Video: Put the team on your back
See Michael Nesmith II of Hallandale (FL) with the sack, fumble recovery and scoop-and-score TD.
Long Beach City College head football coach Brett Peabody has a unique story that all coaches can all learn from. He inherited a Viking squad that went 0-10 in 2012, and made a major jump in national notoriety just two years later with an incredible 9-2 overall record. From zero wins to nine in just two seasons is very rare, and very impressive.
Prior to entering the junior college ranks, Peabody was the head coach at South (Torrance, Calif.)
and led South to three straight playoff appearances in four years, plus an Ocean League championship.How was the journey getting to nine wins?
Our goal year one was to qualify and win a bowl game; we fell a bit short, going 4-6, losing two games on blocked kicks, including one that occurred after we scored the game tying touchdown with a minute left. Rival El Camino blocked our PAT and returned it for two and the win.
Frankly, we are proud but not overly surprised that we reached nine wins in year two, and have backed that up with 19 in the last two years. In our first year at Harbor College we took over a program that had three wins the year prior and a program that had limited historical success and proceeded to go 9-2 in year one and over four years went to four straight bowls and two conference titles.
Long Beach City College had a long history of success but the program was going through a drought, culminating in the brutal 2012 season when they went 0-10. They just needed a culture change, a vision and new energy. I knew my staff and I could bring it and we knew that with all that the school has to offer the student-athlete that we could contend sooner rather than later.
What did you find when you took over in terms of work ethic, pride, mentality, etc?
The young men had a desire to win, they just didn't know how to win nor did they truly understand what it took to win. At first, we dealt with our fair share of whining. Some of the returnees embraced the vastly increased work load but not all of them. We had a bunch of players, primarily offensive guys, transfer over with us from Harbor, which was both a blessing and a curse, as they were very talented but their arrival created early tensions with returnees. The returning players from Long Beach had concerns the Harbor transfers would be favored, and they quickly found that that was not the case. The guys definitely had pride but clearly had not a lot of confidence.What are some of the things you and your staff had to do to change the mentality there?
We had to sell ourselves to the returning LBCC players; we had to prove that things were going to be different and that we could actually coach. Some of the changes were easy: the team-building events, competition days, increased tempo at practice, the intense workouts and the daily competition that we forced, competition not just O vs D, but also within the position groups themselves. Most important, we had to win!What was the buy-in like from the kids?
Overall it was quite good. They could see that we were bringing in talented young men to compete, and the energy at workouts and practices was very high. It did not help that we started off the season against a great Fullerton team that went on to play for a state championship. Needless to say we got rolled, then week two we go up to play a very good Ventura team, fell behind 44-14 only to lose 44-42 with our potential game-winning field goal blocked.
Had we gotten rolled again, I am not sure how the season would have gone, where would the confidence level be? Thankfully we grew from that loss and rolled Orange Coast the following week and the guys got the taste of victory, then the horrible streak was over.
Chris Fore is a veteran Head Football Coach and Athletic Director from Southern California. He consults coaches and programs nationwide through his business Eight Laces Consulting.