AD asking old-school coach to try out some not-so-new ideas

The Clemson Sports Blog

Football - Coaches Dabo Swinney and Jack Leggett share a laugh with athletic Director Dan Radakovich

Photo by Mark Crammer

Football - Coaches Dabo Swinney and Jack Leggett share a laugh with athletic Director Dan Radakovich

There's nothing new under the sun.

The modifications to the Clemson baseball program suggested earlier this week by Dan Radakovich break no new ground within the culture of the Tiger athletic program.

Many of Clemson's sports programs have been utilizing sports psychologists for decades. Councils of players commonly make up part of programs' leadership structure. Dabo Swinney routinely takes part, or all, of his football staff to various other schools during the off-season, facilitating a give-and-take of ideas, old and new. Coaches and players are routinely 'coached' in how to handle their interactions with the media, and with fans via social media.

These not-so-new ideas, apparently strongly suggested by Radakovich in his meetings with Jack Leggett, are in some cases new to the Tiger baseball program, however.

The 60-year-old Leggett is, in many ways, 'old-school.' But it's significant to note that Leggett was old-school back when he was young.

That's why he was handpicked and hired by Bill Willhelm as his replacement. Wilhelm saw Leggett as one of college coaching's best and brightest - an energetic and passionate young coach firmly rooted in baseball tradition, a hard worker and motivator, and a fundamentalist, in the best sense of the term.

Leggett, Wilhelm often said, did things the right way.

He wasn't looking for change or innovation.

I can only imagine what Wilhelm would have said had he been told that he needed to make use of a sports psychologist or to create a council of players.

He was told, on more than one occasion, to "hold his tongue," which was what passed for media relations training in those days.

Times have changed, and Leggett is being asked to try out some new ideas that Radakovich believes will be helpful.

As he implements the changes, Leggett has plenty of peer resources to draw upon.

Since 2009, Dr. Milt Lowder has served the Tiger football program as sports psychologist, working with players in groups and individually.

Lowder has also worked extensively with Clemson's tennis teams, among others.

"Milt's job is the peak performance of our team as well as the mental health of our team," Swinney has said.

Larry Penley's golf team has worked productively with noted golf psychologist Dr. Morris Pickens for more than a decade.

Likewise, leadership groups are a permanent, and constantly revolving, part of the football program's accountability effort.

As far as media relations are concerned, Leggett's rough spots typically present themselves after disappointing losses - which, to the highly-competitive coach, includes every loss.

He's not the first Clemson coach, of course, to be something of a sore loser, or to let his mouth occasionally get him into trouble.

Soccer coach Dr. I.M. Ibrahim once took a post-game vow of silence, an act of self-censorship. He agreed to answer only yes-or-no questions, and arrived at his after-match media gathering with a slip of paper in each hand - one reading 'yes' and the other 'no.'

His follow-through on his silent intentions lasted only about five minutes.

But it's the thought that counts, right?

Back to Jack Leggett: the changes he's being asked to implement are evolutionary, not revolutionary.

He'll handle them professionally, and perhaps they'll end up helping him at the bottom line - which is everyone's shared objective.

Follow Kerry Capps on Twitter @oandwkc

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Comments » 4

fasttiger44#293363 writes:

I'm not sure exactly what this article was trying to get across. Does the AD want him to go back 30 years and coach like that or just change the way he talks to the media. I got a little confused. I just came in from outside sitting in the sun and maybe it has my brain cooked a little bit.

KerryCapps writes:

in response to fasttiger44#293363:

I'm not sure exactly what this article was trying to get across. Does the AD want him to go back 30 years and coach like that or just change the way he talks to the media. I got a little confused. I just came in from outside sitting in the sun and maybe it has my brain cooked a little bit.

To clarify, the AD made four suggestions that we know about during his discussion with Coach Leggett: 1. start making regular use of a sports psychologist for players, 2. take the staff on off-season information and idea sharing trips to other top baseball programs, 3. implement a players' leadership council, which will provide feedback to coaches on issues affecting the team, and, 4. become more savvy in comments to the media and the fan base.

I found it interesting that all these strategies are already being used by Clemson's football and many other programs.

33dtb writes:

here's a crazy idea.... how 'bout coaching the fundamentals ....fielding, hitting, teamwork execution...????

fasttiger44#293363 writes:

To Kerry Capps: When I was reading your explanation I was thinking exactly what you said in your last sentence. This is just what the football program has been doing for quite a long time if I'm not mistaken. Thanks for clarifying the article for me.

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