FNF Coaches Talk — VT Coach’s Apology Sparks Team, Coach Suspended for Parent’s Actions, Jobs for Non-Players

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

1. Hokies have responded since coach Justin Fuente apologized after humiliating loss to Duke (Daily Press)

We found this article fascinating. It’s the story of Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente apologizing to his team following a loss to Duke in September — a humbling experience that helped spark a turnaround for the season.

Perhaps players respond to coaches who show vulnerability and weakness (on occasion).

It’s been an internal rallying cry for Tech in the wake of its 45-10 home loss in September to Duke that dropped the Hokies to 2-2. But the immediate aftermath of the embarrassing loss also represented an opportunity for Tech coach Justin Fuente to have a mea culpa in front of his team.

“I know it was different for me,” Fuente said. “Just being 100% candid. The meeting we had … I just put it up there and I told them, ‘This is my fault. We are not a tough football team right now. We’re not mentally tough, we’re not emotionally tough and we didn’t play physically tough, and here’s examples of it on the film and this is not your fault. It’s my fault.’
“I said, ‘It’s changing right now. I’ve let you down, and that’s on me and I encourage everybody to look at themselves in the mirror when things don’t go well, and I’m doing it right now. I’m telling you we’re changing this. I’m going back to being myself. I’m not worried about anything else, and if you want to go be a part of it, then I’ll see you on the practice field.’”

Can you think of an example when you apologized to your team? What prompted the apology?

2. Macomb Dakota football coach suspended after parent burned Chippewa Valley jacket (WXYZ)

This is one of those stories that leaves you scratching your head.

A Michigan football dad is apologizing to the school for an incident after his son’s team beat his alma mater, Chippewa Valley High School. Following the game, the dad burned his varsity jacket from the late 1980s in front of the team as it unloaded from the team bus.

The dad says he did it to show support for his son and teammates.

The Dakota High School coach was suspended before the next playoff game with Sterling Heights Stevenson and lost 38-35 on Nov. 8.

The coach was told he did not do enough to protect his players. There’s no indication the coach or the players had anything to do with the incident.

He wrote in a letter to the coach and team, “I got caught up in my excitement and through this would be funny or motivating to the players. Shame on me.”
Superintendent Ron Roberts tells 7 Action News the coach was suspended for one game because he did not keep the students safe.
“All that needed to happen that night is move the kids away from that fire and call 911. The coat was burned with an accelerant. Students were encouraged to stand around by this person – the person burning the coat,” Roberts said.

How should the Superintendent have handled this situation?

3. The Game Plan: Options for students who don’t suit up on game day (WFAA)

We all know football isn’t for everyone, and this is a good story if you’re looking for ways in which non-football players can contribute to the program. Have you ever been approached by a student who wants to help at mid-season? Or maybe he (or she) just isn’t experienced enough to get through a practice?

Game day provides many opportunities for students who don’t play on the football team to play a their own vital role; whether it’s drill team, band, cheerleaders, or on the training staff.

“They’re very much a part of our team,” says Centennial head football Coach Matt Webb of the student trainers, “They’re as important to us at the quarterback, the offensive coordinator, and the center.”

One other option is steering a student toward helping with the technical aspects of the Friday night operation.

Centennial’s Eli Berk understands that feeling.

“I get to act like I’m still on the field. I get to draw up my own plays from the booth, and put that into the context of the game,” he says.

Berk takes a broadcasting class and is a senior member of the broadcasting club made up of dozens of Frisco ISD students who work to broadcast up to four football games each week.

They get hands on experience, working cameras, and other production tools, as well as calling the games. Perfect for someone like Eli, who suffered an injury, ending his playing days.

What advice do you give non-football players who want to contribute to the football program?

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