Offensive schemes, defensive techniques, vendors touting all the latest gear guaranteed to help elevate your program.
What if the single thing that would make the greatest difference in your program wasn’t for sale?
What if the most important thing that would move your program forward had nothing to do with X’s, O’s, workouts, or technique?
In the last week I have seen four different references to this “magic bullet”… all from people who are experts in our field…
In Tom Coughlin’s farewell press conference he had this to say about relationships…
“While it is the job of the head coach to get the technical football right, …it is our duty to equip these men with the virtues that will last a lifetime, the values like honesty, trust, responsibility, respect, service and integrity, those are the things that we teach in addition to the football”
“What has become extremely important to me as I’ve grown in this position is relationships. Relationships have become the primary objective in my career.”
“While the two Super Bowl trophies right out here are incredible accomplishments, and I’m very proud of them, don’t get me wrong, I believe it is the unbreakable bond between coach and player that defines me as a coach…”
In an article for the Michigan State magazine, The Players Tribune, Kirk Cousins (Redskins QB) described a certain “Freshman” on the Michigan State squad during his initial year as a Spartan… (spoiler alert… the “freshman” he is describing is first year head coach Mark Dantonio)
“The other thing about this freshman was that he would ask all of these questions. I swear, with every guy on the team, he’d sit down next to them, and he’d just … ask stuff. He’d ask about everything. He’d ask about their family (“How are things at home?”) … about their love life (“You seeing anyone?” — and if they were: “How’s that relationship?”) … about their spiritual life. He’d ask about what sort of classes they were taking, and about how they were doing in those classes. And whether they were doing poorly or well, he’d dive into that subject with them and want to know all about it.”
“And again: We’re talking every guy. And we’re talking a whole football team. Like 100-plus players, easily. It was crazy. But this guy just cared. I don’t know how else to explain it. And he was so committed to caring. To see that from anyone would have been impressive. But to see it from a freshman? It was inspiring.”
“That freshman’s name was Mark….you might know him better as Coach Dantonio.”
He went on to describe how the culture “trickled down” into all aspects of the program…
“…the thoughtful outlook, the supportive attitude, those personal conversations — they’re not a stunt. Rather, they’re examples — just a few of many I could give you — of the culture that Coach D has built at Michigan State over these last nine seasons. It’s a culture that values people as people — not athletes, not blue chips, not superheroes, not scapegoats — and uses relationships, more than anything else, as its positive energy source.”
“And while that culture started with Coach Dantonio, it wasn’t long before it permeated through the entire program. Trust me on this one: When the head coach acts like that … you notice. Everyone notices. The coordinators pick up on it. The position coaches pick up on it. The strength coaches, the team leaders, the other players — they all pick up on it. And then pretty soon, you have an entire culture where everyone has bought into this one, big idea.”
“Coach convinced us that being better people would, literally, make us better football players.”
Mark Bachtel, the head football coach at Scurry-Rosser High School in Texas had this to say during last Wednesday’s session of #TXHSFBCHAT… The Question (Q2) was…
(Q2) What are the priorities for your position to accomplish between now and the beginning of the 2016 football season? #txhsfbchat
Amid the myriad of answers from coaches about kids getting bigger, stronger, faster, and coaches plans to get “clinic-ed up”, popped this answer…
(A2) From a HC perspective I want each position coach to get buy in/commitment from their guys. Build relationships. #txhsfbchat
And finally, a recent Houston Gazette article on the University of Houston’s first year head football coach Tom Herman describes the culture he has developed during this seasons 13-1 campaign.
One by one, the University of Houston football players will get off the team bus Saturday morning at Rentschler Field.
First-year coach Tom Herman will be there to greet them at the door, giving each a hug and peck on the cheek.
It’s all a part of a “love culture” Herman has brought to the UH football program since being hired last December.
“We use the word ‘love’ a lot around here,” explained Herman.
“It’s not ‘love you bro, or dawg’ with a one-handed, (butt) out hug. We’re not into that around here. We are into real, genuine love. It is the only way I know how to do it, and it is the only way that we know how to do it. It has paid off so far.”
Since arriving from Ohio State, where he spent three years and was the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach for last year’s national champion, Herman has preached a culture based on family and each player “playing for their brothers.”
“I have been a part of and played against you name it and see on TV talented teams that don’t care about each other, and they’re average. To say that you are going to be elite in this sport, or championship-level without genuine love or care for the guy next to you, it can’t happen. I know it can’t happen.”
Four times this week… guys that are at the top of their craft talking about relationships.
We all have a lot on our plate.
Sometimes, amid our quest to become a better “technical” coach, we give short shrift to the most important thing we can do in our programs… develop relationships.
What would/ could that look like in your program?
Ours is an awesome job, with awesome responsibilities.
Remember – You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!
Jeff Floyd – firstname.lastname@example.org