Don't Make Any Plans...
Updated: Oct 29
Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bobby Ross. The former college and pro football coach led Georgia Tech to a share of the national championship in 1990 and later led the San Diego Chargers to the Super Bowl. Before taking the Tech job, Ross was Maryland's head coach. And under his guidance, the Terrapins executed a memorable comeback against the University of Miami, on Nov. 10, 1984 at the Orange Bowl.
"The U" held a 31-0 halftime lead, limiting the Terrapins to 57 yards of total offense. What does a coach tell his team in such a situation? Ross told me he has often been asked that question.
"First, I told them, 'Don’t make any plans when we get home,'" said Ross, who told the players they would not be going out on any dates, seeing family or "anything of that nature." "I told them, 'We’re going to get off the plane. Ride down to the team house on the bus. Get off and you’re going to run me a 40-yard dash for every point you give up. Right now you owe me 31 40-yard dashes.' I added, 'You decide how many you want to run.'"
As for strategy?
"We knew we didn’t have a lot of time, so we cut out shifting and motion and all of that," Ross said. "Just line up and go, quickly."
Ross replaced quarterback Stan Gelbaugh with Frank Reich. The move worked. Reich ran for a touchdown and threw for two more to make the score 34-21 by the end of the third quarter.
Tommy Neal's 14-yard touchdown run cut the lead to 34-28 early in the fourth quarter. Maryland's defense then forced a punt, giving the red-hot Reich another opportunity. He threw a pass that Miami defensive back Darrell Fullington deflected. The ball landed in Greg Hill's hands for a 68-yard touchdown. Maryland had a 35-34 lead with 5:29 to play.
Miami fumbled the ensuing kickoff at the 6. Maryland recovered, leading to another touchdown and a 42-34 lead. But the comeback was not yet complete until Miami scored again, missed the 2-point conversion and failed to recover an onside kick. Final score: Maryland 42 Miami 40.
"After the game, we’re in the locker room," Ross remembered. "Everybody’s hollering and screaming. We had a center, Kevin Glover--he later played for me when I coached the Detroit Lions--he got me in a headlock. There was some pressure. I don’t know if there was some resentment coming out or what. But he was squeezing. He says to me, ‘Coach, are we still going to have to run those 40s?’ I said, 'Hell no. Now let me out of this thing.'"
Now, how about some inspiration?
From Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Nothing was ever accomplished without enthusiasm."
Bob Richards: "Ordinary people do extraordinary things every day."
And for those who wonder whether the glass is half empty or half full. You're missing the point: The glass is refillable.
Finally, be decisive. Right or wrong, make a decision. The road of life is paved with squirrels who couldn't make a decision.
I invite you to hang out with me on my site at billchastain.com and read more of my blogs. You can also download FREE chapters from some of my fiction books: Peachtree Corvette Club, The Streak and Retrouvailles. Drop me a line at Asked and Answered. Let's talk about feel-good stories, fun facts, movies, food and, of course, two of my very favorite topics: sports and books. Whatever is on your mind.