Question & Answer with John Iannucci
John Iannucci and I go back a long ways, we’ve been friends for 40 years. So I know him as a friend and a football coach. I know him as “Nooch” so I’ll refer to him that way. We’ve conversed for many hours over the years about football on the phone or over a bowl of pasta. (Nooch knows some of the Italian joints in Jersey & New York) and the discussions are never dull.
Nooch is without a doubt one of the most dedicated and committed football coaches I know. As a matter of fact, sometimes I think he should be committed. The guy is always thinking football and is like “Noochipedia” when it comes to the game of football.
Nooch is a master of turning high school football programs around. He has been a Head High School Football Coach eleven times and turned around seven. His latest was Holy Spirit HS in New Jersey. Nooch has been at Holy Spirit for two seasons and has a record of 19-5. He’s a 30 year veteran of the coaching wars with 20 years as a Head High School Coach. His blog is a great resource for option coaches 3backoption.com.
TD: Who were the three biggest influences in your football career?
Nooch: Tony DeMatteo, Donny DeMatteo & Bo Schembechler. From Tony I learned the program is more important than individuals and the power of motivation. From Donny I learned how to get a team to believe in themselves. And from Bo I learned about the value of the game of football.
TD: You were originally a Wing T coach and made an annual pilgrimage to The University of Delaware to learn every aspect of the Wing T from King Tubby Raymond and Prince Teddy Kempski why did you switch to the Flex-Bone?
Nooch: I didn’t make a complete break with the Wing T it was done gradually over about eleven years. Originally in 1989 I just added the Triple Option into my Wing T package. Then by 1999, I had just my Flex-Bone Package and eliminated the Wing T.
TD: Did the fact that Delaware added the Triple to their offense in 1989 (My year as a Blue Hen) influence your decision to add the Triple to your Wing T?
Nooch: Not really. I was at Patterson Eastside (made famous by the movie “Lean on Me” and baseball bat carrying Principal Joe Clark) and I had a great athlete at QB – Travis Muckle – and I had fast, small wingbacks so my personnel fit the option more than the Bucksweep. So we ran the Bucksweep and Down series to the Tight End/Wing side and the Triple to the Split End side.
TD: What made you eliminate the Wing T entirely from your “Nooch-Bone”?
Nooch: The Wing T had too many schemes and involved a tremendous amount of teaching. The Wing T had to have a new play or a completely revamped blocking scheme for every defensive adjustment. The more schemes and plays you the more difficult it is to execute. It was also difficult to package plays in a check with me system because the checks were different every week. And finally in some games I always seemed to be a play behind.
TD: So the Flex-Bone seemed to be the answer in 1999? Was the transition difficult?
Nooch: Not really, I spent a lot of time talking to you and visiting Army and talking to Greg Gregory and Bob Sutton who did a great job bringing Army football back to prominence when they were there. That really helped.
TD: What is your offensive philosophy?
Nooch: We are first and foremost a Triple Option team that wants the ball in the quarterback’s hands. We want to be a physical football team and I believe in double teaming on the line of scrimmage.
TD: What about the passing game?
Nooch: You can’t run the triple option if you don’t have the play action pass. You have to keep the secondary from being on the line of scrimmage. Plus I use your 3 Step game with the boot off it.
TD: What are the things you look for in your quarterback?
Nooch: #1 – He must be a football player & committed to the team #2 – he must be willing to run the ball #3 – He must be a decision-maker #4 He must be athletic and #5 he must be able to throw somewhat.
TD: What’s the future of option football?
Nooch: The Flex-Bone will never be in vogue again because of recruiting and negative media. But I think you’ll see more and more teams running from the gun. There’s just so many things you can do from the gun because you have more grace time. Protection is easier in the gun. I think people could start running a Single Wing style offense and just adding an option phase to it.
TD: Any advice to young coaches?
Nooch: Get as much knowledge about the game as possible. Develop a broad base of knowledge, don’t just learn one system. Secondly, remember that football is part of a young man’s education. He must learn valuable lessons from playing football. Football is still a game.
TD: Nooch thanks for your time and take care.
Nooch: Take it easy, I’ll be in touch.
Check out Nooch’s Blog http://3backoptionfootball.blogspot.com/