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Corn Flakes: Nebraska Football - About That "Culture" Thing

What's all this about culture and Nebraska football? We just want wins.

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Yesterday coaching legend Terry Pettit released a statement about what's going on at Nebraska, focusing on culture. Oddly enough that's where I was going for today's Flakes (I kid you not) because I intend to fully review the list of issues I published on Tuesday and because I am currently reading Urban Meyer's new book "Above the Line: Lessons in Leadership and Life from a Championship Season" which I was sent by the publisher for the purpose of a pre-release review and I've run into a few things Meyer says that I want to share with you.

Before I let loose on the Meyer quotes, let's define what "culture" is and is not relative to a football team. Culture is not what type of offense the team runs, nor the type of blocking, it really has nothing to do with the physical attributes of the team.

Culture defines behaviors, beliefs and values. Expand culture into society and it includes morals and laws. Meyer has this to say about culture:

Culture eats strategy for lunch. Talent, schemes, tactics and plans cannot replace a strong culture. A great culture can make even a mediocre strategy successful, but a weak culture will undermine even the best strategy. The foundation of culture is core beliefs. Not platitudes or quotes. Core beliefs. The beliefs that are the heart of the team. - Urban Meyer, "Above The Line".

About Meyer's book - I have not finished yet, but so far it's very good. I've read my share of coaching leadership books. Most of them are pretty gooey, i.e. tell only the pretty stories they want to tell. Tom Osborne's books were a little gooey from time to time. Meyer has been pretty honest about where he was as a coach and a parent when he left Florida due to health issues.

Meyer's statement is pretty clear. Culture matters. It matters more than the technical aspects of the football team. It's also an abstract concept, which makes it hard to define, especially since you and I don't see it on a day to day basis. We only see the team play on Saturdays, and we define them by their wins and losses, not by whether or not they're working hard in practice, lifting weights, or being good citizens and students in general. (If Ryker Fyfe pets a kitten or helps someone else carry their text books and it's not on social media, did it really happen?)

Note that I have said nothing about our current or former coaches. The implication lately (strong implications at that) has been that our former coach built a "bad" culture. Rather than saying it was "bad" (it worked decently for him), let's just say that the culture our new coach will build will be different.

If you want an example of what "different" means, consider this: your former boss was a person who allowed you to be part of the decision-making process at your organization. He held meetings, gathered input, and then made decisions based on that input.

Your new boss doesn't give a damn about your input. In fact, he doesn't want it. He just wants you to do what he tells you. He doesn't really even want you to think. He will make the decisions.

(Note that this is not an implication about either coach, but an abstract example.)

Don't you think there would be a change in how you did your job? Do you have an idea of which one you'd rather work for? Were this change to occur, would you stick around to see what happens, or would you actively seek new employment?

Free For All

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This is horrible. Another high school football player died from football. That makes eight this year.


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I am reticent to include this article here because I fear the comments section will devolve into "FIRE PERLMAN" and "PERLMAN DESTROYS FOOTBALL" conspiracy rather than commenting on culture as I've tried to get y'all to think about it.

Oh well. Hell, let's burn everything down, huh?