FNF Coaches Talk — How to Crush a Team with Respect, Nick Saban’s Mentors, Teaching Resiliency

Welcome back, Coaches. We’ve got three good stories for you.

1. A Coach’s Dilemma: How to Crush a Team With Respect (Green Bay Gazette)

We’ve touched on this topic before, and it’s definitely a hot-button issue for coaches.

It’s a situation high school football coaches dread even when they are cruising to a win. It’s one they don’t spend time practicing for during the week.

What happens when a score is so out of control that the 35-point running clock has kicked in and the winning team desperately is attempting to reach the end of the game without humiliating the one getting blown out?

When do you pull starters? Do you actively attempt to score with your backups? Do you call a running play you hope in the back of your mind doesn’t score a touchdown?

“I don’t care how good of a coach you are, at some point, you are the guy on the other side,” West De Pere coach Jack Batten said. “There are just certain times when there is a disparity in talent that it no longer becomes competitive. You surely want the kids on the opposing team to be able to maintain their dignity and walk into school on Monday.”

East (Wisc.) coach Shaun Behrend has been on the receiving end of a few blowouts this year, and he says he’d prefer opposing teams show no mercy.

“Nobody wants to have a knee taken on as a competitor,” Behrend said. “… As a competitor, in the third quarter, punch it in. We fumbled the ball. Punch it in. What’s the difference if you lose 76-0, 85-0 or 90-0? At that point, what are we talking about? In the heat of the moment, yeah, I was frustrated. I was frustrated with that and taking a knee. Nobody needs to feel sorry for us.”

What measures do you take to keep it respectable when your team gets out to a huge lead?

2. Even Nick Saban Has Mentors — And So Should You (ESPN)

We are always looking for ways to get better, and one of those ways can be networking with other coaches to learn about leadership. X’s and O’s, or even staying organized.

Two of the great coaches in football history — Bill Belichick and Nick Saban — network with each other to stay on top of the profession.

Saban and Bill Belichick have been meeting at least annual since Saban was an assistant on Jerry Glanville’s Houston Oilers staff and Belichick was an assistant under Bill Parcells with the Giants.

This story talks about some of Saban’s other mentors, and of course, he started finding those long before he got to the NFL.

If Saban looked hard enough today, he likely would find his old notebook from Kent State. He promises he would not have thrown it away. “It was the Bible,” Saban said. “Everything was written up and put in the notebook.” It included so much more than a playbook. It had everything from schemes to standards to meeting schedules throughout the year. It contained defined expectations for everyone within the organization to follow.

It didn’t take long for defensive coordinator George Perles to take a liking to Saban when the two were on the same staff at West Virginia. Decades later, Perles will recall how impressed he was by Saban, picking up right away how intelligent and hard-working he was.

Perles would later hire Saban at Michigan State and promote him to defensive coordinator, which would eventually lead to him becoming head coach of the Spartans from 1995 to 1999.

The system, Tony Dungy explained, was actually fairly straightforward. It wasn’t about fancy coverages or alignments no one could figure out. Instead, it was about dominating the line of scrimmage, playing fast and aggressive, and, above all, being fundamentally sound.
“It was a simplistic style of, here’s what we’re going to do and we’re going to do it and perfect it to the max,” Dungy said. “And it doesn’t matter what offenses we see or what anyone else does, if we get good at what we do it doesn’t matter who we play. It’s that mentality George had, and I think a lot of that rubbed off on Nick.”

In what ways do you use your mentors as resources to help you grow in the profession?

3. It’s a Hard Knock Life: Teaching Resiliency to Our Young People (The Epoch Times)

This is a great story for coaches to share with parents — the ones who try to step in whenever their sons or daughters encounter any adversity. You know the parents we’re talking about, the ones who call you when Johnny isn’t getting enough playing time. Or the ones who want to speak to you on the sideline after the game because they’re concerned that your tone was too harsh.

This story makes the case that we shouldn’t always solve our players’ problems or try to remove obstacles from their paths. Adversity is a good thing, because it builds resilience. It’s a good message for coaches, but perhaps an even more important one for parents.

No—if we wish to build resiliency in our young people, we must sometimes resist this urge to remove all obstacles from their path, to become what some now call “lawnmower parents.” We can offer help, but must then step away and allow them to grapple on their own with the trouble at hand. This wrestling match with hardship, with expectations and plans gone awry, can build in them a sense of independence, a realization that failure is not an enemy so long as we learn from the experience.

The story goes on to say that parents shouldn’t get involved when their children get a result they don’t like — whether it’s on a test or on an athletic field. Your child is complaining that he or she wasn’t treated fairly? Life’s not fair. Encourage them to fight through it, and that will help them build resilience.

The next time your high school sophomore fiddles around on the Xbox all evening and then flunks his biology test, or your daughter forgets to bring to school that math homework the teacher checks daily, pause and think before you decide whether to intervene.
Learning to take responsibility and to rebound from failure can be painful, but possession of it is one of the keys to a great life.

What is one way you’ve helped your players build their resilience?

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