Multiple choice test: What lesson can we learn from the coach who doesn’t let his team punt?


“It’s like someone
said, punting is what
you do on fourth down
and everyone did
it without asking why.”

A story in this week’s Sports Illustrated profiles the radical approach to football conventions taken by Kevin Kelley, coach of the Pulaski (Arkansas) Academy Bruins football team.

In short, Kelley has done away with all but one aspect of the kicking part of football. His team doesn’t punt, attempt punt returns, attempt field goals or extra points. it doesn’t attempt returns on any type of kicks, either. The only kicking it does is kicking off, and every one of those is an on-side kick attempt.


“Most football coaches aren’t simply averse to risk, but that they make choices at odds with statistical probability, akin to blackjack players standing on 11. The explanation: Subject as they are to scrutiny, coaches have incentive to err on the side of conservatism. No coach gets fired or ripped on talk radio for punting on fourth-and-four. Most do when they go for it and fail.”

So, does Coach Kelley’s method work? Last year the team won the state championship.

Question: What is the lesson of this story?

A. Don’t follow conventional wisdom.
B. Make choices that will get you fired if they’re wrong.
C. It makes little sense to call the game football.
D. Statisticians look for ways to make sports boring.