By Mike DeFabo
Times West Virginian
Max 246 Z post.
This combination of letters and numbers probably doesn’t mean much to you, but chances are you know it.
No, it’s not the combination to a massive bank vault, nor is it a secret password to unlock free Slurpees for life at 7-Eleven.
It’s a football play.
Before you become disappointed that it can’t deliver you piles of cash or years of brain freezes, know that it’s not just any play. It’s the play— arguably the biggest call from one of the most thrilling games in college football history.
With 13 seconds left, Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin (the Z receiver) sprinted into the end zone and then, in an instant, cut toward the middle of the field at a 45-degree angle (a post route). Reaching up, he snagged Heisman Trophy-winner Jameis Winston’s touchdown pass to complete the Seminoles’ improbable 34-31 victory over Auburn in the national championship game on Monday night.
As America collectively picked up its jaw from the floor, Fairmont State University coach Jason Woodman picked up his cellphone and sent a message to Jimbo Fisher, the coach of Florida State University — you know, the other FSU.
“Hey great call,” he typed. “Max 246 Z post.”
The American people, especially the 11 defensive players in Auburn orange and white, have seen the play too many times on ESPN and other 24-hour highlight networks. But few know its inner workings— or even its name— like Woodman.
He was first introduced to the play— Max 246 Z post— back in 2004 when he started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Louisiana State University under Fisher, who was at the time the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Tigers.
“When I started working with him, I knew very little about the game,” Woodman admitted. “I thought I knew a lot, but when you start working with Jimbo, you realize you don’t know very much until you see a guy with his knowledge and understanding of the game.”
Woodman worked with Fisher at LSU until 2006. Then Fisher was hired at Florida State in 2007. Woodman went with him.
More than anyone else, the Fairmont State coach and North Marion graduate credits Fisher for his development as a coach.
“I probably learned more from Jimbo than I have anyone else,” he said. “He’s to credit for anything I know football-wise.”
The Clarksburg native taught Woodman about the intricacies of how to run an offense — how to game plan; how to anticipate the changes a defensive coordinator will make throughout a game; how to go beyond a scheme and attack a defense’s personnel.
Woodman remembers it all and even borrowed a play. Or two.
“My whole playbook is basically his,” Woodman admitted. “There are a few concepts that I use that he didn’t, but not very many. Everything I know concept-wise offensively is from him. There’s no secret about it.”
Woodman also learned about life outside of the Xs and Os, such as how to recruit and how to build relationships with athletes. The Fairmont State coach credits the Fisher for all of it, “from top to bottom.”
Flash back to Monday. Woodman watched each play carefully on his TV and, of course, “the play”— Max 246 Z post. Then, he saw Auburn's last-ditch attempt fall short, the confetti rain down on the Rose Bowl field and Jameis Winston sprint with his teammates across the field.
Finally he watched as Fisher was presented with the crystal Coaches’ Trophy.
“When I saw him hold up the trophy and you could see him start to cry a little bit, that’s when it starting getting to me a little bit. That’s something that he lives for— for that moment. That’s not his job. That’s his life.”
Woodman, who will begin his second season at Fairmont State in the fall, sees Jimbo’s journey as something similar to what he faces with the Falcons.
“I know what the program was like when we got there. It wasn’t close to what it is now,” said Woodman. “I know the struggles he had when he was there.
“I’m in a similar situation where I’m trying to get a program to go a direction that I want it to go. To see him do it and finally reach what he’s been striving for motivated me a lot.”
So when is it going to be Woodman’s turn? When will his team play for the national championship?
“Hold on. I’ll tell you ...” he said. He picked up his computer mouse, clicked through a couple pages, then smiled.
“Our national championship game right now is Sept. 4,” he finally said. “That’s when we play Notre Dame College. Our first game of 2014.”
Email Mike DeFabo at email@example.com or follow on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.