The most valuable lesson I learned as a young coach is that there are a variety of ways to coach and motivate. A perfect point is the two distinctly different ways the Alabama's Nick Saban and Ohio State's Urban Meyer utilized the national rankings as motivation. Here is an excerpt from an article from AL.com by Drew Champlin. You can read the entire article here.
Alabama was 7-1 and ranked No. 6 when the committee released its first rankings. Alabama head coach Nick Saban said he didn't "really look at the rankings" each week, knowing the final rankings were most important. With games against then-ranked foes Mississippi State, LSU and Auburn forthcoming, plus the SEC Championship, winning out would get the Crimson Tide where it needed to be.
"So you have to keep focusing on the next game and try to do the best you can to get your players to be well prepared and to play their best and continue to improve throughout the season, so that you end up in the right place," Saban said Thursday during a press conference with coaches from all four playoff teams.
Saban said the weekly rankings could have been a distraction.
"I think the challenge is to get the players and the people in your organization, your staff and everyone to, you know, realize that, sell that, and stay focused on the things that are going to affect their performance and not get sort of affected by the external factors like a poll, like a ranking, like a scoreboard," Saban said. "All those things sort of can change how you compete and how you play."
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer took a different approach. The Buckeyes' chance at reaching the playoffs was thought to be a longshot after a week 2 home loss to Virginia Tech.
Meyer thought his young team would be better in 2015 and started looking further ahead. But OSU kept winning and winning this season.
"As we started to play better, I would throw that nugget out there every once in a while on Sunday, because everybody watches (the ranking shows)," Meyer said. "You can't ‑‑ like you said, you get tired of hearing it. I actually (was) like ‑‑ if we lose another game, you probably wish you would hear about it."
Ohio State's big regular season win was a 49-37 road win at then-No. 8 Michigan State on Nov. 8. The Buckeyes come into the playoff on an 11-game win streak, highlighted by its 59-0 win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship.
"Our players were very well aware," Meyer said. "That was the talk of college football. I had a very young team, and anything I could do to motivate them, they wanted to be a part of this. And so we would discuss it and have a quick conversation about it every week, because I know they are hearing it from home.
"So if I had a much more mature team, probably take a little bit more of an approach of 'just don't worry about it.' But we utilize that. This is college. You want to tell your children, 'some day, you played in the first College Football Playoff,' so we used that quite a bit."