Relentless Effort Notes from Urban Meyer – by Bob Starkey
Originally featured on Coach Starkey’s website: HoopThoughts.BlogSpot.com
The following are excerpts from a chapter titled “Relentless Effort” from Coach Urban Meyer’s book “Above the Line.”
In our world, at the end of the day it is pretty simple; either you worked harder than your opponents or you got out worked.
At Ohio State, we have made relentless effort part of our DNA, and here is why: great effort can overcome poor execution, but great execution cannot overcome poor effort. Toughness and effort are the foundation of our success. I place a premium on relentless effort because in all my years coaching, I’ve never been in a football game where the team that played the hardest didn’t win.
One of the ways we accomplish this is by embracing what we call the grind.
We believe that being elite is not about how talented you are. It is about how tough you are. To achieve anything great in life, you have to fight for it. Every day. The grind is mental and physical. In fact, it is more mental than physical. Physical ability is important, but it will only take you so far. You won’t be achieve excellence until you train your mind to take you there.
The principle of relentless effort applies to everyone, not just college football players. Here’s the not-so-hidden secret for achieving extraordinary success: clarify what you really want, then work as hard as you can for as long as it takes. Toughness can achieve things that talent by itself can never accomplish.
Success is cumulative and progressive. It is the result of what you do every day. Both successful and unsuccessful people take daily action. The difference is that successful people take action Above the Line. They step up and act with intention, purpose, and skill.
For every goal you are pursuing a process is involved. There is a pathway you must follow. To achieve your goals you must commit to the process with daily Above the Line behavior. Not just once or twice, but repeatedly over time. Success is not achieved by an occasional heroic response. Success is achieved by focused and sustained action. All achievement is a series of choices. The bigger the achievement, the longer the series and more challenging the choices.
Goal clarity is essential, but so is the process clarity. For every goal you have set, be exceptionally clear about the process necessary to achieve the desired outcome.
Sometimes it’s a grind. Sometimes tedious and uncomfortable things are required for success. And that means doing what needs to be done even though you don’t feel like it. It will be uncomfortable, maybe even for long stretches, and it will be tempting to settle for an easier way that is more convenient and less difficult. But don’t compromise. Don’t give up. Step up and embrace the grind.
Relentless effort (not talent or intelligence) is the key to achieving great things in your life. Struggle is part of the process. It is hard and often painful. But it’s also necessary, because it’s in the struggle that great things are achieved.
Do you decide what to do based on what is comfortable and convenient, or based on what is productive and necessary? Following your passion isn’t always 100 percent pleasurable. Sometimes it means doing things you don’t’ want to do for the sake of achieving your goals.
If you want to win in the future, you must win the grind today. And then tomorrow and the next day and the next. Many people give up – they compromise – must too easily when life gets difficult. Be the exception and step up to the challenges you face. The grind is when it gets tedious, tiring, and difficult. But that’s what separates the elite from the average.
Starkey has had a decorated career, having been a part of 636 collegiate victories, 19 NCAA Tournaments, eight trips to the Elite Eight and five straight trips to the Women’s Final Four (2004-08), including serving as Acting Head Coach for LSU’s 2007 Women’s Final Four run.Starkey’s former players have gone on to distinguished post-collegiate careers, including both an NBA Finals MVP, Shaquille O’Neal (2001, 2002), and a WNBA Finals MVP, Seimone Augustus (2011). Ten of his players have been drafted in the First Round of the NBA or WNBA Draft, including top five picks Augustus (first overall), O’Neal (first), Slyvia Fowles (second), Chris Jackson (third) and Kelsey Bone (fifth). Seven of his players were named NBA or WNBA All-Rookie during their first year in the league, including A&M’s Bone.
In addition, three of his players—O’Neal (1996 Atlanta), Augustus (2008 Beijing & 2012 London) and Fowles (2008 Beijing & 2012 London)—have gone on to win Olympic Gold Medals.
One of the best defensive coaches in basketball, Starkey’s teams have allowed an average of 54.1 points per game since 2004-05. In seven of those seasons, Starkey’s team has ranked among the top 10 nationally in points allowed per game, and six of his players have been named to the SEC All-Defensive team, since the conference started naming that team in 2007-08.
His players have won the SEC Defensive Player of the Year three times, with A&M’s Jordan Jones winning the award twice (in 2013-14 and 2014-15) as well as Fowles in 2007-08.
Since arriving to A&M in 2012, Starkey has helped the Aggies to the 2013 SEC Tournament Championship and the 2014 NCAA Elite Eight. As A&M’s “defensive coordinator,” he has helped the Aggies average fewer than 60 points allowed in all three of his seasons in Aggieland.
Starkey spent 22 seasons (1989-11) at LSU, the last 13 of which came on the bench with the women’s basketball program. He helped the Lady Tigers to five straight Final Fours from 2004-08, and served as Acting Head Coach for the 2007 NCAA Tournament (4-1). Starkey spent a season at UCF (2011-12) immediately prior to coming to A&M.
Starkey helped guide LSU to four SEC Championships, 12 straight NCAA Tournament appearances, eight Sweet 16s, seven Elite Eights and five consecutive trips to the Final Four. He was a key component in the Lady Tigers’ outstanding record of 326-105 (.756) from 1998-2011.
Starkey joined the Lady Tigers’ program on a full-time basis in 1998 under Sue Gunter, one of three Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame coaches he has worked for (Van Chancellor, Gary Blair). Starkey had previously served as the administrative assistant for both the LSU men’s and women’s basketball team for two years.
In his first role at LSU, Starkey served as an assistant coach for Dale Brown on the LSU men’s basketball staff from 1990-96, during which time the Tigers participated in four NCAA Tournaments. While on the men’s staff, Starkey worked closely in developing three first-round NBA draft picks in Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Jackson and Stanley Roberts. As a recruiter, he helped sign three nationally-ranked recruiting classes, including one which was rated No. 1 in the country.
In his 27-year collegiate coaching tenure, Starkey has worked with 18 20-win teams and has been a postseason participant 18 times.
Before his extended stretch at LSU, Starkey spent one year as an assistant at Marshall during the 1988-89 season and three seasons as a men’s assistant coach at West Virginia State from 1984-87. In his final season at West Virginia State, he helped guide the Yellow Jackets to conference and district titles on their way to the NAIA National Championship game.
Starkey began his coaching career on the high school level as an assistant at Winfield High School in West Virginia.
Starkey, who considers himself a full-time student of the game, has written numerous articles and has authored such basketball books as The 2-3 Match-Up Defense and Motion Offense. His latest project is a Basketball Coaching Series of books that include The Art of Being An Assistant Coach, The Art of Scouting and The Art of Motivation. Starkey is a master motivator and runs his own coaching and player online blog that features daily updates at http://hoopthoughts.blogspot.com.
Starkey is originally from Charleston, W.Va., and is married to the former Sherie Hayslett, also a native of West Virginia.
2012-Present: Texas A&M (Assistant Coach)
2011-12: UCF (Assistant Coach)
2007-11: LSU (Associate Head Coach)
2007: LSU (Acting Head Coach)
1998-07: LSU (Assistant Coach)
1997-98: LSU women & men (Administrative Assistant)
1990-97: LSU men (Assistant Coach)
1988-89: Marshall (Assistant Coach)
1984-87: West Virginia State men (Assistant Coach)
By The Numbers
3 – Olympic Gold Medalists
5 – NCAA Final Fours (2004-08)
8 – NCAA Elite Eight Appearances
10 – First Round NBA & WNBA Draft Picks
19 – NCAA Tournament Appearances
54.1 – Points Allowed since 2004-05
636 – Collegiate Coaching Wins