Monday, October 02, 2006

 

Our Fearless Leader?


The above photo depicts the leader THE TEAM chose to carry them into the 2006 season, and it shows why coaches are paid well to make difficult decisions. He has appeared confused, frightened, inefficient, and just plain ol' sucktacular over the course of the season (sans week 2 vs. Nevada), and I'm curious to know what happened. Does the lack of a serious threat off the bench provide too much complacency, therefore removing his competitive spirit? After being named the backup on the last day of fall camp, Carpenter threw 6 TD passes in the final scrimmage, although it was against ASU's 2nd string secondary. (Does that make it the secondary secondary? Aw fuck it.) ASU two-time graduate and law professor Eric Menkhus (my fraternity brother) wrote the following piece on leadership last Sunday, and I couldn't agree more.
Leadership: The Problem And The Solution
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I think that it is pretty obvious that leadership is one of, if not the main issue affecting this team -- both from the coaches and from within the team.

There have been many signs:

1. A senior member of the leadership council is suspended for spring practices for chronic tardiness and overall lack of focus; however, he doesn't lose his seat on the leadership council and is still upheld as a leader of the team.

2. Instead of addressing growing issues head on at the time they arose, players waited for a major decision to be made before coming to the coaches with important information the coaches would have needed to make the proper decision in the first place. With the new information, the coaches do an abrupt "about face" and the program takes a major PR hit, even though the decision was the proper one at the time. Players probably still don't realize that they exibited poor leadership instead of good leadership in this situation.

3. Both offensive "leaders" threaten to transfer. One actually does.

4. Instead of coming clean and addressing how the decision was reached and the detailed timeline of what happened, the coaches are loyal to a former player in order to allow him to move on. Consequently, rampant speculation ensues that damages the program further instead of vindicating the head coach for making the right decision.

5. Another senior member of the leadership council is out on a Wednesday night at 2am during the season doing 100+ mph on the highway, possibly impaired. I'm not sure if he still occupies his spot on the leadership council.

The good news is that all is not lost. Somewhere on this team there are leaders that were not appointed, they just earned the respect of their teammates and can right the ship. They might be senior starters. They might be walkons that never see the field. They might be freshmen that have only been in the program for a month or two. They might even be the guys that committed the transgressions I described above.

We, the fans, don't know who they are. But the team knows and those specific leaders know. It is time for them to step forward and hold the team accountable. All is not lost. The team needs the leaders to ensure that there is a great week of practice this week and that the team stays focused on a goal that is still very attainable -- a successful season.

And the coaches need to provide this leadership, too. This is not a week to just go about business as usual. This is a week to separate those that want to compete, improve, and succeed from those that do not. In short, this is a week to demand the most from the players while also sharing in the blame for yesterday's results.

Will it happen? I don't know. I have to admit I'm skeptical. I'm not sure I see a Juan Roque, Kyle Murphy, Pat Tillman, Derek Smith, Kirk Robertson, Shawn Swayda, or other similarly-minded player on this year's team. I see guys with that potential, but nobody I've seen embrace their roles as leaders like these guys did.

Hopefully those guys are out there and ready to come to the forefront. If not and the team just relies on the appointed leaders, the rest of the season could be a long one.

The talent is there to compete with the best teams in the conference and win many more games than we lose. The challenge is to have the mental focus to make that happen and to respond when "Uncle Mo" goes to the other side of the field (like the 6 minute stretch in yesterday's game).

The team's performance on Saturday should tell us a lot. As always, I'll be there to cheer them on to victory!


Way to hit the nail on the head, Menk. Here are some quotes from the captain of the offense.

I guess I'm not as good as I thought I was.

Yeah, no shit.

Throwing the ball has been the weakest part of our offense this year. We have to play to our strengths, and right now our strength is running the ball. If that's what we have to do, that's what we have to do.

Again, no shit, but why don't you worry about putting the ball on the receivers' hands and let coach Koetter screw up the play calling. He's obviously brilliant at doing so.

I just turned the ball over too many times. That's been the story of my year so far.

You're kidding?!

I don't know what I'm doing.

Oh, its too easy to beat this dead horse. You do see the pattern, don't you? Really stirs the soul. This is guy I want to follow into battle. This whole thing needs a completely different mindset, and nobody short of the Ol' Ball Coach has the required attitude. Before you say I've been reading EDSBS too much (which I have), read the following snippet from Coach Spurrier. I just want to give a big 'I told you so' to anyone who was listening when I said ASU should have dumped Koetter at all costs to get this guy after he was let go by the Redskins. I wanted to go with the whole 'fishing at Lake Apache and world-class golf 365 days a year' sales pitch. Oh, what could have been. I'm throwing my visor over here, not that it matters. Enough ranting, here's the quote, straight from SignOnSanDiego.com:
September 30, 2006

Steve Spurrier has a request for South Carolina football fans:
“Please don't clap when we come close.”

After watching video of his team's 24-17 loss Thursday to No. 2 Auburn, Spurrier said he was bothered by the positive reaction he heard from many of the 74,374 fans in the Gamecocks' Williams-Brice Stadium.

Spurrier said he wants fans to keep being as loud as they were during the game, but “I don't know if any coach has told our fans, 'Please don't clap if we get beat,'” he said yesterday.

South Carolina lost to Auburn 48-7 last year.

Spurrier said he first noticed the cheering for a close loss last year, when his team fell to Clemson 13-9.

“They thought we were going to get clobbered. We didn't get clobbered, so that's OK,” Spurrier said. “That's not OK.”
He would have looked good in maroon and gold. Oh, what could have been.

Well said, coach. Too bad I'm stuck with the [NAME ALSO REDACTED] of the west.

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