Jared Goff joins me to talk leadership and my 3 insights on College Football
We’ve completed a third of the regular season and much has been revealed about the competitiveness of everyone’s college football teams. How is their run game, are they playing consistent defense, are they winning close games and are they showing resiliency late in the ballgame? While many outsiders’ attention remains on the stats, the record and the AP Top 25, others are focusing on the competitiveness of the individuals that make up these programs and universities. Because at the end of the day, if your team is full of people that compete – and compete the right way – then it will become a breeding ground for people of high character, those that will go on to do great things in this world. Their production on the field, the amount of wins they record and whatever bowl games they win are only a tiny glimpse into the development they’re going through both athletically and personally. The truth is, competing doesn’t just happen in games – it happens everywhere, every day, as the world’s leaders push themselves and others to grow so that we are all better prepared to face life’s challenges.
Over the weekend I had the chance to experience the pregame at UW with the fans as we prepared for our new show on the Pac-12 Network, THE PREGAME. After #SailGaiting (look it up!), a rowdy environment with thousands of fans crowded around our set. Other than the obvious highlights and excitement, what moved me the most was an interview with a student named Katelyn Costanza. Katelyn is one of the Co-Founders of SAASHA – Student Athletes Against Sexual Harassment and Assault – an organization dedicated to promoting healthy interactions and relationships through the leadership of student athletes. Katelyn told me she helped found the organization because she came to the realization that she was recruited by UW to be a leader not just on the field but in life on campus. Her act and those of others taking steps to eradicate sexual violence are perfect examples of what it means to compete off the field. And it’s no surprise that UW is one of the schools leading the way, as head football coach Chris Peterson has partnered with ProtectHer, an incredible organization founded by close friend Alexis Jones, who is working to end sexual violence on college campuses by reminding student-athletes that they can be the cure to a major problem. I joined forces with Alexis and her team to Executive Produce a documentary film titled, ProtectHer. More on that in the coming weeks or listen to her on my podcast.
Sticking with UW – last week I spoke about culture. UW Quarterback Jake Browning embodies competitiveness, and for that reason he’s a big part of one of the most elite cultures in college football.
I had a chance to interview former UW Tight End Will Dissly on THE PREGAME, and now a member of the Seattle Seahawks, about Jake. He said Jake’s competitiveness isn’t just obvious – it’s beneficial. It clearly raises the level of commitment, performance and love for the game of his teammates. Our conversation reminded me what the word ‘compete’ actually means, as taught to me by Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll. If you look up the definition today, you’ll find something along the lines of “strive against” But study the Latin roots of the word – com (together) and petere (seek) – and you’ll find that the word ‘compete’ isn’t about winning at all. It’s about “striving together” in the pursuit of a common goal. Browning may not win the most games of any quarterback this year, but he just might be the most competitive.
Looking ahead, this week we’re treated to one of the best rivalries in the sport, and one with incredible tradition: Stanford at Notre Dame. I grew up a Notre Dame fan. My main dream as a child was to play on that field and rock the blue and gold. I remember the day that I visited campus and worked out for their receiver coach, Urban Meyer. It was me and one other player, a 5-star recruit. At the end of the camp, it was that other player who was awarded their last remaining scholarship. I was left hurt, confused and angry. My first understanding of the word ‘compete’ was reverberating within me. My dream school said I wasn’t good enough. That day, I decided that I would go to whatever school played Notre Dame the most. If I couldn’t join them, I wanted to beat them. Badly. While it may not have been the most informed decision, and might have been pretty immature, it’s a main reason I ended up at Pitt. Two years into my career, I was finally able to play a game in South Bend. I remember running onto the field and looking at the crowd. While I wasn’t on the sideline I had dreamed about, I was so thankful for the game, and motivated to keep playing. Notre Dame games are special to me. I’ve lost two games in South Bend as a player and won two as a coach, and it’s never been lost on me how unique it is to play in one of the meccas of college football, even if the grass is three inches taller than it should be :).
Finally, a young man who understands the word ‘compete’ in a unique way is Jared Goff. Listen to our conversation on The Yogi Roth Show, as we caught up at a Thuzio event and talked about his path and how listening can develop leadership.
Also, I’m curious to learn how you understand the word ‘compete,’ and how are you competing today? Who are your teammates, and what is your goal? Write me on social media, and I’d love to share my thoughts, or just listen.