The element of trust saves USU Football

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 9.53.45 AM       Utah State’s Poinsettia Bowl win over Northern Illinois not only completed a fine year for the Aggies, but it illuminated the fact that there has been a major attitude change in the program.

            That came about thanks to the arrival of Gary Andersen as head coach in late 2008 and has continued under Matt Wells.

            In a Master’s thesis submitted last month for Gonzaga University’s School of Professional Studies, Marques Chavez suggested that it took a cultural change for USU to become a respect football program. Among the things Andersen initiated were weekly team meetings and goal-setting, a conscious effort to relate to players as athletes, students and individuals, having a “Big Brother” program for incoming players, holding weekly meetings to acknowledge fine play and review goals,  and encouraging player-run practices in the summer.

            Caring about the players academically, socially and athletically have been key elements. Bonding among players is emphasized, too.

            While none of the items is exclusive to Utah State, Chavez noted that implementing them effectively has caused the program to thrive.

            In his interviews, Chavez noted that the coaching staff of Brent Guy (9-38) had knowledgeable coaches but was unable to effect a cultural change.

            Attention to detail, follow-up and clearly defined goals have led to success in the program. As his thesis points out, successful coaching takes far more than just the X’s and O’s of the game.

The bottom line is that a feeling of trust and respect must exist for teams to succeed. This in turn has reversed USU’s long history of futility and made it a contender in the Mountain West Conference, as well as a consistent bowl team.

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