This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
to thank all of you for allowing my staff and me to come into your high schools, recruit your players and share ideas with you. I am forever grateful for the access and opportunity you’ve offered me over the last four years. Other than going to practice every day and being on the field with my players, the one thing I am going to miss the most is visiting with high school coaches, listening to you talk about your kids and your programs, and watching practices and off-season workouts. Since this will be my last letter to high school coaches, besides thanking you for the opportunities to visit with you, I wanted to share with you some of the things I learned over the years that might be of help to you down the road. Sometimes I think as football coaches we are so competitive we are reluctant to share ideas. This profession has been good to me. I believe giving back when you can is important. These are my ideas – not suggesting they are for you. They are some of the things I came away with. I. Core Values If a player learns anything from me, he’ll learn that you have specific core values to live his life. These ‘core values’ are his guiding light in the decisions he makes not just as a football player, but as a man. Our ‘core values’ for our team were simple. Truth and Love; I believe these are essential elements to run a football team, a business, organization, government or family. A. Truth: Be who you say you are. Do what you say you are going to do. Be truthful to yourself and others. Be accountable. No excuses. Seek the truth. Demand the truth. Tell the truth. Live the truth. If there is no truth, there is no trust. If there is no trust, there is no relationship. If there is no relationship, there is no value or substance to what you are doing. As coaches we must… Never, never lie or mislead a player. It’s simple. He has to trust you. You have to trust him. There is no trust when truth isn’t at the forefront. You cannot fix something unless there is absolute truth. Never ever let a player get away with lying to you. Go the Nth degree if necessary to confirm what he is telling you is true. He’s got to know you will not accept dishonesty and there are consequences for not being honest. Without absolute truth, there is no relationship. Without relationships there is no chemistry. Without chemistry, you lack a major component towards winning championships. B. Love:
They not only need to hear your care about them but feel you care about them. IV. hug. hand-shake.” Compliment them on their little accomplishments. Empower them whenever you can. . Love is a passion that can bring great success to your life and to your team. as long as they are working hard. must be buoyed by positive encouragement not negative criticism. I’ve said it to my wife and five kids often but it was not natural for me to say it outside that circle. Honesty however. Kids today have a false sense of confidence and bravado that when the first time things go bad in their lives or on the field. I do believe this is the best approach. Watching this year¡¯s Texas H. they deserve your respect as well as respect from your entire staff. They have to trust that you will be there for them in the long term. Love the game of football. Become more demanding of them. A lot of my players like yours never hear that word. As long as they are part of the program. Be Honest But Positive One thing I’ve learned is that young men respond better to honesty than “blowing smoke” at them. III. State Championship games. You cannot concede your principles because you know these players are the ones who will help you win games.. (See Tom Brady – perfect example. They need to know you love them and care for them beyond just their ability as a football player. arm around the shoulder. not just until they graduate and they are done playing for you. When I was dismissed as the HFC. It is one emotion that always plays out positively. They are the ones in ten years that will come back to visit their Coach.” This brought great closure to me because I feel we impacted them in a positive way – even beyond the game of football. Love competition and winning. They have to feel you are going to be their coach for life. It took a conscious effort on my part. The lesser players will respond to this in a positive way because you do not play favorites. Embrace Your Players Another thing I’ve learned the past four years is that you need to physically embrace your players with a tap on the back. right?” Reluctantly they would agree and eventually say it back. not less. Everyone is worried about self-esteem so much . Too many people – parent and friends – tell them they are all this and all that. They have to know where they truthfully stand and what they need to do to get better. If they earn it. “you know I love you. Love your freedom and those who protect those freedoms. coaches and school. Be Respectful and Positive Toward the Lesser Talented Kids in Your Program It’s not necessarily their fault they can’t play as well as you would like. Love all things that equate to winning. say things like “great job by our scout team today -best in the country. This was a great lesson I learned that will stay with me forever. II. Love your country. but once I began to tell players that I loved them I could see it started to make a difference in their lives. The star players will also benefit from this because they will not be thinking they are something they are not. People tell them they are ¡°great. Be Harder On Your Star Players To become a great team I believe you must push your star players harder than the rest of the team. They won’t forget you for that. I saw a lot of this on the field and on the sidelines. this is something I’ve learned over time. After disciplining a player I always would say.S.) V. no one tells them what is real. they can’t handle it. I can’t tell you how many players texted me to tell me “love ya coach. It is the glue for your team and promotes great chemistry. Love your teammates.Love your God. I must admit. I have not been a “touchy feely guy” and have been a fairly private person with my words and actions. Love your family and friends.
off season. I tried on occasion to step away. the player is punished. the entire battalion runs. Hold them accountable one on one and in team meetings in front of their peers. One of our very best players talent wise was the last player drafted this past year. I felt our players had an overly high opinion of themselves but the students had a low opinion of our athletes. IX. Other than pure talent. you will have a tighter. they are students just like everyone else and should act and engage themselves that way. Battalions are about accountability. you are accountable to yourself. practice plans. I have adamantly explained to our kids that they are “special” on Saturday when we play the game as well as when they practice and prepare to play. He didn’t want to be that guy. Never Throw a Player Under the Bus I see this all too often at the college level. they may not all play in the game on Friday or Saturday. Players Have to Play for You The only way this happens is if they ultimately believe in you and trust in you. Peer Pressure is a Valuable Tool Although I will not throw a player under the bus publicly. This helped us eliminate the barriers. It changed him instantly and dramatically. Delegate to Your Assistant Coaches I believe I tried to do too much at times. XII. You must reference them three times a week. You can fix them better from this perspective as a Head Football Coach. But during the week. These are your components that you believe are most valuable in your quest to win a Championship. stronger team. I tried to fix every problem and player. I believe we accomplished this. This is key. This is difficult for me since I love to coach every play. Battalions One of the best things I did was break our locker room down into 6 battalions. If you empower them. philosophy and ideas mean nothing if you can’t get the players to play for you. I think I would have been more helpful in other phases if I wasn’t so consumed. VI. you can’t win. but certain issues arose that brought me back to it. As long as you are consistent with this to all players. When a player steps out of line. concepts. I felt there were barriers between our student body and our athletes. The Head Football Coach has to assume all responsibility publicly for the player’s performance. it will be very effective. (See the end of this letter for my components. Break Down Barriers When I got to campus at Texas A&M.I promise you. but they share a locker room with every member of the team all year long. Do not stray from them.. but if it happens a second time. . XI.) VII. The seniors drafted players to their battalions (locker room section). I will call him out in a team meeting when he displays behavior contrary to what we want to accomplish as a team. Step back so you can be more objective about problems that arise. if you don’t have a good locker room. but it wasn’t limited to that. walking across campus. He was embarrassed and disappointed that he was viewed this way. Stepping out of line usually revolved about class and study hall attendance. The seniors who understood the purpose of battalions drafted not based upon talent. Relationships with players have to be at the forefront of who you are as a coach. It’s what you believe and it’s what the staff and players must believe. game plans. He had no idea his teammates viewed him this way. You will have a better locker room. whether it be on or off the field. Be committed to them. X. Schemes. and ultimately. there is no greater component towards winning than this. As a player. Have Components of Championship Play Have specific components for Championship play for offense / defense / special teams. I wanted our faculty and student body to embrace our players and wanted our players to embrace them as well. usually a difficult conditioning run. Constantly reinforce these components. I believe when players play for something bigger then themselves. VIII. but you are also accountable to your battalion. they player better. We were able to include the student body and faculty in a lot of football functions. but based upon accountability. Privately it is different.
Never Let the Negative Criticism Get to You As Head Football Coach. XVI. Your players are watching how you react to these situations. they can’t take that away from you. I tell them if during the season I don’t like something. Very critical to get the right fit. Dismissing a Staff Member If someone is not doing their job the way you want it done. In order to handle this responsibility you must keep your head above the fray. More importantly. This was always the toughest part of being a head coach. There has to be a consistent commitment to this from beginning to end of season. players second. you owe it to the rest of the staff and team to make a change. XIII. Not everyone should be the same personality or talent. staff talent and chemistry is key. I think it is unfair to fire someone without letting them know they are not meeting your expectations first. You hired him. always take your time and get the right fit and what you want. he can have no qualms about the direction you eventually decide to go. Be the leader you were hired to be. you fix him. Know their likes and dislikes. Take your time here. It’s important to separate the professional criticism from the personal. You owe him that. bending knees and keeping eyes with a form fit can be practiced every day and in every drill. Hiring Staff When hiring a staff. They have to know your care and are concerned about them as men first. but all on the same page from what you as Head Football Coach want to accomplish. If you have been up front and honest with the coach. you must assume total responsibility for your players and coaches performance. You and you alone define the coach and the man that you are. Take Care of the Person and the Football Player Will Come Out I tell our coaches this all the time. never let it get personal. Breaking down. Never let other people define you. your team can always practice the techniques of proper form tackling. I believe you give a staff member three opportunities to fix what needs to be fixed. I talked about this weekly to coaches but I felt it was an area we could and should have been better at. throwing and catching. I tell them I will be up front and honest with them about their performance. it is imperative you tell them immediately. If you do those things well. Ask questions about their families and girlfriends. Your obligation is to the overall team and you cannot allow poor performance keep you from getting there. I tell the staff every pre-season what my expectations are. coming to balance. . They have to know you care about their lives outside of and after football.. Fundamentals Fundamentals Fundamentals There were times this past season I felt our fundamentals were not at the level I wanted them. When relieving someone of their duties. XIV. It carries over to the players. It’s still a game of blocking and tackling.. XVII. The players have to know you care before they will care about what you want them to do. different strengths. In times of adversity are you who you say you are? Anybody can make it work when you are winning and everyone is happy. You need different personalities. you’d better fix it. Do not let things on the outside influence you. You may like the person but you may not like how he is doing his job. but very few are willing to let their team mates down. No matter what happens. If you can’t. you will win regardless of what scheme you run. Sometimes coaches get too tied up in the scheme and they sacrifice fundamentals in the process. Sometimes players forget what got them to be the players they are. With pads or without – always coach the proper angle and fit on a tackle. XV. XVIII. That will never change. Never Pass Up an Opportunity to Practice Tackling Whether in pads or in shorts. your own family watches you and will learn a lot about their husband and dad in these adverse situations. You are only as good as those around you. Hold true to your principles regardless of the circumstances or consequences. Be involved in their lives.The lesson I learned about battalions is that players will sometimes let themselves down.
they will make plays and create turnovers. Physical Play – finish each play in a dominant position B. Common Language I believe it is imperative to have certain principles of the game of football defined the exact same way by all staff members. If players on defense know what to do and recognize offensive schemes faster. This concept of leadership was re-enforced on my trip to Iraq two years ago in visiting with General Odierno and others in position of leadership. the Head Football Coach – in my opinion – must keep his composure and not show panic but rather calmness and direction in adverse situations.” This is the fine line between making a tackle and not making a tackle. Players cannot hear the same concept defined multiple ways. Mental Toughness – complete the task at hand regardless of the circumstances C. you must coach this. Fanatical Effort – the maximum level of strain or speed toward the successful completion of the play These are just a couple of examples but a common vocabulary on certain fundamentals is critical for the ultimate success of teaching and evaluating those fundamentals. On game day. play with good fundamentals. Leadership does require that you be yourself and not try to be someone you are not. XXIII. In season and out of season. I thought we might be trying to do too much. From watching tapes of different teams and even my own. composure. wins games. they will make plays and not turn the ball over. Wins and losses are dictated and determined by a player’s ability and desire to show a burst. Players and coaches must know that if things do not go right in preparation and practice. XX. and direction of purpose. however. The Burst You have to coach “the burst. I’ve come to the conclusion that the best coaches are the one who don’t feel they have to out-smart the opponent.D. A.running toward the end zone or ¡°bursting¡± toward the end zone. the team that makes plays and creates turnovers and doesn’t give the ball away. the Head Football Coach may snap or vent or lose it to those not working toward the desired goal that week.XIX. You want them to be aggressive. Ultimately in football. Leadership Different situations call for different styles of leadership. They have to know the difference between running to the ball and bursting to the ball. You win games when players are comfortable and know what to do. As the Head Football coach. Preparation time requires a different form of leadership than game time. Effective communication is the key to success. We always reward/acknowledge “the Burst of the Week” whether it be in season or out of season. but rather those with confidence. Definitions must be consistent. you determine how you want it defined and demand everyone use that definition. do not make the game too hard for them. but would rather out coach and out play them. If players on offense know what to do and recognize defensive schemes. Losing it in this situation does not necessarily create the desired result conducive to winning. Cool heads must prevail when adversity strikes. Maintaining Balance . Thinking too much can cause hesitancy. Players (soldiers) do not and will not follow panic driven reactionary leaders. scoring a T. More Game Are Lost Than Won At times this past season. You ask ten coaches to define “physical play” you will have ten different interpretations. XXII. but it requires the best version of yourself. or not. XXI. You do this with fundamentals.
As the Head Coach. coaching is an extremely rewarding and honorable profession. I believe in the foundation we have laid both on and off the field.wanting to relive that experience again. We have kids who have core values which will not only help them be better football players but men. The pressures we impose on ourselves to be the best and to win are vastly greater than those pressures we face on the outside. Graduation rates and GPAs are higher than they’ve ever been. you’d be very wealthy men. but they literally slipped through our fingers. that with the opportunity to coach these young men and experience victory together. ¬just enjoying the moment. Last season we exceeded expectations with a young football team. Coaching high school football is not an easy job. Our season basically came down to 5 or 6 plays. the better coach you will be. it is so easy to become consumed by it all. We must never lose sight of the fact. husbands. and fathers as well. Our competitiveness is a great thingalthough if not kept in check. I never remember scores of games. You have to have balance in your life to make it all work effectively. father and man if you do this. If you all got paid by the hour. but I do remember locker rooms after we won.faces of players and coaches all huddled together yelling. If we made those plays. If you win a state championship but miss seeing your son dress up as Brett Favre at Halloween or see your daughter play her viola in a Christmas recital ¨C what have you gained in the long term compared to what have you lost? I do believe you can have both but it takes a conscious effort and discipline to maintain balance in your life and make it work. You will be a better coach. There is no doubt that it’s the competition week in and week out that keeps us going. I do believe this. you eventually will win out in the long run. With that said. we could have ended up with a 10 or 11 win season. I believe high school football coaches are the most influential leaders of their high schools and communities. He is a good coach and a good man. Again. the more balanced you are.we ended up on the wrong side one too many times.me and me alone.“once their coach always their coach. Talent levels and expectations have increased dramatically. We must never lose sight. however. do not hesitate to contact me. In closing I want you to know that if there is ever anything I can do for any of you. There have been times in my career I have lost this balance. It’s been a hectic couple of weeks for me to say the least. teams and players. You’ve always been very gracious towards my staff and me and I thank you for that. I have made this mistake in my career at times. We have great kids in the program that know how to work. I feel good about that. we as . Our season this year was a lot like the Houston Texans last year. Kevin Sumlin will do a great job as the new Head Football Coach at A&M. however. My Dad always told me many years ago¡¬ ¡°the cream always rises to the top¡± and I still believe that I do feel the future is bright for Texas A&M Football. smiling and laughing. and I say it from my own experience. there also comes the huge responsibility to make a difference in their lives. This past season we had opportunities to do some great things .devoid of any apprehensiveness or inhibitions. I want you to know I respect the work you all do with your high schools. As a football coach. We had record crowds at Kyle Field this year. Their impact on not just the football players but students and administration. Do not neglect the essential elements of your life. Winning and losing is a fine line.can be our downfall as well. husband. I appreciate the opportunity to have met and talked with many of you. Make sure you keep vision on your principles.Keep everything in perspective is keeping everything in ¡°balance¡°. screaming. however. Winning is the ultimate goal and there are few things more fun than being in that locker room after a hard fought victory. Faith and family cannot take a back seat to football and winning. The game of football is so special on so many fronts. Trust me when I say this. I’m disappointed I won’t have the opportunity to finish what we started at Texas A&M.” Where others may have failed them . They understand the principles of the university. and given the opportunity. I am ultimately responsible for that. Of those I haven’t met. This season has been difficult because we have not been able to meet the expectations we ourselves have created with what we accomplished in the previous season. It’s meant world to me. ¬acting totally emotional and truthful. if you stay true to your principles. We have come a long way in my four years here. as well as the cities and towns they live is huge. We are evaluated publicly every Friday night or Saturday afternoon.
coaches cannot. but forces us to face our fears when we lose. We owe that to this great game of football which constantly challenges us. Here is hoping that it brings out the very best in each and every one of us all the time. we must bring trust . God bless Merry Christmas. Best wishes for great success both on and off the field.week in and week out. Mike Sherman . We owe that to them regardless of wins and losses. Where others have created mistrust. What job could anyone of us have that does that? This game we coach not only challenges us to keep our egos in check when we win. We owe that to them regardless of their talent or ability. we must bring respect. This “game” also has the ability to bring out the very best in us at times as well the very worst in us at times. and Happy New Year. we must support them. Where others have let them down. Where others have created disrespect.