How Urban Meyer - and a consultant - are changing Ohio State's culture
Hear him talk about it, and you begin to think Urban Meyer's Buckeyes were the most miserable 24-2 program in college football over the past two seasons. As he describes it, Ohio State seemed to win games in spite of itself. That's Meyer - a relentless pursuit of unrelenting perfection.
Andy Staples of SI.com on Wednesday provided a wonderful look at how a chance meeting between Meyer and Columbus-based leadership consultant Tim Kight has completely reshaped the way Ohio State approaches the game of football. It's really worth your time to read the entire piece, but here are a few nuggets to whet your appetite.
- Meyer has his assistants show up at 6 a.m. on Monday for a series of six 90-minute lectures as Kight immerses the Buckeyes' coaches in his philosophy.
- Speaking of assistants, Meyer no longer calls them that. They're now unit leaders. Each position group compete against its counterpart on the other side of the ball - running backs vs. linebackers, and so forth - in an effort to get all nine groups playing to their potential. "If you have six of nine, you have a good season," Meyer said. "If you have nine of nine, well, Florida State had nine of nine.
- Meyer on the no-huddle offense: "I still don't like that part of it," Meyer said of the lack of between-play interaction among players. "But the stress that it puts on a defense, that's why we do it. You'd be crazy not to do it."
- Kight on the importance of culture: "It's essential. It's everything. We believe culture eats strategy for lunch. Strategy says 'This is the behavior I want.' Culture determines whether or not you get it."
'I'm Jake Spavital, and I'm comfortable in my own skin'
Texas A&M allowed offensive coordinator/rising star Jake Spavital a nice spotlight to inform Aggie fans and recruits of his background and coaching philosophy.
It's a nice, painless opportunity for coaches to get some face time; if your staff isn't already doing something like this, you should.
What we can't get past, though, is the similarity to this:
'Every once in a while, players teach coaches'
When he finally decides to call it quits, Tom Izzo will forever go down as one of the best coaches in college basketball history (and I'm not just saying that because I am a loyal Spartan fan).
I've said it before, and I'll say it again; in the coaching profession there are lessons and wisdom that transcend boundaries, and at their annual sports banquet, Izzo shared one of those lessons while talking about a moment between one of his players (Adreian Payne) and a young fan named Lacey who was battling cancer. If you've been hiding under a rock the past six months, you can read the full story here.
Long story short, the team basically adopted Lacey, making her a part of team events and providing her and her family an all-access pass inside of the program. What they wanted to do was give her something more to fight for, but what actually happened was much bigger.
"People say that coaches are supposed to be role models, and that we're supposed to help people grow up, and be somebody that you learn from, and you hope that you teach players a lot of things."
"But every once in a while, players teach coaches." Izzo said, his voice full of emotion.
I'll let the video pick it up from there. Listen carefully at about the two minute mark as Izzo talks about one of the greatest moments he's had in his 30 years in East Lansing as he sat back, and watched the scene in a hospital room unfold.
The lesson here is simple. Don't be afraid to take a brief step back and learn from your players and also be sure that you're providing them the opportunities that can change their life, the lives of others, and who knows...maybe even your own life.
Lacey Holsworth lost her battle with cancer this morning at age 8.
Inside of Baylor's new futuristic 'Applied Performance' department
Baylor has had an "Applied Performance" program in the works for a few years now, but it recently took the next step and is now being fully implemented, becoming one of the first programs of its kind in the country.
Based on what many of the European soccer and Australian Rugby teams have already been doing, Baylor has decided to monitor how the stressors in a college athlete's life ultimately affect their performance.
"Everything that stresses a student-athlete - physical, psychological or social - we want to make sure we're aware of it, and find ways to assess that, to make sure we're putting the athlete as a whole in a great position to be successful," newly appointed Baylor Director of Applied Performance Andrew Althoff explained to BaylorBears.com.
The process started last summer with players filling out simple questionnaires that covered everything from how much sound sleep players were getting, to their daily nutrition, to how and where they're sore after workouts. They compiled that data among the team and then looked for trends. In turn, those trends told the Applied Performance division how to maximize individual performance. It could be something as simple as a 20-minute nap during the day or as complex as the nutrients they're putting in their body, depending on the individual.
Baylor has also recently equipped players with Catapult GPS monitoring devices, which is a device the size of a mini walkie-talkie that is strapped to the back of a players shoulder. The unit monitors max speed, changes of direction, and distance covered, and what they're able to do with that kind of information is limitless.
"Say you went 3,000 yards at practice. Well, 200 of those yards were 90-plus percent of your top velocity, and then, this many yards were between 75 percent. So, we can break it down into velocity ranges."
With so much information at the tips of his fingers, Althoff admits that part of his challenge in working with the football strength staff is to just give them the relevant information.
"Really, one of the only issues with this is too much information. My biggest job is to filter what's important, and then give tangible action steps based off of the data that I found, so that it's not just a bunch of information."
"It really is fun to work with Coach Kaz and the rest of the staff. There are no egos. It's just a bunch of humble people, rolling up their sleeves and going to work and making sure we can protect the student-athletes and do whatever we can to put them in a great position to succeed."
After reading about it briefly, what Kentucky has been doing with their "High Performance Program" immediately came to mind. While it certainly has it's own nuances, Kentucky was one of the country's first, if not the first, program to introduce this type of extensive monitoring of their student athletes. In the next decade, I can see every major college program following suit and doing the same in an effort to get every ounce of talent from their roster.
Video: P.J. Fleck pranks his team, awards four scholarships
Western Michigan head coach P.J. Fleck put something of a pop quiz to his team on Wednesday. Each member of the Broncos squad was given an envelope marked one, two or three. Except everything wasn't as it appeared. Four players had (fake) accidentally been given envelopes with the number four inside, which sent Fleck into a (fake) fit of annoyance.
He called each of the four players down, with the (fake) instructions of getting new envelopes. But first, he had them open their existing envelopes, which much to their (real) surprise, had paperwork inside that put each one of them on scholarship.
The entire room erupted in real pandemonium, highlighted by whatever dance move Fleck was doing there.
"These four guys exemplify what our program is about," Fleck said of new scholarship winners Andrew Aurand, Jason Meitcthry, Alec Moulton and Dan Quinn. "They really do... They don't have the scholarships like everybody else, but they work just as hard and they sacrifice just as much, if not more, more strain on their family. Don't you dare take your scholarship for granted for one second."
In total seriousness, this is a great moment for the Western Michigan program to share with the public, and a moment that each of those four players (and their parents, no doubt) will remember forever. We appreciate the WMU program sharing it with us.
Here's your chance to call a play at Georgia's spring game
I got to call a play once in high school. In the midst of blitzing some sad sack opponent when our offensive coordinator allowed me to call one play. As a left tackle, I called a basic off-tackle blast play. The run gained three yards, and my career as a play-caller ended as quickly as it began.
Georgia is now offering that same chance to any and all prospective play callers.
Bulldog Nation, you can call a play for UGA. Email a diagram of your idea to [email protected] & we'll pick the best to run at G-Day!— John Lilly (@JohnLillyUGA) April 9, 2014
I sincerely hope that, in the name of public service, Georgia posts all of the submissions it receives. Seeing all the ideas that Madden heroes can concoct would be great, but you just know there'd be at least one play from an S. Spurrier from Columbia, S.C. diagramming a triple-reverse backward punt or something insanely diabolical.
Georgia's G-Day game will be held Saturday at 1 p.m. ET and televised by CSS and ESPN3.
'You'll have to do the work, but I'll give you the keys to the car'
Among one of the more notable hires that Derek Mason made after taking over and Vanderbilt was Brett Maxie. Mason didn't have to look far to snatch Maxie up, as he just wrapped up two seasons in Vandy's backyard with the Tennessee Titans under Mike Munchak before the staff was let go.
In Maxie, Mason added a coach with 16 years of NFL experience (and 13 years of playing experience after going undrafted. Coach Maxie quickly found out that one of the perks of being a former NFL coach and player now coaching in the college ranks is that you tend to have the undivided attention of college-aged kids because you have first hand experience on the level that they all aspire to.
"At the college level these kids are probably going to hang on to every word that you say because they feel like, especially in my case, that I have a little bit extra to offer because I have been at the NFL level. In so many ways, they feel like I've got the blueprint to get them there."
"When I talk to every last one of my players, that's what I tell them, 'If you have an aspiration to play at the next level, I'll do everything in my power to make that happen. Obviously I am only going to affect a small part of that, you're going to have to do the bulk of the work...but I'll give you the keys to the car.'"
Add that kind of experience with the rest of the accolades that the remainder of Mason's defensive staff has, plus the academic standing of Vanderbilt, and you've got one hell of a recruiting pitch for some of the most talented players in the country.
The keys that Maxie is flipping to his secondary, plus the keys that a Vanderbilt degree give them work out to be about the equivalent of a brand new Rolls-Royce (at least). What could possibly be better?
Video: Fisher uses the presentation of the championship rings as a teaching moment
Yesterday we got our first real look at the bling that Jimbo Fisher's program hauled in, and this morning cameras take you inside the meeting room as the rings are handed out. Some programs may just hand out their rings and let the players enjoy them, but Fisher used the opportunity to teach his guys something.
Fisher obviously understands that getting to the top is one thing, but staying on top is a whole new hurdle. Before the players received their rings, Fisher took the opportunity to put things in perspective for them as they try to duplicate the feat in 2014.
"The first thing that I want you to do when you put it on...I want you to think about the teamwork that you had and the camaraderie that you had, the family atmosphere that you had, and the sacrifices that you had to make to get it."
"You can't ever lose the desire and drive and habits that got you that ring."
While rings certainly aren't the top motivating factor for players to achieve the pinnacle, having the biggest championship ring that Jostens has ever made certainly doesn't hurt.
"When you put that on, you become a member of a fraternity where there are very few. And you know what? You can't just be given it, you have to earn your way in." Fisher told his guys.