Interview with Bama12
Co-Coached by JMason187 and Dublinuf

Bullfrog: Can you both tell me a little about yourselves? You can say as much or as little as you like here but I'd prefer something a little lengthy.

Dubs: I think the first thing that I have to say is that I am a fan of the Florida Gators. I have had season tickets since I was six. My parents went to school there. I graduated from the College of Journalism there in 1997. I am in no way a fan of Alabama. Though, I do appreciate the SEC, and it’s not like they are Auburn, Tennessee or Georgia. I wouldn't coach under a name associated with those teams or Florida State or Miami.  bama12 used to be JMason's second account. He got two teams in the first year of Dobie and I didn't get any (my own account came into the world in year 2 and I am happy to be one of the first two second year coaches to get to Division 1). Jeff and I had been discussing co-coaching together after we played in the first Gridiron Dynasty Survivor thread (one of the best ways to meet other coaches that you play against). We had planned to co-coach under some Survivor themed name, ImmunityIdol was the top choice. However, my partner in crime over there was a little noncommittal when push came to shove. It took the Dobie world opening to get this thing off the ground.
There's a nice background on the co-coaching thing with us. As far as it goes with me, I'm 34. I am currently a Humanities teacher in a small town in Florida, though I still live in Gainesville an hour away. I have been married for almost 12 years and have two kids. However, as a former sportswriter, I would say that you need to bring me a more specific, less opened ended question to get a better answer, I would suspect. (Though you did get a nice rambling response there.)

JMason: My name is Jeff Mason (I feel like I need to work at being more paranoid, it never occurred to me not to give my name). I grew up in Alabama. My wife Kirsten and I met at the University of Alabama. We got married and moved to Los Angeles when we graduated. I am a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch in Beverly Hills. I have a 2 year old daughter named Sydney and a 3 week old son named Tyler.



Bullfrog: How did you guys meet? I know the two of you got to know each other during the Survivor game but was that how the two of you met as well?

Dubs: We did actually meet playing the Survivor game. I had a loose idea that there was a guy playing as bama12 that was a good coach, but didn't even know the JMason187 account name until that Survivor started.
JMason: As he said we met playing survivor. I approached him about being in an SEC alliance. After it was over he asked if I wanted to co coach a team. All of our game plans have Survivor titles (our main game plan is titled Jeff Probst). We only picked schools that were blue (like the ocean) yellow (like sand)...Yes we know it’s gay ;)



Bullfrog: For those who didn't follow the survivor game could you please describe it?


Dubs:
I will open by saying that they are still going on and I am now the host. So, I encourage others to participate because, it really is a great way to meet people.  The first Survivor game was hosted by muddapucka, who was also playing in it. It didn't have two tribes, just 18 people all playing. It was crazy. Basically, in Survivor, you participate in challenges to win Immunity, and then someone gets voted out. In that first game, only one person could win immunity each contest, and everyone voted each contest.  Jeff won. I came in fourth.

JMason:
I could not agree more if you have not played survivor in the main forums it is a lot of fun and a great way to get to know other coaches.



Bullfrog: Were you guys part of an alliance or on different teams?


Dubs:
We were in an alliance. It was Jeff's primary alliance, but it wasn't mine. Then someone turned on us, and it flipped the game around so that it became mine and Jeff's alliance.
JMason: As you know Jeremiah you were my primary alliance but you got yourself knocked out. So I stuck with the SEC alliance I put together.



Bullfrog: Jeff ended up winning the first 2 Survivor games (amazing seeing as how many people you need to stab in the back to just win one...lol). Dubs, did he ever stab you in the back? How do you think Jeff was able to win 2 in a row? Jeff, any regrets or fond/funny memories from those games?


JMason:
My back to back survivor wins are almost on par with our recent NC. In some ways they might be better. I am the only one to ever win back to back and I think that record could stand. At the end of the first game dubs and I were down 3 -2 and after a full day of drinking at last year’s Alabama vs. FSU game I sat up all night talking Scoobybud in to switching to our side. He finally agreed about 4:00 in the morning.
In the second season I was in two alliances the whole time. At one point I was in an alliance with every person still in the game. It is really fun to see the different ways the game can develop. I am going to have to play again some time now that Dubs is running it.

Dubs:
The short answer is no he didn't, but there is a longer answer. Here are the basics. Jeff came up with the idea of an SEC alliance with me, dwhit, Cadenland and himself. This seemed fine, but I knew David and I didn't know Cadenland and jeff. So, David and I worked out a primary alliance on the side, and brought in scoobybud, who was in a secret alliance with me and David that no one knew about.  David then ended up in a second alliance with mudda and rob, while he and I both entered an alliance with brandonford and some others (wow details are getting sketchy here). We eliminated the stragglers first, then David's second alliance. Even though scoobybud was in no alliance at this point, we told him everything, and copied him on every sitemail.  At some point, jeff added our genteel interviewer to our alliance of four, giving us five, though David and I were wary of that because we knew you and jeff knew each other.  After bullfrog got knocked out by a challenge (no vote, a very unSurvivor thing to do that muddapucka shouldn't have done), we added scoobybud officially into the alliance with Jeff.  
When there were 10 people left, there were 3 guys (Jeff, caden and Scooby) in one alliance with me and David and three more (Brandon and two others) in another alliance with me and David. There were also two stragglers left over (tacothebean and someone else). That vote went 5-5, because Brandon’s group pulled in the stragglers and David and I went to take care of Scooby to the other side. The tie called for a revoke and David and I each promised to take care of a guy on there side and got two to switch. I would reiterate again, that the only three people who knew all this were me, David and Scooby.
After the switch, the first two votes went for the guys we got to switch sides, so we could keep them off the jury (which was the final five people eliminated). At some point in here, since jeff and I had been doing a lot of the work in that alliance, he asked me to go to the Final 2 with him. My primary alliance was to David, but I accepted anyway.  
So, with 7 people left, there were five in our alliance. Caden, jeff (who thought he was going to the final three with me and scooby), david, scooby and me. Also brandonford was still in the game and sjurat. Caden realized he was going to come in fifth, so he approached brandon, sjurat and jeff to split off. jeff stuck with me, so then he went to scooby, and Caden lied to scooby and told him that I had offered Caden a deal to the final two.  It was a brilliant move on Caden's part, because despite being copied on every single move all game, scooby believed him and betrayed me and David. David got voted out in seventh. That left me and jeff alone, and for the first time, we really were in an alliance with each other.
I won immunity the next challenge, and they voted out sj. At five jeff spent all night gulling scooby and promising him things that we never intended to keep, because we figured that we were in a corner and since he turned on us when Caden lied to him, we could get him to do the same to Caden, because he was a weak player with no ability to play the game.   It worked, scooby voted out Caden. The next vote tied 2-2, with jeff and me against Brandon and scooby. Scooby and I did a contest over a low level bowl game and I lost and finished fourth.  Jeff won immunity and took scooby to the final two, because he had turned his back on everyone. David, Caden and I voted for jeff to win, and he did.



Bullfrog: Dubs, what's your first name?

Dubs: My name is J.L. Kirby. Growing up I went by Jamey. In college, I played trivia as Dublin, and people started calling me Dubs. So, I still use both. Ginevra, one of my best friends that actually plays this game, calls me everywhere but on these boards.



Bullfrog: Dubs, I've heard that you were on Jeopardy? Is this true? How did you do?

Dubs: Yes, I was. It was after I started playing GD, so there is a thread on the main page dedicated to it from last year. Scottso made a website at one point. I was involved in the now famous three-way tie, and I won the rematch. In all I won three times and took in $62,245 (the last $2k is for finishing second on the day I lost).

JMason: I googled dubs since he mentioned scottso’s website. It’s funny to see someone you only know from a message board. He’s a sharp looking guy. Although I question the sweater vest : )   Here is the link for Dubs run on Jeopardy.  



Bullfrog: You both mentioned that you are fathers and that you both have 2 children. Jeff mentioned his daughter, Sydney, is 2 and his son, Tyler, is a newborn. Dubs, how old are your 2 kids and what are their names?

Dubs: Not sure I need to spread my kids’ names all over the Internet, though I mention them by name on my last day on Jeopardy if you ever catch it on TV. My son is 8 and my daughter is 5.



Bullfrog: What challenges have you faced with WIS and being a dad? I know that both my boys like to "help" me gameplan...lol.

Dubs: Most of the time that I am doing WIS stuff, my son is encouraging me to play Super Smash Brothers. I am a teacher and a writer, so I can sneak it in when I am on the computer anyway.

JMason: I do most of my WIS stuff at work.



Bullfrog: Have you ever, like I have, interrupted a game you've been playing with your kids to go check on recruiting or score updates?

JMason: I used to like Saturday recruiting. Now I am usually out at a park, zoo, etc... and now dislike Saturday recruiting.

Dubs: I can't think of a time I did that, but I would guess it would happen. Score updates usually come just as I am ending my day at work anyway.



Bullfrog: Give me one funny story about each of your kids, something that sticks in your mind.

Dubs: Hmm... There are many times my kids are doing things that are funny to me, but the set up to make them funny to others would really undercut that. One of my big awwwww moments came when I took my family to Disney World when I was there with the Academic Team I coach. We went on the Winnie the Pooh ride and I had to go from there straight back to a banquet. I was a big Pooh fan when I was my kid’s size, and I commented that I always wanted a giant Pooh when I was their size. When I got back from the banquet to the hotel room, they were all asleep and there was this giant Winnie the Pooh in my spot of the bed.

JMason: You always hear that you have to be careful or boys will pee on you when changing diapers. Having little girl first, I thought it would be comparable to the number of times she peed (SP?) while I was changing her. I knew it could be messier but thought the number of times would be about the same. My daughter peed while I was changing her about 3 times in 2 year. My son peed on 3 people before he was 24 hours old. No one ever told me that the air, while changing diapers made the boys MUCH more dangerous!



Bullfrog: What is the best thing about being a dad?

Dubs: It's certainly nice to have someone in the world that is part me and part my wife. That's pretty cool. I think the best thing is that overwhelming love that they have for you that is so much greater than anything else I have ever experienced.

JMason: The little things. I love that my daughter calls me Daggy instead of daddy. I love seeing other people talk about how cute my kid is when I pass them at the mall. I know everyone thinks their kid is cute but on 3 separate occasions I have had people come ask me if they could take their picture with my daughter.



Bullfrog: Do either of you plan on having more kids?

Dubs: We have not closed the possibility, but we want to have two more if we do since any child we had at this point would be at least six years younger than my daughter.

JMason: SO FAR, both of my kids are really easy. If my son is as easy going as my daughter I would consider having another.



Bullfrog: Have you started your college savings plan yet? (Jeff, I know you have...lol)

Dubs: Money questions go to my wife.

JMason: Yes, but I am sure it won’t be enough.



Bullfrog: How do your wives feel about WIS and the time our hobby takes?

Dubs: My other big hobbies are playing trivia (mostly NTN) in sports bars and playing poker. My wife likes that this obsession takes place at the house.

JMason: My wife does not get as excited about our recent NCs as I would like :) but she never complains about WIS.



Bullfrog: Describe your partnership. Who does what?

Dubs: I run the offense and Jeff runs the defense. On a couple of occasions bama12 has ended up matching up with one of our teams, so in those cases, whosever team we were playing would control their own team with the other member taking over the bama12 team.



Bullfrog: Dubs what has Jeff opened your eyes about regarding this game?

Dubs: Well, he does seem to beat me every time we have had to split up, though it helped that he had the better team every time. Jeff tends to play with the effectiveness settings lower than I do, which I still disagree with, but I have seen situations where it works.



Bullfrog: Jeff what has Dubs opened your eyes about regarding this game?

JMason: Thanks to Dubs I no longer practice formations. I told you (jeremiah) about it and now you don’t practice formations either. My coaching with dubs has affected your game too. Editor’s note: I had experimented with the idea several seasons prior and also had long site-mail conversations with Akua about the subject. Dubs’ and Jeff’s success was the “straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back” in getting me to make the switch.



Bullfrog: Has he helped any part of your game?

Dubs: In a roundabout way it has helped my recruiting, because when you have only half a team's budget, it can be limiting. That has helped me scout better.



Bullfrog: What do you consider Jeff's strongest skill?

Dubs: Jeff is pretty open-minded. He's willing to try something that he hasn't done before if things are not working. I tend to get in a rut on occasion, so that is something we need.



Bullfrog: What do you consider Dubs strongest skill?

JMason: He knows the tendencies of a lot of coaches. I think we were playing PDS the year St Mary’s won the NC. PDS's team had not played any humans yet so I really did not know what defense to call. Dubs told me what he thought PDS would call and he was right.



Bullfrog: What do you think is Jeff’s weakness (and you can't answer "hitting the offer scholarship box")?

Dubs: Really he hasn't majorly screwed anything up that I have noticed. Sometimes he underestimates himself, I suppose. I haven't noticed a glaring weakness.



Bullfrog: What do you think is Dub’s weakness?

JMason: It's not his weakness but we disagree on what to do with effectiveness settings at half time. I won’t go in to more detail so as not to give away too much info.



Bullfrog: What do you think you've helped Jeff develop the most in your partnership?

Dubs: Grasping long-term vision on recruiting situations and relative other school location. I think that it is not enough to be in a great recruiting area, you need to know what other schools are in that area and where your advantages lie.



Bullfrog: What do you think you've helped Dubs develop the most in your partnership?

JMason: I am not being modest when I say that I don’t think I have taught Dubs anything. Maybe how to talk smack to you and Kevin.



Bullfrog: What's the best aspect of having a partner?

Dubs: That's easy. It's someone to share in the success with. I honestly have enjoyed the two titles with Jeff more than my six individual ones (well maybe not that first won with Mercyhurst, but it was first after all). There legitimately is someone else out there that is just as happy about it as you are. That's really cool. I didn't enter this game to be a loner. I like winning, but I don't have this great desire to be the only one winning.

JMason: It cuts down on the work load more than you would think. Sharing in each other’s success, Dubs was part of my first NC, I was part of his first D1 NC.



Bullfrog: What's the worst?

JMason: I am in a battle with DKC at USC right now. If it was just me I would battle to the end, but with a partner you have to think about the good of the team and not just be stubborn (we won the battle ;)

Dubs: When your partner chooses to do something you wouldn't and it doesn't work. You have to be willing to accept that going into a partnership, though.



Bullfrog: If a couple of coaches came to you asking for advice about creating and maintaining a partnership what would you tell them?

Dubs:  A) Make sure that you are willing to not blame each other, and that you are open to allowing the other person to make suggestions when you are struggling with something.
    B) Have defined roles. I have a five-person co coaching thing going with bhouska, alykaramazov, cardsfankane and maddiesdad in Rockne. We tried to do everything by consensus, but that becomes too many cooks in the pot a lot of the time. You need clearly defined duties so you are not stepping on each other.

JMason: Just to have fun. I don’t know what Dubs other co coaching situations are like. I could see them being more of an idea exchange. I think ours is just more about having fun.



Bullfrog: What pitfalls should people be aware of?

Dubs: The biggest pitfall is the tendency to second guess when things go wrong. I am the one that chose to go to a 2-11 St. Mary's team at IAA that had a ton of open scholarships. Jeff could have given up on the whole thing when our team was so young that first year that we lost to three SIMs. Two years later, we won the National Title. He saw the long-term vision through, rather than blaming me for putting us out there in the first place.

JMason: I don’t see any.



Bullfrog: What general advice would you give to a new coach (say 3 seasons or less) to get the hang of the game?

Dubs:
#1 Set your effectiveness settings to at least 80 percent. That is always my first piece of advice.
#2 All the offensive sets can be effective, and other than the 4-3, I have a use for all the defensive sets. Choose what sets you want to use and recruit to that.
#3 Read the Compass and then ask questions about what you don't understand.

JMason: Read GD 101 the compass in the main forum. Focus on core numbers in recruiting. Avoid Battles. Find a mentor. Anyone doing these interviews would be glad to answer any question you ask.



Bullfrog: What general advice would you give to a newer coach (say 4-10 seasons) to start really competing at a higher level?

JMason: Find not just a mentor but someone to exchange ideas with. If you don’t have a friend in the game, offer to help new people in your conference. You will realize you know more about the game than you thought you did. Teaching others will help refine how you think about the game.

Dubs: Find a mentor. There are many coaches that will really invest in helping you out for the long term, but don't expect them to do it on the forums.



Bullfrog: What general advice would you give to an established coach to get them headed toward an NC?

JMason: Start playing tough competition. I think when we start out we have a tendency to play easy games that we can win. Which is fine for a while but you will learn more from any loss than you will from a win.

Dubs: Hmm... That's a tougher question. Each team is different and once you are making long playoff runs, it becomes something about out-thinking the other coach. Study your opponents carefully and really break down what they do.



Bullfrog: Jeff - you recently took a 0 win team to a CC in the toughest conference in Warner DIII. How satisfying was that? Compared to an NC? How did you do it? I ask the question this way because I know how you did it and think others would benefit from the long-term planning you employed.

JMason: That win was way up there. I would put it right behind the 2 NCs and almost on par with my first CC. Rebuilding teams is my favorite part of this game. I have taken over very few teams that had a winning record before I got there but Chapman had 0 wins and was in the NJAC, the best conference in D3 Warner. I avoided all battles for the first 3-4 years and built up a $50k or so Bankroll. When you are rebuilding a school you can’t see any player worth fighting for any way so just scout for potential. Focus on building your lines and don’t get impatient.



Bullfrog: Dubs, in turn around projects what sort of plan do you employ?

Dubs: I guess it depends on the level. When you have less talent than the other teams, every game is like a playoff game, because you have to outcoach people to get wins and you need the wins to get to improve your vision.  I also try and save a bunch of money, because there are vision issues and the best I see are never worth fighting over. Figure out a method of fighting SIMs for rebuilding at DII and DIAA and stay close to home.



Bullfrog: Thank you both for your time in answering these questions. Before we finish, is there anything, on any subject, that either of you would like to add?

Dubs: There is a misconception that there is only one way to win at this game, and that it gets boring. There are hundreds of ways to win at this game. Figure out what you want to do and build on that.

JMason: I would like to thank Dubs for talking me in to co-coaching a team. It has been a lot of fun I would highly recommend it to everyone.