Big Game and the Big Game

It is getting to be playoff time for  high school football teams. It is always exciting and memorable.  One of my fondest memories was the first year we made the playoffs at Osceola High School.

Val Bennett was the long time principal at Osceola.  He was a great principal, and one of the most loving, caring people you could ever meet.  He took a chance and gave me the opportunity to be a head coach.  Val loved the outdoors (fishing, hunting, etc), loved basketball, and although he did not dislike football, he just didn’t know as much about it as his other loves.

osceolaWhen I first called Mr. Bennett to say that I was interested in the head football coaching position that was open, his first question was, “Do you like to fish?”.  When I said, “No, but if it is important for the job, I can learn”, he responded that it wasn’t a needed skill, but with their location on Truman Lake, that was a draw for many candidates.  This conversation would prove to be prescient.

I was hired… my first head coaching position… and we struggled mightily the first season.  But the kids, community and support were great.  The next two seasons we turned it around and went 9-1 and qualified for the playoffs both seasons…. a new concept for the school.

The first year we made the playoffs our draw was Springfield Greenwood High School, coached by the legendary Paul “Moon” Mullins.  The game was scheduled for Saturday afternoon on the campus of Missouri State University.  I was excited, happy and proud… probably a little too much hubris.

On Monday morning of the week prior to our game I had a note in my school mailbox from Val Bennett, saying he would like for me to stop by his office later that day… he wanted to talk with me about the Playoff game on Saturday.   I immediately conjured up visions of what the conversation would be about… banquet?  parade? charter bus?  commemorative T-shirts?

I went to Val’s office for the meeting.

He said “Well, Jeff, I wanted to talk to you about the game on Saturday

Yes, what about?” I responded

(yes… yes… here it comes… parade??)

Yes, about the game.  Saturday is the opening day of dear season.   That is a pretty important day for a lot of father and sons… do you think the state would reschedule that game for another day?”

Deflated….  I quickly assured Val that, no, the state would not reschedule a playoff game because of dear season.

Val eventually became as excited about the playoff game as dear season, and by the next year, already had it on his calendar at the start of the year, along with the opening dear season date.

My takeaway years later:

My view of events… this included… is pretty myopic… there are other things important to people besides football… and they can all go hand in hand.  It does not have to be either/ or… it can be AND.

On a side note – the quarterback of those Osceola playoff teams, Paul Carney, is back as their head coach.  They are 9-1 and poised to make a run in the 1A playoffs this season.  Good luck to Coach Carney and the 2013 Indians.

Thanks again to PrepsKC for running this column both online and in their weekly print magazine. If you get a chance to go and visit their site and “Like” this post, I would appreciate it!

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you.. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd –

Football Happens

Very few people understand the life of a coachin season”… thegrind”.

In season for any coach is hard, but without a doubt, the grind for a football coach is a different animal.  I was going to say that a coach’s family might understand, but probably should preface even that with immediate family.   During one Christmas gathering with my wife’s family many years ago, her grandmother asked me (after I had 8 years of high school coaching and three years of college experience under my belt) when I thought that I could get a “real” job.

Most people do not understand …

I remember a conversation with colleagues at the YMCA during my stint with them in 2001.  They asked how I could handle the hours of worked required to be an Executive Director of a YMCA.  I told them that in my previous occupation (college football coach) we worked every day from about the second week in July until the end of February, had a couple of weeks slow time, then back at it again. Their comment was “well, we work all week, Monday-Friday, during that span too.  When I told them “no, every day”, they asked, “Weekends too?”.  I don’t think they ever believed me…. and I didn’t even try to explain that the days were not your typical 8 hour workdays, but more like 12-16 hour days… literally 80-100 hour work weeks.

Most will never understand…

coach grindingCoaching any sport is difficult, time consuming and challenging.  I do not mean to offend coaches from other sports (I have coached other sports as well) but the football-coaching grind is different.  More players (which means more grade checks, more physical forms, more equipment, etc), more game preparation, more film study, more staff… more stuff!  And there is not a huge difference in the amount of time in-season between college and high school coaching.  Most high school coaches have to add their teaching load onto their football preparation.

Most administrators do not understand…

Most administrators are mainly concerned (and justifiably so) about how and what you are doing in the classroom.  Most feel football is a fun diversion for you and the players.  They know you practice for a couple of hours a day, and play once a week, but have no idea of the amount of time it takes to prepare your squad each week.  As long as you win a few games, and don’t beat the kids, all is good.  You ARE getting paid and extra stipend for that work after all.

Even I do not understand completely….

Every year, as my family took our vacation in July after our HS camps had wrapped up, I used to say (yes, every year) melodramatically to my wife “well, my life as we know it will cease to exist in a few weeks”.  And without question it does alter what you are able to do beyond football.

Now I just say “Football Happens!”

It happens for me, and all of my colleagues.   I go from seven blog posts a week to 1 or 2… Coaches whose blogs and tweets I follow experience the same crunch.  Only so many hours in a day… projects on the back burner… entertainment delayed.

It is a grind… without a doubt.  But a grind that most of us could not imagine being without.

For more about the grind that we love check out this post, Grit and “The Grind” 

Thanks again to PrepsKC for running this column both online and in their weekly print magazine. If you get a chance to go and visit their site and “Like” this post, I would appreciate it!

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you.. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd –

Talent vs Attitude

Talent vs. Attitude… who wins?

Marketing and Business expert Seth Godin summed it up this way in a recent post on his blog:

The truth about the war for talent

It’s more of a skirmish, actually.

Plenty of recruiters and those in HR like to talk about engaging in a war for talent, but to be truthful, most of it is about finding good enough people at an acceptable rate of pay. Filling slots.

More relevant and urgent, though, is that it’s not really a search for talent. It’s a search for attitude.

There are a few jobs where straight up skills are all we ask for. Perhaps in the first violinist in a string quartet. But in fact, even there, what actually separates winners from losers isn’t talent, it’s attitude.

And yes, we ought to be having a war for attitude.

An organization filled with honest, motivated, connected, eager, learning, experimenting, ethical and driven people will always defeat the one that merely has talent. Every time.

The best news is that attitude is a choice, and it’s available to all. You can probably win the war for attitude with the people you’ve already got. And if you’re looking for a gig, you’ll discover that honing and sharing your attitude goes a lot farther than practicing the violin all day.

Football vs. New Mexico State, jkThe Boise State football program, led by Coach Petersen, has accumulated an 84-8 record, 6 Top 25 finishes, and 2 BCS bowl wins in the past 7 seasons… all this on a budget a fraction of their BFS counterparts and an average recruiting class “rank” of 69 out of 120 FBS institutions.   How?

In his article for Forbes magazine, Jason Belzer explores the Boise State “culture”

As with any organization, its culture only goes as far as the individuals who make up its sum total are willing to carry it. To that end, the program’s entire recruiting philosophy is based around finding what Petersen calls, “OKGs (Our Kinda Guys).”  In fact, Boise State might be the only sports program where the first criteria in recruiting new talent is not how well they play the actual game, but whether they align with the program’s core values. According to Petersen, instead of focusing on raw football talent, the emphasis is on intangibles.

“If you fall in love with talent, you’re making a big mistake. You have to fall in love with the person first and foremost because you can only change someone so much. We have to be mindful of falling into the trap of looking for great [football] talent and instead go recruit an OKG and make him a football player.”

In different article this week, Texas A & M head coach, Kevin Sumlin shares this regarding the talent vs attitude debate:

“Many people think that winning the game of football is simply a matter of having the eleven most talented players on the field, but that’s rarely the case.  We know that it’s as much about a player’s intangibles as it is what you can see from direct observation. We look for guys that are always at the ball, even when it’s not expected of them. When it comes to evaluating others, most leaders fail to realize that it takes absolutely no talent to give effort; effort is the great equalizer.”

As coaches we inclined to work hard and devote much of our time developing the physical talent on our squads.  How much time are you investing developing the culture of your team… the attitude of your team….  the intangibles of your team?  Are you conducting a War for Attitude to win with the talent you do have?

Thanks again to PrepsKC for running this column both online and in their weekly print magazine. If you get a chance to go and visit their site and “Like” this post, I would appreciate it!

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you.. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd –

Enjoy the Wins

PNI0210-spt d1 boys soccerI have been fortunate to be doing what I love, teaching and coaching, for over 30 years.  During that time there is very little that I would want to change.  One of the things that I would try to do differently is to enjoy the wins more, and allow my players and coaches to enjoy them as well.

Winning is hard, at any level.  If you win or are winning, you are doing something correctly… it is a very good thing… against ANY opponent.  It is hard to do, and hard to do consistently.  Winning is a good thing.  I was struck by how many coach’s quotes after the first week of the college and NFL season said, in one way or another, “winning in this league is hard”.

We all know the “24 hour rule”…. which is enjoy the win for the next 24 hours then on to the next game…  I used it myself with my players and coaches.  I think if you actually use the “24 hour rule”… it is probably appropriate and usually a good thing.  I know though, that often immediately after a win the focus became the next opponent.  Discussions with coaches and players … normally right after the game… revolved around “who’s next?”

So, although the “Rule” was to take 24 hours to enjoy the win, I know typically my head was immediately spinning thinking about the next game… schemes, plans, etc.  If my thoughts, actions, and discussion were already on the next week, I know that forced my assistants to jump ahead as well.  If all the staff was already planning on the next game, those thoughts cannot help but rub off on the players.   So, although we said “Enjoy the win for the next 24 hours”, our actions said something completely different.

One of the most recent examples of my “rule breaking” was in 2011.   We had just won our District Championship… only the second in the history of the school…. by defeating a very good football team… one, which we had never beaten.  I enjoyed the win for about the length of time it took the kids to dump the cooler on me.  After that, we (I) immediately became serious, telling the players what the weeks schedule would look like, and extolling them as to the importance of practicing well during the week.  As coaches, we were already discussing film exchange, grading, breakdown plan, practice schedule and game plan…. walking off the field and during the bus ride home.

When Monday came around at school, all everyone was focusing on was our next game… no celebration, special announcement, or assembly.  It was business as usual… by my specific instructions.   In retrospect I took much of the joy out of that win for our players, coaches and school.

I do not know what the happy medium is… nor do I have the answer to the conundrum…. Taking time to sufficiently enjoy the wins, but adequately preparing mentally for your next contest.

Winning is hard and a measure of success…. at any level and against any opponent…. Allow time to enjoy some fruits of your labor.

Thanks again to PrepsKC for running this column both online and in their weekly print magazine. If you get a chance to go and visit their site and “Like” this post, I would appreciate it!

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you.. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd –

Accountability and Praise

It is getting to be the time of year when most teams have experienced some success, and also have had to deal with some sort of adversity.  I always find it interesting and revealing seeing how coaches deal with both.

The accompanying document and philosophy really guides how I (we) try to speak to players, parents, and the media in regards to our program.   Each “Chain” (as in “chain of command“) deals with a different set of circumstances, but both rely on the underlying principal that we (coaches) are adults and professionals and the players are really just kids.


The first “Chain” in the document is the “Chain of Accountability”, which guides our thinking after or during some adversity, such as a loss, poor practice or scrimmage.  I believe that the first person that needs to take responsibility, to be accountable, after a loss is the head coach, followed in turn by the coordinators and position coaches. .  It is far too easy for a coach to say, “Those darn kids just didn’t play well tonight”.  In these types of situations I would much rather use phrases like “As a head coach, I needed to do a better job of preparing our athletes for this contest” or “As Defensive Coordinator, it is my job to make sure we put our athletes in a position to stop the opposing offense, and tonight I did not do a very good job of that.”  Ultimately everyone (including the athlete) IS responsible and accountable– I just think as professionals and adults it is part of our job to deflect criticism from those below us on the chain, whether it is another coach or our players.

The converse of the “Chain of Accountability” is the “Chain of Praise”, which guides our thinking and comments when something positive happens in our program like a win or when a team accolade is awarded.  In this case, the first people that need to be praised are the athletes, our players.  Again as adults, I think the coaches in this situation need to be confident enough in our own work that we shower praise on those below us on the chain, whether it is another coach or our players.  Instead of taking credit myself for the victory, I would prefer phrases like “Our athletes really played well tonight and executed the game plan that our assistant coaches worked hard to implement this week”  or “Our running back coach really spent a lot of time working on ball security this week, and it was really reflected tonight in the turnover margin

The bottom line, our players are kids, often with fragile egos and an undeveloped maturity level.  As adult, professional coaches, we should be able to shoulder more of the burden during tough times, and need less uplifting during the good times.

Thanks again to PrepsKC for running this column both online and in their weekly print magazine. If you get a chance to go and visit their site and “Like” this post, I would appreciate it!

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you.. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd –