Let’s say you’re Indiana football coach Bill Lynch, or any college coach, and want to build a successful program. Yes, you can have all the bells and whistles and spectacular stadiums and impressive weight training facilities money can buy, but if you don’t have good players, quality players, players you can count on when times get tough, as they always do, you don’t really have anything.
The No. 1 attribute that all coaches seem to want, regardless of the sport, is competitiveness. They want fierce competitors who will do what is necessary to win while still following the rules.
There are two ways to get competitive guys -- recruit them or develop them. So we posed this question to Lynch -- how do you get the kind of competitors necessary to win at the Big Ten level?
“We try to find it,” Lynch said. “If you find that naturally fierce competitor, that’s a key. Really competitive people never lose it.”
How do you find it?
“It starts with conversation,” Lynch said. “We talk to the high school coaches and anybody in the (high school) building. We want competitive kids who compete in the class room, the weight room and on the field. The better we get to know these kids, the more we see them at camp, the better feel we get for how competitive they are.
“Once they get here their true personality comes out.”
Is it really possible to turn a passive player, maybe just a really nice guy, into an aggressive, competitive, nasty player?
“I do think you can develop competitiveness,” Lynch said. “Some kids are brought up in a competitive environment and competed in everything they did. The more competition you put in front of them, the more competitive drills you have, the better it teaches a kid to be more competitive.”
Lynch pushed competitive drills hard in the off-season conditioning program. And there is nothing he likes better than to sign multi-sport athletes.
“If you see them compete in basketball, in track, in wrestling, that’s important,” he said. “We’re even starting to get Lacrosse players. I like to see kids competing and going from sport to sport.”
You can win with those kind of players. That, is the bottom line.