COACH SPEAK : WEEK 6
By Leo Haggerty
This week’s question of our cadre of collegiate head coaches is below.
A citizenship question instead of a football question today. With election day coming up in November, do you feel a responsibility and an obligation to encourage your players to register and vote?
Yes, I know, that it’s not your “run-of-the-mill” football inquiry but I wanted to see what importance the leaders of their football program puts on their charges doing their civic duty. Their depth of their answers are quite impressive.
No NFL COACH SPEAK with the Bucs on their bye week. Enjoy.
Navy HC Ken Niumatalolo : That’s never come up. I never really talked about that. I’ve never really thought about that. You kind of caught me off-guard with that question.
Southern Methodist HC Sonny Dykes : Yes, I think so. I think it’s part of our responsibility to get them involved in everything. I think they need to be advocates for social change if that’s what they want to do. I think it’s part of our responsibility to educate them about the influence that they have as a college athlete. Show them how important their influence can be in a correct way. It’s something we haven’t talked about up to this point but it is something we will talk about. We are not going to get involved in politics or that kind of stuff like who they should vote for or what they should do. We want to encourage them to be an activist in what they believe in. I think that’s our role. To encourage them to be active and get involve in the platform that they choose.
Baylor HC Matt Rhule : Yes, we talk a great deal with our players about social responsibility. I think we do a good job of encouraging our players to get involved in the voting process.
Iowa State HC Matt Campbell : Yeah, good question. From the standpoint of our football program, we talk a lot with our players about what’s happening outside our walls and not just what’s going on inside of our walls. Educating our players about what’s going on outside our walls, whether it’s voting or elections or other things, is a responsibility that we, as coaches, take very seriously.
Iowa HC Kirk Ferentz : Yeah, we do. It’s something that we talk about. In fact, there’s an excellent piece that came out last spring that kind of addressed that. It’s everybody’s civic duty to be active and participate. Don’t complain but do something about it. We brought in a group last spring to work on that initiative also. We try to raise awareness and get our guys registered. It’s an educational piece that we picked up from the Atlanta Falcons about voting. They do an excellent job with that.
Northwestern HC Pat Fitzgerald : You know, I talk to my guys about every issue that may come up in our locker room that I’m aware of. In our country, it’s a privilege to vote. I talk to our guys about it. It’s the beginning of October and a little bit of a different time here on campus. We’re just starting to get into full swing. Also, our campus community does a great job of communicating “top-of-the-mind” issues. As you know, any time their are elections it’s a privilege to vote. People fought hard for that privilege and that right. I think it’s a responsibility of us parents and coaches to make sure that we educate the next generation on just how important those things are. So, I don’t get into politics. But I do believe that, if you are so inclined, it’s in our guy’s best interest to be socially engaged and I would encourage them to do that.
UCLA HC Chip Kelly : Sure.
USC HC Clay Helton : Definitely. It’s a big responsibility when you talk about having the freedom to vote. I encourage all young people to take advantage of that opportunity. It’s one of those things that makes it great to be an American citizen.
Washington HC Chris Petersen : Yeah, I do and we talk to them about it. I don’t have a problem doing that at all. The issue is who to vote for and what to vote for. That’s the big thing especially with the lack of time that they have to study everything that’s on the ballot. Voting is something that I encourage.
Louisville HC Bobby Petrino : We already do that. We always feel like that’s part of the great country that we live in, that you have the opportunity to contribute and do your part. So it’s a great question and a great point. That’s part of being a citizen of the United States.
North Carolina HC Larry Fedora : Well, I’ll tell you, I feel a responsibility to grow these young men into men. And when they leave here it is my responsibility that they are better men than they were when they got here. They’re better fathers. They’re better husbands. They’re just better people.