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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"Sark the Shark" Returns

Family –

Usually, I could give a rip or waste the time and energy on anything that happens at USC, but given the recent developments of Coach Sarkisian’s return to the Southland I couldn’t resist jotting down a couple of thoughts as things progress throughout the week.

I predicted Sark’s return to USC back in 2009… not soon after he left for U-Dub. Having the common sense understanding that Lane Kiffin was nothing more than a program band-aid and unfortunately for SC the only one dumb enough to take the vacancy left by Carroll amidst NCAA sanctions – it made sense that the only viable candidate for the job was Sark… I mean… as soon as the smoke cleared from the NCAA allegations and Reggie Bush was done with his Kardashian fix all bets in LA were off.

If you remember; Sark was a part of the two-headed offensive coordinating monster under Carroll that won two Nattys in the early 2000’s. Hmmmm… let’s see – one of the two (Kiffin) has had three head coaching jobs since (none particularly mind-blowing) and has left nothing but turmoil and destruction in his wake much like that of a category six hurricane. So much so that all…and I mean ALL of the programs (Oakland, Tennessee & USC) he’s left still ache from the aftermath of his presence.

Now the other… let’s see – has an impeccable reputation and has been credited with rebuilding a decimated Washington program being bowl-eligible in four of his five seasons there. Although some of the impatient ones in Seattle were ready to hit the panic button,
Coach Sarkisian looks on during a UW game.
Photo: AP
they have to realize Sarkisian inherited a 0-12 team that was at the bottom of the then Pac-10. I mean… you’re Washington for cryin out loud… you can’t expect miracles overnight!

At the end of the day Sark’s record speaks for itself. Good job Pat Haden.

Some of the pseudo-SC fans may even challenge the intelligence of Sark’s hiring given that now he has to clean up his colleagues mess. Duh… go figure.

As one of my coaching colleagues says: “Bruh… listen...”

I may not be a smart man, and my opinion may not be worth much more than the Word document I’m typing it on, but I know that if Sarkisian can take U-Dub from 0-12 to a bowl-eligible program we should all expect great things upon his return to the Land of Troy. The only question remaining is: “Will SC be able to keep Coach Orgeron for their foreseeable recruiting future?”

From the perspective of this Domer… let’s hope not. Orgeron’s recruiting genius coupled with Sarkisian’s offensive play-calling prowess and leadership could present a HUGE problem. Here’s an even better question presented on behalf of my Domer faithful… “Coach Kelly… do you have Coach O’s phone number?”


Sport is Life 

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Sport Perspective

Family -

As the high school football regular season winds down and we begin to look ahead to playoffs in Southern California, I just wanted to take a moment and share some of my thoughts with you.

It goes without saying that I love football… I mean, once football is in you… it’s always in you. It doesn’t matter if you’re a player or a coach the desire to compete and be part of an extended family is forever a part of you. Maybe it’s the brutal, almost barbaric-like physical nature of the game… perhaps it’s the strategy of trying to “out coach” the opposition… or maybe it’s simply the spirit of competition and surrender to something beyond that.

Lemme ‘splain.

Unlike many of the young men I’ve had the honor and privilege to coach/mentor in my career here in Orange County, CA, I’ve always viewed football as a way out. A way, just for a couple of hours, to escape the outside world, its many cares and pending responsibilities – an opportunity to spend time with my brothers… my family… and focus on a common unspoken goal of expected success. Whether it meant by-passing the racism and poverty of growing up in rural Florida as a teen or completely submerging myself into coaching in present day to thwart the frustration of poor decision-making in current relationships I’ve come to find solace in those few hours where nothing matters but the reverberating “us” of the football program.

Say wha?? McBride just went off the deep end!  
Tesoro Titans Offensive Line and
Coach McBride make adjustments
Photo by: Shawn Oudt

I’m sure some of you may say that’s a long shot, and maybe even a bit weird… and to that end you may be correct in your assessment. However, for those of you who’ve had similar experiences be it in football or some other sport, you can understand my point of view. I guess in short what I’m trying to say (which you’ve all heard me say before) is that football… no… sport itself stands for so much more than just winning or losing. Reducing sport to a simple win or loss in my humble opinion is disrespecting one of the most incredible learning tools in life! So many life lessons can be taught and learned through sport… even for those of us who consider ourselves to be mature “adults.”

Sport truly IS life… and if you haven’t taken the time to reflect on what that means perhaps you should take a moment to look around… pay attention to what’s going on. Not necessarily to the tabloid-like stories of the many sports networks, but rather to the root cause of why these men and women compete. Ultimately it’s about competing against self… how can I become the best possible version of me?

The celebrity of being an athlete or coach performing at a high level can in itself be intoxicating. Sometimes the real reason we compete can be lost in the “sexy” of sport. Money, power, material possessions, status…all great in their own right; are part of the standard picture. That said without careful management and awareness said celebrity can consume the most unsuspecting person.  

At the end of the day the sun sets on everyone’s career (even Brett Favre – sorry couldn’t help myself). The question then becomes what did you take from the game you loved? Did you learn anything? Were you paying attention?

I guess an even more profound question would be… what do you plan to give back?


Sport is Life

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Finding A Way

Family –

As we begin the 2013 season and all eyes are focused squarely on the Fighting Irish and what they aren’t, I want us to take pause and look at what we’ve lost in the last year.
Since the 2012 season the Irish have lost some tremendous fire power on both sides of the ball. Here is the list of the athletes who have either departed the university in route to the NFL or are no longer with the team. ALL of them were a tremendous part of the team’s success last season.

a.      Tyler Eifert (arguably one of the best tight ends in Notre Dame history)
b.      Manti Te’o (college football’s most decorated athlete…PERIOD)
c.       Kapron Lewis-Moore (one of the team’s most inspirational leaders)
d.      Zeke Motta (a physical, big-play safety drafted by the Falcons)
e.      Jamoris Slaughter (a physically gifted safety drafted by the Browns)
f.        Braxston Cave (the focal point of the Irish offensive line)
g.      Mike Golic, Jr. (a tremendous blocker at the point of attack)
h.      Cierre Wood (Part I of the Irish two part explosive running attack)
i.        Theo Riddick (Part II of the Irish backfield whose best years may be ahead)
j.        Everett Golson (a tremendous athlete and field general on offense)

These ten athletes are some of the best athletes in the country. So much so that they have all landed roster spots with NFL teams (with the exception of Golson who is an underclassman).  As a coach it’s difficult to rejuvenate your team each year… let’s not even mention having to replace the aforementioned in preparation for a schedule as strong and competitive as the Irish.

Let’s be serious for a minute… replacing these men in the critical positions they played on last year’s team is about as difficult as replacing the following men after our storied 1993 season:

The Fighting Irish have a tremedous challenge ahead.
a.      Aaron Taylor
b.      Bryant Young
c.       Jim Flanigan
d.      Jeff Burris
e.      Tim Ruddy
f.        Lake Dawson
g.      Clint Johnson
h.      Kevin McDougal
i.        Todd Norman
j.        Pete Bercich

See where I’m goin with this? Are ya’ll listenin? Good!

Here’s the bottom line…

Notre Dame will find a way… it may not be pretty… we may all wonder what the hell is going on at some point this year. There may even be times when we question the coaching staff, its decision-making, play-calling and the overall performance of the program… but Notre Dame will find a way.

So if you happen to be watching at home on Saturday or happen to be at a storied Notre Dame Game Watch and something just doesn’t go right keep in mind what’s happened in the last few months. From top to bottom the Irish have overhauled their offense and defense and still have an incredible team. They may not have the experience of those who departed, but they’re still Notre Dame Football players and above all else Notre Dame Men.

As Coach Holtz used to say: “Men, make no mistake… we will find a way to win. Don’t doubt that one iota.”

At the end of the day that’s just what Notre Dame does… we find a way!

Go Irish… Forever!


Monday, September 16, 2013

The Game of Football

Family –

In light of the recent allegations and controversies swirling around our favorite collegiate and professional football teams, I thought I would take a moment to point out some of the great things the game presents.

Now that said, it would have been much easier for me to jump on the bandwagon and add my minimal kerosene to the proverbial fire; but I thought to myself, “Why?” Seems that’s a recurring question regarding the sport so many of us know and love today…. “why?”

Let’s dig a little deeper shall we?

Whether it’s the “Thug Life” mentality of former New England Patriots Tight End Aaron Hernandez, the seemingly juvenile behavior of “Johnny Football,” NCAA violations running rampant in the SEC (duh), or the most recent scandal which could ultimately destroy a thriving Oklahoma State program we all tune in to see when the next hammer will fall and who’s head it might crush on impact. Forgetting about the real reason any of this stuff is happening…

Hello people! It’s all because some young man has a talent to play one of the greatest games ever invented… football.

Wait…wait… before your guys go all ACLU on me I’m not taking anything away from basketball, baseball, hockey, lacrosse, soccer, track & field, tennis, swimming, rugby, golf, cricket, boxing, equestrian, MMA or ahh-hem… cheerleading… all I’m saying is that football makes sense to me.

Lemme ‘splain.
Football is truly "America's Game"


The struggle of the game makes sense. All of the hard work for months for only a few minutes of glory to be realized or dreams to be smashed. Honestly, did you ever do the math about how much time players spend in the off-season preparing for a total of only 480 minutes (8 hours) in high school and usually only 720 minutes (12 hours) in college? Can you say 8-9 months of struggle, work, pain and preparation for one live day? 

Think about it… when’s the last time you worked on a job for nine months and didn’t get paid?

Uh huh…. That’s what I thought.

All of the disciplines, feelings, emotions and experiences that football teaches (in my mind) out-weigh all of the perversions that come with the success it brings. Hard work, tenacity, family, team work, selflessness, timeliness, focus, relentlessness, confidence, sacrifice, intelligence, fearlessness, bravery, joy, happiness, sadness, hope, fear, anger, brotherhood, camaraderie, intensity, vulnerability, swagger, power, anxiety, discipline, stress, ferocity, passion, and love are just a few of the things that come to mind when I think of football.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what NCAA rules or laws are being broken by the athletes who play – we love the game and what it represents. The players of today will one day be replaced by others who are just as good if not better than they… and when that time comes we will continue to, much like we do today, celebrate the game of football!

Sport is Life -

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Rise and Fall of "Johnny Football"

Family –

I’ve taken a little time away from writing to focus on the upcoming football season, but that doesn’t mean that I’ve forgotten you or that there hasn’t been significant “events” arise in sport since my last post back in June.

I want to quickly call your attention to a phenomenon in football called the cutback. In this situation the running back is supposed to run to a certain lane or crease where the design of the play takes him. Sometimes, and almost instinctively the running back can “cut back” against the grain or against the flow of defensive pursuit in order to make a significant gain and in some cases score a touchdown.

Hold on… there’s more to it -

In some cases when the running back cuts back there isn’t a running lane for him and he runs squarely into the backside linebacker or whatever backside pursuit there might be. In this case there is usually a loss on the play, no gain and worse-case scenario… a turnover!
Now you may ask why the hell I would be talking about a cutback against the grain and what it has to do with character development and sport…

 I’m glad you asked.

Lemme ‘splain.

Houston…err… uh…  College Station – we have a problem!

What in the world is going on with our reigning Heisman Trophy Winner Johnny “Football?” Obviously this young man is having a problem adjusting to the high level of responsibility that comes with such an empowering honor. Between his out of control behavior at a sports bar that earned him a trip to court, his rants on Twitter that have drawn increased scrutiny from the media, his early dismissal from the Manning Passing Academy and now the pending investigation about NCAA violations which could render him ineligible for the coming season and ultimately cost him his Heisman (Ala Reggie Bush)! Jeez, this kid seems to be in way over his head! Some would even say he’s had serious lapses in judgment.

Huh? Is that it?
Manziel eludes a tackle versus Bama in 2012
Source: AP

Actually no… that isn’t it! If there was ever a case for there NOT to be a freshman (or redshirt freshman) football player being named the Heisman Trophy Winner, Johnny Football is the poster child. Now, in Manziel’s defense perhaps this is just a simple case of delayed maturation… or maybe someone in the athletic department at Texas A&M dropped the ball in not having a meeting with the Mr. Football and counseling him on the proper protocol and behavior becoming a national award winner… especially when representing not only himself and his family, but also Texas A&M University and the entire NCAA!

Oh wait… they did have a meeting with him… (big sigh)

Regardless, I’m not suggesting Manziel isn’t responsible for his current public disapproval rating. He’s made the decisions he’s made which have led to the circumstances he’s enduring right now. And quite frankly he’s made some bone-headed decisions… much like the running back who has a clear running lane and then all of the sudden, for no apparent reason, cuts back against the grain into a huge loss.

I guess the simplest way to say it is this: life is full of decisions. We make them all the time. Some good and some bad – ultimately we have to live with the consequences of the action. The good news is that one action does not dictate who you are as a person – most everyone makes mistakes (perhaps not as catastrophic in nature) but, at the end of the day those mistakes can be viewed in one of two ways.

First, it could be the end of the world and all could be lost – to the point that the very concept of moving on is the most overwhelming thought all by itself. Coupled with the embarrassment of facing public humiliation, judgment and not to mention the mental torture that we can all put ourselves through it would be easy to retreat into a hole and bury one’s self in despair.

Or… Manziel can just shut up and play football. At the end of the day he gained national attention because of what he did on the field… not for his antics off of the field. Seriously kid… just shut up and play.

Manziel’s behavior should be an “in yo’ face” reminder that this award is not only for the best football player in the country, but also the best all-around person who just happens to be the best football player in the country. Maybe… just maybe… our esteemed voters will remember that moving forward.


Just sayin’…

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Seriously... Just Let 'Em Play

Family –

I come to you today somewhat frustrated about the rampant ignorance of a parent I saw just a couple of days ago…

Lemme ‘splain.

As a coach, mentor and educator I have many opportunities to attend athletic contests for all different ages and genders. I watch the players play and how the coaches work with the athletes and interface with the officials, parents, etc. I also have the unfortunate occasion to watch the parents… and lemme tell you, sometimes there’s more action in the stands or the parking lot than on the field.

I was watching a little league game for 10 year-olds… (Nuff said right?) but unfortunately that alone wasn’t the issue.  Aside from the obvious pain of watching 10 year-old baseball there was… yup, you guessed it –one of the most obnoxious parents I’ve been around in some time. 

This guy was unbelievable… Honestly I could see him being the guy at the professional games shouting obscenities at the players and pouring beer on some unsuspecting fan because he didn’t like a call that was made. There wasn’t a kid or a play made in the entire game that he didn’t loudly comment about. He even got upset about a batter who was hit by a pitch because he put his hand up to knock it down... out of obvious fear and self-preservation.

And that’s not even the worst of it!

After the game as I was in the parking getting ready to leave, I saw this same parent, although his kid’s team won the game, completely undressing his son in front of their SUV. Instead of the kid enjoying a play-off win and having ice cream before dinner, he was standing at attention, red-faced, with tears in his eyes and his dad’s finger less than an inch from his face.

YOU CAN’T BE SERIOUS DUDE! THE KID IS TEN! 
Seriously...  just let 'em play

It took all of my restraint not to come unglued with this person, but I did manage to say, “Good job kiddo” much to the chagrin of dad which was also accompanied by a dirty look… whatever.

You wanna know what’s really funny? We bitch, moan and complain about how our kids never want to go outside and play or be part of an organized sport. We pelt them with stories about how our generation used to stay outside and play from early morning until the street lights came on during the summer and on weekends during the school year. Yet, when they do participate we can only ridicule them, criticize them and tear them down.

Would you want to play? Yeah, me either…

I don’t know what the guys was thinking, but he obviously missed these few pointers… and just in case you missed them, here they are again for your reference.

Ten Relentless Pearls of Wisdom for Parents

1.       Ease up a little -No matter what you say, you will never be tougher on them than they are on themselves.

2.      They aren't you - So what you did at that age doesn't necessarily apply in today's sports arena.

3.      Let's be honest, some of them just aren't athletically gifted  - Just love them for who they are and be fine with that.

4.      Ask them don't tell them "How do you think you played today?" versus "I don't think you played well today." You might be surprised how in tune they are with how they performed.

5.      Don't assume - They may not want to play the sport you played as a kid. Their favorite sport could be completely different. Let them decided which direction to go.

6.      Always remember to tell them you love them - Sometimes no matter the approach you take, things can get out of hand. Just remind them that you love them and no matter what you're there for them.

7.      We're talking youth sports here - nobody is picking up a check at the end of the game... if so, sign me up!

8.      Relax and enjoy the game - This one is for me specifically. We've got to remember they're children and even the pros make mistakes. Lift 'em up.

9.      If they ask give an honest yet loving answer - If you get them to ask what you think...think before you answer. In some cases they may be hanging on your every word.

10.   Youth sport is about the experience and having fun - Never let them lose sight of that. We tell them a lot by how we conduct ourselves.

Enjoy the summer… and remember sport should be fun for kids – NOT a job.


#SportisLife

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Sometimes We Forget

Family –

As you know, I coach football and work as chair of the Fit4Life Youth Foundation (when I’m not flooding your in-boxes with my incessant jargon). As I was going through my layers of social media applications; responding to messages and looking at pictures I stumbled across something that was pretty amazing. With that, I thought I would share it with you today…

No, I didn’t find a horse’s head in my bed this morning or a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow… but it was something just as breath-taking.

Follow me here…

Any give season can present its share of grueling practices, intense workouts, hours of film study, game planning meetings, heated disagreements and physically, emotionally and mentally exhausting games. Through all of this both athlete and coach continue to forge ahead pushing themselves to the pinnacle of their very being. “Fighting for that inch,” as Al Pacino said in Any Given Sunday.

Coach McBride during a "Relentless" Workout
Sometimes as coaches we forget how important our role is in the lives of the young people we mentor. Year after year we touch young lives with the hope of teaching them something about the sport they love, while educating them about the bigger game of life.

However, on occasion, we receive a subtle reminder of how much our dedication and compassion means to the ones we coach. For me this realization came in the form of a message via Facebook® from one of my athletes through my Fit4Life program Relentless Sports.

As you read this short note try to think back to a coach who made an impact on your life in a positive way… to me this is one of the greatest victories in all of sport. In honesty, I couldn’t help but choke back the huge lump in my throat when I read it…

“Coach! It has been way too long since I have seen you! Literally till this day all I repeat in my mind is relentless, throughout my races when I have to dig deep relentless and your training program is what I think of. You are the most inspirational coach I have ever had and I can't thank you enough for what you had taught me. Thanks Coach!

My response:

You have no idea how much that means to me ****... I'm so proud of you! To see how far you've come and how many things you've accomplished... and it's only the very beginning! Keep working, stay focused and always remember to "Live Relentless!"
Coach Mac

For those of you who are coaches out there please keep in mind how much you mean to them. They ARE listening to you…even if they don’t always execute the way you want them to… they HEAR everything you say and WATCH everything you do!


God Bless Coaching!


Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Next Play

Family –

As you know this blog is dedicated to using sport as a conduit to understanding the importance of character development through sport and partially to spark some conversation regarding specific events that happen in the sports’ world.

One of the recurring themes that we’ve all faced is the importance of the “next play.” Since the time we were young our coaches (hopefully) have emphasized the importance of fundamentals, toughness and execution… but within those three critical points there is something else that I would add to this simple success equation.

Why thank you…. I’m glad you asked.

My point would be to simply “move on to the next play.”

What does that mean exactly?

Again… glad you asked.

Getting to the “next play” simply means moving on and learning from the mistakes that we’ve made in the past. No one… NO ONE makes all the right decisions ALL of the time. This is true in sport from the youth level all the way up to the pinnacle of the professional ranks… it’s even more relevant in our life decisions.

How many times have we (I know I have) beat ourselves up for a poor decision that has long since passed? Using the proverbial bat to whack ourselves over the head for a bone-headed decision that in retrospect shouldn’t have been made? Living in the comfortably-numb state of “If I had only….?”

I know right? Happens all the time…
Which One Will You Choose?

In those moments if we could reach back to the times in our sport experience where we had to “move on to the next play” maybe some of our self-loathing, destructive thought processes could be eradicated.

Think about it… if you throw an interception or fumble in football – “next play.” If you make a turnover or miss a lay-up in basketball – “next play.” If you happen to give up a goal in soccer, hockey or lacrosse – “next play.” If you give up a home run or commit an error in baseball or softball – “next play.”

So if you happen to be in a negative situation brought on by a poor decision that was made in the past – “next play.”  The good news is life never runs out of plays… until life itself is over. 

Games always have a time limit.

I’m a true believer in the idea that we cannot move forward when we are labored with the ghosts of the past. Now that doesn’t mean that the decisions we’ve made in the past don’t have an effect on us today, but it does mean we can choose to move forward and attack each day to enjoy every morsel of positive energy it can bring… or we can choose to wallow in shame and self-pity refusing to forgive ourselves and get on with our lives.

The choice my good family is ours to make. We can worry about previous life events that happened to be negative and miss the excitement and goodness of what’s yet to come or we can simply run the “next play.”

Which will you choose??


Sport is Life.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Pump Yo' Brakes

Family –

My apologies for taking so long to get back to the laptop, but since spring football started there has been a huge time commitment that has required most all of my attention. To that end, I would be remiss if I didn’t write a short commentary on the current Everett Golson issue that caught us off gua… well some of us off guard this past weekend.

First, let me say that I am in no way minimizing the magnitude of this issue or condoning cheating… however, there have been many before  Golson who have ( hmmmm… how should I put this mildly?)… bent the academic integrity of du Lac at some point. That’s just a simple part of college life... even at Notre Dame. To think the unthinkable that it couldn’t happen at Notre Dame is simply preposterous. If you happen to be one of those people who believe “this kind of thing never happens at Notre Dame” then WAKE UP! That’s almost like saying there’s no under-age drinking or premarital sex there either!

Nevertheless I digress…
Everett Golson Spring Football '13
Photo: AP

Secondly, let’s look at this from a different perspective. Did Golson cheat by himself? I mean, let’s face it… if there’s cheating going on there’s more than one person involved…period. Is the other party a member of the football team as well? Is Golson taking the brunt of this blow because of his stature as a Notre Dame star quarterback? What’s the back story behind this whole thing?

This kinda reminds me (on a much lesser level) of the Mike Vick scandal which basically took him down as the only one involved in the dogfighting ring and he took full responsibility because of who he was….not necessarily for what he did. I know that might offend some animal lovers out there, but there’s glaring truth there. If we think Mike Vick was the only professional athlete or high profile person at those “hosted” dogfights we need to WAKE UP! Again, not defending the action, but making the point that he didn't act alone.

Hmmmmm…let’s see… if Golson plagiarized then there had to be something or someone he plagiarized from, right? If he cheated on an exam there had to be something or someone he cheated with, right? I don’t know about you, but I would rather have all of the ingredients to my cake before I take a bite. By that I mean, let’s just hold off on passing judgment until we have all the facts of the case. Per usual, my Alma Mater is being as tight-lipped about this incident as possible given its sensitive nature AND the potential risk of stain to the Notre Dame persona.

Thirdly, let’s remember this is a kid… not saying that he didn’t make a poor choice, but he’s still a kid… Raise your hand if you never made a bad decision. Exactly... the only difference is that it probably wasn't played out in the national media circus. Now there are rumors about him leaving to go to the SEC and Gunner Kiel returning… baaaah hogwash! Kids make bad decisions… just because he happens to be the starting quarterback at one of the most storied educational institutions in the land doesn’t negate that fact. 

How ‘bout this…. Let’s get all the facts about the situation before we condemn Golson as an immoral son of Cain. Is that possible? I think there’s something really “special” about wearing number five at Notre Dame these days… good grief!


Jus sayin’

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

At What Point is Enough... Enough?


Family –

As you know, I’ve taken some time away from the pen…err… keyboard to work on getting ready for the upcoming football season and to develop some projects that should be dropping in the fall. I’ve missed sharing my thoughts with you.

I come to you today asking for your counsel…. I have one simple question for you: “At what point is enough... enough?”

The reason I ask this question is that a close, personal friend of mine called me today and told me that his son quit his high school football program because of the head football coach. Now, this might not seem like such a big deal to you since this kind of thing happens every day, but let me give you a little bit of the “back story.”

This student-athlete played six (6) years of youth football and was one of my personal clients for three years prior to beginning his high school career. During his freshman year he won the team’s “Ironman of the Year” Award which was given to the kid who, in the mind of the coaching staff, embodied everything they expect from a player with regard to toughness, commitment and respect for coaches, other players and the game of football. He also boasts a 4.7 GPA while taking five... count them five AP courses!
Former Quarterback Blake McBride - 2012

That’s not even the worst of it…

When the young man came in to tell the coach he no longer wanted to be part of the program, the coach didn’t even ask why… his statement was: “Ok… go see your counselor” which is to imply go see your counselor to change your schedule to get out of the 7th period football class.

Wait... what? Is that it?

This just so happens to be the same coach to whom I asked my former coach Lou Holtz how to approach knowing he had no intent to protect and develop young men, but rather to win games (which he has failed to do consistently in his 7 years as head coach). The great Joe Ehrmann even spoke at the high school last week… and it’s obvious to this former football parent and current varisty football coach that this man wasn’t in attendance.

The ultimate slap in this whole thing is that this is a Catholic School who boasts its faith and community to everyone while allowing its young people to be bullied by someone who is trusted to help build the leaders of tomorrow!

Really???

At what point is enough... enough? When does the school take notice of the attrition of athletes from the football program and those leaving the school to participate in the same sport at another school before they do something? What is a parent to do? More importantly what are the kids to do? Kids want to play football, but would rather give it up than deal with encouraged bullying by the very institution they’re paying to educate them. Exactly what are they supposed to be learning from all of this? What would you do? What is anyone to do in this situation?

Something, is seriously wrong here… but then again denial comes in all shapes, forms and sizes. 

Private Catholic school lends no exception.

#JusSayin


Saturday, April 6, 2013

What Happened in Jersey???


Family –

It’s taken some time for me to get back to the pad and pen and it seems that it’s none too soon given what’s been going on in sports recently.

Let’s tackle the obvious first… what the hell was Rutgers thinking? Short of committing Rice to a mental institution for rehabilitation there was no fix for that situation. It’s obvious that Pernetti was acting in the best interest of the student-athletes AND the university but he was basically told to sit down and shut up… what was he supposed to do?

Wait… what?

Isn’t the primary job of the athletic department to keep its most valuable assets safe? I mean let’s be real here… it ain’t like Rutgers was on the verge of winning a national title in basketball or even contending for anything less than a 15 seed  in the NCAA tournament… so what’s the issue with replacing an abusive psychopath?

I’m gonna go out on a limb and assume that you’ve all seen the videotape footage. What the…? If he wasn’t throwing a basketball at them he was grabbing them or shoving them and in some cases kicking them.  I can’t even imagine what the verbal abuse was like. I think what’s most impressive is the fact that the athletes never fought back…. that my dear friends is a sign of extreme fear. Not fear in the sense of being afraid of him physically, but afraid of riding the bench if you stand up to him… afraid that the university wouldn’t back you up… I mean, if the university doesn’t back the AD what leg does an 18-19 year-old student-athlete have to stand on? Otherwise Rice would have been dropped like a cigarette butt.

Think about it for a minute. 

You’re a division one college basketball player. You have classes, lunch, maybe a tutorial and then you have to go to a place that you’re deathly afraid of and endure hours of physical, mental and emotional abuse….knowing that every day would yield the same outcome. What must the mental state of those young men be like? I can’t watch the video without honestly becoming angrily emotional myself.

The first thing Rutgers needs to do is seek counseling for those young men so they can move forward and be productive in their lives. Secondly, the NCAA needs to allow those young men to leave the university without penalty or question given what they’ve endured. Which I think is part of the process when a head coach leaves. I mean, who did Rice think he was? How could he come into a parents’ home, praise there son, promise to protect him, offer him a scholarship and then use him for a personal whipping post?

Something’s missing… as much as I hate to agree with the spineless president of Rutgers University, “Why was nothing ever reported before?” Oh wait… there was an assistant coach (Eric Murdock) who told the athletic department about Rice’s behavior after he was fired and later filed a wrongful termination claim against Rutgers for $950K… but I’m guessing that was dismissed as a disgruntled action right?

I’m not going to continue to beat the dead horse because it’s all out in the open now… but I couldn’t keep quiet about it… I’ve seen some pretty intense things…even at Notre Dame and in the pros… but there’s no way the administration should have allowed what happened to happen without some type of reparation for those student-athletes… never.

Wake up people… sport is in a bad way right now… between the money, coaches’ egos and the driving pressure to win somehow we’ve lost focus on what sport was created to teach – commitment, togetherness, integrity, discipline AND love.

What the hell are we doing?



Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Momentum Effect


Family –

As you know I’ve launched a “Sport is Life” Initiative which underscores the importance of sport in all aspects of our lives. Today, I would like to discuss one of the intangibles we sometimes forget about when dealing with trials and tribulations in our lives…

“The Momentum Effect.”

Lemme ‘Splain…

In any sport there comes a time when there is a momentum shift. Let’s take the most recent Super Bowl for example. The Ravens were completely decapitating the Forty-Niners before the blackout. They were dominating in all phases of the game… offense, defense and special teams. It seemed the favored Niners had no answer for anything the Ravens threw their way. After the infamous blackout ended some 40 minutes later and play resumed there was a complete momentum shift in the game. The Forty-Niners came storming back and were, in my opinion, a couple of good goal line play calls away from winning the championship.

Coaches Jim and John Harbaugh
Photo: AP
So what happened? I’m glad you asked….

There was a momentum shift created by the blackout… the Forty-Niners were able to re-group, re-focus, make the necessary adjustments to their game plan and get themselves back on track. They went back to what got them to the Super Bowl in the first place. They began to slowly and methodically execute their plan and with just under two minutes left to go in the game, were in position to emerge victorious.

There is no difference in this scenario than what we deal with on a daily basis. We all have issues, struggles and turmoil in our lives. Sometimes negative momentum seemingly takes complete control. In those times it’s important to remember nothing ever stays the same. Things aren’t always great and things aren’t always bad, but consistency comes from our attitudes and how we respond. Just as the Niners did in the Super Bowl, if we can take a moment and “black out” the pending issues in our lives and re-focus our attentions on our plan for success our momentum will undoubtedly change.

Coach Holtz used to always tell our team, “Nothing’s as good as it seems and nothing's as bad as it seems, but somewhere in the middle reality falls.” Sounds like good advice for those of us who need a momentum shift. Take a moment to re-focus your energy and efforts on the positive things in your life and get back to doing the things that made you success in the beginning. There's no coincidence that you are where you are... and if you want to change your current position make the necessary adjustments to your game plan for success.

Bring on the blackout!

Sport is Life.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

How We Win...in Life ~ "The Plan"


Family –

I was sitting here contemplating what to write about when it occurred to me that I could give you a little background on my sport experience and put a "Sport is Life" spin on it at the same time. I played under the legendary Lou Holtz at the University of Notre Dame… any player who played under Coach Holtz can tell you we probably worked harder than any team in the country at that time, but it wasn’t without objective… we had a plan. As a matter of fact we had something called: “The Plan: How We Win.” That same plan that coach gave us to win in football can also be used as a catalyst for our success in life.

Lemme ‘splain.

Each week when we had our team meeting Coach Holtz would go over “The Plan” with us to make sure we understood what it took to be a successful team. No matter who we played he would go over “The Plan” in our team meeting both at the beginning of the week and the night before the game (just to make sure we understood what it took). Here it is:

1.       Out Hit – We had to be more physical than the team we played on Saturday. Being physical allowed us to impose our will on an opponent.

2.      Fundamentals – Being fundamentally sound would allow us to gain an advantage over a team who was less focused on the little things.

3.      Seven Areas: These were the meat of “The Plan” and were a critical part of our success.

a.      Turnovers: Protect the ball on offense and get takeaways on defense
b.      The Bomb: Don’t give up the big play on defense and create big plays on offense
c.       Missed Assignments: Knowing what to do insured we didn’t make mental mistakes
d.      Third Down: Convert third down on offense and get off the field by forcing a punt on defense after third down
e.      Foolish Penalties: This one speaks for itself
f.        Goal Line: Punch it in on offense and get stops on defense
g.      Kicking Game:  25% of the game is special teams… we had to make a difference in this area

4.      Togetherness: No one ever came between us. We won together… we lost (on occasion) together.

5.      Don’t Flinch: No matter what happened we believed we would find a way to win… we believed in ourselves, our coaches and each other.

These same principles can be applied in our lives today….how? I’m glad you asked – lemme ‘splain again.

1.       Out Hit: We can’t literally “Out hit” anyone in our daily lives but we can have a tenacious attitude and refuse to lose. At the end of the day this part of “The Plan” was all about attitude – period.

2.      Fundamentals: Our fundamentals are nothing more than our core beliefs. Who are you as a person? What do you fundamentally believe to be right or wrong? Remember, integrity is who you are when no one’s watching.

3.      Seven Areas:
a.      Turnovers: when you have the ball, keep the ball. In other words, make the most of every situation. You never know when the opportunity will come again.
b.      The Bomb: Big things happen, but not by accident. It takes hard work and preparation to make big things happen in life.
c.       Missed Assignments: Seriously? How can you possibly not know everything there is to know about your craft? As professionals that’s what we’re paid to do. Get after it. Missing an assignment at work can cost you your job!
d.      Third Down: Sometimes things don’t always go as planned, but you have make it happen. Whatever “it” is if “it’s” going to happen you have to make “it” happen.
e.      Foolish Penalties: Well…err… guess there’s no easy way to say this – You can’t do DUMB stuff. Be smart, use common sense and keep your reputation intact.
f.        Goal Line: When you get your chance... make the most of it. There are no free lunches.
g.      Kicking Game: There's no such thing as small things when it comes to your livelihood. Take every opportunity seriously because little things add up. I mean it takes 100 pennies to make a dollar right?

4.      Togetherness: As I said before sometimes life throws you a curve… you have to keep it together. Try to keep company with like-minded people. Like attracts like… there’s no question here.

5.      Don’t Flinch: No matter how difficult things get, no matter how dire the situation you must keep the faith and believe that you can make it. Everyone has challenges in life, but there's no need to stress out… just get it done. Believe in yourself!

“The Plan” became part of my life in the fall of 1990 and has been part of my daily thought process since. Thank you Coach Holtz for sharing an infallible life plan with me. I didn't always understand as a young man what you meant... but now I am completely aware of the incredible guidance you gave.

Perhaps there is something in this post that gives you pause for consideration as you move forward in your life’s journey. Maybe personally...maybe professionally... maybe even in your relationships... who knows? Only you can answer those questions. 

If nothing else, please always remember: “Sport if Life.”