At Forbes.com this week, freelance writer Jason Belzer has posted an inside look at Texas A&M’s football program under second-year coach Kevin Sumlin. The piece focuses on Sumlin’s ability to manage talented assistant coaches and players. It’s an interesting read, but a couple of quotes from the Aggie coach stood out.
First, discussing his a Monday morning postmortem film session that he calls “The Truth,” Sumlin explains how — well, for lack of a better word — shaming players has its benefits:
“When it comes to teachable moments, there is no greater lesson than the one that can be learned from football. It only takes one guy to not do his job for a play to be unsuccessful. We can go back and show (the players) what happened on film and point out how their miscues cause a catastrophic impact on the outcome of the play. When you call someone out in front of their peers, it’s an incredibly powerful way to motivate them to want to do better the next time around.”
Then, speaking of the possible distractions brought on by the media coverage of all things Johnny Manziel, Sumlin said there was no way the spotlight on Johnny Football would take the team’s attention away from football:
“When fall camp started and there was a tremendous amount of media attention on Johnny (due to the NCAA investigation), many of our detractors couldn’t understand just how it was possible for us to continue to practice and perform at a high level. From the inside though, we were as intensely focused as ever because our culture has always been about making what occurs externally irrelevant. This is why we’ve been (able) to avoid all distractions. Our players recognize their focus should only be on the people they need most — their coaches and teammates.”
Whatever Sumlin’s doing, it’s working. After going 35-17 as Houston’s head coach (locking down a 12-1 record in his final year with the Cougars, Sumlin has started his A&M career with 15 wins in 18 games. He has a Cotton Bowl win under his belt and SEC and BCS championships remain possibilities in 2013.
If you’re going to skim and swipe anyone’s leadership tactics, might as well be Texas A&M’s uber-successful coach.