Football Program Visionaries – Who is Darrel Davis?

Today’s post is the second in a series on the three types of change resources in the world of football.   Last time, we talked about a Builder, Urban Meyer.  Today we’re going to talk about Darrel “Mouse” Davis, a true football visionary.  Haven’t heard of him?  Join the club.

As a reminder, Visionaries seldom live in the present because they prefer to look at the opportunities of the future. They are big idea people, often seeing opportunities before anyone else.

Many successful football coaches in the 1960s like Woody Hayes espoused the ‘three yards and a cloud of dust’ philosophy.  Hayes and Darrell Royal at Texas believed that ‘three things can happen to a forward pass and two of them are bad.’  So how did we get from that era to today’s multiple receiver, no huddle attack?

Say hello to Darrel “Mouse” Davis.  In the early 1960s as a high school coach in Oregon, he believed his young charges could take on Joe Paterno’s Penn State defense.  Why?  An offense that spread the ball to as many as four wide receivers.


Davis spread (no pun intended) the news about his offense at all levels of football.  In over 50 years, he coached high schoolers, collegians, and professionals (impressively, in four leagues…the CFL, NFL, Arena, and USFL).

How does a small town high school coach impact decades worth of football players?  He was a Visionary.   He could see the opportunities that passing the ball would give his team and he took full advantage of them.

So, although there are surely some famous Visionaries (John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia) and, some would argue, Steve Jobs), they aren’t all ‘celebrated leaders.’  Darrel Davis spent his lifetime ‘spreading the news’ about his vision and it impacted millions…even if few football fans know his name.

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Posted on September 30, 2013, in Change Management, Visionaries, Visionaries Builders Maintainers. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Frank N. Bontempo

    Let me tell you what kind of man Coach Davis is. In the late 80’s he had just been hired hired by the Detroit Lions as the Offensive Coordinator. As assistant High School football coach, I was already a fan of the Run ‘n Shoot and Coach Davis. I wrote the Detroit Lions asking if they had information on any publications Coach Davis’ offense had appeared in or any articles he had written. What I got was amazing. Coach Davis called me personally! He spent an hour on the phone with me going over the intricacies of the offense. A very kind and humble man, who truly believes in a revolutionary offense!

  2. If you would have initially called him “Mouse” Davis, I would have known who you were talking about immediately. I was a big fan of Andre Ware when he played college at Houston (in the Run & Shoot), & loved the Detroit Lions (with Barry Sanders running the ball in the Run & Shoot).

  1. Pingback: Football Program Maintainers – Nick Saban | Kenneth E Fields

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