Greetings, Lion fans. Normally, this time of year, the staff here at The Wire are on our August hiatus until the breakneck pace of the regular season. After spending this past weekend in Commerce, America, though, I wanted to share some experiences and provide insight into a season that begins with many questions.
This past weekend, I helped move my daughter Shelby on campus for her sophomore year. AD Tim McMurray was kind enough to allow me to visit practice, and let me say there have been some changes.
First off, David Bailiff runs a tight ship. Accountability is the order of the day. The rules seem to be fairly simple. Be on time, and be ready to go. Mediocre effort and attitude are not accepted. If you’re wearing the blue and gold, you had better bring your “A” game when you play for the Lions. Example: A player, late to practice, was running sprints while practice was going on, in addition to all the other work being put in. At the end of practice, a senior receiver, stood in front of the whole team, and apologized for what he perceived as less than his best effort. A message has been sent, loud and clear: NO EXCUSES, GET THE JOB DONE.
Secondly, like the legend Ernest Hawkins, Bailiff’s practices are very organized and detailed. The scoreboard horn blows, position groups move from station to station, with differing drills and learning techniques, ending up in an 11 on 11 situation. Two minute drills, ones vs. ones, twos vs. twos, etc. Special teams receive close attention. Punt coverage. Game winning kick simulations. Nothing is left to chance.
Lion players on both sides of the ball are pushing each other. Upperclassmen are teaching the younger guys. Taking extra reps after practice. There’s plenty of offense trying to one up the defense,and vice versa. Team spirit and enthusiasm are all over.
The most impressive thing I saw this past weekend though, was this. Just about every player, and a few coaches, including Bailiff himself, took the time to introduce themselves to my wife and I. With all that is going on, they take the time to shake hands, look you in the eye, introduce themselves and thank you for coming. That, Lion fans, is class.
David Bailiff is not a fiery or demonstrative coach. I was standing not that far away as he was addressing the team after practice, and I could barely hear him. He’s not Colby Carthel, he’s not Ernest Hawkins, or any of the other great Lion coaches.
He’s David Bailiff. And he’s fully in control. See you at The Hawk.