There was an excellent write up by Bruce Feldman at SI.com recently where he looked at the football teams at Alabama and Georgia and how those two programs defined discipline. Feldman writes about the importance of discipline and how it specifically has a direct bearing on an organization's culture. You can read the entire article here.
A few takes aways were the definitions of discipline from members of the staff:
“The ongoing definition around here is to do what you’re supposed to do, when you’re supposed to do it, the way it’s supposed to be done—all of the time,” says Alabama’s head strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran, who has been with Saban for all six of his national titles, including his first while at LSU. “That is Coach Saban’s definition, and it is ingrained into my head.”
Crimson Tide offensive line coach Brent Key arrived in Tuscaloosa in 2016. His definition: “Doing the right thing all the time, and doing the right thing when you don’t want to do it.” Key, 39, says his definition of the word has changed from his younger days, “when discipline meant being punished or spanked. But to me now, discipline is internal.”
“Discipline is accountability,” says Alabama defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi, Saban’s ace recruiter since 2015 who was promoted when Tennessee hired away Jeremy Pruitt this winter. “You have to consistently operate to our standard on a daily basis, and that’s where players and coaches hold each other accountable and continue to prepare in the game manner, no matter who we’re playing.”
Feldman also talked about the importance of making sure that recruits knew of the importance of discipline and what they would be getting into:
“During the recruiting process we are very up-front with them, and those guys are smart enough to know what they are getting themselves into,” Burns said. “In my position specifically [Burns has since moved to an off-field role after 11 years as running backs coach], they know that we’re going to play a lot of guys, so I want them to understand that, and to come to work every day and not let that affect them. We have been really fortunate to have the right personalities to do that. We’ve always had one guy that sets the tempo in terms of what it takes to be a running back at the University of Alabama and not to be selfish. Play your role. Take it very seriously. Be ready for the moment. When I first got there, it was Glen Coffee, and he took care of Mark Ingram, and then Mark took care of Trent Richardson, and then Trent took care of Eddie, and Eddie Lacy took care of T.J. [Yeldon].”
The interesting aspect that Feldman shared from the Georgia staff was the attention to detail -- even thought every day meetings to make sure they were all on the same page:
“No detail is left un-talked-about,” Georgia offensive coordinator Jim Chaney says. “We dot every I and cross every T. It sometimes might be a little uncomfortable to talk about, but it’s gonna be talked about. Kirby is diligent as heck about all that.”
Awkward as they may be at times, these conversations become the norm. “It’s had every day,” Georgia quarterbacks coach James Coley says. “I always felt like when you walked in staff meetings, you were there to get your players better. Everybody’s trying to get better, but now you’re saying to yourself, ‘How can I get better in this staff meeting?’ Because you really get better as a coach. Coach Smart has done a great job helping us all get better as coaches."