The Four Seasons

As spring winds down and summer begins, it made me think about the four seasons in college football players and coaches' lives. For some, football is just about the fall but for coaches, players, and many fans football is more than a one season sport. It is a game of the four seasons.

As a Mississippi State football fan, you are certainly well acquainted with the fall season. As you know there is nothing like a Saturday afternoon at Scott Field during a home game. This is especially true as the season moves along and you begin to feel a hint of coolness in the air and the leaves around campus begin to change from green to gold, red, and bronze. There is just nothing quite like the excitement of a Saturday of football with family and friends at Scott field in the fall. However, without the other three seasons none of this can happen.

As loyal Mississippi State fans, I am sure you are very interested in the winter season. Bowl games are over and recruiting goes into full swing. The excitement builds as recruiting wraps up and recruits sign their scholarships. The recruits may have committed earlier but nothing is finalized until the actual signing in the winter. With recruiting and signing day, the winter season is an important and exciting time.

As a side note, I am personally not in favor of the emphasis on early commitments. I say this because I was usually able to search out and find a "diamond in the rough". Two examples of those kind of players were Greg Favors and Randy Thomas, both of whom ended up getting their degrees, making ALL SEC, and playing in the NFL. If such players make early public commitments, you then have to fight other SEC schools that may only learn of them through the early commitment.

The spring season continues the build up to a new fall football season. The big emphasis in early spring is spring training. That's where you as fans get a look at next year's team and begin to get a feel as to what to expect for the coming season. You start to look at next year's schedule and think about how you stack up against your opponents.

As a coach, I always enjoyed the end of spring training meetings with my individual players. During those meetings, I found out what their goals were and told them what I thought their role on the team would be and what my plans were for them. I also talked to them about their academic progress and about their families. I would always counsel them about doing the right thing and making the right decisions. I would also tell them I would be pulling for them and fighting for them, but that I expected their BEST in every area of their lives.

In late spring, the coaches return from May recruiting. During May, coaches are able to go out and visit their schools, watch practices and watch spring games. This is also a period when you try to develop contacts at schools in your recruiting area. These contacts are very valuable to the recruiting process. You really get to know coaches and counselors and, hopefully, they become your ally as recruiting heats up. I also enjoyed getting to know the school secretaries and security guards because many times they really knew how players conducted themselves around school.

Spring recruiting and the spring season is a very valuable and productive time.

Right now the very important summer season is here for all of us. The strength coaches will have a busy time with all the players. The coaches will schedule some vacation time with their families and plan and work summer camps. Coaches will also be very busy monitoring their players and checking on their recruits. They will even do this while they are on vacation time with their families, as my wife and daughter will attest to. And during this time, most of the players will be attending one or both of the sessions of summer school.

They will be working out in the weight room, running and doing quickness and agility drills on the field. These training sessions start very early in the morning and continue at different intervals during the day. All of these workout sessions are designed to develop great cardio and strength condition. I always told my players that "your body is your business" and to treat it accordingly. During this time players will also attend classes and academic tutoring sessions. Playing college football in the SEC is a full time job now-a-days. I always reminded my players that SEC football is fast and hard hitting and not for everybody, but if you like hard nosed football you will absolutely love this life style.

While players continue to train, coaches will schedule a visit to a pro camp in July. And these visits were always very helpful to me. Coaches will also be spending a great deal of time in the summer season evaluating their practice drills and teaching plans for the upcoming season. They will also be evaluating the opponents and usually making preliminary plans for the first four games. The summer season draws to a close with pre-season camp. Yes, the summer is truly a busy season.

The four seasons of college football are each unique and important in their own right. Football is a sport for all seasons. I can truly say that throughout my coaching career I enjoyed each and every one of the seasons and I appreciated having the opportunity to coach and experience this game for all seasons.

Click here to learn more about Jim Tompkins

Coach Jim Tompkins, a former Mississippi State football coach, is a Mississippi State football columnist for

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