Hunting Season – Part 3



Scott Bird

Scott Bird

Pat Ivey Performance - Guest Author

If you’re just catching up, check out part I and part II of the Hunting Season series before reading on.

When stepping into a new situation the first priority is to evaluate the situation.  Identify any problems and come up with solutions to fix them. And then stick to the plan to develop the culture that you first laid out to the team.  This is where consistent accountability comes into play.  

Coach Stoops at OU and Mark Mangino at Kansas both spoke of setting the plan and sticking to your core beliefs and standards no matter what.  They both learned from Bill Snyder who was the master of the biggest turnaround in college football at Kansas State. Coach Stoops had immediate success, Coach Mangino, much like Coach Snyder didn’t have early success and both have talked about how important it was to stick to the plan that was made and be diligent in making sure the attention to the small details was always there.

Coach Stoops laid out the goals for the off season and then the summer and didn’t look back, just looked forward at what needed to be done to create a winning culture.  The players knew that they didn’t have success before, heck, they lived it. They didn’t need to be reminded of that. You want to build trust, keep showing them that you care for them and teaching and leading them in ways that will make them successful. 

There will always be some resistance when trying to change some culture.  We had some at OU and we held tight in the weight room and held the team to the highest of standards each day and for those that wanted to be a part of that culture and do all that it takes to be successful at a high level enjoyed much success.  

Sometimes things might not have been in bad shape before.  The one thing that has to be remembered by the strength staff and all coaches involved and this message must be conveyed to the team that the new group had nothing to do with the change that happened.  The new group has no control over what happened prior to their arrival. The only thing the new staff has control over is what happens from that point forward. The one thing the new staff can’t do is degrade what was done before.  That will not build the much needed trust that you will want to build with the team. Your job is to build trust not tear it down. You do this by showing them the plan and sticking to the plan.  

Culture will beat strategy because with culture you have accountability, relentless, consistent effort, teamwork, being in great shape and being physically and mentally strong.  This is created by trust and holding them to the standards that were laid out from the beginning.  

Their performance will be a reflection of the culture you have built.  If bad things keep happening, it’s either because you have allowed it to happen or you have coached it that way.  If an athlete is doing an exercise wrong and it isn’t addressed then don’t be upset when they don’t make the gains you think they should have made.  

Same thing for practice habits.  If a player continually makes mistakes in a game then it obviously hasn’t been addressed in practice.  I have witnessed this first hand at Oklahoma and Missouri. Gary Pinkel was relentless in making sure that all involved with his program followed the plan and held the players to the standards that he had laid out when he and his staff arrived.  Every situation is going to be different that you might step into. That is where the evaluation is so important.   

There are so many elements that make up the changing of a program and the strength coach has now become the major player in making those changes happen.  It is a role that I think should not be taken lightly and that as coaches we should look at all we can do to help those in the program have success or continued success.  It will take intensity, consistency and patience to make sure it gets done at a high level. If we want to be compensated like coordinators, then I believe we need to bring that professional commitment to the task at hand.  High energy is good, but leading, teaching, developing and caring each and every day is just as important.  


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