Straight outta Tuscaloosa, it’s discipline!

Here’s a really good piece from Bruce Feldman exploring how Nick Saban harnesses all that talent, something Kirby Smart’s taken to heart as a head coach.

Every coach aspires to take his team where Nick Saban and Kirby Smart had Alabama and Georgia at the end of last season, and most of them spend the offseason talking about the importance of developing a program-wide culture that will help them reach that championship stage. This year’s two College Football Playoff finalists didn’t get to the top of the SEC and the college football world just by loading up with talented players (although that certainly helped). They also pride themselves on something Saban assistants past and present have said is the key to building his dynasty, a simple concept that contains multitudes: discipline.

The word carries a variety of meanings, but in short, you can either view discipline as a consequence of bad behavior or a driver of good behavior. A coach who recently took over a struggling program thought his players’ definition from the previous regime would be “the stuff that the coaches make us do if we get caught doing something wrong.” Saban has his own definition, and members of the Alabama and Georgia programs have internalized it and integrated it within their routines.

Most of what he writes about is devoted to Saban’s work, which is only fair, but you’ll be interested in the part that’s about Athens.

Smart took over a program that had consistently been good, but not great. To fix that, he installed Saban’s system of values, which forced players and coaches alike to make an adjustment.

“No detail is left un-talked-about,” Georgia offensive coordinator Jim Chaney says. “We dot every I and cross every T. It sometimes might be a little uncomfortable to talk about, but it’s gonna be talked about. Kirby is diligent as heck about all that.”

Awkward as they may be at times, these conversations become the norm. “It’s had every day,” Georgia quarterbacks coach James Coley says. “I always felt like when you walked in staff meetings, you were there to get your players better. Everybody’s trying to get better, but now you’re saying to yourself, ‘How can I get better in this staff meeting?’ Because you really get better as a coach. Coach Smart has done a great job helping us all get better as coaches.

When asked for his definition of discipline, Coley rattles off examples. “This is what it means to me: Not jumping offsides. Being able to stop when the whistle blows. Running your route exactly where it’s supposed to be run.”

His perspective has changed since Georgia hired Smart. “Leaving Miami [in 2015] and coming back to a system like this, there’s a big emphasis on the little details. Not that there wasn’t at Miami, but there’s just such a huge emphasis on the small print. Ten years ago, discipline meant being on time, not missing your appointments. The difference is we do a better job of working on distractions these days.”

You read that, and it’s not hard to understand why the program has taken a step up from the Richt days.

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23 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Nick Saban Rules

23 responses to “Straight outta Tuscaloosa, it’s discipline!

  1. 81Dog

    Discipline is training that makes punishment unnecessary. You only get punished when you lack discipline. Today’s sensitive folks think discipline is a bad word, but it isn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    • dawgtired

      I was thinking the same. Discipline is NOT necessarily punishment. You can be disciplined in many areas of your life. Following a regiment or process in eating, exercising, working etc. Simply not deviating from the process handed you. We’ve learned that when it comes to punishment, Saban does NOT follow a firm discipline. He weighs the need to reach that championship.

      Like

  2. Mg4life0331

    That last sentence is going to confuse the trolls accusing you of being a Richtophile.

    Like

    • TXBaller

      The last sentence is GOLD!!

      Like

    • Macallanlover

      Why? It seems a fair statement to me, as someone who respects both coaches. All coaches have areas of strength, areas they need to improve in; I don’t know anyone who feels Richt was perfect. I believe his focus and attention to football details fell off after Katrhyn’s cancer, and had no problem with those who felt we needed a change at that time. I have serious issues with how that change was handled, and with those who continually obsess and castigate a man who improved our situation at UGA, did it while attracting positive attention nationally, and continues to love, and support the UGA program despite the public hate directed at him from a vocal minority.

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  3. Tony Barnfart

    Discipline is making sure you stay humming with 85 scholarship worthy players at all times. Not surrendering when you want Mo Smith. Not being content at 84, but finding that really underrated transfer from Tulsa to make 85 while everybody else is on offseason cruise control.

    Like

  4. Derek

    The key in all of this is having a back up that scares the shit out of the starter. You can dress it up and complicate it all you want, and of course those complexities exist, but the bottom line fact is that it’s competition that gets the desired results. You recruit and recruit and recruit and somebody really good is going to earn the starting job.

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    • dawgtired

      “fact is that it’s competition that gets the desired results”

      Competition is the best motivator I’ve found in every walk of life.

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      • 92 grad

        To be more precise, it’s being self motivated as opposed to external motivation. It’s external at first, then the buy in makes each athlete internally motivated. Then the confidence and integrity really start flowing and we have a healthy sense of pride with humility.

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      • Just Chuck (The Other One)

        Sadly, competition is something you see less and less of these days, especially in public schools. The exception is good band programs where there is competition for chairs and really good athletic teams with competition for playing time. To quote my cousin, who is very successful in his business, “Competition makes us all better.”

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  5. 3rdandGrantham

    Due to fortune or misfortune, depending on your perspective, as mentioned in the past I was privy to some of the inner workings of the CMR admin back in ’10 and 11. I’m not going to go into details as I have before, but let’s just say I was appalled, if not saddened, but what I witnessed. Total lack of organization and discipline, and I immediately knew the program was operating with one hand tied behinds its back. This helps to explain why I was a vocal critic of CMR for quite a few years, as I actually got to see what others were only gossiping or spreading rumors about.

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    • dawgtired

      I still have great respect for CMR. He was/is a good coach and a better man. It saddens me that he failed or was at least lacking in some areas. I wanted him to succeed. I still appreciate where he brought the program from Donnan. He was most likely a necessary step in the process. I think the administration learned, as did CMR, where we needed improvement but it was too late for him. There is a good chance that Kirby (or a coach like him) would have met the same resistance from the admin if CMR had not paved the way (even if unintentional). I believe UGA as a whole has grown some and still has a way to go. Kirby seems to be unhindered in all areas right now. If I held animosity toward everyone I knew for their failures, I would have no friends. That being said, I struggle to bring myself to cheer for Miami. 😉

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      • Mayor

        DT, the low point for UGA football was Ray Goff. The Dawgs became basically a .500 team which lasted for several years and would have continued in that vein if Goff had stayed HC. If you take out Jim Donnan’s transition year of 1996 and look only at his last 4 seasons, Donnan’s winning percentage was almost exactly the same as Mark Richt’s. Not bad-mouthing CMR–just pointing out that the guy who really saved Georgia from plunging into the abyss was Jim Donnan, a guy who doesn’t get the respect he should get for saving UGA football.

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  6. Bright Idea

    One word left out of this. It takes a hell of lot of ENERGY to operate like this. Everybody, including the janitor, better have it to maintain the discipline.

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    • 92 grad

      Yes. Whether the staff is grossly overpaid or not, the coaches and players they choose to accept are all special people, certainly the top 10% in terms of drive, charisma, ability.

      Like

  7. MDDawg

    Maybe I’m just dense, but it seems like this still only scratches the surface. Don’t all coaches believe in discipline and attention to detail? What is it about these coaches that sets them apart?

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  8. W Cobb Dawg

    Objection! UGA was the leader of the free world in discipline. Who else would suspend their best player for 4 games on the most asinine charges ever dreamed up – and do it twice?

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  9. Debby Balcer

    It is much easier to have attention to detail when your boss funds extra staff to handle the details. Kirby has been given the support to implement his system. It is much easy to get where you are going when you have the equipment and staff to get there.

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  10. Bulldog Joe

    Glad to see a Georgia coaching staff with the authority to make their own disciplinary decisions.

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    • Mayor

      You put your finger on the real issue BJ. Mike Adams was the real anchor holding back the team by hamstringing CMR and the rest of the coaching staff.

      Like