There is a second tier of successful traits for the most successful players, players who are frequently in leadership and upperclassman positions. These players must show the greatest responsibility on the team, not the least. They must embark to the young ones supreme confidence through effective communication.
These leaders must now share and start to give back to the program. They must represent the team with the highest integrity, or else this core of players becomes an impediment to success, not a vehicle.
Here is a final trait, one that is somewhat of a secret. The upper tier players must be taught that even the best-prepared program will sometimes have athletes of stature arrive at a crossroad moment that can define their career. This group of players should be charged with using their experience and confidence to find a way to win.
Coaches need to green light certain players to pull a rabbit out of the hat. Some players just find a way to win and the upper tier needs to be ready when the opportunity arrives.
Do you remember the Vince Young scramble against U of M? This went past athletic talent. Southern Cal received a dose of Vince Young finding a way to win the next year. The greatest example of finding a way to win I ever witnessed was the famous Dave Casper, forward, forward, accidental fumble.
The final process of success is for coaches to understand impediments to success. While this is negative, and players need not be immersed in negative psychology daily, coaches must deal with impediments. Organization difficulties can kill success. Lowering expectations and difficulty for feel-good, temporary moments leads to regression of success.
Laziness is a disease, and coupled with a bad attitude that is me-centered is perhaps terminal for success efforts. The disease can be explained, compromised, or eliminated, at the discretion of the coaching staff. Depending on others leads to a loss of control over the program’s destiny. Take care of business is a common phrase that explains this impediment. Or as Lombardi put it, luck is when preparation meets opportunity.
One question remains—is quitting an impediment, or an unintended means to future success? This probably depends on the player and the set of circumstances.
And so, you are invited to sit back and ponder how the “new U of M” is attacking the process of success. While you are at it, look back over these points and think about how these points of success affected “old U of M” over the past few years.
So what would Yogi say about success? Maybe this: If I have success, I know I am more successful than if I do not have success.