Sunday, November 27, 2016

Leadership - A Must Have Attribute for a College Football Coach

Last week I read a college football coach vacancy announcement online.  The minimum requirements listed in the announcement included the following:

  • The ability to maintain discipline…
  • Thorough knowledge of NCAA rules and regulations…
  • Be able to make informed decisions…
  • Demonstrated ability to maintain and protect the fiscal integrity…
  • Demonstrated ability to develop and maintain positive and professional relationships…
  • Demonstrated ability to work effectively with individuals…

Certainly all of these are valid football coach requirements, but I couldn’t help feel that arguably the most important requirement, leadership, was missing.

In this week’s blog, I’ll provide two definitions of leadership and briefly discuss how they relate to coaching college football.  I’ll close this blog with my own original definition of leadership as it pertains to coaching college football.

Definition #1: Arguably the leading authority on leadership, the US Army, defines leadership as “influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation while operating to accomplish the mission and improving the organization.”2 Leadership is at the core of what college football coaches do daily and the demonstrated ability to lead others should be the single most desirable attribute of a college football coach.  If a coach can adequately articulate purpose and adequately motivate players, he’ll be on the road to coaching success.

Urban Meyer, Head Football Coach,
 Ohio State University
Definition #2: Urban Meyer, in his book Above the Line, masterfully states that “leadership is influence based on trust that is earned,” and goes on to describe a leader as “someone who earns trust, sets a clear standard, and then equips and inspires people to meet the standard.”1  While similar to the Army definition, Coach Meyer adds and emphasizes trust, meaning that when a coach shows the player he genuinely cares about him as a person, the coach earns trust and thereafter has a much greater ability to inspire that player.

My Definition: Leadership, in my own words as it pertains to coaching college football, is a coach's ability to get players to want to do what is required. Many people have ability to, through a variety of tactics, get a player to put forth tremendous effort, for example. It is a totally different thing to get a player to understand why tremendous effort is required and to genuinely want/desire to put forth tremendous effort.

However you define leadership, it is an essential attribute of the college football profession and, in my humble opinion, should be included as a minimum requirement for any college football coach vacancy announcement.


1Meyer, U. (2015). Above The Line. New York, NY: Penguin Press

2United States (1999). Army Leadership, Field Manual 22-100, Washington, DC: Headquarters, Dept. of the Army.

1 comment:

  1. Couldn't agree more. If there's no leadership, there's no trust. No trust=No team.