I saw a tweet this weekend, thanks to Texas Tech fans, that really reminded me of something that so many folks often forget about in the grand scheme of things. The tweet came courtesy of Texas Tech linebacker, Terrance Bullitt:
Football is actually fun agian.. Last year having fun was impossible in every aspect3/23/2013, 7:15:26 PM
On the micro scale, for a player that has battled a shoulder injury since 2011, that is awesome to see. The Red Raiders have a new coach on board, a good vibe in spring ball and guys, like Bullitt, can truly sense the winds of change.
Energy is up. Players are looking forward to doing the hard work that it takes to win ball games. Things have gone from just chopping wood to get the work done, to guys looking forward to hammering out the work each day.
That's a win for your program.
When you examine this on the macro level, Bullitt speaks to something that most people either do not think about, or do not care about: how players feel about their situation. Honestly, while neither reason sits particularly well with me personally, they both make sense.
Most people do not look at these players like the normal people they are. They view the players as larger than life entities that are getting free schooling, eating good food and appear to have it all. These players are entertainment machines who, it seems, have the world at their fingertips. What could they possible have to complain about?
Football is not something that you can do very well, for very long, if you are miserable. Between the early morning lifting sessions, the extreme heat running for conditioning in summer and the grinding physicality of practice, if you hate your situation, you are going to have a rough time.
For some guys, that leads to transferring. For others, it means going to the NFL early, despite what the NFL Draft Advisory Board says about an extra year helping you. For others, it means simply quitting football altogether. And, yes, for some guys who want to avoid quitting, it means just going through the motions.
None of that speaks specifically to Bullitt, or Texas Tech, but rather to college players as a whole. Sure, guys are doing their best to succeed, but a bad environment makes getting top level results even more difficult. The Red Raiders are not the only team who has gone from a period where the players were spinning their wheels, to an enjoyable football experience. Most recently, UCLA underwent the same process.
The Bruins went form a listless ball club under Rick Neuheisel, to a team full of energy, real zeal for the game under Jim Mora. As Shaquelle Evans told the Long Beach Press-Telegram, "We just have fun and we work hard."
Hard work is the name of the game, and that hard work comes easier when the players want to do those things for their coaches. Jim Mora used that to get the Bruins to 9-5 in 2012, with a Pac-12 South Championship and one of the nation's top recruiting classes in 2013. Kliff Kingsbury appears to be on the same track with his push in Lubbock.
This is not a "woe is them" point, but rather identifying and recognizing that what makes for a bad experience for Player A, is not what Fan B might consider to be miserable. In other words, the happiness, or unhappiness of one person is graded on their own scale, not someone else's.
As a fan of college football players, seeing guys openly talk about being happy is a good thing. That's one less guy suffering in silence. That's one less team that doesn't like playing for the coach who is at the helm. While the college football landscape is never going to be a massive drum circle of players and coaches loving each other all the time, situations improving for these guys are always a good thing.
And Bullitt's tweet speaks to that point.