1. Rhesa Browning

    I love the fact that you wrote about this book and this story about Odessa Permian. I was in high school in 1988 and lived just down the road from Odessa, TX. Friday Night Lights explained very well the West Texas culture. Odessa Permian football was the most quintessential West Texas football team in the area. The weaknesses and the strengths were put out in the open. It made many people uncomfortable looking in the proverbial mirror, but I think overall the community learned from it. You’re understanding of why they were so good was spot on. Execution. They executed. They weren’t big. They weren’t fast. There weren’t even all that strong. But they were the toughest people you could ever play against and they sacrificed more to win games than every team they played. My hometown was very similar the perspective on what football meant and how it should be played was essentially the same. I knew many 150 lb guys that you would never want to get in a fight with. Anyway, you got a lot right.

    However, I did want to add my perspective on some things that I think were not quite accurate or maybe add a little explanation on some things. First, the Wing T alignment that you showed is not correct to the best of my understanding. If you looked at tape, then maybe you know better. But I played in the same offense that Gary Gaines ran at Permian. He was at my hometown right before he got the Permian job. My head coach was a close family friend to Gary and they he was Gaines’ OC. I also looked this up on the internet and what I found supports this. The wing T that they/we ran was not traditional wing T. We ran a more power version of it and the base play was the power sweep. Everything else worked off of that play. Here is the alignment for that:

    SE T-G-C-G-T-TE
    QB FL
    TB FB

    The flanker could flex out in a pro set but usually he was lined up as I show to set the edge for the power sweep.

    The other thing is how you describe Brian Chavez. He is a very unique person and character in the story. Not many people from that part of the world go to Harvard. It is extremely rare. However, he isn’t that unique in terms of West Texas culture. A Mexican male who is the smartest, most popular, most athletic in the school is completely normal and was in the 80’s. He and his families story isn’t really a story about immigration. Many Mexican families have lived in that area before Texas was even a State. The population has been about 50/50 for generations and therefore has a developed bicultural area. The Mexicans there are as culturally American as the Anglos of the area and many of the Anglos grow up speaking Spanish with friends and so forth. Not that there isn’t racial friction but many of the most successful businessmen and local politicians are Mexican.

    There is immigration from Mexico, but I think there is actually more from other parts of the US due to the oil & gas industry. I hope that is helpful. I am not trying to be critical if I come across like that. I don’t live out there now, but I have fond memories of West Texas and West Texas football.

    • ianaboyd

      Appreciate the responses!

      I tried to go off what I saw from some film viewings but they used multiple formations and I’m sure I may have some details wrong. I’m not as familiar with offenses of that era.

      As for Chavez, the characterization of him I’m passing along is how Buzz describes him in the book and the sort of perspective of the people of Odessa at the time. He quotes people as saying things to the effect of the Mexican-Americans not being the best football players. As for the immigration angle, one of the minor themes of the book is how the Hispanic population in the town keeps growing and he uses Chavez’s character at times to discuss that trend in Odessa life. Maybe he made too much of it but that’s what he wrote in the book.

      • Rhesa Browning

        I noticed my wing T formation didn’t come through. Here is a picture at least showing the alignment.


        About Chavez, I will defer to you. It has been a long time since I read the book. Maybe Buzz was wrong, maybe he gave a better historical viewpoint. My description was more a snapshot of what things looked like in 1988 to a high school kid. Not the clearest perspective.

  2. System Poster

    Reading this reminded me of playing against the 2004 and 2005 Mansfield Summit wing-t teams that basically did the same thing but with amazing athletes and huge size at the line positions. Those teams had the exact same sort of undersized quarterback who was probably one of the least athletic skill position players on the roster but knew how to run the offense and had a good enough arm to get the ball to former UT Longhorn John Chiles and could get the tosses to and make lead blocks for their badass running back, Kestahn Moore, https://247sports.com/player/kestahn-moore-41730 who played on Urban Meyer’s championship Florida teams (unfortunately for him, behind Percy Harvin).

    They blocked a little differently than Permian. They had such disdain for their competition that on the toss sweep plays, their linemen would just run straight past the opposing teams defensive line right up tot he second and third levels of the defense trusting their running backs to easily evade the opposing defensive line. That team went on to lose in the playoffs to a loaded Trinity team (when then lost to an even more loaded Southlake team).

    Summit then made the inexplicable decision in 2005 to begin running a counter-heavy spread option offense with Chiles at quarterback. The rumors were that this was at the request of Mack Brown because he was projecting Chiles to be the replacement for Vince Young. I thought it was a waste of an amazing wide receiver talent.

    • ianaboyd

      That was fascinating.

      One of the things I didn’t quite hammer home with Permian that’s interesting is that they had their biggest guys at the point of attack rather than where you’d traditionally find them. TE and FB are where the big, best guys on the team were because they wanted to whip you with the toss plays. After you overloaded the edges they’d hammer it between the tackles or throw it around.

  3. Karl

    Very interesting to read even though I am quite new to football. I am from Sweden and reading FNL got me intrested in Football.Having read the book from cover to cover three times I was thrilled to encounter this post. The book doesnt cointain much info much regarding the way Permian played the game. I also liked the way you highlighted how Boobies and Comers running styles resembled the characters. I never thought of it that way. But imagine if Boobie had gotten back from his injury and replaced Billingsley as the starting tailback. Pre injury Boobie must have been a much better blocker than Billingsley ever was. Having seen the videos from the 87 Arlington and Plano games Boobies greatest quality seems to have been his strength which made him a great power runner. But he doesnt seem to have been that fast. Maybe he was better suited to play the role as a blocking back who could run the ball on the short conversions. Correct me if I am wrong 🙂

    • ianaboyd

      You’re on to something, the book actually notes that Boobie had a huge game in 87 when he became aggrieved by being called the n-word and was then told by his coaches that the other team was trying to get in his head. Then he unleashed hell with savage running and blocking that was getting him scholarship attention for his ability to block.

      So he was a speedy runner who loved to execute spin moves, but he was also a great blocker. Better than Billingsley? Probably.

  4. Eric Vauter

    I went to college with a guy who played for Permian in one of the years the won a state championship. He wasn’t a big guy. I asked how come they were able to consistently win. He said, better living through chemistry, a.k.a. North Dallas Forty. At halftime, if a playing was hurting, they would give them an injection to allow them to continue the second half. At the time, the High School Coach was the highest paid High School Coach in America.

  5. Greg Hill

    Interesting take on Dallas Carter. Could it be possible that Dallas Carter could have run away from Permian in dry conditions? It was raining cats and dogs and Permian could not cover us when we shifted to a passing attack late in the game.
    Carter’s schedule wasn’t filled with cupcakes either. Further, Region 2 was the toughest road to the State Championship. Permian was good, but Marshall (with Odell Beckham Sr.)proved to be an even better opponent for us. Once we beat them, the rest was downhill from there.

    • ianaboyd

      To give him a football-related story arc to tie together the overwhelming pressure he feels from his dad and his struggle to shoulder it.

  6. Coach Mc

    I grew up down the road from Odessa, and currently am in my 29th year of coaching. I graduated HS in ’84, and remember what seems to be every Thanksgiving and Christmas Holiday (in from college) going over to Ratliff to watch Permian in a State Quarterfinal or Semifinal game. They were a highly disciplined machine. The stadium was always packed, and definitely had a college feel.

    For 5 great years in my coaching career, I coached at Monahans HS. We ran the Permian Wing-T. Coach Gaines was the HC at Monahans when he accepted the Permian HC job. He’s been one of my top references I’ve used over the years with job prospects. Gaines was a great coach, and is even a great person to know. I asked him once about the movie, and how accurate it was. He didn’t appreciate how Boobie Miles was portrayed in the movie. According to Gaines, “Boobie wouldn’t say sh@*$t if he had a mouthful”

    The Permian Wing-T used multiple formations for specific reasons. The bread and butter as far as the run game for those great teams was 39 & 18 Pitch. 39 Pitch was a toss sweep to the fullback (lined up behind QB), and 18 Pitch was a toss sweep to the tailback (offset). The offensive line in this offense flip sides depending on the strength call. This way, the OL didn’t have to learn both sides of a play, cutting down on learning time, and increasing reps. Other key plays in this offense were 30 trap, 33 lead, 12 lead, Split 18 (28 Sweep), 13 dive, 37 stretch, 14 pitch trap, 36, 36 G, 43 ctr, boot at 9, waggle at 8, etc….

    Permian ran a 4-3 defensively, whether playing DE’s in a 6, 7, or 9 tech. So in football terminology, their 4-3 could be anything from a “27”, “26”, or “29”.

Comments are closed.