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The Philosophy of Gaucho Football

by: Bill Cunerty
Head Coach, Saddleback (Ca.) JC
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Note: The following pages are directly out of the staff manual of one of the nation's top junior college programs. While it is somewhat different than anything heretofore offered in "Outline to Victory," we feel that the thoughts contained wherein may help crystallize the views of you and your staff. Special thanks to Bill Cunerty, who, due to health concerns, recently stepped down. ELS

If you are reading this, you are a member of the best coaching staff in community college football. It is meant for your eyes only and is a creed that we will live by for all the time that we coach together. Please read it and be prepared to live up to the spirit and the intent of the thoughts contained herein. You will not find much in the way of original material here, but rather these are ideals and concepts I've always admired in great coaches and great staffs.

Our objective is to make football a positive experience for both the players and ourselves. To do this, it is imperative we win every game we are capable of winning without compromising sound moral principles.

I expect the same level of behavior from players and coaches. Be on time, doing what you're supposed to be doing, where you're supposed to be doing it. Be accountable. This program will be based on one thought, "No excuses." be a professional in your behavior and approach to winning.

Our program will be based on the principles of honesty, hard work and fairness. Demand excellence in all your dealings with players and especially yourself. The program must be bigger than the individuals within it.

It is my managerial style to never ask you to do more than I am willing to do. If you can keep up with the pace I am going to set, we will be successful. If you are willing to do more, be creative, never care who gets the credit and always be positive, we will be champions.

Assistant coaches do not belong to the head coach. I have hired you because you have special talents and I am confident that you can make a difference in our program. Loyalty to me is not bestowed by you, rather it is earned by me. I will always treat you with respect and I will earn yours.

We must be loyal to each other and never let anything come between us as coaches or friends. We will never confront or yell at each other in the presence of our players. If we have differences, we will iron them out after practice. Never leave the coaches' locker room mad. If you have something to say, say it, and come to some resolution of the problem. We are in a tough arena and we must "circle the wagons" against negative influences.

Build team unity, do not create dissension. Don't punish the group for the failings of one player. Rather, drop one wind sprint at the end of the practice because a player was really hustling and point that out to all the team. Players will respond if we refer to them as "men" and not "boys." I believe we should strive to make our players behave and perform up to the level we expect of them.

Coaching is intense teaching. Be a great teacher. Yelling is not teaching. Nagging is not teaching. You will at times have to raise your voice to make a point, but I believe that if you yell all the time, players will shut you out and not hear your message.

Critique a player's performance, not the player. Don't call him a chicken because he didn't tackle properly. Correct his technique and see if he gets better. If he can't tackle, coach someone else!

Treat all players with respect regardless of their level of ability. I was a scout squad quarterback for three years at USC, but my coach, Dave Levy, always made me feel like an important part of the game plan. We will always get more out of practice if everyone feels a part of the process of preparation.

The field is our classroom. Use language appropriate for a classroom. The "F" word and taking the Lord's name in vain is not appropriate and will offend many. The players will respect you for not having to rely on swearing to get your point across.

Negativity breeds negativity. It is a monster that feeds off itself. We will have staff meetings, not bitch sessions. If you feel your players are not good enough, coach them better. Complaining will not make them better. Convince the players they are better than they actually are and they may surprise you and play up to those expectations.

Convince the players they are special because they are at Saddleback College and the Gaucho football tradition means something special to many people. Tell them it is their turn to make history and achieve what many other teams have already done-become champions.

Organize your individual practice plans daily so players know what to expect and keep your teaching style consistent. Our system can be somewhat complex, but if you are organized in your presentation with key words and phrases, you will be readily understood. Players like simplicity, but they like to think that the system they are in is very complex. We can accomplish both.

We will practice to win and play to win. In preparation for a team, we will emphasize what we are going to do to win the game, not keep from being embarrassed by the opponent. We will never brag about our ability or success, but we will never enter a game with the thought that we cannot possibly win. We've won too many games in Saddleback history over teams with more talent, size and speed to ever doubt our destiny.

Going for it on fourth down and other risk-taking decisions are my prerogative. I'm willing to take all the heat if they don't work, but my decisions will be based on many factors, including your input. I will always take into consideration the timing, the momentum, and the consequences of these moves, but I don't expect to be second-guessed by my staff in public.

Whatever we say in staff meetings, hear from the players, see at practice, etc., will never leave our campus. We are a family, and to that end we will defend each other, love each other, and remain loyal to each other throughout our time together as coaches.

Don't hesitate to tell players or fellow coaches that you love them and appreciate their efforts. During a long season, we will all have our moments of depression. It is at those times that one encouraging word is like a ray of sunshine.

God bless you and thanks for taking part in this magnificent adventure.


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