COACH SPEAK : WEEK 1
By Leo Haggerty
Well, we have good news and bad news as it pertains to my Coach Speak column. The good news is that it is returning for another football season. The bad news is that only two conferences, the Big 12 and the American Athletic Conference, are still doing their weekly football coaches teleconference. The other Power 5 conferences, the PAC 12 and the Big 10 and the ACC and the SEC, have all discontinued their teleconferences due to lack of media involvement.
That’s a shame because the media members, like myself, who were regular attendees to the six teleconferences obtained valuable information from selected conference coaches nationally without leaving the office. That’s was a huge advantage that I no longer have.
I will try to get in touch with the specific school Sports Information Departments to see if there is another alternative. I’ll keep you posted on how that is progressing if at all.
So, until then, you will be treated to the opinions of at least a couple of Big 12 and AAC head honchos on the same specific topics. This week I talked with first-year mentors Neal Brown at West Virginia and Matt Wells at Texas Tech from the Big 12. Also, I chatted with Temple newcomer Rod Carey along with veteran Memphis head coach Mike Norvell.
The two questions that I posed of all the head coaches that I spoke with are below.
Q1 : In every NCAA football program, there’s probably at least one player or coach or someone working out of the football office that has a relative in Florida. How hard is is to get them to concentrate on football when there’s a Category 5 hurricane sitting off the Florida coast?
Q2 : You emerged victorious in your season opener which is always the main goal. Was it a teachable win where you can point out specific deficiencies that your team needs to work on?
Q1 : That’s an excellent point. At this time, I’m getting ready to walk into a staff meeting and talk about it. You just have to keep in mind that you can only control what you can control but that’s easier said than done.
Q2 : Yes and I think most games are like that during the season. It is definitely easier to teach off a win than it is off a loss to me. We did not play well at several different positions and categories but we did find a way to win and that’s important. It says something about our kids. In some situations, guys get tight and they try to do too much. Our guys didn’t do that and that’s commendable. We have to do a better job of coaching them and teaching them. We have to get better because teams will definitely expose us as we go into the season.
Due to Hurricane Dorian, the Big 12 Football Coaches Teleconference could not be recorded for replay. I was able to find Coach Brown’s on the West Virginia website. Still search for any audio or transcripts of Coach Wells. Will post if and when I find it
Q1 : That’s a good question. My in-laws and my mom go down to Florida in the winter. We just had a discussion about that yesterday. We will address it when we get back together with the team. If they need to be doing something we will make every effort to help them get with their families in whatever way they need to. Maybe just talking to them especially when you’re dealing with something that’s unforeseen. The lines of communication are open and that’s the biggest thing.
Q2 : Yeah, absolutely. Every game you play you learn something from that game but, obviously, you learn more from a win than a loss. I’ve been through this a bunch now . There are a lot of things that we have to execute at a higher rate. We have to compete a better rate both players and coaches. As players and coaches, we both have to get better at this.
Q1 : It’s something when you have a disaster, a potential natural disaster, when loved ones and family are involved it is a distraction. It’s a well-needed distraction. Your folks and loved ones, in looking at this current situation, are most important. We, actually, have a couple coaches that are from the state of Florida and their families are there. You just try to provide support for them in any way possible and continue to think and pray for the safety of every that’s there. You want to try and do everything that you can to make the situation the best it can be for all those guys.
Q2 : Yes, most definitely. I think being able to beat an SEC opponent, we understand that the resources that teams from that conference are able to have that some of us don’t have. When you’re able to go and play at the level that we played when it comes to the physicality and the toughness and the effort, that’s great. In fact, I thought that we dominated in every phase of the game but we made so many mistakes that kept the game a lot closer than it should have been. It’s great that our guys were able to go get a win and then learn from it and have that experience. Now, we have to prove that we can continue to perform at our standard and reach our potential. Those are the kinds of things that we need to see early. I saw a lot of great flashes from our team. Coming off that game, we had a meeting yesterday and they fully understood we did what we needed to do to win that game. There’s still a lot of areas where we need to continue to grow and to maximize the potential that we have.
As you have seen, the answers from each coach was extremely insightful. There was a lot on commonality with all answers of all four head coaches even though they are in different geographical areas.
Also, I have to admit this. When a person you are interviewing starts his answer with that’s a really good question, it makes you feel like you hit the nail on the head. As you have just finished reading, that happened more than once.
What it shows is football is football no matter where you are playing. Hopefully, you enjoyed the responses to my questions.