Tony DeMeo


It All Starts With Discipline

Over the years I’ve given many clinics on offensive football. From The Multi-Bone to The Triple Gun, Xs & Os were always a significant part of our success because we were always unique in our approach. Teams only had a few days to prepare for us. So I’m aware of the difference Xs & Os can make.

I’m also aware of the importance of the Jimmys & the Joes. Having talented players is an absolute necessity to building a winning program. We always recruited talented players but players that were also team oriented. All you had to do is watch our skill guys block & you could see: The Team Comes First.

But there is a foundation that isn’t as sexy as Xs & Os or as cool as recruiting but even MORE essential to building a program: DISCIPLINE. For some reason coaches don’t like to discuss discipline. For some reason some school boards don’t like to enforce discipline. Parents LOVE discipline except for their child. Every successful coach or administrator knows: Discipline is the Foundation for Success.
Then why is there such a reluctance to teach discipline? Here are a few reasons:

1. Everyone wants to be liked. Everyone wants to be the cool guy. So some coaches are reluctant to teach something that might upset someone. The need to be liked is one of the greatest weaknesses any leader can have.

2. Coaches don’t realize or don’t communicate that “Discipline is something done for the player not to the player. Discipline is not harassment. It’s teaching young to do the right thing at the right time every time.

3. Lack of school board backing. People on the school board want to be liked as well and they have zero skin in the game. But regardless of the school board, the coach always has the power of The Bench.
When you look at the successful coaches, regardless of the level, high school to the Pros, they are all teachers of discipline. Their teaching styles may differ but the subject was the same. Vince Lombardi & Tom Landry when it came to style. Lombardi was bombastic while Landry rarely raised his voice but both were teachers of discipline.

Last season, James Franklin chased down one of his players for walking off the field without shaking his opponents hand after a frustrating loss. Franklin took a loss & made it a teachable moment that will hatch many wins in the future. James Franklin also benched 2 key players prior to the 2016 Rose Bowl for breaking team rules. Obviously James Franklin knows the importance of discipline & has restored a culture of discipline at Penn St. & restored it to a Top 10 program.

Soft spoken John Wooden had some of the most disciplined teams in the history of College Basketball. A winner of 10 National Championships in 12 years, Wooden began each basketball season by teaching his players how to put on their sweat socks & sneakers so they wouldn’t get blisters. Doing things the right way every time starts with little things.

You can tell when a team is not disciplined. When things go wrong, how do they react? There is an old saying “If you want to find out what’s in an orange, squeeze it” If you want to see what team is made of, watch react when things are not going their way. Do they bow up? Or do they unravel? Do they come together of fall apart? I saw a team that was 4-0 going into Saturday. They got in a dogfight & completely unraveled. They got 4, count them 4, unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. They could not focus & wound up getting blown out & their high-powered offense held to only 7 points. Their problem was not Xs & Os nor Jimmys & Joes – it was lack of discipline that was exposed when the kitchen got hot.
So before you worry about an RPO or a Zone Blitz, build your team’s discipline & you’ll have the foundation to build everything else. Remember, teaching the importance of daily discipline is one of the greatest gifts you can give a player.