Wednesday, October 14, 2009

BEAR facts to learn from

It has been twenty-five years since Paul "Bear" Bryant passed away, yet his lessons continue to inspire coaches and players alike. As time passes, the game changes, attitudes change, records are eclipsed, and players and coaches come and go. However, lessons regarding life, leadership, success, and the will to win stay with a football player for a lifetime. Coach Bryant's lessons were not just for Alabama players, they were lessons for anyone who will ever choose to don a whistle or lace up a pair of cleats.

I've always been told, and I am a true believer that it is never too late to learn something new. That being said, I believe that South Carolina coaches, players and fan's alike can find a common thread in Coach Bryant's wisdom, look in the mirror and apply that wisdom to themselves. I will take a few of the Bear's quotes and explain how they may possibly help the Carolina program look deep inside. We all hope for the continued success of the Carolina program. Hopefully it will continue to build on a solid foundation poured by coaches, players and fans alike.

"If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, we did it. If anything goes really good, then you did it. That's all it takes to get people to win football games for you." - Bear Bryant

"Find your own picture, your own self in anything that goes bad. It's awfully easy to mouth off at your staff or chew out players, but if it's bad, and you're the head coach, you're responsible. If we have an intercepted pass, I threw it. I'm the head coach. If we get a punt blocked, I caused it. A bad practice, a bad game, it's up to the head coach to assume his responsibility." - Bear Bryant

A truly great coach has to take responsibility for his program. In this day and age of over-inflated ego's, salaries and endorsements there are too many times when personal responsibility takes a back seat. If there were an "I" in team it would be the coach, as in "I" will take responsibility. You are not always going to have the best player's, the best facilities or the best fan's. But as a leader there should be no finger pointing. You must point the finger at yourself and determine how you can do things differently to improve your teams chances. I think the fan's are tired of hearing so and so did or did not do this or that. All they need to know is that it's going to get fixed. No finger pointing...responsibility!

"I think the most important thing of all for any team is a winning attitude. The coaches must have it. The players must have it. The student body must have it. If you have dedicated players who believe in themselves, you don't need a lot of talent." - Bear Bryant

Winning attitude...has been a sore point for fans of the Carolina program for as long as anyone can remember. No major program in the country has on it's surface endured the seeming mediocrity that the Carolina program has endured. A losing attitude can be compared to a chronic illness that slowly yet consistently becomes worse until finally you can no longer fight it. You become it, and it becomes you. Many Carolina fan's have been around long enough to become eternal pessimists. However, all is not lost. Fan's may yet see the promised land. The Bible says "And a child shall lead them." In South Carolina's case it is indeed a youth movement. These young player's have no recollection of SC's past failure's. They are establishing a new pecking order (no pun intended) in the SEC. They can barely remember what happened five years ago, anything after that is ancient history. Remember, you have to dream big before your realizations become big. Do away with negativity and minor goal setting. You must set your goals high, you will achieve the minor goals along the way.

Note: I will have to admit the last sentence in the Coach Bryant's above quote is somewhat outdated. If well coached one doesn't necessarily have to have the best talent to win the SEC if well coached, but you definitely better have a helluva lot of it.

"What are you doing here? Tell me why you are here. If you are not here to win a national championship, you're in the wrong place. You boys are special. I don't want my players to be like other students. I want special people. You can learn a lot on the football field that isn't taught in the home, the church, or the classroom. There are going to be days when you think you've got no more to give and then you're going to give plenty more. You are going to have pride and class. You are going to be very special. You are going to win the national championship for Alabama." - Bear Bryant

I heard many speeches during my playing days at Carolina including great oratories from Coach Lou Holtz and Steve Spurrier. But every South Carolina player needs to hear a speech like the one above when they arrive on campus. If you play Division I football in the SEC and you are not here to win a national championship, you're in the wrong place son! I don't know if SC players past or present have fully embraced the above idea. There is no better time then the present to start.

"The first time you quit, it's hard. The second time, it gets easier. The third time, you don't even have to think about it." - Bear Bryant

"But there's one thing about quitters you have to guard against - they are contagious. If one player goes, the chances are he'll take somebody with him, and you don't want that. So when they would start acting that way. I used to pack them up and get them out, or do something to turn them around." - Bear Bryant

I hold no punches. I can be brutally honest. We both know that there have been football games were Carolina has quit in the past! We must guard against ever having this attitude at USC again. Scholarships are renewable by the year. If a player doesn't want to be a Gamecock, get them out of here.

"If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride - and never quit - you'll be a winner. The price of victory is high but so are the rewards." - Bear Bryant

Gamecock Pride! You have to embody it as a player. Let no one stand between you and your goals. Alabama is standing in the way. Saturday you must be more physical, be more aggressive, have confidence in the game plan and what you have been taught. If you do those things you will win this ball game.

And in closing, remember this on Saturday Gamecock coaches:

"You take those little rascals, talk to them good, pat them on the back, let them think they are good, and they will go out and beat the biguns." - Bear Bryant

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