Homeschooling tips: Here are 10 life lessons kids can learn from SEC football
I’ll be honest: I’m furious about this whole coronavirus thing.
It’s one thing to have to work remotely or travel to three grocery stores, two pharmacies and a Home Depot before finding toilet paper (and then celebrating like you just hit a hole-in-one).
It’s another thing to take away my March Madness. I miss sports.
And chances are if you’re on this website on a day usually reserved for wings, adult beverages and the glorious 96 hours that is the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, you probably miss sports, too.
One silver lining in this big coronavirus pandemic mess? My daughters are home from school and since I’m working remotely, I get a chance to see them during the workday, which doesn’t happen much.
Of course, every silver lining has a touch of gray and for me, what I’ve learned in a week of having the girls at home is that their teachers are criminally underpaid. Put plainly, we’re not all cut out to be teachers and I hope the teachers are quarantined somewhere with a glass of wine binging Friday Night Lights or Last Chance U or Love is Blind somewhere because they deserve every moment of this down time.
Instead of googling the answers to second grade arithmetic problems or pouring a glass of Jack Daniels on the job, I’ve opted to teach life lessons through the lens of SEC football. It’s something I understand deeply and can explain reasonably well. That seems to be half the battle in this strange homeschooling battle.
I thought I’d share ten of the SEC Football life lessons for kids from my curriculum here.
10. Don’t Give Up: The “CamBack”
Sometimes, when that multiplication table gets really tough (for Dad or for students), you have to plop the kid on your knee and tell them that it’s never over. How do I know that?
I once saw Cam Newton trail Greg McElroy, Julio Jones, Mark Ingram and defending national champion Alabama 24-0 before Newton went to work.
Maybe the first touchdown in the comeback — a late 2nd-quarter toss to Emory Blake — felt like a consolation in a half dominated by Alabama. But when Terrell Zachery went 70 yards to the house less than a minute into the 3rd quarter– you could feel the momentum shift. And who could forget the throw and catch to the backpedaling, late Philip Lutzenkirchen that gave Auburn its first lead- and the winning score?
If the CamBack is possible, so is math.
9. You are not too young to do incredible things: Herschel Walker
I want my kids to respect their elders and listen to the wisdom of those with more experience. But I also want them to know there’s a balance between listening and learning from those with more experience and believing you can’t do incredible things at a young age. Age is just a number.
Take Herschel Walker, widely regarded as the best — or 1 of the 5 best — college football players who has ever played.
Walker was simply unstoppable from the moment he began playing for Georgia. He ran for 1,616 yards and averaged 6 yards a carry as a freshman on a national championship winning Bulldogs team in 1980. Everyone knew who was getting the ball and what was coming and it didn’t matter.
There’s a legend (Herschel has said apocryphal) that he ran over a senior captain on the first practice he had in pads.
One story that is true is that he ran over Tennessee’s brilliant All-American safety Bill Bates. That moment led to one of the greatest calls of all time by the greatest of all time, Larry Munson.
So yes, you can do anything. Because Herschel exists.
8. It’s OK to move on: Leonard Fournette
At some point, I imagine one of my children will ask for advice about when to move on from one job or place and take on the next challenge.
Having watched Leonard Fournette play 3 seasons at LSU, I have a good idea of how to answer that question.
There comes a point in time when you’ve given every ounce of yourself to something, and it’s time to move on.
After nearly 500 carries in just 25 games as a freshman and a sophomore, Leonard Fournette was finally slowed down — not by a defense, but injuries — as a junior. He tried to play anyway, gutting out 7 games against outstanding defenses like Florida in his final season in Baton Rouge — but he was never completely healthy.
Rather than risk his future, he bet on himself and took his talents to the NFL, where, when healthy, he’s been one of the best running backs in the league.
Meanwhile, LSU moved on too — revolutionizing its offense and winning a national championship.
Bottom line? Sometimes it’s best for everyone to move on.
7. Be humble and adapt: Kentucky and Lynn Bowden Jr.
Not everything in life is going to go as planned. We’re living proof of that right now. In fact, things rarely do go the way you plan. It’s important to be humble and willing to adapt.
Take Kentucky football in 2019. With Terry Wilson, the Cats expected to have a diverse offensive attack and dual-threat quarterback capable of keeping defenses off balance even more than the 2018 team that won the Citrus Bowl.
When Wilson was injured in Game 2 of the 2019 season, most of that went out the window, and it was all but gone when Kentucky’s lone experienced backup QB, Sawyer Smith, battled injuries of his own.
Kentucky’s staff could have mailed in the season, citing bad luck.
Instead, they used a bye week to install a single-wing offense and put one of the SEC’s best athletes, Lynn Bowden Jr., at the center of it. The decision helped the Wildcats battle their way to an 8-win season that included a thrilling Belk Bowl victory over Virginia Tech.
It was quietly one of the best coaching jobs in the SEC in years — and all happened because Mark Stoops and his players were humble enough to adapt and do what was necessary to give themselves a chance to win.
6. Don’t pout: Jalen Hurts rescues Alabama after losing his job
My Dad used to tell me that at some point in my life, merited or not, I would be someone’s second choice, but that wasn’t a reason to pout. You aren’t “entitled” to anything. You earn everything.
It’s good advice and when I share it with my kids, I might tell them the story of Jalen Hurts, who was the SEC’s Offensive Player of the Year as a freshman and very nearly won a national championship of his own before losing to Clemson.
By his junior year, Hurts had lost the starting job to Tua Tagovailoa, and it would have been easy for him to stand on the sideline, pout and wonder where it all went wrong.
Instead, he stayed ready to play, did his job and when his number was called in the SEC Championship Game, he rescued the Crimson Tide, guiding them to a dramatic come from behind victory over Georgia and leading them into the College Football Playoff.
5. Sharing the spotlight is good: Sony Michel and Nick Chubb
I could have picked any number of teammates for this valuable life lesson. Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams made 2 running backs fashionable again in the SEC early this century. Felix Jones and Darren McFadden were lightning in a bottle leading Arkansas to Atlanta. In 2006, Chris Leak was the SEC’s leading passer but shared time with some kid named Tim Tebow that same season. The results were pretty good.
But the most recent “sharing is caring” duo was Georgia’s magnificent running back duet of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, who came a busted coverage in 2017 from winning Georgia its first national championship since 1980.
Chubb and Michel each generated over 1,300 yards from scrimmage that season, remarkable numbers for 1 running back on a team, let alone 2. Had either been selfish, it never would have worked.
But they were selfless, talented kids who put winning first, which is something that’s easy to say but hard to do. Kind of like sharing.
4. Be patient: The Kyle Trask story
In an instant gratification society, it’s easy to focus on you. What do I deserve? When will it be my turn? I’m better than they are!
Kyle Trask is a throwback to another era, the kid who was content to count the blessings he did have rather than complain about what he lacked.
A backup quarterback after freshman football in high school, Trask found his way to Florida when Randy Shannon saw him in Texas on a recruiting trip. Trask battled his way through multiple quarterback competitions, consistently finding himself second-choice.
It would have been easy to leave Florida and go somewhere — anywhere — where he could finally get the chance to start. Instead, Trask stayed in Gainesville, where he valued the friends he’d made in college and the chance he had to attend and earn a degree from a top-10 public university.
When longtime starting quarterback Feleipe Franks was injured early in the 2019 season, Trask’s patience finally paid off.
Trask put together the best season by a Gators quarterback since Tim Tebow departed, throwing for nearly 3,000 yards in 10 starts and leading Florida to 11 wins and an Orange Bowl victory. He returns for his senior year facing questions about his job from many in his own fan base — but those in the know — and more critically, his coach — think he’s a breakout Heisman candidate.
3. Failure is a great teacher and second chances are good: Joe Burrow and Ed Orgeron
First impressions matter. Don’t get me wrong. It’s also important to cut people who hurt you, take advantage of you or don’t value you out of your life sometimes.
But we all need second chances. And F. Scott Fitzgerald was decidedly wrong: There are second acts in American lives.
There’s no better example of this than the story of Ed Orgeron and Joe Burrow, a pair of castaways forgotten on their first stops who found a second chance — and each other — and sucked the bone marrow out of another opportunity.
For my money, LSU 2019 is one of the five best college football teams ever — and without question the best offensive football team I’ve ever seen.
Failure can be a great teacher. It was for Orgeron, who was humble and brave enough to change LSU’s offense. It was for Burrow, who couldn’t quite win the job at his home state school in Ohio, but made good on a second chance on the Bayou.
Sometimes all someone needs is another chance.
2. Women not only belong in sports media — they can be the best at it: Laura Rutledge
There are life lessons in SEC football for everyone reading who is a proud #GirlDad too. It gives me great joy to see my oldest daughter growing into a bona fide sports nut: college football in the fall, women’s soccer, softball, college basketball — she loves it all.
She’s especially interested in sideline reporters and female announcers — and has even started asking questions about their jobs.
I’m always happy to answer — and point to ESPN and SEC Network journalist Laura Rutledge as proof that not only do women belong in sports media — they can be the best reporters out there.
Rutledge isn’t just kind and hard-working — she’s insanely well-prepared, thorough, has confident and smart takes and makes any show she’s a part of- SEC Nation, Finebaum, SportsCenter — better.
If you’re a #GirlDad and you have a daughter that wants to cover college football — she’s just one of many role models — but as an SEC graduate, she’s maybe the best example too.
1. Trust the Process: Alabama under Nick Saban
Did any Alabama fans think you’d win 5 national championships under Nick Saban when y’all lost to Louisiana-Monroe in T-Town in 2007? Be honest with yourselves before answering.
People want instant results — and Saban, who won a national title in only his 3rd year at Alabama — more or less got them, I suppose.
But it took hard work and belief in himself and his process. That’s a valuable way to approach anything in life — something Saban constantly imparts to his players — and something you can teach your kids, too.