Well as the world and this blog began focused on the Tubby Smith coaching debate, UK football Spring Practice roared on with all of the aggression of Sam Perkins on a Sunday morning. On Monday, the clouds were aligned, Ravi Moss was in tow and Quarterbacks were battling. Yet somehow the UK football team did what was previously considered impossible….yes they had a bad practice. Now I know you must be surprised. You are likely thinking, “how can a team that has played with such crisp perfection in recent years, ever have a bad day?” Well they did, and from those that saw it, apparently it was hideous.
So what was the response of the coaching staff? Did they accept it and say that Spring practice is sort of like dancing with middle-aged women at a wedding, no one takes it serious anyway? Or did they pull a Hal McRae and begin throwing objects as the press in their underpants? Well actually, their reaction was more towards the latter, as they forced the team to run FOURTEEN wind sprints across the length of the football field, stopping every ten-to-fifteen yards to get in the three point stance. The team was apparently exhausted and Brooks went into a mini-rant afterwards that such a practice was unacceptable.
The reaction to Brooks’ reaction has been mixed, but I like it. In recent weeks, we have seen old fogeys like Jim Leyland and Pat Riley go off on young teams, blasting their effort, while insisting that in their day, “things like this would not be tolerated.” While such reactions make Stephen A Smith decry the generation gap in sports, I think it is just what college (as opposed to pro) kids need. Having watched Coach K for years, I think the secret of his success is a combination of the admiration/fear that he recalls in his players. College coaches need to be at least in part, disciplinarians. Otherwise they end up with teams that run all over them, respecting little of what the coach says and letting the inmates run the asylum.
I dont claim to know if Rich Brooks will make any sort of a better product on the field this year (I tend to doubt it). But I do like the decision to longer accept mediocrity in work effort. Such little steps are what build programs and if Richie boy has any chance of surviving 2006, this is the attitude he must take.