get plenty of work done. It really is one of the busiest and best times of the year.

Bob Davie is an analyst for ESPN and his Football 101 is a weekly feature on ESPN.com during the season.

Bob Davie

College Football
Bob Davie, a veteran college football coach of 25 years, most recently as head coach at the University of Notre Dame, serves as an analyst on college football game telecasts and select studio shows.

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