Buy a copy of Black Shoes & White Shoestrings here

Buy copy of Black Shoes & White Shoestrings here!


Monday, June 18, 2018

Year 27.... still plenty of room for improvement...trying to get better everyday... Wes Neal

Image result for handbook of coaching perfection

Each season, I try to review Wes Neal's HANDBOOK ON COACHING PERFECTION. My Dad had a copy of this book and it is a great resource for how to run a football program in a Christ-like way.

Because of the violent nature of  football, my Dad asked my grandmother in the 1950's... "Can you be a Christian and be a football coach?"  Fortunately there have been hundreds of GREAT examples to prove that yes, Christians can coach football. But, it is also an insight into some coaching methods that are not consistent with being a follower of Christ. From some perspectives, Wes Neal's book would be considered radical. I am ok with being radical , especially for the right reasons!

This year and for the first time ever as a head coach, I prepared a questionnaire modeled after the one in his book. I have modified it to fit into a public school. I don't hide my faith, but I also believe God wants me to obey the law.  I also know that my actions and how I treat others are the most effective and appropriate way to share the Good News in a public school setting.

In 2018, part of the reason for this questionnaire is very practical. Already in June, I have talked to several coaches that will have fewer players than they expected this season. That is true for us at Mercer County as well. This questionnaire will be a concrete way that myself and our staff will be able to make a better connection to our kids and improve our relationships with our players. 

Going into year 27, I need to be especially vigilante in evaluating everything I do as a head coach. We don't want our approach to become stale. We want our kids to get better everyday. The head coach needs to get better everyday as well!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Scout Team QB Part 2- Andre Turner, Chris Hull, Sparky, and the Tooth

Andre Turner- #64, 2003 Recreation Bowl
Photo by Terry Prather of the Maysville Ledger Independent
It was a tradition/ honor at Mason County for really good players to wear #64

Andre Turner is in the conversation of the very best football players I've coached, ever, as an assistant or head coach.  He played defensive end and offensive guard at an extremely high level. He could run well, very strong, coachable, and tremendous motor..... a very physical football player. 

In 2003, we had an outstanding football team. Exceptional. Once again, I was the scout team quarterback.  One day in practice, we are running the reverse and I am about to hand the ball to Chris Hull (also a good football player) as a scout team wide receiver. I didn't know it, but Chris sees that Andre is about to drill him. Andre is doing exactly what he was coached to do..."trail as deep as the deepest back" when flow goes away from you. One reason we played it that way was to stop the reverse. 

Chris decides, and I don't blame him, "I would rather run into Coach Buchanan than Andre." I agree completely. Andre once cracked a teammate's sternum in practice, with his bare forearm. I wouldn't want to run into Andre either. The only problem was that Chris hit me square in the mouth with his helmet and knocked out one of my front teeth. 

Well... no one is bigger than the team and that certainly applies to a tooth.  We move practice down 20 + yards and continue to practice. I ask some of the guys in the back to look for my tooth while I continue as the scout team QB.  They find my tooth. I ask one of them to go in the football office, call Stephanie, and ask her to call our great friend and awesome dentist... Sparky McDowell.  She does and Sparky sends back instructions.... get the tooth in milk and come see me after practice. 

Sparky does his magic and gets the tooth back in. But, unfortunately a few months later, John Combs and I are wrestling at the house and he knocks it out again.  Stephanie put an end to that and Sparky once again made the repair.

Finally, the tooth disappeared for good in a potato skin at DeSha's. We had the blue-white scrimmage the next day so I had to go to practice before I could get it fixed. Josh Harris(also in the conversation of best ever for me to coach) use to get his game face on about Tuesday every week. But, that Friday morning, that may have been the biggest smile I ever got out of him when he saw his coach and that tooth missing in the huddle for the first time.

That afternoon, Sparky BUILT me a new tooth in his office. The man is the Rembrandt of dentistry.  He did such a good job, no one can tell which tooth was fake and which one is real. 

After that, I wore a mouthpiece when I ran the scout team. Next time you see me, try to guess which tooth is fake. Bet you can't tell. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

I'm still trying to catch my breath...THE HIT.... November 2000

2000 Mason County Royals were the EKC Champs & these guys made all conference:
Wade Cloyd, Matt Gilbert, Mitchell Thomas, Nathan Myrick, Harry Lewis (player of the year), Adam Zeigler, Bryan Purcell & Justin Merrill
Today I was in Maysville visiting my Mom and saw a bunch of good people, including Justin Merrill in Pasquales. Justin started at outside linebacker for us on a very good Mason County team in 2000.  He went on to play football at Union College, get his degree, and then became a member of the Maysville Police Department.

I am very proud of Justin but there is one memory of him that stands out more than the others. In November of that season we were getting ready for a playoff game. I was running scout team quarterback and Shawn Thompson, our defensive coordinator had called a stunt to blitz Justin on a pass rush.

Normally, you don't destroy the scout team QB, especially if it is a coach and he is not wearing any pads. Justin takes off on his blitz, plants his facemask in my chest and flattens me on the practice field. I hit the ground so hard it took my breath... which is much more painful when that happens AND you do it from landing on your back!

When I finally could speak, I said to Justin, "What were you doing? Thinking?" He said something like, I don't know coach.... I just went... I wasn't even thinking about it.  The kids and coaches were stunned but you couldn't help but laugh!

As it turned out, I got up and finished practice running the scout team. But, to this day, I make sure if Justin Merrill is around, I know exactly where he is and I keep my eyes on him!   :)

Saturday, May 19, 2018

May of 1988... two legends...30 years of football & blessings

photo by Fort Thomas Schools
photo by Paris Schools

Here is the first column which turned into the book, Black Shoes & White Shoestrings.  The past 30 years of football have included 4 years at Paris HS as an assistant, 4 years at Paris HS as head coach, 19 years at Mason County HS as a head coach, and getting ready to start year four at Mercer County HS. 

One of the best days of my life was the day I got to interview with Tom Duffy(Highlands) and then Homer Goins(Paris). 30 years later, they are still two of the greatest football coaches to ever walk the sideline in Kentucky. That has not changed. 

Friday, May 18, 2018

Who do we sound like.... act like???

1974 Mercer County Scotties

Coaching HS football in your hometown, and following in your Dad's footsteps, can be pretty cool some times.

We went to eat lunch this afternoon in Harrodsburg. A gentlemen says to me, "Are you the football coach?" I say, "yes sir." He says, "What is your name?"  I tell him. 

He goes on to tell me that he played for my Dad and that he was on the first two teams in school history to have winning seasons at Mercer County. He says that my Dad worked them very hard but they wanted to do it for him.

I knew exactly who he was! And, I could call him by name. He still looks the same as he did in 1975.  Some times when I see those old players I leave them alone. I realize not everyone wants to talk about HS football from 40+ years ago.... even though I could talk about it all day.  I was really glad he brought it up.

The part that got my attention was after we finished talking and I was leaving. I was about to walk out the door and he ran and grabbed my arm. He says, "I had to ask if it was you. You talk just like your Dad. You sound just like him."

People say that to me alot. Although it makes me feel good to hear that, it also makes me really want to hear my Dad's voice one more time. I know I will again someday because of our Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ.

Today's incident gave me more to think about.  I do sound like my Dad and that is good. But, more importantly, do I treat people the way he treated them? Do I have the character that he had?

What about my Heavenly Father?  Do the words that come out of my mouth sound like something He would say?  Are my words pleasing to Him?  Can you recognize who my Heavenly Father is? Or, would people be shocked to know I have a relationship with Jesus Christ?

The tough answer is that I often fall short. God's grace is sufficient, but I still want to do much better serving Him. If I am going to SOUND like John Buchanan, the content of my words and character should be such that would make him proud and also please our Heavenly Father.  

Colossians 3:23

Monday, May 7, 2018

Job Descriptions, Closing the Gap.... Trying to listen better

This is the time of year that job descriptions are prepared for all of our staff. I am trying to do a better job of listening and then also following through on the ideas we discuss, especially their input.

In the picture above is game duties, practice duties, & job descriptions of every staff member, going back to my first season at Mercer, 2015.  In our preseason & postseason meetings, I take notes and write them down on my copy of their job description. I keep those notes and keep adding one year to the next so that I have a running picture of those conversations. 

Going into 2018, this will be the fourth season for most of us working together. The job descriptions have changed a little but not much. One way to help us focus and get the most of their abilities... we have a very strong staff.... 2018 will have a tweak tied specifically to each coach's strengths and a unique way they can help make our program better. 

If you have ideas on staff organization that are unique or especially effective, please send those to me at  If these documents would help someone else, email me and I will send them to you. 

In 2018, our seniors will be the first Titans in school history to have the same head coach for all four seasons. We are making progress and the continuity will  help us also.  We are proud of the progress made these past three seasons, but there is still much room for improvement. Hopefully these adjustments to our job descriptions will continue to help us close the gap between where we are and what we are working to become!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Practical Advice for Sharing God's Word

Here is an insight from something a football coach experienced this week:

While counseling one of my players, I knew of Scripture that would help my player, but, I was not sure where to find it. Finally, I googled the part of the scripture I knew, and the rest of it popped up for me to share with this young man!

Thanks for sharing this and hopefully it will help other coaches in the future as they help their student-athletes!