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Thursday, September 13, 2007

This is probably redundant, but Jeff Schultz is an idiot.

"One simple rule of football: When a quarterback can't throw and a receiver can't catch and a coach seemingly can't see, it's amazing what knocking somebody on their butt will accomplish"--Jeff Schultz in today's blog on ajc.com. I'd link it, but I honestly think it's one of the most ridiculous pieces of self-promotion I've read in a long time. If you want to read it, find it yourself.

Schultz goes on to state that the "real" reason for the Dawgs loss to USC was not due to poor catching, tackling, missed blocks, or misreading the defense. No, it's because he lacks the verbal equivalent of a "forearm shiver."

Reading this makes it abundantly clear that Schultz must never have played organized sports, and makes me wonder if he remembers what it was like to be a 20 year old male. I've played, captained, and in some facet coached numerous players ranging in age from 18-30. Every season I ask for feedback on what I can improve upon to make the next season better. Every season a few players mention a time when I got particularly animated and they remind me that no one likes to be yelled at and it rarely makes them execute any better. So every season I work more and more at dulling my temper and trying to motivate them in other ways--for the team, for your pride, self-improvement. All of these garner better results in my experience. Yet Schultz seems to imply that a little "Bobby Knight" is necessary to get Mikey Morris to catch a pass.

By arguing this, Schultz is looking past one of the major differences between the professional game and the collegiate game: these are kids, they are new to the college life, and they are combining an educational calendar with grueling practices and playbook memorization. He is forgetting that these are young men. They need molding in ways other than just on the field. We hear it all the time, these young men look to their coaches as surrogate father figures. The players are pulled from their familial supports and placed in the difficult life of academics and athletics. Do they need discipline and leadership? Of course, but as the old saying goes "you'll attract more flies with honey than vinegar." That isn't to suggest coddling the players by any means. Simply, treat them as young men and respond accordingly to their behavior.

Richt is keenly aware of his role and the image he portrays for the university. "Because I'm the face of the program, I'm not usually screaming in anybody's ear very often," Richt said. "Sometimes I do. There are some choice times in the locker room or in practice that people don't normally see." That, to me, sounds like a coach who isn't going to berate some kid while the camera is on so that pundits like Schultz can say "see, there's a coach who cares!" He's going to manage his program in a way that develops the kids in more than just football.

Schultz seems to dismiss that a portion of success in any sport isn't due to just being talented or prepared, it has to do with being confident as well. Thinking that the coaches need to berate the players to improve their play doesn't just go against normal ideas of how to motivate people, it actually precludes the players from improving and playing better.

Schultz goes on to state that UGA lost despite being the better team because of this coaching "error." Nevermind the fact that their quarterback had 3 more years experience than ours, that their offensive and defensive lines weren't playing their 2nd games with new starters. It's not a coincidence that many prognosticators picked USC as an upset pick for the SEC East this year. It's because they saw experience on both sides of the ball, and that experience typically lends itself to a higher quality of play--especially early in the season when the young players on other teams are still getting acclimated to the league and to one another.

It's embarrasing that our local columnist can't recognize good coaching and even better leadership when he sees it. It's even more embarrasing when he goes on to extoll the virtues of yelling at players instead of treating them like young, developing men. Can a coach succeed without delivering that "forearm shiver"? No, says Jeff Schultz. I disagree and cite Tony Dungy, Jim Tressell, Mack Brown, Bobby Cox, and a host of other current and former coaches as my evidence.

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