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Where Do You Want Them to Be? How Urban Meyer and Nick Saban View Discipline

When talking about discipline, how much is too much? When do we talk to athletes, punish athletes, or kick them off the team?

In the 3rd episode of the Netflix documentary Untold: Swamp Kings, a major topic of discussion was the discipline issues that Urban Meyer had to navigate as the coach of the Florida Gator football team.

When Coach Meyer was named the head coach, the program had won only one national championship in 100 years. Coach Meyer quickly led them to 2 National Championships in four years, but he had to deal with a lot of discipline issues along the way.

Paul Finebaum is a writer who covers college football. He said, "All coaches coach to win, all coaches look the other way, but most coaches do have a limit to how far they will look, and I don't think Urban Meyer did." He said, "Urban Meyer did the minimum to try to correct the discipline problem."

Coach Meyer said criticism started coming because people felt he should start kicking players off the team, but he said he wouldn't do that because he once kicked a player off the team, and that player overdosed on drugs a year later.

Coach Meyer said he took football out of that kid's life, and the result was terrible, and that is something he will have to live with for the rest of his life. He said, "At staff meetings, he said there are a couple of options we have here. Number one is to fix the issue, and number two is to turn your back on players and quit on them. I took the eraser and erased that option."

Years ago, I saw a clip of Alabama coach Nick Saban talking about something similar in terms of discipline for athletes.

Nick Saban said there is always a lot of criticism out there for the guy who does something wrong; everybody wants to know how you are going to punish them. But there aren't enough people out there for 19-20-year-old kids asking, "Why don't you give them another chance."

He then asks, "When a guy makes a mistake, where do you want them to be? Do you want them to be in the street, or do you want them to be here graduating?"

One of the things we have to figure out as coaches and leaders is how we want to manage discipline. Every situation is different, and while we want to be consistent, differentiation and flexibility are also important.


1 - What are your thoughts about what Urban Meyer said?

2 - What are your thoughts about what Coach Nick Saban said? 3 - What is the point of discipline?

4 - What is your discipline philosophy?

5 - When is it okay to kick a person off your team?

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