Building a "team"

Coaches are always looking for the best way to build their team.  August camp has just started, but undoubtedly a few college coaches have already realized they have a special freshman class.

They can see the foundation of what lies ahead.

Former Tampa Bay all-pro defensive lineman Warren Sapp loves the way Raheem Morris is putting together his team.  Coming alive is unity, ownership, and unselfishness.

74 of 90 players  grinding through training camp are twenty-five years old or under.   Despite being $50 million under the salary cap a few weeks ago, the Bucs opted not to bring in some big name veteran players.

To Sapp, there’s something special to that.  He remembers when the Bucs built a championship organization with a core of young players that included Derrick Brooks, Ronde Barber, John Lynch, and Sapp.

Sapp said, “It was home grown Bucs that we won with.”

There’s something about, “We build together.  We grow together.  We grow old together.  I didn’t think about it until Raheem asked me, ‘How many outsiders you had in your defense?’  I was like, ‘It was all home grown.  It was us.’”

“We had this one guy come in here, I think it was Porter, and we ran the pursuit drill.  He didn’t make it one drill because it was something he was so unused to.  He just left.”

Sapp said, “They have a certain way of doing it.  They want to draft their guys, they want to build them together, they want them to grow together.  I like that.”

“One thing I know about football…if you buy in, it will work.  That’s what Bill Belichick does.  I like the philosophy of, 'I don’t need any of my critics to believe in me.  I need my ball club to believe in me.'  They are playing.  These kids are so ready to chomp at the bit.  They don’t know nothing but ‘Let’s do what coach says.’”

According to Sapp, head coach Raheem Morris said, “We’re going to go with our guys.”

Sense the excitement from Sapp, right here.

Will Muschamp: My whole deal in coaching is...

Will Muschamp was asked during a press conference today if there were some things he did when he took over at Florida to get the players to like him.

Muschamp responded, “I don’t know about that. I am who I am.  I don’t really change for anybody.  My whole deal in coaching is if they respect you and they trust you, eventually they’ll like you because they’ll understand what you stand for.  I am about being honest with the players.  Sometime they don’t like what I tell, but I’m going to be honest with them.  Sometimes they don’t like the way I tell ‘em either.  We’re going to do things a certain way.  I think they respect that.”

“At the end of the day, coaching is a people’s game.  You gotta to relate to people.  We’re all different and they’re all motivated different ways.  I think it’s our job as coaches to find what keys they have individually.  The old saying, ‘You treat everyone the same way,’ well, you really don’t.  Let’s be honest.  You gotta figure out what makes them tick, each individual.”

“I tell ‘em all the time I love suggestions.  We may not do them all, but certainly I want your input because this is your program.  This is your program.  I always tell the staff we’re here to serve the players.  If it weren’t for the players, we wouldn’t have jobs. So it’s our job to service the players.  That’s what we’re here to do.”

Video: UCLA linebackers coach mic'd up

UCLA mic’d up linebackers coach Clark Lea during the Bruins’ second practice of August camp.

At twenty-nine years old, Lea is one of the youngest D1 assistant coaches in the country.  This will be his second season as the linebackers coach after being promoted from the defensive graduate assistant position.

According to Lea, the Bruins will have the most depth they’ve ever had at linebacker in quite a while.

Lea said, “At the end, I think we’re going to have 6 guys that are going to be able to play and help us win over.  We haven’t had this since I’ve been here.  We’ve had some fine players at linebacker, but never six deep.  When we have guys that happen go into 80 or 90 snaps, you don’t have guys bearing that load.  They are sharing it now.  So you may see 60 / 30 split or 50 / 40 split, so we’re not losing production.”

The Bruins open at Houston before returning home to host San Jose State and Texas.

Here is Lea mic’d up:

Bob Toledo sensing the best Tulane team during his tenure

Tulane head coach Bob Toledo believes the Green Wave is turning the corner. On Wednesday, Toledo admitted he’ll be disappointed if Tulane doesn’t qualify for a bowl game this year.

To do so, the Green Wave will have to win seven game because of the thirteen game schedule that ends with a trip to Hawaii.

Toledo said, "I've talked about this to a lot of people. In the past, we said we wanted to become competitive. I believe that last year we were as competitive as we've been since I've been here and we lost several games that we felt we could have won and that would have got us to seven or eight wins. Well, I don't think it's any good any longer to just be competitive. I want to win and our players want to win. Our goal now is to win a conference championship and go to a bowl game this year. Anything short of going to a bowl will not be good in my opinion. We're looking forward to that."

(on agreeing to play at Hawaii) "They approached Rick Dickson and he asked me if I wanted to go to Hawai'i. I said `Hell yea. Are you kidding me? Why not?' And so I said, `Let's go! I'll accept that. Bring 'em on!' Then he said, `Well, you've got to win seven games.' I said `Bring 'em on, baby! Let's win seven.' But I think it's great. I played over there six times. I coached the Hula Bowl over there, an All-Star game. I've had some great experiences. That's a great place. A tough place to play. And we're going to leave on Tuesday so it's not a vacation. It's not a bowl game. It's an important football game for us and I hope we already have seven wins before we get there. But if not, we've got to go and win that football game."

(on the progress of the program) "Two year ago, as you know, we played 18 freshmen. Last year, we played 20 freshmen. So we've played a lot of young guys. Actually, we only have 12 seniors on our football team right now and I would venture to say that maybe half to two-thirds of them will contribute this year. But we are really a sophomore/junior football team. It's a young team, but it's no longer an inexperienced team. It's no longer a weak football team. I'm really pleased with the progress we've made. We feel that with the off-season program and the recruiting that we're starting to develop some pretty good quality depth. That is kind of what has really hurt us in the past. We've had some pretty good players, those guys get hurt and we don't really have a lot of people to step up and contribute from there. I feel good about that now."

"It's time for us to do something. I've tried to build this program on a solid foundation. It's a tougher job than I thought it was going to be. We've had some high points but we've also had some low points, and it's just time to put up. I'll be disappointed, to be honest with you, if we don't get to a bowl game. And that's me speaking."

Tulane opens against Southeastern Louisiana.  A week later, the Green Wave will host Tulsa in the conference opener.

Pitt football launches brilliant webpage

It’s a brilliant move by Pitt athletics.

Pitt has created a webpage on their official site that is strictly dedicated to daily coverage of training camp.  If you’re a Pitt fan, it’s the only page you need to visit.

We think it’s smart because it gets viewer's eyes away from message boards, where rumors and innuendo can run rampant.

It’s the central gathering place where Pitt fans can stay in the know on all things about Todd Graham’s new coaching staff.  The page includes links to daily newpapers articles about the program, but that doesn't mean Pitt has to link to a negative article.

The important thing is that Pitt is in control of the content.

What you do get is all of head coach Todd Graham's quotes, player quotes, and videos.  There are also behind-the-scenes videos like Todd Graham’s post-practice speech to the team following the very first practice.

Graham told the team, “The best thing about this football team is not the talent.  The most talented in the Big East won’t win it.  It’s the team that is the best team.  It’s the team that has the most invested.  Let me tell you something men, we are a very mature team.  We have a lot of young talent.”

“It’s that maturity that wins football games, that teaches, that leads, that does things the way we want it done.  I don’t care if we win 59-58, 3-0, or 3-2.  I don’t care.  All I care about is winning.  If you will have a passion to do what you do.  Say ‘coach me,’ coach.  And then turn it loose and play.  When we go across that white line, get in the left lane and hammer down.  That’s how we play.  I’m excited.  That’s the best first day I’ve been around.”

Here’s the video of the speech.

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