FNF Coaches Talk

Welcome back, Coaches. We hope you enjoyed the weekend. Here are some stories we noticed that might interest you.

1. The most aggressive drill in the spring? Gundy says it’s 7-on-7 (GoPokes)

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy was asked which drill gets the most competitive, most physical, has the most fire and it was no surprise. The seven-on-seven may be a perimeter drill, but at Oklahoma State it might as well be the trenches.

“Well, there’s a lot of fire, we have good wideouts and good experienced corners,” Gundy said of the expected answer of the seven-on-seven drills. “It’s on everyday and at some point I slow down the scripting of those periods because I’m concerned about the hand-to-hand combat that is going on at those positions. That has happened here forever.”

What is your team’s most competitive drill during the spring?

2. Building a Program Culture by Design: Beliefs/Behaviors/Mission/Vision (USA Football Blogs)

We’ve all seen too many coaches get fired for being tough on players to understand that this is no longer a time when we can rule with an iron fist.

Gone is the yelling, swearing, polyester-wearing drill sergeant of a coach. Now, coaches are the young, energetic and magnetic motivators that are just as focused on culture development as they are on X’s and O’s.

he players of today live and learn in a fast-paced digital world. As coaches, it is our jobs to adapt and meet them were they are at.

The ability to create a culture that will sustain and thrive year after year comes down to answering the questions of who, what, why and how.
Who are we trying to impact?
What is the vision and mission that we are trying to accomplish?
Why is this important to our program?
How will we build these ideologies into our culture?

With the role of parents becoming all the more involved these days, coaches also need to take into account their role in the program.

The role of the head coach has evolved over time. Calling the plays and running an efficient practice is not enough. The paradigm has shifted to encompass so much more. If we are trying to create a connected and dynamic program that is experienced-based, the mindset has to shift. It starts with the head coach but not from the top. We lead from the middle as we are the connector. Using a wheel and hub analogy, the coach is the hub of the wheel. It is the head coach’s job to facilitate, create and connect players, parents and the community to a shared purpose through experiences that support the belief system. The goal is to connect as many spokes of the wheel as possible on any given day. With this short-term focus, the mission can be accomplished daily. Over time with consistent and purposeful effort, the vision becomes clearer for all the stakeholders within the program.

What type of culture are you trying to build for your program?

3. Columbine athletics helped carry the weight of a community’s healing during 1999 “redemptive” season (Denver Post)

The October after the attack at their school that left 13 people dead, including teammate Matt Kechter, Columbine football lost to rival Pomona on a late field goal midway through the 1999 regular season.

The Rebels were undefeated up to that point, and the loss by no means derailed their dreams of a first state championship. But as player Landon Jones explained, the setback allowed the true weight of the team’s pursuit to sink in.

This was no longer simply teenagers blocking and tackling and passing under Friday night lights; it was an entire community behind a team, a sense of togetherness out of tragedy.

The Rebels rebounded from the loss, rattling off eight straight wins to ultimately claim the Class 5A state title and launch a football dynasty — and, under the leadership of head coach Andy Lowry, something much more lasting.
“He was able to instill in the program the fact that we were going to honor those people, but at the same time the best way we could honor them is by how we live our lives,” assistant coach Tom Tonelli said. “Our program began to play the game for something beyond themselves, and even though I think that value was there before the tragedy, it was reinforced afterward and become the pivotal thing that everything else rested on.”

Assistant coach Tom Tonelli said the entire school and community rallied around the football team.

“That ’99 team epitomized the strength the whole school had,” said Tonelli, who still teaches and coaches at Columbine. “It wasn’t just 40 kids on a football team that went out and beat the odds. It was 2,000 kids in the school who beat the odds by coming back, by rallying together. They were willing to lean on each other and say, ‘We know who we are, and we know what we stand for.’ That permeates even still today.”

In what ways have you seen football inspire your community?

What’s driving the conversation in your locker room? Email Managing Editor Dan Guttenplan or Tweet us @fnfcoaches. Don’t forget to use that hashtag #FNFCoachesTalk!

About the author

Dan Guttenplan