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Buddy Teevens ‘79: Deep Coaching

Teevens4.jpgIn his account of the football team’s memorable victory over Yale on Octboer 7, Valley News reporter Tris Wykes quoted Dartmouth’s Isiah Swann and he provided a little commentary of his own:

“The mindset is next guy up,” said Isiah Swann, who replaced Brown and whose 47-yard interception return for a touchdown two minutes before halftime was pivotal. “We have a lot of depth on this team, so the next guy comes in and we keep on rolling.”

That depth may be what separates this Dartmouth squad from others in the past decade. Some of those teams featured brighter stars than anyone on the current roster, but financial and facilities upgrades and a share of the 2015 Ivy League title have attracted numerous prime recruits.

Bruce Wood at the excellent Big Green Alert blog shared the same sentiment about the team’s deep bench after the Sacred Heart victory the other day (click to enlarge):

Bruce Wood Dartmouth depth1.jpg

Football A Day form.jpgThat ain’t the half of it. Or put differently, depth comes from successful recruiting, which is the result of much more than a winning record and more resources. Let’s look at Buddy Teevens ‘79 combined arms approach to educating his players.

To the right is an excerpt from the football team’s Google Docs “A Day” survey that all players fill out weekly as part of their academic accounting. Players earning an A grade receive noisy praise at a weekly “A Day” meeting. The form is just one part of the support/supervision that players receive from their individual assistant coaches, to whom Coach T has assigned as much responsibility for players’ success in class as on the field.

And don’t think that players fake it on the form. More than a few professors have told me that the big guys come to every class. And they sit up front and participate, too.

The result: an almost perfect graduation-in-four-years rate. How many schools can boast a football team that as a cohort rivals all comers in securing parchment over the standard term.

When I asked Coach T what other schools kept their student-athletes focused on book learning to such as extent, he replied, “None that I know of.” And when I inquired how he came to create his outstanding program, he said, “It’s what I would have wanted when I was here.”

Let’s applaud good observation, confident decision-making and detailed follow-through. Buddy has done his analysis and moved decisively forward.

Beyond academics, the team’s progress in limiting man-on-man tackling to actual games has born fruit. Coach T tells parents, “At the College, your son will never tackle another Dartmouth player.” All of the other Ivy programs have followed Dartmouth’s lead (how often do you get to read those words?) in eliminating tacking in practice — though to be precise, the other Ivies have stopped tackling only during the playing season, but not during spring and preseason practice sessions. Dartmouth players never tackle each other.

Coach T even testified (articulately and thoughtfully) about his concussion-reduction program before the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee last spring. Put yourself in the position of a player’s parents. Coach T talks education first, and when he comes to your house with congressional testimony under his belt, the football program in Hanover can’t help but be attractive.

Then add the Teevens-developed Mobile Virtual Player (MVP) to the mix — a motorized, remote-control tackling dummy so cool and innovative that Stephen Colbert had a go at one with Buddy’s help on the Colbert Report.

All in all, you can’t help but conclude that Buddy Teevens is a real leader, someone who will leave college ball forever changed. It will take time for other schools to see his wisdom, but the future of varsity football is taking place at Dartmouth today.

We can take pride right now in a lot more than the team’s 5-0 record.

Addendum: A serious focus on grades and class attendance is one thing, but sweating the small details can make a difference, too. Tris Wykes included a sweet little vignette in his report on the Penn game:

Dartmouth took two buses to the Philadelphia area early Thursday morning, and another departed later in the day for players who had later classes they could not miss.

Addendum: Buddy is succeeding in yet another area — fundraising for the team — which gives him freedom to maneuver in ways large and small. Tris Wykes is on the case here, too, with an article about Friends of Dartmouth Football.

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