Georgia Tech athletic director Todd Stansbury paid a visit to the football team’s pre-practice meeting this past Thursday to announce that running-backs coach Tashard Choice had been named to the Tech sports hall of fame. He left the meeting impressed by a lesson from coach Geoff Collins about discarded tape.
During the meeting, in which Collins normally previews practice and may offer a teaching point, Stansbury said that Collins showed the team a photo of a garbage can in the indoor practice facility with athletic tape on the ground next to it. The photo had been taken after the previous spring-practice workout.
After practices, players typically remove athletic tape from their ankles and wrists in a corner of the indoor building before making the walk back to the locker room. Wooden benches and tape cutters are kept there specifically for that function.
Collins “basically talked about how them expecting the custodial staff or the trainers or whoever to pick up after them was not how elite programs are run, how they behave,” Stansbury said at the Tech athletic association’s board meeting on Thursday. “So he goes through that whole thing of expectations and they need to take care of their facility and this and that and whatever.”
To further bring home the point, Collins showed the team a video clip of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (who played at Mississippi State at the same time that Collins was defensive coordinator there) throwing away a paper cup while on the bench of a Cowboys game in 2016. After missing the garbage can, Prescott got up and properly discarded the trash.
Collins’ point, Stansbury said, was that “the best players take care of their business the same way, regardless of whether it’s tossing a cup on the sideline when you’re the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys or whether it’s executing a play. It’s really, really impressive how he uses every opportunity to teach.”
It was an appeal to personal responsibility. A favorite saying of Collins’ is “How you do anything is how you do everything.”
Building culture has been a point of emphasis for Collins, and is also a high priority for Stansbury, as well. Their connection on the importance of culture and branding was one reason that Stansbury was compelled to hire him.
As part of recruiting and retention, “you have to establish a strong culture that attracts elite players to your program and it retains the elite players that you have,” Collins said at his introductory news conference in December. “And it has to be such a bond that the guys want to be a part of it and just gravitate to it.”
Cleaning up after oneself is hardly a lesson Tech players hadn’t heard previously. Former coach Paul Johnson preached accountability and the importance of doing the little things.
Regardless, a refresher was needed, evidently.
After practice Thursday morning, the corner of the indoor facility where players take off their tape was tidy, with all of the tape in the garbage cans.