OK, so I'm not a football expert like some on here, and have never played so I don't know how things necessarily work down on the field and up in the coach's box. And I'm also not holding to one side or another here on PSU's play calling abilities as I don't truly have enough info to make a judgment. But I've been a little confused for awhile now by PSU's playcalling process and thought I would at least hypothesize a little bit here. NOTE: I'm not talking about game planning here, just in-game play calling. I work in the consulting field, specifically in the area of process improvement, and no matter how you slice it, this PSU play calling process seems ineffective. Cory Giger outlines it here , and how it's going to be even more complicated this season with Joe sticking his two cents back into the equation. As I understand it, it goes like this:
1) Galen calls run plays, Jay calls pass plays. So who decides whether it is a pass or run on each play? Is that planned ahead of time? What if there is a disagreement between the two? How do the two play callers keep on the same page with one another during the course of a top 20, high intensity match up? Lots of questions here, anyone have any answers here?
2) So after the play callers (Galen and Jay) decide on the play, they relay the play to Mike McQueary's headset who sends in the play. Not to Joe, Joe has no idea what is going on at this point, and if he feels strongly about a play before the call comes down, he's barking at McQueary at the same time Galen or Jay are calling it in. Another potential bottleneck in the process.
3) McQueary then signals the play to the field. If Joe sees something he doesn't like, he then puts in his two cents (this resulted in disaster in the 2011 bowl game against Florida).
4) Game plan adjustments? I don't know if PSU makes a lot of adjustments during the game, or at halftime only. Maybe somebody can add to this part who knows something.
Simply put, there are three main problems with this play calling process as I see it, as compared to other teams.
1) There are several extra steps in the process. No matter which way you slice it, you can't move your communications and decision making faster than it takes to follow the steps in your process. Extra steps, takes more time. And the more time you need to take on each step, the less time the coaches have to think things through, and the less time the team will have at times to get the play off. I'll say it again, there are extra steps in this process!
2) There are several points in the process where roles and responsibilities can become distorted and/or confusing, which can lead to bottlenecks, ineffective decision making and disagreements between the staff. When Galen and Jay are debating up in the booth as to what the best adjustments to make are during a tough game, who wins that debate? Do they come up with the best game adjustments, or do they come up with the best middle ground solution to appease both parties? (see recent political debate over the debt ceiling as an example) And when Joe overrides Jay and Galen down on the field and they strongly disagree, how does that make them feel? Are they then calling plays with a clear head, or are they playing frustrated because Joe made a bad call in their minds? If a disagreement occurs, Joe isn't talking to them on the headset so there is no communication going on to dissolve the situation either. There are many other examples of how a confusion of roles and responsibilities could play out here.
3) There are several points in this process where communications can break down. In PSU's play calling process, there are four people involved, instead of one, or at most two people at other schools. That means there are that many more messages being sent through the process, and there is more likelihood that as communication passes from one person to the next, it is going to break down. It's just the law of averages here, the more times communication passes between two people, the more likely the chance of it breaking down.
So that's my take. It just doesn't make sense to me if I'm simply looking at it scientifically. I know it is debatable as to whether the play calling is truly a problem at PSU (though I think most would agree there are problems there), but if you look at it in this way, you can clearly see a lot of potential root causes of bad play calling that other teams simply do not have. Whether these root causes really do contribute to bad play calling in the end, who knows. But you can't deny that the root causes are there.
Thoughts from the panel?