Four pillars of David Shaw's program

I, along with nearly 3,000 coaches, had the privilege of hearing David Shaw give his philosophy on four key areas of the Stanford University program (not once can I remember him referring solely to Stanford, always Stanford University) on Tuesday at the AFCA Convention. He did not disappoint. 

For those that didn't have the privilege of being there, here are some of the the core values which Shaw runs his program on. 

The Envrionment

"I'm in charge of that environment. Who comes in it." As became very clear throughout his message, Shaw takes everything he is in charge of very seriously.

On taking your time in hiring... "I don't have a position open right now but if I did that position will be open until I find the right guy."

On hiring the right people and delegating... "If you have to constantly check and re-check, you hired the wrong guy. I want to hire the right guy and let him coach."

On the value of a group interview... "We're going to talk ball and see what you know. I encourage my assistants to ask any question that comes to their mind. You're not going to win a lot of games if your staff can't get along."

On valuing trust over X's and O's... "I don't care if you have a power-run guy and a spread guy, if they can talk ball and get along, you can win."

Team Culture

"We win games because of our locker room," Shaw said. For Stanford, cultivating a winning locker room starts well before his players arrive on campus.

On setting a firm standard early in the recruiting stage... "When you recruit a young man, if you let him know right off the bat what your expectations are, he'll let you know if he's up for it."

On his favorite saying in coaching and parenting... "'Start as you mean to go on'. You can't be buddy-buddy with a guy through the recruiting process and then try to be his mentor later. It's like parenting, you can't do things one way and then change things up when your kids are eight years old. They don't understand."

On Stanford's academic standards... "Our academic standards are a strength for us. Guys that come to Stanford University have to be mentally tough finishers. If a guy can play in a playoff game on a Friday night, take the SAT on a Saturday morning with three other schools pressuring him to commit, it tells us a lot about who are they and how they handle tough situations. Kids that can do that, I don't worry about them in the fourth quarter."

On creating a competitive atmosphere... "Everything we do is competitive but we don't allow it to be combative. The arena's going to change, the competitive drive never does."

Game Day

There is no issue, big or small, on game day that Shaw doesn't preside over. 

On uniform uniformity... "I want to play as a team and look like a team with hints of individuality. I don't mind eye black and stuff like that. But if you're going to wear sleeves, you're going to wear two of them. I checked, and they come in two's."

On promoting group celebrations... "I worked in the NFL for nine years, which is why I'm not in a rush to get back. In the NFL, guys talk about how you get three-to-five seconds of camera time after you make a play. That's why you see guys run off by themselves after they score a touchdown or make a sack. We always ask 'How many guys can we get in the frame?'"

On his sideline demeanor... "Since I was 12-years old my sister has called me an old man. I encourage our players to live in the moment, and my job is to think of what's next."

On the one thing he will not tolerate... "You give anything less than your best, I'm going to lose my mind. It's disrespectful to what we're trying to accomplish and disrespectful to the game of football."

Social Media

"I'm not just an old-school football coach, I'm an old-school human being," Shaw said. But even an old-school human being has to have a plan when dealing with the hear-and-now of social media.

On the power Twitter... "Twitter is the scariest thing around. It's dangerous if the people that use it don't respect the power it has."

On the best use of Twitter... "Twitter is to be used as a running commercial to how great your life is."

On avoiding mistakes in social media... "My old boss Bob Bowlsby told me the best thing to do when you're angry is to write a letter, address it, stamp it, seal it and put it in your desk. Go home and sleep on it, and if you still feel like sending it, then you can send it. I tell (my players) all the time, pause before you hit send."

Bill Snyder turns the intangible into tangible

Bill Snyder is a magician. How else can you explain turning a program that went 0-for-the season in the two years prior to his arrival into an 11-win machine that has twice come within one game of playing for a national title? 

His true magical abilities don't solely come from winning games, however. They come from Snyder's gift for turning intangible merits, what he terms as intrinsic values, into results on the field.

Snyder's coaching career started five decades ago making $3,600 a year coaching football, basketball, baseball, track and field, teaching Spanish and driving the bus. "I thought I'd died and gone to heaven," said Snyder. 

He climbed the coaching ladder from there, eventually landing at Kansas State in December 1988. One of the first things Snyder did was call in 22 seniors, a group that had gone 0-21-1 in the past two seasons,  for a group exit interview, where he learned that losing had a cumulative impact on not only their on-field performance, but also in the classroom. According to Snyder, the players felt losing had put a limitation on their success as people.

So, while friends called Snyder, imploring imploring him to leave Manhattan, he refused.

"Every friend I had in college football called me and said 'You'd better get out of there.' I said I'd never been more convinced that we were about to have success," Snyder explained.

That success came from focusing on the players' off-the-field well-being. "We started programs to help build leadership and help them be better students."

As a result, the team started winning. The Wildcats went 1-10 in Snyder's first year, then 5-6 in 1990, 7-4 in 1991, a 5-6 dip in 1992 and then, in 1993, Kansas State went on a tear, winning nine or more games in 10 of the next 11 seasons.

The rising win totals also came hand-in-hand with a jump in the team's GPA. "It was incremental," said Snyder. "We didn't grow out of the sand like Las Vegas."

Now four seasons into his second stint at Kansas State, Snyder picked up exactly where he left off, winning on the field (10-3 in 2011, 11-2 with a Big 12 title this season) through focusing on intrinsic values in football and in life - faith, family, being the best student and football athlete that his players can be. "We talk every day about improving. Improve every single day of your life," he added.

So, to explain how he does what he does, winning the Big 12 at age 73 in a place that once thought 11 wins constituted a good half-decade, Snyder magically turns back into the 23-year-old do-it-all high school coach, driving a bus and teaching Spanish. "I'm a strong believer in having a process in what we really have a job to do, have an impact on the lives of young people."

Ole Miss' official bowl game motivational video

As coaches that have helped turn a program around know, winning is a gradual process. For Hugh Freeze and Ole Miss, that process started when he addressed the team for the first time.

From that point on the tone was set.

Below is the official video that the team watched before the BBVA Compass Bowl against Pitt. It starts off with Freeze's first meeting with the team, then transitions to the team's presentation of the commitment bands signifying them buying in to the team concept, and it wraps up with plenty of well put together highlights from the season.

UTEP's Sean Kugler talks about his coordinator hires

With just over a month on the job at UTEP, new head coach Sean Kugler has made both of his coordinator hires (Patrick Higgins will serve as the offensive coordinator and Jeff Choate as the defensive coordinator) but admits that they haven't talked a whole lot of football yet. They've spent the majority of their time getting on the same page with terminology so that they can effectively communicate moving forward.

Kugler explained that his familiarity with the work ethic and body of work of both hires led to his decision to bring both of them on staff. As an assistant himself, Kugler noted that he responded best to head coaches and coordinators that "let you coach", so that's what he aims to do with both of his coordinators.

A few of the things that led to Kugler to bring Choate on board was his organization, his ability to produce at each coaching stop, his recruiting prowess, and his unlimited energy that in turn cathces on with the players and eventually, the rest of the coaching staff.

Kugler and Higgins actually attended the same high school and grew up near each other and remained close throughout the years. Higgins resume includes head coaching stops at William Penn (NAIA - IA), St. Andrews Prep and as the interim head coach this past season after Danny Hope was let go, as well as numerous stops as an offensive coordinator and has coached nearly every offensive position during his coaching career.

On the new hires, Kugler bragged, "I've got two young, outstanding coaches, with energy. Both are extremely intelligent, both with an outstanding work ethic, and both that I believe everyone in Miner nation will be very proud of."

Kugler also noted that they'll do something interesting on special teams, as both Kugler and Choate have served as special teams coordinators during their careers. No coach will have the title of special teams coordinator, but the offensive staff will all be involved on the return units, and the defensive staff will handle the coverage units. Kugler noted accountability as one of the main reasons for structuring it that way.

Hear more of his reasoning on the special teams duties at about the 3:30 mark.

A quick look at the new AFCA leadership, award winners

While you were busy networking, talking ball and enjoying all the finest things the Gaylord Opryland had to offer, the AFCA conducted some official business while in Nashville. 

Texas head coach Mack Brown was named the AFCA's President for 2013. Officers include first vice-president Mike Welch (Ithaca College), second vice-president Tommy Tuberville (Cincinnati) and third vice-president Todd Berry (ULM).

Newly-appointed board members are Bronco Mendenhall (BYU) and Todd Knight (Ouchita Baptist). The existing board members included: Lee Owens (Ashland University), Jim Grobe (Wake Forest), Bill Cronin (Georgetown, Ky.), Frank Solich (Ohio), Mike Riley (Oregon State), Gary Patterson (TCU), David Bailiff (Rice), Mark Richt (Georgia), Pete Fredenburg (Mary Hardin-Baylor), Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern), Craig Bohl (North Dakota State), Tony Samuel (Southeast Missouri State), Bobby Kennedy (Colorado, chairman of the assistant coaches committee), Joe Taylor (head of minority coaches committee) and Ed Maloney (Dundee [MI] HS, head of high school coaches committee). 

Additionally, the AFCA also announced its 2012 coaches of the year: Brian Kelly (Notre Dame) in FBS, Craig Bohl (North Dakota State) in FCS, David Dean (Valdosta State [GA]) in Division II, Glenn Caruso (St. Thomas [MN]) in Division III  and Steve Ryan (Morningside [IA]) in NAIA. Two of those coaches led their teams to national titles this season, and all five reached the championship games of their respective divisions. Congratulations are in order to each very deserving winner. 

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