While I say those players are in trouble, I am not sure how much trouble they are in because marijuana is not as big a deal as it used to be, but it is still against the law.
My message is that all four of those kids want to be good in football and they may have ambitions in other areas of their life, too. When you are young and growing, and when you are at the age and stage of life they are in, there are so many temptations out there and so much peer pressure. You have got to have strong convictions on where you want your life to go and what you want to be when you are an older man. Football is not going to last forever, that’s for sure, and you have a lifetime to live.
The first thing I think young folks should do is set goals instead of just going along living life, taking it as it is from day-to-day, whatever comes along. I think that is very important, but I also believe the goals should be realistic regarding academics, business, athletics or whatever. As part of the goal-setting I believe athletes should consider who they want to be as a friend, who they want to be as a husband or wife, who they want to be as a parent, who they want to be as a football player. If they will set goals, write them down and be serious about them, I?think it is easier to stay away from things that will keep them from reaching those goals.
If you do that not only will you avoid getting involved in something like what got the four football players in trouble, you won’t be involved with people who are fooling with something like that. That is what is so critical. It doesn’t even matter if it is somebody you think is your best friend. If he is going down the wrong path in life, don't follow that person, and maybe you can be a good influence on him by going in a different direction. If you do that it will make your life so much simpler.
You have got to have a set of standards that you are going to live by and some kind of idea of what type of life you are interested in having for the long term. Athletes should live their lives in such a manner that makes it easier to reach their goals and be where they want to be a couple years from now as well as 20 years down the road. Right now they are laying the foundation to live on for the rest of their lives.
When I was coaching football there were three main factors that determined what type of success my players were going to have. The first is physical ability--what type of God-given talent you have combined with the work done over the years to develop it.
The second factor is the mental aspect of development. When I wrote about the Auburn softball team in my last column it struck me that what they have accomplished in becoming so good with the mental part of their game has enhanced their ability to play in a successful manner. Doing things the right way can be the difference in winning or losing, or the difference in becoming a championship team or coming up short.
The spiritual part of it is the third factor. Again, I will use the softball team as example of how powerful that can be. Probably that little thing those players have got going with the turtle is an example of this as they play for their injured teammate, Kelsey Bogaards, but I think they were already a close-knit, unselfish group that played for each other before her injury.
Because of that when they went through a tough stretch a couple of weeks ago, I would say there wasn’t a bit of doubt in any of those players’ minds, or from Coach Clint Myers, that their team was going to bounce back, get on the right track and continue to have success like it did when winning the SEC Tournament and the NCAA regional.
Physical ability is important and so is being smart at what you do as an athlete, but it is the spiritual part of the equation that ties it all together because if you don’t have the heart, the guts and the spirit to make it work for you, you will never be a winner on a consistent basis.