We’re here with a video on
creativity and sports. And Coach O’Brien has been
incredibly busy, He’s been kind enough to just spend
a few moments with us. And I spoke to Coach O’Brien
a couple of months ago. And he actually once designed
a boat in an engineering course at Brown University.
But he was also, at the time we
talked, really busy already planning practice schedules
and so forth. And Coach, I was just curious
about that in terms of how you go about designing a practice.
One of the things that you have
to look at every single day is what you want
to accomplish. So football is a game
of situations. So every single day you have
to decide what on the checklist it is that you have
to get accomplished. So today it was red area,
which is from the 20 yard line in.
It was first and second down,
and then some third down situations.
So you allot time, so that at
the end of training camp, you go back and you hey, I’ve got
all these on my checklist. I’ve got all these situations
covered. And that’s how practice
organization goes. In the beginning of practice
is usually all about individual technique, and
then you put it all together at the end.
And it’s kind of a whole-part-whole
theory, and then at the end, you put your team together
and run team plays within the different
situations. Sounds great.
Sounds like you’re dealing a lot
with composition and how parts fit together.
You got it.
So I’m just curious,
in terms of– creativity is often thought
about in the arts. But I know, in speaking to you
before, there’s creativity in everything.
I was just wondering sort of what
comes to mind when you think of being creative as a
football coach or a teacher? Sure.
The one thing that you have to
think about, in football, all the time is, if you’re an
offensive coach, is how are you going to put the defense
in conflict? So you may line up in a running
formation to throw the ball, or you may line
up in a passing formation to run the ball.
So you’re always thinking
about that. Then maybe you’re in a running
situation like third down and one.
And you may throw the ball
because the defense is geared up to stop the run.
So there’s different creative
thinking that you do throughout the season as you’re
game planning, as you’re getting ready
for our defense. and the defense is thinking
about, OK, they’re in a running formation.
We’re going to try to disguise
our look so that we give them a running defense on the
snap of the ball. So maybe we give them a passing
look that they think they can pass against, but then,
on the snap, we move to a running look.
So defense is similar, but
trying to stop the offense. So as an artist, I’m thinking
we’re trying to deal with illusion sometimes and
having people think they’re seeing something they’re not.
That’s exactly right.
It’s the art of deception
in many ways. So that’s what you’re trying
to do offensively. And then there’s times, as a
football team, where, if you’re a good football team, a
tough football team, you have to be able to line up in third
and one and run the football, no matter what.
And then the defense may know
what’s coming and you just have to accomplish the task.
So that’s part of it.
I have to say, I was watching
this practice. I was looking at the
quarterbacks and I was particularly impressed
with the Freshman Bench, and just his–
so much presence and accuracy
with the ball. And we had talked earlier, and
it is interesting how you talked about your players as if
you’re a sculptor and this was the medium you were given.
Could you talk about that?
Every player out here has
a certain skill set. Somebody might be quicker
than they are fast. Somebody might be really fast
but not that quick. Somebody might be not very big
and somebody else might be really big and be able to move, you know,
generate force because of how big they are.
So you’re always trying to put
your players in a position where they can be successful.
Don’t ask somebody to do
something that they’re not going to be successful at.
Take a look at their
skill set. Always constantly evaluate how
these guys can fit into both the offense and defense and
that’s how you try to put your players in successful
I guess the last question–
when I work with young college
students and they want to become artists and their parents
are paying tuition. And we’re basically–
you’re a teacher and we’re here as educators.
And we’re thinking about our
students in terms of what they’re going to do once
they graduate. And I guess- what are your
thoughts about advice that you give to your players that go just
beyond not just being a good football player, but to be a
citizen that that’s successful in our society.
Football teaches you
a lot of things about life, in my opinion.
It teaches you to be
disciplined, to be on time. It teaches you to learn
assignments and understand what your job is and to be
able to do your job. It teaches you that sometimes
you’re going to get knocked down and how are you going
to pick yourself back up? How are you going to deal
with adversity? When you’re down in a game, are
you going to give up or are you going to figure
out how to come back and win the game.
So football teaches you a
lot of different things. And we try to educate our guys
by, obviously, making sure that they go to class and
they’re doing the right things off the field.
But then on the field, what can
they do that will carry over into the rest
of their lives? And we think those are some of
the principles of coaching. Right. I’ve got to stop this, but
just one last thing, and I promise this will be it.
But that idea of camaraderie and a lot of
people are talking about collaboration now, and that
you learn a lot by collaborating with
somebody else. And certainly in a team sport,
that idea of camaraderie– how does one cultivate
that atmosphere? Football is the ultimate team
sport because it takes 11 guys operating efficiently, every guy
doing their individual job as well as they can do it.
And so you cultivate that by, in
your team meetings, talking about team with these guys.
If 10 guys do it right or one
guy doesn’t, we’re not going to have a successful play.
Whereas, if 11 guys are on the
same page and we use the phrase, if 11 guys can see it
through the same set of eyes, then that’s a really important
thing on a football team. And so that’s what training
camp’s all about, every day trying to make sure that guys
understand the different situations, the different
problems that come up on offense and defense, and
how are you going to handle those as a unit?
Coach O’Brien, thanks so
much for your time. You got it.
You got it.
All right, That was terrific.
Thanks a lot.
You got it.
I belong in an Eastwood movie.
You know, one take?
All right, thanks, guys.