Defeat your rival! Win your conference championship! Never be outcoached again!
For $197 former West Springfield High School Head Coach Bill Renner is hawking a football playbook that promises to help a coach reach these goals.
Renner, who resigned from West Springfield after the 2008 season to watch his son Bryn play football at the University of North Carolina, now is assistant head coach at Lake Braddock Secondary School. At West Springfield, he led the Spartans to three back-to-back Patriot District titles with his five wide attack spread offense. He also broke two regional playoff offense records.
Now Renner’s 160-page playbook and 10 instructional DVDs, including game footage of West Springfield playing W.T. Woodson High School, are available on the Web site www.playqb.com.
The Web site sells multiple playbooks including the Tom Brady Quarterback Training System.
While it's not uncommon for coaches to sell instructional guides on the Internet, Fairfax County Public School administrators are investigating who owns a team's intellectual property — the coach or the school?
"It's an ongoing issue and we're taking a look into [who owns the playbook]," said Bill Curran, Fairfax County Public School's director of student activities and athletic programs. "Right now, we just don't have an answer."
The group investigating the issue isn’t just looking at playbook ownership rights, but also if teachers can sell lesson plans on the Internet.
According to Curran, the group has been deliberating for a year and might have a decision on the issue in the coming year.
Currently, a school can decide whether a coach can sell his or her playbook or take it to another school, Curran said.
"It's tricky," Curran said. "The schools reserve the right to [the playbook], but it is up to the school [to determine] if the coach can take it."
Renner, a Fairfax County high school coach for 20 years, declined to comment for this story until after the current football season.
West Springfield Offensive Line Coach Steve Fox said he isn't worried that opponents will solve his offense by buying Renner's playbook.
"We've modified [the spread]," Fox said. "It might pose some problems [for other teams that use Renner's offense], but we'd know their offense, too. If [other teams] don't know what's coming, it's very hard to stop."
While West Springfield players say they’re not upset about seeing the team's playbook for sale on the Internet, some parents object to the use of players in YouTube ads promoting the offense.
"I have no problem with Renner [selling the playbook]," West Springfield parent James Linear said. "But when he uses the kids in advertisements, that's when it gets a little shady. When you go to the Web site and look at [the YouTube video], all you see is West Springfield kids."
According to Curran, game film is considered public information and can be taken by and used by anyone.
"If someone wants to film a game, they're welcome to," Curran said. "There are no guidelines against filming a game."
Whether or not Renner is breaking any ethical guidelines by using the game film in his ad is "something that we can't determine at this time," Curran said.
WHILE COUNTY officials investigate playbook ownership rights, Curran questions the playbook’s competitive advantage.
"I just don't know that it's anything original," Curran said. "[Renner] didn't invent the wildcat or the spread offense. I'm not sure this playbook is really that groundbreaking."
Fairfax High School Head Coach Chris Haddock agreed.
"The truth is [having the other team's playbook] doesn't make a big difference," Haddock said. "Most [coaches] in the area already know what their opponent is going to try and do. You can maybe pick up a signal call or audible [from the playbook], but you can't get in the huddle. Even if you could, you still have to stop the play."
Lee High School football Head Coach Robert Everett, a Patriot District rival to Lake Braddock and West Springfield, said he was aware that Renner's playbook was on sale and joked with his staff about buying it.
"The [five wide attack spread offense] moves the ball down the field so well," he said. "There are some positives to [buying it], but you still need to learn how to recognize [when to use the plays] and the book doesn't teach you that."
Everett agreed that the book would not give a team a competitive advantage.
"[The playbook] would give you a good overview of [Renner's system]," Everett said. "But I'm not sure you can buy [the playbook] solely to shut it down."
Although Haddock said he would not sell his playbook, he pointed out that playbooks from college and professional teams are easily available online.
"You can go online and look up any playbook you want, but football is a game of fads," he said. "The spread offense is what's in right now. Ten years ago, it was the wishbone and wingback."
Everett said that he wasn't comfortable with selling a playbook in any capacity.
"I just don't feel comfortable making a profit off of something that the kids execute," Everett said. "I know we don't get paid that much [to coach], but I don't think I need to sell my playbook."
Regardless of what playbook a team faces, Haddock said, strong fundamentals and athleticism are more important than plays on paper.
"At the end of the day, [football] is always going to be about blocking and tackling," he said.