The Play That Helped the Tide Roll


Alabama’s tide rolled to is fourth title in seven years. (Photo by AP)

Last night we saw the University of Alabama Crimson Tide capture their fourth national title in the past seven years. However, it boiled down to one play based on planning and communication; both what was said, and what body language tried to hide. It went a little something like this (via SB Nation):

A routine kickoff became a trick play that turned the game’s tide solely in Alabama’s favor. Read this breakdown of how many things had to go right to pull it off, including the player catching the pass actually dropping it half the time in practice.

Special teams may sometimes be considered the stepchild to the offense and defense in American football, but more often than not, it plays the biggest role in shifting momentum within the game.

The Alabama coaches had a plan if they saw Clemson in a certain formation on kickoffs. Sure enough, with the game tied in the fourth quarter and just over 10 minutes to play, it was time to try it. In summation:

  • The kicker began his approach just like any other kickoff; then suddenly altered the direction of the kick at the last second.
  • The receiver – who is actually a defensive back on the team (don’t worry, this stuff happens on special teams) – started running his route like a normal kickoff. He suddenly altered his route to the outside just after the ball was kicked.
  • The ‘receiver’ caught the kick in midair and then bolted out of bounds to secure the ball for Alabama.

Simply, they saw a different formation that matched their trick pay, so they executed their plan. Some may call it genius, but at its core it is about having a plan for different scenarios. When the opportunity presents itself, implement the plan that gives you the advantage.

This is true for any communications plan. In this instance, they not only verbally communicated on the sideline, but the players also had to master their non-verbal skills until the right time to help pull the play off.

While many things have to go right in those scenarios, ultimately the better plan, and the core practice it has been given, prevails. Even if it only works half the time in ‘practice,’ from Alabama’s football team to your communications team, anyone can follow the same game plan:

  • The stakes are high
  • You trust your players and have instilled confidence in your team
  • You communicate the plan and the players understand their important roles
  • It catches your opponent by surprise
  • Take the shot

Hockey player Wayne Gretzky famously said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” Alabama took their shot and once again, the ‘Tide is Rollin.’





How the Buckeyes Beat the Odds

Ohio State

On Monday night, Jan. 12, The Ohio State University won its eighth college football national championship with a resounding 22-point victory over the Oregon Ducks. But what makes the victory – and Ohio State’s season – even more impressive is how the team rebounded from obstacles stacked against them to go on one of the most impressive three-game stretches in college football history and beat the odds – literally.

In August, the team lost its starting quarterback to injury for the season. Their odds as one of the favorites to win the title dropped to 50-1.In September, the Buckeyes were bounced, at home, by a very mediocre Virginia Tech 35-21. Ohio State’s title hopes seemed to take a death blow after that loss and their title odds plummeted to 100-1. In late November they lost their backup quarterback to a leg injury. Then this happened:

  • Starting their third-string quarterback in the Big 10 championship game, they were 4-point underdogs to Wisconsin. They proceed to beat the Badgers 59-0. (Read that again.)
  • Going into the first College Football Playoff (which many said they should not have been selected), they were a 9-point underdog against Alabama. They beat the SEC Champions 42-35.
  • Making it into the national championship game, Ohio State was a 7-point underdog to Oregon. They beat the Pac-12 Champions by multiples of 11 (42-20). They now open the 2015 season as the favorite to repeat next year.

So what can the casual fan and the common company learn about what propelled the Buckeyes through this adversity? These 3 things:

  • Numbers Can Predict Outcomes; They Cannot Measure Pride: Given the betting odds against the team all season it would be easy to fold. However, the team believed in their individual abilities and the collective team. Thus, while the odds may not have been in their favor, their determination to persevere was immeasurable.
  • Focusing on the Past Blurs Your Vision of the Present: Two lost quarterbacks and a bad loss at home would be enough for most teams to not only dwell on, but to knock them completely off track. But the Buckeyes kept looking forward, kept their faith in the “next man up,” and accomplished each task at hand, which was simply winning the next game.
  • Internal Belief Supersedes External Opinions: Many questioned why the Buckeyes were even in the playoffs when other contenders had seemingly stronger arguments. (Read more on how the first selection could have gone smoother.) Despite the doubters, Ohio State did the only thing that could silence the critics: produce undisputable results in decisive fashion.