Coaches dread them… Players dream about them… and fans, well depending on how busy they are, can feel indifferent.
It is the annual bye week for NCAA and NFL football teams.
It happens every year and it is needed given the physically demanding nature of football. But idle time can be the devils playground and it can be safely assumed that coaches loose more sleep over their players idle time, than they ever will over a game plan. Coaches love control and the vary nature of the bye week forces them to hand that power back to their players for a mere 48 hours.
Game preparation gives coaches the control they need and they can’t wait to get back to “Game Mode.”
Football is a game of preparation that is steeped in the weekly routine. Every week the preparation follows the same pattern. Here is a general outline of what a normal week of planning looks like:
Day 1: Correct the previous game and workout
Day 2: Off day (treatment and optional workout)
Day 3: 1st and 2nd Install
Day 4: 3rd Down install and address any issues from previous day
Day 5: Red zone, Short yardage and Goal line install, mixed with a little 3rd down
Day 6: Walk Through
Day 7: Game time
Now occasionally there are short weeks that will throw in an extra day, but generally this is the pattern. Players and coaches become accustomed to it and the routine helps create efficiency in planning. Without this consistent routine, players have enough time to wander into trouble.
The “Bye Week” changes this pattern. It allows for reflection. Time for coaches and players to self scout and change their tendencies. Players can get some much needed time off to rest their broken and beaten bodies. The rest and time off is a welcome reprieve from the daily grind of constantly preparing for the upcoming opponent. However discretionary time leads to opportunities and idle time can be the toughest opponent for anyone.
For JT Barrett the idle time allowed for him to potentially wreck the wonderful opportunity he finally earned. The starting quarterback for Ohio State will always draw the eyes of the sport’s nation. Operating a motor vehicle under the influence is a serious offense and Urban Meyer and the OSU Athletic Department issued a swift and just punishment. A one game suspension seems to be par for the offense across the NCAA football world. This may just be the tip of the punishment with Meyer typically forcing players to “earn” their way back after violating team trust
It is a lesson that can be learned by anyone. A break from routine is occasionally needed, but there is never break from responsibility. JT Barrett will now learn this cruel reality, but hopefully other athletes can learn from his mistake and not be forced to make their own.
College students will always make mistakes and occasionally find themselves in less than flattering situations. No matter how much a coach tries to regulate players’ lives, there will always be 20 somethings making poor decisions and getting into trouble.
The solution: Recruit good people, educate them, and ultimately discipline them when necessary. JT Barrett made a mistake (like so many players before him) and will be penalized for it. For any coach or mentor, it becomes a teachable moment. Hopefully it will be used as such.