Have you ever wondered what it truly means to be a player's coach?
In the football world, this title is thrown around quite a bit, almost too much. It's just too easy for a broadcaster like me to see a coach getting along with his players and arbitrarily dub him a player's coach. The truth is we have to dig a little bit deeper to find out how someone earns this title.
A coach's relationship with his players is certainly crucial. It says something when a guy like Zach Brown, a former Pitt running back who spent his first four seasons in Paul Chryst's offense at Wisconsin, calls his former offensive coordinator the "ultimate player's coach." Clearly Paul Chryst earns the respect of those who play for him, but there's a lot that goes into earning that respect.
For junior receiver Devin Street, it's about more than Chryst's coaching abilities on the field. "Whether it be on the football field or in life, he's full of wisdom. He talks about everything, about being responsible, about being a complete man and doing everything right," Street said. A player's coach, ironically, is more than just a coach.
A player's coach is a great teacher. He knows how to motivate his players. He knows how to get the most out of them. "These coaches know how to go about it the right way," Street said. "They are teachers first and that's definitely what they're doing. Now I'm learning how important the minor details are. It makes a big difference." Street's play in the first week of camp certainly shows that he has responded to Coach Chryst and his staff.
Great teachers know that each student, or in this case player, merits a different approach. While one may respond to positive reinforcement, the other might need a good, old-fashioned scolding. A player's coach knows the right coaching style, for the right player, at the right time. It comes natural to them.
Scheme and strategy also factor in to earning this title. A player's coach puts his team in the best possible position to be successful. The strengths and weaknesses of his players impact the schemes he employs. Coach Chryst's offenses at Wisconsin have always seemed to feature a powerful running game, but he has frequently stated that he avoids proclaiming what kind of offense he runs. Rather, he tailors his system to take advantage of his team's strengths.
There's an old saying, "It's not the X's and the O's it's the Jimmies and the Joes." Sounds pretty simple, but it's true. The best coaches know this. Coach Chryst knows this. That's why his first priority when he was hired as Pitt's head coach was to speak to the players. "Today, it meant more to me to get off of that plane and the first thing we do is go and talk to the players," Chryst said. "That is what really energizes me. That is what we are in this thing for. We are football coaches. You can't coach if you don't have players." Well said, coach. Well said.